Do you have them?
The way I see it, loving yourself essentially comes down to having boundaries. Boundaries between yourself and others, between yourself and work, between yourself and...yourself.
Ultimately it's about taking a stand for yourself when your inner critic tells you that everyone else is more important than you. It's about saying, "Hey now, I exist too, and it's okay to take care of myself."
I don't think it's a coincidence that one of my first symptoms of my thyroid problem started not too long after an experience I had where I basically allowed someone to stomp all over my boundaries. I knew it was one of those moments where I was making a decision that would affect me on a spiritual level. I knew it. Yet I still chose not to respect my boundaries.
From that moment on, I knew there was a part of my body and soul that just up and left. If I wasn't going to love myself enough to demand respect from someone else, then it didn't want to be a part of me anymore.
For years, I felt the ramifications of that decision. (I still do, although I've worked through a lot of it in hypnotherapy.) Eventually though, I began to take a stand for myself again. I began to set up some boundaries, make decisions about who I was and what kind of life I wanted to live.
Now I find myself once again at a moment of spiritual crossroads. I know I've allowed myself to slip into boundary-less land. Working all the time (which also results in not having the energy to work efficiently), giving too much of myself without making sure I'm also being taken care of, continuing to do things that clearly result in pain (sitting at the computer all day, skipping yoga and walks), and ultimately not creating a safe space for me. The me that exists independent of my job, my boyfriend, my family, and what I'm cooking for dinner.
Does such a thing even exist? Do I exist without all of these things?
Of course I do. My body reminds me daily. The further I slip away from my boundaries, the more my body yells at me in one way or another. Whether it's weight gain, wrist pain, back pain, headaches, or any other number of things, my body is like an alarm, shrilly beeping when I veer too far off course.
This is why I created the Body Love Cleanse
. It's a reminder to myself to get back to who I
am, to create safe spaces for myself, and to say, "Hey, I exist too, and it's okay to take care of myself." It's about loving who I am, without letting all that other stuff
get in the way. Can you relate?
I know that this is not just me. I hear it from so many women. What's going on with our bodies is always related on some level to the boundaries we've placed around us. Sometimes too many, sometimes too few, sometimes the wrong kind and for the wrong reason.
The Body Love Cleanse begins this Sunday, October 20th. It's something I need right now, and it's something you might need too.
What is it? Here's what your cleanse includes:
- Weekly guided audio meditations addressing the themes of judgment, letting go, acceptance, and love.
- Daily e-mails sharing my personal journey with my body.
- A workbook to go along with your meditations that will allow you to work at your own pace.
- A private Facebook support group so you can explore these issues with other women taking the cleanse.
Ready to register? Want to learn more? Click here
to read more about the Body Love Cleanse and register tonight to get the discounted price!
Since I decided to "come out," so to speak, about my feelings surrounding the three years I worked for a top weight loss company, I've thought a lot about what my intentions were in writing that post
. I've been asked to speak more about that experience, and have declined, feeling that my letter
really spoke for itself. Ultimately, I decided I had really said everything I needed to.
It turns out I was wrong.
I have a lot more to say.
I received a comment that really got under my skin, and I knew I needed to address it. Here's the comment:
This wasn't the first negative comment I'd received, but it was the first one I felt I had to respond to. It took me a few minutes to understand why it bothered me so much, but then it hit me.
It reminded me all too much of men in my life who have suggested that I (or any woman) am weak for having body image issues. That despite the societal pressure to look a certain way, it's my own mental strength - or lack thereof - that allows me to succumb to that pressure.
I've heard this many times, usually from men, and it only adds to the already conflicted feelings I have. Not only do I not look like the women on TV, and not only do I struggle to love my body, but now I have to also feel guilty because I'm clearly weak and should be better able to resist the avalanche of brainwashing.
In the same way, I feel this comment (by a man, although I've also received similar ones from women) carried the same shaming weight to it.
I originally began to respond in the comments section, but I realized that I wasn't just responding for myself. I'm responding for the thousands of other women who have and continue to work for this company and others like it. And I'm responding for all the women who believed, as I did, that a 1200 calorie diet was a healthy way to lose weight.
The commenter suggested that I should have known better, and that the information contradicting 1200 calorie diets is readily available.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
The company that I worked for is an international company with a medical advisory board that consists of PhDs and MDs. As far as we know, they oversee the plan and sign off on it. In addition, the company has dietitians on staff that we could call if needed. I had a co-worker who was a master's level nutrition student, and another who was studying to be a personal trainer. The medical advisory board, the dietitians, and my co-workers all believed the diet we were prescribing was healthy.
Yet according to this comment, I should have known better. Obviously I should have been smarter than all of them.
I should also mention that a large number of my clients were referred specifically to us by their doctors. Again, I should probably have been smarter than their doctors.
Perhaps I could have found the correct information in one of the many women's magazines that always has a sample weight loss menu from the celebrity trainers. Like this one from Reader's Digest
which touts Bob Harper's weight loss plan of 800 calories a day for women. Or how about this 1500 calorie menu for runners, designed by an MD at Women's Health
Or perhaps I should have looked to a more reputable source. How about the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
, which is under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services? Here is what they suggest for a healthy weight loss plan:
Well, there you go. 1000-1200 calories for women to lose weight safely.
Okay, so apparently my former company's medical advisory board and staff dietitians, my co-workers, my clients' doctors, Women's Health, Reader's Digest, AND The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute are all on board with restricting their calories in a way that may be physically and emotionally detrimental to their health.
But I'm a smart person. Clearly I should have known better than all of them.
The truth is that most people DO think a 1200 calorie diet is acceptable and healthy. I can find a lot of information to corroborate that, and not a whole lot to contradict it. In fact, I was wary of contradicting it myself when I wrote that letter. I didn't want anyone to think I was promoting being unhealthy by saying women should eat more. In fact, when I was discussing this with a friend and how I am more on board with the idea of intuitive eating
now, she suggested that, "Telling women they can eat whatever they want can be dangerous. Some people would only eat crap and make themselves sick."
I used to believe that too. I come from a history of binge eating and sugar addiction. But then again, that was when I was dieting and keeping my body at a calorie deficit. Now, I eat at least 2000 calories a day. Guess what I no longer do? Obsess about food. Binge eat. Crave sugar all the time. Food is just food. I eat it. I enjoy it. My body is satisfied, and I move on. Am I skinny? Nope. My body is neither skinny nor fat, but simply something in between, and I am learning to really love it for being just what it is. It's also really loving me for finally feeding it.
I wrote that original letter of apology because I see things differently now. I no longer think 1200 calorie diets are okay, no matter how many people tell me they are.
And as you can see from the links I referenced above, the 1200 calorie diet is pretty much the standard. I now believe that it is the calorie restriction and warped societal pressure that leads women to believe that they "have no willpower" or that eating whatever they want can be dangerous.
I take responsibility for my part in this whole farce - to a point. I had a master's degree in psychology, and had I not been coming from my own disordered eating perspective, maybe I could have seen things differently then. Maybe I could have seen the emotional damage that I was a part of. But I will not take responsibility for thinking that 1200 calorie diets were okay. I place that responsibility squarely on the professionals (medical doctors and PhDs) who signed off on the plan. Heck, I might as well just place it on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It's one of their websites touting a 1000 calorie diet for women.
And just to be clear, I will also not take responsibility for working at a weight loss company when I was dealing with disordered eating myself. You know why? Because "my disordered relationship" with food was being subsidized by the company I worked for. They promoted my restrictive dieting behavior, and frankly, probably would have called it normal. So apparently does Bob Harper. And Reader's Digest and Women's Health and even the big ol' U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, via The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
There are a lot of people who will tell you that a 1200 calorie diet is perfectly healthy for losing weight, and indeed, is the optimal way to go. There are not that many people who will tell you otherwise. They do
exist (like this woman
or this man
), but you have to seek them out.
I wrote that letter
because I've been on both sides, and I needed to speak out against what I now see is a huge problem. However, I
am not the problem. Neither were my co-workers. If you want to blame the people working at the bottom level, go ahead. It won't change a thing, and is simply shaming the very people who have been used the most. The women who work at weight loss companies do so because they have been taught the same exact BS as everyone else. In fact, a lot of them are former clients themselves.My suggestion? Stop blaming the people who speak out, and start addressing the actual problem.
Not sure how to do that? Why don't you try contacting The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and ask them why they recommend women eat a 1000 calorie diet to lose weight? I'll make it easy for you. Here's a link to their contact information: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/contact/index.htm
p.s. Because the comment addressed my teenage client on a 1500 calorie diet, I want to say something about that because I still think about her. She was a runner. Her coach and her mother both wanted her to lose weight so that she would run faster. Never mind that I could see she didn't have any weight to lose. I asked her privately if she wanted to lose weight, and when she said no, I told her I agreed with her and that she didn't need to. For that, I was screamed at by her mother, and our manager was called in to do damage control. The company's medical advisory board would have put her on that 1500 calorie diet.
Done with dieting BS?
Join the Body Love Cleanse
It's not about what you should or shouldn't eat.
It's about how to love yourself.
I want to introduce you to The Body Love Cleanse, which begins on October 20th, and is currently open for early-bird registration (that means the prices are super low). But I'm having trouble because I can't seem to write anything lately that isn't just word vomit coming from the very depths of my stomach. Not my soul so much...more like my stomach, where I store so many of my emotions. So I'm going to tell you the very blunt truth, as I see it. If you're a woman, then you should join The Body Love Cleanse. It's not about what you should or shouldn't eat. It's about how to listen to your body again, how to honor it, how to acknowledge and let go of your judgments. And I think that needs to start NOW. I'd like to say that I know lots of women who don't need to learn to love their bodies more. I'd like to say that there are lots of women who think their bodies are freaking amazing. But I don't know that many women like that. What I know is that every woman I have ever met has had some sort of issue with her body. Even those who are confident still seem to have those kernels of body shame. I'm over it, I'm done with it, and I'm aiming to change it. I can't change the world, but I can keep countering the body shame with body love, and I'll keep doing it until it sinks in. This is just as much for myself as for all of you. Every time I do a program like this, I do the work right along with everyone else. I need it just as much. And after the program is over, I keep doing the work. It's the only way I see to make these changes permanent. So let it sink in. Join the cleanse by Monday, and get the early bird discount. Pay the extra for the private session. It's absolutely worth it (It's also a huge discount off my normal price). If you've had years of body shame brainwashing like I have (and I'm pretty sure you have), the private session will help you begin to unravel and let go of all those years of hate. It will reconnect you with the divine spark within you that KNOWS that you are perfect. It will help you to stand up to anyone who makes you believe that you are less than. Seriously. That's why I quit my graduate school program to do this. Because it's that powerful and I believe it can change your life. I know it changed mine. In the meantime, here's my word vomit, straight from my stomach: Dear Long-Suffering Body That I Torture,I'm really sorry that I don't love you enough. I like to say that I do. I like to say that I love myself and I take care of myself and I am all ra-ra "women's empowerment" blah blah, etc. etc. But sometimes I think it's a lie. If I loved you, I wouldn't treat you like this. If I loved you, I would face the facts of my life and be willing to change the ones that hurt you. You're in ridiculous pain, can't sleep at night pain, crying because it's too much to handle pain.
For years, I made you do stupid things. Drink lemon juice and maple syrup for days, and nothing else. Drink vegetable juice until the very taste of it now makes you sick. Eat low-calorie junk from a box. Eat so much you felt like you were going to explode because I couldn't deal with things inside of me. So I took it out on you. And I tried to make you throw up. Which you couldn't, and wasn't that lucky for me because I gave up on that. It made your eyes all red and bloodshot. That wasn't a good look. Oh and remember the summer I forced laxatives on you every day? Oh that was fun. You kept telling me to leave well enough alone, because just standing for too long tired you out. But no, I'd just take you to the gym and tell you to suck it up for the next two hours. I was really cruel to you. And now you hurt. You have trouble sleeping at night, and your thyroid's a hot autoimmune mess, and you get this weird cough whenever I eat dairy. Which I do sometimes because letting go of cheese made me cry. Oh, I know I've taken some steps to be kinder to you, to love you more. I don't spend all my time in front of a full-length mirror anymore. Mostly because I don't have one. I say my affirmations. Okay, that's a lie too. I say affirmations like one day a month and then I forget about them.I forget about them the same way I tell you that I will treat you better, take you out for more walks, bring you to yoga...and stop acting as if you have to be the goddamned queen of perfection just to be fit to be seen in this world.I tell you that. And then the next day I'm back to it. Scrutinizing you in the mirror. Sitting at the computer all day when I know it makes your back hurt so much you can't sleep. Basically acting as if you don't have a right to be a part of the decision-making process between us. You're screaming at me that what I'm doing isn't working, and I'm just not listening. Oh, I'm hearing you, but I'm refusing to do anything about it.
We used to be pretty in sync, weren't we? I mean, when we were young, I'm pretty sure I listened to you and took better care of you. Then puberty hit and things went all haywire, and I'm pretty sure it's been a clusterfuck ever since. I think I just didn't really know what to do with you. I guess I still don't. I want to get back to how we used to be. Back when we were kids and we looked out for each other. I'm just not quite sure how.
But I'm willing to try. If you'll talk to me, I'll really start listening. This time I mean it.
You know what's funny? I read this and think, "God, this girl is messed up." I'm not like her.
Except I am her.
And I am messed up.
And I'm also really put together.
And that's sort of the contradiction of being a woman in today's society, isn't it? We're so put together that we sometimes feel we have no choice but to be completely messed up. In private, that is.
I'm learning to be one with my body again, and maybe at the same time, to be a little less put together. The Body Love Cleanse is part of that process. This awesome body and I are taking a journey together, and we think you should join us. We think you should become one with your body again too. Here's how:
- Click on this link for The Body Love Cleanse.
- Do the exercise. (Honestly, it will really help you get clarity on this.)
- Pay for the cleanse by October 14th for the early bird special (and a private session).
- Give your body a hug and thank it for sticking around. Let it know you're ready to listen.
Still not sure? Join me tonight for a free call. If you've already signed up for the cleanse, this is a great opportunity for you to start listening to your body NOW. This call will include a meditation, so come open to relaxing and listening to your body. If you have any questions about the cleanse, you can e-mail them to me before the call or ask me tonight.Depending on how many people we have on the call, there may be an opportunity to do some individual work tonight. If you've been struggling with something in particular today (body pain, "feeling fat", body shame, etc.), you definitely want to be on this call. Whether in the group meditation or individual work, we'll have the chance to work on that issue.
And yes, I will record it and make it available to everyone on my mailing list. If you can't make it tonight, but want access, make sure you're on the mailing list so that you'll get the link.
At 5:30pm pacific, 8:30pm eastern, call into (559) 726-1000 via phone or Skype.
Dial this access code: 1094835# Talk to you soon!
I am absolutely terrified. Like, shaking in my boots, want to hide under the covers, terrified.
There, I said it.
No, there's nothing big and scary happening to me. I'm just living my life.
And if that isn't the most unnerving thing in the world, then I don't know what is.
In the span of a single day, I can feel excited about my business, then absolutely despondent and sure I should just get a desk job, confident about my path in life, then taken down by the decision of what to eat for dinner. I can be in tears, thinking I'm the biggest failure in the world, then hours later be convinced that everything I am doing is working out perfectly.
I am a human being. And therefore, my mind is a constant contradiction. It likes to send me in all different directions, just to see what I'll make of it all.
When I succeed, I get scared, tell myself I'm "stuck and don't know what I'm doing", and then find ways to metaphorically put a blanket over my head. Or, you know...sometimes literally put a blanket over my head.
Blanket over my head.
What am I afraid of?
The specific details change.
Today, I'm scared because I'm launching my Body Love Cleanse
and I have no idea if it will be successful. I was just as scared when I did my Breaking the Chrysalis Challenge and my Anti-Diet Challenge before that. They worked. Amazing women (and one man) signed up. I loved it! It really wasn't that scary. Still...putting up a sales page and saying, "This is worth your time and money and commitment," is monster-under-the-bed terrifying to me. Every time. Waiting to see if anyone signs up? Ugh. Don't even get me started.
A few months ago, I wanted to crawl under the covers because my apology letter
went viral. Once again, success led to fear, which led to thoughts of being stuck, which led to the proverbial blanket over my head. I turned down a number of media outlets who wanted me to speak to them. I knew it could be great publicity for my business, but - sorry - blanket over my head. Can't see, hear, or speak today. Try me again next year, please. (And believe me, I don't need you to tell me how dumb that was. I'm perfectly capable of castigating myself. I do it often enough, which is why I need hypnotherapy to chill myself out and help me see the bigger picture.)
I was on Facebook today (when am I not
on Facebook?) and saw that an old friend now lives in Ireland. I immediately began to fantasize. Ireland. Land of rolling hills and men with Irish accents. I could move there. I could go live on a farm and befriend sheep and never have to worry about letting anyone down by not being a success.
Of course, I realized I couldn't escape the one person I was actually afraid of letting down: myself.
Then I started to wonder why I was so fixated on the idea of flying away from my life.
Oh right. Because I launched my Body Love Cleanse
today and that scared me and so it seemed like the most logical thing to do would be to quit my business and move to Ireland.
I mean, it beats hiding under the covers.
Except that it's really just the same thing, but with a prettier landscape.
So I guess I could run away or hide under a blanket for the rest of my life. But that wouldn't really accomplish my ultimate goal, would it?
That wouldn't make me happy or help me to feel free.
I mean, it might. For a little while. But then the monster would catch up to me. The monster of my own fear of living.
And then I'd be right back where I started.
So I guess the only way to be free from the monster is to confront it head on. If I'm lucky, maybe it will just be the cookie monster, who I can totally handle. I do
know how to bake cookies, after all.Moral of the story? Don't assume that fear means I'm doing something wrong. It might actually mean I'm doing something really right. Maybe I just need to change my relationship to fear. Hello, Fear. Would you like a cookie?
How does fear show up in your life? What would confronting that monster look like? What could happen if you made friends with fear?
"Imagine a world where people are supported in living happy, healthy lives, free of judgment about the size of their bodies…this is the mission of BEDA’s Weight Stigma Awareness Week."
My story about binge eating disorder and weight stigma:
I struggled with binge eating disorder for years, from my freshman year of college on. I gained the typical freshman 15, except it was 20. At the same time, I fell in love with a boy who thought my body wasn't beautiful because it wasn't thin enough. Wanting so desperately to be what he thought I should be, I stopped appreciating my curves, and started wishing to be thin. This was the beginning, for me, of a long fight against myself. A fight where I believed what I saw and heard around me, that I had to be a certain size to be worthy. I took in those messages, internalized the belief that there was something wrong with me because I was bigger than I used to be. Difficult as it may have been, I could fight outside messages that my body was bad. But there was no way to win that fight when the messages came from within. Internalizing that weight stigma was the chocolate frosting on the cake that I no longer thought it was okay to eat.
It was around this time that I also started bingeing on food. I'm not talking about overeating. We all do that sometimes. I'm talking about eating until I felt sick, and then eating more. Eating for the express purpose of feeling so physically destroyed that all I could do was sleep. Deliberately choosing the foods that would make me feel awful, not for the momentary pleasure of the food (I didn't experience any pleasure when I was bingeing), but as an analgesic to take away whatever pain I was feeling.
Although there were a lot of emotional reasons I was bingeing, more than I could even begin to get into today, there was one factor that has become clear to me over time. I believed there was something wrong with my body (there wasn't) and so I dieted/overexercised/abused laxatives/fasted/cleansed, you name it, in order to "fix" what wasn't broken. In doing so, I created an actual problem. My attempts to lose weight were mostly ridiculous, unhealthy, and misguided, and all they did was create a calorie deficit that my body tried desperately to make up by becoming REALLY HUNGRY. And then I began to eat, taking that natural and normal hunger, that response to being starved, labeling it something unnatural, and using it as proof that I was a failure. And eating turned into bingeing, fueled by despair that I would never again be the size I was in high school. Fast Forward to Body Love
Over the years, I've come to a more peaceful place with food and with my body, but it hasn't been something that has come easily. It's been a long journey, filled with ups and downs and curves and u-turns. More recently, my own work as a hypnotherapist has helped me to gain a better understanding of how my own internalized weight stigma had contributed to my binge eating. Years of bingeing only fully stopped for me when I let go of the belief I had internalized that I was somehow "less than" when I weighed more.
I made a decision to stop believing what I saw in the media: that I had to lose weight in order to be a successful human being. But the truth is, I had made that decision numerous times in the past. It never stuck, and it was never as strong as the voices that said, "You'll never be happy until you look a certain way."
So how did my decision to love my body as it is finally become stronger than my decades long belief that I was inherently flawed?
It started by seeing how my negative beliefs about myself were affecting my health. And then I began to see how those same negative thoughts were affecting the health of my hypnotherapy clients. Consequently, as a women's health coach, I've lost interest in helping women lose weight.
I understand that weight loss sells. After all, I used to sell it. But I've decided that there is nothing more unhealthy than hating yourself. And over and over, what I hear when women say, "I want to lose weight" is that deep down they're really saying, "I hate my body." As a hypnotherapist, I know that our bodies are listening to what we tell them, and if you are constantly saying, "There is something wrong with you," your body will respond. That self-hatred will worm its way into your body, eating pieces of you as it goes.As a women's health coach, I think the best thing that I can help you do for your longterm health is to love yourself, body included.
The idea that you have to be thin to be healthy is a myth that we have all believed in for far too long. What is
true, however, is that your thoughts about yourself and your body do
affect your health. And if those thoughts are destructive, they can change, starting with a decision to fight back against the lies you've been told about your body.
So let's begin. How does one take away a lifetime of self-hatred, guilt, and brainwashing? (Yes, brainwashing. If the glorification of only one body type in the media isn't brainwashing, I don't know what is.)
I know what you're thinking: Oh God. Is it even possible? Where do we start?
- Stop dieting and give your body permission to be whatever size it wants to be. Eat foods that make you feel good, eat when you're hungry, eat seconds and thirds if you're still hungry, and stop listening to other people who tell you what's right for your body. Seek out information about health that is counter to the popular mantra, thin = healthy. Here's a good place to start.
- If you've been dieting for so long that you don't even know how to listen to your body anymore, consider finding a dietitian or nutritionist who believes in health at every size. If you're working with someone who wants to put you on a low-calorie diet, find someone else. If you're not sure what counts as low calorie, I can only give you my personal belief that I wouldn't work with anyone who wanted me to eat 1500 calories or less. I probably wouldn't work with anyone who wanted me to eat less than 2000 calories, to be quite honest. I like food, and I think eating is good for your metabolism.
- Counter the media brainwashing by actively seeking out media that wants to make you feel good about your body. Find groups on Facebook that make you feel good about your body and want to nourish it. (Here's one I have found to be personally helpful.) Subscribe to blogs and magazines that feature men and women of all sizes in a positive light. Look for movies and TV shows that offer up an alternative to typical celebrity fare. Don't buy magazines that feed you the same 3 articles over and over again: How to lose weight fast, how to get toned abs, and how to love yourself. Those magazines are selling self-hatred, and their articles on loving yourself are sandwiched in between photoshopped advertisements. They're not fooling anybody.
- If you're getting Victoria's Secret catalogs in the mail, please call and ask that they stop sending them to you. Especially if you have kids. Girls don't need to grow up thinking those photos are normal, and boys don't need to grow up thinking it either. Instead, help your children to be critical thinkers when it comes to media, and counter the images they see with images of real bodies (read: unphotoshopped).
- Stop saying, "I feel like a fat lump, I hate my thighs, etc." If you were with someone who said those things to you, you would be in an abusive relationship. But unlike a relationship with another person, your body can't leave you. However, given enough emotional abuse, it can and will do everything it can to get out. I work with a lot of women with health issues, and I can say that one thing many of them have in common is a difficult relationship with their bodies. In my mind, I can just see their bodies trying to run away from all the hurtful thoughts. It's difficult to change your thoughts, but you can start by changing how you speak.
- Find a physical activity that you will look forward to. You don't have to become a runner if you don't like running. But if you like to dance, start dancing every day. If you like horses, take horseback riding lessons. Have you always wanted to learn to swing dance? Now is the time. When you move your body in activities that make you happy, you come to appreciate your body more than if you force it to work out at the gym, all the while wishing you weren't there.
- Learn how to tune back into what your body needs. Many of us are so used to being told what to do concerning our bodies, that we've stopped listening to ourselves. Try this exercise as your monthly check-up with your body. This is a meditation that can be done sitting, lying down, or walking. Your goal is to focus on individual parts of your body, starting at your toes and moving all the way up until you reach the top of your head. Focus first on your feet, allowing yourself to breathe as you "listen" to them. Ask them what they need and what would make them feel healthy. Continue to breathe as you focus on your feet, just listening until you feel like you've gotten all the information you can from them. Move into your ankles, then up into your legs, and eventually all the way up to your hips. I encourage you to include all parts of your body, including sexual organs (yes, really). There are many areas that often go ignored and you might find that if you listen, they have a lot to tell you.
- Write a love letter to your body every week. Tell your body everything you appreciate about it. Imagine you're writing to a friend who is having a hard time, and you want to remind her of all the reasons why she's amazing. Don't write this letter to the body you think you want, but to the body you have. This may be difficult, and you may not even believe what you're writing. Do it anyway, and keep doing it every week.
Ultimately, I want you to think about something. Your beliefs about your body have been shaped by what you've grown up seeing in the media. The media is a business, made up of various companies that are selling something. They can't sell if you won't buy. If you decide to no longer buy into their destructive beliefs about your worth, you take back your control.
So who would you rather have be in control of your body? You? Or the media?
You're in your car, and you're driving down the road. You have a final destination in mind and you're not really thinking about how to get there. Until suddenly you find yourself at a red light, and you realize you're in the wrong lane. You stare at that light. You notice that there's a line of cars behind you.
You can see that you're at an intersection, and if you go right, as originally planned, you'll end up where you planned on going. But it's too late to switch lanes. And you're not even sure that's where you want to go anymore. If it was, you would have stayed in that lane, wouldn't you?
You can go straight. That will get you where you're going, just by a different route.
Or you can go left. That will take you back home.
You find yourself paralyzed. What seems like a simple decision leaves you completely overwhelmed. Where am I going? Which direction do I take?
So you just sit at that light and pray that it won't turn green.
Except you know it will, and now you're imagining the cars behind you honking. You're seeing yourself sitting there through countless green, yellow, and red lights, until a police officer finally comes and moves you.
Imagining the ruckus that you're about to cause, you look around in desperation, and you see a park. It's on the right, which means you have to turn left, go through a parking lot, and make a u-turn to get there.
The light turns green and you turn left, into the parking lot, back onto the street, make a u-turn, and feel immediate relief as you find yourself in the park. You find a spot to stop, and get out of the car.
You sit in the grass and let the waves of emotion roll over you, until finally you just sit there, breathing.
You look back at the intersection, at all the cars coming and going. And you know that, right now, it's okay to just take a break in the park.
Every once in a while, a client will ask me how I know the right thing to say in our sessions or how I come up with my ideas for my programs. The simple truth? I am my own guinea pig. I meditate and do self-hynosis, and through that process, I learn what works for me and what doesn't. When I designed my new program, Release Emotional Eating, it didn't come from scientific research (perhaps I shouldn't admit that, but it's just not how I work). It came from my own experience. It came from years of binge eating, from years of therapy, visits to registered dietitians, working as a weight loss consultant, and finally, learning the art of meditation and hypnotherapy.
I know what has worked for me and what hasn't. I know that after years of not being able to buy peanut butter - because I would go through the whole jar in a day - I now have peanut butter in the house regularly. I can now eat a tablespoon or two, put it away, and (miracle of miracles!) not obsess about it all day. I know that I baked muffins yesterday and they weren't very good. So rather than slathering them with toppings and guiltily eating them all in a day or two, I'm letting my boyfriend eat them (he likes them).
After years of going back and forth between restricting and overeating, and thinking I was cured only to slide back into bingeing, everything has finally come together. I found the right combination of puzzle pieces to put my relationship with food back together again. And I want to share that with you.
My new program came out of a challenge from my 30 Day Anti-Diet Challenge (now called Breaking the Chrysalis
). As is always the case, I did each challenge right along with the group, and when I wrote in my journal that day, I knew that this was not something I was supposed to keep to myself. I knew I had to develop it into a program to help other women who were in the same place I had been. And so I've been working on it quietly since then, developing the guided meditation recordings, going back and forth on exactly how the program would work best, and refining ideas during my morning meditations.
Well, my beautiful butterflies? This program is ready to take flight. It's an ongoing program (i.e. you can start anytime as long as I'm running it), and I'll begin working with my first clients the week of September 15th. You can read on below for all the details, including what I believe are the 4 core spiritual components of emotional eating in women, and how to apply if want to reserve a spot to begin in September.
Release Emotional Eating - A 5 Week Practice of Healing The simple truth about this program:
This isn't a weight loss program. I can't promise that you'll lose weight in the next 5 weeks. You might. You might not. I know
what it feels like to compulsively eat past the point of being full and past the point of comfort, all the way into the "food coma, I hate myself, tomorrow I'll do better zone." I've been there. Over and over, for years, I struggled.
And I want to be honest with you because I get bothered by the "miracle cures" marketing where someone tells me that she overcame her issues and never
struggles anymore. The truth is that overeating isn't much of an issue for me anymore. I eat enough food that my body feels satisfied and I really don't have the urge to eat my emotions. BUT I know that health is a dynamic process, and I know that I have the tools that will help me if those old feelings come back. And I expect them to come back. I know that when I'm around my family or during holidays, old issues can get triggered. I also know how to deal with it better now.
So this isn't a weight loss program, and it's not a promise that you'll never overeat again
. It's a 5 week course in healing other areas of your life so that you don't need
to overeat. You'll look at how your actual diet affects your body, delve deep into your own emotional depths, and practice tools on your own so that you can feel confident that you know what to do when you feel triggered. Who is this program for?
All women who struggle with overeating and emotional eating. This program is right for you if:
Who is this program not for?
- You are unsure of why you eat when you're not hungry, but are open to exploring your diet and the deeper emotional roots.
- You think you know why you eat emotionally, but knowing has never been enough to stop you.
- You're fed up with diets that offer "tricks" to stop you from eating, and want to approach your health in a new way.
- You're motivated and will spend at least an hour each week on your own time practicing the tools and completing the weekly journaling assignment.
- You're ready to let go of past emotional wounds that are affecting you now.
This program is not for you if:
- You're looking for a quick weight loss solution and aren't interested in long term health.
- You know you're not ready to put in the extra work on your own time, doing the weekly journaling assignment and practicing the self-hypnosis tools.
- You want a program that focuses more on diet and nutrition (we'll only spend one week on that) and less on spiritual and emotional components.
- You're not ready to deal with old emotional wounds yet and need to go slower (my 28 Day Challenge would be a good way for you to start slow and work up to being ready for this. I also offer a large discount for women who have taken the 28 Day Challenge.)
If you are actively struggling with an eating disorder, you must be working with a doctor or therapist, and have written permission from them to do this program. If this is the case, please e-mail me for for information. How does it work? (Note: This is a distance program, and sessions are held by phone or Skype.)Week 1:
Body Satisfaction Coaching Session: Private coaching session where we look at how and what you're eating to make sure your body is getting what it needs. The 4 Core Spiritual Components
- Is emotional eating really about food? Or is it about how you approach your life? These are 4 core areas where women tend to hold pain, judgment, and anxiety. Each week, we'll have a private hypnotherapy session that will focus on that week's core spiritual theme.
- Week 2: Women and Money: How do you handle the flow of money in your life? What are your fears surrounding money? What are your judgments? Can you let go of all that and allow money to flow in a way that works better for you?
- Week 3: Let's Talk about Sex, Baby: Women experience a lot of unspoken pain and/or anxiety (often unacknowledged even by themselves) around sex and their own sexuality. How do you want to show up in your life as a sexual woman? What needs to be healed before you can do that?
- Week 4: Allowing Happiness: Is there a secret fear within you that it's not really okay for you to be happy? Or do you feel like you have to present the perfect facade of happiness when you're hurting inside? Women have a lot of judgments around their own happiness, and these judgments can get in the way of just allowing yourself to be happy.
- Week 5: Accepting Your Inner Divinity: Do you accept that there's a spark of the divine in each one of us? Are you able to feel that on a daily basis? Our final session will work on finding the ways that you can accept and feel connected to the divine within you on a daily basis.
Every week, there will be an exercise to complete to help you understand and let go of the judgments you make surrounding that week's theme. Toolbox:
Your toolbox will include a self-hypnosis recording to listen to when you're feeling triggered to overeat (or after you've overeaten and need to understand why and keep it from happening again.) It will also include instructions on how to practice self-hypnosis with specific trigger foods in order to decrease their emotional call on you.To apply:
Give yourself at least 30 minutes of quiet time for this. Step away from your computer and find a quiet spot. Center yourself with 3 deep breaths in and out. Answer the question, "If my relationship with food represents my relationship with life, then _____." Write as much or as little as you want, allowing yourself to go with what whatever comes to mind without judging. When you're done, e-mail me the answer with the subject line "Fly Butterfly, Fly." You can also ask me any questions you have. I'll e-mail you to set up a call so we can talk further and get you set up for your first appointment if you're ready to start. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.orgInvestment:
$1197 or $697 for women who have participated in my challenges (Breaking the Chrysalis
and/or the Anti-Diet Challenge). Installment plans available upon request. Fly, Butterfly, Fly!
Today I received an interesting e-mail. I had a hypnotherapy session scheduled for Monday, and the client cancelled, saying she had just seen her therapist, had a wonderful session and no longer had need of my services. But she asked if she could make a donation instead. She knew my 28 Day Challenge
was starting soon and wanted to buy a spot in the program for someone who couldn't afford it.
If you're someone who waits for signs - and I am - then this was the sign I had been waiting for.
For months, I had toyed with the idea of having a "Pay it Forward" donation button. This would allow those with the income to afford it to pay for others who don't have that flexibility in their budget right now. Every time the idea would come into my mind, I would go back and forth, often deciding, "Yes, I'm going to do it," and then not doing it.
It's hard to try something different. Something I don't see on other websites. It makes me feel vulnerable and brings up that fear of "standing out and not being liked." But here's why I ultimately want to do this:
Hypnotherapy is generally lumped in with other services like massages, craniosacral therapy, and yoga classes. It's considered a luxury, and is something that many of us just can't afford on a regular basis. However, the women I work with often have chronic health issues, like fibromyalgia, or autoimmune diseases, like Celiac Disease and Hashimoto's. Pain is a very normal and often constant thing for them. Being able to afford weekly massages, hypnotherapy sessions, or attend yoga classes is not a luxury, something to make them feel pampered. It's a necessity, just as going to your doctor for a bad cold might be. And if I'm being quite honest, I don't think it matters whether you have a chronic health issue or are simply struggling with something. In my mind, everyone should be able to afford these "luxuries" on a regular basis. So why don't I just raise my prices and then offer a certain number of free sessions each month?
This is the common thread I hear in business circles. And it makes perfect sense. In a roundabout way, it's really the same thing. It just doesn't quite make sense to me
. I already offer many of my services for free, something which I really can't afford to do right now, but I really don't feel comfortable with or want to charge more than I am right now. Plus I like the idea of people actively choosing to help each other out. Are you sure this is about helping others and not just that you're afraid to own your worth and charge more?
I'm imagining you asking this because I've asked it of myself many times already. The truth is, I have paid a lot of money over the last year for business coaching. It was absolutely worth it (I worked with a few different people and would recommend them all), and I would do it again. I also went into credit card debt because of it. I'm used to having student loan debt. That's been hanging over my head since the day I entered college, 13 years ago. But credit card debt is something else altogether, and if you've ever been there, you know it feels like being in a sinking hole. The last thing I want is for someone to have to choose between staying within their healthy budget and working with me. I know that for some people, it's just a matter of making the choice to invest the money in working with me rather than going on a shopping trip (random example). But I also know that some people will choose to work with me because they truly need the help even though
it will mean putting it on their credit card and not necessarily being able to pay it off right away. I'm not really okay with that. I don't think credit card debt is good for anyone's health and I want to support women in having more power. Being broke doesn't feel very powerful.
So this is an experiment. It might work; it might not. But here's how I would like to do things going forward. I charge what I'm worth, what my services are worth, and what I need to pay my bills. If you can pay the fees, then please do. If you can pay more and would like to donate a session or program to someone else, then please consider doing that. Or if you aren't interested in my services, but would like to help someone else afford them, then please donate. And if you truly can't afford to pay but feel I can help you, then you can ask me if there are any "pay it forward" spots available. No questions asked. You know your situation, and if you can't pay, I'll trust what you tell me.
If you don't like this idea, that's okay. You don't have to donate. If you're wondering how you can be sure that your donation will go towards someone else's session and not just get squirreled away in my pocket, well... I guess you'll just have to trust me. It's easy to lose faith in people these days, but in my perfect "Fairy Angel" world, we all help each other out and that's how I see this. People supporting other people in getting the type of care that we all need and deserve.
It seems everything I do these days makes me nervous. I guess that's what happens when you break your chrysalis. The cool thing is that I just keep doing things anyway, even if I'm sweating bullets while I do it (which could also be the muggy Missouri heat).
p.s. The registration for the 28 Day Challenge
ends Saturday, August 3rd, at midnight, pacific time. If you're thinking about joining, what are you waiting for? (There is 1 open spot available for the first person who e-mails me, thanks to the generous woman who started this by donating. Please consider your finances and only ask for the donated spot if you know you can't afford it.)
You can donate whatever amount you want, and can specify when you pay if you would prefer your donation to go towards a specific program or type of session.
One woman stood tall in a light cloak with holes for her wings. She wanted to dance wherever she went, and always stopped to talk with people. Her energy was joyous and peaceful. Another woman curled tightly in a cave, her dark cloak hiding her from humanity. She was anonymous, and she felt that was safest. When the two women were shown to each other, the anonymous woman began to cry. She knew what the world was like, how cruel people could be. She'd been out there before, and she would much rather stay hidden. She could rest here, she could breathe without the tension that had been inescapable before. She just wanted to be protected. The winged woman looked at her, silent, understanding. And she just walked over, into the cave, and put her arms around the sobbing woman. Her wings curved around them both. And she listened. Finally, she spoke. "Know that you are loved. Whether you stay anonymous or show yourself to the world, either way, you are loved.""But," the woman cried, "I know that there are things I'm meant to do. I know I was born with a purpose, and if I stay hidden, I'll never fulfill that purpose. I'll have failed. How can I be loved then?""Is a mother's love for her child conditional? Does it depend on that child meeting certain requirements? You came into this world being loved and you will leave it being loved. If you choose to spend the rest of your life by yourself in this cave, I will love you. The universe will love you. You don't have to do anything to earn that. Love is always yours, simply because you exist."The woman was torn. Safety, anonymity, protection from the world. She had all of that, and she was content. But there were things she wanted so deeply. She imagined giving birth to a child and raising her in that cave, the dark folds of her cloak protecting that child as it had protected her. And then she saw her child walking in the streets with the winged woman, laughing with the other children around her. She saw the light energy around them all, and she knew then that she couldn't stay where she was. If not for her, she had to leave the safety of her cave for the child she might one day have, for the children already in her life who needed a brighter world. But she had been in that cave for so long, she had no idea how to begin to walk out. She told the winged woman this, who simply held her tighter and said, "You just keep sharing your story honestly. Just keep being yourself. And say hello to people. That always helps."
This is what happened in my meditation this morning. I got a little freaked out yesterday by the attention my letter
attracted. I've been feeling a lot of tension since I wrote it. You know that feeling you get when your whole body is braced for a fight, even though you keep telling it everything's okay? I suppose as someone with an autoimmune condition, that's the default mode my body takes.
I made the mistake of reading some unkind comments around the internet. Word to the wise. Don't read what people say about you in random forums. Ever.
And I got a little bit intimidated by new subscribers attending my call last night. I guess I've gotten used to my smaller group of women who I've been working with long enough that they feel more like friends than clients.
Long story short? I woke up this morning and sat down for my meditation, a practice that has become necessary for me. I knew there was a war inside of me, the war between the woman who wants to express herself and make a difference in this world, and the woman who is absolutely terrified of people and would be much happier staying in hiding.
Whenever I decide to do phone workshops or guided meditations at local libraries or hold programs like my upcoming 28 Day Challenge
, I am stricken with the fear of putting myself out there and being ridiculed, embarrassed, or worse yet, simply ignored. So I meditate because it reminds me of why I do all this. Why I left a well-paying job at that weight loss company for more student debt and the anxiety/joy of learning to run a business that is in line with my beliefs. That photo above? That's my niece, Malia. I do this for her. And for my other niece, Eila. And for the baby I hope one day to have. Because I want them to be raised in a world where they see men and women shining
, expressing themselves, living with passion and purpose. I want them to grow up in a world where we say hello to each other rather than just passing by one another anonymously. I know that this starts with me. And so I have to continually leave my cave. Even if I get scared and scurry back in there, day after day, I have to keep walking back out.
This is me walking out of my cave
And here is last night's call
. We talked about the chrysalis each of us has for protection around us and meditated on what that chrysalis is made up of, what judgments we place on ourselves, and what it would feel like without that judgment.
And now I must prepare to walk out of that cave again, for tonight's call.
When is it time to let go? And how do you let go when your brain won't cooperate? I wrote a post yesterday called An Open Apology to All of My Weight Loss Clients
. I had no idea the response it would get. I've been blogging at The Daily Dietribe
for over 4 years, and I don't think I've ever gotten more than 6,000 page views in a day. And that's very, very rare. Normally it's more like 600. And over here at Your Fairy Angel? Well, this is a new blog so I get about 20 page views a day. It's certainly nothing to brag about. Yesterday's post
reached over 11,000 people.
Do you know what that means? It means that my message needed to be heard
. It means that as much as I needed to write that post, it wasn't about me. I've written a lot of really personal posts, but nothing has ever resonated with my readers like this.
And I'm glad this is the post that got people talking. Because this post was about letting go. It was about letting go of my guilt, letting go of my anger, letting go of my own mistakes. It was about admitting that I don't always know what I'm doing and that my beliefs will shift over time, and sometimes I'll look back and wonder, "What the heck was I doing?" It was about letting go of my own disordered body image after years of wanting so desperately to be something I wasn't.
Some of my former clients responded and appreciated what I wrote. One was very hurt and felt like I had lied to her. And that was really painful for me to take in. But I can't take back what I wrote, nor would I. Because it wasn't about me. And it wasn't about her. It was about all of us. All of us who are lied to and manipulated for the sake of money. All of us who believe there's something wrong with us, when there's really just something wrong with our society. I may have written the post, but I did so because I knew someone needed to read it. Maybe it was the woman who told me she decided to quit her diet program after reading it. Or the woman who told me she also used to work for the same company and that it helped her to read my post. Maybe it's you. Or your mother or your sister or your best friend.
I don't know. But I do know that I've learned something really important about life and letting go.
I've learned that all we can do is be honest and breathe and laugh and cry. And at the end of the day, no matter where we land, we have to just keep letting go. I wrote that post, and now I have to give it to you and let go of it. I hope you'll take it in, pass it on, and then let it go.
And if reading this, you realize that there's something else you need to let go of, then maybe you'll join me later for "How to Let Go." Tonight, I'll be hosting the first of three calls on letting go. It's been a theme in my life this past year, and I want to help you let go of those things that are holding you back. At 5pm pacific (8pm eastern), tonight, Tuesday, and Wednesday, I'm going to lead you in some exercises and guided meditations to help you let go.
Let go of what? I don't know. But you do.
At 5pm (pacific), call into (559) 726-1000
via phone or Skype
Dial this access code: 1094835#
Bring a journal or piece of paper to write on, and get nice and comfy as I'll be leading you through a meditation. The call will be recorded so you'll have the opportunity to listen afterwards if you can't make the live call.
If you plan on making the call (or are just thinking about it), send me a quick e-mail
so I have a general idea of who to expect. We'll start right at 5, so if you have to join us late, you can quietly come into the "room" and join in.