Food Policing vs. Out-of-Control: two sides, same coin

I am awake, but my eyes haven’t even open yet. Yesterday was bad. I messed up.  Today - today is the day. Today I am going to be really good. I am not going to let what went down yesterday happen again. I am only going to eat this and do that.

Today I will be my best.  

Sound familiar?

When there are days when you’ve felt like you were unable to control what you put in your mouth, it is not crazy to seek to counter that feeling of out-of-control with a strong sense of policing and management around food. The disconnect from a sense of control around food naturally sets the tone for desiring the opposite – total control. The discomfort that comes from feeling powerless seriously S-U-C-K-S.  

However, there is some news, when it comes to this cycle:

The pattern between being the out-of-control-person with food and the highly-managed-and-regulated-person are merely opposite sides of the same coin. They have you stuck on the same shitty island!

Breakfast.jpeg

 It is incredibly easy, and for our culture, quite normal to go back and forth between these two obsessive behaviors. I say obsessive because both sides are filled with a strong preoccupation with food, the body, and the policing and management of both. The obsessive behavior merely goes back and forth from one side of the coin to the other.

Some may stay on the highly controlled side of the coin for certain periods of time, but for those with a susceptibility to being on the out-of-control side of the coin, the hardcore managed and policed side is often unsustainable.

[To note: When I say “managed and regulated,” I am by no means referring to all other eating-beings who don’t fall out-of-control. Many “normal eaters,” which we will get to in a second, don’t feel out-or-control AND simultaneously are not required to manage or police themselves around food.] 

So - “normal eaters” aside, even if you could make your way to the highly-controlled and policed side of the coin and stay there, is complete preoccupation with food and body management disguised in a slightly different outfit still worth it? Yea, you might feel less guilt and shame (which I realize is huge), BUT the obsession and preoccupation with food and your body would not change, and the fear of continuing to eat the way you have been would likely shift to a fear of “falling off the wagon.”

Even if you change its outfit, fear is fear.

All this being said, the key is getting off the highly policed/out-of-control island. In other words, completely letting go of that two-sided coin and stepping into a new way of thinking - a new paradigm.   

Instead, balanced and non-obsessive behaviors are the intention. This, however, is not black and white in the way that the out-of-control today and will be in control tomorrow coin is. This is where the “turtle wins the race” mentality comes into play. It takes more practice and a hell of a lot more work, self-compassion, and paradigm shifting, but it is worth it. 

Okay. So how do we stop policing ourselves as a way to balance feeling out-of-control? Start with these few things:

1.  Consider that "normal eaters” aren’t perfect with food either.  I hate that term, but language is limited, so we're going with it. Normal eaters, or in other words, people that don't obsess to the point of food policing or compulsive behaviors around food sometimes overeat too. They have days when their cravings are stronger, when they have an extra serving or two, or when they also eat their sugar, simple carbs, and chips. They have days when when they eat unconsciously, and when they eat chow-mein out of the box two hours after breakfast. 

Normal eating includes eating imperfectly! So you don’t need to feel out-of-control anytime you eat some “naughty.” And the answer to being occasionally “naughty” isn’t complete perfection.                                                                

2.   Remember that the fucking island sucks! As you may know, the fantasy of being in control 100% of the time and eating perfectly is in fact a fantasy. And policing yourself sure isn’t the magical answer your out-of-control self has been waiting for. If it was, it would have already worked!!!

3. And most importantly, practice catching yourself thinking about tomorrow being “better, or thinking about what you will or won’t eat based on what you did or did not eat. When these thoughts arise, pause, take a few breaths (seriously!), and remember (this is huge!): the idea of controlling what you eat based on what you already ate is a GIGANTIC part of the control/out-of-control cycle. It snowballs on itself. Grabbing for regulation in order to make up for something that already happened the hour, day, week, or even years prior is going to create the shit storm that keeps you going back and forth from one side of the coin to the other.

When "I'll be better tomorrow thoughts" arise, instead choose to practice listening to yourself and what you want when hunger arises; not what you should eat. The "should" creates the policing that pushes you into out-of-control. 

You're not alone,

and you are loved. 

 

With love.

Self-Compassion and Apathy: the difference

You may have been here before…

That moment when you come home from a tough day.  A day that leaves you disconnected from yourself. A day where you feel caught in it – whatever your it might be.

When you arrive home there are ways to cope and deal. For those on the turning off and numbing out train – food, TV, or your substance of choice may come to mind.  Often times choosing the highest, most enlightened path that serves your greatest need isn’t always the path of least resistance. You’re not alone.  

You may seek to be the greatest version of yourself, seeking to choose the best ways of moving through life.  But, what occurs when that doesn’t happen? What if you have those off days, or make choices in dealing with those days that add to the pain and suffering?

Well, what if being the very best version of yourself isn’t about being on your A-game all the time? What if it means dealing with your experiences, and how you react to them, with the simple act of offering compassion inward?

What if it means being your most compassionate self?  

As an individual experiencing the waves of life coming through in varying directions all the time, you first have to remember:

you are human. 

You are going to experience things in the world that don’t always feel great AND you aren’t going to respond to these things as your “highest self” every time. 

We all have different coping tools – ways of dealing with the world around us. For most of my clients, food is their favorite tool. It comforts them and turns everything on pause. However, once the numbing has worn out, this behavior adds to the grief, pain, and discomfort.

What this behavior is built on is a sense of apathy.  Apathy comes from the Latin word apatheia, meaning “without feeling.”  Apathy literally turns the feelings off.

There is this notion that after a hard day, the compassionate thing to do is to come home and take care of one’s self by turning off. As though the compassionate thing is to ignore the discomfort.

However, turning off is not compassion; it is apathy.

One of my current self-compassion gurus, researcher and writer Kristin Neff, explains: 

You cannot ignore your pain and feel compassion for it at the same time.

In other words, you have to look into your stuff, into your dark spots in order to experience compassion for yourself. It is the act of going inward and seeking mindfulness around your experience that let’s the light of compassion in.                                                           

Self-compassion requires “a willingness to observe our negative thoughts and emotions with openness and clarity.” 

Here is an exercise for you to practice in moments where apathy is often the path of least resistance: 

-       Take a moment and look around. What is going on? What is your pain, discomfort, suffering? Get clear.

-       Then, imagine a loved one sharing that same story with you.

-       Next, write a letter to that friend. How would you comfort a friend in that position? What would you say?

-       Then read that letter out loud and back to your self.

This may seem childlike, but I promise, this little activity is some strong medicine.

This will bring kindness inward. You cannot “Yes, Sergeant!” your way into being the person with only great days or one who only uses the best tools in dealing with the not-so-great days. Research shows willpower or forcing your way into the box of whoever you think you “should be” are are not sustainable tools.

Compassion is. The act of self-compassion is the magic wand that ignites the light for you to find, and bring to life, your highest self.

Light your path. 

 *A final note here: the more we are capable of turning that compassion inward, the more powerful we become when it comes time to turning it outward. Forgiving yourself is forgiving others. Loving yourself is loving others. Inner work perpetuates the power of the outer work.

 

With love. 

Dance Yourself Into Trust

There is an unconscious agreement between consumers of information and those distributing information that we as the consumers are not to be trusted with the management of our bodies.

Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and other dieting and body “improving” programs are quite effective at making it seem as though we need help outside ourselves to successfully care for our own bodies. We are told again and again that we need support in order to control or manage our intake of food, and if we don’t, well, the worst could happen….

I invite you to change this paradigm and re-mind yourself that you are trustworthy.  

You are not out of control. Your body is not something to be fixed. Such programs make it so that we have to step outsides of ourselves in order to experience comfort, support, and ease.

(Support can be of course helpful, but there is support that takes your power away and there is support that gives the space to become empowered.)

Support that takes you away from your power moves you further away from having full ownership over yourexperience with your body and from gaining access to your source of true healing.

So, here we go. Use your body to heal your body.

The healing ringleaderfree, unrestricted, embodied movement.

Step one: Create a playlist, even just two to three songs, that you cannot help but move to. I recommend music you can be more easeful with. Something you want to move to, but music that doesn’t force the movement.

Step two: Turn the music on as loud as it needs to be for you to get lost – for everything else to disappear. Stay away from mirrors and shut any doors or windows that distract you from anything outside your direct experience.   

Step three: Move. Close your eyes and follow yourself. Become a witness to your movement. Perhaps even put an eye mask on. Allow for yourself to be led by something other than your conscious mind. Where do the tips of your fingers want to lead you? Your feet?  Head? Spine? You can roll your neck, squat, fold forward, start moving into random yoga postures. Sit. Do nothing. Whatever.

 Simply follow yourself.

This sort of movement will begin to bring a deeper sense of embodied self-awareness into your being. Embodied self-awareness is a way of witnessing and participating in our whole body-mind experience on a moment-to-moment basis. It is not a cognitive head-down approach.

This is truly healing the relationship to the body from the ground up – and through the body itself. This is very significant.

By allowing your body to guide you, you will learn to trust it, and thus, deeply trust yourself.

I am not much of a beggar, but I plead with all might and ask you to do this for yourself. Dim the lights, press play and follow yourself into movement. Your capacity for dancing is irrelevant. Be rigid. Be smooth. It does not matter.

Simply quiet the mind and follow your body. Trust that it will take you exactly where you need to go. From there, trust will grow. And in moments of life when that trust may dissipate, come back to this movement. Reignite your trust.

Embodied movement is your guide. It will lead you back to trust time and time again.  

That trust will drip into everything else you do. Thus, not only will you trust your body, but you will trust your ability to care for your body in a way that best serves you (especially with your relationship with food and physical activity).

Now, I invite you (and plead, just a little bit!) to follow those few simple steps listed above.  

Let the movement guide you into profound trust.   

Empower yourself with trust. 

 

With love. 

Shame in the Name of Body-Positivity

The type-A body and our desire to fit that image in order to feel accepted and valued… 

Yea, yea, yea. We know.

There is a progressive movement circulating around body-positivity that is incredibly loud and with great power. We are releasing the veil. Clarity is arising around the notion that we do not have to look a certain way in order to be loved, successful, powerful, and valuable. We are realizing that our bodies are ours. Not theirs. We own them

As women become more and more aware of the boundaries that have been placed on their bodies over the course of predominantly the last 75 years, they are seeking greater disconnection from the old body paradigm (look a certain way in order to be/have x, y, and z) and are instead embracing the idea of loving their bodies and themselves now.

Women are becoming engaged in a movement that is bringing light to the notion that thinness is not the only way to define health, and curves are not the dark road leading to disease and isolation.  All bodies are beautiful bodies.

Commercials, advertisements and magazines stating these nonsensical ideas still run rampant. All the while, we fight back – everyday – by choosing not to let these ideas create shame or infiltrate our sense of worth.

And yet…

What I witness in my clients and women dear to my heart is a new paradigm of shame.  The: I am not being body-positive enough shame.

Even with the new paradigm of body-positivity, we are still living in a world recovering from deeply engrained negative-body messages. The old paradigm lives in the experiences of our grandmothers, mothers, sisters, friends, and all the women around us. We have been fed message over and over again that express we aren’t enough, or that we better hang on tight in the small chance we are.

We have become more aware of and knowledgeable about these false notions associated with the old paradigm of body-image.  And with this, we become more aware of when we are falling into its traps.

I witness countless women who are warriors for and within the body-positive movement experiencing great shame in moments when they feel not so body-positive.

They work day after day, reminding themselves they are beautiful. That their bodies don’t need to change in order to be a valuable human being. And yet, as already mentioned, the old paradigm runs deep and still has a very active voice.

So, what I wish to express here is that we cannot let ourselves add shame to shame.

There was shame for not being “right” in our bodies. And now, with more knowledge and awareness, we know in our hearts that we are already “right.” However, sometimes those old stories creep in through the cracks of our thoughts. And in those moments, we may feel that memory of not being “right.”

In that moment, you body-positive warrior, do not feel shame for not always being body-positive. 

Do not add another layer of judgment for not doing it right. Instead, release that second layer of judgment, and spend a moment reminding yourself that you are “right.” Even in your shame.

We are at the forefront of the deprogramming age. The muscles in our brains and the memories stored in our bodies take time to make space for the new paradigm to fully take over.

Give yourself permission to be human  to have moments that aren’t always body-positive.

When you do have those moments, speak them. Shame is strangled be your voice – by your willingness to uncover the silence.

By sharing your experience of perhaps not being in the most body-positive state, you are giving women around you the permission to also be human.  The act of reflecting each other’s humanness alone gives us so much space for healing.

Again, we are at the forefront of a huge shift – a shift that is seeking to break down a multi-billion dollar a year industry that will works its ass off to remind us otherwise.

You are allowed to break. You are allowed to feel the old-paradigm.

Do not add shame to shame. Speak your feelings to your Sisters.

Expecting yourself to be body-positive at every moment, without break, is simply another version of perfection.

Let yourself get the hell out of that hole. Your perfection is no good here.

Your humanness is accepted with full permission.

Honor your body to depths of your soul, while giving yourself permission to be human and speak those moments. 

Use your fellow troops to pick you up and guide you back to the light of yourself.

You are a body-positive warrior.

 

With love. 

Why Food is a Major Coping Tool

Many of my clients have trouble understanding why they always turn to food as a tool for coping. Whenever any sort of fear, anxiety, tiredness, confusion, or even happiness come up, food tends to be the path of least resistance.

We’ve talked about how coping with emotional eating is actually okay, as long as it is not your only coping tool and you are not experiencing guilt and shame regarding it.  

But the question as to why food tends to be (one of) the main coping tool(s) still seems to quite tricky and mysterious for many. 

However, it is simple.

If you are constantly thinking about food, then food is always going to be on your mind.

If you are constantly thinking about your body (how you can trim this up, change that, fix this), then food is always going to be on your mind. If you are managing your body, you are also managing food.

Perhaps it shows up as eating management (what you ate, when you last ate, when you’ll eat next), the quality of food (macros, micros, proteins, fats, carbs) or the quantity (portions, calories). 

(Tangent! -  Being aware and thoughtful about what you put into your body and your level of physical activity is not “bad." I am a firm believer in high quality nourishment and empowering physical activity. The sketchy road arises when it becomes obsessive, takes over, and guilt and shame are common actors in the thought patterns associated with food and your body. So tread lightly. There is a line between balanced health and wellness and fanatical health and wellness.) 

Bottom line - when you are constantly thinking about food or your body, your mind is going to be focused on food. Pretty clear, right?

So, it would make sense that when you are in a moment of [insert: fear, stress, anxiety, low energy, confusion, boredom, procrastination, loneliness], you are going to lean on the coping tool with the path of least resistance.

In moments like this, usually the last thing you want to do is think about the best and most valuable tool for your overall well-being. Instead, you want instant gratification in order to release the undesirable emotions or feelings.

And that most likely is the thing that is more often than not on your mind. In this case – food (or your body, and therefore food, again).

Okay, a recap: when you experience a powerful emotion or feeling that requires the need to be managed, you are likely to utilize your most convenient coping to tool to help manage that emotion, and when you are constantly fixated on your body and food, then food will likely be the tool you lean on.


From here, the snowball effect:

Fixate on food/body - life happens and you experience some unwanted emotion or feeling - food is the path of least resistance and used as a coping tool – feel guilty and perhaps shameful about using food– add more fixation to food and body in order to manage and control the use of food – life happens and you experience another unwanted emotion or feeling...

 …You get it.

There are few things to do from here in order to break the cycle. 

Build up your coping tools. As other coping tools grow stronger, the paths leading to them will become more easily accessed, allowing for you to choose them without so much work involved, leaving less desirable coping tools in the distance. Coping tools include: reading, napping, meditation, going on a walk, playing with a pet, being in nature, calling a loved one, going for a drive, finding water and swimming your heart out, yoga.  

(And very importantly, this is not an opportunity for you to get on the any food eaten in any emotional experience is bad train. Again, it is an okay coping tool, as long as it is not your only coping tool and you are not experiencing guilt and shame regarding it.)

Also, start releasing the fixationThis starts with a simple awareness. Begin to notice thoughts around food and your body. They don’t need change over night. To be honest, they won’t. Go gently, and as you start to become more aware of the thoughts, you can begin to shift them and also shift the way you show up for yourself and in life.

When you feel yourself fixating, take a deep breath in and say to yourself, I am okay. I’ve done nothing wrong. My world is not crumbling. Ask: What do I actually need?

By bringing awareness to your beliefs and thoughts, and expanding your coping tools you will be astonished by just how much your reality shifts.

We truly are the manifestations of our internal experience. Once you begin to clear space in your mind and build more tools that support you, you will create space for abundance.

Get it. 

 

With love. 

Finding the Light When Food and Body Image are Knocking You Down

When it comes to food and body image, there are days when you may feel like you’ve got it under control and you are floating on cloud nine, and other days when getting out of your head feels painstakingly difficult.

The thoughts running through your mind may often times be incessant. Constantly thinking about what you ate, how long you’ll fast for to make up for it, what this means for your ass, if you’ll feel okay enough for the party next weekend, the fact that you have to pull it together and make it to your meeting in an hour, the guilt, the shame, you know.

Ooph. Here is the deal. You – the you that is underneath the mania about your body and food – has so much going on in life. You have relationships, jobs, pets, hobbies, passions. However, the negative voice of obsess has pretty much one goal – to keep you feeling as small and inadequate as possible.  

When you are deep in the thick of living the reality of that voice, getting out the other side can sometimes feel like attempting to climb out of a well.  That well runs deep and the light coming through the top may feel far from reach.

As Buckminster Fuller said,

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the beginning model obsolete.”

There are ways to change this reality of body and food mania.  But, they do not exist within the paradigm of more control.  Instead, here are five tools to use in times when you are deep in the well, or if you simply want to continue practicing the new model.  

1. First, get outside! I don’t care if it’s raining or blazing hot.  Changing your perspective will help shift the reality.  When we stay in the same groove we allow for the negative voice to stay in groove as well. Go outside and feel the elements on your skin. Feel the rain, the sun, the breeze. Notice the smells, the sounds, the flowers, the buildings. Engage your senses. Close your eye, take a deep breath in through your nose and on the exhale sigh out through your mouth and let – it – go.    

2. Also, do something that makes you feel ridiculously good in your body.  Cuddle. Dance. Rest in Child’s Pose for an hour. Pet your dog (or cat). Take a bath. Light a candle. Bask in the sun. Go on a walk. What allows for you to feel at home in your body? Do that. If you don’t know, do what first comes to mind. (This is not something that is related to countering or fixing what you may or may not have done in relation to food or your body earlier that or in days prior.) Trust your instinct.  Your body is the core of where your intuition lives – where you can reach what you already know. Follow that. It will tell you what your body needs to feel at peace.

3. Next, take a moment and  write down ten things you are grateful for about your body. Think of more than what you can see. What you can see works too, but even more so, think of the things your body does every second to allow for you to live and breathe. Start there. Feel the beauty in that. 

4. Now, separate yourself from the voice that shares negative thoughts with you. The voice telling you that you aren’t enough is actually outside of you. You are not the negative voice.  When you notice negative thoughts coming in, start to practice separating yourself from them. You can even begin to give the source of your negative thoughts an identity of its own. What does your negative voice look like?  Creature-like? Human? An energetic color? Start to be aware of when those thoughts come through. When they do, visualize your negative voice’s identity and notice the negative voice being the source of those thoughts. You are not the voice. Now, shield yourself from the negative voice's identity by covering yourself in a light of some color. You know the light at the top of the well? Well, it's you. You are the light. 

5. Lastly, allow for the notion to sink in that there is absolutely, positively no end-goal to your “success” when it comes to food and your body. Your experience with your body and food is unique to you. This is your voyage.  So, put away the Instagram and “fitspiration” crap. You aren’t going to guilt your way out of this one. Instead, love your way out. Most people, after getting out of the “dark spot” catapult themselves into restriction and exercise. Stop. Stop. Stop. Instead, nurture, love, take care of yourself. This time calls for gentle activity and nourishment. Do not force the pendulum to swing drastically. Let end-goals go. Gently ease yourself back to center.  

Your relationship with food and your body is an opportunity to truly learn how to love, honor and accept yourself.  This is your challenge. It is up to you kindly fill your toolbox with such things that support you in stepping towards a place of self-acceptance and love. 

When you gently guide yourself on this journey, you start to experience acceptance and love much sooner than if you tried to catapult yourself to some end-goal. Let the experience be, again, an opportunity to practice self-acceptance and love.

From there, you will blow your mind with just how incredibly capable, beautiful and powerful you are.

You are already. You just need to be gentle enough with yourself to let it shine through.

Roll with your opportunity. Love big. Tread gently.

 

With love. 

Intuitive Eating is Not a Diet

Intuitive eating is a nutrition philosophy based on the principle of becoming attuned to the body's natural hunger signals, and eating based on these signals, as opposed to tracking calories, protein, fat, etc. in order to manage weight.

For those dealing with any sort of emotional, compulsive or binge (ECB) eating, intuitive eating can be very difficult to connect with. You are likely quite disconnected from your body’s hunger cues due to frequently eating outside of physical hunger. You may even rarely experience hunger cues due to continuous eating, or binging patterns around food.  This can create much uncertainty regarding how to connect with hunger signals.  

Furthermore, ongoing eating patterns can throw off your body’s ability to recognize and signal physical hunger. Stomach pains may feel like hunger. Hunger may actually feel good on the digestive system due to its usual inundation with food. As you can see, when eating patterns are all over the place, or out-of-control, hunger cues can be challenging to decipher. 

In addition to intuitive being a struggle due to the body’s physical reaction to certain eating patterns, it can also be a struggle merely for the sake of the struggle with food itself.  When you are an ECB eater (this doesn’t mean you fall into each category – think LGBTQ), you mostly eat based on mental/emotional cues, not physical. Physical hunger comes secondary, if not, even third or fourth.

It may feel like such an accomplishment the moment you experience a hunger signal after days (weeks, months, etc.) of over-eating.  The thought of eating intuitively sounds like a dream – like freedom. Eat when you’re hungry. Stop when you’re full. Done.

 Eating intuitively tends to holds the flag as the ECB eaters’ favorite way to measure how “good,” or “bad,” they are doing with food. This is when intuitive eating starts to look like any other diet or cleanse – you likely know them well. 

When intuitive eating is followed strictly, you create more guilt around food when you eat outside of the intuitive process. This causes more feelings of inadequacy and emotions around food, further rousing out-of-control cycles and shame.

Using intuitive eating as a diet, even if you don’t call it so, perpetuates more spiraling out of control, making you feel bad about having eaten, thus creating more baggage with food.  Check in with yourself. Is that your #1 goal? What happens when you eat outside of hunger? What happens if you eat past the point of contentment? Where does your brain go? Did you fail?

 Here is a little secret: you didn’t fail.

 Eating intuitively is not a diet you pass or fail. It is okay if you sometimes eat when you are not hungry. It is okay if you eat outside of mealtimes. You can even eat over the point of contentment.  Just do not turn yourself into the enemy.  Intuitive eating is not a diet. It is a journey

Of course, intuitive eating can be beneficial, but do NOT turn it into another form of dieting and control. The root of your stuff with food is actually a deep desire for control. Relinquish.   

If you feel out-of-control or out of sync with your hunger cues, learning the intuition process can take time. Food has been a means of coping and managing life and that does not change overnight. This is a process. Allow for some patience and even playfulness when it comes to eating patterns. 

Allow for your body time to adjust.  Your body will get better at offering cues when needed, and you will get better at reading them.

Notice your thought patterns when you eat something slightly outside the zone of intuitive eating. It is likely that in this very moment the shame and/or the spiraling out-of-control with food kick into gear. The moment you feel shame is the moment you say, “Fine, I’m going to just go for it.”  In this moment, instead, choose to be gentle. You do not need to crumble because you slightly ate outside of the zone that makes you feel in control. Pay attention. It will get clearer.

Lastly, this is a matter completely letting go – not of control. Your brain cannot control your body’s hunger cues.  In order to get to a place where eating intuitively gets easier, you first have to let go. Your relationship with food is an opportunity to start practicing the process of letting go (in life). Then comes the journey which takes you towards, into and through more ease with food. Then, comes the ripple effect, allowing for peace around food and throughout your life. 

 

With love. 

Own your power: choose the lens

Let's get right into this. When speaking with clients, and women in general, one of the most common misbeliefs I hear is, "I will finally feel good about myself when I reach my goal." There is the story running through women's minds that when they meet a weight or beauty goal then all else will be great, and they will finally get to be happy with themselves. 

So, at what point do you finally get to believe that you are good enough? Looking good has a very particular image associated with it. And although an image is difficult to possess, it is an image many seek and strive for. Also sought, is a particular number on the scale. Many step on the scale everyday hoping to have maintained or finally reached "the goal." And in order to really feel good, the the desired image or goal is often required. 

When you constantly seek something outside of yourself right now, all of the little receptors in your brain are being told that you aren't good enough unless... Those receptors reach you, on a cellular level, making it close to impossible to feel good and be happy with yourself. 

But what happens if you flip the switch?   What if you stopped basing the way you are allowed to feel on the way you look or the number on the scale?  

What if you chose to nourish yourself everyday through the avenue of self-care? What would happen if you fed yourself, based not on the newest diet that is said to work wonders and get you to that desired image or goal, but instead, that which makes you feel ridiculously loved, nourished and alive? What if you based the way you feel simply on the way you feel?   

Let's go even further. What if you continued to nourish your feelings to even further the feel-good potential

Try this. Write down what nourishes you and makes you feel good. Babies, hiking, avocados, friends, pets, fresh air, scrambles, whatever. Then, write down what feelings are associated with that which makes you feel good. Calm, peaceful, energetic, optimistic, relaxed, free, accepting, thankful, courageous. 

What you list is that which make you feel loved, nourished and alive.  Use them.

Women spend years trying to look good in order to finally allow for themselves to feel good.

Stop. Stop. Stop.

By revolutionizing the way you feel good and by spending your energy on activities, movement, food, relationships that make you feel the deep-down-to-your-core kind of good, then something magical happens - your perspective changes. Your lens changes.

You own the power to change the lens you see yourself through by choosing to fill up with feel-good potential, not by balancing your feel-good potential on images or numbers.  

Practice the art of feel-good. Begin making choices you know to be deeply enliven and nourish you. You've got the list.  

Self-care creates self-love, which creates more space for self-care, creating more self-love. You get it. From there comes deep, deep personal value and the most high-end camera lens you will ever wrap your fingers around. 

Keep summoning up that feel-good potential.

Your new lens will create more freedom than you could even imagine. 

 

With love. 

The Link: body image and fear

Fear – it is a high-traffic word.  Anyone who is on the journey of healing, change, transformation, or consciousness has more than likely come to some awareness of fear’s hurdles.   At time it is very bold. However, when it comes to it's link to body image, fear tends to be a bit more sneaky. 

For those dealing with poor body image (PBI), it often shows itself through some of the following experiences:

-       The language you use to describe yourself and your body is often negative. It is language you would likely never speak to a friend with.

-       You have a difficult time looking at yourself in the mirror without feeling anxious or hopeless, and you often find yourself analyzing particular body parts and/or features of yourself.

-       You are willing to put yourself through extreme measures to change your appearance such as: diets, exercises, surgery.

-       You believe your life will change if/when you finally change your appearance.

-       You view people with your “goal appearance” as better, smarter, more beautiful, more successful. 

 

What is often completely and totally missed when it comes to poor body image is that the thoughts associated with it, more often than not, are expressions of fear. 

You know all those images of women you see in magazines, commercials, billboards, and movies? They plant the seeds of very fast growing weeds.  Woman are led to believe there is something innately incorrect with them - for they do not fulfill the set standards. (This is not an opportunity or reason to shame women for having the idealized appearance. Everyone is beautiful. Everyone is unique.) 

[ 75% of “normal” weight women believe they are overweight, while over 90% overestimate their weight.  And at least 50% of American women, at any one time, are dieting. ]

There is a deep-rooted belief that if you can control your appearance, then therefore you can control your life. This comes from the images that consistently link appearance with: success, happiness, intelligence, well-being, love, and the list goes on.

Surprisingly, women aren’t actually fearful of being fat. (There is a reclaiming of the word fat in the body-positive community. Remember when queer became okay to use again? Well, fat is okay if used in a non-derogatory way.)  Women are fearful of: being unsuccessful, not getting married, being thought of as weak and unfriendly, being unloved. Messages shown deeply root into your subconscious that you are safe from these things if you meet the standards set. With this, it is learned that if you control your body, you won’t have to fear the loss of happiness, success, flow of love, etc.

So, if you are someone with PBI, that which you fear will show up as something wrong with your body. Poor body image is protecting you from deeper insecurities and fears, so you can feel as though you have some sense of control.  If you are fearful of an experience or outcome, you likely go to your body's lack of x, y, or z because you believe if you lose/gain/reach/change enough, you will maintain/reach success in life.

But, what it comes down to is: you cannot control how other people feel about you – regardless.

The rabbit-hole: Controlling your body in order to control the “success” of your life so you don’t have to live with the fear of being unsuccessful/unloved is a really unnecessary, wrongly directed and exhausting cycle.

People have much clearer grasps of reality when not directed by fear.

Try this: When you find yourself experiencing symptoms of poor body image (you will start to get better at catching it - continue to practice awareness), find a mirror and look into your eyes. Ask yourself, What am I fearful of?

 What am I afraid of? What is actually scaring me right now? Why am I feeling out of control? What is making me uncomfortable? What is the root of my anxiousness? 

Your experience with your body and fear is a means to learn more about yourself, and to uncover and release unnecessary fears. It is a tough gift to receive, but a valuable one at that. Use it.

 

With love. 

Emotional Eating: coping and what it really comes down to

You cannot swipe your mouse on a health and wellness website without landing on an article targeting emotional eating and how to solve your problem with it.

A few key and very IMPORTANT points here:

1.     Emotional eating is not quite as bad as it is made out to be.

2.     By constantly being told emotional eating is bad, your brain pathways begin to know it as so, and anytime you eat outside of hunger or need, you believe you are bad.

Emotional eating is seemingly complex, but when broken down, it is really quite simple.

The scale of emotional eating is of course vast, but everyone, and I mean everyone, eats emotionally to some extent. Have you ever had birthday cake or any other form of dessert after a meal? Do you experience satisfaction sipping on a green smoothie or biting into a filet (your drug of choice)? How about coffee in the morning? Water?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these, you then land on the emotional eating scale. Food IS emotional. We enjoy it. We bring it to celebrations. When someone passes, the family in mourning receives bounties of comforting meals.   It is usually not looked down upon in these more prevalent circumstances.

However, you know that moment when you are alone and feeling overwhelmed, nervous, or disappointed, and you find yourself getting into the [insert: chips, cookies, peanut butter, ice-cream].  Well, that is more often than not, the moment that leads most into feeling shitty about their food choices.

Emotional eating is okay! Yep, I said it. You will never completely dodge it. (Remember, dessert, celebratory occasions, mourning?) Let’s looks deeper…

Eating emotionally is a viable and useful coping tool:

This sounds a little nuts – I know. Stick with me. Where it goes down a funky road is when it is your only coping tool, and if you never actually deal with what you are coping with.  It is important as humans that we have a variety of tools to cope with the craziness of life on this planet. Some of mine: yoga, nature, dancing, breath work, playing with my nephews, chips.  Some provide space for me to gain deeper insight as to what is going on. Others - small time-outs.

However, I seek to not allow fear, uncertainty, or that which I’m coping with to become concealed by any of my coping tools. Ultimately, I have to deal with the shit that is coming up.

So, food can be a useful coping tool as long as it is accompanied by other beneficial tools, and as long as you are actually confronting what you are coping with.

When emotional eating does need a stern look at:

Emotional eating turns down a dark path when guilt and shame are associated with it. For example, we all know the common story of guy breaks up with girl, girl eats a pint of ice-cream, girl passes out.

Where it gets really funky is if she wakes up the next day, and instead of actually dealing with the discomfort and pain of the breakup, she continues to cope with ice-cream (direct coping) or completely and totally focuses on how bad she is for having eaten the ice-cream (indirect coping).

Now, the ice-cream (directly or indirectly) is completely taking over the space for her to clearly deal with the grief needed for healing to happen. 

When guilt and shame are associated with patterns around food, it strengthens the pathways in your mind to measure your worth, value, correctness, and stability on what or how much you ate.  From there, emotional eating transforms into more compulsive styles of eating.  This is when words like “uncontrollable” make their way into your dialogue around food and you find yourself hands deep in a peanut butter jar. 

You can assume: the deeper the guilt and shame – the more gripping food becomes.

So:

Emotional eating is not inherently bad (i.e. you are not bad!) if it is responsibly used alongside other coping tools. In other words, you don’t exclusively use food as a coping tool, and you actually take steps to deal with the problem you are coping with. Emotional eating turns into compulsive eating when guilt and shame are associated with it, and then it becomes more and more gripping.

Build your tool belt: Begin to expand on the ways you deal with uncomfortable experiences.  What tools do you use to cope and how can these tools actually support you in simultaneously dealing with the situation?

Penny for your thoughts: What if you released any guilt or shame associated food and the need to control it?  (Gaining 200 pounds is not your answer. I promise!)

 

With love.