The next step for me came after watching a TV program with Paul McKenna - (Freedom from Emotional Eating). He was suggesting, “All you need to do is use this system, which is a process of psychological and behavioural change, and listen to signals from your body.”
It was perfect! Because for the past 15 years I had been studying the body, mind, soul connection and I KNEW that the key to overcoming my food obsession was in my mind and spirit.
Here was the “system” which was comprised of these 4 Golden Rules:
1. When you’re hungry, eat! (REAL hunger, not emotional hunger, which I was now able to distinguish)
2. Eat what your body wants.
3. Enjoy every mouthful. Eating consciously and mindfully.
4. Stop when you’re full!
This was HUGE! I still use this today honestly and I feel like everyone would benefit from doing it. Again, I felt no deprivation from doing this (which we know Never works long term - deprivation I mean.) because I was going to eat what I wanted. What an amazing way to connect to yourself.
I found out so many amazing things doing this. The most important being that the foods that I THOUGHT were my favorites, I actually didn’t even LIKE! Eating mindfully forces you to really taste your food. I realized that a lot of what I had eaten in the past was literally just food that my emotions were craving. My body wanted nothing to do with them.
And, something I already knew, was that we tend to continue eating after we’re full because there is still food on our plate. Many of us were taught not to waste food because, “There are starving people in China.” “Clean your plate”, some mothers repeat over and over. Well, when you over serve, you over eat.
So, this was incredibly liberating to me and a key turning point in my healing for sure. Food was no longer the enemy. I was starting to just enjoy food and using it to fuel my body instead of using it hide and push down my emotions. I also just naturally ate healthier. Although, even when what my body wanted was a donut, I made sure to enjoy EVERY bite of that donut. If I wasn't enjoying it, or enjoying ANY dessert I may be eating, I stopped eating it. I was no longer going to eat anything that I wasn’t enjoying body, mind and soul. I was worth more than that and, I loved myself more than that.
I finally, TRULY, loved myself - from the inside out.
So, fast forward to today. Like I said already, I still use this mindfulness eating principle, but honestly my whole life now is about mindfulness. I make sure I take stock of why I do what I do, from eating, to exercise, to work, to relationships... all of it. If I don’t love it - I don’t do it, I don’t eat it, and I don’t spend time with people who don’t live their lives in a similar way.
I hope this series of notes helps you if you are struggling with your own eating disorder or any other issue. Please, if you have ANY questions or need clarity on any of this don’t hesitate to contact me or message me. I’m sure there are things I may have forgotten to put in here so please ask!
My business is Body, Mind, Soul Fitness so if you need help - I am here for you! <3 Thank you for reading my journey!
I love you! <3
I always thought that even quitting drugs or smoking would be easier than healing a food issue because you HAVE to eat. How was I going to stop obsessing about food?
My first step in healing the food issue was to do something so I wouldn’t have to think about food.
I went on Nutrisystem. Now, I know that is not high quality food but I didn’t have a lot of options. (This was almost 10 years ago...) I picked the food out, it was delivered and I ate what I needed to. It worked perfectly for me and I am grateful that was even an option then. And, I actually liked it.
I was on Nutrisystem for quite some time. I would say a year or more.
In the meantime, I was still working on my inner self. Letting go of things, healing things, forgiving people, forgiving my Self.
Another key thing I did during this time was 24 hour fasts. I would go from lunch one day, to lunch the next day. Because I was actually eating every day it never felt like deprivation at all. I only did that a few times but they were SO important in my journey. They were my spirit days. I used those days very purposefully and with great honor. It was a way for me to rest my mind from food and my body from digesting so I could go deeply into my spirit.
I remember one particular day during one of my fasts that I started to feel hungry. I went immediately to lay in front of our fire place. I closed my eyes and put one hand on my stomach and one hand on my heart and asked my spirit, “What are you really hungry for?”
The answer came right away saying, “Connection.”
I started to cry thinking about how alone I had felt in my life. And I wasn’t just craving connection with people but deeply craving connection to mySelf, my spirit and to THE Spirit.
So the journey begins several years later when I began to study alternative healing methods. It had always been an interest of mine and so I just started reading. I also read any other self-help book that drew my interest. Some of the books that have been the most impactful in my journey are:
The Dark Side of the Light Chasers - Debbie Ford.
Woman Heal Thyself - Jeanne Blum (This was over my head at the time, but still impactful)
A Return to Love and A Woman’s Worth - Marianne Williamson
A New Earth or anything by Eckart Tolle
Wellness Workbook - John Travis and Regina Ryan
There are many more but these were some that started my journey.
See I knew that my issues with food stemmed from a deep internal place. I knew I was using it to hide from something else and so I was bound and determined to uncover and heal whatever I was hiding. As many who have eating disorders are, I was also worrier and a people pleaser.
Over the years I did get better and better and my food issues and obsession were lessening their dominance in my life but they were still there. I was worrying less, I had more self-esteem and self-worth than ever, I was starting to find my place in the world, and I had even found a healthy weight that I was able to maintain pretty easy but I was STILL obsessing over food. I wondered if I always would.
Okay so, fast forward even more to my mid-thirties. I was moving through an intense time of deep spiritual growth. I had, what many call, a dark night of the soul. (that lasted a couple of weeks...) That is an entirely different story but it applies here because when I had come out of that I was a different person. I was ready. I was ready to leave my old self behind and become the person I knew I could be.
The person I new I could be was in love with herself. That person was self-confident, self-assured, grounded, joyful, loving and present.
It sounds a bit simplistic but I truly just made the decision that I was tired of my same old story. I was tired of hating myself and tired of saying I was going to do something and didn’t do it, and SO tired of thinking about food all the time. I remember reading through old journal entries and old New Years Resolutions and thinking... “None of these things have changed for YEARS! When am I finally going to change?” “Aren’t I tired of saying the same old things and thinking the same old things? “
Indeed I was.
Step One... Accept where I was. Accept who I was. Accept and honor my journey up to that point no matter how repetitive and “unsuccessful” it had been.
Step Two... Find. My. Joy. I decided that I was going to BE happy. Period! Nothing was more important and so all my decisions were based around that decision.
Step Three... I needed a path to heal my food issues.
I remember that the day I decided to start depriving myself of food I ate a small breakfast and didn’t eat the rest of the day. When evening came I went up to my room and did a 2 hour workout. The next day the scale said I was down 4 pounds!
Because I hadn’t weighed myself in so long and then had weighed myself after having indulged all day while we were out shopping, I had no idea what my actually starting weight was. The problem was that I didn’t think about that at the time. All I knew was that what I had done the day before to lose weight had worked!
Thus began the pattern. I had these weird rules. When I wasn't in school and on the weekends I would allow myself to eat until noon only and then exercise for hours in the evening. During the weekdays when I had school I just didn’t eat much. It’s hard to fully remember but I probably had some kind of cereal for breakfast. I believe I had a salad at school for lunch and then something small before my 2-3 hour gymnastics practice.
I would not consider my case to be extreme. I always wanted enough energy for gymnastics but certainly over time my body got used to running on less and less food. It doesn’t sound like much but I think I ended up losing about 10 pounds. My lowest weight was about 95 pounds. On my 5’3” muscular frame it was enough for people (mostly just adults) to be concerned that I was too thin.
I loved the attention I got, though, from my peers and fellow gymnasts. They loved picking me up and wrapping their arms around me. And honestly at the time I almost loved the feeling of “emptiness” when I hadn't eaten much.
We all know that eating disorders, and probably most disorders, have a deeper “cause” than what is on the surface. I was a bit insecure then with low self-esteem and self-worth and certainly wasn’t the most beautiful 14 year old there. So, the attention I got being small was something I really loved and craved.
I don’t want to spend too much time on the back story right now as I want to get to the part where I started healing in order to help you on your journey so I will fast forward a bit here.
I was lucky that only a year later my mom came to me and told me that if I didn’t gain some weight she was going to take me out of gymnastics. Gymnastics was everything to me at that time. It was literally my second home. So, I did what she asked and started to put on weight.
That decision didn’t make everything better of course. I did put on weight but I continued to have an obsession with food. It was nearly all I thought about when I wasn’t thinking about gymnastics. What I was going to eat, when I was going to eat, how much I was going to eat, and of course I was still obsessed with whatever the scale said.
I have always told people that it took my body 10 years to recover from that one year of anorexic tendencies and 20 years to recover mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
So how did I do it? The journey starts a few years later...
Yesterday I posted a “Transformation Tuesday” picture of myself after deciding about a year ago to put on some muscle mass. So amazing that last night I wondered if I should tell the story of healing myself of my eating disorder and then happened to received a message this morning from someone asking me about it.
So, I decided I would share the story of my journey. I hope that this helps someone else out there in their own healing journey. I may write this in a couple different notes and maybe make a video or two because honestly it really has been quite a long process.
Let me give you a quick little background to start. I have always loved exercise. When I was young I was always on the monkey bars, always running around and racing the boys and even punched an unsuspecting boy in the arm in kindergarten who had told me that boys were stronger than girls! I began ballet and tap when I was around 5 years old although we couldn’t afford for me to go for very long. Fast forward to the 1984 Summer Olympic Games. I was 11 years old and I watched Mary Lou Retton win the gold medal for the United States in gymnastics. All I knew from that point on was that I wanted to do what she was doing.
I started gymnastics that fall and fell absolutely in love with it. A year later, I went through puberty. My hips widened, I grew to the height I am now, (which is tall in gymnast terms) gained some weight and became increasingly chesty. Gymnasts were supposed to be small. I wasn’t. In my eyes anyway...
The summer I turned 14 I remember coming home from a school clothes shopping trip. I don’t remember weighing myself much before this moment but all I know was that when I stepped on the scale that night and saw that I weighed 105 pounds, I freaked! I KNOW that doesn’t sound heavy but I think I honestly didn’t think I was even close to 100 pounds and immediately panicked.
That was the day it started. The day I decided to take “control”. The day I decided to start depriving myself of food and exercising to lose weight and try to become “small” again.
"But how do we listen? It is so simple and so hard. So obvious to begin and so elusive to maintain. In this lies the vitality of deep listening. To keep beginning. Over and over. To keep emptying and opening. And simply to keep listening."
I read this quote today while reading one of my favorite books, The Exquisite Risk. I was so excited because it correlated so perfectly with what I was talking about the other day about breathing into my abdominals.
Let me briefly explain if you didn't read that blog.
I was talking about how I used my breath the other day to get through an intense abdominal workout. I talked about how amazing it worked but also how difficult it was to maintain my focus to stay in a state of presence and awareness.
This quote states my challenge that day so perfectly! I was determined to stay present and listen to my body. I was determined to be IN my body in every moment and breathe through the burning in my abs. It was so simple and so so hard! I really did have to keep beginning, over and over and over. I had to stay aware of my mind to catch it right when it started to wander and tell me how tired the workout was making me and how much my abs were cramping. I had to stay empty and open. I had to relinquish any judgement of myself during the process or I would have quit immediately.
The last part of the quote was equally applicable...
"... For to listen is to continually give up all expectation and to give our attention, completely and freshly, to what is before us, not really knowing what we will hear or what that will mean. In the practice of our days, to listen is to lean in, softly, with a willingness to be changed by what we hear."
I couldn't put ANY attention on whether or not I was going to make it the entire 40 meters (abdominal seal lid walks). I couldn't put ANY attention on how many times I had to stop the last time or if I was going to stop the next time. I had to put ALL my focus and attention on the present moment. In this moment, and then this one, and this one and this one...
I had to be open and willing to feel something different. I had to be open and willing to TRY something different and hear my body in a different way and wow, was I changed by what I heard and what I experienced.
What I heard my body say that day was... give me your attention and I will tell you all about yourself. Open to me and give me your deepest breath and I will relieve your pain.
~~ The joy is in the journey... ;)
I LOVE this new shirt I got at Old Navy this weekend! BREATHE!! 24.7!
I was just having a conversation with my son about how I use my breath during workouts to get through some of the toughest moments. Those who know me well know that I am always working on breath control and that I do my best and perform my best when I am calm and centered.
It perhaps seems obvious that when you are working hard you should focus on your breath but when you are in it and you are trying to push yourself ... sometimes you may just forget. OR, you default to a panicked, fast-paced breathing because you are "supposed" to be breathing hard.
I give the example often that, in the beginning of my breath control journey, I was doing some sprint work on the treadmill. I believe I was doing 10 sets of 30 seconds on / 30 seconds off intervals. I remember getting to the 5th set or so jumping off to the sides of the treadmill after my sprint. I was breathing so hard when all of the sudden I stopped myself and had a moment of clarity and awareness. I felt into my body and thought, "Am I really THAT tired?" After a quick body scan I realized I actually was NOT! My breathing immediately calmed down and I laughed at myself thinking... "I guess I thought I was SUPPOSED to be breathing hard because I am doing sprints!"
SO crazy how your mind can mess with you like that! How conditioning can take over if you are not being consciously aware of your behavior!
So, Sunday, I was doing some seal lid walks - (In a push-up [hollow] position, put your feet on something that will slide across the floor, and pull yourself with your arms, like a seal, across the floor. It's abalicious! :P) and oh my gosh, my abs were, not just on fire, but nearly cramping! I had to stop many times just to make it the 50 meters in that first set. Just like in my sprinting example above, in the next set I decided to be very aware and keep in close touch with my body. Do I REALLY need to stop or can I use my breath to move through this without stopping?
So, I began the set and not too far into it I felt that burning, cramping feeling coming on again. I used my mind to go INTO my abs and I pictured my breath going into my muscles. I was breathing deeply and deliberately and keeping my mind super calm and present. It only took a few seconds for the pain to literally subside and I finished that set without stopping. I am always amazed at how well it works. I am ALSO amazed at how tough it can be to stay in that place when you are in the moment. It took quite a bit of effort to stay present and not allow my mind to take over telling me that what I was doing was difficult and should be making me tired. But, having done so I felt like a rock star! lol!
See, there are SO many gifts to working out besides just seeing how fast you can do something or how much weight you can lift.
I want to tap into my greatest potential - body, mind and spirit - in every workout. I made a little bit of progress that day toward taking control of my monkey mind and squeezing out some more of my potential. Try it next time you go workout and let me know how it goes!!
Those of you who know me well know that I have been working on my strength for the past year or more. My strength in the past has been more cardio - based workouts and really long Hero WODs. I am great at pacing myself and love the mental challenge of pushing through a long workout.
It has taken me a while to learn to love lifting heavy. Heavy squats, heavy deadlifts, heavy Olympic lifts...
I can honestly say now, though, that I really do love it. I LOVE feeling strong and the feeling of a lot of weight on my back and in my hands.
Now that the Crossfit Open is getting closer and closer I have been needing to get back into some of the more intense WODs that now, I don't necessarily look forward to! It seems so much more fun to lift heavy then feel that ache in my lungs and the burning in my muscles that most Crossfit WODS provide!
It has only taken me a couple of weeks to begin appreciating that feeling again though. I am happy to say that, as of Sunday, to me I am officially "back"! Lol! I was in the middle of a great "chipper" WOD determined to "make friends with the beast", as one ultra runner termed that feeling when you want to stop. :D I could feel during my kettlebell swings the number where I REALLY wanted to stop. I was watching my mind as it started to try to convince me that I was getting tired and that I should put it down. I say it ALL the time, but these are the most important times in my workout. THIS is what I am training for, and not just so I can get in a better workout, push my body more and get a better time, but this is how I strengthen my resolve for ALL things in my life. This is how I strengthen my will, how I prove my drive and my determination. This is how I get BETTER!
So, I think you already know what I did, or didn't do! Lol! I did all 40 of those kettlebell swings unbroken. I put that kettlebell down, looked at my son and said "YES!!!! - I'm BACK!"
Those little victories are SO important and I usually have little goals like that in mind before I start ANY workout. For me it's not always about my time, in fact, sometimes I forget to look at my time when I am done. For me it is about getting a little better each time at something I know I struggle with. Add up all the little victories and you get...
I started a fun, new tradition 2 weeks ago with my son and his girlfriend. Every Sunday we will go to Mile Hi Church to fill ourselves with Spirit. We then will go to a new restaurant every week to fill our bellies with good food and prepare our bodies for a Crazy Workout Sunday!
I can't speak for them but I have had the most wonderful time! It feels so good to be at Church again connecting with those who have a similar belief to mine. I love the energy there but almost more importantly I love sharing the experience with my son.
This past Sunday we all had a very interesting experience at the end of Church when everyone holds hands and sings. I had Bella to the right of me and Christopher was to the right of her and then I had another woman to my left. As soon as we joined hands there was a JOLT of energy that moved through us. It wasn't like a shock you get from static electricity but it was a deep surge of energy that we all felt deep inside our bodies. I looked at the woman next to me and she said, "Did you feel that?" I said, "Yes!". I looked over at Bella and said, "Did you feel that?" and SHE said "Yes!" There were only 5 of us that felt it and yet we were holding hands with a line of at least 50 people! Explain it scientifically how you will but, I believe it to have been the energy of Spirit! I was feeling particularly connected and joyful that day and perhaps everyone else around me had been too! I like to think we created some amazing and powerful energy with one another. :D
That was just one of the many amazing things that happened that day. There were many many synchronicities and magic that occurred. From a perfect parking spot right in front of the cafe we went to, which was PACKED, to little signs and symbols we came across that affirmed to us that the Universe had been listening to our conversations.
I love my alone time because, as I become more and more connected every day to Spirit, I know and feel like I am never really alone. Lately, though, I find myself craving and desiring to share my spirit and my spiritual, magical experiences with other people. I am grateful my son and his girlfriend were willing to start this tradition with me. It truly has been a gift and I look forward to many many more magical days shared with friends!