Body image

Letting Go

Posted by on Feb 14, 2013 in Body image, Mindfulness | 0 comments

Letting Go

 

 

 

 

 

 

I used to weigh 300 lbs.

I have always felt fat and insecure.

I used to think that I am not enough because of my size and unworthy of love.

I have come to discover that these feelings of being unworthy protect me. Protect me from getting hurt, rejected, judged.

Judged by others. Judged by myself.

 

Why aren’t I skinny?

Why aren’t I wealthy?

Why aren’t I successful?

What are my talents?

Where is my reward?

Where is my love?

As I look inward, really deep down in the well, I find, all that I seek I already am.

I am LOVE. LOVE is all that I am.

If I focus on lack there will never be enough.

This is hard work. This is a struggle. This is the journey. This is how to break free from emotional eating!

This is enough. I am enough. I am worthy of LOVE.

 

What are you?

 

 

 

 

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6 Simple Ways To Love Your Body More

Posted by on Oct 10, 2012 in Body image, Featured | Comments Off on 6 Simple Ways To Love Your Body More

6 Simple Ways To Love Your Body More

Most people often ask me how I lost so much weight and managed to keep it off. If you are familiar with my story then you know that I used to be morbidly obese and at one time weighed almost 300lbs. When I initially decided to take control of my life and transform my eating habits, I had to learn about nutrition, health, and portion control.

Over the years my eating habits have continued to evolve. As I learn more about health and wellness I understand what it means to Cultivate Nourishment for myself. The more I learn how to nourish myself, the more I understand how important it is to love and accept myself just as I am.

I understand that I in order to accept myself fully, I need to embrace the person I am right HERE and right NOW. An important part of this process is feeling good about my body just as it is. 

Here are some simple steps to help you get started…

1. Ditch The Diet Mentality

Hopefully by now many of us understand that diets don’t work. Nearly all dieters (95%) regain the weight they lose within one to five years. As a recovering food addict and compulsive overeater I understand what it is like to be a yo-yo dieter. I lost weight and gained it back for many years. It wasn’t until I learned how to ditch the diet mentality and tune into myself, that I was able to achieve a healthy weight and maintain it.

2. Tune Into Your Body

If you truly want to embrace your body and love yourself, then you need to tune into your body. This means moving your body, learning what foods nourish your body and adding more joyful experiences into your life. I encourage you to get in touch with how your body is feeling. Once you know how it feels then you can also learn what feels good.

3. Learn To Let Go

We all have “stuff” we want to let go of. The weight of these things can have a physical and emotional pull on our bodies. As we learn to let go of the things that no longer serve us, we open up to new possibilities and begin to receive what we need. I encourage you to think about what you need to let go of. Imagine what your life would be like if it is no longer with you.

4. Mirror Work

If you really want to change your body, you must first love and accept your body just as it is. This is perhaps the most challenging step. You might be thinking; if I loved my body exactly as it is, then I wouldn’t need to change it. That is exactly why you should begin to do this work! Stand in front of the mirror naked everyday and begin to notice where judgments come up. Consciously send love to all of those parts and really praise them. Look yourself in the eyes and say; “I love you” out loud everyday!

5. Express Gratitude

Daily practices of gratitude are a proven psychology to achieving more happiness, love and acceptance. When we change our negative thoughts and beliefs about our body image into positive ones, we automatically begin to feel better. As you do your mirror work express gratitude to every part of your body, especially the ones that you hate the most. Before you know it the negative thoughts you have about your body image will be gone.

6. Spoil Yourself

Cultivating more self care into our lives is key in achieving an ideal body image. Celebrate yourself and do something just for you. Get a massage, take a bubble bath, light candles, buy yourself flowers. When you begin to spoil yourself and take better care of you, your body will start to feel better and so will you!

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Heavy Weight

Posted by on Aug 29, 2012 in Body image | Comments Off on Heavy Weight

Heavy Weight

I was put on my first diet when I was seven years old. It feels as if I have always been dieting. My weight issue is always there. As a child I was told that I was overweight, which meant FAT to me. I was taught that certain foods were “bad for me” and others were “good”. In my mind when I wasn’t eating what I was “supposed to” I was being bad. This created feelings of guilt, shame, and failure. When you live with a voice inside your head that shouts “You’re not good enough” for so long it is hard not too listen.

Recently I had lunch with a very dear friend of mine. We discussed my feelings of in-adequacy. Even now, after loosing over 150 lbs, I still feel “I am not good enough”.  I could tell from the confused expression on her face that she thought it was odd that I felt this way about myself. The next day I received this inspiring email: 

I really admire all of the steps you have taken in pursuit of your dreams even when it feels difficult. Keep tapping into your truth and your strength (you have so much of it), and quieting that voice that likes to tell you you’re not good enough. That voice is the farthest thing from the truth.

 

 

If she believes in me and can see the truth then why can’t I? The truth is because I have believed that I’m not good enough for most of my life. The truth is that I believe if I didn’t have a “weight issue” everything would be great. The truth is it’s a lot harder to believe in myself the way others do. Most of the time we can be our own worst critic. We allow our inner critic to be the one in charge. That is when we make decisions from a place of doubt, frustration, and anger. That is when we make choices that don’t serve our highest self.

I have discovered that when I stay more grounded and connected to my higher self the inner critic inside isn’t the one in control. Here are some of the tools I like to use!

Focus On The Positive

In order to quiet the inner critic inside our head we need to focus on the positive. Instead of beating yourself up or talking negative about yourself, ask what you can change. Focus on feeling good inside and it will eventually be reflected on the outside. Here is a simple affirmation to try: “I am getting better and better everyday in everyway”

Appreciate Where You Are

Learn to appreciate where you are. When I catch myself talking negative about myself I remember to look back on my previous accomplishments. Although at times it may be a struggle to lose weight I remember a time when I used to weigh almost 300 lbs. I remind myself how strong I am for transforming my life and being an inspiration for others.

Breathe

It may seem obvious, but breathing is essential to our daily living. Our higher self rides on our breath. In order to ground ourselves and live in the here and now we need to practice breathing deeply and calmly everyday!

Stop Comparing

Why compare yourself with others? No one in the entire world can do a better job of being you than you.”
- Unknown

One of the reasons I think “I am not enough” is because I compare myself with others. I feel I should be more then I already am. Others are better then me, skinnier, prettier, smarter, more successful. If I stop comparing myself to others and remind myself that there is no better or worse, just different, there will be no more “I am not enough” and more “I am”.

Remember The Process

Life is a process; there is nowhere to get to. When I focus on feeling good and appreciating where I am, I also remember that everything I do is a process. Whether its starting my own company, losing weight, dealing with great loss, or simply remembering to breathe, I am constantly amazed at the wonderful, magical, mysterious process of it all. 

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Transform Your Eating Habits

Posted by on Aug 22, 2012 in Body image | Comments Off on Transform Your Eating Habits

Transform Your Eating Habits

If you have read my blog before then you already know about my struggles and challenges with emotional binge eating and obesity. This week I wanted to give you another women’s perspective on the same topic. Meet Jen, a yoga teacher and fellow spiritual gansta. We met at a Psychology of Eating workshop this past July. I think we knew that we were kindred spiritual sisters, we hit it off immediately.  I admire Jen for her honesty and willingness to share part of her story here. I hope this blog will inspire and motivate you the same way it has for me. Always remember that you are never alone. As we share our stories with one another we also help inspire each other.

What Girls Do When They’re Upset

Back in the late 90s, when my fiancé Kevin and I broke up a few months before our wedding, a mutual (male) friend stopped by with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. I appreciated his kindness, and I never forgot that moment, because I remember truly being perplexed at why he brought me ice cream. “I thought that’s what girls did when they were upset,” he said innocently. “They ate whole pints of ice cream.”

How times have changed. It’s 10 years later and I’m finally married (to a different Kevin). I have a house in the suburbs and a high-tech job. On the side I love to exercise (I recently started running), I dance West Coast Swing, and I’m starting to teach yoga and meditation. I collect healthy recipes like they were going out of style, and although I love to eat out, I also cook a lot myself. I also post about health and wellness topics on my blog every week. I do all these activities to counteract stress, which is rampant in my job and in society at large. Maintaining optimal health and wellness in the face of life’s daily challenges is very important to me.

And, I have developed a problem with food. I’ve come up with (and have heard from others) all sorts of theories about why I’ve struggled with compulsive eating for almost a year now, binging and overeating (sometimes daily for weeks at a time) before getting a handle on it again. “It started when you first tried that Yoga Journal detox.” “I was so sad when my best friend in the world moved across country and stopped talking to me, I felt abandoned.” “You’re being too restrictive with your food and so your body is craving what it can’t have.” “I’m feeling creatively unfulfilled.” And on it goes.

I’ve gotten fed up with the theorizing. The fact is, it doesn’t really matter why it started or what it is I’m really upset about. I’m tired of digging into my past and dissecting my present. I know I have a problem, and I need to fix it or risk further damaging my body and mind. 

My Strategy for Halting Compulsive Eating

Although there are many tools available, I like to establish my own strategies to tackle problems, try them out to see if they work, and revise them as necessary (or, completely replace them if they fail completely)! After all, I’m unique, and what works for someone else may or may not work for me. Here I offer up what seems to be helping me stay on track, with the intention that someone else might benefit from trying something like it, or get an idea for something else that might be equally effective.

Ironically, one of my first blog posts was about eating mindfully. Yet I find that in my maxed out, crazy busy life, this is SO HARD. I start multitasking, taking the iPad or a magazine to the table with me at breakfast and dinner. Or, I’m in a situation (i.e. in a lunch meeting at work) where I just can’t focus on nourishing myself because I need to facilitate or contribute to the conversation. Or, I forget and shovel my lunch into my mouth, preoccupied with work as I sit (or stand) at my desk.

Here’s what I’m trying these days that seems to be working:

Countermeasures Email

In the evening, I write a “Triggers, Emotions, and Countermeasures” email, which I send to myself and a supportive person in my life. This email is simple. I look at my schedule (work and personal) for the day. I identify any interaction I feel might become a trigger for me to eat unnecessarily. I identify the emotion(s) the situation may stir in me. I brainstorm some ideas for things I could do (besides eat) that would create that oh-so-needed pause before habit takes over and I’m riding that binge and feel terrible roller coaster again.

Here’s are two examples from an email I sent myself and my friend:

10 am meeting w/ Bob (trigger) — desire to eat from the chocolate candy bowl near his office (emotion), make a b-line for his office and don’t even look at the candy! (countermeasure); fear about my ability to influence him about a project / discomfort about a potential difficult conversation if he doesn’t agree with me (emotions), need to be curious about his perspective, and accept my current level of influence (countermeasures).

Decision about putting Ferris down (trigger) — fear over my ability to handle sadness / anticipated regret over being selfish vs. doing the best thing for him (emotions). Accept that there is no perfect answer and trust myself to make the best decision I can (countermeasures).

Pre-eating Checklist

This is a short survey I created with Google docs (and therefore accessible everywhere, including any computer or mobile device). It forces me to ask questions I wanted to think about before any food crossed my lips, including things like “Did you drink a full glass of water first?”, “Is it already in your food plan for the day?”, and “Did you consult your ‘Triggers, Emotions, and Countermeasures’ email first?” The same supportive friend has access to the survey results spreadsheet, which they can look at any time. And, the last question happens to be a very personal and highly motivating one for me.

What I’ve Learned So Far

Some people think this is a lot of work

If you’ve ever tracked your food, counted calories, or points, etc., you understand how quick it can be once you’ve gotten into a routine. And, to me, anything that helps create that slightly larger, mindful pause before I act impulsively is totally worth it. Plus, I’m done caring what other people think, especially if it’s working for me!

It only works if I actually do it

There was a fatal flaw in my plan initially: I thought most of my binging / overeating was caused by work stress, so I only used these tools during the week. I then found that I returned to binging Saturday night, as a result of some non-work related emotions.

I found interesting themes in my emotions

Coincidentally I’ve been reading Emotional Intelligence 2.0. In it, Bradberry and Greaves say that “all emotions are derivations of five core feelings: happiness, sadness, anger, fear, and shame.” Since I find this to be true, my emails are now more abbreviated to one of these. And although I hadn’t originally considered positive emotions, the situation I described above (on the weekend) was a good example.

I need countermeasures too!

Although there were some very specific ideas, many of my countermeasure brainstorms included phrases like, “accept what you can’t change”, “breathe and surrender”, “love yourself as you are right now”, etc. In theory I know these things, but in practice, the email (which I reread throughout the day) reminds me of them exactly when I most need to be reminded.

You Can Do It Too

If you struggle with an eating habit you’re not particularly fond of, you probably know that there are many different diets and tools out there to choose from. Some of them are good, some not so good. And that judgment may be different for different people. What works for you may not work for someone else, and vice versa. My advice? Try things, and pay attention to your body, to your mind, and to your emotions. You don’t have to accept diets or diet tools at face value. Tweak them, combine them, and play with them until you find something that works for you. And please do make something up! Personalize it. If your strategy doesn’t work, revise it. Try something else. But don’t ever give up. Your health and wellness is too important.

By day Jen works at a fast-paced software company where she manages a team of usability specialists who make web sites and computer applications easy to use.

Before sunrise and in the evening, Jen focuses on personal development and self improvement by learning about exercise, nutrition, yoga, meditation, and dance. She’s also a certified Kripalu Yoga instructor who teaches at various studios and offers private sessions. (See her web site for details.)

Jen is called to share what she learns with others, with the hope of contributing to a saner, calmer, healthier, and happier world.

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Break The “Bad” Eating Cycle

Posted by on Jul 18, 2012 in Body image, Food and Nutrition, Health Tips | Comments Off on Break The “Bad” Eating Cycle

Break The “Bad” Eating Cycle

As someone who is a food addict I know all too well the up and downhill battle with the scale.

I spent many years of my life being morbidly obese, weighing in at almost 300lbs.

During most of that time I was a teenager. As you can imagine being a fat teenage girl can be pretty damaging on the psyche. I became depressed and lonely.

All I cared about was food. When I was 17 I was diagnosed as being a compulsive overeater, but I had no idea what that really meant. I knew there were things I wasn’t “supposed to” or “allowed to” have, and I ate them anyway.

I filled myself up with food as a result of being empty inside.

More then a decade later, being half my size, I am here to tell you what I have come to discover. These are just some of the tools that have really helped me get to where I am today. I will not lie. It has not been easy. It is a daily practice that I cultivate and something I am always working on. Even if you only take away one of these tools today I promise you will see results.

Don’t Make Excuses

A lot of people want to loose weight. Most of these people also have a long list of excuses. I know most of them because I have used every single one. When I catch myself making an excuse I ask myself: What do I really want? You need to decide how badly you really want to loose weight. Yes you might have to make some sacrifices, but I can promise you that is worth it. 

Eat What You Want

When we deprive ourselves or restrict our food selection we are setting ourselves up for failure. This is one of the reasons why diets don’t work! If your body is craving something and you don’t allow yourself to eat it, you are most likely to overeat on anything and everything until your body is satisfied. When we think we are “not allowed” to have certain foods we only create a deeper desire to eat them. Of course, you need to be careful with the amount of food you are consuming, but in my world there is no food that is off limits.

Tune Into Your Body

This is one of the most important tools that you need to Cultivate Nourishment. The best way to reduce cravings and overeating is too understand what is right for you. You can only eat what you truly want when you are aware of what your body truly needs. Everyone is unique and different. Tune into yourself.

Enjoy Your Food

If you are always worried about what you eat you are more likely to go into restriction mode, or punish yourself. When you eat your food you should savor every bite. Eat it slowly and stop when you are full.

Find What Nourishes You

Make a list of all the things that nourish you. This can be the food you eat, the relationships you have, or the work that you do. The more you add nourishment into your life from sources other then food, the more likely you are not to turn to food for comfort. Start NOW by only choosing food that makes your tummy hum.

Connect To Your Spirit

Your mind is very powerful. It controls your thoughts and your thoughts control your actions. When you learn to cultivate awareness around what you do and how you do it, you are connecting with your inner guide, your higher power, your spirit. When we connect with ourselves in a deep and meaningful way it can change the way we do everything! Be still with yourself. If you are really brave start practicing meditation!

Love Yourself

Get rid of the negative self-talk. Are you a perfectionist, always saying “I am not good enough”? Having a negative opinion about ourselves can have a huge impact on who we are and what we do. Next time you catch yourself saying something negative about yourself ask, would I speak to a child like that? Turn your negative talk into positive affirmations. “I am getting better and better everyday in everyway.”

Remember, I am always here to support you!

Contact me if you want to find out more.

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