Kick-Ass Goal Setting for 2017


It’s a new year. And with this fresh new beginning comes the possibility of so much change. Of finally doing the things we’ve been meaning to do but haven’t quite done yet.

And so we make New Year’s Resolutions lists.

With things like: 

∇ Stop smoking

∇ Eat more healthy

∇ Lose 10 kilos

∇ Exercise more

And while they might feel good in the moment, these kind of goals are pretty useless. They just set us up for failure.

But it isn’t because we suck and have no willpower. It’s because we never really learn how to set goals effectively.

My training in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, the approach I use, has completely changed how I set and accomplish goals. This is not a magic formula of simply visualizing something and expecting it to manifest – it is a scientifically-based approach to values-driven goal-setting.

I like to think of it as also being a more compassionate approach to goal-setting because it actually sets us up for success.

To help you set kick-ass goals for this brand new year, I am sharing a downloadable PDF that you can get here.

And until the end of January, I am offering to read your filled out worksheets and provide feedback.

Here are some ways to make your 2017 goals more kick-ass:  

1. Make sure your goal is part of something bigger that really matters to you

These are your values, your WHY for wanting to achieve a goal. For example, with a goal like ‘eat healthier’, the WHY behind it might be self-care.

If you find yourself choosing out of FOG (Fear, obligation or guilt) and not because this is something that you want to move towards, you are not giving yourself the chance to succeed. You will simply end up sabotaging yourself because you are not following your heart. Guaranteed.

Read more about decisions made through FOG here:

2. Avoid dead man’s goals

These are goals a dead person would do better than you (like stop smoking, cut out sugar) and focus on what you want to do more of instead (breathe pure air, eat more healthy fats and protein).

3. Know that any change brings up discomfort – and be willing to make room for it

This is because our old-school, conservative mind will always resist any kind of newness – even something we rationally know is good for us.

Research shows that identifying the uncomfortable emotions, thoughts and sensations that show up when you try to implement a change and knowing that this is normal and part of the whole experience of making change can help us better deal with it.

Once you’ve identified these, you need to be really honest with yourself: How willing are you to face the discomfort that will inevitably show up when making this change? 

If you are not willing to, if the discomfort is greater than how important this goal is for you, that’s OK. But it does mean that it would be better to pick a different goal because discomfort is part of the whole experience, and cannot be avoided – even if we can learn to better handle the discomfort. If the discomfort is too great, then you will end up fighting an uphill battle with yourself, so make sure you have a goal that brings with it discomfort you can realistically deal with.

4. Break down the goal into the smallest, most tangible step possible.

A step that feels almost too easy is much more likely to lead to the next small step and to encourage us to keep moving towards what matters to us.

This seems counter-intuitive because we tend to be overly optimistic about how much willpower and motivation our Future Selves have! So really try to be realistic – how likely are you to take action towards this goal on a scale of 1-10? If less than 6, break it down even further.

A really tiny step for eating more healthy can look like: Add more vegetables to at least one meal per day. That’s it. It isn’t about overhauling your eating entirely straight away. Once this is mastered, you can then move on to the next tiny step and so on.

For exercising more, it might simply look like attending a zumba class once a week. That’s it. Just start really, really small.

4. To help you during difficult moments, think in advance about how you can cheer yourself on.

Why does it matters to you to do this, what it is in the service of? You can also write this down on a post-it somewhere you can see it or have it on your phone.

For example, with the eating more healthy example:

You deserve to feel your best in your body, to really take care of yourself. 

That’s it!

Make sure you get the FREE worksheet here and try as much as possible to view this as an experiment. If a goal doesn’t work out, that OK. The WHY is probably still true for you, so simply experiment with another goal that can help you move towards this.

And above all, be kind to yourself, always and whatever happens.

Staying True to Me During the Holidays


Don’t move the way fear makes you move. Move the way love makes you move. – Osho

I am definitely writing this blog post mostly for myself!

I am currently visiting my family in Amman, Jordan and while I love being here and seeing my family, I also find it challenging. Challenging to stay true to myself while also getting along with everyone. It feels like a dance between being with others while also being with myself and staying true to what matters to me.

I’m sure I’m not the only one out there with this struggle so I wanted to share a simple approach for making choices when it comes to family – and really anything in life.

It’s very simple, yet not always easy to apply.

Here it is:

Keep FOG – FEAR, OBLIGATION and GUILT – out of decisions and relationships as much as possible

Because FOG is often what drives how we make decisions and interact when it comes to family.

We might choose to spend time with family because we’re afraid of disappointing people, because of a sense of obligation or because we will feel guilty if we don’t.

Yet FOG often leaves us feeling angry and resentful and doesn’t really serve anyone in the long-term. When we choose based on FOG, we don’t really want to be there and we often end up not really being present. It also creates relationships that are built on FOG, which feel heavy and really not much fun.

So how else can we choose? Another way, and the way that I want to live, is by choosing as much as possible based on what really matters to me.

This means moving towards what matters – my values – even when this is uncomfortable, even when there is a risk of disappointing others or having to face fears, or being uncomfortable.

Imagine that you are a boat – you can spend your life just moving away from stuff you want to avoid (FOG) without any clear direction of where you are actually going – or you can actively choose where you are headed, and weather the storms along the way.

Both involve discomfort – but with choices made out of FOG this looks more like resentment in the long-term and being untrue to ourselves, whereas choices made by heading towards what matters are more about the discomfort in the short-term of disappointing people while being true to ourselves.

So for example, I could choose NOT to spend Christmas with my family – and this might mean having an uncomfortable conversation with my mother and perhaps disappointing people, but if this means being true to myself and not making choices based on FOG, then I need to be willing to allow this discomfort to be there – to choose that it is worth having in the service of my values.

I could also reframe what I see as obligations as choices I am making. For example, I could actively choose to spend Christmas with my family because being with my family really matters to me and it becomes something I am moving towards.

I find that when I actively choose to do things (or not), rather than feeling like I have no choice, it makes all the difference in how I approach the situation, in the attitude that I bring and how present I am.

Research shows that our relationship to ourselves directly influences our relationships to others. So it is only when we are being true to ourselves and making choices that are aligned with our values, rather than reacting from FOG that we can be authentic and present with others.

And I can think of no better gift to give people than for us to show up as we are, having actively chosen to be there, FOG-free.


When Gratitude is Unhelpful


I know this probably isn’t very popular to say but I believe gratitude can be unhelpful. It can also be wonderful, and yes, I know about the research from Positive Psychology about the power of gratitude.

Gratitude definitely has its place.

Yet, I find that gratitude is often used as an avoidance technique.

As a way of not contacting difficult emotions, of not fully feeling the injustice of a situation, of trying to force ourselves to accept something that actually isn’t acceptable – or isn’t digested yet.

Almost like a pretty coat of paint used to hide something we find ugly.

And if we want to live from a place of integrity, where we have our own backs and are honest with ourselves, I believe we must first:

Allow ourselves to feel whatever we are feeling. And I really mean whatever is showing up for us. 

Because it is showing up for a reason. Our emotions don’t exist to torture us but to provide valuable information.

So can we be really honest with ourselves and become really curious about:

In this moment, what am I feeling?

What thoughts are showing up?

What sensations?

What does this tell me about my needs or desires?

Does it give me information about something that isn’t working for me? About what I care about in this situation?

Being able to stay with whatever is showing up instead of trying to smother it with a layer of unheartfelt gratitude is much healthier to our psychological well-being. 

Because as humans, we are meant to experience the full spectrum of human emotions.

And we can’t force gratitude. Because as soon as we tell ourselves or other people that we ‘should’ feel grateful, it becomes an obligation, a rigid rule – not a choice.

This can sound like:

Everything happens for a reason

At least you still have xxx

You should be grateful for everything you DO have

Don’t complain, just be grateful that xxx

Please don’t say these things – either to yourself or to another person. Rarely, if ever are such statements helpful for someone going through a dark time.

Because here’s the thing. It’s OK to feel whatever you are feeling – and chances are, if you are going through a dark time, it doesn’t start with gratitude.

It looks more like:

It really sucks that my marriage didn’t work – it isn’t fair that other people seem to make theirs work. Oh…and there is a lot of sadness behind that anger…and grief…and…

It is only when you can honestly work through the difficulty of a situation, that you can allow yourself to feel the anger, the rage, the injustice, sadness or whatever else you are feeling – that maybe, just maybe, later, when it feels in alignment and not like a pretty layer of paint we are trying to use over hurt and pain that is demanding to be felt – can gratitude step in and have a space.

Don’t force it. Don’t insult gratitude by using it as pretty paint. Give it it’s rightful place by allowing it to surface in its own time.

And instead, bring in self-compassion to help you be with what is asking to be met.

Be easy, take your time. You are coming home to yourself. – Nayyirah Waheed

The Gap: Where You Are vs Where You Want to Be


There’s a gap. A gap between where you are right now and where you want to be.

This gap, you don’t want it there. You want to be on the other side. Or to not even notice it is there – to pretend that actually, things are fine! Just fine, over on this side of the gap.

Only they are not. Things might not be awful but they aren’t all fine, either. Because you want more. You want to be able to live more fully, to love more deeply, to really connect with people. You used to be someone with dreams. With interests. With ambitions. There was a time when everything felt possible.

Because if you are really honest with yourself, you know that this is not the life you want for yourself.

But this gap. This gap, it is painful.

This gap holds longing and helplessness and fear and thoughts of

Who do you think you are to even want this?

You don’t deserve this

You should just be grateful for what you already have

You can’t do this

You’re not good enough

And questions like:

What if it works?


What if it doesn’t?

You can’t seem to win with the gap.

And getting close to the gap is uncomfortable. It’s painful.

And so you live your life avoiding this gap. Numbing the pain of longing. Finding a little happiness in the every day.

Which is fine. 

Until it is not.

Until one day you realize: That gap, it’s crossable. 

That this pain that you’ve been avoiding for so long is not your enemy. And that you might even be able to use it as fuel to help you move towards what matters to you.

That you hurt because you care, and that if you didn’t care about doing this, it wouldn’t be so painful.

And all those horrible thoughts, you realize that they are just thoughts your mind comes up with to keep you in your comfort zone. That the mind’s primary job description is to keep you alive and safe, and any form of uncertainty or change is seen as dangerous.

And you realize that you can allow those thoughts and emotions to be there – that you can let them be and realize that:

Yes they are painful.


They don’t have the power to stop you from moving towards what matters.

So the day arrives when you finally cross the gap. You reach the other side. And on this other side, you discover that life is different, yes. 

That you are different.

That there is still discomfort and pain. That life is less easy. It isn’t as comfortable.

And that this discomfort is different from the one of longing and regret and absence you felt on the other side. It is different from the pain of numbness, of nothingness.

This pain, it’s a pain of newness, of no guarantees, of badassery. It’s a pain that comes with excitement, with exhilaration, with meaning.

It’s a pain of being fully alive. Of vitality.

And you realize that it boiled down to this all along –

Not whether or not you were going to feel any pain.

Because that is never an option in this life.

No. The choice was always this:

Of choosing between:

The pain of longing, of absence, of trying to convince yourself that this gap doesn’t exist.


The pain and risk that comes with doing what really matters to you and being fully alive.

The Secret to Letting Go


“I think of the trees and how simply they let go, let fall the riches of a season, how without grief (it seems) they can let go and go deep into their roots for renewal and sleep…. Imitate the trees. Learn to lose in order to recover, and remember that nothing stays the same for long, not even pain, psychic pain. Sit it out. Let it all pass. Let it go.” – May Sarton

I went through a very difficult period a few years ago.

Well intentioned people around me would just tell me – you just need to let it go. Let it go!

This advice was useless to me.

I couldn’t let it go because letting go felt like giving up. It felt like telling myself it didn’t matter to me when it was all I could think of. The mere thought of letting go filled me with dread.

So I kept soldering on. I tried convincing myself that everything was OK. I tried positive thinking. I tried positive affirmations.

None of it worked. It only made me feel like a failure because there was a disconnect between what I felt and what I kept telling myself.
It was only when I allowed myself to feel sadness that I was able to let go of a situation that wasn’t working anyway and to start living in a much healthier way.

Sounds strange, right? Why would connecting to sadness actually help in letting go?

Because that is the role of sadness.

All emotions have a message they want to convey, a role they play in our internal village. 

The word emotions comes from the latin ‘movere’ or to move and that is what emotions want us to do – they want to move us to do something.

Sadness wants us to let go.

I see sadness is the street sweeper of our internal village. 

When sadness shows up, it helps us:

♥ To recognize that something is no longer needed or working for us

♥ It helps us release it

♥ And in doing so, it helps us make room for the new – to rejuvenate

Like the autumn trees letting go of dead leaves in order to rest in the winter and rejuvenate in the spring, we too are cyclical.

And when sadness shows up, it asks the question:

What no longer works for me and needs to be let go of? What needs to be rejuvenated? 

As Karla McLaren writes, “Sadness helps you slow down, feel your losses, and release that which needs to be released – to soften into the flow of life instead of holding yourself rigidly and pushing ever onward.” 

Every emotion shows up first as a physical sensation in our body.

We don’t just feel emotions as mental states but as body states first. And with sadness, when we allow it to be without resisting or fighting or numbing it – it helps us let go. Healthy sadness is a physical release, a relaxation, – and tears are also a way of letting go, of physically eliminating toxins and restoring flow.

Like the leaves of a tree, everything in life has its own time or cycle. 

What might have served at one point, worked well even, now no longer does. Sadness signals to us that it is time to let go.

Let go of things that aren’t working for us…

♥ like tension

♥ muscle tightness

But also 

♥ anxiety

♥ soldiering on behaviors

♥ thoughts, behaviors or beliefs that we are no longer working for us but that we are still holding on to

♥ a relationship or certain dynamics in a relationship

♥ a situation

Letting go restores flow. It allows us to make space for new ideas and needs and desires that are more connected to who we are right now – rather than holding on to outdated ideas or needs or beliefs or relationships.

So what happens in our village if we don’t feel sadness – if we try to not feel it or never allow ourselves to physically relax? Our village gets overrun with garbage. And who wants to live in a cluttered village that is overflowing with garbage? This can even lead to burn out or depression.

When you allow yourself to welcome your sadness instead of fighting it, trying to suppress it or distracting yourself from it, you allow it to sweep away what no longer works for you.

We think sadness wants to steal something from us or to hurt us and that we have to fight it or protect ourselves from it. Yet the willingness to feel sadness is the secret to being able to let go. And it is only when we let go that we can rejuvenate, that we can make room for new, vibrant, beautiful leaves – leaves that reflect who we are today.

So as much as possible, can you stay open to your sadness and simply notice:

What must be released?


What must be rejuvenated?

And next time you feel sadness instead of resisting it or trying not to feel it, see if you can breathe in deeply and let go of tension as you exhale. Let your body help you work with your sadness and notice how much more flowing and vital life becomes.

Allow your street sweeper to do their job.

In the hero stories, the call to go on a journey takes the form of a loss, an error, a wound, an unexplainable longing, or a sense of a mission. When any of these happens to us, we are being summoned to make a transition. It will always mean leaving something behind…The paradox here is that loss is a path to gain. – David Richo

Inspired by The Language of Emotions by Karla McLaren + Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Below are some photos of the recent yoga + psychology event in the park with Marisa of Wild.Happy.Heart.


Why ‘Just Say No’ is Useless Advice for Boundary Setting


I am sure you’ve heard this.

That boundaries are about ‘just saying no’. Sounds so simply, right? So what makes them so hard to put in place?

Why do we say yes when we don’t want to?

Why do we end up feeling taken advantage of or misunderstood?

Why is it so hard to actually communicate our needs?

Why does trying to please others often come at the expense of doing what’s best for us?

In a nutshell, here’s why:

Because we are human.

And as humans, we are hardwired for connection and attachment. We evolved in tribes and being part of the tribe – belonging – is still one of the most primordial needs for us.

For our brains, not being part of the tribe is dangerous. In the past, rejection meant certain death as we couldn’t survive alone in the savanna.

So we are very sensitive to potential rejection. It even lights up the same area in the brain as physical pain.

It makes sense, then, that setting boundaries, from our old-school brain’s perspective is risky business.

So we stay in enmeshed relationships. We allow people to park out in our internal village, even when this comes at a high cost.

Because it can seem less scary to have other people in our village, even if they are not doing us good, even if we end up resenting or hating them – than to risk being alone.

Unboundaried living makes sense from an evolutionary perspective.

It is understandable that we let people walk all over us. That we end up snarky and resentful or trying to be nice and people please.

Knowing this, when people tell you to ‘just say no’ to set a boundary, it doesn’t actually help.


And yet, even though it doesn’t feel natural, boundary setting is essential to modern life.

It means creating a safe container from which to create, thrive and love without losing ourselves in what others want or expect from us.

Boundaries are key for authenticity and healthy relationships.

So instead of ‘just saying no’ as boundary advice, this is what I think we need to consider: 

♥ First, we need to understand what we are responsible for / can control in a situation and what we can’t (hint: we can’t control other people’s actions or reactions).

♥ We need to know what we want to stand for in the situation, what our values are. And this can take time and thought to figure out and that’s OK.

♥ Then we need to know how to communicate this to others in an effective way.

♥ And we need to know how to make room for the discomfort that inevitably shows up because we are doing something that is counter-intuitive to how our brains evolved.

Boundary setting is not necessarily hard, but it does take practise and it is normal that it doesn’t come naturally for most of us.

We will explore all this in my upcoming boundaries workshop, so you will leave knowing how to set effective boundaries and can start moving from:

Being reactive + resentful


Being proactive + assertive

Because it is only when we have a beautiful gate around our internal village that we can create the kind of village that we actually want to live in.

boundaries_Sept. 2016


A good friend of mine has a good friend, who I would not normally choose to be with.  Recently, during an evening at my friend’s house, her friend who I knew was going to be there so I was probably ‘ready’ for the usual inappropriate remarks, said something intrusive to me.  Instead of being surprised, I took a deep breath and very calmly told her that it was none of her business and please don’t ask me again.  Silence reigned!  Then all went back to normal.


Huge step for me out of my comfort zone to do something like so publicly (I had no problems with Boundaries in my work life yet have had difficulty in my private life).


Your workshop on Boundaries earlier this year has helped me to understand that Boundaries are necessary for being authentic. – Email from a participant in the April Boundaries workshop

Stressed? This Changed My Life

Hello Stress
Hello Stress.You and I are intimately acquainted. You were my constant companion during the 8 years I worked in the fast paced, crazy advertising/communication world. You are still my companion every time I do something new.

But now I know better. I know who you are, Stress. That the generic word we use to describe you doesn’t really say anything. That you are not an emotion.

I am not saying you don’t exist. Oh, I would never deny your existence!

But I understand now that there is always a good reason you show up. And that you have a message you are trying to convey. And that while you are not an emotion, you always have emotion(s) driving you.

So now, instead of saying, “I’m so stressed!!”, I ask myself: What is really going on? What emotions can I identify BEHIND the stress?

Being able to get specific about the emotions behind stress is removes some of the overwhelm. It helps me feel I am not fighting an invisible enemy.

Some of the emotions behind stress can be:

Are changes coming too quickly? —> Fear

Are you worried about how something will work or what people will think? —> Anxiety

Are your boundaries being threatened? —> Anger

Are you unsure of what to do next? —> Confusion / Overwhelm

Are you refusing to let go of something that no longer works for you? —> Sadness

Have you suffered an irretrievable loss? —> Grief

So perhaps, next time you feel ‘stressed’, instead of saying to yourself or others ‘I’m so stressed!!’ try to pinpoint the emotion behind the stress. What’s really going on? Research shows that simply labelling an emotion we are feeling, without ‘doing’ anything about it, can help defuse some of the power it has over us.

Source: Research on labelling emotions done by UCLA psychologist Matthew Lieberman

How Perfectionism Makes Sense

Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: “If I look perfect, live perfectly, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame. – Brené Brown

Imagine your internal world is like a village. This village is made up of ‘villagers': Your emotions, thoughts, desires, needs. This village makes you who you are.

Often these ‘villagers’ are born as a result of our upbringing, our experiences. Their job description is to keep the village safe, to protect it in whatever way they can – even when this ends up seeming like self-sabotage.

Perfectionist Villager often shows up as a way of helping us out when we are young.

Here are two possible scenarios:

Scenario 1
As a child, the better we were at something, the more praise we got from those around us. We were pushed to be high achievers and this is how worthiness was measured.

Perfectionist Villager showed up and tried to push us to be ‘perfect’, to always be striving and achieving – because in this scenario, achievement (perfection) = love.

This type of perfectionism is about achievement, constant striving, type A personalities.

Scenario 2
Another scenario might be having had a judging, harsh, critical, even abusive environment. In this scenario, Perfectionist Villager tried getting us to be perfect as a way of avoiding criticism as much as possible. In this scenario being perfect = avoiding pain.

This type of perfectionism is more about procrastination, paralysis, avoiding making decisions. It actually looks a lot less like what we would typically associate with perfectionism and more with ‘laziness’ – but as you can see, there is a good reason for this (as there is with everything we do).

In both cases, Perfectionist Villager is trying to do what they think is best for us in their own clumsy way. And at one point in our lives, it made sense.

Yet today, as an adult, Perfectionist Villager – despite his or her clumsy good intentions to motivate or protect us – is no longer serving us.

When we let Perfectionist Villager run the village, we don’t start projects or do things that matter to us because we might fail – leading to procrastination and paralysis.

When we let Perfectionist Villager run the village, we doubt ourselves, we play it safe rather than risk not being good enough at something.

Above all, when we let Perfectionist Villager run the village, the village is not a very cool place to be.

Because Perfectionist Villager operates from a place of fear and shame, telling us we can only be worthy once we are perfect. Yet how can we measure ourselves up against standards nobody can ever reach? Have you noticed that the flip side of striving for perfection is ‘never being enough’?

What would happen if we allowed our wise village chief to run our internal village instead? To make choices that would allow us to still achieve and strive for excellence – without the harshness and suffering that comes with Perfectionist Villager? What if we learned how to work with Perfectionistic Villager, so that he or she was no longer running the village?

If this topic speaks to you and you would like to get to know your Perfectionist Villager better + learn ways of taking back control of your village, join me on August 8 for a workshop in Geneva – find out more here!


Crafted with Love

I spent a week in June at the annual conference for Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) which took place in Seattle, Washington (USA) this year. It was an incredible opportunity to deepen my knowledge of ACT while meeting many super inspiring people.

My husband joined me after the conference and we travelled around the region, visiting Portland (Oregon), Olympic National Park, Vancouver Island and Vancouver in Canada, and stopping in a few places in between.

The landscapes were breathtaking – the vast wilderness of nature looked like something off an indie music album cover.

fir trees

And I loved the dynamic, creative energy of the Pacific West Coast as this region is called, especially the pride taken in making food and drinks that are ‘hand-crafted’ with love and a lot of attention to detail. Portland is even called ‘Beervana’ because of all the microbreweries there are! My husband took it as his mission to taste as many different beers as possible!


We even did a coffee tour of Seattle independent coffee shops with a very coffee-passionate guide, learning about the various techniques for making coffee such as this drip coffee.

Ghost alley coffee

Inspired and moved by this, I started thinking: My work through Healthwise is also ‘hand-crafted’. This work truly matters to me and I put in a lot of love, care and attention to detail. Perhaps I could even say it is crafted with love?crafted with love

So I started thinking exactly what this looks like – and what matters to me most when ‘crafting’ individual sessions.

Here’s what I came up with:

♥ Providing a safe space in which my clients can step back and see things differently.

♥ Creating a judgement-free zone where my clients feel heard and supported, regardless of what they are going through.

♥ Helping my clients learn new ways of relating to their internal village of thoughts, feeling and sensations so they can drop the struggle with themselves. Much of the pain in life doesn’t have a ‘solution’ yet we can learn to relate to the pain differently.

♥ Creating a compassionate space where my clients also learn to bring themselves kindness, to better listen to their needs, to have their own back – whether or not they think they ‘deserve’ this.

♥ Helping my clients get unstuck and moving towards what matters to them. Because living with a genetic kidney disease myself, I realize that life is not unlimited, that we all have precious little time on this earth to do what matters to us, to be in the kind of relationships we truly desire, to live the life we really want to be living.

 I want to treat each session as if it were the last, to provide value in each session so that my clients leave with a small step to work towards or a new skill to practice.

Crafting with love is definitely something I want to keep being inspired by – isn’t it a beautiful way of approaching life and what we put out into the world?

Here are a few more photos:


Hiba cafe

PS – If this inspires and you are interested in getting unstuck and moving towards what matters to you, please get in touch.

No-Label Diet

no label diet_bigI’ve been thinking a lot about the language we use when it comes to food and eating.

Words that describe food like:

Healthy, clean, guilty pleasure, good, bad, unhealthy.

I’ve used these words myself. A lot.

But here’s something I have been asking myself lately: How useful are these labels? 

Imagine a piece of paper. If healthy is written on one side, then unhealthy is on the other. If good is written on one side, then bad is on the other.

And inevitably, because this is LIFE and not some game where we can be perfect all the time, at some point, the paper flips.

So what happens when we tell ourselves ‘I’ve been good – I’ve eaten healthy all week’ ?

When the paper is on good and healthy, chances are, we tap ourselves on the back and proclaim that we are a good person…but then next time, we don’t eat as well, we become a bad person and the what-the-hell effect kicks in and instead of just one cookie, we eat 10.

And then there’s the license to sin effect:

When we have a rigid self-concept of I am good if I do this, our thinking becomes very black and white.

So even actions we think are good can actually end up backfiring. For example, thinking I was good – I had a salad for lunch – so I can eat whatever I want this afternoon.

So what if we go rid of the paper completely? What if we removed all the labels?

What if food was no longer…

Healthy, clean, guilty pleasure, good, bad, unhealthy

What if food was just food and we became just a person eating that food?

Not mindlessly eating whatever we want, of course.

Instead of labels that come from our very judge-y mind or from external experts, what if we trusted the part of us who is actually eating instead?

Because obvious as this may sound, our body, not our mind is the one eating.

So instead of judging food, can we look at it in terms of: How does eating this work for me?

By focusing on this question instead of the label we give food, we can then simply notice:

Did this food give me energy?

Does this food enable me to feel good in my body?

Does this food bring me pleasure?

I am calling this the No-Label Diet.

Are you up for the challenge?

For the next week, let go of all labels and notice instead what your body tells you.

Put on your curious scientist lab coat and simply notice as if you were eating this food for the first time, how it works for you.

You might notice that the food your mind was telling you was bad and off limit is OK in small quantities and that when you eat too much of it you feel sluggish. And because you want to feel energized, you decide to have it occasionally and to fully enjoy it instead of approaching it in a black & white way which doesn’t work anyway.

Of course, because our minds evolved to be very judge-y, they will keep labelling food – and that’s OK. Simply notice the judgement, allow it to hang out – and then focus your attention on your actual experience of the food – what your body tells you.

For me, making this simple distinction between judgements about food and how my body experiences it has been the most significant shift I have made in my eating. 

This is the way we step out of willpower and the constant struggle we are in with ourselves over food and start trusting something much more intuitive, much wiser – that is always there for us to access.

Don’t just trust what my mind is telling you. Try it out yourself and see what your experience says!

If you try this or have already experimented with this, I would love to hear from you!

No label diet give it a try