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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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“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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“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
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Celebrate Freedom

declaration
As we celebrate our country’s freedom, I challenge us all to celebrate freedom from body shaming!

If you live with a voice in your head that tells you that you’re fat, ugly, too short/tall, you need to lose weight, or you’re just not good enough – TODAY is an excellent day to declare your freedom!

Ready for independence? Write your own Declaration of Independence! What truths do you hold to be self-evident?

1) All bodies, regardless of size, shape and weight, are worthy of acceptance and love.
2) All bodies deserve a balance of movement and rest.
3) My body is enough – it doesn’t require any changes or modifications!

Feel free to expand on these or create your own statements for your own Declaration of Independence! No longer live under the rule of fear, oppression and hate!

Also – check out author, singer/song writer, and speaker, Jenni Schaefer’s website for more inspiration – http://www.jennischaefer.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Declaration-of-Independence-2014.pdf

Have fun and let freedom reign!

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The ‘F-Word’

I have been thinking a lot lately about the F-word (FAT!). How has it come to take on such a negative connotation that seems to be equivalent with words like lazy, sloth, and worthless?
After all, fat is just a description to describe a shape. For example, when I look in my upper cupboard where I store all my glassware, I can find tall, short, narrow, wide, thin and even fat glasses! Is the narrow thin glass more superior to the wide fat glass? Of course not!
Ironically, society has deemed that instead of the word fat, we use the word ‘politically correct’ word ‘overweight’ – which actually implies more judgment than when we just use the word fat to describe someone who is in fact just that – fat. Overweight implies that someone is over and beyond the standard of what is ‘good’ or ‘normal’ and how can we really judge what is good, normal or better yet, comfortable for someone’s body.
To make assumptions about someone – whether about their health, wellness, personality or attitude – just because they are fat, thin, tall or short is a complete waste of time and energy.
Likewise, when some body – tall, fat, thin, or short – walks into a yoga class, what judgments do you make about them? Do you assume a tall, lean, thin body is a more capable and advanced yogi than a short, fat, wide body?
Today is a great day to recognize and increase your awareness surrounding your own prejudices and judgments that you may have about others bodies or your own. If you’re a yoga instructor, make note of how you treat different size bodies, perhaps giving special treatment to some body’s while ignoring others. If you’re a student, note your expectations of a fellow yogi before a class as even begun.
Questions to consider:
Am I completely comfortable with the shape of my body?
Do I have any desire to change the shape of my body?
Do I judge other people’s bodies as ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than my own?
What judgments or stereotypes do I associate with different body types(my own or others) – fat, thin, narrow, wide, tall, short?
Attached is an article about yoga studios across the United States that are reclaiming the word fat.
What does this article bring up for you?