Category: Nutrition Habits

Waist or Waste? You Can’t Have it Both Ways.

Debbie Hatch | Family & F.I.T.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 9.06.07 PM


I want to start this blog by telling you just a little bit about me. I have been hesitant to talk too much about fat loss (what people typically mean when they say they want to “lose weight”). I mean there is so much strong emotion out there on this topic. If you say something too far in one direction, you may be seen as “body shaming” or trying to imply that everyone should be on a mission to lose fat. If you stay too far in the other direction, the area where you don’t upset anyone, you really can’t say anything of any consequence. You spend your time walking on the fence rather than helping anyone.

Today, I choose to make a stand. Today I’m jumping down off the fence.


Today I’m going to publicly say: if your goal is to lose fat, gain muscle, or change your body shape in any way, one of the things you’re going to have to do is change the way you’re eating.


If you are unhappy with your current shape or size, doing everything you’ve always done, gets you everything you have now. If you don’t change things, nothing changes. That’s a fact. Period. Dot.


Another fact is that sometimes we just want to eat a pan of lasagna, loaf of garlic bread, and the entire Death by Chocolate Cake. I’m not judging any of that but I think we all know that when we eat that way, we pay the price. When we eat that way for a period of time, we may not be happy with the result but we understand it.

Did you know, though, you could be eating thousands more calories a week than you’re even aware of? These calories are “hidden”. They’re not accounted for when we think about what we ate. They’re “forgotten”. They’re the things we think don’t matter.

I typically do quite well when I’m by myself, but recently I’ve been fortunate enough to spend a bit of time with family. When I’m around the kids, I have a lot more BLTs. These are bites, licks, and tastes that find their way into my mouth. It’s the French fries I didn’t order but I steal off my husband’s plate. It’s the chocolate bar that I didn’t buy but my friend gives me a piece of.  It’s a handful (or two) of buttered popcorn I take out of my Hayden’s bucket at the theater.  A lick or two when the kids’ ice cream is melting faster than they’re eating it.


Here’s an example of just one day: Zoey asks for a yogurt in the morning but only eats two-thirds of it. There’s only one blueberry muffin left. It’s small and I don’t usually make muffins so this is a treat. I make Nathan a peanut butter sandwich and lick the knife. In truth, I might even put a little more peanut butter on it before I lick it! He left three uneaten tortilla chips on his plate, so I eat those as I’m clearing the table. No sense in throwing them out. I mean it’s only 3 chips.  I have several tastes of the chicken and rice while I’m cooking dinner: just to make sure it’s palatable. I don’t have a glass of wine but I do have a couple of sips off Ashleigh’s. There’s some rice left at dinner but it’s not enough to save so I have an extra couple of spoonfuls. I pack Blake’s lunch and there’s just a little too much fruit cocktail to fit into the Tupperware. I’d hate to throw it out.

In the evening when I think about what I ate for the day, typically these BLTs don’t even cross my mind. I don’t think they matter but they can really add up.

Take a look:


Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 9.03.01 PM


In one day, my BLTs provided an extra 468 calories, 57 grams of carbs, 15 grams of fat, 12 grams of protein and 517 grams of sodium.

If I do this pretty typically every day, that’s 3,276 extra calories for the week!! The issue is not that I ate these things. Rather, that I ate them without even thinking about them. Do you see the problem?


Now, why would I do this?

First, because I was raised being required to “clean my plate”. It was non-negotiable. The amount of food I ate had nothing to do with me. It had to do with how much food my mother decided to put on my plate. There were children starving in Africa…

This is still something I frequently struggle with. I hate wasting food. I still feel a pang of guilt if I don’t clean my plate. I can push it aside but it’s always there.


Also, I don’t want to waste my money. This could be the cost of groceries that I cook at home but the problem is magnified when we go out to eat. If I pay $xx for dinner, I have to eat it.  All.  It won’t save (or reheat) well and I don’t want to waste it.”


Do you know what I’m talking about? I know it’s not just me…..

….I also want you to know that it’s not just you. I struggle just like everybody else.


There are three tools I typically use to keep me from mindlessly eating BLTs.


  1. Whenever I am eating or drinking anything, my first question is. “Am I enjoying this? Is it worth the calories I’m taking in?” If so, I eat it. If no, there is no reason for me to eat it and I don’t. Instead, I have something else.


  1. I ask whether I would prefer waste or waist.

WASTE: This means I can choose to throw away that one muffin (or bag it for later), half a yogurt, and few tablespoons of rice: something I have considered to be “waste”ful in my old philosophy of “always clean your plate” or “you paid for this, you have to eat it.”

WAIST: If I choose not to discard the BLTs and I personally become the family garbage disposal, those calories are going to end up on my waist.

You can’t have it both ways. Throw the extra in the garbage or throw it into your body.


  1. The third thing I do is employ a shift in mindset. Yes, I may have paid $30 (or 10, or 80…the dollar amount is irrelevant….if you don’t believe me, check out the amount of food being consumed at a Cici’s Pizza buffet) but whether I eat only enough to feel satiated, or I force myself to eat the entire thing and become uncomfortably full, it still cost me exactly the same amount of money.



Avoiding a Train Wreck: Curbing Emotional Eating

Guest blog by Becky Williams | B Kinetic Fitness



Hi.  My name is Debbie.  I am an emotional eater.  Always have been.  Likely always will be.

Being aware that emotions are food triggers for me, though, I’ve spent a bit of time seeking better ways to  deal with my feelings.  Of course I’m not alone!  Emotional eating is something many of us struggle with.

My colleague, and fellow trainer Becky Williams at and I discussed the issue in some detail this week since we’re both helping clients develop ways to handle it, and we’ve both written about the topic.  Becky in February (Feelingz) and me in March (5 Strategies).  Becky’s mission is to help women find the strength inside and out to live the kind of life they desire, to find joy in movement, and to feel like they can take on the world.  Here’s what she had to say about emotional eating:



If you’re like most women, you’ve had nights when you get home from a crazy busy, stressful day at work or the kids were driving you bonkers all day and all you can think about is downing a glass of wine (or two or three) or diving headfirst into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Or maybe you have ironclad willpower all day, eating all the right foods, but you find yourself sitting on the couch after dinner and you hear the chips or cookies in the pantry calling your name. And before you know it, half the bag is gone or the wine bottle’s half empty, and you wonder what just happened. Been there, done that.

How many times when you did give into those emotion-triggered cravings do you feel guilty or maybe even a little ashamed afterwards? Again, I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt. You’re definitely not alone in your struggle.

Most of us know what to eat — lean proteins, veggies, fruit, healthy fats. The catch is that there is oftentimes a huge gap between knowledge and implementation. Even fitness professional such as myself struggle with that piece. Why is this? Why can’t we bridge that gap? Sometimes the answer lies not in what we eat, but in why we eat what we eat.

First off, we are human, and human beings are not by nature rational creatures. Sometimes our need for immediate relief or comfort hijacks our rational side and our desire to change. You can really, really want something — lose 20 lbs., get some muscle definition in your arms, or just get healthier and more energetic to hang with your kids — and still struggle to not give in to emotional eating. It doesn’t mean you’re weak, undisciplined, or not committed to your goals. It just means you’ve got some stuff to work on (and don’t we all?). Self-compassion will get you further to your goals and the kind of life you want to lead than guilt or shame.

[[Right, Becky!!!!!  I really harp on this myself.  If we don’t learn to like ourselves as we’re working on things, we won’t like ourselves even if/when we reach our goals!  I think this is so important!]]


Emotional eating is an impulse. It can happen without us fully realizing what’s going on. It’s said that the time between an impulse and action is half a second. No wonder it’s so hard to stop doing! If we work on increasing that time so that we can be more mindful of what’s really going on and if we’re actually hungry, we’ll have a greater chance at success.


So how do we do this?

I once had a client who struggled with mindless night time eating. So he set an alarm to remind himself to not eat those snacks. At first, I thought, why would you want to remind yourself to not eat? Wouldn’t that backfire and trigger cravings and make you more likely to eat? But no, it actually reminded him of his goals and if he was elbow deep in a bag of chips at the time, he had that reminder that he was trying to break this bad habit. Sometimes we actually forget what we’re trying to accomplish. We just get sucked into the daily minutiae and everything else gets thrown out the window. We always automatically revert to our habits, good or bad. It’s the path of least resistance for our poor, frazzled brains.


Here are some other ideas for reminders:

Post-Its (on your laptop, calendar, fridge, kitchen counter, steering wheel, etc.)

Sending an email reminder to yourself or having a friend check in with you every day

Smartphone wallpaper

Laptop screensaver

Note in your wallet or purse

Piece of jewelry, like a bracelet or ring (something always visible)


Next, take an emotional inventory.  Evaluate without judgement. We’re not trying to punish ourselves for being weak or undisciplined. We’re just increasing awareness.  Ask yourself these questions (actually write them down!) and get as detailed as possible:

When do you feel:





Not good enough?


What do you usually do when you are experiencing those feelings?

Do you ever use food or another habit (smoking, alcohol, retail therapy) as a distraction to avoid feeling those emotions (boredom, disappointment, fear, anxiety, sadness)?

When does this usually happen? How does it drive your behavior?


This can be a very uncomfortable process. It may unearth some deep, dark stuff that you’ve been avoiding for years. It may be something that’s just simply a habit that’s been really tough to break. But we have to get out of our comfort zone if we want to change, and that is especially true for emotional eating.

This process isn’t an overnight thing. It doesn’t just click one day and you’re good to go for the rest of your life. I still work on this, and I don’t always succeed. But I do show myself a little compassion and analyze the situation to do better next time. What emotion was I feeling? Was I fatigued or stressed? Was I alone or in a group? What happened to trigger those feelings? What can I do instead the next time that happens?


Over the 4th of July holiday weekend, in fact, I experienced this myself. I was feeling frustrated and cranky about something (I can’t even remember what it was!) one night and gave into eating a piece of frosted sheet cake that was sitting on the kitchen counter. It was really good, but I wouldn’t have eaten it otherwise. My willpower was drained, and I gave in. Instead of feeling guilty about, like I would have in the past, I acknowledged that it was an emotional response triggered by being tired and feeling frustrated and stressed. I made a mental note that I need to step away from the kitchen and do something a little more constructive when I’m in that kind of situation, like read, journal, stretch, or do a few yoga poses.

You are stronger than you think. Sometimes we just need a little help or introspection to get to the heart of what’s really going on to cause these episodes. And of course, if this is a more serious issue for you, with frequent episodes of binging, please see a licensed medical professional for help.

[[Again, I have to second Becky’s input here!!!  I see many “coaches” and multi-level marketers, these days, providing information about bulimia, anorexia, and other eating disorders.  Only medical providers are licensed – and able – to help with these incredibly complex and potentially life-threatening issues.  Please seek professional help.]]


Emotional eating is a struggle for so many women, but it’s something that can be worked on with a little introspective work and daily practice. Remember to show yourself some compassion and give yourself the space and time to figure this thing out. It will take time, but it does get easier.

5 Recipes. 6 or Fewer Ingredients. Under 20 minutes!!

Debbie Hatch | Family & F.I.T.

Now that I have your attention…

Happy Independence Day. It definitely felt like a holiday to me. I’ve been home six full-days!!! That’s unusual and it’s been awesome. I’ve had an opportunity to catch up on several important tasks and even a few back-burner items. Today I decided to relax in my kitchen. I love to cook and there are a few recipes I’ve been hoping to work on.

The final result was four quick and easy recipes (plus my stand-by lemonade).

Each recipe was completed in 20 minutes or less!

With a homemade vinaigrette I already in the refrigerator, each recipe today contained six or fewer ingredients!







1 cup spinach                     1 cup romaine lettuce

1/4 avocado                        2 slices bacon, cooked & diced

1 roma tomato, diced          1-2 mushrooms, diced

1/8 – 1/4 cup garlic vinaigrette (I had this in the frig, but recipe is below)

Dice all ingredients. Toss together.



Garlic Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar                 1/2 tsp diced garlic                          1 tsp spicy brown mustard

Freshly ground pepper                        1 tsp Ms. Dash Italian Medley          1/8 cup extra virgin olive oilIMG_7585

Helpful Notes:

1.  The vinaigrette stores very well in the refrigerator.

2.  While there are specific bottles you can buy at a cooking store, for the sake of ease and simplicity, I just use oneof the protein shakers I have on hand.





1 cup strawberries              1 cup blueberries

1/3 jicama                            1/4 red onion

Fresh mint                           Fresh lemon juice

Dice all ingredients. Toss together.

Helpful Notes:

1.  I like to use frozen berries when I make the salad, especially if it’s going to be a little bit until we eat. That way the salad keeps itself cold.

2.  I was skeptical about the onion but it really enhances the flavor of this salad. Just try it.IMG_7587

3.  What to heck is a jicama? It’s a very low calorie root vegetable from Mexico. You’ll find it in the produce section.




IMG_76191 lb 99% fat free ground turkey

2 large white mushrooms, diced

1 tsp Flavor God                    1/2 onion, diced

1 tsp Ms. Dash Italian Medley

1 tbsp diced garlic                   1 egg white


Mix all ingredients. Form into patties. These were cooked on the grill (at 400 degrees). 10 minutes on one side and 5 minutes on the other.

IMG_7592Helpful Notes:

1.  Again, make extra. One “secret” to staying on track is making food prep as easy as possible. These freeze well.
2.  I don’t like dicing onions by hand. I typically use my Pampered Chef chopper. It works great!



This isn’t a new recipe.  It’s one of my favorites and I make it all the tie.


1 lemon, juiced                        2 strawberries, diced

Fresh mint                               Ice


Juice the lemon. Add strawberries and 1 sprig of chopped fresh mint. Throw in a few ice cubes and fill your glass with water. I did not use any sweetener (which is not unusual) but neither did my husband. It was just tart enough but the fruit added the right amount of sweetness without sugar.IMG_7597









1/2 cup peanut (or almond) butter

1.5 medium bananas

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 tbsp coconut oil, softened

1 sheet chocolate graham crackers (optional)

1 tsp Glucomannan (optional)


Blend everything, except the graham crackers, very well. I just put all of the ingredients into the Ninja. Spray (olive oil, Pam, or something like that) a small ramekin (aka individual baking pan). If you want a crust, finely crush the graham crackers and put them into the ramekin. Pour the pie mixture into the ramekin. Pop this into thIMG_7604e freezer for 10 or 15 minutes. You can keep it in the freezer or the refrigerator.


Helpful Note: What to heck is Glucomannan? It’s a powder made from Konjac root. This is completely optional to the
recipe as it is flavor-less, although it does add a little thickness. I add it to some recipes for additional fiber (which supports regularity).



I really hope one (or more) of these recipes becomes a family favorite for you! If you try something, please take a photo and share it, along with your comments, either here, on Instagram (#familynfit) or Facebook.

Are Other People Making you Eat?

Debbie Hatch | Family & F.I.T.



As we approach Independence Day, I want to talk about breaking free.

Breaking free from eating because someone else is eating.

Breaking free from eating because someone else expects you to.

Breaking free from blaming other people in your life for making you fat.


Do you know what I’m talking about?


More than once I’ve talked about the fact that my mother fed me. I mean she FED me. All the time. There was food to celebrate, food to make me “feel better”, food because I was “eating for two” and food to calm my anger or disappointment. She still tries to feed me. Whenever I am fortunate enough to visit, she makes me special treats from my childhood, or takes me out to eat (multiple times if there’s any way to fit it into my schedule). I feel guilty if she went out of her way to get something for me and I don’t eat it.


A friend of mine just met a new guy and she’s finding it difficult to focus on fat loss while dating. “Going out on dates isn’t great for the diet.”


That never gets better, by the way. I’ve been married for over 20 years. Last night my husband wanted pizza. His question before actually going to get one was, “if I get a pizza, will you share it with me?” It’s easier for both of us to eat pizza if we’re both eating pizza.


You go out with friends and find yourself ordering drinks, eating bread, or getting dessert – not because you necessarily feel like you want those things but because your friends are having them so, naturally, so will you. It’s okay as long as you’re not the only one.


Fact is, humans are social creatures. We find solace and comfort in doing what the people around us are doing.


When it comes to eating, psychologist John de Castro has conducted several studies to look at how eating with others affects food intake. “Meals eaten with one other person present were 33% larger than meals eaten alone, whereas 47%, 58%, 69%, 70%, 72%, and 96% increases were associated with two, three, four, five, six, and seven or more people present, respectively.”


That means when we eat with other people, on average, we consume 44% more than when dining alone!


A successive study showed eating with family or friends can be even worse. In fact, 23% and 14% worse, respectively, than meals eaten with other people.


Here’s another interesting fact in the studies and then I’ll leave you alone.

I LOVE these kinds of studies!!

I LOVE studying human behavior.

We are fascinating creatures.


So, did you know that we eat fastest when we eat alone, faster with our families, and slowest with friends? There’s some proof that the longer we spend at the table, the more we’ll eat.


Now, knowing these things and doing something about them are separate issues.

What can you do?




The initial step to dealing with any issue is first identifying that it’s an issue. If you know you’re likely going to eat more just because other people are eating more, you’ll think about that as you sit down.


Use that information to make a mindful decision about what you’re going to have.

(See II)




Look at the menu (most are online today so you can even prepare well in advance if you’d like) and decide what you’re having before asking everyone else at the table, “what are you getting?”


As Jill Coleman (JillFitPhysiques. If you’re not already following her, you should be) said in a post earlier this morning, “I stay mindful of my choices. I make them from a place of personal awareness and genuine introspection about where MY hunger, cravings, stress, fullness, mood, boredom, etc. are currently.”


I also need to accept personal responsibility. It’s not fair of me to blame my feelings on other people. My mother is not trying to make me feel guilty. She’s trying to make me happy. The emotion I actually feel is MY feeling. It’s really got very little to do with the other person. The way I handle this is typically to express gratitude for what the person is giving me. I may ask them to share it with me, take a bite or two, or explain that I’m not hungry right now and I’m excited about saving this treat for later when I can really enjoy it. The difference is, these actions put me in control versus making me a victim.




I love spending time with friends and family. While I try to schedule active things for us to do, the fact is, many times we’re sharing meals together.


If that’s the case, try to focus on the social aspect: the conversation, the company, and time together. People generally aren’t paying attention to what you eat unless you make it a big deal. It’s easy enough for me to start by enjoying a glass or two of water with lemon as we sit down. I may have a glass of wine with dinner but I probably don’t need three or four (that’s just me…).


I can easily order a salad or some vegetables as an appetizer.  Or, I can nibble on some of the appetizers brought to the table for us to share. Dessert can be another great thing to share. Many restaurants also offer mini-sized sweets these days. A bite or two can often soothe that sweet tooth.


No one is going to bat an eye if I order a meal containing some type of protein, veggies, and perhaps a starch. Again, unless I personally make a big deal of it by complaining that I’m on a diet, or saying “I really want xyz but I shouldn’t, so I’m ordering abc instead.” You’re not a victim. You choose to eat whatever it is that you want. If you’re making a choice to eat healthy – good for you!!! That’s awesome. That’s not a negative thing to complain about.



Stressed Spelled Backwards is DESSERTS. 5 Strategies for Dealing with Emotional Eating.

Debbie Hatch | Family & F.I.T.


We all have “those” days. Things don’t go as planned. You’re running from the very moment you wake up until late that night when you finally fall into bed, exhausted and stressed. The day has been a blur. You accomplished nothing you planned. Thank goodness for those quad Starbucks triple mocha cappuccinos or you probably wouldn’t have made it through!

These are the days you seek comfort wherever you can find it. Many times that comes in the form of chocolate, cookies, or four helpings of pasta with a loaf of bread for a side, washed down with one or two bottles of wine. We try to drown out our emotions with food and beverage.

I know it’s not just me who seeks to fix my problems by sticking my head inside a half-gallon of butter pecan ice cream. What’s your comfort food?

Nobody craves a piece of tilapia and asparagus at the end of one of these days – I can promise you that! Well, unless it’s asparagus hidden under a pound of melted cheddar cheese and sprinkled with bacon, anyway.

I am an emotional eater. To be honest, I was raised that way. My mother thought food was the answer to everything. Sad? Here’s a sugary treat to make you feel better. Happy? Let’s get something yummy to help us celebrate. Made the honor roll? We get to go to McDonald’s for breakfast tomorrow. Angry? Let’s get something to eat and take some time to calm down. We can talk over a plate-sized cinnamon bun. I remember her cooking an entire loaf of bread as French toast and having a competition to see how many slices I could eat. She helped me gain 63 pounds when I was pregnant with an 8 pound baby because, “this is the one time when you can eat anything you want and you don’t have to worry about whether you’re gaining weight”.  It actually goes back even further than that though. When I miss my grandmother, I automatically crave the coconut macaroons, Dunkin Donuts, and Baskin Robbins ice cream she used to bring me.

Actually it can go one of two ways. I surveyed some of my friends and clients the other day. It seems like about 90% DO eat when they’re stressed. The other 10% do not eat – anything – when they’re stressed. Clearly, neither of these extremes is ideal.

What can we do about it?

The stress isn’t going to go away. Our lives are not magically going to be rainbows and sparkling tiaras from this point forward as long as we will it. People we love pass away. Relationships we want to work out, end. Things we wanted to do, we can’t. Things don’t always go our way. We don’t get that promotion. We have too much to do. We get in arguments and have disagreements. It’s the human condition.

We need to prepare ourselves to be ready to deal with these difficulties in a better way. We need to plan how we’re going to handle the next crisis when it comes. We need to think about it now before we are IN the situation.

5 Strategies to help with Emotional Eating
  1. Start by trying to take your mind off food.

 Rather than walking into your house, grabbing the first sugary, fatty, salty thing you can find; crumbling onto the couch and stuffing it into your face, take just a few minutes.

 Have a glass or two of water. DO something. I know you don’t feel like going to the gym. That’s okay. Just go for a short walk. Call a friend while you’re walking, or listen to music (an audiobook or short podcast). Look at your to-do list and resolve to get one or two quick things checked off. Crank your music and dance around for 5 or 10 minutes. Don’t sit down. Don’t get on the computer. Move for a few minutes and get your blood circulating. I know it’s hard at first – especially if something has happened and you’re depressed, sad, or angry. You owe this few minutes to yourself though. AND this will make you feel better than food will.


  1. Face the emotion.

 We’re taught by our parents, teachers, and even in the workplace, that there are “good” (joy, happiness, pleasure) and “bad” (anger, fear, jealousy) emotions. We’re continually told (and/or we tell ourselves) that we need to suppress “negative” emotions. Don’t be angry. Don’t be sad. Don’t be depressed. Be happy. Be calm.

 In fact, every emotion serves a purpose! Emotions themselves are not “bad”. It is how we choose to act upon or respond – or even worse, NOT respond – to our emotions that may cause problems.

 Think about the emotion without the food. Ask yourself questions like these:

  •  How do I feel right now? Be specific. Name the emotion. “I feel angry, sad, frustrated, belittled, depressed, over-worked, under-appreciated, unloved, stressed……”
  •  What led to this feeling? Was it a specific situation? Is that an on-going situation or something that just happened this once? Was it a specific person? Was it that you responded poorly because you said something you didn’t really mean or you didn’t listen? Did you take on too much?
  •  Can you / what can you do to fix the problem? Not the emotion but the cause of your sadness, anger, frustration, etc. Can you do anything about THAT? What? Could you talk to the person, could you explain your feelings, could you decide to take a few things off your too full to do list? Could you ask someone for help? Do you just have to deal with it?
  • If you can’t do anything about it, because things do sometimes happen TO us that are outside of our control, how can you deal with it? Can you think of some way to positively handle the situation if you can’t change it? Would it help to talk to someone? Would it help to write your thoughts down? Would it help to clear your head by finding something to do for a few minutes? Could you allow yourself 5 or 10, or 15 minutes to cry, to scream, to melt-down? AND then take a few minutes to just breath.

 You might think I’m weird but I’m going to be completely honest. Don’t knock it until you try it once or twice. I take 5 minutes to just sit or lay down. I close my eyes and I take a deep breathe in. As I slowly exhale, I imagine that the breathe (instead of “just” being exhaled) is being pushed throughout my body. I can feel it going to my lungs, then to my stomach, my arms, my legs. It takes up all of the space inside my body so as it is expanding, it pushes all of the negative energy out – through my shoulders, my finger tips, my toes.   This does not take my problems away but it does typically calm me enough so that I can re-center again. I can think more clearly, and I can have a fresh approach.


  1. Eat intentionally.

IF you’ve tried to get it off your mind but you find that you really, really want the chips (or whatever “it” is for you), have them. If you’re an emotional eater, you should NOT keep these things in your house. That makes it much too easy for you. Instead, make the foods you want to limit as inconvenient as possible. At the very least, put these things on the very top shelf of your pantry so you have to expend the effort of dragging out a chair to get to them. I bury stuff in the bottom of my freezer. Unless it’s been a really, really bad day, I’m not going to take the time of digging all the frozen food out just to get to the Thin Mint cookies.

 Better yet, if this stuff is not in your house, you’ll have to drive to the store. On these days, once you’re in, you’re not likely going to feel like going back out. When you DO go to the store, buy one individual serving size of what you’re craving. Don’t give yourself that BS story about how the larger bag is the better deal, it’s more economical and you’ll save a lot of money by buying the King-sized. That is true but here’s what you need to remember – it’s not a better deal unless you eat the entire thing. You can either waste your money buying the smaller bag OR you can put the extra chips on your waist. One or the other. Waste or waist.  You choose.


  1. Be mindful of how much you’re eating.

 If you come into the house, grab that large bag of chips, plop onto the couch, pull out your 

Screen Shot 2015-03-21 at 2.58.19 AMiPad or turn on the television, that bag is going to be gone and you won’t even remember putting your hand to your mouth. That doesn’t even count the can of dip you cleaned out with these chips, either. If you’re eating – because of stress, emotion, or just because you’re eating – be mindful of how much you’re eating. Don’t carry the bag to the couch. If you don’t have an individual serving, get out one serving in a bowl. When it’s gone, it’s gone and you’ll notice it. Even if you go back for a second helping, there’s no denying it – you’ll KNOW what you’re doing and you’ll have to decide whether you really want to have more or not.


  1. Please remind yourself that YOU ARE IN CONTROL.

 I know it might not feel like it at that very moment. Life seems so difficult and you feel like crap. Who to hell cares? YOU will! Even if you don’t right this moment, you will later. You have been through difficult times before. You have been stressed. You have survived. Can you tell me of one time when food or alcohol fixed any of your problems? Personally, I can tell you how many times they’ve helped me. Zero! Not even once. A loaf of fresh sourdough bread slathered in butter, and a six pack of Guinness is not going to make anything better this time either.

 If you over-consume, you end up feeling guilty and sluggish. You’ll feel like you let yourself down. You’ll be disappointed, sad, angry, AND you still have the original issue/stress. If you don’t eat, you will feel exhausted and “disconnected”. It’s hard to concentrate on anything and you become even more emotional when you don’t have food in your body. AND you still have the original issue/stress.

 We think comfort food is going to comfort us. For me personally, once that last bite is on its way to my stomach….I feel no comfort. I need to either keep eating or realize that my problems are not going to dissolve into a piece of Hershey’s death by chocolate cake.

You are in control

Into the Danger Zone: How to travel with food and not be arrested!

Debbie Hatch | Family & F.I.T.

As I began writing this, I was on yet another flight, headed to yet another location and tomorrow I’ll be back at the airport. Since 2004 when I started my consulting and training business, I’ve spent at least 200 days a year on the road. I have traveled around the world and provided training in multiple locations throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. I have had many people tell me that I have their dream job; this lifestyle is so “glamorous” and that I’m incredibly lucky.

I love to travel. I love to teach.  I’ve seen some phenomenal things and met some amazing individuals. In those regards, people are correct. I’m lucky.

I also see in my newsfeed, though, comments like “I haven’t seen my husband in 11 days.” “I haven’t been home in two weeks.” That is a routine schedule for me, nothing out of the ordinary at all. When I AM home for 11 days in a row that is news! I don’t go home at the end of the day when I’m done working. I spend a lot of time surrounded by people yet all alone. I spend a lot of time driving. I spend a lot of time flying and running through airports. I have been known, due to flight delays and cancellations, to sleep for 30-60 minutes in my car in the parking lot prior to teaching all day. I’ve slept in more than one airport. Trust me when I say, it’s really not “glamorous”. I’m not on vacation and most people would not want to do this if they knew what it actually entailed. I hear people say, “I love to travel but I love to get home and sleep in my own bed.” To be honest, the Hilton bed feels more like “my bed” than the one I have at home.

I’m not sharing all of this so that you will feel bad for me. I own the company. I am doing this 560126_3460823671844_576210077_n-2by choice – in theory at least, but that’s another story. I am sharing it to make the point that I’m somewhat of a travel “expert”. I, though, like many of you also have fitness goals I am trying to attain. It’s competition season and all of this travel makes preparation quite complicated, if not downright difficult. The choice to compete is also a personal one. I’m not asking for sympathy. I’m just saying it’s not easy. It’s not for any of us.

Travel never is. In fact, it’s something I get a lot of nutritional questions about.   Many of my clients do fantastic as long as they are in their typical environment, with a set schedule. Going out to eat or traveling is when they start having problems. That’s when many panic or just give up. I hear things like, “Oh no, we’re going out to dinner. This is going to be a disaster!” “I’m traveling for the next two weeks. It’s going to be really hard to eat nutritiously and there is no way I can exercise.” “What do you have for ideas of healthy choices that don’t need to be refrigerated or warmed up?”


I’m not talking about going on vacation, kicking back for a while, and enjoying yourself. If you’re doing that, relax!!! Have desert. Get a drink, or two. Try the local cuisine. Don’t worry about it.  I’m just saying, don’t use travel, or going out to eat, business meetings, office events, or anything else as an excuse to “have to” eat poorly. You never have to. You are a grown person. You are in charge of your decisions. Own them.

Be mindful of what you’re putting in your mouth. Don’t obsess over it. You don’t have to count every calorie or worry about every tiny morsel, if you’re not preparing for a competition. You do need to be aware that your choices (including food, water, sleep, and exercise) do have an impact on you, though, and it’s not merely physical.


I realize that I am neither typical nor “normal”, and that’s okay. You can say that I’m crazy. Lots of people that I love, do. Though my niece says I’m, “just a little eccentric” and I prefer that 🙂  If nothing else, maybe this post with make you laugh.

If I’m not on vacation, traveling requires a little bit of forethought and planning. With time and travel, I simply can’t always pop into a local restaurant for something to eat. Believe it if you want to, but there are not a lot of options in some of these very rural places, especially late at night!!

I never check a bag so all of my food has to be carry-on approved. I have been stopped very, very few times by TSA, but I make sure that I am following the rules. I do not carry liquids or creams – that means no peanut butter, cottage cheese, or yogurt. Knives are not allowed!!! Forks may be frowned upon on international flights too (both Spain and Italy had issues with my fork).

As an aside, TSA also frowns upon metal dumbbells in your luggage. Evidently a 10-pound weight “makes a very good bludgeoning tool”. They will question weighted handle jump ropes (which might look like “dynamite”…..I’m not sure who carries that on the plane, but, okay….) but you are allowed to have them so long as you explain, “what you plan to do with them.”


I.  Plan ahead. If I am going to be on the road for 5-7 days, I bring most of my food with me. If it’s longer than 7 days, I will need to make arrangements to restock my cooler at some point.  The food is pre-cooked and partitioned out into servingIMG_9638s. I have a food sealer that I use because it makes the food flat, and I don’t have to worry about leakage. I carry a pair of nail clippers to open the packages.

II.  Lean protein is typically the hardest thing to find on the road. My go-to options include pre-cooked chicken/turkey breast, ground meats, or meatloaf. Know that you can make just about anything into a pancake or muffin. I make egg white and veggie muffins, mini loaves from eggs and oatmeal; and these minced broccoli, tuna, and egg white concoctions. They freeze, they’re easy to pack, and they’re easy to eat even if I’m on the road.

Craziest TSA moment: There are two when it comes to protein. (1) I bought a couple pound turkey breast somewhere in my travels but didn’t end up eating it so I was carrying it home. TSA said that because it showed as a solid mass on the screen, it looked suspicious and “almost like plastic explosive”. Fair enough J (2) I was traveling through a very rural part of Montana one year right after Easter. The grocery store was selling colored, hard-boiled eggs on clearance so I picked up a dozen. I probably had 6-8 in my carry on. Those, evidently, “look a little like hand grenades.” It does appear evident to me that given this input, perhaps I should be a little concerned about all of this travel!!!

If I am near a grocery store, I will grab some tuna or salmon packets (not cans unless I can find them with pull tops). I sometimes also pick up a whole rotisserie chicken from the deli and keep that in my hotel fridge for a few days. Note that the best place to find a grocery store is typically not too far from the airport, so that’s my first stop off the plane.

III.  Finding carbohydrates without a ton of fat is probably my second biggest challenge. This is easy to fix by bringing pre-cooked sweet potato fries, plain instant oatmeal, cut up veggies, rice, or quinoa.

Craziest TSA moment: More than once I have carried an entire spaghetti squash in my carry-on. One time in Los Angeles, I was pulled out for supplemental screening. The TSA agent and I talked about spaghetti squash for about 10 minutes and I gave him two recipes before I left IMG_9637the security area.

If I am near a grocery store, I may pick up some rice cakes, Minute Rice cups, black beans, fresh (or frozen – no sugar or additives) fruits and veggies, or tortillas. I don’t typically carry a lot of fresh fruit with me merely because it bruises easily and can be messy.

IV.  Finding fat is always easy but healthy fats vs saturated can be a challenge if you don’t know what you’re looking for. I carry unsalted nuts in my suitcase (typically almonds, although sometimes also brazil or walnuts). Shredded coconut is easy, and can be mixed into fruit or yogurt.

If I am near a grocery store, I may pick up some olive oil, nuts, cottage cheese, yogurt, and natural peanut butter.

V.  If your hotel has a refrigerator and/or microwave, you’ve got it made!  Let me tell you, though, that I am living proof that things need to be refrigerated far less than we think they do. I’m not giving you advice here; I’m just saying that I personally think nothing of carrying chicken, turkey, eggs, etc., in my suitcase cross-country. I freeze most of it before I leave home, and do carry it in an insulated cooler bag, but none-the-less. Depending on where I’m teaching, I may or may not have access to a refrigerator for several days. This really freaks my sister out so last year she bought me a small cooler that plugs into the cigarette lighter in my car. It’s fantastic for road trips but I don’t bring it on the plane.

If I am near a grocery store, I will pick up a cheap Styrofoam cooler, and a bag of ice to use for a few days.  If I’m not near a grocery store, I have extra gallon zip lock baggies in my luggage. I fill those from the hotel ice machine and put them into my cooler bag with my food.

VI.  I bring protein bars (and powders) in my luggage but many grocery stores and even gas stations carry them these days. The important thing is to read your labels! Some of those bars are just high calorie candy bars with the word “protein” on the label so you’ll buy it – you might as well just buy a Snickers and be done with it.

I am working on a review of my favorite protein bars now. That will be going out to the e-mail list within the next few days.

VII.  If I’m on a long drive, I’m not a fan of stopping at restaurants for a lot of sit down meals. That simply chews up time that I don’t have. Chipotle, or Panera are my favorites for hot, healthy, and fast food. Subway also works (my favs are chopped chicken or tuna salads) as does Wendy’s (chili and a side salad).


Vanilla Greek yogurt, fresh raspberries & water

VIII.  Drink your water!!! I drink lots of water every day but especially on days that I’m flying. I may buy one at the airport and refill that bottle for the week; or I bring a deflated and flattened bottle in my suitcase.

IX.  Use the hotel and think outside the box. Most hotels have a complimentary breakfast of some sort. I can pick up fruit, hardboiled eggs, yogurt, bagels, and individual servings of peanut butter here.

I’ve asked to use the front desk’s microwave when there isn’t one in my room. The glass plate in the bottom of the microwave (once washed) makes a perfect dinner plate. The small coffee pot serves as a bowl. On road trips, I have discovered that in addition to cooking protein waffles in my waffle iron, I can also cook 99% fat free burger meat!

X.  Buy extra cooked food when you are near a restaurant. If I have a chance to get to a restaurant, I will order one meal to eat there and another to box up and bring with me. Applebee’s, Chili’s, Outback, Panera and Chipotle are a few of my favorites. Many of the Whole Foods have hot bars where you can pick up fresh cooked food as well.


If you have no control over WHAT you eat, you can still control HOW MUCH you eat. Be mindful of portion size and choose the best alternative among those available to you. Again, don’t obsess. Don’t stress about it. Do the best you can do. I just want you to be aware that the excuse, “but I was traveling and had no choice” is just that – an excuse.  You are in control.  



Debbie Hatch | Family & F.I.T.

I originally wrote some of these thoughts as a FB post months ago. They’re important! They’re relevant! Please indulge me for a few minutes and let me restate what needs to be said.

I love health and fitness. I don’t think anybody’s surprised by that statement. What you might not know though, is that I think there are levels of health.

Competition is a step beyond fitness; fitness is a step beyond healthy; healthy is a step – a huge one – beyond where many people are today and that’s sad.

I want to start with the two extremes.

First, while it’s not popular to say this out loud today, many people have allowed themselves to become (or to remain) unhealthy and unconditioned. Considering obesity rates have more than doubled in both adults and children since the 1970s (National Center for Health Statistics, 2009), and that more than two-thirds of US adults are overweight or obese (Ogden, 2014), the numbers make my point. Do I care what anyone weighs? Not one bit! Do I try to change anyone? Never! Do I believe in body shaming? Absolutely not! Do I think we all need to weigh a certain amount, be a certain size, or fit a mold of what we “should” be? Hell, no!

I do think we need to take that hard look, though, and be honest with ourselves. We need to face the factual reality that many of us don’t take care of ourselves – especially as we get older (and by that I mean from 18 to 25 and 30 to 40…..I don’t mean “old”….whatever to heck that means anyway). The numbers back me up there too.

This table shows the percentage of people diagnosed with highChronic conditions blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes from age 18 to age 90.  

Is health going to decline as part of the normal aging process? Yes. I’m not going to be as healthy at 100 as I was at 18. Does that mean I should just let myself go, become increasingly sedentary, and stop taking care of myself at 30, or 40, or 50, or 80? I’m not going to!

Please understand that “unhealthy” doesn’t always mean “overweight” though. Been there. Done that. I have always been relatively thin but there was a time when I was not taking care of myself. I was living on nicotine, caffeine, and sugar. I wasn’t working out but I was definitely stressing out. I wasn’t healthy. Doesn’t matter what I weighed.

On the other extreme end of the spectrum, you find elite athletes and competitors. Here, too, I have something unpopular to say. A lot of people talk about competition as if it is a negative. “We shouldn’t compete against one another.” Well, I can tell you this: I am my biggest competition. I am always trying to be better, run faster; lift heavier, to do more than I’ve done before. I compete with myself all the time. I get a kick out of being on stage and competing against other people too, though. There, I said it out loud. Yes, if you hop on the treadmill or the rower beside me at the gym, I am going to race you. It’s a fact. I don’t feel guilty about it. Join me in the race and we will be fast friends! (Pun intended.) In my favorite 5K, another racer and myself sprinted to the finish line – competing with one another until the very end. It was fun. Had she not been there, I wouldn’t have pushed myself so hard. She’d likely say the same.

If we back off of the extremes, most people want to be somewhere in the middle. These are the people I want to work with!! In fact, last year I was provided an opportunity to learn to coach figure and bikini athletes with a prestigious team in Las Vegas. I turned it down. I like to compete and it’s fun to play a part in getting a competitor to walk onto stage for the very first time. I work with some competitors. I like it. The difference is that I LOVE helping people get healthy.


And it’s not helping people lose that I strive for (though dropping weight, if that’s what the person is striving for; losing inches, decreasing medication and blood pressure are all very cool).

It’s helping people gain: confidence, self-esteem, knowledge, and health.

Moving from wanting to be healthy to being healthy is a huge step. Actually, it’s a bunch of little steps covering a huge distance! First you need to be tired of living at the unhealthy level. (Let’s face it, it’s exhausting and frustrating anyway! You hate it there.) You have to want to make a change; you have to want to learn and then apply the things you learn. You have to begin making changes incrementally and consistently. It requires work. The journey is absolutely worth the investment! When you feel healthy, when you are healthy, that carries into every aspect of your life.

The fact is that getting healthy is NOT easy but it is simple.

That means that as you start to eat healthier, there will be times you’re hungry – and that’s okay. There will be days when you’re not hungry but you need to eat anyway. There will be days you won’t feel like doing what you know you need to do.Its not easy


To get healthy you need to be conscious of your nutrition (it’s not a diet) and you need to get your body moving!!

It is simple



If you’re looking for a quick fix, or a miracle weight loss secret, that’s it. Re-read the previous few lines and don’t bother going through the rest of the blog.

Truly! That’s it!

  • You don’t need a bunch of supplements or pills.
  • No special gadgets, videos, and not even a gym membership.  [I use all 3 because I want to, not because I need to. Each adds something different].
  • You don’t need protein shakes or meal replacements.  [I use these because they are a convenient way to fuel my body when I’m traveling, teaching, or super busy. They’re also an easy way to add protein to my client’s programs since most Americans are seriously deficient in protein intake, but, again, they’re not required and whole foods are always best].
  • You don’t need a program, or another useless diet plan.  [I write programs for folks and work with clients but I prefer to teach people how to do things for themselves! I am most proud when they don’t “need” me anymore. That’s the teacher in me I suppose. You need to learn how to eat, not what to eat].
  • You don’t need a coach or nutrition or fitness expert to get started moving in the right direction! [A trainer can be awesome, especially if you’re just starting out; you’re not sure what to do and you’re not comfortable yet working out by yourself. Trainers are amazing people [most of them…but that’s a different rant]. I am one and I have several as personal friends but you CAN do this on your own].

 I don’t believe in miracles or quick fixes.

Being healthy is not something you want to do for 6 or 12 weeks.

Health is for LIFE.

 Start with your nutrition.

  • Take baby steps if you need to. 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. I drink a Diet Dr. Pepper once every couple of weeks.
  • Decrease the sugar in your coffee a little bit at a time. Stop getting that venti frappuccino (you know who you are…..) and get just the grande this week; go for the tall next.
  • 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. Fruit infused water is also something you might want to try! Yum. Check out for ideas.
  • Same thing with the sweets/treats. Trust me. I have a HORRIBLE sweet tooth and I love to bake – a bad combination. So, one day a week I’ll have a special meal. Gasp!! It might be going to the restaurant, Bailey’s in my coffee, carrot cake, or whatever. Throughout the week when I’m not eating that stuff, instead of acting like a victim “Whoa is me. I can’t have a treat, I’m dieting”…..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. I don’t feel guilty about it and I don’t try to compensate by doing extra cardio to “negate the calories” I just ate. That’s ridiculous!!! I also bake treats but try to find ways to make them healthier (applesauce vs oil; ground oats instead of white flour; using egg whites, adding protein powder, etc).  
  • Eat enough food! Crash diets don’t work and you are not going to be healthy eating one salad or a piece of fruit all day. We’ll talk about protein, carbs, and healthy fats next time.

Try these things first. Once you start to feel better (and you will), add in some exercise. Begin going for a walk every day. Build from there.

The important thing is to do something.


This is a formal call to action: Do one positive thing for yourself this week.

Throw your Healthy Habits in the Freezer!

Debbie Hatch | Family & F.I.T.

What to heck does snow & ice have to do with establishing healthy habits?  Actually, more than you might imagine!  Give me a second to explain.

To get better at anything, even if you have some natural ability, you have to spend time practicing, learning, and honing your skills. We’ve all heard, (as if we haven’t said it a million times, ourselves), “practice makes perfect”. In fact, if I said, “The more you practice something, the better you’ll get at it,” I doubt many would disagree. But have you ever wondered why this is true? I have a natural curiosity and try to understand how and why everything works – not merely that it does.

Clinicians say this happens because we create neural pathways in our brains. The rest of us typically refer to it as creating “muscle memory” or “habit”. If you practice something repeatedly, it becomes second nature. It becomes natural and effortless. You don’t even think about it. You jump the way you’ve trained to, twist the way you’ve trained to, lift the way you’ve trained to, kick the way you’ve trained to. Practice makes everything easier and more intuitive.

Ever pulled into your driveway after a long day and not remember anything about the trip or how you actually got from Point A to Point B? You’ve done it so many times before, that today you just did it on autopilot. Ever left the house headed somewhere only to find that you automatically drive your typical route and forget that’s not where you intended to go this time? Please tell me I’m not alone in this!!

The automatic responses can apply to all areas of your life and aren’t always positive. Grab a snack when you walk in the house in the evening? Every single day. Like one of Pavlov’s dogs, over time, just pulling into your driveway and putting your key in the front door elicits a digestive system response. You are already salivating. You’re not thinking about it consciously, but your body knows it is soon going to have that hit of sugar it gets every day when you pull into your driveway and open the front door. Changing habits can be hard. Really hard! I used to smoke and always had a cigarette with my coffee. Even now, 20 years after quitting, I sometimes still crave a cigarette with my coffee – the habit was ingrained that deeply.

Did you know, though, that the brain is capable of changing, adapting, and re-organizing neural pathways as a response to changes in your environment or situations? Norman Dodge, a physiatrist and author, wrote in The Brain that Changes Itself, “The brain, far from being a collection of specialized parts, each fixed in its location and function, is in fact a dynamic organ, one that can rewire and rearrange itself as the need arises.” How phenomenal is that idea? How positively amazing is it to realize, from a scientific perspective that we can literally – change our minds? Wow!!!

Since I’m sitting in Michigan watching more snow fall, it seems especially appropriate, that Dodge explains this to the layperson by talking about sledding in the winter. The first time you try to take a sled down the hill, it can actually be quite difficult. You hitch, dig in occasionally, and try to create a path. You have to work at it. The snow hasn’t been packed down yet. Where you actually end up at the bottom of the hill is determined both by how well you steer and the characteristics of the hill itself. The second time you slide down the hill, it’s easier if you stay in the tracks you just made. If you spend your entire afternoon sledding down, walking up, sledding down, at the end of the day you will have a path that is easy and fast. You just sit on the sled and it takes you to the bottom with very little effort and you end up very close to the same place each time. If you decide you want to end up in a different location, you’re going to need to take the time to create another path.

Changing pathways, and habits can be hard. Really hard! Have I said that already? Yes, change is difficult even when you know it is what needs to be done. It’s uncomfortable. Here’s where the ice comes in.

The key to creating a new neural pathway is not in just forging a new trail – trying to force a new habit – but rather in solidifying it so that it becomes the “norm”. When I was studying Organizational Leadership in college, I came across an explanation of Lewin’s theory, which completely resonated with me! Okay, at this point I realize I have no chance of convincing you that I’m not a nerd so I guess I’ll own up to it. “Hi, my name is Debbie, and I’m kind of a nerd.” J

Who Kurt Lewin was, is irrelevant for the purpose of this discussion. It’s what he taught me about change that is important. Let’s say you are getting ready to have a party. You really want a ring of ice to float in the punch bowl but your store only sells blocks of ice. You could be incredibly motivated for that block to turn into a ring. You could really want it; really need it to happen. You could get frustrated about it, curse at it, and try to force the block to change. You can apply as much pressure as you want by squeezing, pushing, or even pounding it with a hammer. The ice will resist the imposed change because it is a system of firmly established items (in this case water crystals, rather than previously formed habits but they solidify just as strongly don’t they?). Push or pound too hard, and rather than conform, the ice is just going to shatter.

Can you turn a block of ice into a ring of ice? Absolutely! But only if you take some time to thaw the block first. If you continually heat the block, it’s going to eventually start to soften and then turn to a liquid. Once the block of ice is melted, and it’s been poured into a ring-shaped mold, it’s still not the ring of ice you was hoping for, though. It’s just a bowl of water! You have to throw the mold in the freezer. You can’t make it happen. You can’t rush it. You have to wait for it to freeze into the new shape but if you leave it in the freezer for a while, that WILL happen.

What to does all of this crazy (and wonderful, and phenomenal, and amazing….) talk about neural plasticity, sledding, and floating ice rings have to do with you? Everything! Don’t like the habits that you have right now? Change your mind! I mean, literally, change your mind!! Unfreeze your current habits. Decide what you want them to look like and pour them into that mold. Then refreeze!

I see examples of this all around me! I do a happy dance when I get messages from friends, family, and clients telling me about their work on creating new neural pathways. To be honest, they probably didn’t even know that’s what they were doing until right now as they are reading this blog!!

Yup, this was Karen when she wrote, “I got to the gym this morning. The parking lot was packed. In the past, I wouldn’t stop. That would be all the excuse I needed to just keep driving. This morning I didn’t allow myself to do that. I pulled in and parked. I walked in and did 100% of my workout. I feel great!” This was Alexi when she wrote, “I went to the gym this morning and I planned to work upper body. There were a lot of guys in the free weight area. In the past, when that was the case, I would just turn around and go get on a treadmill. This morning, I heard your voice inside my head: ‘stick to your plan’. I went into the free weight area, picked up some dumbbells and did my workout!” This was Florence when she said “it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle”, and Sylvia when she said, “I’ve stopped drinking Dr. Pepper every day and even ask for water at restaurants! I don’t know who I am anymore!” This is Courtney who has made so many new habits (e.g. working out, drinking water, shopping only in the outside aisles of the grocery store) that I had to have her mom tell me what she’s doing differently because to Courtney, “this is just normal.”

I LOVE that. Yup, these things put a smile on my face that is pretty hard to remove!

“This is just normal!” In fact, this is far, far from what normal used to be but it IS the new normal!

Nathan sledding

I am very tired of winter but I am not tired of this snow and ice.

Every single time you refuse to go down that old, established trail, it will get easier and easier. You’re building a new trail. Once you’ve used the new trail for a while, the old one will start to grow over – going back will no longer be the path of least resistance. It will no longer be your normal. Throw these new habits in the freezer, ladies.  You got this!!

Food! Food! Foooddd!

Over the Hedge: What a Cartoon Can Teach You About Dietary Moderation.

Debbie Hatch | Family & F.I.T.

 If you follow the Family & Fit Facebook page, you know it’s February vacation for Hayden and that my favorite 7 year old is spending the week with me. Yesterday he watched Over the Hedge, and while I’ve seen the movie several times before; this time, I can’t get some of the words out of my head. The raccoon said, “Humans always have food. We eat to live – these guys live to eat! Let me show you what I’m talking about! The human mouth is called a ‘piehole’, the human being is called a ‘couch potato’. The telephone is a device to summon food. The door is the portal for passing of food. The delivery truck is one of the many food transportation vehicles. Humans bring the food, take the food, ship the food, they drive food. The stove gets the food hot. The refrigerator keeps the food cold. That table is the altar where they worship food. Seltzer is what they eat when they’ve eaten too much food. The treadmill gets rid of the guilt so they can eat more food! Food! Food! Food! Fooooooddddd!”

It’s sad. I mean, really sad.

My newsfeed never fails to disappoint in this department either. I have an eclectic mix of decadent recipes and delicious looking food pictures merged with myriad health tips, workouts, and hard-bodies. You can find a plan, numerous experts, and “documented research” for anything you believe. In one sitting alone, I can read about why I should never do cardio and why I should do nothing but. That I should never skip breakfast, and that I shouldn’t eat until I’ve been up for at least three hours. I should focus more on fat and meat (Paleo), or that being vegetarian is the only way to be. I shouldn’t eat carbs (Atkins) – ever! Sweet potatoes are way better than white potatoes (ever look at the nutritional macros? They are virtually indistinguishable). I should eat six times a day. No, wait, I should actually fast intermittently. I should never eat after 7 p.m. and certainly should never eat fruit because it’s loaded with sugar. Egg yolks are bad for me. Don’t eat processed food. Ever! Sugar is bad. Artificial sweeteners are worse. I should measure everything. Or should I eat intuitively? I should only buy organic and locally produced food. I must avoid all GMOs, sugar, flour, soda, coffee, gluten, bread, grains, corn, dairy, anything white… Are these things blurring together for you too, or is it just me? We are consumed by what we consume. What we should; what we shouldn’t eat. Food! Food! Food! Fooooooddddd!

It really does seem to be all about the food.

That tiny two-letter word, “all” is critical. We’re actually all or nothing. Either we’re eating every single thing we want, with reckless abandon, or we’re eating nothing but salad greens. Either we’re on a diet or we’re not. We’re working out every single day or we don’t get off the couch for 8-10 hours. No time for moderation here! No in-between. We need to stick to this plan and even the slightest deviation will mean we are a failure.

The fact is: I’m just like you. I’m all or nothing most of the time. While I love the concepts of balance and moderation, I suck at both of them. I suspect most of us do. I’m working on it.

Contrary to all the noise in your newsfeed, try to remember that food is just food. There are no “good” or “bad” foods. No “clean” (or what? Dirty?) foods. There are foods that provide greater nutritional content and we should focus on those. There are foods that provide more saturated fats, sodium, sugar, and the things we should eat only in moderation. We should limit those. What happens the minute you tell yourself you can’t have something? You immediately want it. That’s all you think about! Change your thinking. Realize that you can have anything you want, any time you want. Tomorrow, or the day after, if you are really going to die without a bag of M&Ms, you can buy a small, individual sized bag then. They’ll still be there. It’s not that you “can’t” have the candy; it’s just that today you’re making a conscious decision to choose something better because what you really want is to feel better. You are in control! Give up on the idea of perfection and realize that you don’t have to “only” eat these things or “never“ eat those. Can you eat every thing you crave every day? Dessert, bread, fried foods, pasta, or alcohol whenever you feel like it? Only if you’re willing to accept the certain consequences that will accompany that action. Can you have a cookie every now and again, or a little Bailey’s in your coffee on Saturday? I certainly do!

Contrary to all the things I read about people being “hard core” and “all in”, perfection itself is unattainable. You might be perfect for a while but there will come this “one day”, this “one event” when you eat something you don’t think you’re supposed to. I’ve seen people then lament over it and feel guilty for days. I’ve seen one less-than-healthy food choice turn into a week of binging. I mean if you’re not going to be perfect, why bother, right? If you ate a bowl of ice cream, you might as well eat as much as you possibly can for the next several days. Clearly, you’re a failure.

In reality, perfection doesn’t exist. Don’t strive for perfection: just try to be better. BecauseYouGotAFlatCut yourself a little slack. Make the best choices you can and work to improve those choices as you go through time. Hold yourself accountable. Giving up on change because you’re far from perfect misses the point of how beneficial small changes can be for your health. Start by picking your battle: cut sugar intake, reduce liquid calories, increase activity, drink more water, practice better portion control. Change one thing at a time but once you’ve made that change, don’t go back. If you have a mis-step, okay. Surprise: you’re a human! Get up, dust yourself off, pump up that flat, and get right back to your goals.