Some tips to Overcome Food Cravings

By Kodie Talley

“All behaviors come from underlying desires and changing the root cause of that behavior could have more affect.”  – Anne Hsu, a Behavioral Scientist at Queen Mary’s University of London.

Chocolate. Cookies. Brownies. I crave all the yummy creamy delights with ice cream on top! For a while I was eating ice cream every single night…sometimes even in replacement of dinner. I’m not kidding. I thought that since I spent an hour at the gym it wouldn’t matter. And then I wondered why I wasn’t seeing progress on my weight and health goals!

As a fitness coach and health advocate, I hear from a lot of people who get discouraged because they work so hard and yet they aren’t seeing the results they envision. It’s difficult to desire progress and use it as your motivation each day only to feel you have not improved months later.

Well, something many of these people have in common is submitting to their cravings. Even if it’s not every day it can still make an impact on your progress. Oftentimes, people will eat clean for 5 days and allow the weekends to be a free for all with alcohol and all the foods they restricted during the week (pizza, burgers, ice cream). Even if you’re eating clean most of the time, all the garbage you’re allowing two days of the week is going to set you back.

Many people try to take an 80/20 approach to their diet. This means that 80% of the time they eat clean, and 20% of the time they give in to their food cravings. But what people don’t understand is that the 20% doesn’t mean 2 days out of the week you can just eat whatever your heart desires all day long. In my opinion, what 80/20 really means is Saturday you allow yourself the bowl of ice cream (but let’s not go crazy, only have 1 serving (3/4 cup)). And then maybe Wednesday you treat yourself to a dinner out. Another example is, if you have a wedding or a dinner party, or some social event, you can eat the food! Use that as your 20%, just plan ahead.

Personally, I follow a 90/10 approach to my diet. This means 10% of the time I give in to my cravings. It’s typically about 1 weekend a month and it usually falls on some holiday or monthly celebration.

Here are a few ways to get rid of your food cravings to stay strong during your 80%:

1) Distract yourself –  The theory is that cravings are caused by your imagination – imagining how good that ice cream is going to taste.  According to some recent research by Anne Hsu, a Behavioural Scientist at Queen Mary’s University of London, “If you hijack that part of the brain [that is imagining the food] then it can’t sustain the craving anymore. ” In her research she used an app to get people to imagine something different – a forest, or a white horse, for example – when they felt a craving.  The results showed significant reductions in unhealthy snacking.  A different study recently showed that the computer game Tetris, if played for just three minutes, can weaken cravings for food.

3) Find alternatives  – Try grapefruit, small red baked potatoes, carrots, and salads filled with greens and fiber. These foods work by filling people up quickly, but they all work by buying time, particularly the grapefruit as the slow, strategic method of eating one can lead to a craving forgotten.  This is according to Mary Beth Sodus, a Nutritional Therapist and Registered Dietician at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

4) Be Mindful – When you try these alternatives be MINDFUL about it. I’d advise, if you’re craving ice cream, eat something that has the same texture as ice cream, maybe some healthy yogurt (you could even freeze the yogurt). While you’re eating this alternative close your eyes and feel the food on your tongue. Let your taste buds savor it.

5) Attack the root cause – Think about why you’re craving this food item. Is it because you just finished dinner and you want dessert? Maybe you’re an emotional eater and something’s bothering you. Or quite possibly you’re just bored. Be mindful of the root of your cravings and maybe you can change something about the underlying cause.

kodieKodie Talley graduated from the University of Idaho with a B.S. in Exercise Science and Health and a minor in International Studies. She hopes to use her degree to pursue a career in Fitness Entrepreneurship and travel abroad to serve underprivileged communities. Kodie is originally from Washington State and moved to Waco in May 2016 to intern at the Health District and live with her significant other who is attending Baylor for his masters. So far she is loving Texas and how welcoming the Waco community has been!

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email for more information.



Don’t let Stress Steal your Holiday

By Salley Schmid

Stress management is a topic that can go in many different directions.  All very useful and important directions in which to explore stress management.   In today’s Act Locally Waco Mental Health blog, I am going to turn your attention to stress management during the holidays with regard to relationships and traditions.

There are some easier to implement stress management tips around these topics and there are some not so easy to implement, but powerfully transformative stress management tips.  Here are a few of hopefully easier to implement ideas:

  • Live / spend / gift within your means shame free
  • Say no to make room for yes:
    • pick fewer traditions, events, and travel scenarios
    • Delegate or purchase pre-prepared when you can (not everything has to be homemade, give yourself a break)
    • Decide as a family what are the few most important traditions and values to express during the holidays and endeavor to meet those and if nothing else gets done it’s ok
    • Recruit help with anything you can – even if you need to pay for some of the help – everyone needs to earn a living and your mental, emotional health is important enough to invest in, hence paying for the help to be less burdened.

AAANNND for some that may be hard in the short run, but stress relieving and energy saving in the long run:  Practice healthy boundaries in relationships.  For example, when giving gifts that are within your financial means remember:

  • your gifts do not define you
  • others’ responses to your gifts do not define you
  • your values and alignment with your values is what defines you – your heart’s intention.

Letting go of feeling responsible for how others feel and think is an act of setting a healthy boundary.  The mindset of the above 3 points helps you do this letting go in order to live that healthy boundary.

Anticipation of the perfect holiday experience is a bit of a set up.  That’s a tall order to fill.  It is basically putting the holiday on a very high pedestal and it is a long fall from that pedestal.  One detail is off and the whole experience seems tainted.  Letting go of these high expectations and the anticipation of the perfect experience, makes room for flexibility, mistakes, forgiveness, and adaptability.  It paves the way for resilience and peace.

Discuss what roles people can play in the holiday experience – give people jobs.  Most individuals want to feel like they are making a meaningful contribution, not solely a recipient of your service.  Having a role or job equals feeling useful and meaningful, not having a role or job equals feeling like a burden and useless.  Invite everyone to feel useful and meaningful this holiday season.

If you have new family members – such as by marriage, invite the new members to share a tradition of their own with your family, get the details so that you can accommodate.  With a heart of gratitude, give up something of your own if necessary to make room for the new.

Be flexible.  As families grow dynamics of all sorts change.  Maybe a different calendar date needs to be set aside for a holiday to get everyone together.  The togetherness is what is important, not the number on a calendar.

Set boundaries in advance with behaviors or scenarios that have led to resentment or difficulty in the past.  For example, if you have a family member who typically gets hammered at the holidays and ends up creating a difficult scenario, in advance, invite that person to come sober and stay sober so that you can connect with that person rather than connecting with alcohol.  Invite them to refrain from coming if they don’t want to remain sober.  Let them know if they come and end up intoxicated, you will call for a ride for them and assist them in getting home without driving.

Another example is with pets.  If your holiday guests have in the past been known to bring their pets without getting permission or even knowing that they are unwelcome, in advance, set the boundary with them.  Ask them to make alternative arrangements for the pets, to bring crates, or stay at a pet friendly hotel . . . and express your gratitude for their presence without the pets.

Boundaries are not easy to set.  When setting them, others will not always receive them well, might accuse you of being mean or selfish, and might get mad at you. All of these responses are possible but not an indicator that you are in the wrong.  It is not your job to ensure everyone is pleased with your every move.  That is an impossible feat.  In the long run, setting healthy boundaries reduces stress, even if it might take a bit of time to get there.  However, it is less stressful than year after year dreading and then resentfully enduring the intolerable.

I wish you peace and joy this holiday season, hold on to what matters, relationships and love, not things, not food, not perfection.  Embrace life and family in all of its glorious messiness.  Hope for the best, but don’t expect it.  Rather, let the days unfold without trying to overly orchestrate each moment and experience.  Organically occurring memories will be the most meaningful.  Orchestrated moments tend to carry the memory of the stress they caused trying to orchestrate them. Let peace and joy be the theme.

salley-schmidSalley Schmid’s counseling practice specializes in helping people transition to a place of strength after experiencing any form of interpersonal trauma or pain, dissatisfaction in relationships, the loss of a sense of self. I work with individuals, families and parents from a family systems perspective. I have extensive experience working with individuals who have experienced psychological or emotional or sexual abuse or any interpersonal trauma, traumatic grief, divorce, blended family work, parenting challenges and attachment difficulties.  Salley Schmid, LMFT can be contacted at Enrichment Counseling at: 254-235-3500 or




Main Street Entrepreneurs can learn from Tech Start up Methodology

(This article is about applying lean startup methods to Main Street or traditional small businesses and features McLennan Small Business Development Center’s involvement in the SBA’s Lean for Main Street Training Challenge.   McLennan SBDC is now scaling its pilot regionally and offering the next Introduction to Customer Discovery cohort at the Addison TreeHouse, in Addison, Texas, from January 10 – 31, 2017.  For more information and to apply, click here.)

By Jane Herndon

Too often, entrepreneurs fall in love with their invention or business idea and assume everyone else will love it, too.

Full of confidence, they dive immediately into execution with little afterthought.  They make a significant up-front investment in a brick-and-mortar location, buy equipment, hire staff and open their doors.  Ready, set, go!

Some might even approach it more thoughtfully and actually write a traditional business plan.  Legal structure? Check.  Marketing plan? Check.  Financial projections? Check.

Though very different approaches, both focus on the tactical “can I build this product or business?” versus the strategic “should I build it?”  But what if you build something nobody wants?

More businesses fail from lack of customers than from lack of capital or marketing or product failure.  Only half of all establishments survive five years or longer. (1)

Get Out of the Building

screen-printTo address uncertainty and improve the odds of business success, Steve Blank, serial entrepreneur and father of the Lean Startup movement, and his protégé, Eric Ries, have pioneered an evidence-based approach to entrepreneurship. What the scientific method did for accelerating scientific breakthroughs, lean startup promises to do for business innovation.

And it does so by turning the decades-old formula for writing a business plan on its head.  Instead of diving in and/or launching one’s company with a business plan full of unproven assumptions (guesses), it urges entrepreneurs to “get out of the building” and in front of a volume of prospective customers to gain first-hand insight into their problems, needs and motivations. This customer-centric approach emphasizes rapid experimentation over elaborate planning, stakeholder feedback (facts) over guesswork, and placing “small bets” over big, up-front investment.  It addresses the question: “is this a business worth pursuing?”

Today Blank’s lean startup class is the world’s leading pre-accelerator program.  It is also the core curriculum of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Innovation Corps, known as I-Corps™, the nation’s premier, federally funded entrepreneurship program.  The NSF uses lean to help scientists commercialize or turn their ideas into businesses.

Last year, President Obama announced plans to scale up the National Science Foundation I-Corps program with new and expanded Federal agency partnerships, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) among them.  McLennan Small Business Development Center is honored to participate in the first wave of the SBA’s I-Corp-inspired innovation effort.

Everybody Has a Plan Until They Get Punched in the Mouth

The first piece of advice most would-be entrepreneurs get is “go write a business plan.”  And it’s true if you need a bank loan. It’s also true that few business plans survive first contact with customers.  Or, as Mike Tyson once said about his opponents’ prefight strategies: “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

Unlike web startups, brick-and-mortar businesses require considerable up-front financial investment just to open their doors – a time when uncertainty is highest.  Creating business plans and financial models based on secondary research and guesses – without testing these assumptions first – can waste valuable time, lead to over-investing and create a false sense of security. The better up-front investment is to do some reality checks with stakeholders to find out “you don’t know what you don’t know” and whether you’re even solving a real need.

Finally, small business owners, and the people who love them, have a lot of skin in the game. The majority bootstraps their companies with their own funds or those of friends and family.  According to the SBA site referenced earlier, the most common source of capital used to finance small business startup and expansion is personal or family savings (21.9%), followed by business profits and loans (5.7%).  Simply put, when small businesses succeed, communities thrive.  When small businesses “get punched in the mouth” and fail, families, communities and local economies suffer.

Lean for Main Street Pilot

While lean resources and programs are commonly available online and through accelerators, universities and events like Startup Weekend, they’ve been geared to tech startups.  Small business owners and first-time entrepreneurs may be less aware of lean methods and more importantly, how to effectively apply them.

To this end, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Entrepreneurial Development created the Lean for Main Street Training Challenge to bring the benefits of lean methodology to traditional “Main Street” businesses.  The purpose of the challenge is to develop and pilot a variety of lean innovation curricula for small businesses and scale these teaching innovations to a wider audience.  In January, they conducted their own lean experiment with the national SBA resource partner network by launching the prize competition on the federal government’s open innovation platform,

classIn March, five winners were announced nationwide, including McLennan SBDC. Three weeks after the award announcement, Strategist Chris McGowan and I joined the other prize winners from San Francisco, metropolitan DC, Pittsburgh, and Mississippi to observe a national I-Corps program in Washington, DC for a 6-week train-the-trainer program.

After additional mentorship from Max Green, national I-Corps instructor based in Austin, we launched the Introduction to Customer Discovery short course (aka Customer Discovery Workshop) in August.  We sought to include entrepreneurs and social innovators not typically exposed to lean startup methods and cohort-based learning.  Applicants were encouraged to apply as 2-3 member teams; we selected a group of 8 teams, called a cohort.  The majority of teams were women- and minority-led.

The Introduction to Customer Discovery short course is designed to help pre-venture, startup and early-stage companies establish product-market fit and improve their odds of success. Ideal candidates are those who either have an idea for an innovative new business or who’ve recently started a promising business, but aren’t getting the customer traction they anticipated.

We use a “flipped classroom” approach.  All coursework is done prior to class to allow for participant-led presentations, inquiry and direct feedback from instructors. On the opening day, teams present their initial business thesis and assumptions about customer segments and value propositions. They are tasked with interviewing 10 or more potential customers every week to determine whether what they’re offering solves a real market need.

While the class runs over a three-week period, participants attend only two days of classes – the opening and closing workshop.  This means, that after the opening workshop, teams “get out of the building” and work on their own schedule, talking to potential customers about their business problems and needs. Team members record their interview findings online and check in remotely with instructors via webinar for another round of instructor feedback at the halfway point.  The group reconvenes on the final day where they present their findings, next steps and “lessons learned.”

Since we have limited time, instructors will push, challenge, and question in order to accelerate insight and learning cycles.  Exchanges are direct, open, and tough.  This approach may seem harsh or abrupt, but teaches how to challenge your own thinking and bias, and appreciate that as a business owner, you will need to learn and evolve faster than ever imagined.

Finding out if your product/service is a business opportunity worthy of pursuit – based on a volume of customer feedback – is considered “success.”

A McLennan SBDC client sums up their short course experience this way:

“This was a tectonic shift in our approach and understanding of what we have to do to succeed… The combination of the lean startup content from Steve Blank, etc., plus the brutally honest & challenging feedback is really powerful…it’s in a league of its own…”


  • Unanticipated “punches in the mouth” can and will impact your business plan. The lean approach helps manage this uncertainty with an evidence-based, customer-centric approach to entrepreneurship.
  • Small businesses are a creative entrepreneurial force and the backbone of our economy. Lean methods can catalyze economic growth and innovation by helping ventures launch more quickly, cheaply and with less risk.
  • An entrepreneurial development program is only as good as the number of people it can reach. Successful ecosystem partnerships are key to taking lean innovation mainstream.

jane-herndonJane Herndon grew up as a child laborer in the family business and was bitten by the entrepreneurship bug early.  A technology industry veteran, she retired from a glamorous business-modeling career to work with the SBDC.  When not serving as a business mentor, she can be found down the rabbit hole with Buckminster Fuller, her rescue rabbit. For bona fides, see LinkedInContact Jane at, if your organization is interesting in partnering to bring lean startup methods to local entrepreneurs and innovators.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email for more information.


(1)   U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Advocacy, Frequently Asked Questions, (2016)

Bicycle commuting makes sense in Waco

By Eric Martin

Most people don’t enjoy their drives to work. In surveys, Texans rank commuting dead last in our preferences among daily activities. That’s not surprising: driving is frustrating and remarkably bad for our health, causing sleep loss, backaches, and higher blood pressure. It’s also bad for our social and personal lives: long commutes have been associated with loneliness and higher divorce rates [1].

Although we dislike long commutes, and we know they’re bad for our health, our commutes keep on growing, and the average American now spends 52 minutes a day just getting to and from work. That’s an astonishing waste of time and potential. More time in cars means less time invested in family, friends, or pursuits that matter to us.

Thankfully, most Wacoans don’t need to endure such long commutes, but we’ve followed the same trends as the rest of the country, living farther from places of work and so spending more of our time in cars.

We sacrifice that quality time because we think its loss will be made up for by other benefits. Sometimes, it’s a larger house in the suburbs. At other times, it’s the larger paycheck from a new job farther from home. But it turns out that those advantages do not outweigh the downsides of spending our lives in cars: on the whole, people report they are less happy when they accept longer commutes.

This trade-off of is so well known that researchers even have a name for it: “the commuting paradox” [2]. It seems paradoxical because we willingly make a trade-off that decreases our own wellbeing. We overestimate the benefits of bigger houses and paychecks, and underestimate the downsides of long commutes and loss of community.

Higher income and larger houses do make us happy, but only for a while. We quickly adapt to them, and then they stop conferring much happiness. Curiously, we don’t adapt to social isolation. It turns out, we are often wrong about what will make us happy.


Photo courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University

Driving wasn’t always our preferred option for getting around town. In the past, Wacoans commuted by other methods: we walked, biked, and took streetcars to get around town. In central Texas, the Interurban Railway got Wacoans through town and connected us with McKinney, Denison, and Dallas. An incredible 819,000 passengers used this system at its peak in 1920 [3].

Single-passenger vehicle driving only became our dominant mode of transportation when Texans left cities for the suburbs in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. The history of our car driving is strongly connected with the history of our flight from cities. (I have previously written about the destructive effects of “white flight” in Waco here.)

Photo courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University

Photo courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University

But there is an attractive alternative to such trends – an alternative which might encourage us to think about living in closer proximity to our places of work, school, and shopping: the trusty bicycle!

Bicycle commuting just makes sense in Waco. We already benefit from wide roads with plenty of space for multiple user groups, and we also enjoy good weather for most of the year. Additionally, the city plans to invest in more bike lanes that will help connect residential areas with employment and economic centers.

For me, getting to and from work isn’t the worst part of my day; it’s often one of the best parts. Here are a few of the tangible ways that cycling around Waco improves my own quality of life:

+ Cycling gets me places faster. This may seem counter-intuitive, but given that about half of all our car trips are within 3 miles of home, you’d be surprised how fast the journey can be on a bike. When I subtract the time I would have spent parking, most of these shorter trips are actually faster on a bike than in a car.

+ Cycling saves me money. Between gas, oil changes, and repair, driving a car is expensive. City driving is especially hard on cars and requires regular maintenance. Bicycles are cheap by comparison, costing less than public transit and far less than cars.

+ Cycling is free exercise. I feel more energetic and healthy when I get even a few minutes of physical activity every day. No need for that pricey gym membership when you’re getting around town by bike.

+ Cycling supports our local economy. I’m happy when my money stays in Waco rather than going to corporate offices in some faraway city. Local economies flourish when more people are walking and cycling compared with driving [4].

+ Cycling doesn’t pollute the air. About 600,000 children in Texas have asthma, and over 500 of them are hospitalized each year on account of it [4]. We know that pollutants from our cars cause asthma and other respiratory diseases. If Wacoans want to “love one another,” then we must ask how our own behavior affects our neighbors’ wellbeing.

+ Cycling is simply an elegant way to travel. I’m dependent only on a simple machine, and I feel free while using it. Cycling connects me with parts of my environment that I’m otherwise isolated from: the city’s topography, the weather, and the people in my community.

What about safety? Isn’t cycling dangerous? It’s true that being on the roads with cars takes some practice and caution. And our city can help make cycling safer with better infrastructure such as bike lanes. But that said, cycling may not be as dangerous as you think. Recall that the exercise from cycling imparts substantial health benefits and decreases risk from the leading causes of death.


Photo courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University

While automobiles clearly have their uses, by and large, they haven’t made Americans happier, and they often make us less happy. That could prompt you to try something new. More and more Americans are commuting by bicycle. You might be surprised to rediscover how fun it can be.


eric-martinEric Martin is an Assistant Professor of History & Philosophy of Science at Baylor University’s Great Texts Program. When he’s not at work, he can be found riding his bicycle, exploring Cameron Park, or enjoying coffee.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email for more information.


[1] See Daniel Kahneman and Alan B. Krueger. 2006. “Developments in the Measurement of Subjective Well-Being” Journal of Economic Perspectives 20:1 3–24; Robert D. Putnam. 2000. Bowling Alone: the Collapse and Revival of American Community. New York: Simon & Schuster; Erica Sandow. 2014. “Til Work Do Us Part: The Social Fallacy of Long-distance Commuting” Urban Studies 51:3 526-543.

[2] Alois Stutzer and Bruno S. Frey. 2004. “Stress That Doesn’t Pay: The Commuting Paradox” IEW – Working Papers 151, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics, University of Zurich.

[3] Terri Jo Ryan, “Interurban Railway,” Waco History, accessed November 26, 2016,

[4] Tanya Snyder, “Bicycling Means Business: How Cycling Enriches People and Cities,” StreetsBlog USA, accessed November 26, 2016,