How Can I Be Happy? Ask Better Questions!

I want to use a personal example to demonstrate the power of asking questions to help you on your path to answering “how can I be happy?

I had this awesome ah-ha moment this morning that inspired this post. I hope you get something out of this and apply what I learned in your life.  Then come back and let me know how it helped!

Happiness is Always a ChoiceThe Path to Happiness Is Always Available

Allow me to lay a little philosophical foundation before I go into my story from this morning that reminded me of the importance of asking better questions.

My belief is that there is a path of least resistance that leads us to happiness.  That path is always available to us when we’re connected to our highest selves/Source/God/the Universe.  When we pinch ourselves off from the wisdom that is within us – by focusing on the negative or what’s not working – we can’t see the path of least resistance. It’s there. We just litter the path with obstructions.

To find our path to happiness I think it’s about being present to our feelings in every moment.  When we find ourselves feeling bad we must do something about it. Take responsibility for how we feel.  Take ownership of our happiness. It’s our choice.

I’ve been on this path to happiness for some year now. I’m so sensitive when I don’t feel good and I’m just not willing to feel bad for very long. I won’t tolerate negativity inside or outside in my life. 

Why would you tolerate feeling bad?

You know too much and won’t let that happen and let’s move ahead to helping you continue finding that path to happy.

Find Your Happy Path With Focus & Questions

As a student of Tony Robbins’ and Abraham-Hicks I know that what I focus on I will attract more of into my life.  I’ve noticed that whatever I focus on and give meaning to will create a feeling inside of me (focus –> thoughts –> meaning –> feeling).  Therefore, I’m in control of what I feel are given what I choose to focus on.  It’s powerful just knowing that!

(I really, really hope you took that last part in because that alone could shift your whole experience of life.)

From experience in dealing with monitoring and guiding my feelings I’ve learned that if I guide my attention with better questions I can usually find my way to feeling better.

A Story of Hope

I’d like to give you an example of how I was able to shift my emotions today in an instant just by asking myself better questions.  Here goes…

This morning I received an email from my attorney with an attachment/letter from my soon-to-be ex-husband.  We’ve been working on the divorce for nearly two years and it’s been emotionally taxing with all the back and forth.  Every time I receive an email from my ex or attorney my mind goes to “oh great, what does he [the ex] want now?”

Being Happy Doesn't Mean Things Are PerfectThis morning I fell right back into my old negative pattern.  The negative pattern I’ve been sustaining all these many months.  The first question my brain suggested was…you guessed it “what does he want now?!”  As soon as I saw the email, heard the question in my head and made it mean that it was going to cost me more money I felt like shit.  My pulse started to race, my body clenched up, I started to grit my teeth and could not sit still.  Yuck!

I wanted to go about my day and not open the email – that way I didn’t know what this was going to cost.  Yet, having studied Brian Tracy and his book Eat That Frog First I know that if you’ve got to do that thing you least want to do first thing in the day or it will haunt you and drain your energy all day.  I didn’t want this taking away any more energy than it already had, so I opened the email.

As I suspected, the ex had yet more demands to put upon our agreement that would cost me more money. 

I felt pissed. I felt frustrated. I felt defeated. I felt hopeless. I felt like getting revenge. 

You name it if it was on the negative end of the scale within a period of 90 seconds I felt it all.

As I noticed I was becoming more upset I took a deep breath and paused. I got up from my desk and stepped away from the computer. I centered myself and said “what’s a better question?”  I asked myself “what do I want?”

As my mind searched for an answer what came back was “how do I keep my house?”

Your Subconscious Mind Is So PowefulIt was so easy and yet for the past two years that thought had eluded me.  Partly because I wasn’t clear whether I wanted to keep the house or just move on with a clean slate.  Only recently I became clear that I want to save my house.  My subconscious mind in that moment, knowing my inner desire, sent my brain the impulse, the question, that I most needed to hear in that moment.

Just shifting my focus from “what’s this going to cost?” to “how can I keep my home?” felt like something worth working towards.

It’s like when I have a goal in my workouts.  Right now I’m training for a Tough Mudder obstacle race this weekend. I’ve been working towards this goal for the past four months. 

The goal was always clear: kick ass at Tough Mudder and have fun!  Because the goal was clear along the way it was easy for me to find the happy path to my happy outcome.  Along the way I’ve had tough workouts and sore muscles, but I have enjoyed it because I am so focused on my goal. But I’m also committed to enjoying the journey just as much.

I’m willing to put in the work, the time, the focus to get my result.

Now I just need to apply my work ethic towards my divorce.  This was my ah-ha moment! I realized with that one simple question (“how can I keep my house?”) I have a goal and the answers will come to me.  There will be some work, some negotiations, some focus I’ll need to apply but I will get my result.

The Bottom Line On Being HappyStop Waiting to Be Happy

If you’ve read my blog for any time you know I’m a big fan of being as happy as you can on your journey – not at some destination called “someday”.  I have tried a lot of personal challenges and morning processes along the way and all of them have helped me to be the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.  Even in the midst of a nasty divorce, I’m still shining my light. I’m still focused on my happiness. Setbacks are lessons that make us stronger.

Being happy is an inside job. It’s in those small moments when something knocks us off our game or takes us down to our knees that we choose.  We have to find our way to better feeling thoughts.  One thought – or question – at a time.

I hope my ah-ha moment will stick in your mind the next time you receive some bad news or someone cuts you off in traffic. Ask a better question!

Tony Robbins says something to the effect of: “ask a better question, get a better life”

It’s your inner environment my friend. It’s about your inner conversation. It’s your thoughts/focus/meaning that will have you rolling downstream towards feeling better or leave you pissed off, frustrated and enjoying a pity party for one.

Here’s to you regaining your power in those moments from here after!

With love and light,



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Extreme Self Care Tip: Enjoy a Day of Decadence

pillows-loungeOne of the first things I often prescribe new coaching clients is to begin a practice of extreme self care.  Self care has become such a secondary thing in our lives with kids, chores, work, school, relationship, community, and on and on.  We often put our own needs on the back burner so long it takes getting sick or a breakdown before we’ll let ourselves relax.  Papering ourselves…what’s that?

Ok, some of you might have the whole pampering and self care thing handled, but if you’re reading this it’s because you’re looking for ideas to take better care of yourself.

Good for you!

I’m such a fan of self care that I am a stand that all women (and men) introduce more self care and self love into their lives wherever and whenever possible.

What is a Day of Decadence?

I’ll describe what a Day of Decadence means for me and what it often includes.  My hope is that you’ll be inspired by the concept that you’ll schedule one for yourself.

The idea for a Day of Decadence came after an extremely busy period in my life.  Things were moving at 10x speed and there was no vacation getaway or funds in the bank for a long weekend out of town.

As I looked ahead to my weekend after a long work week I knew that if I didn’t drop the to-do list and pick up the self care checklist I was going to start the following work week even more behind and lacking energy.

So that’s just what I did.

Here’s what I did to create my first Day of Decadence:Tea Time

1. Food/drinks – I filled my shelves with all of the necessities I would need to eat for the day. In addition, I splurged and allowed myself a few of those goodies you might serve to friends or on special occasions.  Heck…this was a Day of Decadence. It was practically a Day of Independence and a federal holiday.  Why not have lots of yummies around (mind you, careful not to select foods that could trigger a binge if you’re in that window of recovery.)

2. Movies and magazines – I bought lots of girlie and travel magazines.  The fun stuff I could just veg out on and not anything business or would trigger me to want to start some big house project.  The less motivated I was to-do stuff the better I would do at spoiling myself into happy. I rented a few movies that I knew would light me up – nothing too serious or dramatic.  Light, funny and/or romantic was the way I went. You might choose a documentary if you’d like to use this time to feed your mind.

3. A tidy house – I decided to straighten up the house before the weekend so I wouldn’t feel so compelled to pick up a broom or dust a damn thing.  House chores are not a part of a Day of Decadence. If you don’t have time or money to have the house tidy before you begin – just promise yourself you won’t clean.  Think like a queen…would a queen dust or vacuum when she’s tending to herself? Hell no.  And neither will you.Relaxing Lounge at Home

4. Sacred space – there is a lot you can do here to create an environment that nurtures your heart and spirit.  I burned some essential oils and lit candles off and on through the day and night. I also had a huge stash of pillows and blankets so I made a fort in my front room. I moved cushions off the couch and onto the floor to make the entire front room like on big bohemian tent. In different DoD’s I have pushed two couches together to make one big bed-like space where I can fill it up with pillows and blankets. Very cozy!

5. Tune out – the level with which you can turn off the outside world is up to you. Most of the time I let the people I’m closest to know I’m not available that day and it’s no problem.  If you want to keep in communication, do that.  This is your Day of Decadence. I do no internet, no phone and no TV. I only feed myself what I want to take in that day.

6. No schedule or have-to’s – I’m pretty Type A person so having a day without a set schedule is a breakthrough by itself. On my Days of Decadence there is absolutely nothing I have to do.  Everything is what I want to do…when I want to do it. Once or twice I’ve jumped in my car and ran out for a pedicure or massage, but that’s pretty hard to do without an appointment.  The day starts when I get up and ends when I feel like going to bed.

7. Rest and more rest – if there’s anything I think we could do with more of in our lives it’s a nap.  I tell ya having all those pillows in the living room like one big bed is really conducive to rest and napping.  You can’t have enough chill and rest on a Day of Decadence.  Get your exercise and have-to’s out of the way before you wake up that day. The only exercise I recommend on this day is maybe a walk to get some air or see some nature, but nothing hard core or scheduled like a workout class. You can do that another day – this is about self care and while exercise is self care for your body, it has a different purpose and feeling.

8. Be unapologetic – I never apologize when I take a Day of Decadence.  I completely give up that this level of decadence is my reward and right as a person. I deserve it not because I work so hard and have earned it – I deserve it because I’m born worthy.

9. Recognize the gift – self care is one of the greatest gifts we give the people in our lives.  I remember an old Jim Rohn quote “I’ll take care of me for you and you take care of you for me.”  That to me has several notions, but when it is applied to self care I say that we are much more able to be our highest and best selves when we care and nurture our needs.  If you pamper yourself, get lots of rest, and slow down your momentum to a place of peace or happiness you are then able to go into the world and spread that energy to the people around you.Tub with Roses

10.  Do only what you want to do – on this day with no agenda, schedule or have-to’s your practice will be learning to feel for what feels best.  I will wake up and then do whatever inspired action comes to mind.  I’ll feel my way through my day by asking myself “what would feel great now or next?” When an idea comes I check in with myself and then go with the best feeling thought I have.  This I think is the ultimate freedom and opens up our spirit for more connection and trusting our inner guidance.

While this is my checklist for a Day of Decadence yours can look completely different and unique to you.  I don’t want you to walk away from this and not set yourself up for some extreme self care. So, here’s my invitation to you…pick up your calendar or find a date that looks like it could work for your own Day of Decadence and commit to having it.  Or say something like “I commit to having at least one Day of Decadence within the next 30, 60 or 90 days.”  We can do that.  You may need support and resources, but it’s possible.

This can and will happen for you if you decide right now to do it.

Will you commit to having a Day of Decadence? Even start with a 1/2 day if that’s all you can do to start.

Something for God’s sake is better than not.

Please share below what you’re committing to and what you got out of this for yourself.

With love and light,



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Polly’s Rant: Let That Shit Go

I've Mastered the Art of Bouncing BackI’m on Day 14 of my 30 day Happiness Challenge and I just hit a bump I couldn’t bounce right back from…quickly. 

[Friendly warning: this is going to sound like a complete rant ’cause I need to get this off my chest.]

I have been practicing my beloved morning process for happiness every day during this challenge (truth be told I do it every day regardless of the challenge because it feels so good!) and feeling better and better each day.  This morning I was at Gymnazo (my local CrossFit type studio) and I had an awesome workout.  I’ve been training hard for a Tough Mudder race in a few weeks and to train harder I was testing into the advanced level program at Gymnazo.  I failed the test a few times in February and just this morning I finally passed their assessment.

Needless to say after training for four months I was over the moon happy with myself. I posted a celebratory post to my friends on Facebook, I shared it with friends on email and all the usual fan fare.  The work day was going very smoothly and I was delighted with a new coaching client call I had and felt amazing after that. (I freakin’ rock!)

Everything was doing great and then I got a few texts from the ex and that’s when I felt like the floor was pulled from under me.  Without going into too much detail it’s been a non-amicable divorce and I just want it to be over.  I’m doing all I can to move things to completion and one thing after another comes up from this guy.

Well, today was yet another unbelievable request on top of many other outlandish requests that have come across the wires.  For whatever reason, I was clearly not on my center and I let it take me off balance.  I knew it was happening. I could feel it happening and I noticed I was resisting.

Part of me wanted to throw fists at the guy’s face. He wasn’t in the vicinity.

I Tripped on Some Feelings - I'm Ok Now I Brushed That Shit OffPart of me wanted to scream out “stop this shit and leave me the fuck alone!  Get out of my life!

Part of me wanted to cry.  So I did.

Then I told myself I shouldn’t face what’s happening and should turn my attention to the result I’m after (“I’m divorced and happy about it“).  That didn’t seem to be the route to go either.

I squirmed and fought against thoughts and emotions left and right. It was like I was in that Alien movie and there was something inside me bouncing all over the insides of my body trying to get out.

All along I was feeling for my inner north – my Source’s guidance as to what to be and do.

I got nuthin’.

“Sit with it” was what I heard.

Sit with this crap?  This fucking bullshit?  This pain?

Well that sucks.  I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to create new things in my Vortex because I’m facing contrast. I don’t want to face contrast any more. I just want the good stuff.  Just give me the good feelings and I’ll be happy.

Nope, that wasn’t helping any.

Just more inner turmoil the more I fought it. So I decided to take a few deep breaths, give up, give in, have some dinner and a beer and sit down here to share my battle.  Be vulnerable and rant and show you it’s not always pretty on the other side.  Life happens.  We get knocked down.  We want to give up.  We want to fight back.

But I know too much to know that isn’t how things turn out. I know that “everything is always working out for me” and so I keep going.  I’m practicing the art of “let that shit go” – that which doesn’t serve you let it go.  Or as my friend says “how fast can you get off it?”

A Good Laugh & Sleep Cures AllI don’t wallow (well, I wallow a little).  I have a mini pitty party and then I plan to go to bed and release it.  I know that I have an opportunity for the next few hours I’m awake to try to relax.  To breathe.  To settle into what happened and start to feel for my happy place.  Then, I’ll go to sleep and tomorrow I’ll be happy again.  This crap doesn’t deserve my happiness.

I’m not wiling to let these circumstances define me. I’m not looking for happiness to come from my ex, or the world or even for things to change honestly.  They will be what they are but deep down I know that I am loved. I am part of the Universe and that means I am infinite. I am divine. I am amazing. I am worthy.  And so it is.

Whew, just too a deep breath and let it out….ahhhhh [sigh].

There is something about sharing what’s on our heart with another human being that allows the energy to flow.  Nothing’s changed in my life…the situation is still what it is, but my attitude is now different. I’m different. I’m bigger and better because that happened just now.

I appreciate you listening and hope this rant has somehow helped you in some way.  Who knows…maybe this shines a light on something in your life that you could approach differently.  Who knows…maybe this will just fade off my blog into infinity and no one will ever see or read it.  That’s fine.  I feel better and that’s what this is all about, right?  If I spread good feelings instead of bad ones to those I love then I feel I’m doing ok.  It’s my job to make myself happy and give it away to others.  My happiness is my gift to the world.

I take happiness very seriously.

Actually, I take happiness very playfully!

Ha!  That sounds a whole lot more in alignment, right?  Yes it does.

Thanks for listening and if you have anything to share, please post a comment below.

Much love,


If It Feels Light It’s Right!

Do whatever makes you feel goodThese words of wisdom came to me today courtesy of my Tough Mudder Training buddy Amanda Leath while we were out on a training run. 

If it feels light it’s right. If it feels heavy it’s a lie.

This came up when I asked Amanda how she decided what events to attend like the Tough Mudder race we’re running, the non-profits she sits on the board for and other ways she invest her time.  She said our friend Carolyn Silas had given her these words of wisdom and she said it worked for her.

I can totally relate because it’s the best way to choose not only what you do, but also what you think, what you focus on, who you spend your time with – just about everything can be chosen with this simple distinction.

Your Inner Guidance System

When I first started listening to Abraham Hicks I heard them talk a lot about our inner guidance system.  When I think of the inner guidance system I relate it to an inner compass. A compass will always tell us which way is due north.  Our inner guidance system will always tell us which way is the path of least resistance.

The path of least resistance, our path in life, is happiest when we’re following our inner guidance.  When we’re on the path, we feel good (happy, peaceful, excited, etc) and when we’re not on our path we feel don’t feel good (anxious, stressed, angry, frustrated, etc).

Like a compass, if you were to follow your feelings you would find your path to least resistance – or your happiest path.

An Example of Following Your Inner Guidance

Allow me to share a recent example of following your inner guidance and staying on the path of least resistance.  Yesterday two of my best friends came over to visit for a few hours.  We planned to hang out from about 1:00 – 3:00 and I needed to leave to meet a friend for dinner and a movie no later than 3:30.  We all knew the plan and felt that it was a good amount of time to visit and hang out.

Getting Silly With Best FriendsMy friends arrived a little after 1:00 and we hadn’t seen each other in many months so there was a lot of quick catching up to do.  You know how it is when you’re with your best girlfriends and the conversations sort of erupt with quick stories, jokes and laughter.  Well, I brought out some of my latest costumes and colorful music festival wigs and things just went to a whole new level.  The giggles became belly laughs, we ran out of memory on our phones from taking to many pictures and the fun our afternoon exploded into just naturally expanded past what we first planned for. Hey, when you’re having fun…milk those moments!

Well, we could all tell we were on a roll having so much fun and didn’t want it to end.   I started to notice I was feeling anxious as I checked my watch a few times. I thought about letting my friend down for dinner and felt bad. I could tell we weren’t going to be complete with our visit by 3:00 and 3:30 was quickly approaching.  As I began to focus on being late to meet my friend that night I grew more anxious and my body began to tense up. I noticed what was beginning to happen and I asked myself “what would feel best?” and “does that thought make me feel better or worse?”  Should I rush my best friends on their way and then dash off to my next meeting? I could tell from the negative emotion that I felt in my gut that it wasn’t the path of least resistance.  My inner guidance said “relax, enjoy these precious moments and adjust your plans that night.”

As I felt my way through a few options and explored what felt best I realized that the best thing was to text my other friend and ask for a change of plans.  That option felt best and that allowed me to be present with my besties while we completed our visit. I was able to turn my attention back to the present moment to love and enjoy them in all their glory.

That night I apologized to my other friend and our change of plans turned from dinner and a movie to just a three hour dinner instead.  I told him that I had heard bad reviews about the movie we were planning to see anyway and he agreed it was best. Having three hours to hang out and be connected was much more valuable than watching a movie.  That night we grew closer and had a delightful time.

The Bottom Line About Inner Guidance

Relax and have faith things will work out.As I went to bed that night with a full heart, a phone full of memories from the day, a deeper sense of love and connection with three great people I love very much I knew I had found the path of least resistance. A quick recap of what happened so you can take this into your life:

1. Self awareness – be aware of your emotions and when you start to feel those negative emotions rise up inside

2. Notice your focus – what you focus on and what you make it mean in the moment has a lot to do with how you feel

3. Choose your path – decide to guide your emotions by your thoughts and questions can help you check in with your emotions and guide you to the path of least resistance

This process works not only for negative feelings, but positive ones, too.  In the moment those negative feelings were creeping into my body I noticed that I wasn’t choosing the good feelings. I decided it was important to feel good and that my life is all about feeling as good as I can as often as I can.  I allowed myself to enjoy the day and connected with amazing people as a result.  In the end, trusting my inner guidance helped me find the path of least resistance and I felt fantastic about it.

Please remember to share your comments below!

I look forward to reading your comments – or email me a question if there’s something I can help you with.

With love and light,


Tough Mudder Training: Polly Mertens & Amanda Leath————————————-

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My Daily Practices for Being Happy

I Am a Happy Person!Today I want to share some advice about how I practice being happy that I gave to a client this past week. I often write so much about bulimia recovery because it’s where I came from and what I’m known for helping people with, but I’m also a life and business coach so let’s explore more than just recovery and addiction today!

The path I’m joyously focusing on is in the area of teaching people how to be happy.  Truly happy not faking it but miserable inside.  Happy now, not someday. 

Happy because you want to thrive!

When the majority of your activities, your thoughts, and your focus are on what’s not working guess what you’re likely to get more of in the future…?


You already know how this works.  You get more of what you don’t want. It’s not hard to figure that out, but it takes practice to shift.  Today we’ll focus on happy in order to bring more of that into your life.  Ready?


To Be Happy, Get Happy

I was reflecting this week on my own level of inner happiness (which reached a new high just yesterday!) and noticing my journey these past few years. I read Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project in 2013 and went on to create my own project. (read on my Joy and Authenticity Project post). It was during that period that I listened to Abraham-Hicks video about creating a morning process (read more about how to create a morning process).

Be With People Who Are HappyI belong to a small yet powerful women’s circle in my community. This group of women get the meaning of “working on yourself” and don’t let you slack off when you’ve got something in the way of being your most radiant self.  We each expect the most from ourselves and we support and facilitate one another through our inner journey to release what doesn’t serve us and remember who we truly are inside.

This past week as I was sitting in the circle and remembering how what we focus on we create and bring more of into our lives. I realized I could focus on and bring even more happiness into my life if I chose to put more focus on it.  So, I set a stretch goal that I would focus on being the happiest I could be each day for at least the next 30 days.  I’m on Day 5  of that stretch and feel so blessed and thankful to be re-visiting being happy in this new way.

What my stretch goal has shined a light upon for me is that when you fill your mind, your energy, your time with a focus on happy the negative doesn’t come up because you’ve got so much good going on all around you.  If you read my last post on the momentum of thought this really dovetails nicely into what I’m talking about here.

What I think keeps some of us from being happy is we don’t realize happy takes practice. It takes focus and life energy to guide ourselves in this way.  In all actuality, it feels like it takes energy because often we have so much momentum going in the negative direction that it feels like “work” to start the momentum in a positive direction.

There is good news!

The good news is:

  1. There is more well-being and positive energy in the world than negative energy
  2. Well being is being showered upon you all day every day –  if you stop doing what you’re doing to resist it coming, you will naturally let it in (read more about letting your cork float)
  3. You can create just as much momentum in the positive direction as you’ve created in the negative with a shift of focus – the better it gets the better it gets

What I’d like to do is teach you a few of the practices I’ve utilized that help me release my focus on what’s not working and allow in the natural well being that wants to come to me.  And guess what…being happy is the result!

Oh this is soooo cool. Let’s get started shall we?!

Things You Can Do To Feel Happy

First, I want to insert a quick disclaimer.  These are the practices that help remind me to be happy. It’s important as you read to take away the essence of what I’m sharing, not necessarily the specifics. I had a client I shared the Abraham-Hicks videos with and it seemed like everyone I shared them with felt better when they listened to them.  Later on she said that Abraham videos didn’t work for her. That’s cool!  Find what does work for you and do that!

Here are my practices that bring out my happiness:

  • Believe good things are happening – one of my favorite Abraham expressions is “everything is always working out for me”. I must repeat that to myself a half dozen times a day.  The power of that statement is that repeating it creates a new belief. It’s a faith-builder.  The more I believe things are working out for me, the more I can have faith that when life throws me lemons that I’ll end up with lemonade if I just give it time.  In the moment of crappy circumstances, I resist the urge to believe that things are happening to me because life sucks or you have to struggle or suffer to get what you want. Instead, I take the high road when a seeming setback appears and I trust that something will unfold that will teach me something, bring someone or something good into my life. Just repeating the phrase things are always working out for me in the face of setbacks or crappy times can help you stay focused on what you want which is for things to work out.
  • Spend time with good things and people – you are the average of the five people you spend time with.  Invest in yourself and choose your friends carefully.  I also spend my time in the car, in the mornings, in the evenings listening to things that uplift and inspire me. I don’t let negative television, movies, music, news into my life. This is the one I truly believe is where the rubber meets the road.  People are so convinced that you’ve got to be tuned in to what’s happening in the world that they forget they create their reality.  By focusing on what is and what’s bad about the world, you’re just perpetuating more bad news.  I have a very light information diet for what’s happening in the world and it’s not that I put my head in the sand, but I choose to only let in what I want to know about and influence me.
  • Be So Happy You Make Others HappyMusic is a vibration just like me – as a vibrational being I really pay a lot of attention to the music I choose. I say choose because some people listen to the radio and just tune into whatever is on the station. Not me. I even use Pandora so I don’t hear commercials because commercials get into our vibration just like the music does and I don’t want someone else’s priority to become mine. I listen to a variety of music and I intentionally choose music that is at or is higher than my vibrational state. Some mornings I wake up to dance/house music, other times it’s peaceful and calming.  If I’m listening to a Pandora and a song comes on that feels out of tune with my energy, I change it! (I actually had to do that right as I’m typing this because the song that came on just wasn’t a match for my higher energy).
  • Let the chi flow – I read a few books and blogs about Feng Shui several years ago and really like the principles behind this concept.  In fact, just last night I spent a few hours cleaning up my place, reorganizing things and paying attention to what I had where so that the chi could flow around my home. I’m a big believer in less is more and as a woman I know that when we have things in our space that distract us it takes away from our energy/life force.  Have a look around your house and make sure you feel good when you come home. If not, take a small space and work on it a little at a time. I started with my bedroom first and worked my way around the house room by room when I first learned Feng Shui.
  • Thoughtful reminders and rituals – I already shared about my morning process earlier, so check out that post if you want to know more about my morning rituals.  You become your rituals.  I have an app on my phone that pings me three times a day to remember “spend time outside”, “be grateful for someone or something” and “feel the love”.  This way I’m focusing on what is important to me.  Whether you have reminders around you home, your office, your purse, in your car, on your phone or computer doesn’t matter.  Don’t rely on brain space to remember these things – set up a reminder or a daily ritual (appointment) so that you’re sure to have these things in your life.
  • Choose my words carefully and intentionally – your life is as good as you say it is. I choose my words out loud very, very, very carefully. If I say something I don’t want to perpetuate or to bring about I replace it.  Sounds a little odd a first when you’re not used to it and this definitely takes a LOT of self-awareness. I’ve practiced and focused on my words so much over the years when I say something I don’t like or want to have come about I’m so present to it that I now can’t help but correct myself. This takes practice and you may want to invite friends to help you here because we’re usually so sloppy with our thoughts and words that having a friend tell us when we speak negative might help us become more aware in the beginning.
  • Ask better questions – one of the Abraham questions that I use each and every day is “does this thought make me feel better or worse?” Questions are great for guiding thought, energy and focus. My emotions are a reflection of my thoughts. If I’m focusing on and thinking negative things that don’t feel good, it’s up to me to choose something that feels better. I find that before I started using this I was comfortable being uncomfortable with negative energy. Now days it feels so bad to feel bad that I simply won’t let myself feel bad for long. Usually I can catch a negative feeling and thought when it first comes up so I shift things relatively easily with a few new thoughts, focus or body movement. If I have a stronger momentum on a subject, it might take a bigger shift but I definitely don’t allow myself to sit in a negative place for long.  The best thing about all of this is that each day we go to sleep and reset our energy so I know that if I’m having trouble letting something go and focusing on what feels better I trust that I don’t have to pick up that bad energy thought the next day thanks to my morning process.
  • Take good care of myself – seems pretty straight forward, but I’m noticing more and more how important it is that I take good care of my body, mind and spirit.  When I feel well and honor myself, I am so much better at everything and the world around me lights up.  Taking good care of yourself is a gift you give to the people in your life. It’s an act of selfishness and is an act of contribution.  When you’re exhausted, overwhelmed, frustrated or too busy you are of little use to the world.  Say no to busy and say yes to taking care of yourself. Spend time figuring out what you need and give it to yourself.  I have friends that thing it’s crazy that I go to bed at 8:30pm but I get up at 4:45am each day due to my morning routine and that gives me enough time to read a little or listen to Abraham before I turn off the lights.  Going to bed that early took some practice and rituals and I say no to a lot of things people invite me to, but I do what makes me feel good and it works for me.
  • For goodness sake be thankful – there are people in my life who are so thankful and speak their appreciation for life that it inspires me. I really believe the words thank you when said with sincerity have the power to create magic and miracles in our lives.  There is no higher vibration than the one we’re in when we’re appreciating an act, a person, a situation or just appreciating being alive.  My app helps me remember to say thank you at least once a day, but I also have it built into my daily rituals and I have trained my brain to find things to appreciate. I once coached a client to include the practice of looking for things to appreciate when she went out on her 30 minute walk every day at lunch. If you spend more time looking (actively!) for things to appreciate you will find them.
  • Find Time For the Things That Make You Feel Happy to Be AliveDo what I enjoy – the more time I spend doing what I enjoy and makes me feel good the happier I am.  Simple recipe, right? I could go on for an entire post about doing only what you love or enjoying what you do.  The short story is stop or minimize the things you don’t enjoy. You have the power to chose so choose things that make you feel alive!
  • Let that shit go – this applies to people and things. If something doesn’t feel good – get it out of your life.  Donate old clothes, sell displeasing or unnecessary furniture, and replace or repair the broken.  If there’s someone in your life that just drags you down all the time, spend as little or no time with that person as you can.  You’d be surprised if you just try to minimize your exposure to toxic people how much better you feel! Trust me, I have a very close loved one that I’m not talking with right now because she’s toxic to my happiness.  It may be a temporary period, but sometimes it just needs to be permanent and you get to choose. Even family is a choice in terms of who gets your time.

These are some of the ways I remember to feel happy in my life.  This list is some of what I do now, but it was an evolution.  Please don’t try to take on all of these at once.  The best rituals are those that replace rituals that don’t serve you and bring more of your radiant self to the surface.

If you could pick one area of your life that you’re spending your energy in a negative way and replace it with one of the ideas above, which would you choose? 

What one action can you take and commit to here and now to do?

Nothing changes unless you change.  This is your moment!

Pick one thing (or create one on your own) and commit to it below in the comments.

I look forward to reading your comments – or email me a question if there’s something I can help you with.

With love and light,



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You Create the Momentum by Directing Your Thoughts

Happiness of your life is the quality of your thoughts.I’ve recently found myself coaching a client who’s trying so very, very hard to release her focus on binging and purging only to fall back into the struggle…ahhh…the cycle of bulimia.

As I talk with her and text with her each day I feel what she’s going through.  The daily battlefield of the mind.  It seems to have so much power and control over us that we wonder where we ever went wrong.

Asking ourselves questions like…why would a person as smart, capable, conscious as me live this f*cked up life?

Why would I eat all this food?

Why would I hide out from friends and exhaust myself with purging…sometimes for hours?

Why would I labor on the treadmill or in the gym endlessly to shed those calories?

Why can’t I stop this incessant craziness?!

Why can’t I resist the urge to binge when I just want to live a normal life?

Guess what?! The last few seconds you spent asking yourself all those questions is EXACTLY what continues to perpetuate the insanity. No joke.

Your Momentum & Law of Attraction

Let me attempt to simplify how the law of attraction works in a single statement:

What you focus on you attract more of into your life.

There.  Not hard, right? It’s really simple in theory. 

Now…understanding how it works and actually applying it is a different story. Believe me, I’m still a student of momentum…just in other areas than food thank God.  Well, I’ll be honest, food momentum can grab hold of me like when I get my focus on chocolate in the afternoon. Same principle in action.

You see momentum within our bodies is like the energy of pushing a small boulder down a big hill.  It will quickly pick up speed if something doesn’t get in it’s way. 

Your thoughts – your emotions – are a lot like that boulder running downhill. If you start to think a negative thought another negative thought will match up with it and then another and another.  As a big fan of Abraham-Hicks I’ve heard Abraham say that you have a window of 17 seconds of focus on something before the momentum starts.  You choose to focus on something for 17 seconds and then 34 seconds and beyond…the momentum gets stronger.  The boulder speeds up, more speed, more thoughts, more energy, more stress, more anxiety…whatever.

Shift Your Focus to Slow Momentum

How to have a happy lifeIn working with this coaching client recently I realize I am acting as her sounding board and helping her push that boulder down the hill faster.  When I listen to her stories in the heat of what’s bothering her I may actually be helping her perpetuate her negative momentum.

Not cool.

As her coach, I recognized what was happening and started to guide her with new questions to elicit new thoughts. I asked her to only tell me her new story, not the one that she no longer wanted to live.  I encouraged her to not keep telling the broken record story she felt compelled to talk about because she felt better “getting it off her chest”. 

My hope is you’re realizing that asking yourself those questions and retelling your worries when you’re in the midst of negative momentum is not helpful. It serves to increase more thoughts in that same downward spiral.

What Can I Do to Stop the Anxiety? The Stress? The Compulsion?

There is no one size fits all answer to the question of how do you stop the compulsion when emotions like anxiety, stress, frustration, self-hatred, anger and those type of feelings arise.  In general, here are my tips for how to get off the roller coaster before it reaches the top and takes you down with it:

  1. Realize you’re creating momentum early – you are the thinker of your thoughts.  Thoughts are what I like to call “bubbles of ideas”.  You HAVE thoughts.  You are NOT your thoughts.  Just because something comes into your mind – or if you’re like me you hear it in your ear/head – doesn’t mean you have to believe it, act upon it, or respond to it.  Just realize you’re the listener and thoughts are happening.  Self-awareness is powerful!
  2. This Too Shall PassTake a breath – pausing when you begin to notice you’re all wound up is key.  Creating a pause, a small space of time between one thought and another is an opportunity to regain your sense of self.  Ground yourself.  Do something radical with your body like jump up, swing your arms, take 10 deep, slow breaths, or simply walk around/get up/lie down – anything to change the configuration of your body.
  3. Shift your focus – what you’re focusing on is causing you to feel the way you’re feeling.  One of the best ways to shift your emotions is the move your body (physical) and the next best thing is to shift your attention off of whatever it was you were thinking about.  For example, if you are anxious about a relationship or something happening at work, take a time out and step back from the situation.  Go to the bathroom, your car, step outside and just get some fresh air and allow yourself a moment or two to focus on the past or future.  Maybe think about what you did that morning, what you need to do after work, what plans you have for the weekend, or maybe simply reflect on one thing you can appreciate in the moment.  It may be a challenge to shift from anxious to appreciation that quickly, so find some tools that work for you.
  4. Practice self-soothing exercises – there are an abundance of self-soothing exercises you can have at the ready and I share all of my best in my ebook about how to stop a binge, but to name a few: tapping, go for a walk, say calming things to yourself like “this too shall pass”, call a friend, or do some light stretches/yoga to slow yourself down and get into your body.  Whatever it takes to slow you down physically the better.
  5. Don’t let momentum start – often people reach out to me when they’re in panic mode.  They’ve let themselves get past their comfortable place and they’re in crisis because food is all they can think about or they’ve already overeaten.  That is really not the time to try to slow the momentum from rolling downhill.  You need to get out in front of the boulder/energy/thoughts when it’s just a single thought or has very little momentum.  That way you can shift your focus and sooth yourself sooo much easier than when momentum is bigger than your ability to control it.

I share all of these things to help you get new insights into slowing your momentum down before the urge takes you over. However, I want you to know that the best thing you can do is to focus on the good in your life, your day, so much that the momentum of what’s not working doesn’t have space or time to gain any momentum.

If I had a preferred method of helping you stop the urge to overeat, I would tell you to be more grateful, to be more helpful to others (volunteer/help someone), to remember what there is that is going right in your life and to acknowledge yourself throughout your day for small wins. I’ve found that it’s not about recovering from the anxiety that creates a win – it’s about putting new focus in your life so the anxious moments are few and far between.

If you could carry around with you a list of questions that you could look at whenever possible, they would include reminders like:

What’s great about this moment?

What’s great right now? 

What’s going well for me?

Who do I love and why?

Who loves me?

What have I done in my life that I am proud of?

What am I doing that is furthering me along in my life in a positive way?

What did I do today that made me feel good?

What if everything were working out for me?

How would I feel?

How would I feel if I knew that I was loved unconditionally?

These are but a few ideas.  Maybe you have some of your own to offer?

Gosh, I would love to hear your ideas, too! I’ve had so many nice comments from you guys lately [big smile]. Thanks for all of the amazing feedback and shares you’ve contributed to our community recently.

If you have comments on this post or ideas for what you can ask yourself to guide you to remember what is great in your life each and every day, what would your questions be? 

Please share below in comments.

You freakin’ rock!!

I look forward to reading your comments – or email me a question if there’s something I can help you with.

With love and light, Polly


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Binges Happen When You Feel Powerless

interrupt-anxiety-with-gratitudeI recently bought a few more books on addiction and habits that I look forward to sharing insights with you about as I read them.  The one I’m studying now is called Breaking Addiction: A 7-Step Handbook for Ending Any Addiction by Lance Dodes, MD.

I’ve only just started the book, but within the first chapter I read I already found a powerful insight worth sharing. From Lance’s book:

The feeling at the key moment along the path to addictive behavior is helplessness or powerlessness.  It feels like you are in a trap that you can do nothing about.

Boy is that ever true!

If you’ve read my post about breaking binging habits, you may recall that I shared the habit cycle which I picked up from the book The Power of Habit.

 Trigger/Cue –> Habit Routine/Addiction –> Reward/Payoff

Now after reading Breaking Addiction I would re-frame this as:

Feel Powerless –> Habit Routine/Addiction –> Reward/Payoff

For a lot of you reading this your habit routine will be the binge/pure cycle of bulimia.  Where your binges are temporary relief from the cue that sparked the moment you turned to food to feel relief – the payoff.  Some of you reading this may have another addictive routine like drinking, drugs, gambling or any other habituated routine that seems like it’s running you and you wish you could stop.  It doesn’t matter what you binge on really as this can apply to most addictions.

What Triggers Your Addiction?

In the recovery coaching I do 1:1 with clients I am asking them to pay attention to what is happening before they go into full binge mode.  See my post on breaking the habit for full details about what I suggest to look for.

What I love about what this author shares is that regardless of the external cue or trigger, it’s tied to a feeling.


It comes down to what’s going on inside you that creates the urge to binge (drink, eat or whatever your drug of choice) that you then act upon to feel relief from that feeling of powerlessness.

It’s amazing.  This distinction makes the trigger so much more clear to me now. The author shares a nice story to tell how this shows up, but I’ll use my personal experience with bulimia to relate it for you.

My Binging Trigger Story

Shortly after college I had a job as a customer service representative answering phones and helping people with their orders for a high end window covering company in San Francisco.  The clientele were well-known, well-paid, well-respected interior designers and the like.  Needless to say these people got a bit testy when things didn’t go their way. In addition, my boss sat four feet from me and listened to every conversation I had and would critique me when I got off the phone if I didn’t do it just the way she had wanted.  All day every day I would answer the phone and either have the possible anxiety of a stressed client mad at me or my boss correcting me for something I’d said.

What resulted was almost every day by mid-afternoon I could hardly wait to leave the office because I was so anxious about doing something wrong I felt hopeless to make everyone happy.  Each day those feelings of powerlessness had me leave the office and head straight to a store, buy a bunch of food and eat it all the way home only to purge after arriving.  Usually that one binge would give me the relief I needed and I wouldn’t do it all night every night, but there were definitely some nights when the binging and purging would go on for hours.

I wish I had read about this 25 years ago.  I would have looked at the feelings of powerlessness and helplessness I felt in my work as a signal what was triggering my bulimia. I knew that I felt anxious at work.  I didn’t realize that it was that feeling of losing my power that triggered me to want to do something I could control…and regain my power.

Many years later I found my way to different coping mechanisms to switch to instead of going into a full blown binge.  The whole addiction cycle is really pathetic now that I reflect back on it. 

I was feeling powerless so I ate and felt out of control in an attempt to give myself control back only to end the purging with feelings of self-loathing, shame and yuckiness that never got me any where in the end. 

It’s amazing to me the power habits and addictions can have on us and drive us to do crap we know we shouldn’t and often don’t even want to do. Ugh…makes me so mad just sharing this with you because I have a feeling you may be wrapped up in that cycle and I so want to help you break out, too.

Self-Awareness and “The Pause”

The Power of Breath in Addiction RecoveryI’ve written many articles on alternative bulimia coping mechanisms and the bulimia mindset shift to help you find different ways of changing both your mind and your patterns to free yourself from your addiction.  Today, I think one of the most important elements, now realizing the feeling of powerlessness as a trigger for addiction, is the practice of self-awareness.

Self-awareness is becoming aware of one’s self from an almost higher conscious, stand outside of yourself and observe what you’re thinking and doing perspective. Self-awareness takes practice to improve upon.  A lot of clients tell me they knew they were going to binge long before they took their first bite, yet they had already decided they were going to binge so they just let it go.

Self-awareness has been defined as “conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires.”

One of the most important elements of lasting recovery besides the decision and commitment to changing your addictive routines is the moment of clarity that in the throws of an urge, you choose not to act upon that urge.  I’ll call this “the pause“.

Taking that split second before you choose to go into your routine, taking a deep breath (which allows God-force chi energy to flow into your body) and remembering you have a choice.

Sometimes remembering you have a choice isn’t enough.  You also have to be so connected to your vision as a non-addict that it is present to you and you remember why you want to stop acting out.

If you can pause, slow things down for a moment and take a deep breath to give yourself a space between the instinctual routine of your habit and the urge, you have a chance at correcting your behavior.

I’m not here to tell you can always stop the urge to binge 100% of the time just by taking a deep breath. I’m offering this up to help you find one way (out of many) that can give you the clarity of being so you can remember in that moment that binging doesn’t ever play out well.

I never got to the end of a binge and celebrated a win.

I never got to the end of a binge and congratulated myself on my accomplishment.

I never got to the end of a binge and felt fantastic and on top of the world.

I felt the opposite.  I know the same is true for you.  That’s how it is for all of us.  Acting on urges we no longer want to do never leaves us feeling empowered or better than before.  We mistakenly think it will.

If you could begin to link up in your mind that binging feels bad, makes you hate yourself and is completely exhausting and a waste of time….sooner or later you would stop doing it.  For whatever reason you and I linked up that binging felt better than the feeling of powerlessness that we felt before.

The Power of the Mind for Addiction RecoverySad part…it isn’t even true.

We are just like a hamster on a wheel going in circles around and around because we THINK it makes us feel better.  Game over.  Wake up.  Stop fooling yourself.

Binging does NOT make you feel better.

I hope you remember that sentence the next time you have a moment of self-awareness, take a deep breath and pause.  If you can remember that binging isn’t going to make you feel better, I think you could start to choose differently.  And choose differently again and again.

Breaking the binge habit WILL make you feel amazing.

Breaking the binge habit IS a win you can celebrate.

Breaking the binge habit WILL make you feel on top of the world.

The process of replacing the trigger -> routine -> reward takes time and is a practice.  You practiced and perfected the binge routine. Changing that behavior isn’t something most of us win at the first time we try.  Heck, it took me years to get it.  But it’s so worth it.

Time to Regain Your Power

It’s my intention that this and everything I write about helps you along your path.  To get you in action, please share one thing you’re taking away from this that you’re going to do immediately to change the course of your life and regain your power over food.  I invite you to share your commitment to one thing below in the comments, email it to me, or write it down. Writing it down (here or on paper) will be 100 times more impactful and you’re more likely to carry through than if you just read this and go on to something else.

You want to change your life?  Want to be free of binging forever?  Take a stand for yourself and do one thing to move you in that direction…NOW!

I look forward to reading your comments – or email me a question if there’s something I can help you with.

With love and light,



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YouTube Playlists of Inspiration & My Favorite Teachers

Learn from the mastersIf you’re like me, you hardly feel like you have enough time to read any more and if you want to learn new things it’s done by video and often in the space between the other things in your life. 

We’re all busy. 

Watching, or listening, to great personal growth videos is an excellent way I’ve found to continue to expand my consciousness and learn lots of tools and techniques to continually grow and develop who I am.

I thought I’d take a moment to share a lot of the sources I turn to as a student of lifelong learning.  I hope you’ll enjoy some of these masters and teachers as much as I do. 

“There are many lamps, but only one light.” 

Each teacher has a unique style and message that you will either resonate with or not.  Check ’em out and find one that feels good to YOU. 

The Playlist on YouTube

If you ever want to know what I’ve enjoyed and decided is worth sharing with others, you can check out and subscribe to my playlist on YouTube:

Click here to go to my playlist of favorites on YouTube

Abraham Hicks

The teacher Abraham Hicks is by far and away the teacher I’m following and listening to the most these days.  Nothing I’ve found can tune my vibration to positive feelings and improve my attitude better than listening to the teachings of Abraham.  This is the official Abraham Hicks YouTube channel I believe.  While the official channel is nice, I find there are several people who have created playlists and channels that I like a lot. Here are a few of my favorite Abraham publishers:

DewDrop157 – probably the most prolific publisher of Abe and great, updated content

Abraham Hicks Rampages – a playlist filled with Abraham rampages on lots of subjects – fun!

CommuniCana – a great source for Abe

LovingSaskaya – some of my favorite posts can be found in her lists

SatoriElohim – a loving follower of Abraham that creates excellent mixes

These playlists and channels will definitely give you a good start at Abraham Hicks materials. I listen to Abraham Hicks pretty much every day. Some days I’ll listen to 5 or 10 videos in a row.  My morning process currently includes listening to 30 minutes of Abraham videos before I get out of bed.  What a great way to start the day!

Tony Robbins

Yes, I’m happy to admit I’m a fan and follower of Tony Robbins.  I think I read my first Tony Robbins book in the 1990’s, but of course didn’t take as much action then as I could have.  We all take to material we’re ready for, eh?  If you’re ready for some authentic, genuine, power-packed material that will put the realities of who you are and what you’re doing to yourself and your life right in your face…Tony’s your guy.  While there isn’t a ton of Tony material on YouTube, he has posted some of his own stuff and if you search, you can find videos that others have posted from workshops he’s done.

Click here for the primary Tony Robbins Channel on YouTube

Robin Sharma

While I don’t watch as much Robin Sharma as I used to, he’s certainly a force to be reckoned with. Robin is a thought and business leader with a heart.  He gets that there’s more to life than work, work, work and strives and teaches balance, yet high achievement. He’s been more of a repeater of other teachers’ materials over the years, but the guy’s energy, enthusiasm and intellect are impressive.

Click here for the primary Robin Sharma Channel on YouTube

Marie Forleo

If you’ve been awake, breathing and on any social media channel lately you’ve probably seen Marie’s videos.  This girl knows how to rock social media and video. I love her spunk and spirit.  She’s not just flirty and passionate, she’s also bright and has sound advice for every day entrepreneurs.  She’s the deal…ya’ll.

Click here for the primary Marie Forleo Channel on YouTube

Brendon Bruchard

This guy gets making money online and teaching others how to spread their thought leadership.  I was really inspired when I saw Brendon rise to the top in the mid 2010s because he was so passionate, committed and focused on what he was doing.  He, too, gets how to make money online and how to spread your message. He’s here to help people find their passion, become teachers to the masses, and live a life they love.

Click here for the primary Brendon Bruchard Channel on YouTube

Inspirational/Motivational Videos

The last type of video I’ve been enjoying of late are motivational or inspirational videos that are clips from videos of athletes layered over great thought leaders speaking (like Les Brown, Jim Rohn, Tony Robbins and others).  I listen to these when I want to get pumped up and change my state to that of high energy and kick some butt!

Click here to visit a playlist of motivational videos by Ping Pong Chanel

Well, there you have it.  Some of my favorite channels on YouTube for great insights, inspiration and tools to improve your life. I hope this is valuable and if you have any valuable links to channels to share, please put add in the comments below so we can all learn of good resources.

I look forward to reading your comments – or email me a question if there’s something I can help you with.

With love and light,



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Binging Habits: How to Break the Painful Cycle

if you change nothing will changeYou already know it’s possible to break the painful cycle or habit of binging (and purging) because you’ve seen or read about people who have done it. 

So why haven’t you stopped yet?

I think about that question often when working with new recovery coaching clients.  The people who contact me are intelligent, successful, and capable of nearly anything they put their minds to. 

So what stops them? 

What keeps them from finally releasing the grip food seems to have on their lives? 

It’s something I had to come to terms with 10 years ago when I finally put a 20 year eating disorder behind me. 

Why on earth didn’t I stop before I let food consume 20 years of my life?!

What I’ve come to learn about myself and other amazing (yet everyday) people who find themselves with food issues like bulimia, binge eating disorder or even lighter versions of emotional eating is that we don’t know what’s going on and how to help ourselves

Lack of understanding. Period.

You sort of feel trapped by your thoughts and behaviors. I often felt like there was a monster out to get me each day. I would fend it off most of the day and give in when stressed after a long day and say “screw it!“. The urges were so strong I didn’t think anything would stop them. I didn’t believe I had the power to change.

That simply isn’t true.

I’d like to share with you much of what I’ve learned about breaking the vicious cycle of compulsive overeating – or most any annoying habit – for good.

Habits: We All Have Them

Our brain has an incredible ability to survive by conserving brain power.  It’s something that goes back to the days of hunters and gatherers who needed to conserve energy because food was more scarce.  This same brain is the one inside of you.  But, it hasn’t advanced much in tens of thousands of years.

The brain, as a way of conserving energy, links up patterns (or neuroassociations) when a routine is repeated a few times.  You don’t have to re-learn each morning how to tie your shoes, wash your hair or make breakfast because your brain learned how to do those things by repeating them a few times. It then stores those patterns or habits in memory for quick recall when needed.  This is how habits serve us; they make our lives easier.  Habits are a good thing.

Habits that don’t serve us and we feel powerless to change them is when we feel hopeless.

We all have habits. Helpful and not so helpful ones. I want you to remember that you created all of your habits. You created them and you can change them. 

The purpose of this is not to get you to change all of your habits; I don’t even want you to try to change all of your annoying habits at the same time. We’re here to understand the process so you can apply this to your life, as needed, to make you feel empowered and alive again.

How [Binge] Habits Form

I’ve enjoyed reading about how habits form and I hope you’ll be as fascinated with this as I was when I started studying it.  If you want an easy reading good book on habits I recommend The Power of Habit as a good place to start.  For eating disorder specific habit changing, definitely check out Kathryn Hansen’s book Brain over Binge.

From what I’ve read, there seems to be agreement about the three phases of a habit and they happen in this order:

  1. Cue or Trigger – each habit pattern has a trigger mechanism or cue that starts the next phase.  I’ll talk more about triggers in a little bit.
  2. Routine or Response – once triggered, your brain initiates a routine or act in response to the trigger.  Whatever you’ve trained it to do through repetition will automatically be recalled by the brain and the brain sends impulses to act to carry out the routine.
  3. Reward or Payoffahhh…the juice! What we get from fulfilling the routine that entices us or makes us feel good from the routine.

If you’re like me all of this reminds you of the story of Pavlov’s dogs who were trained to respond to salivated when a bell was run and they were given a treat.  After enough repetition, the dogs salivated when they heard the bell without any food visible.

When I explain to clients how to understand the seeds of where their eating disorder came from I often tell the story of why so many of us are excited when we see chocolate cake.  If you were like me, as a kid I went to enough birthday parties where they served chocolate cake.  I was in a high flying environment, having fun with friends, playing, there were lots of games and excitement for hours.  The energy was really high and each time there was chocolate cake.  I began to link up chocolate cake and being happy and having fun to the point where I think about or see a piece of chocolate cake and I get excited.  Just like Pavlov’s dog.

How the urge to binge (or whatever habit you have) came about for you is unique to you. But I bet if you really looked back on your life to when these patterns started you could probably find the triggers and the rewards. My urge to binge and purge started as a diet in high school. I thought as an athlete it was cool when I learned there were Olympic athletes who would eat whatever they wanted, purge it and be able to maintain their fitness and achieve incredible feats of success.  So, I started binging and purging without much thought to it ever turning into a 20 year addiction.

What started as a way to enjoy food became a dreadful habit that when I finally woke up and wanted to stop doing it I felt powerless to do anything to stop overeating. I had engrained the pattern for so long I was hooked. Not knowing back then it was simply a habit I had created, I thought I had an emotional disorder or I was really screwed up because I couldn’t stop when I wanted to. I even did it when I didn’t want to do it. The “eating disorder” was now in charge.

Day in and day out I would be compelled to go to the grocery store or doughnut shop. I would go home in a mask of shame to eat and vomit for hours each night.  Right after the exhaustion from vomiting wore off I would say I felt horrible and I would not do it again. 

But you already know how that turned out. 

The next day it was like my car was on auto pilot and I’d find myself in line with all this food at the checkout counter avoiding eye contact with the checker out for fear they would say something about the mountains of crap I was buying.  You know what…no one ever did. So I ask myself…

Why on earth would any seemingly normal person do that to themselves?


Now that we recognize what is going on, it’s time to look at how to break the painful cycle of compulsive overeating – or any other negative pattern. I did this with smoking before bulimia and have used it in other areas of my life, as well.  Works the same from what I can tell for anything that you’ve habituated and no longer want to do.

How To Break a Bad Habit

First, I want you to know I don’t think there are bad habits because when I coach my clients I don’t want them to feel that they ARE bad (bad habit = bad person).  They are just doing things that are or are not serving them.

If we call these bad habits I think it makes us feel like we are bad.  And I certainly don’t think anyone who smokes, or overeats or drinks more than they want to are bad people.  So, let’s call them habits that serve us or habits that don’t.  Sound good?

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been doing a lot of study specifically about changing habits. There are studies that would show that all you need to do to break a bad habit is recognize the trigger, find a replacement routine and you can have lasting change.

I believe that’s possible.

It’s also my experience that some habits are easier to replace than others and some people have an easier time shedding old patterns than other people do. I will offer you my recipe for success and know that the exact recipe that will work for you is indeed unique to you.  These are merely guideposts to help you find your path.


Without self-awareness of a non-serving habit there can be no change.  I’m going to assume you’re here because you’re already aware of the problem. I bring this to the table because when people contact me about loved ones who aren’t getting help they always wonder why and what to do.  I first ask if the person they’re trying to help has awareness of the issue – do they think they have problem? I also bring the idea of awareness to up to remind you there may be habits that aren’t serving you and you’re not readily aware of them.

Awareness also plays a part in the process later because if we aren’t aware of our triggers, routine and rewards then we can’t change the behavior. For now, just remember that awareness must be present before change can take place.

Decide & Commit

These two words play such an important role in the process of habit change that I almost want to scream them. 


Ok, there. That feels more like it.

Until you decide you are going to change…You. Will. Never. Change.

Until you commit to your decision, you will never see results. I am not sure which word of the two is more important, but without both you won’t breakthrough and  achieve the results you want.

For me, I decided after attending a workshop that I was inspired to have lasting recovery so I committed by sharing my decision to my support group and to anyone I came into contact with shortly after that decision.  That was my way of committing or putting my neck on the line. If I fell back and stated binging again I could never look those people in the eye and integrity is one of my top values in life.  I was powerfully committed.

You don’t have to commit publicly like I did, but the most important commitment is to yourself.  You have to have the “I am going to do this no matter what it takes or how long it takes” attitude.  The commitment must be stronger than the compulsion or there will be breakdowns upon breakdowns and your will is only so strong.  I encourage you to get some skin in the game.

Tell A New Story

Whenever I want to set a new goal for myself I know if I don’t have a vision or model for where I’m heading I seem to lose hope and get off track.  The same I believe holds true for changing habits. If you don’t see yourself (or have someone to model) then it’s harder for the brain to get you where you want to go. It doesn’t have something to pull it towards or a new way of behaving. The brain works well when there’s something it can focus on and reach for.

The other aspect of this and why I call it “tell a new story” is because the story we tell ourselves about life is the way our lives are.  [you might want to re-read that again]

What we dwell on is who we become - process of changeWhat I want to shine a light upon here is your belief system.  Without a belief that you can change this, you also won’t be able to change it.  You can’t go against your underlying belief system without working on that underlying belief system.

If you keep telling an old story called “I am a bulimic” or “I am fat” or “I can’t stop myself” then guess what? That is what will come about in your life. 

As soon as I decided and committed to my new habits, I started telling myself and anyone I shared my story with that I was a non-bulimic.  I can’t tell you how many times in my head I would say that.

I’m a non-bulimic.

I’m a non-bulimic.

I’m a non-bulimic.

Over and over and over and over. I repeated that. I’m a big fan of mantras and emotional affirmations; affirmations that you embody and engage with powerful emotions.  Just saying something over and over can create a belief because a belief is just a thought you keep thinking until you believe it.  Affirmations said with great energy and enthusiasm (and physical movement) can help speed up the cellular change within your body.

Telling a new story has the power to change your life. 

A lot of this has to do with the story you tell yourself…in your head.  Those random thoughts that pop into your head. That monkey mind!

You’ve got to begin to monitor and mange your thoughts because they matter.  We become what we focus on and think about all day long.  So, start to make sure you catch yourself when you’re telling your old story – be easy about it – and release that thought and retell your new mantra.  Create a mantra and post it all over your house, car, office, have a ring tone that reminds you to say it to yourself.  Whatever works.  Patterns are what we’re focused on here.

Pattern Awareness

Earlier we talked about the three phases of a habit: cue, routine and reward.  Let’s also call that a pattern or ritual.

The next element of changing your patterns is to document (yes, like write it down) what happens.  Here’s what I’d suggest writing down in a journal each time the habit shows up:

  • where you were
  • who you were with
  • what time it was
  • what you were doing just before it happened
  • what you were thinking about/focused on
  • what meaning did you give to what happened
  • how you responded (what was your routine)
  • what were you needing in that moment that was fulfilled by carrying out the routine
  • how you felt after the reward

It’s important to do this right after it happens because you’ll forget details if you try to do it say in the morning or evening.

I think one of the hardest things to define at first may be the “need”.  Many of us have trouble seeing our needs and that’s why these non-serving patterns persist.  If we knew what we really needed and could give it to ourselves we wouldn’t need these non-effective routines to try and fulfill those needs.  We’d simply give ourselves what we needed in the moment and feel good about it. 

That’s the kicker and the key to all of this work.  We get to see what we most need and can start giving it to ourselves and the negative routine can be replaced with a self-serving and enjoyable routine.

Keep in mind the goal of writing this down is NOT to work on changing the behavior.  This is data capture time.  Just write what happened and allow it to happen. I also suggest not beating yourself up for when it happens.  That won’t serve you and only adds energy to the negative feeling of dis-empowerment you already have surrounding the habit itself. You might document the pattern for several days or a few weeks.

Experiment With Change

The next phase of the process is to begin to replace elements of the routine with other activities that can give you the same result or reward (fulfill that underlying need).

I used to have a habit of leaving work and going to the grocery store and eating all the way home only to purge when I arrived.  I replaced that with going to the gym or meeting with friends after work instead for a while.  That worked in most cases, but there were other times I was triggered and I had to find other things to do to self-sooth or cope with whatever was upsetting me at the time.  Some things would work and some wouldn’t. If you want ideas for self-soothing and coping mechanisms, be sure to download my ebook where I share my best techniques on arresting the urge to binge.

The goal of this is to begin to interrupt the patterns in your brain that have linked up your cue-routine-reward pattern.  If you can break that cycle for a while, replacing it and still having a positive outcome you can replace the non-serving routine with a better one.

I once had a coaching client who at 2pm each day would go to the cafeteria in her office and overeat and then purge because she felt bad.  She began setting an alarm at work to get up from her desk, go mingle with a co-worker and then come back after 10 or 15 minutes.  She found that the 2pm hour she wasn’t really hungry.  She was a little bored and lonely after working at her desk by herself all day.  She replaced the old pattern with a new one and felt better each day.


IChange Habits - Don't Quitf you’re like me, you’re going to have stronger and weaker moments during the process.  Some days you’ll flat out give in and follow your old cue-routine-reward.  Other days you’ll win like a champ and feel like a super star.

Whatever your path looks like at the moment…re-commit to change.  Recommit to it constantly.  Whatever you need to do to keep your commitment strong is what you want to do.  Replacing habits will take some time. It took you some time to put them into place so expect it will take you some time to replace them.

I’ve found that if you have an “enough!” moment where you have a huge breakdown, maybe shed a lot of tears and really feel the impact or pain of the habit you’re often very internally motivated. That moment of motivation to get out of pain can be intense enough to carry you through to permanent habit change.  For most of us, the commitment is something we do each and every day.

You’ve got to be invested in the change and really fucking want it in order to achieve it. If you decide and don’t commit or un-commit (aka give up) you can only expect the brain to play out your old habits.  Let me say this:

They will persist.

You are the essential element in this process.  Your commitment to yourself – possibly one or other people – is what your success is destined upon.  Change is hard in the beginning, messy in the middle and beautiful at the end.  If it’s messy or hard…keep going.  Keep committing.

For me, committing looks like writing my goal down every day in my journal or day timer and reading it.  Seeing what I’m working towards – my new story – is what keeps me inspired to try again today…and tomorrow.

Encourage Your Self

Throughout this process of habit change I want you to remember to be your own best friend. If you had a friend trying to change this habit for themselves, how would you talk to them when they called…when you text them…when you emailed them..when you saw them.  Would you give them a big high five?  Would you say “that’s ok, keep trying” when they had a slip?  Would you congratulate them or pat them on the back when you saw them?  Sounds silly, but how you encourage your self will help you a lot.Changing Habits: Be Gentle With Yourself

Put down the shame stick, stop beating yourself up and get in action. 

Stay in action.

Be kind to yourself. 

Say nice things to your self. 

Do nice things along the way to yourself. 

Recognize you are a human being learning as you go. 

Be an uplifter to your self.  Cheer your self on!

An Invitation to You

If you’re still with me I believe there’s something in your life you’re really wanting to change. 

Yes, that thing that you just thought about.

That annoying habit you’re here to work on.

Are you ready to decide and commit to this process so you can forever free yourself of that nagging habit and take back your life?

Fantastic(!) if you are.  If you’d like to show that commitment to yourself, go ahead and write what you’re committing to below in the comments and we’ll celebrate you for taking the first step.

If you’re not ready yet…what’s keeping you from deciding and committing? You might look at how this habit is serving you.  It’s got a hold on you because you think you need it to meet your needs. I mean, “what would you do if you didn’t have it?

Could you function and be normal again?

Could you be happier if you didn’t do that thing you do to yourself?

Would your relationships improve – or maybe you’d finally be able to have a close relationship again?

Would you feel free?

Really free.  Free to be do or have anything you wanted?

What’s that worth to you? What are your happiness and freedom and connection with others worth to you?

If you look at this as simply a habit you can replace with something else and get the same result…why not try?

I look forward to reading your comments – or email me a question if there’s something I can help you with.

With love and light,



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Without Belief There is No Lasting Change

I’m diving deeper into the study of habits – how they’re created, what triggers them, how to change them and the like – so I was recently absorbed by the book The Power of Habits reading it from cover to cover in a few days.

The more I learn about the study of eating disorders, addictions and all things change and transformation I find new little nuggets here and there.  Since I had bulimia for 20 years and recovered 10 years ago on my own you’d think I knew precisely what steps I could prescribe to someone like you.  Well, the truth is there are a lot of factors.

I’ve written a lot about eating disorder recovery and my story in particular, but sometimes when you’re in the midst of it you don’t necessarily realize what you did and when that worked…or why it worked.

The Power of Belief

As I was reading The Power of Habit I was struck by the idea the author presented that said that people would fall back on their old habits if they didn’t believe.


Boy…that sounds so simple. But, I’ve been giving that a lot of thought over the past few days and that really, really, really is a powerful component.  Hence, why this post. [cheezy smile…wink]

I’m sure there are dozens of books out there on belief and things like faith and trusting in something higher than you.  I read the story the author had shared of a down and out football team whose new coach taught his players a series of habits to follow without thinking on the field. It’s a good story, but too much to share here.

In short, the team didn’t win the big prize for many seasons because the players would crumble under the pressure of a big game and go back to their old [losing] habits.  Habits they thought were better than their coaches, but ended up causing mistakes and failure in the end.  In one season the team came together around a tragedy which the author and coach said created an internal sense of “team” (finally) and they trusted and believed in themselves and the habits the coach had taught them.

Change Your Thoughts and You'll Change Your WorldInstead of acting upon old habits in pressure moments during a big game, they believed in themselves, what they had learned and they believed in the team.  They believed these habits could get them where they wanted to go. They believed the habits would help them win the big game.  And guess what?  They did!

The power of the habits took them so far and when they fell back on old habits they cracked and failed.  They lost.  When they believed in themselves, in their potential and the fact that they could win if they did these routines correctly…they eventually won.

Without the belief instilled in each and every player, the team broke down…the players failed themselves an the team.  They gave up on being champions and went back to non-winning routines and strategies that didn’t serve them…or the team.

How Can This Help You Create Change?

As I thought about this story at first I didn’t fully see the correlation for how I overcame bulimia after 20 years.  And then I sat there for a moment and it hit me.

When I finally created lasting recovery in my life it was because I attended a workshop in 2005 called The Landmark Forum.  A personal transformation weekend workshop I still recommend people attend for various reasons. It’s not focused on eating disorders or addictions or anything specifically. It’s just a deep dive into consciousness and awakening you from the inside out.

The powerful part for me that correlated with this team’s winning streak was the fact that as a team they created a sense of belief in one another and themselves that they could win if they stuck to their new habits, or routines, on the field.

When I looked back at what The Landmark Forum gifted me I realized it was in their promise of the workshop…what anyone who attends will gain from participating.  The line goes something like this…

Anything you want for yourself and your life is possible out of your participation in The Landmark Forum.

It took awhile for the impact of that statement to land on me.  A few hours into the workshop I was skeptical. But by the second day I had seen so many people open up their lives to what could be possible for them I gained belief for myself and my life.  I said to myself, “Man, if he can do that because of being here…I can do whatever I set my mind to!

I had gained belief in myself. I had gained a new belief in what was possible.  I believed I was capable of whatever I set about to be, do or have.I am stronger than this challenge.  Power of Chaning Habits

After the workshop concluded I was allowed to join a group that met once a week for 10 weeks.  During our first session I wrote down a handful of things I wanted to have in my life…being a non-bulimic was on the list, but seemed like a big stretch.

I mean, how would that be possible when I was on my own? No therapist. No recovery support groups. No internet chat rooms. No idea how I’d do that when any and every attempt I’d made to put my foot down had failed miserably…year after year after year.

Well, I’m still uncovering the secret to my success with recovery and the more I learn the more I share with my coaching clients to help them, too.  But I can tell you after the Forum I put it out there and just started believing and acting as if it were true. I even told people I would never in a million years have told about my disorder that I was recovered.  They had no idea I was even suffering with bulimia, so they were thrilled for me. I was scared to death to let them down or have the shame of relapsing so I think that also motivated me to stay the course.

Inside I was scared as shit because I’d fallen back on my commitment to never binge or purge again so many times it was a personal inside joke to even try.

I tell you all this because I’m 10 years from that point in my life now.  I’ve never binged or purged since I walked out of that workshop.

Somehow I walked out with enough belief in myself and their promise that anything was possible that I started acting upon that new belief until I mastered it.

I want to confess one thing…I have once in a blue moon sat there and thought about binging and purging, but I never acted on it.  Not once.

This is something I learned in the book, too.  Habits are like a web of links in our brain and I had wired my brain for binging and purging for many years.  It was very hard-wired.

As I began to react to the anxieties, triggers and stresses of my life in new ways, I began to replace that wiring in my brain with new connections. I trained my brain to recall healthy alternatives to responding when things got heated.

I no longer needed to turn to food to soothe me and calm me down. I will also admit I do still enjoy a piece of chocolate or a sweet when get a little stressed or anxious. I want you to know that so you don’t think I’m some perfect person over here. Ha!

I’m not perfect.

I’m just not someone who binges. That’s all.

I eat what feels good and I move on. I am committed to being a non-bulimic and believe in my ability to say “no” to overeating when stress happens.

Thankful for Change

I want to say a word of thanks to my friend Tami @ – a talent career advisor and coach – for introducing me to The Power of Habit.  I’ve learned yet another piece of the puzzle that helped me create lasting change in my life.

There is so much to be thankful for today that I was to also say thank you to you for being here.  Thank you for reading this.  For listening.  For being open and interested in creating changes in your own life that you took the time to learn something new.

Now that you know this…what can you do differently in your life? How can you increase your belief in your vision, your new life, the change you want to create so that you break past those old habits and patterns and really step up to lasting change?

I have a couple of ideas around creating a strong belief without attending a workshop like The Landmark Forum. I’ll be rolling those ideas around and will share them when they’re formulated.

I look forward to reading your comments – or email me a question if there’s something I can help you with.

With love and light,



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