One of the reasons why I love Yogi teas are because of the wise little sayings printed on the tea bag tags. This mornings tag really struck me as self-compassion is a huge talking point for me and for others in the No-Diet Sisterhood. There is so much current research on the benefits of practicing self-compassion in our lives. To be 100% transparent, I used to believe that the harder I was on myself, the more motivated I would be to change things about myself or my life that I didn’t like or feel good about. The reality is it’s the exact opposite! So, all the years I spent beating myself up in hopes that I would change my eating habits, specifically my chronic emotional eating, really hindered me from progressing.
The funny thing about being so hard on myself is that I didn’t even realize I was doing it. It had become so natural for me to beat myself up that to recognize or know that there was another way to behave was foreign to me. In fact, I didn’t become aware of this soul crushing, self-esteem sucking habit until around 2012 when people at nutrition school started pointing it out to me during our mock consultations. To be honest, I was embarrassed that I hadn’t noticed this in myself. By that point in my life I considered myself to be so “enlightened”. But you know what I often say, we cannot see the color of our own eyes! This is why it’s so important that we have truthful, loving allies in our lives that can help us mirror back our behaviors in a compassionate manner. And, this is why I believe so passionately about the benefits of coaching.
I’m thankful that I know this now. There is no use in wallowing in regret, should haves, etc. because it’s in the past. What I can do is work toward being more self-compassionate with myself now. To me, self-compassion is a muscle that we need consistently strengthen. The more we work it, the stronger it gets. So, after decades of being unkind to myself, I work daily to make my self-compassion muscle stronger.
Based on personal experience and my experience working with clients, I’ve learned that practicing self-compassion doesn’t come easy. I’m sure most of you have committed to movement or strength training and know how sore your muscles are after the first few workouts, right? If you were anything like me, your body was really sore and uncomfortable the next few days or weeks if you continued with the regime. Well, it’s the same with self-compassion. When I first started to integrate self-compassion into my life after discovering Intuitive Eating, I did experience discomfort because it was so new to me. However, just like habitual movement has helped make me get stronger and increased my stamina, my body has adjusted. While I believe I still have a ways to go (and need to keep strengthening my self-compassion muscles) before I consider myself a naturally self-compassionate person, I’m seeing glimpses of how self-compassion has begun to take root in my life and I’m amazed at how much more joyful and free I feel as a result.
Where do you fall on the self-compassion scale? Are you still beating yourself up for overeating, under-eating, binging, chronically emotionally overeating, or not moving your body consistently enough? If you’re struggling with this, know that you’re not alone! Honestly, many are in the same boat as you. While I believe I’ve left the boat, I haven’t gotten so far from it that I cannot see it from where I am.
If you know you’re struggling and believe you could use some more self-compassion in your life but just don’t see where you may be falling short, let’s talk. If you’re anything like me, having someone I trusted to show me the ways where I was tripping myself up was a huge part of my recovery from disordered eating. You’d be surprised how one or two sessions with me could change the direction of your Intuitive Eating journey.
This article was originally published here but has been updated to remove references to weight and size as they are often triggering. Be sure to read the article update at the end.
My story is definitely not the typical before and after weight loss tale, and that’s okay. It’s the story of how finding peace with my food and my body gave me the freedom that being a size X never did or never will.
If you are considering going on another diet because you’re unhappy with your weight, this article is for you.
Two years ago, I had a rude awakening. After finding and maintaining my small size X body and remaining at that weight for over two years, I began to gain weight very quickly. I had struggled with food and body image for 30+ years, but when I became a vegetarian three years earlier, I thought I had found “the” answer to controlling my weight.
I was no stranger to yo-yo dieting. In fact, I had dieted for a good part of my life. You know the routine. Losing weight and then gaining it all back again (usually plus more). It’s a confidence-crushing cycle that many of us have become accustomed to doing.
What made this weight gain different from all the others was that I was now a Certified Holistic Health Coach and the way I looked was important for my job…or so I thought. I remember thinking to myself “How will my clients see me as healthy if I’m not thin?” and “How will my clients take advice from me about eating if I cannot stop eating myself?” These thoughts consumed me and often made me feel ashamed and confused.
What no one knew is that the reason I had gained the weight was because I suffered with a serious bout of depression. I diligently took herbal remedies and tried doing more of the things that provided some relief like yoga and meditation, but they were not helping enough to make a difference in my day-to-day life. After suffering for nearly a year, I decided to go on anti-depressant medication. For those of you who aren’t aware of this, anti-depressant medications (specifically SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) drugs) are notorious for weight gain. As hard as I tried to control this with a nutritious diet and exercise, I was not able to escape these side effects. So, while I crawled out of my depressive state, my appetite became ravenous and my waistline grew and grew until I was no longer able to fit into any of my clothes. It was a very emotional time in my life.
I chose not to weigh myself because I knew the number would likely upset me, but I had a really good idea of how much based on the size of the clothing I was not fitting in to. Aside from the emotional side to this, there was a physical piece too. To have your body change so dramatically is not easy, especially in just a few short months. I felt sluggish, tired and uncomfortable often. I remember feeling like I was carrying big heavy sand bags on my back. The heavier I got, the heavier the sand bags felt. It was emotionally and spiritually debilitating at times. The most frightening part was that I didn’t see an end in sight because I was like a bottomless pit and could not stop eating.
On an emotional level, my confidence was shot, my self-esteem had plummeted, and I was more embarrassed and uncomfortable than I had ever been about my body.
Once I began to come out of the depressive fog I was in, I was determined to heal my body. I knew that I couldn’t tolerate going on a diet to lose the weight, but I didn’t know what else to do. By sheer luck, I stumbled on the book Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch. Reading this book was like a breath of fresh air! Once I began living this “no-diet” approach to life, I began to feel more hopeful for the first time in months. Within a few months of practicing Intuitive Eating, my life began to transform in ways I never thought imaginable.
I want to be clear that my life didn’t transform because I lost weight. My life transformed because my perception of how I viewed a “healthy” body changed.
This is how I redefined health for myself:
I didn’t have to be thin to be healthy.
I didn’t have to be thin to be fit.
I could develop a healthy relationship with food regardless of how many years I’d struggled.
I can love my body unconditionally.
Feeling sluggish and uncomfortable was only short term.
I can listen to my body and honor its needs on a physical and emotional level.
I am an amazingly strong woman and my experience only intensified that.
I can inspire others regardless of my weight.
Dieting will never improve your relationship with food and body the way practicing self-love and self-compassion will. Practicing Intuitive Eating and taking control of my depression were instrumental in giving me back my life after feeling so out of control with food for so many years. This former size X, now size X go-getter, is happier and has a healthier relationship with food than she ever thought possible. I eat nutritious foods; I’m healthy by medical standards; I don’t deprive or restrict myself from eating foods that I enjoy; I acknowledge daily that I’m more than my weight; and love to move my body in ways that I enjoy without being militant about it. I have found true food and body freedom and I’m so grateful!
UPDATE: April 20, 2017 – I’m happy to report that my depression is now being managed well without medication, I’ve been a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor for over two years, and am living a satisfying and happy life.
Day 1 – Three bags
Day 2 – Six bags in SUV ready for donation
The above pictures capture the six (6) bags of clutter I cleared from my spare closet, sweater shelves, bedroom closet and laundry room this week. I was getting tired of looking at the overflowing shelves in my bedroom, the dusty clothes on the shelf in my laundry room and having stuff spill out of my office closet whenever I opened the door! Every time I did laundry and tried to put the clothes back on the shelves, I had to strategically move the other clothes because there was nowhere to put them all! A girl can only tolerate so much! So, I took a few hours over a span of two days and purged!
During all of this, I was thinking that this project might help me stop feeling like I wanted to move to a bigger house with more closet space. I was reminded of the words I often say to my clients in the most loving way, “If you cannot find happiness at your current weight, you will not find happiness when you lose weight.” We need to find happiness and satisfaction where we are, not when ________ happens or when we lose _____ pounds. I knew in my heart that rather than continuing to complain, I could do my part to maximize our space by purging all the crap that wasn’t serving me anymore.
I’ve never been a fan of clutter and I’ve done massive purges before, but somehow, I still had stuff lingering in my house. Ugh, I’m sure you can all relate. Well, this week I decided to turn my frustration into action and do something about it. That action resulted in packing six (6) bags of sweaters, old dresses, belts, shoes, and workout clothes for the needy. All the items are in great condition but for one reason or another (style, fit, color, etc), they no longer serve me.
This all started last week when I asked the women in my Facebook group if having clutter in their lives affected their eating. The answer was a resounding YES!! Some even said that clutter makes them binge!! Thanks to my ongoing internal work and practicing Intuitive Eating all these years, this wasn’t affecting my eating but it was affecting my mood, my energy levels, and some other areas of my life that I wasn’t even aware of until now. These are some of the realizations I had once I decided to let go of this stuff.
Holding on to things that no longer serve me is like an anchor.
These anchors weigh me down.
These anchors make me feel like I’m stuck.
These anchors don’t allow me to make room for the new things the universe is trying to teach or show me.
These anchors make me realize that there is still some shame around what was and what no longer is.
These anchors don’t allow me to truly express who I am today but express who I was years ago.
I now see that even though I thought I had released many of these things on an emotional level, until I released them on a physical level, the circle of healing was incomplete.
These anchors also reminded me that if I cannot be happy and content where I am than I won’t be happy anywhere.
These anchors helped me to see the importance of periodically assessing our lives to see what is and what isn’t serving us anymore.
So, now it’s your turn. If you have clutter in your life, how does it make you feel?
Here are some other reflective questions to ask yourself that may help you tap into those emotions.
Do you think you have things in your space (dwelling, office, car, etc.) that need purging?
Do you think that holding on to some of these things may be stunting your growth?
What do some of these things that you’re holding on to symbolize or represent?
What can you do today to minimize clutter and disarray in your space?
How do you think you’ll feel once your space is free of clutter?
If you choose to donate clothing, etc, who might benefit your generosity?
Feel free to leave a comment if this blog inspired you to take some action and release some of the things that are no longer serving you. I cannot tell you how much lighter, freer, and peaceful I feel now that this stuff has been released from my life.
Want more support? Join my online Facebook group the Diet-Free Sisterhood for daily inspiration, connection with other like-minded women, and giggles.
First of all HAPPY NEW YEAR, lovelies!!
It’s a new year and I’m seeing a lot of people posting their 2017 resolutions and /or goals for the year. I’ve also noticed some beating themselves up for not following through already! Ugh!
While I’m a firm believer that setting goals is important, I think it’s equally important that we realize that it takes time to build ourselves up to meeting these goals. So, my suggestion is to take realistic actions to see these goals come to fruition. So, if your goal is become more fit in 2017, but you’re not fit right now or don’t have a consistent exercise regime currently in place, formulate actionable steps to make that happen. For example, instead of taking the elevator at work, take the steps more often. If you belong to a gym and want to get to the weight room or group classes more often, put your clothes in your car so you can get to the gym right before/from work, etc. Simple shifts like this are what will make your goals become a reality.
If you’ve tried these suggestions before and still have not had any luck achieving your goal and they’re still important to you, I urge you to look at the reasons why. Based on my personal experience and my time with clients is that even though they know what would help them achieve their goals, they cannot get out of their own way. In other words, they’re stuck in their old sh*t or old story! They want change but something in themselves is holding them back from moving forward.
I’m no stranger to this because I’ve been there before and know the myriad of ways that I would say one thing and do another.
I get it.
I understand the pattern and the frustration.
I empathize with the negative emotions this kind of behavior conjures up.
I remember how easy and often I would beat myself up when I would continually and yet unknowingly self-sabotage myself.
I now know that my self-sabotaging behaviors were just trying to protect me from my underlying beliefs that I WASN’T ENOUGH…strong ENOUGH, resourceful ENOUGH, perfect ENOUGH.
I NOT ENOUGHED myself into inaction.
I cringe when I think of all the time I spent trying to do it all alone.
I got tired enough of living my life in so much discord, so I got help.
Are you tired enough of living your life in pain, with frustration, and not achieving your goals?
If you are, read on.
If not, don’t waste your time because you’re not ready to receive what I have to say.
One of my mentors often says, “We cannot see the color of our own eyes.”
She is so right. It’s not possible for us to see all the ways in which we are limiting ourselves and getting in our own way! No, we cannot take a selfie on our own BS. It’s just not possible. We need someone to help us identify, in a loving and compassionate way, the places in our lives where we’re putting up road blocks so that we can consciously and bravely move them out of our way.
I have identified the six primary road blocks that used to trip me up and often do the same for my clients. This is not to say that I’m 100% free of these behaviors now, but I’m able to recognize them and have kick ass tools in my toolbox to help me overcome them so I can keep moving forward instead of staying stuck and dissatisified.
- Not Enoughness
- Emotional Triggers
If any of these areas speak to you, I feel you! Remember, I used to be a slave to this kind of stuff and know how debilitating it can be. Freeing myself from that place took a lot of introspection, guidance from grounded professionals, lots and lots of courage, and learning how to be compassionate and forgiving with myself.
My Going Beneath the Surface: A Masterclass to Claim Your Enoughness is an intensive, loving and all-encompassing masterclass to help you finally claim that you are enough as you are. I taught this class in the fall and the women raved about how their lives changed and how much more aware they were in discerning their own NOT ENOUGH BS.
This master class will give you the tools, tips and awareness you need to move forward in your relationship with yourself which will have a profound impact on your relationship with food and body. No, it will not solve all your problems, but it will give you a great jump start on making significant transformations in your life.
Early Bird pricing of *only* $227 is valid through 1/9/17. Regular price is $297. The masterclass experience begins on 1/16/17. To ensure that everyone has the proper attention, SEATING IS LIMITED. For all the details, click here.
Let’s talk about emotional triggers for a few minutes.
Emotional triggers are things that make you react or behave in negative ways. It could be that something that someone says to you or to someone else that triggers a negative response in you. For example, it could be how you react when someone talks to you, directs you or even criticizes you. Or, it could be something you experience when you watch a movie or listen carefully to the lyrics of a song. So many things can make us react in ways that we might not necessarily be happy about.
I’ve worked super hard in the last few months at recognizing some of my emotional triggers and while I’ve come so far, I still have a long way to go. In fact, I’m learning that there will always be triggers around for me and for most people. However, how easily we are able to recognize when we are triggered and how we react to the triggers and is what really matters is what I believe is key in overcoming them. At least that has been my experience.
When I used to stuff my face at the simplest little things, I would feel so awful afterwards. NOT so much because I emotionally ate or even binged (although that was quite upsetting), I would be more upset at the fact that I wasn’t able to recognize when I was begin triggered. Or, even when I knew I was triggered, I didn’t take the time to take a step back, collect my thoughts and think about my behavior before I actually responded. Instead, I would react from a place of anger, hurt, frustration, loneliness or abandonment and this never made me happy. While it’s perfectly normal to feel those types of emotions, for me, it wasn’t okay to react in negative ways around them every single time I was triggered. It was exhausting and I often felt like I should know better not to react in such a manner, but nothing ever seemed to change. Reacting so often also made me feel OUT OF CONTROL and I loathed feeling that way! So, you know what, when I felt that way, I would eat more to numb those feelings!
As my dear friend, Elysha Maughan, says, “One way to reframe emotional triggers is to see them as opportunities for growth.” When we are emotionally triggered, this is an indication that we need healing in a particular area of our lives. So, it’s really our body’s way of telling us to look more closely at something. It’s telling us to dig a little deeper.
Isn’t it just amazing how are bodies are always looking out for us?
It is possible to heal from being over reactive. I used to get so pissed off when people used to tell me that I was over reacting to things! In fact, that was an emotional trigger for me!
After having done so much work in this area with my own personal development coach, and discovering what the source was for so many of these triggers, it’s getting easier for to me to heal from them.
However, the first step in doing this was acknowledging that these emotional triggers existed in my life in the first place!
Some questions to ponder:
What kinds of emotional triggers are you struggling with?
Are you able to recognize your emotional triggers?
How do you react when you’re emotionally triggered?
I’d love to hear form you! It would be so great and much appreciated if you’d leave a comment below.
I would say the majority of the female population gauges their relationship with their bodies based on their weight. Wouldn’t you agree? If your body is at what you consider an “acceptable” or you’re at your “goal” weight, there is generally less self-loathing. Sadly, most women don’t find their weight to be acceptable and they rarely stay at their “goal” weight for more than a few weeks before the jeans start to get tight again. It’s safe to say that there are a lot women out there who are very unhappy with their bodies. Are you one of those women who’s often saying, “I’d be so much happier if I could just lose these last 10 or 15 pounds!” (more…)