Simplify your life

With fall just around the corner, kids back in school, and vacations come and gone, September is a great month to take stock of what goals you want to achieve this year.  As part of that process, paring back on time wasters can help you realign your personal values and priorities.  If your life feels like it’s overscheduled, overcluttered and just plain overwhelming, you aren’t going to stay focused on what’s really important to you.  It’s time to simplify your life!

Most people say they want to simplify their lives because they feel like they have lost control of their time. They want to have more time to do the things they want to do, both at work and at home. Every few weeks, there is another newspaper or magazine story about how people feel that they aren’t spending their time on things they enjoy. A recent poll, for example, found that 65% of people are spending their free time doing things they’d rather not do. Isn’t that amazing? It’s great if you have created a full and interesting life for yourself, but how frustrating if you don’t have the time to enjoy it!

The 80/20 Principle

The 80/20 Principle, first stated by Vilfredo Pareto in 1897, says that 20% of our effort produces 80% of the results. This means that a small number of resources are highly productive – and a large number (80%) are not very productive at all. Here are a few examples:

* 20% of the things in your house are used 80% of the time.

* 80% of the things in your house are used 20% of the time.

* 20% of your activities give you 80% of your satisfaction.

* 20% of the stocks in […]

By |September 4th, 2008|Tips|0 Comments

I’ve been featured in the Montreal Gazette!

I was recently interviewed by Stephanie Whittaker of the Montreal Gazette on facing your fears. Check out the full article here.

By |August 30th, 2008|News|0 Comments

Great article on intuitive eating

Check out this great article on intuitive eating I found.  The reporter describes a woman in California who is about to conduct a clinical study to evaluate how effective it is.  I think this is GREAT news, because very little attention is usually paid to overeating in the research world.  Most studies on eating disorders focus on bulimia and anorexia nervosa, but rarely (or never) on the overeating without purging.  Looking forward to seeing the results!

By |August 22nd, 2008|Emotional Eating, Mindful Eating|0 Comments

Adventures in going TV-less

My husband and I have recently decided to experiment with life without TV. Partly out of practicality, and partly out of curiosity, we have decided to make a very bold move.  When our satellite TV contract was up this July, we asked ourselves whether we wanted to continue spending time and money that could be better used elsewhere.

When faced with the prospect, part of me was terrified. I’ll admit, I can be a bit of a TV addict.  I would be ashamed to tally up the number of hours I have spent watching the HGTV channel alone.  But the reality is, it wasn’t at all uncommon for me to watch a rerun of a show I had just watched weeks, days or even hours earlier.  That was when I knew I was using TV as a form of escape, and drastic measures were required.  Unfortunately, once it was on, pushing that “OFF” button was a lot harder than it looked.

There’s a reason TVs are called idiot boxes. Trapping you into a mindless trance, they provide an entertaining distraction from the real responsibilities of daily life.  However, they also deprive you of the pleasures and nurturing activities that make life worth living.  Not to mention mindless TV watching goes hand-in-hand with mindless eating.  Evenings are the worst for most (including the winter version of myself), where you can literally park yourself in front of the TV for 5 or 6 hours.  Evenings are meant to be a slow-down period of quiet reflection and socialization, preparing us for the restorative sleep of night.  Instead, TVs a-blaring and a-blazing overstimulate our senses and prevent us from spending quality time with ourselves and others.  Perhaps […]

By |August 21st, 2008|Emotional Eating, Musings, Tips|0 Comments

Back from Florida: Some observations on eating

Last week my husband and I returned from a two-week trip to Fort Lauderdale. I promised my newsletter readers I’d comment on some of my observations I made while down there, and here they are.  There are really two things I want to discuss – how I managed to keep up my own healthy eating habits and some of the ways American eating habits differ from our own (in Canada).

First off, it was surprisingly easy to stick to my intuitive eating habits that I’ve been developing over the last little while. I was actually stressing out a little before I left because I thought I’d be tempted to eat everything in sight because I was on vacation.  I was also worried that even if I wanted to make healthy choices, I’d be stuck with eating crap food from American chains like Cracker Barrel, McDonald’s (the horror!), and T.G.I. Friday’s because of a lack of proper restaurants that were reasonably priced.  Boy, did I surprise myself!

I found it was actually easier to eat intuitively while on vacation. No schedules, no running around and no stress meant that I could lounge about in the sun all day and eat whenever I felt like it, which was usually at very odd times of the day.  My day ALWAYS starts off with a healthy breakfast, so I just kept up that habit.  Having a mini-fridge and microwave in our room meant that we could do groceries and prepare a few of our own meals rather than have to eat out three times a day.  It also meant eating only when and if we were hungry.  Much to my delight, it turned out that there was […]

By |August 11th, 2008|Food, Mindful Eating|0 Comments

33 ways to use your journal for self-discovery and self-expression

As a therapist, I often suggest to clients that they explore their feelings and thoughts by keeping a journal. I recommend choosing something that you’ll enjoy using and that you’ll stick to: a beautiful notebook, small enough to carry with you will make it easy to write whenever the inspiration hits you. 

Alternatively, you could also use any of the free online journals out there (, or free blogs (, – just be sure to set your entries to “private” so the whole world doesn’t see what you’ve written!  The online diaries also send email reminders to write in them – I love built-in nagging!

The trick to making a journal work for you is knowing what to write in it.  Sometimes clients ask for a bit of direction with this process. Here are some journaling ideas if you’re not sure where to start:

1.  Write down what happened today and how you felt about it.

2.  Write a letter to a person you are angry with. Say everything you are feeling and wish you had the nerve to say.

3.  Draw a picture of the person you wrote the letter to in #2.

4.  Make a list of all the things you are grateful for. List all the big things, all the small things, and everything in between that you can think of.

5.  Circle the three most important things on the list you made in #4. Write a paragraph for each, expressing your appreciation to the person who had the most influence over it. If possible, turn this into an actual letter and send it.

6.  Make a list of […]

By |August 7th, 2008|Emotional Eating, Tips|0 Comments

Sex and the City and emotional eating

I finally got around to seeing the “Sex and the City” movie this weekend. And believe it or not, among those unrealistically thin bodies was a segment on emotional eating!

Turns out Samantha had been using food to avoid cheating on her boyfriend with her hot next-door neighbour; in her words, “I eat so I don’t cheat.” Although it was really just a caricature of emotional eating (the “fat” she gained was the most microscopic of bulges in her tummy), I was pleased to see that this topic is gaining mainstream attention.

This scene got me thinking, though. Often people emotionally eat to avoid emotions, but what kinds of behaviours might people be avoiding by eating?  In this case, it was doing something that was in her nature, but given her relationship status, would have been wrong. 

Are there things you wish you could be doing that you feel are somehow wrong given your situation? Do you fantasize about running away and starting a new life without all your current obligations and responsibilities?  Do you wish you could be living someone else’s life? 

It’s worth asking yourself these questions, and answering them honestly. Even if you can’t do what it is you really want to be doing (in Samantha’s case, leave her boyfriend so she could go back to her free agent ways), just admitting to yourself that you’re not that happy might do the trick.  Finding a way to change the situation, compromising it, or accepting things as they are could be the ticket to reducing your emotional eating patterns.

By |July 21st, 2008|Emotional Eating|0 Comments

The power of positive affirmations

Although some of you may have heard of positive affirmations, you may not be sure exactly what they are or what they can do for you.  In a nutshell, they can be an extremely powerful tool to challenge and overcome the negative beliefs that hold you back.  In this article, I explain what positive affirmations are, why they can help you, and how to implement them in a simple 3-step plan.

How Negative Beliefs Limit You

I’d like you think about an area in your life that you are struggling with.  Perhaps you’ve been unable to progress in your career, or have been trying to lose the same 10 pounds (or more) for the last several years.  It is very likely that part of what’s holding you back is a belief system that limits you.  For example, perhaps deeps down inside you believe that you don’t deserve that promotion, or that you deserve to be thinner.

The tricky thing with negative beliefs is that we are often unaware that we have them. And because they are outside of our conscious awareness, they become all the more dangerous, sneaking their way into our thoughts.  If you truly believe that you do not deserve to be happy or healthy, then you will unwittingly sabotage yourself each time you are faced with a new opportunity for growth.  Those who have tried to diet and failed many times over know how true this can be; each new attempt to lose weight results in frustration and hopelessness.

Negative beliefs work their dark magic in three ways. First, they do not allow you to progress beyond their upper limits.  You can only be as happy or healthy as your beliefs will allow […]

By |July 4th, 2008|Beliefs, Change, Emotional Eating, Tips|0 Comments

What a diet really is

In my book, a diet is anything that tells you what, when or how much to eat, no matter how sensible. It is based on something external.  It is not based on what your body is telling you it wants or needs.  Don’t be fooled by weight loss programs that claim not to be diets – if it tells you to do anything other than trust your instincts, it’s a diet.

By |July 1st, 2008|Dieting|0 Comments

If I lose the weight, I’ll be happy

I read a nice little post today by Oprah’s personal trainer, Bob Greene:

In it, he describes the familiar pattern that a lot of people who struggle with their weight get sucked into: “If only I could lose X pounds, I’d be happier.” Think about whether you’ve ever had this thought, consciously or subconsciously.  If so, does it help motivate you?  Or does the fear of actually losing the weight and then not being happy hold you back?  What can you do today to actually be happier, whether or not you actually lose the weight?

By |June 23rd, 2008|Beliefs, Change, Oprah|0 Comments