My Blog

Eating is Messy

Eating – it’s something we have to do to survive and yet it often becomes so complicated. I remember when I started teaching yoga in the evenings around dinner time. I struggled with “When do I eat? Before yoga and risk feeling too full and uncomfortable in the poses? After yoga when I’m tired and just want to go to sleep?” My clients often struggle with when to eat as their busy daily schedule doesn’t always permit them to eat when they are hungry. When should I eat if I can’t eat when I’m hungry? 

The complexity of food timing often means that we eat when we are, in fact, NOT hungry.

Or worse – we eat for comfort, support, connection, love, healing…

As mindful & intuitive eating practices become more well-known and accepted, I fear the term “emotional eating” has become villainized. Intuitive eating encourages us to honor our hunger with food and honor our feelings without food. These are fantastic guidelines and, when possible, are quite beneficial in breaking a restrict/binge cycle.  Lately, however, I find myself cringing when I hear or read about the faultiness of emotional eating & and the rewards of mindful & intuitive eating. Often the promise is still steeped in the diet mentality. It reads something like this: If you follow this “wellness program”  you will feel better and “may” lose weight (but of course that’s not the goal because we don’t promote weight loss because we are a wellness program). Ah, sneaky sneaky.

The complexity of knowing when & why to eat only became more apparent for me when I had my baby girl, Kassidy (now 11 months!).  She is a strictly breast-fed baby (refused to take a bottle) and she seemed to nurse 24/7 for the first 3 months. The more I reached out to moms in real life, (not the internet) I discovered I wasn’t alone – most newborns nurse nearly constantly. But she can’t possibly be hungry ALL THE TIME?! As a new mom, I was now responsible for not only figuring out if I was hungry and when to eat, but now I had to figure out if my baby was hungry and when to feed her. I soon realized how completely defenseless this baby was and that I held all the power. If I deemed that she couldn’t possibly be hungry because she just ate, I would fight to find other ways to soothe, comfort, love and connect with her.  Sometimes it worked. Sometimes she kept crying for what felt like hours (but was probably 10 minutes) until I nursed her. She was doing the unthinkable, the forbidden – emotionally eating.

My baby spent nearly the first 8 months of her life emotionally eating. Of course, she was receiving necessary calories for growth, but most of the time she wanted the comfort, love, support and connection that accompanied nursing. (I strongly believe bottle fed babies have the same emotional attachment, but I don’t have personal experience). There are certainly “experts” who would argue that after 3 months (or even younger) that a baby should only eat for nutrients, but I think most would agree that a baby needing food for comfort is “normal” and “acceptable”.

I can’t help but wonder then, why is it okay for food to also provide love, soothing, comfort and connection in addition to nutrition when we are babies, but not as we get older? Why is emotional eating getting such a bad rap? The message we get from an early age is that it’s bad to eat for reasons other than hunger. When we “catch” ourselves emotionally eating, we are ashamed so we numb out and typically eat more than we would have to begin with because the guilt is overwhelming.

What if emotional eating could ALSO be mindful and intuitive? What if we didn’t have to choose between being emotional, mindful or intuitive?

GUIDELINES FOR BEING AN EMOTIONAL, MINDFUL & INTUITIVE EATER WITHOUT SHAME & GUILT
1) HONOR YOUR EMOTIONAL AND PHYSICAL HUNGER – Sometimes we aren’t physically hungry, but we still want food. Sometimes we are able to recognize that we are bored, so we engage in an activity or we are tired, so we sleep. BUT sometimes even when we aren’t physically hunger, we still really want to eat. If you aren’t physically hungry, but you want to eat, can you stay in the present moment and identify what it is that you are feeling without judgement?
2) ONCE YOU’VE IDENTIFIED WHAT YOU ARE FEELING, STAY HONEST WITH YOURSELF – Perhaps you are able to identify that you feel frustrated and you want to eat pretzels. You know you aren’t physically hungry for pretzels, but you still really want pretzels. Instead of denying yourself pretzels, give yourself full permission to eat the pretzels because you are frustrated. You may even say out loud “I am eating pretzels because I am feeling frustrated” or “I feel frustrated, I want pretzels”. This is so important because you aren’t checking out, numbing out, or using food as a weapon. You are staying present with what you are feeling and being intentional in your choice to eat. Stay connected to the part of you that is needing something. If you are eating brownies because you are sad and need to feel loved – stay connected to the part of you that needs to feel loved and acknowledge it fully.
3) CONTINUE TO OFFER YOURSELF PERMISSION, COMPASSION AND ACCEPTANCE – Remind yourself that eating while NOT hungry is okay. Eating isn’t destructive – denying that you are eating and denying your feelings is destructive.  You deserve love, compassion and acceptance. You have permission to eat whatever you want without fear. Sometimes a bubble bath, a hug, a walk, a call to a friend is exactly what we need when we are experiencing difficult emotions. But the honest truth is sometimes the answer is food. Notice when you give yourself permission to have whatever you want, if it’s easier to stay present with what you are feeling – whatever you are feeling in that moment. Continue to offer yourself compassion and acceptance, and you may find you are free from shame and guilt, thus allowing yourself to avoid a binge/restrict cycle.
Eating is complex. Eating is complicated. Eating is messy. But it is also joyful, pleasurable, fun, soothing, comforting & nourishing for the body and soul. There isn’t a right or a wrong way to eat. Eating isn’t a punishment nor is it punishable. Our relationships to food are emotional – let’s not pretend that they aren’t and then be surprised when we eat for comfort.  You are an emotional being – there will be times when you eat for some reason other than hunger. Practice patience, kindness and acceptance and you will find exactly what you are hungering for physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

PS I am currently offering a free BodyWisdom Coaching Session. Contact me to set up your free session – sessions are done over the phone so you can live anywhere!

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Permission to Rest

“Just doing yoga won’t ever be enough for me”. I remember saying these exact words when I first started to practice yoga regularly my freshman year of college. I liked yoga, I quickly grew to love to yoga, but it was always something that came in tandem with another activity. It was a cool down after a sweaty 30 minutes on the elliptical machine or a warm up before a kick boxing class.  My need to always be moving was powerful. I had tons of energy and spent a lot of time getting rid of it, until I was finally exhausted enough to relax. This ‘don’t stop until you’re asleep’ motto was modeled in my home and stories were often told of my grandmother not sitting down until 11 pm at night when she would finally fall asleep after being on the go all day long.
My relationship with yoga changed when I got sick during my junior year of college. I was tired and weak. I didn’t have the energy that I was used to and couldn’t do all that I wanted to do. At first, I was really annoyed – I wanted to go for a bike ride, hike or get to the gym, but my body wasn’t in agreement with my mind. My body needed to rest. After struggling with this perceived “set back”, I gave myself the space to accept that “just yoga” would have to be enough (for right now anyway). But something shifted within me once I accepted that yoga was enough – I began to crave my yoga practice.  When I was feeling antsy, anxious, busy, sad, angry, overwhelmed, I would get on my mat and the practice would fill me up – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

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Do I still hike, bike, walk and stay active outside of my yoga practice? Of course, but I what I learned about myself during this time was that I used those activities to escape from my body and shut off my mind while yoga brought me in union with my body and helped to quiet my mind without numbing out. Yoga gave me a space to tune in to what I was feeling and sensing so that eventually when I did return to my other activities I could do so with more awareness and steadiness to avoid burnout and fatigue.
“Elisa, I hope you find a way to bottle your energy and sell it one day. You’ll make millions”. This was written by 8th grade English teacher in my yearbook. Short of making millions, yoga has done just that for me – it has allowed me to utilize my energy so that I can be steady, balanced and calm in all of my daily activities. Slowing down is still a challenge for me, but I remind myself every day that I have permission to rest. Stillness and rest – both within my yoga practice and as a part of my day have deepened my connection to BodyWisdom. When I am in tune with BodyWisdom, I move, eat, relate and live more intuitively.
I would love to know how your relationship with yoga as changed over the years. Did you also feel like yoga would never been enough? Maybe you still feel that way? The awesome part about yoga is that the practice itself can adapt to what we are needing (vinyasa for when we have energy to be released versus restorative when we need our energy contained.)
Whether yoga alone is enough for you these days or it’s a complement to other activities, please respond to this email if you’d like access to my next audio yoga class, “Slow and Steady”.
Namaste,
Elisa
PS Interested in trying a BodyWisdom Coaching session? I have slots available for a FREE BodyWisdom Coaching session next next Tuesday and Thursday (Sept 26th and 28th). Please email me by Sunday the 24th to claim your spot. 

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BodyWisdom Coaching

BodyWisdom Coaching

Are you ready to lose weight, feel great and make money doing it? I’ll tell you what I am ready for – to stop being bombarded with these questions and false promises.  It’s hard enough to avoid the pressure of weight loss, but now the promise that being thin makes you happy is coupled with the allure of wealth and independence.  Now it’s not enough to buy into the weight loss industry, but the industry has recruited us to sell their programs and products to friends and family in pursuit of instant health and wealth.  Even with my background in eating disorders and body image, I find myself questioning my body, my career, even my self worth when I see Facebook friends declaring their financial freedom with their morning shake in tow. I think, Oh my! What must others feel when faced with the question, “Don’t you want to change your body and be rich?”
My hunch (and my hope!) is that there are more of you out there who are tired (like me) of the message that you must be thin, beautiful and rich to be happy. I believe there are more of you out there who secretly want to end the war with your body, the war with food and be free from the food prison that rule your life each day.
I don’t have a guarantee, I don’t have a promise, but I do have an avenue that can start you on a path to acceptance.
BodyWisdom Coaching sessions are built on the foundation of Radical Acceptance, allowing space for awareness, compassion and discovery of your innate BodyWisdom or intuition. As my clients learn to trust and accept BodyWisdom, most are able to find a kinder, gentler relationship with their body and food.

Barbara writes of our work together:
“I sometimes eat when not hungry, and occasionally continue long after I am full. It is all good until the moment has passed and regret sets in.  Several months ago, I would really beat myself up for it. Negative voices would fill my head leading to periods of depression, more overeating, and excruciating self-loathing.  Each week when I have my phone call session with Elisa, I am able to speak with her openly and honestly about my week’s issues—food and un-food related, because some how they are all related right?  Elisa helps me find my way to the deepest root of the issue and provides mindfulness, meditative, cognitive solutions, as well as helping me to develop my very own kind, supportive voice in my head. The biggest revelation was when Elisa heard me tell my tale of abusive overeating for the first time, and told me now go home and do nothing.  Just observe how you feel and we will talk more next time.  Elisa showed me how trying to control or have a physical solution for every bad feeling does not need to be the solution.  There is great freedom is doing nothing!  Elisa is helping me to find a healthy relationship with food that is also kind.  This is not a lose weight fast gimmicky program.  This is a how to thrive in your real body in real life program.  Elisa has helped me to see that food is just food and not evil.  I could not ask for a better guide.  I can honestly say that I love myself more today in the exact size I am, then when I had lost many, many pounds of myself only to retain the self-loathing.  I now look at myself with love, empathy, and hope.”

Over the last year, many of my clients have transitioned to phone sessions as they find it is quite convenient not having to leave home or work. More importantly, phone sessions have accelerated many of my clients’ progress! Phone sessions allow me to hear my clients in a unique way as I listen deeply and can challenge their growth and development.
Another perk to phone sessions is that we don’t have to live in the same place! I am now located in South Florida, but you can be located anywhere!

Contact me today (dancingyoga444@yahoo.com or simply reply to this email) to set up a free 20 minute BodyWisdom Consultation.
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Odds Are

“Odds are we gonna be alright, odds are we gonna be alright tonight
Sure things go wrong, but I’ll take my chances
Odds are long, so why not play?”
Barenaked Ladies “Odds Are”

A dear friend recently looked me in the eye and said “It’s okay to go, before you know”. Hearing these words, practically knocked the wind out of me, as it was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment – I still need to breathe those words in every day.

I remember being in kindergarten and watching a drowning prevention video before the start of summer that showed the image of someone standing on a cliff over looking the water, about to jump in.  Unknown to the jumper but revealed to the viewer were the dangerous rocks hidden under the surface. That image has always stayed with me. I’m a “look before you leap” kind of girl – and I tend to look again and again and again until I’ve driven myself and everyone around me crazy.  Even when I’ve made sure there are no rocks below the surface, I doubt myself and become too afraid to jump at all.

After years of being asked “Are you staying in California?”, “Are you moving back to Florida?”, to which we  often replied “We don’t know!”, we’ve taken a HUGE leap of faith and are making peace with going before we know.

We have decided to move our family of three to Florida, where Kassidy, now six months, can be closer to her grandparents and cousins.

When we made the decision to go, nothing seemed to make sense – so much was unknown and my world felt completely upside down. In a very short amount of time, we found out that we were pre-approved to buy a house in Florida and sent my parents on a house hunt, not expecting to actually find something we loved enough to buy “sight unseen”. Well, the second home my parents viewed was “the house to beat”. After a virtual tour of the home, we took our biggest leap yet and put an offer in on the house without ever stepping foot in it ourselves. Less than 24 hours later, our offer was accepted and we are now on our way to becoming homeowners in Florida. Go before you know? YUP!

I’m not advising diving into dangerous waters without proper evaluation first. After all, we did our homework on the type of house we wanted and the location we wanted to be in, but knowing when the research is completed, the information gathered, it’s okay to take the leap, even if it doesn’t feel totally safe – sometimes it just needs to be safe enough to test the waters, then dive in!

Odds are we gonna be alright!

Living and teaching yoga for the past 12 years in three different states, never have I encountered such an amazing community as Pleasanton. My heart is filled to the brim just thinking of all the dedicated, passionate and kind students and teachers who have become my dearest friends. These last 7 years, Pleasanton has been our home. The gratitude I have for this community is simply overwhelming. My personal and professional life has truly been changed forever knowing each and everyone one of you.

Much love and gratitude,

Elisa

P.S  I am continuing my BodyWisdom Coaching business in Florida and would love to work with you over the phone/skype (the beauty of technology is that we can be connected from anywhere!) Let’s get started today with a coaching session. Check out http://www.elisamott.com for more info. or reply to this email to set up a session!

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Our Children, Our Future

Our Children, Our Future

“I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be”

I have a very vivid memory of me singing along to the lyrics to Whitney Houston’s 1985 hit, “The Greatest Love of All”. In all the times I sang this song, never did I imagine what it would be like to be an adult with a child – a mother holding the future in my hands. But as much as I am her teacher, she is truly mine.  With each new day, she shows me what it is like to see, hear and taste something for the first time, to gaze at black and white outlines as though they are as valuable as Van Gough’s, to smile for seemingly no reason at all, and to sleep despite the chaos in a room.

Most importantly, she has shown me that no child is born with the ability to hate or discriminate another human being based on their religion or the color of their skin. She can only be taught racism, xenophobia, and misogyny. It is our (me and my husband) responsibility to teach her to love and respect herself first, so that she may do the same for others.

They can’t take away my dignity
Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all

We love her more than we could possibly imagine and know that our love for her will only continue to grow each and every day. But my husband and I are only one part of her village – you are such a significant part of her village – whether you’ve met her or not.

We ALL owe it to ALL our children, our future, to teach and model dignity, decency and respect; to teach and share equality, love, and kindness; and to stand up, speak up, and march and resist peacefully and thoughtfully. They are our future and their future is in our hands.


Kassidy Lila Mott Jones born on 12/12/16 on 11:51pm. 6 pounds 20 inches.

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Embracing Change

Embracing Change

“The only thing constant is change”…we’ve all heard the cliche.  And while I know that change is inevitable, it is often quite irresistible to fear it, enticing to resist it and tempting to control it.

My husband and I have now lived in Northern California for 6 years. Those that know us know that every year we discuss moving back East to be closer to family. We also discuss committing to staying in California and buying a home. Yet, year after year, I become overwhelmed by the fear of change, resist it and choose to stay put, resigning our rental lease and keep doing what what we’ve done before.

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“If ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. I’m realizing more and more this tends to be a life motto for me – why rock the boat when everything is just fine? As I approach 37 weeks of pregnancy, I am noticing more than ever my philosophy to stick to what I now know. “I’ve got this pregnancy thing figured out – I enjoy it, I feel healthy and happy, I am still able to work and play. After 9 months of being pregnant, I’m basically an expert at it – so why change things now? Isn’t there an option to resign my baby’s lease?” Of course, just 9 months ago, I couldn’t imagine being pregnant and yet here I am completely attached to being pregnant and now can’t imagine not being pregnant. How quickly we adapt, adjust and settle in to what once felt so new. Yet, our fear tells us again and again we will never get used to something new and different.

Of course, I am excited to meet my baby girl, but with meeting her comes a whole new world and a really, really big change! One that I can not resist and have absolutely no control over! She is coming whether I am ready or not. I can prepare and plan, rest and clean…or not…either way she is coming on her own time and in her own way. She is in charge, not me.

In a way, this is actually a huge relief. I don’t have decide anything. I have even found myself less and less attached to my due date – she will come when she’s ready, all I need to do is keep breathing and enjoy the precious moments left during my first pregnancy. I choose to let go into the unexpected journey ahead and embrace the change.

Something tells me this might be a very, very helpful lesson in motherhood…

Where does resistance to change show up in your life? When do you feel tempted to control change? How have you embraced change? I would love to hear from you.

Elisa

http://www.elisamott.com