Break Up with Your Scale

Weighting scales with  measuring tape. Diet concept. 3d

It’s Day 14 of my 21-Day detox and we’re heading into the homestretch. While the daily discipline required to stay on course is intense, I’m loving the confidence that comes with cleaning out my body and mind while connecting deeply with my soul.

There are as many reasons to do a cleanse, detox, or a purification as there are people who do them. Many people, however, do them to lose weight. And if they diligently follow a particular protocol, they usually do.

Unfortunately, unless they continue with the habits put in place during the detox, the results usually aren’t sustainable. Granted, the first couple of days, no one wants to continue after Day 21. But about half way through when they start feeling better, they might consider it.  By the end of it, they may have lost all desire to go back to their pre-detox habits.

I’m all for breaking up with unhealthy habits. Because breaking up is hard to do, my first rule when detoxing is to Become a Badass. I mean this in the best possible way.

You must be kind and compassionate to yourself and others. But you must be ruthless with the terrible tales you tell yourself about your inability to stick with anything for more than a minute.

Cleansing requires considerable courage. Toxins come in many forms – from the foods we eat to the air we breathe to the people we surround ourselves with.

When I detox, I’m no longer able to tolerate toxins the way I did before. Becoming a Badass is an act of bravery. I have to let go of things I no longer need since holding on to them sabotages my health and well-being.

For example, as my first official act of Badassery, I broke up with my scale. To me it was a liar, a terrorist, a tyrant, and a thief.  I decided to no longer accept its feedback as a measure of success or failure during the detox or any time.

I refused to let the scale diminish anything I might innately know about my body, like how it feels, what it needs, how I nourish it, or how I find pleasure in it. I refused to let an ever elusive number impact my day, my mood, my perspective, or my relationship with myself or others.

I have no need to give my power over to something as fickle as a firecracker. A scale can’t measure if I feel lighter, leaner, or more confident. It can’t begin to measure how much clearer my thoughts or complexion are or how much more emotionally available and spiritually connected I am. It cannot imagine the thrill of embodying fully.

The thing is I’ve always possessed the power to expose the scale for what it is. I  trusted it more than myself when I was younger. But not anymore. I trust my body to weigh whatever it wants to when I am nourishing it well and moving it meaningfully.

As a Certified Eating Psychology Coach, I know the damage a scale and what it represents can have on self-worth and body image.  I’ve seen how it contributes to a multitude of eating disorders.

If you have a healthy relationship with your scale, you may not need to break up with it.  Maybe your issue is with something else. Whatever it might be, call it out.

This is necessary in order to follow my Second Rule of Badassery:  Take back your power from whoever or whatever shamed you or made you feel less than all of who you are.

I’ll leave you with these words for advice. “Never ask if anything makes your butt look big. Assume you look marvelous because YOU are marvelous. You’re a Badass, for goodness sake. 🙂

Who or what do you need to detox from this week?  I’d love for you to share if you dare in the comments below. 

Also, if you are interested in learning more about detoxing, I’m starting a new project called The Detox Diaries.  If you’d like to follow along, let me know and I’ll send you an email when the blog is ready.

The Secret to Sustainable Success

front door standing welcome

I spent the better of Sunday pondering the secret to sustainable success as I sliced and diced and cordoned off portions of dietary staples for the upcoming week.

In terms of sticking to my new eating plan, the unequivocal answer is preparation. From shopping to chopping it’s all about the prep. This explains the impressive collection of colorful ceramic knives I scored for my birthday along with some bamboo cutting boards and mixing spoons.

Had you asked me a year ago if I would be spending weekends frequenting farmer’s markets, foraging around local food co-ops, attempting to plant an herb garden, figuring out how to compost, consorting with nutritionists, or getting needled by acupuncturists, I would have assumed you had me confused with my Santa Fe friends.

The truth is I didn’t embrace this lifestyle until recently when I discovered that eating well is the fundamental secret to success.

Please don’t confuse eating well with eating extravagant meals, preparing elaborate dishes, or coupling exotic spices with complicated and hard to find ingredients.

Eating well in my book means eating whole foods you can easily pronounce, readily find, and effortlessly digest.

We’ve gotten carried away with convenience, making it the number one reason we eat what we eat, when we eat it, even why we eat it.

I get it. We are busy people. Convenience soothes a stressed out soul.

But it wreaks havoc on our health. It was certainly messing with mine and I knew better. Yet I felt incapable of competing with its allure. Until I decided I must.

It’s been a year long journey into learning how to nourish myself. I’ve experienced as many setbacks as successes. But I am profoundly changed by the lessons learned and transformed by my training as an Eating Psychology Coach.

How I previously defined success has been seriously called into question. I didn’t spend forty years wandering around the desert only to get to my personal Promised Land and decide I liked it better where I came from because it was more convenient.

Oh no. There is no going back. Not even for mango margaritas.

I haven’t reached my Promised Land before because it’s incredibly hard to get here. It’s even harder to stay. Consequently, I’m determined to set up shop.

The secret to sustainable success is we are responsible for sustaining it. We have to pay attention and work with intention every day, course correct, scratch some of our best ideas, begin again, ask for help, be generous, have fun, and remember to give thanks for living in the land of milk and honey – even if it comes with a few mosquitoes.

I couldn’t have arrived here before because, admittedly, I wasn’t ready. If I got too distracted, hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, all bets were off. I had no healthy snacks and I had no Plan B – or options for the rest of the alphabet, for that matter.  In other words, I was not prepared.

I couldn’t recognize success for what it was because I couldn’t recognize myself for who I was becoming. Suffice it to say, it’s been a work in progress.

And now that work is cut out for me. It may appear to some as the same work I’ve been doing all along.  However, coming from a new vantage point makes all the difference.

After 8 months of intense training, I’m thrilled to be able to call myself an Eating Psychology Coach and passionately practice the work that’s been a guiding force throughout my life.  

In the next couple of months I’ll unveil my new website along with opportunities for you to join me in challenges and adventures that invite you to sustain your idea of success. 

Sound fun?  Hope so!  Leave your questions or suggestions in the comments below.

EPCC-Coach-Badge-500x500

How To Get Your Groove Back

Beautiful woman enjoying life

Long before Fifty Shades of Grey there was Stella.  And Stella had issues.

Despite her highly successful career, Stella had lost her mojo and was determined to get it back.

She was of a certain age and just not feeling as groovy as she once did.  So what did Stella do?

She did what any woman cast in a starring role opposite Taye Diggs would do.  She went to Jamaica and had a wild, passionate affair with this hunk of burning love.  She definitely brought her sexy back.

But that was Stella, played by the beautiful Angela Bassett, and her story was fictional.

Even if you could afford to whisk yourself away to a romantic locale and discover a smoking hot lover (surprisingly this may be the same person who snores beside you at home), often this kind of reboot(y) is a temporary fix.

What I’m looking for is the real deal.  If I’m feeling funky, frazzled, and fatigued, the farthest thing from my mind is suiting up in sexy lingerie and stilettos. (If you’ve seen my shoe collection, you know I’m taking creative license here.)

What I really want is for the brain fog to dissipate, the chaos to transform into clarity, and the fatigue to turn into sustainable energy.  While a powerful love connection can do that, so can understanding and practicing the basics of mind-body nutrition,  the phases of nourishment, and the soul lessons you came here to learn.

Yes, you read that right.  I went from sex to science to spirituality in six sentences.  Because you and I are whole beings and the only way to get our groove back is to stop pretending we aren’t and to get in touch with all of who we are, not just the easy parts.

One of the key concepts I’ve learned in my outstanding Eating Psychology Coaching program is we must step into our roles as kings and queens at midlife.  Staying stuck in our roles and princes or princesses does not serve anyone. It may be fun and it may be encouraged by our society at large, but evolving into our higher selves is really where it’s at.

What do I mean by becoming kings and queens?  I mean rightfully taking charge of and owning our challenges as well as our areas of expertise.  It means contributing to our communities, serving those we are uniquely equipped to care for, and understanding the  value of our experience, connections, and failures as well as successes.

It means we are no longer plagued with such silliness as, “Does this tiara make my butt look big?” or “Does this Jaguar impress you?”  It means we now have time to make sure others have safe drinking water or proper child care or the ability to read and write.

The best way to get my groove back is to get in touch with what I am passionate about and actively pursue it.  It may start out as a physical desire that turns into a mental pursuit that becomes a spiritual quest. Or it may just be all that at the same time.

This week I’m inviting anyone in or near my location to join me for an 8-week discovery into this topic.  I’m teaching a weekly class called “How to Get Your Groove Back” on Tuesday nights from 6-7:30pm at my workplace, Clinton Community College Maquoketa Center.  I would love to have you join me.  If you are interested, call me at 563-652-5000 and I’ll fill you in on the details.

If you don’t live near me, never fear!  This is Step One in the grand plan of creating an online course so you may take the class wherever you happen to be.

I am in the process of redesigning my website and offering several exciting options for you to participate in from free classes to 30-day challenges to group coaching. The plan is to have this ready by June 1, so stay tuned!  In the meantime, if you have suggestions or ideas about what you would like to see more of, let me know.  There is still time to develop these for you.

So, groovy guys and gals, share if you dare and leave your comments below.  Thanks so much for reading!

Detox Take Away #9 – Invoke the Sacred

Girl on swing at sunset

It’s easy to count our blessings on days designed for giving thanks and celebrating the abundance of good food, good health, family and friends. Anyone can find something to be grateful for on the good days.

But how many of us regularly give thanks for the ordinary, the mundane, the million little things we couldn’t live without yet take for granted every day?

I’ve kept a gratitude journal for years, writing down the things, relationships, and experiences I am thankful for on a daily basis. Noting them has helped me recognize these moments of grace as they are happening. It has also made me aware that they are happening all the time.

During the detox I realized that while I’ve learned to appreciate many moments, I seldom experienced those moments around food. Given the number of people involved in growing, producing, shipping, marketing, and selling it, food is worthy of an abundance of appreciation. It also sustains life, putting it right up there with oxygen and water as one of the essential elements to be extremely grateful for.

I found that if I took a few moments to breathe, get present, and acknowledge the source of the course before me, I felt nourished in an entirely different way than when I attempted to multitask during a meal.

This prompted me to invoke the sacred not only when I consumed a meal, but also when I consumed someone’s creative or intellectual outpouring, when I attempted something new, or made a difficult decision. This required much more practice than I initially assumed.

I was curious as to why we are wired to be so cavalier about anything that requires us to slow down and get present in order to invite a fresh perspective – especially when it comes to food.

In his fascinating book, The Culture Code, cultural anthropologist Clotaire Rapaille asserts that we all acquire a silent system of codes as we grow up in a culture, making us uniquely American, French, German, Japanese or whatever nationality we happen to be.

In America, for example, the code for food is fuel. We think of eating as refueling and want to “fill up” on food fast, making fast food a favorite. Like a self-service gas station, all-you-can-eat buffets provide plenty food available immediately.  We devour our food without making the connection to where it came from, how it was prepared, or even how much we’ve eaten.

Whether we personally feel this way or not, growing up in a culture that unconsciously embraces the idea of the body as a machine and food as a way to keep that machine moving influences our choices.  If we go against the code, we’re bound to experience internal conflict.

Unfortunately, most of us chalk up our inability to buck the system or break bad habits to lack of willpower or some other deficit on our part instead of looking to the cultural waters we’re swimming in.

Enter mindfulness.

By mindfulness I mean paying attention.  I mean allowing yourself to breathe, center, focus, collect your thoughts, feel your feelings, give yourself a moment to get present in your body, not just your head.  It doesn’t have to take long. Remember Ten Zen Seconds?

From this place you can invoke the sacred.  And when you do, ordinary moments become extraordinary.

Your Turn

I’d love to hear how you invoke the sacred throughout the day.  I’d also love to hear how you view food or what you think the code for food is in your country.

Leave your comments below.

Detox Take-Away #8 – Sleep On It

Newborn Baby Boy in a Teddy Bear Costume

I’m a big fan of sleeping, dreaming, snatching some shut-eye, napping, you name it. Sleep provides the necessary perspective that excess caffeine or carbs can’t quite copy despite our attempts to chemically induce enlightenment.

It turns out sleep is also a really important player in the weight loss game. Experts consider it as important to health, well-being, and weight as diet and exercise. Yet almost two-thirds of us don’t get enough sleep in a typical week.

Most of us know what it feels like to be sleep deprived. But we may not be aware of its consequences.

Because fatigue dulls the activity in the part of the brain where decision making and impulse control reside, making good decisions becomes increasingly difficult when drowsy. When we’re overtired, the brain’s reward centers seek something that feels good. Temptations we may have been able to resist when well-rested cause us to cave when can’t keep our eyes open.

The type of foods we want when we’re sleepy tend to be of the energy dense, high carbohydrate variety.  Think candy bars, cookies, chips, soda, or energy drinks. These cravings coupled with a lack of impulse control can lead to bigger portions, late-night snacking, and all kinds of actions that can lead to weight gain.

Lack of sleep messes with our metabolism as well as hunger and satiety hormones like gherlin and leptin that clue our brain in to when we’re hungry and when we’re full. Cortisol can spike, sending the message to conserve energy and store fat. Insulin can also be impacted, making it difficult to process fats in the bloodstream and adding to the hunger hormone havoc.

Realizing this, one of the new habits I incorporated during the detox was getting more sleep.  This meant going to bed earlier. This was challenging because I often don’t get home from work until 7 or 8pm and then there’s dinner, dog walks, a little tv time, and tending to my blogging business.

I had to give up my late night routine of regularly bathing my eyes in the artificial light of my electronic devices and engaging in activities that stimulated my brain (Lumosity, anyone?). I needed to shift from work mode to relaxation mode. While unplugging a device shuts it down immediately, unplugging myself takes a little while.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to worry that I had eaten a heavy meal or consumed alcohol or caffeine before bedtime during the detox. However, it did make me realize how often doing so had interfered with my sleep.

By creating a reasonable regular bed time, I also established a natural and consistent waking time.  (No alarm clock for me, thank you.) I used to live for the weekends so I could sleep in. Now I find myself getting up at approximately the same time no matter what day it is. Mainly because my brain is badgering me to write and my belly is begging me to eat.  At last I have the energy and enthusiasm to create a day worth writing about.

What about you?

Do you get enough sleep? What helps you get the rest you need? How does not getting enough sleep impact you? What steps can you take to get more sleep?

Leave a reply below.

Detox Take Away #6 – Trust the Process

discovering new places

When I used to teach fitness classes, I remember thinking how much more motivating it might be for students if they could immediately lose a pound or two after completing a workout. Sure they felt better after having mobilized their bodies and activated their endorphins, but wouldn’t they be more willing to stick with it if they experienced instant weight loss?

We all know the real work of shape shifting takes time and consistent effort.  When goals are attained too easily or quickly, we can miss the message or sabotage the results. For many of us, weight is an incredible teacher. It certainly gets our attention and packs a wallop of emotion when we gain it or lose it.

Detoxing not only our bodies but also our brains is bound to take some time. We carry a lot of toxic beliefs about what we should weigh, how we should look, and how much of our value depends on an arbitrary number on the scale. Despite all my training, I’ve held on to some rather insidious beliefs about my weight that simply don’t serve me or anyone else.

Changing these beliefs and patterns of behavior is not easy.  There are a lot of variables to consider when attempting to make or break a habit. Factors like how often we automatically or unconsciously engage in the current habit, what benefits we get from continuing with the current habit, and what kind of habit we are attempting to change all impact the speed at which we can progress.

At the outset, 21 days seemed like a long time for a detox diet. However, I kept telling myself that 21 days in the course of a lifetime was not too much to ask. I reminded myself that I would gladly do this if it could save the life of a loved one. Hitting the reset button for myself might just save my own life.

I will not lie.  Some days were difficult. Every day I counted down the days until I would be done. Social situations were like land mines because they required special preparations and explanations and more effort than would be required if I just stayed home and kept the whole process on the down low.

The up side is that I felt better, cleaner, and lighter than I had in years. My brain fog lifted, my energy surged, and those few stubborn pounds melted away. But it didn’t and couldn’t happen overnight.

About half-way through the detox process I realized the only way out was through. I had to keep going. No matter how much I thought I knew, there was more to learn.  And that meant trusting the process.

Trusting the process meant relaxing into life. Trusting the process meant letting go of how I thought it should go. Trusting the process meant no matter what happened, I would be able to handle it. Trusting the process meant allowing the universe to have my back.

When I could do this, eating this or not eating that did not seem insurmountable.  Such a simple idea in theory.  But one that takes a lifetime of practice.  Or at the very least,  21 days.

Have you done a detox diet?  What lessons did you learn?

I’d love for you to share your thoughts or experiences in the comments below.

Detox Take Away #5 – Hunger Games

 

Tween Girl with Handmade Bow and Arrow Over White

Hunger Games is not just a popular book and movie trilogy. Hunger games are what many of us resort to in order to manage, suppress, control, or otherwise manipulate our appetite.

Many of us act as if hunger is the enemy when, in fact, hunger is a natural and instinctive response that serves a very important purpose – to keep us alive.

Especially when we’re trying to lose weight, we can see hunger as the culprit that leads us into temptation and tests our willpower. But if we can look at hunger as our friend, a helpful reminder to replenish our  resources on a regular basis, we may begin to give it the respect it deserves.

Where we often get into trouble with hunger is where we get into trouble with most things; when we’re not paying attention.

If we ignore our hunger until we’re ravenous, it’s easy to grab anything and everything in sight, regardless of its nutrient value.  We might mindlessly demolish a bag of Doritos or eat an entire bag of Oreos, but our body knows better. We may feel bloated and beat up ourselves up with guilt, but if the body has not has received the required nutrients, it will not be satiated. Consequently, we’ll keep scrounging for food.

For some, eating becomes a necessary evil in the midst of a busy life. We have so many decisions to make day after day, it’s easy to go unconscious in the eating area. With so many rules and restrictions about what we should and shouldn’t eat, it’s tempting to grab what’s fast and cheap.

But here’s the thing. In order to feel satisfied by the foods we eat we need to notice the color, the taste, the texture, the smell, and the environment. Quickly and unconsciously consuming something without giving ourselves time to register these sensations robs us of little luxuries to be found in food. Any foodie can confirm this.

Feeding yourself quality, nutrient dense foods is a profoundly nourishing way to support yourself. Running on empty is not. Would you regularly put just a few gallons of low quality fuel into your car expect it to run optimally for a long distance?

Hunger is a sign that we’re alive. How lucky for us that we’re alive at a time when food is plentiful and the choices are abundant.

During my detox I got in touch with what it’s like to be hungry. When I missed some of my favorite foods, I wondered what it would be like to feel hungry all the time. What would it be like to not know where my next meal is coming from or not have the means to buy groceries?

Those questions snapped me right out of my self-imposed pity party over not getting to eat the foods that are not that great for me to eat anyway. It was ironic that I was eating arguably the cleanest diet I had ever eaten and somehow felt deprived because junk foods were off limits.

This, of course, lead me to question all the things I hunger for. Some of them are good for me. Like wanting to be a better blogger or coach or facilitator. Others, like watching bad tv and eating Buster Bars, not so much.

I invite you to notice your hunger. What games do you play around your appetite, not just for food but for life? How to you express or suppress your hunger?

I’d love for you to share if you dare in the comments below.