Using Star Ratings to Collect Feedback via Email

Article first published October 2013, updated May 2019

Businesses rely heavily on the support of their customers to continue bringing in revenue. For the customers to keep coming back, it’s vital that they remain happy and pleased with the brand’s product or services. One of the easiest ways to ensure customer and subscriber happiness is by asking for their feedback.

Customer and subscriber feedback are essential for a brand to grow and retain its positive standing amongst competitors. Not only does it provide valuable insight into what the customer approves of and doesn’t approve of, but it can also help business improve on their services and products.

Businesses can then leverage that feedback to improve their services, helping to increase overall customer satisfaction (and likely resulting in better overall conversions).

How do I get feedback from customers?

Fortunately, asking for feedback isn’t all that difficult. Read on to learn more about getting valuable feedback from your customers or subscribers.

Asking for feedback via email

In our digital age, one of the most commonly asked questions regarding customer feedback is: how do you ask for feedback in an email?

There are lots of ways to go about asking for customer feedback in an email campaign:

Customer feedback surveys

Traditionally, most brands go straight for a feedback survey because it allows users to go into more detail about what they like and don’t like. Brands can then take this information and apply it to their marketing strategy to improve customer satisfaction.

Utilizing incentives for feedback

Including incentives in your feedback email campaigns is a great way to encourage users to share their thoughts and opinions. Not only does the feedback email show you care about what they think, but it also shows your customer that you respect their time and effort by rewarding them with a special offer.

Not only does the feedback email show you care about what they think, but it also shows your customer that you respect their time and effort by rewarding them with a special offer.

Source: Pinterest

Lead users to social media reviews

Including links on your social media pages is another great way to get your customers to give their feedback in a more public setting. This does involve a little extra time on the part of the consumer. However, by asking your customers for their opinions, you’re proving that you’re looking out for their needs and looking to provide the best services or products for them, so they’ll usually be more than happy to leave you a review on one or more of your social media profiles.

asking your customers for their opinions, you’re proving that you’re looking out for their needs and looking to provide the best services or products for them, so they’ll usually be more than happy to leave you a review on one or more of your social media profiles.

Source: Really Good Emails

Star ratings

Using your email campaigns to collect subscriber feedback doesn’t necessarily have to involve the process of creating lengthy surveys. Instead, you can try adding a simple star rating to gauge satisfaction on anything from recent purchases to customer service experiences.

How do I draft a feedback email?

After a customer suggested that we look into how to collect user reviews, we thought we’d experiment with star ratings by linking up a rating “form” in an HTML email with a service for collecting such reviews, like NiceReply. Star ratings seem to work best, as they’re simpler to implement than forms, don’t require any text input, and can be adapted to use your iconography (e.g., smiley faces or hearts instead of stars). They’re also fairly frictionless—all a subscriber has to do is click on a star in an email and confirm their selection on a pre-filled form.

After checking out a couple of lightweight, CSS-only options for the star ratings, we found one that did the job, adapted it for email, then got it working with two popular services.

Just as the concept is pretty simple, thankfully, so is the code that we came up with—and you don’t need a lot of coding experience to make it work in your email campaigns. But first, it’s important to find a way to collect and measure your star ratings before they start rolling in.

Choosing a service for collecting feedback

The first step is to choose a service for gathering ratings. As we already use an adapted version of NiceReply for collecting feedback on our support team, we know we can count on their simple star rating forms and reporting. But you can also use five-star rating fields in a Wufoo form to do the same thing. Both services make it possible to pre-fill their forms by appending a URL, so all a subscriber has to do is click a link and then confirm that they’re happy with the rating.

Here’s an example of a NiceReply stock-standard star rating page:

Once you have an account with them, you should be able to setup a page like this and start collecting feedback.

To pre-fill the star rating, all you need to do is append the page’s URL with /?s= and your rating. For example, to link to the page and assign a rating of 5/10 stars, the URL would be something like:

Hang on to this URL, as we’ll need this for later.

Adding star ratings to your email

The most suitable star ratings form we could find was Chris Coyier’s “Star ratings with very little CSS.” Not only is the CSS used fairly straightforward, but it doesn’t require images or any other external assets, making it very lightweight too. Here’s the code and an example, adapted for email.

If you look at the code, you’ll see that each star is linked to the NiceReply form and appended with a pre-filled value. Clicking on a star predictably opens up the form in the default browser, where the subscriber can submit their rating.

How about email client support?

Once added to your email campaign, these star ratings work across all email clients. However, there’s variation in how the stars are highlighted, either when you hover over them or tap your star rating of choice.

While, in many email clients, selecting the 4th star from the left results in 4 stars lighting up, webmail clients are particularly problematic. In Yahoo! Mail and Gmail, no stars light up at all; however, in, only the selected star is highlighted.

On the upside, selected ratings are persistent in iOS Mail, meaning that, when you tap the 4th star, 4 stars will be highlighted until you make another selection. This variation comes down to each email client’s support for CSS properties and attribute selectors. In particular, :hover. So be sure to check what email clients your subscribers are using primarily before you apply this technique.

Wrap up

Many thanks to cool customer Ben Carver for inspiring these star ratings. We hope to see them being used in email campaigns, such as post-purchase autoresponders.

When your marketing team is planning out your customer feedback email campaign, remember to consider the following:

Utilize surveys for more detailed feedback
Include incentives for sharing thoughts
Simple star ratings make feedback simple for customers
Don’t neglect social media reviews

Remember, the goal a feedback email should be to give your consumers a voice and allow them to guide you into bettering your product or service for the future. Once you’ve gotten the feedback and have implemented it into your business strategy, you should see an increase in overall customer satisfaction, along with an increase in overall conversions.

Ready to create gorgeous email campaigns that will get your business results? Let Campaign Monitor help. Request your free trial today.

The post Using Star Ratings to Collect Feedback via Email appeared first on Campaign Monitor.

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A Comedian Asked Elizabeth Warren For Help With Her Love Life, & Liz’s Response Was Gold

One Democratic presidential candidate seems to have a detailed policy proposal for just about everything and there’s seemingly more coming on something you’d never expect. A comedian asked Sen. Elizabeth Warren for help with her love life, probably as joke,and she just might get it. No word on whether there will be public points on Medium, though, or if the solution will remain between the two.

Ashley Nicole Black, a comedian and former writer for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, tweeted the request on Saturday. "Do you think Elizabeth Warren has a plan to fix my love life?" she asked.

On Sunday, Warren’s candidate account responded, "DM me and let’s figure this out." Already the response has been liked 30,000 times. The message fits with one of her campaign’s selling points to supporters, that Warren has a plan for everything. T-shirts being sold by the campaign read, "Warren has a plan for that," and the issues section of her website reads more like an encyclopedia than the typical collection of bullet points.

Plans for tackling student loan debt, ending drilling on public lands, and taxing the wealthy have all garnered the Massachussets Democrat headlines in national press, setting her apart at least in terms of policy specifics from other candidates. Her typical announcement also comes in the form of a long-form media post with her byline on it; often there’s a video released at the same time for social media.

Quote tweeting Warren, Black acknowledged the response, to put it lightly. "We stan a Queen. Nay, a PRESIDENT," she wrote in her first tweet. "I am deceased. And ready to welcome new love in my life. And then get our new pres elected," she added in another tweet with the hashtag #shehasaplan and a photo of the exchange.

Warren’s latest plan, on abortion, graced Black’s timeline earlier in the week. Warren laid out ways to protect abortion access in response to the recent spate of abortion bans in Republican-controlled states. The most recent, in Alabama, does not include exceptions even for cases of incest or rape. According to BuzzFeed News, supporters of the bills reportedly all have the same goal in mind, to challenge Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion across the country in 1973.

"Congress should pass new federal laws that protect access to reproductive care from right-wing ideologues in the states," Warren wrote in her Medium piece. "Federal laws that ensure real access to birth control and abortion care for all women. Federal laws that will stand no matter what the Supreme Court does."

As Warren explains in her piece, federal law preempts state law and would therefore invalidate the legislation recently passed, without any court injunction. Warren wrote that laws should be written that prohibit states from prevent medical providers from providing care and patients from accessing abortions.

"When I was growing up, long before Roe, people still got abortions," Warren wrote. "Some were lucky. Others werent. They all went through hell."

Given Black’s tweets about abortion in recent days and the fact that she shared it this might have been her favorite policy paper. Until Warren’s response, that is.

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4 Ways to Know Your Goals Are Too Small  

how to know if a goal is too small

When deciding on long- and short-term goals, perhaps the Goldilocks and the Three Bears fable best exemplifies a healthy process.

If you aim too high, not attaining them can be too hot.

Aim too low, and your motivation could get cold.

Setting the best goals for your needs is a lot like serving porridge, it needs to be just right.

That being said, there is no right recipe or perfect temperature that works for everyone.

Goals, like porridge, is not a one type fits all product. The happy medium goal for each of us can be vastly different from that of others.

Although one common way of thinking is to avoid overreach, aiming too small can also be problematic.

Consider these ways to identify goals that are lacking in some sense.

1. Your Goals Do Not Challenge Your Abilities

Striving for improvement, achievement and success are inherently difficult.

The underlying idea about setting and reaching life goals is that these things take effort.

Making a hardboiled egg requires putting water in a pan, turning on the stove, dropping in an egg and waiting.

The little feeling that occurs during the egg-boiling process hardly sets your blood coursing through your veins.

Small, everyday duties do not inspire us or push our limits in the slightest.

When your goals do not ask you to work harder, maintain a laser focus or get the blood pumping, it’s important to aim a tad higher.

A healthy goal forces us a little out of our comfort zone.

2. Your Goals Do Not Create Substantial Life Change

Consider a goal of increasing your wealth by 1 percent or taking a 10-day vacation over last year’s one-week getaway.

Such modest changes would hardly result in a significant improvement on the financial or leisure fronts. That’s because they are not even remotely game changers.

Robust goals take your current situation and enhance it to a noticeable level.

For example, a 5-percent income boost might help you build a deck, purchase a new car or travel to a faraway tropical island for a dream vacation.

A 10-percent uptick could do even more.

While money and leisure are among the more common tangible measures, vibrant goals result in a life change that you experience on a personal level.

Goals that don’t impact you in a meaningful fashion are often too small.

3. Your Goals Do Not Inspire You

If you have ever played sports or competed in some manner, the feeling that the game is on the line is a moment of pure passion.

You want to win and so do others. You all feel amped, and life goals should be no different.

This is not to say that everyday people need to try out for the NFL to gain a high level of motivation.

But inspirational goals garner your focus and call on your inner self to focus and stay on task.

They have a pull that draws your attention and makes you want to achieve.

One of the indicators that a goal is too small trails back to your lack of enthusiasm.

4. Your Goal Lacks Specific Details

The idea of getting more fit or earning more money sounds great.

It may even look good as one sentence on a piece of paper in a fortune cookie sort of way.

But serious goals include some level of detail that underscore your determination to reach them.

Take the example of losing 10 pounds in the upcoming year.

A general idea is fine, but specifics about dietary changes, exercise regimens, and other essential details about how to get from today to the day you earn the win are often necessary.

Such information also helps hold your feet to the fire, so to speak.

Without details, details, details, your goal may be too small.

When developing a committed action plan to set and achieve goals, it’s important that your expectations are realistic, substantial efforts are required, and you are fully invested.

There’s no reason your porridge should be too hot or too cold.

Not sure where to start? Download my SMART Goals Template below and take the right steps towards achieving all of your goals!

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Redefining success in health and fitness coaching. How 7 coaches are rethinking their careers & how you can too.

“Success” in coaching used to mean a nice roster of ~30 in-person clients, full ownership of your practice, and a net profit that afforded you a vacation or two a year. These days, health and fitness coaches are ditching the cookie cutter definitions and building businesses their own way. Here are 7 inspiring coaches who are redefining success in health and fitness coaching and how you can too.


“Making it” as a fitness and health coach used to be pretty straightforward.

“Success” meant having a steady stream of clients knocking on your door, and making enough money to easily pay the bills, live comfortably, and take your family on vacation from time to time.

But, lately, we’ve noticed that health and fitness coaches are getting more creative with their definition of “success”. They’re building their businesses to support specific personal and professional goals.

Everything from: building a practice that allows them to work from anywhere in the world (even amazing, exotic locations), to setting flexible work hours so they can hang out more with their children or pursue other hobbies and interests, to working with specific groups that are most meaningful to them because of past experiences or future aspirations.

It’s awesome to watch.

That’s why we decided to ask a few of our ProCoaches:

What does success look like for you?
And how are you achieving it?

Their stories were so good — so inspiring — that I wanted to share them with you today. They might even help you re-define what success means for you.


Success is… living life on your own terms.

Daniel Hennessey is living the dream.

Thailand, Costa Rica, California… Dan travels around the world with his business partner and fiancé, Wendy, while coaching fitness and nutrition online (and creating an enviable Instagram while he’s at it).

Dan used to live his life on the gym floor (or sitting in traffic on the long commute to work.) But after years as a trainer and gym owner, he finally said to himself, “what am I doing?”

The truth is, life in the gym just wasn’t for him. He wanted to be in the outdoors. To travel. To seek out new perspectives on life, and new ways of being healthy.

Most of all, “I wanted to do things my own way.”

Dan took the plunge. He sold his possessions and embraced the minimalist life, traveling with just a backpack. Meanwhile, he established a new business for himself as an online coach.

Now, at 30, Dan focuses on people who he feels are better served by online, rather than in-person coaching — such as busy moms, or people who feel intimidated by the mere thought of setting foot in a gym.

“With online coaching, a lot more people can have access to this thing called health, and I can coach you while sitting at home.”

How he does it:
Dan uses Procoach to deliver online nutrition coaching. At the higher-end, his services are priced at $200/month; at the lower-end, he offers a “90 day for 90 dollars” program that helps people get started.

Dan’s advice:
“All that really matters is this: What do you want to do, and why? What gives you joy and purpose? Whatever it is, go after it. There’s more to life than living scared.”

Success is… making coaching accessible and inclusive.

Ten years ago, Jon Mills walked into a martial arts studio where he was introduced to a simple mantra: “Anyone who is willing to put in the work is welcome here.”

Unfortunately, he began to notice this approach didn’t seem to apply across the board in health, fitness, or martial arts. Many people were being excluded, especially those from low-income backgrounds. And some, such as LGBTQ folks, found that gyms and studios could be downright hostile.

Today, Jon, 30, offers personal training, martial arts, and mindfulness coaching, and he provides online nutrition coaching through Procoach.

His mission: Make coaching welcoming for anyone.

Jon focuses on providing an inclusive, safe coaching experience for everyone, especially queer and trans clients. And he invites folks with lower incomes to pay what they can — or even train for free.

It might sound crazy, but for Jon, it works.

“The funny thing is, not only am I helping others, it’s working as a business. I’ve learned that people will give what they can, when they can. And they’ll definitely refer you. Plus, because of how I work, I have no competition. My referrals come from the community.”

Jon’s approach is people-focused. “I don’t worry about getting money, and I just concentrate on helping folks,” says Jon. “I’ve come to realize that this isn’t just an ideal, but something that can be fulfilling and sustainable.”

How he does it:
Jon uses Patreon, an online donation service, to collect donations. Clients who can afford to pay do so, and if they wish, add donations to pay for those who can’t afford it. Jon offers his nutrition coaching services through Procoach to both in-person and exclusively online clients.

Jon’s words of advice:
“There’s a lot of stuff in the fitness industry that will tell you to fit a mold. But being yourself is the key to being a great coach, because that’s how people will connect with you. You have to embrace who you are.”

Success is… turning your job into your dream career.

As a Registered Dietician working in a clinic alongside doctors in Kitchener, Ontario, Irene Pace had started to notice something important: Certain clients don’t seem to get the results they want through the health system’s traditional model of nutrition care.

“Whether it was the psychology of my coaching or the system itself, I just couldn’t provide what they needed. I remember one client in particular who I worked with over a couple of years. Despite my best efforts, her health declined, and her weight went up. I failed to help her.”

Irene thought to herself, “I have to do better.”

So recently, at 40, Irene decided to do a deep dive into the art of nutrition coaching. She got her PN Level 1 Certification, and in time, became an assistant coach at PN.  And she’s continued to strengthen her skills with the Level 2 Certification.

Now, Irene has added ProCoach to her RD services — and is seeing the kinds of results she had always hoped to witness.  Her clients are surpassing their ‘stuckness’ like they never did before.

“Using this platform, clients can communicate with me on an ongoing basis. They can reach out whenever they feel stuck instead of waiting weeks for an appointment… Having regular contact with clients throughout their change process instead of intermittent visits adds up to big change. It seems magical.”

Irene is feeling the reward of seeing her clients succeed. At the same time, she’s also able to prioritize her family and spend time with her three children.

The result: Irene is building a career that is both personally and professionally rewarding, in a way she never thought possible.

How she does it:
Irene started using ProCoach with a ‘test group’ of friends and family paying $35/month. With the test round done, she launched another cohort paying $50/month. She’s now working on her plans for her next cohort launch of full-paying clients, as she continues to build her business, and find her niche.

Irene’s advice:
“We all come into coaching with many transferable skills. Don’t ever discount the unique things you can bring to the table. There’s something from the experience you’ve had, whether it’s a previous job or your life, that can make you a better coach — if you let it.”

Success is… creating a gym that’s so much more than a gym.

Michael Espinosa runs a gym… but it’s so much more than that.

In addition to in-person training (with a focus on strength/conditioning and Olympic weightlifting), Michael also offers nutrition coaching through ProCoach for free, to any members who want it.

According to Mike, 33, ProCoach adds an important element to the in-person coaching experience: “It allows me to connect better with clients and teach them things like mindset and body awareness… things you can’t think about between your clean and jerk.”

Notably, the gym runs as a non-profit, with the goal of creating an integrated, accessible community. Middle and high school students get free training; university students get a discounted rate.

In addition, the gym boasts a community garden, “so that kids can see what broccoli or radish looks like when it’s growing,” and a small outdoor calisthenics park that’s free to the public.

Why give so much stuff away for free? Michael says it comes down to his core values.

“Justice is one of my values. The area we’re in has seen a lot of injustice. This is my way of tipping the scales. I provide a safe space for people to work out together, and make it a diverse community. Families, professors, university students, kids in the neighborhood, anyone is welcome here.”

How he does it:
Those who can afford it pay a monthly membership fee ($144 for adults; $100 for students), which fund the gym. Michael acknowledges that it’s not a lucrative business. For him, the success lies in having a positive impact on the community and changing people’s lives — things he strongly values.

Michael’s advice:
“Be unapologetically aware of what you’re doing and why. Do some honest reflection with yourself. And keep learning and growing; flowing water never goes stale.”

Success is… helping people build stronger communities.

“The last thing you want to talk about is nutrition when you’re standing on the roof of your house.”

After seeing the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey, A’Tondra, 35, decided she didn’t just want to help people get healthier, she wanted to help them get stronger so they could serve their communities better.

To do that, A’Tondra made the choice to serve a smaller group of people, some in-person and some online. She tailored her services to provide a high degree of personalized attention and accountability, and to help her clients develop their own support systems.

“I’ve learned that when a person feels supported, they’re able to find purpose. And that makes everything better not only for themselves, but for all the people in their life.”

At first, reducing her number of clients was scary. But after the first year, “I had fewer clients but had nearly tripled my income. Plus, I was having a bigger impact on my clients.”

A’Tondra has watched her clients not only get healthier and stronger, but also give more back to their work, families, and neighborhoods.

At the same time, she’s able to spend more time with her own community, especially her family. “I have four children, and I’m able to make all their science competitions, basketball games and chess tournaments. That means a lot to me.”

How she does it:
For three months of in-person exercise, nutrition, and lifestyle coaching, A’Tondra charges $3,500 for individuals and $6,800 per couple, upfront. (She finds that couples who train together tend to support each other well.) Online clients, who she serves through ProCoach, pay approximately half the in-person price.

A’Tondra’s advice:
“Learn to appreciate what’s good about where you’re at. It can be easy to think you need hundreds of clients, people banging down your door to work with you. But with fewer clients, I make a bigger impact on them, it’s better for me financially, and I own my time.”

Success is… loving what you do, and earning a good living at it.

Living and working just steps away from the beach, Christie Miller has something many people aspire to: She truly loves what she does for a living — and she makes good money at it.

Not only is she passionate about health and fitness, she’s able to coach at a price point that is financially rewarding. As a result, “I wake up every morning and think… ‘I get to do this for a living — and get paid for it?’.”

Christie, 53, wasn’t an overnight success. After a number of different careers, she started her online coaching business — only to be met with frustration and stacks of bills.

(In fact, after her second year of business, the IRS came calling; they didn’t believe anyone could lose that much money. But she had.)

But after a few years, Christie identified her ideal clientele, and that made all the difference. Now, she helps “ambitious women who want to lose weight and play to win in all aspects of their lives.”

For this type of client, a higher price point was more effective. It attracted the kind of dedicated, driven clients she was looking for: people who were determined to get results and willing to pay for it.

Christie’s income absolutely exploded: By the second quarter of year three, she earned $57,789 — more than she made in the first two years of her business combined.

How she does it:
Christie incorporates ProCoach into her six-month group program and reaches women all over Europe, North America, and even Dubai. New clients are offered this program at $597 a month. After the initial six months, some clients are invited to continue for another six.

Christie’s advice:
“Be polarizing. Know exactly who your target audience is, and who they aren’t. It can be scary and can be a rollercoaster ride sometimes. But it’s absolutely worth it.”

Success is… helping women take back their health and empowerment.

Once upon a time, Stephanie Hinders found herself in an abusive relationship. Once she managed to get out, and get healthy (with support from her community at a local gym), she made it her mission to help other women take back control over their own lives too.

“I thought to myself, ‘Why did I go through all of that, if not to use the experience to help others?’.”

Today, 29-year-old Stephanie provides a combination of in-person and online coaching services to help women who feel disempowered regain their health, strength and self-confidence.

Seeing the changes in her clients is incredibly meaningful to Stephanie.

“I’m able to see clients go from berating themselves to celebrating their own progress. They find the light on the other side of the tunnel. They regain their confidence, mentally, physically, and emotionally. It’s hard to describe how much that means to me.”

How she does it:
Stephanie has been training people in a local gym in Powell, Ohio, for more than four years. This past year, she added ProCoach services, beginning with an offer of three months free, in exchange for feedback. Stephanie is currently working on implementing a new pricing structure, and expanding her online client base. She’s pregnant and is excited that ProCoach will allow her to continue coaching with a flexible schedule when her new baby arrives.

Stephanie’s advice:
“Be truthful to your own story. It can be intimidating when you look at other coaches, and easy to second guess yourself. You might look around and think ‘maybe I should be doing it like that.’ But you know your own reasons for doing what you do, and it’s important to remember that.”

Ready to build a thriving coaching practice?

Tested with over 100,000 clients now, Precision Nutrition’s ProCoach makes it easy to deliver the sustainable, research-proven nutrition and lifestyle coaching discussed in this article to anyone who needs it… from paying clients and patients, to family, to co-workers, to loved ones.

Want to coach in-person? Online? A combination of the two? Whatever fits your ideal lifestyle, it’s all possible with ProCoach.

With the ProCoach curriculum, coaching tools, and software, you’ll be able to turn what you learned in the Precision Nutrition Certification into a thriving practice, getting better results with dozens, even hundreds, of people while working less and living life on your own terms.

Interested? Add your name to the presale list. You’ll save 30% and secure your spot 24 hours before everyone else.

On Wednesday, June 5th, 2019, ProCoach becomes available to all Precision Nutrition Certification students and graduates.

If you’re interested and want to find out more, I’d encourage you to join our presale list. Being on the presale list gives you two special advantages.

You’ll pay less than everyone else. At Precision Nutrition, we like to reward the most interested and motivated professionals, because they always make the best students and clients. Join the presale list and we’ll give you 30% off the monthly cost of Precision Nutrition’s ProCoach.

You’re more likely to get a spot. Remember, last time we sold out within hours. But by joining the presale list you’ll get the opportunity to register 24 hours before everyone else, increasing your chances of getting in.

If you’re ready to help more people live their healthiest lives, grow your business, and worry less about time and money… ProCoach is your chance.

The post Redefining success in health and fitness coaching. How 7 coaches are rethinking their careers & how you can too. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

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GGS Spotlight: Hilary Milsome

Name: Hilary Milsome
Age: 60
Location: Melbourne, Australia

What does it mean to you to be part of the GGS Community?
It’s wonderful to have a safe place to ask questions, share successes, or even vent. These women are wonderfully supportive, and my idea of what “strong” looks like has changed radically since being introduced to such a wide range of views and perspectives.

Strong is sometimes being physically able to lift stuff, sometimes able to keep going in the face of adversity, sometimes being able to support others, and maybe even being strong enough to ask for help when you need it.

In the GGS community, I see all these things and much more. Even though I’m on the opposite side of the world to the majority of the members, I feel like many of them are friends, perhaps one day some of us will meet “in the flesh!”

How long have you been strength training, and how did you get started?
I wasn’t sporty as a kid or teenager, always the short “fat” one. But although I have been a gym member on and off for the last 30 years, mainly going to classes, no one had ever managed to inspire me to strength train. Then, eight years ago, I “accidentally” took out a gym membership that came with three included personal training sessions (I went along for a sales pitch with no intention of joining). I was 52 and I described myself to friends and the sales guy as “old and slow.”

The personal trainer I was assigned was a young woman in her early 20s. Her compassion, empathy, support, caring, and encouragement set me on a wonderful path. I lost 18 kgs and found strength and mobility for the first time in my life.

But more than that, she gave me the belief that my body was capable of pretty much anything I put my mind to if I was prepared to work at it.


Favorite lift:
Deadlifts every time (although I do love a bit of kettlebell work).

Most memorable PR:
It’s not my current PR, but in my first year of strength training, my lovely trainer told me that when she saw me walk onto the gym floor she told another trainer I was going deadlift 50 kgs for the first time that day, the other trainer said “Who? Her? But she’s tiny!”

I was shocked that someone else thought it was a big achievement for me because I felt quite ordinary. I lifted that 50 kgs, and I’ve never forgotten the amazing feeling of success and I hold that memory close to remind me not to underestimate myself.

Top 5 songs on your training playlist:
I have eclectic music taste, mostly old school, so anything by Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Living End, Jethro Tull, Nirvana, Michael Jackson, and Cream are great. But I’m currently loving lots of Muse (the Drones album in particular) and P!nk.

Most memorable compliment you’ve received lately:
One of my own personal training clients recently Facebook posted a photo of our small group session with the post “Hilary understands us” — that was pretty awesome.

Most recent compliment you gave someone else:
I try all the time to let my personal training clients know that I love how hard they are working and the way they are challenging themselves to try new movements and new weights.

What do you do? 
I’ve been a self-employed bookkeeper for 18 years, which I have loved. But I qualified as a personal trainer two years ago and am slowly transitioning to work more as a trainer from my home studio, and doing less bookkeeping.

My passion is to help others discover the positive benefits of strength training, no matter what their physical starting point, age, or health conditions.

What else do you do?
I love spending time with my family, particularly my young grandkids (aged 2 & 4). They never fail to make me smile and warm my heart with the best hugs. Growing my own fruit & vegetables is very rewarding as well as being a great way to relax. I enjoy travel, both Australian & overseas, New Zealand is a favorite destination.

I also love to study and I’m currently studying GGS-1 which is fabulous. My original personal trainer qualifications didn’t go deeply enough into many aspects of being a trainer so I was excited when I saw the GGS-1 certificate offered and couldn’t wait to sign up. I haven’t been disappointed.

I love the fact that the first priority in the course addresses issues and attitudes that affect women in the gym and in life. I’ve finished the second part on nutrition and again it explores areas that weren’t even mentioned in my initial personal trainer course. I’ve started the section on exercise now and I love turning those pages or watching those videos — there’s always something new to learn.

Your next training goal:
My current personal trainer will be moving on to another career sometime soon, so my goal will be to self-train for the first time in my life. To start with, just being consistent and challenging myself will be the goal, more specific goals might come later!

Favorite way to treat yourself:
Nothing I like better than taking time to sit in the garden on a lovely day, with a good book and no thought of “I should be doing…”

Favorite quote:
There has to be more than one:

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” — Theodore Roosevelt

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” — Henry Ford

“If not now… when?”

Favorite book:
In non-fiction, The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris was life-changing for me. It helped me turn around a bout of anxiety that had been causing me problems for a few years and it gave me a new attitude to acceptance of who I am and where I’m at.

In fiction, I love to read so there are many. Dystopian books like The Handmaid’s Tale, 1984, and Brave New World are high on the list. And Australian novel Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey blew me away recently.

What inspires and motivates you?
I’m motivated by all the fabulous strong women I have been meeting in person and online since becoming involved in strength training and since joining GGS. They show me that so much is possible and there are so many new things to try.

I’m inspired by anyone who is committed to whatever they are doing, working hard and moving towards their goals.

And I’ve been close to family and quite a number of friends who have experienced life-changing illness, and I’m inspired by how they just get on with their life no matter what they have to deal with.

For what are you most grateful?
I have a wonderful family and friends who support and encourage me no matter what stage of my life I’m at. I am blessed to be able to share so much of my young grandchildren’s lives; it’s a privilege that not all grandparents are offered.

I’m also very grateful for a number of fabulous young women who have changed my life in many wonderful ways. Among them are my first trainer eight years ago who inspired me to honor and trust my body, my current trainer who has generously supported me as I develop my own skills as a personal trainer, and Molly Galbraith (who I met at the recent Women’s Fitness Summit in Melbourne) who has opened my eyes to so many positive and inclusive attitudes to women in particular, that I hadn’t encountered before.

And last, but certainly not least, I turned 60 last year and I’m grateful that at my stage of life I have all that I need to live a comfortable life, being able to make choices to do the things I enjoy.

Of what life accomplishment do you feel most proud?
I am proud that I didn’t just give in to feeling “old and slow” and stay on the couch, which would have been the easy option.

I hope I’m setting a good example for people around me, that it’s never too late to start looking after yourself both physically and mentally, and that it’s important to care for yourself before you can really care for others.

Tell us about a time when you overcame fear or self-doubt.
Definitely making the decision to study to be a personal trainer and then taking on clients was a big step for me. It was a struggle for me to believe that I had something to offer others. I’m not some lean, young marathon runner or competition weight lifter so I thought people would think “What does she know?”

But it seems that my clients are reassured that I understand where they are coming from. I love that I can work to motivate others and teach them that we can all be strong and healthy to the best of our ability and that it can look different for each of us.

How has lifting weights changed your life?
I feel strong and powerful, I can do so much more than I ever could before, and I love that I can play with and look after my grandkids without thinking about how I’ll cope running after them. I don’t groan when I get up off the couch or get out of bed in the morning (except for DOMS of course — lots of groaning then).

I’m reminded of how much I’ve gained when I see other people struggling to get up and down off the floor, having difficulty getting out of cars or chairs, or sitting on the sidelines instead of playing games with their kids or grandkids.

What’s the coolest “side effect” you’ve experienced from strength training?
Oh goodness, so many great “side effects.” Believing that being strong will help me move into this later phase of my life with the best health I can hope for, and seeing my body positively for all it can do. Oh yeah, and being able to cross the monkey bars in one go!

What do you want to say to other women who might be nervous or hesitant about strength training?
Give it a go. Find someone to help you get started, a person who really listens to you, helps you identify your goals, and is encouraging and supportive. Maybe find a small boutique gym, or a good personal trainer in a big gym, where you can have some private sessions to learn technique. If you feel that you know what you are doing, it can make all the difference when you head into the gym on your own. And don’t settle for a trainer who doesn’t treat you with respect or give you 100 percent of their attention in every session.


You can connect with Hilary and find out more about her on Facebook.

The post GGS Spotlight: Hilary Milsome appeared first on Girls Gone Strong.

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How To Make A Digital Detox Last, According To Science

The way social media validates our desire to be seen can be a double-edged sword. Sharing and feeling connected with others can be paired with the dopamine rush of their approval and discomfort if the likes don’t roll in. In order to combat that incredibly common letdown feeling, Instagram has begun to trial a ‘like-less’ feed, where people can’t compare their numbers of likes with other accounts, as part of an explicit focus on the mental health of their users. If fixes like that don’t go far enough for you, though, some experts recommend a full digital detox or reset in order to reframe your relationship with your phone entirely. But what happens when the week of your reset is over, and you can go back to your past scrolling habits? Science has some ideas on how to make the lessons of a digital reset stick.

Some aspects of social media can play into individual traumas or triggers. I was ordered (yep, ordered) off Twitter by my therapist when the comparisons with other people’s shiny achievements started to push my depression triggers. You don’t need to feel triggered in order to want to make a change, though. Studies have shown that social media can negatively impact body image, and that teenage girls and young women are particularly vulnerable to social media-induced depression. If you want to do a digital reset, here are some tips from science on how to make it stick.

,1. Monitor When & Why You Pull Out Your Phone

Most of us use social media apps on our phones. Blake Snow, author of Log Off: How To Stay Connected After Disconnecting, told Psychology Today that it can be helpful to monitor the situations where you feel the urge to pull out your phone and have a scroll. "I truly believe that keeping our phones in our pockets is one of the bravest things that any of us can do," he said.

Identifying the causes of your longing for social media and digital connection whether it’s loneliness, awkward situations, spare "bored" moments at the bus stop or just a default motion can help you figure out what you should target when you’re resetting. In those moments, if you want to stay off social media or your device, bring a book, do some meditation, or reject the need for any new stimulus at all and just, well, sit there and watch the world go by.

2. Count Your Checking Behaviors

Research in 2018 indicated for the first time that we often wildly underestimate the amount of time we spend checking or monitoring our phones. The reason? Our checking is unconscious. Looking idly at a phone for less than 15 seconds rarely registers with us as actually using our device, but it definitely counts overall.

If you want to track your phone usage in real time and reinforce your need for a detox, it might be a good idea to actually use a monitoring app. Apple’s Screen Time and Google’s Digital Well-Being dashboard are designed to show you how much time you’ve spent looking at things today. Looking at that data will show patterns of use and also provide evidence for the extent of your usage, even if it’s not conscious at all.

3. Consider A Vacation From Your Devices

Recently, a study in 2018 found, digital reset vacations have become vastly more popular; it’s called "digital-free tourism," and it’s kind of exactly what it sounds like. Many of us would benefit from a brief digital detox, even if we don’t need to or can’t detach from our devices for a long period because of work or family commitments, but we can shut our phones off when we’re out in the woods for the weekend.

4. Take Away All Notification Signals And Sounds

This is a very Pavlovian idea, but if you still need your phone for essential work but would really like to disconnect from checking social media, experts recommend that you remove the signals that your social media is sending.

"Every time you look at your phone, you don’t know what you’re going to find how relevant or desirable a message is going to be," psychologist David Greenfield told NPR in 2018. "So you keep checking it over and over again because every once in a while, there’s something good there."

Whenever we see a notification or hear the "ding" of a new text, we respond with a small dopamine-rush of pleasure and reward. Taking away those notifications social media apps can be set not to send you any removes the dopamine rush, and takes away your motivation to look at your screen.

5. Be Aware That Stress Might Make You Dive For Your Phone

Inbal Nahum-Shani of the University of Michigan, speaking at the Association for Psychological Science in 2016, noted that stress could get in the way of new habits even ones that we’ve worked on embedding in our lives. That goes for digital detoxes and staying off social media, too; when stressful situations hit, we can fall back on things we know, like checking our phones every 12 seconds. A lot of people know about stress-reduction strategies like breathing deeply and counting, but, she explained, "for various reasons, we fail to use the strategies as the stress occurs in real life.

There’s no one way to solve this, as stress can affect different people in different ways, but it’s worth being aware that success in a digital detox can go backwards when something tough or stressful happens, and being prepared with something else: a stress ball, a long walk, or cuddling a puppy, perhaps.

6. Have A Reset Plan

Technology researcher Joanna Orlando wrote for The Conversation in 2018 that preventing over-use of your phone or social media specifically requires being intelligent and having contingency plans: "Planning ahead may include setting specific times when you will or wont use your device in particular ways. It may involve making sure you have other options to avoid boredom, such as having a book with you when youre traveling or waiting for family members. A plan is important, as it facilitates goal attainment and also increases self-control."

To succeed in turning off long-term, you need to plan things day by day; changing habits is rarely instantaneous.

7. Consider Wholesale Deletion Or Suspension

Yep, that’s right going the whole hog and deleting all your apps, or at least drastically reducing your relationship with them. (I no longer check my Twitter feed, for example.) This method can have benefits. A study from Stanford in 2019 on nearly 3,000 Facebook users found that suspension of an account for a month could produce a "small but significant improvements in wellbeing".

Want something more drastic? Deleting apps you check occasionally and only keeping the one or two that are most important to you, personally or professionally (after all, many of us use social media for work), may be another way to make the jump, business consultant Larry Alton advised in 2018. Cutting off options completely can be a good way to make sure a detox sticks, but it doesn’t have to be the first step.

Calling it a day with social media can be rough; it’s an integral part of daily life for many of us. A digital detox, temporary or permanent, can put our usage of smartphones and apps into perspective, show how we’re actually relying on technology more than we realize, and gradually realign our habits to be healthier. No need to go all Anne Hathaway in Devil Wears Prada and throw your phone in a fountain; with some planning, digital detoxes can be a viable option for anybody.

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5 Simple Keto Diet Hacks for Sustainable Weight Loss

The strategies for losing weight are endless. A quick search for weight loss info will yield thousands of options, from fasting to fad diets to keto diet plans.

Each fat loss approach can cause the numbers on the scale to plummet, but how will you prevent them from going back up in the long run?

Most of us will start strong on our new diet plan when hope and motivation are running the show. A few months later, however, the struggles begin to accumulate until no amount of willpower can keep us on our diet.

This pattern of short-term success followed by long-term weight regain is not unique to you or anyone who has tried to lose weight: It is what normally happens.

Long-term weight loss studies continuously find that most people are not able to maintain the diet that allowed them to lose weight. This is true for every diet from keto to low-fat.

In their recent review of the weight loss literature prominent diet researchers, Freedhoff and Hall, summed up one of the critical issues with dieting in this way:

“ … no diet has yet been shown to be uniformly easier to stick with than another in the long run.”

If another diet, 30-day diet plan, cleanse, or any other short-term weight loss option is not the answer, then what is?

We will attempt to provide you with a comprehensive answer to this question with the following five keto diet hacks for weight loss. These hacks will not only promote fast fat loss, but they will help you keep the fat off in the long run as well.

1.  Set Realistic Weight Loss Goals

One thing that makes dieting more difficult than it has to be is setting unrealistic expectations. When searching for keto diet weight loss results, you’ll see incredible transformations that fill you with hope and inspiration.

What you don’t see is the struggles, strategies, and subtle changes behind the seemingly miraculous results. Almost everything you read about the diet indicates that keto causes rapid fat loss, so this must mean you are doing something wrong.

Is it hidden net carbs?
Should I eat more fat?
Do I need to buy ketone supplements?
Should I be in higher levels of ketosis?

If your primary goal is to lose weight and keep it off, the answer to these questions is almost always going to be “no.”  Chasing these smaller keto diet pieces before you establish a sustainable dietary approach will only lead to confusion and disappointment.

This is why the first weight loss hack is to get more realistic, not strict.

Here are some suggestions that will help you implement this helpful hack:

Compare your current self to your past self, not others. Although it can be inspiring to see incredible keto results, this can also feed unrealistic expectations and cause future disappointment. Instead of relying on inspiration and willpower to get you through the diet, focus on setting up your lifestyle, environment, and habits in a way that makes weight loss natural. We will discover how to do this in the next four keto diet hacks.
Slow and steady wins the weight loss maintenance marathon. When we force our bodies into faster fat loss, our results become much harder to maintain in the long run. A healthier, sustainable, and more realistic goal to aim for is 1 to 2 pounds of weight loss per week.
Track your progress regularly, but not too often. Your weight will naturally vary from day to day. To get a more accurate picture of what your weight loss rate, track your weight and waist circumference every 1 to 2 weeks. If your results aren’t trending in the right direction after a month (as indicated by a decrease in weight and waist circumference), focus on adjusting your food intake in a way that is sustainable for you. Losing weight too fast? Have slightly bigger portions or add a keto snack to your day. Losing weight too slowly? Try decreasing calorie intake by using some of the strategies found throughout this article.

Does this mean you have to track calories? No, not necessarily. There are many tools that can help you lose weight and keep it off, and tracking calories is just one of them. If measuring your food and quantifying everything that enters your mouth is not sustainable for you, then focus on implementing the other four keto diet hacks.

2. Keep Keto Simple

There are hundreds of ways to approach weight loss, and they all work by following one fundamental principle: sustaining a calorie deficit causes fat loss.

The keto diet is one way of accomplishing this, but if it is not sustainable for you in any way (e.g., it’s too restrictive, it doesn’t improve your health, or it doesn’t help you lose weight), then eating  fewer carbs or getting more strict with keto is not the solution. The best weight loss strategy is one that is healthy and sustainable for you, and adding more restriction to your diet is usually not the answer.

For those of you who want to give keto a try, I recommend keeping it as simple as possible. For example, following advice like “avoid high-carb foods,” “eat mostly low-carb foods,” and/or “eat more vegetables and fewer processed foods” can lead to rapid fat loss for many.

Tracking more complex keto-related variables like ketone levels and net carbs can be helpful but will not be necessary for most people. Making your diet more complicated will only decrease the likelihood that you will be able to stay on it for the long-term.

Start with simple food rules that you can easily implement and sustain. To get started with your low-carb keto lifestyle, use this food list as your guide:

Avoid These Foods

Grains – wheat, corn, rice, cereal, etc.
Sugar – honey, agave, maple syrup, etc.
Fruit – apples, bananas, oranges, etc.
Tubers – potato, yams, etc.

Eat These Foods

Meats – fish, beef, lamb, poultry, eggs, etc.
Low-carb vegetables – spinach, kale, broccoli, and other low carb veggies >
High-fat dairy – hard cheeses, high fat cream, butter, etc.
Nuts and seeds – macadamias, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc.
Avocado and berries – raspberries, blackberries, and other low glycemic impact berries
Sweeteners – stevia, erythritol, monk fruit, and other low-carb sweeteners >
Other fats – coconut oil, high-fat salad dressing, saturated fats, etc.

This simple food list may be all you need to start losing weight in a simple and sustainable way. If you’d like to see more specific advice on what (and what not) to eat, click here >

Even with the help of simple diet rules, however, we all eventually fall back to what is convenient, painless, and pleasure-filled. This is where the next two keto hacks take over to help make your keto weight loss journey as easy and painless as possible.

3. Make It Easier for Your Body to Adapt to Keto

The first speed bump on the way to weight loss for many keto dieters is the keto flu. Simply put, when we restrict carbs below 50 grams or so, our hormone levels shift, water weight is shed rapidly, and essential electrolytes are lost. These changes can cause flu-like symptoms that turn your weight loss dreams into a keto nightmare.

Fortunately, many of these symptoms can quickly be relieved by drinking more water and consuming more sodium, potassium, and magnesium. If some of the symptoms persist after making these changes, then you may need to stimulate keto-adaptation via methods other than carb restriction.

Here are some keto hacks that will make transitioning to ketosis much easier:

Add MCTs to your diet. Studies have shown that fatty acids called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) help increase ketone levels, reduce the time it takes to get into ketosis and decrease keto flu symptoms. Add 1-2 tablespoons of MCT oil or MCT powder to your morning coffee or tea for an extra energy and ketone boost. Start at lower doses and slowly work your way up if MCTs cause some stomach discomfort. If you’d like to learn more about MCTs, check out our guide on these ketosis-boosting fatty acids.
Harness the power of caffeine. Whether you drink caffeinated coffee or tea, the caffeine in it will help stimulate ketone production and make keto dieting much easier. Try adding MCTs to your caffeinated beverage for an extra energy boost that will also help suppress your appetite.
Try intermittent fasting. Not only can intermittent fasting help you lose weight and keep it off, but it can also help increase ketone production as well. Whenever we go for long periods without food, our bodies naturally increase ketone levels to meet some of our energy needs. This means that, by skipping a meal or two, we can help push our bodies into ketosis more quickly.
Increase your physical activity levels. All types of exercise can help increase ketone production in different ways while you are on the keto diet. Low-intensity exercises like walking and yoga can help increase fat burning and provide your liver with more ketone building blocks. In contrast, moderate- to high-intensity exercise like running, high-intensity interval training, and weight lifting help deplete glycogen more quickly and increase your body’s need to produce ketones. In other words, no matter what form of physical activity you add to your life, it will help you adapt to the keto diet more quickly.

Ideally, to make your transition to keto and ketosis as smooth as possible, try combining intermittent fasting, caffeine, MCTs, and exercise in a way that is sustainable for you. Each one will help you in your efforts to lose weight and keep it off as well.

4. Use Sustainable Strategies that Help You Achieve and Maintain Weight Loss Results

Willpower, motivation, and a restrictive diet may help you transform your body, but they will not help you maintain your results. Your lifestyle and food environment will win out in the long run.

To make weight loss easier to achieve and sustain, we must focus on changing our lifestyle and environment in a way that feeds our results. This will help relieve some of the internal struggles that most of us experience when following a new diet while increasing the likelihood that we will make healthier choices when we are stressed, tired, or lack the discipline.

Before we take a look at our food environment (in the fifth and final keto diet hack), let’s explore some simple strategies you can use to make weight loss come naturally:

Follow simple diet rules. The best diet for you is going to be one with rules that you can easily follow with your current habits and lifestyle. The keto diet, for example, requires you to restrict carbs to a level that helps you sustain nutritional ketosis. This is a simple diet rule that is easier to follow for some and nearly impossible for others. If the keto diet’s “rules” are not sustainable in any way for you, then you may need to follow a different set of rules that help you lose weight. Perhaps, eating fewer carbs or eliminating most processed foods from your diet may be a more sustainable rule for you to follow if keto is not feasible.
Skip a meal or two (intermittent fasting). By eating all your calories in a smaller time window (i.e., 8 hours instead of 12 hours), you will naturally eat less food and lose weight without feeling like you are being restricted. You can implement this strategy by simply skipping breakfast each day or sticking to specific fasting and eating time windows. For more on intermittent fasting, click here.
Track protein, fat, carb, and calorie consumption. Tracking what you eat can help you understand how much you are actually eating and how that translates to weight loss or weight gain. After a few months of using this method, you will develop a sixth sense for calorie intake that will help you make healthier decisions without having to measure everything you eat. For more on how to track calories on keto, click here.
Use caffeine and/or MCTs to suppress appetite and keep energy levels up. Both caffeine and MCTs have been found to increase ketone levels and suppress appetite. Many people will combine coffee, MCTs, and intermittent fasting to help them lose weight and keep the weight off without having to worry about how much they are eating.
Change your food environment. Your surroundings are constantly nudging to make certain choices. Just seeing a tasty, unhealthy food for a second can trigger cravings that are almost impossible to resist when we are stressed, tired, or hungry. This is partly why taking control of your food environment is one of the best ways to keep yourself from overeating and gaining weight. We will take a closer look at how you can do this in the next section.
Plan for the worst. In your future, there will be many potential roadblocks. Holiday parties, birthday parties, vacations, business trips, etc. will all present you with challenges that can easily derail your progress. If you do not have a plan for these potential detours, then your emotional brain is likely to take over and persuade to take advantage of the free food and goodies. For more ideas on how to plan for the worst, check out the next keto diet hack. (Hint: The answer is not to avoid all parties, starve yourself, or never eat your favorite dessert again.)
Exercise regularly. An interesting finding from the long-term weight loss research is that the people who regain the least weight are usually the ones who exercise regularly. This doesn’t mean that exercising is what causes long-term weight loss, but it can help indirectly in many different ways. Ideally, try lifting weights 2-3 times a week and increasing your activity level throughout the week by going for walks, hiking, cycling, playing sports or doing any other physical activity that you enjoy. This is the simplest way to get the most out of your exercise regimen.

Each one of these strategies can help make weight loss much easier to achieve and sustain.

You do not have to implement all of these to be successful. Focus instead on finding two or three strategies that you can easily add to your life for the foreseeable future.

This may take some trial and error, so give one or two of these strategies a try. If any option is not sustainable for you in any way, then try another suggestion from this list.

5. Create an Environment that Feeds Your Results, Not Your Fat Cells

Eating is one of the most emotionally charged things we do. If we didn’t capitalize on the opportunity to have more calories in our paleolithic past, we would no longer exist.

This potent emotional response to convenient calories is ready to be triggered at any moment by what we see, smell, think, and feel. These triggers will then create an internal conflict that makes dieting so difficult.

One part of you (your emotional brain) will want to satisfy a specific craving, while another part (your rational mind) knows that it is not allowed on your diet. When we first start any diet, we have plenty of motivation and willpower to say “no” to that craving, so our rational brain usually wins the battle.

However, we will not always be in a motivated, strong-willed, or disciplined state of mind. In these moments, cravings will be insurmountable, and we will eventually give in.

This is one of the fundamental mechanisms behind weight regain. We stick to the diet for a few months, but those potent food triggers and desires win out in the long run. Our rational mind may win some battles at first, but our emotional mind will usually win the war.

One of the best ways to address this common issue is to change your food environment so that it influences you to make better choices instead of unhealthy ones. This weight loss hack will remove the triggers that cause many of the internal conflicts between your emotional mind and rational mind. In some cases, your emotional and rational mind will even work together, putting your weight loss results on autopilot (no willpower, restriction, or discipline needed).

Let’s take a look at what you can do at home, while traveling, and in restaurants to make weight loss easier to achieve and sustain.

How to Change Your Food Environment at Home

How to Change Your Food Environment at Home

Remove anything unhealthy or high in carbs from your home. If you need to keep some of these items for others, then move them to a place that is hard for you to see and/or access. By doing so, you will prevent a common craving trigger.
Store healthy keto-friendly options in easy-to-see, convenient places. By making healthier choices more accessible, you will increase the chances that you’ll stay on the diet.
Use smaller plates. In one experiment, conducted by Brian Wansink from Cornell University and Koert van Ittersum from the Georgia Institute of Technology, it was discovered that a shift from 12–inch plates to 10–inch plates resulted in a 22% decrease in calories. Similar findings have been reported in other studies as well. Researchers believe that this effect is the result of a simple optical illusion. When you use smaller plates, your portion sizes will look much bigger, making you feel like you are eating more food. As a result, you feel satiated sooner and eat less food.
Have a plan to satisfy your sweet tooth. Sometimes cravings are unavoidable, and the only option is to have something sweet. This is when it is helpful to have a keto-friendly option available to give you the flavors you crave. Check out our keto dessert recipes for some delicious ideas. Keep in mind, however, you can still gain weight from eating too much keto-friendly food. If you tend to binge on sweets when they are available, only make one serving of a keto dessert each time.

Changing Your Food Environment While Traveling

Changing Your Food Environment While Traveling

You can’t change the food options at the airport or on the road, but you can make these simple changes to prevent weight gain while traveling:

Bring keto snacks with you when possible. Having tasty keto snacks on hand will keep your cravings at bay and prevent overeating. Check out our keto snack list to help you prepare for your next trip.
Plan ahead. Make sure you are prepared for the worst while traveling. Check for keto-friendly options at local restaurants, prepare keto snacks beforehand, and fall back on simple snacks like nuts, cheese, and meat sticks/jerky (with no added carbs or sugar). To help you conquer keto while you travel, feel free to use our keto travel guide as well.
Enjoy local food in moderation. You don’t have to stay on keto to lose weight and prevent weight gain while traveling. Feel free to enjoy as many high-carb culinary experiences as you like. Just make sure you keep your indulgences in moderation or reduce your food intake in other ways to prevent fat gain (use hack #4 for some ideas).

How to Rule Any Restaurant, Party, or Event

How to Rule Any Restaurant, Party, or Event

Plan ahead. Check out the menu ahead of time to make sure you are going to a place that has keto-friendly options. To help you plan ahead, check out our guide to eating keto on the go.
Have half your meal wrapped up to go. Calories from the appetizers and your main entree usually add up to a substantially bigger portion than you’d eat at home. To prevent eating out from causing you overeat, ask the wait staff to wrap up half of your entree portion to go.
Eat a keto meal before you go. Fill yourself up with healthy and satiating food before you show up. This will help control cravings and prevent overeating.
Have a plan to satisfy your sweet tooth. Keto-friendly desserts are hard to come by. Instead of making an excuse to eat something that is sugary and unhealthy, think about a keto-friendly version you can have. Make the keto dessert when you get home, have a ready-made keto sweet at home, or find a keto-friendly sweet at a nearby grocery store (stevia-sweetened, sugar-free chocolate is a great option). That piece of sugary cake is never worth it.
Indulge in moderation. If you absolutely must have something that is high in carbs and far from keto-friendly, then enjoy it without the guilt. It may kick you out of ketosis or put you over your daily carb limit, but this doesn’t mean you will gain weight. As long as you take the necessary steps to maintain a calorie deficit for weight loss, you can fit the occasional indulgence into your diet (use hack #4 for some ideas on how to do this).

By making adjustments like these, you can harness the power of your environment in a way that transforms weight loss from an inconvenient chore into a naturally-occurring process.

Putting It All Together — How to Implement These Keto Hacks for Sustainable Results

After decades of research on weight loss, the data point us toward two crucial conclusions:

The odds of staying on any diet are roughly the same for all diets.
Weight loss is caused by the same underlying principle for each diet: a calorie deficit causes weight loss.

This means that your primary focus should not be on finding the best diet if you want to achieve your goals and maintain your results. Instead, we should be diverting most of our attention to formulating a weight loss approach that is sustainable for each individual.

Here are the five key strategies that will help you do this with the keto diet:

5 Keto Hacks for Sustainable Weight Loss

Set realistic weight loss goals. 1 to 2 pounds of weight loss per week is a healthy rate to aim for. Increase food intake to slow weight loss and reduce food intake to increase the pace.
Keep keto simple. Start by eliminating high-carb foods and eating mostly low-carb vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, and cheese. This may be all you need to focus on to achieve amazing weight loss results.
Make keto-adaptation easier for your body. Rehydrate, replenish your electrolytes, and promote ketone production with MCTs, caffeine, intermittent fasting, and/or exercise. This can help prevent the keto flu from getting you down and make your keto transition much more manageable.
Implement sustainable strategies that help you achieve and maintain weight loss. Anything that helps you naturally eat less and promote weight loss is a great option. More restriction usually makes the diet less sustainable in the long run, so look for strategies that you can easily fit into your lifestyle.
Create an environment that feeds results. Make healthy choices as convenient as possible, and unhealthy choices as painfully inconvenient as possible. Always have a plan so that you can maintain your results in any food environment.

By implementing these five keto diet hacks, you will be able to lose weight gracefully. Once you hit your weight loss goals, you will already have many key habits and lifestyle factors in place to help you sustain the results for the rest of your life.

Say goodbye to yo-yo dieting and relying on willpower to get you through. It’s time to formulate a diet that is both effective and sustainable for you. For more information on how to do this with the keto diet, I recommend checking out this article first.

P.S. Have a look at the Keto Academy, our foolproof 30-day keto meal plan. It has all the tools, information, and recipes needed for you to succeed.

+ The food has been tested and optimized so you can lose weight and start feeling great!


Weight loss diet studies: we need help not hype — The Lancet
Plate Size and Color Suggestibility: The Delboeuf Illusion’s Bias on Serving and Eating Behavior — Journal of Consumer Research
Large restaurant portions a global problem, study finds — EurekAlert!
Is the Ketogenic Diet Healthy? How to Know If Keto Is Right for You —
Adhering to the Ketogenic Diet – Is it Easy or Hard? (Research Review) — Sci Fit
Low Carb vs. Keto Diet: What’s the Difference? —
Effects of low-carbohydrate vs low-fat diets on weight loss and cardiovascular risk factors: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials — NCBI
Keto & Weight Loss —
The Benefits of The Ketogenic Diet —
Do ketogenic diets really suppress appetite? A systematic review and meta-analysis. — NCBI
Beyond weight loss: a review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets — Nature
The Effect of Medium Chain Triglycerides on Time to Nutritional Ketosis and Symptoms of Keto-Induction in Healthy Adults: A Randomised Controlled Clinical Trial. — NCBI

The post 5 Simple Keto Diet Hacks for Sustainable Weight Loss appeared first on Ruled Me.

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10 Things to Do If You’re Feeling Hopeless About Your Future

Whether you’re a mother who wants the best for her children, a hard worker waiting for your promotion, or someone dealing with a personal tragedy such as a job loss, divorce or losing a loved one, we all need hope while we go through these tests of faith.

But hope can only be accessed once we get out of our heads and quit over-rationalizing. We need to be truly convinced that better things are in store for us. Even if things may not seem to be going right in our present, we need to believe that there’s a bigger plan that we cannot yet see.

These 10 steps will inspire you and give you the boost of hope that you need to keep going when you’re feeling hopeless about the future.
1. Take a Step Back to Regroup and Honor Your Feelings
If you’re overwhelmed by your emotions, and if the feelings of insecurity are plaguing your mind, it’s a sign that you need to step back and engage in some serious self-care.

Go for a walk, speak with a friend, take a mini-vacation, listen to music, meditate, or journal. Anything that helps you returns to center and balance.

Acknowledge and reward yourself for each milestone you reach, no matter how small. Every step you take matters and bring you closer to your dreams.

Focus on the now by taking conscious, deep breaths and appreciating all that’s in your present moment.
2. Revisit Your Vision and Goals
If you’ve hit a wall, it would be beneficial to revisit your goals and vision. Take note of the exact goals that you had laid out and remind yourself of what inspired you to create them in the first place.

For example, if you want to lose 10 pounds, was it because your doctor recommended it or because you want to get healthier?

The key is to set goals that you’re fired up about and that you’re willing to commit to. Your goals need to be connected to an overarching vision that will galvanize you to overcome any obstacle.

Create a vision board, or write a descriptive and vivid account of what you would like to achieve.
3. Manage Your Expectations
Another possible reason that you’re losing motivation is that your expectations are too high. Often our biggest disappointments occur from having unrealistic expectations. ‘Unrealistic’ doesn’t always mean that you can’t achieve your goals, but that you may need more time or resources to actualize it.

For example, when opening a new store, instead of hoping to make 10K, focus on breaking even and perfecting your systems of operation. Set positive and specific goals that feel manageable, especially in the beginning stages. Setting healthy expectations that are easy to reach will encourage you to keep going.
4. Have a Contingency Plan (Plan B)
There’s always a chance that your plans won’t work out as you hoped they would. I know that it’s hard to accept failure as a possibility without getting dejected, especially if it’s important to you. But I’ve always found that having an alternative plan keeps failure in perspective.

Plan B is like a safety net there to catch you in case you lose your grip. In creating a Plan B, it’s essential to assess what went wrong in your previous plan. What could you have done differently? What are the lessons from the experience that can equip you with the knowledge to get it right the next time around? Ask friends, mentors, and coaches for candid feedback to supplement your own insights.

Let a solid Plan B comfort you in knowing that failure is not the end of the road but merely a bend that’s leading you somewhere else.
5. Find Sources of Positive Reinforcement
Hope is like a candle flame that can burn out without constant positive reinforcement. We need reminders to stimulate us with hope about the future. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to be inspired, such as acknowledging our small successes along the way and remembering the times when we were able to overcome obstacles.

You can also find inspiration in books, music, movies, affirmation, and other people’s stories. I also love being in the presence of young children who radiate with optimism. Find your own unique sources of motivation that work for you.
6. Have a Strong Circle of Support
As social beings, we benefit tremendously from having support from a community of people that matter to us. Friends and family members are the primary lifeline for most of us but we can also extend our network to include a trusted group of mentors, coaches, counselors or a support group who are open to hearing our story and who believe in the vision that we have for our life.

Whenever we’re down and out, these are the people who can be a source of comfort and help us get back in the game.
7. Stay in Touch with Your Vision
It’s easier to feel hopeful when we’re guided by a strong vision for our future. That’s why it’s essential to clarify your vision.

Goal-setting, vision boards and visualization are a couple of techniques that can give shape to our dreams. By committing to these practices, our vision will become more tangible and within our reach.

Touching base with our goals will make them feel real and give us a focal point towards which we can direct all of our energy.
8. Stay Well-Informed and Be Proactive
Without knowledge and action, hope is just psychological fluff. Hope should propel us to seek out more information about what we desire and take directed steps towards realizing it.

Knowledge is power, as the saying goes, and it gives us the capacity to make more mindful choices. It strengthens our belief that we have what it takes to influence outcomes and to consciously move forward.
9. Stay Focused on the Present Moment
Hope has a future orientation and can therefore direct our thoughts away from the present time. It’s essential that don’t spend too much time planning for the future.

Even though we want things to get better, we have to make peace with where we are in our current lives. This quiet acceptance will give our inner peace and prevent us from becoming overly attached to future outcomes.

The truth is that the present moment is all we’ll ever have, and we should make every effort to capture its beauty and its essence as we go through it: 34 Ways To Live in the Moment And Grow in the Moment
10. Practice Gratitude
Gratitude generates a feeling of warmth and abundance. Based on the Law of Attraction, the more appreciative that you are for all that you have, material or otherwise, the more you’re likely to attract towards you.

So, the next time you’re feeling down about the future, take a deep breath and think of all the wonderful things and people around you. You’ll feel an instant shift in how you see your life when you see how many things in your life you can be grateful for. You can maintain a gratitude journal or think of a few things you’re thankful on a daily basis.
The Bottom Line
The next time you feel hopeless while waiting for things to happen in your life, remember that life is ultimately about the journey and not the destination. Hold your dreams close to your heart, work steadily towards them, but don’t forget to look around you and appreciate the gift of being alive on this beautiful planet.
More Articles to Give You a Motivation Boost

How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up
How to Find Motivation When You’re Totally Burnt Out
Stuck in a Rut? 6 Steps to Break Free and Live a Happy Life Again
Feeling So Stuck in Life That You’re About to Give Up? Help is Here!
How to Crush Your Lack of Motivation and Always Stay Motivated

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How Long Does Gout Last? These 3 Factors Determine the Answer

Gout attacks quickly, usually at night and most often in your big toe. The pain heightens about eight to 12 hours after onset. Gout symptoms can be extremely painful, and the first 24 hours are usually the worst. A gout attack typically lasts three to 10 days. However, the answer to the common question “How long does gout last?” is more complicated.

Remember that your gout problem has actually been brewing for quite some time, possibly years. Gout is caused by uric acid buildup in the blood. Uric acid is a waste product normally eliminated from your body by your kidneys. When your kidneys aren’t fully functioning and/or your body is producing too much uric acid for the kidneys to keep up, excess uric acid in the blood can become hard crystals that attach to joints and tendons, setting the stage for inflammation and painful gout.

With that in mind, answering the question “How long does gout last?” depends on three main factors.

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1. Your Gout Symptoms

First, you need to know how to define gout, which means you need to see a doctor, at least for the first attack. Gout symptoms—swelling of the joint, inflammation, redness, and sore skin—can be associated with other diseases, too.

If gout sounds a lot like arthritis, you’re right. Gout is a form of arthritis in that it’s an inflammation of the joints. And like arthritis, the real answer to “How long does gout last?” is, unfortunately, a lifetime. The good news is that medications and diet can make a difference in gout’s severity and frequency.

With treatment, individual episodes of a gout attack will be fewer and the length and severity lessened. Some gout sufferers never have a second episode. But untreated, gout will likely return.

how long does gout last

2. Your At-Home Gout Treatment

Second, you can usually alleviate gout symptoms at home. The medicines your doctor prescribes are important in controlling gout over the long run, but once gout appears, your goal will be to ride it out via treatment and diet. It also helps to rest the joint as much as possible, applying cold packs as needed. Sometimes it’s even painful to wear a sock, so some gout sufferers cut a hole in the big toe area of their socks.

You should drink plenty of fluids—staying hydrated is important. And over-the-counter NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug), like ibuprofen, can help ease the pain.

(For more information, see the U.S. National Library of Science article “What Can I Do on My Own to Prevent Gout Attacks.”)

3. Know Which Foods Cause Gout Attacks

Third, with or without medicine, you have to change your diet in order to lessen the number and severity of attacks. Learn which items in your diet cause flare-ups, and avoid foods that cause gout. Most gout patients would agree that avoiding foods that cause gout is far easier than enduring another flare up.

Among the foods known to cause gout are sugary soft drinks, beer, alcohol, tomatoes, beef, pork, lamb, liver, herring, mackerel, mussels, sardines, tuna, and smelt. We’d also be careful about our intake of bacon, turkey, salmon, trout, and haddock. (See “Foods to Avoid with Gout.”)

That “avoid” list might make you wonder what you can eat.

Cherries are well-known as a safe “gout food.” Studies have shown that cherries can reduce the risk of a gout attack.

Safe “gout food” selections probably won’t surprise you: vegetables, low-fat dairy, cherries, and high-fiber carbohydrates are among the items that can help you avoid gout pain.

For more discussions of foods that work as part of a gout diet, see these posts:

Gout Foods: Keep These 6 Foods in Your Diet
Add the DASH Diet to the List of Gout Remedies


For more information on gout in general, please visit these posts:

What Is Gout?
What Could Be Causing Your Gout Symptoms?
Gout in Ankles, Knees, and Feet: More Common Among Men

The post How Long Does Gout Last? These 3 Factors Determine the Answer appeared first on University Health News.

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Vicky Tsai, Tatcha Founder, Shares What Stressed Her Out The Most When She Was 28

In Bustles Q&A series 28, successful women describe exactly what their lives looked like when they were 28 what they wore, where they worked, what stressed them out most, and what, if anything, they would do differently. Tatcha founder Vicky Tsai opens up about what caused her the most stress at 28, how her goals have changed dramatically since founding her own company, and what she’d want her younger self to know about her life now.

It can be difficult to stand out on the crowded shelves of Sephora, let alone the billion-dollar beauty industry in general. But Vicky Tsai has managed to figure out how: by creating beautifully made products packaged in elegant bottles and jars that aim to "honor" your skin, not shame it. When she founded Tatcha in 2009, Tsai had no idea that she would go on to create a successful skin care brand beloved by beauty lovers, celebrities (like Kim Kardashian and Meghan Markle) and makeup artists (like Daniel Martin and Mario Dedivanovic) included. She just wanted to share the beauty secrets she had learned from her travels to Japan with women in America who, like her, may have been treating their skin too aggressively.

But before she dreamt up Tatcha, Tsai was on an entirely different career path. With a shiny new business degree under her belt, she was hired by the biggest coffee conglomerate in the world to launch new products overseas. At 28, Tsai was traveling to Asia twice a month and working tirelessly, spending much of her time away from loved ones. And while she experienced anxiety, it was during this time that she would discover the healthy solution to her skin issues, which would inspire her to create her own company.

Take us back to when you were 28. Can you describe exactly how you were feeling and where you were on your 28th birthday?

When I was 28, I had just graduated from business school and had started working for Starbucks to launch consumer products in China. The first thing they have you do is work in a store. I probably spent my 28th birthday in Shanghai: opening the store before sunrise, taking out the garbage, setting up the patio furniture, and doing dishes. I have a vivid memory of getting the ratio of water to espresso wrong for one customer when he ordered an Americano. He was so unhappy with me and it was incredibly humbling going from getting a fancy degree to not being able to make a cup of coffee.

Where were you working when you were 28? What was your job title and your main responsibilities?

I was a Brand Manager for Starbucks International. My job was to establish a consumer products business and launch bottled Frappuccino in China before the Beijing Olympics. It was something that normally takes three years and I had a year and a half to do it.

What was the biggest thing you splurged on when you were 28?

My husband and I bought our first home. It was a little craftsman in Seattle that was over 100 years old. It had stained glass windows and carved wood throughout. It looked like a dollhouse.

Where did you live?

We lived in Seattle, but I traveled every few weeks to China. When I was away on my first business trip, my husband decided to surprise me by painting the walls a happy buttercup yellow. He accidentally used high-gloss cupboard paint instead of wall paint, which is typically matte. I remember coming back from the trip and wondering why it felt like I was on the inside of a shiny yellow balloon.

What did you think your biggest obstacle was when you were 28?

The work I was doing was very interesting, but really challenging. I got to travel a lot, partnered with different companies to get the job done, learned about operations, supply chains, marketing strategy, intellectual property rights, and so forth. The biggest challenge was that I didnt have a manager there was no one to teach me or answer my questions. It was hard at the time, but it taught me to be resourceful and in retrospect it was incredible training for when I eventually started my own company. I also had a broken arm at the time, with a cast from my wrist to my bicep for four months. That made international travel extra tricky.

What was your biggest source of anxiety at the time? Be as specific as possible.

Work. 100%. The year and a half that I had to launch Starbucks consumer products business in China was a sprint to the finish line. I didnt have a manager, timelines and budgets were tight, and everything was new to me. I traveled to Asia every few weeks and when I was in Seattle, stayed in the office regularly until 11 p.m. and worked through the weekends. At one point I realized I had worked 40 days straight without taking a day off. When everything was tied up and ready to go, a VP in my group said he didnt want to miss Halloween at home, so there was a last-minute scramble to reschedule the launch. As a parent now, I respect that he didnt want to miss Halloween with his kids, but at the time, I was mortified, especially because it was right before launch.

Ultimately, the rescheduled launch went well launch sales were strong, we got a full page of coverage in Asia’s Wall Street Journal for an idea I had that worked well, Starbucks gave me all sorts of lovely internal recognition and, to my surprise, Howard Schultz asked me to present to the Board of Directors. It felt really gratifying to know that the work was successful. But shortly after all of that, I had my annual performance review and was given a Meets Expectations." I left not long after.

What would your 28-year-old self say about what you’re doing right now?

I think my 28-year-old self would be relieved to hear that I found work that I really love.

Describe your favorite outfit and beauty look from when you were 28. Anything in your wardrobe or makeup bag that immediately brings you back to that time?

At the time, I had acute dermatitis from a prior work experience. I mostly used Aquaphor, which comforted my angry skin but left me looking greasy. I almost always flew through Tokyo on my way back and forth to China, which is where I fell in love with the blotting papers that would end up being the beginning of Tatcha. Everything else in my wardrobe and makeup bag were maximized for travel and efficiency, especially since I had a cast almost all the way up my arm. The most important thing was pants that could be pulled on with one hand.

What did a typical Friday night look like for you?

My Friday nights were typically catching an 11 p.m. flight home to Seattle from China. If I was lucky enough to be home on a Friday, it was just basic life maintenance; because I was traveling so much, I got really behind on cleaning, laundry, house projects, etc.

What was the one moment in your career when you knew youd made it?

I still dont think Ive had a moment where I thought, Ive made it, but I feel most fulfilled when I feel like I get to make a difference. Sometimes that means visiting incredible girls around the world whose education we are helping to support through our partnership with Room to Read. Other times that means spending time with clients and hearing how much the changes theyve seen in their skin has impacted how they feel oftentimes this is after chemotherapy. My happiest time though is in the office, spending time with our young future leaders, and hopefully giving them the opposite experience of what I had when I was 28. I care deeply about developing young talent, giving them the freedom and support to do great things, without the downside of feeling like theyve given the waking hours of their young lives to be a cog in a wheel.

Whats your biggest goal now? How has it changed since when you were 28?

When I was 28, my biggest goals were defined by conventional external measures of success: am I getting promoted as quickly as my friends? Am I getting paid as much as my friends? Will my parents be proud? I had a lovely resume with brand-name companies and brand-name schools, and I was trying to figure out how to keep that storyline going.

Then I started a company and ate a great big piece of humble pie for a decade [that would require explanation in] another entire article.

Today, I define my goals and success through impact. I am filled with gratitude every day that I get to work with inspiring, talented, passionate people who love what they do and care about making a difference for our clients and in the world through girls education. I am the happiest I have ever been in both my career and in my life because Ive found my joy in supporting others.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

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