The Secret of Going From Panicked To Productive

So, I'll admit it - I used to have a panic problem. 

Something would happen that I wasn't expecting and my thoughts go straight from 0 - 60. I get hot, nervous, and can't think straight. Everything is BAD and I usually end up crying on my bedroom floor.

Sound familiar? 

I didn't think my panic problem was relatable (in fact, I thought it was something I should be ashamed of), but as I started seeing more clients, I realized how common this thought pattern was!

I spent years focusing on stress management (including emotional management) because I needed it desperately. I had no stress management skills and struggled every time something unexpected happened. 

Through breathing exercises and perception shifts, therapist appointments and meditation retreats, I learned how to practice stress management to help me through difficult situations. 

And while it worked wonders, it took a lot of patience and work! I completely understand why people (specifically, my clients) don't want to put in the energy...

So you can imagine my intense HAPPINESS when I was listening to an audiobook for my coaching practice and fell into a fast track process to go from panicked to productive... or as outlined in the book, "going from Oh Crap to Okay."

The book, Just Listen by Mark Goulston, was written to help you develop listening skills. He is a psychiatrist with an impressive history of being able to guide people out of crisis situations and I was so excited when he gave these simple step by step instructions. When I heard it, I couldn't believe how clear it could be. I stopped the tape and listened to the chapter 3 more times and I knew - I had to share this information! 

Truly, I wish I'd had this from the beginning. One clear exercise that could take me from that feeling of panic back to reality. Imagine being able to respond to stressful situations in a calm and focused manner? It would be life changing! 

I've worked so hard to find that control and I'm really excited to share this technique with you!

So, are you ready to hear the mental steps of going from panicked to productive?? Here we go!

How To Go From Oh Crap to Okay

 Phase 1: Oh Crap!

This is your reaction phase. Your immediate reaction to crisis situations. Essentially, it's your moment of panic. According to Goulston, he says its absolutely vital to put words to what you're feeling. Don't deny your feelings, don't say "everything is okay", just start putting your emotions to words. Does the situation make you feel afraid? Angry? Sad? Take a moment to become aware of your emotions. 

Phase 2: Oh God...

This is your release phase. Once you can put words to your emotions, this is where we let it go. Close your eyes and slowly breathe through your nose until you feel yourself relax and let the feeling go. 

Phase 3: Oh Jeez.

This is your recenter phase. Letting go of the emotions through breathing is key because in the "Oh Jeez" step, you go a little deeper. Once you've gone through the Oh God stage, try a multi level breathing exercise to bring you to a place of full relaxation. Goulston recommends repeating "Oh crap, oh god, oh jeez, oh well, and okay" until you are in a deep state of relaxation. 

Phase 4: Oh Well!

This is your refocus phase. Now that you've put yourself into a state of relaxation, your frontal lobe can think clearly and efficiently. Take this time to figure out, what can you do to control the damage? 

Phase 5: Okay. 

This is your re-engage phase. Now that you've calmed down and figured out what you need to do - TAKE ACTION. Be productive and put the plan from phase 4 into action to fix the mess you're panicking about. 

Just like everything else in life, this will feel awkward and difficult in the beginning, but the more you focus on it, the easier it will become. In fact, if you practice it enough, your brain will eventually learn to make these steps an automatic reaction to crisis situation. 

So, there you have it. This is a great method to follow if you're just starting out and looking to manage stress quickly in the middle of difficult situations. 

I'll be putting this practice to action and I'd love to hear your thoughts on it too! Comment below and let me know if you'd use this, have used it, or are going to try it out! 

With love & light,

Carolyn Rachel

 

How To Stop Hating The Process & Have Fun Losing Weight

Does Motivation Really Help?

Every time I've ever gone on a diet, I had to pump myself up like crazy the day before. I'd go out and got a stack of health/self love related magazines, buy a giant haul of fresh foods from the market, and stay up all night putting together recipes and meal plans. 

Every single time, I refused to allow one negative thought to come into my brain. This was it. After almost 2 decades of trying and failing, I was finally going to lose the weight. 

But after a few days of being perfect, weighing myself daily, and feeling a surge of confidence... a familiar little voice popped in my head. 

"You've been doing SO WELL, you deserve to cheat. Just a little bit. What's one meal?" 

I'd try to shake the thought and do anything else, but the longer I ignored it, the louder it got. The thought of food would take over my brain whether I was hungry or not and, no matter how many glasses of water I drank, I couldn't shake the idea. I desperately wanted relief from the hunger in my brain and my resentment grew with every healthy meal that couldn't satisfy my urge.

Before I knew it, the motivation would dissipate and I'd feel miserable. I just wanted to be normal and happy, to be able to eat food without gaining 10 lbs overnight, and I hated the amount of effort it took just to "be good". 

So, I'd give up to the urges which usually led to a binge and a whole lotta self hate the next morning.

What Was I Doing Wrong?

I HATED the whole process and loathed that I had no choice. I felt trapped between doing something I really didn't want to do and something I knew I had to do. 

Notice how I said I just wanted to be normal. Happy. And for some reason, I assumed that would come from weight loss. I'd done something that most of us do - I attached an emotional association to weight loss that didn't actually exist. 

I could've pushed myself to lose weight, but it didn't mean I'd be happy once the weight was off. It didn't mean I'd be more confident, comfortable, or successful. The things I was looking for from weight loss, It turns out, didn't have anything to do with weight loss at all!

But when my MS flared, my mindset changed. Losing the feeling on my right side, the ability to walk for 4 months, made me appreciate the process because of where it would lead me. 

Suddenly, that green smoothie wasn't a replacement for bacon and eggs, it was a vehicle to walking without a cane again. Getting to the gym became easier because every time I could do an extra minute meant I was closer to getting my life back. 

I put myself in a headspace of working for a goal that made me happy and, even though none of the actual work had changed, it turned out that the only thing that needed to change, was my mind.

So How Do You Enjoy The Process?

When I was heavy, I was already happy. I loved my family, friends, boyfriend and degree. I had everything I wanted, I just couldn't figure out how to the conquer the weight and it consumed me. 

I felt like my weight was preventing me from being happy, so I prevented myself from enjoying my life. I put experiences on hold until I could hit my goal and refused to just allow myself to just enjoy the moment because I always had my weight on my mind. 

I was MISERABLE trying to lose weight, so how could I ever expect to have any sort of success from it? You would never work that hard to do something you hate...

So once I regained the ability to walk, I knew I needed to maintain motivation. The memory of my illness wouldn't be enough - I needed bigger goals.

I started choosing goals that I loved and actually wanted to train for. I wanted to travel, to ride in a bike marathon, and to hike mountains. Suddenly, my choices weren't based on the scale, they were based on my abilities, and I needed to make the same healthy decisions regardless of the goal. Food became a source of energy instead of calories and trying new and healthy recipes became a game. I decided to try one new "healthy-but-indulgent" recipe a week that would satisfy my sweet tooth, but that didn't ruin my path to success.

I continued to workout, but I started realizing how much I hated certain workouts. If I was going to love my life, I needed to spend my time loving what I was doing, so I chose exercises that felt fun. I tried yoga, hiking, swimming, hula hooping, boxing, dance classes - anything that would make me WANT to get my workout done. Now, I look forward to my workouts every week and I'm always up to try something new!

Lastly, and most importantly, I dedicated time every day to feel grateful for the process. I felt so grateful that my body was able to do these things and as I reflected on that, I got an instant boost of happiness. This kept me on track and allowed me to see the benefits of my work instead of on what I was "missing". 

Just Remember...

You are in control of your experience. When you sit in the mindset of a negative experience, you can only get a negative experience. So if you're ready to stop waiting for your life to be as amazing as you know it can be, use these tools to make happiness your vehicle to success and let the frustrations fall to the side. 

It's time to live your life, Without The Weight. 

With love & light,

Carolyn Rachel

 

 

 

 

The Reason I Don't Do Nutrition Coaching

The Reason I Don't Do Nutrition Coaching...

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I lost over 145 lbs, but I rarely talk about food.

I know it’s strange, right? I eat a very clean diet and paused progression of my chronic illness through it, I have a certification from the worlds largest nurtition school, AND I love to cook!

So, what’s the deal?

Ok - I’m gonna tell you… but first, I have to be real with you. Food will heal you. It’s an incredible medicine, a natural source of fuel, and it can make you feel happy and whole with each bite.

But, food can only be the answer for you if you’re willing to change what you’re eating. And NO ONE wants to talk about that.

When I meet with my clients, it seems clear that they don’t want to change what they eat. They know what’s healthy and what’s not. In fact, I’ve never had a client that hadn’t been on some sort of diet before meeting with me and they have all the right knowledge, they just don’t put it to practice.

What they’re missing is brain training. And that’s where I come in.

I don’t really talk about food because even though food will heal you, health and healing don’t come from food. Health and healing come from getting yourself to make the actionable changes necessary to heal your body.

If you’ve struggled with food and eat the things you know you shouldn’t - something else is going on here. This isn’t about food anymore, it’s about how you’ve trained your brain.

Seriously. You’re basically a computer and your brain is your hard drive. Whatever you tell your brain is your truth, it translates to code and sends that message along your neuropathways, telling your body how to act.

Those responses become stronger and stronger the more you use them, which is why it can be so tough to break a bad habit, but there are exercises to rewire and overcome those responses.

If this is something that interests you and you want to learn more, message me or look into neuroplasticity for yourself. I certainly didn’t make brain training up, but I’m excited to be able to use it with clients and on myself to design the life I want to live.

Neuroplasticity - What It Is And Why It's The Answer You're Looking For

Neuroplasticity looks like one of those scary words. 

It's big and has the word neuro in it, which can seem intimidating! 

But if you've been struggling to hit the goals you set, it's time to get comfortable with this word. It's about to become the answer to all your struggles. And yes, I do mean ALL your struggles!

Let me explain. Have you ever set a goal for yourself that you really wanted? Let's say you want to lose weight. You put in the energy to meal plan, prep, and get pumped - only to fall back on execution? You just can't seem to get yourself to go to the gym and those cookies have been screaming your name all day. In your brain, you know what you want, you know how to get it, but you can't seem to get yourself to take the action needed to get it. Why? Well, that, my friends, comes from an underutilized gift that you've been holding this whole time. 

Yup, you guessed it - neuroplasticity. 

So, what is Neuroplasticity?

Simply put, neuroplasticity is the brain's ability to change over your life. No joke, that big word boils down to one short sentence! 

And because your brain CAN change, morph, and grow - you too can change. You just have to know how to work together. Basically, you need to know how to practice effectively. 

You can try to learn how to run on your own, but if your form is off, you may injure yourself. You learned how to run, but you didn't learn correctly, and truth is, your body doesn't know the difference. 

You see, you're like a computer and your central nervous system (brain and spine) are your hard drive. You enter information from the external world into your system, your brain and spine translates that into code, and then it sends that code along your neural pathways to tell the rest of your body what to do. 

For example, go ahead and tap your forehead 5 times. Right now. Do it. 

That action came because you told your brain to send a message to your hand to tap your forehead. You've been practicing mobility (strengthening that response) since you were born, so this should have been a fairly easy exercise. Because of that, you were able to control your hand. You have complete control over your brain which has complete control over your body, it just comes down to practice. 

But Then, Why Aren't Positive Actions Automatic?

You'd think that, since you have this control over your body, you could just will yourself to go to the gym or skip the ice cream isle of the supermarket, but it doesn't work that way. 

Like we touched on before, every ability in your life comes from PRACTICE. You learn something and then do it over and over again until you don't have to think about it anymore. It becomes routine through a developed neural connection between your brain and spine to the rest of your body. 

That's why starting a new routine is so difficult, because you already have this strong neural pathway formed within you by adapting to life and your body simply doesn't realize that you don't want to use that road anymore, even if it's going in the wrong direction. 

By practicing mindfulness and stress management, you can become aware of your routines so you can interrupt them and complete the task at hand. 

How To Use Neuroplasticity To Get Results

So now, you understand that your external world affects your thoughts which affect your physical actions. You also know that the responses to the external world that you've already practiced through your life develop as automatic pathways to your body to tell it what to do. 

Once you understand that, the rest is fun. Suddenly, your abilities and what you can create become a game and it's exciting to see how far you can push yourself!

You'll want to start with something small. Keeping with our earlier example, if your goal is weight loss, try switching to one healthy meal a day. Maybe that's breakfast (I generally suggest a smoothie to my clients). By eating a smoothie every day, you're retraining your brain to understand that this is the food that you'll be having for breakfast. Soon, you won't even think about it anymore and it will be an automatic understanding in your body to make that for breakfast because you've trained your brain through neuroplasticity. 

But don't forget, your old neuropathways are still strong in the beginning and it's exhausting for your system to rewire. That's why most people fail when they take on projects, tasks, and goals that are too big for us to execute. They simply can't form that many new pathways all at once. 

As you continue to form new habits, the old neural pathways will get weak. As the saying goes, if you don't use it, you lose it, and in this case - let it be gone! 

How To Become Mindful

The last (and really first) step here is to become mindful. Having awareness of your actions and responses to the physical world is the only way to rewiring your brain and, even though it seems daunting, we're really just talking about focusing on the present moment. 

Take a couple of minutes each day (yes, that's all you need) to focus on one task. I like to do it when I'm doing the dishes or coloring (yes, I like to color, don't judge me!) because my hands are busy and I can't really do anything else. 

Just make sure you're breathing deeply (let your belly expand, no one is watching you) and every time you think about something else, just refocus on the task at hand. Continually bringing your attention back to the present will strengthen that neuropathway until it's strong enough to practice in other areas of your life. 

Basically, I'm giving you the green light to color for 5-10 minutes each day. It's for your success!

Neuroplasticity Utilization Action Steps

Essentially, your brain and spine are created to send messages to the rest of your body to tell it what to do. When you practice a new habit that is positioning you for success, it will rewire your brain to automatically act on it. But remember, practice makes permanent, not perfect, so make sure you're choosing a habit that will benefit you!

Become aware of your external world, what you spend your time and energy on, because that is what you are teaching your brain. Spend a few minutes focusing on the present moment (look at what colors, smells, sounds, feelings etc are around you) and whenever your thoughts drift, just bring yourself back to the present. This is practice at it's finest and it definitely gets easier. 

Lastly, take one small action and do it everyday until it feels automatic and easy. When it does, add in a second action. Those actions will build to bring you success in a much simpler and easier way. 

If you have any questions about neuroplasticity or want to work with me to help guide you through retraining your brain for success - don't hesitate to contact me at Carolyn@WithoutTheWeight.com!

 

Why I Quit My Job For A Check Off My Bucket List

I made the decision to quit my job in the middle of a date. 

It was November and the weather was just starting to change, an inescapable reminder that another winter was on it's way. As we sipped red wine and laughed over dinner, we talked about all the things we wanted to do with our lives. 

After coming from a lifetime of making excuses, my list was long. Ever since I was a kid, I've always put off experiences because of my weight. I wanted to do all those things, but not until I was thinner. Then, when I was diagnosed with MS, that only fueled my excuses. I was happy enough in my day to day routine that I didn't think about all that I was missing.

But eventually, the decline of my health made me hate my daily experience and all I could think about was what I was missing. 

Then, in 2014, I ran out of time. With years of severe chronic pain and a new cane in my hand, I knew that later was quickly becoming never and the sicker I allowed myself to become, the less I'd be able to do. 

From that summer forward, I put all my energy into healing myself and it worked! I lost the weight, ditched the cane, and I went back to work full time. 

I felt like I was on top of the world... except I wasn't. I'd put in more heart and soul than I knew possible to heal my body and the idea that I did all that to work just so I could sit behind a desk seemed preposterous! 

The lightheadedness from the wine kept me giggling, but our conversation felt heavy in my gut. My thoughts were racing and I couldn't stop thinking about how I was wasting time. How I could always get another job. How I needed to go enjoy my life, the life I'd worked so hard for. 

I knew, right there and then, that I was ready for something different. 

I couldn't keep myself together. I looked at him and said "I think I'm going to quit my job in January and go somewhere. Maybe South America." 

He immediately responded, "I absolutely think you should." 

It was the tiny bit of validation that I needed to lock in my decision. Now, I just needed to tell everyone else. 

 Visiting Machu Picchu in March 2016

Visiting Machu Picchu in March 2016

Quitting that job was the hardest thing I'd ever done. I loved my boss, my office, and my sweet parking spot right in the middle of Cambridge, but I knew that I needed to have an adventure. 

So I put in my notice and, the following January, I took off for Peru. 

Going on that trip alone was terrifying, nothing l'd ever done before, but at that time, it was the only thing that made sense. 

Life is short, but we make it feel impossibly long. The pain and suffering that came from living with morbid obesity and Multiple Sclerosis taught me that and I wanted, more than anything, to take advantage of the time I'd created for myself. 

I wanted to see the world, to push myself to new limits, to live my life, without waiting.

So, I did. And it was the best decision I ever made. 

For anyone reading this. I want to urge you to listen to your gut. To make decisions based on what would benefit your health and happiness. To stop waiting for the right time and to start experiencing what you want from life right now. Nothing is guaranteed, so what are you waiting for?

It's time to live your life, Without The Weight. 

With love & light,

Carolyn Rachel