Wednesday, December 29, 2010

FFF Diva MOment: Laughter through FB Conversation

The following is a Facebook conversation via a friend's FB status with all my friends from my camp ONLY confirming why I love group centered activities. Enjoy!

Facebook Status:
Thanks for bringing the black giant medicine ball today, I'll just call it Mr. BIG from now on. Maybe with enough people Friday we get to use it. ;o) Great workout today!


Me- Oh dear. Maybe I don't want to come Friday. Just kidding! I'll be there!

MD- Yes, great workout! I will bring Mr. BIG on Friday just in case.

LV- Can't wait to hold Mr. Big :-)

JR- We are talking about the weighted workout balls.. aren't we!? :o) wink, wink

MN- LOL! There's lots of Mr. BIG for all of us, we can all share him.


CN- I wanna get me some Mr. Big! I'll try and come Friday. :)

Me- That's the spirit. I hope there is enough to go around. ; )

MD- Oh, there's plenty to go around....we don't call him Mr. BIG for nothing;-)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

FFF Diva Inspiration: My Brother Paul Anthony

My brother's journey. My brother's words. He is 21 years old and used to weight 330 lbs. I am 25 years old and used to weigh 320 lbs. My sister Leilani is 24 years old and used to weigh 283 lbs. In the last 2 years we have lost almost 300 lbs in total AND COUNTING.

LOL. So on Monday 10.18.10, I went to the Hospital because of chest pain and shoulder pain. It turns out my body is just tired, the chest pain was muscular. The shoulder with the numbness and tingling was because of as pinched nerve.

Anyway the cute girl at the Pharmacy stared at each of my id's for 2 mins each. She asked me what my birthday was and I was like it's on my license and she is like you don't look like your license. [= I actually weigh less than my license I BS ofcourse before. Also, I then showed her my B.O.A. card which I was 12 when I took that picture and that doesn't look like me neither. She was confused.

These scrubs fit flush in April. And no they are not elastic Michael Truong.

I got this as a gift in Junior Year in High School. I could never fit it. Now it's too big [=

My brother recently wrote this on his Facebook:

I am thinking of writing out all my thoughts of being overweight.

Thanks for everyones support!
Especially Steve Vuong, Denndy Nguyen, Michael Truong, and John Ramirez for being my trainers and first line of support at the gym.

I also thank my Sisters, because they lost weight, it gave that so could I mentality.

I learned it doesn't matter if it's hard or easy...being my size it's all going to be hard so I just fcuking do it. [=

I wrote this to him in response:
There are times when I feel unmotivated. You have reinspired me in the best way possible. Thanks for all our late night sibling couch health chats. All 3 of us (Leilani in spirit since she's in Texas) have come such a long way. We used to be HUGE people. Between the three of us we have lost almost 300 lbs in the last 2 yrs. That is a major accomplishment and in the process we have gained mutual respect among each other as siblings. We have been to obesity hell and back. No one will understand that accept us. ♥ you. So proud!

I am such a proud sister. You don't even understand. Although my brother said that my weight loss journey kept HIM going, his weight loss journey has really kept ME going. And for that I am thankful to him.

In health,
<3 FFF Diva Mo

FFF Diva Motivation: Finish the Year Strong

Finish the Year Strong
Pete Williams November 26, 2010

With the end of the year approaching, many people will make New Year’s resolutions while dealing with what can be called the “eating season,” the nine weeks of celebration beginning with Halloween and ending with New Year’s Eve.

Against that backdrop, it can be difficult to focus on resolutions, let alone lifestyle changes or transformations. Maintaining such motivation and building momentum heading into 2011 need not be difficult, says Howard Falco, author of the new book I Am: The Power of Discovering Who You Really Are. He recently spoke with How does somebody transition from the habits and routines that may have brought them a degree of success to reach the next level?

Howard Falco: We have to realize that these habits serve a need at some level. Whether consciously or subconsciously, they define us. Even though we say we don’t want to be defined by these behaviors they are serving the real identity that we have of ourselves and hold us back. The way to break through it is from an internal will, which grows with the lack of tolerance for the current behavior. When we cross that threshold and say, ‘This habit isn’t serving me anymore,’ that’s when we take on a new identity and go forward with a new habit or action every day. It may feel strange for a while, but until then we’re going to let that current identity run our lives.
CP: How do we get leverage to make that happen?

HF: The leverage comes from a level of suffering that’s no longer tolerable and not being in the same loop anymore with the same job, relationship or health. You want to take conscious control over the programming of who you are. The idea is to declare a new identity and go out and create that new experience, just as you have your whole life. You’ll automatically take actions that you might have had to force yourself before because it’s now part of who you are. You’ll come to realize how so many others you’ve looked up to have done it. It’s not courage or discipline; it’s a function of who they believe they are and that’s what makes it look so effortless.
CP: But where does the motivation come from?

HF: It comes from a level of tolerance that’s it’s no longer worth it to not make the change. You can live in fear of not having enough money or not finding another job and that will chain you to your current situation. If you believe you’re capable of getting another job and going into that unknown zone of not having a job until the right one shows up, you will be rewarded. You can’t expect it immediately but you have to believe that you can step into that process to manifest it. The same is true with money. If you say, ‘I created money before and I can do it again,’ then it might be a situation where you take a step back. But if you’re willing to take that step back, you will be rewarded with two, three or 10 steps forward.
CP: Sounds easy enough, but how do you overcome procrastination—or even the hurdles of everyday life?

HF: As soon as the procrastination hits, you have to realize you haven’t taken on the new mindset. The purpose of procrastination is to keep you living and feeding your fears so that you don’t take a step. Once you have changed the mindset, you will make that phone call. You will be in the gym every day. You will send out 10 resumes. You will put down the bad foods and you’ll survive. Procrastination reveals where you are still operating out of the old mindset. If you believe you can’t do it, you’ll procrastinate. You’ll say, ‘I don’t have the time to do it,’ which is not true because we all create time when we need to.
CP: How do you reinforce new habits—i.e. New Year’s resolutions—so you can stick to them?

HF: If you put a lot of force and energy into trying to kick a habit, chances are it will be temporary. The true lasting change comes from the inside out via those ‘I am’ statements that define who you are. ‘I am healthy. I am a marathon runner. I am worthy of a management position in my field.’ Once you take these statements on and replace the old ones in your mind, you’ll become the person who goes from running three miles to marathons or reaches that management position.
CP: In your book you talk a lot about the ‘X factor’ in sports. Can you explain that?

HF: That’s what separates the best from the rest even at the elite level. They have the same ability, work ethic and determination but the X factor is the mindset, the identity of who they are and it has such a magical effect in performance. It puts them in the right spot at the right time. They see the puck faster or a serve a step and a half earlier. They say Arnold Palmer used to will the ball into the hole. Putting on the same line, the ball turned for others but for Arnold it dropped. There’s a subtle energy that affects everything when we work on a mindset of strong belief.

About The Author
Pete Williams – Pete Williams is a contributing writer for and the co-author of the Core Performance book series.


I am going to finish the year strong. I already started removing people from my life that create negative energy. I am going to focus on myself. I want to eat healthier. I want to live longer.

My Operation Boot Camp friends have started a challenge for our group: Run 84 miles in January. That's roughly 20-ish miles a week. I know I can do this. I also decided to dedicate myself to 2011 miles of cardio in 2011 to prepare for the 2012 Zombie Apocalypse of course. Hahaha. No seriously.

Anyways, good luck to all of you for the rest of 2010 and I am sure we will have great health accomplishments in 2011!

In health,
<3 FFF Diva Mo

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

FFF Diva Tiny Buddha Wisdom: Does Life Happen to You?

"Does Life Happen to You?" from
by Declan O’Flaherty

Declan lives in Dublin, Ireland. He is a plasterer, printer, and inventor but most importantly, a thinker. His passion is to constantly work on himself through meditations, mental exercises, visualizations, and affirmations.

“The more light you allow within you, the brighter the world you live in will be.” ~Shakti

Does your life just happen to you?

Would it be safe to suggest that a lot of people wake up each morning, shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, go to work, come home, eat dinner, watch television, go to bed, and repeat the same course of events Monday through Friday without ever being fully conscious of what they’re doing?

The list of events listed above may differ for some people but the point is still the same. Does life just happen to you, or do you consciously plan your days ahead?
Do you live your life on automatic pilot for the most part?

Take an inventory of your daily routines and ask yourself if you are in the same situation emotionally and physically as you were last month, year, or even decade.
It’s very easy to dismiss such a notion of being on auto pilot for a large portion of your life. But if you don’t consciously create your desired outcome for a prosperous, successful, and happy life, then you are not living up to your true potential.

I know we all have certain responsibilities we must attend to on a daily basis, and I am certainly not suggesting we ignore our responsibilities and go chasing our dreams without attending to these first. What I am saying though, is you also have a responsibility to yourself.

The question you need to ask is whether or not you would respect the decisions you have made in life if nothing had changed in the next 10, 20, or 30 years. No doubt your life will be different in 30 years–but will it be from you taking control or because life just changed (as it does) and you coasted along on automatic pilot.

I have met many people who are not living up to even close to what they are capable of. The worse thing is that they don’t make any effort whatsoever to change their circumstances. They obviously want to have a better life, but it’s as if they’re hoping things will magically get better for them further down the line.

There are also a lot of people who convince themselves that life is so hard and that good things only happen to a select group of people, or that some people are just lucky and life favors some and not others. Fortunately this is not the case at all.
We are all the masters of our own destiny, and if you put the work in you will undoubtedly see positive results.

Changing your life for the better is not about completely changing everything at once. The first step in creating a better life for yourself is to be consciously aware of the direction you are heading.

The choices you make have consequences and the thoughts you entertain affect the choices you make. So the best place to start if you want to change your life is to change your thinking.

When we really and truly take full responsibility for our thoughts and subsequent actions, we can never blame anyone or anything for the way our life is today. It’s not what happens outside that affects our lives; it’s the reaction we have to what happens outside that affects our lives.

Imagine two people looking at any given situation but both have a different reaction to it. How these two people see the event will determine their experience. Thus, the experience creates a different reality in the mind of both people.

That’s how life works: our interpretations and experiences are a direct result of our reactions. If we believe that life is hard, then guess what–it will be.
If we want to change our lives for the better, we need to start with ourselves, and the first step is by controlling our thoughts.

If you haven’t made a conscious effort before to monitor your thoughts then you may not realize that your mind makes up its own stories and you are not in control until you actually take control. I’m going to suggest a powerful exercise that I have used for myself.

For 30 days you must make a conscious effort to challenge your negative thoughts to create a stronger sense of control over your future.
Every time you notice a negative thought, replace it with a more positive perspective.

Whenever you notice that you are doubting yourself, do the same as above and replace with an opposite and positive thought.

A couple of times each day, stop what you are doing and notice how you are feeling; then ask yourself what you were thinking. What you are thinking affects how you’re feeling.

Don’t criticize anybody for any reason, either in person or in your head. This is one of the biggest energy-destroying, negative thought processes a person can have; and almost everybody does it on a day to day basis.

Make a conscious effort every day to praise somebody for even the simplest of things. Just a simple comment to somebody can create their day. Depending on the comment, it can also destroy their day. Words are powerful, and they can change lives.

These exercises help me become more conscious of my mind to get a better understanding of how often it limits me when not monitored. If you stick to this exercise and make the effort to work hard at each step, you will see changes. Our thoughts have no power other than the power we give them.

Your conscious mind couldn’t care less whether you think negative thoughts or positive thoughts, but it makes a huge difference to you and your life. You are not your mind, you are the person who can control what the mind thinks. Take responsibility for your thoughts and then take responsibility for the life you create. One thought, one decision, one action at a time.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

FFF Diva Article Research: "Stay Driven"

"Stay Driven"
By Frank Claps, M.Ed., C.S.C.S.
Her Sports + Fitness

Overweight and inactive, Gina Dyson, 32, thought of herself as fat, slovenly and ugly for most of her life. When you struggle through that mandatory lap around the track in PE, when no one asks you to the prom, when you sit in a pile of empty Hostess wrappers promising yourself it's the last time--feelings of hopelessness grow and grow until its all-consuming.

She tried joining a gym and starting an exercise program, but she just couldn't stick with it. Two years ago things came to a turning point for the university operations manager from Long Beach, California. "I did the most amazing thing. I set a goal for myself."

Dyson signed up for a sprint triathlon and then joined a training group. Crossing the finish line was a milestone that marked a new lifestyle and a completely new way of seeing herself. "With every stroke, pedal and step I started to believe that maybe I was strong, maybe I was worthy, and just maybe, I was beautiful." Dyson has continued competing in triathlons, completing a half Ironman last year and setting her sights for an Ironman in 2008.

Like many women, Dyson initially began exercising to lose weight. But as her motivations changed, exercising became a way of life. What drives her now has more to do with challenging herself and seeing what she's capable of than losing weight. And the best news: Experts say she has a much higher chance of staying active for life because of it.

Beyond Good Looks
While there's nothing wrong with wanting to look better, the problem with using appearance as a primary motivation to exercise is that it doesn't last, researchers say. A 2006 University of Michigan study shows that women who start exercising for body-shape and weight-loss goals alone not only work out less, but also are less likely to stick to it long-term than those who exercise for other reasons.

An appearance-driven motivation, according to Michelle Segar, Ph.D., lead author of the Michigan study, is usually based on cultural pressures to conform to someone else's idea of what's thin or beautiful. "It feels like something you should do and often results in poor long-term adherence. Who needs another should in their lives," says Segar.

And for women whose goal is to achieve some unrealistic body ideal, their efforts usually lead to frustration and then quitting altogether. Some women go to the other extreme: exercising excessively and developing eating disorders and other serious health problems.

"When women discover that wellness, not weight is the key issue, they find long-term satisfaction and enjoyment in exercise," says Margaret Moore, CEO and founder of Wellcoaches Corp., an organization that helps people with motivation issues overcome obstacles toward improving well-being.

Moreover, better body perception develops when women work out for broader reasons of fitness and overall health. If women can view exercise less as an opportunity to look good and more as an opportunity to feel good, this in turn should improve their body satisfaction and self-esteem, concluded researcher Peter Strelan in a 2003 Australian study on women's exercise motivations.

Mental Health
Women who end up turning an exercise program in to a long-term lifestyle usually do so out of what Segar calls autonomous goals: motives originating from within yourself, not from others expectations of how you should look, how fit you should be, or how well you should perform.

Grier McCurdy Mathews, a 41-year-old stay-at-home mom from Marin County, California, says she exercises for the sake of her mental health. I have three little kids. On any given day, I have a tenuous grip on sanity--running regularly helps me keep it.

For many women like Mathews, maintaining mental fitness is as powerful a motivator for staying active as being physically fit. Women are twice as likely to experience depression as men are, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, and several studies report that physically active people feel less anxiety and depression than sedentary individuals.

Research points to a possible physiological explanation for this, mainly that exercise may help your body deal with stress more effectively by increasing brain chemicals that help control stress, anxiety and depression, reports the American Psychological Association.

Whatever the reason, the exercise-happiness connection creates lifelong devotees. And with busy lives packed with work and family responsibilities, women say the mood-boosting, stress-reducing effect has much to do with the break exercise gives them from the daily grind. Workouts are time away to do something just for themselves. Los Angeles-based pro triathlete Wendy Ingraham, 43, calls her regular morning run a 45-minute vacation.

Lasting Friendships
Time alone is important. But spending time with others while exercising is probably a stronger motivator for women. Those who regularly work out with friends or join classes or training groups are much more likely to make exercise a lifelong commitment. By creating social networks, women add an extra level of motivation on top of any other that they have, Segar explains. New Orleans nurse Jenn Clement, 32, calls working out "the base of my social life. Some of the most wonderful people I've ever known and my closest friends, including my husband, I've met through training."

Whenever Mathews runs with her girlfriends, she says she benefits from both mental healing and social interaction. "It's time to connect. We share thoughts, fears, ideas, joys, sorrows. It's kind of like mobile therapy."

From Exercising to Training
Sheri Villani, 38, an office manager from Kenosha, Wisconsic, initially started participating in triathlons to lose weight. Four years later and 30 pounds thinner, she says she continues to work out because she absolutely loves training and competing in triathlons.

The competitive fire fuels the active lifestyles of many women, and experts say setting event goals is a strong lifelong motivator for staying fit. Sport psychologist Jenny Susser, Ph.D., of the Women's Sports Medicine Center at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City believes competition brings meaning to every workout. It provides an excellent format for goal setting, which is an invaluable motivational tool.

Preparing for events motivates women in a number of ways, including the satisfaction of accomplishing specific goals and of seeing progress (achieving faster PRs or completing longer races), the structure and sense of purpose that following a training schedule adds to daily workouts, and the camaraderie and encouragement of training partners and team members.

But Segar notes that not everyone has the same level of competitive drive, and women need to individualize their motivation by making sure their goals are realistic and don't discourage more than they encourage an active lifestyle. "Not every athlete competes to win," says Segar. "For some women simply entering an event can be as powerful a motivator as an Olympic competition," adds Susser.

But, if competition is one of the main motives for physical activity, what happens when time eventually erodes performance gains? Many women adapt by accepting slower PRs, but still enjoy seeing how hard they can push themselves. For some, however, fading PRs, nagging injuries or diminished interest may force a major restructuring of their outlook toward physical activity.

Its quite common for athletes to drop out of regular exercise when the competitive fires go out, notes Moore. To stay healthy and active for as long as possible, athletes driven primarily by performance gains or competitive desires eventually need to focus on the other things they value about being physically active.

"One must dig deeper to find a more lasting and meaningful purpose for taking good care of physical fitness and well-being," says Moore.

Frank Claps is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and Wellness coach who operates Fitness For Any Body, a personal training service in Lehigh Valley, Penn. Too learn more about Wellness coaching, visit


Lately in the last 6 months I have been at a loss of motivation. While trying to get myself to eat cleaner and healthier while exercising and having a life, it's been busy with school, and family, and other obligations as well. What's my point? This article spoke to me because the one person who was bringing me down was MYSELF. I always focus on a number and larger goal versus smaller more attainable goals. A goal shouldn't be just a number. A goal can be an activity too!

My next goal: PR my running mile time at Operation Boot Camp
My current PR mile time is 12:07. Time to break that sucker!

In health,
<3 FFF Diva Mo

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

FFF Diva Reflection: "Reward Myself with Stuff, Not Food" System

Mo's "Reward myself with stuff, not food" System: THE STORY

I had a really great ♥ to ♥ with my Operation Boot Camp instructor Melody this morning after camp. She asked me a really honest question: "What do you reward yourself with?" My answer: "Ummm food." Mel responded: "It's time to reward yourself differently. For example I reward myself with pedicures. Don't let your reward force you to take a step backwards in your progress."

Mo's "Reward myself with stuff, not food" System: THE REWARD

I lost 10 lbs. since last month and kept it off (even during the holiday!). As a reward I finally bought myself a runner's Garmin GPS watch to track my speed and mileage. My reward for the next 10 lbs. loss: a brand new pair of running shoes. "Success belongs to those who want it and believe it." Boy do I believe it!

Garmin - Forerunner 305 GPS: "Maximize your workout productivity with this GPS training wristwatch that allows you to keep track of your calories burned and workout pace."

Following a rigorous exercise plan is not a problem for me. Following a clean eating plan and pre-planning my caloric intake for the day/week HUGE PROBLEM for me. Finally I got it under SOME control this past month and survived the first holiday with lbs. lost, not lbs. gained. However, I need to keep this gravy train going and it's going to be with actual activity or item rewards instead of food rewards!

Last month: 258 lbs.
Today 12/15: 248 lbs.

Next 5 reward goals (10 lbs. less):
238 = New pair of running shoes
228 = New pair of running pants
218 = A full body massage
208 = Mini training package of sessions with a personal gym trainer
198 = My 1st tattoo celebrating my weight loss when I hit under 200 lbs. for the first time since I was 18 years old. I turn 26 this coming March.

Overall goal weight is 145 lbs., however I am NOT even going to think of that number. Small steps. I am going to think: "MO, WHAT DO I NEED TO DO TO GET UNDER 200 lbs.? NOW DO IT." And YOU can DO IT too. I believe in you.

<3 FFF Diva Mo

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

FFF Diva Update: Take Me or Leave Me

"Take Me or Leave Me" from the Broadway Musical RENT

"Take me for what I am, who I was meant to be. And if you give a damn, take me baby or leave me." -Maureen from RENT, 1996

Usually I write an end of the year re-cap when it's the ACTUAL end of the year, but I figure since it's December already then it's close enough. = )

2010 you have definitely been a year of many UPS and many DOWNS, but ALL were life lessons to keep me moving forward. Here are some selected highlights:

January 2010
*Ran 5K Run for the Homeless in Fremont, CA = first race of the year!
*Decided I would take running more seriously by running at least 20 miles a week (around 1,000 miles by the end of the year was the goal)

February 2010
*Ran 10K Valentine's Day Run in Campbell, CA
*Actually celebrated V-Day with a young man I was dating
*I was no longer single, thus ending my 3 year relationship drought

March 2010
*Got a horrible chest cold that restricted me from any exercise for two weeks before my first marathon
*Completed my first full marathon (Los Angeles Marathon) on my 25th birthday (March 21st) with my sister Leilani
*One week after my birthday my boyfriend broke up with me

April 2010
*Ran the Santa Cruz 10K Race with my sister (1st race with rain!)
*Got featured in the "Camper Spotlight" section of the national Operation Boot Camp website blog
*Celebrated one year with Operation Boot Camp (1 year as a participant!)

May 2010
*Left my job at the Youth Leadership Institute after 4 years to finally finish my MBA graduate degree
*Was unemployed for the first time in my adult life
*Had no health insurance, until the Health Care Bill passed (now coverage until 26)
*Celebrated my one year anniversary of my first competitive running race: 5K Marin Human Race

June 2010
*Got hired at a law firm as a receptionist
*Worked weekends at Bath and Body Works
*Got hired to do Poltical Organizing for June elections
*Got elected to be Vice-President of Membership for the Silicon Valley Young Democrats

July 2010
*Ran the Wharf to Wharf race in Santa Cruz/Capitola with the Ladies of OBC
*Became certified in CPR/AED/First Aid for Child/Infant/Adult

August 2010
*Rallied, organized, and worked it for Young Dems everywhere
*Started my 2nd to last semester of my MBA graduate studies
*Officiated a friend's wedding on a beach bluff in beautiful Half Moon Bay

September 2010
*A once in a lifetime opportunity came twice, but it wasn't meant to be
*Started my position of Secretary for the Dominican Alumni Board of Directors
*Ran the Run Until the End of Summer 10K Race with my Operation Boot Camp family (they literally helped me cross the finish line--I was so dehydrated that day)

October 2010
*Attended the California Governor's Debate at Dominican University of California (my alma mater)
*Completed my first full month at Operation Boot Camp with perfect attendance
*Completed my first Nike Women's 1/2 Marathon AND PR'ed it for a Tiffany & Co. necklace
*Completed my first 5K obstacle filled race called the Warrior Dash in full costume dress up as Thing 2 from Dr. Suess
*Started dating again

November 2010
*Survived Black Friday retail hell
*Survived 3 Thanksgiving events and didn't throw up! I ate relatively well.
*Ran the Morgan Hill 1/2 Marathon even though I was out sick from school, work, and exercise the week leading up to it
*Finally told the truth on my food log

December 2010
*Back in my OBC and running element
*Back to working out at the gym every weekday
*Back to stretching & foam rolling everyday

What will 2011 bring? I don't know. But I do know that it's easier for me to motivate other people to succeed and in the end I sabotage myself by making excuses and doing shortcuts. I always compared my weight loss to other people's weight loss. Totally drove me nuts. I always lied on my food log. I have been in my 250s for the last three years and even though I am stronger, more fit, and can run (unlike before), I am still FAT. I will no longer be comparing myself to others. I will no longer cut myself short. I will push myself 10% harder. I will continue cleaner eating, consistent exericse, and know that even if I had a bad day tomorrow would be a new slate. No more emotional eating, no more excuses, just success! Don't get me wrong, I have come a long way in my weight loss journey, but I could have been there already and for that I feel like a failure, a fake, and a phony. But on the other hand I now have the tools, knowledge, and experience of what TO DO and what NOT TO DO when it comes to living a healther lifestyle.


Take me or leave me,
<3 FFF Diva Mo

Monday, December 6, 2010

FFF Diva Article Research: 9 Reasons Your Body Thinks its Hungry

9 Reasons Your Body Thinks It's Hungry
By Brynn Mannino, Woman's Day
Thu, Dec 02, 2010

A staggering 63 percent of Americans are overweight. The most common cause? We eat more food than we need—and we're all guilty of doing it: mindlessly munching on a bag of pretzels during a reality TV marathon or treating ourselves to a second helping when the first was plenty. But boredom and indulgence aside, why else are we reaching for a snack when we should feel full? Some of it can be blamed on habit, while other triggers have more to do with our body's hunger signals. Check out the list below to find out the most common overeating pitfalls and simple solutions for avoiding these traps.

1. You didn't get enough sleep last night.
Lack of rest stimulates two faux hunger triggers: energy deficiency, to which our natural reaction is to nourish our bodies, and appetite hormone confusion. "When our bodies are drained, levels of leptin—a hormone produced by our fat cells that controls our appetite—decrease, while levels of gherlin—a hormone produced by our stomach that stimulates our appetite—increase," explains American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Karen Ansel, RD. That's two hormones working against you. "Getting eight hours of sleep a night is the easiest thing you can do to prevent overeating." If you do fall short on zzz's, be sure to load up on nourishing, naturally energizing foods—such as fresh fruit, complex carbohydrates and lean proteins—throughout the day to help your body feel satisfied.

2. You're taking medication that causes hunger as a side effect.
If you felt ravenous the last time you were taking an antibiotic to tame an allergic reaction, joint inflammation, acne or a bad cold, the medicine may be to blame. "Medication that contains mild steroids, like prednisone, a corticosteroid, ramp up hunger big time," says Milton Stokes, RD, owner of One Source Nutrition, LLC. "If you've already eaten a normal-size meal, ignore the drug-inflated hunger," says Stokes. Instead, try an oral fix like chewing gum, sipping warm coffee or brushing your teeth, he suggests. If you're on long-term steroid therapy, consult a dietitian to devise an eating plan that will help you feel more satisfied throughout the treatment.

3. You're thirsty or dehydrated.
The symptoms of dehydration (sleepiness, low energy) closely mimic those of being overly hungry, which may lead you to think you need food to increase your energy level, explains Sandon. When you're thirsty, your mouth becomes dry, a symptom that eating will temporarily relieve, notes Sandon. She suggests drinking a tall glass of water or cup of herbal tea before eating and waiting for your body's hunger signals to adjust (about 10 minutes). "Doing so could save hundreds of calories."

4. It's "mealtime."
As creatures of habit, we tend to eat on autopilot. While some regularity is encouraged so that you don't become overly hungry, which could lead to bingeing, it's also important to listen to hunger signals, says Ansel. "Next time you sit down to eat, ask yourself: 'Am I really hungry?' If the answer is 'no,' either eat a smaller portion or put off the meal for an hour—though no longer than that," suggests Ansel. This also applies to situations you associate with eating, like flying. "We've been conditioned to associate an airplane ride with eating," Ansel says. The solution: "Pay attention to timing," recommends Lona Sandon, MEd, RD, assistant professor of nutrition at University of Texas Southwestern. "Know how long the flight is and plan satisfying meals around it." Also, take advantage of the free (hydrating) beverages, she adds, as the enclosed space leads to hunger-causing dehydration.

5. You just worked out.
We are conditioned to feed ourselves after exercising. And, after a particularly strenuous exercise session like a spinning class or interval-training workout, we tend to feel ravenous. But that doesn't mean your body needs extra calories. "It means your body needs a specific kind of nourishment," says Marissa Lippert, RD, a nutrition consultant and dietitian in New York City. Opt for roasted chicken or other lean meats (protein will replenish your muscles) and brown rice or other whole grains (complex carbohydrates take a while to break down) to help your body recover faster and fend off hunger longer.

6. Not enough time has passed since you finished your meal.
You've just eaten lunch only to wonder: "Why am I still hungry?" Before you assume you didn't eat enough, consider that maybe you ate too quickly. "Appetite hormones need time to tell your brain you're full," explains Sandon. To prevent post-meal hunger pangs, keep these pointers in mind: Eat slowly, putting down your fork between bites; choose flavorful and satisfying foods; and include a combination of fat, protein and carbohydrates in every meal. If you're still hungry, try sucking on a mint to ward off your cravings.

7. The women around you are eating.
A joint study out of Duke University and Arizona State University found that women tend to mirror other women's eating habits. "When one overdoes it, the rest often follow along," Ansel confirms. To avoid this copycat effect, Lippert suggests taking a quick minute to reassess your own eating habits—or, if all else fails, grabbing a pal and evacuating the scene of the food. A more permanent fix? Be the one who sets a healthy example for your girlfriends to follow. Their waistlines will thank you! "Just as obesity is contagious, so are healthy habits," says Dawn Jackson Blatner, author of The Flexitarian Diet.

8. You smell or see food.
"We tend to eat with our senses more than our stomachs," says Ansel. When we smell or see food—even if it's in a photo, advertisement or TV show—our mouths water, which stimulates our appetite. Onset factors can include smelling a batch of cupcakes baking, seeing snack food laid out on the counter or watching a cooking show. The clear-cut solution: "Out of sight, out of mind." Leave the room, hide the candy jar, turn off the TV—and the craving to eat will likely subside, says Ansel.

9. You're stressed out.
"Studies show that when people recognize they're stressed, they are more likely to turn to high-fat, salty or sugary foods," says Sandon. "These foods both are comforting and feel good in the mouth," she adds. But it's not all about emotional eating. Sandon notes that your body's chemical reaction to stress could also cause hunger pangs. "Increased levels of the stress hormones cortisol and insulin may be associated with triggering appetite." Either way, appetite control boils down to decision-making. Before reaching for the ice cream tub, try quickly clearing your mind.
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