Category Archive: Lifestyle

Apr 05

Foreboding Joy

Family & F.I.T.  |  Debbie Hatch

Have you ever experienced foreboding joy?  You know, that sense when everything is going great, you had better watch out.  You can’t let yourself feel too happy.  You need to be prepared and on guard.  Things are too good.  Something bad is about to happen at any moment.

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I first heard the term in my on-going Brene Brown, Strong Rising, mindset course.  Twenty years prior to this class, I remember experiencing foreboding joy.  I didn’t know what it was called at the time.  We had left Maine for the first time and were living in Texas.  Brent was going to school, the kids were enrolled in day camp, and I had nothing to do for the first time in my life.  It was unsettling.  We had family game nights each evening.  We laughed, played, and simply enjoyed each other’s company.  We shared stories of cacti and scorpions.  We wore trash bags to a rodeo in the a thundershower.  We ate ice cream, frequently; watched small planes fly, and learned that running to the oil well you could see might mean you’d be running for ten miles.  Life was fantastic!!!


I worried, constantly.  Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 10.24.38 PM

I knew something bad was going to happen.  I didn’t know what or when but things were too good.  Something bad always happened.  I pushed the thoughts away until they started manifesting themselves as nightmares while I slept.

Over the years, I’ve really worked on eliminating this.  It does nothing for me – worry or not, what is going to  happen is going to happen.  By worrying when nothing was happening, I was not allowing myself to feel joy in the moment.  Little by little, I’ve gotten better but, sometimes I still have to consciously think about it.



This was the case as we headed to vacation.  This trip had been planned for a decade.  We were super excited!  We’ve both dove around 300 dives.  But….on the flight from Fiji to Guadalcanal, I thought, “I’m excited but also quite anxious.  I feel worried and nervous – not about anything in particular.  Just overall.”  I talked to Brent about it and he reassured me everything would be fine but said he felt the foreboding joy too.  Neither of us could quite put our finger on it.  It got worse for Brent through the first day of diving.  Once I got in the water, it got much better for me.  By day two, it was gone.


The trip was positively amazing and I’m so glad we didn’t spend any more time allowing worry to steal our happiness in the moment.

Travel Log:  Day  4  Guadalcanal


The van picked us up from the airport and our guide, Leonard, his teeth stained red from betel juice, gushed about his homeland.  The Solomon Islands is an island nation located in the southwest Pacific, 1,500 miles west of Fiji and 1,200 miles northeast of Australia.



Leonard shared bits and pieces of information as we drove from Honiara to the dive boat, and beamed as he told us how proud “everyone” was of their tiny rugby team making the World cup.  I noticed trash, the price of gas ($6.57 / liter) ramshackle buildings, and people, every where.  The city of Honiara did not seem like a place I would care to spend much time and it must have showed on my face because, again, Brent reassured me.  “I’m sure you’re wondering what I got you into.  Don’t worry.”


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I wasn’t worried but I WAS trying to take everything in!  This is a 3rd world country where people are merely trying to survive.  I wondered how many tribes lived here, what it was like during WWII, and what the people’s life expectancy is currently (the answer is 67).  It is important to note that as time went on, we were told by multiple people not to judge the SIs by Honiara.  It is not indicative of the small island villages.  After having visited several of the villages, myself, I whole-heartedly agree!


We arrived at the dock and were shuttled to the dive boat (mv Bilikiki – a 125 ft long ship with 24 ft beam and 10 ensuite cabins) where we met Chaba (originally from Hungary) and his wife Daniella (originally from Venezuela); dive masters and managers of the Bilikiki for the past four years.  There was just enough time to settle in and unpack before we left the harbor at 1830.


We consider ourselves incredibly fortunate to have been joined by:

Group photo

  • The original owner, Rick – who bought this sunken boat from the government years ago, and restored it, with no business plan and no aspirations to “get rich”.  He had never even heard of The Solomon Islands and was merely following his passion and dream “to scuba dive”.
  • The current owner, Sam – who, although he doesn’t have Rick’s incredible story, is carrying on his legacy for both a passion in diving and in helping the people of these islands.
  • Two couples from Denver – one of whom sold their house, put everything they own into a 10 x 10 storage unit and have been “homeless” living everywhere from Japan to England, Africa, to the US for the past five years – and loving it!
  • A 65 year old apple farmer and his wife – who started their business with a small vegetable stand beside the road and now employ close to 100 people in one of the biggest orchards in upstate NY.  Both jump out of helicopters to go skiing!  Dennis had only completed his open water certification before coming on this trip.  He was OVER-THE-MOON excited every single dive!!!  It made me very happy.
  • A 72 year old gentleman from Long Beach who takes two to three of these trips each year, and had amazing stories to share.
  • A mysterious guy from Phoenix, who never would answer the question “what do you do?”
  • A lady from the Australia prosecutor’s office who has been stationed on Guadalcanal since the Solomon’s civil war in the early 2000s.  She told us the most prevalent crimes are domestic violence and given the small population, per capita, murder.
  • A couple from Los Angeles and a young couple from Mexico.

Meeting people like this was icing on the cake.  I loved their passion; the stories of success for “just” following a personal dream; and the shared experiences.  I felt it ignite my own passion….for life.

Tomorrow, we dive.

Mar 30

Stop Torturing Yourself with All This Food Porn

Family & F.I.T.  |  Debbie Hatch


A friend sent me the recipe for these Bailey’s pudding cups, several weeks ago and challenged me to “fix it”.  This happens frequently.

The request usually means, “lower the fat, sugar, and calories please.”

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And, I usually do it.  I’ve “fixed” a few recipes in my day, and I made these Bailey pudding cups too.  Mine weren’t as pretty – for sure!

The difference is 773 fewer calories. 47 fewer carbs, 73 less grams of fat, and 3 less of protein; and my recipe is below.






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===> Here’s what I believe.
I believe in nutrition for life. I believe in eating from all of the food groups. MOSTLY unprocessed whole foods. Protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats (e.g. nuts, avocado) with treats occasionally mixed in. I don’t believe we should feel guilty about what we eat: and I don’t believe that food should be used as a reward (“hooray, I exercised today, now I can eat cake”) NOR as a punishment (“I haven’t been exercising, now I have to eat a plain green salad”).

I don’t believe in die-ts. I’ve tried them all!!!! Low fat, low carb, pure paleo, grapefruit diet, skim milk diet, and my favorite (the Suzy Q, nicotine and caffeine diet). I lost weight on every one of them. I also got sick on a couple. NONE of them allowed me to achieve sustainable weight lose. NONE of them made me healthier.

Are Suzy Q's "bad"? No. Do Suzy Q's provide sound high-quality nutrition? NO!

Are Suzy Q’s “bad”? No. Do Suzy Q’s provide sound high-quality nutrition? NO!


===> Here’s what I want you to know about the recipes I “fix”.
I want you to know that we can change recipes to make them more macro friendly. Even little changes (for example, using Oreo thins [100 calories, 19 cabs, 2 fat] instead of 5 Oreos [267 calories, 42 carbs, 12 fat] like the original recipe calls for; or switching from full fat whipping cream [555 calories, 59 fat] to lite whipped cream [40 calories, 2 fat].) That’s easy – those little swaps are awesome and you can make a huge change by just implementing such seemingly small things into your recipes and daily nutritional habits.


Here’s where I feel I’m not adequately making my point.


===> You really need to understand this, too.
I believe in focusing on what you’re trying to do (lose fat, gain weight, gain muscle, become more fit, get stronger, decrease your medication, become more mobile) and eating accordingly. If you want a 1,143 calorie dessert…. have it, because making a lower calorie version (for most people) won’t satiate the craving anyway. Don’t stress about it. Don’t worry about it. Don’t feel guilty about it.

But (and this is a big one!) you must also be willing to accept responsibility for your choice.  The fact is, we CANNOT routinely have a dessert that takes up 75% of our daily calorie allowance and expect to be successful at reaching our goals. We just can’t. That’s not realistic and it’s not possible.


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If you’re susceptible to cravings because you see 1,000 new recipes in your FB/Instagram feed every day, try decreasing the temptation.





  • Do away with the trigger.
  • Stop torturing yourself.
  • Unlike some of those pages.


You are doing nothing but making yourself miserable by looking at these things and thinking, “Oh. I would love to have that!!!! But, I can’t.  Trust me, I get it.  I sooooooo get it.  When I was competing regularly, the food porn on my Pinterest was excessive.  There were so many things I “couldn’t have” that all I did was look at pictures of food, look at recipes, and dream about the things that I wanted.  I was miserable.  Seriously, what does seeing those posts every day do for you?  Other than make you want that food……..

Most food photos don’t come with a warning label, but should!

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Pinterest and Google are going to be right there. When you’re actually getting ready to make something, or in the mood to try a new recipe, go look for one THEN.






Before you salivate over every delicious recipe that comes across your field of vision (there are a LOT!!!!!!!!!! Again, trust me, I know.), spend ten minutes thinking.

  • Think about your goals.
  • Think about WHY you set those goals for yourself and what you’re really trying to accomplish.
  • Think about all of the things you can have; the things you can do; and the things you are going to be able to enjoy once you accomplish what you’ve set out to do.
  • Think about whether you really want the dessert OR (and this is the much more likely answer) whether it is something you’re thinking about because you just saw a picture of it flash by?

Mar 28

Is the Quality of a Vacation Defined by How Little We Do?

Debbie Hatch  |  Family & F.I.T.


Time is an illusion.

Before you shake your head, close this tab, and start thinking I’ve completely lost my mind, hear me out.


It’s such a weird thing, isn’t it?  I have been back in the United States for four days.  Four days…and yet it feels like four months!  Part of that, no doubt, is working through an 18-hour time zone difference and three days of hormonal headaches but time is like that anyway.


When we’re waiting for something special, time seems to drag.  We wait.  We wish time away.  We want it to be “that” day right now.  When something special has happened, though; the day has finally come, and gone, time seems to race by without allowing so much as a moment for reflection!  I clearly remember my children being two and four; I remember conversations we had and things we giggled about.  Factually, they’re both in their thirties with children and lives of their own.

Tomorrow is too late and yesterday is gone.

That’s not just a euphemism.

It’s a reality. How many things have you planned to do “tomorrow” that you’ve never actually gotten around to doing?  How many yesterdays have passed?

Getting shots before travel.

Getting shots before travel.


My transition to “real life” after my three week vacation has been difficult, at best.  To be sure, it wasn’t you’re “traditional” vacation.  Two of the three countries we visited are considered to be “third world”.  Poverty and disease are real issues.  The order of the day is survival – in the very real sense.  I didn’t come back to the US thinking “Wow.  We’re incredibly fortunate.” To be honest, I already knew that.


No.  I came back thinking, “the amount of stuff we have, the amount of time we spend hustling for no reason, the amount of time we waste on stuff that doesn’t matter, and the amount of time we stress over pointless crap, is absolutely ridiculous.”  I can see how going from vacation to these revelations could seem a big jump so maybe it’s best if I start at the beginning.


Travel Log:  Days 1-3



We started by spending three days in Fiji, a small island nation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  We didn’t visit the “real” Fiji though.  We stayed at an Americanized resort on Denarau Island; we had internet, top-notch restaurants and amenities.  The lesson didn’t start here but the story did.  These are notes from my journal, as they were written originally.



“It’s so weird that after I shared pictures of Brent and I at the gym this morning, I received several messages telling me I should ‘just enjoy my vacation’.  That I ‘shouldn’t worry about working out’.


When did enjoying vacation, life, or anything else for that matter, become synonymous with doing absolutely nothing?  When did “having a good time” mean stuffing myself with food and drink while lounging in a lawn chair?


To be certain, many of our fellow travelers seem perfectly content in that mode:  moving from their beds in the morning to sitting at breakfast.  They didn’t even enjoy the short stroll along the ocean.  Rather, they summoned the on-duty golf cart to pick them up and shuttle them about.  After breakfast, it was back to the golf cart, back to the room to prepare for a full day of sitting in a chaise lounge by the pool; having food and drinks delivered chair-side.  Dinner was provided via shuttle service and after sitting there, it was time to retire to their suites for television and bed.


I have zero judgment for these people.  Zero.  I mean that.

Palm trees

Gorgeous! But I have no desire to just sit here for 12 hours.

But that, to me, doesn’t sound like a good time.  It sounds incredibly boring.


It’s odd to me that because I didn’t have a completely sedentary vacation, some assume I didn’t enjoy myself.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.


In my typical day-to-day, I’m working.  All day.  I get up around 5 or 530 and go to bed around 1030 or 1100.  I’m tired.  When I’m working, bombarded with commitments, and stressed, at the end of the day it’s easy to feel like just collapsing.  More often than I care to admit, I don’t want to (in fact, it feels like I can’t) think.  I don’t want to do anything.  I don’t want to talk to anyone.  I just want to sit.  Quietly.


During vacation, I’ve gotten up at 330 in the morning but I’ve also been in bed by 8.  This has changed my interaction with the day entirely.  I wake up full of energy.  I have meditation time.  That word’s been over-used and misunderstood for a very long time.  Meditation is merely reflection.  Quiet time.  Thinking.  I write during that time.  (In fact, it’s 6 a.m. and I’ve already been up for 2 ½ hours).




Just before sunrise I walk the beach.  Not power-walking.  Just a casual, slow, relaxing stroll.  Once Brent wakes up, we’ll walk just over a quarter mile to the small gym.  We’ve been working out together for 20 minutes, walking back, and showering before we walk to breakfast.




IMG_7295We went scuba diving; walked a couple of miles to town for coffee and lunch each day; did stand-up paddle boarding. We read.  We relaxed.  Every evening, we walked the mile and a half from one end of the beach to the other, and back, while enjoying the sunset…and we napped.  Brent in the air-conditioned room and me in the outdoor hammock. It was amazing to have that time and simply rest, caressed by warm ocean breezes.  I ate…I had a little Fijian bread pudding for breakfast each day (in addition to fresh fruit, eggs and/or sliced turkey).


I didn’t deprive myself but…


I did reaffirm that when left to my natural devices – no commitments, no responsibility, no appointments, no time to be anywhere specific – my mind and body love to exercise.  Not because I have to but because it feels good.”

Mar 03

Morning Cup of Coffee: Move Forward

Debbie Hatch  |  Family & F.I.T.

Morning cup of coffee, with a side of mindset.

The original Starbucks icon mug from the original Starbucks.  The crown jewel in my collection.  I have two :-)

The original Starbucks icon mug from the original Starbucks. The crown jewel in my collection. I have two 🙂











Stop trying to find something to worry about, or be unhappy about! I’m not preaching the, “Be happy, be positive, never think bad thoughts” mantra. I’m preaching the, “You’re specifically seeking out something you can be unhappy about, and you need to stop it” mantra.

Here’s an example. I had a gentleman in one of my classes not too long ago. He said, “You know, back in 1990, I made a choice to opt out of this program, and instead, go over to that one.” He asked, “Do you think that was a mistake? Did I mess up?”

My response was, “To be completely honest, it doesn’t matter. It was an irrevocable decision. You cannot go back to 1990 and change your mind, and you can’t do anything about the choice you made back then, today.”

He pressed, “But did I make a mistake?”

I continued to say, “It doesn’t matter. The decision was made. The die was cast. What if you did make a mistake? Can you go back and change it? Can you do anything today to change it? ”

“No, ……”

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I’m not kidding, it went all like this for most of the day. Not continually, but every time he talked to me, he started by asking this question. At one point he even said, “Since you’re not giving me an answer, that tells me I DID make a bad choice.”

I never said any such thing. He was creating a problem.

Now, I ask YOU, just like I did him.
Why are you obsessing about “this”?
Why do you want to know if you “messed up” at some point in the past?
You are here.
At this moment.
Make your decisions from here and look forward.

Your past brought you here, yes. Some bad decisions may have been made, yes. What of it?

He, and I would argue, you, want to know if you made a mistake solely so that you can beat yourself up over it. So you can feel “bad”. So you can be miserable because you “messed up”.

STOP it.

That is all <3

Enjoy your coffee. Enjoy your day – this day, this moment, this decision.

Feb 29

Morning Cup of Coffee: Monday is About GSD

Debbie Hatch  |  Family & FIT


This is my mug for Monday.

– I have a ton to do before my flight at 1700 this afternoon.
– Flying today.
– Teaching tomorrow.
– Conducting webinars Wednesday and Thursday.
– Prepping for a 3-week international trip without Internet.



Monday’s can be like this. Right? A little overwhelming. It’s super easy to get thrown around from one thing to another if we don’t have a plan.


You can drive the day, or the day can drive you.

That’s easy to fix. Get a plan!!   Here’s how.

First thing this morning – right after coffee –

  1. Make a list of the things you want to accomplish this week. Keep that list by your computer so as you think of things, you can add them.  You don’t need to stress about the list. You’re not going to accomplish it all at once. Bit by bit. Step by step. Just like everything else.
  2. Prioritize the list – actually write down numbers.
  3. Turn off the cellular service on your phone (you will still receive phone calls and texts that don’t contain photos).  Log out of email, and ANY/ALL computer programs and apps that you’re not using in task #1.
  4. Set a timer for 45 minutes and get to work.

When the timer goes off, stretch, take a short walk, close your eyes or whatever, for 10 minutes and then switch to a new activity for 45 minutes.

Every two hours, check and respond to emails for 15-30 minutes. Set a timer! The time goes by quickly.

Email is NOT an emergency! No, not even “business” e-mail. Neither are most phone calls. We just act like they are.

We don’t need instantaneous alerts when someone else posts a Twitter update, Periscope broadcast, FB post nor Snapchat. That’s someone else doing something – this is about you (and me!) getting something done. The social realm will exist without us for a few hours while we focus. I promise.

Truthfully, unless you’re managing an active chat room or call center, responding to email every couple of hours and checking social media only periodically is sufficient.

We frequently have all these programs open. Things are popping up on the screen, things are “dinging” at us – there are so many distractions, and it’s nearly impossible to concentrate. We fall into the “this will be quick” trap, and get off course.

I’m drinking this coffee, putting my head and getting to work.

A quick 15 minute metabolic workout is on MY list of priorities. It’s not an “only if I find the time” item, for me.  What’s your personal #1 tip for getting stuff done?


Feb 25

Morning Cup of Coffee: Saying, “No” to the Noise

Handcrafted by Sunset Hill Stoneware in Wisconsin. Given to me as a gift.

Handcrafted by Sunset Hill Stoneware in Wisconsin. Given to me as a gift.

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t know how much I love my coffee?  I started drinking it when I was a teen:  at that point with half a cup of cream and a couple of sugars.  No wonder I liked it, right?  When I worked as a 911 dispatcher on the midnight shift, we drank coffee by the pot – not the cup!  Over the years, I’ve cut back.  It’s now typically two a day with just a little bit of cream (or a hint of Bailey’s) and no sugar.  Now I love strong coffee.
 But….this post isn’t really about my love of coffee.  
I have a huge Starbucks icon (that’s the only kind I like) mug collection but, I don’t collect just generic cups.  Well, let me correct that, too. I didn’t collect anything but my icons.  Recently several friends (and even clients) have given me special cups that mean a great deal to me, so it does appear that I AM collecting cups.  
But…this post isn’t really about my collection of coffee cups.  
It’s about my first cup of coffee each day.  It’s about sharing that cup of coffee with you.  
For a very long time, I’ve gotten up in the morning and reserved the first 20-30 minutes just for me. That’s my quiet time – time to prepare and plan for the day. To set my intention.  Time to sit and actually enjoy my coffee. I will get up at 430 or 5 JUST to have this time instead of jumping out of bed and running around like a crazy (crazier?).
Each day, I want to talk to you as I drink my coffee; to share how I’m starting the day. Sometimes they’ll be short conversations. Sometimes a little longer. Sometimes a post I saw, a picture, or maybe something from a class I’m taking.  Sometimes a blog I wrote.  They won’t be perfect.  It is my first cup of coffee!!  You don’t have to drink coffee to be here, but I don’t know why you wouldn’t 🙂
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Today’s cup was given to me by one of my biggest customers, The US Forest Service. It was handmade by Sunset Hill Stoneware in Wisconsin.
Today’s musings were triggered when my friend Paul shared this link of the US Women’s gymnastics team
“Amazing” doesn’t begin to describe these ladies. Wow.
While phenomenal, I’m not just interested in their physical abilities though.  It’s the mindset required for building a champion that fascinates me. The dedication to meeting a goal they’ve set for themselves. The hours (and hours, and hours) that go into getting better at “this”, accomplishing “this”, becoming the best at “this” – no matter what. And the absolute determination to say, “no”, unapologetically, to the outside noises in order to say, “yes” to their passion.
How amazing would life be if WE did this?  If we trained to “gold medal in life”!!!
If we refused to accept the limits placed on us – by ourselves!!!!!!  If we refused to stay small just because it’s comfortable.  Although I would argue that it really isn’t comfortable at all – it’s just habit.  It’s routine.  We let change scare us even though we hate where we are.  For example, I stayed in the classroom over lunch, a few months ago.  One of the men in my class stayed too and we started chatting.  He told me how much he hated his job.  He hates his co-workers and his boss.  He hates his house.  He hates getting up in the morning.  He’s under so much stress that he feels it is “killing him”.  He, literally, feels like he is going to die because of these things.
I told him what anybody else would have.  “You need to do something about it.  You can’t live like that.  You need to change something.”
BUT that’s very easy to say.  The problem with all of the “rah rah – just do it” “think positively” “you got this” and “don’t let anything hold you back” campaigns is that they stop there.  They tell you to just change something……
How to hell does that even happen?
Change can be incredibly intimidating, daunting, and difficult.  We feel trapped.  We feel we have not choice.  We’re not living life – we’re at the mercy of it.  We hate it but we feel like there’s nothing we can do about it.
That’s not true, but I know the feeling very well.  Contrary to the campaigns, there IS something very real holding you back.
You.  Me.  Us.
We can’t just decide to be different tomorrow.  Just like these gymnasts didn’t wake up one morning and run into the Olympic arena.  They had to work their asses off for the privilege to even be there – to even be given an opportunity to try!!!!
We have to start where we are.  That’s not just a saying.  It’s a fact!  Every one of these ladies have progressed to where they are today – they didn’t start there.
But we have to be willing to start.
Listen, we ALL have responsibilities.  We all have things we must do.  But is driving ourselves to an early grave, being stressed every single day, and hating every moment of life really the way you want to live?
It doesn’t have to be that way.  I’ve changed my life.  I’m still doing it.  I’ve seen other people do it.  I’m helping some do it right now.  Are our lives “perfect”?  Hell, no.  But they are pretty damn amazing.
This is it.  No dress rehearsal.  No do over.
We can’t change everything in one day.  We can’t “magically” wake up tomorrow and have everything be exactly as we envision it in our dreams, but we can…….we absolutely, positively, CAN do one thing – take one step at a time – that will change our lives.

Feb 08

How I Lost Weight While Eating Chocolate Macadamia Nuts

Family & F.I.T.  |  Debbie Hatch


This is me “just fit” but not competing.

I believe there are four levels of fitness.




Fit, and



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Most of us, including myself, are thrilled to live at levels 2 or 3.  No one wants to be unconditioned, in pain all the time, and immobile.  Few care to do what is required in order to compete.  I, personally, like competing.  It’s fun.  I love the ladies I’ve met while competing – several have become life-long friends.  I love the atmosphere and the prep.  

But…competition is not my real life.  It’s not how I want to live forever.  
It’s a hobby.  
Excessive exercise and dieting is not fun!  Neither is something anyone wants to do for the long term.  Sometimes you’re in the groove and you stay up with both.  Sometimes life happens, and you can’t seem to stick to either.
We forget that.
  • Today, I talked to two different friends (one is a competitor, one is not) who are doing two-a-days (that means two, separate work-out sessions in one day) because they “don’t like the way they look” and/or they’re “trying to compensate for poor nutrition with extra exercise.”  


  • Today, I talked to one of my clients (a competitor) who wants to know why she’s NOT doing double cardio sessions every day when “everybody else is” and another who is going to work with a different coach because I am “not giving her enough to do” and she really thinks she “needs fat burners in order to be successful”.  


  • Today, I talked to my niece who “can only get to the gym 2-3 times a week” so she doesn’t “know how she can possibly lose weight.”
It is impossible to out-train bad nutrition, which is why exercise is not my first or even my second priority.  I focus on mindset mostly, then nutrition, and then movement.  That movement may be in a gym but it doesn’t have to be.  It needs to be something you’re going to enjoy enough to actually do.
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Here’s what I’m talking about.
This is my real life:
I just (Friday night) got home from three weeks on the road.  I typically try to get to the gym while I’m traveling, but these weeks were unique.  I was with friends in Vegas, friends in California, and on the beach in Hawaii so…..I had many, much more important, things to do than to stress about getting to the gym.

I hung out with friends. We met for meals. We hiked. We talked. We played cards. We walked.  We snacked. I had wine, popcorn,

Notice half the red velvet cake is gone - before I got my lunch. I took the other half home with me.

Notice half the red velvet cake is gone – before I got my lunch. I took the other half home with me.

pancakes, frozen yogurt, lots of coffee and good chocolate.  I went to my favorite restaurant – and ate dessert before lunch!  I didn’t diet but I wasn’t far from my normal either (choosing protein for each meal, eating until only 80% full, having a salad every day, and filling up on fresh fruits / veggies).  I drank water every day.

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This is a lifestyle, remember?
Those little treats exist. I enjoyed them. I didn’t gorge myself to the point of being uncomfortable.  There’s simply no reason to.  I did gorge on talks, laughs, and hugs though.  It was amazing!
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When it comes to diet, in fact, I ate a chocolate covered macadamia nut before breakfast (while coffee was brewing) every day that I was in Hawaii. Only one, but every single day.  I drank shots on the beach one night, to celebrate several business ventures.  
I went to the gym once in California and once on my last night in Hawaii.  
That’s exactly two times in three weeks.  
But, I walked. A lot. On the beach.  Between 4 and 11 miles each day, in fact. I went scuba diving, kayaking, and boogie boarding.  I did a few sets of push-ups in my room.   That was it for exercise.  No weight training.  No hard-core cardio.  Just movement.  
And, you know what?
Not that weight matters – it really doesn’t – but, I returned home 4 pounds less than when I left.
Do what you can, when you can, with what you have available.  Health & fitness are for life:  they’re not “programs” designed to make you as miserable as possible.  Rather – they needn’t be.

Jan 02

Starting New Year’s on January 1st or 4th?

Debbie Hatch  |  Family & F.I.T.

It’s here.  January 1st.

The day that holds so many dreams, hopes, and wishes.  The day thousands of people believe they will wake up and “just” be a different person.  Although, you might have noticed that this year is a little different.  With the 1st falling on a Friday, I’ve heard countless people say they are just going to wait until Monday to start fresh.

Realistic goals should be something we’re looking forward to achieving.

If we have to wait until Monday, “so that we can enjoy the weekend” what does that say about the goals we’re setting?

  • That we’re dreading them?
  • That we don’t look forward to starting our journey to whatever it is we think we “have to do”?
  • That these goals do NOT fit into our lifestyle.  Not today – and not Monday either.

How successful can we hope to be with that mindset?
What if we first determine why we’d love to reach our goal?
Why we really want to do this – whatever it may be?  Yes, that again.  I know I sound like a broken record.  That’s because it’s important!!  It’s the most important piece.  You know how to do this – you’re not doing it because you haven’t determined it to be more important than all the other things you’d rather be doing.


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As I was out and about yesterday, I heard people say, “they would quit smoking” “exercise more” “do yoga every day” “get married (even though he’s not yet dating)” “lose 60 pounds” “become less dramatic” “enjoy life more” and “stop yelling at the kids”.

===>  Herein is the very reason why so many resolutions fail.

They’re not realistic.

They’re huge!

We think we can change everything all at once.

These are more like dreams for a perfect world, a perfect situation, a perfect life, than goals we actually want to work towards.

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We are not different people this morning.  The cigarettes are still there, and they’re still addictive.  I quit 15 years ago and still, occasionally, feel like I want one. If we didn’t have time, over the past 12 months, to get to the gym or do yoga, it’s unlikely we will “just find the time” starting today.  The girl who told me she would be less dramatic is still dramatic – that’s her personality, and she can be fun to hang out with, because of that.  The kids didn’t likely wake up this morning, little angels sporting shiny halos who will never frustrate you.

The fact is, I woke up the very same person I was at 1215 this morning when I crawled into bed.  So did you.  So did everybody else.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that wanting to improve yourself is wrong.  Far from it.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t set goals.  I’m not even saying that today’s not a good day to get started.  Humans have plenty of hard-wired reasons for being so fond of January 1st, and Mondays.  Here’s a blog I’ve written about that.



What I’m saying is:  life is messy, it’s busy, it’s complicated.  It’s not perfect.  We get pulled in a hundred different directions.  We have to set goals, with small steps that are actually attainable in our lives as they are.




===>  We need to be prepared with Plan B…and C, D, E, N, and R.  We need to have a plan, ahead of time, for the “what ifs”.

What I’m saying is:  getting healthy, getting fit, losing fat and/or weight (the #1 New Year’s Resolution) isn’t easy.

===> But all of those things are simple, if we don’t over-complicated it, AND if we apply a little patience. 

Its not easy     It is simple

It’s not “sexy”.  It’s not “hard-core”.  It’s not new.  It doesn’t promise miracle results.  There’s no secret.  People don’t believe it can be this simple…..but here’s the entire plan.



If you’re going into this change, already dreading it and feeling like you’re going to have to “go without”, you are going to fail.  Period.  You can’t muscle yourself through a major change with willpower alone.  Figure out your why!!!!  For example:  Instead of, “I’m fat and I need to go on a diet” – – “It took me a long time of not taking care of myself to get to this place in my life.  That’s okay. I’ve been busy.  I’ve had a lot going on.  I’m going to show myself the same compassion I would a good friend in this situation, but I deserve better than this.  I want to eat better and exercise because I love being able to walk along the beach without being out of breathe.  I love feeling more confident, and I always do when I’m taking better care of myself.  I know that when I eat like crap, I feel like crap.  No matter how many times I’ve thought the comfort food would make me feel better, it never has.  Not once.  I really want to try something new.  I don’t have to; I want to do this!!”


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Pick the right goal.  When we pick something like “lose XX pounds”, that becomes the focus no matter how unhealthy we are in getting there.  I lost a bunch of weight by going on a cigarette, coffee, and Suzy Q (chocolate, cream-filled cake) diet when I was young and foolish. I went on a grapefruit only diet; a skim milk only diet, and a “drink vinegar before every meal” diet. I lost weight.  Not one of those things was sustainable over the long term.  Not one of them made me any more healthy.  I felt like crap. It didn’t matter. My priority was to lose weight.  It isn’t any more.  My priority switched to, “Eat better so that I feel better.  Exercise so that I move better – and with less pain.  Take care of myself so that I age better.  All of these things will likely lead to fat loss but that’s not my primary goal anymore.  How I feel is much more important than what I weigh.”



Don’t.  Please, please, please, don’t go on some crazy starvation diet today, or think you need to live on salad and water.  Pick one thing at a time to focus on.  Try to cut your soda in half the first week. Then in half again the next, and the next, until you either stop drinking it all together or you have it once in a while as a treat. Decrease the sugar in your coffee a little bit at a time. Stop getting that venti frappuccino (you know who you are…..) every day and get just the grande this week; go for the tall next. Two years ago I changed from lattes to an American or red eye with 1 shot of sugar-free hazelnut and just a splash of milk.  I might have a latte a couple times a year.  It’s not that I stop myself from having them, but merely that I don’t crave them anymore, like I used to.

Drink water!!! If you can’t do it plain at first, put some Crystal Light or Mio in it and work to taper that off as you go through time. I hear some people now, “Oh, the chemicals. How could you even recommend that horrible stuff?” I’m recommending that you make the changes you will actually make to begin with. If you’re not going to drink water unless it has some flavor in it right now, mix in some damn flavor. Do what works for you.


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Same thing with the sweets/treats. I have a HORRIBLE sweet tooth and I love to bake – a bad combination. I have a special meal once a week.  There are no “forbidden” foods; not “good or bad”.  When you identify foods in that way you, you want nothing but the things you’re “not supposed to have”.  I eat a bite of this or that treat throughout the week.  I share a dessert with my husband.  I have a little bit of whatever I’m craving BUT only a little bit.  And I know myself.  There are some things that act as trigger foods for me.  If I have raspberry turnovers in the house, I cannot just have a bite and be done.  So they’re not in my house.  I still have them occasionally but I buy one at a time.  I buy individual servings of chips or chocolate when I get the urge – not the large bag just because “it costs less”.

I remind myself that I am in control. “I can have anything I want but I can’t have everything right now if I intend to meet my goals.” When I do have a special treat, I savor it. I sit and eat it. I don’t play on my computer, talk on my phone, or do anything except enjoy the taste, smell, texture, and flavor of my food.

Go grocery shopping.  Prep as much as you can on the weekend so that you have something ready to go when you walk in from work, ravenous and ready to eat a half gallon of ice cream with a spoon, because you’re hangry.  Cook extra, when you make a meal, so you have some to put in the fridge.



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Once you start to feel better (and you will), add in some exercise. Something you like.  Something you’ll actually do.


Some people like to walk, others run.  Some people like to lift weights, others dance.  I don’t care what it is.  Something.  For 15 minutes (or as long as are able to, if that’s too much).  Build from there.

The important thing is to do something, not try to do everything.


Have you identified some goals you would like to accomplish?  I’d love to hear about them if you’d care to share.

Dec 30

No One is Paying Attention to What Matters

Debbie Hatch  |  Family & F.I.T.


I simply had to share this video. It makes me feel like crying.

Why fitness actually matters in 2016 and beyond

***PLEASE take 4 minutes to watch it.

This is something I believe in with my whole heart. I’ve written several blogs about it.  Like this one.  I’ve talked about it, even more. It’s what I’ve been trying to communicate with my “Why I Exercise” series and “do what you can with what you have available, where you are right now”, mantra.

You can check out the series here:…


It’s the reason I became a trainer. I saw this in the nursing home. I see it in the airport – as the wheel chair boarding area gets bigger and bigger, filled with people unable to even walk down the jet bridge. I see it in the stores – as more people are utilizing scooters to get around. I see it in public whenever I sit and watch people. I see it when friends, family, and some of the people I went to school with, just give up, because “at our age” giving up is the appropriate thing to do.

Fitness shouldn’t be about fitting into a bathing suit or wearing a certain sized pair of pants. It’s not about seeing some random number on the scale. It’s not about an age. Sure, fitness is marketed toward young people. It’s focused on aesthetics. That’s why I’ve seen no fewer than a dozen detoxes and diet offerings in my newsfeed this morning alone. We can’t blame society though – we do this ourselves. Case in point: 87% of my paying clients are preparing for a bikini or figure competition. These are healthy, fit, people who already eat well and exercise. They are merely trying to take their physique to another level. Think about that for a second. 87% of the people who are seeking my help are already healthy.

I cry for the people who need to exercise, to improve their standard of living, but don’t. I am sad for the people who are losing mobility and strength every day, but do nothing about it. I am sad that Mike Vacanti is correct. “No one is paying attention to what matters.”

I am an advocate of fitness for, and sometimes in spite of, this crazy life! It is the messages I receive, like…

“I actually played with my grandchildren, outside, today. We had a blast!”
“I exercised for 10 minutes straight this morning – without stopping!”
“My insulin dosage has been cut in half.”
“I saved money on my insurance this year because all of my health markers improved.”
“I actually raked my own yard this year. I haven’t done that in a decade.”
“I didn’t have to hire anyone to get my wood in this fall. I was strong enough to do it myself.”

…That make me smile. It is these messages that keep me focused on my mission to help. This is real life. This is where I want to make a difference. “Staying stronger and maintaining lean tissue as you get older and keeping your diet on point will help you live better for the rest of your life.”

We are just a couple days away from New Year’s. This year, as you set goals, I would merely ask this: when it comes to health and fitness, please determine your long term goal. Your real reason for wanting to eat better, exercise, feel better…..and make it something more substantial than just weighing a certain amount of fitting into a specific size.

Your health and fitness is so much more important than that.

Dec 20

What Could a Blog Challenge Possibly Have to do with Health?

Debbie Hatch  |  Family & F.I.T.

blog challenge


Last week I finished a 30 day blog challenge.  When I initially saw the announcement, I thought, “Isn’t it odd to start a challenge in the middle of November?”  Yes!  In fact, Bradley Will,  creator of Learn to Blog, who hosted the challenge, even said, “I know it’s a crazy time of the year to start a new project, but let’s do it anyway.”


You know I can’t resist those words!  I’m always “in” whatever follows, “I know it’s crazy…but let’s do it anyway.”


To be honest, I loved that the challenge happened at this time of the year when so many people start to shut down.  People give up on any goals or aspirations beginning November 1st.  Exercise decreases.  Food consumption increases.  Projects are hurriedly finished “before the holidays”, and nothing new is begun.  What this means, is that many just write off an entire two months of life!


People go into, “I’ll just wait until January 1st” mode.  That was certainly not the case for the 244 bloggers in this challenge who, collectively, had written 3,414 blogs by the time I stopped counting.


For me, this challenge wasn’t just about writing.  In fact, writing had very little to do with it.  For me, this was about:

  • Setting, working on, and completing a goal through habit change.
  • Finding time for something I truly wanted to do.
  • Sticking to a commitment I made to myself (even “at this time of the year”), and
  • The friendships and fellowship of being around others trying to accomplish a similar goal.


We’ve talked about the fact – many times – that I can find a lesson for health and fitness in just about everything.  I’m a teacher and I like to relate everything back to something people already understand.  As such, every single thing I worked on, and was reminded of, in the 30-day blog challenge related to health!  Let me explain.


I was reminded that

I will not do anything if I don’t see value in it.  

Neither will you.

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Unless we first determine why…

why we want to write, why we want to start a business, why we want to lose weight/fat, why we want to gain muscle, why we want to eat better

….our, very intimately personal why, nothing is going to change.  Not for long, anyway.


Oh sure, we might do whatever it is for a little while.  Invariably, though, when the going gets tough – and it always does – unless we have a very good reason for wanting to keep the commitment, we’re not going to.  That shiny, new thing is going to be the first thing to go!


With the blog challenge:  Finding the time to write every day, through the holidays, while traveling, and while surrounded by family, wasn’t easy.  I had to – no, let me rephrase that – IF I wanted to achieve my goal, I had to, excuse myself occasionally in order to keep the commitment to myself.  Bradley was a great coach, but I was the one who had to show up every day.  I had to inspire myself first.  I had to be willing to put in the time writing, even if not one other person read the blog.  I had to write for myself.


With health:  I’m not going to give up family time and miss out on important events in my life just to go to the gym, nor would I recommend you do.  But – IF I want to achieve my goal of being more healthy, getting stronger, being fit, and getting some exercise, I have to make time for it.  Whether other people think I should make this a priority or not.  Whether it’s convenient or not.  Taking care of me is absolutely critical if I hope to take care of anybody else.  I have to workout for myself.

The food pushers are going to continually push food.  That’s a fact.  They think I should “eat this and that and something else” because “I’ll only live once” and “what’s the big deal?”  If I have set a goal to eat healthier, I have to be willing to turn some things down.  Unapologetically.  I have to eat for myself.


I was reminded that

It’s best if I focus on the things that provide the biggest impact, and let this idea of perfection go.   

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Worrying about the little stuff – which widgets to load on my website, obsessing over what font is prettiest, or scrolling through page themes for a few hours  – do not move me even one step closer to my goal.


With the blog challenge:  Some of the things I wrote this month took time.  Sometimes I wasn’t able to write until late at night or super early in the morning.  I wrote in the truck, at Starbucks, and sitting on a staircase with my granddaughter sitting beside me.  Sometimes  I was in a rush.

…so, yes, sometimes there were typos and grammatical errors.  Sometimes my comma usage was off.  Does that bother me?

To be honest – yes.  Yes, it does.  Do I go back and fix things later when I notice errors?  Yes, I do.  But, I’m learning not to let perfection cripple me.  If I don’t do anything until it’s perfect, I’m not going to do anything.  If I worry about what other people might think, or say, I’m not going to do anything.

I had to remember:  Good may be the enemy of great but perfect is the enemy of good.


With exercise:  There is positively no reason for me to know everything about every kind of exercise before I start working out.  There are a gazillion theories out there and even more opinions about which is best.  I could spend my time getting the perfect program, shopping for just the right outfit, worrying about whether I should eat before or after I work out, whether fasted cardio is best, or if Smith machine squats are better or worse than squats in the rack.  I could study nutrition for the next six months and seek out experts’ opinions on Paleo, Intermittent Fasting, and Counting Macros.


I could spend my time starting to exercise.  I could change one meal at a time, one nutritional habit at a time, and be happy that I’ve made some progress.  I could do what I can with what I have available (time, energy, and money).


I could decide that something done is better than nothing done perfectly.


I was reminded that

When I surround myself with people who hold me to my greatness  and I invest in myself, great things happen.  

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I had a Facebook conversation with several friends the other day.  “Most people who don’t know me that well, would never guess that I’m quite shy. If we have to assign labels, I’m definitely an introvert. Most of the time, I keep to myself. 


Not a new concept.  Years ago, when I studied Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I read about personal growth from dependency, through independence, and then interdependence.  It’s a theory that there is only so much each of us can achieve within a vacuum:  only so high you can rise, completely alone.


But a new application!  Humans are social creatures.  We thrive with connection.  Yes – even you, sitting there professing how much you hate people.   We’re hard-wired for interaction.  One of the biggest growth areas for me, over the last couple of years, has been to open myself to relationships.  Being around other people that challenge me, push me, while, at the same time, supporting me, has changed my outlook on life.


I invest time, money, a lot of sweat equity, and occasionally tears in myself.


There are two reasons that:

  • I worked so hard on my Master’s, three years ago.
  • Got four new certifications, two years ago.
  • I joined Jill Coleman’s Best of You program last year.
  • I currently work with Jordan Syatt for physical strength coaching.
  • I participate in several habit change coaching forums.
  • I did the blogging challenge.  The challenge didn’t cost me anything, financially, but I did volunteer to count blogs for the full 30 days.  My cost was several hours of time.
  • Even though I have a cram-packed schedule, I attend one of the Fitness Summits or other workshops, every year.
  • I’m doing the Mindset Mentorship next year.


Reason 1:  Having some skin in the game.  I heard the concept explained, in those words, from Jill Coleman.  I heard about it, scientifically researched, from Dan Ariely in a course on irrational behavior that I took through Duke University.



If you have nothing personally invested, you personally have nothing to lose.  That makes it incredibly easy to quit.  To fail.

Being vested in something (be that coaching, personal training, a gym membership, workshop, or developmental opportunity) – or making something yourself (like an Ikea bookcase) increases your chance of being more likely to keep “it”.


Reason 2:  I push myself, but only to a certain point.

The people I choose to surround myself with:  friends, family, coaches know what I’m capable of.  They don’t allow me to give up on myself.  They don’t accept my personal excuses, and they don’t let me stop at “good” when they know, with just a little more, I can get to “great”.  They refuse to allow me to just sit back and marinate in the status quo.



With the blog challenge:  There were some people, in the group, who make their money blogging.  Having those expert resources which we could turn to, at any time, for questions, concerns, or tips, was invaluable.  It also provided reassurance, support, and a safe environment where we could try new things.  Each of the blog challengers got to a point, during the month, where we wrote a personal blog.  Some of us made a video or two.  It was uncomfortable.  Putting yourself out there is like that  can be scary.  I felt quite vulnerable – more than once.  Knowing that others were doing the same thing, and that we had a support system to fall back on, made all the difference!


Being with people who are trying to accomplish the same thing you are:  be that a 26.2 mile ruck, a fitness competition, degree program, starting a new business, a blog challenge, or anything else, changes things!  It creates an esprit de corps that always pushes me beyond my comfortable limit.


With a healthy lifestyle:  Trying to change lifestyle habits, especially if you’ve failed in the past, can be daunting.  Remember that it’s helpful if you invest in yourself.  Get some skin in the game!


At the same time, surround yourself with people who hold you to your greatness.  There is little doubt that your friends and family love you.  They (usually) try to support your goals but, they may not have ever struggled with what you’re going through.  They may want to help, but they don’t know how to.

To be honest, they might also coddle you.  Precisely because your friends and family love you, they don’t like for you to be uncomfortable, they don’t like for you to struggle.  Going through tough stuff – which needs to be done when you’re making any kind of change – is uncomfortable!  As you grumble to family and friends, they may feel badly for you and just tell you to give up.  “If you’re so unhappy….why are you doing this?”


Here’s what a blog challenge taught me about health:

You will not do anything, for long, if I don’t see personal value in it.

It’s best if you focus on the things that provide the biggest impact, and let this idea of perfection go.   Do what you can, when you can, with what you have.

Invest in yourself.

Surround yourself with people who hold you to your greatness.

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