2016

Zion Nat'l Park, Columbine

behavior change

Your HeartMatters Journey

On my morning walk in the fresh-fallen snow yesterday, I was inspired with the idea to initiate an open online program to support your journey to achieve and maintain optimal health and well-being. Admittedly, the inspiration was spontaneous--I shot a quick video about my idea--and have spent a lot of time since then thinking about what I have put out into the universe!

This morning, I've written a detailed outline that captures my vision for this online program/series. My enthusiasm for the possibilities is quite robust! I am savoring this container I have opened in my mind and heart that is filling with ideas, opportunities, and yes the possible challenges as well.

My vision is that the series will go for a minimum of three months, be comprised of weekly video posts accompanied by blog posts and links for more information, and an open exchange of ideas, experiences, and feedback via email and responses on the HeartMatters.pro blog. The excitement of this dynamic idea being shared with the world, being shaped by interactions and feedback from the participants is a truly motivating gift to me, and one that I am honored to respond to.

Stay tuned for the first video tomorrow! Now, I've got to read up on how to overlay text onto a video recording...

Happy New Year!

Her talent for listening…

"Robin Mallery has been working with me for over a year now. During this time, she has introduced me to many different thought and choice options--most importantly she has helped me understand that I am the most important choice. Her passion for living right and feeling even better brings a human support to a process that could easily have been uncomfortable and unsuccessful. She is tireless in her unending support. Her talent for listening heightens a nurturing coaching relationship. I recommend Robin for those that have chosen to change; she will help support that decision, and you will be pleased that you chose to change and that you chose Robin as your coach."

---B.B., restaurant and business owner, Northern California

Small-step changes: snippet from a radio interview

For your listening pleasure, a pearl from my recent appearance on KVMR 89.5 FM, Nevada City community radio. It's a snippet during which I share briefly the connection between quieting the mind and the small-step goals of behavior change. Small changes

How Your Brain Can Save Your Heart…

I listened in on a teleconference yesterday; sponsored by HeartCoaches, that featured Cynthia Ackrill, MD as the opening speaker. Dr. Ackrill "has extensive training in new brain-based approaches to behavior change and performance enhancement.  Her specialty is psychoneurobiology, a field of applied neuroscience measuring brainwave patterns and their correlation to psychometric measures of symptoms, behaviors, and performance". WOW! This burgeoning field of brain science is utterly fascinating and holds the key to understanding the opportunities for sustainable behavior change that supports optimal health and well-being.

Also discussed was the VIA Survey, an assessment tool that defines character strengths. Recognizing and utilizing your character strengths are correlated with "an understanding of the various dimensions of character, the dynamics between character strengths, and the valued outcomes that result from living authentically in concordance with one's character strengths. With greater ability to articulate and develop character, we will be poised to better direct our talents and abilities into meaningful and engaging behavior to better our own lives and the lives of others."

Paul Nelson, MEd, and Director of HeartCoaches, described the 4 brain-based strategies that he has developed "that research has shown to be critical for increasing self-efficacy, encouraging determination, strengthening resiliency and creating an optimistic attitude--all essential ingredients for making lifestyle changes that lead to a longer, healthier, happier life."

I was thrilled and deeply touched that during the teleconference, my HeartMatters program was validated by science-based principles and studies. Behavior change that leads to optimal life-management is entirely possible by incorporating a mindfulness and relaxation practice and positive affirmation, creating a Health Vision, and engaging in small-step daily goals that are subtle, pleasant, and realistic. And in the process, you will cultivate an emotional connection to your deeper self, understanding your strengths and opportunities, and believing that it is possible--a secondary benefit to enjoying radiant health and well-being.

Doesn't that sound like what you want?

Tender words of reflection, from a client

Small-step daily goals lead to healthful and pleasant behavior change! I was gratified to have received this acknowledgment and expression of thanks from a dear client, with whom I have had the honor of engaging in his optimal health management these past 6 months. His note was so sweet, that (with his permission), I felt compelled to share it with you.
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Hi Robin,

Today was a celebration of what I've accomplished in these six months or so that we've been working together.  I pointed out that I've exercised 11 days in a row, and indeed have only missed 4 days this entire month.  I've include three gym trips in the past week, with the intention of making the gym a more frequent part of my exercise outings. I noted that I've reached the point where I look forward, most days, to my exercising -- especially walking, during this special period of wonderful spring weather.  With the temps now getting into the 80s, I will be scoping out swimming pools with the intent of adding swimming to my mix of exercise; indeed, as the summer heat intensifies, it's likely that swimming will replace at least some of my walking.

In terms of walking, I know that at some point I'll need to increase my distance and time. At the moment I feel like I'm balancing that fairly well, but I know that psychologically I'm limited to what I think I can do; at some point I'll push forward and realize I can do more. But I'm not beating myself up over that since I'm quite happy that I'm doing ANY kind of exercise now, compared to what I was doing a year ago or even six months ago. Realistically, I have to accept that walking at my current weight is not easy and the same expectations can't exist that would if I weighed 50 or 100 pounds less.  (I forgot to mention during our session today, that when I met my pal Gregory for breakfast yesterday, he was already seated in the restaurant and watched me walk across the parking lot from my car...he said, "You look like an athlete out there."  That was a huge boost; because it wasn't so long ago that I could barely walk because of my bad heel and bad knee.)

My food intake seems to be fairly routine and solid by now, indicating that I've evolved into the 5-meal-a-day pattern that was part of my initial health vision and your initial prescription for me. I'm generally free of cravings for the baked goods, candy, etc., that used to control me.  I used to have some sort of fast food almost daily, together with at least one or two diet sodas.  Now fast food is limited to tacos every now and then, with an occasional burger or hot dog thrown in; for three months I had no diet soda, and now have one no more often than once a week.

As we approach my six-month blood work, I am anticipating that my numbers will be at or near normal. You cautioned me not to make the numbers the entire goal, and suggested that if they are normal it would be likely that my doc will keep me on Metformin, perhaps at a lower dose, for at least another six months. You underscored that diabetes is a condition that can be managed by healthful food and fitness choices and that it can “come back”, and that I have shifted to the lifetime commitment to the exercise and food disciplines that you have introduced to me.  I agreed that would be necessary. And I reiterated that this process has been quite pleasant and positive, and gets easier each day. It’s not been like the awful, rigid programs I’ve tried in the past.

I hope you know how much I've valued and appreciated your intervention, Robin. You're a wonderful friend and teacher and I'm so grateful that you've committed yourself to helping me get back on the path to health.

Healthful Behavior Change

Which statement appeals to you more: “I want to lose 30 pounds by July 31, 2010” or “I wish to feel energetic and to move comfortably in my body”?

There is a significant difference between the two statements, in addition to the obvious that one sounds tedious and the other sounds delightful. The weight loss statement is a commonly uttered “goal”, while the dreamy second statement reflects a “vision”; both statements warrant a bit of compassionate exploration.

Many of you have set a weight loss goal or another behavior change intention (“quit smoking”, “get fit”, “eat better”, “learn to relax”) that has been created with a long-term endpoint in mind. While I applaud the decision to pursue your optimal health, I also know that the challenge of an endpoint goal is that success is not achieved until the goal is met. Meaning, until the scale rewards you with the numbers you seek, your sense of accomplishment will be diminished. And how exactly would you measure “get fit” or “eat better”?

The opportunity lies is creating a health vision. As is done with the second statement, “I wish to feel energetic and to move comfortably in my body”. A health vision is a futuristic statement, captured with positive words, that will set the tone for the 3-month long-term goal(s), and the essential daily small-step goals you will write, monitor, and modify throughout the behavior change process—the very change process that will lead to the achievement of your health vision.

Working within the framework of this health vision used as an example, we will break it down into small components:

  • Feel energetic
  • Move comfortably in my body

The behavior change process begins by assessing your current choices, habits, and resources, and builds upon what is already occurring in your life. We will invite subtle, pleasant, and effective small-step daily changes that will support the attainment of your health vision.

Your vision may in fact peripherally include weight loss, but we are not going to measure weight loss! We are going to design a few new behaviors that you can add to the repertoire of choices you are familiar with. We are going to measure your success as you incorporate those new behaviors, one small choice at a time.

We know that in order to feel energetic and to enjoy moving comfortably, a routine physical activity program will be initiated and/or built upon.  For instance, what type of routine physical activity are you currently committed to? Two days a week in the gym? None? Walking the dog everyday? Moderate amounts of gardening? Golf? We will step off from your current routine, which for the sake of this example is walking the dog everyday. We’ll explore what type of physical activity interests you, what is your time allowance, whether this will be a solo activity or one that can be shared with a partner.

The 3-month long-term goals might be:

  1. Lose 10 pounds
  2. Eat 5 small meals per day, 3 days per week
  3. Walk 3 times per week for 30 minutes, without stopping

These long-terms goals are realistic and measurable—the two essential components of successful goal creation.

Now we will write daily small-step goals that will be lead to the achievement of the 3-month goals. These daily goals will be pleasant and subtle, as well as measurable and realistic. A tracking tool will be utilized to assess daily success; if a barrier presented itself and success was not achieved, we will explore that barrier, modify the goal if necessary, and continue to look to future successes.

The small step goals for the first week as a beginner—the dog walker—might look like this:

  1. Walk for ten (10) minutes, without stopping, twice this week.
  2. Engage in demonstrated upper and lower body stretching exercises, twice this week.
  3. Complete a food diary for three (3) full days, email it to my optimal life-management coach.

These three goals may not appear to be meaningful in terms of looking at a long-term goal of 10-pound weight loss. But for the person who is not engaged in routine physical activity, except for the slow dog walking, or for a person who is not eating with awareness, these subtle behavior changes are in fact the perfect small steps toward the future. These goals invite immediate success, and allow for confidence building, as opposed to “I am going to go to the gym 4 days this week”, or “I am going to cut out the junk food this week”—both of which are too big, too loosely defined, and too dramatic in terms of the shift in behaviors. Will this person eventually be at the gym 4 days per week? Sure, it is entirely possible. Will this person be eating far less junk food in the future? Very likely!

Our brain is a marvelous organ and it protects us – from perceived stressors. Big, undefined goals that limit pleasure or add unfamiliar behaviors—too much, too soon— are perceived by the brain as a stressor. This then evokes the fight or flight response and the brain literally will become resistant to that new behavior! When we write small-step daily goals that are pleasant and subtle, the brain welcomes the opportunity to engage in an activity that is perceived as pleasant, which will lead to ongoing engagement.

After one to three weeks of success and comfort with the initial small-step goals, you will be ready to up the ante just a bit, to look like this:

  1. Walk for ten (10) minutes, without stopping, three days this week; OR Walk for fifteen (15) minutes, without stopping, twice this week.
  2. Engage in demonstrated upper and lower body stretching exercises, three times this week.
  3. Eat 5 small meals per day one (1) day this week.
  4. Eat a 6-color salads twice this week.

These goals will become comfortable and familiar within a couple of weeks and can be ramped up another notch, then another, and another. Within the first eight (8) to ten (10) weeks, substantial progress will have been made in regards to engaging and enjoying subtle and pleasant behavior change. You are well on your way!


Thank you, Robin!

The best thing I did when I discovered I had Type 2 Diabetes was to call Robin Mallery. She coached me to craft a plan to turn this condition around, and the encouragement to believe that I can.  Instead of feeling overwhelmed, I am managing well, using Robin’s program of small steps, achievable goals, and positive reinforcement.  She’s not only a fountain of knowledge and experience, but a loving teacher and motivator.  For the first time in years, I don’t feel helpless about eating and weight gain.  Thank you, Robin!

—GC, Austin

“Robin brings dedication, focus, passion, and intellect to whatever endeavor she is pursuing. She does not just talk about good health, she practices it thoroughly every day of her life. When she talks to clients about healthy lifestyle choices, they are able to see the effects of healthy choices by observing the woman in front of them!”
Arthur S., Client

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