Life Lessons:
Jo Lichten, PhD, RD

*Are you happy at the moment?

Aaah yes, the sun is warm and I’m wearing flip-flops. When my toes are free, I feel free!

*If you could go back and say anything to your 16-year-old self now – what would it be?

First, I would give her a great big hug, then I’d tell her how wonderful she is just the way she is. I grew up in an emotionally-deficient large family – we didn’t get hugs, or even pats on the back or kudos. I never felt “good-enough” – always felt like a failure. It’s no wonder I developed a very serious eating disorder (anorexia) when I was 16. No wonder I became I dietitian!

*What’s the most important thing you’ve learned this year?

Perhaps I’m slow, but I like to think of it instead as a very unrealistic expectation of how long it will take me to do something. I used to double the time I thought a task would take…but now I triple it.

*What do you most want to achieve in the next 12 months?

To continue to grow my speaking business. My most popular presentation is related to my well-researched book, REBOOT – how to power up your energy, focus, and productivity. I want to continue to develop a new topic that affects so many women: “Don’t let Perfect Get in the Way of Good-Enough.” So often we set ourselves for unattainable perfection and it ends up sabotaging our health and happiness. We say, “I’m never going to eat sweets.” Then, after eating just one cookie, we beat ourselves up about not being able to do anything right, and end up eating the whole bag of cookies. Since nothing in this world is “perfect”, perfectionists always feel like failures – often leading to obsessive compulsion disorders, depression, eating disorders, and low self-esteem.

*What’s your secret to happiness?

Change your thoughts and they will change your life. People often ask how I can stay so positive. It’s important to remember we have a choice when it comes to our thoughts. We don’t have to continue to repeat the garbage that we hear from others. Most of the time those people say something nasty to us just once, what’s worse is the thousands of times we repeat it to ourselves. I remember specific times in my life that I was having a hard time keeping out nasty thoughts about what a failure I was (such as during my divorce). I just kept repeating in my head, “I am a wise and wonderful woman with strength, flexibility, and balance.” As long as I’m thinking that, there’s no room for garbage.

*What one ritual or practice keeps you grounded?

Oh, I’ve got so many. I go to bed early enough so I can wake up without an alarm. If I’m not fully rested, ain’t nobody happy. I always, and I mean always, eat every few hours. That habit is what helped me to recover from my eating disorder. Once I thought of food as fuel, and fed myself physically, I had the energy I needed to devote to my mental health.

*What’s your biggest regret?

I try not to ever regret anything. You can’t change the past, so there’s no point in dwelling on it. But, I can say, that in my business as a professional speaker who inspires busy people to stay healthy, sane, and productive, my goal to help people get to where they want to be a whole lot faster than I did. Life can be difficult. It took me a long time to recover – and I want to shorten people’s learning curve regarding health and happiness.

*What’s the most important lesson you’ve taught your kid(s)?

I cheated here and asked my 25 year old daughter. She responded, “To always listen to your gut and to have a relationship where you are able to talk to your parents about anything.” That’s true. While I gave Ali lots of advice, I tried not to tell her what she should do, but always asked her, “What does your gut say?” So, if she said she had a test tomorrow but she was too tired to study, I never told her she should stay up or not. That was her decision to make – and her consequences, too. In addition, I always listened to Ali and valued her thoughts and feelings. We didn’t always agree upon everything, and trust me, I would tell her, but we always had open lines of communication and respected each other.

*What bad habit would you most like to change about yourself?

I don’t like the words “good versus bad” to describe food – or anything else. But, what habit do I have that I could do without? I definitely wouldn’t stop eating a small amount of chocolate every day – but I could do without the morning glass of diet coke ☺. Then, again, no, I love diet coke.

*Aside from motherhood/fatherhood and marriage what are you most proud of in your life?

That I’m well into my middle-aged years and I still take tap lessons. And, I started surfing a few years back, too.

*When were you happiest?

When I’m outside on a warm sunny day enjoying nature and the people I love.

*What ten words best describe you?

Outspoken, fun-loving, energetic, optimistic, purposeful, determined, analytical, outdoorsy, introvert, thoughtful

Dr. Jo®
inspires busy people to stay healthy, sane, and productive through her books, speaking engagements, and media appearances. As a motivational health speaker, Dr. Jo® has presented more than 1000 events in North America and abroad. She’s appeared on more than 300 radio and television shows including CNN, Fox & Friends, Daytime TV, and the Daily Buzz. Her quotes and articles have appeared in many publications including the Washington Post, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, Weight Watchers, and Prevention. Jo is the author of four books including her latest, Reboot – how to power up your energy, focus, and productivity. Prowling through the medical research, she’s uncovered evidence-based energy-boosting strategies in the area of nutrition, sleep, movement, the work environment, and even our thought processes. Dr. Jo® is a registered dietitian with more than 30 years of experience as a college professor, nutrition counselor, and industry consultant.