Not to Reinvent the Wheel…

First of all, I offer gratitude in this Thanksgiving week to all who are experts in fields aligned with my Personal Sustainability work.  In particular, I give credit to a professional who came to my attention because of her work with food, Roseane Oliveira, and with gratitude, I include a blog from 2016 that has everything to do with Emotions, and Emotions have everything to do with Personal Sustainability.  This is great!

Emotions and Eating

How to Tap Into the Magic of Emotional Mastery

It is the third and final week for our Food Day Challenge.

For all of you who joined us for the challenge this year, we want to send you a big congratulation!

Many of you are delighted with your whole food plant-based journey. In just a couple of weeks, Collection of vector smilies with different emotionsyou have dropped some weight and you feel both refreshed and energized.

But others may be disappointed because you have not experienced similar changes or have failed to lose as much weight as you hoped. Worse, you may feel angry for not succeeding and helpless because ‘nothing you do ever seems to work’.

This is an ideal time to discuss the role emotions play in our lives and how they can affect our approach to eating.

Emotional mastery is key to a full, rich life in all domains including our eating habits.

Let’s explore this incredibly important topic together.Gratitude Illusion of Lack

Let’s First Talk About Emotions

We can all agree that emotions are an inescapable and inevitable part of living.

The real question is how can we harness the power of our emotions in order to live a fulfilling life, attain a deeper sense of well-being and access the most robust physical and mental health possible.

Let’s face it.

Sometimes life can get overwhelming.

There are so many issues that can unleash disempowering emotions.

You might have problems at work (or even lose your job altogether!)nov-16_emotional-eating_body6

Maybe your relationship hit some ‘speed bumps’ or even ends.

Or a big external event (like an election?) occurs that upsets or frightens you.

Fear. Anxiety. Insecurity. Anger. Helplessness.

We are all touched by the ups and downs of life and the emotions they trigger.

And many (millions!) of us seek solace in eating or –should I say– overeating.

For so many, food comforts and even for a few moments, alleviates the emotional pain.

Why ‘Emotional Eating’ Can Be Deceiving

Having said that, I am not the biggest fan of the term emotional eating.

That is because…

Every act and decision that we make is based on our emotions.

nov-16_emotional-eating_body5From taking a walk this morning to choosing to eat oatmeal for breakfast, every single thing we do all day long is emotion-led.

So, if we are going to call eating ‘emotional’, why not name everything else we do ‘emotional’? Emotional walking, emotional exercising, emotional watching TV. (You get the picture).

No matter how much we pride ourselves on being ‘rational’, the reality is that our actions (behaviors) and decisions are always based on emotion and rarely on fact.

A classic example is weight loss.

We know what we need to do to reach our ideal weight. Yet, we struggle. And we struggle because there is an emotional gap. It may be because we feel helpless or overwhelmed. It may be fear of failure. But whatever the specific emotion, it is those feelings that impede (or ensure) our success–not what we know rationally.  

The label ‘emotional eater’ may also imply that you are powerless to change the situation. It may lead you to believe, “This is who I am” and “There is nothing I can do about it” “I just have to accept the fact”.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

When you recognize that all human beings behave and decide based on emotions, you realize that we are all in the same boat. Eating as a response to an emotion is therefore not some kind of ‘special’ flaw you have. Eating is just the ‘vehicle’ you may have chosen to meet your needs (which we will cover in a bit.)

Why Do We Overeat (or Binge-Eat)?

To understand the answer to this question, we need to grasp how we adopt new behaviors.

Tony Robbins explains there are three steps to successful behavioral change:

  1. Intellectual Mastery: The first step to successfully adopting a new behavior is to nov-16_emotional-eating_body4understand the concept intellectually. For example, when transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle, you need to understand what a plant-based lifestyle is and why it makes infinite sense for your health. But as we will see, ‘knowing’ is never enough.
  1. Emotional Mastery: The second step is to understand and master your emotions. For example, when switching your eating habits, you need to learn to associate empowering (positive) feelings with that type of diet (and keep negative feelings such as fear at bay).
  1. Physical Mastery: The third and final step is physical mastery. After you understand and embrace a habit through your mind and emotions, you begin to ‘live’ it. Your body assumes and accepts this new habit physically. You ‘own’ the new behavior, and it becomes second nature to you. It is part of who you are. It is your identity.

Another very important factor to bring into this mix is the environment.

Your surroundings play a huge role in ensuring that you adopt a new behavior. Your environment must be conducive to success.

Nowhere is this truer than with eating.

If you find yourself in a negative, stressful situation with no healthful food options, you dramatically reduce your chance of success when it comes to adherence to a plant-based diet.

And even though emotional strength can surpass temptations in your surroundings, if you are just starting out, you must stack the environment in your favor, keeping it as clean as possible and avoiding ‘bad’ foods where you are.

Why Do We Have Those Emotions in the First Place?

So we have now seen how emotions fit in when it comes to learning a new behavior.

nov-16_emotional-eating_body12We also know that binge eating (a learned behavior) is ‘triggered’ by negative emotions (notably, anger, fear, helplessness, and/or guilt).

So how do we better control our feelings so that we consistently engage in positive, good behavior (e.g. eating a whole plant-based diet) rather than in unwanted behaviors like overeating or binge eating?

The answer this question, let’s tap into the ideas of two great mean–Abraham Maslow and Tony Robbins.

Maslow is best known for his Maslow hierarchy of needs, a theory which suggests psychological health is built on certain human needs, culminating in self-actualization.

Putting his own spin on the subject, Robbins ‘rewrote’ Maslow’s original hierarchy arguing that 6 needs need to be fulfilled every day in order for us to feel good:

  1. Certainty: Certainty is based on the idea that all of us want to avoid pain and gain pleasure. Every decision we make and every behavior we engage in is an attempt to fulfill this need.  It goes from securing basic physical needs such as housing, clothing, and food to believing that our efforts will pay off.  The key is learning how to endure what is perceived painful in the short term to achieve pleasure in the long run.  Unfortunately, most people trade that for pleasure in the short term, which will likely lead to pain in the long run.
  1. Uncertainty/ Variety: While ‘uncertainty’ might seem contradictory to ‘certainty’, we humans actually also need change and stimuli because it keeps us interested, engaged and balanced. Variety is indeed the spice of life.
  1. Significance: As Oprah Winfrey has famously (and rightfully) pointed out, everyone wants to be recognized. We need to feel special and know our existence matters.
  1. Love/Connection: To feel love and to love others within our families or romantic relationships is the fourth essential need. As humans, our urge to connect is inescapable.

The next two are what Robbins describe as ‘needs of the soul’ and can only be met once 1-4 are satisfied.

  1. Growth: Growth is all about expanding our understanding and capabilities.
  1. Contribution: Contribution focuses on service, the importance of giving and helping others. It is the idea that the world will be a little bit better for us having been in it.

It is important to note that there is always a way (vehicle) by which we can fulfill these fundamental needs. Those vehicles can be positive, negative or neutral.

A couple of examples…

We can fulfill our need for certainty (i.e. avoid pain and gain pleasure) with bad vehicles like eating too nov-16_emotional-eating_body14much, drinking or using drugs, or we can choose instead to fulfill this need with a positive vehicle like exercise.

We can feel ‘significant’ using a negative vehicle like violence (e.g. physical or verbal abuse) or through a positive one like volunteering.

The need is the same. They are just fulfilled very differently according to the vehicle chosen.

One last (but important) aside.

Any behavior which allows us to meet at least 3 of our 6 needs will become a VICE.

Let’s look at the example of eating junk food. This negative behavior will fulfill at least 3 of our needs: Certainty (Eating junk food will momentarily give us pleasure and help us avoid pain), Variety (When we eat junk food, we add variety and new stimuli to our day), and Connection (Junk food makes us ‘connect’ to ourselves – “Only we understand what we need right now”).  It may also fulfill our need for Significance (Having an eating disorder makes us feel special; it makes others pay attention to us).

This explains why so many bad behaviors are so difficult to give up! Even though these are negative vehicles, they are helping fulfill 3-4 of our fundamental needs simultaneously.

The bottom line?

The best way to nurture positive behavior in our lives is to choose positive or neutral ways (vehicles) to fulfill our fundamental needs.

Giving the Right Meaning to Our Emotions

All of this is interesting.

But we still have not answered our question on how can we reconfigure our emotions to always encourage positive behavior?

The problem is we humans often focus on things we cannot control, and to squander our energy, thoughts, and emotions about those things is a waste of time.

You cannot control the past.nov-16_emotional-eating_body16

You cannot control other people’s opinion.

You cannot control external events.

In the end, emotional mastery is about focusing on what you can control.

And what you can control is your emotional responses to whatever life throws your way.

Controlling what things MEAN to you is your ultimate power.

If you believe something is BAD, then you will associate that ‘something’ with disempowering emotions. If you believe something is either GOOD or might be an OPPORTUNITY for growth, the feelings you associate with that ‘something’ will be empowering.

In other words, it is never about what actually happens.

It is always about the MEANING you give to what happens.

It is what you choose to believe about what happens that ultimately determines your destiny.

Therefore, the key to success is to always find and embrace empowering meaning to whatever event happens in your life.

One great way to do that is to practice the art of gratitude.

There is zero room for negative emotions when you are grateful for who you are and what you already do and have.

When we master our emotions, we are always in a superior place.

A place where we can easily choose the best and most positive vehicle to meet ANY and ALL of our basic human needs.

It is from that place that we will succeed in anything in life, eating healthfully included


Sleeping on the job?

child dreaming

studies show that 43 percent of Americans don’t receive enough sleep at night according to Workforce magazine’s Alexis Carpello…

If you are an employer, you may find that there is an increasing problem with employees being less productive, making less than good decisions, and simply making mistakes.  Fatigue and lack of sleep, restless nights hurt employees, but they also hurt employers in the same manner that stressed employees are hurting employers.  It drives down productivity while driving up benefit costs.

But take it further, money issues cause for restless nights, lack of sleep and fatigue.  It is quite obvious to me that money and sleep are directly correlated.  Time to do something about both, don’t you say, employees and employers???

Your Employers Can Help Your Finances…


It might help to know that the pressures individual employees feel with their finances could be helped by the actions their employers could take.  And I am not just talking salaries!

For all of those who go to a job every day, the worries individuals are facing with finances is spilling into the workplace.  It is probably true that employers are the biggest loser in this situation.  It is reported that losses of up to $250 billion annually are experienced because of people stressing over their personal money issues.  That is according to Mercer a benefit provider.  Finally organizations are paying attention to financial wellness.  The real “financial wellness”.  Companies are responding to the growing demand for a solution.  But not all are responding with appropriate programs.  “Well being” needs to be addressed.  Programs being offered in this area are also a way to attract and retain talent.  But “financial wellness” programs are not well defined, and few major benefit providers have begun to offer a comprehensive benefit program including financial wellness.  

People need to learn financial courage so that they can know what options are available for their particular situation and how to apply decision making skills in this highly personal and stressful situation.  More importantly, individuals need to learn the link between health and financial wellness; they are not separate.  When money is a stressor, it is very high on the “stress” list.  Its effects are no different than well accepted stressors that are purely health-related.    It will soon become more apparent that the old way of doing things in the benefit selection process may not be relevant too far into the future.

The Pressure to Become Financially Well!

Small Beginnings and Vision

Dealing with your personal finances can be painful just like a trip to the dentist.  The fear keeps you from beginning even though you know you need to go to maintain health.  It is just like this with money.  You know you need to really learn about your money:  how much you have, how much you don’t have, what you need, what you want!  

No one needs to tell me in any study that is being done that money is stressful for every gender, every age, and every income level.  It is stressful; there is pressure.  And no one leaves that stress and pressure at home when they go to work, no matter what they do for work.  

What is needed is courage.  The financial wellness programs that the banks offer you do not include courage, but they do include savings accounts, checking accounts, credit cards.  Their brand of financial wellness is product!  More and more product!  Yes, employers are beginning to look at financial wellness programs, and they usually choose what is the cheapest alternative to offer to their employer:  the banks do not charge because the banks want to sell more products.  Employers have been known to recognize that financial wellness is a top growing demand with employees but in choosing it is the last benefit picked for the employees.  It is not well defined, except in the case of banks, and that is a problem for employers; consequently, it is a problem for employees.  

Financial courage must be taught first, and that includes financial decision making.  Banks do not help people feel confident, and that is a major goal of all programs I offer through Empower Excellence:  learn how to make decisions that will make you feel comfortable doing the work.  No commercial here.  There is a problem:  poor money relationships.  There is a solution:  financial courage and resulting good money relationships!

The Empower Excellence Experience is…

The Empower Excellence Experience Nov 14 2017-page-0

This has been long in coming, and it may still change.  But, this is a succinct presentation of what I do with my company Empower Excellence, LLC.  I know it will still need explanation, but I wanted to share it with everyone today because it represents my work towards Personal Sustainability…your comments and questions are so very welcome…

Ready, Set, GOALS!

Hope Butterfly 2

If you are here at this point today, you have already chosen joy, tranquility, peace, and dreams, which means you have Hope!  The rest of the story does not just happen…it is up to you to write the story, and that takes goals.  Call them whatever you want, but my friend Tama Kieves has shared this:

Are you setting goals that fit your life?  If they’re real goals, they will blow up your life, drag you out to sea, push your head under water, and make you gasp for air–and see the light.  Real goals are an identity shift.

Set a goal today that frightens you and gives you hope and let’s you begin to live the life of your dreams!

Now, begin to dream…the next step…


Making the decision to find joy, tranquility, and peace with money was also the signal to find joy, peace, and tranquility in all areas of your life.  If you try to separate them from each other, it will be like a dog chasing its tail.  Do not try to segregate, just start living your life, and that includes your mind, body, and spirit.  But it is a perfect day to start “living” your dream.  As you proceed throughout the day, with each daily activity, start living as if you were where you want to be.   Find the joy in each activity, think about what you would like that part of your day to be now in this moment.  Your mind will start receiving those messages, your body will respond in kind slowly, and your spirit will begin to soar when you start seeing small changes.  This is all energy and the energy regenerates and keeps the progress going.  It is time to start dreaming in small ways so that you re ready when you reach for the big dreams!

And then Tranquility Empowers….


There is a lot to be said about tranquility, and tranquility comes from joy in small things.  Tranquility comes with peace of mind and allows you to think clearly and eventually without fear.  Fear is a really big part of a poor money relationship…get rid of the fear, and you can begin to face what you need to do to make your life better when it comes to money.  So, go for the joy and let peace and tranquility become part of your life.

Mindset: Choose Joy!


Let’s begin with a Saturday mind:  Choose Joy!  Yes, think joy before you feel joy when thinking about money 💰!  Your thoughts can become reality.  It is yours to create!  Face your current reality.  Think your future reality.  Think about the joy of the future reality…  you are not being oblivious, you are thinking what you want.  Hopefully,you want joy!