Soul Love: How a Dog Taught Me to Breathe Again

Teresa Bitner’s first book is a home run. She is a friend of mine and someone I’ve worked with closely. Teresa bares her soul after the death of her first husband. She goes deep and is not afraid to get vulnerable. She discusses her anger and pain and devastation at his death. She delves into the issues of single parenthood and coping with difficulties that she never imagined dealing with alone at 43.

Her book is one of hope and triumph over adversity. I love how she discusses going back to school and falling in love again. However, the central character in Soul Love is not Teresa. It’s not her sons or even her deceased spouse. It’s Hans, a playful and amazing Doberman who teaches Teresa to love again.

Hans appears in the book as himself. He talks throughout, sharing his insights into what’s going on with his people and how he wants desperately to help them all through this difficult time. Hans is a good dog even if he likes to tear things apart and get rowdy with the boys from time to time.
Teresa’s rescue of Hans from a puppy mill is breathtaking. Poor Hans struggled before he came to be loved dearly in the Klein household. He loved nothing better than to sit on the couch, curled up with Teresa and cuddle. He was the ultimate emotional support dog at a time when she needed him the most.

Dogs sense our pain and they help heal us. Soul Love shows just how the relationship between dog and human can be. It’s beautiful, poignant and loving. When Hans breathes his final breath, we feel Teresa’s pain but also her willingness to let him go. She’s in a much better place in her life and is better for having had Hans with her if only for a short time.

The only thing permanent about life is impermanence. Change is inevitable. We all must go through changes even if we don’t want to. Teresa did NOT want to lose her husband in a motorcycle accident. She was angry, sad and devastated. She allowed herself to feel these things even when they weren’t comfortable.

She brings them onto the page for her reader and opens up her heart and soul to us. Soul Love is a labor of love written by a strong and independent woman who doesn’t need our love and support but deserves it. Teresa is a brilliant coach, speaker, author and friend. I highly recommend Soul Love to anyone who needs a good read – or a good cry. It’s a testimony book that is high in vulnerability and rooted in the power of love and resilience.

To purchase a copy for yourself, visit:

Dealing with Your Shit

Shit happens. It comes into everyone’s life. No one has an easy life. It just doesn’t happen. We all struggle. If you look at someone and think that they have their shit together, guess what? They don’t.

Everyone is insecure. Everyone has problems. Everyone wishes at some time or another that they were someone else. There’s this saying – and I’m paraphrasing – that if you put your problems into a pile with everyone else’s, you’d still pick your own problems.

Why? It’s easier to manage your own shit than the shit that other people have to face.

(BTW – if you mind the fact that I’m using the word shit so much, I am NOT the life coach for you. Just saying.)

Our lives are uniquely designed for us. Psychic Sylvia Browne believes that we choose our lives like some hippy-dippy syllabus in heaven before we come down to Earth. We choose our parents, our problems and our successes.

It’s all pre-destined. This is done so we can learn our lessons about what it’s like to be alive, to be fully human.

I know that might seem crazy, but I think there’s something to it. We all have issues to contend with and they are uniquely ours. We look at the world through our own unique perspective, our own lens. We all want to be better, but we can’t if we’re not willing to own up to and deal with our own shit.

Today, I am challenging you to look into the mirror and look at your life. Take a fucking, honest, long hard look at it. What is it that you want to achieve in this lifetime? What’s keeping you from it? The answer is simple. It’s the person staring back at you in that mirror.

Get out of your own way and start making life happen for you. Today. Stop delaying. No one has an infinite amount of time. None of us are getting out of her alive. Do more than survive. Thrive. Now!

Why Do Non-Scale Victories Matter?

You know that losing weight is more of a mindset, right? Well, I hope after reading my blog for a while, that you know I think it is. You can’t lose weight and get fit without changing your mindset. I don’t want you to diet. I want you to change your lifestyle. Make an eating plan that works for your life.

There is no such thing as good food or bad food. It’s all just food. As I’ve gone through this incredible journey, I’ve learned that the hard way. I’d like to spare you that process if I can. Of course, I know you have to find your own way and I’ll let you.

When I work with someone on losing weight or getting fit, I leave the heavy lifting up to you. However, I want you to think about something that’s as important as (well, personally I think it’s more so) the number on the scale. Truthfully, society has set it up so that the higher the number on the scale, the lower our self-esteem goes.

If you begin measuring your Non-Scale Victories (NSVs), you’ll begin to see how unimportant that number is. It’s really just a data point, a piece of information that helps you see if you’re progressing. It is nothing more than that.

The scale is not the end all and be all of health and wellness. Some people weigh more than others but are more fit. Muscle takes up less space than fat and you can have more muscle in your body and weigh more than someone who has less muscle but has more fat.

Does that make sense? I hope so. While a pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat, a cubic inch of muscle weighs about 8 times more than a cubic inch of fat. Impressive, huh?

I thought so.

Now, when I talk of non-scale victories, I am referring to those wins that you have because you are fitter than before. Some of my non-scale victories include, but, are not limited to:

  • Going from a 3x on the top to a large,
  • Wearing a size 36 pant to a size 16 (and still going down),
  • Fitting in a restroom stall that’s not handicapped in a public place,
  • Fitting into a restaurant booth,
  • Being able to walk by people in a crowded place without having to turn sideways,
  • Dropping a shoe size and a half from a size 10 to an 8.5,
  • Not needing a seat belt extender on an airplane,
  • Fitting in an airplane seat without encroaching on the people beside me
  • And much more.

So, I’m wondering what your non-scale victories are. Please feel free to share them with me at If you feel I can help you achieve them, I’d love the opportunity to help you.

I’m running my first 21-Day Challenge beginning on May 6th. If you’d like to sign up, please contact me. I’ll send you more information. The price is affordable ($89) and the content is amazing. It’s truly life-changing. I look forward to working with you.

The Scale is NOT the Only Indicator of Success

So many people have a poor relationship with their scales. Personally, I can relate. For many years, when the number on the scale went up, my self-esteem went down. I hope this doesn’t happen to you, but if it does, I can completely relate.

Re-Imagining the Scale

As time has gone on, I have really come to see the scale for what it is. It provides information or a data point for us to help us measure our successes. So many people say that muscle weighs more than fat. It does not. It is more compact and takes up less space in our body, but a pound is a pound. A pound of fat is just more volume than a pound of muscle. Essentially you can weigh more but look better and be leaner.

Hormones and my lymphedema can cause me to weigh more too. Fluctuations happen and are absolutely natural. In one day, I can go up as much as ten pounds or even day to day, especially when it’s my time of the month.

What are some other ‘measurements’ you can use?

Personally, I like to take measurements of my bust, hips, waist and thighs. These are areas that help me determine where I’m at over a time period. Images work well too. I didn’t take enough during my weight loss journey, but the ones I did take show a dramatic difference. That’s success.

I do NOT look like the same person. When I look I the mirror, however, I still see my fatter self. Body dysmorphia is common in weight loss surgery survivors. It’s a distorted way of seeing ourselves. It’s kind of funny, but sometimes it takes me two or three times of looking in the mirror for my eyes to focus on my new reality, my new body.

Seeing the way my clothes fit also helps me determine my progress. When my clothes fit well, I feel well. When they’re loose, I get new ones. I like to go thrift shopping for my gear since I have dropped so many sizes. I know – what a problem to have!

Health Measurements

Not only do I like to measure myself and see how my clothes fit, I have achieved so many health goals. These are great successes and they help me put things in perspective. For example, I can:

  • Hold my own doing exercise videos for up to 45 minutes at a time.
  • Perform complex yet no impact isometric exercises to tighten, lengthen and tone.
  • Ride my recumbent bike for up to 45 minutes. I can do about 9 miles in that time.
  • Move from a resistance level 1 to a resistance level 7 on the bike.
  • Add in High Intensity Interval Training twice a week.
  • Walk longer distances without getting fatigued.
  • Make healthier food choices. I actually crave avocados, quinoa and kale now. I never thought I would be able to say that.
  • Find sugar too sweet and prefer to keep it out of my life.
  • Manage cravings while eating intuitively.

I hope that you can see by this article that the scale is not the only indicator of success and well, it shouldn’t be. It’s a data point just like BMI is. It’s a piece of information in the puzzle of healthy weight loss. I recommend weighing once a month on the same day of the month and at the same time, preferably first thing in the morning. I weigh naked and after I urinate to stack the odds in my favor. You choose what to do that’s best for you. Some clients weigh themselves daily. I remind them to take an average over the course of the week if they do that. I would make the same suggestion to you.

For more information or to begin working with me, contact me via this website or call me at 512-484-7634.  

Small Changes Make Big Impacts

I’m a big believer in the mantra, “Small Changes Make a Big Impact.” I can honestly tell you that the journey to losing 180 pounds, which I’ve done, does not happen overnight. It does not happen without first losing 1 pound, then 2, then 5, then 10, then 25 and more.

Each time I set a goal, I celebrated the achievement of it then I went ahead and made a new goal. I started exercising slow. I was completely unfit. I could only manage five minutes on my recumbent bike, twice a week. I didn’t judge myself. I sweated like a pig and I did it consistently. Within three weeks – it takes about 21 days to make a habit – I added a third day.

After that, I added five more minutes to each of my three days. I slowly built up days and amounts – over a year later I was at 30 minutes 5 or 6 days a week. I still consistently hit over 6 miles in that time frame at a resistance level of 6. I’m looking to go up to a 7 in a few weeks.

See – small changes.

When you have weight loss surgery, so many things do change. You have to honor that and respect it. You have to also grieve your old life. This takes time. It also takes time to learn new coping skills and mechanisms. I missed food immensely, but I learned to love talking to my friends, coloring in my coloring books, reading and listening to music. I even enjoy meditating. I started meditating at 1 minute and now can manage a 10-minute interval without much discomfort.

Basically, I know that I get overhwhelmed by making big changes. I’m not saying you will, but I have found great success in making small changes. I’ve seen them have a big impact in my life. It has taken me years to lose the weight. It has taken a lot of patience, but I’m so proud of myself. I want that for you too.

Ready to begin? Great! Contact me today and we’ll get you started on one small change within our first, free phone call or Zoom session. I’ve got this – and you. Let me help you have a big impact in your health and fitness.

Food Addiction is Real, But You Can Heal

So many people, including health care professionals like doctors and therapists, deny that food addiction is real. I’m here to say to you that they’re wrong. I struggled with food addiction for 38 years of my life. I’m only 45 so you do the math. I was not food addicted as a very young child nor have I been in the last two years since my surgery.

Food Addiction in Action

To me, obesity is a mental and physical disease. People use food to cope just like drug addicts use drugs or alcoholics use alcohol. Food becomes their coping mechanism. Whenever they have an uncomfortable feeling, a food addict eats. They are trying to mask their pain so that they can feel better again.

It’s true that certain foods like simple carbs (found in cake, cookies, brownies, etc.) can help to boost serotonin and dopamine, which are feel-good chemicals, for a short period of time. So, in essence, these types of foods can be a form of medicine for the person who needs more significant help in finding coping mechanisms to deal with their pain.

Unfortunately, as time goes on, more and more food is needed to get the same boost. You go from a single brownie to a plate of brownies to get the same ‘high’, and your weight balloons up to a point that’s out of control.

My Struggle with Food Addiction

The food addict has become significantly obese. Usually, they are morbidly obese. Me, I was at a 68 BMI. That’s off the charts. I had learned to eat my way up to 400 lbs. I became a weight gaining machine. My body was out of whack. My metabolism didn’t know what to do. I would diet and lose a little bit of weight, never anything significant. Then, I’d gain it back plus some. It was very frustrating.

People thought I wasn’t trying to change my situation, but I was. It hurt and I took a lot of that negativity in. It only caused me more pain, which led to some serious bingeing. I was stuck in a vicious cycle, one that I didn’t know how to get out of.

Overcoming Food Addiction is Not Easy

I had a lap band in 2010. I thought it would ‘fix’ me. I did lose a significant amount of weight. However, I had problems with the device from the get go. Three years passed – and a lot of doctor’s visits – before I finally gave in and had it removed. By this time, I realized I needed help with figuring out why I ate. I knew there was a reason, but I couldn’t figure out what it was.

I began working with Alexa Sparkman. She’s a nutritionist in Austin, Texas, who runs a support group called Overcoming Mind Hunger. I went through the introductory group on three different occasions and worked one on one with Alexa. The first time I went through the group, I did not want to be there. I was only able to keep down pudding and yogurt with my failed lap band and I was pissed off.

I did read a lot of the books Alexa had on her shelves. I loved the Geneen Roth books about emotional eating and how to overcome it by eating intuitively. I didn’t believe I could have this life with eating what I wanted and not gaining weight. I didn’t believe or trust that my body would return to its normal weight on its own.

The Turning Point

At some point, I began to realize that I could do what others had done and begin to intuitively eat. I learned about physical vs. physiological hunger. This was key to me. I didn’t know about it. Alexa patiently waited until I got it – sometime around the third time I was in her support group and after we had down some significant work together.

I realized that there are no good or bad foods. When I though that way, food was either a punishment or a reward. I needed to get my mind in place. My body had regained the weight I had lost with the lap band. I was upset, but knew I needed to figure this shit out or I would never lose weight again.

Finally, I decided to have the second weight loss surgery in June of 2017. It was not an easy decision and I kind of fought it. I thought I could figure out how to lose weight for good on my own. Then, I hurt my knee really bad. They thought I needed surgery. In order to get insurance approval, I needed to get down to a 40 BMI.

The only way I could do that was to have another weight loss surgery. I was reluctant to say the least, but Alexa assured me that I was a different person and that I would be successful this time.

The Outcome

Alexa was right, as usual. I have lost over 175 lbs to date. I exercise daily and I eat intuitively. I know when I’m hungry and I know when I’m full. I do NOT count calories and I eat what I want. What I want has changed significantly, however. I do not crave cookies although I still eat them occasionally. You can make room in your life for the foods you used to think were bad…just not everyday and certainly not to cope with your feelings.

I feed by body, not my mind or soul. You can learn to do the same. Get the information you need to overcome food addiction with my Intuitive Eating Education package. Invest in yourself and let me help.

Diets Don’t Work

I know that many people don’t look at obesity as a mental and physical disorder. However, from my own personal experiences, I believe it is. Obese people are not lazy or gluttonous. Many of us are actively trying to diet and exercise on a regular basis. We know the ins and outs of diets better than anybody, but, guess what?

Diets don’t work. Lifestyle changes do.

Obese people are fighting a losing battle. The system is stacked against us. The diet industry is worth billions. There is always a new fad out there that promises to help you lose weight for good. The truth is that a diet is set up as a temporary fix. It doesn’t help you make long-term behavior changes. People stay on course for a little while and then plan to get off the diet plan. They usually go back to their old ways and regain the weight, sometimes plus some, after they go off their diet.

That’s a shame.

The dieting mindset is not a winning mindset. It sets you up for temporary success. Diets are also usually unreasonable, long-term eating plans. For example, Atkins was a plan that was very popular at one point. People discovered that by eating low-carb and high fat, that they could lose weight through a process called ketosis. However, when they added in carbs again, they gained the weight back or, through the deprivation process, they craved more carbs.

Once they reintroduced them into their plans, they went crazy and overate rather than practicing moderation. They found themselves back at square one and deemed Atkins a failure. Atkins, however, is not a sustainable plan. After about six months of it, you can do damage to your heart and kidneys as a cardiologist friend of mine told me.

Why would someone want to go through that just to lose weight?

Well, people will do just about anything to get rid of excess weight. Excess weight is considered sinful in our society. On one hand, we are encouraged to eat high fat, high simple carbohydrate food – hey, if you think I’m wrong, just watch TV in the evenings and tell me how many commercials for fruits and vegetables you see. On the other, we are told that we must be a certain size or weight.

For example, keto is very popular right now. So many people are on it. I avoid fads and eat intuitively. As a result, my body is returning to homeostasis. I am at a weight that’s fairly comfortable and I appreciate all that I’ve done and learned about physical versus physiological hunger. I know when I’m truly hungry and I eat only until I’m full.

I don’t have to count calories or watch everything I eat. I love complex carbs and am a gluten-free vegetarian. I love food and eat the foods that love me back. Everyone has different foods that do that for them.

As a life coach, I will help you get off the diet roller-coaster. Are you ready to give up dieting and be successful in your weight loss efforts? Great! Work with me today. Set up an appointment for your free consultation at

My Superpower Challenge – The Bipolar Badass

I saw the Captain Marvel movie on opening weekend. I’m a big fan of superhero films. I’ve seen almost all of them. I’m also a comic book geek. Yup! I’m one of those. I adore origin stories and didn’t really know much about Captain Marvel until I saw the film. I thoroughly enjoyed it. She’s a true badass and I respect that. She’s also superpowerful and well, this got me thinking about a conversation I had recently with a friend of mine.

Dr. Ryan J. Schoenbeck, my favorite Ryan next to Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool to you comic movie nerds like me), is a life coach, the president of my local ICF chapter and a good friend. He’s very kind and generous. Not surprisingly, he runs a leadership coaching practice at Almost every time we talk, he says something that just knocks me off my feet. I used to think that was hard to do. Apparently, it’s not.

For those of you who are not aware, I struggle with bipolar disorder. I was diagnosed about ten years ago at the age of 35 and had been living my life without medication for the major portion of it. I had gotten to a point of comfort with the condition and had thought I was coping with it rather well. Then, I had weight loss surgery and something went awry.

I had more problems sleeping and getting regulated. I was rapid cycling which meant that my moods would shift day to day and sometimes within the same day. It’s not normal for a mid-life patient with bipolar disorder to do that. It’s much more common for teens and young adults.

My psychiatrist and I had a difficult time pinpointing what was going wrong. We’d tried med changes and sleeping meds and even PTSD medication. I do have significant trauma from a difficult childhood. You’ll have to read all about that in my book, which I’m currently writing.

I also have a lot of anger and built up sadness/depression which I used to soothe by eating. I’m also anxious by nature and the sugar I used to crave when I was fat helped numb me to my feelings. The overeating was a coping mechanism that helped me deal with the truth that is my life.

I don’t want you to think that I’m a victim or that I don’t see the beauty in life. Things have been rough, but I know I’m fortunate. I have a good husband, good children, a good dog and a lovely home to live in. I have a career that I adore, friends who love me and so much more. I am blessed truly.

However, I often feel cursed by my bipolar disorder, especially in the past two years. I’ve seen it as anything but a good thing. However, in comes Ryan. After yet another night of little to no sleep, we connected on Instant Messenger and he asked me how I was. I told him I was sick of being bipolar.

I usually don’t use any form of the verb ‘to be’ in respect to my illness. I am NOT my disorder. I have a disorder, but it was getting hard not to over-identify with it. I’d been dealing with it so much as of late. Ryan had never really heard me talk much about my illness. I like to keep it from people. I find that they don’t often understand, or they think less of me because I have an illness. It’s not always the case, but it’s happened enough for me to be wary of who I tell. To be honest, I’m kind of nervous sharing with you online.

Ryan was very kind to me. He challenged me to look at my dis-ease as a blessing, not a curse. He said that having bipolar disorder was sort of like having a ‘superpower’. He told me that I had such a natural creative energy and the ability to see projects through. He encouraged me to think of it as an evolutionary adaptation, perhaps one that could make me better, stronger and healthier in the long run.

Wow! I was shocked. He floored me. I was in tears. He didn’t know that, but then he challenged me to consider bipolar disorder as my superpower for the entire month of March. I promised him I would and I have been.

As a result, I’ve been kinder and gentler with myself and others. I’ve been able to see the beauty in the illness. I’m starting to sleep better and feel less stressed overall. I still have bouts of creativity, but they come in waves. When I’m not feeling creative, I don’t sweat it. When my energy is low, I relax and let it flow again. I’m taking better care of myself. I am eating right, exercising and relaxing more. I am reading books that give me joy and spending more time with my family. I am balancing my work and business life.

It’s not a cure all, but it helps to see my illness as a superpower. Maybe I’m not Captain Marvel, but I’m a Bipolar Badass and that’s a pretty good thing. I encourage you to look at your life, see what’s most challenging to you and turn it on its head. I’m happy to work with you if you need it. I’d love to help you define your superpower so you can set the world on fire too.

Are you ready? Call me at 512-484-7634 and we’ll get started today.

The Four Agreements – Always Do Your Best

Image result for always do your best

The fourth of the Four Agreements is “Always do your best.” For many of us, it seems simple enough because we’ve been told to do our best our entire lives. However, what does doing your best mean?
People have different definitions of that, don’t they?

For me, doing your best means that you put your full effort and attention into something. You don’t take it for granted. You work hard to ensure that you see the project or relationship through to its conceivable ending and then do any follow up afterwards.

To me, doing your best also means owning up to and correcting any mistakes you may make along the way. Mistakes are a part of life, but handling them with maturity, grace and integrity takes some doing. It’s difficult to master.

Personally, I don’t like to make mistakes. It makes me feel bad about myself. I like to put my best effort in and feel upset when I do something wrong. This is something I need to work on as a human being and a coach. I am not perfect. I am not guru. Anyone who tells you they are probably isn’t.

However, I do try to live my life as best as I can. I put a lot of effort into my workouts, my eating plan, self-care activities, my family and my friendships, but not necessarily in that order. I also engage in a myriad of professional and volunteer activities to keep myself busy and active. I give back to my community.

I do not attend church. I don’t think it’s necessary. As for my relationship with a Higher Power, I’m still working on it. I’m not sure why I mentioned that but it seems fitting in this area. I grew up Catholic and well, we were taught to always put in a lot of effort no matter what.

Sometimes, this can lead a person to perfectionism. It did for me. Nothing was ever good enough. I never felt like I was doing my best even when I was. So, for me, doing your best is a work in progress. I have to learn to be comfortable with the discomfort of knowing that I can make mistakes. We all can. I have to accept and own them and move on.

Doing your best means that you try as hard as you can to be a good citizen of the world, your community and your circle of influence which includes family and friends. It’s an all-inclusive thing, a mindset if you will.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my take on The Four Agreements. I’d love to hear your opinions on this article or any other one that I’ve written. Feel free to visit my Facebook community at I’d love to have you join in our conversation online.

The Four Agreements – Don’t Make Assumptions

The third of the Four Agreements is very difficult to master. It requires that you don’t make assumptions when communicating and interacting with others. The fact is that most people operate on a very assumptive level. We assume all the time. I remember a friend once said – and I’m sure she was quoting someone else – that when you ASSUME, you make an “ASS” out of “U” and “ME”. I’ve found that statement to be rather profound.

What does it mean to make assumptions?

Making assumptions occurs when you infer meaning by what someone else says or does or even how they ‘are’. It’s a judgmental stance in many ways. It doesn’t come from a place of authenticity. Do you know how many times our judgments and assumptions are wrong? More often than not, to be honest. The truth is that we do not really ever know what’s going on in someone’s head. We don’t know what’s showing up for them in the moment or in their life. We are NOT in that other person’s shoes no matter how empathetic we think we are.

When you make an assumption, you are not in reality. Even if you’re right, you’re still not aligned with your highest self. You are jumping to conclusions which can be very dangerous for yourself or any relationship you have.

So, what do you do instead?

Communicate clearly. Tell the person what you’re thinking in a tactful and diplomatic manner. Check your assumption. Let them know that you’re feeling a certain way and allow them to tell you what their reality is. Really listen to their response and TAKE THEM AT FACE VALUE. If you can’t trust a person, then you shouldn’t be in relationship with them no matter whether it’s business or personal. It’s really that simple. Ask questions. If you don’t understand something someone said, don’t assume their intent or meaning, get the facts. It’s always better to be in truth than out of it.

How can you apply the Third Agreement to your life?

The Third Agreement – Don’t Make Assumptions – is one you should probably make a priority. It will help clear up any communication difficulties you have with people. You can apply it by asking questions and stating what you want clearly. I know that it can be hard to ask for what you want, especially if you’re not sure what it is you want. So, get clear on what you want out of your communications before you have them. It requires a little thought and effort, but it’s well worth it.

If you can learn how not to make assumptions, you will feel much better and have better relationships in your personal and professional life. Good luck!