Got Self-Compassion?

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.

Are Small Plates the New Scale?

What size plate are you using for your meals? 

I recently heard someone say that they prefer to use small plates when they eat their meals. When I asked why, she said it’s because it helps her manage overeating. If you’re a member of the “Clean Plate Club” this is also used to help manage that. I thought to myself “Wow! She must have some powerful plates because my plates don’t have those kinds of special powers!”

I’m just being funny because I think that what she meant was when she uses a small plate, she tends to serve herself less food. And, while I understand why someone might think this is perfectly acceptable, my diet mentality warning antenna popped up and here’s why.

  • Using small plates could be an indication that you’re trying to control how much you eat.
  • It could be a way to control the types of foods you choose to eat based on size, length, etc.
  • It could also be an indication that you don’t trust yourself around food and need a small a plate to guide you.

On the plus side, I see that using a small plate could give you that pause you may need to check your fullness levels. While I’m 100% in favor of that, be sure that you allow your fullness level guide your next decision and not your clean plate. So, if you clean your small plate and discover that you’re still hungry and want more food, give yourself permission to eat more food! Remember, food restriction has the same negative effects as dieting and usually leads to a binge eating or overeating later.

Why does this matter? It matters because people are sometimes using small plates to tell their bodies to stop eating but they may still be hungry. But, because their plate is clean, they don’t check-in or all allow themselves to eat more because the plate is their fullness meter and not their body. While we are free to use whatever size plate we want, if we ever want to learn to trust and allow our bodies to guide us (which is the focal point of Intuitive Eating), we need to tune-in to our bodies and stop using external things to tell us what our bodies need.

I know what you may be saying to yourself…

“Yeah, but when I use a big plate I overeat and feel awful!”
My response: I get it, but if you keep allowing and tuning in, this will dissipate over time. Patience in the process is the answer here.

“I don’t want to overeat because I’m afraid I’ll get fat.”
My response: If you continue to believe that thinner is better or being thinner is healthier, you’ll unlikely ever find food freedom.

“I have a hard time honoring my fullness and need the small plate or _______ to guide me.”
My response: Take your time and tune-in during and after your plate is empty to assess where your fullness meter is. Let this be your guide, not your plate.

Trust me, I’ve said things like this to myself and have heard the same or similar comments from my clients, so I get it, girlfriend! I’m not judging, I’m trying to help you see this in a new light.

However, the reality is that any time we’re trying to control our food intake with a plate, a timer, a bogus rule, we’re not eating intuitively. Period. If you want to truly be free from food obsession and/or restriction, weight cycling (yo-yo dieting) (even though you’re not stepping on the scale) you’ll need to learn to tap into your bodies inherent inner wisdom. With that, you can relearn to trust your body so it can tell you what it needs, how much it needs, and when it needs it. Basically, you’ll be relearning what dieting/restricting stole from you for all those years!!

Getting in touch with your hunger and honoring your fullness is one of the most fundamental concepts of Intuitive Eating. Believe me, because I’ve done it myself, trying to control your food in any way will never allow you to fully embrace Intuitive Eating. However, allowing all foods (unless there is a sensitivity or allergy to them) and tuning in to your natural bodies cues will.

So, use whatever size plate you want bearing in mind what I said. When you learn how to tune-in to your body instead of using your plate to tell you when you’re full, you’re flexing that trust muscle which makes food freedom possible.

What external distractions are you using to control what and how much you’re eating?

Discovering Happiness Despite Weight Gain

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.

What is ‘gentle nutrition’ anyway?

A common misconception that people often have when they hear about Intuitive Eating is that intuitive eaters don’t need to take nutrition into account. When I hear people saying this kind of thing, it always sends a chill up my spine because it couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, one of the principles of Intuitive Eating is to “honor your health with gentle nutrition”. This is how the book Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD and Elyse Resch, MS, RD describe principle 10:

“Make food choices that honor your health and taste buds while making you feel well. Remember that you don’t have to eat perfectly to be healthy. You will not suddenly get a nutrient deficiency or gain weight from one snack, one meal, or one day of eating. It’s what we eat consistently over time that matters — progress not perfection is what counts.”

I really like this explanation, but I want to add something to it that has really helped me to understand this principle even more. To me, gentle nutrition also includes not going to extremes with our food. So, for example, going to an extreme to me would be to never eat any food that contains refined sugar like cookies, cakes or any other dessert. Or, to insist on maintaining a gluten-free diet simply because you read that living a gluten-free lifestyle is “better” for your health. I literally cringe when I hear people speaking in such black and white terms.

People that try to maintain lifestyles as described aren’t usually able to maintain them for the long-term because they are restrictive. Since I know first-hand the dangers of being restrictive with my food, I never recommend restricting any foods in our diets unless we have a food sensitivity or food allergy that could cause us harm.

Just because Intuitive Eating gives us the freedom to eat any food that makes us feel good (no bloating, lethargy, stomach upset, etc.) when we are physically hungry (or sometimes just because we want a particular food), this doesn’t mean that we are expected to ignore the benefits of basic nutrition. So, for example, when people ask me what I’d recommend eating, in addition to advising them to eat foods that make their bodies feel good, I also suggest that they strive to eat lots of fresh, whole foods (including whole grains), lots of fruits and vegetables (organic whenever possible), quality animal protein (grass fed whenever possible), healthy fats, and carbohydrates in a way that feels good for their bodies.

Now, that doesn’t mean that we can’t have a delicious dessert on occasion or when we just want it for the fun of it! It simply means that we don’t get hung up on it worry and ourselves sick for days.

So, yes, nutrition is absolutely a part of the Intuitive Eating equation, but the key is that it’s ‘gentle’ and not ‘forced’ or intended for us to feel guilty or morally inept just because we’re not eating ‘perfectly’ all the time. It’s about balance and learning to listen to what our bodies need without judgement.

I will add that this is the last principle in the Intuitive Eating book for a reason. When any of us begin our Intuitive Eating journey, gentle nutrition isn’t always forefront in our minds. One of the reasons for this is because we need to make up for all the time (And, in my case it was years!) of food deprivation. So, in the beginning, many will eat the foods that they’d been restricting for a long time simply because they can now. While this isn’t always the case, our bodies and minds eventually do settle in and start to believe that we mean business this time and aren’t going to pull the plug on this whole ‘unconditional permission to eat’ concept. Once that trust is regained, most generally do begin to desire more nutritious foods as opposed to more highly processed or sugar-laden foods. This is part of the process and needs to happen. My own personal experience has shown me that this stage is only temporary. The important thing to remember is that we need to allow this to happen organically without trying to control the outcome by restricting again.

Support is often encouraged when starting a new adventure, and that includes starting an Intuitive Eating journey. It can be unsettling and even intimidating to be boundary-less with food especially after years of rigid dieting. I nearly gave up many times when first starting out in my Intuitive Eating journey because I was so uncomfortable. I didn’t want to give up so I found a professional who could help me, and I’m so glad that I did! Getting that support was vital to my success and helped me to enjoy the process so much more and also significantly reduced my worrying. If given the opportunity, practicing Intuitive Eating can change your life. I know it changed mine and I’m so thankful that I stuck with it because my life is so much better now than it ever was when I was dieting.

You Cannot See the Color of Your Eyes

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.

They are:

  • Not Enoughness
  • Emotional Triggers
  • Perfectionism
  • Comparisonitis
  • Self-sabotage
  • Forgiveness

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.

Why I Don’t Call Myself a Weight Loss Coach

With affection I call myself a *Diet Bullshit Slayer* because I love to help women see that their “enoughness” is not tied to a number on the scale or by the shape or size of their body.

My goal as a coach is to help you find your natural weight without the use of diets, detoxes, restricting food, or exercising solely to lose weight.

Instead I focus on achieving metabolic balance, finding foods that make you feel great in your body, learning to love yourself no matter where you are on the scale, and learning to speak to yourself in with kindness instead of with words that are self-loathing.

I believe strongly that our bodies already have all they need to be well but we need to learn to listen to them. This is a skill that dieting has robbed many women of but I can help you tune-in to that voice again.

I focus on empowering my clients by giving them tools to love themselves more (independent of weight), feel their feelings more without trying to self-soothe with food (or emotionally eat), learning to listen to their intuition, acknowledging their “enoughness”, building confidence, shutting down the BS ideas what makes a woman beautiful.

If you’re looking for a more intuitive, less restrictive and more fulfilling way of living your life with food and your body, I’m the one who can make this happen for you.

I can help you make 2017 your year for self-discovery beyond your wildest dreams. Let’s talk and see if we’re a good match. Schedule your complimentary Appetizer Session by clicking here.