let go of your fork

Put your fork down between bites.  I don’t know how many times I’ve read that strategy for losing weight.  And I always gave that advice a nod and a ‘yeah, yeah’, but I never really tried it.  I always thought of it as a behavior or a habit that I couldn’t quite change.  But that changed when I read The Jean Nidetch Story by Jean Nidetch:

…people who are overweight still do the same thing.  They hold on to the fork all through a meal.  They never let go, because they’ve never learned how.

When I read those words, the light came on.  I realized that, for me, holding on to my fork was more of an emotional attachment.  It was a security blanket that I wouldn’t let go.   No wonder I’ve had such a hard time putting down my fork.  It wasn’t about changing a behavior, it was about changing my thoughts.  It was about overcoming that emotional attachment and seeing the fork as a tool for eating rather than as my Excalibur against life’s pain and frustration.  I will again be practicing letting go of my fork at least once each meal this week.

Can you let go of your fork this week?


Organizing Ideas for letting go of your fork

If you are eating with someone who eats slower than you, you could make a game or challenge yourself to:

  • put your fork down if you see their fork down.
  • sneak a peak at their plate when you’re half-way done and wait for them to catch up.

You could use your non-dominant hand to hold the fork.  I’m thinking that this would not be a good one to try in public initially.

motto, theme, or microresolution

Happy New Year 2015 colorful triangles

Many people have given up on New Year’s resolutions because they never seem to last past January.  But you don’t have to give up on the idea of making a change in 2015.  You could:

Decide on a theme for 2015.  A friend of mine would always come up with a theme for the year.  One year it was ‘Wonder Woman’ and the next year included more peace and calm along with the strength.

Choose a motto for 2015.  Last year my motto was — will this help me?.  This year I’m going with —  courage to create.

Achieve a microresolution in 2015. Instead of resolving to exercise more, consider creating a microresolution.  You might focus on parking in the last stall or walking the perimeter of the store before you start shopping.  Instead of promising to eat healthier, consider building the habit of putting your vegetables on first or ordering soup (clear not creamy) as an appetizer when eating out.

For more ideas on making small moves and setting microresolutions, check out the book by Caroline Arnold,
Small Move, Big Change: Using Microresolutions to Transform Your Life Permanently




What change do you want to see?

Check It Out

reduce * simplify * experience * live!

keep * let go * begin

make your health a habit

I heard  a great quote on The Biggest Loser years ago, “willpower is overrated”.  This was a freeing concept for me, because it meant that better choices were easier to make if I didn’t actually have to be aware of making the choice — if the environment was clear of temptations or if the better choice was a habit.

Have you tried to build a habit lately?  Did you go in with the expectation of it taking 21 days to build?  Were you successful or disappointed?

Let me tell you — it does NOT take 21 days to build a habit. It takes more than 21 days to build a habit I’m not just speaking from personal experience, there is research* that shows, on average, a habit takes 66 days to build.  The actual number of days needed to build a specific habit will depend on you and the behavior.

The research found a range of 18 to 254 days (yes! yes! I so agree).  Some participants were unable to build a habit as the research ended before the habit was formed (in other words, it can take a really long time).  In general, healthy drinking habits (such as drinking water) were easier to build than exercising (running for 15 minutes or doing 50 sit-ups).  What I found most interesting was that the eating habits were harder to create then both drinking and exercise.  Hmmm, that might explain a few things.

Next time you decide to build a habit or make a change, give yourself more than 21 days. Make as long as it takes your mantra.  I feel that some new habits will take as long to make as you lived the old behaviors.

Keep building new and healthier habits.

* How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world (Lally, van Jaarsveld, Potts, & Wardle, 2010)

What healthy choice will you build into a habit this week,and for ‘as long as it takes’?


how I can help with Lifestyle Coaching

Ever wonder where the ’21 days to build a habit’ came from?  It has to do with plastic surgery and self-image.  HUH???
Check It Out

Busting the 21 days habit formation myth
‘Health Chatter’: The Health Behaviour Research Centre Blog

How Long Does It Actually Take to Form a New Habit? (Backed by Science) Huffington Post

These are the three most powerful books I’ve read on change and creating habits.

Share your journey.  How long did it take you to build your last habit? – leave a comment.


organize for weight loss

This week I’m sharing the recording and handout from the Organize for Weight Loss teleclass I gave on Thursday.  Some of the strategies may be familiar to you as I’ve written about them here in Small Steps.  Other ideas may be good reminders and still others may suggest whole new options for you.  Enjoy the teleclass, it’s about 50 minutes.  The handout has even more ideas and strategies, so make sure to download it.


Download the Organize for Weight Loss HANDOUTS  – please provide your name and email below to get the link. [email-download download_id=”1506″ contact_form_id=”1766″]

Additional resources and program offers:

My Kindle books are only $0.99 to download from Amazon:

 31 Small Steps to Organize for Weight Loss

31 Small Steps to Organize Your Life

Also available in paperback for $4.99 from Amazon:

31 Small Steps to Organize for Weight Loss

31 Small Steps to Organize Your Life

Interested in support and focus?  Try my Stop Dieting and Start Organizing: 6 Weeks to Organize for Weight Loss (and Health).  Click Here for more details.

What organizing idea will you use to help your weight loss this week?

Check It Out

My partner on the calls this month was Amy Tokos of Freshly Organized.  She presented organizing strategies for the family.  If you would like to listen to her teleclass or take a look at her handouts, go to freshlyorganized.com.


If you found this post useful, supportive, interesting or fun, please share it with a friend.

5 small changes to make on Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

Last week I asked if you were going to gain, maintain or lose this holiday season.  Well, the first stage of this holiday adventure is coming up this week – Thanksgiving.  What’s your action plan for Thanksgiving day? And the day after?

What’s for breakfast?  Don’t skimp here.  Fuel your body and your willpower with plenty of protein and enough fiber to keep you satisfied through the morning.  Keep the sugar and fat down.

What’s your plan for snacking?  Come on, you know you will, so what’s your plan?  What types of snacks usually show up on Thanksgiving?  Are they special or can you get them every other day of the year? Will you bring your own?

What foods are a must-have?  There are special foods that come out at this time of year, so enjoy them.  Enjoy them on Thanksgiving — don’t extend your holiDAY into a holiWEEK or holiMONTH.  Enjoy a taste — choose not to heap your plate or go back for seconds.

Change your words and thoughts.  Instead of responding to food offers by saying no, I can’t; no, I shouldn’t; or I’m on a diet, tell others (and yourself) no thanks, not right nowno, I’m full; and even no, I’m not as Begin today _ henry blinnfond of it as I used to be. Words are powerful so choose words that imply strength, abundance, preference, and choice.

How will you fill your plate?  Here are some options to limit portions without saying no to your favorite foods:

  • Use the smaller salad plates.
  • Don’t let your foods touch each other.  Show some plate between your food choices.
  • Go back for seconds and thirds.  I figured that might catch your eye.  Have fruits and vegetables as your first course.  Put the turkey or protein as your second course.  Then the potatoes and other starches/carbohydrates.  Finally enjoy a bit of dessert.
  • Choose the special foods, the best foods.  Leave the every day items  for every day.

Plan now for Thanksgiving.  Afterward, evaluate what worked, what didn’t, and repair your plan for the next stage…holiday parties.

What’s your eating plan for Thanksgiving?

Check It Out 

My blog posting half was reposted on Being808.com as Try tricking your brain to keep your portions in check. Check it out and take a look around Being808.

My latest video

If you found this post useful, supportive, interesting or fun, please share it with a friend.

change it up

Doing the same thing doesn’t always work.

Change can be necessary.  Change is absolutely, positively required when you start getting bored with the same routine or you’re no longer getting the results you expect.  Just because you were successful at losing weight by eating the same breakfast every day for six months, you may now find yourself getting bored and grabbing something less healthy, or worse yet, skipping breakfast all together.

Change is also necessary when it comes to your exercise.  Take a different route on your walk, go to a different exercise class, or try a completely different activity altogether.

If doing the same thing had worked for me the first time, I wouldn’t be writing Small Steps since the journey would have been simple, straightforward and over with years ago.  But I’ve continually had to change things up.  Changing how I track my exercise (and my food) is again important for my success.  I had gotten into a rut and started skipping my walks or finding excuses (sorry I mean, reasons) I couldn’t do my stretches and weights.

I’ve found something that is helping me track AND encouraging Activity Log challenge sheetme to get my activity in.  It’s a  chart I got from HMSA as part of an employee wellness program.  It’s simple.  Cross off the boxes in 10-minute increments with the intent of getting 150 minutes of activity a week.  The first goal was to get all 150 minutes in three out of five weeks.  Then I used the chart to keep me motivated to do the 150 minutes for all five weeks.  Now my own personal goal is to see if I can cross off those 10-minute boxes TWICE in one week (300 minutes).  There are many electronic tracking tools out there and I still use my Fitbit to track my steps, but I get more out of tracking on paper and making the change.  Eventually I’ll have to change my tracking again but for now this tool is helping me get active.

Download a copy of the log sheet and see if it helps you to move more.

[download id=”1258″]

What do you need to change-up this week?

If you found this post useful, supportive, interesting or fun, please share it with a friend.

transitions & changes

Change is what happens outside of us.  Our environment changes, our circumstances change and, of course, our choices change.

Transition is what happens within us.  Sometimes we get stuck and we don’t make the transition.

I’ve been thinking about a transition model by William Bridges that I was introduced to and how it applies to our weight journey.

As with all beginnings, this transition starts with an ending.  As we transition to losing weight we face many endings and losses.  Some we embrace and some we fight.  We may be afraid of losing friends who aren’t taking the journey with us to healthier choices.  We mourn the end of family traditions that revolve around food.  Sometimes we’re angry at the world and ourselves for having to face this challenge (again).

We also need to let go of our old self-image.  Do you still find yourself grabbing the XXL shirt when you’re actually wearing large now?  Are you still wearing baggy clothes long after you lost those pounds you were covering up?  Are you still holding on to your ‘fat’ clothes, just in case?  Let it go!

We need to accept the ends in order to begin making new traditions, choices and visions.

Believe you can and youre half way there - theodore rooseveltOnce we’ve made peace with the endings, we face the neutral zone.  We adapt to the new way.  We have new habits and routines.  We make healthier choices routinely.  But if there is a snag or a bump, we worry that we’ll slip and gain it all back.  We’re uncertain whether or not we’ll succeed this time.

Now’s the time to add more self-care and supportive resources.  Focus on what you’ve achieved and pull out that list of why you started this journey in the first place.

When do you cross the neutral zone into the last stage, the new beginning?  Honestly I don’t know.  Or maybe I’ve made the crossing on some things but I’m still in neutral on others.  While a few more are way back there, where I’m still not willing to accept the end.

  • I made the transition from being hooked on sugary foods to committed to my new self-image of “nah, I’m not big on sweets.”
  • I’m definitely in the neutral zone on exercise but I’ve upped my daily steps goal.
  • Portions.  Definitely portions have not made it out of the ending stage.  I still find myself thinking how unfair it is that my portions need to be smaller.

 ending –> neutral zone –> new beginning

What habit, thought or choice can you transition this week?  

Check It Out  

My organizing newsletter on setting goals and making plans From Here to There

Seduced by the Illusion: The Truth About Transformation Photos by Andrew Dixon 

halfway there

never climb in vain framed_nietzcheWe are over halfway there.  But is there where you wanted to go?

Now that we’re midway through the year, it is a perfect time to revisit your goals and your intentions for 2013 (if you haven’t already).  Check to see if you’re on track, if you need to make a slight correction to what you’re doing, or if you need to dump the goal altogether.  It’s time to look at, with curiosity, acceptance and love of course, what’s working and what’s not.  What is getting you closer to where and who you want to be?  What’s getting in your way?  Which goals are still of value and which are no longer valid because life has taken a different turn?  Are there new goals to set?

Of my three goals for 2013, I’ve deferred one by extending the completion date, redefined another and the third, well… it was more an intention and fairly open ended, but I’m making progress.  None of them had direct weight loss or maintenance aspects but I chose each with a thought to how it would positively impact, influence or nudge me towards a healthier weight.

How are your goals looking this week?

Check It Out  

SMART and SMARTER goal setting

Zoo Humans — Abnormal behavior in zoo primates (and humans) could be related to food, Psychology Today

do what only you can do

The last step in dhucking your weight loss responsibilities is DODo those things you love to do; those things that make you smile or laugh; those things that make you feel energized and happy.

This week:

  • Take your breaks
  • Go to sleep 15 minutes earlier
  • Walk, dance or stretch for 15 minutes longer
  • Take your lunch to the park
  • Search for a picture that makes you smile
  • Find something that makes you laugh
  • Write down your thoughts

Remember to use all the steps to dhucking your weight loss responsibilities:#1 dump;#2 delegate; #3 defer; #4 diminish and now #5 do.

What will you do this week?

More from the Blue Zones – Power 9® Nine common reasons those in the Blue Zones live longer.

Revisit my blog on getting your sleep.


From my book:

Small Step #4: How many are enough? Handy items can easily get out of hand if you don’t establish a limit of how many are enough.  How many paper bags, plastic containers or glass jars are enough?  Really?  If you reply, “but, I might need them someday” then try letting go of half ( or at least a third) of what you have.

31smallsteps_Cover31 Small Steps to Organize Your Life

by Shawndra Holmberg

Kindle Edition

Buy Now from Amazon.com
No Kindle – No problem.  There are reader apps for your computer, tablet and smartphones on both Amazon.


Explore, Dream Discover_Twain

it’s a journey

I always talk about weight loss as a journey.  It is.  It is an adventure; a quest.  Maybe it begins as a search for that holy grail: fitting into a two-piece swim suit for your summer vacation or looking good for your high school reunion.  But as the hero of any good adventure learns, the journey is more than just pulling a sword from the stone or fitting into the glass slipper.  The journey, the hero’s journey, your journey, is about the transformation that you go through as you meet each challenge.  It is about the growth you experience and the understanding you gain.  A hero’s journey is about lessons learned and re-learned; endings started and beginnings closed; and it is a transition from who you were to who you are and will become.

Shut out all of your past except that which will help you weather your tomorrows.  ~Sir William Osler Losing weight requires changes, changes in food choices and activity choices; but change is an external occurrence that happens to us or around us.  A weight loss journey is a transition; a transformation of the internal landscape of ourselves which we express in our choices, our actions, and most importantly, in our belief in ourselves.

As you decide for the first time, or maybe ‘yet again’, that you will lose weight, choose this time to see it as a journey and an opportunity to transform your lifestyle and not just a temporary change in choices.

What choice will you change this week?
What internal view will you transform?

Check It Out   

Vitality Compass from Blue Zones:  Get up to 12 customized recommendations to help you live longer.

Island Scene: Health, fitness, family and fun in Hawaii


Some of the feedback I got on my book was that I wasn’t charging enough.  So I will be increasing the price in July.  It will remain at $0.99 for the next couple of weeks, so if you’ve been waiting, now’s the time to get it.

 From the book

Small Step #4

How many are enough? Handy items can easily get out of hand if you don’t establish a limit of how many are enough.  How many paper bags, plastic containers or glass jars are enough?  Really?  If you reply, “but, I might need them someday” then try letting go of half ( or at least a third) of what you have.

31smallsteps_Cover31 Small Steps to Organize Your Life by Shawndra Holmberg

Kindle Edition

Buy Now



Also available on NOOK and there are reader apps for your computer, tablet and smartphones on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.