Five Ways To Fall In Love With Your Body

….That Have NOTHING To Do With Your Size

(Note: Today’s post is a guest post from Amanda Fisher. Once you read this fantastic piece you will see why I wanted her to share her story on ZenBarbell. Info on how to find out more about her and read more from her is after the article. Enjoy!)

I have spent a lot of time and energy being at war with my food choices. And a lot of time and energy being at war with how I moved my body.

Each “way” of eating, or plan, or strategy, or concept that I was following surrounding food were all focused on one thing…..small.  Getting me smaller.  A certain weight.  The next size or two down in jeans.  Shrinking.

And my exercise was no different.  For awhile I was the Cardio Queen, frantically signing up for 5ks and road races to “hold me accountable.”  Then I started lifting, but spent a lot of time living and dying by my heart rate monitor….if I didn’t burn 800-1000 calories per session, I finished off on the treadmill.  Smaller was the theme here as well.  Burn calories, work out like a fiend, all on the path of looking towards smaller.

Looking back, I spent most of my energy working and wishing for a destination.  I put all my eggs into one basket, and banked on the fact that life would be better if I was smaller.  That I would feel better if I was a certain size.  I saved my money for the designer jeans that I would only allow myself to buy if I got down to ‘x’ because I couldn’t possibly buy them now, being the size that I am.  I lived in a bubble of “when I am smaller……” and taught myself that I wasn’t good enough in my present state, I was only good enough “when.”

Of course, hindsight is always 20/20.  When I was younger, I didn’t live “small.”  I liked to play basketball, and jump for rebounds.  I played piano and liked playing pieces that were big and loud and sometimes aggressive.  Why in the world, then, when I approached how I fed myself and moved myself and thought about myself…..was it with a mindset of small, smaller, shrinking, and the like?

Maybe I got older and wiser.  Maybe I finally spent enough time lifting some iron and realizing “Hey, I cannot possibly force smaller upon myself when muscles and strength are clearly what I love.”  But, after a long time, and after learning lots of lessons (sometimes I need to learn the same lesson multiple times), I feel like I have a good handle on detaching my self worth from my size.

My self worth has nothing to do with what size I am.  It no longer is dictated by the tag in the back of my jeans.  Or if my eating is “on” or “off” plan.  I am no longer holding off on happiness until “when” happens.  I like to think I am a big personality.  With big opinions, and big thoughts.  I like to think I am powerful, and take up space proudly, however much space that is.

To be fair, I should also tell you that this is a practice, and that some days are better than others, and that I happily spend a fair amount of energy on checking in with myself, self-care, and flexing in front of the mirror to practice body positivity.  Some days I don’t want to do those things, but those are the days I NEED to do those things.  This stuff takes work!  Some days, I think this practice stuff takes more work than the actual deadlifts that I do in the gym.

So I’ve come up with five things that REALLY help me shift my focus to “Dang, my body ROCKS!” that have absolutely NOTHING to do with my size. I want to share them with you, in hopes that one or two stick and resonate and make sense for YOU!  Here they are:

  1. Move in ways that YOU enjoy!  For me, there is no better reminder that my body ROCKS than using my legs to drive a HEAVY deadlift (is there any other kind?) off the floor.  Lifting is how I love to move.  I continue to lift and pursue strength because I enjoy it, and I enjoy coming back for more.  I didn’t learn that in 15 minutes though, I had to try a bunch of different movement activities first before I found what made sense for me.  So, try a bunch of different ways to move YOUR body.  Find one or two that you enjoy, and go to town.  Incorporate them into your exercise regimen, or MAKE them your exercise regimen.  Let your body show you how cool it is!  Sometimes, when I need to feel crazy powerful, I lift.  Some days, when I need to quiet my mind, I do an activity that reflects that quiet.  Movement helps me center myself…..and that includes the structure of a progressive strength training program, as well as hanging out on my living room floor flowing through a few yoga poses and resets, or taking an easy walk.
  2. Eat food that you ENJOY and in a way that makes you feel energetic and fabulous for your movement sessions AND for your everyday life.  Take the time to feed yourself, in a way that feels good, because YOU are worth it!  I feel like this one can get tricky, because many of us have been on a diet for the better part of our lives.  Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel good when I’m on a diet all the time.  I feel GREAT when I spend the time putting together my plates with protein, veggies, carbs, fat and eating at regular intervals.  You might feel good eating mostly plants, or more fat than carbs, or whatever.  But feed yourself in a way that works for you.  Yes, there are times to enjoy treats.  Yes, there are times to eat a little leaner if you want to.  But, realizing that YOUR amazing body feels awesome when you are feeding it appropriately is a great reminder that YOU are worth the effort.  If you are a mom/wife who does that food shopping in your household, make sure you put stuff that you LOVE on your shopping list and in your food budget.  YOU are worth it!
  3. Prioritize quiet time.  Each day, I spend a few minutes with just me in the quiet.  Not necessarily praying or meditation, although I do those things too.  But just sitting in the quiet.  Life is crazy, and shutting down for just a few minutes helps me get back to what is important and what matters for the long haul, not just what matters right now.  A quiet and calm brain helps me make better decisions for me and my family.  I can tell when it’s beginning to get too cluttered and noisy in my head, because my thinking isn’t clear and I can’t find my priorities, or I get muddled up in minutia of things that don’t matter 10 years from now.  I am worth that quiet time.  So are YOU.
  4. Shutdown screens.  Technology is fabulous, but my life isn’t enhanced by scrolling through feeds all day long.  This is a work in progress for me, and probably for many of you.  It is easier to talk via text than it is in person.  Make an effort to connect with friends and family, and shut off the phone!  Again, I am worth that.  So are YOU.
  5. Find a tribe.  Tribes are the cat’s meow.  Surround yourself with people who enhance your life, not drain the energy right out of you.  It is ok to move on from people in your life that maybe don’t add anything but negatives or allow you to fall into bad habits of your past.  This is a difficult thing to do!  But keep adding those that really build you up and help you be better.  Spend most of your time there, and let new people in along the way.  You will be surprised in a few months or years how many cool people you are surrounded by, and how incredible that feels.

Fitness, nutrition, mindset…..they all fall under the “wellness” umbrella.  Each one is just as important as the other, there isn’t ONE that stands out more or needs more attention.  At the end of the day, our deadlifts should enhance our life….not be the sole focus of it, you know?  Eating meals with family and friends should be enjoyable, and not stressed about or eaten out of separate tupperware than your loved ones because it’s “on” plan.  Of course, these are my views, and there are always exceptions to every rule.  But the big picture here is what matters.  Can we still do this all in 10 years?  20?  Will it still be amazing?  Will it make us better?  These are the questions to be asking ourselves.

So, to recap, I would love for you to take the time to do some investigating on what YOU love.  What ways of moving feel great for you?  What food makes you feel like a boss?  While you are at it, maybe head to your mirror and take a peek into it and point out all the qualities about your body that YOU love.  YOU are worth it.

Amanda Fisher loves to blog about lifting and sass at toughmuddette.com.  As an RKC, Personal Trainer, and Precision Nutrition Level 1 Nutrition Coach, she also loves teaching people THEY CAN move and THEY CAN eat what makes them feel awesome out of her lovely little gym, TM Wellness Revolution, in Arlington, MN.  

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Eating the Food, Feeling the Feels

“Eat what you want when you are hungry, and feel what you feel when you are not.”  – Geneen Roth

Whoa.  If this isn’t the lesson of a life time…

I am wondering at what point in our life we learned to stop feeling what we feel versus allowing those feelings to happen. Not in a tantrum way. Not in a drama creating way. Not in a I need attention way. Not in a lash out and hurt others way.  But inviting them. Allowing them. Permitting our feelings.

We some how learn to stuff our feelings, control them, hide them, eat over them. It is no surprise to me that when I was at my most depressed I was also at my heaviest. I think the only thing I knew to do with my emotions was eat.  I’m sad, eat. I am happy, eat. I am lonely, eat. I am lost, afraid, confused, eat.  I know I am not alone in this.

Now. I am not a therapist and I KNOW there are some things that need to be dealt with in the capable hands of a great therapist. I love therapy and feel like most people should explore that kind of support at some time in their life. We can’t always unwind all that goes on in our brains on our own. No shame in getting help. So PLEASE get some if you need it.

However,  many of us can explore feeling our feelings ourselves in little bits and practices.

Here is an example of what I do:

What if the next time my husband was traveling and I felt alone, lonely that I explored letting myself feel that instead of grabbing food for comfort when I am not even hungry?

Feeling it might feel scary to me at first. I often picture a feeling like a house guest (thanks to that delightful poem by Rumi)  – its present in my body but its not ALL of me. It gives me space to contain it. I can notice where I feel it. What it feels like – cold, hot, dark, bright, tangled, sharp, etc. I can ask myself what I need in this moment instead of food.  I can just sit with it and breathe. Honestly, this is what I do with the biggie feels in my life when they feel like more than I can handle. I just allow them. I breathe with them. I feel them.

This doesn’t mean of course that in five minutes that every thing is resolved and I am back to a state of bliss.

It simply means I allowed myself to feel what I feel.

It is different than wallowing.  I am not sitting here obsessively ruminating how what ever happened is not fair or I am right and they are wrong, reliving the moment again and again and again. (Note: I am not perfect at this, I just practice it. I am still pretty damn good at throwing one HELL of a pity party).  I am allowing the anger, sadness, loneliness, depression, disappointment to be, giving it some space to let it run its course and seeing what I can do to support myself through that in ways that don’t have to do with food.

Food is for nourishment. Food is for enjoyment and pleasure. Food is for fuel for the life we love. It doesn’t need to be our comfort, our companion, our shelter, our protection against our feelings.

“Eat what you want when you are hungry, and feel what you feel when you are not.”

Are you up to the challenge? Can you try feeling the feels when they come up in your life?

My Journey with Food Part 3

What peace with food looks like

This is the third in a series about my journey with food. This post covers where I am today and what peace with food feels like.

Right now, my relationship with food is much more peaceful. My relationship with MYSELF is much more peaceful.  Honestly, you cannot have one with out the other. I am convinced that we are a mess with our food and bodies because we are a mess with ourselves.  You can’t love who you are and then torture yourself with food. You can’t eat in lovely ways when if you think you are disgusting, lazy, and gross.

I am amazed that I can say that I have peace. It is something that I never thought I would be able to say or have. Food has been the focus of so much torture, depression, anger, anxiety and stress. I never thought it would be peaceful.  My journey allowed me to be here. My seeking a better way allowed for me to be here.  Practicing again and again (x1000s of time) allowed for me to arrive here.

Eat the food-2

So with practice (meaning I don’t get it “right” 100% of the time), I eat what my body wants when I am hungry, feel when I feel when I don’t.  When I started dealing with my emotions and thoughts, my compulsive eating diminished greatly. When I fueled myself regularly and focused abundance in my life instead of deprivation, my bingeing stopped. There was no need for it. I learned that could meet my needs in other ways and the food I wanted was always available if I wanted it.  For me, there are no food rules. All foods are permitted as I don’t have an allergies or health conditions that would dictate otherwise. The removal for forbidden-ness took away the power of sneaking food, of compulsive eating. My goals now are to fuel for my life and to savor and enjoy what I am eating.

The one big NO I have around food and drink is to not allow myself to over consume to the point where I don’t feel good. I don’t want food making me feel miserable. That is not peaceful or comfortable. It is not being kind to myself.

Thanks to flexible dieting, I better understand the caloric needs of my body. I understand what maintenance looks like, what gaining looks like and what a deficit looks like. There is no off plan or on plan for me. There is no being crazy restrictive and eliminating certain foods out of my diet. Its a matter of a few more or less calories in my day. This information helped me figure out what calories are important to me and which are not.  I guess this is the moderation thing that every one is talking about now. 🙂

I wanted to share all of this because I know so many people struggle with food, with themselves. I never thought there was a way through. I want to tell you that there is.  It involves lots of learning and practice and being kind to yourself. Peace is possible.

 

Here are part 1 and part 2 in the series, in case you missed them. 🙂

My Journey with Food Part 2

This is the second  in a three part series on my journey with food sharing where I started, my turning points and what I practice now.  Shared in hopes of helping others that are tired of the food rules, compulsive eating and not trusting your own body to know what it needs.

My turning point:

I was getting tired of the constant battle about food and my body.   I have repeated the same cycle again and again. I would find a new plan thinking for sure that this time FOR SURE it would be the one to work for me. Maybe I would have results and peace for a while and then I would crash – binge again. Next I would have the same tired conversations with my friends complaining about how unfair it all was, that it didn’t work for me and why didn’t I have the body I wanted.

I thought I was the one that was broken, lazy and a failure.  I just needed to find the right plan and buck up and stick with it. Even though it was this behavior that kept me stuck reliving the same patterns again and again.

While there are many moments that propelled me continually down the path of figuring out that what I was doing wasn’t working there is one that is very clear to me and its one I list as a big change point.

I was listening to a Geneen Roth course on her book Women, Food and God and heard her ask the question:

“How do you want to live your life?”

How do you want to live your life?It felt like a powerful question to me. I paused the audio and sat and pondered the question a bit.  Here is what I wrote:

Happy, open, free, joyful just being alive, peace with myself

Her second question is:

“How is that reflected in how I eat?”

Whoa. It was not. Eating was a battle and a constant source of misery. Not peaceful at all.

I committed to being different.  My mantra is “Peace with myself.”

Putting that into practice through my eating has taken time and lots of practice. I also didn’t do it with out support. I had a good therapist to help ground and support me. She helped me learn deal with and face my emotions rather than avoiding and eating through them.   I found some good groups, coaches and writers that supported finding peace, loving who you are and fueling yourself which included (but not exclusive to):

  • Tara Brach, a meditation teacher out of the Washington DC area who publishes weekly podcast talks around mindfulness, presences, and allowing for and being with what is. These talks, this teacher have helped me in so many ways I can’t even begin to describe.
  • Geneen Roth‘s work around the Eating Guidelines and compulsive eating and found a partner to explore that work with in our own lives.
  • Jill Coleman of Jillfit, who started out at as a figure competitor diet plan coach and has moved over the years to self development work and moderation in eating.
  • Go Kaleo and Sean Flanangan who helped return me to the path of science based thinking
  • Krissy Mae Cagney’s Flexible Dieting 2.0, which seem to fit with all of the other things that I was learning and made a lot of sense to me.

In conjunction with the peace and learning, I did tremendous amount of work on dropping any expectations of perfection around getting the food stuff “right”. It is about practice and progress, not perfection.

The path is not smooth or easy and there was a lot of emotion involved but it was so worth the journey.  Peace with myself finally. <3

How do you want to live your life? How is the reflected in the way that you eat?

Part one can be found here.

My Journey with Food Part 1

This is the first in a three part series on my journey with food sharing where I started, my turning points and what I practice now.  Shared in hopes of helping others that are tired of the food rules, compulsive eating and not trusting your own body to know what it needs.

Where I started:

Have you ever sat back and thought about food through out your life? What you have believed (or may still believe), what you have tried, how you have been with food?

I did this recently and realized that I have been all over the map with food that makes up my diet.  Growing up there was nothing too crazy just standard American fare. We didn’t eat out a lot and Mom cooked most meals. I don’t know that I was too aware of food rules – other than don’t snack too close to dinner to ruin your appetite and do not ask for a second piece of cake.

Starting in my early/mid 20s,  I was high carb (or perhaps some days ALL carb: cereal for breakfast, pasta for lunch,  pizza for dinner and coke all through out the day). I was vegetarian for 2 years and vegan for about 30 days.  I was low-carb in the mid-90s before it was even cool. 🙂  In my 30s and into my 40s, I was gluten free for three years and paleo for most of that as well. (BTW, for me Paleo + Crossfit = 30b weight GAIN!)  I have seen nutritionists and diet coaches. I did a figure competition prep diet for about six months as well.  The only system I didn’t try was weight watchers.  I am not sure why except it seemed like a lot of effort to figure out points and maybe I didn’t like the group weigh in and meetings either.

TLOCI have had a lot of time in my life with rules around foods, lists of things that I could or could not eat. Rules that have consistently shifted through out the years. Diet rules set by other people for me to follow. Rules to which I gave up my power and responsibility over my food. Rules that made me believe that I could not be trusted to know what was good for me, to know what my body wanted, to know what I needed. On top of that insanity and/or maybe BECAUSE of that insanity, I have been a mental mess with food as well.

I am a big compulsive eater. A binge eater. Or I was.  I spent so much of my life eating through, over and around my emotions and things I didn’t want to deal with. At my heaviest, I was several years post-pregnancy, in a marriage that I didn’t want, deeply depressed, and desperately trying to figure out who I was and how to handle my life and motherhood.  Its no wonder I got bigger and bigger. Food was the only relief and comfort I felt like I had.

What do you notice when you look back through your life? What have your food rules been? How are your emotions with food?

 

 

It’s time to #breakthebinge

(guest post from Julie Stubblefield)

Dieting.  We’ve all done it.  We’ve all hated it.  Yet, we keep going back for more.  Despite feeling unworthy, unsuccessful, and unvalidated in the process, dieting is the most-accepted form of self-abuse.

There.  I said it.  Dieting is self-abuse.  What’s scarier is that it is not only accepted, but expected.  Care to take a walk on the dark side with me?

Let me tell you a story of a girl and her friend.  

They spend a lot of time together.  But this girl’s friend is a bit overbearing.  Just when the girl feels like she is being successful, the friend shoots her down.  Just when the girl feels like she is making positive changes in her life, her friend abruptly tells her she can’t.  And when the girl is feeling particularly vulnerable, the friend reminds her of all her failures, pouring salt into the wound.  Even though the friend is more critical than supportive, the girl stays close, keeping her in her daily life.

Upon first glance, we would see this as a pretty dysfunctional relationship.  Why would this girl continue to let this friend in her life?  Who would want to be treated that way?  Who could tolerate it on a daily basis?

The girl is me.  The girl is you.  The friend?  It’s the diet.

Put the word “diet” in place of “friend” in the story above.  Ouch.

We choose to keep ourselves in a nasty relationship with dieting.  We allow ourselves to feel like utter shit when we don’t achieve a goal.  We know what will happen at the end of every diet…self-loathing, disappointment, and frustration.  We blame ourselves.  We think we can’t succeed.  We feel like we are undeserving of changing our bodies.  We are drawn to diets, because we think they are to answer to happiness, the solution to smaller waists, the key to gratification.  Even when we know how we feel when we are on them, what happens when we end them, we keep going back for more.

We are abusing ourselves with dieting.  

If you knew a friend was married to a guy who only let her eat certain foods, required her to workout a certain number of hours per week, and made her feel awful when she couldn’t follow the rules, you would tell her to leave his ass!

If you knew a friend was dating someone who belittled her, made her feel like a failure, and made her cry on a regular basis, you would tell her it’s not a good relationship.

Can you see the similarities here?  These flaws, these restrictions, these rules of dieting put us in a cycle of emotional and physical damage.  Women face this daily.  And we expect this to be how we change our bodies.

Statistics:

What’s fascinating is that 68% of people regain what is lost on a diet within 3 years.  Even more startling is that only about 5% of those who achieve results in a crash diet will maintain the change. {sourced from livestrong.com}

Do you fit into either of those statistics?

Re-read this:  68% regain within 3 years.  There is no specific diet being isolated as being the troublesome one (though I could list a dozen).  Dieting as a generalized term is the problem.

The Cycle:

  • Feel guilty about health and/or physique
  • Go on a diet to change it
  • Follow the rules as long as possible
  • Eat a food not on the list because the diet is unrealistic
  • Feel guilty about the food
  • Possibly eat more
  • Feel more guilt and possibly shame
  • Repeat the cycle (sometimes this happens daily, weekly, monthly)

We stand up in outrage when we see women struggling with external relationships we can see, we stand up to be able to breastfeed in public, we stand up to help moms deal with depression.

Why the hell can’t we see what we are doing to ourselves?  Why are we continuing this cycle?

Because we think there is no other way.

Breaking the Cycle:

  • Stop counting.   Fill your body with great food.  When you put protein, veggies, fruits, and fats in your body, the calories will take care of themselves…every time.
  • Make your own rules.  Screw the status quo.  Eat more of what makes you feel good, less of what doesn’t.  Does eating early in morning make you feel worse?  Then don’t.
  • Slow down.  We want fast results, like yesterday.  Making your own rules takes time.  And if you want to break the cycle, you have to be willing to take the time to listen to YOUR body.
  • Lighten up.  We make dieting so serious!  And when we struggle, it gets even more so.  Find humor in mistakes.  Find a way to laugh.  Find a way to enjoy the process.
  • Give yourself compassion.  This is probably the most difficult one.  Know that you are doing the best you can each day, and that truly is enough!  The results will come in time.
It’s time to stand up for ourselves.
It’s time to stop abusing ourselves with diets.
It’s time to #breakthebinge.

If you are ready to break your binge, you don’t have to do it alone.

Julie
My awesome friend Julie!! Check out here program! http://bit.ly/1Dl1gkV

 This week’s blog post is a a guest post written by my good friend Julie Stubblefield of Fit Mom Revolution. She has been featured on Zen Barbell before and is one of the women who I am working with to put on an in person event in 2015 talking about the exact topic that she writes about here (I am excited! Its going to be wonderful!) Julie is passionate about helping women breaking the binge cycle and ending the diet mindset. You can check out here program here:  

My Experience with Mindful Eating Part 2

In my last post, I introduced the idea of mindful eating and Geneen Roth’s work. I wanted to step through each of the guidelines and share my experiences with practicing each one.

What I like about these is they are not diet RULES. Rules are something to be followed, rigid guard rails that are meant to control our behavior. Geneen refers to them as “if love could talk” guidelines. Its how you want to be with something that you love – attentive, aware, kind. If you choose not to follow one on a given day you are not a bad person. The practices are about being mindful and deliberate about the choices that we make.

Let’s take a moment to acknowledge that change, even done with love, presence and patience,  can be uncomfortable sometimes. Just allow for that and know that you will be ok.  Geneen recommends working on one at a time, practicing, noticing and approaching the guidelines in ways where we don’t set ourselves up for failure.

Geneen Roth’s 7 Guidelines for Eating – Through the experience of Kara Silva. 😀

  1. Eat when you are hungry.  This was harder than I thought it might be at first. I quickly came to realize that tired feels very close to hunger to me. With practice, I have learned to separate head hunger and stomach hunger. I have also noticed that I felt guilty some times when I eat as I feel like I “shouldn’t” like some how eating is bad. I have to remind myself that its ok to eat when I am actually hungry.  I have also noticed that I can make up the hunger feeling on occasion if there is something I want to eat. I just notice that and make a conscious decision to eat something or not. I think with food lists and rules, things that are “good” or “bad”, we some times forget to get in touch with the simple feeling of hunger.
  2. Eat sitting down in a calm environment. This does not include the car. This is actually pretty easy for me. I don’t have little children and my husband travels a lot so I can pretty easily create a calm environment for myself to eat in. I do choose to eat with my husband in front of the TV some evenings but other than that I tend to clear off my eating space and make things as clear and calm as I can. Also, I do still eat in the car on the way to the gym as I just like to do it. The tougher challenge for me comes with the next guideline. 😀
  3. Eat without distractions. Distractions include radio, television, newspapers, books, intense or anxiety-producing conversations or music. Now this can be a challenging piece. I often want to grab my phone or read or listen to something while I eat if I am eating alone – which I do fairly often. What a different experience to be completely present with the food on my plate and the thoughts in my head. I want to nourish my body, why wouldn’t I want to pay attention and savor what I am eating. Yes, some times its boring admittedly but I rarely find myself over eating or thinking “Oh, its all gone already?” when I eat undistracted. While this guideline can be uncomfortable, it can also be beautiful. I love the focus on the every day moments and meals and the food in front of me. <3
  4. Eat what your body wants. If you knew no diet rules and food was just food – calories needed for fueling, living, savoring – what would you eat? I feel like since I have experimented with diets so much over the years that I know what makes me feel good and what doesn’t.  Most people think they would just power down all junk food – which you might, for a bit until the excitement and forbidden-ness wears off. I like foods that fuel me for the life that I want to have and the activities that I want to do (weightlifting!). I know a meal based on protein helps me to that and it helps if different tastes and textures are involved.
  5. Eat until you are satisfied. This is a subtle one to miss if you are not also following #3. Many times I will just eat what ever is on my plate regardless of satisfaction level. Some times I keep eating WAY beyond that for various reasons – I love the taste of what ever it is, I am nervous, or social or I don’t want to feel what ever it is I am scared to feel at the moment. But in the quietness of savoring food, there is a moment, I have found, where my body says that is enough right there. It can be quiet and I can miss it if I am not paying attention. It might mean there is still food on my plate and that a couple of bites was all I needed. This is still the guideline I need more practice with as I can still way over eat on occasion and need to understand more about the why that happens.
  6. Eat (with the intention of being) in full view of others. This is so hard for me. It can make me really uncomfortable. I have spent years hiding food and eating in secret so that I can enjoy what I want with out fear of being judged. Judged for being slovenly, fat, undisciplined, lazy. So I sneak – bites and tastes of things I “shouldn’t eat so I can have peace and non-judgement of others. But is it true they are judging me? How much control do I really have over how others perceive me? If I am eating what my body wants and being present, does it matter that people may judge? So lots of open spots for me to explore here still. Kara and Chocolate
  7. Eat with enjoyment, gusto, and pleasure.  Yes, yes and 1000 times yes. I used to say food is fuel – which it is but it doesn’t need to always been utilitarian. Enjoy what you are eating. Savor what ever you have. Take pleasure in your meal and feeding your beautiful self.  Its fun to share a good meal

This post touches on my experience with the guidelines themselves and while the guidelines are valuable the growth tends to come from noticing where you struggle.  Its in these times when you figure out what you really believe about yourself, food, other people and questioning THOSE things are what brings the growth. I will cover this a bit more in part 3 of my Experience with Mindful Eating.

I hope this has been interesting and helpful to you. I have really learned a great deal about myself and my beliefs through mindful eating and Geneen’s work.  I would love to hear from you on any thoughts or questions you might have and any experiences you would like to share.

 

My Experience with Mindful Eating Part 1

My connection to sanity and peace around food has grown and strengthened substantially over the past several years. While I have many teachers and practices to thank for this growth for the purposes of this post I am going to talk mainly about practicing mindful eating through the context of Geneen Roth‘s work.

Over the course of 2014, I have taken Geneen Roth’s two online courses based on her book Women, Food and God. Course 1 is The Principles. Course 2 is the Eating Guidelines.  What I like about Geneen is that she gets that the struggle with compulsive eating is not really about the food. Geneen coaches around using food as an pathway to deeper understanding of yourself. (I am guessing some of you just laughed out loud.) 🙂 I have too.

Many things can be used as a tool for self introspection and learning, Geneen chooses what tends to rule our daily lives, what we stress and celebrate over: food.  Through her practices, which I will share in a moment, a person can learn to pause and pay attention – to your body, to your emotions, to the narrative constantly runs in our brains. The practices are about getting curious around things you have never had curiosity about before (What do I believe about eating alone? Why do I want to eat right now when I know I am not hungry? Why am I feeling anger at the moment? Or even what really am I feeling right now? Where did these messages about not being good enough come from? and countless other things that could come up for an individual).  Best of all in my mind, Geneen re-iterates that change is not made through shame and punishment. If that were true we would all be thin, smart and rich. 🙂 She encourages us always to meet ourselves with kindness and curiosity.

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I have been on the path that I am sure many of you have been on. I have struggled with binge eating most of my life. I have tried all sorts of diets. I have been vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, primal and paleo (not all at one time though!). I have thought fat was evil and then carbs were evil. I have tried eating copious amounts of protein and made myself feel sick trying to hit a daily target according to my body weight. I have sought out the magic pill supplements that will make me all better – whole, unbroken, skinny.  I have felt that I have been powerless against food. I have felt lazy, weak and stupid. I have craved the discipline of sticking to a plan because I felt there was no possibility that I could trust myself around food.

Now? Finally through little steps, practicing over and over and over again, I am finding peace in more regular intervals. I am able to trust myself more. I am able to meet myself with patience and kindness more often.

Geneen Roth’s 7 Guidelines for Eating

  1. Eat when you are hungry.
  2. Eat sitting down in a calm environment. This does not include the car.
  3. Eat without distractions. Distractions include radio, television, newspapers, books, intense or anxiety-producing conversations or music.
  4. Eat what your body wants.
  5. Eat until you are satisfied.
  6. Eat (with the intention of being) in full view of others.
  7. Eat with enjoyment, gusto, and pleasure.

In the next post, I will step through each one and my experience in practicing them.

What Do I Do Now?

When I attended the Train Like A Girl 2 seminar in February, I heard Jim Laird in talking about how little time in the gym is actually needed for gaining health, strength and good movement say you will have to think about what you are going to do with your life when you decide you are no longer “gym girl”, when your identity is no longer tied to spending hours in the gym.

Huh. Interesting.

I am rereading Geneen Roth‘s book Women, Food and God. In this book, Geneen talks about what do you do when you no longer believe you have to fix yourself. Having to constantly focus on losing weight, being on a diet and worrying about what our bodies look like give us a purpose and an activity. She compares it to Sisyphus, who is relegated in the underworld to constantly roll the boulder up hill, only to have it roll back down and do it again. At least he has something to do. 🙂

Huh. Interesting.

What would your life be like if you accepted yourself exactly as you are right now? If you didn’t have to spend time logging hours upon hours in the gym, thinking about food (how much? how many calories? bad vs good?), worried about how other people see you (which you can’t control anyway), wondering how you can be better, different than who you are right now.

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We are lead to believe that if we hit that size or number on the scale that life gets more magical. Life is suddenly easier some how, we love ourselves more and the pain of what life can bring gets easier.  Its a myth that we have been sold.  Haven’t you been smaller than you are right now? Did life feel magically better? Did you really love you more? Did all of your problems disappear?

No? Me either.

I loved that Jim’s question made me think about what I would do with all of that time in my life if I no longer had to be gym girl. I love that Geneen challenged me to give up the obsession of being on a diet and having to fix myself.  While I am still practicing being in that space, I feel like it has opened up a ton of space in my life. I feel like I can be so much more present with the life that is right in front of me – the beautiful, the challenging, the mundane. All of it. I am better at being with myself. I am learning more about who I am. I am more attuned to eating what makes me feel good and I love (LOVE LOVE LOVE!) moving in ways that make me happy.

Can you be brave and consider what walking away from all of that would mean for you? How would your life change? What other things would you be doing and spending time thinking about?  I would love to hear from you.

 

Mindset, Joy and Powerful Words

Over the weekend, I attended the 1st annual Women’s Radiance Retreat in Asheville, NC. This event will be happening again in January! Click here for details. (BTW, I get no money for the referral. I just want to let you know about opportunities that inform and inspire. 🙂 )

This retreat was hosted by Jill Coleman, Neghar Fonooni and Jen Sinkler.  Three leaders in the fitness industry that really talk to (and live in real life!) loving who you are and learning to be your best self. If you have those things going on the food and exercise just tends to line up in a healthy way.

I was fortunate enough to do some quick two minute interviews with each of these women.

Jill Coleman: I have been lucky enough to be in Jill’s Best of You coaching group for the past 1.5 years. Yes, I have learned more about fat loss nutrition and workouts as well as online business tools but the most valuable piece to me is that I am more comfortable being who I am in the world thanks to her coaching. That to me is priceless. <3

Neghar Fonooni: I have been watching (online – not in a stalker way) Neghar for years with her kettle bell work. She is one powerhouse of a woman.  I mean that in so many dimensions. She can probably out lift me on any given day. Her presence and attitude is remarkable. I love hearing what she presented and even just getting to chat with her a bit.

Jen Sinkler: Jen was a bit newer on my radar but I feel like a sister from another mister (just read that phrase for the first time the other day and I had to use it 🙂 ). Her love of learning, lifting heavy stuff, a huge sense of humor as well as helping people being the best versions of themselves really resonates with me.

 

The weekend was an amazing experience full of great experiences, conversations and connections. I am so happy that I got to be a part of it.

Cheers!