Tag Archives: Primary Food

I’m Not Judging You For Eating That

photo credit: mhaithaca via photopin cc

photo credit: mhaithaca via photopin cc

As I place my order with our waiter, I can tell by the way you’re looking at me that you are second guessing your choice. The way your eyes dart back and forth as you look down at the menu tells me you are searching frantically for an option that you think would be “ok”. The waiter looks around the room impatiently but manages to keep a tightly pursed smile on his lips.

I’m guessing you felt his impatience because you put the menu back down and quickly order. “I’ll just have the  . . . “.  He grabs our menus and hurries away to another table.  Without me saying anything or even changing the expression on my face, you blurt out (any one of these):

1.  “Oh, I’m only ordering this because I didn’t have breakfast today”
2.  “I’ve been so good lately that I’m rewarding myself. Back on the diet train tomorrow!”
3.  “I never eat this stuff but I haven’t had this in so long!”
4. “Do you ever cheat? You’re making me look bad!”

If we go out to lunch and I order a green salad and the wild salmon, there’s no need to add a disclaimer when you place your order (of macaroni and cheese, buffalo wings or a glorious piece of cheesecake or anything else).

I’m not judging you for what you eat. I’m not watching your every move. I’m not making an assessment of your entire diet because of one meal we share together.  I hope you extend me the same courtesy.

While I encourage eating less processed food, more whole foods from nature and being thoughtful about what ingredients we put in our bodies, I want you to know that it doesn’t mean that I expect that you will eat the exact way I do (or that you want to). We each have reasons for choosing the foods we do. It might be because it tastes good, it’s tradition, it feels good, it’s affordable, your kids like it, it’s good for you or any other reason. I know I have mine. What works for me may not work for you – and that’s totally ok. I promise I’m not judging you for your choices. My goal is to help you improve your diet and lifestyle and I will do that by meeting you where you are right now. And if where you are at the moment is a macaroni and cheese and cheesecake kind of place, I’ll be right over. I’ve visited more frequently than most.

If you are someone who doesn’t like vegetables, as your coach I would be setting you up for failure if I recommended you suddenly fit in 8 servings of vegetables every day. If I can get someone to go from eating 0 vegetables a day when we start working together to eating 2 a day after 6 months I consider that a major improvement and I know they do too.

I didn’t start eating the way I do overnight.  My food journey has been a long and varied one. When I was 23 I thought being “healthy” meant staying under a certain amount of calories, eating a lot of processed soy in place of dairy & meat, artificial sugars (because I was saving calories!) and drinking as much beer as I wanted as long as I exercised.  At 27 I thought being “healthy” just meant cooking everything from scratch, and as long as something was homemade, it didn’t matter if it had 3000 mg of sodium and 4 lbs of cheese in it (for proof, just visit a food blog from my past. It’s like a cheese and bread festival over there).

Over the years my diet has changed to whatever felt right to me at the time. Sadly, for many years “felt right” meant bingeing on junk food after restricting for long periods. After learning about food sensitivities and emotional eating, I’m much more in tune with what foods make me feel terrible and what makes me feel good.  So when you see me ordering certain types of food in a restaurant or saying “no thank you” to something I’m offered, know that I’m trying to do the best thing for me, right now.  And right now, the best thing for me is to give my body food that nourishes it and that doesn’t cause it uncomfortable symptoms or binge behavior. Those same foods might be ok for you – you know what’s best for your body.

My food choices are not about making you feel bad or about trying to appear perfect.

I spent a huge chunk of my life judging myself for the food I put in my body and feeling judged for every bite. People made comments about what I was eating to the point where every bite made me feel like a shitty person. Believe me when I say I have absolutely no desire to make you feel shitty too.  If me choosing to eat the way I do makes you feel shitty, that really sucks because it’s not my intention. If you think I’m judging you, yes it makes me feel kinda crappy but you’re the one that it really hurts. Are you going to enjoy what you just ordered now? Not if you think I’m calculating the good or badness of the contents of the plate in front of you. Honestly, I’m thinking about how glad I am that we finally ordered because I have to pee and also that I’m so excited to catch up with you.

photo credit: mastermaq via photopin cc

photo credit: mastermaq via photopin cc

I want you to know that I’m human. Even though I watch my sugar intake most of the time, I’m pretty sure I ate more chocolate over the holidays than most of you reading this (and most of it was NOT dark chocolate). Despite choosing to not eat cheese most of the time, last night I ate cheddar cheese and salami (and neither of it was organic or local and it was definitely loaded with chemical preservatives). I drink alcohol. I drink coffee. And I eat a lot of other things that you might think someone in my field may not do.

Do I walk my talk and eat the way I encourage others to eat? Yes, around 90% of the time. But 10% of the time, I give in to indulgences. And sometimes I derail hard and that 10% and 90% reverse for a few days. But then I get back up and go back to what I know works and feels good for me.

It’s my job to help others change what they don’t like about their lives & health and I can do this because of my training, but also because I have been a chameleon of change in my own life.  In this field of work, people often assume you must be perfect 100% of the time. I remember being terrified in coaching school because I was the opposite of perfect.  But I’m not finding that is actually a benefit when doing this work. I’m able to relate to people’s struggles better and they find me easier to talk to because of these experiences.

I know changing anything about ourselves isn’t easy. I know you’re probably going through your own battle. I know you’re probably scared to really share what you struggle with. You’re not alone and I promise I’m not judging you.

Judgement shouldn’t be a part of any meal on your end or mine.

Next time we share a meal together, I hope we both can order whatever is best for us at that moment, enjoy the meal and each other wholeheartedly and go about our day. No judgement of each other or ourselves. That’s best for everyone.
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How to Put the Brakes on an Emotional Eating Spiral

Do social events that happen around food stress you out?

Do social events that happen around food stress you out?

Today I’d like to talk about something that I think doesn’t get talked about enough:  emotional eating.  I don’t know if it doesn’t get talked about much because people are unaware of how common it is or if it’s because there’s just so much shame around our eating habits on the whole. Maybe you are someone who has never turned to food for an emotional reason, if that’s the case, good for you! But there’s a whole lot of people who struggle with it regularly.

I think a huge part of the obesity epidemic our nation is facing is caused in part by how poorly we deal with our emotions. Instead of turning to a friend to talk to or going for a walk, we stuff those uncomfortable feelings down with food (ice cream? chips? what’s your poison?).  But like a suitcase that’s been overstuffed on each successive trip, eventually the seams are going to give and your dirty laundry is going to be all over the conveyor belt.  Good luck getting your belongings back in a suitcase that has fallen apart.  In other words, you can only ignore feelings for so long before they will demand that they be dealt with.  Shit doesn’t fix itself as much as we hope and pray it will.  It’s much wiser to deal with things before they get out of control.

If this is you, let me start off by telling you that you are not alone.  Look around at the women in your life – I guarantee you that at least one of the women you love also struggles with their relationship with food.  It might be someone who is overweight or it might be someone who is not. It might be someone you don’t even suspect. For years, I convinced myself (and others) that I was overweight because “of my stocky Irish genes” or because “I just eat too much healthy food”.  I don’t doubt that family history has something to do with my size but pretty early on I learned to reach for food when something didn’t feel right to the point where I remember laying in bed as a kid and saying my nightly prayers and praying to the virgin Mary (I figured as a woman she’d understand my plight more than God or Jesus) to help me lose weight. I specifically remember praying that for every calorie I ate, I would lose two.  So grateful she didn’t answer that prayer, I didn’t think that one through mathematically!  But how sad that a little kid, who, looking back wasn’t even that overweight (yet) already knew about calories and that being heavy was a bad thing.

Food was always the fastest way for me to feel joy.

Food was always the fastest way for me to feel joy. Strangely enough, I look back at these pictures of me as a kid and don’t even see myself as overweight or fat.

Praying for weight loss was just the start of it. Bad day at school? Hand in the cookie jar, repeatedly. Lonely night at home? Let’s eat a whole sleeve of crackers and a block of cheddar cheese. I developed a self-deprecating sense of humor where I knocked myself for my size before anyone else could.  I had to make sure everyone around me knew that I knew I was fat, lest they think I was in the dark about it. It hurt less to make fun of myself than it would for others to make fun of me. My issues with food and uncomfortableness with my size got so bad at times that I remember joking about how I wished I was bulimic when I was in college.  Sure, I had the bingeing thing down pat, I just didn’t purge, at least not successfully.  I know there were a few occasions when I tried. Thankfully I failed and it didn’t continue.  No matter what phase my eating issues were in (and there have been many many over the years), two things were consistent: I loved to give the idea that I didn’t eat that much, by ordering a salad when going out to eat with other people or claiming that I ate already so that other people didn’t see how much I really ate.  And the other thing was that I constantly was distraught about my size and my confidence was shot. I may have acted confident on the outside (I was often the life of the party!) but inside I was screaming.  I hated myself for being fat.  I felt like that was all I was and that was all anyone could see of me and so to deal with the shame I felt around it, for many years I just ate more.  At the time, that seemed the only option.

I got tired of falling back into the same self-destructive patterns every time life wasn’t working out the way I wanted it to so I’ve worked really hard at incorporating the strategies below into my life. I’m in a much better place these days (the stories above are decades old) and I’ve tried every possible route for having a healthy relationship with food.  I finally feel like I’m in a place where I can enjoy food without it taking over my life. Sure, occasionally I still struggle with periods of using food to deal with an emotion (because I’m human and have faults) but it’s infrequent and when it does happen, it’s on a minor scale.  I’ll take a minor trip up over what I was doing before, any day!

Below are some seriously powerful tips for halting an emotional eating spiral.  Many of these won’t be a surprise – I’m sure you’ve heard some of them before but these are the things that have helped me break my decades old habits that were impacting my health, my mood and my life and they’ve become invaluable to me. I hope a few of them can help you do the same.

How to Put the Brakes on Emotional Eating:

1. Figure out what your trigger foods are and stop eating them (at least for a little while).  Don’t buy them for yourself and don’t buy them for someone else in your household.

This is not a popular thing to suggest. One one hand, emotional eaters and chronic dieters need less rules about eating – not more – but if you really lose all control when you eat certain foods . . .and can’t enjoy the food without feeling both physically and emotionally awful, why do we want to tell people they can keep it in their lives? I recommend at least taking trigger foods out of your diet for a little while (you may be able to return to them in some form down the road!). Sometimes we are surprised by how much we enjoy not eating these foods once we’re not clouded by them anymore.

I know this is probably the hardest thing to do (and that is why I’m starting with it). If you are willing to walk away from your triggers, you will be well supported by the other tips below. If you’re not, well, you might not be ready to change your ways.  If you have fears around not eating your trigger foods, how do you think they are serving you?  What are you getting from that particular food that you can’t get elsewhere?

We think that we can keep the food in the house but just not eat it.  It doesn’t work that way for most of us.  If it’s truly a trigger food for you, you will eventually eat it and start the cycle over again.  If your trigger is soda or ice cream and you feel like you can’t not have it in the house because it’s not fair to your kids – that’s total BS.  Your kids don’t need ice cream and they don’t need soda. There are plenty of other foods to enjoy that don’t need to set you up for self-sabotage.  I don’t care what the food is – there is another option.  If it’s milk and you’re worried about calcium? Load up on beans and greens.  You’ll be fine.  They’ll be fine.

My triggers are primarily cheese and wheat! Whenever I binged in the past, it was usually on something like cheese and crackers, doritos, or white cheddar cheez-its.  But over time, I also realized that anytime I had a lot of bread, cheese or pasta, I usually found myself over eating the next day (or sometimes for several days) so now I’m about 90% dairy free and completely wheat free except for the odd occasion.  The times I give in and have a piece of bread or some cheese? I notice it in my mood and my cravings the next few days and have to work really hard to keep myself from sabotaging all the hard work I’ve done.  It’s a lot less work for me to just not eat them in the first place and I know it’s hard to believe but I sincerely don’t miss them and I don’t feel deprived.  At all! I’ll tell you how and why in another post but it has a lot to do with #4 on this list. (I should also mention that I’ve since noticed certain health issues have been reduced since removing these foods from my life – my asthma, rosacea and constipation have been lessened!)

Some people can take a break from their triggering foods and return to them at a later date -these foods will have less of a hold on them over time. Others can’t and will need to not eat them going forward. Only you know if that is right for you!

2. Take a few deep breaths before eating to center yourself.  Take a minute to relax and slow down your mind and body before eating.

Be present when you eat. I know we’re all so busy and life is rushed today but if we eat at the same pace that we live our lives, we don’t get to “enjoy” our food and food is meant to be enjoyed! If you take a moment to check in with your body and your mind before you eat, you are more likely to enjoy the meal. And when you truly enjoy your food, you won’t feel deprived and that makes a massive difference in whether or not you’ll find yourself going overboard later.

3. Make eating the sole activity you do whenever you do it.  Do not read while eating.  Don’t watch TV.  Don’t go on your phone or laptop.  Don’t write your to do list. Don’t talk on the phone or drive. Focus on the meal in front of you.

Take it in with all of your senses. Does it look appetizing? How does it smell? Notice the textures in your mouth. Is the food crunchy or soft? Pretend you are studying it for an exam you will have later.  Notice the details.

Eating this way helps your brain receive signals that let it know when you’ve had enough to eat.  It also helps you produce adequate saliva which is an important part of digestion. If you are consumed by other activities while eating your body and brain don’t communicate as well leading your body to forget that it’s eaten and it will be begging for food all day (like my cat). I’m not kidding!

Have you ever been driving only to reach your destination and have no recollection of part of your drive because you were thinking deeply about something?  It’s very similar.  Your brain won’t have a memory of the meal if you distract it with other tasks.

This is also a tough rule to implement and follow.  You will have a lot of urges to just give in and go back to whatever old habits you had while eating.  I realize that sometimes we can’t help but eat on the go, but those times should be a last resort. You can make an effort the rest of the time.  You may find you have a lot of resistance towards changing these habits.  I totally get it! I used to zone out on my laptop while plowing my way through a box of white cheddar cheez-its.  Why?  Because I didn’t want to feel whatever I was feeling and being on the computer distracted me.  It also distracted me from tasting or noticing the food I was eating, which meant that despite feeling incredibly full and gross, my urges to eat would continue.  I never got full enjoyment of the food I was eating.  If you feel a lot of resistance to making meal time only about eating, then ask yourself why?  Why do you feel you need to do something else while eating?  Why is eating not enough?

4. Eat. Stop starving yourself.  Stop restricting.  Stop “dieting”.

I know it sounds counterintuitive if you are struggling with a bingeing or emotional eating issue to just allow yourself to eat but many people who find themselves bingeing out of control are restricting calories or strictly controlling how much they eat each day.  Our bodies like balance and they’re keeping track.  Geneen Roth has said “For every diet there is an equal or greater binge” and I’ve found that she’s completely right.  If you’re terrified of eating too much fat and spend your days eating fat free or low fat foods, when you do go over the rails, you can bet it will be on a substance that contains fat.  If you restrict the amount of calories you eat for a long time, the urge to eat everything in sight will eventually take over you and willpower will only take you so far.  You’ll end up eating far more than you would have if you just allowed yourself to eat food to begin with.

People who are naturally slender eat when they are hungry and they stop when they’ve had enough.  Some days they may eat a lot and other days not so much.  It all balances out. The fear of losing control and gaining weight goes away as you realize that your body is not out to betray you.  It’s on your side.  If you feed it appropriately and without judgement, it will reward you with energy, a stable mood and a waistband that doesn’t fluctuate massively.

All this being said, I think it’s important to focus on whole foods when trying to stop destructive eating patterns like this.  It would be irresponsible to just suggest that bingers eat more to reduce binges – there’s more to that. What you eat matters.  If you’re eating a lot of processed food, it’s time to try to reduce your dependence on them. Support your body by giving it high quality sources of fat, protein and carbohydrates so that you will feel satisfied, energized and sated.  Avoid foods that spike blood sugar (sugar, refined flour, most baked goods etc) and if you do eat them, pair with protein to reduce the effect.  I love pairing nourishing whole foods together, like sweet potatoes with coconut oil and hemp seeds, homemade chicken salad lettuce wraps or an avocado stuffed with black japonica rice, tomatoes and pumpkin seeds etc.

When you feed yourself fully, you feed your body and soul and you will feel and see the difference.

5. Figure out what you are feeling. What don’t you want to feel? What is too uncomfortable to acknowledge? What do you believe to be true about yourself?

Most emotional eating episodes are tied to the avoidance or suppression of a feeling or a form of punishment (due to a feeling). When you get the urge to go crazy on whatever food has your attention right now, ask yourself:  What am I feeling in this moment?  Are you sad, angry, frustrated, bored, lonely, ashamed?  Just ask, label it (I’m not a fan of labels generally but here it’s helpful) and sit with the feeling for 10 minutes, taking deep breaths. You don’t need to do anything with the feeling yet but just let it be.  After 10 minutes, is the urge to eat still there? It might be, but it also may be reduced.

This takes practice.  Often bingers say they don’t feel anything when they want to eat or are eating but that is usually because they’ve used the activity to teach themselves to feel numb. You can’t push feelings away for months or years and then expect they’ll make themselves known to you the first time you try to pay attention to them. Keep asking questions of yourself. It will take work, many conversations with yourself, maybe some journaling and talking with others. The more you acknowledge and encourage those feelings to be felt, the more you will be able to feel them and ultimately the less you’ll need to eat what you don’t want to feel.  Those feelings are coming from somewhere and they deserve to be felt, to be acknowledged.

Once you know what you are feeling and can let it join you for a bit, you take some of its power away because now you have an opportunity to deal with it. Is what you are feeling that is the issue? Or is it that you don’t know how to fix something, want to avoid something etc? Is there something you are avoiding (unhappiness in a job, a large project, a difficult conversation?) that is causing you stress? Is there a story you’ve been telling yourself about who you are that is holding you down? What can you do about it?  Can you call a friend who will listen to you? Put it all down on paper in a journal?  Go for a walk and think it over? Create a strategy to change the things that are stifling you from living the life you deserve? You know the answers already, you just need to ask the questions.

6. Forgive your slip ups, love yourself & let go of the need to be perfect. No one is perfect and you shouldn’t feel like you need to be either! 

Many women I talk to who have an issue with emotional eating, talk about how much worse they feel after a binge or emotional eating episode.  They beat themselves up.  They do and say hurtful things about themselves.  They believe they are bad people for not being able to control their eating. They feel disgusted with themselves.  They feel like everyone else around them must have it easier because they aren’t consumed with thinking about food.  They also talk about how feeling so badly about themselves makes it easier for a bad eating episode to happen.  If you are disgusted with yourself, eating a bunch of stuff that makes you feel even worse doesn’t seem like that big of a deal because the feelings (disgust, shame, anger) that come with it are familiar.

Somewhere along the way, we’ve convinced ourselves that eating and loving ourselves & our bodies is hard and has to be a constant struggle.  We think we need to be perfect or we’re a failure. It doesn’t have to be like that.  When you eat to nourish yourself instead of punish, reward or control, you will eat enough but not too much and feel satisfied.  When we set up these parameters for ourselves – only this many calories, only low-fat, eat less than those around us etc, we’re planning out a trip that takes us straight to emotional eating.

When these negative thoughts pop up, think “cancel that”.  Practice saying and thinking good things about yourself.  What did you do well today? What are you grateful for? Acknowledging the good things about yourself and about your day/life are far more important to your overall well-being than knocking yourself down.  No one ever got where they wanted to be by being brutal to themselves and even people who have succeeded at the greatest things in life had setbacks along the way.  We’re no different!

There’s a huge amount of growth in just letting yourself be human, accepting occasional overindulgence as just that and still feeling love for yourself despite choices you don’t feel great about.  You have to believe that you deserve to feel satisfied when you eat, you deserve to not feel hunger constantly and you deserve to enjoy food.

I have so much more to say on this issue (it’s one of my favorite to work with clients on) but I feel like there’s a lot of info here and I don’t want to overwhelm anyone dealing with this issue.  If you struggle with emotional eating I hope you find some of the tips here helpful!  Ultimately, know that you are not alone. What you are going through is not uncommon and it is possible to have a more relaxed relationship with food with a little work (and in some cases, professional counseling).  The first step in having a healthier relationship with food is by working on the relationship you have with yourself.


Let’s talk about priorities

I know I need both alone time (spent outdoors) and social time to feel my best.  How about you?

I know I need both alone time (spent outdoors) and social time to feel my best. How about you?

Today I want to talk about what is getting in the way of the things you wish you had time for. Do any of these statements sound like you?

  • You envy your friend who finds time to workout almost every day but you’re too busy.
  • You miss going out with your girlfriends once in awhile but that laundry isn’t going to do itself.
  •  You’d like to eat healthier but you just don’t have the time to cook.
  • You’d like to start a meditation practice but you just aren’t disciplined enough.
  • You’d love to have a date night with your husband but you’re too tired at the end of the week

If some of these statements are true for you, you should take a moment to reevaluate your priorities. We all have things that we’d like to do more or less of and have a hard time making them happen.  The three biggest reasons for this are because:

  • it’s not really something we want that badly (despite feeling like we should want it)
  • we’re not ready for change
  • we don’t believe we deserve it

Are any of these ringing bells for you? If you’re like most busy women today, you fall into the 3rd category but don’t even realize it. We spend so much of our time taking care of the needs of others (husband, wife, kids, job, our home etc) that we often end up neglecting our own needs. That isn’t to say that these other things aren’t important (quite the contrary) but in order to give them the attention that they deserve we first have to make sure that we are getting what we need.  This means becoming #1 on your priority list.

Eek, did I say that?  Yes, I know it’s not popular to put ourselves first or to own up to the fact that we are number one.  It’s considered selfish.  We’ve been taught to put others first and for some reason we ignore ourselves entirely in the mix.  The only way you’re going to be any good to any of the people, activities or obligations in your life is if you take care of yourself first. Think about the flight attendant safety spiel we hear every time we get on an airplane:  “put your oxygen mask on first” before helping other passengers.  That’s no joke.  You can give more when you’re getting what you need.

So what do you need to perform your best?  Think about this.  For me, that means sleep, exercise and good nutrition have to come before anything else.  If I’m getting those three things most days, I’m going to have more energy (and less attitude) to do all the things that I need to (or want to).  Those are 3 of my priorities because when I let them go, I become a crabby lunatic who cries at commercials or gets flustered for seemingly no reason.  I also need a good balance of alone time and social time.  When my instinct is to say “no” to events, I know it’s time for a quiet day at the beach or a walk in the woods, alone!  Get to know yourself and your needs.

Here’s an exercise to try.
On a piece of paper, draw a line down the center so that the page is divided into two columns.  On the left hand side, list how you would spend your ideal day if you had no obligations or restrictions (would you sleep in late? get up early and go for a run? volunteer at your daughter’s school? go for a massage?).  Once you have that side well squared away, list how you actually spend any given day on the right hand side.  Include all the little things (like checking facebook 10 times throughout the day, watching TV after dinner, meal prep etc).  When you are done, compare the two and ask yourself the following questions.

  • Is there anything that you are doing during your actual day that you could do less of so that you could have a little time for something on your ideal day list?
  • Is there something you could delegate to someone else?
  • Could you get by with putting off laundry, errands etc for just another day or two?

Your first instinct will be to say “No, Andrea I can’t delegate or push things off. I’m too busy!” but I bet if we videotaped you every moment of every day for a week, we could find some lost time. As busy as we all are, we accidentally waste a lot of time.  Those minutes we spend searching for something to watch on Netflix or goofing off on the internet really add up.  How satisfying are those moments really? Not knocking watching movies or browsing the web (or anything else in your life) but how important are those other things vs. the things you really want?

If you are frustrated that you don’t have time to exercise each week but are spending an hour on facebook or watching TV each night, why not cut that FB or TV time down to 30 minutes and give yourself 30 minutes of exercise. Heck, you could do them at the same time.  I’ve been known to do tricep dips, squats and pushups while watching my trashy Bravo shows.  Or maybe it’s household chores that are taking up too much of your time.  Ask the kids to help.  There’s no reason they can’t pitch in (even the young ones can help a little).  You are not a mean parent for asking your kids to pick up after themselves. There will be a learning curve but it will ultimately benefit all of you.  And if there are no concessions you are willing to make then maybe it’s not about not deserving these things, maybe you just don’t really want it.  It’s ok if you just wish you wanted to exercise but really don’t have the desire.

But if you are truly willing to make yourself a priority, make no mistake about it, if there is something you really want to do or someone you really want to see, you can and will make it happen. I don’t care how busy you are.  Your friend with two kids who somehow manages to workout each day? Your sister who seems to always be out with friends?  Your co-worker who always brings in a healthy homemade lunch? They all have busy lives too. In order to get exercise, have an active social life, and eat healthy they may be putting something else on the back burner that you can’t see.  Odds are it’s not the important stuff like family or the job, but it’s the little piddly things we busy ourselves with.  Before you judge that someone else must not have that much to do because they’re able to do something you can’t, take a moment to check in with yourself. Are you jealous that they feel they deserve those things?  Put the torches down folks, I’m not saying that you ARE jealous, just asking you to quell that judging thought process for a sec if that is popping up for you.  As a side note, you have no idea what their life is like anyway (despite thinking you do) and our reactions to other’s lives are usually about us, not them anyhow.

Now that I’ve got you questioning what your needs are and what you deserve, I want to bring your attention back to other’s needs for a moment. For some of us, time with friends is very important for our wellbeing.  Or maybe it’s not that important to us but there are people we care very much about who want to spend time with us.

Think about what you are saying about yourself when you don’t make time for your needs (you don’t deserve it, you’re not valuable etc).  You also send a message to others when you don’t make time for their needs. Maybe you can’t hang out with your best friend on the spur of the moment like you used to, but if she calls you and wants to get together for dinner this week but you’re just too busy?  Don’t hang up the phone with her until you find a time you can get together. It doesn’t have to be on the time schedule she is asking for but you’re going to eat meals anyways, why not spend a few minutes together, even if it’s shorter than you’d like? Meet for breakfast the following week or try facetiming or skyping on your lunchbreak at work if you have to. It’s understandable if it takes a few weeks to find a spot of time that will work for both of you (especially if you don’t live in the same town) but if you really want to, you’ll make it happen.  If you really care about this person, you’ll find a way to put less important things on the back burner for a moment (laundry, facebook etc) and spend time with her. And if you don’t? Well, she’s probably not a priority for you and don’t worry, she’s hearing that message loud and clear.  Again, this doesn’t mean you have to drop everything when a friend reaches out, but don’t leave them in limbo.  Make sure they know they are on your priority list, even if it’s a tough one to juggle.

The takeaway to this long post?  

  1. You deserve the things that make you able to give/perform your best (sleep, massage, social time etc).
  2. Figure out what your priorities are and how you can get more of those needs fulfilled.
  3. Remember that you don’t know what someone else is giving up to get what they need.
  4. Be conscious of the messages you send. Make time for those who consider you a priority (if you consider them a priority) even if it takes some juggling.

I think that’s all for now!  Does any of this resonate with you?  Do my words infuriate you or make you feel empowered?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Going After Love: “When You Stop Looking It’ll Find You” is Bullshit

Photo taken by Brianna Sherry at Timeless Treasures during our elopement.

Photo taken by Brianna Sherry at Timeless Treasures during our elopement.


There are women (and men) out there who need to hear this:  When people tell you that you’ll find love when you stop looking, they’re lying to you. 

At a friend’s son’s first birthday party recently, I was chatting with some of my girlfriends about how they got together with their husbands.  I can’t remember how the conversation started but I suddenly realized that all 4 of us involved in the conversation were only with the men we married because we went after them.  We had to put ourselves out there in some way and make the first move. I’m not sure why I didn’t realize this sooner (heck I was in some of their weddings)!

From a pretty early age, women are taught not to go seeking love, instead we’re told “When you stop looking for love, it will find you”.  I always thought that was bullshit because of my own experience with dating but I’ve always gotten crazy looks when I told people that.  After talking with my friends, it’s clear that my experience is and was not unique.  Many of us were taught that it was up to the man to initiate a date, a relationship or even that it was inappropriate to call boys.  Times have changed and people are dating longer and getting married (if at all) later.  Male or female, if you wait around until someone asks you out because you don’t want to be “looking for love”, you may be waiting around a long time.

Taking action isn’t being desperate
Why are we encouraged to put so much effort in other areas of our life but not with finding love?  We work hard, study hard and play hard.  But God forbid you’re a woman who wants to find love and you’re actively trying to meet someone.  You’ll hear “Stop looking, it’ll find you”. What? How?  Does Love have GPS or your cell phone number?  Probably not.  You also might hear “She’s so desperate”. The idea isn’t to go around throwing yourself at everyone you meet but you must open yourself up to the possibility that love is out there for you. Taking action isn’t being desperate.  If you sit back and decide to stop looking, you are closing off a huge opportunity to get what you want.  You are responsible for putting yourself in situations where there’s even a chance love could find you.  You are responsible for projecting an attitude that says “I’m here. I’m ready. I accept”.

No one will love me because . . .
When I was in my early 20’s, I had a non existent love life.  I had zero luck with guys and I always blamed it on my weight.  I was outgoing and got asked out but would quickly shoot down anyone who showed interest because they weren’t fitting in to whatever criteria I had decided I wanted at the time.   By the time I was 25, I was frustrated, sad and lonely.  I had lost the weight but I hadn’t lost the attitude of “No one will love me because of my weight”.  That’s what I was projecting to others even if I didn’t mean to.

The Summer of Yes
Out of frustration, I finally decided that I was going to have more of an open mind when it came to dating. I was going to be more proactive about getting what I wanted.  I was tired of everyone around me finding love and still waiting for it to happen to me.   I started to say yes when guys asked me out (provided they weren’t giving off a serial killer vibe).  As long as they were nice, it was worth going on one date, right?  I needed to stop pre-judging them.  I went on some really good dates and some bad ones (one picked me up on a motorcycle in a thunderstorm, then told me 5 minutes into dinner that he tried to kill himself after his last girlfriend dumped him – ahh, red flags everywhere!).  I call this period of time my Summer of Yes.

When there was a guy I thought was cute at the bar, I started to be the one to show interest instead of waiting for him to do something about it.  At the end of one night, I told one man I had my eye on:  “This is the time of the night when you ask for my phone number”.  He laughed, seemed a little surprised but he took it and he called.  And we dated for awhile.  Was I nervous putting myself out there like this?  Hell yes!  But my strategy of waiting for the right person to come along wasn’t working – I had to change my approach.  What’s interesting, is that after a while of taking action and being open to people I normally wouldn’t have been interested in, I started to get a lot more attention.  Instead of putting out “No one will love me because of my weight”, I had started to put out “I’m here. I’m ready. I accept.” and others could see that so they were attracted to my energy.

Come back here and kiss me
By the time September of that year rolled around, I had done more dating than ever before in my life. I was sending a beacon out into the universe telling it that I was ready for love.  I went stag to a wedding in early September and there was a cute boy at my table.  I managed to get his phone number early on in the day because some of us were going to carpool downtown after the wedding was over. We said goodbye at the end of the night and I told him “We should hang out sometime”.  He agreed but we left it at that. He drove away and I began to walk home.  I thought he was interested but just shy and I realized that if I didn’t let him know that I was digging him, I may or may not hear from him.  What did I have to lose? Nothing. I pulled out my phone, dialed his number and when he answered I said “I think you should come back here and kiss me”.  There was a pause (which was only a second but felt like three minutes) and then he said “Where are you?”.  I told him where I was, he came back, he kissed me and we’ve been together ever since.  That was close to 10 years ago.   I’m so glad I had the guts to do that – he’s admitted that while he thought I was cute, he had had just gotten out of a relationship and wasn’t ready to take initiative himself.  He never would have called if I didn’t do something about it.

I know the only reason we met was because I had opened myself up to the possibility of meeting someone.  I thought I was open to it before I went on this active quest to date as much as possible (even those that I didn’t think I was interested in) but I was sitting back waiting for others to make the move.  It didn’t matter that I was social and outgoing, because I wasn’t taking an active interest in anyone, the universe thought I was fine with the way things were.

You have to go to the ball
Do you need to go out and ask out every guy you meet?  No. But if what you are doing right now isn’t helping you meet people, you need to make a change. You need to get out, talk to more people, ask people out if they’re not asking you and if you don’t have anyone to go out with, go alone. I ended up going to concerts alone, went out for a drink alone, sat in coffee shops alone and as uncomfortable as it was at first, I did end up meeting people. And it got easier.

I know it’s naive to think that everyone can and will find romantic love.  I’m not saying that it will happen for everyone.  But you’re a lot more likely to find it if you put a little effort in.  If you don’t think you will ever find love, guess what? You are right. Whatever you believe will become true for you.

If you’re sitting at home wondering where Prince Charming (or Princess Charming) is, I’ll tell you where he is. He’s at the fucking ball. If Cinderella didn’t go to the ball (and lost her slipper), she would have never met him.

The Time is Now
And if, as you are reading this, you are thinking of all the things that are holding you back from loving now, dating now, being happy now? Your weight? Your hair? Your income? Your past baggage? All of that is a story you have been telling in order to keep yourself from being and feeling vulnerable. You deserve love and can find love right now.  Not when things are perfect (because there is no such thing).  And if you are someone who has been in love and had their heart broken? Then it’s even more important to take action.  When we’ve been hurt we put up walls that no one can climb over.  How can love find you if you’re blocking it with a barrier?

To sum up a really long post:   I’m not saying you need a Prince CharmingHell, some of us don’t even want one.  But if you want one, you deserve one and you need to take some ownership in your love life and make it happen. You have to welcome love in by taking active steps towards it.  Love will only find you if you let it in.  Let it in by showing others that you are here, you are ready and you accept.

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!