Awareness, Behavior Change, Health

Simplicity of Whole 30

I Did It!  I Finished the Whole 30 Reset!

Two and a half weeks ago I celebrated the end of my Whole 30 journey.  It coincided with the week of  Valentine’s Day and I decided to reintroduce dairy with ice-cream from Dairy Queen. I ordered a small cup of vanilla knowing immediately that the serving was too big (even for a small size).  Unfortunately even though I knew it was a little too much I decided to eat the entire cup anyway!  While I enjoyed this time with my family where I can actually have icecream instead of just sit there and stare at them, the aftermath of it was less than enjoyable.  My stomach hurt and I knew I made the wrong choice.

Image credit to Yelp

Thumbs Down for Dairy 🙁

When I initially read about the Whole 30, I thought ‘Whoa this is too restricted! No way I can make it through 30 days.’ If you’ve never heard of this elimination reset diet, it requires you to avoid a number of major food groups – dairy, grains, legumes as well as sugar, alcohol,and preservatives. It does sound tough especially if these are the main staples of what you’re used to eating.  But if you think about it, it actually makes meal prep more simple!

Less choices = More Simple

I was at a Super Bowl party and got into a conversation with someone who was wondering about Whole 30.  I know I should have initially addressed what I can eat instead of focusing of what I couldn’t, but that’s exactly what I did.  Her response which didn’t even occur to me beforehand was ‘Well, that sounds simple enough!‘  And she was right on point.  With Whole 30, you have less choices.  When mealtime came around, it’s usually plenty of vegetables, a protein, either chicken, fish, pork and the occasional steak cooked in some type of fat.  Do you agree when you have less options, it’s easier to take action?

Image credit to Breaking Fad

The Whole 30 also focuses on three meals a day so you won’t have to think about what to have for a mid-day snack.  I admit, this is what I struggled with the most.  As a runner, I needed to have something as a post-recovery snack.  However, it did have an exception to the rule with regards to more active individuals where it allowed snacks after the activity.  What I noticed was when I don’t eat enough during lunch, I definitely feel hungry for something a couple of hours before dinner.  A bad habit of mine I’m trying to break is I tend to multi-task when I eat lunch whether it’s reading or browsing websites and lately it’s been viewing presentations from the online graduate classes I’m taking.  When I don’t take the time to taste the food I’m eating, I tend to have cravings later in the day.

Food shopping is also less complicated.  I spent the most time shopping in the fruits and vegetables section, even sampling vegetables I’ve never had.  I’m not sure why I’ve never tried it before, but I discovered roasted spaghetti squash with marinara sauce is just as tasty as pasta with marinara sauce.  Ok the texture is different but I couldn’t really taste the difference!  Here’s a simple recipe I found on Food Network – Spaghetti Squash with Marinara recipe.

…Except when you Dine Out!

Then the Whole 30 becomes more challenging.

I learned the hard way when I forgot to ask if there was added sugar in the almond milk I requested for a latte at my local coffee shop.  The second I took a tiny sip, I immediately knew it contained sugar.  I had to ‘reset my reset’ back 5 days!  Lesson learned is to always ask for the specific ingredients which can become a hassle.

You also need to plan out in advance where to go so you can look at the menu beforehand and see if there’s anything Whole 30 compliant.  As a family we frequented a few Asian restaurants – which all served some type of rice-based dish.  I disappointed my kids when I suggested our usual spot (which had nothing for me to eat!)  and explained why, but reassured them it was only for 30 days.

To me, it felt like an inconvenience to the server when I had to make specific requests to suit my needs.  I had a recent interview on evoke STRONG live with a woman who had many food sensitivities where she talked about how she carries a card with a list of food she can’t eat.  Amazingly, many of the restaurants she visited were more than willing to cater to her preferences.  I guess all you have to do is ask!

The New Normal

Being on the Whole 30 made me realize how I didn’t miss the types of food I normally ate beforehand.  Like cheese for instance.  It used to be a snack staple but avoiding it for a month ascertained it’s not something I really needed in my diet.

Ok ok I admit, I did miss eating pizza.  When I finally had several slices of my favorite pizza, I wasn’t over the top excited about it.  And I didn’t feel too good afterwards either.  Again, I know it’s something I can live without.

Let’s be honest though.  I know there will be days when I won’t be eating as clean as I want.  At least now I know the consequences of my choices.  It’s about my choice of whether or not I want to feel good or not.  Not every decision will be the right one, but I’ll be fine with it.  On occasions, I will truly savor a sweet treat for pure enjoyment.  However, for the majority of the time I will eat for the sake of my health.

Image credit to

Less choices is more simple – agree or disagree?  Has your choice of food affected you in a positive or negative way?  Please share in the comments.

*If you’re interested in being a part of a community for women who want to build sustainable healthy habits, join our closed Facebook group, EVOKE HEALTHY HABITS

Evoke Healthy Habits is a community for women to receive support and guidance from one another while going on a journey of change towards a lifestyle of healthy habits. We have weekly challenges, recipes, workouts, and tips to help you establish healthy habits for the year!

Click on this link and request to join:




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Awareness, Behavior Change, Books, Inspiration

How to turn your I CAN’Ts to I CAN!

Have you ever been in situations where you felt the least bit motivated?  Where you find yourself saying “I can’t!” instead of “I CAN!” I think we all have these moments but what’s encouraging is what I learned from Charles Duhigg’s book, Smarter Faster Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity about motivation. Being motivated is like a skill that we can practice. It’s something we could work on and improve!

Disclosure:  This post contains Amazon affiliate links.  For more info, visit the Disclaimer and Affiliate Disclosure page.

How do you improve motivation? Duhigg discusses two simple ways you can do it. But first let’s define the word Motivation. It is derived from the Latin root ‘mot’ which means ‘to move’. Basically Motivation is what moves us towards action. To further break it down, motivation is categorized as either extrinsic or intrinsic.

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If I ask what drives you to exercise and you answer, my job offers a gift certificate to employees who logs at least 10000 steps everyday – that’s an example of extrinsic motivation.  They are external factors driving you to take action on a specific task. On the other hand, if you answered it leaves me feeling more energetic and less stressed, that would be an intrinsic motivator. The two key concepts discussed by Duhigg focuses on building your intrinsic or self motivation.

Chore into Choice

The bottom line of making a choice is to give us a sense of control.  As human beings, our natural inclination is to assert control.  Do you like it when people tell you what to do?  Do you respond better when given choices?

When people believe they are in control, they tend to work harder and push themselves more.  They are, on average, more confident and overcome setbacks faster.  People who believe they have authority over themselves often live longer than their peers. – Charles Duhigg, Smarter Faster Better

Here’s how I’ve applied this concept when I lack the motivation to run –

I’m currently training for the Rock n Roll San Diego Marathon in June – my 7th marathon!  Being consistent with training is one of many factors that would help me achieve the goal of a BQ this year. (Yikes!  I still can’t believe I set this stretch goal!)  However I’ve had days where I want to sit on the couch and do absolutely nothing. Here’s where the power of choice comes in – I tell myself to put on my running shoes and go out there…but ONLY FOR 10 MINUTES.  When I do, I usually feel much better and before you know it, I’m out there for up to 30 min even to an hour!

Apparently it doesn’t even matter what type of choice you make.  It’s the amount of control you feel that matters most.  Try it out.  When you feel less enthused about a specific task, start making choices and see what happens.


Let’s say you’re involved in a challenging situation.  How do you keep going?  This is when you ask yourself why and find an answer that is most meaningful to you.  The why has to align with your values and bigger goals.

In my *Evoke Healthy Habits facebook group, I posted the question “What is your biggest frustration with your health right now?”  A couple women responded they lack the motivation.  I think when we connect physical activity or healthy eating with what we value the most, we’re more apt to prioritize it.  So think about it – are you struggling with motivation when it comes to your health?  Then ask yourself why a healthy lifestyle should matter to you.

Self motivation becomes easier when we see our choices as affirmations of our deeper values and goals.  –Charles Duhigg, Smarter Faster Better

My recent Whole 30 experience has led me to ask Why a few times this past month.  The why definitely affirmed my desire to determine if the unusual symptoms I’ve had for the past several months is related to food sensitivities.  The re-introduction process starts this week so I’m interested in seeing if any food groups are sources of irritants in my body.  I admit the symptoms are less frequent and I’ve stayed healthy all month despite being in the midst of the cold and flu season.  Plus my skin finally cleared up!  Imagine having to deal with acne as a 41-yr old (cringe..) I’m definitely pleased with the results.

From I CAN’T to I CAN

It’s reassuring to know that we can improve our self-motivation with practice.  The most effective way in doing it is:

ASSERT CONTROL THROUGH CHOICES and connect your actions to DEEPER MEANING by asking WHY.

Please share what you do to keep yourself motivated to achieve your health and fitness goals.

Would you like a copy of Charles Duhigg’s book?  Click on the link below!

*If you’re interested in being a part of a community for women who want to build sustainable healthy habits, join our closed Facebook group, EVOKE HEALTHY HABITS

Evoke Healthy Habits is a community for women to receive support and guidance from one another while going on a journey of change towards a lifestyle of healthy habits. We have weekly challenges, recipes, workouts, and tips to help you establish healthy habits for the year!

Click on this link and request to join:

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Awareness, Behavior Change, Health

Whole30 Setback

I finally had the chance to see the movie, The Last Jedi and this particular quote about failure resonated with me. Recently, I had an accidental slip with the Whole30 reset and while it was only a minor setback, to me it still was a failure because I needed to start over again.

Friday, I was on day five of the Whole30.  I waited until after we returned from our holiday vacation because I knew it was going to be challenging to find compliant meals on a road trip.  However, the past five days I didn’t find it too difficult to prep and cook three meals a day.  I actually enjoyed the process. Shopping for food felt like a fun scavenger hunt where I had to look for ingredients that didn’t include sugar or grains or additives and the list goes on… While it took more time I really like the awareness it gave me, knowing exactly what I was putting in my body. And by focusing more on wholesome food like fruits and vegetables, all types of meats, and nuts/seeds, the process to me got simpler.

Take a look at some of my meals from this past week:


Chicken sausage, pan-fried sweet potatoes in coconut oil, and greens mixed with a little bit of leftover cauliflower rice and mushrooms.


You probably would think this is the least appetizing food but I actually love it!  It’s sardines with cucumbers wrapped in seaweed.  I’ve eaten sardines since I was a kid so it brought back childhood memories of growing up in the Philippines (unfortunately, the brand of sardines we used to eat there had preservatives :().



Grilled steelhead, roasted sweet potatoes, bokchoy and mushrooms

Back to Friday, on Day 5 when I decided to go to my favorite coffee shop to finish my graduate course assignments for the week.  Usually, I would order a black coffee but I wanted to try a latte with almond milk.  Verifying it’s just coffee and milk without second thought the almond milk might contain sugar or other additives. The latte arrived at my table beautifully presented with a little note for an added personal touch.

I was ready to enjoy this latte as one of ‘the little things’,  but when I took a small sip I felt a sweet rush immediately!  This can’t be zero sugar?!  It’s way TOOO SWEEEET!!  I asked the barista if the almond milk contained sugar to which he responded, only the natural kind.  He proceeded to grab the box of almond milk to show me and there it was in the ingredient list.  I can’t even remember exactly how much sugar was in it, but I was a bit disappointed.  I ordered a black coffee instead and the barista was kind enough to give it to me free on his account.


The good news it’s only been five days so extending it five days isn’t much of a big deal.  Plus I really don’t mind eating the way I’m eating now.  A couple of years ago when I found out I was at risk for becoming a pre-diabetic I took action to avoid processed sugar so it’s not part of my diet anymore.  This time around I’m determined to reduce inflammation and hopefully get to the bottom of unusual symptoms I’ve experienced for the past several months.  Even if it takes me more than thirty days, I know it’s worthwhile in the end.  Eating well is a gain for me!

Have you tried the Whole30 or any type of reset?  What was your biggest challenge with it?

Interested in being a part of a community for women who want to build sustainable healthy habits?  Consider joining our closed Facebook group, Evoke Healthy Habits.  Evoke Healthy Habits is a community for women to receive support and guidance from one another while going on a journey of change towards a lifestyle of healthy habits.  We have weekly challenges, recipes, workouts, and tips to help you establish healthy habits for the year!  Click on this link and request to join:
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Behavior Change, Books, Health

Time for a Reset! Inspired by Food Freedom Forever

I never thought I would ever try a food RESET.  It’s been in the back of my mind as I’ve read articles about it, but I was always hesitant in trying one.  After reading Food Freedom Forever by Melissa Hartwig, I realized a reset was the next step to optimize my health.

Disclosure:  This post contains Amazon affiliate links.  For more info, visit the Disclaimer and Affiliate Disclosure page.

What is a RESET and why is this important to me?

You may or may not be familiar with Melissa Hartwig’s Whole30 program.  It is designed to eliminate foods that impact your cravings, metabolism, digestion and immune system for 30 days.

During the 30 days of elimination, the focus is to pay close attention to these following areas and see if there are any improvements – “Energy, Sleep, Digestion, Mood, Attention Span, Self-Confidence, Cravings, Chronic Pain or Fatigue, Athletic Performance, and Recovery and any number of other symptoms or medical conditions”.  Once 30 days are up, the foods eliminated are re-introduced in a systematic way to determine which ones are problematic.  With the knowledge which food has a negative impact, it’s up to the individual to decide whether or not it’s worthwhile to eat the ‘unhealthy’ foods given the consequences without the guilt.

The Whole30 is one example of a reset program.  Other types of reset are further discussed in Food Freedom Forever.  It’s up to you to select what type of reset that will work for you best.  What attracted me to a reset is because for the past several months, I’ve been feeling something is off with my body.  It could also be relegated to stress (which is another topic for a future post) but if I can optimize the way my body responds through proper nutrition, then why not give it a try?!  It’s only for 30 days.

I made changes to the way I ate a couple of years ago when I surprisingly found out I was borderline pre-diabetic. You can read more about it in My Journey of Change. But I’ve never done a complete elimination reset so it should be interesting to see the results.

Benefits of a Reset

If you’ve contemplated a reset before, there is a myriad of benefits that might convince you to try it. And none of them have to do with weight loss at all.

During the 30 day reset, the scale is off limits! The emphasis is on what is termed as ‘non-scale victories’. There is a downloadable list of 100 non-scale victories on the Whole 30 website found here  After looking at the list, it’s no wonder so many people have gone through this reset.

One problem I’d like to resolve is knowing if a certain type of food is causing adult-onset acne.  (Yes, I can’t believe at age 41 I would be dealing with acne like I did back in high school). Other benefits I’d like to gain from the reset revolves around Mood, Emotion, Psychology – handle stress better, less anxious – as well as the Inner Physical functions -less fatigue, less lower back pain to name a few.

The Reset Plan

I decided I will follow The Whole30 reset with a few add-ons.  Here is the list of ingredients I would need to avoid as part of the program:

  • LEGUMES (including peanuts and soy)
  • NO BAKED GOODS, JUNK FOODS or TREATS with the approved ingredients

I’m adding nuts to this list because I think I may have developed an allergy to certain types of nuts like cashews and possibly pecans.  So I will also be nut-free for 30 days.

The most challenging for me would be to avoid grains (and nuts) but the rest seems doable since I rarely consume them nowadays.

Create Healthy Habits

Melissa Hartwig specifically wrote the book Food Freedom Forever to those who have a difficult time adjusting to the aftermath of the Whole30 program.  It’s about having a strategy so you’re in a place where you feel in control of your decisions of what you put in your mouth.

This is how Melissa defined Food Freedom: means finally feeling in control of food, instead of food controlling you.  It means indulging when you decide it’s worth it, savoring the experience without guilt or shame, and then returning to your regularly scheduled healthy habits.  That’s real food freedom.

Are you ready to set your own food freedom?  Have you tried a reset before?    

My reset starts on Monday 9Jan and ends on Tuesday 7Feb (elimination portion).  The reintroduction phase may take a couple of weeks.  By the end of February, I should know which types of food aren’t the best for my body.  If you’d like to do a reset with me, leave a comment below or request to join the Evoke Healthy Habits Facebook group.
Whole 30 Resources:
The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom
The Whole30 Day by Day: Your Daily Guide to Whole30 Success
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Behavior Change, Facebook Live, Featured Friday Conversations, Health, Inspiration

Soar High and Never Give Up – A Weight Loss Journey

Featured Friday Conversations is a series of interviews on Facebook Live featuring incredible women and their health transformation stories. It is our hope these stories will inspire you to take action towards improving your health.

What’s the most challenging part of doing a live interview?  The unexpected technical issues!  I interviewed Jaycie twice on the show because after I reviewed the video, the audio quality was horrible.  So we did a take 2!  I’m grateful she took time out of her day to do it again. Jaycie was eager to share her compelling story of health transformation, even if it had to be repeated.

Featuring Jaycie Sullivan

Jaycie Sullivan is the mind behind The Soaring Swine.   She created The Soaring Swine for those who also face or are currently facing the same health and wellness struggles she once did by offering healthy recipes, providing perspective and motivation to those either just starting out or simply trying to move past their current fitness plateau.

Jaycie is also an administrative assistant at a local community college.  She loves to dabble in kitchen art and quite the craft enthusiast (she loves Pinterest)! She is also an avid gym-rat and had to find and cultivate fitness motivation for herself as well as others.

Before the ‘Before Photo’

Photo credit: Jaycie Sullivan of The Soaring Swine

Jaycie’s story focuses on her weight loss journey that began in 2013.   Weighing in at 265 lbs, Jaycie was a bit rattled when she saw a photo of herself cooking dinner for her boyfriend .  It wasn’t the image she pictured in her head of who she was.  This photograph became the turning point that made her want to start making changes in her life.

As a college student, Jaycie recalled working at Starbucks where she’d take home the day’s unsold pastries and sandwiches.  This is what her meals consisted of, since it was free and accessible.  Slowly she started to put on weight.  Part of her weight gain also stemmed from spending time with a friend whose cooking was simply irresistible for her to avoid overeating.  From high school through college she ended up gaining 60 to 65 lbs.

Setting Goals and Never Giving Up

“Nothing worth having comes easy”, Jaycie pointed out when we talked about the long and arduous process of weight loss.  Initially she joined Weight Watchers where she learned about portion control with assigned points for various types of food.  However, the portion control didn’t stop her from choosing ‘unhealthy’ types of food.  And in her journey, she had to learn about the importance of selecting more nutrient dense food to fuel her body.  One of her sources of inspiration and motivation was seeing her friend at a wedding who lost a significant amount of weight mostly due to healthy food choices.

What else drove Jaycie to keep going when the process of losing weight was S-L-O-W?  First she needed to stop looking at the scale!  I can see how we can get caught up with the number on the scale and when it doesn’t budge, it becomes discouraging.  With Jaycie, she was actually gaining muscle and losing inches.  She worked with a trainer who taught her how to train with heavier weights to build muscle and lose fat.  Slowly but surely the number of inches off her body began to increase.

Another source of motivation for Jaycie were Pinterest memes!  One that she connected with her the most is “WHAT’S YOUR WHY?” When you read the About page on her blog The Soaring Swine, she wrote about how she no longer wanted to walk up a flight of stairs feeling winded.  This was one of Jaycie’s initial Whys.  And she also talked about how your WHY changes along your journey.

Photo credit: Jaycie Sullivan of The Soaring Swine

Above is a photo of one of her other ‘Whys’.  I like how Jaycie hung a bikini she purchased back when she was 15 years old on her refrigerator which served as a reminder of her goals.  She wanted to wear this bikini in the summer.  Again, it didn’t happen immediately.  It took her close to a year but her after-photo proves that it can be done!

Never compare your journey

Jaycie pointed out how important it is to never compare your journey with others.  Decide to go on a journey of change for yourself but first determine why you want to do it.  Again, the WHY is what will motivate to keep you moving forward.

Share with us ‘What’s the WHY’ that will compel or has compelled you to make lifestyle changes to improve your health?


Click on this link:  Jaycie Sullivan Interview

You can connect with Jaycie Sullivan on Facebook, The Soaring Swine; Instagram, The Soaring Swine and on her website

To view other past interviews, go to the Be Inspired page and click on Facebook Live Show.

Are you ready to start your journey to better health?  I have a free e-book for you to download full of tips that are small steps to include in your daily routine to improve on what I believe are the five main elements of Healthy Living – Nutrition, Movement, Sleep, Stress, and Community.

Please visit link below to download book today!


If you’re ready to start a lifestyle of healthy habits, please consider joining our community of women whose goals are to build sustainable healthy habits.  Short steps go a LONG way!  Click on this link and request to join!  Evoke Healthy Habits

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Behavior Change, Books

Improve your Health with The Power of Habit

Is it possible for someone to be void of unhealthy habits?  Where you’re automated to do what is best for your health? No more guilt-ridden mind games when you tell yourself, just one more bite and you’re done. Then, minutes later you find yourself finishing a plate of (insert your kryptonite food).  Or instead of hitting snooze to delay your intention to exercise before work, you immediately get up and out the door for an early morning run. After reading The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg, it may just be possible!

Disclosure:  This post contains Amazon affiliate links.  For more info, visit the Disclaimer and Affiliate Disclosure page.

“We are what we repeatedly do” –  stated 2000 years ago by the great Greek philosopher and scientist Aristotle.  It’s as true now as it was back then.  Researchers at Duke University revealed in a 2006 study on habits that 45% of people’s everyday behavior are repetitive action.  Habit formation and change is the subject deeply explored in the The Power of Habit.  Our habits play a significant factor in the way we eat, move, and sleep. When we understand how habits work, we can determine which ones we want to implement in our lives and take action.


“I would like to eat more vegetables!” How do you develop a habit of eating more vegetables?

The first step is to understand Habit Formation.  Charles Duhigg described habit as a ‘three-step loop process’ that occur in our brains.

1. Starting with the CUE, basically a trigger that signals the brain to act on a specific behavior automatically.

2. This is then followed by the ROUTINE, the behavior itself which could either be “physical, mental or emotional”.

3. Last the REWARD, the payoff for the behavior.  This is how the brain remembers the pattern and make it automatic.

A simple example of a habit is washing your hands before you eat.

Cue – After you order at a restaurant or after you unpack your lunch.
Routine – Wash your hands.
Reward– Lower risk for illness.

Back to the question of developing a habit of eating more vegetables? The process will be an experimentation of identifying the right cues and rewards.  A reward has to be significantly valuable for the brain to remember the pattern. If the reward evokes a feeling or emotion, it tends to be more powerful than a physical reward.

What worked for me?

A visual cue! I place a package of pre-washed, ready to eat mixed greens in the fridge where it’s easy to see. (Convenience and ease plays a factor).

The cue signals me to prepare a bowl of salad to eat as a side for lunch or dinner. (Routine)

Emotional reward. My body receives the nutrients it needs to function properly.


If you want to get rid of a bad habit, raise your hand!  The trouble is we can’t really make bad habits disappear.  By using The Golden Rule of Habit Change, we can work towards replacing a bad habit with a better habit.

Habits, good or bad, are ingrained in the brain. They are difficult to change unless ‘new neurological routines’ overtakes the old behavior.  Once we understand the loop, we can find a way to take control and create a new pattern.

With habit change, The Golden Rule uses the Same Cues and Same Rewards, but the Routine is changed.

What’s a bad habit would I like to change? Eating nuts out of a container! It’s my favorite snack and tend to overeat them. The easiest way for me to change the routine is to put a serving of nuts in a bowl. I know it sounds so simple but I still find it to be a work in progress.


Can you identify a powerful habit you have that tend to set a domino effect towards better habits?  This powerful habit is called a Keystone Habit.  Once developed, it strongly influences other habits you have in your life.

Exercise is considered a keystone habit as studies have proven its impact on daily routines.  People who are habitual exercisers tend to eat better and get enough sleep, making them more productive at work. They also show signs of less stress.

Another example is keeping a food log to lose weight.  A study in 2009 directed a group of obese people to keep a journal.  After six months, those who kept a daily food log lost twice as much weight.  The single habitual act of logging food in a journal caused the participants to recognize patterns in their behavior that led to habits of healthy eating. Journal writing was their keystone habit.

What fuels the cascade of changes from a keystone habit?  SMALL WINS!

Small Wins fuel transformative changes by leveraging tiny advantages into patterns convince people that bigger achievements are within reach.

Bob Bowman, coach of Michael Phelps used the keystone habits of visualization and relaxation, forming the right mind-set for Phelps to remain calm and focused prior to each race.  Bowman honed in on the small wins and as he mentioned to the author, Duhigg “…it was best to concentrate on these tiny moments of success and build them into mental triggers.  We worked them into a routine.  There’s a series of things we do before every race that are designed to give Michael a sense of building victory.” The mental habits Phelps’ coach instilled in him contributed to his success as an Olympic champion.

I agree, SMALL changes can truly create a BIG impact.  Instead of tackling a major lifestyle change all at once, focus on the small victories.  Have patience in the process.


For some habits, however, there’s one other ingredient that’s necessary: BELIEF

Belief in yourself and the process to change for the better.  Is it easier to believe when you tackle a challenge on your own or with the support of a community?  I think it depends on the type of person you are. Some people are wired with the utmost determination.  Any change, simple or difficult, they can handle on their own.  For most, me included, I agree when the author stated in the book that “Belief is easier when it occurs within a community.”

There’s an endless number of health and fitness communities whether it’s for weight loss, dietary changes, or just staying active, online and offline.  When you start to feel discouraged, you can get support from members of the community you’re in.  Also, observing someone else’s success could cause you to believe that you can also achieve the same success.

Sidebar – Interested in being a part of a community for women whose goals are to establish sustainable healthy habits?  Check out Evoke Healthy Habits Facebook group.


Change is hard.  To form new habits through experimentation of cues and rewards as well as to find alternative ways of behavior to satisfy the same cues and rewards in place of a bad habit requires work and determination.  The process could get difficult and take time.

You are the only one who has control over the decisions you make in life.  

 It’s up to YOU to DECIDE to accept the challenge.


What’s one habit would you like to change or have? 



If you’re ready to build a lifestyle of sustainable habits, please consider joining our community for women whose goals are to achieve a life full of healthy habits.  We do weekly challenges, share easy and simple recipes in addition to providing support and encouragement to each other.
Visit following link and request to join: EVOKE HEALTHY HABITS


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Awareness, Behavior Change, Facebook Live, Featured Friday Conversations, Health, Inspiration

A Mom learns to Cook and Prep Meals for Health

evoke STRONG Live features the incredible health transformation stories of every day women to inspire others that a healthy and thriving well-being is within reach.

The first featured story was about Flossie Hall, a mother of 4, a Navy spouse and the CEO of Healthy Momma, a meal prep service in San Diego. Flossie never cooked but she had a strong drive to learn how to do it to improve her health as well as her family’s.  She mastered the art of meal preparation to the point where she started doing it for her friends. And thus Healthy Momma, her thriving business was born.

Pregnancy Weight Gain

As a young kid who grew up poor, the most convenient foods for Flossie and her family came from a box and was highly processed. Flossie didn’t have any issues with her weight growing up – in fact, she was actually a skinny kid. However, she did come from a family who was overweight due to lack of exercise and nutritious food. When she became pregnant at 15, she gained around 120 lbs in the span of nine months. Flossie wanted to lose weight but wasn’t exactly sure how to approach it so she tried the ‘gimmicky-type’ diets. These are the diets that offered bars and boxed foods which didn’t really work for her.  Years passed and the birth of her second baby. This time she gained an additional 40 lbs.

The Case for Health

Flossie went to school with aspirations to become a medical doctor.  She completed EMT school at the top of her class and was immediately hired.  But before she could start, she had to pass a Physical Readiness Test.  Due to lack of exercise, she failed and the instructor advised her to train for it. It was a crushing moment but at the same time, it made her realized that she needed to take action.  As someone who planned to work in a health-related field, she wanted to be the example and an influencer for healthy living.  However, she had to take care of herself first. And it started with purging her cupboards of unhealthy food items. One of her rules at home was ‘Toss two items and replace with healthier options’.  A big adjustment for her family but it eventually paid off!

Learn, Do and Share!

Determined to take back her health, Flossie read countless nutrition books to educate herself and also taught herself how to cook.  She learned how to create healthy dishes without sacrificing the rich flavor she preferred.  At the same time, she also started doing at-home exercise videos. With better nutrition and exercise, Flossie noticed changes in her body, from 210 lbs to around 160 lbs!  By the time she had her third and fourth child, she established better eating and exercise habits. Her lifestyle changes made it easier for her to lose the pregnancy weight. Due to her transformation, her friends wondered how she did it.  So Flossie started a Facebook Page and named it Healthy Momma, where she posted recipes, workouts and challenges, as well as her progress.

A resourceful mom, Flossie sought fitness inspiration on Instagram. This is where she got meal prep ideas.  Sundays was when she dedicated time to prepare meals for the week.  At first, it was a trial and error process.  But she enjoyed what she did so she learned how to perfect her recipes.  Eventually, a friend asked Flossie to prepare meals for her and offered to pay for her service.  When she posted about it, many others were interested in having her prepare their meals.  In one month, it grew from two people to upwards of thirty!  This was the birth of her meal prep business.

No longer about the Weight Loss

Laser focused on weight loss, Flossie reached her lowest number on the scale (127 lbs) after her fourth child was born.  While she was making better choices with food, she started to become more restrictive with it. It wasn’t a ‘healthy weight’ for her since she felt too thin and frail. Again her drive to continually improve her health led her to muscle building types of activities such as strength training and Crossfit.  Her weight increased because of muscle mass and she felt much stronger.  She no longer focused on the scale but rather on overall health and disease prevention by fueling her body with real food and hitting the gym to build on her strength. She also makes sure she gets enough sleep and meditates to relax and rejuvenate.

Flossie’s Journey of Change. Top left photo, at her heaviest 15 yrs ago.

One day at a time to Avoid Overwhelm

Flossie’s biggest advice for those who wants to go on a journey of change but feels stuck is to “Bite it off to small pieces…Think about, What am I going to do Today?” whether it’s going to the gym a couple of times a week or drinking more water or making better food choices.  Pick one or two things to tackle and once you get the hang of it, add one or two more until it becomes a part of your lifestyle.

To watch the Facebook Live interview with Flossie Hall, click on the link below:

Connect with Flossie Hall on Facebook, Healthy Momma; Instagram, Healthy Momma; and on her website,
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Awareness, Behavior Change, Health, Inspiration

Path towards Better Health: Stages of Behavior Change

You may already be familiar with my story to know the fuel that sparked my journey towards a lifestyle change.  It started with a long overdue blood test.  Isn’t it fascinating a small sample of blood can reveal so much information about our health?

When I first saw my results online, I felt throes of emotions.

Surprised.  Disappointed.  Scared.

These emotions escalated to make me realize something needed to CHANGE.

In my studies as a Behavior Change Specialist, I learned the formula for lasting change.  However, before you can start the process, you have to be mentally ready for it.

For CHANGE to happen, three factors must be met:


Was I motivated?  Absolutely!  The risk of diabetes was enough to fuel my motivation.

Was I capable?  Definitely.  I am disciplined by nature (could be why the Navy was a great first career choice for me) and resourceful enough to figure out the tools I needed to make the change.

Was the opportunity present to allow for change?  Fortunately, it happened at the time when the girls were older and more independent.  It was the perfect opportunity for me to focus more on self-care.

Credit image to USC – Click on the image for further inspiration on self-care


We go through seasons in our lives.  My season for change was  the implications of my blood test.  It was the trigger that set off my journey towards better health.

A journey of change goes through five different stages, otherwise known as the Transtheoretical Model (TTM) of Behavior Change otherwise known as the Stages of Change Model. Understanding the stage you’re in can help progress you forward to the final stages of ‘Action’ and ‘Maintenance’.  In episode 2 of evoke STRONG live, I covered my progression through these stages in my own journey of health improvement.  If you’d like to view the replay,  this link will direct you to our Facebook Live page.

    1. Pre-contemplation

      The first stage is pre-contemplation.  This is someone who has no interest in change.  A person who is happy with the way things are.

      I’ll use myself as an example.  Before my blood test, I had a nightly habit of snacking.  It was something I did after I put the girls to bed where I enjoyed the quiet time mindlessly eating while I watched TV.  Sure, I noticed I was putting on a little extra belly fat.  But I couldn’t pull myself away from it, always using the excuse “I’ll run it off tomorrow.”

      – Sidebar 

      Resource: Harvard Health Publications

      If you realize you are in this stage with regards to your health, consider thinking about these following questions:

      • How will you know when it’s time to think about change?
      • What signals will tell you to start thinking about change?

      Ultimately you know what’s best for your health and you decide when you’re ready to change your behavior.

    2. Contemplation

      When you’re ready to change your behavior, but still contemplating whether or not to take action, you’ve reached the second stage:  CONTEMPLATION.  This person knows the reasons for changing but the obstacles prove it challenging so the current behavior remains.  Ambivalence is the identifying trait at this stage.  Caught in between two choices – change or no change?

      When I found out my A1C and triglyceride levels were higher than normal, it was the catalyst to change my eating habits.  The first thing that immediately came to mind was to let go of my nightly snacking habit.  I had to figure out why I felt the need to eat since it wasn’t due to physical hunger.  Was it something I could easily give up?

      Questions to ask when you’re in contemplation:

      • Why do you want to make this change?
      • What could be the positive results of changing now?
      • What are the major barriers for you to change?

      Usually this is where many of us get stuck when we contemplate about change.  Our thoughts go back and forth whether it’s worth the effort and the feelings of uncertainty arise.  This is when you must dig deep and identify a STRONG SPECIFIC WHY you need to change.  To me the risk of diabetes outweighed my unhealthy eating habits.  If I eliminated snacking at night, it meant reducing the amount of processed and sugar based food I consumed.

      Now it was a matter of commitment to the change that is a progression to the next stage.

    3. Preparation

      PREPARATION is when a person is ready to commit to change but has not taken action yet. She’s done the research about the benefits of a healthier lifestyle and feels confident that this is the path she wants to follow.

      It helps to write down SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound – goals.   More importantly, identify the obstacles along the way so you have an approach to manage through them.

      Back to my snacking problem. This might sound unusual to you but after I saw the lab results online, I went through every stage from pre-contemplation all the way to the start of the action stage in a couple of days.  I focused on One Thing  “No more snacks at night.”  At first I thought it would be a challenge.  But being a ‘health risk’ was enough to calibrate my mind and emotions.  The next night, I sat in front of the TV without a snack.  And I WAS OK with it!

    4. Action

      Finally in the stage of ACTION.  For three to six months, this person has taken the steps towards a healthier lifestyle. Every day is progress towards a specific SMART goal.  

      At this stage, the person is still dependent on willpower and there’s a possibility for relapse.  It would help to think about the questions in the Pre/Contemplation stages to remind you of the reasons WHY you started the process of change.  I am proud to admit I haven’t relapsed with my nighttime snacking.  In my case, foam rolling and journal writing replaced mindless snacking.

    5. Maintenance

      And onto the LAST stage:  MAINTENANCE.  Behavior change is sustained for 6+ months. The behavior is a lifestyle habit therefore less reliance on willpower.  To remain in this stage, it helps to set new goals, to always remember WHY you made the change and become a role model for others.

      Letting go of nighttime snacks was one of the many small steps I’ve taken since the start of my journey to improve my health.  I’ve maintained many of the small goals I’ve set but every now and then I have days when old habits appear.  These setbacks are expected and acceptable as long as it’s momentary and you have a plan in place to address the relapse.

Regarding blood tests, I am due for another one soon as my birthday approaches.  The table below shows the improvements I made within a year of making lifestyle changes.  With these improved results, there’s no question these are the healthy habits I need to maintain for a lifetime.

Behavior Change is a choice.  And the ability to take control of your health is within your grasp.  We are in the age of information where the resources are freely flowing.  Every person is different.  You must go on your own journey to see which path suits you best.

Where are you in the process of change?  How can you progress to take you to the final stage of maintenance where you’ve developed healthy habits you can sustain?

If you’d like to be inspired by stories of everyday women who chose to make lifestyle changes to take control of their health, please subscribe to our newsletter below and you will be notified when these shows go live.

Interested in a community of women where our goals are a lifestyle of healthy habits.  Join our growing FB group – Evoke Healthy Habits.


Resource: American Council on Exercise (2014) Coaching Behavior Change 
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