Category Archives: Real Life

Self Sabotage: Why we do it and what we can do about it

Not again! How many times have you self-sabotaged your way out of something you thought you wanted? Here’s why you do that and how to get out of it.

If you’re human, you’ve probably, at times, sabotaged your own success in an area of your life. Some of us do this once in awhile and learn to stop doing it, and then there are some of us who do it over and over, preventing ourselves from ever achieving what we think we want.

Learning to manage our self-sabotaging ways is crucial to creating a life that we love.

Not sure if you’re prone to self-sabotage? Do any of these scenarios sound or feel familiar?

  • You’ve blown up a perfectly good relationship for no good reason
  • You’ve bombed a job interview by purposely avoiding preparing for it
  • You decide to “get healthy” finally this year and after a few good weeks of consistent exercise, you skip a few days and now you can’t seem to get going again
  • You find yourself eating when you’re not hungry and even though you know the reasons you’re doing that, you consciously choose to reach for food instead of the tools that you know would help
  • You say no to opportunities that you want (out of fear)
  • You tell yourself that you need more time to analyze the situation before making a decision and end up forced into the only choice left because time ran out. Not deciding becomes your decision.
  • You regularly do things that you say you don’t want to do but you do them anyway

I believe self sabotage is a form of rebellion. We do it to make ourselves feel free. On some level we don’t feel we have the right to have, the ability to get or access to something. We have told ourselves the thing we want is “not for us”. Or someone else told us that we couldn’t do something or have something and we believed them.

We limit ourselves and feel trapped by those limitations.

If there are places in our life where we’ve been held back (by ourselves or by someone else), restricted, stifled, or overburdened we’ll act out with self-sabotage. It might be with food, or maybe it’s by making decisions that feel irresponsible or dangerous. The reason we do it with things we seemingly don’t want is because it’s the only way we give that freedom back to ourselves.

We overeat, eat foods that make us feel rotten, and stop moving our bodies. We hurt the feelings of people we care about. We destroy progress at work, at home and in our relationships.

It feels like a release of sorts to “act out” like this. The thinking is “if I can’t have what I want, then I can at least do this thing that feels like a choice of my own doing.”

It doesn’t even matter that we are blowing up things that we actually want. If we’re someone who doesn’t believe we have a lot of potential or choices in life, we’re after that delicious moment of freedom, even if it causes us pain and regret afterwards.

Where in your life do you not feel free?

Where in your life have you been held back, restricted or stifled?

Maybe you had a strict upbringing or were told to be a certain way all your life, so you stuffed down a part of yourself that is only being expressed now through your self-sabotaging actions.

One of the ways we stop self sabotage is to figure out where we don’t feel free and begin taking actions that do make us feel free.  Is there a dream that you’ve always want that you won’t let yourself have? Have you gone after what you wanted? Have you taken risks towards something you desire in your life?

What dreams did you once have that you didn’t allow yourself to chase? Or were told you couldn’t have?

Give yourself total permission to go after what you want. The actual getting probably isn’t as important as your belief that you deserve to try to go for it. Allow yourself to feel free to choose in your life. When it comes to taking action towards this thing that you want, start small if you have to. The most important thing it to give yourself permission to have it and to believe it. Believe that you have the ability, right and can access whatever it is that you want.

You can do anything. You can be anything. You can have anything. This is all true.

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What Does it Mean to Have Food Freedom?

I want it all and on my terms.

There have been many years where the way I ate was most definitely a “diet”. My goal being to make my body smaller and lighter through food restriction.

Then there were several years where the way I was eating was still restrictive in a lot of ways even if weight loss was just a backup singer to the lead vocalist in the band of “health”. Sometimes I restricted that quantity of food I ate, sometimes it was the calories. Sometimes entire food groups, no dairy, no wheat, lower carb, no animal products, no processed food etc.

During these times, I referred to my way of eating not as a diet, but as a “lifestyle”. The goal of the “lifestyle” was to feel good, and to maintain and “insure” my health, but if my “lifestyle” way of eating was a TV show, there would definitely be some closed captions in parenthesis behind me, whispering shadily that my goal was still to become a smaller person. Make no mistake, the word lifestyle is a both a great way and a terrible way to describe eating like this. On one hand  it has to be a lifestyle in order for anyone to be able to eat that way. You have to have a certain amount of money, time and willingness to prepare food with both strange and time consuming ingredients. Your life has to take on a “lifestyle” where food becomes the most important thing . . . because if you live this way you won’t have time or room for anything else. But on the other hand, a food “lifestyle” is just another word for a diet. It is still restriction with a more appealing name.

Somewhere beyond that is where I am right now.

I’ve been playing with a lot of ideas, a lot of foods and really analyzing what I want my relationship with food to look like.

3 and a half years of coaching women on their relationship with food and I decided that I don’t want dieting, “lifestyle” diets and moral judgements around food to be included in my own.

I want freedom with food. I want ease and I want time and energy available to do other things.

Having food freedom means having more freedom in my life in general.

You may have heard me toss around the term “food freedom” or having “freedom with food” a few times over the last year or so.

But what am I really talking about? I know it’s confusing, especially if you’ve followed me from the beginning. My stance has evolved quite a bit since I started coaching. It is still and always will be evolving. What works for me one month may not be true three month from now. And because of that recognition I have really moved away from giving specific food related advice here anymore. I really believe you have to make these decisions for yourself and that no one can know what makes the most sense for you, but you. It should go without saying that f you have certain health conditions that require abstaining from certain foods, like celiac disease or monitoring your intake of certain macronutrients, like diabetes, that may be a different story.

So in case your food story is also evolving and you too want to leave dieting, lifestyle diets and food morality behind, let’s talk about what I mean by food freedom.

Food freedom is:

  • eating what I want, when I want. Sometimes it’s a burger and fries, and sometimes it’s fresh vegetables.
  • making my own decisions about what foods are good for my body instead of changing my mind every time a new half-assed food study comes out
  • being able to walk into any restaurant and find something to eat
  • being able to eat food that isn’t “healthy” and be completely fine with that
  • not feeling virtuous for ordering the fish or for eating light if I don’t have a big appetite.
  • not letting other people’s decisions about food affect my own needs and choices (this one takes some time/work)
  • not feeling like I have to explain or defend my food choices to anyone
  • not being worried about what other people think about what I’m eating or not eating.
  • trusting my body to tell me when I’ve had enough
  • deciding that it’s ok to have ice cream for dinner because that’s what I want
  • realizing that there are some foods that I don’t want to start eating again, because on revisiting them, they still make me feel like poop
  • being able to skip a meal because I’m just not hungry
  • eating after 8pm because I am hungry
  • trying new foods, prepared in a variety of ways, without needing to know the nutrition facts for the item first
  • not hesitating to order the thing I never “let” myself order when I was dieting (if it’s what I want)
  • choosing for myself whether to eat the same amount of meals each day or to eat whenever I want to
  • making only one rule around food and that is: I get to eat and not eat whatever the fuck I want
  • accepting that my body shape or size may fluctuate throughout the year (and keeping some flexible clothing sizes on hand so that I can feel my best whether my body size goes up or down
  • not making myself sick by worrying about what to make for dinner. One meal or 5 meals doesn’t make a big deal in the scheme of things.
  • buying a box of cap’n crunch because I haven’t had it since I was little and I want to feel that delicious crunch on the roof of my mouth. And then eating it whenever I feel like eating it
  • deciding that there is more to a healthy person than rigorously controlling one’s food intake within an inch of their life
  • is being able to say yes to something as simple as ordering pizza or having a beer without having to weigh the pros and cons of it
  • is revelling in and also not caring at all about food at different times

This is what I want from my relationship with food, and this is how I’m trying to live my life right now.

It feels less tiring.

It’s certainly a lot less work to go out to eat or to plan meals or to make food each week.

I still eat a wide variety of foods and I do have a preference for the types of foods that make me feel energized and comfortable most of the time (which often are traditionally “healthy” things) but nothing is off the table anymore at anytime.

“Food freedom” for me also feels more like “normal” eating for my husband. I don’t think I ever realized how my stuff around food affected him as much as it does. Even though I was always willing to buy or make whatever he asked for regardless of what food restrictions I was currently consumed by, he usually went along with it (because this girl is a decent cook and he’s easy going) but he told me a few months ago how awesome it is that he can say “hey can we have nachos for dinner?” and have me just say yes without even thinking about it or he can suggest some hole in the wall restaurant without me having a melt down about it not having the right kind of food on the menu. It makes me sad that I didn’t even realize that my issues with food made things not “normal” for him too.

I’ve put on a little weight during all this food freedom (to be expected when you stop restricting whole food groups) but I don’t really care. In a lot of ways, I feel lighter. I feel emotionally lighter for sure but even my body feels less burdened by the weight of carrying so many rules about food in it. And honestly, that is probably the best part of finding food freedom.

What does food freedom mean to you? Do you already feel that you have freedom with food or is this an area that you would like to work on yourself? I’d love to help you take steps towards finding your own version of food freedom when you are ready.

 

If You Don’t Have “Big Dreams” or Aren’t Sure of your Purpose, it’s Totally Ok. And You’re Ok.

Clear vision? Big Dreams? Found your purpose? Or do you have no clue and are tired of feeling like there’s something wrong with you.

Warning:  This post DEFINITELY comes from a very personal place that a more cautious person would probably not post online so stop reading if you get secondhand embarrassment easily.

If you’ve ever felt like you were going to barf when someone talks about their purpose, their big dreams or their vision in life because you can’t even decide on what to have for dinner this week, then this post is for you.

I know how heavy it weighs on your heart if you feel like everyone you know has had a detailed life plan and purpose since they were 8 and you just don’t (like, not even at all).

This is something I have felt like a big old weirdo about from as far back as I can remember because I felt like I was the only person on the planet who was battling with this but over the last year or so I’ve talked to quite a few other people who admitted they had a similar struggle going on in their heads too and they felt really ashamed about it. While I hate to see people in pain, it always feels better to know that you’re not alone (especially when you feel alone). It also made me realize that this is a great topic for a blog post – since doing google searches on the subject only pull up lots of stuff that will make you feel worse.

Anyhow, let’s get into this hairy mess.


The only kind of BIG DREAMS I have are the ones where I wake up and Matthew McConaughey is not in my bed.

 

Dream Big! Play Big! Stop playing small! Find your purpose!

Your calling will find you! Get clear on your vision!

All you need to do is _______ to find your purpose!

Everywhere you look, there’s a message telling us how we need to push ourselves harder in order to grow, take bigger actions, play bigger and to dream bigger. That if we’re not already chasing after our lofty dreams and taking action on them every single day, then we are missing out, giving up and playing small. And if you don’t feel connected on a soul level to your dreams and purpose you haven’t been meditating or praying hard or long enough or it’s just not your time yet.

I’m sorry, but . . .

BARF. BARF.

BARF.

The message is that if you aren’t humming along feeling sure of what it is you want or are here for that you are doing it wrong (and that it’s actually soooo easy to do).

As someone who has been coaching for over 3 years now, I’m heavily immersed in the self-help world and surrounded by lots of people who 100% believe it’s essential and possible to to figure out and follow your dreams and purpose with a sparkling clear kale and yoga covered vision. In coaching, we’re all taught that the hard part is the action aspect – taking action on those dreams and visions. It’s really all about getting clear on your goal and then moving towards it no matter what.

But what if you are one of those people who aren’t dreaming big or don’t have a clear goal? Or if you’re one of those people who do want more and would dream big and play big but you don’t have the first clue as to what you even WANT? It’s hard to have huge ambitious goals to work towards if you don’t know what they are. It’s impossible to know what steps you need to take for your life, your business, your family or your future if you don’t have a vision and purpose. A freaking goal!

How can one take actions towards their purpose, their vision, their calling, their BIG DREAMS if they don’t know what the BLEEP they are? And why do those of us who are in this boat feel like the only person in the world who feels this way?

I know there are several of you reading this who DO feel this way and hopefully feel slightly relieved that someone else finally brought it up.

In all honesty, I don’t really dream big. I’m not playing big. I don’t have lofty goals and ambitions. I waver on what my purpose is day to day, year to year. I don’t believe we all just have one calling. I don’t have a plan for the next chapters of my life. I kind of wing things as I go and it totally freaks me out.

Thoughts about “Where am I headed?”, “What’s next?”, and “What am I supposed to be doing with my life?” plague me constantly. Always have. It’s really annoying because since I work in the self- help kind of world, I’m supposed to have all of this stuff totally worked out, right?? HAHAHA! (Thankfully coaching people doesn’t require that you have all the answers.)

It’s such a strange thing to talk about in this realm, that anytime I admit these thoughts to someone in my field they look at me like I just told them I have a dead body in the trunk of my car. They think I’m totally crazy and they just want to get as far away from me as possible.

(Calm down. I don’t even have a trunk on my car!)

If you’ve read this far, it’s probably because you’re like me and feel like you’re a creepy defective anomaly among a world full of mom’s who know their purpose is to be a mom, entrepreneurs who have a clear vision of taking their brand to the international stage, and peers who knew from 7th grade that they wanted to be an engineer and then went for it, never questioning it for a second.

No, you don’t feel like a weirdo or that something is wrong with you? Good for you, but why are you wasting your time reading this? Go act on that vision you are so sure of!

As I said at the outset of this post, this is for folks who are feeling alone for not being clear on their dreams and purpose in life but I also want to share some of the reasons I’ve uncovered why this has been a struggle for me and a few things I’m doing to change it and / or accept it so that I can live my life without worrying about not doing it right.

 

The only VISION I have is the kind that allows me to take in all the gloriousness that is RHONY and GOT.

 

I’ve spent a huge chunk of my life worrying about this and feeling like something was wrong with me because I don’t have the clarity and drive that so many others around me have.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a hard worker, detail oriented, reliable and creative and there are a lot of things I’m really good at. But ask me to choose one direction to head in, and I suddenly feel like my chest is being crushed by a ton of bricks or that I’m going to puke. I can’t. I won’t. Don’t lock me in.

The purpose, vision and dreaming big stuff all boils down to not really knowing what I want. And if I don’t know what I want or where I want to go, then how the heck am I supposed to go there? If I don’t know where I’m going, I could end up anywhere, so every choice I have to commit to feels wrong. (You too?)

I remember being a kid and people asking me what I wanted to do when I grew up or what I was thinking about majoring when I went to college. I never had an answer that felt even remotely right. I couldn’t visualize my life beyond a certain point – I remember feeling superstitious that because I couldn’t see my life at 20, living in the real world, working a “real” job etc that it must mean I was going to die before I was 20 (geez, I’ve always been morbid, huh?). I can’t tell you how many times I repeated that to friends (but somehow I hit 20 and have kept going, visionless and all!). And since everyone around me felt entirely different and had these big ideas and plans and goals, it reinforced the confusion I felt.

I only started to understand some of the real reasons I don’t have big dreams and I don’t have a clear vision / goal very recently. They are (in no particular order):

I’m turned off by the play big / dream big message out there. My life is more than a 6 figure salary, a fancy car etc. Play big / dream big seems to be messaged in a way that conjures up images of material things that prove success. I love me some nice things, but to me playing big / dreaming big is dreaming of being happy and that is more abstract. And when I get turned “off” by something, it’s like a massive wall goes up around me and there’s no obvious way out.

At least that’s the story I’ve been telling myself for decades. It’s kind of like when I don’t like someone. There aren’t a lot of people I don’t like, but the small handful that I don’t – oh man, my dislike is so palpable when I’m in the same room as them and there is nothing they can say or do to change my feelings about them once I get there. I am as hard and cold as ice. Probably harder, because I don’t melt. Wall up, no way in or out. Walk away!

What my solution to this is:  I’m trying to remember that being so closed up isn’t benefiting me. Trying to stay more open. I’m an adult, I can create and make meaning the way I want to.

Somewhere along the way I stopped dreaming or allowing myself to dream. I can’t pinpoint what it was or where it was (it doesn’t really matter) but I internalized the idea that things that were really hard and not “fun” were rarely worth doing, that I’m not as smart as I think I am, that I’m fickle and get bored too easily to stay on one path. I need instant (or at least pretty soon) gratification. Work without reward leads me to burnout and boredom. I also fear getting too involved in something and wanting to back out.

Even the decision about having kids has always felt out of my reach – my answer wavered from yes, to no, to I just don’t know. Even as the clock is ticking and time is running out on that, that feeling of “should we or shouldn’t we?” is still kind of there and I’m not compelled towards either direction. If someone asks what my long term visions are for my business, I say I don’t know and I’ve been saying that since I started. Tell me to create a vision board and I will roll my eyes and say no. If you ask me where I want to be in 5 years, 10 years, what I want to be doing and what my life will look like, I don’t know. I’ve been telling myself “I don’t know” for so long that I’m not sure there was ever a time where I did know. There might have been, but it’s been silenced for so long that even hearing a glimmer of that voice is a challenge.

What my solution to this is: When my instinct is to think or say “I don’t know” in response to some of these big questions, I’m turning it around and asking “If I did know, what might my answer be?” This isn’t giving me some loud and clear cut answers that I wanted to have decades ago but I’m asking it because I know that we have to put the brain to work in order to get it to help us. If I say I don’t know, I’m not giving it anything to work with, but if I ask a question, I give my brain some work to do and it can go uncover answers for me while I’m living my life.

I react quickly rather than sitting with an idea for a bit. I may seem really wishy washy by all my “I don’t know” to life’s biggest questions, but ask the people closest to me to describe me and some of the words you’d hear are “opinionated” and “stubborn”. I may know not what I want but I am clear and vocal on what I don’t want. If I express frustration or unhappiness with an aspect of my life or business and you give me a solution, I’ll have at least 2 or 3 reasons why that isn’t for me before you even stop speaking, haha! It’s not my best quality, that’s for sure but I hold tight to it because knowing what I don’t want feels like I’m at least crossing stuff off the list in the hopes that what is left will be the “right” stuff.

What my solution to this is: I’m working on not reacting and saying no so quickly. I used to be really bad at saying no (I think we all are) but I’ve gotten so GOOD at it over the years that I spit it out sometimes before I’ve really had time to digest the possibilities. This means I’m shutting things down when really I’m in a place where I need to be opening up instead. Pausing. I need to pause and let the words and thoughts enter my brain for a bit. Instead of saying no automatically, I’m trying “I’ll think about it”. Being open to leaving things open ended.

 

The only PURPOSE I have is to find and create happiness where I can.

 

If you worry about not having purpose, a calling or big dream, one thing to realize is that this is not a horrible problem to have. It’s actually a luxury to be able to worry about this kind of stuff.

Let me explain that before you give me the middle finger.

To struggle with worries about purpose, vision, calling, dreaming big etc. means that all your basic needs are met. If I was out having to hunt for food and haul water for drinking, cleaning and cooking and keep a fire going all day just to have my basic essential needs met, I would not have a single thought about what my vision for my life’s work is.  If I lived in a war torn country and had to flee for safety, I would not give a shit about playing big or what I was going to do in 5 years. Worries about purpose come along because we are fulfilled, secure, and satisfied in other areas and we have the freedom to look for “what’s next? What else is there?”

I am incredibly grateful, humbled and thankful for all that I have. My bills are paid, I’m healthy, my husband is healthy, we have a warm and safe home, we have heat, food on the table (so much food!) and we even have lots of extras that we don’t need – good wine, free time, vacations, hobbies, toys etc.

We even have the luxury of paying someone to plow our driveway when it snows, mow our lawn and pick up our trash – normal day to day stuff we used to do ourselves that kept us too busy during our free time to think about this purpose crap . Life is good, we’re safe and I recognize that blessing every day.

Know that if you are out there struggling and worrying about your own lack of vision, big dreams and soul consuming purpose, you are not alone.

I feel it too. And I have clients and friends who struggle with it as well. It’s just that most people don’t talk about it or they are dealing with much bigger problems that threaten their daily wellbeing, safety and security.

It may not be much of a consolation but if you don’t have a plan, a clear vision, big dream or know what purpose you’re on this planet for just know that it’s really ok and that there is nothing wrong with you.

If this is a subject that weighs heavily on your heart, here are a few last reminders and takeaways to keep in your back pocket:

  1. It’s ok if you’re not dreaming big. Remind yourself that if you are worried about this stuff it’s partially because shit is good and you have the luxury to worry about it.
  2. If you’re not dreaming big, but want to and feel like “I don’t know” is your go to whenever questions about what you want come up, try asking “If I did know, what would it be?” Put your brain to work. As a reminder of this, I made a new desktop wallpaper for my laptop that I would see everyday.  It says “What is the story that I’d love to see unfold in front of me?” and “If I did know my purpose, what could it be?”. Just seeing this every day reminds me to stay open and more kind to myself.
  3. Go easy on yourself. At the end of our lives, no one is going to come to your wake and talk about how big your bucket list was or how early in life you figured everything out. Instead they’re going to talk about your heart, your soul and how you made people feel.
  4. Try not to react so quickly with “no” and try not to wall up around people or ideas that don’t sit well with you initially. Try to remain open. And if you’re closed off already, take baby steps towards opening back up. You never know what opportunity, hobby or person you might come across that could help you see things differently!
  5. Spend as much time as you can doing things, spending time with people and taking in experiences that provide meaning for you. You decide what that even means.
  6. Please remember that you are not alone. Lots of other folks are struggling with the same feelings you are but they just don’t talk about it! I’m sending you love and a big hug if you are going through this.

Lastly, does this resonate with you? Does all the vision, goals, dreams purpose talk make you want to barf too? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you!

What to Expect When You Stop Dieting

When nothing is off limits to your diet anymore, sometimes you don’t have a clue what you want to eat anymore!

What can I expect when I stop dieting once and for all? How is life different when you don’t diet?

Humans love to collect evidence and data to help influence their decisions, it helps us to feel confident that we’re making the right decision. We read reviews before making a big purchase, we research a company before accepting a new job offer from them, we ask friends for recommendations when planning a vacation somewhere we’ve never been. Sure, some of us like to jump off willy nilly and be spontaneous when trying new things, but for sure, more of us, like to have as much info a possible! So, for you, my friend, who is currently googling how to stop dieting or what to expect when you go off a diet, this post is for you.

There are a lot of things that happen when you stop dieting and these are just a few of the things you can expect:

  • Expect people to ask you lots of questions about what you are eating or not eating.

    When you’ve been dieting for years or eating a certain “way” (i.e. dairy free, vegan, paleo, “clean” etc) people come to expect certain behaviors of you. Especially if you were someone who was very vocal about what you were or weren’t eating, or even if you weren’t vocal,  if you were someone who ate very differently from everyone around you, people noticed. People are going to notice changes from what you do normally, even if you don’t want them to. A lot of folks think when they make an eating change it’s something that they will do forever and is permanent, but people change their minds and what foods work best for our bodies change over time too. It’s okay to do things differently. Be prepared for lots of questions and decide ahead of time if you are interested in sharing about your journey.  If you aren’t comfortable discussing the reasons you are eating the way that you are (there are many reasons people don’t want to discuss their eating habits), all you have to do is say “I don’t feel like discussing my eating choices. Thanks for respecting that.” or something like it!  You are not obligated to talk about this stuff to anyone you don’t want to, but just know that if you were chatty about it before, people may not “get” that it’s not something you want to discuss now and you may have to repeat yourself a couple of times before people “hear” you.

  • Know that these questions aren’t usually a judgement about you or your choices,

    people are just very curious about how others eat. They’re often looking to understand the reasons behind a change. Frequently we think that other people must have more information or knowledge about something than we do, especially in this day and age of health information overload so to see someone who others assume is very knowledgeable about food and health eat foods that may have been off limits for years is a big surprise and they’re just trying to make sense of it.

  • Know that you might gain weight. Or you might lose weight. Or your weight may stay the exact same.

    I think this is the thing that freaks people out the most when they stop counting calories or start eating foods that they haven’t allowed themselves to have for a decade. If they had to do x, y and z to maintain or lose weight before, won’t not doing those things automatically lead to weight gain? That’s not something anyone can have the answer for ahead of time. Everyone is different. Most often I see people gain weight initially as they start allowing themselves to explore foods they haven’t had in years and as they try to understand their own hunger and fullness signals. Some of those folks do lose that weight naturally over time, but there is no guarantee and it’s not helpful for us to hold onto that goal as we try to get back to eating the way our bodies would prefer us to eat. The best thing you can do when you decide to stop dieting is to allow your body to do what it needs to do as you start to experience food in a more intuitive way (letting go of the desire to lose weight or control your weight is too big a topic for me to cover in this post). Listen to your body and see what you can learn from it (and try not to judge the changes that may happen during this time period).

  • You may realize you don’t even like some of the foods you thought you liked.

    How many of us convince ourselves that we like rice cakes instead of bread or crackers? How many of us still buy rice cakes after we stop dieting? A lot! Rice cakes are such a common “diet” food that entire generations of women buy them even when they’re not dieting just because we’re so used to that kind of food. But when no food is off limits and there aren’t strict rules to follow around food, you start to notice some of the weird diet habits you have and will have to decide if that’s something you want to keep. Rice cakes are just one example but there are tons of other foods that we start eating because of a belief that they are “healthier” or because they are low calorie, but when it comes down to it, we really don’t enjoy eating them and they’re not adding anything nutritionally to our diet. On the other end of the spectrum, last weekend, I ordered a jelly donut for the first time in years while grabbing a coffee at a drive thru. I was really excited to eat that donut as I thought about what it was going to taste like but in reality, the texture was denser than I was expecting and the filling and dough itself tasted almost salty to me. It was not good and I didn’t even finish it. I make a lot of food from scratch and have for many years (including my desserts) so when I eat something heavily and cheaply processed (like from a donut chain) my taste buds say “NO F-ing WAY”. Not dieting means every food will feel and taste differently than you remember it!

  • You’re going to unfollow and unfriend lots of people on social media.

    The “hide” button on facebook has become my favorite thing these days. The amount of people trying to sell weight loss as the cure for all your problems seems enormous when you stop dieting. And suddenly your whole social media newsfeed is full of smoothie bowls, juice cleanses and powdered shake before and after photos and ug, I just don’t care anymore – it’s all so stupid.  You start to notice how often people say terrible things about their bodies (I’ve been no stranger to this myself – always working on it), how often they say terrible things about other people’s bodies and how much energy, effort and money goes into attempting to achieve a particular body type. It’s all you can see sometimes. Use that unfollow or hide button and start clicking away more on the profiles and people who post the things that matter to you more. Cultivate a social media feed that is more of what you want to see.

  • You may feel like you have a never ending hunger and want to eat all the things.

    Relax! This usually goes away as your brain starts to get the message that there isn’t a famine going on anymore. Allow yourself to eat as much as you need and want. I know that feels terrifying after coming off of a diet but it’s also what your body has been programmed to do. It wants to make sure you get what you need so it will increase the hormone ghrelin so that you feel hungry. Eat. Let your body know that you will satisfy your hunger. Don’t restrict. Don’t try to go hungry (you’ll just keep your body in a bit of panic about getting enough food). Trust your body, fuel it, feed it and listen to what it tells you.

  • You may experience some digestive discomfort (like bloating and gas)

    as you introduce foods you haven’t had in years or eat a larger quantity than you are used to. Drink extra water, make sure you get some physical activity (walking is great for digestion) and chew well. Some of this is just your body trying to break down different or a higher quantity of food which can be a little taxing on your system (taking a digestive enzyme at mealtimes can help temporarily). It’s no big deal. If it keeps up over time, pay it a little more attention. Is it a particular food or food group that is causing you trouble? Is it when you eat it a certain way (for example, raw vs cooked vegetables or fried vs. baked chicken)? Note what might be causing it and decide if the discomfort you feel is worth the enjoyment and experience of eating the food. For some of us, if we feel terrible after eating something it’s enough to say, ug, I don’t want that anymore. For others it’s not enough, and it’s up to you to decide what you are willing to deal with. Here’s an example from my own life:  Eating dairy daily triggers my asthma really badly. I no longer eat it daily . . .but eating ice cream once in awhile is totally ok . . .I have weighed the repercussions of eating it and I’m willing to live with the discomfort that comes with occasional enjoyment because butter crunch and black raspberry are worth it.

  • You’ll start to feel like you don’t know what you want to eat.

    Previously, in a lifetime of dieting, there were always foods that you wished you could have or were waiting for a “cheat meal” to enjoy your favorite foods. But now that you will allow yourself whatever you truly want, when you want, after you’ve satisfied that for a while, you’ll find that meal time comes and you often have no clue what you feel like eating. Haha! Nothing will really appeal and ordering off a menu or making a meal plan for home will feel extra arduous. Just go with it, it will pass, like everything else!

  • You may feel a little bit alone.

    When you aren’t dieting, you start to notice that every woman around you at any given time is doing at least one of the following:  A) Dieting, B) Doing a LIfestyle Change (like Whole30), C) On a Cleanse/Detox, D) is eating “Clean” or E) Doing some sort of 30 day fitness challenge. No judgements from me on what other people decide to do (I’ve been everywhere in my eating journey over the years), but when you’ve decide to try to find freedom with food and for you that means no more diets or rules, then all of a sudden having lunch with your coworkers who want to spend the whole time discussing what they AREN’T eating anymore can feel a bit distressing. When you get together with your girlfriends, it can feel like they’re bonding over something they all have in common while you sit there in silence, no longer willing to participate in that kind of conversation. It’s challenging. You’ll feel like you’re sticking out like a sore thumb, because everyone else is doing it but you. But that’s ok! Find a way to change the conversation to something more helpful, interesting and positive if you can. Ask people about their families, about the music they like to listen to, if they’ve got any fun upcoming travel plans, or if they believe in past lives. Ask questions that have nothing to do with health, food or fitness (even though we all currently LOVE to talk about that stuff). A year from now no one will remember what diet details someone shared at lunch but they will remember the engaging and interesting person who asked them lots of questions about their life. You’ll make new relationships and find people who also are on the same path with you this way.

Okay, there are certainly way more things that will happen when you stop dieting than just these but for the sake of brevity I’m going to stop it there today! Some of these things may sound like negatives at first, but I think if you stay firm in your desire not to diet anymore and really tune in to trusting yourself and your body to lead you, you will find that it’s actually a much better place to be. You’ll start to see that not focusing on how food affects your weight so much actually allows you to experience and enjoy life more fully, and isn’t that what it’s really about anyhow?? I think so!

I’d love to hear from you. Is there anything on this list that you’ve experienced since you stopped dieting? And is there anything about quitting dieting that I haven’t mentioned here that was surprising for you? Share below or contact me directly!

Feed Your Emotional Hunger with Purpose, Not Food

Food is never going to fill you up. What will then? That’s for you to figure out. family? travel? volunteering ? cooking? playing music?

The different feelings we have in our body aren’t arbitrary and don’t come from nowhere, and that includes all of the kinds of hunger we experience.

No hunger, whether it be emotional hunger or true physical hunger, comes along without a valid reason. You’re not physically hungry because you’re lazy, or don’t have enough willpower. You’re hungry because it’s time to eat!

You’re not emotionally hungry because you’re pathetic. You’re emotionally hungry because something is missing or not being tended to.

We need to feed both kinds of hunger, but to satisfy each type, we need to know exactly what to feed ourselves with.

Physical hunger is easy (despite how determined our society is to make it complicated). When we eat food in an appropriate quantity for our body, physical hunger goes away. When we eat enough, we are comfortable for a few hours at a time, sometimes many hours. Physical hunger comes back when we’ve digested our last meal and our body begins to let us know with tummy grumbles and other signals that it is time to eat food again.

One way to know if you’re experiencing physical hunger is that many different types of food will be appealing to you. You would be willing to eat a burger, but you’d also be willing to eat pizza, a stir fry or a salad if that is what was available. This doesn’t mean that some things aren’t more appealing than others, but if you only had one food option (barring any health conditions that require avoidance of a specific food) and were physically hungry, you would shut up and chew!

Emotional hunger is different. If we try to feed emotional hunger with food (and often many of us do), we will still ache, we still feel “hungry” (despite possibly being physically full). Hungry. Restless. Bored. Irritated. Confused. Angry. Apathetic. We will feel something that we can’t quite put our finger on. We will keep feeling a gnawing desire for something. We might go to the pantry or look in the fridge a dozen times, only to sit back down because we don’t know what we want or we only want one thing in particular.

One clue that you are experiencing emotional hunger is that you would actually choose to forgo eating if you can’t get your hands on whatever you’ve decided you wanted. Emotional hunger is sometimes picky. We may not know exactly what we want but we know we don’t want x, y and z.

Just like pain is our body’s way of alerting us that something is physically wrong, emotional hunger is a sign from our brains and hearts that what we are doing isn’t working. It’s one of our many alert systems and it won’t stop unless we address it.

There is no amount of physical food in the world that we can consume that will take care of an emotional need. With emotional hunger, you have to look inside a bit to discover what it might be satisfied by.

 

If you want to satisfy Emotional Hunger properly, here’s what you need to do:

Ask yourself:

  • Where might you not be listening to your own needs?
  • What message could your body be trying to convey that you are not hearing?
  • Where are you not being honest with yourself?
  • What’s missing from your life right now?
  • What are you craving more than anything?
  • Do you have outlets for creativity? Spirituality? Physical activity? Love/affection?
  • Do you regularly experience meaning, purpose or value in your life? If not, what experiences give you (personally) those things? How can your get more of them?

To soothe emotional hunger, we have to:

  1. Figure out what it is we are missing or craving (love, companionship, creativity, spirituality, meaning, etc).
  2. Be willing to feel the discomfort once we’ve identified it (just let it be there). Recognize that you’ll survive – feeling it won’t kill us and running away from the feeling isn’t going to “fix” it.
  3. Construct a plan to get that need met.  Feed yourself emotionally in a way that will actually satisfy that hunger.

Figuring out what it is exactly we’re missing is sometimes the hardest part. If that’s you, be willing to try lots of different things. For some that part is easy, it’s just that they have a difficult time taking action on it. If that’s you, it sometimes helps to tell someone what it is you want to change and ask them to hold you accountable to taking action on it. Sometimes having someone check in with you is enough of a “fire” to motivate you to move forward.

 

A note about feeding Emotional Hunger with food

If you are dealing with emotional hunger, and you feed yourself physical food instead of emotional “food”, you’ll never feel satisfied. You’ll never feel full enough, you’ll always feel deprived and you’ll continue to reach for food when you feel the things you don’t want to feel – because those feelings come back afterwards (often stronger).

Emotional eaters frequently eat to distract ourselves from feeling a certain way, believing that the feelings we are feeling are too awful to confront. To avoid feeling crappy, we overeat to make ourselves feel good or comforted, but the irony is that by doing this we end up feeling far WORSE than those bad feelings made us feel to begin with.

Read that again. The exact thing you are using for comfort is causing you more pain than whatever you are running from.

I did this for so long. Up and down cycles of eating and avoiding, eating too much food and avoiding my real feelings, feeding my true hungers. I conflated my discomfort with not knowing what it was that I wanted (emotional hunger) with physical hunger.

I royally screwed up my digestive system, felt physically ill much of the time from overeating,  kept people at an arm’s distance and I stayed in situations that were stifling me emotionally and creatively. Why?? Because eating was so much easier than dealing with any of it. Eating felt like a solution, even if it was just for a short amount of time. It required less effort on my part, less confronting myself and my fears, less risk taking, less responsibility, less vulnerability. I could hide in my kitchen and build up a wall around me with a bag of chips.

Well anyone who has ever tried to build any type of fortress with food knows full well that it’s not lasting armor. It needs constant replenishment. Any “strength” garnered from the activity of eating is gone as soon as you swallow that last bite (sometimes before!!!).

Battling life this way makes it a war you can’t win, because in a war with yourself, the loser is always going to be you.

If you are tired of going through the motions, and ready to confront something that clearly isn’t working for you, you can change it. I’m not going to lie – it is work and it takes a sincere willingness to call yourself out on your own bullshit story (repeatedly!). It means not putting our heads in the sand, not running away from uncomfortable feelings. It means looking at and addressing the things in your life that aren’t providing the value, meaning and purpose you are after (and that is scary stuff, isn’t it?).

Learning how to differentiate and respond to both physical and emotional hunger appropriately is a game changer! It’s so very worth it. If you decide to start paying attention to your hungers, you will grow and you’ll change in ways that some won’t recognize you afterwards – but that’s okay, because in a way you’ve been hiding who you were this whole time!

As scary as it can be to try to understand and tackle the source of your emotional hunger, you’ll find that once you start getting underway with it that you have less anxiety, less irritation, less anger and less confusion. You’ll feel more secure and confident. And you’ll have less of the physical discomfort that comes from eating when we don’t really want food!

Don’t ignore the signs from your body (brain and heart) that something isn’t right. If you have a “hunger” that you can’t satisfy no matter what you eat (and something isn’t physically wrong health-wise), it’s not physical hunger and it’s time to explore where that emotional hunger is stemming from. And if you want help looking at that, let’s talk!


Hey I know it’s tough to change your relationship to food on your own. That’s why I created You Have What it Takes“, a guide full of questions to help you improve your relationship to food using different qualities you already have. Download your copy at the link here.

Choosing Not to Diet Doesn’t Mean that You Don’t Care About Your Health

If you decide to give up dieting it does not mean you are choosing to be unhealthy. They are not one and the same.

In this country, to be a woman and say that you’re not currently dieting is to make yourself an outlier. People will wonder what’s “wrong” with you and what “secret” you must have in order to not do this. It’s so normal to always be on a diet and always be “watching” what we eat that people who dare to say they’re not going to do it anymore are a touch weird, maybe even a little scary, right? It’s like that scene in Office Space, when Ron Livingston’s character Peter Gibbons tells Joanna, a cute waitress he’s having lunch with (played by Jennifer Anniston) that he doesn’t think he’s going to go to his job anymore. He doesn’t like it and he’s just not going to go.

Watch the scene here:

The idea that someone is just not going to go to their job (and not planning on getting another one and doesn’t seem worried about it) is such a foreign a concept in our society that Joanna asks him question after question in an effort to figure him out. You can see the confusion and shock on her face (that she hides with humor) as she tries to understand his angle. But there isn’t one. Thankfully they bond over kung fu movies and can move on from the confusing job subject.

What I think confuses people most when you say you’re not dieting is that they think that means you are going to throw all concerns of health out the window, that if you’re not intensely watching what you eat (like it’s out to get you!) based on some form of restriction, that you can’t possibly care about your health or be doing other things that contribute to being healthy.

That’s all crazily wrong. And it comes from a deeply held belief that dieting equals health. We think losing weight always means a healthier person.

That’s just not true.

Dieting does not automatically make you healthy.

Reducing your size does not always equal better health. There are plenty of people out there dropping pounds using incredibly unhealthy measures – eating crap food, over-exercising or taking dangerous speed-like supplements to reduce their appetites. And if you think there are no negative consequences to weight loss, you are misinformed. Here are just a few health consequences that can come from dieting:

  • Fast weight loss can have big health consequences like gallstones
  • Fast weight loss increases loss of muscle mass
  • the pressures weight loss ideals put on us can lead to eating disorders
  • weight loss can lead to bone loss (this is even more pronounced in women who are in early menopause)
  • yo-yo dieting increases the risk of death, heart attack, diabetes and stroke for people with heart disease.

And that’s not really touching on the mental and emotional risks that can come with dieting. A whole culture full of dieters is so concerned with what they are putting in their mouths and the size / shape of their bodies that they can’t live and enjoy their lives. They feel stressed out, depressed, anxious and alone for a huge chunk of their lives. Why?? Because they’re trying to squeeze into a socially accepted idea of what a body is supposed to look like and the only way to get there is to do the opposite of what their bodies naturally want to do – eat and be nourished. That’s a big burden to carry emotionally for years and even decades of one’s life.

If dieting doesn’t automatically give us good health, then we have to realize that the reverse is also likely true. Not dieting doesn’t mean you don’t care about your health and it doesn’t mean that you can’t be healthy. I’m not discounting the science that shows that our weight contributes to certain health conditions (or makes them worse). I’m just asking you to think about the fact that not everyone who is overweight is a couch potato who is eating nothing but twinkies all day long and that there are plenty of slender people who have a lifestyle that is unhealthy.

There are a ton of ways you can not diet and still live the healthiest life possible.

I can list some of them for you below, but to be really clear and brief as possible – it’s really simple!! You can live a healthy life by doing all the things the supposedly “healthy dieters” do but without dieting. Same stuff, minus one thing (we remove weight loss as the motivator).

Move your body. Do it frequently and choose things that bring you joy. It should feel good (and it’s ok if it’s really hard at first or is hard on some days and easy on others). Do things you enjoy doing – it doesn’t have to be exercise for the sake of exercise. It can be play (outside with the kids, playing frisbee, rollerskating, dancing, charades etc). It can be meditation (walking, hiking, yoga. It can be competitive (sports, races etc). It can be high intensity (like HIIT, running, boxing etc) or it can low intensity (pilates, yoga, tai chi etc). It can be the stuff you just have to get done (gardening, yard work, house work etc). It can be restorative (stretching, yin yoga, foam rolling etc). Don’t think too much about whether you’re doing the right stuff. Work your body hard when it wants to be worked hard, be gentle when it asks for gentle. The important thing is moving frequently and safely for your particular body and choosing things that will keep you able to be as active as you want to be for your whole life.

Eat trusting your body and it’s knowledge. Your body knows exactly how much to eat for it’s needs. It also knows what foods make it feels great and what makes it feel terrible. It knows how to take the foods we eat and use it to nourish, repair and replenish our body so we can live another day. Dieting removes our ability to feel this trust and intuition (so if you’re in a place where you think you need dieting because you can’t trust yourself – you are not alone!) but it is something that we are born with and you can get back there with a bit of work and time (contact me if you need some help with this).

This doesn’t mean we discount nutrition. Just because you’re choosing to walk away from the dieting lifestyle and mentality, doesn’t mean you don’t eat with some awareness of nutrition. Choosing to listen to your body means just that – listening to your body. You may think your body is telling you that it wants to eat cupcakes all day, every day but that’s really your mind telling you that. It’s the mind of someone who’s been told their whole lives that cupcakes are bad, fat is bad and that they’re bad if they eat them. When you’re not dieting and no food group is off limits or “bad”, those foods that previously made you feel out of control, now feel much more neutral. When you know you CAN have something if you want it, it’s got a bit less appeal and power than something you CAN’T have. Eating from a more trusting and intuitive place means eating a wide variety of foods, prepared various ways. It means enjoying food but also not letting that enjoyment override the nutritional needs of your body.

I LOVE chocolate, tortilla chips, cheese and ice cream but I also LOVE fresh and cooked vegetables and in general I prefer how whole foods make me feel for the majority of my diet. I can only say that because I have given myself full permission to eat whatever I truly want. Ironically, what I want most days are the foods that make me feel great (and the foods that make me feel great are primarily nutritious). I figure out what’s right for me meal by meal, by asking “What would make me feel best in this moment?”. It’s always changing.

As much as eating too much of any one type of food can be unhealthy, try to remember that being afraid to eat entire categories of food all the time is equally unhealthy (on a mental and emotional level). Trust that your body does know what it needs (the real question is: Are you listening?).

Make managing stress a priority. Stress is one of the biggest causes of health issues in this country and yet we choose to brush it under the rug and ignore it unless we hit crisis mode. Because it’s a tangible thing to do, it’s much easier to manipulate our food intake under the guise of “health” through weight loss than it is to regularly take part in self-care activities that reduce stress. Stress is a part of everyone’s life – there is no getting around it – but we’ve come to see it as badge of honor to brag about how we can keep soldiering on despite how stressful our lives are. This is not healthy, sexy or something to be proud of. It’s way healthier to find a handful of things that bring you real stress relief and make them a priority. You don’t need to lose weight to do that.

Commit to loving and accepting yourself as you are. Not the person you were 10 years ago (though you should love her too). Not the person you’d be if you got that promotion or if you do finally fit into those jeans. Not the person you wish you were more like. You. As you are. In the body you are in right now with all her flaws, beauty, stretch marks, strong muscles, cellulite, freckles, acne, unmanageable hair, imperfect teeth or whatever else you think is a problem. It’s way healthier to be in a larger body that you love and care for than in a smaller body that is hated, distrusted and shamed. Do whatever you can to be more accepting, loving and tolerant of the body you are in and the person you are. She’s all you have (this is something we can work on together too) and if you’re good to her she will repay you back tenfold.

A few others healthy things that will contribute to your health that have nothing to do with the size of your body . . . Take supplements if needed (a nutritious and varied diet helps but sometimes we need a little help). Get regular check ups. Work on your thinking (if everything is negative? Why? What role could you be playing in that?). Have sex regularly (you don’t need a partner) and work to make it more fulfilling if you’re not happy with it right now. Give and receive human touch (even more important if you are single – make room for massage and be a hugger! We all need the physical connection. Reflect on your life with gratitude. Foster social connections that nourish and make your life feel balanced.

The healthiest people in this world are healthy because of a variety of factors, not just due to the size of their body.

I’m not writing this to make you feel bad about a history of dieting, your current diet or even your desire to seek out another diet (God knows that I have been on as many as the next person). Instead, I just want you to think about some stuff:

  • What problem dieting is actually, truly solving for you? And has it been able to solve that problem in the past?
  • Might there possibly be other things you can do to be healthy that are separate from intentionally manipulating your size?
  • What would your life look like if you weren’t always watching what you ate?
  • Can you have the life you want without changing your weight? Why or why not?

Hey I know it’s tough to change your relationship to food on your own. That’s why I created You Have What it Takes“, a guide full of questions to help you improve your relationship to food using different qualities you already have. Download your copy at the link here.

You are not supposed to be perfect

You're doing enough. You are enough.

You’re doing enough. You are enough.

You’re not supposed to be perfect.

You’re not supposed to be “doing” or “achieving” all of the time.

You are not a machine.

You’re not a robot.

You’re not going to do everything well, all of the time.

You’re going to miss workouts.

You’re going to eat junky food for 10 days straight sometimes. Maybe 14 or 20 days. Maybe 3 months non-stop.

You’re going to say the wrong thing.

You’re going to stumble and fall down.

You’re going to not have a clue what you are doing and fear that someone will realize that.

You’re going to wish you reacted differently with your kids, your significant other, with your coworkers or friends.

You’re going to want to give up, change course, try something else or quit!

You’re going to think you look stupid, foolish, awkward or rude.

You’ll wish that you made different decisions at times.

You’re going to get wrinkles, find gray hairs and wonder if your knees always looked like that.

You’re going to eat more than you “should” have.

You’re going to fail at some things, sometimes a lot of things.

You’re going to feel like everyone has it all figured out but you.

You’ll probably also have some regrets and gaffes.

None of this means something has gone wrong in your life.

You’re human. Your job is to live the life of a human. These mistakes, awkward parts and frustrations are part of the job description. Yes, there will also be amazing periods of time where everything feels great and everything is working out well – but life is all of these parts together, not just the ones we would choose for ourselves.

Things are not always going to go the way we want them to and we’re not always going to be able to perform the way we think we should. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with us.

In our idealized world we’d always eat right, take great care of ourselves, speak eloquently, do things right the first time, always know the answer and never waver in our convictions or our purpose. But there’s no such thing as perfect. There will never be such a thing as “having done enough”, feeling like you’ve accomplished all you’ve been here to do.

Expecting ourselves to always perform better, to always produce more and to do so with a smile on our face is to constantly feel disappointed in ourselves or feel like we are lacking something.

The stumbles, the falls, the mistakes, the good decisions, the bad, the love, the laughter, the tears, the high points and the low. All of it makes you the person you are going to become.

All of it is a part of your journey, even if there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason for it right now.

You’re enough as you are.

You are doing ok.

You are doing the best you can.

Cut yourself some slack.

Wherever you are right now, doing awesome things or hanging on by a thread, it’s the right place, for right now, for you and you alone.

Hang in there lady.

Give yourself a hug.

Pat yourself on the back.

Tell yourself it’s going to be ok and that you’re doing the best you can.

Because it’s true.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 


Have you gotten my newest free guide You Have What it Takes? If you’re an emotional eater, overeater or longtime dieter who wonders if she has what it takes to change her relationship with food, then this for you. And it’s free. Click on the image below, then enter your name and email and it’s yours!

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