Amazing Success Story: How This Doctor Lost 120 Pounds!

Written by: on Monday, April 2nd, 2012
Brenda Wahler before shot for valerielatona.comBrenda Wahlers is an internal medicine doctor with four kids (including a set of triplets!). The fact that she juggles a busy career as a doctor with not only four kids…but triplets!…is amazing to me. But when I found out that she lost 120 pounds after having her kids—and took up running races—I’m even more impressed!
Brenda Wahlers Before Picture for

BEFORE: Brenda at 280 pounds

Brenda Wahlers after picture for

AFTER: Brenda at 160 pounds

Here, her super-inspiring tips on how to take charge of your life—and drop weight too!
1. Surround yourself with active, healthy people. “I never came close to achieving my goals until I stopped spending my time with people who drank alcohol, smoked cigarettes, and had a deep love for processed, fried, sugary foods. Now I spend time with people who inspire me by their hard work and self discipline to remain strong, active and healthy. It makes all the difference in the world.”
2. Keep it simple…..”To take off extra weight, the calories that you take in have to be less than the calories you expend throughout your day. What that means: Eat less and exercise more. I know that sounds like a big “duh” statement but it is THE concept behind all weight loss. It’s pure science – embrace it.”
3. Wake up! “Wake yourself up to the fact that you have one shot at this life. It took me until I was 35 to have that realization. If you want to be healthy only you can make it happen. No program, pill or doctor can do it for you. Educate yourself and DO IT. If you can really embrace the idea of changing your life you WILL make it happen.”
4. Stop obsessing about weight loss. “Eat right, be active, and the weight will take care of itself.”
5. Be committed to yourself and to your goals. “When I gained a pound I would be so mad and disappointed. The difference comes in how you handle that disappointment. Instead of giving up, use that energy to work harder. I had a three-month plateau that about drove me crazy. I just pushed through, stayed on track, and knew that if I could stay committed I could not fail. Patience is not a strong suit of any person who wants to lose weight (at least sure not one of mine!), but this process needs to become less about weight loss and more about taking control of your life.”

Simple advice on how to be happier—sans drugs

Written by: on Tuesday, March 20th, 2012
laughing, happy woman for

Happiness is the most simple pleasure in life—but so many of us don’t truly embrace it.

Life—as we live it today—is crazy. That’s not news to anyone. It takes more money (and more working hours) just to keep up. Add a family and kids into that mix … and women, especially, are pulled in what seems to be a thousand directions.

We’re trying to work and help with the bills, raise kids, keep the family healthy (and all that goes with that: grocery shopping, doctor appointments, healthy meals, etc.), keep the house clean and laundry done, keep our own bodies healthy and slim (a stressful feat on its own)…and maintain hobbies and interests that help us to have some semblance of a life.

It’s no easy feat. And that—more than anything else—I believe, is the reason behind the statistics of a study that says more than a quarter of U.S. women (an increase from 10 years ago) take medication to treat depression, anxiety, or attention deficit disorder. That is more than the number of men who took drugs for these same conditions.

The bottom line, I truly believe, is that people (women in particular) aren’t happy, truly happy with their lives anymore. So many are turning to drugs to help them be happier (granted, there are some people who are clinically depressed—but there always have been, why that can’t explain the entire increase).

I was one of these people years ago: depending on anti-anxiety medications to control my nervousness, sleeplessness, and overall unhappiness with my life. But as soon as I changed the parts of my life that were making me miserable, everything changed—and I went off the medication.

I’ve never gone back on that medication, thanks to these things that I have found can make you happier—sans drugs:

happy woman with arms outstretched

Embrace what life has in store for you—and don’t worry about what everyone else is doing (or getting).

1) Follow your heart. Examine your life and figure out what is making you unhappy—and change that. Bad relationship, bad job…whatever it is. Sounds daunting, but the truth is we each have the power to make our lives what we want them to be. Too many of us are stuck, feeling powerless. Put the power back in your own life by deciding what you want to do (and what you love to do)—and then go do it. Forget what people will think; those that matter won’t second-guess a thing you’re doing.

2) Stop trying to keep up with the “Jones-es”. It’s exhausting trying to live a life that mimics (or one-ups) those around us: bigger house, bigger car, better body, better job, more money, you name it. Be the person you want to be—and forget about everyone else.

3) Get your body moving. Study after study has shown that regular exercise helps with depression. So many of us don’t have the time for exercise (or at least that’s what we tell ourselves), but make the time. Consider it an investment in your health—and happiness. (And don’t feel you have to go run mindlessly on the treadmill to make it count: find something you love to do—walking, swimming, tennis, biking, whatever—and do it every day or almost every day.)

4) Accept what you cannot change…and move on. Give yourself time to grieve for something that’s not going your way (say, two weeks) and then visualize putting that problem in a cart and pushing it down the mountain. Then never think about it again. One day, you’ll look back and realize why things happened the way they did—and you’ll be thankful for it.

5) Be thankful for what you do have. If you have to make a list of everything that is good about your life in order to do this…then do it. We all have things to be grateful for—and realizing that, every day, will make each of us happier.

6) Get rid of the clutter. There’s too much clutter—literally and figuratively—in our lives. Clear out the stuff that doesn’t matter…and you find you’ll feel lighter: less encumbered, less stressed, and happier.

The only side effect of all these things: a happier, more content you—better than any of the fine-print side effects on those drugs!


Great advice on how to start your day…tomorrow!

Written by: on Monday, March 19th, 2012
picture of woman standing on a hill at sunrise

Make it a point to start your day with a different attitude...

Before you jump in the shower or do your morning workout or have breakfast or…whatever you do in the morning, take a moment to give thanks for everything you have and are. It’s so hard to do these days as often things don’t go our way—or we aren’t in a place to really appreciate ourselves or our bodies.

I got this advice from natural health and wellbeing expert Debra Koerner (executive director of the Destination Spa Group)—and loved it. According to Koerner:

Take a moment each day to express thanks for what is going ‘right’ in your life; your perspective will shift away from what you don’t have to what you do have. This can be a great boost and start your day off from a place of gratitude.”

Good advice I’ll be putting into practice tomorrow—and every day from now on!

Something worth remembering…

Written by: on Monday, March 12th, 2012
What happens to you/what you become quote

I have this quote pasted up at home...

I love this saying: it’s so simple but so true. We can’t always control what happens to us in life, but we can control our response and what we make of it. It puts us in the driver’s seat—and forces us to stop complaining or blaming others for where we are today.

Just wanted to share…


Life isn’t about finding yourself…

Written by: on Friday, March 2nd, 2012
Life isn't about finding yourself...

How true: take charge of your life — instead of passively waiting to find out what's in store for you.


I love this quote: it makes me realize that we all have to get out there and make the life we want…instead of waiting around to see what life “deals” us.

Thinking this way puts you in charge and motivates you—whatever it is you want to do—and makes you realize that you CAN do anything you want to.

So many of us feel trapped in situations—bad relationships, toxic  jobs, unhealthy bodies—but the truth is, we have (inside of us) everything we need to get out of that situation and into a better one. We know what it takes. But the courage to do that is what’s so hard.

Tape this quote to your desk computer, your fridge, your car dashboard, your bathroom mirror as a reminder that your life is your own—and only you can make of it what you want. Start today…and don’t look back.




How I Derailed My Career & Discovered My Life

Written by: on Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

detour as it relates to lifeMy latest blog post for Maria Shriver: enjoy!

Nothing is impossible!

Written by: on Sunday, February 26th, 2012
Fortune cookie with Nothing is Impossible fortune

So important to remember: you can do anything you set your mind to!

I just love this picture: It reminds me that anything is possible—if we just set our minds to it. Sure, it’s easy to be daunted by the challenge before us (e.g. getting our butt out of the house to do a run or go to the gym; lose the weight—for good; finally start living the life we want to live [instead of the one others create for us]…the list goes on).

But visualize the success you want to have, every day, and that success can be yours. NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE!

Half-Empty or Half-Full: How Your Outlook Affects Your Health

Written by: on Friday, February 24th, 2012
Optimists/Pessimists Sign

Only you can choose the path you want to follow.

What’s your worldview? Are you an optimist or a pessimist by nature? Do you always expect good things to happen or are you waiting for the other shoe to drop? Our mental attitude affects how we interact with others and how we respond to events and the comings and goings in our daily lives. Remarkably, our mental attitude also affects our health and well-being. How we feel, not only mentally but also physically, is significantly impacted by what has been termed our “internal guidance mechanism”.

Back in the 1960s, a plastic surgeon named Maxwell Maltz wrote Psycho-Cybernetics, a groundbreaking book that has been continuously in print for

Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz

The pioneering self-help book.

almost 50 years. Psycho-Cybernetics, one of the original self-help books, popularized the idea that the subconscious part of our mind is a goal-seeking mechanism. Maltz famously compared the subconscious to a guided missile, stating that the subconscious would do exactly what it is programmed to do. If you want to achieve a goal, Maltz proposed, visualize its successful completion. Visualize yourself driving that red sports car. Visualize the fun you and your family are having on your trip to Hawaii or Italy. Visualize living in your beautiful home. Provided that the instructions are clear, your subconscious will go to work to cause your goal to manifest in your life.

This wasn’t mumbo-jumbo. Maltz was a scientist and made a very strong case for his theory, backed up by decades of interaction with his patients. Since then, of course, hundreds if not thousands of self-help gurus have sprung up, publishing books, giving seminars, and being interviewed in broadcast media. Maltz, Napoleon Hill, Norman Vincent Peale, Emmet Fox, and Ernest Holmes were the originals, the pioneers who promulgated the concepts and precepts of taking charge of your own life.

Glass Half Empty/Glass Half Full

Start looking at life with a more positive outlook—and you'll be happier overall.

In terms of health, attitude is critically important.

How do you respond, internally, if a nearby co-worker coughs or sneezes throughout the day? Have you noticed that if you think that you, too, are going to get sick, that in fact you do? But others, exposed to the same environment, do not. Is it possible that these others paid no attention to the ill co-worker, that they did not internalize the notion that they were being exposed to contagion? Such a scenario is not necessarily true, but it is possible. The conclusion could be that our thoughts matter. As Earl Nightingale, one of the pioneers of the personal development field, famously stated, “You become what you think about”.

So what should we do? Think happy thoughts all day long? Not really. But it is important to remember that attitude counts. If we are more frequently seeing the glass as half-full rather than half-empty, it is possible that we are going to have a more productive, more successful, more fulfilled day. And, unbeknownst to us, our subconscious mind will build on those successes and help to bring us more success, personal growth, happiness, and well-being.

Skip lunch/coffee with a friend … and try this instead!

Written by: on Wednesday, February 15th, 2012
images of two feet on a walking path

Next time you get together with a friend, make it a point to walk outdoors

Today I was supposed to have lunch with an acquaintance of mine—and instead, she suggested we go for an early morning walk in a local park. It was a great idea! Instead of sitting and talking over food, which studies show can sometimes result in you eating more than you want, we walked…and talked, despite the drizzling rain outdoors. And not only did I feel great afterward as I got fresh air and exercise, we also traded tips and advice about life with kids. So next time you’re supposed to have lunch or coffee with a friend, take it outdoors. You’ll feel invigorated!

Enough with the noise, already!

Written by: on Monday, February 6th, 2012
woman standing in silence

You don't need to be on a gorgeous beach like this to be silent; you can have five minutes of noise-free peace in your own living room.

As I lay in bed this morning, snuggled under my down comforter up to my nose while the frost lay on the ground outside, I prayed for a little more silence before the day’s craziness began.

The sun had yet to come up and the morning was quiet—kids still asleep, no alarms buzzing off, no phones ringing, yet. (And no, I did not immediately get out of bed to exercise—as I intended to do; I was quite happy to ensconce myself in my covers!)

It struck me, though, how little time we have in silence these days. We wake up with a jolt to alarms or music or our phone ringing or vibrating (or a baby crying, which is the case with me these days). We spend most of the day

Party in My Crib 3:00 am onesie for babies

This is my reality these days, my baby waking up at frequent times during the night, which means I have to enjoy every moment of silence I can get!

with smartphones connected to us at every moment—even by our beds—offering plenty of sound options (apps, music, different ring tones, and more!); at work in meetings, talking to people; in the car with the radio on; watching TV at home. We never have to be quiet anymore. In fact, so many people are seemingly afraid of silence, needing to be at home with the TV or music on…background noise as we so often call it. I even find it hard to be in the car a minute or two without reaching for the radio control knobs. And I know I’m not alone.

We need to try to relish silence more—particularly as our world becomes even more full of noise. I’m not saying we have to be monks, abstaining from all our electronic gadgets and toys and living in noise-free harmony, but there are some things we can do to help clear our heads of the cacophony of sounds from our daily lives. The end goal: bring more silence into our days to help reduce the stress and anxiety that we shoulder—and give us time to just think already!

1) When you’re exercising outdoors, leave your iPod at home. I remember the first time I ran outdoors without music; it was early in the morning and it was so invigorating and inspiring. I actually thought about different things while listening to the birds chirp (imagine that!). Next time you go for a walk, run, or bike ride, take time to listen to nature. (It’s safer this way, too, as noise prevents you from being 100 percent attentive to what’s happening around you—and can result in accidents.) I also think this is one of the reasons I like swimming: there is silence in the pool other than the noise my hands make when they cut through the water. But let’s be honest, though, I cannot live without my tunes on the treadmill or elliptical; I’d be bored out of my mind!!

2) Get the TV/computer out of your bedroom. You’ll find that you may get to sleep more quickly—and sleep more soundly—as a result. (Studies also show that the flickering of TV or computer lights—if you use either before bed or fall asleep watching TV, as some people do—actually interferes with our ability to sleep deeply.)

3) Allow time in your day, regularly, for silence. I truly believe this is one reason why meditation is so powerful when it comes to keeping your body healthy. It’s not just about clearing your mind; it’s about doing so without noise.

4) Give yourself permission to shut off your smart phone. Just put it away; that way, it won’t vibrate every time a new message or text comes in; it won’t ring; and it won’t tempt you to check it every couple of minutes. This is a simple solution to the noise of being “wired” 24/7.

For better health, let’s all take more time for silence. It may be just as important as diet and exercise when it comes to taking care of our bodies!