8 lbs. vs the Whopper

Today in class two students who have been part of the Fill Your Cup tribe from inception were talking about a weight loss goal. One woman said, in the next 6 weeks she wanted to lose 8 lbs and so she got diet pills so she could still eat fast food cheeseburgers. The other replied, “You know you get one or the other, 8 lbs off or the whopper.”

It was so simple and clear and we all laughed at the obvious conclusion. You get thin or you get full, not both. So which one matters more?

The next element to the morning that made me smile is the tribe itself.  Your community can help support your cause.  Think about your family, friends, the classes you take – do they inspire a light living life? What would YOUR friends say in a similar situation? Are they going to tell you want is comfortable to hear, everyone deserves a Whopper sometimes hunnie or will they tell you the truth? 8 lbs vs. whopper – you decides who wins.

(PS it’s worth mentioning eventually, you will feel satisfied and satiated eating less – give yourself a month to adjust.)

Grizzly Appetite: Guest writer David Hughson

Appetite is a Grizzly Bear. Sometimes it’s hibernating, sometimes it can be seen and enjoyed from a safe distance, and sometimes you’re wondering how long you could outrun it before getting mauled. On my best days I eat an appropriate amount with the right balance to level my blood sugar and on my worst days I eat like a bear waking from the winter hibernation. Too many days unlike the former and more like the latter remind me that appetite is an ever-present force of nature that dictates so much of my behavior. I only have to look at my Grizzly Bear gut to be reminded.

Thank you David, you fill my cup with smiles. What is appetite to you?

Magical Thinness – Jennie Sikora Chapter 6

I was reading something the other day that questioned what was so magical in being or rather wanting to become thin. I have waited for this glorious magic to come even when I was “thin”. How many times, I have waited to go shopping until I loose whatever amount of weight, or not gone to an event because I thought I would do it once I hit my goal weight. It is great to have goals but I realized, most of my life I have put stuff or things off, for the magical unveiling of my new self. But what kind of experiences is my current self having.

Part of the cup philosophy is to “be in the moment” be aware of what you are eating, be conscious of what decisions I am making about food and exercise. But how can I truly be in the moment if I am always waiting for that magical moment? To truly be in the moment, I have to fully experience the joys and pains of the here and now.

Maybe if I start to do that, I would focus less on the stress of changing my lifestyle/habits or struggle through the ups and downs of positive self talk vs negative self talk and INSTEAD focus on me and what is coming my way in this minute, hour and day.

There is no magical moment of thinness. I should know this. Even when I was at my thinnest, I could fit into all kinds of clothes, got lots of attention, but I still was the fat girl in a thinner body. As the cup philosophy states, you have to become this lifestyle and change the inside and then the outside will follow.

When people give compliments on loosing weight, it really is not what size you are in, or how many pounds you lost. It is the hard work and dedication that helped achieve that goal. I have lost 12 lbs since summer started. Yes I am pleased about the amount of pounds, but my in the moment, is the recognition of the hard work and sacrifices I made to accomplish that and how it attributes to my current and long term goals. It is the pride of knowing I turned down desserts, or used the small cup for several meals even though I wanted much more. That is the magic of weight loss. NOT a number or a size.

Then I made a connection. I would never walk out of spin or workout class because it was too hard. I see those classes as challenges. The hard work of the cup eating lifestyle, is the exact same as a workout class. The reward is the success of the dedication and hard work while IN THE MOMENT.

Enjoy your moments.

Roller Coaster – Jennie Sikora 2011 Chapter 5

Roller Coasters Suck

As a kid, I loved the thrill of roller coasters. It got my adrenaline going with the thrill of that up and down feeling with a sense of not being in control. NOW I HATE THE ROLLER COASTER I AM ON…

I can not seem to get past the roller coaster ride of having some up weeks and some bad weeks.

The frustrating part is when I am in the neutral place with food and exercise and doing “good” then I am not seeing results as quickly as I want. If I go down on the coaster, then I see the results I don’t want much faster. I am having my pity part of that just sucks and is not fair.

I truly do see this as a journey and not something that will end when I get to a certain goal. How I handle food is something I will always have to be conscious of. I do understand and accept that but I need to see some results to keep my motivation. During frustrating times, I have fallen into the stress of it and given in to more cups then I need or skipping a workout because I let other things get in the way.

What I need to do more of, is meditate on that fabulous feeling of that neutral spot, when the negativity is not there. That is such a blissful yet quiet feeling. It is going to take even more effort to do that during the stressful times, when it is much easier to grab some trail mix or crackers. But it is so much of a better feeling then nonsense eating.

I know I have to celebrate some successes so here we go. Since Half Time, I have lost 4 pounds and noticing some of my Pilates moves improving and getting stronger. I also kicked the ass of my nemesis the “Hill Run.”

What is your story? Jennie Sikora 2011 Chapter 3: ENJOY THE EMPTY SPACE

For the past two weeks, I kept thinking I was forgetting something. I was constantly doing a check list in my head to make sure I had everything I needed for wherever I was headed. I just couldn’t figure it out… Then I realized what it was, but I will need to back up to explain.

Now, what I have experienced in the past two weeks, I probably should of experienced over the past month and half. You will have to forgive me for I am a slow learner, or maybe I needed to just go through the highs and lows to really understand the feelings.

I have been trying to practice what I preach by being religious about my food tweets and following the cups. In my last chapter I said accountability is the key. But I was tweeting more for others than myself and not being completely honest. These two weeks (now going on three), I set a short term goal: I will tweet absolutely everything no matter how far out of the cup it is. I also will use a small or medium cup for everything I eat.

It wasn’t right away that I felt any different than other days and thoughts like “UGH” or “this is hard” or “this is such as small amount” were coming into my head. But after a day or two, instead of feeling burdened by writing what I was eating, I felt a twinge of excitement. That excitement came from the notion that I was actually following my cup portions. I was stopping when I was done and not wishing for more and feeling deprived. I actually felt satisfied. Sure there were and are moments that I had to “ride the wave” and take some deep breaths or just walk away or say NO THANK YOU. Then something strange began to happen. I couldn’t put my finger on it but my thoughts were weird. That is when I realized what I was feeling like I was forgetting something. It wasn’t keys, paperwork or leaving the coffee pot in. It was the negative and guilty thoughts.

Julie checked on me one of the days to ask how my week was, and it was ironic that she reached out that day. I had gone running earlier in the day and was reflecting on this journey along with the other issues of life. It may sound strange because it was a strange feeling to me, but I could feel the joy, excitement whatever you want to call it, of the empty space in my stomach. I was not hungry, or full, more like the neutral zone. Then the next day, I felt the same feeling began to feel empowered. “Could I actually be getting the fill-your cup?” “Is it finally clicking?” “Is my body or more importantly my mind accepting the smaller portions?”

The strange feeling I had was control and positivity. In the first chapter, I wrote that I had control over my own story. I lost site of that during the initial challenges. This past week, I actually FELT the control of my story. I felt the Empty Space

I have felt almost three weeks of silence. Silence from many bad and self defeating thoughts. Are those thoughts completely wiped away like cob webs? Probably not, but damn it feels good to be in control and actually feel the neutral zone. So the next time, I face a difficult food choice or want more etc. I can remember how good THIS feels and stay focused.

Stay Empty!:)

Friendship is a mirror

“Reach through the top of your head” my best friend/yoga teacher tells me and taps the top of my head (smart teacher w/ her sensory cue.) I suddenly found my pose. And I also realized I didn’t have a clue where the top of my head was in that moment.

Sometimes it’s hard to see where you are in your body. Accurate body perception is a complicated emotional casserole. The ingredients include expectation, history, experience, acceptance, hope, regret and a whole lot of pinches and dashes of this and that. When we are floundering with our body a really honest friend can be a mirror. Those friends are rare since they must be comfortable enough in their body to be honest with you or me. A friend who can help might say something like: “Remember this photo from when we vacationed in Mexico, you were really happy in your skin there?“ Or “You look fantastic in those jeans I can see you’ve been sticking to the cup.”

What do we see in the mirror? How does it feel? Is this body what you want for your life experience? Just by reading this you have friends who support your plan for living light in your body. Follow me at Twitter.com @ j_fillyourcup. You can have your ideal body, Fill Your Cup.

What is your story? Jennie Sikora 2011 Chapter 2


I have learned the power of simply saying “No Thank You”. I wish I could say that I said it all the time this month but I didn’t. However, I learned that it is the simplest strategy to adopt my new eating habits. This month has been a challenge, but every goal that is worth it, is never easy right?

I travel a lot for my job and many times have no control over where or when I am going to eat, so it makes it difficult to plan my meals. I was starting to feel like an alcoholic being dragged to bar after bar. I felt that I had to explain to everyone what I could eat or not eat and how much. (On a side note-It is amazing how that triggers feelings in the people you are with). I was getting frustrated with other people’s questions the “Why’s?” Why am I trying to live a lighter lifestyle? And “What’s?” What are all the things you do in the Fill Your Cup life style? It’s eating less, eating only when your hungry, eating to a point that you are only 80 percent full so, still a little hungry. These conversations regarding the why and what caused me to give in several times because I didn’t want to explain it. At one point, I laid in my hotel room questioning if I would even be able to do this. When I was loosing my motivation and feeling embarrassed that I could not get a grasp on this, I reached out to Julie. She reminded me of my goals and put things into perspective. That helped me a lot. I actually looked at my long term goals and began my visualization. To fit into my goal jeans is a lot more rewarding than a dessert at a customer dinner or more food than my body needs. It is something I am starting to say everyday to myself to help keep those thoughts in the front of mind instead of pushing them to the back.

On my next trip, I simply said, “NO THANK YOU”, when offered tempting foods or more portions than I needed. I found that was so simple. No one was asking any questions. Just saying “No Thanks”, shut everyone up-End of Story. It is so strange and I guess a bit basic, but I started to feel empowered by the word “NO”. I actually looked at my long term goals and began my visualization. To fit into my goal jeans is a lot more rewarding than a dessert at a customer dinner or more food than my body needs. I am not “there” yet but for the last week and for my next two business trips it is definitely helping.

Things I am learning:

I have to be held accountable. I am getting better at my tweeting. If I eat it I have to write it. I was “avoiding” my food journal tweets when I did not make good choices. I decided that I HAVE to write it down. I am learning to ask myself, “Would you want to say you ate that or that much of it?”

If I do make choices that are not favoring my goals, I can not loose motivation. I cannot turn one set back into 5 or 6 setbacks. Once it is over it is over and my next decision or choice can be better. By saying “No Thank You”, I am getting control within situations I can not control. So the decisions and choices are MINE.


My close friend is dating a man who has started asking her to move-in with him – with what we used to call the “assumptive close.” He drops “we” into daily meal planning and furniture purchases. “We can take this to our home one day,” or “We should get this gadget to make better steaks.” She is sensitive and attentive yet this verbal que is not enough for her to start packing.

There is something special in the formality of a request. “Please join me for dinner?” or “Will you come to this class that I think you will love?” or “Will you move in and share this home with me.” It is more than a meal or a class or even a roof over your head. It is an invitation to share your very self. A place for joining your mind (maybe body and spirit too) with another person, during that shared time or space.

I realize I am like her lover, with his “We” I assume the blog readers are in the same tribe as I, you all get it – you know that I want to include you in the process of staying slim. Yet, perhaps I haven’t made the formal request:

Will you join me in this space of mind-share? Will you join the quest to feel lighter, to move every day, to blog your thoughts-challenges and successes, tweet your meals and share this journey to live light and true to your self?

There is something stabilizing in We. I have a hunch that the more of us there are in the We, the more stabilizing it will feel. The more people you know who keep the cup the more “normal” that cup will feel. You are endorsed by other people’s reflection of your beautiful transformation and they are endorsed seeing themselves in you.

There may be struggles with holding your own little cup but you are not in it alone. We support you!

* Tell all your friends about this blog and website, we learn from eachother’s experiences and from sharing our own. If you’re new, Fill Your Cup is a lifestyle for slim and conscious living. Explore the website www.fill-your-cup.com there are free core exercise clips and an audio sample of the book Fill Your Cup. It’s never too late to start feeling lighter! You’re right on track, jump in right now, bring a friend on this journey with you reading the blogs, following me and other keepers of the cup on Twitter (click here) or sign up here to receive email updates (click here)

A Blog, a Boost, a Buddy

“Step away from the nuts!!!”… Says my girl friend/exercise/weight maintenance ally during an over scheduled day, when I anxiously begin snacking trail mix. I’m saved by the voice of reason. Tomorrow, I may offer a similar support for her.

When you’re on a quest for an exceptional lifestyle it is so very helpful to have a posse/a tribe/a team/a congregation – whatever! When you are doing something outside the norm, you need other people who totally support you. We are social creatures who see our own dreams and success mirrored in other people’s experiences. I see people every day who are inspired and energized by the vitality others bring to their goals. Socializing is a beautiful, motivating aspect of our human experience.

So what happens if you have exceptional goals, like living the Fill Your Cup life style and you are legitimately reigning in your portions, yet none of your friends or family really supports that goal? Or if they do support it “in theory” they don’t actually “get it” because they aren’t committed to trying to Keep the Cup themselves?

Your social support is RIGHT HERE – yes, here – in this blog and the 98 blogs that preceded it. They were all written with you, my friend, in mind. They address questions like: Why is it hard to eat less? How can you manage hunger? What tools may help you? Where do you find your own conviction? These blogs offer you camaraderie when embarking on the Fill Your Cup lifestyle.

Did you know that any question you post to any blog sends an email directly to me and sometimes to people who posted their comments before you? We are here to support you and help you maintain a lighter leaner lifestyle.

Stay Tuned, next lesson: Twitter

Fill Your Cup!

Fitness fanatic or couch potato? Blame your DNA


By Christie Aschwanden
September 8, 2009

For decades, fitness gurus have admonished sofa spuds to adopt a can-do attitude toward exercise, as if the only thing keeping them from the gym or walking path was the right attitude.

Yet a growing body of evidence suggests that it’s not merely motivation but also genetics that separate slouches from fitness fanatics, and at least some of these genes appear to act on the brain’s pleasure and reward center.

Though the science doesn’t imply that people disinclined to exercise can’t get moving, it helps explain why some people find it more difficult than others to “just do it.”

“We all know people who can’t sit still and we all know people who can’t get off the couch,” says J. Timothy Lightfoot, an exercise physiologist at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte.

Studies of twins suggest that some of the differences between these types of people come down to genetics. A 2006 Swedish investigation looked at leisure-time physical activity in 5,334 identical and 8,028 fraternal twins. The findings revealed that the exercise habits of identical twins were twice as closely matched as those of fraternal twins.

Fraternal twins share half their genes on average, whereas identical twins are genetic duplicates, so the finding implies that genes account for much of the variability in physical activity levels between people.

Likewise, a 2006 study that pooled data on exercise participation in more than 37,000 twin pairs from seven European countries calculated the genetic influence on physical activity at somewhere between 48% and 71%.

And these are not isolated findings.

“We now have more than 20 twin studies showing almost unanimously that [identical] twins are more alike in their physical activity than [fraternal] twins,” says geneticist Claude Bouchard, executive director of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La. The studies make a compelling case that the inclination to exercise runs in families, he says.

Studying mice
In an effort to find the genes involved, physiologist Theodore Garland at UC Riverside turned to rodents. He placed exercise wheels in the cages of ordinary mice and measured how often they scurried around in the wheels.

“This was voluntary exercise,” Garland says. “It’s sort of like how some people jog and others don’t.”

Researchers then selected the mice who ran the most and bred them with other so-called “high-runners” and repeated the experiment for more than 50 generations.

The result was a strain of high-runner mice that run as many as eight hours per night.

Garland’s next step was to find out what caused the mice to want to run. He found clues in the brain.

In a study published in 2003, his group showed that high-runner mice and regular mice respond differently to stimulants such as cocaine and Ritalin. Regular mice would run more when plied with the stimulants. “But we’ve never found a drug that will increase running in high-running mice,” he says. Whatever those drugs do in the brain seemed to be already turned on in the high-runner mice.

Because cocaine and Ritalin alter levels of the brain chemical dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in pleasure and reward, the drugs’ different effects on the two breeds suggest high-runner and regular mice may process dopamine differently in the brain — and that may dictate how much pleasure they get out of running.

Other studies have also linked physical activity to dopamine.

For instance, a 1998 study showed that mice deficient in a receptor involved in processing dopamine, the D2 receptor, are less active than those with normal D2 receptor levels.

More recently, Lightfoot and his colleague Amy Knab found that two other dopamine-related genes were less active in their high-runner mice.
Says Knab, who is an exercise physiologist at Appalachian State University, “There’s something inherently different in the dopamine systems of the high-runners versus low-runners.”

Human studies have also linked exercise frequency to dopamine. Bouchard’s research team studied physical activity levels in a sample of 721 volunteers from 161 families in Quebec, Canada. They found that variations in the dopamine D2 receptor gene correlated to physical activity levels in women, but not men.

It’s a start
Bouchard says the study is an intriguing start — but he speculates that there are many more genes that influence exercise inclination.

Environment still plays a major role in how much someone exercises, though. “You can’t blame being lazy on your genes,” Knab says.

In fact, a twins study published last year suggests that environment trumps genetics when it comes to the kind of exercise needed for good health.

When University of Washington exercise physiologist Glen Duncan and his colleagues examined data from the university’s twin registry they found that genetics did predict the propensity to exercise up to 60 minutes per week.

But at 150 minutes or more — the amount of exercise that public health officials recommend — “the genetic component went away and the environment was the bigger factor,” Duncan says. For example, if people walk into a building and see a set of stairs first thing, they will probably take them. But if there’s an escalator front and center, they’ll take that instead, he says.

Researchers are now trying to tease out the ways that genes and the environment combine to turn one person into a marathon runner and another into a couch potato. By doing so, they may discover more effective ways to encourage exercise among those not naturally inclined.

“It’s really hard to change people’s physical activity levels,” physiologist Joey Eisenmann at Michigan State University says.

“There are a lot of people working on interventions to increase physical activity, and for the most part they haven’t been shown to be highly effective. As we learn more about genetic factors, that may shed light on why these programs don’t work as well as we’d like.”

Some of this research may eventually lead to more individualized approaches to fitness.

Or — failing that — researchers may even learn to enhance exercise’s gratifying effects with drugs.

“Some day,” Garland says, “we could be giving people pills to make it more pleasurable to run.”