Day 40--Make a Rule As a Last Resort

Welcome to Day 40!




Make a Rule as a Last Resort


One of the most important, but overlooked, aspects of long term health and weight loss success is your environment. It can make success easy or hard. People who win at health and weight loss “stack the deck” by hacking their environments first--so that the healthy choice is the lazy choice.

3 Steps to Change Your Environment

Once you’ve discovered those bad behavior triggers by taking pictures there’s a three step process to change your environment:

  1. Change what you can change

  2. Avoid what you can avoid.

  3. Make a rule for what you can’t avoid.

Make a Rule for What You Can’t Avoid

If you can clean up your environment, then you may never need a rule or have to use willpower.  It makes things so much easier!  

But, not all environmental cues are within your power.

So, yesterday we talked about how to avoid the cues that we can’t change. 

Now we’re going to talk about how to neutralize the environmental cues that we can’t change or avoid. And we do that by making a rule.  

Remember in the past lessons where we talked about making rules--both bright line rules and jump through hoops rules.

Making a rule for what you can’t avoid is the solution when you don’t have control of the cue and you can’t avoid the cue. A rule shuts down the Assistant’s excuses for giving into temptation so that unavoidable cues no longer affect you. 

Example Rules

For instance, If you can’t avoid the work vending machine, you can make a rule to never buy food out of a vending machine.

If you can’t avoid the single serving cake stacked up next to the supermarket checkout lines, you can make a rule to only buy foods off of your shopping list.

If you don’t want to get rid of all social media apps, you can make a rule that “I only check my social media for fifteen minutes after I do my workout.”

If you can’t take another route home from work so you don’t see fast food restaurants, you can make a rule to always have an emergency frozen meal in your freezer. (Or, you don’t buy fast food). 

If you can’t get your coworkers to stop bringing treats to work, you can make a rule to eat only foods you bring to work, not your co-workers unwanted treats.

If you can’t get your husband or kids to get onboard with no chips in the house, then make a rule that Snacks go to the back of the cupboard.

If you can’t get yourself to stop eating those chips, make a rule that you only buy snacks for the kids that you’re comfortable eating (or ones that you hate). 

The Assignment

1. Look back at your photos from the other day—the ones that helped you to see your environmental cues.  

For cues that you can’t avoid, how can you make a rule to neutralize their powers?  

What rules can you think of to shut down temptations for cue you can’t avoid or change?

2.Pick one or two options (that you came up with or use some of mine) and make a rule around them.

Be sure to let me know what your plan is and I’lll help you get started.

Mission Freedom!

Download the EC Make a Rule Guide:


Want More?

If you’re interested in more information on this topic, you can check out the books that I mentioned in lesson 36.

Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think

Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life

How We Eat with our Eyes and Think with our Stomach: The Hidden Influences that Shape your Eating Habits

Also, I came across an amazing review article on how the (Assistant) subconscious is affected by the environment when it comes to eating.  You can check out the abstract and click on the link if you want to know more. 

Obesity and the built environment: changes in environmental cues cause energy imbalances

International Journal of Obesity volume32, pagesS137–S142 (2008) | Download Citation


The past 30 years have seen dramatic changes in the food and physical activity environments, both of which contribute to the changes in human behavior that could explain obesity. This paper reviews documented changes in the food environment, changes in the physical activity environment and the mechanisms through which people respond to these environments, often without conscious awareness or control. The most important environmental changes have been increases in food accessibility, food salience and decreases in the cost of food. The increases in food marketing and advertising create food cues that artificially stimulate people to feel hungry. The existence of a metabolic pathway that allows excess energy to be stored as fat suggests that people were designed to overeat. Many internal mechanisms favor neurophysiologic responses to food cues that result in overconsumption. External cues, such as food abundance, food variety and food novelty, cause people to override internal signals of satiety. Other factors, such as conditioning and priming, tie food to other desirable outcomes, and thus increase the frequency that hunger is stimulated by environmental cues. People's natural response to the environmental cues are colored by framing, and judgments are flawed and biased depending on how information is presented. People lack insight into how the food environment affects them, and subsequently are unable to change the factors that are responsible for excessive energy consumption. Understanding the causal pathway for overconsumption will be necessary to interrupt the mechanisms that lead to obesity.

Day 39--Avoid What You Can Avoid

Welcome to Day 39!




avoid what you can avoid


One of the most important, but overlooked, aspects of long term health and weight loss success is your environment. It can make success easy or hard. People who win at health and weight loss “stack the deck” by hacking their environments first--so that the healthy choice is the lazy choice.

3 Steps to Change Your Environment

Once you’ve discovered those bad behavior triggers by taking pictures there’s a three step process to change your environment:

  1. Change what you can change

  2. Avoid what you can avoid.

  3. Make a rule for what you can’t avoid.

Avoid What You Can Avoid

If you can clean up your environment, then you may never need a rule or have to use willpower.  It makes things so much easier!  

But, sometimes you don’t have control of your environment, so  you’ll want to avoid what you can avoid. 

Willpower and the Environment

Think about grabbing some M&Ms out of the candy jar on your co-workers desk.  

Were you thinking, I need some M&Ms. If you did, would you go to the store and buy some?  

Chances are you didn’t even think about it at all. Your Assistant was walking by the candy jar. She grabbed a handful of candy and you ate them before you were even consciously aware of what happened. If it’s not a conscious decision, you can’t use willpower because willpower is the Boss’ job (the conscious part of your brain).

And, that’s why it’s important not to rely on willpower all the time. 

Willpower is the domain of the Boss. But if your environment is set up for you to easily overeat , then you may eat, and never even access willpower because the Boss wasn’t involved in the situation.  

When You Don’t Have Control

Yesterday, we worked on changing your environment so the good choices are easy and the bad choices are hard. But, sometimes you don’t have control of your environment.  

You don’t have control of whether your coworker puts candy on her desk.

You don’t have control of all the junk food that the supermarket stocks.

You don’t have control of city planning and where all the fast food restaurants are.

You don’t have control of Facebook’s algorithms that make social media addicting. 

But, that doesn’t mean you’re powerless.

Avoid the Cues

With a little thought you can avoid some of the cues that get you to eat unhealthy and stay on the couch.  

My favorites strategies of Avoiding what you can avoid include:

  • Avoid walking by the M&M dish at work. 

  • Shop only the perimeter of the grocery store where the perishable, healthy foods are.

  • Take an alternative route home from work that keeps you from going by tempting fast food restaurants.

  • Ask co-workers to keep treats in the work fridge instead of on the counter in the break room. 

  • Take a route to the office bathroom that doesn’t take you by the vending machines.

  • Uninstall social media apps and Netflix off your phone, so you’d have to use your desktop instead.

The Assignment

1. Look back at your photos from the other day—the ones that helped you to see your environmental cues.  

For cues that you don’t have control over, how can you avoid them instead?  

What options can you think of to avoid what you can’t change?

2.Pick one or two options (that you came up with or use some of mine) and start doing them.

Be sure to let Treva know what your plan is for assistance getting started and some accountability.

Tomorrow we’ll be talking about the third step to a winning environment--Make a Rule for What You Can’t Avoid.

Mission Freedom!

Download the Avoid Guide:


Day 38--Change What you can change

Welcome to Day 38!




Change What You can change


One of the most important, but overlooked, aspects of long term health and weight loss success is your environment. It can make success easy or hard. People who win at health and weight loss “stack the deck” by hacking their environments first--so that the healthy choice is the lazy choice.

3 Steps to Change Your Environment

Once you’ve discovered those bad behavior triggers by taking pictures there’s a three step process to change your environment:

  1. Change what you can change

  2. Avoid what you can avoid.

  3. Make a rule for what you can’t avoid.

1.Change What You can Change

This is all about putting good choices in your environment and getting rid of bad choices.

We’ll talk about this more later in the lesson, but some of my favorites include:

  • Moving tempting snack foods to the back of cupboards.

  • Have a fruit bowl on the counter

  • Making a vegetable tray and put it in the front of the fridge

  • Make a large salad to last most of the week

  • Having a few back-up emergency meals in the freezer (to avoid fast food)

2. Avoid what you can avoid

This is all about making all the bad choices invisible. 

My favorites include:

  • Shop the perimeter of the grocery store where the perishable, healthy foods are

  • Take an alternative route to work that keeps you from going by tempting fast food restaurants

  • Ask co-workers to keep treats in the work fridge instead of on the counter

  • Take a route to the bathroom that doesn’t take you by vending machines

  • Uninstall social media apps and netflix off your phone so you’d have to use your desktop instead

3. Make a rule for what you can’t avoid

This is all about shutting down the Assistant’s excuses. Even if you can’t take these cues out of your environment, they’ve been neutralized with a rule.

Here are some rules that you could make:

  • I never buy food out of a vending machine.

  • I only buy foods off of my shopping list.

  • I only check my social media for fifteen minutes after I do my workout.

  • I always have an emergency frozen meal in my freezer (I don’t buy fast food). 

  • I eat only foods I bring to work, not food my co-workers leave out for others.

  • Snacks for my kids go to the back of the cupboard.

  • I only buy snacks for my kids that I hate. 

I only buy snacks for my kids that I’m comfortable eating. 

Change What You Can Change

Let’s start with “change what you can change” step. 

Remember that in sports, playing a good defense will only keep you from losing, not winning.  To win, you need a good offense as well.

You need to change your environment, so the healthy choice is the lazy choice and the unhealthy choice is hard.

The Magic Vegetable Tray

For instance, one of my clients (let’s call her April) told me, "Making a weekly vegetable tray has changed my life." That's a strong statement for just a plate of vegetables. But, sometimes it's the smallest habits that can make all the difference in your willpower and weight loss. 

When April began prepping a large vegetable tray each weekend, this one habit started a chain reaction of goodness. The veggie tray allowed her to add vegetables quickly to her brown bag lunches. And, she was able to quickly throw together salads at dinner with already prepped vegetables.  

With vegetables always available, April was able to use the RHH meal template, fill half her plate with veggies, eat the veggies first, feel more satisfied, eat less carbs, eat more fiber, and lose weight. Her energy increased, her health improved, and she felt better than she had in years--all from making a vegetable tray! 

I know it sounds dramatic, but remember, April is the one who said the vegetable tray changed her life. This small hack (a great offense) started a chain reaction of foundational healthy habits for her. 

Lazy is Your Friend

The key to successful long term health and weight loss is using the least amount of willpower possible. Scott Adams (the creator of the Dilbert cartoon) agrees, "The trick to eating right is to keep willpower out of the equation for your diet.  Laziness can make you choose healthy foods if you are clever enough to make those foods the most convenient in your house."

So let's be clever like Adams and make the healthy choice the lazy choice.  

The Assignment

Look back at your photos from yesterday. 

For cues that you can change, how can you change them so the healthy choice is the lazy choice, and the unhealthy choice is just hard to do?


Now, brainstorm some ideas.

Here are some of my favorites.

The three simplest healthy eating cues that encourage eating right

  • Make a vegetable tray every weekend.

  • Keep a fruit bowl on your kitchen counter.

  • Make a large green salad to last several days .

Other healthy, but lazy choices that my clients have made include:


For breakfast--have these options made or easily accessible 

Greek yogurt, yogurt parfaits, protein shakes, low sugar steel-cut oatmeal cups, frozen egg frittatas, bags with frozen smoothie add-ins, and hard-boiled eggs 


For lunch--have these options made or easily accessible 

Dinner leftovers, salads, or boxed soup ready to eat. Bring lunch with you to work, have a veggie tray to grab from, pre-prep salads in mason jars, add roasted veggies and cooked chicken to salads, use tuna pouches, salmon cans, or sardines for quick protein options. 


For lazy snack options, have nuts, protein shakes, protein bars, a vegetable tray, cheese sticks, and hard-boiled eggs on hand.  Place  a fruit bowl on the counter.


For dinner, start a crockpot before you leave for work, use a meal planning service like E-meals, or prep large amounts of protein and vegetables on the weekend to make fast, throw together meals. Make sure to always have a back-up emergency meal or two in the freezer. 

Pick one or two of these options and start doing them. 

Be sure to let Treva know what your plan is for assistance getting started or some accountability.

Tomorrow we’ll be talking about the second step to a winning environment--Avoid What You Can Avoid.

Mission Freedom!

Download the Change Guide:


Day 37--Hack Your Environment and Be a Sleuth

Welcome to Day 37!



Part 1— Hack Your Environment


Part 2— Be a Sleuth


Part 1—Hack Your Environment


One of the most important, but overlooked, aspects of long term health and weight loss success is your environment. It can make success easy or hard. People who win at health and weight loss “stack the deck” by hacking their environments first--so that the healthy choice is the lazy choice.

The Easy Choice is Usually Unhealthy

With fast food restaurants on almost every corner, it seems like the unhealthy choice is always the easiest.  Unhealthy snack foods don't go bad and they last forever in the cupboard. In fact, a teacher at George Stevens University took a twinkie out of its wrapper, 40 years ago, and it's still on his shelf.  It's easy to keep these never-go-bad options around.

But, the easy choice doesn't have to be the unhealthy choice. With a little planning, your fridge, freezer, cupboards, and office can help you make the best choice for your weight and health.

The Assistant Brain is Lazy

Your Assistant is kind of like a teenager.

My teenagers have lots of energy if they're motivated--like a friend calls them and says let's go out. But, if I ask them to do the dishes, they're sooo tired.

The subconscious part of the brain, the Assistant, is the same way. She has lots of energy to get stuff done if she wants to, but she's basically lazy. She'd rather lay on the couch.

This is important to remember when it comes to getting healthy and losing weight. You can trick the Assistant to make the healthy choice by using her laziness against her. Make eating healthy the easiest, most convenient choice. 

Use that Laziness to Your Advantage

Scott Adams, the creator of the comic strip Dilbert, talks about this concept in his book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. 

"I've learned to use my own laziness in a positive way. I'll always eat what is most convenient during the day, and if the only easy options are healthy, laziness takes me in the best direction. Laziness can be a powerful tool."

If you have prepped healthy food ready to eat, and you have to make a special trip to the store for junky foods, healthy will usually win. No willpower required. You’ll take advantage of your basic laziness.  


When I go away on vacation, I always leave my house really clean.  


Because I see my house with fresh eyes when I’ve been away for a week or two. I notice how lovely it really is. I enjoy that fresh perspective.  Day-to-day I just stop noticing it.  

I get fixated on how I need to replace my barstools, or how the baseboards are getting dirty, or how the carpet needs to be cleaned. But, fresh eyes helps me to see what I’ve been blind to.  

The same thing happens with all the temptations in your environment.  You just don’t notice them anymore (well the Assistant part of your brain does, but not the Boss).

Jim Was blind

For example, I had a client --let’s call him Jim. When I asked Jim what he wanted to work on in our coaching session, he said, “Treva, help me. I’m doing well except for one thing--I can’t stop eating Little Debbie’s snack cakes.”

“Ok, let’s talk about this. Where are the Little Debbie’s snack cakes?” I asked.

“Um, on my kitchen counter,”  he sheepishly admitted.

Once Jim said it out loud, he felt a little ridiculous. It was obvious to him then.

Blind—Like the Rest of Us

To you and I it seems so basic, but he’d become blind to the fact that he walked by those snacks hundreds of times a day.  And, every time he did, his Assistant took note.

Jim and I talked about moving his children’s snacks to the back of an out-of-the-way cupboard or not buying them at all. He decided he was going to move them to an out-of-the-way cabinet. 

A couple of weeks later, Jim reported that this simple move had fixed the problem.

Jim was trying to resist those Little Debbie’s cakes every time he walked through the kitchen--basically using up all his precious stores of willpower on those treats. But, there was a much simpler and less “costly” solution—just hiding the box.

The Problem with Food and Willpower

The problem with food is you don’t just use willpower once and then you’re done.  

When you walk by a box of Little Debbie’s 5, 10, 20, 50 times a day, you keep using willpower every time you walk by--not to eat it. And if you resist it 49 times, but give in once, well, the caloric damage has been done.  

And research shows that the more times you have resisted it, the more you will eat when you finally break down. 

Assistant Notices Everything

And just because you aren’t consciously thinking about those little Debbie Treats, doesn’t mean that your Assistant isn’t. 

She’s always scanning the environment to keep you safe and alive.  And high calorie treats grab her attention. High calorie foods keep you from starving to death, so she takes note when she sees them on the kitchen counter. 

Most of us are like Jim. We don’t “see” that the temptation in front of us could easily be neutralized. 

To gain back the upper hand, we need to make unhealthy choices invisible and inaccessible and the healthy choices super-convenient, attractive, eye-catching, and accessible. 

In other words, the more you think of something and see it, the more you’ll eat. 

And, he more hassle it is to eat, the less you’ll eat. 

What About Rules?

Did Jim need a rule to stop eating Little Debbie’s?  Maybe, but he was able to stop eating them without a rule. 

Just by moving them (or even better if he’d stop buying them for his kids), the treats became a non-issue. 

You don’t have to make a rule if you don’t really need one.  

But, in order to change the cues from negative to positive, we’ll have to start noticing those invisible cues again.  The Boss needs to see them so she can change them.

Stay tuned for the next section when I teach you to see the “invisible” again.

Part 2—Be a Sleuth


How do you start noticing again all those environmental cues that have become invisible? 

The Boss and Cues

To turn the Boss’ attention to the cues that are influencing the Assistant you’ll need to start being more conscious of those cues. 

Become Aware of Cues

The first step is to be aware of what the most common cues are that tempt you to overeat and be lazy.

Cues to eat

  • Donuts in the office breakroom

  • Cereal or other foods on the kitchen counter

  • Fast food restaurants

  • Baking shows

  • Candy in the gas station

  • Food ads on the gas pumps

  • Supermarket flyers

  • Billboards

  • Magazine ads

  • TV commercials

  • Youtube ads

  • Vending machines

Cues to be lazy

  • Smart phone

  • Internet

  • Netflix

  • Social Media

Now how does the Boss start noticing those cues again?

Take Pictures

To notice those cues again, you’ll need to turn what’s become invisible, visible again. 

An easy way to do that is to start taking pictures of your surroundings. Photos gives new perspective.  

All of us have heard of people who decided to get healthy and lose weight after seeing themselves in a photo. They may have looked in the mirror several times a day, but they hadn’t noticed their weight gain--until they saw a snapshot. 

A photo allows you to gain a third person perspective and start noticing your surroundings once again. 

So, be a sleuth for the day.

The Assignment

Stop to take pictures of the environments that you’re in today, so you can see the cues again.

Then, in the following days we’ll talk about how to change what you found.

Key environments to focus on when you take pictures:

In the Kitchen

  • Your fridge 

  • Your freezer

  • Your cupboards

  • Your counters

Your office

  • Your cubicle/ or office

  • The break room

  • Where you eat lunch

Your commute

  • How many billboards with unhealthy food are there?

  • How many fast food places do you see?

The grocery store

  • Notice the foods at the checkout

  • Samplers

  • Foods on specialRestaurants you frequent

  • Pictures in the menu

  • Placement of items in the menu

  • Pictures of food around the restaurant

Your Media

  • Ads on your phone

  • Ads on your computer

  • Ads in print like magazines, flyers, and newspapers

  • Ads on websites

  • Ads in email

SNAG Points

Pay close attention to the places that you are having to use willpower for or where you keep hitting snags.

Like if you keep getting fast food on the way home from work or eating chips when watching TV.  Were you cued by all the fast food places on your route?  

Were you cued for chips by food ads on TV?

Review the Pics

Now go back and look at the pictures and play a game of I spy.  

Do you see triggers that could cause you to eat unhealthy?  

Or to not exercise?  

Tomorrow we’ll talk about the three steps to setting up your environment for the win!

Mission Freedom!

Download the Be a Sleuth Guide:


Day 36--Why Your Environmental Cues Matter So Much: An Overview

Welcome to Day 36!






One of the most important, but overlooked, aspects of long term health and weight loss success is your environment. It can make success easy or hard. People who win at health and weight loss “stack the deck” by hacking their environments first--so that the healthy choice is the lazy choice.

Unfortunately, people underestimate their environment’s importance because it’s hard to see its role. It’s mostly in the Assistant’s subconscious realm. 

Cues Matter

But, Marketers sure know the importance of advertising and subconscious cues. It’s why there are small ads all over blogs or websites. You don’t even have to look at the ads directly for your Assistant to be influenced by them. 

It’s why there’s an uproar about advertising on children’s TV programming. One study found that elementary-school-aged children that watched a cartoon show that had food commercials ate 45% more snacks than kids who watched a cartoon without food advertising--irregardless of how hungry the kids were before the show.

Another study showed the same result in adults who watched TV with food commercials vs. TV with non-food commercials.  The adults who saw the food commercials ate more food--healthy and unhealthy--than did adults who watched TV without food ads. 

Research About Cues

Scientists have been setting up  fascinating research to explore how people are affected by their Assistant’s reactions to cues.

One experiment flashed images of people smiling or frowning in front of people. It was so fast that the Boss part of their brain didn’t register these images. 

Then people were asked to taste an energy drink and rate it. 

 The people who were exposed to the frowny face drank less and rated the drink lower. The people who “saw” the smiling person rated the energy drink tastier and drank more. These people had no idea that the millisecond exposure to a frowning or smiling face had affected their choice. (subliminal visual cue)

One study showed that people order more food at restaurants when their waitstaff is overweight. (normalcy cue)

Another showed that when administrative assistants were given chocolate kisses as an appreciation gift, they ate 71% more if the dish was clear versus opaque.  Over a year, that could have added up to an additional 5 pounds of weight gain. (Visual cue)

Another study showed that if the ice cream freezer lid was open in a cafeteria, 30% people bought an ice cream. If it was closed, only 14% bought an ice cream.  (convenience matters)

Research shows that you can be influenced to eat by the tempo of the background music, by the smell in the air, by the color of wall paint, by the wording on a menu, what others around you order, the appearance of the waitstaff, how close you are to treats, distractions, information overload, stress etc. 

Cues Play a Bigger Role than Rational Choice

Now here’s the scary part. More often than not, all those factors play a more important role in your decision making than rational choice.

Your Assistant is fast. She can make evaluations, judgments, and decisions instantaneously. But, your Boss isn’t aware that the Assistant had any part in those decisions.

Boss Makes up Explanations

When your Assistant makes you do something, your Boss will come up with a rational explanation for it--even though it isn’t true. So, the Boss part of your brain pretends that she, the Boss, made those decisions on purpose.  

If you asked people if they bought the ice cream because the freezer door was open, 100% of them would say no. They were just “hungry for ice cream.”  

You would never say you bought more food because your waiter was overweight. But, the Assistant saw that cue and oriented you toward eating more unhealthy food. 

Why Do Cues Make You Eat More?

So why do environmental cues make you hungry and eat more? 

It turns out that just thinking of food makes you hungry. You actually salivate when you hear, see, or smell something related to food. 

Even though you haven’t eaten anything, your pancreas releases insulin, which in turn drops your blood sugar. Making you hungry. 

Also, those same food related cues cause dopamine to be released in your brain. Dopamine causes cravings and then motivates you to do something about it. And, all of this is in the Assistant’s subconscious realm. 

So, images and reminders of food in your environment cause a desire to eat as well as physical feelings of hunger (low blood sugar). 

Because food is available everywhere, and food advertising is everywhere nowadays, people are feeling artificially hungrier and overeating more. Making it harder for people to keep the pounds off. 

But, don’t despair. Once the Assistant is stimulated to want food, you can still stop her from eating. And it turns out that if you’re aware that the reminder to eat is artificial, it’s easier to stop. 

Get Better With Practice

As you work on your Assistant’s retraining program, you’ll get better and better at seeing how your environment affects your subconscious.  You may even catch your Assistant falling prey to your environmental cues.  


For instance, the other day I was making dinner. It had been about six hours between meals, so I was really hungry. 

All of a sudden, I had an urge to go get a handful of cashews out of the cupboard. I was chopping some vegetables, went and put the veggies on the stove, and came back to my cutting board. And, then I caught the Assistant red-handed.  

On the counter next to the cutting board was a flyer from my local grocery store for the latest weekly deals. In the corner there was a picture of cashews.  It was a very subtle thing.  

But, the Assistant who is scanning the neighborhood is always on the lookout, and she sees stuff that the Boss doesn’t. And, she influences the Boss to do stuff without her even knowing it.  

If I hadn’t caught her red-handed, I may have gotten a handful of nuts and not even have thought twice about it.  In the whole scheme of things, a handful of nuts isn’t going to make or break the scale-- and overall nuts are a healthy choice. 

But, the thing was, it wasn’t a choice. The Boss part of my brain wasn’t deciding, “I’m hungry. I should have a snack. Cashews in the cupboard would be good.”  

No, this was a fleeting idea on the edge of my consciousness that I almost acted on without any conscious thought.  Happening once or twice it’s not a big thing, but several times a day, every day that’s our health ruined and and an extra 20 pounds. 

It was fascinating (and a bit scary) to catch my Assistant trying to get me to eat because of a small graphic in a supermarket flyer that I wasn’t even looking at. 

Hack the Environment to Control Your Assistant

Fortunately, you don’t have to be aware of all your cues at all times to be master over them. You can use simple hacks to help change your environment and influence your eating for good. 

There are whole books are written on how your subconscious is influenced to eat and hacks to out smart the Assistant.  Brian Wansink has two books that I strongly recommend--Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think And Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life.  I also love How We Eat with our Eyes and Think with our Stomach: The Hidden Influences that Shape your Eating Habits by Melanie Muhl and Diana Von Kopp.

The idea of these books are that we will eat mindlessly (aka the Assistant) whether we want to or not. That’s because the Assistant is going to be influenced by a ton of things in your environment.  Like the name of a food, how expensive it is, how much you are served, how heavy the plate is, what color the plate is, what the first person in your group orders, and how big the serving spoons are, etc.  

For a cheatsheet of dozens of hacks that you can use, check out the download at the end of the post.

Play Offense and Defense

Your first line of defense and offense to getting healthy and losing weight should be cleaning up your environment, so that your Assistant is less likely to hear the siren song of tempting foods. 

The way to have a good defense is to get rid of all the things that will trip you up--clean out the cupboards, take another route home away from fast food, only buy foods on your shopping list, skip TV commercials with your DVR, etc.

But then you’ll also want to have a great offense--make the good choices easier (or make the healthy choice the lazy choice) like having a vegetable tray in the fridge, a fruit bowl on the counter, or emergency back up meals in the freezer. 

The best you can hope for in a Basketball game that’s all defense is a tie 0-0. But, put some good offense in there, as well as defense, and you’re going to win every time. Same in the battle for health and weight management.

So tomorrow, we’re going to talk about How to Change the Environment, so that you make more good choices and less bad ones.

Mission Freedom!

Download the Cheatsheet Here:


Day 33--Your Owner's Manual

Welcome to Day 33!




Your Owner’s Manual

All along this program we have been figuring out what works for you—what works with your body, your life, your preferences.

That is important information. In fact, it's essential.

If you don't figure that out, then you're not going to be successful in the long term when it comes to getting healthy, losing weight, and keeping it off.

Need Reminders

Unfortunately, sometimes we forget the lessons that we've learned.

So, I've created a place for you to start capturing that information.

That Assistant of yours, if you don't remind her what's important, she’s going to forget (or “forget” on purpose because remember she likes pleasure, she wants avoid pain, and she wants to be lazy.)

We need to keep things in front of her to remind her—those things that you’ve been formulating the last several weeks when we've talked about rules and strategies.

Your Owner’s Manual

And, so I've created a place for you to capture that. This is appropriately called your Owner's Manual.

Because we're all different, we're all going to have different ways that we keep ourselves on track. You're going to be able to capture that here in your owners manual.

Your Personal Meal Plan

There's going to be a place for you to put your meals. Like what kind of healthy plates you have—those plate ratios that work for you. So there will be breakfast, lunch, dinner.

Your Rules

There's going to be places for you to put specific rules that you've developed. Those rules may be “I only eat at meal times or snacks (so you don’t have BLTs in between. So, you'll be able to list your rules.

Your Strategies

There will also be a place for your specific strategies. So, you can write down the strategies that pretty much everyone has like weekend strategies, holiday strategies, and vacation strategies, there will be a place for you to capture that.

Then, you’ll also have your own specific ones that are just for you. Such as a strategy for when you travel for work. Or, maybe you have a strategy when your husband's out of town. Maybe you have a strategy that's just specific for soccer season. Whatever it is, you're going to have a place to capture that so you don't have to relearn the same lessons over and over again.

Learn the Lessons from the Past

Remember, I've told you that bad days give you good data.

Well, let's stop relearning those same lessons over and over again. And learn them for good the first time. We’ll come up with strategies and then remember what those strategies are.

For instance, it probably took me three or four thanksgivings to finally realize, “Hey, I should make a half the recipe of Pumpkin cheesecake.” That way I won’t continue eating leftover pumpkin cheesecake (a radioactive food of mine) for days and days and gain 3-4 pounds just from Pumpkin cheesecake.

So, now I have smaller springform pans. I make smaller cheesecakes.

Unfortunately, I had to learn that lesson over and over again. Because Thanksgiving comes just once a year, I’d forget and then gain several pounds each year (and then have to take them off again).

But, now you’ll have a place to capture that important info.

So you're going to learn a lesson once, then you’ll capture it in your owner's manual. This will help stop you from having to re-learn those lessons over and over again.

Fill it Out Over Time

Below you'll find your Owner's Manual.

This isn't something that you have to fill out all at once. In fact, you won't be able to fill it all out at once. It will take some time.

And the next few weeks I'm going to talk about the roadmap or what I call the Star Map to Mission Freedom—how you can finally be free when it comes to your health, weight, and habits. And, there's a roadmap there.

The owner's manual will help you as you go along that Star Map to capture that information. So you have a dedicated place to learn from it.

The Assignment

Print off the pages or fill out the PDF on your computer.

Start working on what you already know.

Then as time goes on, fill in new things that you figure out.

Over time, you'll fill in all of the pieces.

Let me know if you need any help.

I'm so excited about this owners manual for you. It's going to help you make progress. like you won't believe.

Mission Freedom!

Click to Download or Edit Here:


Day 32--Making a Big Holiday Strategy

Welcome to Day 32!

Happy Halloween, Happy Thanksgiving, and Merry Christmas! The holidays just don’t seem the same without all your favorite treats. Your used to indulging every time you turn around. How can you still enjoy the holidays?

Well, it turns out that Cook serves one special treat on each holiday, and it was enough. Umh, that was surprising.


Holiday Strategy

To avoid gaining weight at the holidays, you need to craft a holiday strategy. This personalized holiday strategy needs to take into account your life, your traditions, your preferences, and your body. 

Some holidays may be pretty easy to navigate--such as Memorial Day, but Thanksgiving and Christmas may present special weight challenges.

No matter what country you live in or what holidays you celebrate, the tips below can help you be strategic about your BIG Holiday indulgences.

Major Weight Gain

There are three things that cause the majority of weight gain around the Holidays--treats people give you, parties, and treats that are only available/ you make at this time of year.

We need to plan ahead and come up with a strategy for each.

Treats People Give You

It seems like every night someone is ringing the doorbell to drop off another plate of cookies or a tray of fudge. The Assistant loves all the treats people bring because she can easily play the guilt card. She pleads with you, "Your neighbor made these sugar cookies just for you (and 50 of her closest friends and acquaintances)!" And you usually give in.

It's a lot easier to throw away extra dessert that you yourself made (still not easy, but easier). But, throw away free food that someone else made for you? It just feels wrong.

So what can you do about it?

You worked hard to take off the pounds, and you don't won't to gain weight because of guilt associated with unsolicited treats.

There are two strategies that work well. The first is pre-emptive. Tell your friends/ neighbors that you are excited to get their Christmas cards, but could they help your healthy habits by just bringing a card not treats. This can be said in person or even on a Facebook post. Also, if you bring something by to neighbors first that isn't treat related, you can tell your neighbors/ friends that you're just wanting cards not treats this year.

Not everyone will get the message, so what to do about the rebel treat bringers?

Put their treats on ice for a later party or indulgence. Putting the treats in the freezer turns down cravings and the immediate urge to eat the treats.

At my house, we freeze all the Christmas cookies/ candy and bring them out to share with friends at our Annual Gingerbread House Making Party.

Another idea is to save them for Christmas Day. But odds are, time and freezing turns down their appeal and the guilt involved with them.


How many holiday parties will you be going to this year?

If it was just one party, you probably wouldn't have to worry. But with multiple parties per week, you definitely need a strategy.

My favorite strategy for parties is based on the strategy of becoming a food snob. Cultivating a liking for high-quality foods.  You don't want eat foods that "are beneath you." Bring out your inner food critic.

First, If it's a potluck, always bring your own food that you would love to eat, but work with your weight loss goals. Don’t leave the majority of your dinner up to other people.

Then, once you're at the party, examine the buffet table. Walk up and down it critiquing the food before you load up your plate.

Rate each food on a scale from 1-10. Fill up only one plate of food with foods that rate a 9 or above. Bring your own foods that you consider a 9 or 10 just in case.

You'll be surprised when you rate foods how most of them don't make your "high standards."

Special Holiday Treats

Your Assistant part of your brain is an economist. If there is something that is only available for a limited time only, then it becomes more valuable and more desirable.

She is going to pull out all the stops trying to talk the Boss into eating them. She'll say stuff like, "What if you miss your chance to eat these truffles?" Or she'll say, "This is a special part of Christmas each year. You don't want to ruin your kids' Christmas by not making these cookies."

She knows what to say to talk the Boss into limited-time only Christmas treats. This would be fine if there was only one "special" food. But, she thinks every treat at Christmas time is special.

Again, we need to bring out our inner food snobs. Ask yourself if it's worth it first. "What is good enough and worth the indulgence (and possible weight gain)?" Then, decide if it is worth it, when will you indulge in it.

The Assistant would love it if you indulged every time you pass Cadbury mini eggs in the supermarket, convenience store, or gas station (my personal favorite). But, let's be strategic about it and indulge on purpose.

Make those special treats something to savor either at a party, Dessert Day, or on the big day itself.

Then, if you're cravings start ramping up, you can use a technique called Episodic Future Thinking (EFT).

Basically, you think about how you will enjoy that treat when you indulge on purpose in the future. Research shows that EFT--imagining enjoying the treat in the future helps you to wait to enjoy it..

It turns down the intensity of the craving, so you can wait for later to savor and indulge on purpose. Try imagining enjoying the food on Christmas Day or Dessert Day and watch how your need for immediate gratification decreases.

Dealing with Holiday Temptations

There are three parts of dealing with all the temptations of the holidays: Minimizing Temptations, Dealing with Free Food, and Splurging on Purpose. 

  1. Minimize Temptations--The sub-conscious Assistant part of the brain is very sensitive to environmental cues, so wait to buy or make treats until the last minute, store them in out-of-the-way, hard to get to places, and then aim for no leftovers.

  2. Dealing with Free Food--Free Food is a special temptation to your brain because it's a good value. The problem is that free food is everywhere during the holidays. Watch the video to find out how to deal with the almost irresistible nature of free food.

  3. Splurge on Purpose--Prioritize which items of the holiday feast are important to you and which aren’t. Enjoy the splurge, and then aim to not have any leftovers.

Most weight gain comes from the leftovers, temptations, and free food on the days and weeks leading up to and after the holidays, so remember that the mantra "The Holiday is just a Day--not a season."

To get through the minefield of temptations, you'll have to do a bit of thinking about what obstacles you'll face and come up with strategies for them. 

Remember to keep weighing daily and reading your Big Why to keep you on course. There's a time to indulge--just make sure it's on purpose and not every day.

Thanksgiving Help

You can use this blog post article to help you come up with a plan for Thanksgiving. Knowing and implementing these strategies can help you enjoy the holiday without lingering scale regret.





Big Holiday Strategy

The holidays are upon us, and we've been working hard to lose weight. We don't want to backslide.

So, today we're going to talk about the three things that make it hard to lose weight or not gain weight during the holidays.

Treats People Give You

The first one that we're going to talk about—is treats people give you. It seems like every other night, every night, several times a night, people are ringing the doorbell and delivering treats.

It's nice for them to bring treats, but it's not so nice for the scale.

And your brain— the Assistant has a hard time with treats. It's because of something called the Optimal Foraging Theory (OFT).

According to the OFT, the Assistant is an economist. She loves a good value. She loves free food because you don't have to have any work to get it.

And especially if there are strings attached, like someone made this especially for you, then she has a lot of leverage there with the boss saying, “You've got to eat this. This is a special treat.“

There's guilt there, and it looks good.

So, what can we do about it?

The first thing is have a rule around treats. So, decide what you're going to do. If someone brings you something, only have a bite. If it's your favorite, don't have any.

Some people what they like to do is put it in the freezer. So for some reason, when you put it in the freezer and putting it on ice, turns down the temptation.

One of the things that we do is we put it in the freezer and we keep it until a s a special day. So maybe the 24th we can have whatever we want, we save it. Until then that cools down the guilt.

You still get to have it, but by then just doesn't seem quite as tasty. So, decide what your rule is going to be around special treats. 


The other thing that makes Christmas difficult when it comes to weight loss is parties.

It seems like every other night there's some kind of special occasion and everyone brings a bunch of traits and it can be a lot to keep the weight off the scale. So again, have a party rule—something that you keep to to deal with parties.

One of my favorites is to go along the buffet line and rate everything. “That looks like a five. Oh, that's not my favorite. I'm going to say 3. Oh, that's maybe a 7. That looks pretty good.”

Rate everything before you take it. Take one plate and then only take the things that are a nine or above and can fit on one plate.

Again, come up with your own strategy. But that's one of my favorites. It's not worth it, if it's below a nine.

So, only the best stuff.

Seasonal Treats

The last thing that makes the holidays hard is the special treats that you can only have that time of year.

Again, the assistant in your brain, she's an economist. If something doesn't come around very often, then it's desirable. We want it more.

If it's a special treat you only make at the holidays, the Assistant's going to be rooting for you to eat that.

So again, we need to have some kind of special rule and know she's going to be pushing us.

“Oh my gosh, candy canes are only around this time a year.”

“Oh, remember you only make cookies like that this time a year. You better eat them.”

Episodic Future Thinking

There's a special technique that you can use when it comes to special treats. This is called episodic future thinking or EFT. It's a way to calm down the cravings. 

Sometimes the Assistant can ramp those cravings up so that it feels like they are irresistible. You have to have those treats! But, EFT cools down those cravings.

Now what you do here, is you think about all the great things you're going to have on Christmas when you indulge on purpose or on your next Dessert Day. Think about how you could put off those favorite treats are the ones that are reserved for Christmas until that special day—Desert Day or Christmas.

Then you start imagining how they good they will be. Then this episodic future thinking turns down the cravings so that you can indulge and enjoy them in the future.

Go ahead and try it next time you walk by special candy in the grocery store. See what happens. It actually works.

The Assignment

So go ahead and write down what your rules are and what your strategies are going to be.

Remember these three things surrounding Holidays. Remember, there's the treats people give you, there's all those parties, and then there are the seasonal treats.

Come up with rules for each of them and a Holiday Season strategy and watch how you can keep the increase in your weight at bay and you can actually lose weight. This Christmas is going to be great.

Mission Freedom!

Click to Fill-out & Download:

Click to Fill-out and Download

Click to Fill-out and Download

Day 31--The Four Tendencies

Welcome to Day 31!

Some of your fellow space travelers just don’t seem to get it. One of them left the oxygen seal open yesterday after coming in from their outside chores. It could’ve meant disaster for you all. Luckily, the alarms started blaring and you were able to lock the door.

When you confronted Angela about it, she got all huffy . She told you she wasn’t taking orders from you. What a jerk! But, of course, when she heard from the Commander, she was all apologetic and “I’ll never do it again.”

Why can’t everyone be cool just like you?


I'm always on the lookout for ways that make it easier to reach weight loss goals and to make new habits. When I came across the Four Tendency Framework by Gretchen Rubin, it changed how I felt about my personal goals forever.

The Four Tendency Framework is a way to look at a small piece of your personality--the part that has to do with how you react to inner and outer expectations or goals. 

Help You Reach Your Goals & Understand Others

How you answer the question, "How do you handle inner and outer expectations?" will determine which category you fit into in the Four Tendency Framework.

The four different categories are--upholder, questioner, obliger, and rebel. 

For an explanation of each type, to find out which one you are, and to find out the one timely question to quickly find out your type, check out today's video and accompanying Cheat Sheet.

When I created this program, I tried to keep all groups in mind at all times.

Upholders, I tried to not overwhelm you with too many habits and things to do at once. 

Questioners, I tried to give you the justification, data, and research for everything I talk about so you could take these outer expectations and make them inner expectations for yourself.

Rebels, I tried to give you enough flexibility that you could make your own rules and goals for this and the next phase of the RHH program—no one telling you what to do! 

And Obligers, this whole program is for you! I'm an obliger, so I feel your pain. We want so much to meet our goals--lose weight and start exercising, but we need the outer accountability to do it. That's why we have Weekly Reviews and coaching sessions to keep us accountable. 

Some of you obligers might find the meal logging really helpful long term.  Obligers can do anything, we just need to build the right accountability into our lives.

Don't wish you were a tendency that you aren't (I'm talking to you, obligers)!  

We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Understanding what tendency we are can help us to set up our habits, rules, and strategies so they work for us.

The Four Tendencies is not only for weight loss and goal-setting.

Understanding the Four Tendencies helps me to have a better relationship with my Upholder husband. 

Take the quiz and have your loved ones take the quiz. See if it helps you to understand and appreciate each other better.





The Four Tendencies

One of the biggest things that I focus on here (at RHH) is how to ”get yourself to do what you want to do.” That seems to be the big question when it comes to weight loss. I mean, if we could all just do what we'd want to do, we would have lost weight a long time ago. So, we work on our brains and figure out how to get them to do what we want to do.

Well, one of the things that has given me a lot of insight as a coach and also into myself is understanding a concept that is taught by Gretchen Reuben. She's a best selling author. She wrote a called The Four Tendencies. Now the four tendencies has given me a lot of insight. It's helped me to figure out what I want to do, and how to do it, and how to help other people as well. 

Now in this book there's a quiz that goes along with it. It helps you to understand one small little piece of your personality. It's not a “finding your personality” test that’s going to tell you everything about yourself.

One Little Question

Instead, it just answers one little question and that question is is “how do you react to internal motivation and external motivation?” Basically, “how do you get yourself to do what you need to do” or “what you want to do?”

External & Internal Motivation

External motivation would be like what your boss says you need to do, what your family says. you need to do, or what society says you need to do.

Internal motivation would be internal goals or things that you want to do (personally).

The Four Tendencies

And, Gretchen breaks down people into what she calls four tendencies.


The first tendency is called an upholder. So ,an upholder can meet internal and external motivations or goals. These people they will do, if they set a goal, they will do it. If someone else tells them to do something, they will do it. They are going to follow through.


The next group is called questioners. So, questioners can do things if it makes sense internally— if they're internally motivated. But externally motivation doesn't necessarily get them to do something. It has to make sense to them. They're going to ask themselves questions, “Does that make sense?” “Is the research there?” “Is there going to be some kind of penalty if I don't do that? “Those are the things that go through questioners’ minds. So they're internally motivated, not externally motivated.


The next group is called obligers. So obligers might have internal goals, but it doesn't get them to follow through. They need to have some external motivation, some external accountability. So, if there someone's counting on them to do it.

They might get frustrated because they never quite seem to do what they want to do for themselves, but they can always do what other people want or need from them.


The last group is called rebels. So, you can guess what a rebel is like. They don't care if there's an external motivation or an internal motivation. They need to be free. They're only going to do it if they want to do it. You can't tell them what to do.

Size of the Groups

Now it's interesting because these groups are not all even. Obligers and questioners are by far the two biggest groups. Upholders are a small slice of the pie. Same thing with rebels.

Now what's important to know is which group you are. Because if you understand which group you are, then you can work with that tendency of yours to get things done, to follow through, and to find ways to work with yourself, so you can to figure it out. 

The Assignment

There is a quiz online. I'm going to put the link here.

But, there's also one question you can ask yourself to find out what you are. If you don’t want to be bothered with the quiz, and it’s “How do I feel about New Year's resolutions?”

So it's not, “do I do them?” It's “how do I feel about them?”

So an upholder will say, “Yes, I love them. I do them. They're great. “ They're all about New Year's resolutions.

An obliger will say, “I like the idea of them, but I just can't get myself to follow through. I've given up on them.”

A questioner will say, “Well, I like the idea of making goals and following through, but January 1st is such an arbitrary date. I just do them whenever I feel like I need a new goal.”

And then the rebels, they'll say, “Why would I chain myself to a resolution? I just want to do whatever I want to do. “

So figure out which kind of tendency you have. I also think it's helpful to figure out what your spouse is as well. I had no idea my husband was an upholder until he took the test. It's really helped me to understand and forgive him for some of his personality strengths now that I know he's an upholder.

And by the way, I'm an obliger, so that's why I give myself deadlines—I’ll be done by this date . Because as an obliger, I absolutely need external accountability.

Cheat Sheet

Now below there's going to be a cheat sheet that's going to talk a little bit about each personality type and what you need to do to trick your Assistant habit part of your brain to follow through. And, each tendency is going to have a different trick that will help.

So see if this can help you understand what you need from a health and weight loss group or what you need in general for you to get yourself to do what you want to do.

Mission Freedom!

Click to Download Here:

Four Tendency Cheat Sheet

Day 30--How To Make a Strategy

Welcome to Day 30!

So, you thought having a strategy for taking it easy on the weekend was going to be a total bummer.

But, guess what? It worked.

You feel refreshed. It was just the right amount of rewards, relaxation, and recharge. Maybe your commander knows what she’s doing after all .

Okay, back to work!


Steps to Make a Strategy

There are several steps to create a strategy. If you've been working on weight loss for a while, you may realize that you have created strategies already--you just didn't realize it.

Don't just keep the strategy in your head. Writing your strategy down helps you to flesh out the strategy as well as make sure both the Boss and Assistant are aware of it.

Difference between Rules and Strategies

First thing to do is to decide if you need a rule or a strategy. Many of my clients become confused about the differences between rules and strategies. 

Rules are more simple than strategies. A rule is a boundary to keep the Assistant in line. Rules are helpful if you're trying to NOT do one thing (like stop eating dessert every day). 

A strategy is more complex. A strategy combines habits, rules, and setting up the environment to make sure you're moving towards your goals when something out of the ordinary occurs (like vacation or a holiday).

If you aren't sure whether you need a strategy or a rule, try a rule first and see if you can get the willpower challenge figured out (or ask your coach.) If not, then it's time to solve this reoccurring challenge with a strategy. 

Identify Your Goal

Identify your goal before you make a strategy. This will help you to know how strict or lenient to make your rules and habits for your strategy.

If you're making a Weekend Strategy and your goal is to lose weight as fast as possible, your strategy will differ from someone whose strategy is to enjoy the weekend and relax the rules a bit.

Identify Your Obstacles

Make a list of all the obstacles or willpower challenges around this scenario. This list will help you make sure you're thorough. You need to know what you're up against. 

If you are working on a Eat Well at Work Strategy you may write down obstacles like your co-workers' candy jars, treats in the fridge at corporate headquarters, candy bars in the vending machine that you walk by when heading to the bathroom, co-workers wanting to splurge at lunch time, and donuts at work on Fridays. 

Try to be as thorough as possible. 

You may forget some obstacles. Don't worry they will show up later naturally and you can add them to your strategy later.

What Daily Habits Can You Keep?

You want to keep as many good habits that you do on a day-to-day basis in your strategy. 

If you are working on a Vacation Strategy, you might decide that you will eat how you typically eat at home--eggs for breakfast (from the hotel buffet), eat a salad for lunch, and then eat according to the plate (when you eat out at a restaurant for dinner). 

Set Up Environment

If you're making a strategy, it's a lot easier to keep to the rules if you minimize temptation by cleaning up your environment. So if you're making a Weekend strategy, and you want to make a habit to eat fruit as a snack, then make sure you buy lots of tempting fruit and store it on the counter.  This makes the good habits easier. 

Then make the bad habits harder. Don't keep chips or other tempting treats in the house. 

Make Rules & Habits

You're strategy may needs some rules to keep you from making bad choices. Make Bright Line rules and Jump Through Hoops rules (JTH) rules to deal with the Assistant's tendencies to make excuses or loopholes. 

Look back at what obstacles you mentioned above and then make rules that make sense for you. 

If you're making a Weekend strategy, you may need a rule around desserts, a rule around Date night, and a habit for working out.

Some examples of habits and rules for the weekend strategy would be a Bright Line Rule around desserts-- I eat one dessert and savor it on the weekend. 

Habit around Workouts--I walk my dog on Saturday mornings. 

A Jump Through Hoops Rule for Date Night--I can order whatever I want if I eat a salad for lunch and eat a salad before dinner, and I take 1/2 of it home for later.

Strategy Summary

For today's assignment, I'd like you to start thinking about a Weekend Strategy or other strategies you might need. You’ll finish working on this with your coach this week.

Take all the elements and write it up into a cohesive Strategy Summary. This will help keep your Assistant from getting confused and making more loopholes. 

For instance, a Vacation Strategy might look like this:

My goal is to lose 1 pound during my seven day vacation. To do that,

  • I will eat according to how I eat at home--

    • Breakfast--eggs (from the hotel buffet)

    • Lunch--salad

    • Dinner--eat according to the plate (from restaurant choices)

    • One reasonable sized dessert during the week.

  • I will walk daily for at least 1/2 hour in the morning. 

  • I will sleep as long as I want on vacation (at least 7-8 hours). 

  • I will bring a water bottle with me everywhere I go.

  • I will make sure that the only snacks available in the hotel room are snack packages of nuts. 

In the future, you will be getting a worksheet to make an Owner's Manual and write down all of your strategies and rules in one place.





How to Make a Strategy

So, how do you make a strategy?

What is Your Goal?

Well, the first thing you want to do is think about what your goal is. So if we're talking about Dessert day, the goal might be I want to lose weight, but I still want to indulge every once in a while on special occasions or once a week or whatever your particular goal is.

What Are Your Obstacles?

Then, you have to think about what your temptations or obstacles are.

Maybe,you have an obstacle that there's a vending machine in your workplace, or maybe it's the donuts that your coworkers bring every Friday. Or, maybe it's just the fact that you want to buy treats every time you go to the grocery store.

The temptations and obstacles are going to be personal to you. Makes sure that you make a thorough list and realize what things are standing in your way of you meeting that goal.

Making a Strategy

So, how do you meet your strategy goal?

There are three things that you need to keep track of or do in order to do that.

Keep Your Daily Habits

The first one is you want to keep as many of your good habits as you can. So if you're doing a holiday strategy, you might want to keep as many good habits—as many plate habits as you can. Exercise like normal and maybe you add dessert day to any holiday.

If we're talking about a Dessert Day strategy, you want to make sure that you eat your normal healthy plate on that day—the real healthy habit plate template. So, keep as many good habits as you can.

Minimize Temptation

The second thing you want to do is to minimize temptation. So, if you're making a Dessert Day strategy, you may want to stay out of the break room on Friday mornings when you know your coworkers going to bring donuts. Another thing you might want to do is come up with some rules that will help you to keep that Dessert Day strategy. You might have a bright line rule, I only eat dessert on Friday nights, or I only eat something that's homemade. I don't make eat desserts that come out of a box. Whatever it is that makes sense for you, minimize temptation so you're not using willpower and you can keep that Assistant on track.

Indulge on Purpose

The third thing that you want to do is you want to indulge on purpose if it makes sense for that strategy. So, if you have a strategy for coffee, let's say that your, you need something around caffeine, To indulge on purpose might be I have one eight ounce coffee every morning. Dessert Day might be I have one dessert every weekend. Again, what makes sense for you and helps keep you moving towards your goals. Everyone's idea of indulging might be different.

You want to figure out what it means for you. You don't want the Assistant to rebel. You don't want to make her think that you're never going to have dessert again or you're not going to be able to enjoy your holidays or your vacation. You want to give her enough indulgence, so she's happy, but you can still move towards your goals. So figure out what that is for you.

Your Assignment

Use The worksheet below to start thinking about this, and we’ll finish it together.

I'll help you if you get stuck anywhere.

See you back tomorrow.

Mission Freedom!

Click to Fill-out & Download:

Click to fill-out and download here

Click to fill-out and download here

Day 29--All About Strategies

Welcome to Day 29!

It’s your first weekend at the Moon Training Center, and you’re ready to let your hair down. Well, only figuratively speaking—without gravity it floats in front of your eyes constantly.

You realize that your idea of a good time is not the same as your Mission Commanders. Ugh. Why do you even need to have meetings about relaxing? Oh well, I guess it will be worth it in the end.


What is a Strategy?

A strategy is a set of rules, habits, and guidelines you use to keep moving towards your goals. Strategies are used to develop a plan when you have a reoccurring challenge that differs from your normal day-to-day plan. Some strategies my clients make are Weekend Strategy or Work Travel Strategy.

Strategies are made to help your Assistant know exactly what to do when she is confronted by obstacles, so she doesn’t resort to loopholes. Part of your strategy may also include setting up your environment to minimize temptation as well.

If a situation occurs once and is not likely to occur again, you won't need a formalized strategy. You might just come up with a strategy for that particular day. 

For instance, if your son is on a club swim team and travels once a month to 2-day meets, you should probably develop a formalized, written strategy for how you will keep to your health and weight loss habits and rules while traveling. 

If your daughter has made the gymnastics state finals one time, you could just wing it and come up with a strategy for that day. It doesn't need to be formalized (but you might want to create one in your head just in case).

Common Strategies

Some strategies seem to be universal—most people need these. Then other strategies are going to be unique to you (i.e. traveling for work, going to relatives’ house, etc.)

Common Strategies that Most People Make:

  • Holidays

  • Weekends

  • Vacations

Unique Strategies that People Might Make:

  • Traveling for Work

  • Going Out with Friends

  • Date Night

  • Work Luncheons/ Meetings

  • Kid Being in the Hospital for weeks (one I have)

  • Kids Traveling for Sports

  • I'm Sick Strategy

When You Should Make a Strategy

Can you Identify some common strategies or personalized strategies that you might want to make? 

You don't have to know all the strategies you'll need right now. You'll figure them out as you go through the program. 

When you notice a reoccurring challenge, then create a strategy that might be helpful to deal with it.





Which Strategies

Well, which strategies do you need to make?

Well, that's going to be a personal thing. What I like to do is have people think— Where are they struggling?

First of all, we like to get all of our habits in a row.

So, we've learned about the plate and how to do that. Then we look at where we're having problems. Is it on weekends, holidays, vacation?

Are we needing a strategy when it comes to exercise, maybe beverages, alcohol, coffee, soda—on vacations, holidays, weekends?

You can make a special rule for beverages or desserts in your strategies.

So, those are some of the ones that pretty much everybody has. What about ones that are unique to you?

personalized Strategies

So, there's a million different reasons you might need an individual strategy, but again it's going to go back to where you find yourself trying to rely on willpower or when you are trying to indulge on purpose.

So, some people have one when they go out of town. They need a going out of town strategy for work.

Other people have one maybe for when they're going out to bars with their friends.

Other people have strategies for things like going to relative's house

Or maybe even something so simple as, the weather has changed. Now it's wintertime and you can't do exercise like you used to.

So, there's lots of different reasons you may need an individual strategy.

So think right now about when you would like to indulge on purpose, whenever things are going to be different than your usual day-to-day regular habits.

And, we're going to list think of those things where you might need a strategy.

Below is a worksheet that will help you to do that. (Disregard the worksheet. I will include it later in the week. Look to the introduction of this lesson for this info.) There'll be all the common ones that people have, a few of the personalized ones that my clients have had, and then come up with some ideas of what strategies you might need. See you back tomorrow.

Mission Freedom!

Day 26--Planning to Be Successful

Welcome to Day 26!

Uh-Oh! You just heard a loud bang outside the lunar exploration rocket. There's some smoke. Now sirens are screeching and red lights are flashing.

But, your Astronaut Boot camp training kicks in. You know just what to do. Automatically you pull this switch and push that button. You've switched to an auxiliary engine, and you didn't miss a beat. Good thing you paid attention in class and spent all those hours in the simulator. A good plan and back-up plan has saved the mission, your life, and the lives of your fellow crew members. Great Job, Lieutenant.


Today we're talking about how to plan your habits so you'll always be successful. 

We know somedays you'll feel lazy, and other days you're going to feel tempted. You need to stop being so optimistic. 

It's going to rain sometimes. Your spinach is going to turn slimy, and your kids are going to have soccer tournaments. 

You need to stack success in your favor by planning to be successful and make plan for your habits.

Make the Lazy Choice (the Healthy Choice)

You don't want to use willpower to accomplish your new habit every day. You want to make it as easy as possible for the Assistant to do the habit. Let's keep resistance down to a minimum. I call this "Make the Healthy Choice, The Lazy Choice" or the Make Things Easy Plan

By doing this, you set yourself up for success. If you do this right, the Assistant actually has to work hard to fail. What does that mean?

If your habit is to have a salad at lunch, make sure that you have a large salad prepped every week to dig into at lunch and no other options at home/ work. 

Don't expect the Assistant to make a salad every day. Make it so it's the easiest thing for her to grab at lunch time.

Make a Plan

Having a Weekly Plan is another key to successful planning. The Assistant knows just what to do.

By thinking about your week beforehand, you can think about what obstacles may come up and how to do your best despite them.

Do you see how making the habit easy to do and then having a plan can ensure your success? By having a Make Things Easy Plan and a Weekly Plan, you go from barely likely to succeed to success assured.

You may have already done this in your mind, but you may have to think about what you’d like your ideal day or week to be like first before doing your Weekly Plan. I have step-by-step instructions on this blog post.

Once you’ve planned your template day or week, then you can incorporate a specific Weekly Plan during your Weekly Review time. You don’t have to make plans for everything on the sheet like meals, exercise, steps, sleep, etc. Just make plans where you are at right now. So, if you’ve only been working on a lunch habit, then only plan out your lunches for the week.

One step at a time!





Plan to Suceed

You know, the old saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

Well, we're not about that here. We're going to plan to be successful. And, with that we're going to get our days on track.

So, it'd be great if every day we could just have the same habits and we'd just fall in line and everything would go perfect, right? But, that's not how real life is. You know, we have meetings that come up or maybe our kids have a soccer game, or we have a dentist appointment. Our day-to-day schedule is not the same. And, so we're going to plan ahead of time.

Weekly Plan

Ultimate Daily Schedule

The first thing that we're going to do is we're going to come up with a daily schedule. What it would be like if we had an ultimate day? This is a kind of template for our day—like when we would exercise and when we would eat our different meals?

But then things get tricky, right?

We never can keep just to that perfect day, but we're going to have a plan for that. Don't worry.

So think back last week when you did that personal meal plan, right? Your PMP, you kind of made a template for your meals. Well, for breakfast I'll eat this, lunch—I'll eat this, dinner—I'll eat this. And that's kind of what we're doing here. We're looking at our day and we're coming up with a template for our ultimate day.

So, here's when I do exercise. Here's when I go on a walk. Here's when I go to be. Here's when I have my different meals. That’s our ultimate day plan.

Ultimate Weekly Template

But now we're going to add something on to our weekly review. We're going to plan ahead.

So, once we have that ultimate day, we know every day is not going to be perfect. We're going to have changes from day-to-day. 

So, then I want you to come up with kind of a weekly template.

If you know every Sunday you go to church, then you're going to block that time out. That time will be church time. And then ideally you’d go for a walk after church, so pencil that in.

And, then maybe on Mondays you have a staff meeting at lunch time. So, you know that you need to plan lunch options ahead for that.

You put in all your weekly commitments that are the same from week to week.

Weekly Review and Planning Session

Once you have this template (or at least a good idea in your brain), we’re going to add a new piece to the weekly review.

When you're doing your weekly review, not only are you going to review how things went last week, you're also going to plan ahead.

There's a little box that you may have already noticed on that weekly review that talks about what you're going to do for the next week—how you're going to make it even better. Now, you're also going to have another sheet that talks about your weekly plan. You can actually plan stuff in there, so you can be successful next week. 

Your Weekly Plan

So you might have plan stuff like your dinner meals this week.

“Oh, I might be going out to dinner on Friday night. Let me make sure I have that scheduled.”

And, you look at things and you plan ahead. So that no matter what happens that week, you're in control, you're successful and you're meeting your goals.

If you have a meeting in the morning, then you figure out how you're going to go to the gym in the afternoon. You meet your goals no matter what.

Your Assignment

Go ahead, and start working on it. It doesn't have to be perfect. Just give yourself an opportunity to go through these steps.

They'll be on the worksheets below. You’ll figure out your ultimate day, your template for the week, and then you're going to start looking from week-to-week when you do that weekly review and planning for the week so that you can have success.

All right? Any questions? Just ask your coach.Your Assignment

Mission Freedom!

Click to Download Here:

Ultimate Day Planning Sheets

Here’s the Blog Article

Here’s the Ultimate Day/ Week Sheets

Weekly Planning

Here’s the Pages to help you Plan for the week

Day 25--Indulge on Purpose

Welcome to Day 25!

After a long harrowing week, your reward was a long video chat with your friends back on Earth. All week you could barely wait. And then it was amazing how much you enjoyed such a simple thing—connecting with your friends. No video chat you had on Earth was quite the same. It’s funny how precious they have become. You’re already anticipating your next one. Who knew?


Be sure to plan when you will do today's assignment. This is one homework assignment you won’t want to miss. Continue working on the plate habit you made last week. 

Indulge on Purpose

Many of us only have experience trying to stay away from indulgences. We break down in moments of weakness and then indulge--either not noticing the treats we just ate or feeling guilty about it. Part of having a Dessert Rule (and next week --Holiday and Vacation Strategies) is learning to indulge on purpose and enjoy our treats.

How to Indulge on Purpose

One of the greatest pleasures in life is food. Let's be sure that in our haste to lose weight, we don't forget that. We want to enjoy treats, not only to keep the Assistant from rebelling, but because food is supposed to be enjoyed.  You're allowed to love food. Let's savor our planned indulgences!

There are four steps to Indulge on Purpose--have a plan, prioritize, limit, and savor your indulgences.

  1. Have a plan to indulge and anticipate your indulgence.--Research shows that a way that you can enjoy something even more is to anticipate the event. When I see stories about kids whose parents spring a trip to Disneyworld on them, I feel sad that the kids didn't get the chance to anticipate the adventure. Make sure that the Assistant knows a treat is coming, what it is, and has a chance to anticipate it. 

  2. Prioritize indulgences. Make sure that your indulgence is worth savoring. If your building some anticipation for a treat, make sure it's something worth anticipating. A store-bought cookie is not worthy of Dessert Day. Be a food snob and only treat yourself to something worth enjoying.

  3. Limit that indulgent food. Make sure that there aren't leftovers. When you make a huge pan of brownies and there's tons laying around calling to you for days afterwards, then the splurge is not quite as enjoyable. Guilt and willpower sneak in there. It becomes a power struggle between the Boss and the Assistant. Make it easy on yourself (and the scale) by buying small pans, halving recipes, or using small batch treat cookbooks like this onethis one, or this one. 

  4. Savor and take your time eating it. Take your time to eat it by using the smallest fork or spoon you can find. Make each bite last in your mouth. Talk about it while you eat it. What are the textures and tastes? Was it as good as you anticipated? Are you sad when you're all done?

Indulge on Purpose

Your assignment is this week or weekend to indulge on purpose. Use the four steps listed below and notice how Indulging on Purpose is different than your previous experiences with treats. Be sure to share your experience with your coach.





Indulge on Purpose

Today I wanna talk a little bit more about indulging on purpose. For many of us, we've really aren't familiar with that concept. The Assistant's been able to do whatever she wants whenever she wants. And, usually we're trying not to pay attention when we indulge.

Well, when we indulge or splurge on purpose, we want to make the most of that experience. It's okay to love food! It's a pleasurable experience. So let's actually enjoy it and let's make it easy for ourselves to enjoy it, so that we don't go overboard on the other side and regret it.

So how can we indulge on purpose?

Plan and Anticipate

The first thing we want do is make sure that we actually have a plan for indulging on purpose, and that we remember that that's what we're going to do. And we also anticipate it. One of the best ways to enjoy yourself is to have some anticipation going into it. 
So think about it beforehand.

That's all right. It's okay to be like, “Oh, Friday is my dessert day. I'm so excited. This is the food I'm going to have and it's going to taste awesome.”

So, go ahead and get some anticipation going. You'll enjoy it even more.

Make it Worth It

The next thing you want to do is make sure that you prioritize your indulgences. So you know if it's not something that's very good, if it's something that came out of a box, it might not be worth the indulgence.

So again, when you're thinking about it beforehand, make sure that it's something that's worth the indulgence. And, if you have several different things on your wish list for indulging, prioritize them. Go for the one that will have the biggest bang for the buck for you, the one that you will really enjoy the most. So prioritize those indulgences.

Limit the Amount Available

The next thing that you want to do is you want to limit the amount of that indulgent food on hand.

You don't want that treat to go on and on for days because you made a big batch or bought too much. So half the batch if you need to. Iff it's something that you make or get individual sizes, you don't have to make every single cupcake from a cake box. You don't need 24 cupcakes. So, throw some of that batter away. Get smaller size pans, whatever it is that you need to do, to make sure there's not too many leftovers hanging around after that indulgence.

Savor the Indulgence

Then, the last thing that I want you to do is to enjoy it when you actually splurge or indulge. That means take your time and talk about it while you're eating it. Notice the taste, smell it, and savor it. Make it a special occasion or a special, experience. Make it worth it.

Mission Freedom!

Day 24--Making a Dessert Rule

Welcome to Day 24!

Boy, are you glad they made that new rule about always having a buddy with you. Otherwise, you might not be on your way to the Freedom Galaxy in a few weeks. That was so scary when you were repositioning the solar panels, and your oxygen hose sprung a leak. Good thing, your friend, Raul was there to prevent a catastrophe. Phew. Rules can be a great thing.


Be sure to start thinking about today's assignment. You will finish it with your coach. It will help make splurging on purpose a lot easier. Continue working on the plate habit you made last week. 

Everyone needs a Dessert Rule or a Favorite Snack Rule to keep the Assistant in line when it comes to a favorite treat.

Remember habits are for what you want the Assistant to DO. Rules are for what you DON'T want the Assistant to do. Because you don't want the Assistant to eat sugar every time you turn around, you’ll probably want to make a Dessert Rule.

Dessert Rule

Tired of all the whining and pleading for sugary sweets or other treats by your Assistant?

The simple strategy of a Dessert Day Rule (or a Potato Chip Day Rule) will teach your Assistant to stop asking for sugar, to appreciate and savor treats, and to learn that dessert is a "Sometimes Food."

This rule can keep you from having to use precious willpower stores to say "No" all the time and restore peace and quiet to your brain.

Splurge on Purpose

To make habits and rules for the long haul, you need a way to splurge on purpose. Having a Dessert Rule helps you to do that. The Assistant does not like to be told that she can never have chocolate again. If she knows that chocolate is sometime in her future (like this coming Friday night), she can relax and forgo all the random temptations that arise.

If you try and tell your Assistant to stop thinking of treats, you're bound to have a rebellion on your hand. The Assistant can't simply "stop thinking" of something. It's impossible. If she is to stop thinking of something, she has to be reminded not to think of it, which makes her think of it again. In fact, forbidding certain foods can lead to more thoughts of them and even more indulging/ bingeing. 

How to Make a Dessert Rule

There are many different ways to make a Dessert Rule or Favorite Snack Rule. This is an area where you get to Be a Scientist and personalize the rule for you (and even your family).

You'll want to take into account your weight loss and health goals and how much indulging will allow you to still get there.

The many different versions of the Dessert Rule that my clients make:

    • Eat only one dessert a week on Friday Nights.

    • Eat only one dessert a week on the day of my choosing.

    • Eat one dessert/ day only on days of the week that start with "S."

    • Eat dessert once per day, but only three bites.

    • Eat dessert only on special occasions or on holidays.

    • Eat a serving of Halo Top ice cream on dessert days except for on holidays or special occasions.

The key to making a Dessert Rule is to make it so your Assistant knows that dessert is coming soon, you can still lose weight and meet your health goals, but you aren't craving sweets all the time.

You may not get it right the first time. That's why you should be a Scientist. You may have to experiment, try a Rule, get the results, and then modify the rule again. 

Use the PDF below to record your Dessert Day Rule, and then share it with your coach in your next session.


When you have too many servings of the dessert/ treat available, it can be overwhelming to your Assistant. It takes too much willpower for her to stay in those Bright Lines. 

In order to be successful when you make a Dessert Day Rule or a Potato Chip Day Rule, be sure that you limit the servings of that food available. 

You can do this several ways:

  • Buy just enough single portion servings at the bakery or grocery store.

  • If you're making the dessert from scratch, make 1/2 or 1/4 of the original recipe. I've found that 1/2 a recipe of an 8 inch or 9 inch layer cake fits into 6 inch cake pans (perfect for my family of 6).

  • If it's just you and your significant other or your treats are just for you, there are several cookbooks for making desserts for 1 or 2 servings. Check them out hereherehereherehere, or here

If limiting portions won't work for you or you just forgot, check out my blog post on the Radioactive Food Containment strategy to prevent overeating.





Dessert Rule

So all week we've been talking about rules. One rule that I think everyone should have, it's a rule around sweets and treats. That's because the assistant is going to find any opportunity to get you to overindulge. And when you have a Bright Line Rule, it's going to keep her in line and keep her from making those rationalizations and loopholes to get you to overeat.

The Dessert Day Origin Story

When my kids were little, they started begging me to have dessert all the time. It wasn't just after dinner, it was starting to be after lunch and random snacks. Sometimes I'd say yes. And I’d have to think back when was the last time we had dessert.

But, I was starting to resent them asking me all the time, and it was starting to use, my decision making power, draining my willpower,—trying to figure out whether or not they should have dessert. 

And, then they would always whine if I said “No. I remembered my Swedish college roommate telling me that when she was little in Sweden, they had a rule that you could only have candy on Saturday mornings, Saturday mornings was Candy Day. I thought that that was such a great idea.

So, I decided to institute the rule of Desert Day. So what that meant is that I told my kids, “Okay, we only get dessert one time a week,” so it shut down all their whining and pleading.

At first, of course they tried and they'd be like, “Can we have dessert?”

But. I'd say, “Is it dessert day?”

And, they'd say “No.”

And then they knew the answer was no.

It made it easy on me, and it made it easy on them.

The Hidden Benefits of a Dessert Rule

There are several benefits of having some kind of dessert day, or sweet rule, or a potato chip rule,—whatever it is. 

When you set these kind of limits, it makes it easy. The Assistant steps begging and you're able to start indulging and splurging on purpose, and use it in a way that will help you to lose weight.

It's not done all the time. You're not getting all those extra calories.

The reason I think we should all indulge is “Hey, we're in this for the long term.”

We're not going to give up chocolate forever. And in fact, if you tell yourself not to think of chocolate, you actually think of it more.


Because the assistant can't just NOT think of chocolate. She has to remember, “Oh, I'm not supposed to think of chocolate.”

So, she has to keep remembering, not thinking about chocolate. So you end up thinking about it more and indulging more. When you have a very specific schedule of when you indulge, then the assistant can relax.

She knows, “Oh, I'm going to have chocolate.” Eventually she can stop thinking about it.

It keeps you from overindulging and splurging and bingeing when you know that there is still chocolate in your future, but it's done in a way that makes sense for you.

The other thing it does is it helps you raise your standards. My children started to become food snobs when I instituted Dessert Day.


Because if you only have dessert once a week, it better be good. Just any Keebler cookie won't do.

The good thing about becoming a food snob is that when you do have dessert, it's more satisfying because it's something delicious. But, also something delicious doesn't come along every day. You have to go out of your way to make it or buy it.


Now there's one thing I want you to think of when you are instituting dessert day—make sure that you only have enoughservings to go around for you or your family once. You don’t want a bunch left for accidental dessert the rest of the week.

So, make sure you make smaller portions. If you're making a cake mix, throw half the cake mix away. Make sure that there's only enough just for that dessert day.

Below you'll find some examples on making your own dessert day rule. Or maybe it's your own potato chip day rule, whatever it is.

Your dessert day can be more than one day a week if that fits within your weight loss goals. But, you can personalize it, figure out what works for you, make a dessert day rule. You’ll find the Assistant will finally stop her whining and begging.

Your Assignment

So, go ahead and check out the worksheet below to help you to come out with your dessert rule so that you get to splurge and enjoy your treats on purpose.

Mission Freedom!

Click to View and Fill-Out Here:

Click to View and Fill-Out:

Click to View and Fill-Out:

Day 23--Making Rules

Welcome to Day 23!

Yesterday was a near disaster. Jennifer, your favorite classmate, almost floated out in space. It turns out that no one was there when she was doing her check around the perimeter of camp. Her tether came lose, and she was able to grab onto an overhead lamp light before she floated to her doom. Now there’s a new rule that everyone has to have a buddy when they’re outside. It makes doing chores a bit more complicated, but better safe than sorry!


Be sure to start thinking about today's assignment. You will finish it with your coach. It will help make eating from day-to-day a lot easier—less willpower required. Continue working on your plate habit. 

What Rules are For

One of the ways that we can set up boundaries for the Assistant to stop the loopholes and excuses is coming up with rules. 

A rule is a boundary to keep the Assistant in line. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Rules are helpful if you're trying to NOT do something.

You can't make a habit to not eat food from the vending machine. Habits have to be something you actually do. But, you can make a Rule. A rule can help keep you from buying an afternoon candy bar.

There are two types of rules that I teach: Bright Line Rules and Jump Through Hoops Rules

Bright Line Rules

Bright Line Rules.png

When you are driving on a highway and the lane marker lines are faded and non-existent, there can be a lot of drifting around the road. But on a newly painted road, you know right where you should be driving.

In the Assistant’s case without bright line rules, there’s a lot of room for interpretation and a lot of room for loopholes. Once you paint some bright lines, it shuts down your Assistant’s excuses.

To make Bright Line Rules, you make simple, clear rules to keep your Assistant on track. 

For instance, you’ll come up with Bright Lines around your most common weight loss obstacles. Look at where you're using too much willpower, and you may need a rule there.

One of those areas that the Assistant needs bright line rules for is sweets. If you tell your Assistant, “Eat less sweets,” she will no doubt come up with a very generous interpretation of the word “less” and be pestering you with loopholes all day long. Instead you need to come up with a bright line rule for sweets.

These Bright Line Sweet Rules will differ from person-to-person depending on your individual goals and individual bodies. One of my clients may have a bright line rule that they eat dessert only on Fridays. Other clients have bright line rules to eat sweets only when they have company over. Other clients have rules that allow them to eat sweets once a day as long as they only eat 3 bites. Some clients have a rule to eat sweets only on Holidays.

It doesn’t matter which bright line sweet rule you adopt. The key is to make a bright line rule, and tell your Assistant that this is the way it’s going to be.

Jump-Through-Hoop Rules

Some people find that their Assistants are very uncooperative. Their Assistants might totally rebel if they make a Bright Line Rule and draw a line in the sand. So, they'd prefer to use a gentler approach.

That's when Jump-Through-Hoops (JTH) Rules come in handy. With a JTH Rule, you tell the Assistant that she can indulge, but she has to "jump through some hoops" first.

A JTH rule takes advantage of the lazy nature of the Assistant. It's all about putting some obstacles in front of the Assistant to decrease the frequency of indulgences. Your Assistant may decide to indulge anyway, but then again, it may be too much effort and not be worth it. 

Think of it as what you do when your teenagers want to go out with their friends, but you're not too excited about it.

"You want to go out with your friends tomorrow night? Sure, you just have to clean your room, mow the lawn, and clean the bathroom first."

Your teenager will either figure it's not worth it, or she'll get the chores done around the house. It’s a win-win.

So what are some examples of a JTH Rule? You can get a hamburger at the Fast Food Restaurant, but you have to have a side salad first.

Another one might be you can have seconds but only after you've done the dishes after dinner and put all the leftovers away.

Another JTH rule could be you can cut out on your workout early, but you have to go to the gym and walk on the treadmill for five minutes first.

Preferably, if the hoop you are jumping through is something helpful that's even better (like eating a salad, cleaning up the kitchen, or walking for five minutes).

Ready to make some Bright Line Rules or Jump Through Hoops Rules? Check out the worksheet below to start working on your first rule.


When you make a rule, you want to figure out how to state it in a positive form. It turns out the Assistant part of your brain is not good at hearing the words no, don't, or not.

The Assistant may be more likely to do the exact thing you told her NOT to do. So when you make a rule instead of saying,"I don't eat between meals." You would phrase it as, "I only eat at scheduled meals and snacks."

Another example would be instead of making a rule, "I don't eat Christmas treats people bring me except at my Christmas party," you would make the rule, "I only eat Christmas treats when it's my Christmas Party time."

Rules May Take Practice

It may take a few times of reminding her of the new rules, but eventually, the Assistant will get the picture and stop asking.

She’ll walk right by the taste testers at Costco and not even bother the Boss about it. The loopholes have been shutdown.

The key to losing weight without dieting is to retrain the Assistant part of your brain to get on the same healthy habits page as the Boss part of the brain.

The Boss has set a weight loss goal. Now she needs to retrain the Assistant habit part of the brain. To do so, she has to help the Assistant make new habits, and turn off her loopholes by making rules to stop doing undesirable behaviors.






So when do we use rules?

Rules are very specific boundaries that we use when we're confronted with temptation over and over again. It's like we've got to put some boundaries.

I think of it kind of like a curfew that you give your teenager. You don't want them staying out all night. We want to keep them home, bring them home at by a certain time. Well, rules are the same way. They keep your assistant out of mischief.

Two Types of Rules

So there's two rules that you can make. The first one is called bright line rules. Interesting name, right?

So, let's say you're driving down a country road. The lines are all faded out. You can't see the lane markers, you kind of drift all around. Well, bright line rules is like someone came along and repainted those lines. They're very dark. You can see them, they stand out, they keep you where you need to be. 

And, bright line rules keep our assistant where she needs to be. They help her to know exactly what she needs to do.

So, think about a temptation that you've been facing in your life that you've been using way too much willpower on. That's a really good instance for you to make a bright line rule about it.

Examples of Bright Line Rules

So, when might you need a bright line rule?

I have a bright line rule that I don't eat unless it's a meal or a snack. My assistant loves to pick at foods while I'm preparing them or clearing up after them. So, I have a very specific bright line rule. Don't eat unless it's a meal or snack that's planned.

And what kinds of things have you been worrying about or been trying to use willpower for? Some people might have a bright line rule about never eating out of a vending machine. 

Other people might have a bright line rule about what kinds of things they'll buy at a fast food restaurant. Other people have bright line rules about what they order when they go to a coffee shop. It just depends where your temptation lies.

So, a bright line role is very specific about keeping you in the lines. And, I have a worksheet below that'll help you to make a bright line rule.

Jump-Through-Hoops Rule

Now what about a jump through hoops role? Jump-through-hoops rule means you make it hard for the Assistant to do whatever she's tempted to do.

So the assistant, she likes to be lazy and so jump-through-hoops means she's got to do some things if she wants to indulge.

So,usually when people use a jump-through-hoops rule, it's because they tried a bright line rule already or a bright line rule just seem too hard. They weren't able to follow through with the bright line rule. So, jump-through-hoops rule is kind of like a bright line rule—lite. It's kind of an easier version.

So, something you might have for a jump-through-hoops rule might be something like— “I can have soda but I have to drink one big glass of water in between each soda.” That would be a jump through hoops rule.

Or, it (the jump-through-hoops rule) might be something like— “I can have a treat, but I have to walk to the grocery store to get it. And that's the only thing I can buy when I do it.”

Another jump-through-hoops rule you might do would be something like, “Well, I can have an ice cream, but it's only for dessert day and I have to exercise all week long in order to earn it.”

Jump-through-hoops rules makes things harder. And, because the assistant is Lazy, she doesn't usually want to do it. So, it's just a way of making rules for those of you whose Assistants are a little bit of a rebel. She'll balk at rules and those bright line rules. But, Jump-through-hoops rules makes it a little bit easier and a little bit less stringent on her, so she won't rebel against you.

Your Assignment

So look down below at the worksheet. I'll help you make a jump through hoops role and a bright line rule so you can keep your Assistant reigned in. So, she’s not making all kinds of loopholes and rationalizations, and she'll keep you losing weight.

Mission Freedom!

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Day 22--Why You Need Rules

Welcome to Day 22!

The Freedom Galaxy sounds wonderful, but all that freedom might be too much for some people. Look at Cadet Davis. That guy is always using your equipment and never cleans off the moondust off of his rover. He always has an excuse too! You wish he’d follow the rules like everyone else.


What is a Loophole?

Because the Assistant (sub-conscious part of your brain) is lazy and wants more pleasure and to avoid pain, she will want to get out of the habits that you’ve worked hard to train.

Also, if there is a special occasion or something that throws off her normal routine, the Assistant is going to come up with justifications for "bad" behavior. 

Gretchen Rubin, the author of the book, Better Than Before, calls the rationalizations that the Assistant makes to get out of habits—loopholes. She defines loopholes as, “an argument for why we should be excused from following a good habit.”

The loophole is thrown out by the Assistant as a spur of the moment justification to get out of the habit (she wants to be lazy.) And in typical Assistant brain style, this justification “flits through your mind” just on the edge of your consciousness.

Ten Kinds of Loopholes

There are ten loopholes that your Assistant may try to use against you. Any (or all of them) sound familiar?

Some loopholes that I hear a lot around the Holidays are Concern for Others, False Choice, Moral Licensing, and This Doesn't Count loopholes.

  • Concern for Others--I should eat these cookies my neighbor brought by. She put a lot of time into making these.

  • False Choices--I can either eat what I want, or not enjoy Christmas at all.

  • Moral Licensing--I was so good because I didn't eat the Christmas cookies in the break room. I deserve to get this special holiday candy at the supermarket.

  • This Doesn't Count--This is a special snack that I make every Christmas. It doesn't count as a Dessert Day Food.

Set Boundaries to Stop the Loopholes

Because the Assistant uses loopholes to justify bad behavior, you have to make very clear rules for her—just like you would for your teenager. You can’t tell your teen, “Your curfew is 11:00,” and not really mean it. 

If you do, she’ll sense your weakness. Then all the loopholes will come out. “It was Jenny’s birthday, so I had to stay later. I lost track of time. We were helping Madison with her problems, etc.” 

You have to tell your teen, ”Your curfew is 11:00. You be home by then or no going out again for the next month.” Clear boundaries stop the arguments and stop the loopholes.

Use Rules for Boundaries

The way that we set boundaries for the Assistant to stop rationalizations and excuses is a rule. A rule is a set course of action that the Assistant should take. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

There are two types of rules that I teach: Bright Line Rules and Jump Through Hoops Rules. We'll learn what these rules are and how to make them tomorrow.





How to NOT do Something

The past two weeks we've been focusing on habits. We've learned how to make our habits small, how to progress slowly with them, and how to make them positive and enjoyable.

And, now we're going to talk about what to do when habits don't work. Because how does don't work all the time. Habits don't work when we're trying NOT to do something. You can't make a habit to not do something.

The other time when habits don't work is when it's not something we do every day. You can't make a habit if it's something that just comes up occasionally. And, that's when we want to use our rules and strategies.

So what is a rule?

Got Loopholes?

Well, because our Assistant (sub-conscious brain) is kind of like a teenager, she needs boundaries. She needs rules or she comes up with a lot of rationalizations or loopholes as to why she needs more pleasure, less pain, and to be more lazy. She'll come up with things. And if you look below, I've got (a pdf with) 10 loopholes or rationalizations she tries to use on us.

One of them is called the concern for others. “Well, I need to eat this plate of Christmas cookies because I care about my friend, and she made them for me.” That could be a rationalization that she might throw out at you.

Another one is moral licensing. “Well, I was so good yesterday when I went to that party that I deserve this today.” Or, “I went on a run so I deserve a cookie.”

Those are different loopholes, and there's 10 listed below. Read them over and see if there's any that ring a bell for you. We want to keep the Assistant from rationalizing because we might not make any progress otherwise.

Rules and Strategies

One little rationalization. It's not a big deal, but your Asisstant will try as many as she can. So that's why we use our rules and strategies.

When do we use a rule? A rule is for when something happens just once here or there or we need to keep from doing something. That's when we use a rule.

There are two rules that I'm going to teach you to make. The first is called Bright Line Rules and the second one is called Jump Through Hoops roles. I know they sound intriguing. We'll talk about them tomorrow—what each one is and when to use them.

And then the other thing that we're going to learn another week is strategies. So, strategies are a little bit more complex. This is when you have to employ a couple of different habits and different rules—a couple of different ways to minimize temptations for things like holiday strategies or dessert strategies. 

We'll also talk about how to make other kinds of strategies like weekend strategies and holiday strategies. And then you might decide on specific one just for you that are personalized according to your circumstances in your life.

So, some of my clients in the past have had a Travel for Work Strategy. Other people have a Going to Grandma's House Strategy. I personally have one about hospitals because my youngest has been in the hospital quite a few times.

So, we get to personalize things and make them according to whatever needs are in our lives.

Your Assignment

So check over those Loopholes or rationalizations (below). See which ones that your Assistant has been throwing out at you. And, then tomorrow we'll talk about rules. And after that we'll talk about strategies. See you then.

Mission Freedom!

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Day 19--Making Your Own Personal Meal Plan

Welcome to Day 19!

The Freedom Galaxy is a big place. There’s room enough in it for everyone to find their own piece of freedom and paradise. Your commander just asked what you’re piece of heaven would be like—and then what habits you’d need to do to keep it. You had never thought about what comes after. Just getting there. Umh. This may take some thinking.


Be sure to start thinking about today's assignment. You will finish it with your coach. It will help make eating from day to day a lot easier with less willpower required. Continue working on the plate habit you made last week. 

Today's lesson will help you make a Personal Meal Plan (PMP).

What’s a Personal Meal Plan (PMP)

A Personal Meal Plan (PMP) is an individualized guide/ pattern to help you plan your meals from day-to-day. A PMP helps the Assistant to know exactly what to eat. The PMP allows you to shut down rationalizations or loopholes, use less willpower and make less decisions, and help you control your hunger and lose more weight.

How a PMP Can Control Your Hunger

The Assistant starts building habits around your hunger and insulin release around meals. She starts realizing when you usually eat a meal and how much you usually eat. Then, she starts releasing the hormone insulin in anticipation of the carbohydrates you will eat at that meal. That's why some people can time lunch time by the growling of their stomachs.

By eating the same patterns of food, your Assistant gets good at anticipating the meal and your insulin release becomes more accurate. Also, your Assistant finds foods satisfying that have satisfied your hunger in the past. So, your trying to train your Assistant to know how much to prepare for in a meal, how much will make you full, and then also to know what to eat (no decisions).

PMP can help with Weight Control

Also, when you eat the same type of meals day-to-day, you can also learn better which foods help you to feel good and lose weight. Making the decisions before decreases the amount of temptation you feel in high-risk situations.

Create a PMP

To create a PMP, I want you to think of a menu. On a menu there are basic categories, and then specific menu items. For instance, there may be a soup category, and then there are several soups listed in the category: Chicken Noodle Soup, Taco Soup, and Broccoli Cheddar Soup.

You may want to put soup on your PMP for the lunch meal, but you don't have to spell out exactly which soup you can have. Creating a PMP does not mean you have to have the same foods everyday. Think more of broad categories rather than specific foods.

What type of breakfasts do you want to have from day-to-day to meet your health and weight goals? What about lunch? What about dinner? How about a snack?


Let me share my PMP with you.

  • Breakfast--green smoothie or protein shake (on occassion I have other items like cottage cheese with fruit or egg with roasted veggies).

  • Lunch--Salad made with leftover veggies and meat from night before and fruit

  • Snack--nuts, protein shake, or piece of fruit and string cheese

  • Dinner--RHH Meal Template

One day a week, I have Dessert Day.

It may sound repetitive, but it doesn't take into account that my dinners are different every day, and I'm usually happy to eat the yummy leftovers for lunch the next day. 

Most people probably have an unofficial PMP that they've naturally fallen into, but I'm just asking you to make it official and write it down.

Remember to Be a Scientist. Once you've written it down and tried it out, go back and tweak it if necessary.

Download PMP Forms

There are several forms below that you can download and use for meal planning.

The first form can be used for your Personal Meal Plan if your 3 meals are the same from day-to-day. 

The second form can be used for your Personal Meal Plan if you have one type of meal on a weekday and different PMPs on the weekend. It can also be used if you give yourself three different breakfast options, three different lunch options, and/ or three different dinner options.





A personal Meal Plan

Today we're going to talk about creating a personal meal plan or PMP. So, your personal meal plan or PMP is going to be a guide to help you to figure out what to eat from day-to-day.

Remember when we use habits are our Assistant (sub-conscious part of our brain) relaxes. She stops trying to throw out loopholes and get us to eat all kinds of stuff. So when our daily meals have kind of a rhythm or pattern to them, we don't have to use willpower. We know what to do right away, and also they (PMP) can help us to control our hunger and lose weight.

How PMP Helps with Hunger

Let me explain why. You see your body gets a certain pattern to it and knows that, “Hey, at 6 o'clock, I eat breakfast. At 12 o'clock I eat lunch, and 6 o'clock I eat dinner.” And your body starts releasing hormones to prepare for those meals in anticipation. 

When your body knows breakfast is at six o'clock, it will release insulin beforehand. Insulin is a hormone that helps you prepare for the sugar or the carbohydrates that you're going to eat. Insulin takes that blood sugar and helps bring it into the cells, helps you to use it. Your body releases that insulin. Now, insulin can also make you hungry. It makes you hungrier, but your body knows about how much you eat each day at each meal and it starts preparing a certain amount of insulin. It creates these patterns so it knows how hungry to make you by releasing that certain amount of insulin. And then also when you eat certain meals day after day, your body or your mind, know about how much and what kind of food will make you full. 

Your Body Learns By Experience

One of the ways that you know if you're going to be full is your experience with that food. Has it made you full in the past?

So, when you eat something new, you might not be as full as you typically would with the same kind of meal if it's something you've eaten before.

So going back to this idea, what we're trying to do is we're trying to train our body to know about how much to prepare for an a meal and how much will make us full. And, then also to know what to eat with no decisions (the Boss part of the brain). We're not using willpower, and we just know what to eat.

How to Make a PMP

Let me explain how to do this. Let's say we're talking about breakfast. You've watched the video on breakfast and you know that there's a couple of different kinds of patterns or meal templates that you can use for breakfast. 

You decide that maybe you're a one type of breakfast person. You only like to have one kind of breakfast. You have oatmeal every single day. Or, maybe you're someone who has, who has a little a rotation cycle that you like to use. Okay, one day you might have a eggs. Another day you might have a Omelette. Another day you might have yogurt with fruit. Another day you might have some cereal and fruit. So you know that, “Hey, that's going to be my breakfasts.” And so you're going to write that down.

I've got sheets below. You can download those and you're going to come up with, the different menu items that I have to choose from and here's how they fit in that pattern.

You might decide, okay, “On weekends I do something a little bit different, so here's my weekend template.” But, you want to have that written down so you know exactly what to eat. 

You Don’t Have to Eat the Same Thing Each Day

Now it doesn't have to be the same thing everyday like oatmeal. You can do a rotation, but basically you know what the options are.

Same thing with lunch. You decide, “Okay, well at lunch I typically have half a sandwich and a side salad or half a sandwich and a cup of soup or maybe a salad.” You know exactly what your options are and you go off that.

So do you have to have the same food every day? Of course not. There are tons of different kinds of salad. You could have a new one every day. Same thing with soup or with a sandwich. They can be different every day, but the idea is you know exactly what kinds of food to eat.

Same thing with dinner. You follow the plate template. “Okay, I'm going to have half a plate of vegetables, a quarter plate of starch and a quarter plate of protein,” and you follow that from day to day. 


Now you might also want to come up with an idea for snacks. Maybe you have nuts, or a piece of fruit, or a string cheese. Something to make it really easy, so you know what your go-to is and also your body knows how to prepare for it. And, about how much insulin to release and when you're going to be full. Your assistant has learned that your snack will hold you over until dinner.


For instance, let me give you an idea of what my Personal Meal Plan is. So, for breakfast, I have a green smoothie shake pretty much every single day. Now, can I do something different? Of course I can, but that's my standard where I don't have to think. Occasionally. I might have an avocado toast with an egg on it— something like that. But my go-to is to have some kind of smoothie or a protein shake. 

Then for lunch, I'm usually going to have a salad. Now that salad, it's going to change from day-to-day. Basically, I take the protein and the vegetable from the night before and mix it into my base of Greens and that's my lunch salad.

For dinner, I'm always going to have that half plate vegetable, a quarter plate protein, and a carb quarter plate protein. And, that's how my meals run.

For snack, I might have nuts, an apple or a cheese stick. Those army my usuals. Now can I go off of that? Yeah, I can do something different, but that's my standard. I don't have to think. I know that it keeps me at the weight that I want to be and best of all, I know that I enjoy it.

So you have to have food that you enjoy, that you love, that makes you feel energetic and helps you get to your goal weight.

Your Assignment

So, go ahead and check out the worksheets below the help you to come out with your personal meal plan (PMP), so that you're eating can go more on autopilot.

You'll still enjoy it, but you won't be using your willpower all the time, and using that boss part of your brain to figure out what to eat.

Mission Freedom!

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Day 18--Downsize Your Plate

Welcome to Day 18!

Today was your first day driving your moon buggy around the Moon. What a rush!

All your training mates were fighting over who got the biggest buggy. You didn’t want the drama, so you just took the smallest buggy, and took off to explore. Little did you know that—bigger isn’t always better!

Those bigger buggys were hard to steer and to keep them upright. Your buggy was agile and energetic—it was just enough buggy for you. You can’t wait for your next buggy trip.


Using a Smaller Plate

Everyone knows that to lose weight, you have to eat less. But, your Assistant doesn't want to eat less. She hates being hungry. 

The strategies of using smaller plates trick the Assistant to eat less without noticing. When you use small plates, you eat less, but you'll feel as if you ate a bigger portion off a bigger plate.  

Downsize Everything

You'll want to downsize your plates, but don't stop there. Also, downsize your plates, bowls, silverware, cups, and serving ware.

By switching to petite versions of dinnerware, you'll be cued to eat less without using up any of your precious willpower. And, miraculously, you'll feel just as full as if you ate the jumbo sized meal.

Treva’s Axiom

It all boils down to Treva’s AXIOM— The smaller your dinnerware, the smaller the portion served. The smaller the portion, the less you will eat, but you'll still stay satisfied.


Whatever You’re Served, Is Right

People believe that whatever portion they’re served is the "right" portion size. Portion size is SO important because 92% of us will eat whatever portion we're served. And plate size is a visual cue that suggests what is a normal portion to eat. 

However, our standard dinner plate size is NOT what a typical portion should be. Over the past several decades, our dinner plates keep getting larger and larger.

When I surveyed Ebay to look at dinner plate sizes over the years, I saw this…In the 1930’s the plates were roughly 9”. In the 1950’s, plate size was 9 1/2"- 10”. In the 1980’s 10” -11” was pretty standard. Fast forward to the 2000’s and you will find plates that are 10 1/2" to 12”—Big enough to be serving platters on our grandmothers' tables.

When you are deciding how much to eat, your Assistant does some tricky mental gymnastics, looks at the food, determines how filling it is, and estimates how much to put on your plate to satisfy you. 

The Assistant is looking at the volume of the food--how much space it takes up to decide if that is enough food.

When your plate is small, a small amount of food looks like a lot more. Your brain is tricked, but so is your stomach. It’s an optical illusion, that if you don’t get right, you will eat more unknowingly and gain weight.

Dinner Plate Optical Illusion

Let’s do a comparison.

Here’s my dinner served on my 11 1/2” Lenox Dinner plate.


Dinner on a 10 1/4” Corelle Dinner plate.

Dinner Plate Large.png

Dinner on an 8 1/2” Corelle Lunch plate.


Which one of these dinners would fill you up?

Remember the Assistant is deciding how much to eat based on what volume of this food she thinks would be satisfying.

Yep, you guessed it.

These plates have exactly the same amount of food!

But, the amount of food is not equal to your brain. And that is what matters. 

The Assistant decides what is going to fill it up even before your meal starts. So let’s help the Assistant be more satisfied with eating less by using smaller plates.

Cues to Eat

But, large dinner plates aren’t the only thing that cue us to eat more. Large silverware, large serving spoons, and even large serving bowls and platters serve as subconscious signals to eat more

In a research study pretending to be an ice cream party for graduate students, students were either given medium size bowls or extra large bowls.  Those who had jumbo bowls scooped up an extra 31% more ice cream. Some of the ice cream tubs had large ice cream scoops versus small ice cream scoops. The students who had large bowls and large scoops ended up with a whooping 57% more ice cream than those who had smaller bowls and smaller scoops.

So not only have I downsized my dinner plates, I bought smaller silverware in packs at Costco.

I use my large spoons for serving meals instead of serving spoons. 

I also encourage smaller portions at meals by putting a 1/3 cup in whatever starchy side I am serving at dinner.

I also have numerous small ramekins that I bought at World Market and thrift stores for serving ice cream, yogurt, or fruit. I try to match the actual serving size with the serving bowl.

You Can’t Just Serve Less

Don't think that now that you know about this, you can just use your same old plates and take less. Research shows that even if the Boss knows about your Assistant's tendency to eat more on big plates, you can't just eat less. She'll always take more on those big plates anyway.

What Will You Do?

What ideas do you have for ways you can downsize your plates, bowls, silverware, serving plates, and serving ware?

The cool thing is that once you move the small plates to the front of the cupboard and move the large plates to back of the cupboard, it's not an ongoing willpower thing. It's a fix-it once and forget-it option.

Check out the PDF below for more sneaky ideas on how to eat less, but still stay full at meals.





Eat Less Hack

In order to lose weight, we know we need to eat less—we need to get less calories. But that's the trick, right? We don't want to do that.

Our Assistant part of our brain doesn’t want to go hungry.

So we've talked in the past about how to eat according to the plate, that just by changing the proportions of foods and the order of the foods , you can still be full, but eat less.

Now I'm going to share another hack today. Another trick to eating less without even noticing it.

Trying to Eat Less Can Backfire

So, the assistant doesn’t like to go hungry, and she'll put up a fight if you try and eat less. We've all tried it.

I know we've tried to eat less, skip a meal here and there, and then I ended up on the other side, even eating more than I would have anyway. So, here's a way to eat less without the assistant having a fit about it.

How You Decide How Much to Eat

When it comes to how much to eat, The Assistant looks at the food and she figures out how filling it is.

Is it heavy?

Is it rich?

And then she looks at how much volume you have of the food, and she figures out whether that's enough to fill you up.

Well, one of the things that The Assistant uses as a guide to how much to serve is to how big your plate is or how big the serving spoon is or how big the serving bowl is.

Those are all visual cues for her to know whether something's going to be filling or not.

The Expanding Plate

Now back in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, our plate sizes were about 9-10 inches at the most. But over the years, our plate sizes have gotten bigger and bigger. 

I actually measured some of my dinner plates. They were 11 1/2 inches! That's a lot more food that your Assistant's going to eat on a big plate versus a little plate.

And I actually have a blog post with pictures that show you this. I'm going to put the link below (forget the link, I put it up into the introduction section). So, check it out.

But, just by changing to a smaller plate, you eat less, but The Assistant doesn't know you ate less.

You Fool Your Stomach

In research, people rate themselves as just as full with a smaller plate ,eating less—than they did with a big plate, eating a lot more.

And in some studies, people who got a large gigantic bowl with big serving spoons, ate 57% more than someone who had a small normal size bowl and a normal sized serving spoon.

The Assignment

It’s such an easy thing to do. Just change out your plates. Once you eat less, you stay satisfied. 

It's one of my favorite tricks and first things that I recommend to people to do to eat less and still stay full. So try it out.

What I did was I took my 10 1/2 inch dinner plates, moved them into the back of my cupboard. I've bought some 8 inch lunch plates and we all use those in my family at dinner.

Well, except my teenage son, he uses big size plates and get several servings of them.

But you know, for the rest of us humans, the eight inch plates work great. So try it out, see how you end up eating less and are still satisfied.



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Day 17--Beverages--Drink Up

Welcome to Day 17!

The Moon is dusty—super dusty. Your training is going well, but you do miss the green and blue of Earth. You forgot how much water meant to you.

It’s funny how you’ve always taken water for granted, until it’s all gone. What you wouldn’t give to take a hot shower, jump into a refreshing pool, or just have one cool glass of water (that hadn’t been packaged and sterilized).

Oh well, this is what you signed up for.

Mission Freedom!


Today's lesson is purely informational. Continue working on the plate habit you made last week. You don't need to create a new habit around beverages yet, but just keep this info in your "back pocket" until you need/ want to make a new habit.

You probably have some questions about what and how much you should be drinking, so today we're talking about beverages.

Water Does a Body Good

What should you be drinking? It's no surprise, but our main beverage should be water, and you want to be drinking 6-8 glasses of water per day. We take water for granted most of the time, but it’s amazing how awesome it is when we’re really thirsty.

Make it easy on the Assistant to get her 6-8 glasses per day. Carry a water bottle with you. Make sure your water is good tasting and refrigerated. 

Water tastes awesome and is super refreshing, but not in comparison to soda, juice, Crystal Light, coffee, margaritas, or wine.

Drink Up, Assistant

Your Assistant loves sugar or artificially sweetened beverages, caffeine, and alcohol so she will want to choose those type of drinks over water.

Make sure that the "Healthy Choice is the Lazy Choice." Make sure that water is easily accessible, good tasting, and cold, while other beverages you'd have to go to the store for.

So what about when you drink something other than water? There are two things to think about when choosing beverages other than water-- Calories and Crave-ability.


When you eat something, your Assistant says, "Oh, I just ate something with calories. I'm not as hungry anymore." 

But when it comes to beverages, your Assistant does not register the calories. You're just as hungry as before you drank all those calories. So, it's very easy to overdo the calories when you drink them. 

So keep caloric beverages to a minimum--only on special occasions. You don't want your weight loss to stall for something your body doesn't even register as food!


The other factor to consider when it comes to beverages is crave-ability. Sugar, caffeine, and alcohol all cause the dopamine centers in your brain to light up. The Assistant will often want more and more of these substances. Consuming them can be a slippery slope for some people.

There are documented health benefits of coffee and alcohol (absolutely no health benefits for soda), but don't start drinking them just for the health benefits.

Also, be honest with yourself. If your one glass of wine a night starts becoming 2-3, or your morning coffee goes from grande size to vent size, you may want to start setting some rules around beverages for the Assistant.  

You May Need a Rule or Strategy

Next week we will be talking about how to set up rules and strategies, so hang tight until next week if you need a beverage strategy.

Remember to be a scientist and be truthful with yourself about your beverage habits. Notice how they're affecting your cravings, your energy, your health, and your weight.






What to do about beverages? So far we haven't really talked about beverages. Well, we're going to talk about them today.

Caloric Drinks

There are a couple of things we want to think of when it comes to beverages.

First of all, are they caloric vs non-caloric? So, you know we don't want to get a ton of extra calories through beverages. You’re trying to lose weight and get healthy after all.

Calories in beverages are tricky. And, the reason why is your body does not notice the calories in beverages.

So when it comes to food, if you eat something that has calories, your body body registers those calories. It says, “Oh, I had some food. I'm not as hungry.”

Well, unfortunately, the same thing does not happen with beverages. Your body doesn't register those calories (that you just drank) so it still stays hungry. So, we want to keep caloric beverages to a minimum, not too often just kind of a special treat.

Now what about the other thing to think of? 


Well, the other thing we want to think about is craving versus non-craving beverages. There's plenty of crave-able beverages.

What I'm talking about here is drinks with sugar, caffeine, or alcohol. Those drinks can be great treats, but they aren’t drink all day kinds of drinks.

We need to know ourselves. When do those drinks start getting to be too much? Do we feel like The Assistant is taking things into her own hands and making us want those things more and more?

Well, then we might need to come up with a Bright Line Rule. I'm going to have a link below talking about how to make a Bright Line Rule, but you may need to come up with one when it comes to crave-able drinks (actually we talk about this next week, so hang tight).

So, maybe you have one coffee every morning or one tea in the afternoon. And that's it. Same thing with alcohol. Maybe you have a rule—one beer on Friday night.


You know that studies show that alcohol can be good in certain amounts for your health, but again, you really need to take into account what it's doing to The Assistant and whether you’re meeting your own personal health and weigh loss goals. Is the Assistant telling you “More and more” or “That would be great!”

Think about if alcohol is starting to wake you up in the middle of the night or make you go a little bit overboard when it comes to food. Those are all things you got to look for when you are drinking.

So, you might need to come up with some rules around alcohol. You might decide, “This is the way I'm going to do it. One mixed drink when I go out with friends. One glass of wine on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.”

Again, it's going to be personal. So start thinking about what you’d like to do with beverages and we’ll come up with rules or habits together in the future.

If you need some help, put a question there (in the app), and I'll help you come up with your own guidelines.

Day 16--To Snack or Not to Snack

Welcome to Day 16!

You’ve arrived at your dorms on your new training station—The Moon. Although you want to get right to work, you keep being briefed on all the rules of your new training ground. It’s like the first day of school—lectures from all the teachers on the class rules.

But, now that you think about it, maybe it is good to rest, and not jump into more missions right away. It is hard work keeping up with what you’re already doing. You are a bit tired. Come to think about it. You have the rest of eternity to get this stuff down. Maybe your instructors know what they’re doing after all.

Mission Freedom!


You probably have some questions about how to eat in other situations besides just lunch and dinner. So, that's what we're talking about this week--how to eat when it comes to breakfast, snacks, beverages, and plate size.

Today's lesson is purely informational. 

Continue working on the plate habit you made last week. You don't need to create a new habit around snacking, but just keep this info in your "back pocket" until you need it.

If you want to experiment with adding more protein and fiber to snack time, feel free, but it doesn't need to be a new habit yet.


Today we'll be talking about snacks. I teach you to Eat on Purpose.

When it comes to snacks, I definitely want you to eat them on purpose or not at all. 

Snacks are one of those areas of food that the Assistant wants to take over. She knows that in the past the rules around snacks have been a little loose. And she's taken advantage of that. 

She likes pleasure, and snacking is an easy way for her to sneak in pleasurable foods when the Boss isn't looking. So we're going to train her as to what the rules around snacks and what a good snack food is.

To Snack or Not to Snack

The first question that people have when it comes to snacks is "Should I be snacking or not?"

In French culture it is "passe" to eat snacks. Only small children eat a snack between lunch and dinner. They want to save their hunger for dinner and enjoy each morsel. 

You don't need a snack. If you can go between lunch and dinner without needing/ wanting a snack, it won't mess up your metabolism to forgo it.

Many of my clients would like to go without a snack, but it doesn't work for them yet. Their Assistant takes things into her own hands and they end up picking and snacking on foods that they'd rather not eat. 

Snack on Purpose

So, if that's the case, then I encourage you to Snack on Purpose

When your dinner is later in the evening, a snack can tide you over until then. The purpose of the snack is to fuel you through the afternoon, help me you eat a little less at dinner, and keep you from bingeing on whatever your Assistant can find. But, make sure that it's planned ahead, not just a spur of the moment whim of the Assistant.

Should I Eat Six Small Meals a Day?

What about the "It's better to eat six small meals throughout the day" weight loss idea?

Science doesn't back up the idea that this is a better way to eat. Plus, for most people it's too hard to do. 

I have a handful of clients (out of 100s) that swear this works for them. If that's you, eat your small six meals a day. 

For the rest of us, we just don't want to be bothered to eat that often or we'd rather have bigger meals. Be a scientist and do what works for your body and your lifestyle knowing that there isn't a one-size-fits-all prescription.

What to Eat for a Snack

So if you've decided that it's better for you to have a snack, what should you eat?

Focus on foods that will keep you from feeling too hungry, but not cause cravings for more and more. You want to decrease hunger, but not get so full that when dinner comes around you don't want any. 

I recommend foods that are high in protein and/ or fiber. So think of your past experience with snacks...Any foods that stand out as snack winners for you?

Snack Food Favorites

  • Nuts

  • Cheese sticks

  • Piece of Fruit

  • Greek Yogurt

  • Veggie Tray with Hummus or Ranch Dip ( I make my own with Greek Yogurt and Dry Ranch Mix)

  • Microwave Popcorn

  • Cottage Cheese with Fruit

  • Lunch meat rolled around a cheese stick

  • Protein Shake

Remember to be a scientist as you experiment with different snack foods, to figure out which snack foods energize you without a crash, keep you from cravings, and help you control afternoon eating, and lose weight.





To Snack or Not to Snack

A lot of people have questions about snacks— to snack or not to snack? That is the question, and the answer's going to be all up to you. This is going to be personalized.

What I’ve found is that if you go longer than five hours between lunch and dinner, you're probably going to need a snack to keep you going. Because, remember the assistant, she doesn't like to go hungry. If you get her too hungry, she's going to take matters into our own hands. So, we want to be intentional with our snacks.

Rule of Five

Remember Rule of Five if you're going longer than five hours between meals, then it may be time for a snack.

What to Eat

When it comes to snacks, we want to focus on fiber and protein. We don't want to just pick up something that's super tasty—that kicks up cravings. We don’t want to get even more hungry and then want to eat more and more. 

Some Hunger is Good

We're just trying to appease the assistant until dinner time. We actually want her to be a little bit hungry. I noticed for me that if I eat too big of a snack, I don't even want to make dinner. And, then my kids are whining because it's eight o'clock and I haven't even started making dinner.

So, we want to stay a little bit hungry. We want to make sure we're hungry for dinner, so that we enjoy it and that it becomes the big meal of the day or one of the big meals of the day. We don't want snacks to become a meal.

What to Eat

So focusing on protein and fiber, what that means is we're going to focus on eating fruit, or vegetables, or protein. Try and keep a lot of the other super tasty carbs out of the equation.

Some people like nuts (and they’re a superfood when it comes to your health). I personally like a protein shake with a lot of fiber. I put some fiber powder in there and that fills me up, but doesn’t fill me up too much.

Tight Rope

Again, there's kind of a tight rope walk here. We want to get rid of that aching hunger, but still leaves some hunger for dinner. I want you to go ahead and experiment with this.

Be a Scientist. Find out what your perfect spot is for snacks.

Good luck.

Day 15-Breakfast By the Plate

Welcome to Day 15!

Landing on the Moon took you a few tries. You wanted it to be perfect, but your ship didn’t land quite right. No catastrophes or anything. Just had to re-try the landing, and then you got it right. You got frustrated and thought you should have tried harder, but your Mission Commander said that that was normal . No one gets it perfectly right the first time.

Welcome to the Mission Freedom Moon Training Center!


You've been working on your Plate habit for a few days now, and you'll continue to work on this same habit this coming week.

Habit Prototype

I call the first draft of a new habit—The Prototype—because the first week you find out what all the obstacles are. You never get it eactly right at first. You may need to tweak things. Then, the second week seems to go a lot more smoothly.

So, use this week to continue to practice this habit, and start noticing the benefits of eating according to the plate.

You probably have some questions about how to eat in other situations besides just lunch and dinner. So, that's what we'll talk about this week: how to eat when it comes to breakfast, snacks, beverages, and your plate size. 

There won't be a new habit to add this week. You will work with your coach on developing your Personal Meal Plan and continuing to work on your Plate Habit.

What to Eat for Breakfast

Today we'll be talking about all things breakfast. When it comes to breakfast, you can certainly follow the standard plate recommendation of 1/2 plate veggies, 1/4 plate protein, and 1/4 plate carbs.

But not everyone in America finds vegetables easy to prepare, eat, or digest in the morning. So, I like to give you options with several different breakfast plate templates to choose from.

No matter what breakfast plate template you follow, be sure to prioritize protein and fiber (while minimizing flour and sugar). Protein and fiber are the keys to feeling full and preventing blood sugar crashes later in the morning. 

Breakfast has been called the "most important meal of the day" because breakfast can set-up your energy and cravings (or lack of them) for the remainder of the day. 

Eat too lightly in the morning, and you may find yourself continually snacking in the afternoon. Eat too decadently in the AM, and you may find yourself snoozing by 10:00AM and craving sweets for a quick pick-me-up.

Use 3 of the 4 Quarters for Breakfast

For breakfast, get creative and use a modified version of the Four Quarter Plate. Choose any three of the four quarters (except always include protein) to make a breakfast that will be filling--but not too filling.

No matter how you eat at breakfast, make sure that you always get some protein at breakfast. Protein is important to help satiety, keeps cravings low, help lose fat instead of muscle, and costs more calories to metabolize than carbs or fat. 

My favorite breakfast protein ideas are eggs, turkey sausage, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, and protein powder/ shakes.

Breakfast Template Combos

For the breakfast plate template, you're going to choose three of the four sections, being sure to always have some protein. That means you could have a menu combination of

  • Protein, Vegetable, and Starch 

  • Fruit, Protein, and Vegetable

  • Fruit, Protein, and Starch

Protein, Vegetable, and Starch

If you eat breakfast according to the traditional RHH meal template (protein, vegetable, and starch), there are three ways that people like to get veggies in:

  1. Smoothies--add greens or other veggies into a smoothie. Check out Pinterest for lots of smoothie ideas.

  2. Eggs--serve eggs on top of roasted or sauteed veggies. Add lots of veggies to an omelet.

  3. Leftovers--Who said you can't have dinner for breakfast? Just be sure to cut down your portions to keep it light enough to fuel your day.

Then add a starch like a whole grain piece of bread, quinoa, or sweet potatoes.

Protein, Vegetable, and Fruit

For this option, you can choose any of the menu items, and substitute a side of fruit for the starch.

Protein, Fruit, and Starch or just Protein and Fruit

What should you do if veggies aren't your breakfast thing? Try subbing fruit for veggies. Here's where a Greek yogurt parfait becomes a great option or cottage cheese with fruit.


What about traditional breakfast foods like cereal? 

Be sure to get some additional protein than what is found in milk or try a milk like Fair Life that is higher in protein and lower in carbs. Then choose a cereal according to the 5-5-10 rule. The cereal should have at least 5 grams of fiber, at least 5 grams of protein, and no more than 10 grams of sugar.

Then, add some fruit for added fiber and satiety.


Oatmeal is a great food to fill you up, but choose less ground-up versions. Steel cut or Old fashioned oatmeal will keep your blood sugar more stable, keep you full, and prevent cravings better than instant or quick cook versions

Think about adding some protein powder/ shake to it while you cook it and then top it with fruit. I personally add collagen powder to mine. Use a natural sweetener like truvia or stevia to sweeten it.

Be a Scientist

Remember to Be a Scientist as you experiment with different breakfast foods and different plate combos, to figure out which breakfast foods energize you without a crash, fill you up, and help you control your appetite, get healthy, and lose weight.


The Lesson



breakfast by the plate

So you've been practicing with your personalized habit around the plate. I know by now you're starting to get some questions.

What do I do about this?

What happens with this?

Well, that's what we're going to focus on today. You're going to keep on doing your personalized habit, but we're going to talk about some of the things that might come up—some of those things that you have questions about.

So the first one that a lot of people have questions about is—breakfast.

What do I do about breakfast?

Most people here in America are not so used to eating vegetables with their breakfast. The idea of half a plate of vegetables at breakfast is a little bit overwhelming, so I have a few things that you can do to mix things up a little bit and make breakfast a little bit more palatable.

Veggies for Breakfast?

Now, can you eat vegetables at breakfast? 

Of course. There's two ways that my clients find it really easy to do. The first thing that they do is they might try a smoothie. Smoothies are a great way to hide a lot of vegetables. So Kale, spinach, greens, those are really easy to put in. If you've ever heard of green smoothies, you know what I'm talking about. The other thing people can do is put some cooked vegetables in. If you have some frozen vegetables, those work really great, but you want to make sure you have a really good blender to get those all nice and pureed.

Now another thing people like to do is they'd like to add some vegetables to eggs. So if you have some roasted vegetables from the night before or you want to saute some vegetables, put eggs on top or put them inside an omelet, that's another great way to do the plate at breakfast. 

Other Breakfast Options

But those of you who aren't fans of vegetables at breakfast, what do you do?

Well, I like to use the four quarters plate, the one that we use for our kids or for those people who are healthy weights. Now I like to use three out of the four quarters. You can just kind of pick and choose which ones you want to use.

Your breakfast template options are

  • fruit, protein, starch

  • vegetable, protein, starch

  • fruit, starch, vegetable

Just pick your favorites. But, don’t forget to experiment.

So make it about a three quarters plate with a quarter of each of those different things.

Personalize what works for you, and you'll have a breakfast that you'll love and will help you to lose weight. And, stay full at the same time.