Back to the Future

 

Time and space have always presented a particular challenge for me. In theory I know I’ve made several trips around the sun, but depending upon the day or the circumstance, I can feel anywhere from age 9  to 90.

When I’m feeling older and wiser, I want to travel back in time to tell my younger self to stay curious and to allow the answers come in their own time.  I want to reassure her that she will find what she’s looking for in the most unlikely places and what is meant for her will not elude her.

Lately, however, my younger self wants to tell my mature self a few things. Specifically, my past self who spent the majority of her time teaching fitness classes in gyms, studios, and corporate fitness facilities wants to remind my present self how to be at home in my body.

A couple of years ago, I decided that in order to do my best work, I had to be my best self. This meant getting myself in shape – physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, spiritually, you name it. I was determined to get my groove back and set out to do just that.

Because I had lost my groove gradually through a series of habitual, unconscious choices over the course of a decade or two, I had to get it back through a series of intentional, deliberate actions on a daily basis.

I spent half of 2014 and all of 2015 educating myself about nutrition and how to properly nourish myself and others.  I became a certified eating psychology coach and guided a few friends through a purification process that left us all feeling fabulous.

But feelings are fleeting.  Taking it to the next level in 2016 for me is about embodying.  It’s about getting out of my head and fully inhabiting and listening to my body.

A brief glance at a photo of me in legwarmers and tights back in the day made a new approach to getting physical necessary.

I found my motivation in Erin Stutland’s  Shrink Sessions.  She has combined the words of wisdom it has taken me a lifetime to master with physical actions and movements that ground these concepts in muscle memory.

Her workouts, Soul Strolls, and meditations are incredibly empowering.  One day it occurred to me that Erin is who I wanted to be when I grew up. Or at least who I wanted to be when I was her age.

As I reflected on my early fitness career, I realized I had been very much like her.

In a surreal Back to the Future moment, I marveled at the perfection of finding this soul sister across time and space and allowing her to train me (without even knowing I exist) in the present for the future that awaits.

Listening to Erin’s mantras on my iPod as my dog and I stroll along the snow covered trail, I think about the technology and infinite intelligence that connects us and delivers perfect messages at precise moments to the people who are poised to act on them.

The kicker is we may never know the positive impact we have on each other. That’s why it’s both courageous and imperative to put our work out in the world for its own sake.

We live in incredible times and the abundance of information, education, and inspiration at our fingertips is staggering.  There are experts ready, willing, and able to guide us through any transformation we care to experience.

The amazing thing is when we look outside ourselves for help, we often get to see own brilliance mirrored back to us in others whose future or past resembles our own.  It’s easy to project greatness and success onto someone else, declaring we would never have the discipline, the talent, the chutzpah, or the support to do what they have done.  But we can’t recognize something in others we don’t also have in ourselves.

This year don’t hesitate to call on your past self, your future self, or your alter ego to help you evolve into your best self.  Then stay tuned as to who shows up to collaborate with you.

What words of wisdom might you have for your time traveling self?  Share if you dare in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

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

If You Give a Moose A Muffin…

Elk in the woods

There is a series of children’s books written by Laura Joffe Numeroff  and beautifully illustrated by Felicia Bond detailing the outrageous shenanigans that follow when a child takes a seemingly innocent first step like giving a moose a muffin, a dog a donut, a cat a cupcake, a pig a pancake, or giving the mouse who started the whole thing a cookie.

When I stepped into this experiment called getting my groove back a year ago, I had no idea I would be stepping into a similar situation as the unsuspecting character who gave the moose, the dog, the cat, the pig, and, of course, the mouse what they wanted.

As we’ve all learned even if we haven’t read these fabulous fables, one thing leads to another and another ad infinitum.  Some of these things are hilarious, some are mischievous, some are expensive, some are silly, some are unfortunate, and some are surprising.

And surprise, it turns out, is one of the things that most of us try to avoid.  But according to the authors of the fascinating book called Surprise: Embrace the Unpredictable and Engineer the Unexpected, it’s one of the things we should embrace in order to spark the best kind of change in our lives.

The thing about my journey or any journey is that we don’t ever really know what we’re in for, even if we think we do.  The brilliance of our ignorance or beginner’s mind is absolutely essential if we are to be open to what lies ahead.

Preconceived notions or assumptions of how long it is going to take, how much it is going to cost, how easy or difficult it might be are usually based on our past experience or that of someone else.

Even though that experience may serve as a helpful guide, it will continually pull us out of the here and now if we are not open to the element of surprise and the many gifts of an unpredictable present.

For example, at the end of my How to Get Your Groove Back class I wanted to give participants the opportunity to physically experience what we had been discussing and understand what it felt like to change eating habits, improve energy levels, curb cravings, reduce hormonal fluctuations, etc.

So five of us embarked on a 21-Day Purification with the assistance of a functional medicine doctor and me, their newly certified Eating Psychology Coach.

Having done something similar six months ago, I thought I knew what we were getting into.  Suffice it to say, I did not.  Surprise!  The first day my predominant thought was, “What was I thinking?”  I’m sure the others were wondering the same.

But as the days progressed and we figured out what we could eat, found our comfort foods and figured out how to prepare them, and started losing weight and noticing a difference in our energy levels, skin, moods, and stress levels, we were amazed at how quickly we were adapting to the new world order.

In a very short time, we were able to make significant shifts in our outlook and health that previously none of us thought would be sustainable. Ironically, as much as we looked forward to Day 22, that’s when the real work started.

Like the unlikely actions that follow feeding a moose a muffin, I’ve become this version of myself I’d only imagined I could be.  I’m actually excited about kitchen knives and cutting boards, joining a co-op, and spending  the weekend tackling the clutter around every corner (while listening to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo).

As Einstein said, No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” It wasn’t that I was unhappy before.  I just knew if I wanted to get to my own personal Promised Land, I was going to have to take a different route if I intended to get there this lifetime.

So I did what we all need to do from time to time.  I did what graduates and retirees and entrepreneurs the world over are urged to do.  Give a moose a muffin.  And let the adventures begin!

Share if you dare in the comments below. What grand adventures await you?

The Gift of a Year

patio fruit looking into camera

Birthdays are like New Year’s Day.  They are an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and begin again,  with more experience, courage, and hard won wisdom.

This year I am celebrating the beginning of my new year in the most unlikely of places, a remote fishing village on the Canadian border where snow is forecast for tomorrow.  No part of it was my idea.  Bermuda was my idea. But I’ll take any chance I get to put myself in front of a body of water, plug in my laptop, open a vein and let the words pour out.

This past year has been an intense one for me.  Although I am impressed by what can happen when I consistently put my mind, energy, and resources behind an idea, I’m also ready for some rest and reflection.  What better place to do that than in a rustic cabin where freezing rain and the threat of snow hamper any ideas of hiking?

The last time I was here, I was not a happy camper.  I was experiencing hormonal shifts that were causing mild panic attacks, brain fog, mood swings, and general irritability.

What I didn’t know then but am acutely aware of now is even though you are told it’s just part of getting older and you’ll have to learn to live with it, it isn’t and you don’t.  It’s just that most people don’t talk about it and therefore don’t understand there are plenty of things you can do to feel better.  Suffering in silence is not one of them.

The past year for me has been all about getting my groove back and helping as many people as I can  do the same.  So many people have said to me, “I thought it was just me.” Or “I thought I was losing it.”

I found functional medicine doctors who could help me figure out the havoc my hormones were wreaking in response to the confused communications from command central. I don’t blame my brain for rallying the troupes around the wrong initiatives. I blame a lifetime of eating habits based on convenience, comfort, and toxic nutritional beliefs and generally checking out when I should have checked in and made some course corrections.

Dismantling the habits learned over a half a century required some serious commitment, along with a few costly mistakes, considerable investments in products and services, an adventurous spirit, and a healthy dose of humor. I read every book I could find on about nutrition, wellness, and becoming ageless.

A year later, after two 21-day detox/purification processes, learning to select and prepare nutritious foods, getting regular acupuncture treatments and exercise, and completing an 8-month eating psychology coaching certification program, I’m down 20 pounds.  My blood pressure and cholesterol are down as well.

Is this the best gift I could give myself at this point in my life?  Absolutely.  Could I have done it sooner and saved myself a lot of grief and emotional anguish? Possibly.  But in order to sustain this lifestyle shift, I had to understand why it mattered so much.

Although it would have helped me tremendously a decade ago, some journeys take time.  It took Moses forty years to find his Promised Land.  According to that timetable, I’m right on schedule.

There is no going back and pretending I don’t know what I now know. So though it’s been a little silent on the blogging front as I’ve been figuring this out, teaching classes, and meeting with local doctors and nutritionists, my goal for next year is to bring this information to you on a regular basis. I think of it as creating a GPS system so you don’t have to spend years wandering around the desert, questioning your sanity.

What about you?  If you gave yourself the gift of a year, what would you love to accomplish so much that you’d be willing to put a plan together now to get there?

Share in the message below.

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 #10 – You Eat What You Are

you are what to eat

We’ve all heard the saying, “you are what you eat.”  But as Marc David suggests in his insightful book, Nourishing Wisdom, “whatever you already are will determine the kinds of foods you reach for and the body you will help create.”  In other words, you eat what you are.

For example, if you think you have little willpower, you’re likely to crave foods that reinforce this idea.  Sweet foods, rich foods, foods that are simply irresistible will tickle your taste buds.  The more you eat them, the more you reinforce the idea that you have no willpower.

If, on the other hand, you are very disciplined, you may desire foods that reinforce the idea of control like bland foods, simple meals, or sugar-free, fat-free, or other alleged “health foods”.  The more the food supports the experience of being disciplined, the more in control of your diet you may feel.

If you limit your experience of eating only to food, you ignore the other ingredients that play a part in assimilation and digestion.  You’ve probably heard of the food-mood connection and experienced it for yourself.  You eat massive amounts of sugar and buzz around like a hummingbird all afternoon.

But how often do you look at the mood-food connection?  This is the way your mood affects your ability to assist or resist the digestive process.

Think about the last time you ate something in a hurried, stressed, or otherwise agitated state.  How did you feel afterwards?  Do cramps, gas, heartburn, stomachaches, or intestinal pain ring a bell?

What about the last time you had a thoroughly  enjoyable meal with family or friends where you ate food you might normally label as off limits but enjoyed every bite and relaxed into the experience?

Are you beginning to see how mood might affect the way you digest and metabolize food?

Mood can also affect your posture while you’re eating, which plays a part in your ability to properly digest food.  When you are slouched over your food, you set off a physiological chain reaction that can impact everything from your respiration to digestion to diminished brain function.

Just like you need to be aligned to do certain exercises correctly, keeping your back straight, chin parallel to the ground, shoulders relaxed, and knees slightly lower than your hips helps you get the most benefit out of eating.

Bringing your food to your face instead of hunching over to face your food up close and personal can make a huge difference in the way food moves in your mouth and down your throat.  It also impact the way you breathe and your ability to taste food along with your overall awareness of the meal.

Another aspect of mood deals with who is eating. This may sound silly to anyone but Sybil*, but think about it.  Are your food choices the same when you are feeling rebellious as when you are feeling focused?  I guarantee your food choices will look different when your inner teenager is in charge of the menu than when your inner athlete or inner healer is at the helm.

The good news is just as are you are not limited one particular role in life, you are not tied to one particular diet.  Your diet is a reflection of the role you are currently playing.  Understanding that allows you to move more gracefully from one role to the next, hopefully gaining confidence and competence in your choices along the way.

Detoxing for 21 days taught me I am capable of dogged discipline as well as righteous rebellion.  Experimenting with eating this way opened the door to self-discovery.  This kind of nourishment opened me up to a whole different kind of self-love.  The biggest challenge remains to be open and accepting of what comes up in the process.

So there you have it.  The last of the Detox Take Aways.

Next week I’ll switch gears and share my Top Ten Tension Tackling Tunes to Keep You Humming Through the Holidays.

Thanks for reading.  Please leave your comments below.

 *“Amazingly, researchers have discovered that in patients with classic multiple personality disorders, each personality has a unique and distinct physiology.”  In other words, each separate personality has a different metabolism.   –  Excerpted from The Slow Down Diet by Marc David.

Definitely add Marc’s books to your Christmas list!  He is an amazing thought leader in the mind-body nutrition field.

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.