Category: Lifestyle

This BS About Surviving the Holidays

Debbie Hatch  |  Family & F.I.T.

The days are shorter.  There’s a nip in the air; although I have to say it seems warmer, everywhere I’ve been recently, than is typical.  The airports were packed yesterday.

It’s the week of Thanksgiving.  Already.


First, let me say this. Many people struggle through the holiday season.  Some are alone and feel isolated; some struggling with money, stress, relationships, or any other number of things.  Some people have lost family members, jobs, homes, or love in the past and the holidays can reopen those wounds.   This may result in a case of the blues, or clinical anxiety and depression.  Please don’t hesitate to seek professional assistance from a qualified mental health professional if you’re struggling.  That’s not what this blog is about.


I want to talk specifically about the “Survive the Holidays” madness.  In fact, I have so much to say, I’m breaking this blog into two sections! 


Part I:  The Craziness Itself



If I had a dollar for each of the “survive the holidays diet”, “3-day ‘pre-detox'”, “wrap”, “cream”, “pill”, “powder”, and/or “shake” messages I’ve seen come across my FB feed, in the last couple of weeks, I would have enough to celebrate Thanksgiving on a dive boat in the South Pacific with several of my friends and family members.



I typed, “Survive the Holidays” into Google and netted 18,900,000 results (0.31seconds) and another 338,000 when I added “how to” before that phrase.   And a “pre-detox”?  WTH?  Yup, it turns out that really IS “a thing”. That garnered me 656,000 results.  Check it out on google but keep your money in your pocket.  Your liver, intestines, kidneys, and lymphatic system are your body’s natural detox organs.


But, I digress.  On to surviving the holidays…..


Why do we worry about it?


PARTY!!!  From now until after January 1st, there will be parties, at work and within our other social groups.  It has been proven that we eat more in groups.  Everyone else is eating.  We eat mindlessly – putting food into our mouths, washing it down with tasty beverages, all while we’re talking.  That plate of food is gone before we can even muse, “Yum.  Meatballs!  I need this recipe.”


FOOD!!!  There are tasty treats everywhere.  Pie.  Cookies.  Donuts.  Egg nog.  Mashed potato with gravy and sweets with marshmallows.  Fudge and chocolates.  Wine and spiced cider. Cake.  Stuff we only see at this time of the year, frequently made by people we love.


NO SUN!!!  The days are shorter so we feel less motivated to exercises when it’s dark as we get out of work. Oh my gosh, I’m really struggling with this one!! It’s starting to get cooler – adding that to the early darkness, we feel more like curling up on the couch than going to the gym.  It also leads to craving more warm and hearty foods.  We drink less water than when it’s warmer outside.


STRESS, ANYONE?  We are under more stress to get it “all” done.  We have our regular commitments and responsibilities but now we also need to find time to go shopping, make food for and attend the increased gatherings, and ensure we are actively carrying on family traditions.  Stress increases cortisol which can suppress the immune system, increase blood pressure, and increase fat storage.

Recipe for disaster



Do we need to worry about it?


I was actually shocked to find that numerous studies, conducted since 2000, show:


Holiday weight gain actually averages 1-2 pounds vice the 5-7 we frequently see reported.  

That said, it’s not all great news.  Even though it’s only 1-2 pounds, we typically don’t shed that extra weight later.  Next year, it’s another 1-2 on top of this, and next year, and next year.  The other thing worth noting is that, while there’s less weight change than many report, there may be increases in body fat.

New Year to Thanksgiving

Asking the right questions:


I.  If studies show the average weight gain is 1-2 pounds, why do we hear higher numbers then?  


II.  A better question might be:  where are you hearing the higher numbers from?


Answer:  Marketing based on fear that YOU will gain 5-7 pounds and you “shouldn’t”.   You’re hearing this stuff from companies that have some type of weight loss or “health related” product to sell you.  Marketing 101.


III.  If you do gain a few pounds, is it a “disaster”?  Probably not.  Will you be thrilled?  Maybe not.  Can you mitigate it starting now though moderation?  Probably.  Can you change it later though consistent application of reasonable nutrition and exercise habits?  Probably so.


Calling it a d.i.s.a.s.t.e.r. might be a tiny bit melodramatic.    



The holidays are times when most of us get to see family and friends we don’t see all the time.  We take more time to relax, chat, talk, and laugh.  These are all fantastic things!

The holidays are not something we should try to “survive”.



Be sure to check in for Part II tomorrow.

That will cover my top 12 suggestions for enjoying the holidays without just surviving them.

No, I’m Not a Jerk But Pay Attention Please

Family & F.I.T.  |  Debbie Hatch


As I write this, I feel a strong need to defend myself.  I’m not posting this to be a jerk.

I’m not posting this because I’m judging my seat mate.

Truly.  I’m not.  I’m posting this because you’ve asked for my help.






I’ve said a million times – and I’ll say it again here – just to be clear:

==> I don’t care what you weigh.

==> I don’t care about the size of your pants (or skirt).

==> I don’t believe in diets.  I’ve tried them all.  They don’t work and the rebound of having been on a diet typically leaves a person heavier and more unhappier than they were to start with.




I’m posting this because I do care about the fact that it bothers you.

I’m posting this because we frequently wonder why we’re gaining weight (or inches).  We wonder why we can’t lose.

I’m posting this because we get frustrated and give up on ourselves.



Maybe all we need to do is pay a little more attention.

The word “mindful” has been over-used and over-rated.  We’ve learned to tune it out.

We need to tune it in.




We’re two and a half hours into a four and a half hour flight this morning.  My seatmate, so far, has had two Cokes, a couple packages of peanuts, some cheese crackers, and cookies.





Is she eating because she loves these things?

Is she eating because she’s really hungry?

I’ll be you $100 the answer to both questions is, “no”.


Yet, she’s consumed 600 calories, 26 grams of fat, 88 carbohydrates, and 755 mg sodium merely because the food is here.  Merely because there is someone walking down the aisle asking, “do you want a snack?”

Am I getting into her business?  Nope!

Am I telling her she shouldn’t eat these things?  Certainly not!



Who doesn’t like to take advantage of free snacks? …


… In truth, they don’t even have to be free.


We do the same thing at home.  I’m mean, we’ve all been there at some point haven’t we?  I have!!

We’ll eat the entire bag of chips, the whole box of cookies, all the crackers (NONE of these foods are bad!!!!) merely because they’re there.


We need to find a way to stop this.

We need to become more aware.

Oh, dare I say, “more mindful” if we truly desire change.

It’s hard!


It’s easier than we make it.



Eat your meals.  Try to cut back on snacks.

Drink some water.  Try to cut back on other things.

Incorporate a few more veggies into your day.  Try to cut back on starchy carbs if you don’t have a lot of activity scheduled.

Rather than eating directly out of the package, measure out one serving.  Try not to go back for seconds.

Eat when you’re hungry.  Try not to eat when you’re just upset, thirsty, or bored.



Let me know how I can help.

Was I a Grizzly Bear in a Previous Life?

Family & F.I.T.  |  Debbie Hatch


I went out to eat tonight. I was going to say “after a long day” but that’s not really true. It just seems like a long day because the sun was already setting when I walked out of the classroom.

I didn’t need to go out for dinner. There’s plenty of food in my room.  Good, healthy food.  I just didn’t feel like eating it.  Been there?  Done that?


These shorter days bother me – every single year. I’m a “sunny kind of person”! Without it, I’m tired. It feels like bedtime around 6 p.m.

Not joking. I was a grizzly bear in a former life. It's time to hibernate!

Not joking. I was a grizzly bear in a former life. It’s time to hibernate!


My motivation – for anything – really wanes.

Zero.  No, not even zero.  Negative 1,000 motivation.


It’s tougher to get to the gym consistently. It’s harder to finish anything (everything), and I start craving comfort foods. Ugh.


So, yup, I went to a local Italian (my fav!!) restaurant.

Add this seasonal change, a craving for comfort food, and the fact that a lot of people already struggle when they go out to eat – triple whammy.


“What should I eat when we go out?” is among the top 5 questions I get from people. It either makes us anxious


We go out to eat, over do it, and then feel guilty, or both.


First, you should never feel guilty about food.


It doesn’t change what you’ve already eaten. It only makes things worse.  Guilt can lead to binging and an all or nothing mindset.   You’ve eaten it.  Okay, so what.  Don’t make matters worse by thinking,”Well, if I’ve already eaten all of that…..might as well get the chocolate lava cake and a kailua and cream, too.  What difference does it make now?”

Please don’t.  Be done.  Move on.  No guilt.  No shame.


As for the anxiety you might feel before going out to eat, it can help to have a plan.

Here are three things that might make things a little easier.



Do you know what’s on the menu?  When I can (and it’s not always possible) I like to look at the menu on line and decide what I’m going to get before I walk into the restaurant.  This means there’s less of a chance I’m going to walk in the door and order whatever the next table is having.




Can you set one or two specific goals for yourself before you go?  Stick to those goals and let the rest of the evening just happen.

This is not an exhaustive list but some examples might include:



  • I’m going to start with a salad.
  • As soon as I sit down, I’m going to ask the waitress not to bring the bread basket.
  • I’m going to start by drinking a large glass of water.
  • I’m going to order mixed vegetables instead of a potato covered in sour cream, or French Fries.
  • I’m going to get an appetizer (or two) as my meal.
  • I’m going to make sure I get some protein.  If I can choose something that isn’t breaded or deep fried, that would be best.
  • I’m going to get that pie I love so much but I’m going to share it with the person who’s going with me.
  • I’m going to only have one glass of wine.
  • I’m going to focus on the conversation and not just the food.
  • I’m going to eat slowly and stop when I start to feel satisfied rather than waiting until I feel full (or stuffed).



Are you comfortable determining how much you’re going to eat rather than feeling like you need to eat everything the restaurant puts on your plate?  Servings, and plates, are frequently larger when we go out to eat.




What rules did I have tonight?  I wanted to get some vegetables and protein.  I didn’t want fried or battered food.  I’d never been here before and didn’t look at the menu before arriving.



I ordered the unstuffed mushrooms for an appetizer.  Crabmeat and shrimp mixed with some cream cheese, garlic, green onions, and mushrooms, topped with a light cracker crust.  I ate half of it and asked the waitress to box the other half.  I didn’t have bread.  I did have a glass of water.  I didn’t worry about the cream cheese or cracker crumbs.  Who cares.  Those weren’t in my rules for tonight.



For my entree I ordered grilled chicken and mushrooms.  It was cooked in a wine reduction (didn’t worry about it).  I had a choice of soup or salad.  I picked salad with balsamic dressing on the side.  I had a choice of baked potato, garlic mashed, french fries or broccoli.  I picked broccoli.  The plate of food was very large and easily two servings – so I put half on my smaller plate (from the appetizer) and sat the other half off to one side for the waitress to box up.


All Usually Leads to Nothing

Family & FIT  |  Debbie Hatch


Ever notice how “All or Nothing” most typically leads to nothing?


There are very few things in life that should be looked at in absolute terms.

Always.  Never.  100% or Nothing.




There are some, of course.

When I was helping supervisors write job performance standards, it was okay not to let the Pharmacist kill, through the improper filling of prescriptions, “no more than one” person per quarter. We didn’t ask the Pilot to “crash only a few planes” each year.  Doctors were expected to remove the correct body part EVERY single time.


So, sure, some things have to be absolute.

But very few.


NOT HAPPINESS… … …  screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-10-28-40-pm


In fact, the more we polarize our thinking, the more likely we are to become depressed.  To quote Paul Martin from his 1998 book, “The Sickening Mind:  Brain, Behaviour, Immunity and Disease”, “For a healthy emotional life, it’s not more extreme happiness we need, but more balanced emotions.”


Not all or nothing, but something in the middle. 


AND MOST CERTAINLY NOT OUR DIETS OR EXERCISE!. screen-shot-2015-07-12-at-6-35-29-pm


Unfortunately, many of us view them with this mindset. You know what I’m talking about:

  • If I can’t get to the gym every day this week.  I might as well not go at all.
  • I can’t spend a full 30-40 minutes working out today.  Why bother working out at all then?  What’s the point?
  • Ugh.  I ate donuts in the office this morning.  My diet is screwed.  Might as well start again tomorrow.  Or better yet, why not next Monday?


Health and fitness are NOT all or nothing propositions.


Success is found somewhere in the middle!!


  • I had salad and cannoli last week.
  • I drank a lot of water and two glasses of wine.
  • I ate meat, veggies, AND bread.
  • This past month, there were days I went to the gym and lifted heavy for an hour, days I dragged myself in and did the bare minimum for 15-20 minutes, days I took self-defense classes, days I did yoga, days I did bodyweight exercises in my hotel room, or went for a jog, and days I sat on my ass because I was just exhausted.


It’s what we do – over time – that matters.

Consistency is key. 


Doesn’t matter what you do, or for how long.  Do something.  Where you are with what you have available, at this point and in this place.

How Do I Juggle Chainsaws? How Can You?

Family & F.I.T.  |  Debbie Hatch 

Gettin' down to business

Gettin’ down to business


This week I am studying for my Virginia State Health, Life & Annuity Certification. It’s a pretty big deal, has cost me a lot of money and I really want to pass.  The test is Friday morning.


I will be traveling 22 out of 30 days in November.  I have course books to mail, slides to update, and a few more travel arrangements to complete. I also have two client consultations set for this week, need to finish my monthly financial report, follow-up on several invoices and finalize my business video series prep.



As an HR specialist who has studied organizational leadership and change management for years, a former supervisor, current business owner, mom/grandmother and fitness enthusiast, I have studied the affects and management of stress for quite some time; both formally and informally.  I like to think I have a good handle on it.  
I am human though, so of course there are days and whole periods of time when I struggle.


Last week two different people asked me, “how do you personally handle stress?” I’d like to take 5 minutes as I enjoy my coffee and reflect, on this Mindset Monday, to share what I told them.

This is me

            This is me


First, I take responsibility for some (maybe even much) of my stress.  I have a tendency to over-extended myself.  I know that and I’m working on it constantly.  As a recovering perfectionist, I frequently deal with a lack of self-confidence and, as a result, I volunteer for more than I should.  I take on a lot of responsibility.  I want to fix things (everything for everybody).  The resulting stress can feel like I’m juggling too many chainsaws and I’m going to drop one or more, at any time.  I used to feel that would be disastrous (hence why they’re chainsaws and not just balls) – like that would be the end of the world.



I’ve come to realize that’s just a story. It’s not really true.  I may still juggle chainsaws but I can limit the number, and if I drop one, I know life will likely go on.  I’ve made a ton of mistakes.  I’ve dropped some things unintentionally and made a conscious decision to drop others.  The world has not ended…..




                                I frequently make “Not To Do” lists.


The way I’ve learned to juggle chainsaws is to:


===>     ASSESS:  


Both feelings and goals.   Every morning I sit with a cup of coffee for 20-30 minutes. Before I look at social media or e-mail (those have a way of stealing hours from me before I even realize what’s happening) I reflect on my intentions for the day.  Things don’t always go as planned but I determine my 1-2 (no more) goals I would like to accomplish.  I write them down.  I then spend time thinking about all of the wonderful things I am grateful for today. I jot them down.


Some would call it meditation – I call it contemplation.


There’s no judgment here.  Telling myself I shouldn’t feel this way, that I’m being ridiculous, or even “it’s just a story” does nothing to make me move from that place.  Rather, I think, “Okay.  I’m feeling stressed right now.  Why?  What’s going on?  Are these thoughts valid or am I making a big deal out of something that really isn’t that big of a deal?  Is it really going to be the end of the world?”

This assessment can take some of the pressure off, and ground me in reality.


===> ACCEPT Personal Responsibility:


I accept the fact that I tend to disconnect from people and procrastinate when I’m stressed because it’s hard to focus.  I know putting things off only increases the pressure, but it can sometimes seem difficult to get started until I see that looming deadline.


I find it helpful to write down all of the things I have on my plate…in no particular order, just as the tasks and commitments come to mind.  From there I prioritize and focus on only one thing at a time.

  • This IS really important and it needs to be done before that.
  • This is something I’d like to do but it won’t make a difference in decreasing my stress.  I can do that later but it is not important today.


===> Mandate ACTION: 

screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-8-55-18-amI set the alarm on my phone or the stove for 30 minutes or an hour.  I completely shut down e-mail, all social media, and I put my phone on do not disturb.  I work for the specified amount of time.  Then I might set the alarm again and focus on something else for 30-60 minutes and so on.

I DO build breaks, time for stretching/walking and my workouts into the day even (especially) if I’m super busy and/or stressed because I know that investment of time pays large dividends in energy and focus.


===>  ACKNOWLEDGE Success


Each evening, I think about everything that has happened over the day.  No matter how “good” or “bad” the day has been, I write down at least 1-2 things that made me happy (e.g. were “good) about the day.  I acknowledge areas I want to work on improving.  Not that they were “bad” but, “here’s something I can do better.”


Sometimes we get so focused on reaching a big goal that we forget to notice the smaller goals we’ve met along the way. If we remember to celebrate every small step we’ve taken, toward the bigger goal, we bolster our feeling of success, our confidence that we CAN “do this”, and our resolve to keep going.


If you find any of these tips helpful, please let me know.  In the meantime, I’m getting off the computer and down to work.  – Cheers.

“Enjoying Yourself” Doesn’t Mean Eating to the Point of Being Miserable

Family & FIT  |  Debbie Hatch


In his “defense”, it WAS Christmas. <3

“I’ve been doing well on my nutrition but I’m going out to eat with my family on Saturday. I’m worried about it. How can I stay on track?”


*** Enjoy time with your family. ***

Talk. Laugh. Don’t worry too much about the food. Now, that doesn’t mean every time you eat outside your home, it has to be a free-for-all, stuff yourself to the point of being uncomfortable, see how many calories you can eat, event.

A few days ago I stopped at The Barn Door Restaurant in San Antonio, Texas. I was not with family or IMG_6050friends. It was just me – but I eat the same way regardless. This is not advice. It’s also not preaching. It’s merely an example of what I do 95% of the time.


1. I started with a glass of water, and I also ordered one of unsweetened tea.



2. I got a salad to start. I try to take in multiple servings of veggies every day. A salad is a quick and easy way for me to do that. I go light on the dressing, if I use any at all. Lucky for me I love the taste of fresh veggies!!! Here their house was a “Green Goddess” dressing which was a Cucumber Garlic. It was delicious.  IMG_6051




3. They brought rolls to the table. While not as much as I used to, I do still love fresh (warm) bread so I ate half a roll, with butter, along with my salad. Eating the rest – or more than one would not have made it taste any better.




IMG_60524. I ordered the bacon wrapped filet (the smallest they offer is 8 ounces – that’s actually two servings of meat) so I cut it in half as soon as it was delivered to the table. I substituted zucchini for the potato. Not because “potatoes are bad”. Not because “carbs are bad”. It had been a travel day for me and I’d spent most of the day sitting on the plane or in the car. I didn’t want or need the additional carbs (veggies are carbs, the 1/2 roll I ate is carbs, the croutons, etc) for that level of activity. The meal also came with a vegetable – I picked green beans. I split the veggies in half too and brought 4 oz of steak, zucchini and green beans with me for the next day’s lunch.




5. The steak was served on top of half a slice of bread – which absorbs the grease and drippings. I did not eat that. See #4 above. Just because the restaurant chooses to serve something doesn’t mean I have to eat it.  




I left satiated and happy. I wasn’t stuffed. I didn’t eat more than my body wanted just because it was sat in front of me. I also didn’t starve myself or leave feeling, “I wish I had just ordered this or that.”



Let me know if you have any questions or need suggestions.

You Can’t Change What You’re Willing to Tolerate

Family & FIT  |  Debbie Hatch
Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 6.02.12 PM
I want to talk about something that’s been weighing heavily upon my mind.  Personal responsibility.
Specifically I want to talk about what we’re willing to tolerate, but also about giving ourselves (apparent) permission to just give up, and to lie to ourselves about it.

Let me begin by giving you a little background.  I sat down to write this about 2 hours ago…..

I wanted to keep it quick and simple.

PLAN A:  I tried to attach an audio file I recorded in my car a couple of months ago.  When I’m on the road, that’s typically the only place I find quiet time to think.  It said exactly what’s on my mind.  But the file was too big to attach.  ((Editor’s note – of course it is attaching just fine now, after I’ve transcribed it and moved on…the audio file is being attached about 9 HOURS after I wrote this piece.  Listen if you’d like.  Read if you’d prefer))
PLAN B:  I’ll just put it on You Tube and attach a link.  You Tube won’t let me upload it because it’s just audio.

PLAN C:  I’ll make a video.  How hard could that be?  Here I am 2 hours later, giving up.

*** NOT on the message.  Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 6.10.08 PM
*** NOT on my plan.
*** NOT on my goal of sending you a message.  Merely on my way for doing it.  My technique.

And  I’ve just realized, in the long run, that’s perfect!!  It makes my point perfectly!

Let me transcribe the audio file for you.
“We live our lives in seasons.  When I was a teenager, my life was an absolute disaster.  That’s not me being dramatic – it was a time of turbulence.  A broken home.  Legal battles and court hearings.  Counseling.  It was a huge mess.


When I was in my 20s, after a brief stint at being “THE” party girl, I sat about trying to straighten out that mess:  part of which I had been handed and part of which I created for myself.
I also had my kids when I was in my 20s.

In my 30s I was making a name for myself.  Things had turned around.  I was married and raising my IMG_4209children.  I was letting everyone know “I’m here!  I will be the best of the best – at everything!  No matter the cost.”
I worked mega hours.  I went to school.  I volunteered.  I won numerous awards.  Throughout that entire period of time, I was incredibly active.   I could eat whatever I wanted.  I could do whatever I wanted.  I was strong and capability:  physically, emotionally, mentally.  I was on top of my “game”.
IMG_4219 IMG_4221 IMG_4222 IMG_4223  IMG_4225 IMG_4227 IMG_4229

In my 40s I really became super energized, exercised all the time and began competing.  I won several
trophies – never the big prize but I certainly did okay for myself.

Now I’m over 50 and it’s a different part of my life.  I no longer feel like I need to prove myself – physically or in the workplace.  I’m comfortable and confident in knowing who I am.  I’m no longer willing to trade days of my life for a few more dollars or a wooden plaque.
I’m still physically capable but at this point, my mid-life point, I’m looking toward the future.  I want to keep myself physically capable, and strong, and mobile throughout the rest of my life so that when I’m in my 80s I’ll still be able to get myself out of the chair or if I fall down somewhere, I’ll have the physical strength to get back up.  All of these things require different skills and different training throughout our lives.  Not just for women – but for men as well.

Our – male and female – hormones are decreasing as we’re no longer in our child bearing years.  We’re tapering off.

So we’re adding more weight to our middle and we’re finding that we’re not quite as energetic as reused to be.
We don’t have as much strength as we used to have.

At this point we have a choice.
We can decide to just sit in the chair from here on out and let life happen to us.”

We can “just” get old.  We can decay.   We can laugh when our doctors tell us to change our ways.  We can make a joke of our health, like this friend has done.
Just because we make fun of ourselves in these situations doesn’t mean it’s a joke.  It isn’t.  Are bacon and eggs the problem?  Absolutely not!  I don’t like Waffle House but I occasionally eat both of those things.   The problem is that we’re not honest with ourselves.  Even when we’ve heard lectures (repeatedly) from our doctors, we shrug it off.  Oh well.  No need to change anything.
Could we die today?  Yes.  But it’s more likely we’re going to live to a ripe old age.  The average life expectancy in the US right now is 80 – 83.  The alternative is to decide to be the best 50 or 60 or 80 year old that you can be.  Decide to live life; to be vibrant and healthy throughout the entire thing!!!
I will not let my life end at 52.
I adore you!!  I want only for you to be healthy – to live a long life, to take care of yourself, and to be honest with yourself no matter how hard that might be.  I’m here if there’s anything I can do to help.

It’s Ok for a Super Hero to Scream, “Enough!”

Family & F.I.T.  |  Debbie Hatch

Two different people asked me the same question today. “How do you make time for yourself? I’m struggling. It seems like somebody always needs something more (and more and more and more) from me.”

Super woman2
Oh, I used to be super-woman. I worked more than 40 hours a week, while going to school, raising two children, was a brownie leader, volunteered with cub scouts, worked on promotions, won awards for being an over-achiever, and, and, and, and……… all at the same time. Trust me when I tell you that I know about trying to be all things to all people.
Multi-tasker extraordinaire.  Check.  
Perfectionist.  Check.  
Well, guess what?  It’s all bullshit.
And maybe some think that I should apologize for cursing but I’m not going to.
That’s the only way to say it.
I still struggle sometimes but MUCH less than I used to for three specific reasons.
==> 1. I have accepted personal responsibility for my actions and I really do let the little stuff go.  
==> 2. I establish priorities for myself.
==> 3. I set boundaries and not only do I stick to those but I insist others do too.
Personal Responsibility for my Actions:
I ate crap (because it was quick and easy). I never exercised (I was much too tired and busy). I gave, gave, gave until there was nothing left. I was frustrated, exhausted, and resentful. I felt like crap.  Actually, I felt like a victim and a martyr. I had to be the most amazing mother, the best wife, the hardest worker.  The best.  At everything.  
What I was the best at was lying to myself.
No one else was making me work all of those hours. I chose to. How could I possible get angry when they didn’t appreciate it?
No one else was making me put myself last. I chose to. How could I be upset when others acted the same way I always had, and expected me to put myself last?
There is no competition.  Every mother is doing the best she can do.  So too, each spouse, sister, friend.
And by doing everything all by myself, I was actually judging the people I loved most.  We don’t think of it this way, but that’s what it is.  If I’m “so” good that I don’t need to ask anyone for anything, what am I really thinking (deep down) about my family and friends who ask me for help?  They’re not as good as me?
Just think about that for 3 or 4 seconds.
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I’m still busy.  I’m still running two (and a half) businesses. I’m still working more than 40 hours a week but I have stopped comparing my progress to anybody else’s.  I have stopped trying to “keep up with Jane” at the expense of putting myself dead last.  I have one life.  Even if I live into my 90s, it’s going to be a short one.  I choose now not to make myself miserable.  I choose to live my life, not just try to survive it.  And I really don’t care who likes who or thinks I’m not “working up to my potential”.  
I do some work but I also make some time for myself. Each Sunday, I make a list of one thing I will accomplish this week for each of my roles (I am a mother/wife; a friend; a business owner; a student, a trainer, etc). I include physical and personal enhancement goals. (I don’t get to the gym every day but I AM getting there 3-4 times a week. It’s non-negotiable. I can’t read every day but I am going to set a goal to have 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening to read a little).
When I go to the gym and/or have my personal time, I put my phone on airplane mode. There are very few true emergencies and the fact is, if someone can’t reach me for 15 or 30 minutes, that is not going to make or break any situation that I can think of.
I insist on at least a few hours, if I can’t fit in a whole day, of pure recreation.  I have a lot of work to do this week.  I worked all day yesterday.  Today I took the entire day off.  I went to Alcatraz.  I had a nice lunch.  I went to Sonoma.  Years ago, I would have felt guilty.  I would have felt like I “wasted” my day.
The truth is: when I take time to recharge, I work even harder when get back to work.
Setting Boundaries:
I’ve stopped over-promising, and many other things.  Read this blog I wrote about my “To Don’t” list and implement a few things.  When a customer or client asks for something at 4 o’clock this afternoon, it doesn’t have to be done this second or before I go to bed. I now send responses like, “I received your message and will get the response to you asap but it probably will not be until this weekend.” When my family, friends, or clients ask me to do something for them, I let them know I will but I also let them know when “after my workout” “tomorrow when I’m not teaching” “this weekend”.  FullSizeRender[3]
And other people are okay with that.  We think they think we need to drop everything the second they ask for even something minor.  If they do, it’s because we have foster or created that expectation.  We have allowed it.    But…. I’ve found the unreasonable expectations are typically being placed by me, not by the the other person.
Try it.
This very moment, write down something you will do for relaxation this week AND something you will do for yourself every single day (that might be 30 minutes in the gym, a 20 minute walk, 15 minutes of reading…whatever you choose) and then do it.  Let me know how it goes.  Sincerely.

Because Menstruation Itself Isn’t Enough

Family & F.I.T.  |  Debbie Hatch


Do you get headaches at “that” time of the month?  I never used to but as I’ve gotten older, they’ve developed and will typically last for a full three days before dissipating.  It’s annoying and frustrating, especially given my travel schedule.  I don’t have the ability to call in sick and I can tell you this:  traveling or teaching with a splitting headache is not a good time.  Even if you don’t have my schedule, headaches can disrupt your sleep, work, and relationships.  There can be a number of reasons why we get these monthly headaches and I want to share this synopsis of an article written and published by the Women’s Health Network.


Headaches can be caused by hormonal, adrenal, or thyroid imbalance.

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HORMONAL IMBALANCE:  “We know that headaches can often arise during periods of shifting hormones, including the days leading up to your menstrual period, or the time leading up to menopause. Generally speaking, hormonal headaches occur due to imbalanced levels between estrogen and progesterone. This is why many women notice headaches right before their periods when progesterone naturally dips.

Progesterone can also drop during perimenopause (the period leading up to menopause) making some women, who have never experienced menstrual headaches, to suddenly begin experiencing them.”

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ADRENAL IMBALANCE:  “If your headaches arise with the onset of stress or after a sugar/caffeine ‘crash’, that might indicated an adrenal imbalance.  It’s extremely common for women with adrenal imbalance to get in the habit of using sugar and caffeine to spark the energy they need to get through the day. This vicious circle can leave the body depleted and cause headaches. Adrenal headaches may also come with other symptoms like light-headedness upon standing, fatigue, or salt cravings.”


Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 9.35.35 PMTHYROID IMBALANCE:  “If you’ve recently noticed that you have chronic headaches or migraines, they could be related to a thyroid imbalance. Daily persistent headaches related to thyroid tend to bother both sides of the head and have a pressing or tightening quality. They generally aren’t made worse by physical activity, but can be aggravated by intense light or sound. You may find that your thyroid-related headaches occur in conjunction with cold intolerance, skin issues, loss of energy, constipation, and/or fluid retention.”


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Figure it out.  Instead of (or maybe even in addition to, for a little while) merely popping Ibuprofen or Excedrin, for the rest of your life, the best thing you can do to try to figure out your headaches, is to buy a notebook and begin tracking them.  Write down all of the details:  When did you get the headache?  What did you eat just prior to the headache starting?  What was your stress level on that day/time?  How much sleep did you have the night before?  How much coffee and/or sugar prior to?  After tracking for a while, you may see patterns emerge.  It’s helpful to share this information with your doctor too.  Best case scenario, you can determine why you’re getting the headaches and find a solution for relieving, and possibly preventing, them.”

Find someone to help you.  My primary care provider had no answers for me, and refused to approve me for lab work or thyroid testing. I paid, out of my own pocket, for the tests and a private doctor.

In the meantime, please remember, “If you develop a serious and sudden headache that feels unbearable, check with your doctor right away, as this can be a sign of a serious health issue.”

Let the Diving Begin: 1st full day in The Solomon Islands

Family & F.I.T.  |  Debbie Hatch




The Russell Islands are comprised of two small islands, and several islets, in the Central Province of Solomon Islands. They are located just over 29 miles northwest of Guadalcanal.  This was our first stop.





Travel Log:  Day  5  Russell Islands


IMG_7405The anchor dropped at 0109.  Man it was loud!  I had a tough time getting back to sleep and we finally just gave up at 0340 and got out of bed.  Upstairs I made coffee, journaled, and looked at dive books.  Brent studied the SI map which read, “there are 4,000 species of fish and 400 variety of coral here.  It is the amazon of the ocean not yet discovered by mainstream tourism.”

The first dive brief was scheduled for 0745.  Everyone on deck was dressed in 3-5 mm wetsuits, some with hoods and gloves.  They carried tons of stuff with them.  One of the divers even had the equivalent of a purse hooked to the front of her BC.  What to heck?  Brent and I showed up in our bathing suits.  We had nothing extra except the camera.  “Are you guys diving?”  Yes.  “Are you getting dressed?”  We are dressed.  “You’re going like that?”  Yes.  Why?


What are you talking about? I’ll be fine without a wetsuit. Let me on the boat.


The water was 86 degrees at depth!!  Over the course of the week I had a couple of stings and scraps but I dove in a bikini (and nothing more) every single day.  It was perfect.  Comically we both recovered gear from the divers who carried so much.  I rescued one guys Go Pro when he jumped in and dropped it.  Brent found one of the divers’ knives at depth.  Simple.  Easy.  Utilitarian.  That’s us 🙂






Dive #1:  Kovilok Bay.  88 feet for 58 minutes.  It was nice to be in the water but the dive itself was nothing to brag about.  This was a check dive where the dive masters could make sure everyone was comfortable under the water, and informally assess everyone’s level.



Dive #2:  Leru Cut.  92 feet for 52 minutes.  This was beautiful.  After the cut, there was a nice wall.  It’s positively amazing just how sharply the coral falls in the deep blue!  Rick says it’s thousands of feet deep here.  Lots of sea fans with a light current.  Some Christmas tree and soft corals but the highlite was large schools of barracuda and jack.

If you’d like the full effect, here’s a link to the above video.


Dive #3:  Custom Cave.  66 feet for 69 minutes.  Brent had a headache and sat this one out so I dove by myself after following Rick through the cave.  The sun streaking down from above, casting shadows in the water, was beautiful.  Great coral growth with TONS of fish!  I loved the schools of silver sides – who are there one minute and then turn and seem to disappear, the next.  As I began to swim up for my safety stop, I saw 3 very large bump head wrasse.

Dive #4:  Mirror Pond.  69 feet for 32 minutes.  We swam under the island and came up inside a cave pond.  Brent and I were the last to surface and were, consequently, the furthest back.  I spotted a salt water crocodile on top of the rocks.  (We didn’t personally get video or pictures but this link will show you a nice video of what they look like).  He was 6-8 feet long and only the two of us saw it.  We were told that if we saw one in the water to stay submerged.  They can’t see as well underwater as they can topside.  I was also cautioned not to come up outside of certain areas (where our tenders would drive the crocodiles off) during night dives.

Later, Sam told me the crocs don’t grow very large because, “they have occasionally bitten a local spearfisherman, and/or children.  The locals kill them.”  Makes sense!

After the pond, we swam through some positively phenomenal coral gardens and along another steep wall.  Schools of jacks and the other fish.  Barracuda, parrot fish, pancake triggers, and carpet anemones.  Everything was perfect until we got to a corner of the wall.  The current REALLY picked up – without warning.  It was so strong that I had grabbed onto a piece of coral and was still being ripped away.  Brent decided we should surface.  While we were the first back to the boat, shortly other divers started to come up.  Not only had they been caught in the current (the strongest that Sam, the Bilikiki owner, has seen here) but several were also caught in a downdraft.  That means you’re being sucked down – one lady went from 10 to 29 feet in the time it took her to take one breathe.  Not fun.



After the last two dives, locals paddled out in hand-hewn canoes to sell us fresh fruit (pineapples, mango, watermelon) and vegetables (endive, green beans, greens and egg plant).  Once at our boat, the men dropped the women off in our dive boats so that they could complete the trading.


IMG_7456  In the meantime, the men and many of the children paddled back a little ways.  THAT was amazing to see and it led to some great conversations as well.  June (a 68 year old woman who was here with her husband – she snorkeled but doesn’t dive) and I talked about how little we really need to live and enjoy life.  We talked about the locals and the fact that with their boats, families, very little money, and some food, they are happy.  I won’t say it was life changing but it was most certainly life enhancing.  The irony is how much money we (how much people DO) paid to get back to basics.


Everyone opted out of the night dive.