Can you allow the sh*t times to level you UP?

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We’re so quick to wish the present moment away as our minds drift into the past or future. We may think we only do this during the bad times, which is understandable, but we put this into practice during the good times too when we’re not immersed in awareness.

During the good times, we begin to worry about the future and how it will pull us away from the enjoyment of the present moment.

I truly believe detachment is useful and necessary, as everything will eventually change, but we also don’t want to miss what’s right in front of us.

During the bad times, we want to wish them away and usher in the next comfortable season. Which is only natural—but is it useful? Do we grow from the cushy, warm, comforting times?

Without the bad, we aren’t able to relish in (or even experience) the good, and we aren’t able to develop into the humans we’re meant to be either.

Rather than lamenting about our current shitty situation, can we lean into it and choose to gain something from it?

My body, and often my mind, haven’t felt like my own for several months of this year. I believe a lot of this has to do with the Hashimoto’s and generally running myself into the ground, but I can’t say with absolute certainty.

Now that I’ve experienced vast improvements since May (I want to be sure of the consistent improvements before sharing what I did), I’m honestly grateful for the experience.

  • I’m much more in tune with my body and my health.
  • I know that it’s not worth it to sacrifice my health for the sake of ego, vanity, or the comfort of routine.
  • I’ve slowed the fuck down. This is primarily physically, but also mentally.
  • I received a lovely reminder of the practice of detachment from my appearance and physical capabilities.
  • I’m better equipped to guide others who are struggling with a similar experience.
  • I learned to lean on others and learned who really cared when I wasn’t my usual, positive self.
  • I was reminded of how strong and capable I am.
  • Probably most importantly, I was reminded that the shit times will come, they happen for our betterment, and they’ll pass.

To that last point, we may as well sit with whatever we’re experiencing and use it to our advantage, no?

If I reflect on the times that have really shaped me during my 29 years, they haven’t been the rosy times—although they carry great memories. I am the human I am because of the challenges, and as I learn to embrace them, there is so much less to fear.

I write this with the intention of reminding all of us, including myself, that every one of us experiences the dark, shitty times, and if we really dig deep and sit with the emotions of those experiences, it will be time and energy well spent.

If the darkness is going to come anyways, and it inevitably will for each and every one of us, we should soak up as much as we can from the experience while it lasts.

We can choose to level ourselves up as a result. How’s that for taking back our power?

Let your Identity Die If You Want to Reach Your Goals

 The way we adhere to our unproductive and often-harmful narratives holds us back in so many ways.

The way we adhere to our unproductive and often-harmful narratives holds us back in so many ways.

  • I don’t know how to control myself around food.
  • I’m an obsessive eater.
  • I’m not a disciplined person.
  • I’m a control freak.
  • I don’t know how to motivate myself.
  • I’m too shy to talk to new people.
  • I always give up on myself, so that will never work.
  • I failed at that before, so I’m a failure.
  • I’m closed-off, insecure, lazy, unpleasant, unworthy, un-loveable, [enter negative story].

We all define ourselves with the adjectives and words we have available, and we’re usually doing this unconsciously. Oftentimes, we’ve assumed these narratives from someone else—potentially someone we held in high regard.

Or perhaps we made a decision that wasn’t in alignment with our true, deeper values, such as lying, cheating, gossiping, failing to adhere to our responsibilities, or procrastinating, and we allow that one instance to define us. Every one of us has been here!

Rather than detaching from that one behavior, or even a series of behaviors, we begin to assume these behaviors as our identities. Rather than saying “I was emotional, zoned out, and over-ate.”, we tell ourselves, “I am an overeater”.

If we tell ourselves the latter, how do you think we’re going to act next time?

We’ll likely act in alignment with what we believe to be who we are.

We’d rather not experience the discomfort of misalignment with our “identities”, despite the harm we’re inflicting upon ourselves.

The truth is, we can reinvent ourselves at any time. Sure, there are characteristics and limitations that are hardwired into us (nature), but even then, I believe we can learn how to make subtle changes that enable us to use these to our benefit. Or at least temper them.

By adhering to these narrow definitions of ourselves, we immediately remove the possibility of experiencing personal growth and evolution.

I clung tightly to my identity as an obsessive and neurotic eater who couldn’t be trusted to make my own decisions around food, and all of my behaviors were consistent with this narrative.

By assuming this as my identity, I didn’t have to take responsibility for my own decisions, and I succumbed to this definition of WHO I was, rather than looking at my choices as simply behaviors. And behaviors are malleable.

It wasn’t until I took responsibility for the ability to write my own damn story that I was able to make changes counter to this notion of myself.

Slowly but surely, I grew to understand and accept that I was perpetuating my own suffering.

As another example, we may have made “practical” decisions at one point in our lives that truly felt right to us at the time (or didn’t, but we made them anyways), and before we know it, we and others have labeled ourselves as “practical”.

There isn’t a lot of wiggle room there, so what happens when our heart and soul are begging us to make decisions that are more unconventional? An identity crisis.

Begin to Detach

Instead of clinging to these words and stories, what would happen if we began to separate them from our identities?

There would be a world of possibilities! And a lot more personal responsibility. Rather than believing we are the victim of pre-determined traits and qualities, we would then be forced to reconcile with the fact that we’re actively playing a part in our stories. Initially uncomfortable, but also liberating AF.

How does one do this?

  • Take an honest inventory and make a list of the words and narratives you use to define yourself.
  • Ask yourself if you’re happy and in alignment with them. Are they serving you today and where you want to be in the future?
  • Be radically honest about how you’re responsible for perpetuating the story. Taking responsibility for this can be frustrating and painful, but it’s worth it! (reminding myself here)
  • Write down the behaviors you prefer to exhibit. ***We don’t want to get attached to another identity here—so focus on behaviors only.***
  • Remind yourself that your identity is always malleable (and perhaps false altogether), and this is a constant process of reinvention.
  • Put these new behaviors into action! This process takes time, but the belief that they can change is hugely transformational in itself.

In order to grow beyond our current struggles and our current versions of ourselves, we have to be willing to let our labels and narratives die. To let the former and current versions of ourselves die.  This can be scary as hell, but it can also the source of a new beginning whenever we’re ready and willing.

The Importance of Seasons - It's OK for Our Bodies to Have Them Too!

I’m in a season right now in my life, and my body reflects that. We all go through these seasons, yet we often feel the urge to resist them—as though everything in life is supposed to be tightly controlled and maintained.

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I do this too, yet with every season’s passing, I’m reminded of just how little control I have in this life. The only thing within my grasp is how I choose to respond, so I lessen my grip on the external, little by little.

It’s easy to fuse certain parts of our lives into our identities—people, places, things, the state of our bodies. Which is a huge reason why we’re often so resistant to the change.

During the good times, we want everything to remain static for as long as possible. During the bad times, we want the change to come more quickly than is natural. We tend to forget that it was always meant to be this way.

I’m beginning to view the seasons in my life—with people, my body, my career, my priorities—with a new-found appreciation, as I learn something new in every single one. Although, admittedly, it can be so damn difficult to view things through this lens while we’re in the midst of it.

Don’t like your job? Work towards what really lights you up while you learn as much as you can in your current position. This may be an opportunity to learn the art of patience, trust, and persistence while you embrace what you currently have.

Dealing with health struggles? Focus on what your body may be telling you if it’s within your control, and use it as an opportunity to learn more about yourself. If it’s beyond your realm of control, use it as an opportunity to practice surrender and to strengthen your mind.

Your body has changed? It’s OK, mine too! We can view this as an opportunity to challenge what we believe to be true about our own self-worth, how we respond to the opinions of others, and how to speak kindly to ourselves. We can challenge ourselves to fully accept what it is right now without wishing it away.

Relationship changes? We can marvel at the positive memories, and we can challenge ourselves to appreciate the growth we’re currently experiencing through increased patience, forgiveness, or stronger boundaries, perhaps.

Seasons of our Bodies

As this relates to the states of our bodies, they can ebb and flow with the actual seasons of the planet. Not due to some metaphysical forces, but because our lives and priorities often shift in tandem.

The summer is often rife with social gatherings, vacations, drinks on rooftops, and barbecues, and spending time being active outdoors is often more appealing than being inside a gym. We may gain a few lbs. or lose a bit of strength or muscle—it’s all OK!

Winter is associated with holiday gatherings and heavier food choices, and it may involve some extra gym time depending on our location. We may feel the desire to focus on building strength and lessening stress on our bodies through meaningful connection with others, downtime indoors, and amply fueling our bodies. Some fat and/or muscle gain may be associated with this time of the year—it’s all OK!

Spring and Fall are transitional seasons that are often great opportunities to dive more deeply into a routine and work towards our goals—we may slim down as a result or we may not. It’s all OK!

Each one of these seasons brings something magical with it, and if we’re holding on so tightly to one iteration of our bodies, we risk missing out the beauty of these various times of the year.

Or unique live events (like becoming a new parent, weddings, or extended travel).

We risk neglecting the present for the sake of control.

Someone once said to me,

“Appreciate the good times, because they’ll come to an end. Don’t worry about the bad times, because they’ll come to an end too.”

My initial reaction to this statement was fear, as I want to hold onto the good times for dear life, but this was proceeded by a sense of calm.

Accepting that nothing in this life is guaranteed and static can be a tremendous source of fear and discomfort, or it can be an amazing source of adventure and ease. The choice is ours, really.

If you find yourself in a season you would typically categorize as unpleasant with your body, your food, your health, or your mindset, ask yourself if you can reframe it.

Can you choose to accept it fully for what it is in the present moment? And trust that a new season will come?

When we begin to look at things through this lens, we may begin to understand that it’s not that serious (shout out to Neghar Fonooni).

Our assumption is often that the various aspects of our lives and bodies were never meant to change in the first place, and this mindset is what makes it ALL SO SERIOUS.

The unwillingness to flow and the aversion to change is what makes it ALL SO SERIOUS.

For those type-A perfectionists out there, I feel you, and I am one of you. And this is one of the most healing things we can do for ourselves.

Create the structure, practice the discipline, and do the work, but take a step back and marvel at the notion that you don’t have to bare the weight of that which can’t be controlled.

Can We Stop Complimenting Each Other on Our Bodies?

Most of us grew up witnessing women comment on other women’s bodies, and we see it all too often today as adults.

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These usually were comments of adoration or jealousy after someone lost a few pounds or “toned up”, in addition to snarky remarks about those who gained weight or who didn’t fit their ideal of what a woman should look like.

These comments slowly solidify themselves in our subconscious, although few of us are aware of this as it’s taking place. We begin to understand that thinner is better, and gaining weight warrants mean-spirited discussions behind another woman’s back.

We (hopefully) understand that speaking negatively about another women’s body is inappropriate, mean-spirited, and is simply a reflection of the perpetrator’s own insecurities and hang-ups.

However, we rarely consider the consequences of compliments.

They seem innocent enough, right? In fact, many would argue that it’s better to pay a compliment to another rather than keep it to oneself. Why wouldn’t we make an effort to make someone feel better about themselves?

Because this is where many obsessions and eating disorders begin.

Many of the women I work with, in addition to those in my personal circle, lament on the compliments that kicked their hustle for the ideal body into high gear.

They began their health and/or weight loss journey as a result of their own preferences for themselves, and once the weight loss was in motion or achieved, the compliments rolled in.

“Oh my gosh, you look so good! What have you been doing?”

“You look so skinny—you look amazing.”

“You are body goals. I want a body like yours.”

These comments are often said before asking how anything else in the woman’s life is progressing, too. Talk about a hierarchy of values, no?

Panic then ensues. Did everyone think I looked bad before? Does everyone like me better now? Are they only interested in me because of the weight I lost?

I have to maintain this or I’m going to lose their interest/attention/love/acceptance!

If weight is gained, the compliments cease, and they may even be told not to worry—that they’ll lose the weight again soon.  And the notion that their worth is tied to their body is solidified.

They begin to believe that people only see, value, and love them for their appearance.

We Don’t Know the Whole Story

Furthermore, changes in weight can be the result of a multitude of scenarios, both positive and negative, including divorce, death, illness, stress, or an increase in happiness.

We don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors.

The woman who lost weight may be suffering tremendously inside due to circumstances that have nothing to do with her physical form, or she may be deep in the throes of an eating disorder.

Does complimenting her on her body send the right message in any of these situations? I don’t believe so.

We could argue that this is the responsibility of the recipient, and there is certainly some onus on each of us to filter both compliments and insults alike.

However, can we wrap our heads around the idea that our compliments to other women regarding their bodies may be doing more harm than good?

It’s a foggy line, to be sure, and I have been on both sides of the fence.

Today, I don’t comment on another woman’s body unless I have a deep and established relationship with her and am privy to the motivations and circumstances behind the changes.

The last thing I would ever want to do is further cement another’s belief that all I value her for is her body, or that the circumstances that led to these changes are less deserving of my attention than the result itself.

The vast majority of us have been conditioned to pay these compliments, and while they’re often well meaning, they may be doing more harm than good.

There are SO MANY more important things about each of us, and so many of us are just waiting for the space and nurturing environment to show them. Instead of commenting on a woman’s weight loss, ask her about her life.

See her as a human being first—a body second.

How is her family? Her relationships? Her career? Her travels and recent fun adventures? What has she learned or read recently? What is she struggling with?

Focusing on the qualities that truly matter in each of us prior to the superficial will do us all a world of good.

I'm Tall, White, Thin, Able-Bodied, and Privileged - Why Was I Still Obsessed with Food?

When sharing my story about my history with disordered eating and my obsession with food, exercise, and my body, I’ve received comments about the validity of my experience and whether it’s relatable to others.

 I've been 15 lbs. lighter and heavier than my weight in this pic, and my obsession with food was the same regardless of the state of my body.

I've been 15 lbs. lighter and heavier than my weight in this pic, and my obsession with food was the same regardless of the state of my body.

I am white, tall, thin, able-bodied, and young, so what could I have possibly been obsessing over?  Shouldn’t I just shut my mouth and be grateful for what I did/do have? These questions initially elicited a knee-jerk reaction of frustration and disappointment, but after giving them some thought, I have been able to see these questions through a different lens.

It’s important to recognize my position of privilege due to the aforementioned qualities and how others do not receive the same benefits, and there are ways in which these privileges manifest that I’m still not aware of. 

However, this does negate nor take away from my experience, and it doesn’t for anyone else either. Our relationships to food aren’t just about our bodies, and our experiences are valid simply by virtue of them occurring.

Where It All Began

When looking through the lens of my own experience, my obsession with my body began in response to circumstances many other women can relate to: I learned that my appearance is my most valuable currency, and in order to be lovable, I must look perfect as defined by society’s standards.

Furthermore, in a household of four children within four years and as a middle child who was relatively “easy” and calm, I yearned for attention and accolades. I believed that obtaining perfection (in every way—not just with my body) was the only way to achieve this.

I was 5’8” by the age of 13, so I was deeply insecure about my height. It made me different, and similarly to any teenager, this instantly made me resentful of the trait.

Additionally, as I progressed further into puberty, I looked to my dad and brothers to gauge appropriate portion sizes during mealtimes, and I steadily gained weight.

I didn’t feel any connection to my body at that point in time, so I overate processed foods regularly.  Was I unconscious with my choices? Absolutely. Did I demonize specific foods? Not yet.

Fast forward a few months,  and I was tall and now heavier than was natural for my frame, and I began to feel myself drifting farther and farther away from the ideal. The last thing I would have categorized myself as was “feminine” according to society’s standards.

Was I technically overweight? No, but I was heavier than felt comfortable to me, and I was certainly too heavy according to others in my immediate circle. And they made it known.

After listening to this unsolicited feedback and observing interactions around me, I slowly started putting the pieces together:

  • A leaner body means more attention.
  • More attention means an increased likelihood of receiving love, acceptance, and being seen.
  • Less food and more exercise leads to a leaner body.
  • Food is the barrier to feeling love, acceptance, and the ability to be seen.
  • Food is the enemy.

This isn’t true of course, but this concept ruled my life for a decade. I viewed food as the gateway to my self-worth and value in the eyes of others, so it’s no great surprise that it became my obsession.

It was a love/hate relationship, and it was one that I so badly wanted to make peace with.

Obsession at Any Stage

My issues with food and my body started and continued due to feelings of unworthiness, and they didn’t let up for ten years regardless of the state of my body.

It didn't matter if I was 15 lbs. heavier than today at my heaviest or 15 lbs. lighter at my lightest—my obsession remained constant as I ebbed and flowed within those 30 lbs.

When I was leaner, I was obsessed with maintaining my body fat percentage for fear of losing my value as a person.  I was fully convinced that my friends and family truly loved me more when I looked that way, and my love of myself followed suit.

When I gained weight, which often occurred when I loosened the reigns and allowed myself to live my life in college, I felt a deep sense of shame about my appearance and the fact that I had “let myself go”. Even during these joyful and fun-filled times, I oscillated between periods of pure joy, panic, and fear of the looming outcome—more fat on my body.

There wasn’t a time when I wasn’t obsessing, and this was irrespective of the state of my body.

The Chase Never Ends

My obsession with food went far beyond my body, and the underlying reasons shifted based on the stage of life I was in, but the pressure to fix “just one more thing” was endless.

While I inhabited the qualities noted above, I was and still am far from the absurd standards of beauty women are held to.

I have cellulite, I’m not “curvy in all the right places”—whatever the fuck that means, I’m flat-chested, I’m taller than many men at 5’10.5”, I’m really pale with freckles, and the list goes on and on.

With the endless list of qualities we’re told to embody simultaneously, as if we come with ala carte options, there is always one more thing for us to obsess over. One more thing to hustle for. One more way to feel as though we’re inadequate.

We see women who are walking around with insanely low levels of body fat and continue to obsess over their meals and exercise routines, because the issue isn’t our bodies themselves—it’s our subscription to the stories we’ve been told about where our value is derived from and other underlying emotional distress we’re often masking (such as my staunch subscription to perfectionism).

Others may include the need for control, binging to numb our emotions and subsequently starving to undo the “damage”, seeking love and attention, lack of self-worth and self-esteem, deflecting from other areas of our lives that are calling for our attention (like hating our job or an unhappy relationship), lack of authenticity in our lives, etc.

Our Bodies Don’t Determine Our Relationships with Food

I have worked with overweight and thin women, all of whom are constantly obsessing over every morsel of food. While their motivations can be different, their relationships with food are very similar.

To assume we know someone else’s story based on their appearance is short-sited, and it furthers the notion that we are defined by the way we look.

Lean women may be labeled as lucky and perfect, despite deep pain they may be masking, and overweight women are often labeled as lazy, despite the care they may show for their bodies.

This contributes to the problem on a larger scale, and it can also be deeply harmful to the individual.

It doesn’t serve us look to our appearance or those of others to determine what someone’s relationship with food “should” look like or assume we know what is true.

When we “should” each other, we miss the opportunity to connect with other women on the deep level we’re all seeking, and we collectively take a step back.

We all have a right to our story, our experiences, and our emotions, simply by virtue of them being our own, and we can take ownership of them while simultaneously recognizing our privilege and seeking to learning about the experiences of women in marginalized bodies.

This is a new-to-me conversation, so I welcome all feedback in an effort to learn more!

Intuitive Eating - Where Do I Start?

Intuitive eating seems to be gaining a lot of traction in the health and fitness realm, which is great! However, there is also a sufficient amount of confusion regarding the concept, as everyone defines it differently.

 I love myself a mid-day marg, especially in the summer! 

I love myself a mid-day marg, especially in the summer! 

Some also discount it completely, as it’s not black and white, but the hard-core, rigid dieting rules are the reason so many of us find ourselves in the bottom of the dieting rabbit hole to begin with.  These camps lead you to believe that intuitive eating will lead to binging 24/7 and that it's impossible to develop a relationship with our bodies based on awareness and trust.

The overarching premise behind intuitive eating is that we eat in accordance with our bodies’ signals, in addition to the added layers of preference, lifestyle, activities, and goals.

Solely eating according to our bodies signals can create additional spirals of guilt and shame, as there are times when we simply want to eat and drink for pleasure. The dessert after dinner? Definitely not hungry, but we choose to enjoy some. 

The extra glass of wine? Our bodies aren’t necessarily asking for it - our brains and emotions are. And these reasons are just as valid in the right context.

So if we’re supposed listen to our bodies, but we’re also free to listen to our emotions and thoughts, then how do we go about this, exactly? I completely understand the confusion.

How to get started

1.     First, we need to understand that this process takes time, as there isn’t one blueprint that everyone can follow. This means we can’t just look to Instagram or our friends to see how we should be eating—the onus is on us to learn what’s best for our bodies. Trial and error while practicing awareness is an absolute requirement as we unlearn the rules we’ve been given. Viewing this as a quick fix is a sure way to see the practice as a failure.

2.     Begin assessing your body’s feedback to understand what it likes and dislikes, and evaluate how it aligns with your actual taste preferences. For example, my taste buds love cheese and ice cream, but the rest of my body is not a fan in the least. Can I choose to eat dairy? Absolutely, and there are times I do, but I don’t make a habit of it. That would akin to hearing my body speak and essentially telling it to f*ck off. Not exactly the way to lay a foundation of trust, eh?

We can assess whether our bodies are jiving with said foods by taking inventory of changes in our skin, digestion, hormones, athletic performance, brain fog, and emotions.

3.     Become acquainted with your hunger and satiety signals (full post on how to do so here). I can’t emphasize how important this aspect is to the process. This isn’t to say that you’re unable choose to consciously override these signals. The key here is being aware enough to choose. However, you do need to become very familiar with what these signals feel like for you.

If you’re coming from any kind of dieting background, ignoring hunger signals is usually the element that needs the most attention. The more you give yourself permission to eat, the more hunger you’ll feel. Trust is essential here.

I’m a former member of the “clean your plate club” while simultaneously waiting until I felt like I was going to faint before eating, so I fully understand how uncomfortable and difficult this can be in the beginning. Over time you’ll be able to better understand what levels of hunger and satiety feel best for you, and you can adjust your food choices accordingly.

Why is this important? In order to accurately assess our hunger and satiety stages, we must practice awareness, and awareness lays the foundation of this entire practice. Additionally, becoming familiar with these cues is the gateway to understanding feedback from our bodies after ignoring them for so long, and it's an excellent trust builder.

4.     Awareness of why you make the choices you do. This is closely tied to point number three, as when we really pay attention to the times we eat when we’re not hungry, eat beyond satisfaction, intentionally under-eat, or ignore our hunger signals, we’re forced to face the potential discomfort of why we’re doing it.

Boredom, distraction, numbing, fear of eating full meals (we subsequently snack all the time), and feelings of unworthiness are common reasons, in addition to pleasure, connection with others, fuel for activities, and experiencing different cultures. As you can see, motivations can run the gamut, and confronting them isn't always easy. This step absolutely cannot be skipped, and while it can be uncomfortable, we’re better off for it.

5.     Assess how foods affect your athletic endeavors. I love to partake in strength training and crossfit, both of which require carbohydrates as the preferred fuel source. Through quite a bit of trial and error (another reason a coach is helpful—so you don’t have to endure that part for as long as I did!), I realized that my body needs upwards of 150g of carbs per day to feel happy and content (estimate, as I don’t track).  This is my minimum on most days, as I feel better eating more than this when I’m crossfitting frequently.

I learned this lesson the hard way after listening to the latest diet craze in lieu of listening to my body. Please don’t do that! Pay attention to how your body feels during and after workouts, including sleep, and make adjustments to your food choices and intake accordingly. Changes may include more food before a workout, eating more or less of a macronutrient before working out (more carbs for me, always), and/or eating more food in general.

Our bodies don’t know that we’re about to participate in a difficult workout, so don’t expect it to magically appear with hunger signals and cravings right before (as I did). This is where deviation from our hunger signals is absolutely warranted and encouraged. Although, I want to be clear that you can choose to override your hunger and satiety signals at any point, with the preference being that it's conscious.

6.     Become familiar with what is worth it to you. This is what I consider to be the final step, as we can’t make a proper evaluation of what foods and drink are worth it to us if we haven’t completed the steps above. We must first incur sufficient trial and error to understand if under or overeating, not sleeping, screwing up our hormones or digestion, numbing or distracting, and performing better or worse in our physical pursuits is worth it to us when we’re evaluating the choices in front of us.

Some examples: I usually find two glasses of wine to be worth it, but a third isn’t on most days. Is it worth it to eat when I’m not hungry before a workout so that I’m able to perform better? Absolutely. Is a slice of pizza or bowl of ice cream worth the digestive distress I’ll experience later? Sometimes—depends on the company I’m with and how special the food is. I’m not going to put myself through that level of discomfort for some basic, run of the mill foods, you know?

As you can see, the concept of intuitive eating requires time and effort, most notably in the beginning, and it most certainly necessitates a high level of awareness. This leads to many people’s eyes glazing over, as they don’t want to make that investment.

Being told what, how, and when to eat removes much of the burden, and I fully understand the appeal. Not only does it allow us to turn our brains off, but we also believe this method will lead to clearly defined results.

But play that out in the long run—where does that path lead you over the next 5-10 years? Chances are, you see yourself desperately clinging to another plan, still lacking any semblance of trust in your choices and your body.

Through the practice of intuitive eating, we’re able to finally join the same team as our bodies, we’re empowered to trust in the signals we receive and our subsequent choices, and we’re able to make room for the shit that really matters in life.

Are you ready?

Email me for more information on one-on-one coaching to get started!

"I Have More Important Shit to Think About" - My Response to my Recent Weight Gain

These are the words I whispered to myself last week in the midst of my frustration with my pants fitting too tightly. Too tightly being defined as quite uncomfortable to wear, despite the supposed stretch in the denim.

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During the last 3-4 months, I have gained 7-10 lbs., and I don’t know if it’s water weight due to the inflammation from the Hashimoto’s or actual fat gain. In the end, it doesn’t really matter, as the end result feels the same—I’m uncomfortable in a few pairs of the jeans I fit into quite easily a few months ago.

As I stood in front of the mirror, confused and frustrated as to why I happened to gain this weight despite remaining active and eating as I usually do, my inner voice chimed in and said “I have more important shit to think about.”

I then proceeded to do a mindset calibration to re-center myself, put on a different pair of pants that fit more comfortably, and moved on with my day.

It’s easy for us to proclaim self-love and confidence when we feel comfortable in the bodies we’ve become accustomed to, and even more so when we fit society’s ideal of thin, white, straight, and cis-gender (as I do). The latter point is a topic I will cover in an upcoming blog post, but the former is a testament to my current experience and those of the women I work with.

It’s easy to neglect our maintenance work of not defining ourselves based on our appearance when we look a way in which we feel comfortable. Or when we fit into the same clothing sizes we’ve become accustomed to for years.

The true test is when our bodies morph into something outside of this realm of comfort—into something that feels foreign.

The reality is that our bodies are absolutely going to change throughout our lives, and there isn’t a damn thing we can do about it. Additionally, there are times when our bodies are going to change based on factors within our control. These typically include a deviation from our usual habits in response to an adjustment in priorities (travel, holidays, weddings, work, family, etc.).

The changes within our control can be easier to accept, as we understand we’re willingly participating. The changes outside of our control, such as health issues, pregnancy, and aging can be more difficult to accept due to the lack of control.

When we find yourself in a situation where our bodies have changed, or we’re overwhelmed with the need to control our food and exercise due to fear of our bodies changing as our priorities do, we must first accept and acknowledge the situation.

Don’t run from it, and don’t go down the path of distraction with destructive habits. Sit with it, say it aloud to yourself, and ask yourself the following:

1.     What are the things in life that provide me with the most meaning right now? These may include family, close friends, being active, new experiences traveling or with eating/drinking, pursuing a meaningful career or hobby, time in nature, self-development, a spiritual practice, our own health or that of a loved one. Your appearance may be on the list, and that’s completely fine. However, you need to be honest with yourself about where this lies within your ranking of priorities.

For me, my health, family, friends, career, and time in nature are the most important things to me at the moment, and these define the “more important shit” I refer to above.

2.     Am I willing to sacrifice any of my other priorities in pursuit of changing my body? I’m not simply referring to time here, as mental and physical energy are major resources that are diluted by constantly thinking about our bodies and food. 

Last week, I asked myself, “Am I really going to spend my precious energy thinking about these changes to my body when I have creative and professional ambitions and a summer to enjoy with my loved ones?” The answer is no. Especially, when I’m focusing on treating my body with respect via nourishment, rest, and movement already.

3.     What do I contribute to this world that is of the greatest value? Creating valuable content to help others, general creativity, being there for family and friends, providing entertainment, uplifting others, being a teacher, acting as a confidante—these are all worthwhile attributes that begin a laundry list of items people can ascribe to. The way our bodies look is at the bottom of the barrel—they don’t actually contribute anything to the world, and the constant pursuit of changing our bodies detracts from our time and energy being spent on these more important items.

4.     How can I make my body and mind feel supported right now? This might be eating less inflammatory and processed foods, drinking less alcohol, eating more food, more rest and self-care, more alone time, more time connecting with others, time outdoors, meditation, yoga, weightlifting, journaling, reading, wearing clothes that fit. It can be one or all of these things, in addition to a plethora of others.

The point is, focus on what you can do to better serve your body and mind, not go to war with them. Remember, we’re on the same team.

5.     What am I grateful for that my body does for me right now? This is especially relevant when dealing with health issues or experiencing changes that are outside of our realm of control, as it’s easy to believe our bodies are betraying us. Admittedly, I subscribed to the victim mindset upon hearing of my Hashimoto’s diagnosis, and it was tempting to throw my hands in the air and play the blame game.

I eventually acknowledged the unhelpful and soul-sucking nature of this mindset, and I began to focus on what my body can do and how it shows up for me every day. Our bodies are just trying to survive and, dare I say thrive.  Sometimes we need to give them some breathing room to do their thing.

Turning our frustration into gratitude

These body changes can be alarming initially, but they’re incredibly valuable. They force us to look inward and assess our alignment with our truth and where we’re placing our value.

The universe has a funny way of giving us lessons that still need to be learned, and it’s evident that I needed an internal “tune up”, if you will. For this lesson, I am grateful, as I needed the roots of my worthiness to be planted further within myself—not in anything external.

I’ve been doing this internal work for years, yet this caught me off guard and forced me to acknowledge that I have been functioning on auto-pilot for some time.

This isn’t anything to be ashamed of, as it’s common for us to settle into a new “normal” and label that as our relative zone of comfort. However, as we know, we don’t grow in our comfort zones.

Our bodies and lives are not static, and they’re never going to be. The more we can learn to accept and move with these changes, the better off we’ll be. And the more time and energy we’ll have to focus on the more important shit.