Chocolate is Not the Enemy

January 6, 2010

[Excerpt from Jan Henrikson’s article from Chicken Soup for the Dieter’s Soul about her experience with Dr Rebecca Ocean]

It wasn’t yet 7:00 in the morning and already I was chain-eating lime chili tortilla chips.  I stood at the kitchen counter, emotionally hung-over from yet another fight with my boyfriend. I was crunching the anger, salting the wounds. Crunching and salting with bites of chocolate for good measure. I couldn’t stop. Even the tortilla chip bag had a wickedly furious crinkle.  I couldn’t eat fast enough to block the tension of not wanting to abandon my relationship, not knowing how to go on. I was broken, a whir of helplessness, powerlessness.  This echoed my drinking days.  Twelve years I’d been sober. How did I get this way with food?  This had to stop. Had to stop! What had been an occasional binge followed by days of deprivation had become a near-daily nightmare.

A prayer flashed through my mind, one that my friend Marti Matthews shares in her book, Pain: The Challenge and the Gift. It goes like this: “Help! Help! Help! Help! Help!”  Which, she suggests, can be repeated with hands thrown in the air.

I repeated it silently all the way to a breakfast with one of my best friends, a bearer of wonders and wise words.  While I collected myself, she whipped out a flyer from her bag and slapped it on my empty plate.  “Taking Your Own Shape: Explore Your Relationship with Food and Body,” it said.

What?  Oh my God.  The most important part of praying for help is recognizing it when it arrives.  Darn, I’d have to go.

The class was intimate and scary.  Six women sitting on couches. That first night, I felt like someone who’d arrived from another planet with a “Waiting for Instructions” note pinned to my soul. Please tell me what to do and when to do it. Give me the whole calories in/calories out regime with a few collages thrown in to express my creativity and no one will get hurt.  Now!

Instead, we talked. And we listened. We talked about our bodies – what it felt like to live in them. We shared our love and lack of love for others and ourselves. We set no weight-loss goals.  We suffered no weekly weigh-ins or calculations of the foods we ate, and in what proportions. Got no stickers for eating right. Or scowls for eating wrong.

In fact, Dr. Becky Ocean, our teacher, said there was no right or wrong, only alive and less alive. She needn’t have told us. She radiated acceptance. She embodied an invitation to a whole new level of living that was spacious and expressive.  She’d weighed 300 pounds, not once, but twice. Eight years ago, she lost 170 pounds and has never found them again.

How strange. My body was a Frankenstein to me, out of control, hunted and feared by the villagers. Becky practiced compassionate experimentation. Explore your weight. Don’t condemn it. Perhaps hunger was a message from your deep, wise self.  What if your body generously expressed what you were afraid to? Well, if my body was speaking, it was mumbling, that’s for sure. Maybe because its mouth was full.

One evening we introduced our “Favorite Food Friends” to each other. A vegetarian brought a huge plate of steak and french fries. I showed my old faithful Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby ice cream. Chocolate-covered peanut butter–filled pretzels tucked into vanilla ice cream. I’d met Chubby Hubby years ago when my then live-in boyfriend moved away.  It was everything: salty, crunchy, soft, sweet. Thanks to Ben and Jerry’s planet-friendly ethics, I could save myself and the world at the same time.

“You say you crave variety,” said Becky. “Interesting variety in that carton.” She invited us to experiment with our food friends.  Did we reach for them in anger? Sorrow? What would happen if we held the tension that triggered the craving just for a moment?

The next time Chubby Hubby called, I paused with spoon in hand. I let my body experience the ache for peace with my lover. Then I ate the ice cream.

Instead of slapping my thighs and cursing my willpower, I became curious. So there really were emotions trying to emerge between bites. My body relished the pauses from chips and chocolate. Attention at last! I began to enjoy feeling fluid and elegant instead of leaden. Twenty pounds fell away. Discovering that my cravings, my clenched heart, my anxious belly had answers for me was like being lost and panicky in the woods and discovering the trees could speak. Now when trees speak, I listen.

Reprinted by permission of Jan Henrikson (c) 2007 from Chicken Soup for the Dieter’s Soul by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Theresa Peluso.  In order to protect the rights of the copyright holder, no portion of this publication may be reproduced without prior written consent.  All rights reserved.

Growthful Fear and Anxiety – Feel the Fear And Know You’re on the Right Track

August 22, 2008

For some reason we think if we listen to the lecture, read the book, buy the product, or attend the workshop that we should be able to “just do it.” But the truth is that for athletes, artists, musicians, or anyone when they begin a new job – it’s the hands-on practice that really builds their knowing, ability, and confidence in a new area.

In other words, the feeling of successfully learning something new is experiential – we have to experience ourselves doing it well in order to know that we’ve got it. This requires that we practice our new knowledge – which includes feeling awkward, making mistakes, and seeing our skills improve over time.

Last week I was working with one of my students who is dedicated to getting the most out of our work together. It was clear how much she admired my success in weight loss – how to know what to eat considering all the possible options, how to get herself to do what she knew, how to finally have peace with food and weight. She works with me to acquire that knowledge and inner understanding for herself because she longs to feel confident, unburdened, healthy, and radiant.

So I asked my student if she knew how long it had taken me to feel and embody the qualities she desired. Can you guess how long it took me? Six months? One year? Three years? I worked long and hard – learning to be present, understanding and experimenting with food and movement, exploring my emotional connections to food, reading, and studying, practicing what I was learning, and getting as much time as I could with my teachers who advanced my development – for 8 years before I felt I really got it.

I’m not special or unique. In fact, people who know me well know I can be a tough case – stubborn, willful, and resistant. In other words, human. If I can do this, you can do it. Put in the time, make your inner world and authenticity a priority, invest in yourself, work with capable teachers, and practice, practice, practice and you will learn how to embody your optimal health, radiance, and prosperity.

If that’s true, then why do so many fail? Less than ½ of 1 percent of those who lose more than 100 pounds will keep it off for more than 5 years without surgery. And less than 5 percent of those who learn how to create wealth will become prosperous. If anyone can do it, why don’t we? Survey says…the number 1 answer is…FEAR! Fear comes in many clever disguises such as “I don’t have time”, “I’ll start next month”, “I don’t know how”, “I’m not ready”, “I need to learn more first”, “I have to do x, y, and z before I can do that”, “I don’t want to talk about it”, “I can’t”, and “Huh?” AKA “I forgot”. But basically they all are layers over the very normal, simple human experience called fear.

In the moment we choose to do something new, we step out of our comfort zone and put ourselves face to face with some very uncomfortable feelings. Feelings human beings will go to great lengths to avoid.

When we voluntarily step across the threshold of what we know, we want and can imagine success, but we can also imagine the worst possible outcomes. We might feel rejected, anxious, humiliated, stupid, ashamed, hurt, embarrassed, foolish, like a failure, vulnerable, insecure, and more. These are the kind of feelings we prefer to avoid so we’d rather stay with the activities we know, the ones that make us feel good in the moment or at least not worse.

The problem with feeling good in the comfort zone is that, if you really check it, it actually doesn’t feel that good. It feels like being asleep, or numb, or like you’re running away from something. In other words, it feels like there’s something to fear.

Inside our comfort zone looking out toward a new expression of ourselves in the world, we are at the edge of a great opportunity, but our anxiety seems to say, ‘This is the wrong way to go. If it were right I wouldn’t feel so anxious.’

Fear tells our minds that others who succeed had it easier or were special in some way. Or if we don’t get something perfect the first time or feel nervous or scared to do it we think that maybe its not for us. But the passion that moved you to learn about losing weight, becoming prosperous, or personal development in the first place came from somewhere. It came from the part of you that wants you to live to your full potential.

Our quick fix culture does us all a huge disservice here, encouraging us as it does to lives of mediocrity. We’re so programmed to get rid of any kind of discomfort – QUICK – that we run away from normal, positive indicators of our growth and development.

Did you know there are two kinds of anxiety? There’s ordinary anxiety, like the everyday anxiety of sitting in traffic or having too much to do in too little time. But there’s also its lesser known counterpart, growthful anxiety. Growthful anxiety is a clear physical indicator that we have the opportunity to grow in a new and more expansive way, to be more whole, and to embody more of our potential.

Think about anytime you have started a new job, even though you might have been excited, weren’t you also nervous? Didn’t you experience a learning curve where, little by little, you began to master the aspects of your position that were once new to you? Didn’t it feel uncomfortable and awkward in the beginning? Didn’t you start to feel good about yourself as you worked through the uncomfortable phase and overcame the challenge of learning something new?

Of course you did. Because growing feels great. Much better than the comfort zone. That’s the way human growth and development works. It’s a simple, natural process of feeling inspired, challenged, courageous, and competent, at which point things become easy and we’re once again ready for something new and the cycle begins again. The reason we love hero movies is because we each face the hero/heroine’s journey of inspiration, challenge, courage, and success – we are each human development in action on our own unique path.

So I’m giving you some tips to break free from society’s gravitational pull toward mediocrity, to harness the power of growthful anxiety (fear), and to step boldly forward on your heroic journey to weight loss, health, and/or financial success.

Breakthrough Practices for You

1. For the next 7 days, notice when you are in your comfort zone and when you are feeling the natural growth anxiety of challenging yourself with something new. Really FEEL both without criticizing yourself in any way. Whether you’re sitting on the sofa watching TV or eating something you think is unhealthy, or if you’re studying new material or practicing a new form of exercise, what do you feel? Numb? Afraid? Engaged? When you’re practicing something new, can you feel all the stages of inspiration, challenge, courage, and competence?

2. Become aware of the messages in your environment. Are they positive and supportive of your growth? Or are they negative and discouraging? Positive messages tell you have what it takes, that success is hard and uncomfortable sometimes but totally worth the effort, and that you’ll feel most alive when you are challenging yourself to live to your fullest potential. Negative messages tell you that you don’t have what it takes to be successful, that success is supposed to be fast and feel good, or that it’s better just to take it easy and not stress yourself out. Make a list of the sources of positive messages in your life and list of the sources of negative messages in your life. Where do they come from? TV, radio, family, friends, work, mentors, books, role models, church, school, or other environments?

3. When we’re children, most of us (sadly not all) have a huge amount of love and support for our smallest achievements like taking our first step, learning our name, and adding 1+1. As we get older, we have to work extra hard to find capable support and encouragement for our growth and development. Many adults are jaded themselves, have given up on their own growth, and are threatened by those with passion and an unwillingness to settle for mediocrity, so people in that camp aren’t going to be able to provide support for our goals. This week eliminate or lessen your contact with the negative influences you found in question 2 above and increase and strengthen your contact with the positive influences in your life.

4. Give yourself a chance to benefit from growthful anxiety by practicing new weight loss, personal development, or prosperity skills that are uncomfortable for you. Even 10 minutes a day for whole week will build your confidence and ability to a whole new level.

And now I invite you to advance your success today by getting your Free Inner Secrets Intro CD when you visit You’ll receive the tips you need to help you take the next step in facing any challenge to your success.

By Dr Rebecca Coleman

Permanent Weight Loss – Prepare to Beat the Odds and Release Weight For Good With Positive Changes

August 15, 2008

Have you tried every diet known to humankind but are still struggling with weight? Have you learned the “what” to do for losing weight, exercising, wealth building or other personal goals but still can’t get yourself to do it? Do you start out with the best intentions but lose steam if you don’t get immediate results?

If so, you’re in good company. The truth is, less than 5% of people who learn about prosperity building or other types of personal development will actually apply it to achieve success. The odds are even worse for permanent weight loss.

Did you know that only one-half of one percent of people who lose more than 100 pounds will keep it off for more than five years? That’s almost nobody. Not even one body in a hundred compared to the lucky five who’ll become wealthy.

I founded O C E A N to help you overcome those dismal odds because I know what’s its like to struggle against them and – gratefully – I know how to beat them. My expertise is in understanding the process of making change and coaching others how to be successful for good.

Let’s use weight loss for our focus today, but know that what I’m teaching applies equally to just about any positive change you are trying to make in your life.

Despite the fact that anyone with a TV knows that eating less and exercising more equals weight loss, the vast majority are unable to do it. Why so few?

That’s what I wanted to know when I weighed nearly 300 pounds for the second time and was ready to lose weight for the last time. I was well aware of the discouraging odds I faced and I was determined to be in that tiny percentage of successful “losers”. So I added graduate school in psychology to my career in business and researched how human beings breakthrough inner obstacles to create permanent, positive changes. Through years of study and personal practice I developed a powerful and enlivening process that I now teach to those who are ready to succeed. What I discovered changed my life for good and it will give you a whole new approach to beat the odds and succeed in reaching your goals.

So let’s begin by returning to the question of why so few succeed at applying what they learn to weight loss or financial success. The answer is an obvious secret. Most people simply can’t “just do it.” If they could, they would.

We have unrealistic expectations about mental success that we would never have about athletic success. We think if we mentally learn the mechanics of a new venture, the doing should come easily. We know this is untrue in sports. Mentally knowing how to swing a golf club does not make driving over 300 yards easy. It takes a combination of understanding the most effective method of swinging, dedication to learning the skill, and hours and hours of practice that includes more failures than successes. Why do we think starting a new career, growing our prosperity, or losing weight should be any different?

When you commit to developing your health or prosperity skills, you are stepping onto a path that will challenge you to grow beyond your comfort zone of already mastered abilities. Most adults fall asleep to the fact that learning and growth continue throughout their entire lifetime and think they should know how to do things without practice. Then, when it doesn’t work that way, they give up before they really begin.

Right now begin with the attitude that you are capable of meeting the demands of learning the skills of building your health and wealth. Every one of us has some successes we can build upon. Acknowledge your strengths and use them to develop your weaknesses.

Being strong doesn’t mean being hard on yourself. Now that you know the odds you’re facing, I want you to give yourself a break for not having succeeded so far. If you’ve spent a lot of money on diets, books, or products, it’s likely that you or someone in your life may be giving you a hard time about “not doing anything with all that stuff.” I’m guessing harassment hasn’t worked to get you moving so far – it rarely does – especially for the long term. So since harassment isn’t working, stop it now. Inner criticism is the single biggest obstacle to your growth.

Instead, I invite you to take a minute to realize you are facing a huge opportunity that will be riddled with challenges. This is an opportunity that will change your life in ways that will thrill you to your toes and make you passionate about sharing your success with others (like it has for me). Knowing the odds you’re facing will help you realize that your breakthrough to radiance and prosperity will require your full commitment, a positive outlook, resiliency, and inner strength.

Breakthrough Practice for You

This week make sure you are as prepared as possible for the challenges you face. Every successful athlete and business person prepares for the challenges of their precious opportunity with expert information, consistent training, support through the rough spots, and lifestyle design to support their goals.

– Are you actively learning about how to create the health and prosperity levels you desire?

– Are you practicing your health and wealth skills consistently? Daily? Weekly?

– Do you have a team of people giving you positive support and encouragement through the difficulties?

– Have you made your health and prosperity a priority in your life and built it into your schedule?

Take a few minutes and answer these questions for yourself right now. I’ll wait (theme from Jeopardy here). How many “yes” answers do you have? Give yourself credit for them. And plan one simple action that can begin to turn your “no” answers around. There’s more to being in the less than 5% than just having the methods.

Written By Dr. Rebecca Coleman