The Surprising Science of Self-Control with Pete Kirchmer

pete kirchmerIf you’re ever down at the Ranch and have a chance to go to Pete Kirchmer’s series of classes on Self-Control and Willpower, you must go.  I’m telling you!  His class was packed each day I was there and for good reason.  Pete is an amazing speaker, is easy to understand and to the point.  Both days I left his class I feeling like I could tackle any issues I had regarding lack of willpower (hmmm, chocolate and sweets were the main ones that came to mind).  Here are some highlights that Pete mentioned when it comes to why we need willpower and how to access it.

What is willpower and why do we need it?

  • Willpower is the “yes I can kind of energy”.
  • It’s a myth that you don’t need willpower to succeed.
  • We all know what we’re supposed to do, right? Eat fruit and veggies, moderate alcohol, caffeine and sugar, do high intensity short duration workouts 3 times a week, sleep 7 or 8 hours, manage your stress, etc…but how many of us actually do that?  That’s why we need willpower.
  • Willpower is the greatest predictor of success.
  • Studies have shown that people with strong willpower are happier, healthier, make more money and are more stable emotionally.
  • Willpower is a better predictor of success than IQ.
  • Willpower is the process of reconditioning.
  • As soon as you engage in that internal conflict you’ve already lost the battle.  Ex: Should I have the piece of cake?  No I shouldn’t I have that piece of cake, but I really want it!
  • How to train your brain for more willpower is being mindful in the present moment on purpose.
  • Most habits run on autopilot, but when you wake up to your own behavior patterns and observe yourself, your impulses are no longer in charge of you.

The strategies and steps to stronger willpower:

  • Who Power-Knowing who you are at your best and your worst.
  • Want Power-Being clear about what you want.
  • Why PowerBeing tapped into a source that motivates consistent action and progress.
  • We Power-The understanding of social norms and the impact others have on your health and behavior.
  • Where Power– What places give you energy and which drain your energy.  More clutter leads to less willpower.
  • Will Power-Having a solid action plan and structure that breaks down each goal into manageable steps.
  • Won’t Power-Setting up firm boundaries around commitments and planning ahead for potential obstacles.

So we can see that willpower is really the tool that we can use to better our life, our health and our goals.  While this is just an overview of Pete’s presentation, it will give you some insight on the types of steps you can do to flex your willpower muscle!  However, Pete goes over so much more in the class and I can’t stress enough how valuable his teachings are.

Pete Kirchmer is a life coach who teaches the series of classes, The Surprising Science of Self-Control at Rancho La Puerta.  To learn more about Pete, you can go to his website,

Dating after 40 with Dr. Pepper Schwartz

420_pepper_schwartz.imgcache.rev1296827146385We were lucky to have sex therapist Dr. Pepper Schwartz at the Ranch recently where she held a class about dating after 40 (or waaay after 40). Although I don’t fit into this category, I have to say that this talk could apply to dating at really any age, but specifically dating in 2013.

Remember the movie Sleepless in Seattle when Tom Hanks’ character enters the dating world after his wife passed away and how “different” things were for him? And that was before the Internet!

So yes, Pepper spoke a lot about online dating because as she said “that’s where the people are.” But let me back up… she said first you must be prepped and “ready” to date.. .meaning, you need to be over your ex.  Meaning you need to be indifferent about your past relationships. This may take time, but it’s essential if you want to meet someone new. You want to bring your best self to the new relationship, right? Right.

If you want to meet someone new, it’s imperative to move outside your current social groups and make new acquaintances who could possibly introduce you to someone new. Or there is that whole online dating phenomena. Dr. Schwartz advises joining three paid sites: a small niche boutique site (J Date and C Match are examples of these), a medium size like Perfect Match and a large one like This will cover all your bases and allow you to meet people you might not otherwise.

The bottom line is before you’re ready to date, you must be in a healthy relationship with yourself.  Second, you need to get out there and meet new people!  Third, take dating with a grain of salt.  Not everyone will be perfect for you, and you will not be a perfect match for everyone.  Have fun with dating, and don’t take it so seriously.  Be open, be safe and most importantly have fun!

To learn more about dating from Dr. Pepper Schwartz, check out her book Prime: Adventures and Advice on Sex, Love, and the Sensual Years.

Building Rapid Rapport with Abe Wagner

Building rapport is something I remember from my days in outside sales. It’s standard business training, but I really didn’t think of it much outside of business. I guess because in typical, everyday situations we build rapport without even thinking about it.

We were lucky enough to have Abe Wagner at the Ranch to talk about not only building rapid rapport, but also how to talk to each other to avoid conflict and basically how to have good communication.  Now, if you ever have the chance to see Abe do a seminar, consider yourself lucky. He is hilarious! He takes what could otherwise be a dull subject and brings life to it. What he teaches us is invaluable because it really helps in everyday life.

He talks about pacing, but not the kind of pacing most of us are used to. According to Abe, “pacing means to establish rapport with another person by imitating and getting into their map of the world.”  Believe it it not, we naturally imitate people when we converse with them. It’s a natural thing that begins as early as when we are babies. There are exceptions to this rule. You don’t want to imitate anything negative or make it too obvious. Why imitate someone? Well, we feel more comfortable talking to people like ourselves.

Ways to Imitate:

  • Tone
  • Energy
  • Body posture
  • Volume
  • Gestures
  • Breathing

Another side of this that I thought was priceless was “getting into the other person’s map of the world” which means seeing something from the other person’s point of view.  Abe made it clear that most of the time we’re talking to someone, we’re only speaking from our own point of view, which doesn’t make for very good communication!

Here are some ways to become a better listener:

  • Don’t repeat what someone has just said to you, paraphrase it.  Why?  You can hear what someone is saying without really listening, but when you repeat what they said in your own words, it shows them that you were really listening.
  • Give a short response like “I see what you mean” or “I hear you.”
  • Ask questions.

These little tips are valuable because who doesn’t have bouts of bad communication?  We could all use some improvement.  I know I can!

How Much Protein Do You Really Need?

protein, nutrition, health

This subject often conjures up many different answers and often confusion in our culture.  We’re told that we need more and more protein, yet many of us are eating too much of it.  Our Director of Nutrition, Yvonne Nienstadt gives us key points on how much protein we actually need and the best way to get it in your diet.

  • How much protein we need is based on our body weight and composition.  The Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein is 10%-12% of your total daily calories.  If you work out on a regular basis or do heavy weight lifting you may need more.
  • The National Research Council recommends 0.42 grams of protein per pound of body weight while the institute of Medicines Food and Nutrition Board recommends 0.36 grams per pound.
  • Protein is made up of 22 amino acids.  14 are the non-essential acids which are essential for pregnant women, children and athletes.  The other eight are called the essential amino acids which cannot be made in the body and are necessary for health.
  • Nails and hair that won’t grow and wounds that won’t heal are signs of protein deficiency.
  • Symptoms of protein excess are gouty arthritis, kidney stones and renal impairment.  Eating over 90 grams of protein a day from a high animal protein diet causes the kidneys to work harder and can cause kidney dysfunction.
  • You can get the bulk of your protein from plants just like our closest primal cousins, chimpanzees, whose “total animal food consumption amounts to no more than 1-2% of total calories.”  Our teeth are built mostly for grinding plant matter.  Our stomachs have mild acidity and a very long digestive tract, not ideal for eating a lot of animal protein.

Contrary to most of the information out there regarding protein, you can get plenty of protein from plants and veggies, which should be the bulk of your meals, surrounding a small amount of whatever animal-based protein you like.  This will ensure you’re getting the right amount of protein without going overboard.

For more information regarding protein, you can attend Yvonne’s seminar at the Ranch, Protein: How Much Is Enough?

Dreams and Creativity

I was excited to hear one of this week’s speakers, Veronica Tonay, Ph.D. talking about dreaming; why we dream, what they mean and how we can utilize them for creativity and ideas.  According to Dr. Tonay, “The dream is the purest reflection of who you are.”  Personally, I have vivid dreams that I can usually remember.  I don’t know if this is a gift or a curse. Sometimes I feel like I can’t get a good night’s sleep because my dreams seem so real, but on the other hand I get some of my best creative ideas from my dreams.

I’ve always been intrigued by dreams, so this class was interesting to me, especially learning about some of the random facts about dreams. You might also find interesting that:

  • Each of us has around five dreams per night
  • Two-thirds of our dreams have some sort of misfortune in them.
  • While we’re dreaming during REM sleep, our major muscle groups are paralyzed, so we don’t get up and physically act out our dreams.
  • Dreams are about six months ahead of us in time, that is if we get a great idea from one of our dreams, it usually takes us about six months to take action and make it come true.
  • Lucid dreaming (which is being able to know that you are dreaming while in a dream) and dream control (being able to control what happens in the dream) happens between REM sleep and waking up.
  • We also have our most intense dreams towards the end of our sleep period right before we wake up.

According to Veronica, dreams are metaphorical.  For example, what happens to many creative people is that they meet some sort of obstacle in their dreams (usually in nature) such as a boulder in the middle of the road.  Usually the boulder represents something else such as a block in creativity.  She suggests when you have a dream like this  to be aware of how you interact with that obstacle. It might tell you how you’re dealing with certain issues in your own life.  She also says to write down the images in your dreams in any order or even paint and draw them.  This is great for kick starting a creative project.

To learn more about dreaming facts and how to utilize your dreams for creativity, visit Veronica Tonay at