After you’ve reached your target healthy weight, the next step on your health journey is to optimize and maintain your healthy weight by continuing to implement healthy habits. Additional benefits for maintaining a healthy weight are linked to decreased risk of disease, better sleep, and living a longer life. If you turn healthy eating habits into healthy lifestyle habits, you’re more likely to maintain your healthy weight. Here are some keys to success for remaining in your target weight range:

  • Make healthy food choices. When confronted with a choice between what looks good and what is good use Stop. Challenge. Choose. to make the nutritious selection that will be more beneficial for your long-term health.
  • Track food intake. Tracking your food intake makes it easier to identify any corrections you need to make to your diet. Try using an app that provides specific calorie and nutrient counts so you can easily pinpoint your habits and make choices in a mindful way.
  • Healthy motion. Burning calories and increasing metabolism are necessary for maintaining a healthy weight. In addition to NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis), Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen recommends thirty minutes a day of moderate activity. For more information, please see Dr. A’s Habits of Health Chapter 16.
  • Plan ahead. Plan meals in advance to avoid being hungry and making unhealthy decisions. Keep Fuelings or healthy snacks in your car or backpack so you can grab and go.
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking water regularly helps promote fullness and can help keep calorie intake in check. Try drinking a glass of water before your meals and aim to drink at least 64 oz. daily.*
  • Manage stress. Stress is an appetite stimulant and a common trigger for impulsive eating. Try meditation, exercise, or keeping a stress journal to help manage your stress. For more information, please see Dr. A’s Habits of Health Chapter 25.
  • Use your support system. Reach out to your OPTAVIA Coach or Community for extra motivation. Having a support circle can help keep your goals and accountability in perspective.

Ask me, your OPTAVIA Coach, for other tips to maintain your healthy weight on your journey to Lifelong Transformation, One Healthy Habit at a Time®.

* Talk with your healthcare provider prior to changing the amount of water you drink as it can affect certain health conditions and medications.

Tips for Staying on Track During Vacation

As we head into the summer months, it’s almost time to take that summer vacation that the entire family has been anticipating! Vacations are a time to relax and take a break from your normal routine, but they can also pose some challenges for healthy eating. Remember, just because you’re going on vacation doesn’t mean your healthy lifestyle needs one. Here are some tips for staying on Plan during your vacation:

  • Plan your meals. Remember to pack five Fuelings per day for each day of your trip and to eat every two to three hours. If you’re renting a vacation home and have access to a full kitchen, go grocery shopping once you reach your destination so you can pick your own healthy ingredients for your Lean & Green meals. Or look over the menus at your destination restaurants so you can plan your meals in advance.
  • Utilize NEAT and EAT. Vacations are a great opportunity to practice healthy motion! Continue to utilize NEAT strategies like using the stairs instead of elevator and standing instead of sitting when you can. If you usually take a daily walk, simply move your walk from your neighborhood to the beach or while sightseeing with your family. 
  • Drink water.* Opt for water instead of juices or alcoholic beverages which can contain extra calories and can dehydrate you. Carry your water bottle for easy access to hydration, especially if you’re in a warmer climate.If you experience symptoms such as thirst, headaches, muscle cramps, or fatigue, you should try to replenish your fluids as soon as possible.
  • Get enough sleep. Your sleep schedule on vacation should remain as close as possible to your sleep schedule at home—get at least seven hours of sleep, wake up and wind down around the same times each day, and create an optimal sleep environment for a good night’s rest.

Ask me, your OPTAVIA Coach, about other tips to stay on track during vacation on your journey to Lifelong Transformation, One Healthy Habit at a Time™.

* Talk with your healthcare provider prior to changing the amount of water you drink as it can affect certain health conditions and medications

We’ve all heard the old sayings “look on the bright side” or “view the glass as half full”, but why is positive thinking necessary for achieving Optimal Health and Wellbeing? Positive thinking can give you more confidence, improve your mood, and combat negative thoughts, which can lead to chronic stress and contribute to other health problems. Here are some tips for creating a positive mindset:

  • Positive Affirmations: Positive self-talk can calm you down and control stress. Try starting your day by talking to yourself in a positive way. Instead of saying, “I can’t do this”, try “I can handle this by taking one step at a time.”
  • Turn setbacks into “set forwards”. Instead of focusing on your setback, use this opportunity as a lesson to grow and move forward.
  • Breathe. Take some reflective time to do a breathing exercise at the beginning of your day or when you have a midday break. Deep breaths cue the brain to calm down, allowing you to refocus.
  • Surround yourself with positive people. Reach out to your OPTAVIA Coach or OPTAVIA’s supportive Community to talk through any challenges you are having on your health journey. Make use of your social network or get in touch with a friend to seek advice.

Recognizing how our thoughts are structured is the next step toward transforming unhealthy habits to healthy habits when faced with a difficult or uncomfortable situation. This practice is easier if you use Stop. Challenge. Choose.®:

  • Stop. Take a slow, deep breath to help control your emotions. Recognize that you are triggering an unhealthy habit. Pausing and taking a breath helps to regain control.
  • Challenge. Think about why you are responding to the situation the way you are. Remind yourself of your goals and the choices you should make to reach these goals.
  • Choose. Make the healthy choice that gives you a similar reward but is much better for your long term health.

Ask me, your OPTAVIA Coach, about other tips for creating a healthy mindset on your journey to Lifelong Transformation, One Healthy Habit at a Time®.

What is Your Most Important Relationship?

What is Your Most Important Relationship

Reprint from The Conscious Leadership Group

I invite you to read the question I’m about to ask, then look away from the page and reflect to find your answer. After you’ve answered it, continue reading.

What relationship matters the most to you?

Got your answer? Great, read on.

I love to ask clients this question. Typical answers include: my children, partner, parents, team, oldest friend, mentor, coach, therapist, minister. When asked a second time some add my relationship to god, spirit, presence, the universe. Others add my relationship to myself. Upon further reflection I’ve heard people say my relationship to my career, money, power, my purpose and goals, success, fame and freedom.

In my experience, all relationships matter, yet one relationship matters more than all the rest. And it’s none of the above.

The most important relationship is our relationship with our thoughts.

It is our thoughts about our children, spouse, money, god, success, freedom, etc. that really matter. This is a game changing realization. When I ask people to tell me about their relationship with their thoughts, I often get a blank stare or quizzical look. It’s our most important relationship and we haven’t even begun to examine it.

Once a leader sees this they notice that their relationship is not with their partner or their children or money or time or anything else. Their relationship is with their thoughts. It’s your thoughts about your husband or wife that determine the quality of your relationship with your partner. It is not your partner.

How world class conscious leaders relate with their thoughts:

They notice their thoughts and they notice that which is noticing their thoughts.

Most people believe they are their thoughts. They see no separation between what they think and who they are. This view has a long philosophical history going back to Descartes’ “I think therefore I am.”

Conscious leaders realize that the real truth is, “I am, and thinking occurs.” What they recognize is that something is antecedent to thought, something is aware of the thinking, and it is not another thought. It is awareness. Awareness is that which notices all the phenomena of consciousness including thoughts (and all sensory experience including feelings).

Practically speaking, conscious leaders spend time developing the capacity to rest as that which notices thought and is not the thought. They become free from the tyranny of thought by being able to watch thoughts arise and dissipate all in a matter of moments. In simple terms they meditate and practice mindfulness.

They question all their thoughts…

especially the ones that are causing them stress, upset and suffering, especially the ones they’re most attached to and invested in being right about. They discipline themselves to deconstruct their thoughts through the process of inquiry.

For example, when an unconscious leader has the thought “My manager is not giving me enough opportunities to grow and learn,” they actually believe their thought is true and they use their mind to find all the supporting evidence to prove it. Furthermore, since they believe the thought they have an emotional reaction, e.g. anger. And finally, they personalize their thought. They identify as the thought. They are a person without adequate opportunity to grow and learn. This combination of being right, finding proof, feeling upset because of the thought and believing that it’s all personal is a formula (maybe the formula) for suffering.

Conscious leaders come back to awareness, to presence, and they say something like, “I notice the thought arising that my manager is not giving me an opportunity.”

Once they come back to awareness, to noticing, the next step is to welcome the thought. “Oh, a thought just showed up in consciousness. I welcome it.”

Next they interrupt the natural process of the ego/mind which seeks to prove the veracity of the thought. Instead they do inquiry by asking Byron Katie’s four questions.

  • Is it true?
  • Can I know for absolute certain it’s true?
  • When I believe the thought how do I react?
  • Who would I be without the thought?

Conscious leaders see that they are not their thoughts. They are that which is aware of their thoughts. Because they don’t take thoughts personally or seriously they don’t need to believe or reject their thoughts. They can learn from their thoughts. Inquiry turns every disturbing thought into an opportunity to learn and grow.


They enjoy their thoughts

As they experience more liberation from the tyranny of their thinking conscious leaders begin to enjoy their thoughts, to play with their thoughts and to allow their thoughts to be part of the creative dance of their lives. The thoughts become like crayons in a coloring box. The more unattached one is to thoughts the more the thoughts can be used as part of the creative expression of their life’s purpose.

They come to appreciate the peace of no thought

At times conscious leaders enjoy the peace of no thought, the quiet, empty space of non-thinking presence. This, in my experience, is the “peace that passes all understanding.” It is a peace that is always here both underneath and beyond all thinking. For most people this is not a steady state but rather an oasis they visit periodically in their life’s journey. The great masters would tell us that this state can be developed through disciplined practice.

If you believed that your most important relationship was with your children, you’d build practices into your life that evidenced the priority of the relationship and that supported you to have an ever increasing quality relationship with your kids. You’d spend time with your kids, you’d read books about parenting, listen to podcasts, consult with experts and learn from mentors.

My point is that our most important relationship is actually with our thoughts and this relationship requires no less prioritization, learning and mentorship. If anything, it requires more.

Four concrete ways to prioritize your relationship with your thoughts:

  1. Begin a daily meditation practice focussed on awareness that supports you in centering on your breath and then noticing thoughts and noticing the witness who notices the thoughts. For this type of meditation we recommend Headspace or Calm.
  2. Watch videos of Byron Katie doing The Work, then use the free resources on her website to do The Work on your own thoughts.
  3. Commit to a weekly practice with a  learning partner to support one another in questioning your thoughts.
  4. Ask for people you live and work with to give you feedback in the moment to question your thoughts when you’re identifying with your thoughts as true.

Editor’s Note:   Jim Dethmer, Author of 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership has created a phenomenal community of leaders who want to make a difference in business and in life.

NEAT – Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis – What is that?

When it comes to burning calories, most people automatically think “exercise”. However, there are additional ways to burn calories throughout the day by utilizing NEAT, or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. NEAT can be the missing piece of the puzzle for those who have a hard time losing weight, despite having a healthy diet. It’s also important for people who want to maintain their healthy weight.

In Chapter 15 of Dr. A’s Habits of Health®, Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen offers some NEAT pointers for reaching or maintaining your healthy weight. By making small healthy choices and implementing exercise at your own pace, here are some ways you can make the most of NEAT in your daily routine:

  • Stand when you can. Get out of your chair as much as possible. Instead of sitting at work, stand while you’re at your desk. If you need to share a message with a colleague, get up to talk to them instead of sending an email.
  • Actively relax. Instead of sitting on the couch, try active relaxing activities such as yoga or taking a casual walk. If you do choose to sit and relax, take note of your posture and focus on your core position. Try to get up and take a few steps every 20 – 30 minutes.
  • Use the stairs. Climbing one flight of stairs is equivalent to walking 100 steps. Instead of taking the elevator at work, use the steps to burn some extra calories.
  • Have fun cleaning. Chores don’t have to be boring. Turn on the music and get moving while you clean! Or try simple exercises such as bicep curls while taking out the trash or lunges as you vacuum to enhance your motion and burn more calories.
  • Create a wellness challenge with colleagues. Form a walking team or have a push-up competition with your colleagues. Make it a friendly competition by setting a goal, such as target number of steps or push-ups each week.
  • Go manual. Do things by hand instead of using a machine. Instead of loading the dishes in the dishwasher, take the time to wash them by hand. Instead of going to the car wash, do it yourself on a warm spring day.

Ask me, your OPTAVIA Coach, about other ways to get moving on your journey to Lifelong Transformation, One Healthy Habit at a Time™.