Quick and easy tips to reach your healthy weight

I must confess I have never been much of a meal planner - which seems funny to admit because in all other aspects of my life I am extremely well organized! Mealtimes always seemed a chore, and because I have suffered from various forms of disordered eating most of my life, thinking about what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat was always very stressful.

So I became quite lazy when it came to meal planning. I used to think it was better to wait until I was ready to eat to see what I "felt like" eating at the time. Unfortunately, when that time came, I was completely starving and reaching for whatever was fast and readily available - usually something to satisfy my sweet tooth like a chocolate bar or my favorite caramel slice, or something salty like corn chips or handful after handful of salted almonds. This would satisfy me for an hour or so, then I would become hungry again. And so the cycle would continue until bedtime. I became a grazer - picking at food every couple of hours without ever planning ahead or consciously stopping to think about what my body actually needed.

After years of this unhealthy relationship with food, I finally figured out that I need to eat mindfully to be able to eat healthily. I need to plan my meals in advance and then make time to sit still and eat slowly and consciously. This has enabled me to finally be able to maintain a healthy body weight for my size and build - eating more than ever!

Here are five simple ways I have found effective to lose weight healthily and keep it off in the long run:

1. Be organized and plan your meals in advance. While this does take some effort, it is well worth the time investment! This really helps you stick to your weight loss goals. Post a meal planner on your fridge listing everything you are going to eat for that week, and try to make some of your meals ahead of time.

2. Plan your snacks. Snacks can be sneaky! You may be eating really well but doing a lot of snacking in between meals, which can add up to lots of extra unwanted calories. Plan some simple snacks such as vegetables with hummus, and have all the veggies you love cut up and ready to go in the fridge.

3. Eat mindfully. Actually sit down to eat each meal. I have been so guilty of eating standing up in the past! I would hover over a bowl of something in the kitchen, checking my email at the same time and being completely unaware of what I was stuffing in my mouth! Chew eat bite slowly and put your knife and fork down between bites. Don't rush.

4. Say a blessing over your food. I find this really works to calm me down before eating, and I eat more slowly. When I do this I tend to be more present during the meal, and when I savor each bite, I can sense more easily when I am full. I love to say a simple gratitude prayer such as, "Thank you for this beautiful meal and for this food energizing and nourishing my body." This infuses your food with positive energy and love.

5. Experiment! There is nothing worse than eating the same boring, healthy salads every day. Your body will soon tire of this and want to rebel and eat something "naughty". Choose different recipes every week to cook and try out new ingredients. Get your whole family involved in the cooking process and make it fun. You don't have to be fancy, just inventive. I love fast, fresh and simple foods, but they have to be tasty!

Above all, be kind to yourself. Recognize that this is a process, and developing lasting habits for life takes time. Baby steps will ultimately get you to your goal.

Now over to you! What tips do you have for losing weight or maintaining your ideal weight? Please post your comments below, I'd love to hear from you.



How to quit a job you hate

1. How do you know when it’s time to quit a job that you hate?

In any job you will have some days that are better than others, and tasks or job responsibilities that you enjoy completing more than others. However, if you start feeling like every day you spend at work is a chore, you are doing the minimum workload just to get by, you find yourself counting down the minutes until five o’clock, and feel grumpy and/or depressed and this is spilling over into your personal life, then these are pretty strong signals you should start looking for another role. I always suggest to my clients to think about whether it is the work environment or the work that they dislike, as the last thing you want to do is keep doing the same work for different companies if, really, you are in the wrong profession to begin with!

2. Should you find another job before you quit that one?

The short answer is, ideally yes. It is always easier to find a new role when you are currently employed. If you can stick it out and job-hunt while you are still working, this is preferable. If you simply cannot stand to be in your current employment another day, and you just need to get out of there, provided you have the financial means to support yourself during your job transition time, that’s fine too. Bear in mind though, depending on how “niche” or specialist your job is, your salary expectations and your level of seniority, it can take months to secure a new position. From a resume perspective, a small gap between employment dates is okay.

3. What kind of safety net should you have in place before you give notice?

It all depends on your personal financial situation. If you have a family to support, hefty mortgage or rent payments, car payments and private school fees, the safety net needs to be much bigger than someone who is single. It is always a good idea to estimate how much you spend each month and then times that by at least three, to get a rough estimate of how much money you might need if you leave your job without another one to go to.

4. What’s the most graceful way to exit a job that you truly hate?

Always be gracious and professional, thank your employer for the opportunity, however advise them that this was not the right fit for you. You could explain that the nature of the work was not challenging enough, the cultural fit was not right for you, you received another offer which you are really excited about as it represents a promotion/change of department/broader role – or there may be another reason. Professionalism is important, as you do not want to burn bridges. This employer may be called upon to act as a referee down the track, so leaving on good terms is essential.

5. How honest should you be when your next employer asks you why you left the previous job?

It is always important remain professional at a job interview, and remain objective and diplomatic. If you left your previous company because you didn’t get along with your colleagues, you thought your Manager was a fool and the company was not run well, don’t share! A great response to this question is that you decided it was “time for a new challenge.” You could also say that while you learned a lot from your previous role and appreciated the opportunity to work there, you are now looking for a fresh perspective.

Bear in mind though, you don’t want to change jobs too frequently, as you can start to look like you “job-hop” and it will progressively become harder to explain why you have left previous employers, and why this time (in the new role) will be any different from the last.

Remember too that the interview process is very much a two way street. I often see clients who are unemployed and become desperate to find “any” job, and in doing so they forget that they need to be happy in the role just as much as the prospective employer needs to be happy with them. Ask questions, be discerning, and find out what your day-to-day job responsibilities will really be like to avoid getting into a job that “just wasn’t what you thought it would be”. It’s also important to meet the person you will be directly reporting to, and get a sense of their working style, to make sure you are going to work well with them.

Why being multi-talented can be career confusing!

I remember well growing up, my Dad telling me he didn’t want me to be a “jack of all trades and a master of none”. He said I needed to focus on one thing, and be great at it. Easier said than done, as I had no idea what that “one” thing should be! I got good grades at school, I loved drama and performing and was a talented singer. I also loved creative writing, and wrote poetry and short stories – often entering them in competitions with some success. At the nth hour, as you may know, I chose the road well travelled and undertook an Economics degree. But I second guessed myself the whole time, and I think that created a lot of unnecessary stress and unhappiness during the earlier part of my working life.

When I see clients in my practice who are multi-talented, they are the ones who seem to struggle the most with their career decisions, because they have so many potential options! There are so many roads they can take, and each one – on the surface -seems like a great fit for them. And I totally get it, because I have been there.

Having lived it, and gotten to a great place now, my suggestion is this – you can’t make a “wrong” career decision. There is no “wrong” path. There is only the path that you take. It is neither “right” nor “wrong”, it just is. You need to grab hold of your decision with both hands, really own it and give it your all, and see how it pans out! Don’t doubt your decision once you have committed to your path. Sure it will have bends and curves along the way, but eventually it will lead you exactly to the place you are meant to be.

Be fearless in your career choices

I think sometimes we put way too much pressure on ourselves to get it right the first time when it comes to our careers. Once we make that choice of what to do with our lives, our ego kicks in and we remain dogmatic about sticking with it no matter what, hating the fact that maybe, just maybe, we were wrong.

For me, I bumbled my way through 10 years of really disliking my work before I made a change. I completed an Economics degree at University because I was good at Economics at school. I had no idea what kinds of jobs were available with that degree, or if I would even like the work. I always loved writing – for years I wrote poetry and short stories, and I always kept a journal, fantasising about one day being a successful writer. I remember talking to my Mother about studying journalism one day, and she told me there were “no jobs” in journalism, and that all the people she knew that had studied journalism ended up being English teachers. I remember this conversation so clearly, as it totally put me off. In hindsight I should have thanked my Mother for her (extremely well-intended) opinion on journalism, and went ahead and studied it anyway. Being young and unsure though, opinions of my loved ones mattered – often too much – and I wanted to please everyone else!

After job-hopping too many times to remember, searching for that one illusive job that was going to be “the” job I would love, it wasn’t until I had my daughter, Veronica, that I decided I was not going to return to my (rather unsuccessful) career in the finance world. I was 31. This was a huge moment for me and I have never regretted it. I retrained as a career and life coach, and set up my own business. I can now say that I truly love what I do. I help people find careers that really suit their personality and interests, or I work with them to find ways to love the careers they are already in.

My advice is this – do what you want to do. Live your own life. Make mistakes and recognise that if you get it wrong, it is okay to change your mind and try something else! Be fearless in your career choices and don’t play it safe. So many clients I see in my practice ask me what industries have the most jobs, the highest pay or the best prospects, and I tell them to forget all that and choose something they have a passion for, something they will truly enjoy – because we sure are “at work” for a very long time. And if you are that well-meaning parent, take a step back from your child’s decision-making process. Be there to support whatever your child’s decision is – even if it seems, to you, to be the “wrong” choice. Let them figure it out.

I’d love to hear from you! Are you in a career that you love? Did you get it right the first time? Please post your comments below.

The importance of daily meditation

I never used to meditate. Ever. Wow, how times have changed! Years ago I would never have imagined I would come to love meditation, and embrace it as an important part of my life. I meditate twice a day, and I do it because it makes me feel connected to this Earth, connected to God and the greater power of the Universe, and it calms and centers me. It forces my mind to be still, it brings me back to my breath and grounds me. After a meditation I always come back into my body feeling lighter, happier and refreshed. 

I personally enjoy a guided meditation, and I think this is a great way to start meditating, as you have someone helping you relax. As you grow more confident in your meditation practice you may find you enjoy the quiet and stillness within. I still enjoy my meditiation "guides" - and I have some favourites! Wayne Dyer and Doreen Virtue are always on my weekly rotations.

I like to repeat positive affirmations while I meditate, and if you do this remember to always say them in the present tense. That is, use the words "I am". Wayne Dyer, who I love, uses a fabulous meditation technique, and I follow his practice of repeating phrases such as "I am perfect health", "I am love", "I am an amazing being filled with love and light", "I am pure joy", "I am enough". Find affirmations which resonate deeply with you, and repeat them during the day too. It's amazing the way you can shift your energy using positive affirmations.

I'd love to hear from you! Do you meditate? Do you use any positive affirmations, and if so, what words do you use?