Archive for the ‘Body Wisdom’ Category

Surrendering and releasing my hold on my food addiction.

For most of my life, I have had a food addiction and have carried an access amount of weight on my body as an adult. I have written about this many times in the past.

I would be classified as morbidly obese.  Although throughout my adult life I have unravelled a lot of pieces of the puzzle to why, and have made many wonderful changes to my food choices over the years, I still carry to much weight and stress in my body which has caused some health issues.

Over the years I learned the many varied ways I use food and weightloss to my detriment but there have been times in the past that I have found a much more peaceful place in my body and yet I often still felt numb. I even have managed to keep 40 to 50 pounds off my highest weight in the past 10 years or so.

For me, the addiction came in many forms that all created ways to stay in my head and numb my body to the many feelings that I did not want to access. Some of those ways were going on the latest fad diet or obsessively weighing myself. Beating myself up when I binged or gained a pound which always led me to more binging. I had learned in early childhood that eating was a way to cope with stress. It worked well.  I also know that denial is an important coping mechanism. It can keep us sane in insane circumstances.  But it can also become a way of life that keeps us just numb enough to cope that we are not even aware that it is keeping us in a state of mediocre. I believe this is how I have been for most of my life.  Always finding ways to reach the summit but never jumping off. I have had amazing moments of body awareness that I could hardly contain.  But ultimately I would soon find myself retreating out of fear back into my head where I felt falsely safer.

“My mind is a neighborhood I try not to go into alone.” -Anne Lamott

We live in a story in our heads that is always trying to get us to ‘do’ life, telling us we need to make ourselves and our lives better or different from what they are. In our endless trying, we have forgotten how to be.”  Mary O“Malley

Part of my challenge this year is to stay in my body as much as possible, it is a daily struggle at times but I am determined to feel my life in all its colours both dark and light.  I know there are many many colours that I am not even aware of that I am excited to discover.  I have developed a great deal of self-compassion these days and a deeper understanding of my years on this planet.

As I awaken more and move into the deeper layers of my body I am deeply moved at how much I have been missing. I will keep moving toward this new awareness that has come out of depression and what it has taught me. The greatest lesson is the surrendering of my addiction and allowing it as Mary O’Malley says “be the way”

Our compulsions serve two functions: the first is to keep unacceptable feelings buried deeply within so we can be numb enough to survive, and the second is to bring us comfort.” 
 Mary O’Malley 

When I turn to food for comfort, I am allowing myself to just be with that part of me without judgement and for the first time in a very long time, I am loving myself no matter what which is allowing me to learn the ultimate lesson of self-care, to be with what is and live more in the present moment.

Whatever is happening, whatever is changing, whatever is going or not going according to my plans–I release my hold on all of it. I leave behind who I think I am, who I want to be, what I want the world to be. I come home to the great peace of the present moment.” -Elizabeth Lesser

Joy comes from the ability to be with life as it is.” Mary O’Malley

Narms wide openew adventureswater drop await, looking forward to what they bring.

Week 4: Bringing Spirituality back to the table.

Most of us whether we have a weight problem or not are going through life without really feeling our body or the cues it give us.  This is true of emotions that we simply ignore or stuff away with food or when we eat long after we are full because we have lost the art of checking in to “feel” if we are full yet, or cramming in food with no nutritional value because we are “too busy”. There are many socially accepted ideas of the modern world when it comes to taking in nourishment and one of them is eating on the run.  All these add up to being very disconnected to our body’s ability to maximize its ability to create health and wellness even with the most nutritional food.

We are losing the spiritual connectedness of food and our body.  Most spiritual and religious traditions place a high value on food and eating practices. I believe this is  missing today. For example in Buddhism it is very  important to be mindful when eating.  We all know it is important to slow down but they take this deeper and much more spiritually. They believe that while eating one should reflect on the people whose labour it took to grow and harvest the food, to set aside any negative feelings towards others etc. We are also mostly familiar with the practice of saying grace before a meal. Many religions believe only in eating kosher food as a way of knowing the food especially animals were deeply respected before they consume them.

I am rereading Marc David’s book again “Nourishing Wisdom “.  In Chapter one  he writes “Placed within a spiritual context. The ultimate goal of any dietary philosophy is to take us fully into the body, and beyond the body. That is, by taking us fully into the body our dietary system must enable us to experience the maximum physical benefits of food-good health, the delight of eating, and the fulfillment of nutrient needs.”

We do not need to be religious to understand the wisdom of these practices.  Our digestion is best when we are peaceful and calm. Our body is made from energy and the food we eat gives us energy so it makes sense to create an atmosphere of respect and mindfulness.   We are not meant to eat fast while thinking about a thousand other things, or while watching TV or driving which many of us do( me included).  However I have in the last year implemented more times now at the table, where I set the table nicely with either a candle or with flowers.  I use beautiful dishes and begin with saying grace more often and then taking my time enjoying every bite.

Even with foods that are not as nutritious like when I crave a chocolate bar, (I do on my cycle a lot :) ) I do my best to eat mindfully.  One of my favorite ways to do this is with my favourite cup of hot herbal tea. I also buy a fair trade organic bar and eat it one block at a time!! Yummmmm, I savor every bite! I truly have come to believe that it is not just what we eat that is important but how we eat.

What can you do starting this week to bring more spirituality to the table?

table

 

Moving (AKA exercise)your body according to your Archetype!

A lesson I learned a long time ago was to reword and reinterpret the word exercise.  Marc David in “Nourishing Wisdom” speaks of “moving” our bodies instead of the common push of “No pain no gain” adage we have come to know as “exercise”.  Recently I have decided to explore this truth a bit deeper in my own journey.  The last book I read reminded me of this wisdom with a topic I have been interested in for years, “archetypes”.

 I read Carolyn Myss’s new book “Archetypes who are you?” and once again I realized how important is it to value our own unique selves in every way.  After I finished I began to reflect on the ways I have tried to move my body on many occasions that left me feeling frustrated and uninspired.  This led me to reflect on how moving our bodies could also be connected to our archetypes.   What is an Archetype? In psychology, an archetype is a model of a person, personality, or behavior.

There are virtually hundreds of Archetypes and according to Carolyn we generally have a few main ones that define who we are.  Although we all have some of all archetypes in us, to truly be healthy and happy Carolyn believes we need to honor specifically the major three that represent who we are to live authentically.   In the first line of the book she says quote

“I have long believed that it is impossible for us to know who we truly are unless we understand archetypes and, more specifically our own personal archetypes, because archetypes are the psychic lenses through which we view ourselves and the world around us” 

Very often society reflects that we all need to be working at the gym, or running marathons and lifting weights and although this may be wonderful for some I have come to believe this is not for me no matter how many times I try.

This spring I felt a huge urge to move more fully into my body and release the extra weight I carry and automatically talked to a couple of women I knew who had created exercising as routine parts of their lives for advice. They kindly shared work out programs using weights, cardio and extra.  I so appreciate their time but very soon after I started pushing myself into this model of exercise,   I felt a disconnect once again with my body and began to feel frustrated.  I remembered Marc David’s beautiful wisdom of listening to our own inner wisdom for guidance on what is best for our bodies.

After discovering my main archetype is a “Spiritual Seeker “ ( no surprise here  :) ) things began to make sense.  I love silence and mediation.  I easily get overwhelmed with a lot of noise and confusion.   I love moving my body with gentle movements that flow easily and concisely.  I do not like jarring or fast movements.   I love feeling the sensations in my body but in soft powerful ways.  This is why for me I am so comfortable with Yoga & Qigong and is why I continue to do these and feel so connected every time I do.  The other thing I love is walking in nature.  I love the sights, smells and sounds that stimulate all my senses and this is when my body feels most alive!! I have tried too many times to fit in to “The Athlete “archetype with of course disastrous results.

The lesson I learned is in honoring our bodies’ in their unique way we will achieve the results we desire with much less frustration.   Carolyn’s Myss’s  new book “Archetypes who are you?” explores 10 archetypes and she also recommends a web site where you can take a quiz and see if you are any of these and its free. www.ArchetypeMe.com.  I believe this is a wonderful subject to explore for all aspects of our lives.  Who are you?

qigong

When I stopped judging myself magic began to happen.

I was at the YMCA working out the other morning on one of the machines.  It had been a few years since I had been and it was really nice catching up with old friends from before.  This morning in particular I was next to a young woman who I knew from before and she was lamenting about how she was really angry with herself for all the years she had been fat.  She had lost a huge amount a few years back and felt that she needed a reminder and was going to put up a picture of herself when she was fat as a deterrent to overeating.

This conversation struck me as sad for I could hear in her voice so much regret and anger for the woman she was.  In reality that anger and regret spills into the woman she is.  Read the rest of this entry »

“Whole food”; A sweeter and juicer life!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am often perplexed by the term “whole food”.  We hear it a lot now in dieting ads, it certainly is advocated in many medical conditions and overall we understand this to be a much healthier choice.

Yet I wonder what my grandmother would say about this word.  Food has always been quote “whole” until the industrial revolution brought a new way to preserve food with the use of artificial chemicals and plastic packaging.  Our generation has learned how to genetically modify food; we have learned how to enhance the look of food by adding colors and artificial flavoring to the point of it being unrecognizable to my grandmother’s generation.   We even find it totally unacceptable to buy a blemished fruit or vegetable.  This last point is where I find it most disturbing, for as a gardener myself I realize that the only way to produce perfect looking produce is through the use of harsh chemicals.  Thus this is why I have been an organic gardener for over 25 years.  I have an elderly neighbor once say that “if the bugs won’t eat it why the hell should we!” Read the rest of this entry »

My extra weight has been a great teacher.

Being overweight my whole adult life has taught me allot about self-acceptance.

My weight has been teaching me so much about life and self-love and I have no doubt what so ever when the lessons I need are finished I will release the extra weight.  A long time ago I stopped trying to lose weight for every time I lose anything I always end up finding it again! :)

My journey has been about living more fully in my body, learning to listen, movement and be present to the food I eat.  Years ago I learned for me it is not about weighing, measuring, counting calories, or jumping on the scale everyday.   The weight I have managed to keep off has come only through being more present to my body and life as a whole. Read the rest of this entry »

Being Thankful for the Sacred Wisdom of our Bodies

Lately I have been in this wonderful place again where I am at peace with my body.  This is not always the case and I have learned to be much gentler when I am not.  However when I am here in this peaceful place I have learned to be open to what my body’s needs are about true health and wellness.

 

Thankfully there seems to be a shift in the world away from the concept of “dieting” and moving towards self acceptance and reconnecting to our body wisdom.  Many years ago over 15 year now I read a wonderful book called “Nourishing Wisdom by Mark David.  Although it took all these years later to implement a lot of the wisdom of this book at that time is when I decided to never “diet” again and have not.  Although I have had health issues which have caused me to eat differently at times such as all raw or vegetarian,  I realized that Marc’s message of our body’s need for different foods at different times for different reasons has become my way of life.   Much of my journey over especially the last 4 years in training to become a Life Coach helped me finally see how being overweight was a way to stay invisible to the world.  Most importantly also how food had become my way of not feeling my emotions when I was under any stress.  

I have discovered many beautiful aspects of myself doing Shadow work and one of the greatest gifts is how I have found ways to care for my body that I love doing that feel sacred!  I love yoga, qigong, walking in nature and others ways of moving my body.  Although this one I resist still at times I love when I consciously eat my food.  Food takes on a whole new vision when I do.  My body wakes up and I hear the messages of being full, really being hungry and when my body needs rest and so on.  Our bodies are made perfectly for the job of housing our soul.  When I listen really listen to my body I understand what I need to eat, how much I need to eat and just as important loving every single morsel.  

As we eat our thanks giving turkeys or vegetarian equivalent this weekend remind ourselves of the precious gift of our bodies.  How we can enjoy our meals together or alone by eating slow, consciously and without guilt.  Surprisingly when we do we eat less and come away with feeling of appreciation of our time of thanksgiving instead of some of the usual discomfort that comes from overeating that numbs the beauty of the moment.  

What can you do today that will help you be more conscious of your body’s wisdom and anchor in these precious moments of thanksgiving?

Want to make healthier choices for your body? Start first with changing your thoughts

“We become what we think about” When is the last time you looked in a mirror and liked what you saw.  We often have this inner dialogue that sounds like “I look so fat” or “I am to thin” or “I hate my …..”  We use harsh words to describe this amazing vessel that we are so privileged to live in.  A lot of us cannot imagine at anytime looking at another person and repeating these harsh words yet we know this happens also. We judge ourselves by the standard of others not realizing when we do we are contributing to that standard.  Our thoughts even if they are not expressed outwards towards others are creating more and more of what we think about. 

If we stop and contemplate on this it is not hard to see that if we are constantly bombarding our mind with self deprecating thoughts how we can ever be motivated to make permanent changes.  When we do make changes through wilful perseverance we often end up with the same negative thoughts and end right back to unhealthy practices. 

We understand that children blossom with positive reinforcement.  We forget that this is true for all of us.  The best and surest way to make changes in our lives is to fill up with gratitude and appreciation for the bodies we have in this moment.  Our bodies are amazing, most of us have the ability to touch, see, smell, hear, taste.  Even when some of these senses are lost our bodies have an incredible ability to adapt and increase the other senses.

Whether we are 400lbs or 100lbs, no matter who we see in the mirror when we reinforce our own thoughts of being worthy of healthier choices this will increase our joy and passion for life. Therefore we will shift in the way we take care of our bodies.  When we do we give all those around us the same message. 

It is time to be a mirror for this next generation that our bodies are sacred and worthy of acceptance and healthier choices, we can begin with changing our thoughts about ourselves and others.   We are truly guided by our mind.  

What thought can you change today about your body?

The Wisdom of our Bodies

  On Oprah.com Debbie Ford has a 6 Week Breakthrough Plan people can sign up for free.  http://www.oprah.com/packages/the-shadow-effect.html

The first week is “Food/Body Image”.  This is an area in my life that comes with great healing and on going life lessons.

My food addiction for most of my life was my “enemy” until I uncovered the gold in this addiction through shadow work. My gold was the capacity to survive a very volatile early childhood. Eating was a way that I could escape the pain and still go through day to day coping with what seem to me as a crazy mixture of love and violence from my dad.  One of my core Shadows beliefs born from my childhood was the world was not safe.  My overeating was a way to suppress this Shadow. Later on as an adult with a lot of mistrust and rage crammed inside I ballooned up over 310lbs.

Thankfully my gold was that food enabled me to numb the rage. In doing so it kept me from projecting alot of pain onto others until I finally was able to unravel, process and release it.  My inner child never felt safe so this sweet aspect of myself found a way to survive through food.   Now I am learning to feel safe in this world as I learn to love and listen to my deepest feelings. .

I have come to love my body more each day and enjoy being in it. This sounds funny in away but for most of my adult life I did not live in my body. Each and every day I am learning to listen to my body. This is new for me, I ignored, made wrong, and abused my beautiful body by stuffing it with way to much food because I needed to!

I find it interesting when I hear people still say “My body let me down”.  I now know it was the other way around.  I realize it is my responsibility to love and care for these vulnerable Shadow aspects of myself so that I can be present to my body and give it the nourishment is deserves.

Our amazing bodies have incredible resilience; we are so divinely made for health and wellness! Compassion and forgiveness for ourselves is the key to unlock the gold! Learn to be still and listen. Our bodies have much to teach us! Our bodies are powerhouses of wisdom and insights. This week the message from my body is “I am your friend, treat me accordingly”.

This after a binge on chips and dip came as a wonderful reminder that I still can fall into my addiction to numbing my stress but I now have the tools to hear what my body has to say! I have lost over 80lbs now, it has been a 4 year journey, one that I still am on and understand more than ever that the answers are inside, the place where a lot of us least like to be.

My inner world has now become my home, yes I still run away from time to time, but I finally have made a permanent path of love, compassion and self-love that lights my way back home to grace.