Sep 19, 2014

Special Occassions

I met Barb when she first started the Key Hypnosis program. It's a year later and she has transformed from a size 24 to a size 12. Her weight loss journey has been inspiring for me to witness and I'm honored to share some of Barb's weight loss journey wisdom and photos.
July 2013 vs July 2014
 Lean in, as Barb shares what she's learned about handling special occasions:
When I started this program a little over a year ago, I thought I'd be done by now. I'm not, but I'm still going!

I also thought that once I reached my goal size, I would go through cycling [maintenance], and then I would eat out of the river on "special" occasions.
Sounds good right? 

Well in the past year, I've had lots of special occasions that I thought I should be able to eat off program! Holidays, birthdays, picnics, weddings, showers, parties, and the Big E. These special occasions, which only occur once a year or once in a lifetime, were the times I really wanted to go off program.
If I think about it, these special occasions happen almost every week!

I'm coming to the realization that even when I'm on maintenance, I'm not going to be able to eat sugar or carbs at every special occasion!
I think there are two things I need to start wrapping my brain around: 1) not every activity is a special occasions that needs to be celebrated with food, and 2) special occasions can be celebrated without food, even once I'm on maintenance.
Barb started in a size 24.
Barb is now a size 12.
Congratulations Barb on your incredible transformation and thank you for sharing with us!

Your statement "when I started this program a little over a year ago, I thought I'd be done by now" really resonated with me. I started a few sizes larger than you and I figured it would take me two years to reach my goal. It's been three and a half years for me and I'm not there yet either. I'm still going too! 

We're doing this program once and then we're done. We'll learn to cycle through maintenance and then live the rest of our lives at our goal size.

I'm going to pause right now and do the happy dance for the both of us!

Thanks for helping us to redefine special occasions! If I gave in on every special occasion along the way, I would have gone off this program so many times that I'd never be able to get back on.

Sep 18, 2014

Choose Once

Exercise helps you to lose weight. Exercise is good for your health. Blah, blah, blah. We know all this, but many of us struggle to start exercising or to continue with our exercise goals. What if you didn't need to decide every day should I exercise, but instead you just do it because you made the commitment? What if you no longer had to debate with yourself every day about doing it or not doing it? End the debate. It's exhausting and doesn't make you feel good, especially if you decide not to exercise. Make the decision once and then do it every day (or at whatever frequency you chose).
I could not walk this reservoir in a size 30/32. Today I walk here 4-5 days a week.
I took this photo on my morning walk, which I get to do weekdays, yes at 6am, with my friend. When I was a size 30/32, this walk, that I loved, was something I had to give up because I couldn't walk the 4 miles around the reservoir. I couldn't even do part of this trail because of the steep hills at the entrances, because I was afraid of falling down, and because I could hardly breathe going uphill. When I added exercise to my life again, this was the first place I went to walk/run. At first, I couldn't cover the whole circle, but I kept at it and eventually I could. This was a big non-scale victory.

Robin had questions about exercise and how to get motivated to exercise:
It seems every one here is walking or working out. How do you do Zumba? I can't seem to get the steps to fast! How do you all do it? How do you get yourself moving? Motivated? Please help me!
You ask great questions and I'll respond to them, but first there are a couple observations I want to make and I have a couple of questions for you...

It sounds like you're in a panic about your weight loss journey, so I encourage you to stop right now and take a deep breath! Take a long breath in and slowly exhale. Repeat three more times.

Are you measuring your success with the success of others? I've been guilty of this from time to time and I know I'm not alone in thinking this way. This kind of thinking brings on self-doubt, which is not a good place to be, but here we are just the same.

The choice is ours: stay in self-doubt and allow those feelings to bring our weight loss journey to a halt or push past those feelings and continue our journey. We get to choose: move forward or move backwards, reach our goal and live our lives to the fullest or quit and live our lives wishing we could do this.

Part of the journey for many of us is to experience this self-doubt, to question why others are losing faster than we are, and to ask ourselves why we aren't losing as fast as others. When we're in this questioning stage, we're at a turning point on our journey, one which we may encounter many times along the way, when we stop and ask ourselves the question "why aren't I losing as fast as others?"

Behind the curtain, the real question we may be asking is "can I continue to do this?" or "should I continue?" or "is this sustainable?" Perhaps what's really going on inside is that we are having doubts about reaching our goal size. At this point, we're often close to another drop in size and if we can get beyond this point we will feel incredible when it passes and we're no longer questioning ourselves.

This is the point where we need to stay the course the most, to push away those feelings of self-doubt. This is the moment to reflect back on this same kind of moment when we didn't stay the course and how we regretted it later.

This is also the moment to also reflect on the moments like this that we pushed ourselves through the moment and how great it felt when we did.

Don't make this one of those moments of regret. Make this one of the many moments you can look back on with pride at how you pushed yourself through this moment. All these moments are what add up to your success and the propel you to goal size. Stay the course.

Weight loss is not the same for all of us, as there are many variables in each of our lives. Some start heavier than others. Some are older. Some have carried their extra weight for a longer time than others. The bottom line is that time doesn't matter. Do you best every day to stay the course and you will reach your goal. If someone told me it would take more than three years for me to reach my goal size, I don't know that I could have done this program. What I do know today, is that it doesn't matter how long it takes and that I feel good every day I choose to stay the course.

Motivation to exercise comes when you decide it's time for you to get moving. I remember at a refresher Julie told the woman sitting next to me "if you don't exercise, it's going to take you a really long time to get to your goal size." It was nine months later before I would take those words seriously and started to exercise.

For me, exercise first took shape when I downloaded the couch-2-5k app. I was going to a conference and I decided ahead of time I would use the treadmill each morning of the conference. In fact, I was on my way to the airport and I had driven about a mile away from my house when I realized I had not packed my exercise clothes and I turned around to go get them. At the airport, I told my co-worker I would be joining her in the gym each morning. I made the decision and then took steps to see my commitment through. The first morning of the conference, I went to the gym at 5am, I stepped on the treadmill next to my co-worker, and I turned on the c25k app and did my first workout.

I quickly realized I needed a goal to keep me inspired, so after returning home I registered for a 5k. There was just enough time for me to finish my c25k training before the race day. What helped me was that I solicited a friend to train and to run the race with me, but there were many times that I had to run by myself.

You asked about Zumba - Zumba is a blast! However, every time I went I felt that everyone else was doing so much better. I couldn't bend or move like they did. In other words, I was judging myself and I was in my own way. Once I got out of my own way, once I stopped comparing myself to everyone else in the room, I was able to enjoy myself. I haven't been back to Zumba, but it's not off the list of possibilities, it just doesn't fit into my priorities at the moment.

Right now my focus is walking 10,000-15,000 steps a day and to train for a 5k race in Dec. I made the decision to do this race once and now I'm following through by taking the steps (training) to reach my goal. There is no debate on "should I" because I'm committed.

In the end, it is only you who can motivate yourself to see your exercise goals through. Apps are helpful tools and having a walking or running buddy is wonderful, but it is on each of us to do this for ourselves, with our without friends or apps.

Make the decision what you want to do for exercise. Make the decision once and then take action each day to stay the course. If you take on too much, adjust the plan. This isn't failing, this is learning what's possible for you right now. Adjust your plan as you need, but don't get into the debate about exercising or not exercising. Choose once and then stay the course.

Hmm, this is sort of like what we do with this program right? We choose to follow this program and there's no further debate. Take the debate out the equation for staying the course on this program and with your exercise plan.

Sep 15, 2014

Who is That Woman?

After six weeks of feeling like I was having a bad hair day every single day, I decided to get a short haircut. Wow! Talk about change! This has been more shocking to me than anything I've done in a while. Every time I see my reflection in a mirror or in a store window I wonder: who is that woman looking back at me?
Before and After
A few days later, I'm still answering this question.

After I got my hair cut on Thursday, I went to Talbots looking for new clothes. They had a great sale and I left with three items: a classic long-sleeved white blouse (size 14), a grey pencil skirt (size 12), and a pair of navy blue shorts (size 14). I tried on all kinds of styles, attempting to find a new look to go with my new hair cut. Of course, all I could see when I looked in the mirror: my hips, oh my hips!

Hello? This skirt is a size 12! Hush little mean girl, hush!
Size 12 pencil skirt from Talbots.
I've been shopping several times in the past few weeks and most of the time I left the store frustrated and empty-handed. A couple times I took home a few items, only to return them the next day. I'm happy to say I didn't return any of the Talbot clothing!

I need to find a couple outfits for job interviews, so I asked my sister-in-law to go shopping for clothes with me yesterday. Determined to find clothes that fit me, I tried on 12's, 14's, 16's, large, and XL. I found items in all these sizes that fit and I had to narrow down which items to buy and which ones to pass on.

Wait - what? Yes, I had choices of what items to buy! I don't know when the last time I went shopping and had choices like this!

I left the store with two interview-appropriate outfits, two dresses, and two casual tops. I passed on the skirt and jacket in this photo, because it's really all about spring and summer and my focus was on 1) interview appropriate and 2) fall and winter. The shorts from Talbots was my last summer splurge ($10), because it's really time to say good-bye to summer clothes.

Change is here: new haircut, new clothing size and styles, new career opportunities, and a new outlook on life.

Who is that woman looking back at me in the mirror?  Oh, it's me!

Change is here: August 2014 vs September 2014

Sep 9, 2014

Eat When You're Hungry

You may want to lean in for some sage advice that helped these Key friends reach and maintain their goal size. The focus of this discussion is "Can I eat anything I want after maintenance?" The answer is the same if you're on maintenance or if you're in the weight loss phase of the program: eat when you're hungry - don't eat when you're not.
Both Chris and Jennifer on are on maintenance.


Can I eat "anything I want after maintenance?" I thought about this concept a few days ago. I realized that through the years I had lost the ability to eat correctly. As a baby, I only ate when I was hungry and I stopped when I was full. And I was full of determination when they tried to make me eat anything I didn't like. Growing up I always thought my mom was being mean when she wouldn't let us have snacks or soda all the time; she really was just being a good mom. For all my adult years I made up for that, eating what and when I wanted; using food mostly to stuff my feelings rather than nourish my body. The end result being a serious weight problem.

I see this program as a second chance to get back to that "baby" stage: eating when I'm truly hungry and stopping when I've had enough. Going back to using food as a "need," not a "want." Being a food addict, this was not an easy task. Throughout the years I really did try my hardest on each diet I set out on. The only success I've had is through Julie's program.

While there are many important aspects to this program, for me, eating when I'm hungry and not when I'm not, is the most important. When I can do this on a daily basis, I know I'm using food as it was intended. Then and only then, can I enjoy the occasional "want" food. I will never not be a food addict as food is my drug of choice. 
Chris before Key vs Summer 2013


Eating when I am hungry and not when I'm not is the most elusive and difficult part of this for me, because I think I really never learned to be connected enough to the internal sensation of my body, rather than what others thought it should look like. So that is the huge learning task, coming very late in life for me.
There have been some long periods while on this program where I ate only when I was truly hungry and I wasn't interested in food the rest of the time. But for the past six months or so, I have been eating much more than I should be as the result of any true physical hunger and it makes me unhappy.
But that truly is the most important part of it for me and I'm very grateful to receive this reminder from Chris, that I need to commit myself more deeply to that exploration, to my meditation practice which puts me in touch with my body and helps me to quiet enough in order to hear what it is saying to me.

Because I don't eat foods off the program I don't gain weight, or if I do it is very slight and then I take it off, and I'm not jerking my blood sugar around, so I feel much better than I used to, but I just don't want to end up feeling like I'm being hijacked by food, and that it is occupying so much of my consciousness.

Mediation is important for me, because if I'm not taking care of the level of arousal in my mind and body, then the thoughts and emotions get too loud and drown out the more subtle signals my body is trying to send me.


I answered this question a long time ago when a key friend sought me out for advice. We spent time going back and forth discussing things. I was farther ahead on my journey than she was and at one point she asked me "will I ever eat 'normal' again?" My answer to that question turned into a blog post (Will I ever Eat Like a "Thin Person")...almost a year ago...and my answer still is the same...

I've come too far to let food take over again. I would rather say "no" to something and stand tall then to put my poor body through more shame, grief, frustration, sadness, suffering..all adjectives that I no longer want to put myself through. My life of eating whatever whenever is over. I eat like a "sane" person now - or this is my interpretation of a "sane" person and how they eat - those that have kept their weight in check and have never had a problem with cravings or food talking to them.

Am I perfect in my thoughts every day? Am I nice to my soul every day? No. Have I excluded negative talk more and more? Most certainly. I have many many days where I no longer think about eating, or what I am going to eat. I pack healthy meals for work, I don't give in to any of the shit there, most everyone in my life has stopped saying "Oh just this once, just have a won't hurt you." My family has long ago figured out that I am still here, not starving myself, not doing some crazy fad diet (again), but really really working on being healthy.

I know my trigger foods, I will continue to work around them. I don't want them. I want to not want them. They aren't worth it. I enjoy what I can have. I honor my body and I love feeling "crave-free." This was a gift given to me by Julie. I walked into her place knowing I would forever be changed. I like who I changed into! I don't ever want to take advantage of this place that I am in, or what she did for me, or what I am doing for myself now.

"Can I eat anything I want after maintenance??"


And I will forever be grateful to being able to answer that question that way.
Jennifer 2010 vs 2014

Sep 8, 2014

Memory Lane

Two summers ago I met four women who were following Julie's Key Hypnosis weight loss program. It's been incredible witnessing the transformation of these key friends. Join me as I take a stroll down memory lane and then look at the five of us today.
July 2012: Theresa, Jennifer, Linda, Jill, Sandy
When we first met, we were in different stages on our weight loss path. I was a year and a half into my journey, Jennifer and Linda were about one year in, Sandy was three months into her journey, and Jill had just finished her third session. Regardless of where we were on our path, we were all equally excited to connect with one another, to share our key weight loss stories, and to encourage and support one another in reaching our goal sizes.

I'm proud of each of these women. They stayed the course, lost a ton of weight, and changed their lives. It has been an honor for me to travel on this weight loss journey and to transform along with them. We have changed a lot of things in our lives. We've changed the way we interact with food: we eat to live instead of living to eat. We've divorced sugar and all it's relatives. Some of us have even broken up with cheese. We're engaged in physical activities that we didn't dream possible two or three years ago. Simple activities like walking and hiking. Some of us discovered we enjoy jogging, swimming, and kayaking.

Here's where we are today...
August 2014
Theresa started at size 30/32 and is currently size 12-16.
September 2014
Jennifer started at size 18/20 and is maintaining her goal size 6.
September 2014
Linda started at size 26/28 and currently size 12.
January 2014
Jill started at 18/20 and is maintaining her goal size 6.
August 2014
Sandy started at size 18 and is maintaining her goal size 6.

Sep 2, 2014

Potato Salad

Potato Salad? Yes - this mock potato salad was served at a gathering with a small group of key friends last night and it was outstanding. It's made just like any basic potato salad, but with cauliflower instead of potato. All the food served at this potluck was incredible, but if I had to choose only one food item from last that I could have again today, with meat of course, this potato salad is what I'd choose.

About eight of us gathered for this potluck and I wish I had taken photos of the table full of food before we dove it, but you know how it is when you're hungry - you just dive in. And, with all the food being key-friendly, who could pause for a photo?

Salad Ingredients
  • 2 16 oz. bags of frozen cauliflower
  • 1 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery 
  • 1/2 cup chopped red pepper 
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper 
  • 4 chopped green onion stalks 
  • 4 chopped baby dill pickles 
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs peeled and chopped 
Dressing Ingredients
Note: you will make the dressing and add it to the salad last
  • 2 cups mayo 
  • 2 Tbsp. white vinegar 
  • 2 Tbsp. mustard 
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  1. Cook and prepare cauliflower according to directions on the bag.
  2. Chop cauliflower into bite size pieces and place in bowl. 
  3. Add all ingredients except the dressing to the bowl. 
  4. Mix dressing together and then add it to the salad. 
  5. Add paprika before serving if desired.
We like to goof around at our gathering.

Here's a better shot!
Taking group photos.

Sep 1, 2014

The Dog and the Broom

Do you remember the metaphor Julie uses about the dog and the broom? Last week I had an experience that helped me understand what Julie's analogy means, only my experience was with my cat Ginger instead of a dog. For those who don't remember the dog and the broom story, I'll refresh your memory.
The Kitty and the Broom. Photo by Theresa
The Dog and the Broom

A man has a dog and the dog does whatever the man commands him to do, because if the dog doesn’t obey the man he is beaten with a broom. The dog often cowers and this makes the man angrier, so he beats the dog with the broom even more. The dog doesn’t trust the man, but the dog is chained and he cannot escape.

One day the dog sees an opportunity to escape and he takes it and runs away. After running as far and as fast as he can, the dog is found by a kind and loving man who adopts him. There’s an instant bond of love and respect between the dog and this new guy. The guy takes the dog on long walks twice a day and this makes the dog willing to do anything for the guy.

One day the guy knocks over a plant in his living room and he grabs a broom from a closet to clean up the dirt. The dog sees the broom and, full of fear and shame, he immediately cowers.

The broom in this story represents the scale. Our bodies react to the scale in the same way the dog responds to the broom: our body becomes full of fear and shame and no longer trusts us.

The Kitty and the Broom

Last week, I had my kitty Ginger on my shoulder and I quickly stepped into the kitchen to grab my phone. I should have known better, as she gets skittish if I carry her near the basement door. My instinct to hold her even tighter only made things worse. After getting badly scratched, I finally put her down.

It was in that moment that I understood the broom and the dog story in a way I had not before. I always suspected Ginger had a trauma before I took her home from an animal rescue. I'll never know what happened, but her body has never forgotten it, because she gets skittish if she feels vulnerable.

Ginger's body won't forget her pain, just as the dog won't forget his. Our bodies will not forget the pain we've inflicted all those years by overeating.

A big part of our weight loss journey is teaching our bodies to trust us again and that we will no longer harm it. This is where Julie comes in. Julie negotiates with our bodies to trust us. Each time we go off program, our body stops trusting us. Every time we follow the program rules, even if they don't make logical sense to us, our bodies learn we can be trusted.

Why is it so important that our bodies trust us? If our bodies don't trust us, it feels fear and it holds onto our weight. Trust is essential. Here's an example of something I did a few days earlier, which broke the trust with my body...

I overate. This was something I hadn't done for a long time. Everything I ate was on program, but one of our agreements with Julie is to stop eating when we're full. I ate an entire pot of beef chili. I was full after the first bowl, but I kept eating until the pot was empty. I had forgotten what it felt like to overeat. It felt horrible and my stomach still hurt three hours later. Getting to sleep that night with a belly ache was difficult.

The next morning I wondered what caused me to overeat like that. I didn't have any vodka, so it wasn't because I drank too much. Did I overeat because of stress? Did I let myself get too hungry? I still don't know the reason, but what I do know is that I have some work to do to prove to my body I can be trusted again.

What kind of "work" do I have to do? Eat clean. Follow the rules. Exercise.

You know what to do if this happens to you: stay the course. Forgive yourself and move on.