Why Your Story Might Be Holding You Back

Part of what I love about practicing yoga is that you can practice every day and still get something new out of every class. Literally. I left class recently feeling particularly inspired by my talented teacher and the owner of Prema Power Yoga in Marblehead, MA (also where I completed much of my teacher training). She spoke about something that really struck a chord and I wanted to share it here because I believe it’s relevant for so many of us.

Most of us, over the course of our lifetimes, have acquired a story of sorts (or various stories) that becomes such a huge part of how we identify ourselves, it starts to color how we approach life. For years, my story was one of pretending. I was constantly presenting myself as a self-assured go-getter who had her shit together. But when the curtains closed and I was alone, I was actually consumed with self-loathing and shame at my disordered eating, my depression, and how “on the brink of falling apart” I constantly felt.

I was convinced that if I could just achieve a body I deemed “acceptable”, I would then be able to heal my relationship with food and I would like myself enough to open myself up to a world of opportunity. That was my story. In reality, I learned that it took healing my relationship with myself, first, that allowed me to heal my relationship with food. The body stuff actually tends to take care of itself once we mend the broken relationship with the self. 

But in this class it struck me with particular force…Almost all of us have a story that can easily consume us and impact our view of the world. Maybe it’s a sick family member or the loss of a loved one; whether or not we have a family of our own; a need to prove something or live up to some expectation; maybe it’s our career. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a painful experience, though for many of us it is. Our story might be anything that dictates how we SHOW UP in the world every day. For some of us, it might propel us forward. But for many, it drags us back time and time again. 

Right after getting out of that class, I went home and called my mom. She, too, has a story that she often gets “stuck” in. That doesn’t mean she isn’t extraordinarily strong or successful. She is both of those things and much more. If I know anyone that has been able to take the shit that life throws at us and march forward anyways, it’s her. But I also know that there are days where mending the broken heart of her story can feel like too much to bear. 

My story doesn’t define me anymore. I guess that it never actually did. But for years I let it be so big, so prevalent, that it drove how I perceived everything and how I showed up in the world. Sure, it’s still there. There are days it has a stronger presence. But that doesn't make it my present. I get to choose whether that story is my reality each day. Some days it still is. And that’s OK. But most days it isn’t. 

Our experiences shape us, most definitely. Hopefully, we can take those experiences – especially the painful ones – and use them to better ourselves. The deep pain I experienced in my own depression and eating disorders allows me to support others and help them in their healing journeys. What a gift. It’s important, though, to decipher that those experiences don’t define who we are. They don’t make or break us. They don’t (have to) steer the direction of the days ahead of us.

Of course it’s not easy to break free of your story. It’s yours, and probably has been for some time. Letting go of it doesn’t mean it never existed, but maybe it can mean it doesn’t have to shape your present. I find that for me, sharing my story, vocalizing it, diminishes the power it had when I lived alone with it. 

I challenge you to ask yourself: are your past experiences dictating your present self? Might you be stuck in your own story? What would it take for you to let that go...and would it make you a happier person? Please share in the comments below.

Sending lots of love your way. XO

 

What's Making You Better?

Over the last few months, I (and baby!) have been working toward completing my 200 hour Yoga Alliance Teacher Training Certification. Yoga has been in my life for some years, but my recent commitment to this training has taken my personal practice and appreciation for all that yoga can offer to an entirely new level. 

I am specifically studying and being trained in the Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga practice and am excited to be able to offer yoga to my coaching clients come June! What I love about this particular style of yoga is that it's a physically demanding and vigorous practice which works your entire body, but the physical postures are only one element of what you learn in this practice. So much of yoga, and this practice in particular, teaches us to take what we learn on the mat and implement it in our daily lives off the mat. And while I love so many types of exercise – spin, circuit training, boxing, barre, etc – I, personally, haven't found that any of those have the ability to impact the rest of my daily life as powerfully as this yoga practice. 

As with anything else, everyone needs to find what form of exercise or movement works for them. One is not better than another. But because this practice has been so transformative for me and has had such a big impact in my life lately, I wanted to share some of what I have gotten from it. 

If you’ve ever tried yoga, (or had a casual conversation with anyone about it), you’ve probably heard reference to the importance of “presence”. Being “present” is something that is talked about a lot in yoga. And even though I’ve practiced various types of yoga for several years, I only recently just figured out what the hell people are talking about when they say that…

“Be here now”

“Really see what you’re looking at”

Commit to staying on your mat for the next 90 minutes”

I always heard it but it just sounded like a lot of fluff…I mean, of course I’m here now. Where else could I be if I’m right here?! Do I have a choice but to stay on my mat for the rest of this class?! It kind of felt like the teacher was just reading from the yoga script. 

But in the last few months of submerging myself into the practice and the philosophy, it started to actually take on real meaning:

“Be here now”: you came to class. You unrolled your mat. You’re in the first posture. Are you thinking about your grocery list? Or about what pose is coming next? Or how long we are going to hold this? Or how your stomach is hanging over your pants? Are you thinking about that comment someone made a month ago that really bothered you and has been festering ever since? 

It’s totally normal to have those thoughts, even after years of practice. It doesn’t mean you’re “doing it wrong”. But the teacher is asking you to acknowledge those thoughts –notice them– and then let them go. Focus instead on where you are right now. Maybe you’re uncomfortable, or really hot, or pissed off. It’s all OK. Try to just experience that moment; be OK with whatever comes up for you, physically or otherwise, without jumping ship.

Because here’s the thing. Being able to stay really focused and present for an hour of yoga practice is great. Being able to clear out the clutter during that time on your mat, without trying to distract yourself or getting consumed by the 12,000 other things you have going on in your life, is awesome. But it’s not actually the point. 

The real point? Learning how to do that in the time you spend on your yoga mat and then bringing that into your life. 

The real point is to be better able to play on the floor with your kids without jumping up 7 times to change the laundry or empty the dishwasher.

The real point is to learn how to feel emotions without judging yourself or turning to a sleeve of cookies to numb yourself from feeling them.

The real point is to truly revel in the excitement of a milestone without being preoccupied with when the next one will come (totally talking to myself here).

Yoga is helping me do these things. Maybe yoga does that for you too. Or maybe running does. Or meditation. Or singing. How you get there doesn’t really matter so much. But working on getting there is critical. Because, at the end of the day, our lives are just an accumulation of moments. If we’re always onto what’s next, if we’re always jumping ahead or dwelling on the moments that have passed, we’re missing it all. 

P.S. If you’re interested in private or small group yoga classes, drop me a line here: 

http://www.sustainablebodyproject.com/contact-1/

More details will be available soon on my website! 

Couture: Party of 3

Just before Christmas, Jarrid and I were over the moon to get the news that, come August, we will be a family of 3. At 6 months pregnant, I can confidently say that this is the most exciting time of our lives!

Given my history, I always anticipated pregnancy would be challenging for me, especially the experience of my body changing. I know my body well enough to know that I can easily put on and hold onto weight, so suffice it to say I knew I wouldn't be one of those adorable women who looks like she swallowed a basketball...good god, I envy those women!

The first trimester was surprisingly smooth. I was lucky to feel mostly well and be able to keep up with all my usual routines. I gained weight, as anticipated, but found myself at ease with that. It was like I knew my body was doing what she needed to do. And for the first time in my life I noticed (in amazement) as the shape of my body fell lower on the list of things that mattered. I felt settled in a way I never had. I felt content with exactly where I was and had a deep appreciation that so much of what I wanted in my life was coming to fruition for me. And if I’m being honest, that was an entirely new emotion for me. I don’t think I’ve ever felt truly content with exactly where I was in life. I’ve always been preoccupied with what’s next; this is good, but how can it be better; I got a promotion, but when will the next one come; I love my boyfriend, but when will he be my husband? You get the idea…What a welcome change it was to feel deeply happy in the present moment. 

And then the hormones hit me like a ton of bricks. That shit is REAL. Without warning, I felt weepy and irritable. The sense of calm contentment was replaced with a rapidly growing anxiety that matched my rapidly growing…everything. I started to panic at the changes I was seeing in my body. Considering how well I was able to maintain my exercise regimen and, for the most part, pretty well balanced nutrition, I felt like my body was betraying me. Yes, I knew I needed to gain weight to provide a healthy and safe home for this baby growing in me. But 18 or so pounds by the half way point freaked me out. Would I keep gaining at this rate? Was it too much? What would happen by the time the baby was actually gaining weight?

The truth is, I fought for many years for this body. I fought hard to take good care of her, to be kind to her, to be comfortable in her, and to love and appreciate her as best as I was able. And now it felt like she was taking on a life of her own. Like it didn’t really matter what I did, because she was in charge. 

I’m aware, and extremely grateful for how lucky I am that I was able to conceive without issue and that I have maintained a healthy and uneventful pregnancy for the last 24 weeks. To those who have struggled to become pregnant or carry a pregnancy to term, I imagine that my concerns over my changing body seem like a welcome challenge. But for me they are real and they bring up a lot of pain. There were many days where my detest for myself and my body led me to a very dark place. It took over a decade to claw my way out of that darkness, so any inkling of those feelings sets off all sorts of alarms for me

We all have our demons. Your burden may seem objectively heavier to bear than mine, but the fact is, that doesn’t make my (or your) struggle any less real or less painful. While one’s feelings about her body might seem inconsequential to some, it could mean living as a prisoner in one’s own skin to someone else. So, I try not to judge my own struggles, even though I intellectually understand that so many people are suffering in ways so much greater than I could fathom. 

For me, these feelings felt troublingly familiar. And I knew that I couldn’t push them down in hopes that they would just disappear, especially given how important it is to me to bring this baby into an environment where he can see his parents love and respect themselves as much as they love him, and one another. 

A check-in with my therapist was the first step. She reminded me that this is new territory for me. While some of these feelings may seem like the past creeping up on me in the dark, in fact, this is an entirely new experience – one I’ve never had before. I am taking good care of my body and, in turn, this precious cargo. The rest may just be up to her for now. I have the tools to recognize when I am falling subject to those old beliefs about myself and to steer my internal dialogue in a different direction. 

As always, this is a good reminder for me that it’s OK to have bad days. I have to allow myself to experience all my emotions - not just the pleasant ones. I need to give myself permission to feel sad some days, even if there’s no “good reason” for it; I can have days where I feel anxious about my body or uncomfortable in my skin. What I can’t and won’t do, though, is allow those feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy the power to break me like they used to. 

I fought hard for my body but I fought even harder for my mental health…and nothing could be more important than that with a sweet baby boy on the way. 

Why We Need to Change the Dialogue

The other day I was scrolling through social media, seeing a lot of the usual “body transformation” pictures, fitness accounts, and female body-centered content, when something sort of….hit me. They were primarily positive messages: women showcasing self-improvement and talking about how lifestyle changes in fitness and nutrition bettered their quality of life; articles about the rise of more diverse bodies being used in the media, and a lot of fitness professionals and bloggers drawing back the curtain to remind women that so much of what we see on social media is “filtered” (angles, lighting, choosing the best of 73 photo attempts, and literal filters). All awesome stuff.

But I noticed that it pissed me off. Let me explain. 

As a professional health coach, I deliberately share my own wellness journey. I talk a LOT about my history with eating disorders and my ongoing struggles and healing (yes, both are simultaneously ongoing) because my hope is that by honestly sharing my experiences with food, dieting, and body image, I can make others feel less alone in their experiences. Maybe that means they are more comfortable seeking help, confiding in someone, or maybe it simply means they feel a little more understood. A lot of the breakthroughs I see from clients happen when they simply vocalize things that they have been alone in their heads with for years, so opening up that dialogue is critical.

And I’m thrilled to finally see an (small but significant) increase in the attention being given to body positivity movements and the awareness of a need to showcase how women of all shapes, sizes and colors personify beauty. BUT. It bothered me that so much of what is being discussed is geared around women’s bodies

Yes! I want to celebrate the beauty of women in all its forms. Yes! I want to encourage a healthy dialogue about proper nutrition and why the ideal so often portrayed in the media is not attainable for most women. But why are we always talking about a woman's body? Why are we so focused on what she looks like – even when it’s a positive message? If we are devoting so much attention to her body, aren't we devoting less to her mind, her soul, her impact on the world?

That’s when I got sort of worked up. It’s great that we are shifting the dialogue, but don’t we also need to change the dialogue completely from being body-focused to being everything-else-a-woman-is focused? 

I'm not suggesting that people should stop posting about their progress – it’s powerful to celebrate your success and is great to try to inspire others! And I certainly want to see more prominent representations of diverse bodies and definitions of beauty. I'm just suggesting that there’s actually a shit ton else to talk about with regards to women – so let’s do that too. 

And, let me be clear. I am not excluding myself from this call. I need the reminder as much as anyone. Ladies, celebrate your and one another’s victories at work and as friends, sisters and moms. Call attention to the advances women are making in business and technology, to the influence women are having in politics and education, to the vital role they play in raising our sons and daughters. Share THAT on social media!

I can tell you that the women in my life enrich me and the world around me EVERY SINGLE DAY and I’m willing to bet the women in yours do the same. They raise babies and own businesses. They teach and they take care of many. They overcome the impossible and inspire strength in others. They sacrifice and love, they create things and save lives.

So, by all means, please do celebrate your body. It does some pretty phenomenal things. But remember: your value as a human being and your contributions to society are as, if not more, worthy of talking about than your before-and-after pictures. 

How to Support A Friend Who Is Struggling

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of speaking to an impressive group of collegiate female athletes at Salem State University. I was there largely to speak about how challenging and overwhelming the pressures of college can feel, specifically for young women. In a competitive and socially-driven environment, eating disorders are wildly common. Not to mention, you are expected to both take care of yourself for the first time and also be planning your future when you are only just beginning the long journey of figuring out who the hell you are and want to be. 

To be honest, college, for me, was largely a disaster. At a highly competitive university, keeping up academically often felt like trying to just keep my head above water. Though the pressure of trying to “keep up appearances” was far more overwhelming. When it came to my body, my clothes, my social skills, I felt vastly inferior to the young women I was surrounded by. I believed I couldn’t compete with these women. And every day felt like a competition. I share this, not as a statement about where I went to school or the people that went there, but simply as my reality. Because I think it’s a reality for a lot of college students. These young women I spoke with are facing all of this plus the pressures to perform athletically. Many of them are held in high esteem as role models for others students and expected to be the “strong” ones; the ones who have it all together. In reality, no one really has it all together. Especially not at 20.

That’s not to say that universities can be held entirely responsible. As an adult I now understand that every experience is really very much what you make it. I do, however, feel that college campuses have a responsibility to prioritize the mental health of their students as much as they do the success of their athletic teams or their budgets for top of the line facilities. I commend the Salem State Athletic Department for working on doing just that for their student athletes.

One of the most poignant issues that came out of the discussion was the question of how best to support a friend or peer you know is struggling with disordered eating and emotional distress. Of course, every situation is different and, often there is no “right” answer for matters of this nature. That said, I can share what would have been most helpful to me while I was struggling and how I find that I can be most supportive of others struggling with eating disorders or depression. 

  • Focus on wanting to see THEM happy, not on how worried YOU are

For many struggling, their greatest fear is to be burden on those they care about; worrying their family and friends is the last thing they want to do, so reiterating that you are worried about them may not be the most helpful. Chances are they know you are worried. But this journey is about them, not about you. Instead, remind them that you love them, want to see them happy and healthy and that you are there to support them however they can accept that support.

  • STOP talking and START listening

It’s actually good to ask questions to try to better understand where your friend is coming from (not questions to feed your own curiosity like “what did you eat today?”) Often, people really just want to feel “heard”. Whether or not you can relate to their struggle, you can open your mind and heart to listen. Many of us opt to say nothing in fear of saying the "wrong thing". But ignoring the issue is not constructive, so, rather than advising, aim to actively listen.

  • Understand that you cannot fix this for them

You can support and love them but you can only control your own actions. Making them feel you are watching everything they eat (or don’t eat), or taking responsibility to make sure they show up at every appointment is not your job. If you are concerned that someone is in imminent danger, contact a parent or medial professional to seek help.

  • Don’t comment on how thin they are

Talking about how thin someone is or how “good they look” after drastic weight loss can be detrimental. After losing a dramatic amount of weight, I thrived on people commenting on it – even if they did not mean it as a compliment. This person is likely consumed by thoughts of his or her body and how it appears to others. Any sort of comment on their body is likely only going to fuel that fire.  This doesn’t mean you have to avoid the issue. Find areas of focus other than their physical appearance (i.e. how they are feeling emotionally or handling a stressful situation they may be facing) to engage them with.

  • Share your own vulnerability

Consider sharing with them instances in your own life where you have had to ask for help and how freeing that actually was for you. Sharing your own struggle can create a feeling of connection and safety for them to confide in you.

  • Remind them their health and happiness is everyone’s #1 priority

Reinforce that nothing else is as important as their health and happiness - not school, not a job, not even their loved ones. The fact is that when someone is not well and not taking good care of him or herself, she is not best equipped to take care of others, whether as a boss, a partner, a friend, or a mom. I took a year off of college for my mental health and it was right there waiting for me when I was ready to come back. It was scary as hell to feel like I would be left behind, but my own healing was far more important than graduating on time or how it might look on a future resume. If a friend is hesitant to admit to a problem because he or she is afraid of disappointing others, it could be critical for her to hear that her loved ones are so proud of her seeking out the help she needs.

Whether you are a parent concerned about your child, or a friend concerned about your peer, there is no “right” solution for all situations. The thoughts above reflect my own opinions about what I have found to be most and least helpful. Don’t ever be afraid to reach out for help if you are concerned about a loved one. It is not a betrayal of their trust. If someone was having trouble breathing, you would not wait for their permission to seek help. Often the person struggling desperately wants help but is afraid to ask for it. Let them know there is no shame in receiving support. No one who gets better does it alone.

Please share your own thoughts or experiences below (without using names of others unless they have given you permission). Creating a safe and supportive environment can begin with people simply sharing their own stories. And thank you for keeping this community supportive and filled with love.

Your Body Isn't For Revenge

As soon as I saw the first preview for Khloe Kardashian’s new show “Revenge Body”, my heart sank. Love them or hate them, the Kardashians are everywhere which means they have a platform. No, I don’t think anyone is looking to them for political insights, but you might be shocked by how many young people do look up to them and aim to mimic them: their brand, their looks, their style or their ability to make money.

I watched one episode of the show (for research, people) and it was clear that the premise lived up to its name. Khloe takes chosen individuals under her wing who are looking to make drastic improvements to their health and bodies and provides them with a team of celeb-worthy experts–from trainers and nutritionists to style and beauty industry leaders.

So far, so good. 

But here is where things took a turn for me. Based on the episode I watched, each of these individuals are specifically asked “who their revenge body is for”– an ex, a former friend, a family member. Essentially, they are asked to share the story of someone they have been wronged by or treated poorly by, which is meant to serve as motivation for them to get in shape. To get a revenge body. 

Ugh. Red flag! Whether or not these people’s desire for revenge is real or just good-for-tv fodder, it sends the message that getting back at someone is a good reason to take better care of yourself. If there is one factor that I believe plays the BIGGEST role in whether or not people are successful in their wellness journeys, it’s The WHY. And, unfortunately, it’s the piece that so many of us overlook. 

You can have all the tools, all the information, all the experts in the world but if you are making changes for external reasons, (i.e. to gain approval, to get someone's attention) they are far less likely to last…especially for those overhauling their habits and making drastic changes. Yes, learning how to do something is important. But to achieve long-term change, your reasons why are equally, if not more, important. 

Approaching change from a place of hate or anger or revenge (whether directed inwardly at yourself or at someone else) is not a recipe for sustained success. 

If someone nastily berates you to get you to comply with what he/she wants, it probably won’t end well, right? Maybe you acquiesce at first, or even for a long while, out of shame or fear or not knowing another way. But what is festering in you during that time and where does it ultimately lead? Chances are, it probably won’t lead to a positive end result. 

Motivating ourselves to do something is no different. When coming from a place of self-loathing and shame, it may work for a bit. But only when we want better for ourselves because we BELIEVE we are worthy of better, do we find a meaningful, lasting result. Knowing you are worthy is a far cry from wanting to make a statement to someone else. And trust me when I say that your driving force makes all the difference in the world.

When I was deep in the throws of my eating disorders, external pressures only worsened my behaviors. In other words, when I was starving myself, if someone commented on how skinny I was, it only fueled my desire to control every morsel that went into my mouth. When I was bulimic and overweight, a comment about what I was or wasn't eating swiftly sent me into a rage of binging, hoarding food under my bed. 

So, ya. I get it. “Revenge body” reads better for TV than “Self-love body”. Someone looking to get back at the ex that cheated on them is far more dramatic than someone looking to learn to love herself. But it also puts a very real message out there that has an impact far beyond that of TV ratings.

Sensationalizing this narrative of taking care of yourself to get your ex back or getting a killer body so the mean girls are left with nothing to say is seriously damaging.

Because then what? A year from now, or ten years from now, when your significant other is committed to you or the girls are jealous of how you look, what is driving you? What is driving you to take good care of your body and mind? What is driving you to be kind and accepting of yourself and others?

When there’s no longer a need for revenge, then what?

I'd love to hear from you in the comments below. What do you think about this new show and the notion of a "revenge body"?

Why The NYT (And I) Want You To Eat What You Love

When you think about food, what immediately comes to mind? 

Fuel? Pleasure? Rules? Guilt? Pizza? 

If I’m being honest, for me it’s all of those things. I’m continually working (every damn day) on re-learning how to tap into the physicality of foodpaying more attention to what energizes and nourishes me, what tastes delicious and feels satisfying, and less attention to certain values or judgments that I have learned to associate with those foods

It’s, frankly, hard to do given all the “cues”…or “miscues” out there.

Remember when Starbucks introduced the “skinny” menu?

A “skinny vanilla latte” is made with espresso, skim milk, and sugar-free syrup. First things first, when I use dairy in my coffee (or any dairy for that matter), I use full-fat dairy. I recommend my clients do the same because, personally, I find a splash of whole milk or Half and Half is much more satisfying than skim milk, and it depletes the need for any added sweeteners. 

Furthermore, most would agree that trying to eat whole foods (i.e. foods in their most natural state) as often as possible is an excellent nutritional foundation. Extracting naturally-existing nutrients from food, like fat, alters the "wholeness" of that food, just as adding flavors or sweeteners does.

Sugar-free syrup is essentially chemicals. It’s no better for you than the calorie-dense, sugar-filled stuff because your body cannot differentiate the real stuff from the fake stuff and it processes it the same way (i.e. blog sugar spikes, your body produces insulin which increases fat storage, etc).

As I always point out, there is no right choice for everyone. Maybe you prefer skim milk or you don’t use dairy. Totally fine. My point is that we see the “skinny” label and immediately associate it with a “good” or “healthy” choice when, in fact, that may not be the case.

In a culture obsessed with abs and the latest diet craze, it’s shockingly easy to disconnect food from its very basic purpose: nourishment. And guess what, guys. Nourishing yourself should be (gasp) enjoyable! 

At the beginning of the year, The New York Times published a poignant article hitting on this very point, titled “Ruby Tandoh Just Wants You to Eat What You Love” 1

“…She believes that taking pleasure in food is an inherently nourishing act, that to cook yourself dinner is to be good to yourself.
But rules? “Eat what you love” is the closest thing Ms. Tandoh has to one. Spend an afternoon with her, or follow the recipes in her cookbook, and it’s clear that the phrase is a call to follow your own sense of the delicious.”

YESSSSSS. 

Food is a primal necessity for survival. We need to eat every day. If something we do every day, multiple times a day, is an experience derived from punishment or restriction, it is not, by definition nourishing.

<Nourishing: promoting or sustaining life, growth, or strength>

As I always tell my clients – many of whom have a history of chronic rule-setting when it comes to food – tuning into what your body wants and needs does not mean you are going to wake up and eat brownies every day. Sure, maybe that sounds like fun. But brownies for breakfast won’t nourish and energize you in a way that translates into self-care. And, remember, we are trying to tap into the physicality of food. By the same token, if you HATE drinking your food but you wake up and force down a protein smoothie because it’s been touted a “good choice”, you also are not nourishing yourself in a way that translates into self-care.

To find lasting, sustainable results in our health or weight-loss journey (or really anything in life for that matter), our actions have to support the ultimate goal of taking care of ourselves, being kind to ourselves. Otherwise, we're just spending day in and day out holding on for dear life to follow the rules. Until we can't hold on anymore.

We eat a lot of kale in our house. The thing is, we don’t eat it to “be good” or trendy. We eat it because we prepare it deliciously and it fuels us with tons of nutrients. It makes our bodies feel great. You know what else we eat a lot of? Cheese. Fewer nutrients, yes, but it’s freakin' delicious and we enjoy it.

In our culture we have a tendency to equate discomfort with grit or strength (“no pain, no gain”). On the flip side we often associate pleasure with indulgence and guilt. Seems kind of backwards, no? Yes, hard work is important and with hard work comes challenge and, often, being pushed outside of one’s comfort zone. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that when we are satisfied, in body, mind and soul, we are much more apt to sustain the behaviors that make us feel so. And that sustenance leaves us better equipped to funnel our energy into connecting, learning, growing and loving. And that is what makes the world go round. Not green juice.

What do you LOVE to eat? Let's get the discussion going in the comments below!

XO

1. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/03/dining/ruby-tandoh-flavour-eat-what-you-love.html

Why Weight Loss and Body Acceptance are NOT Mutually Exclusive

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The holidays are upon us. Christmas tunes are playing as I sip from my red Starbucks cup (in other words, it's official now). And while the charm of this season is in the air, it's also a difficult time of year for many: the stress of hosting, complicated family dynamics and financial pressures can make it hard to relax and soak in the holiday spirit.

It's a natural human tendency to look back and focus on the things we didn't fulfill, the resolutions we didn't keep, and the mistakes we made, rather than reflecting on the positive steps we took, the accomplishments we achieved, and the lessons we learned.

I ask you, how many of your past years' resolutions sounded something like this?

I WILL fit into my skinny jeans

I WILL NOT eat carbs

I WILL get back to my wedding day weight

My New Years resolutions were weight-related year after year. I began each year ashamed that, as much as I wanted to lose weight, as motivated as I was (and I was motivated) I would find myself in the same place, just one year older.

So, a few years ago I decided that was enough of that. I realized that shaming myself into success did not work for me. Looking at the upcoming year in a frame of punishment was setting me up for failure before I even started. Because here's the thing. My internal dialogue was not about self care or how I could better feed my body and soul. It wasn't about leaning into things that made me feel good and proud and strong. It was about loathing the way I looked now and berating myself into change. Not shocking that it didn't work.

That's not to say that we shouldn't have weight loss goals. It's the approach we take to get there that makes all the difference. So many of the women I talk to believe that weight loss and body acceptance are mutually exclusive. They are not. Believing that you are worthy NOW and treating yourself with kindness is a MUCH more effective means of losing weight than trying to punish yourself into new habits.

I found sustained weight loss when I shifted my approach from punishing rules and self-hate to mindful eating and self-kindess. And I've seen other women have tremendous success doing the same. To help you step into this holiday season and new year with light, I would like to offer you a FREE, private 30-minute breakthrough session that will help you re-frame your weight loss goals and plans. Booking that breakthrough session will also make you eligible for special holiday pricing on 3 and 6 month coaching packages through the end of January.

If you have trouble believing this works, I don't blame you. But I do ask you to do one thing. Think back to times where you have felt that self-loathing. It was pretty fierce, wasn't it? It may have made you want to hide under the covers, but did it change your body?

So, this new year, don't resolve for a "new" or a "better you". Resolve to love yourself NOW and learn how to introduce methods of self-care that encourage sustainable healthy habits.

Cheers to you. Exactly as you are right now.

The Way to Feel Like You Have Enough

#burblife

#burblife

My life has been a whirlwind of transition lately. After getting married in August and going on our honeymoon, we bought our first home and moved to the suburbs in September. (#burblife is my new fave hashtag).

Our weekends lately have consisted of a lot of home projects (you guys, no one told me that buying a house meant my husband would think that going to Home Depot is a fun date night…) furniture hunting, and baby showers for our dearest friends!

You could say a lot has changed in just a matter of months. It wasn’t long ago that we were living in the city, caught up in the excitement of planning a wedding, and I was feeling fresh and excited about a new career.

The changes are exciting and ones we both want. But I’m going to be honest. They’ve been hard. Harder than I expected for sure. And as I’ve learned to do when things get challenging, I have been doing quite a bit of self-reflection which has repeatedly led me to ask myself a pretty intense question:

Will it ever feel like enough?

When I think back over the past several years, I’m struck (and intensely grateful) by how many of the things I really wanted I now have. I yearned to meet a person who I could share my life with, to be my partner. I got that and so much more in my now husband. We were in love and committed to one another and I was so excited for what our life together would bring. We talked about marriage and knew it was in our future, but knowing it would happen eventually started not to not feel like enough. I felt the impatience manifest into anxiety and self doubt.

And when we did get engaged, I was over the moon.

In a matter of days I plunged headfirst into the planning. And as deeply happy as I was to be marrying the man I had waited my whole life for, the stress of the wedding quickly took hold. I never had a fleeting doubt about marrying this man but I worried, as so many brides do, whether the wedding would be enough. Would it be beautiful enough? Fun enough for our guests? Special enough to reflect how we felt about one another?

I started to wish for it to just be here so that we could start our married lives together. I felt myself wanting to skip this period of excitement and planning and newness of being engaged and just arrive at our wedding day.

And when we got married, it was magical.

We cried tears of joy, overwhelmed by how exquisitely perfect it was for us and the palpable sense of love and joy we felt surrounded by.

We came back from the honeymoon still floating. Quickly distracted by all that comes with a move, there wasn’t much time to soak it all in. And in the two months since, reality set in. Hard. It will take a long time to furnish the house and make it feel “done”. My husband needs time to adjust to a long commute that cuts hours from his already busy day. Working from home feels a lot different than it did in the city, when I was always just a block away from a bustling coffee shop. And I suddenly feel myself panicking about how long it might take to get pregnant and start a family.

So, I come back to that question. When will it be enough?

I thought meeting the right man would feel like enough. Then I thought that getting married would feel like enough. Then I thought owning a home and starting this next chapter would do it.

And yet here I find myself feeling that I need to be pregnant to feel at ease in our new life, that only when that happens will I be able to revel in the joy that these past years have afforded me.

And what a shame that is. If we’re so focused on what’s next, we lose so much of the amazing that is happening right now.

My yoga teacher reminded me of this so perfectly the other day when she told us about a children’s book she had found called Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda which teaches children about the importance of focusing on and enjoying what you’re doing while you’re doing it. Yoga teaches us to be mindful on our mat - if you’re in one pose, don’t think about what’s coming next. But this lesson is most poignant in life. If you are focusing on what’s for dinner while catching up with a friend, what might you be missing from that connection? If I am worrying about starting a family while I am settling into life as a newlywed in a new home, what am I missing from this moment that I will never get back?

There is so much in this life we can't control, but we can make a conscious effort not to miss what is happening in front of us right now because we’re preoccupied with what the future will or won’t bring. So, today I start with answering my own question.

Right now. Right here. It’s enough. I’m enough. Not once I feel my house is “company ready” or I’ve lost those 8 pounds I put on, or my business is financially stable. Right now is when I want to feel content with the amazing life we have created.

What are you waiting on to feel like enough? Please comment below so we can share our experiences. Thank you for your compassion and your willingness to share. Your insights may very well help or encourage someone else in this community.

XO

Why You Hate Dieting But Can't Let It Go

In working with clients I have seen a lot of women who have a major aversion to the idea of “giving up” dieting. When I share my own food journey with them, they immediately connect to it. “Yes! That is exactly what I do! You GET it!” But when I make it clear that my program is not a diet and, in fact, my philosophy around food is averse to traditional dieting, I can see the dread in their eyes.

They agree that traditional dieting has not served them well; it has not helped them attain (or sustain) their goals; and it’s usually affiliated with some level of resentment.

Ugh. I can’t {insert enjoyable experience here}. I'm on a diet.

I understand that dread. After all, while that diet has not helped them find a sense of ease around food or a love for their bodies, it has provided them with a sense of security that they don’t want to let go of.

The notion of eating without rules is so foreign to some of us that it can be downright scary.

What would that even look like? How will I know what to eat? Won’t I just eat brownies and pizza all day if there are no rules to follow?

No. You won’t. But let's come back to that later.

Remember that line in the film Knotting Hill where Julia Roberts' character jokes how she’s “been on a diet every day since I was nineteen, which basically means I've been hungry for a decade”? It’s funny until you realize that it’s actually very realistic for a lot of women.

I was consistently dieting in some form from the age of 15 to 29. It covered the basics: Weight Watchers, South Beach, eating only non-fat foods; Nutri System (the one where you microwave preservative-laden “food” 3 times a day). I lost weight and gained it back multiple times - nothing uncommon. Whatever the form of the diet, I inevitably wavered between feeling good when I ate the minimal amount recommended and becoming deeply depressed when one "misstep" sent me straight into a binge, feeling wildly out of control.

Weight loss has an extremely high recidivism rate. In other words, studies suggest that of those who are successful in losing weight on a diet, more than 90% of them gain that weight back. My point is not to diminish the success that some have (if you find something that works for you, that's awesome!) or to imply that weight loss is impossible. But I do think it’s critical that people understand that the failure of a diet to produce the long term results you want is not a reflection on you. Dieting is not a long term solution for most people. You are NOT a failure. You do NOT lack willpower. You are NOT lazy or pathetic. What you ARE, in fact, is very normal.

To me, that indicates that we need to explore different means by which to achieve our goals. After dieting for over 15 years (which was more than half of my life at that point), I had to face the reality that what I was doing was not working. And if it hadn't worked for 15 years, it probably never would.

That was a life-changing realization for me so I think it bears repeating. If it didn’t work for the last 15 years, it wasn’t going to work in the next year or 5 or 10. The magic diet was not right around the corner.

So why is it we hold onto the belief that “this time” dieting will work? As I mentioned, there is feeling of security attached to following a set of rules. We are told that by following those rules, we can get a desired outcome. When it doesn't work? Well, it’s because we didn’t follow it perfectly enough. There is no where to place the blame other than on yourself which leads you down a horribly familiar path of self-loathing and guilt, and often face first in the pint of ice cream.

This is why I work with clients on a long term, non-dieting approach to nutrition. In my mind, dieting means that you assign specific rules to foods and food groups based on an intellectual idea rather than based on how those foods make your body feel. Typically this involves a good deal of restriction, whether that means restricting certain groups of foods, limiting food intake to a set number of calories/points/colors, or assigning judgments to foods - good foods and bad foods; good eating days and bad ones.

I’ve done all of it. And truth be told, I’m still a work in progress. I often still feel terrible guilt and shame when I eat foods I once categorized as “bad.” The difference is that I now tune into my body and remind myself that foods have no value outside of how they make me feel, how they nourish me, energize or deplete me.

I am no “better” a person for eating kale and no less of one for eating pizza. But those rules were ingrained in me for much of my life and there is no off switch. Those thoughts will continue to creep in but I will continue to do my best to remind myself that what I eat does not warrant judgment, just the recognition of how it impacts my body.

I believe there is a difference between avoiding dairy on a regular basis because you find you have a sensitivity to it that causes discomfort, bloating, fogginess, etc. versus deciding to be dairy free because you read that "dairy is bad". But putting those beliefs into practice takes effort and work. It takes the same work that you put into your daily yoga practice or your 21 day diet – in fact, it probably takes more because it means working every day at reversing long-held beliefs that are no longer serving you.

If you take one thing away from this article, I hope you will be honest with yourself. If your approach to food and your body has not worked for you to date, why are you still holding onto it? I'd love for you to share in the comments below.

Or set up a FREE 1:1 coaching call with me to discuss a long-term, non-diet approach to your life.