How to eat healthy when your partner doesn’t really give a sh**

It’s February, so of course we’re talking relationships.  But, we’re not going to tell you how to fix yours.  We’re talking about how to eat healthy when you and your partner have different health, fitness, or weight goals.  Listen in as Keysa Amaro and I interview our friend Myia Ritchie.  Our tips are listed below!

-Side note:  I don’t really give my husband the credit he is due in how his health has changed so much in the last couple of years.  I meant to talk about that in this podcast, but it’s hard to get everything in you want to say!  So, I want to give a shout out to Nathan who has lost a ton of weight (as guys do, by basically just being happier, walking the dogs, and eating home-cooked meals) and is so much healthier.  He has been a huge support and, once I started paying attention, a role model for me as well.

5 tips

  1. Know your Protocol: Know what you allow yourself to eat.  Be very clear on this, and don’t make excuses like “just this once”.  Make sure there is no wiggle room and remember your commitment to your weight loss goals.
  2. Communication: Communicate your weight loss and nutrition goals to your partner. Explain to them why you are eating what you eat, and how it is helping you reach your health and nutrition goals. Ask them if they have any questions about what you eat to clarify any confusion.  Telling your partner and people close to you what and why you are eating what you eat will give them to opportunity to be supportive.    
  3. Exceptions: Plan ahead your exceptions at least 24 hours ahead of time.  Be specific in what you will be eating and quantity. You can listen to our podcast Episode #3 about planning ahead, and use Mary’s “Drink Plan” to help you plan out your plan for drinking or eating dessert or an off protocol food.  
  4. Work Together: Look for restaurants that support both of your gastric needs, maybe your partner wants steak and mashed potatoes with extra cheese, or fish and chips.  Search for a place that has steak as well as salads, or fish and chips as well as grilled fish and vegetables.
  5. Just Say No: Don’t be afraid to say “no thank you” to foods your partner offers you.  Remember, you are not responsible for their feelings.  You are responsible for your own thoughts and feelings. And you do not need to people please. Be truthful and if you do not want to eat the food, then do not eat it…period.

    Keysa Hale, Health Coach

How to get in touch with Keysa:

Hire Keysa to coach you!
Check out her website here
On Facebook here
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Mary Preston, LMFT

Find Mary on:
Instagram or
Send an email.  I would love to hear from you!

Calling all Mental Health Professionals!

Join my facebook group:
Self-coaching for Mental Health Professionals

100 Unanswered Urges Worksheet

This video gives a short description on how to get into the practice of feeling difficult emotions and learning that you can handle any emotion.  If you have questions or comments, please share a comment or find me on Facebook where I am most active and can get back to you quickly.  The link to the worksheet is below the video.

100 Unanswered Urges

Information shared with permission by the author and creator, Brooke Castillo.  As always, I encourage you to go to the source and listen to a brilliant podcast where she explains all of it herself:

How 5 Minutes a Day Can Change Your Life (Planning Ahead is Awesome)

“Many people think that by having no plan, you are creating freedom, but in fact it is the plan that gives us freedom.”

Keysa Amaro and I talk about our experiences with using planning ahead as a tool for weight loss, how you can become a person who plans ahead, and answer some great listener questions at the end!

Are you a mental health professional looking for inexpensive and accessible self-care tools?  Join my Facebook Group called Self-coaching for Mental Health Professionals!

My 6 session program for mental health professionals looking to quit drinking or emotional eating is open!  Click here to get more info!

How to get in touch with Keysa:
Hire Keysa to coach you!
Check out her website here
Her Facebook here
Find her on Instagram!

Find Mary on:
Instagram or
Send an email.  I would love to hear from you!

Meal Planning Made Easy Handout

Weekly Meal Plan-Template

The Drink Plan- A tool to help you quit drinking

One of my favorite (or least favorite) tools is called the Drink Plan.  It is tedious, but so worth while!  It has been incredibly helpful to use to make sure that I am paying attention to what I eat and drink.

Enjoy my video where I walk you through the worksheet, or skip to the bottom where you can download it for free!


Click the link below to access the Drink Plan Worksheet

Drink Plan Worksheet

Should You be on a Diet? (Everyone Else Seems to Be!)

Join Keysa and I as we explore the world of dieting and whether or not it’s a good idea for you.  We discuss what a diet is, talk about our own experiences and offer guidance on how to figure out if it’s for you.  At the end we also answer a listeners question about gradually introducing healthier foods.  Find the FREE questionnaire below as well as our contact information to find out more or work with us!

Link to the Developing Healthy Eating Habits for your Kids podcast we referenced at the end.

Our tips:

  1. Commitment:  What is your commitment? What is the reason you want to lose weight? And is it strong enough to keep you from overeating or eating foods that promote weight gain?  Weight loss is not always easy, so are you willing to feel uncomfortable in order to lose weight?
  2. Why? Look at the reasons why you want to lose weight.  Maybe it is to look better in a swimsuit, or to impress your husband or partner. If this is a compelling reason for you and will motivate you, then go for it.  Maybe it’s for your wedding, or maybe you have chronic diseases and your doctor said you needed to lose weight. Whatever the reason, as long as it is compelling enough and will work for you, go for it.
  3. Support: Finding support either through a weight loss group, friends and family, or a health coach, support will help motivate you help you stay accountable for what you choose to eat. You can share your struggles and someone will be there to support you.  
  4. Predict obstacles: This one is simple; get a piece of paper and divide it into two columns. Write down all of your obstacles on one side and write down everything you will need to do to overcome each obstacle on the other column.
  5. Plan ahead! Planning ahead is fantastic! When I plan my weekly menu, I write it down on paper and stick it to my fridge.  I buy all the groceries I need, and then refer to the menu when I need to make a meal.  It takes all the thinking about “what am I going to eat?” out of my head.  I think about food less, and subsequently have more time to think about and spend on other things, like playing with my daughter, preparing for clients, and working on my website.

Questionnaire to help you decide if you are ready to go on a diet

How to get in touch with Keysa:
Hire Keysa to coach you!
Check out her website here
Her Facebook here
Find her on Instagram!

Find Mary on:
Instagram or
Send an email.  I would love to hear from you!


When Therapy is Unaffordable for Therapists



I’ve always been fascinated by how we, as therapists, do not put our own mental health as a priority.  I have watched helping professionals over the years become burnt out and bitter, I have seen how we help our clients create fabulous lives and let our physical and emotional health go down the shitter.  As a whole, mental health professionals, especially those working in non-profits, schools, government positions, and private practice often struggle with weight problems, have drinking and addiction problems, have migraines and stress headaches, get sick often, and have various illnesses related to stress.  

In researching why we don’t get help for ourselves, there seem to be two main barriers- time and money.  We don’t make nearly enough as therapists to pay for the very services we offer to others.  And time.  When you work a regular day and other therapists work a regular day, when are you supposed to find the time to see a therapist?  We are all working or have families and responsibilities to take care of after work.

This is not ok!

I ran into the idea of life coaching years ago, and was drawn to the work of Martha Beck and Byron Katie.  I love their work, but it didn’t seem accessible.  Last year I discovered Brooke Castillo and her podcast called The Life Coaching school.  I listened to a few episodes and discovered that her work distills many useful theories into a useful practice.  I highly recommend that you get yourself to her podcast and start listening from episode one, where she begins to break it all down.  In this video I’m going to share with you an introduction to her work, why you should check it out, how I use it, and how you can get started for free and without it taking too much of your precious time.

  • Self-care is important for therapists-
    • We preach it to our clients and we know the value of it.  Self-care is important.  
    • When we practice self-care:
    • We are more centered in session
    • We are able to maintain boundaries
    • We are able to think clearly about what the client needs
    • We are an example for our clients
    • We are taking our own advice
    • We are able to separate our problems and needs from theirs
    • Less counter-transference
  • Therapy is expensive, self-coaching is affordable
    • It is a conundrum that therapists can’t afford therapy
    • We don’t get paid enough to utilize the very services we offer
    • Self-coaching is free, you can follow Brooke Castillo’s podcast called The Life Coach School Podcast, found on itunes, stitcher, etc, or on her website at
    • You can join my group where I will share free worksheets, videos and support
    • Group coaching is an affordable way to get some support in doing the work.  Check locally for any coaches near you or look online.  I did a search for “affordable group life coaching” and came up with several hits.  I am also creating a group coaching program especially for therapists.  It will be offered at my sliding fee scale of $50 per session for a total of $300, and will be available at the end of January.
    • Brooke Castillo also has a self-coaching scholars program that I am a part of that costs $300 dollars a month and it has been life changing for me.  I highly recommend it.
  • What it can be used for:
    • Self-coaching is not a replacement for therapy if you are experiencing symptoms that are limiting your function in everyday life. Follow your own advice and get thee to a therapist.  The cost is worth the benefit you will receive.
    • Self-coaching IS an effective practice that you can use in place of therapy if you want to:
      • Break a habit
      • Create a new habit
      • Explore counter-transference
      • Create strong boundaries
      • Live your life with more intention
      • Take a look at your money beliefs
      • Learn how to process emotions
      • Learn how to deal with negative emotions
      • Understand why you are getting the results in your life and intentionally create different results
  • The main theory of self-coaching
    • The Model- based on the work by Brooke Castillo
      • Circumstances- these are facts.  They are neutral.  You can prove them in a court of law, everyone in the world would agree.  The basic facts that are non-negotiable.  
      • Thoughts- Sentence in your mind that you have about the circumstance
      • Feelings- Vibrations in your body- emotions, angry, sad, happy, joyful, uncomfortable, frustrated, upset
      • Actions- Actions, re-actions, and non-actions that we take in order to feel or avoid feeling a certain way
      • Results- The effect of the action for you (it is always framed in regards to how it has affected you, not other people)
  • How coaching works, what to do with the model
    • Thought download- turn a timer on for 10 minutes and write all the thoughts that come to mind.  You may call it a brain dump or journaling.  
    • You may get some relief from this or maybe it’s a bit terrifying, either way we don’t stop there.  
    • Let’s use the example of a house with the lights off.  This is similar to a brain that we aren’t paying attention to. So we go inside the house and turn the lights on.  This is the equivalent of a thought download.
    • Turning the lights on doesn’t provide relief.  It just shows us the mess.  The same is true when we show ourselves our thinking.  It can be overwhelming and scary at first.  
    • Your brain will give you the advice to SHUT THE LIGHTS BACK OFF, in other words, stay unconscious, buffer to distract, and avoid looking at what is going on
    • Write down the letters, CTFAR
    • From your thought download, pick a thought and put it into the model
    • You will do two of these models every time- one is the model that shows you the results of your current thinking
    • The second is a model that you create with a more intentional thought, that is more likely to bring you the results you are looking for.
    • Practice that new thought throughout the day
  • You can get started today
    • This is the very basics of self-coaching.  There is a lot more to it, but you can get started today.  
    • Here is my practice that you can use to get you started:
      • Every morning do a thought download
      • Write one model on your current thinking
      • Write one model on your new, intentional thought
      • Practice that new thought throughout the day!  That’s it!
    • Join my facebook group to get help and feedback, ask any questions and let me know whether you like the idea of self-coaching or you hate it.  
    • I would love to hear from you!

In summary:

  • Your mental health is important for you and your clients
  • Therapy is, of course, amazing and you should get some if you can afford to!
  • Self-coaching is also amazing and FREE to learn and use.
  • Coaching is something you can make a habit of every day in the morning, and only takes a few minutes.
  • Join me at my facebook group, Self-coaching for Mental Health Professionals
  • I have a goal this year of helping 200 Mental Health Professionals get control of emotional eating and over-drinking.  These are two of the many problems that self-coaching is an amazing tool for.  Join the group, email me, or give me a call at 970-541-9534 if you are interested in being a part of this list!


Stress Management Through the Holidays

The holidays can be stressful.  Listen in as Keysa and I talk about Stress Management.  The worksheet we discuss, as well as the tips we shared and a couple of extras are below!


Managing Holiday Expectations Worksheet

Our Top Tips for Stress Management

  1. Get 7-8 hours of sleep a night
    • Being sleep deprived will cause you to be tired.  When you are tired, you are more reactive to stressors in life.  Little things may bother you that most likely wouldn’t when you are well rested.  So, get those Zzz’s!
  2. Set a Budget: before shopping for presents and food, set a budget.
    • Some stress you are feeling over the holidays may be due to financial pressure.
    • To help reduce stress around money, plan ahead, review your finances, and set a realistic budget for your gifts.
    • This way you know what your limit is even before you set foot in the store, or open your web browser to Lululemon.
  3. Make Time for Yourself
    • Your schedule may be extra full during the holidays and with so much going on you may not have a moment to yourself.  
    • It is important to make time for yourself so you can breath and clear your head.  
    • This is  especially important as an introvert, as this is how we recharge our batteries.  
    • Even spending just 15 minutes alone might make a world of difference.    
    • It may be just sitting alone and reflecting on life, a solo walk at lunchtime, listening to relaxing music, or splurging and getting a massage.
    • It’s so  important to take time for yourself.  IF you are relaxed and well taken care of, you are better able to help and take care of others.  
  4. Get some exercise.  
    • Exercise may be the last thing on your mind during the holidays, but what you may not know is that exercise can elevate your mood and help alleviate stress by producing endorphins in the brain
    • Find an activity that works for you, it doesn’t have to be anything intense. .
    • A short walk especially outside will help reduce stress and give you some time to reflect on the season.
  5. Learn to say no/keep it simple
    • The holiday season can get stressful, especially when you have too much on your plate, especially if you are hosing out of town guests or hosting an event.  
    • If you are hosting a party or dinner, remember that you don’t have to everything yourself.  Ask for help for decorating or setting up, and have guests bring side dishes or desserts.

Bonus Tips:

  1. Be Realistic & Roll With the Punches:
    • holidays are not always like the movies.  Things may go wrong, food may get burnt, and aunt Jackie may be drunk again.  Know that everything will not be perfect and that is part of the fun!
    • By realizing this ahead of time and lowering your standards for perfection, little things will be less likely to stress you out.  
  2. Manage your expectations
    • Realize that you cannot control other peoples feelings, thoughts, or actions.
    • You can only be responsible for what you can control, which is YOUR thoughts, feelings, and actions.
  3. Drink plenty of water
    • Staying hydrated will help you handle stress.  When you are dehydrated, your body will send mixed signals and thirst may show up in forms of cravings.  It’s really hard to handle the hustle and bustle of crowded shopping malls when you are dehydrated and craving that chocolate…did someone say Godiva? It’s on my way to Nordstrome’s.  
  4. Online shopping:  I love shopping from the comfort of my couch. No lines, no crowds, no hassle.

Developing Healthy Eating Habits for your Kids




According to the CDC, as of 2014, 17% of children ages 2-19 are obese.  “The prevalence of obesity was 8.9% among 2- to 5-year-olds compared with 17.5% of 6- to 11-year-olds and 20.5% of 12- to 19-year-olds.”

Learn how to start your babies off eating healthy foods from the start.  Keysa introduces us to “Baby-Led Weaning” and talks about how it is working for her family and her adorable veggie-eating baby.

Mary gives some tips on how to start getting your family eating healthy if your kids are already older.

Our ten take away tips are below!



  1. Know your why. Making a commitment to eating healthy in a culture where vegetables are not the norm can be a challenge at times.  Keeping in mind why you want to introduce your child to healthy food, and making sure it’s a strong, motivating reason for you can really help in challenging times.
  2. Offer your baby a variety of foods, especially vegetables, fruit, beans, rice, quinoa, meat.  Try cooking them in different ways if your baby or child does not take to the food right away.  It may take multiple exposures for your child to become accustomed to the taste and texture of certain foods.  Just because they don’t eat it on the first try, don’t give up.  Offer it to them multiple times, and try preparing it in different ways.
  3. Let your baby/toddler experiment with food.  At first, baby may just squish the food and move it around on the highchair tray.  This is all a part the learning experience when it comes to food.  They are testing and experimenting with the food and that is just fine.  They will eventually get it to their mouth and decide if they like it or not.
  4. Let babies and children make their own decisions about what foods they like.  Often, we take our child’s dislikes of food personally. Often times as parents we feel that it is our duty or job to get our children to eat.  Let go of your connection to their eating preferences.  Just like you may not like squash because of the texture, your child may not like bananas (your favorite fruit) for the same reason.  It has nothing to do with you.
  5. Keep healthy food on hand.  Kids will eat what’s around, and if they are really hungry, they will eat fruit and veggies for snacks.  
  6. Don’t make a big deal out of new foods, especially veggies. Put the food on their plate, tell them what it is, and answer any questiOn Don’t bribe or r beg. If they ask, explain why the food is healthy and that making good eating choices is important for a healthy body! When I give a new food to my daughter, I tell her what it is and leave it at that.  I don’t watch her and wait for a reaction or protest. If she does protest, I ignore her, this doesn’t give her attention for her protests and discourages it.  She will either not eat it or she will usually take a taste of it.  
  7. Get toddlers and children to be a part of the planning, shopping, and cooking process. Getting children involved in the planning and cooking process will help children feel like they have a say in what they are eating.  When children are involved in the process, they are more likely to eat the food because they helped make it, versus random foods being placed in front of them.  When I was teaching 5th grade, we had a garden where we grew bok choy and lettuce.  The students were so excited to care for these plants and when harvest time came around, they were excited to make a salad out of the lettuce and eat it!  They were willingly eating vegetables because they were such a huge part of the process.  They were empowered by growing the food.
  8. Never use food as a reward. This is an important step to take with kids. We reward everything from good grades to good behavior to birthdays with food of some kind, creating a feeling that eating certain foods is associated with being special or doing well. While eating is certainly a social and family activity and many important events involve food, it is important to break the association with food and a feeling of achievement or happiness. Let family dinner time be the time of bonding over food shared, and let other things replace foods as rewards. Rewards can be a family outing, a bike ride in the park, a new book, the chance to have a friend over, etc. Breaking the cycle of associating food with fun and achievement will help ensure the child does not ever become an emotional eater and give the child a strong, rational, foundation to base dietary choices on.On the other end of the spectrum, don’t sooth your child with food either.  Such as when your child is sad, giving them ice cream does not develop a healthy relationship with food.  Offer a hug, to go on a bike ride, or reading some books to your child.
  9. Have family meals.  Whether it’s dinner, lunch, or breakfast, it is important to model for your children healthy eating habits, and this includes eating as a family.  Turn off all electronics, including phones (at least put them on vibrate and don’t bring them to the table) and tvs. Research shows that children who eat dinners at the table with their parents have better nutrition and are less likely to get in serious trouble with their weight as teenagers.
  10. Model Healthy Eating Habit: Parenting experts agree that children pick up behavior based much less on what they are told and much more on what they observe. If they see you routinely eating veggies and enjoying them, they will start to choose it themselves.  Likewise, if they see you sitting on the couch watching tv with a bag of potato chips, they are going to want to do the same thing.  

How to get in touch with Keysa:
Hire Keysa to coach you!
Check out her website here
Her Facebook here
Find her on Instagram!

Find Mary on:
Instagram or
Send an email.  I would love to hear from you!

Eating Healthy On Vacation

Mary and Keysa. Superheroes.

Keysa Amaro and I talk about planning ahead for vacations.  When you’re eating healthy, it can be a challenge to stick to your plan!  We give you some great tips and I tell you all about how I did, on my vacation, sticking to my own plan.  Scroll down for some pics and info on how to get in touch with us for any questions, or to work with us.

How to get in touch with Keysa:
Hire Keysa to coach you!
Check out her website here
Her Facebook here
Find her on Instagram!

Find Mary on:
Instagram or
Send an email.  I would love to hear from you!

Mary enjoying an Ice Cream Cone
View from the Sullivan Family Vacation House
Mary and her Dad checking out the amazing creation that Mary’s nieces made to celebrate her birthday.

Keysa’s Info:

My Experience
Keysa Amaro is a certified Health Coach and studied holistic nutrition at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and also earned her Masters of Education in Teaching from the University of Hawaii Manoa. She opened her Nutrition Coaching practice in 2014 where she works one-on- one with people who want to lose weight in order to teach them healthier eating habits, how to meal plan, grocery shop, and develop healthy thoughts around eating and body image.  Through her practice, she develops individualized plans to meet the client where they are and move them forward to meet their goals that they set together. Keysa also provides group coaching and nutrition classes as well as corporate
nutrition classes focusing on making small changes to develop healthy nutrition habits for a lifetime. She lives and works in Yona, GU and coaches people in person and over the phone. In her free time, you will find Keysa stand up paddle boarding, hiking, or at CrossFit, as she understands the importance of staying active through doing what you enjoy.

Contact Info
Instagram: @cleanliving_dirtyworld

How Much Can You Handle?

Have you ever gone through a time in your life, when it seems the hits just keep on coming, one after the other?  It always seems to happen when life is going great.  Everything seems to be going smoothly, everybody is doing fine and then one thing happens, and another, and another, and another.  This was my last week.

Last weekend we found out that the sale of our townhouse in Hawaii had fallen through after an assessment.  This raised some questions, and I had to deal with the feeling that I had been punched in the gut.  Over the week we discovered there was a slow leak, there was damage to the downstairs apartment, the fix was going to cost approximately 15,000 dollars and that wasn’t the only thing that needed fixing.  Nathan and I no longer have credit card space to keep this place afloat.  We don’t have a renter, so we’ve been paying the mortgage and our current rent.  It’s already a lot.

To keep a complicated story short, I had several phone calls and emails over the week that brought on that feeling of terror that included my whole body shaking and numbness in my face.  My brain was having great difficulty computing this level of news.  Nobody had died, there was not real tragedy, but my brain was definitely interpreting this news as if my life was in extraordinary danger.

On top of all of this, I had made a commitment not to buffer.  In other words, I commit to not overeating and not drinking to cover my feelings.  This was all well and good when life was going pretty well, but on Tuesday this week I was in full on panic mode.  That was the day I got the bill for the leak and couldn’t remember if I had paid my homeowner’s insurance or not.  And I couldn’t get in touch with my insurance guy to find out for hours.

So, I sat on my couch in my office.  Then I scrolled facebook for a few minutes.  Then I just grabbed my keys and left.  I walked around the block in the heat.  I just walked and walked.  Then I sat in my car with the air conditioning on in the silence.  And I let it all in.  I was terrified.  And I was trying to push it away.  I decided not to, and just sat with the panic and the terror.  It felt awful and it lasted for an hour before I looked at my clock and realized that I was supposed to see a client 5 minutes before.  Luckily, he was a no-show that day and I called my friend, Joanna.  She lovingly asked if I needed her to go harass anyone for me, and as nice as that sounded, I really just needed to say the words out loud, “I am scared and I don’t know what to do.”  She listened, and that was all I needed.

My next client came in, and I was able to be present for her.  I could let her feel her own pain, because I had just sat and allowed my own.

And you guys.  I did not drink that night.  I did not have cookies or bread or crackers or sugar.  I had exactly what I planned on eating.  And it was fine.  I did this all week.  Bad news, allow feelings, stick to plan.  It’s been amazing.  I’ve learned so much about what I am capable of.

I’ve learned I can handle hearing bad news.

I’ve learned I can communicate bad news to my husband and allow him to have whatever feelings he needs to have about it.  It is not my job to protect him from his feelings and it was an immense relief to allow him to do his own work.  (Oddly,he is much better at handling his own feelings than I am, go figure)

I’ve learned that money is just math.  It is just numbers on a paper, that I can manipulate.  I can just look for money elsewhere to make up for the money that is needed.  Problem- solution.  No drama.

And I learned that I do not need flour, sugar, or alcohol to make me feel better.  I can handle any feeling that comes my way.

Mind. Blown.

Have you ever had a week like this?  Would you like to learn how to handle it without buffering?  Contact me, I am dying to help you.  I can’t believe I’m learning all of this now, at 36.