Are you staring at the upcoming year with once again a big plan for getting in shape and losing that weight once and for all? Hold on there, sister, have you said this before? If you want to try something different, try an approach for weight loss that is sustainable at a pace that makes sense for your life.
If you established a single healthy habit each month, then by the end of 2024 you would see a woman more healthy than you have ever seen as you turned the calendar pages. Habits are life changes that you take with you through weight loss and into weight maintenance. This entire year I’m offering a membership at only $5/month for access to monthly challenges focused on the 12 most impactful habits for women who want to lose their weight for the last time. For more information, or to join, go to loraarmendariz.com/weightloss
I rarely meet a woman that doesn’t agree that if they had all the right habits established then weight loss wouldn’t just be easy, it would also be easy to maintain. But, what we all tend to do is jump in and try to do too much all at once. Before we know it, we’ve completely crashed and burned.
James Clear’s book “Atomic Habits" and Michael Hyatt’s book “No Fail Habits” are full of my favorite advice for creating healthy habits that can last a lifetime. Both authors advise that the biggest mistake most people make is trying to do too much at one time.
What I want to discuss with you today is what it would mean if you adopted one healthy habit at a time? If you really took the time to establish new routines then you would end the year with weight loss and the ability to keep going. Yes, this does mean that you probably won't have the initial astonishing results as someone else who take it all on at once, but, statistically that person will have quit completely in just a few weeks while you would be continuing to obtain sustainable momentum in your health journey.
In my membership I have monthly challenges. This year I will design these 12 monthly challenges so that you will have the skill and strategies to continue to lose weight and keep it off. My membership costs $5 a month which comes with the monthly challenges, the weight loss course, and access to a private community. But, in case you would like to try this on your own, I have the gist for you here today.
Habit #1: Keep a Food Log
This is a very important place to start. It is hard to change a diet when you don’t know how you currently eat or how it affects your body. We will begin by keeping an accurate log of what we’ve eaten.
Habit #2: Make a Daily Food Plan
Once a day, when we are not hungry or stressed, we will make a plan for what to eat. Then later we can see if we followed it or not, and begin to notice areas in our life where follow-through with healthy choices is hard.
Habit #3: Drink All your water Water
Hydration is essential. One rule of thumb is to drink half your weight in pounds in ounces. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs then you would drink at least 75 oz each day.
Habit #4: Daily Decompress
We all handle a lot in life, learning to take 15-30 minutes each day and do something that helps us handle stress levels will go a long way in breaking the habit of emotional eating.
Habit #5: Exercise 10-15 minutes per day
Movement helps build muscle but it also is a mood and energy booster. Committing to a smaller amount of time each day is often better than a large amount on random days of the week. Giving your brain and body a healthy rhythm it can look forward to.
Habit #6: Commit to No Late-Night Eating
If you’ve been eating during the day, then consuming anything after dinner usually adds to whatever fat reserves are stored on your body. Also, late-night eating is typically an emotional activity as we use food for pleasure or to relieve stress or boredom. We need to learn to care for ourselves in better ways.
Habit #7: Get started Journaling
Few things help you sort out your brain better than journaling, and if you can begin to understand what is driving you to unhealthy tendencies, you can make huge strides toward healing.
Habit #8: No More Snacking Between Meals
If you are eating a good nutritious meal then it is actually helpful to give your body time to break down and utilize that food before throwing more at it. Besides, once again, often snacking is something we do for reasons other than true physical hunger.
Habit #9: Plan Trigger Food
If you’ve got a sweet tooth like me or an affection for some other decadent treat, then learning how to eat those foods within reason is a great skill. That will stop feelings of being in diet prison or of being “naughty” if you have them. It will also teach you to consume actual single portions instead of gorging yourself whenever you break down and have some.
Habit #10: Start Daily Weighing and Utilize the Data
Weighing yourself can seem scary, but daily weigh-ins can provide incredible information about how your body is affected by certain foods and give you a more accurate average of progress.
Habit #11: Stick to a Healthy Protocol Eating
Eventually we want to get to a point where we know how our body thrives. At that point we make a base-line blueprint for the kinds of quantities of food we intend on consuming at various meals.
Habit #12: Begin Goal Setting & Celebrating
Lastly, even at weight maintenance, setting goals and celebrating progress will fuel a lasting commitment to permanent change.
I am so excited about recommitting to my habits as well during this upcoming year and I’m looking forward to the fellowship we will find as we do this together.
Remember to sign up for the membership if you feel that extra support would be helpful. Each month you’ll receive videos and a PDF packet with additional resources and a habit tracker. All my love to you, sweet sister! Talk to you next week!
If you feel like you could really use a hand keeping things under control with your eating as the Christmas season heightens, let's talk about your physical environment, the part of your home or work space you have some control over. This is way more powerful than people realize and not that hard to put into practice.
For whatever reason, you might find that you are at the cusp of losing it way more often than you want to be. You might not even be able to put your finger on why the cravings seem to come at you when you are least expecting them. So, let's dive into four aspects of your physical environment that can greatly affect how you manage your healthy eating choices.
This one might seem obvious, but the food on display in your home or workspace has a huge effect on temptations. For example, you might not have even been thinking about candy, but the moment you glance at your customer-candy-jar your brain starts yelling about how you should have a piece. Or, you might have baked one of your least favorite desserts, but seeing the plate of cookies displayed on the countertop elicits cravings to grab one or two since it’s been such a hard day. This can even show up with food left over on plates or pans when you are cleaning up after dinner. Sometimes just remaining aware of our reaction to these situations is key. On the flip side, if you display food that are healthy choices, your brain is much more likely to suggest that food instead.
Have you already lit that pumpkin spice candle? Or the wax melts with the cookie dough scent? Do you REALLY plan to spend the whole day avoiding simple carbs while your ole factory nerves constantly remind you of some or your favorite treats? Those smells are enjoyable and relaxing but God didn’t design us to live in a fake world with no follow through. We’re designed to instinctively believe that what we smell is nearby. Therefore, our stomach isn’t being unreasonable when it suddenly starts growling because it smells like you’re baking a pie today. It might be worth investing in scents that are not connected to food. One of my favorites is sandalwood. That change might leave you feeling stronger and having to deal with a lot less cravings than you typically do on a cozy evening at home.
Your mind might be a dark place. So many lies can sneak in over the years. So, as we relearn how to think about ourselves and who we are as God’s child, posting some reminders around the house, your car, and your work space can give you a powerful boost of strength and peace when you need it most. One of my favorite places is my phone. Whatever is on the background of my phone has to make me FEEL encouraged and strong. Right now it is simply a picture of my husband, and I look at it and am reminded of how much he loves me and how blessed I am by our life together. It gives me strength.
Right now I’m typing at a little table in my kitchen. The house is clean and I have purposefully taken off my smart watch. I”ve become pretty consistent in my insistence on not having things around me or on me that add to my stress level. Life is chaotic enough without itchy clothes or a home so cluttered I don’t know where to find things. It is not uncommon for me to coach a sweet sister who's number one stressor is their home with too much clutter and not enough systems to keep things organized. They also tend to do the bulk of their emotional eating in the home. I guarantee that for a huge population of people, how your physical environment looks and feels will always greatly affect your energy levels, strength, and peace. Therefore, if something consistently stresses you out, perhaps it is time to organize that room or take off that itchy scarf so that you my regain some sweet sweet peace.
There you have it, sweet sister. This week as we cruise into Christmas, give yourself the physical gift of making a change to your surroundings that feeds your strength and peace.
All my love to you! Talk to you next week!
Sweet sister, have you ever looked at your bank account, or the number on the scale, or your house, or your email inbox and felt overwhelmed at how far you have left to go? Oh, yeah, me too. It can be a moment where you just want to tap out, take a momentary break from the fight. That’s fine, but if you wallow you will find that getting up and into the fight again can take monumental strength. I see this often in women that take a break from trying to lose weight and when they decide to get back into it, they are farther behind than before. Today I am giving you the pep talk of pep talks for the moment you feel like you just can’t do it anymore.
I remember when having sweets or alcohol in the house was like having the devil nipping at my heels. I wouldn’t think about it constantly. I would plan when I could have some, agonize over whether or not I should indulge. It was like being tortured a little bit at a time as long as my eyes were open. All I wanted was healing. I was desperate. I didn’t just want to have control, I wanted the whispers in my brain to go away. I didn’t want to have to fight anymore. Sadly, sometimes the only way to get out of the fight felt like I had to just give in and eat and drink it all.
A couple nights ago I was reading the book of Matthew and came across the story of the woman with the bleeding condition. With a single touch, she was cured. Jesus told her that her faith healed her. Waves of thankfulness washed over me. I have been healed. All the whispers, cravings, and agony are gone. And I remembered this one day. I was walking in circles around our driveway. Crying. Tears streamed down my face. Begging God to heal me. I was so scared I didn’t believe enough. I was so scared that I wasn't trying hard enough. So terrified that I might stay that way forever.
It was awful, but several years later I look back on my journey and I see that I have no idea the moment, day, or month that I was finally free. God walked me through that process. Baby step by baby step. Tiny victory by tiny victory. Today, I guarantee you that the way I handle life, the amount of faith and joy that I have, has been built in those moments, in the fight.
I know things are hard, especially this time of the year with the stress, overwhelm, delight, and added temptation, but please, open your eyes and see those baby steps. You’re moving forward, you're building your faith and joy in Jesus Christ as you hold on to His cloak and whisper, “I know You can heal me.”
Sweet sister, want to do some praying together? Okay, I want you to dig deep. What is the hardest part of your struggle? Is it physical pain? Is it the desperate need to make that better choice even when you feel exhausted and defeated from a long day of work? Is it feeling alone? Like no one sees or understands your struggle? Is it fear that you might never find that healing you so desperately want?
Okay, let's take this all to Jesus..
Jesus, reach out and heal us. We are tired of the pain that we feel in our bodies and our minds as we struggle. Fill us with Your strength and peace when the temptation is stronger than our own weak will. Stay close to us, filling us with your sweet presence when we feel alone. Remind us that you walk this blessed path to healing with us and rejoice in every moment we stay in the struggle and cling to the promise. Rebuke the fear that we can never be whole but instead fill us with the reminder of how precious we are to you. Let our healing bless our lives, not just for a moment, but for a lifetime with You. Amen.
I am eager for that day when you look back and say, “Wow, It happened.” Remember, it is okay that things don’t come together for you all at once. Just stay in the fight, sweet sister. I love you.
There are many reasons we struggle with our weight and making healthy choices during the holidays and no, it isn’t because the universe is working against you. It is simply a season with some circumstances that need to be thoughtfully approached and handled.
As I record this podcast, Halloween is over and Thanksgiving is right around the corner and I can already feel the rise in emotions, positive and negative, that come with the holidays. It is so funny, the students at school are ready for a break, everyone is battling burn out, and the thought of cutting loose and doing something fun is difficult not to focus on. I can imagine what you are feeling right now, with Holiday shopping, social gatherings, financial discomfort, and possibly some family or friend friction adding to your stress levels. So, first of all, I want to reassure you that you are normal and all those feelings come with someone who cares. As I coach women, there are some common emotions and scenarios that are especially keen at getting us to start emotional eating. We’re going to dig into those in this episode and draw out some ideas that might make us feel more at peace and stronger.
For each of these scenarios I am going to offer you some thoughts and some questions you can use as journaling prompts so that you can feel like you’re the one in charge of your food again.
Fear of Missing Out
So many special things happen during this time of year with special food that can feel especially difficult not to go overboard on. So let me ask you, is there absolutely no way you could eat or drink that food? If you eat it slowly, how much do you really enjoy it? What about this makes it feel special?
There is a good possibility that you could eat this food anytime if it was worth cooking or ordering or buying. Also, when you really stop to think about flavors and textures, on a scale from 1-10, how much do you really enjoy this food? Often we combine memories and expectations of time with friends and family and make food better in our mind than it really is. If this is the case, you can start shifting some of the expectation and enjoyment onto the activities of talking and spending time with loved ones instead of it being about something that you consume.
This is the one that always gets me the hardest. During the holidays I struggle with perfectionism, wanting to do it all, make it amazing, and not allow my friends and family to miss out on anything. Then, you guessed it, I get completely overwhelmed and burned out by December 10th and spend the rest of the holidays fueled by caffeine and sugar. It is important to recognize that not everything needs to be perfectly and that I am able to put things down as needed. Also, there is a journaling practice that really helps me:
#1. I write everything down I think I need to do.
#2. I schedule things out, prioritizing what is the most important.
#3. I give up things that aren’t going to fit.
#4. I write down affirming messages about who I am as a child of God, wife, and mother that have nothing to do with beautifully wrapped presents or homemade potluck dishes.
The Need to Make A Celebration Special
Food is often a central focus in holiday celebrations, both for the ones we host and the ones we attend. Since we focus on it so greatly, we then tend to feel the need to indulge in those food items greatly, too. But, what really makes time with the people you love special? I have noticed that celebrations are the most special when I make memories and connect with those I love. And, I don’t usually make memories via stuffing my mouth. Instead, it is playing games, sharing stories, and feeling seen and heard that really make these moments special. How can you create those moments? I truly challenge you to concentrate on planning things to do and topics of conversation with all the vigor that you're putting into thoughts of food. Try journaling the answers to these questions to get started: What do you love about the friends or family you will be spending time with? What do you miss most about them when you are not around each other? What kinds of activities does everyone enjoy (besides food)? What could you prepare in advance to get started?
Inevitably there will be a less than enjoyable social gathering. Everything from boredom to downright anger can taint the time we spend with others. Whenever we feel discomfort of any kind it is normal for a brain to suggest something it knows brings us pleasure such as food. Then, since there is usually very enjoyable food present, it is super normal to find yourself at the buffet table or appetizer trays. I empathize with you on a deep level. As Micaela’s caregiver I have spent many social gatherings in discomfort, doing my best to keep her safe and interacting with others while not easily enjoying my own experience. I learned of an exercise I could do that would deeply change my experience. First, I had to relive one of those social gatherings on paper, writing down all the things I had experienced. Next, I had to deliberately remember what WAS enjoyable and also what I could have done differently that would have helped. Lastly, the next time we went out with family I utilized a plan and deliberately lived as fully present in the moment. Funnily enough, it didn’t change much of what I actually did, but instead of feeling frustrated and bored, I actually learned to enjoy the experience with Micaela, spending quality time with her whenever I couldn’t spend that time more directly with others. You can go through that process, too.
#1. Relive the unpleasant experience on paper.
#2. Make a plan for what you could do differently next time.
#3. Practice being in the moment and enjoying the little things even when the big things don’t go the way you wished.
Here’s the kicker: You’re going to get tired. It isn’t just the late nights or extra activity. There is the combined experience of all the things we have discussed. Often we forget that extra emotional and mental stress = more physical stress as well. The holidays more than ever might be an important season to prioritize sleep. Maybe you should try to get in a small nap during the late afternoons or early evenings or even turn in early a few nights a week. You might find that physical rest will help you in all the areas we have discussed: staying present and enjoying time with family, handling stress, and coping with discomfort. Without it, you find yourself more deeply tempted to try to care for yourself in a less than healthy way. So, what can you do? Well, first I want you to repeat after me: Sleep is one of the most important ways I can care for myself and others. Seriously. Now, for a week or so, try keeping a sleep log or paying attention to the data on your smart watch. Lastly, look at your calendar and plan those naps or early nights. Schedule them. Set an alarm on your phone and give yourself a gift that will make the rest of the season seem brighter and warmer and more peaceful than ever: Sleep.
Alright, sweet sister. If you want to dig into any of the areas a little deeper and would like the steps or journal prompts, remember to visit the podcast page on my website at www.loraarmendariz.com
All my love to you! Happy holidays! God bless you! Talk to you next week.
by Lora Armendariz
You Can Do It!
Do you want to fall out of love with a destructive habit? The first 42 episodes of this podcast are a resource for anyone who wants encouragement and information as they take a six week break from a habit in order to fall out of love with it.