Tag Archives: Self care

A Well Fed Life: How the Food We Eat isn’t the Only Thing that Nourishes Us

How well fed are you Emotionally, Physically, Spiritually and Creatively? Are you "eating" too much or too little in these areas?

How well fed are you Emotionally, Physically, Spiritually and Creatively? Are you “eating” too much or too little in these areas?

Something I’ve noticed about myself, but also in the women I work with is that the way we do one thing, is the way we do everything. The problem with this is that it can lead us to live very unbalanced lives. To give an example of this, with me, when it comes to making a decision, I’m either spontaneous and impulsive about it or I move at an exhaustingly slow pace. It doesn’t matter if it’s a really big decision or something minute. There’s no middle ground with me. It has always been the same way with food, relationships and even in my approach to work. It leaves me feeling perennially exhausted and unaccomplished all at the same time. My behaviors tend to leave me virtually starved or completely stuffed.

With food, up until the last 3 years, I vacillated between eating crazy clean or crazy unhealthily. I couldn’t’ seem to mix the two into any sort of balance. In college, I either drank heavily or not at all. When I jump into a new project or hobby, I’m either completely enamored and will bury myself in it without coming up for air for days at a time or I grow quickly bored and drop the project as soon as it began. With people, I either like them instantly or I will keep them at an arm’s distance.

The women I work with have similar traits of doing everything in life the same way (though they may not necessarily bounce back and forth the way I describe above). They overeat, they overwork, they overcommit themselves. They give everything they have to their friends and family. They never say no. They are physically, emotionally and spiritually stuffed. Or alternatively, they are constantly dieting, avoiding being noticed at work, lonely in their personal lives and uninspired creatively. They are physically, emotionally and spiritually starved.

None of us can live like this forever.

Everything we do in life “feeds” us in some way. Feeding ourselves with physical food is one way we are nourished but it’s not the only way. Our souls are nourished or malnourished by our daily actions and interactions. Work, creative pursuits, exercise, joy, social life, relationships, finances, spirituality and health are just a few of the different areas that we can go overboard on (and feel “stuffed”) or completely ignore (and be “starved”).  You may be “stuffed” in some areas but “starved” in others.

When we spend too much time working and not enough time connecting with others socially, we may find our health started to be affected by it. We’re stressed, exhausted and feeling disconnected. When we overeat physically, we may retaliate by depriving ourselves in another way – maybe you don’t allow yourself physical touch, or you spend too much time on social media and you come away feeling both stuffed and utterly ravenous despite your intake of food.

Our goal should be a well fed life – not too much, not too little. Just right. Our hunger in these areas should be satisfied, but we don’t want to feel gluttonous or famished.

I know if you look at your own life, before I go any further into this, you can see the effect your daily choices and actions have on your health and well being. You already have an idea of how stuffed or starved you are. If you are really perceptive and good about self-care, then you are probably one of few who feel sated (and good for you!)!

I divide the areas we feed ourselves in into 4 categories:  Physical, Emotional, Spiritual and Creative. Below are a few examples of the things in our lives that might fall into these categories and also how it will show up in your life if you are “stuffed”, “starved” or “sated”.

This list obviously doesn’t include everything and some of the items I list in one category could certainly be cross posted in another (but for the sake of brevity and clarity I’m going to avoid that). If there is something big in your life that I didn’t list here, where do you think it fits in?

4 Core Areas we need to Nourish to feel Sated

Physical 

Examples:  food (how we eat, how much we eat and quality of what we eat), massage, human touch, sex, exercise/sports, play, movement, rest.

Emotional

Examples:  social life, relationships, alone time, spending time with people you feel safe with and having outlets to express yourself, dealing with personal responsibilities, travel, connecting on social media.

Spiritual

Examples:  prayer, meditation, journaling, yoga, tai chi, volunteer work, spending time in nature, sense of purpose.

Creative

Examples:  work, cooking, art, dance, music, writing, imagination, beauty, decorating, gift giving, attending art / creative performances.

How it shows up in if we’re “eating” too much or too little in any category

Okay, so those are the 4 categories. If you are indulging too much in any one area or not enough, you will find you feel “off” and this is how it may show up:

Symptoms of being Stuffed – feeling lazy, lethargic, bored, apathetic, uninspired, tired, spent, pulled in too many directions, feeling distracted, feeling empty, overtaxed, unappreciated, indulgent.

Symptoms of being Starved -hungry for something but not sure what, excess nervous energy, depression, anxiety, sad, lonely, unfocused, agitated, tense, disconnected, feeling alone, loss of purpose.

Symptoms of being “Sated” – feeling light, energetic, at ease, happy, calm, grounded, sure of oneself, focused, comfortable, optimistic, confident, balanced, joie de vivre, satisfied, content, relaxed, at peace.

You may find that when your life is heavily weighted in one area, that you are more likely to feel some of these symptoms more than others. For example, if I’m lacking (or “starved”) in the “Physical” realm – not getting enough movement/exercise, spending too much time sedentary, being sloppy with my eating, I can guarantee that I’ll start to feel anxious, agitated and have excess nervous energy. As far as the other symptoms under starved, I don’t feel those ones so much. You may be different than me! Everyone manifests this stuff a little bit differently! For another example, let’s use the “Emotional” category. If I’ve been “stuffing” myself emotionally – maybe going to a lot of social events and tending to a lot of personal obligations, I tend to feel overtaxed, pulled in too many directions and distracted. You may find that the symptoms that show up for you when you’re stuffed emotionally, aren’t the same symptoms that show up when you are stuffed spiritually. Don’t read too much into this – I think it’s fluid!

Ultimately, your health and wellness is deeply connected to how well you are nourished – physically and emotionally – soulfully. You’ll notice that if you start aiming for more balance in each of these categories, that some of your recurring health concerns seem to be less of a problem – we all sleep better and have more energy when we are taking good care of ourselves. Even emotional eating becomes a much smaller issue when you feel supported, nourished and balanced.

The most important takeaway from this is that it’s important to pay attention to how you are spending your time, who with, and if you are getting enough nourishment physically, emotionally, spiritually and creatively. If you know when you are not getting enough in an area, you can make plans to change that – and that can go a long way in how you feel on a day to day basis.

Writing this post has made me realize that I’m really feeling starved in the creative realm. Yes, I do a lot of writing for work and I certainly do a lot of cooking – but neither have been serving a creative purpose lately (the writing is all business and the cooking is mostly for nutrition). So, now it’s up to me to go out and change that!

How well fed are you? Which area (Physical, Emotional, Spiritual or Creative) seems to have the biggest pull in your life right now? And how well is your hunger satisfied in that area? What do you think you need to do differently?

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Why Self Care is So Easy to Preach but Hard to Do

Finding it hard to make time to write in your journal? Sometimes self care practices can feel isolating because we are already spending too much time on our own.

Finding it hard to make time to write in your journal? Sometimes self care practices can feel isolating because we are already spending too much time on our own.

Self care is the big thing these days. It’s replaced eating kale and drinking smoothies as to what clues everyone else into the fact that you’re into “wellness”. Everyone is doing it! Or everyone means to do it. Everyone is at least thinking about doing it.

Yeah, you know you should meditate, exercise and write in your journal. And healthier eating is definitely something you want to do. And someday you’ll have time for epsom salt baths and dry brushing too. It’s been a zillion years since you connected with nature and last time nature connected with you it left a welt the size of a quarter and you had to take benadryl for 3 days. Self care is totally on your priority list!

But no matter how many times you think, “I’m totally going to start doing that” (Tomorrow. Ah, Monday! Um, maybe next month?), another big chunk of time passes without you having made any time for self care practices.

 

What gives? Why is self care something we preach often but so hard to do in reality?

 

Two reasons come to mind for me.

  1. Because it’s not really a priority for us but we think it should be a priority because according to the media and all the women who actually go to the yoga classes you wish you could drag yourself to, it’s basically what’s going to keep us sane and healthy and not making time for self care is tantamount to to giving the middle finger to your health.Along the same lines:  YOU aren’t a priority in your life. Your job, your family, your volunteer work or school obligations, your DVR queue, heck, even social media comes first. There’s no room for self care because you are not high enough up on your priority list. The only way you’re going to start making room for it is if you move something else further down the list.The only way to have self care find a way into your life is by changing your priorities.How to change this. Make a list of how you spend your time. Account for every hour or half hour of every day for a week. Laundry, dishes, preparing meals, time in the car, staring out the window etc. put everything down on paper. When you see where all your time goes, it might make it easier to find something you can stop doing (or get help doing!) or something you can do less of and that is where you can make room for self care. But first you have to acknowledge that you deserve a place at the top of your priorities. What can you stop doing? What can you do less of? Is there anything that is taking up a big chunk of time that you are surprised by? Can you change that? Are you willing to change that? Compiling a list like this and analyzing what can be changed can help you find a spare 30 min to an hour to add in some form of self care. Start there and when you see the benefits of that small bit of time, you may be motivated to look for more.

    Meditation is a powerful tool to connect to your higher power, but can sometimes be a lonely place to be if you are feeling disconnected.

    Meditation is a powerful tool to connect to your higher power, but can sometimes be a lonely place to be if you are feeling disconnected.

  2. You’re going through a period of isolation or disconnection. As beneficial as self care stuff is to our lives, most of the stuff we do for self care is a solo practice that gets us deeper into our heads and sometimes that’s the opposite of what we need!Maybe you work a lot of hours in a private office, spend a lot of time in your car, work from home, spend all day caring for others, or have very limited social time. All of these things can start to make you feel isolated and doing self care practices that bring the focus on “you” can make you feel even more so. The last thing you want to do when you spend a lot of time alone is sit quietly in your own head space! That’s sometimes why we turn to food, drink or our electronic devices more than we want to – we’re seeking the comfort and the “feeding” that human relationships and interactions can give us and we are trying to substitute it for other things. We just can’t feed disconnection with those things and they will keep getting in the way of a self-care practice until we get some true self care by interacting with others!In this case, the only way to make yourself want to do solo practice self care stuff is by starting with one of the most basic self care needs – and that is social interaction!How to change This. Go have some fun and conversation with other humans! What is your soul hungry for? How connected to others to you feel? Do you have several people in your life that you connect with regularly? Go out and connect with them. Schedule time with your girlfriends. Have brunch with your siblings. Find an event that interests you in your area on meetup.com and meet some new people. Maybe you want to connect in a way that gives back to others? What about volunteering at a soup kitchen or senior center, or becoming a Big Sister/ Big Brother? You could also become a mentor for someone in your field. Friends don’t live nearby? Try video chat.

    When you connect to others deeply and regularly, you’ll find meditating, journal writing or exercising is something you’ll start to look forward to (and you’ll actually be able to do it).

I’ve gone through both of these myself – as a solopreneur the isolation one comes up regularly! I’ve found it really hard to stick to a meditation practice lately (even my doctor suggested I use an app and set a timer, but I just couldn’t get myself to do it). I know the benefits of meditation and I’ve had success doing it regularly during different periods in my life, but lately, asking me to sit down and meditate felt worse than going to the dentist! I finally realized it’s because I’m already alone in my own head too much! How and why would I want to spend even more time there? Haha! I’ve been making an effort to have more time with other people during the week, whether it be a networking event or a walk or lunch with a friend and it really helps me feel better (and more interested in doing other things that are good for me).

What is your experience with self care? Do you find it challenging to stick to a routine? Are you making yourself a priority and is self care truly a priority for you or just something you “think” should be a priority? Have you been spending too much time alone lately? Is isolation or disconnection something you have been feeling? What is something you can do this week to feel more connected to others?

What if We Gave Up Wanting to Lose Weight?

Is the idea of losing weight holding you back from the life you could be living?

Is the idea of losing weight holding you back from the life you could be living?

I’ve been thinking a lot about what motivates us to work at improving our bodies, and for so many women, it’s the number on the scale. We think the number on the scale automatically translates to looking good or bad. It holds so much power over us, if we let it. But really that number doesn’t really mean all that much. It doesn’t tell us how strong you are. It doesn’t necessarily tell us that you have too much body fat. It doesn’t tell us what your body can do and it doesn’t show us what you look like (despite our thinking that it screams “fat! fat!” to anyone within sight).

You can take three women who weigh the exact same amount and they will look remarkably different. Height, genetics, body composition, body shape and lifestyle can all affect what those women look like at the same weight. A woman who is 5 ft 9 and runs 4 days a week, will look different from a woman who is 5ft 2 and sedentary, and they’ll both look different from a woman who is 5 ft 6 and is a powerlifter.  They may all weigh 145 lbs but be wearing different sizes and be capable of very different things. The number on the scale alone doesn’t tell us anything about them or their lives. It’s not useful but we cling to it like it’s the end all, be all, that determines our worth and how we feel about ourselves.

What if for just a few weeks or months we gave up wanting to lose weight? That nagging, permanent and always just out of reach, weight loss goal? The one that plagues us no matter what weight we are.

You know which one I’m talking about.

You lost 50 lbs . . but that’s not quite good enough, “oh I just need to firm up my belly or lose this belly flab. I’ll be happy when I lose another 10 lbs, I think . . .”

You lost 10 lbs. “Ug, it’s not enough. I need to lose a few more. My thighs are still out of control.”

“I won’t start living until I get rid of this weight.”

“I’ll accomplish x, y and z when I reach that weight. I’ll go on that trip. I’ll date more. I’ll start dating. I’ll buy a bathing suit.”

Try to remember back to the last time you were at that goal weight, you were probably there at some point (even if it was middle school). Were you happy with your body then? Or were you in it but wishing it was something different?

I have clients who by all ways of measuring are what many of us would consider a perfectly acceptable weight – but they’re still not happy with their bodies. Or they are, until they hop on the scale in the morning.

I have friends who are at what most would consider a perfect weight but they’re not happy with their bodies either.

When I was my thinnest, I still felt bigger than everyone around me and found fault with the most ridiculous things – my ass was too flat, my stomach has too many old stretch marks and loose skin etc. I determined that the number on the scale must still be too high.

Some of us will find something to criticize or tear apart no matter how much we weigh or how little we weigh. And sometimes the more we lose, the more we find fault with.

And we put our lives on hold until some mystery time in the future when everything about our bodies will finally be right? But they’ll never meet our expectations. There will always be something we don’t like.

Isn’t that the most insane thing ever?

Could you let go of wanting to lose “weight”? If not forever, how about just for the next 3 or 4 months? If after 3-4 months of not trying to lose weight, you are not happier in your skin, you can go back to being unhappy in it while also wanting to lose weight.

And during that time, instead of focusing on diets that restrict and make you feel tired and hungry, could you focus on taking amazing and loving care of yourself?

Instead of losing weight, your goal for the next 3-4 months is to:

  • Eat food that nourishes, soothes and satisfies your body. Food that gives you energy but also leaves you feeling light and free.
  • Move your body regularly with activity that makes it feel strong, powerful, graceful and resilient. And if it doesn’t feel that way now, your goal is to try new activities that you know will help you get there.
  • Get regular sunshine, fresh air and be social with people whose company you enjoy.
  • Laugh and cry and feel joy but also feel boredom, anger and sadness. Feel all the things, as much as you can.
  • Stay home in your pjs occasionally and drink coffee and read fluffy fiction like it’s your job.
  • Say “no” to some invitations/events/requests that you don’t want to do.
  • Get 8-9 hours of good sleep per night (that means putting down your phone an hour before bedtime).
  • Wear clothing that makes you feel amazing (no matter the current size or shape of your figure).
  • Say what you mean and mean what you say.
  • Live. You will do everything you had planned to do when you finally reached that weight, size or shape. You won’t wait, you will start doing those things now. Right now.
  • Look in the mirror every day and find something that you like about the way you look. Bonus points if you can come up with something different each day.
  • Give away as much love as you are willing to receive back (you ARE deserving of it). If you’re not there yet, practice will get you there!

During this time you won’t:

  • Criticize your body in any way shape or form. Also don’t criticize other people’s bodies.
  • Make judgements about the food that you eat or about yourself for having eaten food that previously you labeled as good or bad.
  • Restrict, count calories, points, macros or anything else.
  • Overexercise.
  • Weigh yourself

Try it. Just for a short period of time, try letting go of the need to lose weight – especially if this is something that has plagued you your entire conscious life. Losing another 5 or 10 lbs is not going to fix what isn’t working in your life but putting down that burden might give you the clarity to find another way.

What might you be able to do if you were freed from thinking about your weight or size daily? Who do you think you would be? How might you be different? What about you would be the same? Would you like the woman you’d be? How can you be more like her now?


Like this? To get more like it, please download your free copy of Healthy Eating Shouldnt Be a Workout:  Real Life Strategies to Take the Confusion Out of Healthy Living (includes recipes, snack and meal ideas, ways to save money and more!).

A Rant: Get off Your Stupid Phone and No You Don’t Need a Special Diet for the New Year!

I like to end the year by taking some time to recharge my batteries and I definitely did that this holiday season, though I will say I was somewhat forced into that as I came down with a cold just before Christmas (and I haven’t had a cold in almost 3 years)! Ug! Luckily it wasn’t a super bad one, thanks to the self-care I do all year. One good thing about getting sick always gives me an opportunity to sit still and think about what’s actually important to me and what’s not. There are two things I decided were going to be less important to me as we moved into the new year – and while they may seem arbitrary to this blog, they both can relate to those of you who have food issues!

What’s not that important?
1.Being a slave to social media – whether for your business or personally.
2. Finding a new diet or detox program to work off those holiday pounds as quickly as possible (especially if you are tired of repeat weight gain).

This will be a long one but if you can’t put your phone down or seek a quick diet fix every new year, please read on! Let’s get into it!

Put down your stupid phone and pay attention to your life and the people in it!
One of the things I learned really quickly with starting my own business was that I needed to have a strong social media presence – this means posting frequently, be engaging/interesting, sharing high value content and being personal while also being professional. I’ve worked really hard at it – while juggling other aspects of business. At times I’ve definitely enjoyed it, but holy crap it can be exhausting trying to keep this up (never mind the amount of time I spend on my personal account too!).

Part of recharging myself after a super busy year was taking a much needed break from Social Media. Normally, I work that in to my vacation time by scheduling a bunch of articles, photos, and other posts to be published on my business social media profiles while I’m away – so while I can take a break from the stimulation, but it looks like I’m fully engaged like everyone else. This is a great help but I never really get to fully disengage because I still need to comment and respond if followers interact with my posts – which leads me to checking social media a few times a day on my vacation. This time around, I just decided I wasn’t going to post and I wasn’t going to schedule anything – I didn’t even reply to private messages I received on social media. This was both incredibly difficult to do (what will they think if they don’t hear back from me within a few hours) and also super freeing . . .and it was exactly what I needed to do. Taking a major break meant I could actually be in my life, instead of worrying about what I was going to post tomorrow.

What does my social media break have to do with you? And certainly what does it have to do with your relationship with food?

A lot. I swear.

How much time do you spend on your electronic devices browsing, posting and commenting on social media? And why do you do it? I know I was talking about it from a business perspective, but you can relate it to your personal use of social media, I’m sure!

Many of us do it as a way to “zone out” from our feelings or things we’re worried about. We use it to deal with boredom. You may even be using it to not be present.  It’s even gotten to the point where we feel uncomfortable just watching a TV show with our our devices in hand. Have you ever gotten up on a commercial break to grab your phone to browse something non-specific? That urge to scroll something, anything, instead of being left with just our brains, is strong! It may feel harmless, but we actually actively avoiding being in our lives – feeling whatever we feel.

When we actively avoid our feelings – good or bad – we’re balancing on a slippery slope. Finding ways to not be present in our lives frequently leads to overeating. Not for everyone, but it is a bad habit to get into if you struggle with food.

I’ve noticed people doing this at parties or family events – we think we’re spending time with our families during these important events (birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, holidays etc) but we’ve checked out by looking down at a gadget in our hand for most of it. At the end of the day, what do you remember about it? Was it a buzzfeed article you read that someone (you aren’t even sure who) posted on facebook? Maybe a photo posted on instagram by one of your favorite celebrities? Or was it a conversation with your favorite aunt? A funny thing said by one of your nephews? Or how delicious your cousin’s cheesecake was? At the end of the event, do you feel like you got to catch up with everyone you wanted to? Or do you feel like you didn’t even see anyone (but you know that a classmate of yours from 20 years ago just announced her engagement and that someone you once worked with is drunk posting and will probably deactivate their account when they see the fallout tomorrow morning)?
Be present. Commit to NOT zoning out from your life and the people in it. Your life satisfaction will increase - and guess what- This also translates to a less complicated life around food and that's amazing!!

How do you get out of this habit? Here’s some tough love. Put the phone in your purse or pocket and leave it there until you are ready to go home. If you use your phone to take pictures of the event, put it back in your pocket afterwards. You do not need to post the photos immediately. Your followers are hopefully busy living their lives as well. Post the photos (if you desire) later, when you are no longer in the company of the people in them! Enjoy the time you get with your family, your friends, EVEN if they drive you crazy. Sure, your curated instagram photos look like you had a fun day with your family or friends but did you? Were you more interested in creating an experience for your social media followers than you were in creating an experience with the people you love? There will come a day when you WISH you actually talked to the people you are related to – when they are no longer here. Don’t waste it on people you’ve never met on the internet who don’t really care about you.

It’s hard – I’ve caught myself pulling out my phone too – (I may be preachy but I’m not perfect) especially if I’m left alone for a few minutes at the dessert table! But whether I’m zoning out from people or around food, I know I’m choosing to live that way, and I don’t want that. I have a feeling you don’t either. Be present. Commit to NOT zoning out from your life and the people in it. Your life satisfaction will increase – and guess what? This also translates to a less complicated life around food and that’s amazing!!

No, you really don’t need a new diet or detox for the new year!
Part of me not only felt compelled to post on social media, but I also felt pulled to promote a weight loss or detox program for the new year (like every other health coach, nutritionist and health food guru out there). This is prime $$$$$ making time for anyone with a health or web based business. People overeat and drink heavily over the holiday season and come January they are ready to throw money at gym memberships they’ll never use and the newest diet program that promises them significant and (most importantly) fast weight loss. Then after the program is over, they usually go back to their old habits and by next January will be chasing down another quick program to lose the same pounds they gained yet again.

Sound familiar?

I get it, having dealt with my own weight demons for decades, I really do understand that urge to grasp at whatever will help you feel better as fast as possible. As a businesswoman, I also majorly feel the urge to offer you something for this time of year – there are others in the industry who would say I’m literally throwing money away by not promoting something (someone else will sell people things if I won’t). It’s not that I can’t put together a program that will help you with your holiday weight gain (I have one already actually) but like I mentioned in last week’s post – I’m in this for your (and my) longterm success. And I want to work with people who are looking for that longterm happiness with their bodies – not with people who just want to fix RIGHT NOW. No offense meant RIGHT NOW folks, but it’s just that if you want something immediately, you’re a little less inclined to put in the actual work that it will take to solve your issue.

So in addition to my social media break, I also let go of the urge to sell something for the new year. It feels awesome – and I was more able to relax during my break because I didn’t have to think about a program launch or if I had enough marketing planned. I’m working on planning out my year and I’m going to be offering some things that I truly feel are suited to you and that also truly feel right in my gut. But I’m not going to hawk restrictive and painful products to you that you’re going to need every January 2nd.

What does my objection to new year diets have to do with you? What does it have to do with your relationship with food?

One of my beliefs about healing our food lives, our food relationships is that we really have to look closely at it – we really need to get to know ourselves – intimately! How we operate, why we operate the way we do and how we try to elude ourselves. In seeking out (or for me, selling) quick fixes, we again aren’t looking at ourselves clearly – we’re afraid to admit and acknowledge why we gained weight and why we ate things we feel badly about in the first place. To ignore all of this means you’re just going to do it again, and again.

Are you ok with that? Are you going into a quick fix detox or cleanse believing that this will be the final time you resort to something like this? Do you believe that next year will be different if you could just drop 7 lbs right now?

Hey, maybe you’re ok with an annual or quarterly quick fix diet – for sure there was a time I felt this way too – but if I’m honest that was because I didn’t want to give up the food that I enjoyed when I gained weight each holiday season and I also believed that I couldn’t have these foods. I got over that. You can read about that here. Maybe you’re ok with living like that. But maybe you’re not!

If you are ready to focus on your longterm health, relationship with food, relationship with yourself AND willing to take active steps on them week after week (despite your full and busy life), you’re ready to work with me and I’m super psyched to have that opportunity. Because I know my longterm success as a coach depends on the success of my clients and their longterm success matters far more than if they can drop 8 lbs right after new years.

You don’t need a quick diet to make you feel better in 3 days. What you need is the fortitude to go at this one day at a time, to say “so what?” and “That’s ok” when you make a food choice you aren’t happy about. You need kindness for yourself and your choices and you need to recognize that your life is about far more than what you weigh, what you look like and what you put in your mouth.

How you approach eating and your body is closely tied with how you deal with everything in life. How likely are you to look for quick fixes at work, in your relationships or anywhere else? How uncomfortable are you with things not being perfect, good or easy? Oh my, I’m painfully uncomfortable when things aren’t “good”. It’s frequently been a trigger for my eating – when my Mom was in the hospital, when I was miserable in my job, when my husband and I fought. Fix it fix it, fix it I’d be screaming inside as I ate. Sound familiar??

How do you get beyond that? How do you stop looking for quick fixes? You have to sit in it. You have to recognize that sometimes life has a timeline that you’re not in control of (I know, this makes me want to pull my hair out too!). You have to keep your head above water during the hard times (whether that be illness, weight gain, stress etc) with dedicated a self-care routine (you decide what keeps you going – sleep, massage, exercise, social time, creative pursuits, sex, a good book etc). You must trust that things are going to work out the way they are meant to (that doesn’t necessarily mean that all will be well – people pass away, terrible things happen etc) and that no amount of worry or mental emphasis on the situation is going to make everything perfect. Dropping weight you’ve gained over the holidays in a longterm focused way, means taking it one day at a time (that fortitude we talked about earlier in this post), making decisions you feel good about as often as possible and remembering that you love people in your life whether they weigh 5 or 25 lbs more or less than they did the last time you saw them. Saying goodbye to the quick fix is easy when you focus on all that you have to offer this world and the people in it (instead of focusing on the numbers on the scale). Put your mental energy into other things in your life and if you do need to focus on something physical, focus on how good your body feels each day in your care (not how you look) and how your daily actions affect that. This will help you make better daily decisions that affect your longterm goals.

Well, I’ve ranted enough today! What are you fed up with in your own life? What behaviors and habits in your daily life are affecting your experience of it? Are you a slave to social media or quick fixes? How do you feel about that? Share with me in the comments or send me an email! And if you like this, fill out this form so you’ll get my weekly emails!

Happy Thanksgiving and A Few Things I’m Grateful For

Untitled designWith Thanksgiving just 2 days away, I wanted to take a minute to wish you a happy day with your family and friends. We’re at the opening day of what will be a very busy holiday season for most of us, I hope you can take some time before it begins to reflect on the wonderful things you have in your life, even if things aren’t going super well right now. When I feel scared, overwhelmed or generally whiny – I run through a list of some of the things in my life that I’m sincerely grateful for – it doesn’t “fix” what might be wrong but it helps me put things back into perspective.

I am thankful for so much this year – here are a few things that I am overflowing with gratitude for right now:

My health – even when I’m dealing with an injury (currently nursing a jammed big toe joint) – there is so much I am able to do thanks to this incredible body I have been given. I am grateful for my mobility, for high energy, for restful sleep and for strength!

A supportive and loving husband – he works his tail off (with a 3 hour daily commute), he makes me coffee every morning and plays with my hair at the end of every day.

A warm and safe home – I get tired of driving so far all the time but I have all that I need here and more. I’m lucky that I even have a car to drive all that distance!

sweet pest of a kitty who brings me comfort on bad days and whose antics make me laugh the rest of the time.

Friends & family I can count on. My circle is small but it’s full of people I trust and who legitimately care about me.

Access to fresh and wholesome food – I may get tired of cooking sometimes (i’m human!) but I have so much healthy and fresh food at my fingertips. So thankful that we are in a position to feed ourselves well.

Being able to enjoy food on this day. It wasn’t too long ago that every bite of food was a struggle between treating myself and beating myself up. I’m thankful that I’m in a place where I can enjoy food socially but also stay true to what feels best for my body. This is an amazing gift. (Contact me if you want to figure out how to get there yourself)

Life – sometimes I’m just amazed that I am here on this planet at all. How lucky that I’m here out of millions of other sperm/egg combinations!

A fulfilling coaching practice – working for myself and helping other women create the life the want to have is supremely satisfying and I’m thoroughly thankful that this is my life .

You – whether you’re a client, friend, classmate or just a curious person who stumbled upon my site, I am grateful for you! Thank you for reading, thank you for your kind notes, thank you for your business and generous referrals! I couldn’t be doing this work without you.

What are you feeling thankful for right now? Do you regularly think about all the positive things in your life?  Have you noticed any benefits in your life with staying conscious of the things you are grateful for?

If You Want to Stop Emotional Eating You Have to Get Back into Your Body

photo credit: good morning via photopin (license)

photo credit: good morning via photopin (license)

If you want emotional eating to be a thing of your past, if you want your long history of diets to be over, if you want to stop struggling with food, there is one thing you absolutely must do and that is get out of your head and get back into your body.

What do I mean by this? Most of us with emotional eating issues or a long term diet mentality will do anything we can to distance ourselves from our bodies and we often don’t even realize it. While a lot of our mental focus might be spent on how we feel about our body on any particular day (feeling fat, feeling gross for overeating etc) or how we want our body to look (wanting to be thinner, fitter or more muscular, wanting to have curves if we don’t etc), virtually none is spent on actually paying attention to the signals our body sends to us – signals like hunger, fullness, satisfaction and having had enough!

If you watch babies and young children, they are very in tune with the signals their bodies send them. Babies cry and toddlers get cranky when hungry. They feel it. Some days it seems like they eat almost nothing, while other times they seem to be a bottomless pit. We say “oh they must be going through a growth spurt” when this happens. We recognize that the extra hunger they have must be caused by something their body is conveying. A need for energy. A need for nourishment. A need for fuel to build healthy muscles and bones. But they stop themselves when they’ve had enough. While very young, we are very in sync with the needs of the body. So we start off honed in to these sensations and then lose it. Why?

Over time, we’re taught that we can’t trust our bodies. The teacher might be parents, relatives, well meaning neighbors, or it might be advertisements we see in every form of media. As children, we’re told told if we clean our plates we’ll be rewarded with dessert. How many of you struggled to finish your meal just so you could enjoy a treat? We’re taught that eating happens at 8am, 12pm and 6pm and we fill up at those pre-selected meal times whether or not our bodies say we are hungry. As adults, we’re taught that smaller portions and counting calories is the only way to not be overweight. We receive the message that point systems, low fat products, sugar free substitutes, and liquid meal replacements are the way to having a thinner body (never mind the message that a thinner body is what we all must have to be happy or desirable! uggg!). Along the way, we learn to gauge if we’ve had enough or too much food based on the calories, visual cues like portion size or by what we see in the mirror (thin or fat?). Eventually we learn to ignore something we had at birth – the ability to determine when we’ve had enough by paying attention to how our body feels.

We’re so focused on what our bodies should look like, how they should appear in a bathing suit and how few calories it takes to see the scale go up that we spend a huge chunk of our time attempting to maintain some arbitrary bullshit ideal. We abuse ourselves by withholding food based on whatever is popular at the time, instead of using the tools that our body is equipped with (or abuse ourselves by overeating to satisfy an emotional need). I know I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again and again – Our bodies are incredible machines – all we need to eat the right amount of food is inside us, if we’d only start paying attention and give it the trust that we instead give to whatever diet guru is popular at the moment.

Paying attention to the signals in my body has been a huge game-changer for my own relationship with food. I used to think that there was no way to not weigh 300 lbs without strictly accounting for all calories – but once I was able to trust my own hunger (now that I can recognize what that is!) I found that my weight is far more stable and I have less fear and stress around food. When I focused on calories, I made food choices based on what was going to help me meet my weight loss goals and not what was going to fuel my body. It wasn’t balanced and I always felt deprived. These days I can eat whenever I’m hungry and stop when I’m not and not worry about it – all because I’m in tune with my body and stop eating when I’m not hungry.

A key theme that every eating issue recovery program, tool, book and philosophy on the subject all have in common is that if you want to be more at peace with food and your body, you have to get out of your head and return to your body. If you eat according to anything other than the physical sensation of hunger, you’re probably not doing that.

What does this mean exactly?

Getting out of your head and back into your body means:

  • we choose to eat because we are hungry. True “hunger” means your stomach feels empty, it may make growling noises, your mouth may salivate at the thought of food, you may feel weak, lightheaded or slightly nauseous. You may feel hunger in your throat or neck instead of your stomach. It may be a gnawing, gurgly, light feeling. Hunger is a physical sensation. Describe it. Get in touch with it. What does “hunger” feel like to you? When was the last time you recognized that you had physical hunger? Do you feel it daily? Once in a while? Don’t remember the last time you felt it?
  • we stop eating when we are no longer hungry. Most of us confuse emotional hunger with physical hunger. You will never satisfy emotional hunger by eating food. Being in your body and in touch with the physical sensations it gives you means you can recognize when you are truly hungry and make the choice to stop eating when you are not.
  • not making food decisions based on whether something looks like it’s too much or not enough food, or whether it’s more or less calories than you “should” have at a certain meal. Instead of using judgements from our head about the quantity of food to determine how much to eat, we have to allow our bodies to tell us when we’ve had enough food. This can be really scary if you been calorie counting, dieting, restricting or have a history of out of control eating – I recognize this – but it’s key. You have to trust yourself.
  • Choosing foods based on their ability to make your body feel energetic, light and satisfied. We make the majority of our food choices based on fuel and nutrition but occasionally still leaving room for foods that bring us joy (and this doesn’t mean that the foods that we use for fuel aren’t also enjoyable!).
  • Avoiding foods that make us feel sluggish, lethargic or make us feel out of control. When we’re eating from our heads we tend to choose foods that don’t satisfy us very well (fat-free, low calorie, low nutrients) or make us feel terrible (fried, heavily processed, high in sugar etc). Are you even aware that some foods make us feel better or worse than others and that that is different for each person? It’s worth working on.

How do we get start to get back in our body?

  • Keep a food journal. I know it’s tedious but it works. Write down every single thing you put in your mouth (food or drink, even a single lick off a spoon – every bite!), what time you ate, as well as how hungry your were when you started eating and how full/satisfied you were when finished. It’s also helpful to record where you ate the meal and your mood at the time. Calories aren’t important but quantity might be helpful in the beginning. This is where we see patterns and start to understand our food “story”. Knowing your story is how you go about changing it. Some of the things you’ll see: When do you overeat? What foods do you tend to go for when you’re in a good mood? When you’ve had a rough day? Are you eating more or less than you thought you were? If you’re not willing to take the time to keep the food journal, you may want to ask yourself why? What are you afraid of finding out? People I know who are resistant to keeping a food journal, claim it’s because they already are aware of what and how much they are eating, but they’re usually the ones who have the most to learn and the most to gain from connecting with their bodies! Yes, you can use an online tool like myfitnesspal, peertrainer or whatever else you’re into – BUT ignore the calories, macros etc, PLEASE input info beyond the actual food you eat and ANALYZE it over time. Using paper, you’re more likely to look back at past entries and see your habits – with tech we’re less likely to do that so be willing to commit to that if you insist on using an app. I have seen the best results from paper and pen for me and my clients.
  • Use a hunger scale. When we’re not used to paying attention to the sensations in our bodies, using a hunger scale every time we eat can help us by slowly bring our attention back to our bodies on a regular basis. It takes a little practice. Here are two tools that I regularly use with clients (depending on their particular needs) – example 1 and example 2.  In both tools, the goal is to stay somewhere in the middle all day – never letting yourself get super hungry or super full (neutral to comfortably satisfied is where it’s at). Doing this, we start to pay more attention to when and how our bodies start to signal us and we’re less likely to run into that problem where we’ve gotten so hungry that we can’t make good decisions and end up going completely overboard. A tool like this takes a little practice to use. First you have to determine what each point on the scale means to you – with Brooke Castillo’s 2 to 2 scale (from example 2) – how much food do you need to eat to take yourself from -2 to 0? What about from 0 to +2? What does eating to +5 look and feel like? What does letting yourself get to -7 feel like? You may find some days you reach satisfaction with less food than on other days. Some days you may find that you are hungrier than usual and need to eat every few hours to prevent yourself from getting too hungry. Once you know how much food it takes to keep you in a comfortable place on the scale, you can plan ahead since you’ll know what it will take to satisfy you (and you’ll start to recognize how beneficial it is to not let yourself get too hungry or too horribly full). I can tell you that what felt like “enough but not too much” shortly after I ended my regular binges now feels like being super stuffed. Be willing to adjust your expectations and needs as you get more comfortable with your body and eating intuitively.
  • Eat slowly, in a calm environment and chew more than you think you need to. Doing this ensures your brain and digestive system work together to #1 prepare to digest your food properly (saliva and gastric juices baby!) and #2 release chemicals that tell your brain that you’ve had enough. Often we eat so quickly that by the time we stop eating, it’s another 20 or 30 minutes before the brain catches up – by then we’re so full we can’t stand it! If you slow down it won’t get to that point and you’ll be amazed how much less you need to eat to feel “good”.
  • Indulge in body based self-care. It’s not a direct route to listening to your physical hunger sensations but these are all certainly aligned with getting in touch with your body (literally!) and can help foster the skills you need to listen to your body more. If you can’t stand to touch or move your body, you might be not be open to its communication tools as well. Try some of these to open back up: Dry brushing daily with a natural bristled brush (towards the heart), physical movement that focuses on the mind-body connection like yoga or qigong, masturbation (did she just write that? yes, yes she did!) or deep tissue massage.

Ditching a diet mentality and recovering from emotional eating takes a lot of effort but with concrete tools and consistency you can make some incredible progress. Eating does not have to be such a struggle and if you start here – connecting with your physical self, you are at step one of a healthier relationship with food and yourself.

Does any of this resonate with you? Have you been completely out of touch with your hunger signals? Please share in the comments! And as usual, if you like what you’ve read here, please sign up to be on my email list in the green box below.

Video: Eating for Energy & Vitality Conference on Google Hangout

Check out this free Eating for Energy & Vitality Call I did on Google Hangouts (the call was live but records automatically and lives on youtube).  Lots of great information to share with you!

Find out why so many women struggle with low energy, why that matters and what you can do about it (it includes tips for eating for high energy, specific foods that can help as well as some non-food ways to boost your energy quickly).  This is exactly the type of stuff I help clients implement in their lives!