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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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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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“You’re So Tiny!”

You’re so tiny!
You aren’t even showing!
You’re all baby!
Do you even have to wear maternity clothes yet?
You don’t even look pregnant from behind!

Never has my body felt so on display and such a topic of public discussion as when I announced that I am pregnant. (Oh and if you haven’t heard the news…I am pregnant!)

From announcing my pregnancy at 14 weeks until today at 27 weeks, my body – more specifically my belly – has been evaluated, scrutinized, complimented, questioned and of course – touched.

While the comments above are certainly well-meaning and friendly,  their focus solely on my size. Each one prompting the thought: Is my baby growing okay? Is something wrong if I’m not showing by now? Now that I’m showing, am I too big? Do my clothes fit okay? And WHAT WHAT THE HECK IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO MY BEHIND??

Though there have certainly been some rough days in the last 7 months, overall I am really enjoying being pregnant. The truth is, I feel beautiful, comfortable in my body, and even sexy (at times).  Growing a baby inside of my body is truly miraculous and I do not take it for granted. I cherish each day, love feeling the kicks of my baby, and take on the challenge of finding new ways into a yoga pose.  But when someone comments on the size or shape of my body, it’s like the essence of this miracle inside of me is reduced to my weight, when it is so much more than that.

Perhaps, rather than commenting specifically on a pregnant woman’s body and her belly, you might notice what YOU FEEL when you see her. Longing? Love? Resentment? Noticing what you feel, may help direct your comments in a way that feels genuine, authentic and vulnerable and may fill up mama-to-be with gratitude and appreciation.

Comments that I’ve received that have put me at ease and captured the essence of my pregnancy:

You are beautiful!
You are so adorable/cute!
You look really comfortable in your growing body!
You’re carrying your baby beautifully!

You’re so full of energy!

You look happy and relaxed being pregnant!
You are going to be a great mom!

It is my passion to be the voice of positive body-image and to lead the way toward body-acceptance.  Let us witness the miracle of pregnancy, moving beyond evaluation of size, shape and weight to express our wonder, excitement and joy for the life that grows within.

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Love, Love, Love

Ah, February, the month of Love.

I must admit, I am quite partial to celebrating love this month.  My husband proposed to me on the beach in Kauai on February 14th, at sunrise three years ago. We were married the following year on February 23. For me, February has become a month of celebrating and honoring our relationship.

For some, February can be a difficult, disappointing and even depressing month.

But what if this month, you decided to LOVE yourself – no matter what??  

I don’t mean waiting to love yourself when you lose weight or choosing to love yourself when you feel worthy of it.

YOU ARE WORTHY OF LOVE RIGHT NOW!

love

This month, take time to slow down and honor and celebrate your relationship with yourself and your body.

Here are some helpful tips for loving yourself and your body on and off your yoga mat.

On the Mat:

  • Experience what your body is doing and how your body is feeling in each pose.
  • Explore the purpose and action of each region of your body.
  • Notice where you feel strength, flexibility, challenge and ease.
  • Honor when your body needs to become more active and when can your body can become more relaxed.
  • Notice the flow of energy(prana) in your body.
  • Offer yourself empowering or soothing mantras through your practice.
    Ex. “My legs are strong and powerful and keep me grounded.”
    “My heart is open, my breath easy.”
    “My arms open wide to let in love.”

Off the Mat:

  • Feel the love you have in your heart for others, and offer a gesture of love to yourself.
  • Practice loving yourself  – give yourself a hug, an embrace, a self-massage(foot massages are great for this!)
  • Give yourself permission to receive love – remember you are worthy of love right now!
  • Accept any difficulties or challenges that come with offering self-love – it may feel uncomfortable or new.
  • Try repeating a loving mantra through out the day.
    Ex. “I am worthy of giving and receiving love.”
    “I am lovable just the way I am.”
    “I am enough!”

We could all take a lesson from the Beatles…

…All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need…

There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known
Nothing you can see that isn’t shown
There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be
It’s easy

All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need

Songwriters
LENNON, JOHN / MCCARTNEY, PAUL

Published by
Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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“Everchanging and vital, but never perfectible”

NEPOIf ever you’ve joined me for practice at Downtown Yoga or heard me speak at conferences, then you know I love an inspiring or thought provoking reading or poem at the end of a class. The last few years, I have thoroughly been enjoying reading The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo, given to me by a dear friend around the holidays. His passages never fail to resonate with me, even when I’ve read them several times over, year after year.  9781573241175

With the holidays upon us once again, and resolutions just a week away, the passage on December 21st is representative of how I feel about the journey of Accepting Your Body’s Wisdom.

“There is nothing to do and no where to go. Accepting this, we can do everything and go anywhere. One of the basic notions of Taoism is that the world in all its mystery and difficulty cannot be improved upon , only experienced. We are asked to believe that life in all its complexity and wonder is complete as is – everchanging and vital, but never perfectible. I’ve come to understand that this doesn’t prevent our being involved. On the contrary, accepting that the world can do quite fine without us, allows us to put down the burden of being corrective heroes and simply concentrate on absorbing the journey of being alive.” Mark Nepo

As weight loss, diets, cleanses, and fresh starts are touted as the only way to enter 2016, I encourage you to re-read Mark Nepo’s passage as it pertains to your body and your journey to Accepting Your Body’s Wisdom.

Give it a try:

“There is nothing to do and no where to go. Accepting this, I can do everything and go everywhere. One of the basic notions of Taoism is that MY BODY in all its mystery and difficulty cannot be improved upon, only experienced. I am asked to believe that MY BODY in all its complexity and wonder is complete as is – everchanging and vital, but never perfectible. I’ve come to understand that this doesn’t prevent my being involved. On the contrary, accepting that MY BODY can do quite fine with WEIGHT LOSS, DIETS, CLEANSES, allows ME to put down the burden of being a corrective hero and to simply concentrate on absorbing the journey of being alive!”

As you enter 2016, enjoy the journey of being alive in THIS BODY EXACTLY AS IS!

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Community of Compassion

This past weekend, I had the immense privilege to attend and present at the 25th Annual Renfrew Center Conference in Philadelphia. I could go on and on about the unbelievable presenters and how much I learned about eating disorders, trauma, feminism, and quantum physics  (pretty awesome conference, huh?), but instead I will say simply that I left on Sunday with a renewed sense of community – a community of compassion, love and belonging.

compassion

I was invited to commune, collaborate and celebrate all weekend long! By Sunday, I felt that I truly belonged. The feeling of belonging is not a feeling I take for granted, nor is it a feeling I know everyone experiences. When we feel we belong, even just for a moment, we feel safe, cared for, protected and like ‘everything’s going to be okay’. This type of belonging isn’t one of ‘fitting in’ and peer pressure, but one of deep contentment and acceptance. When we feel like we belong, our fears, insecurities, faults and flaws seem a little smaller, not so overwhelming. When others love and accept us, it’s easier to practice compassion with ourselves.  When we have a community, our authenticity, vulnerability and imperfections are welcomed with open arms. When we have a community, we have a home.

When do you do you feel safe, loved, and accepted? Who helps you feel safe, loved and accepted? How do you create a community of compassion?

 

 

 

 

 

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“There is a season – turn, turn, turn”

Fall is upon us. I can feel it when I am driving home at 7pm and the sun is dipping behind the foothills, whereas a month ago it was still shining bright and harsh in my eyes. The evenings are cooler, schools are back in session and even Halloween decoration are already on display in stores.  For some there is the anticipation of ‘sweater weather’, cozy meals in the crock pot, and fall leaves.  For others, Fall means fear. Fear of candy corn in October and pumpkin pie in November.

I have noticed an unfortunate trend toward utilizing the month of September as a ‘cleanse’ of Summer’s ‘guilty pleasures’ and a ‘shedding’ of layers in preparation for Fall.  The belief that one needs to ‘cleanse’ or  ‘shed’ the body in preparation for a new season, is a damaging one. It leads us to feel inadequate, not good enough and keeps us in the perpetual cycle of fighting against our bodies.

Instead, turn toward your unique BodyWisdom. I promise, if you begin to listen closely, it will have important messages to share with you about how to best take care of YOU!

body 2

Tips for Turning Toward a New Season with BodyWisdom

  • When you feel compelled or persuaded to start a ‘cleanse’, remind yourself that cleansing is something you do to your hands before you eat. It has nothing to do with how you eat! Your body is perfectly capable of cleansing itself from the inside out via your internal organs.  Trust your body, not products!
  • When you’re being convinced you should  ‘shed’ those extra layers to make room for candy corn and pumpkin pie, be gentle with yourself. Offer a kind thought to your body, such as “My body requires no changes. I can enjoy the pleasures of Fall as I am”.  And then think about snakes. Yes, snakes. Snakes shed. Not humans…
  • Notice when you’re judging yourself! We often think we are simply motivating ourselves, when we are actually judging ourselves harshly. The opposite of judgment is BodyWisdom. BodyWisdom is patient, kind and thoughtful. Notice when you are saying things like:
    “I’ve got to get back on track…”
    “I really fell out of my routine..”
    “I had a really great summer, but back to the gym!”
  • Let BodyWisdom be your guide. Need some help hearing the messages? Sign up for Accepting Your Body’s Wisdom this October at http://www.pleasantonyoga.com