How I Set My Goal Weight

HUGE thanks to everyone who attended the live workshop (or watched the replay!)

(I’m loving all your rules, too! Looks like “I do not eat in front of the TV” is a big one!)

Since the workshop, a bunch of you have emailed me asking…

“How do you choose a goal weight?”

It’s a great question (though not with a short answer!)

If you have a lot of weight to lose it can be helpful to set a smaller benchmark initially.

Benji talked a lot about this strategy in his podcast (Listen here)

In the end, Benji lost half himself -- 135 total pounds! But he freely admitted it would have been too overwhelming for him to set a goal of losing 135 lbs, so he made a lot of benchmarks and worked towards those in stride.

Focus on losing an initial 10% of your starting weight…

…but get away from using the scale to track if you can.

I love to tell this story about how I had a goal of “120 lbs” in my head for years, but really, that number did not guarantee I would achieve what I really wanted, which was to fit in a pair of jeans I’d been lugging around as “inspiration” for 10 years.

(You can read more here: Me, My Goal Weight, and a Pair of Jeans.) The story ends happily: I finally fit in the jeans (and they are now too big!) but I never made it to 120 lbs.

Set a measurable goal that isn’t a scale or number -- whether it’s fitting into a pair of “goal pants” like I did, taking measurements, tracking with pictures, or taking Sara’s approach: “I have been chasing a number that I am 30 pounds away from, but truly I just want to run without pain. If that happened at 140 or 160 and not 120 pounds, I wouldn't care. I just want to be comfortable in my body and clothes.”

I’ve also found with myself (and many members) that your body's definition of a goal weight is often different than whatever we pick in our head. It's not uncommon for a member to tell me they "wanted to lose 20 lbs" but lost 40. Or in the case of Benji, he never would have believed he needed to (or could!) lose 100 lbs, let alone 135 lbs.

Sometimes we have no perspective until we start losing, too.

Another story I like to tell is how when I got down to 140 lbs (squarely in the “normal” range for my height) I still wasn’t happy with my appearance. My stomach was still hanging over my pants and my arms and thighs chafed constantly from rubbing.

I then had my body fat measured and discovered I was at the tippy top end of what was considered "healthy" even though I was at a "healthy weight."

With the help of the meal plans, I lost another 12-13 lbs and ONLY then did I finally land in the healthy range.

It was also shocking what a difference 10 lbs made in my appearance and how GOOD I felt.

(You can read more here.)

I always read “throw your scale away” but resisted it with a vengeance. Please learn from my mistake!

Weighing myself daily, and even weekly made me batty. (You can see my log here.)

Eventually I came to appreciate the scale cannot tell me my fat to muscle ratio. The scale can’t tell me if I fit into my favorite jeans or promise I’ll look good naked. And most importantly, the scale has no way of knowing how I feel -- which is strong, fierce, healthy, and yogilicious!

Set a measurable goal with a pair of pants, photos, or measurements! But if you must pick a weight, start with the goal of losing 10% of your starting weight -- you should be able to do that within 2-3 weeks.

Make this the summer of success! Enroll in the meal mentor program. Class starts June 22nd! (for members only)

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Creating a Self-Supportive Environment Podcast

A new podcast is up and ready for you!

In this episode Jennifer (my copilot!) and I talk about the relationship between religion and veganism (it was Jennifer’s faith that brought her to a plant-based diet!) and the importance of being kind to yourself.

Finally, an open and honest look at hate-talk (why do we say things to ourselves we would never ever say to someone else?) and how detrimental bashing ourselves can really be.

Creating a self-SUPPORTIVE environment involves taking a moment to appreciate yourself, too!

Jennifer also talks about parenting little vegheads, how to adapt the meal plan meals to be more kid-friendly, AND she shares her #1 secret key for staying on track! (and what YOU should do more of to succeed!)

I also loved Jennifer’s honesty about losing, gaining it back, losing it again, and self-sabotage.

Don’t miss this episode!

P.S. Do you love listening to the podcast? Show your support by leaving a review on iTunes.

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Set 2 Rules

You already know that you can’t rely on willpower alone. You need to have a plan in place to create success AND have an environment that is conducive to success.

Setting rules is a great way to create that self-SUPPORTIVE environment.

a la, help yourself before you can’t help yourself.

(I can’t help myself around dehydrated mango, so my rule is not to buy it!)

The great thing about rules is they absolve you from having to use willpower.

AND rules eventually become habits, which bypasses willpower altogether. BOOM!

You can also apply this tactic to ANYTHING in your life, not just food or weight-loss.

For example, I have a rule that I never re-read an email after I send it or re-read a blog post once it’s been published (unless it’s a very quick scan for a reference). I can’t even begin to tell you what this has done in terms of productivity and time-saving.

Draw that line. Because once you do, you know exactly where you stand and you don’t cross it. It becomes SO EASY to make decisions and you’re not constantly depleting your willpower.

(And if you are vegan or in a relationship, you’ve already drawn sand lines before!)

Once you decide your two rules, share them below.

(And for those of who joined or watched the overeaters and food addiction workshop, try to set rules based on what type of eater you are.)

My own favorite personal rules?

-I don’t eat french fries

-I don’t eat while watching television.

I can’t wait to read yours :) And remember to make them FIRM not aspirational.

“I don’t eat dairy” not “I’ll try not to eat dairy”

Be specific too. No vagaries.

“I don’t eat potato chips.” not “I don’t eat junk foods.”

By the end of June, your two rules will be habits and you’ll be ready for two more.

Pretty amazing when you think about it!!!

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Is Peanut Butter Addictive? {+ Free Live Workshop}

Think everything tastes better with peanut butter?

Is your “PB&J” mostly peanut butter with a little jam ;) ??

Ever wonder why you’re craving peanut butter?

(And can’t stop giving in?)

We’re hardwired to derive pleasure from foods with a lot of fat and calories.

It’s a built-in survival mechanism going back thousands of years, when calorie-rich food (and food in general) was scarce.

This wiring is why ice cream, cheesecake, and brownies taste so good to us!

But even whole plant foods that are high in fat and/or rich in calories can give us a pleasure sensation.

This is why you loooove peanut butter so much. (And why others think dates are pure bliss.)

The highly caloric nature of peanut butter, combined with the mouth feel from all the fat and low water content, makes peanut butter very pleasurable and extremely addictive.

And since most peanut butters are also mixed with sugar and salt, too, they’re that trifecta combination that makes stopping near-impossible after a single spoonful.

We just can’t help ourselves…

Here’s another interesting thought by Dr. McDougall: Nuts (in nature) are enveloped in a hard shell. It takes time and serious effort to crack a nut open (WITH the help of a nutcracker or pick. No tools? Good gourd!) and any tree or plant usually doesn’t offer that many nuts.

But in our modern world, eating nuts is as convenient as unscrewing the lid to a jar and pouring them straight in your mouth.

And then there’s peanut butter -- 19 nuts smooshed into one tablespoon. You don’t even have to use the energy to chew!

It takes about 540 peanuts to make a 12-oz jar of peanut butter!

(Shocking, I know. But it really puts it into perspective, no?!)

Try to think of nuts and peanut butter (or almond butter, etc) as a delicacy, which they were in society up until the 1900s :)

When I use peanut butter on the meal plans, it’s used sparingly -- just enough to add flavor. (A little goes a long way when done right.)

The Fine Line Between Lusting After Peanut Butter and Having an Addiction to It

With food addiction, the problem is not necessarily the food (though some foods, like sugar and dairy, are physically addictive), but the addictive behavior you associate with it.

If that’s the case, you need to address the psychological and emotional attachment you have to the food.

Apply the asparagus rule: If I tell you you can’t have asparagus ever again, you’re probably not going to bargain with me about exceptions… “ But on my birthday right? I can have asparagus on my birthday?” or try to tell me why you should have asparagus… “But my body is craving asparagus… shouldn’t I listen to my body? And asparagus is a source of this one vitamin!” Or justify eating asparagus… or spout off some study you read about the magical benefits of asparagus…

I guess if you really liked asparagus you might… lol, but you get my point. Substitute in a vegetable you’re only lukewarm about in place of asparagus…

…and if you don’t feel that way about a certain food, you might not have the best relationship with that food...

And remember: The prescription for any addiction is abstinence, or at the very least minimizing temptation as much as possible.

I can’t keep peanut butter in the house because my husband can’t help himself around it. He will eat it and eat it -- putting it on practically everything, or just his finger, until it’s gone. The jar wouldn’t last the week.

Me? I could take or leave peanut butter, but that struggle is real for me with other foods (like dehydrated mango!) which I don’t keep in the house either. (Date vs. peanut)

To be certain, my husband still LOVES the taste of peanut butter and lusts after it (the mere mention and he starts drooling!) but he also thanks me for not buying it. (It’s very love-hate.)

BIG NEWS!!! I’m hosting a very limited, very VIP, free workshop on food addiction and overeating this Thursday, June 11th.

I just did this training with premium members a few weeks ago and it was so incredible, emotional, spirit rocking that I’m doing it one more time.

Everyone left the workshop feeling stronger than ever!

"After the overeating workshop, I am convinced that I can control my "input" (efforts like meal planning and sleeping or light exercise) and rely only on that. If I lose weight - great! If I don't - no problem. The least I can do is control what goes in my mouth and everyday life."- Sireesha C

"It feels so good to not be alone in this fight, and having "homework" or something specific to work on each month makes it feel less overwhelming."- Denise A

More details in tomorrow's newsletter. You must be on the newsletter to receive details, signup here for free! But for now...

Leave a comment below on what you hope to learn (so I make sure to cover everything!).

P.S. Want to know my thoughts on PB2 and “diet” “low fat” peanut butters?

Dr. Essy says not to use it, period. But I've seen the McDougalls use it in recipes...

My opinion? If you have an addiction or trigger with peanut butter, you probably should not use PB2.

For example, a member (a peanut butter addict) discovered PB2 and started going through a container a week, putting it on everything. We agreed she needed to avoid anything like peanut butter.

Similarly, another member, who could take or leave “regular” peanut butter, found herself eating an entire jar of “low fat” peanut butter (sold by Trader Joe’s) every week. One look at the ingredients and I knew why: there was a boatload of sugar and this member was prone to sweets. She also admitted because it was lower in fat and calories, she was more generous with it, even “rewarding” herself for using such a healthier choice.

And one more insight from Beth: "I LOVE peanut butter, but not PB2. I've found fresh peanuts to be the best sub for me in many recipes. If I have PB I'll eat it all. I can have a jar of peanuts on hand and not touch them. For a sauce recipe that calls for pb I'll throw peanuts in the blender with the other ingredients. I also like to buy the grind your own pb at the store because I can buy just a tiny bit if I need it for a recipe."

Bottom line: If it’s not an addiction/love for you, PB2 might be a good lower fat, lower calorie, substitute in meal plan recipes that call for a dab of peanut butter (but the low fat ones are probably not a good idea no matter what due to sugar content).

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Short-Term Goals for Long-Term Success


A new Meal Mentor podcast is up and ready for you!

In this episode Benji (my copilot!) talks about his EPIC weight-loss (135lbs! He’s HALF his size!), and how setting short-term goals was the secret key to his success.

We also talk about the perceptions other people have of your new trim body, vanity sizes at stores, the importance of “progress not perfection”, and what it’s like being plant proud in the deep South.

Benji is also the mastermind behind the Food=Medicine Conference I’m speaking at (along with my parents and one helluva all-star line-up) plus he gives some tips how you can practice outreach in your area.

BTW, use the coupon code “HERBIE” to save $150 off (plus another $100 off if you register before June 15th) I hope to see you there, this conference is going to be STELLAR.

P.S. Do you love listening to the podcast? Show your support by leaving a review on iTunes.

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14 Ways to Pack a Better Lunch

Tired of soggy salads?

Cracked tortillas?

Chewy pasta?

I’ve got just the lunch box hack for you! (Plus 5 other ways to improve your workweek lunch)

Pack soups and smoothies in a thermos. (For smoothies, put your thermos in the freezer the night before. That way it’ll be extra cold when you pour your smoothie in.)

Use shampoo bottles (cleaned really, really well, or buy new ones) to tote dressings and other sauces. (These work great because you can still squeeze and drizzle!)

Assemble your salad in a mason jar.

Here’s how to do it in 3 easy steps:

1. Start with your dressing (this way your salad won’t get soggy!)

2. Next, add your toppings (i.e. beans, veggies, grains, etc.)

3. Top off your salad in a jar with greens

Chill your salad until ready to eat, then dump the contents out on a plate.

A couple of tips…

Pack your ingredients well! You don’t want a ton of extra space because condensation will find its way in and could make your vegetables soggy.

You can also make your salads ahead of time so all you have to do during the workweek is grab and go.

If you don’t use a jar, you can also put a napkin or paper towel over your salad greens inside a container to catch the moisture.

You can also store the “insides” of your burrito or wrap in a mason jar and then let it plop out onto the tortilla when you’re ready to eat!

When reheating pasta add 1-2 tbsp of sauce or salsa (everyone keeps a jar of salsa at work, right?). You can also reheat covered with a damp paper towel to help lock in moisture.

No microwave? Get a lunch crockpot ($20) -- it’s like a lunchbox that plugs in!

Cook a big batch of quinoa and store it in a tupperware container in the fridge at home or work. Scoop some out every day as your side, or even serve your lunch over it (repurpose leftovers as a new “salad”). You can toss quinoa into soups, too! Unlike rice and other grains, you’ll find quinoa holds up all week. Plus it goes with everything!

Or cook a big batch of rice and freeze individual servings for grab and go. (Plus your rice will work as a cooler pack for your lunch--usually thawing by itself in time for lunch too!)

A bag of frozen veggies or fruits can also work as a cooler pack.

Store tortillas in the freezer. Pull out on demand, wrap in a damp paper towel and reheat for 10 seconds (5-10 more seconds if necessary). Steamed and fresh!

You can also keep a loaf of bread at work (in the freezer for max freshness!) to assemble there rather than toting and breaking up the components.

Of course the biggest hump of all is actually making your lunch :)

Dedicate time on Sunday to do lunch prep work (or double up dinner so you always have leftovers for lunch the next day -- a popular strategy with singles and couples using the family meal plans!)

You can also keep it super simple by simmering a big pot of soup you eat all week, or once a month making 30 burritos and freezing them, grabbing one each day. (Or store them at work if no one will complain -- that way you only have to remember one day a month!)

Speaking of remembering, set an alarm on your phone to buzz about the time you leave for work -- that way you’ll never forget your lunch.

If you found any of these tips helpful…

please leave a comment below.

Your comments and likes help me know I’m doing a good job :)

And if you decide to try any of these new tricks, leave a comment letting me know which ones!

Happy lunching!

P.S. To make a non-soggy PB&J, spread a thin layer of peanut butter on both slices of bread, then put the jelly on top. The pb protects the bread from getting soggy :)

P.P.S. According to TIME, you’ll save $2,500/yr if you pack a lunch. That’s a trip to Hawaii!

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