Melissa Costello

Author Archives: Melissa Costello

June 9, 2020

How to Build Empowering Habits that Stick

​Building new habits can feel overwhelming​, and ​difficult to even know where to start. That sweet little phrase, "old habits die hard.." is no joke. Habits are formed over time so our brain has less to do, and ​can go on autopilot without thinking.  Research shows over 40% of your actions come from habits, which frees up time to focus your energy on the important stuff.

But what about when it comes to habits that are harmful, or don't serve ​you, like mindless eating at night in front of the TV that leads to guilt and shame, or grabbing the afternoon candy bar when you're feeling tired? These types of habits ​ can feel really difficult to break​ AND they don't help you become your best self.

​One of the reasons why, is because the habits are run by our subconscious, and as Jen Sincero, Author of You Are a Badass puts it, the subconscious is like a ninja ​and will do all it can to present you with super juicy temptations that will knock you straight back into your comfort zone.

We al​l have these habitual places where we get stopped - a threshold we reach where ​we get too close to actually reaching our goals for our own comfort. Crossing over this threshold is exactly what we need to create permanent transformation in our lives, and get out of the comfort zones that keep us stuck.

This is terrifying to many of us and that is exactly the reason why our subconscious minds will gather all the tricks it can to ​stand in our way of making change. Can you say self-sabotage?

To be honest, most of us are oblivious to this stopping point and have a lifetime worth of excuses that we use to keep us playing small, ie., I don't have enough time, I'm too lazy, I will never lose weight, so what's the point, or I need to try another diet, the one I'm doing doesn't work, or, I will just start over tomorrow.

​How to change habits for good

​To change your habits, you must have a plan; one that is realistic and doable. You must be tenacious about it​ while being willing to break through the terror threshold, no matter what persuasion the subconscious ninjas use to pull you back into your old sticky ways.

Once you give in to that one little negotiation of, "oh it's just one cookie," or "I need that glass of wine to help me relax," you've abandoned yourself once again and given your power over to the habit you are trying to break.

So let's look at the steps you can take to build NEW, healthy habits and get rid of the ones that are keeping you stuck in the vicious cycle, that you KNOW you want to break out of. 

​You can't do anything if you try to do everything. -Jen Sincero

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Know your why and hold it tight

​​​It will be pretty dang hard to change habits, if you don't know why you are doing it, or if you don't have a big enough reason. If your goal is to get healthy, lose weight or give up binge eating, you must know WHY you want ​these things.

What will having those things provide for you? Will it give you freedom, peace of mind, the grace to live your life guilt-free, or what? What is your BIGGER WHY? Just ​stating that you want to get healthy is not enough.

​Honing in on your why may seem cliche, and you might even be thinking, "Well Melissa, I know my why, but still can't freaking change my habits no matter how​ hard I ​try." Trust me, I hear you, but ​that's where you are already starting to make excuses for all the reasons WHY you can't change, instead of staying focused on what it is that you really, truly want and ​what you need to do to get there.

So get out a piece of paper and write down ALL the habits you want to change along with your BIG FAT WHY next to each one. 

Circle ​the ONE ​habit that you know is preventing you from reaching the next level in your life. That's the habit we are going to work on shifting for you. It's best to start small, gain momentum and then move on to the next habit. 

​​Negotiations ​be gone!

Oh boy, how many times have you negotiated yourself right of ​trying to form new habits? I bet a lot. Believe me, I've been there....Here's the thing, you must be willing to remove yourself all together from the negotiation process.

Let's say you want to lose weight, and you know that the nighttime mindless eating in front of the TV is not helping with this goal, but you had a cruddy day at work and all you want is one glass of wine to help you relax. So you have the wine, and t​hen you get the munchies. You tell hubs to put on a pot of popcorn, and before you know it, you've drunk a bottle of wine and ate a tub of popcorn.

Or you want to start a morning workout routine, but the alarm goes off and you tell yourself you'll hit snooze one time, and 30 minutes later you're still snuggled up in dream land, and hitting the treadmill is a distant memory. You, once again, tell yourself you will do better tomorrow.

It IS​ these tiny moments, these split second decisions upon which ​your success rides. Each one of these​ tiny little decisions adds up, and serves as a crack in your resolve where other excuses can seep in, and believe me, they will.

So in order to anchor in some non-negotiation skills, here's where you can start:

​1. Identify with a new habit - meaning OWN it, by saying, I am a person who sticks to my commitments, not someone who lets an Oreo, or one or two, take away my power to know better.

2. Know when the negotiation ninjas come to visit - when we try to talk ourselves out of things that we know are good for us, we tend to not be super creative or varied (again, thanks Jen S.) We tend to stick to the same old, lame-o excuses. When you do this, it should be EASY to recognize your tried and true method for knocking yourself out of the new habit-building game. Be on the lookout for these favorite excuses of yours, and the second one comes up, recognize the negotiation and DO. NOT. CONSIDER. IT. for even one minuscule of a second. Just move along like it didn't even happen.

​Know your triggers ​

​Preceding every habit is a trigger of sorts. Triggers can be almost anything: a sound, smell, feeling, time of day, season, another person, etc.

It's important to know what triggers come before your habit kicks in, especially the ones that are not serving you right now. How we react to the trigger will make all the difference in the world when we are trying to change our habit.

​Here's how to identify your triggers. Write out the habit you want to change. Example, I want to stop drinking wine every night when I watch TV.  

Then ​write out the ​triggers of that habit ​using the following headings (I've included some ​examples to help you)

  • Feelings: I'm exhausted, I've had a long day, ​I deserve to have a glass of wine
  • Time of Day; After dinner, it's getting late and I want to wind down
  • Sounds: TV is on and I just want to sit and chill with a glass of wine​
  • Places: ​The couch looks cozy and relaxing after a hard day
  • People: Hubby is cozy on the couch with a glass of wine and ​I want to join him 
  • Smells: Popcorn is on the stove and I love drinking a glass of wine and crunching on popcorn
  • Other:

​Now go through the list and pick the biggest trigger that is linked to your bad habit, and write it down including the action you take with the trigger.  For example; Biggest Trigger >>>> I'm exhausted and I deserve to have a glass of wine. Action: Gets glass of wine and sits on the couch, then starts to eat popcorn.

Now for the juicy part. It's time to identify 3 small positive actions you can take when your biggest trigger hits you. For example: When I feel exhausted and want to ​relax, I can

  1. ​Take 10 minutes and sit quietly
  2. Take 3 deep breaths to calm my nervous system down
  3. ​Put on some soft music and close my eyes while listening to it.

Now it’s time to try your new habit! Today or tomorrow, when you sense your old habit being triggered, switch gears and try out one of your new actions you listed. As you repeat this new behavior, your brain will change and the new behavior will become automatic.

Once this new behavior becomes automatic, you can go back and try this same process for the other habits in your life that you want to change. ​Tackle one at a time for best results.  

The bottom line is that changing habits takes time and consistency. The more you focus on taking small steps, the more momentum you will build with changing your habits. Try this on and let me know how it goes for you!

​*Habit makeover adapted from Mel Robbins Spring it On session

​Are you ready to break out of the vicious food cycle? 

​I work with smart, busy professionals, just like you, who are frustrated and tired of the vicious yo-yo dieting cycle. I help them to stop dieting and radically transform their relationship to food so they can say bye-bye to diets once and for all, and find their natural body weight. If you're ready to finally BREAK FREE, learn more about my ​private and group coaching to​ see how you can ​finally create the life you have dreamed of ​that is free from diets and food struggles. 

May 10, 2020

How Accepting Your Body Leads to Weight Loss

Accept Your Body and Lose Weight

​When it comes to accepting your body, ​do you need some serious help?  What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you see a body you like and accept? Or do you pick it apart and criticize every little thing you want to change about it?  I'm guessing it's the latter.

A large majority of people, particularly women, do not like what they see in the mirror. In fact, they downright HATE what they see in the mirror. I would've included myself in that ​majority up until about 5 years ago.

Now, I'm not saying that I always LOVE what I see in the mirror, but the difference​ is that I have ​come to learn to appreciate what I see, instead of hate it, criticize it or pick it apart. 

​For years, I had this crazy morning "ritual"  where as soon as I woke up ​and got out of bed, I would walk to the bathroom, ​pull my shirt up, look in the mirror and see how big (or ​flat) my stomach was. It was my ​Morning Fat Check.​

If I was dieting or depriving myself, or I had started some new meal plan or fat burner, I would check to see how much weight I was losing, or if any of the pudge had ​miraculously disappeared overnight.

​If was off the rails with my food, which happened more often than not, I would lift my shirt, stare at my bloated belly, pinch my love handles and curse myself.  ​Then I would swear to start over and "be good" for the rest of the week.

I would start to make the running list in my head of all the foods I had to stay away from, and​ make a promise that I would only eat salad for the next 10 days and nothing else.

It was exhausting, and seriously detrimental to my well-being AND self-esteem.

I truly hated what I saw every time I looked in the mirror. It didn't matter if I was thinner than the day prior, or not. I would criticize, poke, pinch, prod and shake my head in disgust. This ​was the way ​I started every single day for years, so you can imagine how I ​entered into the day feeling about myself.

​Sometimes I would end up on the floor in a ball of tears when I was trying to get dressed for work. Other days, I felt on top of the world, because my stomach looked flat that ​morning, and I was convinced that whatever I was doing was FINALLY working, and I was a rock-star. But that didn't last long, because I would eventually overeat and break that big lofty promise I made to myself, yet again.

Basically the Morning Fat Check set the entire mood of my day into motion. Most of the time, it resulted in a SHITTY one (excuse my French) of devastation, feeling like a failure and riddled with shame and disappointment.

The big turning point for me was the day I called a close friend of mine for support. I was in tears about how fat I felt. I hated the way I felt in my skin. I was gaining weight and felt puffy, bloated and defeated. And I was out of control with my eating. ​ I was looking for someone​ ​to be in the trenches with me; to feel my pain.

​But what I got instead was a hefty dose of tough love. The words my friend said in that moment stung me, but they were the catalyst to me deeply healing the years long​ ​battle with food and ​my body, 

​After she waited for me to finish whining and complaining, she calmly said,  "I'm sorry you feel this way and you are struggling, but this obsession with your body and weight is SO self-absorbed. GO OUT and BE OF SERVICE. STOP feeling sorry for yourself, get off the couch, get outside and make a difference in someone else's day that needs you." 

​BAM! It was like a stinging slap in the face, but it was just what I needed to hear. ​​​Those words set a series of events into motion that ​dramatically transformed the way I see myself, and my body​ to this very day.

So, here are a few of the steps I took in order to learn to come into acceptance with my body, and stop hating myself. This change didn't happen overnight, but I was committed to ​the process. It required patience, consistency and a tremendous amount of courage.  

​Step One to Accepting ​YOUR BODY

​Stop the Morning Fat Check + Daily Weigh Ins

The first thing I did was give up the Morning Fat Check and I stopped looking in the mirror so much. As hard as this was to break, it was a huge part of my healing process.

Beating my body up and criticizing it ​first thing in the morning, left me feeling depressed, angry and defeated.  ​No matter what I did, it was never enough.

And ​the crazy thing is, ​weight can fluctuate anywhere from 2-7 pounds within a given day depending on circumstances, so I never knew what it was going to be from day to day and that created even more uncertainty and feelings of ​failure.

​So, I vowed to stop lifting my shirt, looking in the mirror and stepping on the scale first thing in the morning. I even threw my scale away!

At first, I ​had a huge fear of getting out of control if I wasn't constantly checking my weight or size. Because how would I gauge if I was getting skinny or not? How would I know​ what to feel about myself that day and if I was reaching the goals I had set to lose weight?

But, what started to happen, as I let go of the constant ​ slew of externally focused, self-deprecating comments and lifting my shirt each day, was that I started to focus on ​the amazing other qualities I had and how I felt from the inside. ​

​​Step ​Two to Accepting ​YOUR BODY

​Practice Appreciation

This was a powerful practice for me in body acceptance. Once I gave up my Morning Fat Check, and started to focus on how I felt internally, it prompted me to truly feel connected to the mirac​le of my body.

As a nutritionist, yoga teacher and former massage therapist, I have studied a lot about the body. I understand a lot about the anatomy of it, and what foods are good for it, etc. but I ​always treated my body as a separate entity. I was disconnected from it, and felt it to be a burden. 

I hated that it wouldn't listen to me, or drop the weight I wanted it to, when I wanted it to​. I felt like my body was constantly betraying me and I was ​in a constant battle with ​it.

Each day I committed to writing down and/or saying three things to my body that I appreciated about it. ​ I focused on it's strength, health, and all the little intricacies of my body that I often don't think about because they run on auto-pilot, literally.

This practice alone helped me to create such a deep appreciation and honoring of my body that I didn't want to say mean things to it anymore. And the funny thing is, after a while, my clothes started to fit looser. Go figure.

​Step ​​THREE to Accepting ​YOUR BODY

​​Tune in and Listen to Your Body

As I mentioned in step two above, I was in a constant battle with my body and completely disconnected from it. By practicing the daily appreciation of my body, I was also able to ​attune to it more. 

I started to pay closer attention to the subtle and not-so-subtle signals that my body would give me. After I ate, I would notice how I felt in my body, not what my mind thought about what I ate (which was usually full of judgement, by the way.)

This would help me feel connected, and be able to give my body what it needed. I stopped listening to the craziness in my mind, and the outside world, and starting listening to the wisdom of my very own body. 

This usually looked like resting more often, not working out as hard, or pushing as hard and doing a whole lot less than I was used to. I relaxed more, and ​​ate less because I was paying attention to my ​satisfaction cues. I slowed down at meals and enjoyed what I was eating. I was getting fuller quicker and didn't overeat as I normally would when I was distracted.

All of this led to me feeling so much more at home in my body. I would check in and see ​what type of movement would feel good instead of what I think I should do (to lose weight.). Some days it was yoga, some days it was hiking, others it was weight lifting. 

​My body appreciated this. And it started to change. It didn't happen overnight, it was a journey, but one that has been so empowering and transformative.  

​Remember: accepting your body takes patience, practice and Consistency.

​​Not only was I ​implementing these steps on a daily basis, I was also doing some further personal growth work to look at my skewed relationship with food. Although it's all connected, I had to dig deeper to get to the core of some of my eating behaviors.

​These​ 3 key elements mentioned above were the most powerful ​and truly helped me come to an incredible acceptance of my body, which resulted in ​my body normalizing to it's natural weight over time.

​So, I'm curious; How do you feel when you look in the mirror? What has been your experience with your body? Do you feel accepting of your body? Or do you loathe it and fight against it? 'd love to hear your thoughts and comments below​.

Interview with Julie Morris, Author of Smart Plants – How to Increase Memory + Focus

​Interview with Julie Morris, Author of Smart Plants - How to Increase Memory + Focus using Nootropics

​Melissa talks to Superfood Expert and Author of Smart Plants, Julie Morris about how to use superfoods to help increase memory, focus and brain health. This powerful interview will open your eyes to the power of nootropics and plant-foods to help you take care of your brain.

Beyond The Scale – Episode 3 With Jennifer Jimenez

​For episode 3 of Melissa's Beyond the Scale, Real Life Stories series, she interviews World-renowned life coach, Jennifer Jimenez, the founder of Vibrant Healthy Woman. Jennifer shares her story of being a dancer growing up and the negative impact that had on her body image. She also shares a powerful exercise to help you ​come into acceptance of your body, even if you don't fully like it right now.

April 22, 2020

Life Inspired Podcast – How To Break out of Food Prison

​Hear Melissa share her story of how she broke out of food prison on Kayla Delargy's Life Inspired Podcast. Melissa shares about her long-time struggles with body image and yo-yo dieting and what it took for her to break out of this self-imposed food prison. This is an inspiring episode filled with honesty and a story of resilience.

April 22, 2020

Women Who Run with Horses

​Women Who Run with Horses Podcast

​Melissa talks with Hilary Schneider, the host of Women Who run with Horses about her journey with body image dysmorphia and how her work with horses helps women to heal and build confidence with their bodies and in their lives. 

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