Eat to Lose: Tips for Slimming your waistline and maintaining a Healthier Lifestyle

How many of you have counted calories in an attempt to lose weight?  How many cleanses or diets have you tried to reach your weight loss goals?  If you’re like me, you probably have tried countless strategies to reach your goals with little to no success.  Over the past 5 years, I was a pretty consistent “gym rat;” exercising at least 4 times per week and even including “2-a-days.”  When I got bored with my exercise regime, or didn’t notice any changes in my body, I would change my routine.  However, I was neglecting the most important part in obtaining my goal; which was nutrition. Like many others, I fell victim to attempting to “out-exercise” my bad eating habits.  I was a “yo-yo dieter,” eating healthy for a couple months and then reverting back to bad eating habits.  I also was not fully aware of the ingredients contained in the food I consumed.   When attempting to reach a weight loss and/or fitness goal; it can be pretty discouraging when your results do not reflect the time and effort you put into the gym.  I did not realize I was sabotaging my work outs with bad foods.  I believed that I would make up for a few days or a weekend of bad eating by punishing myself at the gym.  It has been almost one year since I fully absorbed and applied the 80/20 rule to my life; 80% nutrition and 20% exercise.  Notice I used nutrition in place of diet.  Nutrition is a lifestyle, dieting is a trend.

I also learned most people struggle to make clean eating a lifestyle for a few reasons.

  1. They don’t know what to eat or when to eat it.
  2. Clean eating has a bad rap for being boring or bland.
  3. Clean Eating is expensive

The following tips can serve as a guide on your journey to beginning and/or maintaining a healthier lifestyle.

  1. Do not skip breakfast! I often hear people say “I’m not hungry in the mornings.” Or, “I don’t have time for breakfast in the mornings.” When you skip breakfast in the morning, your blood sugar drops even lower, resulting in increased hunger and less energy. This can also set you up to snack on foods high in fat and sugar throughout the day. Studies have shown people who lose weight and keep it off eat a well-balanced breakfast (high in fiber and protein, low in fat and sugar). Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. By eating breakfast, you are “breaking the fast” since we usually haven’t eaten since the previous dinner. It is the fuel that kick starts our bodies and gives us energy for the day ahead of us.
  2. Eat Eat Eat! There seems to be a misconception that depriving ourselves of food will result in weight loss. Again, our bodies are vehicles and they need fuel. Food is the fuel that speeds up our metabolism. When we go long periods without eating, our body goes in to starvation and stores energy for fat as reserves rather than burning. For example, if you eat one meal per day, such as dinner, your body is in starvation/fat storage mode for approximately 16 hours per day (6-8 hours while you sleep at night and at least another 8 hours during the day before dinner), This sounds like a long time to go without food. The longer you wait to eat between meals, the hungrier you get and the more likely you are to overeat.  Research has shown that our blood sugars begin to fall after about 3 hours. Healthy snacking in between meals are great ways to keep our bodies fueled.
  3. Drink Water! Sometimes it is difficult for the body to tell the difference between hunger and thirst. Before snacking and even before meals, drink a full 8 ounce glass of water. Research has also shown that drinking a full glass of water right before a meal helps us to feel fuller, eat less and aids in digestion. How much water does our body need? Most of us are used to the formula of 64 ounces of water per day. However, research reveals it depends on your size, weight, activity level and where you live. We should drink between half an ounce to an ounce of water for each pound we weigh every day. For example, if you weigh 140 pounds, you should drink between 70 ounces and 140 ounces of water per day. This amount will increase if you exercise or live in warmer climates.
  4. Snooze to lose! Oftentimes we can get so occupied in meal planning and exercise that we miss another key ingredient in this process; rest! Recent research has shown that sleep plays an important role in weight management. People who sleep enough (6-8 hours per night) have lower body mass indexes (BMI) than people who don’t. Sleep affects the levels of several hormones in our bodies; including those that regulate hunger and growth. Lack of sleep can cause us to feel hungrier and give into our “late night cravings.” While we sleep, our body also produces more growth hormones than when we are wake. Listen to your bodies, rest is an integral part of living a healthier lifestyle.
  5. Plan: When we fail to plan, we plan to fail. In order to be successful in beginning and maintaining a healthier lifestyle, we need a plan. What are your goals? What days will you shop? What is your monthly budget? When will you cook? Will you meal plan for the week or the day? Planning our meals for the week or even the day is imperative as it helps to ensure we don’t skip meals and fall victim to impulsive snacking on bad foods. Meal planning (and snack planning) ensures we always have food available to us.

Are you or a loved one struggling with not knowing what to eat and when to eat it?  Or, maybe you are feeling bored or discouraged in your attempts to maintain a healthier lifestyle.  Don’t wait another second!  Let me help you with your transformation!!!  Contact me today at

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What I learned in my first year as a business owner: Lessons that sparked my growth

The first year of business is tough.  In fact, statistics have revealed that 50% of businesses fail in their first year.  During my first year in a partnership as a small business owner, I had my share of struggles and successes.  The first 6 months were the toughest; there was so much to do, so much to learn.  I was transitioning from working independently as a full time employee to being in a business partnership as a part time entrepreneur with a long-time and dear friend.  We had our share of excitement and ups and downs which allowed us to grow individually and as partners.

Over the past few months, I spent time reflecting on the lessons learned throughout my first year.  It has been on my heart to share these lessons, as they may speak to those trying to find their way as business owners.

The top 10 invaluable lessons learned in my first year:

  1. Don’t quit: This is by far the most important lesson I have learned. By quitting, we rob ourselves of success and guarantee permanent defeat. Starting a business is fun, exciting and pretty scary. Maintaining a business through the highs and lows is not fun and cause most of us to quit.
  2. Find your “Why”: This lesson is just as important as the first lesson. In fact, the 2 go hand in hand. When you are able to get to the core of the reason you are doing your business, you are less likely to quit. Discovering what drives you when the referrals are low, rejection is high, the cash flow is lower than the overhead and you feel defeated. “Your why should be so big it makes your cry!”
  3. The fortune is in the follow-up: I dread making phone calls. This “feeling” may be linked to fear of rejection. However, I have grown more fearful of what may happen if I don’t make that phone-call or worse; fail to follow-up. As a business owner, it is on you to follow-up on projects, referrals, etc. There is no boss to hold you accountable for your lack of follow up. You are the boss. The success or failure of your business is on you (following up).
  4. Treating your business like a “Fortune 500 Company”: My business may not yet be featured as a fortune 500 company. However, I still choose to treat it as such. If you treat your business like pennies, you will make pennies. Our professionalism, quality of services offered, quality of marketing materials and promotion of events all speak to the quality of our company. Would you be your own customer?
  5. Investing versus Spending: We spend money on entertainment, clothes and vacations. We invest money in building our brands. Money invested in marketing materials, promoting events and personal development are designed to build you in order to build your business. The price for success is paid up front and in full. When we put in the work, we will see a return on our investment (R.O.I)
  6. Be prepared to work non-traditional hours: Being a business owner is a daily grind; it may even be a “moment grind.” You are never really “off the clock.” There is no punching in and out of work. You are always “on,” people are always watching, you are constantly networking. Again, there is no boss to manage your time or work. You are on your dime. I have learned, “If it’s gonna be, it’s up to me.”
  7. Prepare for war in the time of peace: My late grandfather and successful entrepreneur, Earl Hemby always preached this saying to my family. There will be times when business is “booming” and there will be times when business is slow. As a business owner, you don’t get the benefit package of an employee. There are no paid vacations, sick days or paid time off unless you provide them. Can your business survive without you running it or working in it? What if you get sick? It is imperative to plan for unforeseen events that may require you to be away from your business.
  8. If your mouth is closed, your doors are closed: When we opened our doors on November 1, 2013, I envisioned HandinHand Counseling Services, LLC having satellite offices throughout the surrounding counties of Pittsburgh and eventually expanding throughout the East Coast. By the way, this is still my vision for HandinHand. I know in order to make this happen; people have to know we exist. We are blessed to have the ability to use social media as a free marketing tool. I have also learned the importance of being present in the communities of our targeted populations, attending events and collaborating with other providers. I am just as excited about HandinHand as I was when my partner and I envisioned our baby.
  9. Working in the business versus working on the business: “Build the business and the customers will follow.” Working on the business is an ongoing process. When we work on the business we are developing business plans, engaging in personal development activities (seminars, reading, conferences, workshops)handling the administrative tasks and promoting events. Working in the business includes collaboration and customer service.
  10. No limits: I may have mentioned many unappealing aspects to being a business owner. However, I am sure most if not all business owners would agree that owning your business is a surreal feeling. You have complete control of the direction of your business. You make the rules, policies and have the freedom to use your creativity to grow your business. You are your own boss!

Each day I set at least one goal geared toward improving my business.  The goal can include collaborating with a referral source to reading a chapter of a personal development book. The lessons learned in accomplishing and even falling short of goals in 18 months of being a business owner were designed to shape me into the person I am today.  I am not the same woman who opened her first business in 2013.  I am still a work in progress, my journey continues.

Also check out Sharise Hemby’s book; Vitamin C: The Healing Workbook here.

Please share your experiences as a new or seasoned business owner.  Maybe you are considering starting a business, please share your thoughts, fears concerns and questions.

The Myths & Realities of Conflict: Tips to Managing Conflict in the various facets of our lives

What is conflict?

Conflict can be defined as 2 or more parties with opposing views having a disagreement or debate.  Examples of where conflict shows up include parent-child conflict, workplace conflict, couples conflict, peer conflict.  Some of us attempt to avoid conflict as if it were the plague.  Others welcome conflict as if it were a long-lost friend.  The purpose of this article is to enhance your tool box so you are prepared to manage conflict as it occurs in your personal and professional lives.

What are the myths?

“It’s better not to talk about conflict?”  This statement may speak to what we were taught about conflict.  What are your views about conflict?  Can talking about conflict make the problem worse?  Discussing the problem that resulted in conflict is likely to cause both parties to escalate.  However, the things we do not discuss have no chance of getting resolved.

“The other party must change!” Take a minute to reflect on your last conflict.  Did you spend time attempting to convince them why your way was “the” way? Did you spend time convincing them that you were right and they were wrong?  Maybe you were on the other side of this conflict where you were the receiver of this convincing and persuading.  Did this strategy effect change in you or the other party?  We may be able to temporarily convince or persuade someone to see things through our lens but it is nearly impossible to sustain this behavior.  Remember, change comes from within and is sustained by internal motivators.

What are the realities?

“Conflict is a form of communication.” I see many clients who seek our services stating “they want to learn to communicate with each other.” I remind them that they are in fact communicating with each other, conflict is a form of communication and conflict occurs in the healthiest relationships.  Combat, however is not a healthy form of communication and occurs when each party is gearing up to take on the other on the battlefield.

“We can change how we respond to conflict.”  Conflict is 10 percent of what we absorb from our party and 90 percent of how we respond or react to our party.  As mentioned previously, we cannot change our party, but we can change how we think and respond to conflict.  Be the change you want to see.  I discuss this further in my book, Vitamin C: The Healing Workbook, available for purchase here.

Managing Conflict in our personal and professional relationships

Use the conflict as an opportunity.  Our perception is our reality.  If we view conflict as combat, each time conflict arises we will gear up to battle our party.  However, if we view it as an opportunity to learn, grow and connect; conflict may not have such a negative connotation associated with it.

“Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” Although conflict is normal in all relationships, it is still uncomfortable for most of us.  We must have those necessary, but uncomfortable conversations where conflict will arise in order to grow in our relationships.  Helping professionals who advocate for social justice on behalf of their clients encounter conflict almost on a daily basis.  Co-parents disagreeing on child rearing practices, colleagues disagreeing on company projects, business partners disagreeing      on the structure of the company are more examples of relationships where each party relies on the other for a bigger cause; and their ability to manage conflict can have a profound impact on society.

“It’s not what you say, but how you say it.” When managing conflict we need a healthy balance of emotion and logic in order to be successful.  Emotions allow us to have empathy and logic allows us to reason.  Being empathetic is acknowledging the other party’s position.   Lead with “I” statements in order to avoid blaming.  For example “I feel hurt when you call me names.” “I’m hearing you say.”  Applying logic to conflict is using discernment and determining when it is okay to agree to disagree.

When approaching a situation that may result in conflict, take a deep breath and ask yourself these 2 questions, “What is going on within me that will impact this conversation?”  What am I hoping to accomplish from this conversation?” Remember, conflict is inevitable; combat is optional.

Are you seeking techniques for managing conflict in your life?  Click here for more information on managing conflict.

A Holistic Approach to Mental Health Wellness: Examining 4 components to maintain a balanced lifestyle

We live best when we are in balance!  Oftentimes life can come at us fast; resulting in most of us losing our center in search of balance.  Most of us seek work-life balance and when one facet dominates our lives we can become imbalanced. This article will discuss strategies for finding balance from a holistic approach in a fast paced society.

As a mental health professional, I have learned that treating patients from a holistic approach is imperative to get to the core of the problem and assist them in developing or enhancing the tools to manage life’s complexities.  There are many components that factor into treating the whole person. In this article, I will highlight the physical, emotional, mental/ psychological and spiritual domains.

Physical Wellness: This may be the most important area to obtaining mental health wellness.  Before we can address the other components, we must he aware of any physical symptoms that may be affecting an individual’s ability to function.  Assessing the physical symptoms before the mental health symptoms is essential.  Most patients present with physical symptoms that mirror mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression (problems sleeping, loss of appetite, panic attacks, and shortness of breath).  When this occurs, patients should be referred to their primary medical doctor to rule out any medical conditions before continuing mental health treatment.  Some questions to consider:

How much sleep are you getting at night?

Do you exercise regularly?

Are you getting proper nutrition?

Do you see your doctor regularly?

Emotional Wellness: People in good emotional health are not exempt from adversity.  However, they are resilient, having the ability to recover effectively from illness, change or misfortune.  Emotional wellness is the groundwork for what is necessary for identifying and nurturing your feelings, your intellect and your conscious inner-being.  Some strategies for enhancing our emotional wellness include Positive affirmations, practicing self-love, find a hobby, don’t be afraid to say no, and don’t be afraid to say yes, practice forgiveness.

Emotional health also involves the people around you.  Conduct an inventory of the people you spend the most time around.

Are they supportive?

Do they challenge you?

Are they draining or discouraging?

Mental/Psychological Wellness: Individuals who have good mental and psychological health are able to use their cognitive and emotional capabilities to function in society and meet the day to day demands of life. If an individual finds himself or herself suffering from symptoms such as difficulty sleeping, lack of appetite, feelings of hopelessness that persist for several days, irritability, suicidal thoughts, hallucinations (hearing voices), delusions seek medical attention immediately. Again, medical conditions should be ruled out before patients begin treatment with a mental health professional.  Most mental health disorders are a result of chemical imbalances and some are genetic.  When an individual has a chemical imbalance, he or she may have a mental health disorder.  Seeking mental health treatment is extremely important in assisting individuals in tapping into their strengths to enhance their coping skills in order to manage their conditions.  It is also important to take any medication prescribed by your doctor and report all side effects in counseling and to your doctor.  Do not stop taking medications without speaking to your doctor.  Other strategies for enhancing our mental and psychological wellness include joining a support group, journaling, reading a self-help book and practicing relaxation techniques.

Spiritual Wellness: The activity we engage in to find and nurture a sense of connection to a higher power and deeper meaning for our lives.  Spiritual wellness involves the values and beliefs that provide meaning and purpose in our lives.  A huge part of spiritual wellness is understanding “Who Am I?”  When the gap between whom we are versus whom we think we are narrows; we begin to have good spiritual health.  The process of spiritual wellness also includes what is real within our own experiences on our journeys to discover our truths.  Consider the following questions for developing spiritual wellness:

Do you make time for relaxation in your day?

Do you make time for meditation or prayer in your day?

Do your values align with your decisions and actions?

Do you accept the values and views of others?

When treating the whole person, the goal is to assist individuals in finding balance in each facet of their lives.  It may take time before one is ready to divulge the information needed to take the steps to achieve the desired results.  There are many different ways to assist individuals in achieving this goal, but the one variable that does not change is meeting individuals where they are!

More information on a holistic approach to mental health wellness can be found in Sharise Hemby’s book Vitamin C: The Healing Workbook for the Mind, Body and Soul, click here

For a consultation, contact Sharise Hemby at