What I’ve Learned About Ambitious 21st Century Women From Writing 10 Articles for The Huffington Post, Notable Life, & Healthy Living Magazines…

Over the years, I’ve been called on for my expertise in nutrition, stress management and mindfulness to write articles that will help women have an edge in their busy lives.

As a result, I’ve talked to a lot of women in the comments and through PMs and gained insight into the lives of what’s causing ambitious women in North America to struggle with burnout and exhaustion.

I’ve put together a list of 5 things that are keeping women from achieving everything they want in life.

So, if you want to know what’s been holding you back, take a few moments to dig in because here’s what I learned…

1. Women are portrayed as “Superwoman” in the media creating an impossible standard we try to (but never really can) live up to

We’re the sexy wives, nurturing mothers, attentive daughters, and the powerhouses that our teams depend on at work… and that’s it on a good day. 

Women see themselves portrayed in the media as Superwoman and it creates the belief that we need to live up to that image. We stress ourselves out trying to be everything to everyone, and when we feel we’re running out of steam, we’re hard on ourselves because we think it shouldn’t be that way.

Trying to do it all is burning us out. Only by facing the limitations of our energy can we be purposeful about where we spend our time and attention. Slowing down is a blessing that allows us to be intentional about how we spend our time and what we commit to. 

2. Body image issues affect women of every size

One of the secret devastations women go through is reaching their “goal weight” – only to find they still look in the mirror and still hate what they see.

The thought “once I reach my ideal body size I’ll be happy” leaves them crushed when they realize that the body image issues they face are present no matter what size they fit into.

Feeling comfortable and confident in your skin is an inside job, and it comes from developing self-compassion and healthy habits to back it up.

3. It’s hard for women to slow down… 

Because hustle and productivity are praised in our culture. 

The idea is “I’m only valuable when I’m productive” – therefore resting is seen as a weakness that makes us question our worth. 

The result? Women push through, ignore their body’s needs and sacrifice their health for their work, their families, and their figure.

As long as we believe the messages that tell us to always be “doing,” our bodies are the sacrifice we make for our worthiness.

4. Saying “no” is harder for women in the workplace than men 

Women feel they have something to prove at work, like they have to earn their place at the boardroom table. It wasn’t that long ago (my great-grandmother’s generation) that women were given the right to vote, so it’s no surprise that in some circumstances women still feel they’re not taken seriously.

This is heightened when they come back from mat leave. 

Women feel pressure to please and prove they’ve still got it and can be on par with their colleagues, instead of honouring their bodies and their needs.  

5. All women diet and then get fed up with dieting

I’ve yet to meet a woman who hasn’t tried in some way to alter her food intake to change her body. 

Yet,there comes a time when we realize that dieting is not the answer (it just takes some of us longer to get there than others. No judgment). 

That’s when we start to look for something sustainable. It’s just a matter of how long we stay on the train trying before we decide to get off.

Women realize they don’t know how to eat properly when they finally give up the diets and look for something sustainable.

We’re steeped in these thoughts and beliefs culturally so we don’t see the patterns we play out, or ourselves clearly. 

Tools like self-awareness, active eating, and practicing presence are the critical keys necessary for women to overcome the unconscious biases that they act out daily.

Which one of these insights do you recognize the most in yourself?

Is it not saying “no” when you wish you could?

Feeling like you have to work twice as hard as the men at work to get the same recognition?

Having to be “superwoman” all the time (even when it’s too much to handle)?

I’d love to start a conversation here that helps us explore what’s caused us ambitious, capable women like the ones in the Practice Presence group to end up in a cycle of burnout.

So please, share your thoughts. 

This is a safe space with zero judgement. 

And hopefully we can start to undo some of the damage and obstacles that have kept you from becoming the confident, accomplished woman you strive to be.

How to Stop Being Hard on Yourself

Ok my fellow ambitious achievers, let’s get real for a minute. Do you ever feel like all the striving to be better is actually weighing you down?

Aspiring to be a better version of yourself than you were yesterday can be motivating. But sometimes personal development can leave you feeling like you constantly need to improve. Which, instead of creating more possibilities for you, can make you self-critical because if you have all this improving to do, you mustn’t be very good to start with. Hmm…

What does being hard on yourself look like?

It shows up in different ways for each of us but some common ways to know you’re being hard on yourself are:

  • Thinking “I should have done that better”
  • Ruminating thought loops of what you could have said/done differently
  • Telling yourself you should or you have to
  • All or nothing thinking aimed at convincing you to do or be something that feels off to you
  • Expecting perfection (e.g. Thinking you should have the same skill level as someone with years of experience)

It can also show up as anxiety. Thinking about the past/future can build up anxious tension in the body because you want to do something about your thoughts but you can’t. It isn’t possible to do anything about what you’re thinking about (because it’s done, or hasn’t happened yet) so your energy has nowhere to go.

The people who are hardest on themselves are often the achievers who seem to have the most outward success. If you’re used to being praised for your skills it can be hard to accept that you won’t be awesome at everything right off the bat.

This can also be hard on the ego because you’re used to framing yourself as one of the best. It can be hard to wrap your mind around being a beginner without thought loops coming in that say you “should be better at this.”

But where do these ideas of who we are and how we should operate come from?

Examining Expectations

As we move through life we unconsciously set expectations for ourselves. Often not knowing where they originated from. We pick up ideas throughout our lives from things we see, from other people and from experiences we have, and we accept them as truth.

Evidence of expectations are thoughts like:

  • It should be done this way
  • A good Mother does x,y,z.
  • The house needs to be ____.

We associate these behaviours with who we want to be, or the life we want to have. Then try to work them like a math equation; If I do x I’ll have y outcome. But it doesn’t work that way.

We use these expectations to live up to the life we want and to compete with others. Sometimes we even compete with our past selves and create pressure to keep up with what we’ve always done.

My client Kim is a great example. For years, she’s thrown elaborate family holiday parties that take days for her to prepare. She’s known for her beautiful table set ups and decorations. For the past 6 years, her holiday parties have become more elaborate as she tries to outdo herself from the year before.

In our coaching session, she admitted that she loves the holidays, but feels so much stress and pressure about preparing. She wants to make the holidays special for her kids and is worried that she’ll let them down. Or that if she stops trying to outdo herself that it’s a sign she’s getting older and losing her touch. She’s kept up the elaborate tradition because she feels pressured to, but it’s stopped feeling inspiring to her.

Kim’s example shows what many of us experience in one area or another. We set high expectations of ourselves and push ourselves to meet that standard with a story that we’ll be letting other people down if we don’t.

We created the rules and we mentally crack the whip telling ourselves it’s in service to the people we love. Yet when we’re really honest with ourselves, no one is holding us up to these expectations. It’s us.

Discovering Expectations

We hold tight to our standards because they’re the container we’ve built to measure our worth. Ideas like “if you don’t have dinner on the table by 6 pm every night, you’re not a good mother” are intertwined with our worth, so they’re difficult to let go of.

It’s not until we examine these beliefs and question their validity do we begin to have a chance to let go of them.

Here are three questions I use with my coaching clients. Ask yourself these in the moment when you’re feeling the should come on because of an expectation:

  1. Who says? (does this expectation come from you or someone else)
  2. If I let go of this expectation, will it hurt anybody?
  3. Can I see a stress-free reason to keep this rule?

The idea here is to examine your expectation to determine if you’re the one creating the standard. If it’s up to you, and it isn’t hurting anyone, you can relax your expectations and feel just as good about yourself.

Often high expectations are driven by the ego’s idea of who you are. But the ego isn’t who you are. The next time you’re feeling stressed about your own personal expectations, remember that no matter what you do or don’t achieve, you are whole and complete exactly the way you are.

Need some help breaking free from expectations? Book your Body Love Breakthrough Call to talk it out. You’ll leave with clarity around the root of your thought patterns and what to do about them.

Comparative Suffering – How to Stop Denying Your Feelings

It’s been 9 weeks since quarantine began. That’s nine weeks that houses have been filled with family members who usually scatter in different directions.

We’ve stopped coming and going. Now we’re “sheltering in place.”

If you’re a parent, this means you’re homeschooling your children, making every single meal at home and trying to keep up your workload from the dining room table while spending all day in the same home as your kids and spouse.

That’s 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, with no evening escape to the yoga studio. No joyful breaks to run errands. No private phone calls. No glasses of wine with your girlfriend. And no stroll through Indigo, or inspiration shopping at HomeSense.

When your girlfriend (who you haven’t seen in over 3 months) calls you up at night and asks the most loaded question “how you doing with all this?”

You open your mouth to give an honest answer. You want to tell her you’re at your wit’s end, that you haven’t baked a single loaf of bread and it’s been weeks since you worked out. You want to tell her that you’re starting to question your sanity, and your relationship.

But just as you go to tell her your real, honest, raw truth, this tiny thought runs through your mind; I shouldn’t complain, so many people have it so much worse.

So, you gloss over your story and say something about it being tough, “but at least the dog’s getting more company these days” and finish up with, “we’re lucky we haven’t lost our jobs and will be ok. You?”

Deep down, you know you live in a neighbourhood of parents who, just like you, are trying to keep it all together while entertaining their kids and putting 3 healthy-ish meals per day on the table.

You know you’re not the only one who’s tired, a little scared, and a lot overwhelmed.

And you can’t help but wonder how long will this be your new normal? How long will you be cut off from friends and support from family? How long will I last in this version of reality that looks like your life, but doesn’t feel like it at all?

But you hesitate to say these thoughts out loud, even to your best friend, because you know how incredibly blessed you are to be healthy, and safe at home with your family, while people around the world are not.

This Covid-19 pandemic sure is bringing our “stuff” to the surface. One thing it’s dredged up in droves is this tiny toxic thought process called Comparative Suffering.

Comparative Suffering Explained

It’s not something that’s new or unique to this situation. I bet you can think of many conversations when you felt guilty sharing your feelings so you covered them up with “…but how can I complain when I know other people have it so much worse?”

This is comparative suffering.

We do it to save face, to relieve guilt, to sugar coat our unpleasant feelings because somehow, we think they’ll be easier to swallow if we remind ourselves that someone else has it much worse.

The thing about comparative suffering is that it doesn’t make us feel lighter, it just makes us feel more alone. There’s a powerful healing quality to being witnessed in our struggles, and letting someone else know when we’re in pain.

Like when your girlfriend calls you up and admits she feels like a bad Mom for yelling at her kids after she’d had a long day at work. It’s cathartic for both of you to hear because you both realize you’re not alone. We all struggle.

Brené Brown says this about comparative suffering:

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past decade, it’s that fear and scarcity immediately trigger comparison, and even pain and hurt are not immune to being assessed and ranked. My husband died and that grief is worse than your grief over an empty nest. I’m not allowed to feel disappointed about being passed over for promotion when my friend just found out that his wife has cancer…”

Just as powerfully, she adds—

“The refugee in Syria doesn’t benefit more if you conserve your kindness only for her and withhold it from your neighbor who’s going through a divorce.”

We need to remember that empathy is not a limited resource. We heal more quickly together, partly because sharing removes the temptation to shame ourselves for being wounded in the first place.

Feelings are for Feeling

No one wants to go on about their problems. Yet, when we can’t even admit to having uncomfortable feelings, we’re denying parts of ourselves the healing of being seen, heard and loved.

Let’s get one thing out in the open – there’s no shame in feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, tired, angry (or any other unpleasant emotion). Ever.

You’re not a bad person for having hard feelings… even if you have a great life. Especially if you have a great life, you can heal and let others heal by sharing that things are hard for you at times too.

So, instead of withholding love from ourselves and saving it for “the suffering” (a group of people we know are out there and have it way worse), what if we try compassion instead?

What if we agree not to evaluate, compare, and tally each other’s pain? What if we stop judging ourselves and our friends for their feelings because comparatively it could be worse?

Instead we could spread empathy. We could admit that the house feels like a zoo and we cry at night because hugs from our friends seem like distant memories. We could listen to a friend share about their loved one in the hospital and not feel like it diminishes our right to feel like things are hard in our own home.

We can keep our struggles in perspective and allow ourselves to express them.

Both are true and real.

Both are feelings to be felt.

And everyone deserves to feel their feelings.

Can Lack of Sleep Cause Weight Gain?

It’s cute that we’ve come up with ways to make fun of the weight many people have put on during this global pandemic. The quarantwenty, the covid 15 are just a few of the ways I’ve heard it described.

Fact is, unwanted weight gain is not fun. It doesn’t make you feel great in your skin, or about your body. Additional pounds add stress to your body, makes it harder to move around and more challenging to exercise.

First of all, there’s no shame in having gained weight during a global crisis. Stress levels have been high for months and we’ve all had to do what we’ve had to do to be able to cope. But given that it’s the new year, it’s likely on your mind to make some changes for the benefit of your health.

So, let’s dive into one of the most overlooked factors affecting your weight – sleep.

Weight Loss Resistance

For some people, the reason they’re up a few pounds will be clear. But if you’ve been struggling to lower the number on the scale for a while, it’s time to look at all the factors that could be in play.

If you’ve been stuck trying to figure out how to shed the pounds seemed to sneak up on you despite not changing your diet or exercise habits, you might be dealing with Weight Loss Resistance.

It’s exactly how it sounds: weight that just won’t budge no matter what you do.

One surprising reason why you might be gaining weight or experiencing weight loss resistance is lack of good quality, restorative sleep.

There are plenty of science-backed reasons why a lack of sleep can be a strong contributing factor to not being able to maintain a healthy weight.

Why Lack of Sleep Causes Weight Gain

If you thought unsightly dark circles under the eyes were the worst outcome from cutting corners on sleep, you may want to think again.

Sleep is of the utmost importance to nearly every bodily system and losing out on it, even just a little, creates a vicious cycle in your body.

For example, the more sleep deprived you are, the higher your levels of stress hormone (cortisol) will be, which tends to increase your appetite.

Then, once the appetite is increased, a lack of sleep also thwarts your body’s natural ability to process sugar and carbohydrates – which of course is what you’re craving when you’re exhausted.

Additionally, when you’re overtired, the mitochondria (little cellular factories that turn food and oxygen into energy = metabolism centers) actually start to shut down. This causes glucose to stay in your bloodstream, and you end up with high blood sugar levels.

Insulin is a hormone whose job it is to signal the body’s muscle, fat, and liver cells to absorb glucose from the bloodstream to be used for energy. A study in the Annals of Internal Medicine reported that skimping on sleep can cause fat cells to become less insulin-sensitive by up to 30% – meaning they lose their ability to use insulin properly.

Yet another reason you might pack on pounds when you’re lacking in sleep is because your body goes into survival mode – much like when we deprive our bodies of too little energy & calories. Therefore, survival mode = extra fat storage.

It doesn’t have to be hours of sleep that you missed out on…

Research says that just 30 minutes of lost sleep per day could make you more likely to gain.

Sleep could arguably be the most important thing you can focus on if you’re ready to start a new health optimization plan – and the first step is to make sleep a priority.

Sleeping isn’t just a time to rest — you’re actually nourishing your body just as you are when you’re eating healthy foods. It may require some behavioral and mindset shifts on your part, but your body (and waistline) will thank you.

Tips to get a good night’s sleep

Sleep is one of the best free resources that will help you improve your health and manage your weight. Try these tips to help you get the most out of your night’s rest:

  • Avoid screen time for 2 hours before bed
  • Aim to sleep between 10 – 10:30 pm
  • Black out your bedroom so there’s no light coming in
  • Try meditation or a deep breathing exercise before bed to help your body relax and prepare for rest 
  • Drink a calming herbal tea before bed (see recipe below)

Do you think sleep could be the missing piece in your weight loss goal? Tell us in the Practice Presence group here.


DIY Sleepytime Herbal Tea Blend


  • 3 parts dried chamomile
  • 2 parts each: dried peppermint and dried lemon balm
  • 1 part each: dried lavender and dried passion flower
  • 1/4 part valerian root (it is important to only add this much valerian root)
  • Fresh, filtered water


  1. While heating water on the stove or in an electric kettle (up to 160 degrees F is optimal for herbal tea), lightly mix herbs together in a bowl.
  2. Place up to 1 Tb of herbal tea mixture into a tea infuser ball.
  3. Place the infuser into your favourite mug, and fill it with hot, but not boiled water.
  4. Let your tea steep for up to 5 minutes before removing the infuser ball.
  5. Save any extra dry tea blend in an airtight container, and store it in a cool, dark, dry place. Will keep fresh for several weeks.
  6. Enjoy your cup of warm DIY Sleepytime Tea, and get more quality zzz’s.


Eureka Alert: Losing 30 Minutes of Sleep Per Day May Promote Weight Gain

How to Find Time for Healthy Eating – Batch Cooking 101

It’s no secret, we lead busy lives. As the world speeds up, one of the first things to suffer is our self-care. Often busy weeks mean making unhealthy choices, like skipping meals, or grabbing something quick to eat while on the go.

Eating well is a habit you build your life around. It doesn’t just happen, it takes intention and advanced planning, which means it takes time.

But you don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen each night just to eat well.

Plan for Healthy Eating

When starting a new healthy eating regime, it’s important to start slow and set realistic expectations.

Look at your schedule and decide what is realistic for you to do. When you’re starting a new routine, you may need to plan to eat out for some meals, or have convenient options on hand.

It takes momentum to really get in the swing of meal prep and planning. When you enter a busy week with the intention of being prepared and cooking regularly, things can snowball in a positive way, or quickly become out of control.

What keeps it all together is forethought and advanced planning. Your meal plan is part of your overall strategy which includes other areas of your life.

Think about it – a meal plan is made up of tiny habits that you take throughout the week. It might mean getting up earlier to make breakfast, shopping at a new grocery store to get your ingredients, or breaking the habit of swinging by the drive thru on your way home from work.

Sticking to your plan will take some discipline, so be gentle with yourself while you get your new habits set up.

Ultimately, your meal plan sets you up for success so you have a solid foundation to build from. One thing that will keep your plan intact throughout the busy workweek is planning to batch cook your meals so you can spend less time in the kitchen.

What is Batch Cooking?

Time management experts recommend batching like tasks together so you can do similar things all at once. For example, washing laundry and changing the bedding are two tasks that can be batched together to save time.

Batch cooking is a similar idea because it has you cooking for a few condensed hours on one day, as opposed to throughout the week. The time this saves in clean up alone (because you’re only making one mess to clean) is a game changer.

There are three different methods of batch cooking:

  • Batch cooking staple ingredients
  • Batch cooking large meals
  • Batching freezer meals

Each method has different benefits. If you’re planning to be away or you know you have a busy week coming up, batching for the freezer is a good option. On the other hand, if you’re looking to have multiple meals ready for the week (a great option if you have picky eaters at home) cooking large meals in advance can help.

If you’re reading this and you’re one of the people who can’t stand the idea of leftovers, you’re in luck. Single ingredient batch cooking has you making a large quantity of one item and then repurposing it throughout the week to create different meals.

Cook Once, Eat Twice

The best time to cook is when you can set aside the time. Not when you’re staring into the fridge at 6 pm and you’re hungry and tired from a long day at work.

Batch cooking means you cook once in a large quantity, giving you food for days (or weeks) to come. One pot meals like chili, soups, and stews can be made ahead of time and frozen for a few weeks at a time.

You can even batch prepare snacks – energy bites, guacamole, hummus, and homemade muffins are great snacks that can be frozen for later.

Start with a meal plan and organize your week around cooking in batches. A few hours in the kitchen on the weekend can mean you’re only cooking once during the week. Doesn’t that sound like a more relaxing evening? 

Batch Cooking will:

  • Save you time in the kitchen. Keep your schedule efficient by allowing you to focus on one task at a time. 
  • Reduce kitchen clean up (cook once, clean once!). 
  • Allow you more free time in the evenings (reheat and eat, instead of cooking from scratch). 
  • Save you in a pinch— this is a guarantee! Nothing blows your meal plan faster than a time-strapped empty stomach.

Meal Prep That Works for You and Your Schedule

Many of us are working long hours and, let’s face it, we have other things we love to do besides spend our time in the kitchen. It’s time to make your meals work for you. This chart gives a simple example of how you can cook one healthy ingredient in a large quantity and use it to create meals for the week. Try it with your favourites.

Not all recipes work well for batch cooking. Some are best to eat the day you make them. Others don’t freeze and reheat well.

All the recipes in the Everyday Eats Cookbook are designed for batch cooking. The recipes throughout the book use similar ingredients so it’s easy to batch them together and work them into your meal plan.

Get your copy of the Everyday Eats Cookbook today to save time in the kitchen and fuel your family with meals that are healthy and satisfying.