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“There are only two things I really can’t stand. Change. And the way things are.” – Unknown

Yes, we all feel this way from time to time (if not most of the time). You are not alone and you are in the right place. And to you return readers, I’m happy to see you all again!

For me, this year, and these past few months in particular, have been full of change up to my eyeballs. And change, as much as I can’t stand it sometimes, and as long as I’m trying to do the next right thing, is actually pretty darn good. It’s kind of like a jump start for my soul. And who doesn’t need a little jump start from time to time? 🙂

That being said, when it comes to our diets, change is better when it’s gradual. Even more important is what kind of change it is, and even what we call it. From what I’ve learned through my schooling as a Holistic Health Coach, there really is nothing good that comes out of the concept of “I can’t” when it comes to food. As in “My doctor says I can’t….” or “My R.D. says I can’t…”

“I can’t eat ice cream,” or “I can’t eat bread,” or “I can’t  eat after midnight,” etc. etc.  Yech. I hate those words, don’t you?


The whole concept of “I can’t,” or “I’m not allowed to,” simply gets your brain into that sad state that most people know all too well – Deprivation. And what happens when we start to feel like we are being deprived? Resentment, anxiety, fear, sadness, anger. Pretty much nothing good.

It’s much more useful to add healthier things to your diet. Better for your head, your heart, and your body.

As in “add in more fruits,” “add in more vegetables,” “add in more healthy fats and delicious grains and organic foods.” Do it for a day, or a week, or a month. Before long you’re too full and too satisfied to think about the fact that you haven’t had McDonalds in over a month and that, low and behold, you lost 10lbs and your skin feels as smooth as a baby’s bottom. And rather than feeling like you’ve lost something you realize you’ve gained everything! You’ve actually achieved the opposite of deprivation, Indulgence!  🙂

And boy doesn’t that get your serotonin pumpin’ ? 🙂

That being said, I realized that perhaps one of the best possible things I could offer my readers – especially you folks who like lists and following lists and all of that good stuff – is a handy dandy little Indulgence List. I know I throw a lot out at you here in terms of suggestions and advice, that it can be difficult to bring everything to mind when you take your next trip to the food store. So then, let’s make it easy! What follows is a nutritious, empowering, indulgence shopping list that you can print out and take with you during your next trip to the food store (PS – it’ll be much easier to follow this list if you shop at a natural foods store. Some major ones you likely have in your area are Whole Foods Market (I might as well just set up a cot in aisle 6 I’m there so often), Yes!, MOM’s (My Organic Market), TPSS if you live in the DC metro area, Trader Joes and many independent stores).

There is only one thing I require (yes, it’s the honor system here) before you begin using this list. Just one thing.

You must promise not to remove anything from your fridge or cabinets before or after you shop. Unless, ya know, it gets too crowded and you feel you must take something out to make room for all the fantastic new foods you’ve been adding lest your shelves collapse.

That’s all I require. I suggest that you make things more fun and interesting by breaking this list down to one category (grains, proteins, veggies, etc) per shopping trip. And once you’ve covered all the categories, and started adding a few things to your diet, then you could take a step back and see how you feel. The goal here is to expand your palate, increase your happiness and to indulge your senses with real, whole foods that nature intended for you to eat and to thoroughly enjoy with each and every bite.

Happy Shopping!

GRAINS:

The first rule of thumb is that Organic is best for your palate and your body. And don’t be afraid of the freezer section of your food store – the breads there generally have less preservatives and more real flavor!
* Sprouted Bread – found at Whole Foods, Trader Joes and other organic food stores – LOW GLUTEN & DELICIOUS!
*
quinoa (cooks just like rice and has more protein than other grains; and all the essential amino acids) – GLUTEN FREE!

All diets really are specific to the individual. If you want to know the ideal grains for you, see here: http://learningtoloveyourbody.com/


PROTEINS:

* organic nut butters (almond is best – no jif or anything you can find in giant – you want 1-2 ingredients, the nut and salt)
* eggs (organic, all-natural feed)
* kefir or yogurt (unsweetened, organic is best)

All diets really are specific to the individual. If you want to know the ideal proteins for you, see here: http://learningtoloveyourbody.com/

FRUITS:


just about anything is great – try to buy organic b/c less pesticides
some really healthy and just plain delicious ones are…
* blueberries/raspberries/blackberries
* grapefruit (detoxing)

All diets really are specific to the individual. If you want to know the ideal fruits for you, see here: http://learningtoloveyourbody.com/

VEGGIES:


* spinach
* chard (I LOOOVE this stuff in place of lettuce or sauteed like spinach in raw butter or olive oil)
* kale

All diets really are specific to the individual. If you want to know the ideal veggies for you, see here: http://learningtoloveyourbody.com/

OILS:


* extra virgin olive oil, cold-pressed
* extra virgin or virgin coconut oil

All diets really are specific to the individual. If you want to know the ideal oils for you, see here: http://learningtoloveyourbody.com/


BEVERAGES
:


* water and 100% juices (cranberry is great as it is very cleansing)
* teas are great – especially green!

All diets really are specific to the individual. If you want to know the ideal beverages for you, see here: http://learningtoloveyourbody.com/


SWEETENERS

* stevia
*
honey (raw is best)

All diets really are specific to the individual. If you want to know the ideal sweeteners for you, see here: http://learningtoloveyourbody.com/

SNACKS:


* dried fruits and nuts are the way to go (the most nutritious are walnuts and almonds – preferably in the raw)
* fruit

All diets really are specific to the individual. If you want to know the ideal snack foods for you, see here: http://learningtoloveyourbody.com/

SUPPLEMENTS:


* high-quality multivitamin
* probiotics (there are so many kinds, just make sure it has acidophilus and bifidus in it and the culture count be in the billions)

All diets really are specific to the individual. If you want to know the ideal supplements for you, see here: http://learningtoloveyourbody.com/

And live it up! 🙂

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

HELP!! – I Want to Change but I’m OVERWHELMED!

Contact me directly to schedule your FREE Health History:
www.learningtoloveyourbody.com
kelly@learningtoloveyourbody.com

(609) 306-7356

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89lbs

I will eat what I want
and look as I please
and laugh as loud as I like
and use the wrong fork of my knife.
I had to learn strange and delicious lessons, lessons too few women learn:
to love the thump of my steps,
the implication of weight and presence and taking of space,
to love my body’s rebellious hungers,
responses to touch,
and to understand myself as more than a brain attached  to a bundle of bones.
I have to ignore the cultural cacophony that singsongs all day long, Too much, too much, too much.
– Marya Hornbacker, “Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia”


When I was 17 years old I attached a lot of words to myself. Actress, Writer, Singer, Friend, Daughter (more like “bad daughter”). But the one that I stuck to myself the hardest, the one I wore like a badge of honor and believed defined my strength and power as a woman was Feminist. I believed, as Wictionary declares, in “the social, political, and economical equality of the sexes.” I believed that women were strong, good, even better. I believed that it was part of my job to dispel the myths of feminism and proclaim that nearly everyone, if they took the time to read the definition, would declare themself Feminist too. I idolized Gloria Steinem, protested the subjugation of women through a dreadful little thing called “heels,” and I spoke my mind dramatically and often.

And I weighed 89lbs.

Unfortunately, I can guarantee that half the female readers who peruse this blog have been there. Or they’ve been close to there. Or worse, some part of them has actually wanted to be there. Why? An indeterminate number of factors come into play, but there are a few constants. And even though I alone can’t cure Anorexia, Bulimia, or general chronic overeating and binging disorders, I will attempt to offer some simple steps that have helped me heal. If, however, you are aware that you are in the midst of a genuine eating disorder that the the thought of healing from terrifies you, you need to take yourself out of the driver seat immediately and let someone else guide you. And if your absolutely terrified of this prospect, you can simply tell someone you trust what is really going on with you, and tell them you need help. You can find more information at eating-disorder.com/Eating-Treatment/Resources.htmor call 866-575-8179.

Ok, so let’s break this down a bit.

CONTROL, CONTROL, CONTROL?

It’s a commonly held belief that eating disorders are all about Control. As in, a woman (or man), feels out of control in his or her life and said person’s eating patterns, the weight of their body, are the one thing that they can control, so that’s why they do it. This is only partially true. In the end, when the disease is very advanced, your daily activities amount to total focus on controlling what you eat, when, how much, etc.

But that’s certainly not all of it.

If it were really all about control than we’d be finding disorders like “Hair Straightenitis” (the chronic need to control the shape and structure of one’s hair) or “Brazillia Nervosa” (the chronic need to get Brazillian bikini waxes that results in an inaccurate perception of the amount of hair in your pubic area” or a whole host of similar “disorders.” 😉

If it were all about control, Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa would have been epidemic in the 1950s, when a large majority of women had little control over their professional and personal lives, where choice was often limited to the color of the carpet or the cleanliness of the household.

If it were all about control, eating disorders would be epidemic in Saudi Arabia, where women are considered far below men on the socio-political meter and have very few rights and liberties.

Nope, eating disorders, at least at first, are all about POWER.

Or, at least, a misguided (and culturally fostered) attempt to gain it. And here’s how it often begins.

You’re a kid, just starting to grow into a woman. You’ve got the normal (good!) baby fat on you, and you are healthy. You don’t look at food as the “enemy,” in fact, you rarely think about food. You’re a little uncomfortable, ok a lot uncomfortable, with the changes that are going on in your body and in your life, like most teenagers. And you desperately want to fit in and be cool and be popular. You hear (earlier and earlier these days) that some of the more popular girls in school are going on “diets.” You decide that, in order to be cool and fit in, you’re going to go on a “diet” too. So you start restricting the amount of calories you eat. You say, “oh sorry, none for me, I’m not hungry” when someone offers you food (which is a lie). Within a couple weeks, you’ve actually lost a little weight. Somebody (often an adult female in your family or in another key role in your life) says, “You look good, did you lose some weight?” You think, “Huh. I wasn’t looking good before?” Unconsciously or consciously a seed is planted. You begin to believe that in order to look good and have people validate you (which, as a teenager, you desperately crave), you have to be thinner.” Ok. Got it.

So you lose a little more weight, and you get even more compliments.

The popular girls in school start to notice you a little more. Your mom may look at you more approvingly. And that little seed has sprouted into a baby tree before you know it.

Quite naturally, you start to see that every time you lose weight, more people seem to like you, and more people seem to notice you. Quite naturally, you begin to believe you have found the answer. You begin to believe that the key to getting everything you want out of life, the self-confidence you are sorely lacking, the love and approval you crave, is to lose weight. You begin to put “being thin” down as your highest goal. Nothing before has ever worked like this! You’ve found the secret to being successful, loved, cared for, approved of. They key to finally being powerful.

So you remain on what seems to be the most logical path. You lose more weight. You start to identify the feeling of being hungry (which you seem to be all the time these days), with being loved. And soon the feeling of being uncomfortable becomes very, well, comfortable.

You start spending a lot of time looking at women in “women’s” magazines, female celebrities on TV, “Super”models, and you see that they are all super thin. You also see that other people seem care about them, to NOTICE them. They obviously care about them and notice them enough to put them in magazines, on TV and in movies, and ask them questions about themselves. THEY ARE IMPORTANT, THEIR OPINIONS ARE IMPORTANT is the message you receive, and you are certain it is  because they are thin, or at least partially. So you begin to idolize them, to crave what they have.

And so you lose even more weight.

But now, people seem to be looking at you a bit differently. Their faces now have a look of concern. It is a different look than you’ve gotten before, but it’s still a look. They still seem to care about you, and now they seem to care even more(!), albeit in a different way.

They start telling you that you are “too thin.” They start asking you what is wrong with you. If you’re eating enough. And this confuses the hell out of you.

You think: “What do you mean, ‘what is wrong?,’  I’m not doing anything different than I was before. You liked me more when I lost weight, so that’s why I keep losing weight, so you’ll keep liking me more. So you’ll keep noticing me more. Duh! Why would you think I’d want to change that? I mean, of course I’m losing weight. The more weight I lose, the more you seem to like me. Right? How dare you tell me I should GAIN weight? Why would I do that? Why would I give up this power I’ve gotten? You clearly want me to be that insecure, scared girl I was before. Screw you!”

And so you keep on your path. And now, being thin, losing weight, being more thin, has become the sole purpose of your life. You’re not really sure how it became that, but it is. And since you have no tools (or don’t even think there are other tools) to attaining the (pseudo) self-love and (pseudo) self-respect that you believe being thin has givin you, you think that it is the ONLY was to attain what you want out of life. It’s the magic potion, and you won’t let anyone take that potion away from you. I mean, it worked before, right?

And you keep on the path. You may have to lie a lot, or all the time, to stay on the path, but that’s ok with you. It’s NECESSARY, you believe. The path seems to be a bit darker now, yes, but it’s the only path you know. And you become lost on this path. Quite naturally, you LOSE yourself on this path. It’s so dark you can’t even see what you’ve done anymore. You can’t even SEE your body anymore. Your body becomes completely detached from YOU. It is simply a thing, a vessel, to get what want, what you NEED.

And before you know it, before you see what has happened, you’re 89lbs and your mother is crying in the dressing room as you try on bras (for your much-smaller breasts than you had before you began on this path).

And you wonder, “how the hell did I get here?”

Anorexia is well, ironic. Bulimia is a disorder on which an entire separate entry could be given, and since my experience was primarily with Anorexia (simply cause my mom has really good hearing), I’m going to focus a bit more on that. But in the end, it’s all the same. Like other disease of addiction – alcoholism – drug addiction – gambling – it lies to you from day one. It tells you it’s giving you power, only to take all your power away. And, like all the other diseases of addiction, it’s progressive. And it kills.

What you read above is my story. So similar to so many others, but mine, and I own it. And I’m better, MUCH better. I’m never going to be 100% “healed,” I know that, and that’s ok. Being in recovery from another deadly disease, I’ve seen the great joys that come from digging out of the depths of despair and isolation into the light.

But I’m far from the 17 year old girl I was when I entered that dressing room that day. Eons and eons.

Today, most of the time, I love and value myself for who I am intrinsically, for what I have to offer the world.
Today, most of the time, I have genuine self love and genuine self-respect.
Today, most of the time,  I love my body not for how it looks but for what it does and that it’s mine. And I love the healing foods that I put into it.
Today, all of the time, I can gain weight (and even though it still irks me) and I do not feel like the world is crumbling around me. I have a foundation made from something far more precious.

This – my dears – may not seem like much.

But it really is Freedom.

And here is how I got from the girl you saw above to where I am today. So let’s start by looking at just why eating disorders are epidemic in the US today. And lets face it, it’s our fault.
The United States of America, in particular, provides the “perfect storm” for eating disorders with these three crucial ingredients:

  1. An appearance-obsessed culture that consistently (and effectively) sends the message that you are not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, not rich enough. Not enough, period.
  2. A current cultural “ideal” of a woman so thin that she can no longer get her period (i.e., have enough body fat and function to bear children) whose breasts are anatomically incompatible with her body structure, who must always remain “young-looking” to be considered valuable.
  3. The technical ability to send this message out to the largest number of people on a daily and consistent basis.

The good news is, you can get better in spite of all of this. Provided you take a few simple steps.

1. Start to look at food differently.

While I was consumed by Anorexia, I’ll saw food primarily as “the enemy.” It was merely a substance whose only function was to cause me to gain weight and to thus remove my sense of self-respect and self-love. In order to heal and find freedom from my disease, it was essential that I learn to see food and the eating of it for what it truly is and is meant to be: a pleasurable, necessary part of life which provides me with calories that can keep my body and brain functioning in a balanced fashion so that I can live to my fullest potential and as a spirit of the universe. And to enrich my life through the many social and personal experiences (like Thanksgiving, lunch with friends, celebration of a particular event in our lives, etc.) that occur every day. So I started reading. I couldn’t just throw out my controlling habits overnight, so I had to switch from controlling how much food I consume to controlling the types of foods – satisfying and nutritious – that I consume. I found out that good fats (like olive oil, raw butter, pumpkin oil) are good for you (they keep your brain functioning happily as well as the rest of your body), vegetables help you to ward off chronic diseases like cancer, yogurt and similar fermented foods help keep your digestive system happy, etc. I became a vegetarian, and though I am only telling you this because it was part of my journey, it was the passion that many in the vegetarian movement possess that allowed me to channel my strong emotions toward something that would ultimately help me rather than harm me. (Today, for the record, I am still a vegetarian who takes Cod Liver Oil and is a staunch advocate of the Raw Milk Movement)>


2. Throw out the scale (and avoid the ones in the gym or at your friend’s homes)

When one is in active eating disorder mode, “best” translates into “thinnest” in your brain. This is a FACT. You WILL give the scale the power to dictate how you feel about yourself once you take that first step onto it. Like the 1st step of the various 12 Step Fellowships, you must admit that you are “powerless over the scale.” This is always true, even years after you have escaped the worst parts of the disease. So KILL YOUR SCALE. Like the guys do that delusional printer/fax machine in Office Space, I encourage you to (if you currently own a scale), go gangsta on that pile of wires and never buy another one!

3. Limit your looks in the mirror

I’ll let you in on a little secret, I HATE mirrors. Why? Because if I didn’t have a mirror in my home, I’d be spending my time doing a lot more important things than looking in it everytime I pass.  Seriously, it’s a time wasting endeavor. I mean, many people regularly look in mirrors, but anorexics, bulimics, and many other amazing, fabulous, intelligent women who are stuck in the cycle of body hate, allow their gazes into the mirror, what they see back, to become a value-defining experience. And that shit is just wrong. Look, I’m not naive. I get that, in our-appearance obsessed culture, it is often vital to one’s survival in the workplace to have a presentable appearance. I can accept that. But one can accept that and still remain free from the vortex of the mirror. Lets be honest, you really don’t need to look in the mirror 20 times a day or more to remain presentable and “put-together.” Once in the morning before you go to work and perhaps after changing into more relaxed clothes in the evening, or before a date or another special function/event that’s about all you need. By now, you know your face and your hair well enough. You can feel if your hair is a giant tornado this with a simple touch of your head. The mirror only allows you to focus on minute details that nobody but you ever notices. If you have a giant piece of food on your face, someone will tell you, and you can carefully wipe your mouth after each meal without ever glancing in a mirror. This may seem silly, but it isn’t. When you aren’t spending your free time staring in a mirror, you are dramatically cutting down the amount of personal scrutiny you can have with regards to your body. I encourage you to throw out any full length mirrors you may have, at least for now. You don’t need them and they, like the scale, offer far more negative energies into your life than positive. So get rid of that full length mirror, and when you pass one in the bathroom at work, I suggest you give a momentary glance, if that. Make a commitment to washing your hands after using the bathroom at work and walking out almost in the same breath. I have done this myself and I can tell you it works. I can also tell you that once I start giving that mirror more time than it deserves, the vortex traps me again. It always wins.

4. Never read “women’s magazines” like Cosmo, Shape, Vogue, any of them. Ever!

Never say never? Never say never? Oh I’m saying never! Trust me on this. There is NOTHING good that can come out of reading one of these magazines. I don’t care if one of them contains an article on page 42 that will tell you how to live forever, you should NEVER open one up (thank god I don’t have sponsors and I don’t do this for money – phew!). I’m pretty damn sure if the secret to eternal life has been found, it’ll be covered in more news sources than f*^&*&g Cosmo. Your disease will have a field day as your self-esteem and your soul dies a little on every page. Remember this, the images in these magazines are NOT reality, and they are not realistic. It is common knowledge that 90% of these images are airbrushed, tweeked, and Photoshopped. In the end, the images you see on the page are far from the image originally captured on camera. I can tell you this now, but if you pick one up, you’ll forget it in a heartbeat. We are visual creatures. It’s virtually impossible to look at an image and in the same moment remember that the image is false. So accept that, and stay away. So just make a commitment to never pick one of them up, even if they are the only piece of reading material at the gym or in your dentist waiting room. You’ve got a very, very active brain. You know this. And your imagination can entertain you much more effectively than an article on cellulite surrounded by 30 Photoshopped models. Just Say No to Cosmo.

Look, I KNOW, I KNOW this shit isn’t easy. Especially if you’re right in the middle of the disease. And if you’re there, then you need, first and foremost, to break the cycle. But even after you begin digging out of the hole, it is just the beginning. Just the beginning of healing, of freedom.  But every step you take is, as Neil Armstrong says, one giant leap for yourself and for women everywhere. Cliche but damn true. And with every step, terrifying as it may be, you are breaking one link in your shackle. And as you break free, one day at a time, you begin to become in tune with the flow of the Universe, of life, of all that is Good and Right and True in this world.

Trust me my friends, the Rush of that flow, the Peace of that flow, the Love of that flow, is far more incredible than any pseudo-power that vomiting up your dinner or restricting your lunch to 125 calories or less, or whatever ritual you may have, could EVER begin to offer you.

And the less you focus on the appearance of your body, the less you lie to yourself and the world about your natural human needs for food and nourishment, the more you give other women (and men, I know many of you have this problem too) the freedom to do the same. The freedom to stop scrutinizing your body and start living in it. You know that saying “pay it forward?” Well it applies perfectly here. So, just once a month, or a week if your feeling frisky, to start, have lunch or dinner with a group (or even one!) woman. And try this:

Whatever you choose to order, thoroughly enjoy each and every bite.Don’t say “oh, I’m famished” after the first bite. Don’t deny your humanity or theirs with a lie. At least in that moment, that hour, ACT AS IF you were you as a child, before that first seed of your eating disorder was ever planted. Eat like that kid. Eat like a child of the earth. Don’t apologize for your hunger, kids don’t do that. When they are hungry the eat. Period. So enjoy each and every bite, taste every taste. LOVE that meal. And maybe throw in a gleeful grin and a wink at your gals every once in a while for good measure.

And remember, this isn’t just about you. By simply enjoying your meal and viewing it with the eyes of a child, you will be offering EVERY other woman there, and all the women she may know, and the friends of the women she may know, and so on and so on, the gift of freedom.

You will be breaking a link in their shackle and you will be taking a giant step towards decimating yours.

And that, my dears, is one hell of a RADICAL act. 😉

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“Happy New Year!”

“Happy New Year to you!”

“Happy Neeewwwwww Yeaaaarrrrr!!!”

Strange, isn’t it?

New Years is, to me, a uniquely odd holiday. It is the only holiday, in America at least, where the only thing we’re actually celebrating is the day itself. Not a first feast that occurred on this day hundreds of years ago, not the death or assassination of a cultural icon, not the birth of a nation, not a religious observance, nope, just a day! And in light of this, I’d prefer, actually, to rename New Years Day what it really, really is – Blank New Calendar Day! Doesn’t that just make you smile?

Ok, ok, I’m getting to the point. New Years, and New Years Resolutions. I myself have never been one to make these things. Whenever I change anything in my life it’s generally because something internal has had to, well, switch first, and rarely is such a feeling triggered by a one-time occurrence, even Blank New Calendar Day.  But that is just me. Some people are heavily motived by Blank New Calendar Day. They view every new calendar year as a chance to start over, to begin anew, and there really is something heartwarming, genuine, and uniquely human about that.

So it is to you folks, in particular, that this post goes out to!

But remember, before I begin, the New Years Resolutions I’ve transcribed below are only suggestions, and like is often said in various twelve step programs, I’d like you “take what you need and leave the rest.” 🙂 Ok, here we go.

1 – Hang around with positive people.
Think about someone you know who, every time you see them, just makes you smile. Feel all warm and fuzzy. But not in a sexual way. In a “goodness and light and I remember how I felt around my grandma when I was 5 years old and she made me chocolate chip cookies and cocoa” way (thanks Eli 😉 ) . Hang around that person a bit more. Ask them what makes them  tick, how they got to be in the place of serenity they seem to be in. Soak up the goodness they have to offer the world, and then spread that goodness around a bit. Will make you breathe easier. Promise. 🙂


2 – Feed Yourself More

Got your attention! But really, I’m not talking about “eating” in the traditional sense. We “feed” our souls in soooo many other ways, every day. And these other ways are called our “Primary Foods.”  They are our Relationships, our Spirituality (not the same thing as religious orientation or religion), and our Physical Activity. By feeding ourselves more of these primary foods, we stay connected to the people and other living things about us, remember that we are most certainly not the center of the universe, and ease our brains and our hearts. Aaaaaaaahhhh. 🙂

3. Listen to your Teammate.
Have you ever had a headache and almost unconsciously reached for an aspirin or other painkiller? Now, I’m not opposed to these more benign meds in and of themselves, but the act of grasping for them without stopping to think what caused them is a real barrier to understanding and loving your body. Your body is CONSTANTLY talking to you. And when you’re in pain, it’s actually SCREAMING at you to pay attention to it. So start small, like I always say. If you do reach for an aspirin or advil the moment you have a headache, force yourself to take a breath first. Think about why you have a headache in the first place. Did you work yourself so hard that you didn’t even think to take a bite to eat, or breathe? Did you drink so much coffee to keep moving because you didn’t get to sleep early enough the night before and in the process riddle your nerves with caffeine? Just think about it, for a moment, the next time it happens. And, most importantly, remember that you and your body are in this together. You (that brain of yours!) and your body are a team, and since this is one team you are always going to be on, at least in this lifetime, you want to be as good to your teammate as possible. I mean, who wants an asshole who ignores you for a teammate? I mean, that would make any body scream. 🙂 So tomorrow, be good to your teammate, and pamper them with a full 8 hours of rest and a few delicious, nutritious meals. 😉

4. Live a Dream (or Do One Fearless Act!)
This one might seem hard, but I’m telling you, it’s never anywhere near as hard as it seems in your head. AND, once you do it once, it’s like 10 times easier the next time, but you still feel just as fantastic as you did the first time! What is one thing, just one thing, that you’ve always wanted to do but thought you couldn’t? That you didn’t have the “guts” to do or, well, “you just didn’t grow up that way.” Those are words of your ego just as much as any bragging rant you could go on. Your ego wants you to be unique in any way, good or bad, to keep you separate from the rest of your fellows. Separate and alone, in your own head, in your own misery. Don’t let your ego win!! If you’ve always wanted to audition for a play, just do it. Always wanted to try skydiving. Just do it. (sorry, Nike) Put “blinders,” take a step in the right direction, and tell the fear to go fuck itself. Your heart and soul (and that little kid in you) will be smiling tomorrow. 🙂

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Seriously????????

Seriously??

Oh no, not here, don’t you worry. I just wanted to see if you were paying attention. And well, to make a point about articles with titles like this. Which are really just super long, text-driven advertisements. 😉

You can rest assured you’ll never see a posting, ever, on how to stay “Sexy, Sassy, and Slim!” on this blog. (Excuse me for a moment while I go vomit in my mouth). I hope you consider this blog a respite from our traditional, marketing-oriented culture, whose primary purpose (at least when it comes to “personal improvement products”) is to make you feel bad enough about yourself that you are willing to believe that a certain diet book or a particular brand of lipstick or a well-known male performance enhancement drug is the one and only “cure” to your advertisement-enhanced low self-esteem.

But there are numerous other ways to find relief. And to find freedom in the face of such ads. And the primary antidote I’ve found is… drum roll please… Real, Authentic, Long-Lasting, Gorgeous, Genuine Self-Esteem!

Cause when you get that, and you do happen to run across an advertisement for cellulite-removing ass cream, you can actually smile.


Cause you’ll know that all you’re real looking at is an  overpriced, digitally-enhanced, airbrushed, Photoshopped version of plain old  snake oil. 🙂


“But wait!!!” you may be thinking. “Yeah, I get it. I understand that ads are mostly lies, and those “ideals” are unrealistic, but for the most part, it seems like that’s all that society is offering me in the self-esteem department. Unless you go to church or something. And I’m weird about the God thing. So what’s an average guy (or gal) to do? I mean, how am I supposed to get genuine, authentic self esteem in the face of all that stuff?”

Well there are a LOT of ways, there are. They just aren’t out there, in our face, like those advertising billboards and the commercials that bombard us. But they are there. Like the old adage goes, “The teacher appears when the student is ready.” So are you ready? Let’s take another baby step together.

One HUGE pathway to genuine self esteem, at least for this gal, has been the road to forgiveness. Forgiving others for their own mistakes, their own imperfections, their own trespasses, against us, frees us to forgive ourselves for not being “perfect.”  And such a concept couldn’t be more appropriate than right now, during the Holiday Season! Haha, gotcha! Couldn’t get away from it, even here! 😉

go ahead, push my buttons!

Because less be honest, this is a friggin’ strange time of year.

Think about it. We get together with a bunch of people who have known us so long that not only do they know how to push our buttons, they actually installed them in the first place! And because many have been in our lives since we were rolling around in our own poo, they tend to view us in, well, different ways than we like to view ourselves. So no, it ain’t easy! But, and here’s the big “but…”

These people really love us.

For the most part, and even though they often have an unsavory way of showing it, they also want the best for us.

So, in order to make such interactions with these folks an exercise for the greater good rather than a repeat of The Ref, well, forgiveness really is the key ingredient. It is, if I may, the chocolate to your chocolate chip cookie, the rice to your Chipotle burrito, the peanut butter to your PB&J. When it’s not there? Uh… well you know what happens!

So let’s explore this a bit, and in the process figure out just how we come to forgive those who may have – intentionally or unintentionally – harmed us in some way. As usual, let’s remind ourselves exactly what “forgiveness” really means.

According to the glorious Wikipedia,forgiveness is defined as…
“The process of concluding resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense, difference or mistake, and ceasing to demand punishment or restitution.”

Woah! Where did that whole resentment thing enter into this picture? That’s just unnecessary. And what do you mean “punishment?” I mean, I’m not punishing anyone… they simply screwed me over, so they deserve whatever it is they get!

A few years ago… ok, let’s be honest, a few months ago, this would be my gut-level response to such a definition if I were to apply it to certain individuals in my life. Maybe it’s yours. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get past it. And why, again, would you want to? Well, aside from the holidays being immeasurably more pleasant, the fact is that YOU would feel better. Yeah, YOU. Forgiving another person may make that individual feel better in some way, but it will definitely make you feel better. And that’s the point, really. Have you ever prayed for someone that you were really pissed at? I mean REALLY pissed at? Ever done it for, say, a month, or even six months? I know, sounds crazy. But a woman I truly admire and whose guidance I often seek once told me to do it, even though it may seem like a really dumb idea. (Which it did).

So, this one time, I tried it. I prayed for the Universe, or God, or the power of good, or the Dalai Lama, or whatever the heck is out there (cause I didn’t have a clue!) to, essentially…

“Please let that f*&%$&^ bitch have everything good that I want and deserve out of life!!!”

Amazingly, I didn’t explode. And I didn’t get more pissed off. I felt, kinda, neutral. But definitely not worse. So the next day, per her odd advice, I did it again. And the next day. And by the end of the week I was no longer referring to her as a f*&%;#^ bitch, just a normal, average bitch. 🙂 And the next week, I think I stopped calling her a bitch at all. And a few days after that, I realized that I didn’t need to pray for her anymore, that I wasn’t mad at her at all. That maybe, I mean, maybe?, I had actually forgiven her.

And my God (no pun intended), I really did feel a whole lot better.

Now, bear with me for a moment. Let’s think about this. When I was spending all that time hating this particular person for whom I prayed, did she know it? I mean, did she actually feel my hate like I wanted her to? I don’t know. I mean, maybe. But she certainly didn’t seem to be feeling it all the time like I was. That I knew for sure.

And by forgiving her, did I free her from something? Did I give her some sort of relief or a free pass for her messed up behavior? I don’t know. I mean, maybe…. But I know I felt more free.

And like I said, I think that’s really the point of forgiveness. It isn’t, like our egos like to tell us, to let other people off the hook for some screwed up thing they did to us. That’s not it at all.

It’s to let ourselves off the hook.

So give it a try. Send a prayer, or good energy, or whatever you want to call it, out towards one person (let’s start with one) whom you really feel has wronged you. Do it for a couple of weeks, and just see what happens, to you. What have you really got to lose? Cause I’m pretty damn sure you’ll be the one gaining something quite valuable in the process. Likely, a little more peace of mind. And another knotch in the belt of gorgeous, genuine, REAL self-esteem.

And isn’t that just the best gift anyone could ask for?

Mom, if you’re reading, that’s what I want next year…. well that and the third Season of Flight of the Concords.

Pretty please. 🙂

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In an ironic twist to my recent post about establishing healthy emotional boundaries, some HUGE physical boundaries were established in our city throughout the day yesterday. Every time you see a large block of snow (so, pretty much every time you leave the inside of your home) try to remember why boundaries are so damn important and effect everything we do and see – both the physical and the emotional ones!! 🙂

Now get out there and enjoy the snow, and see how it really does bring out the very best in people. – Kel

the view from my front door

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back off!

Let’s talk about boundaries.

No, not physical boundaries, not the hard cement framing of a properly built skyscraper (pretty rare these days!), but personal, emotional, invisible-to-the-naked eye boundaries. Two different things, yes, but with shared similarities that can provide us with a lot of insight into how (and why we would want to) erect our own boundaries. Like many things in life, we can’t really understand what something is until we learn what it is not. And we certainly can’t understand what healthy emotional boundaries are until we know what unhealthy emotional boundaries look like.

First, lets figure out what the hell a boundary is anyway.

According to Dictionary.com, “Boundaries” are defined as…
That which indicates or fixes a limit or extent, or marks a bound, as of a territory; a bounding or separating line; a real or imaginary limit.

An emotional boundary, therefore, would be a limit on what type of conversation topics or the extent to which I engage in both verbal and physical contact within my interpersonal interactions.

But why would one want to put limits on such interactions anyway? Well, I’ve found that the act of putting up boundaries is one that is both self-respectful and promotes positive self-esteem.

But it took some time for me to get to this place. About six and a half years ago, if someone had said to me that I needed to put up a boundary between say, myself and a guy that was interested in me that kinda creeped me out, I would have thought you had asked me to start sharing cooking recipes in Swahili. Naturally I’d nod my head, scrunch my brow, make every effort to have you to believe that I thoroughly understood what exactly you wanted me to do. Because, in reality, I didn’t like myself very much, and I needed you to like me. In that process, I removed any and all boundaries about myself in an effort to attempt to meet this need. But never fear, this doesn’t have to be your journey. Though a lack of  self-esteem isn’t the best way to begin ones journey toward establishing healthy boundaries, it doesn’t need to be an obstacle. You have to smart small.

Let’s start with an example.

I myself just recently had a VERY emotionally charged situation occur in my life, part of the reason that I hadn’t posted for so long. And without giving you a plethora of specific details , shit got hard.

My invisible bubble (one giant boundary I had surrounding me at all times), the one I walked around with for the past 5 years – made up of my beliefs about myself, my place within my group of friends and family and intimate relationships, my dignity (my most prized possession), and my space in the universe – got popped. In an instant.

And it just about knocked me totally off my feet.

just about.

So how did I manage to stay standing? I just did the next right thing. Threw myself into helping others, got really honest,  and, perhaps most importantly, I put up some boundaries.

Since I didn’t feel really able/ready to converse in the most healthy way with some of the individuals that made up the majority of my “bubble,” I told them that, at least for now, I need to curtail nearly all communication. This is a big one, so take note. Many of us aren’t able to carry on healthy conversation and put up a clear boundary in the midst of an emotionally charged situation. And that’s ok. When that happens, our only good option is to remove ourself from the situation entirely.

Sometimes, as well, the very best boundary you can declare is one that requires honest clarification of the situation at hand. I, for one, feel most comfortable when I know (as well as I can), the state of a situation or a relationship within my life. Once I have defined it to my satisfaction I can then take action accordingly. As long as I’m not a dick about it, asking for such clarification in a kind, non-judgemental way, can do eons of good.

Ok, so enough talking.

Take a deep breath.

Look, I know it seems tough. But the truth is that all you need to do is take the first step. Start erecting baby boundaries (like baby gates!). You can start by saying “no,” when you are asked to do something you know in your heart you really don’t want to do. Once you begin, you will find that it takes a huge weight off your shoulders, and frees you to take control of an often uncontrollable situation. You can’t help but take a sigh of glorious relief and self-satisfaction after doing so.

So grab that (metaphorical) hammer and nail and begin! And if you’re not sure how, just ask for some help and guidance from someone who seems to be able to build their own boundaries in a healthy way, and they’ll help you to begin seeing things in a whole new light.

You’ll feel much better afterwards. I promise. And your heart and mind will thank you for it. 🙂

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What does your Poo say about you?

Let’s talk about poo.

Seriously, seriously, stay with me for a sec. I promise this won’t be nearly as gross as you think, and it may actually be helpful. Or your money back. Oh wait, you didn’t pay… ok… well, I mean, you’re already halfway through the first paragraph now, so you might as well keep on reading.  🙂


“What is your poo telling you?”
is a book title you may have smiled at while perusing your local Urban Outfitters, but otherwise not given much thought to. The truth is, this particular, uh, substance, and the rest of your digestion process, can tell you a whole lot about the state of your body. It’s something that we Americans don’t like to talk about, but in many cultures, discussion of such bodily functions (serious discussions, ahem), is quite common and encouraged. Take for instance, India, where Ayurveda was born. This Hindu system of health and medicine affirms first and foremost that “death begins in the colon,” and parents who have grown up in this region of the world will often ask their children just what their bowel movements have been like lately. Chinese herbal medicines, in a similar vain, work to strengthen the body parts, like our liver and our kidneys, that keep our digestive system functioning at optimum levels. And even in America, though little is said about it, most detox diets on the market focus on first removing excess toxins from your bowels.

So let’s stop snickering and be honest. Most of us have digestiion issues.  And it’s not surprising, as much of the food we Americans consume works directly against our bodies’ natural cleansing process. But there is hope. If the food we consume provides fuel for that cleansing, we can get back on the right track with less effort than you might think. First, though, we have to figure out how our digestive system really works. Let’s start by using a fun, real-life example, a party!   Because everyone – big, small, young old, male, female – has an actual party going on in their belly, all the time.

Unfortunately, for most of us, the party in our bellies isn’t very much fun, and there’s a bunch of guests we can’t recall inviting.

Let’s take a closer look.


At the front line of your digestion process (after, of course, your mouth!) is the door man, your stomach. We’ll call him Stu.

Stu is an interesting guy, tough on the outside and gooey on the inside. And he’s a bit sensitive. But he’s smart, and he knows just what is needed to keep the party healthy and fun, provided he doesn’t work alone. But in the belly of your average person, Stu is very tired. The unfriendly guests just keep coming, and trying to keep them in check has taken it’s toll, making him a bit cranky.

But when Stu’s favorite pals come visit, he then finds himself better able to keep the bad guys from crashing the whole party. The more nice pals, the better and more congenial the party, and the more smoothly your digestion process goes.

Let’s meet some of these friendly visitors:

Cauliflower. She often arrives first, with other crispy veggies by her side. With her strong mix of Folate, Vitamin C, and the brain-friendly Vitamin B6, she packs a hefty nutritional punch with a tough yet smooth bite. Yet it is her fiber that really keeps things moving. Fiber, in short, is a natural bowel cleanser. The undigestible part of plants, it absorbs water to ease the movement of the bowels and naturally cleanse your digestive track of those unfriendly bacteria that you can’t remember inviting.


If you tend toward the constipation end of things, you want to make sure you have enough of this, especially in the form on soluble fiber. The best source of this, in my opinion, is psyllium (but don’t by that Metamucil stuff, it has lots of other not-so-friendly-to-your-belly ingredients in it). This is the brand I use.
Or the always pernicious Spinach – who always arrives with a new, interesting group of folks. Delicious raw and cooked, he is a nutritional panacea. Naturally full of the vegetable staples Vitamins A, Folate, and C , he also provides copious quantities of Iron, Magnesium and Calcium (yup!), and the little-known but essential Vitamin K, which, amongst other abilities, works to help your body better absorb the calcium that he is happily providing for your body. It is the Magnesium, that not only placates our overactive brains, but also works to bring the proper amount of water into digestive tract,

thus ensuring proper “elimination” (funny word). Be careful though, too much magnesium can cause diarrhea.

Then arrives the smoothest, tartest, most energetic gal of the day – the ever-so-sassy Yogurt. Brimming over with lots of enzymes, protein, calcium, riboflavin and the brain-friendly (see my earlier post!) Vitamins B6 and B12, she always brings along her invigorating probiotic pals Acidophilus and Bifidus, the good guys in the world of bacteria who easy knock down unsightly intruders like the yeasty Candida Albicans, strepticoccus lactis, salminilla, and a whole lot of others. But Stu doesn’t see these kind folks as much as he’d like to.

Let’s meet some of Stu’s not-so-friendly visitors:

Sugar. He barges into the party with an unparalleled (but somewhat erratic) furor. He then proceeds to get everyone else super excited, only to pass out on the couch an hour later. Or the super obnoxious Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil. (Also known as Trans Fat). She always dresses up to look as sassy as the healthier oil gals – Olive, Coconut and Flax – but she is simply too unstable (and superficial) to keep the rest of the body insulated or provide any energy. So she too ends up throwing off the natural sense of balance of the belly 🙂 (Editors Note: if it says “partially hydrogenated” anything on a label, it has trans fat in it, despite with the label may say).

Or (and this is my personal vice!) those annoying Nicotine brothers. Jittery and hyper, they throw off the natural ebb and flow of the party. Beyond that, they just don’t stop coming, as every couple of hours a new one must come by or the others get irritable.  And in the end, all the ever really do is make the party smell bad and drink all the water.

Ok, ok, so let’s break it down a bit. Here are some of the foods/supplements/herbs that you can take that help Stu to keep the party in your belly pleasant and comfortable, and assist your digestive system as a whole. But keep in mind, you can never eat “perfectly,” and you’re not bad if you consume some of the not-so-good guys once in a while, I know I do!  The important thing is to realize that food is one of several sources of nourishment. Per the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and I’m paraphrasing, your primary foods are things, actions, people, etc, that keep you emotionally and spiritually (no, this doesn’t mean “religiously,” this means feeding your soul with the things that keep you feeling satisfied and serene), nourished. If you aren’t keeping your primary foods present in your life it doesn’t matter how well you eat, your body will not be functioning at its optimum level.

THE REALLY GOOD GUYS FOR YOUR BELLY:
Raw Veggies
Raw Milk (especially Goat’s Milk)
Yogurt/Kefir
Sauerkraut/Kimchee (and other pickled/fermented foods)
Parsley
Garlic
Fennel (reduces bloating, improves digestion)
Milk Thistle (see my earlier post!)
Green Tea
Apple Cider Vinegar (with the “mother” is best)
Psyllium Husks/Powder

Let’s leave it at that. No “bad guy” list right now. I am starting very much to believe in the school of thought that says the best way to remove unhealthy foods from your diet is to crowd them out with healthy foods!  And I also recommend, for your emotional and spiritual health (and assuming you are not on a special diet detailed by your nutritionist or doctor), to cut yourself some slack on Thanksgiving and the holiday season. Simply add some of the good stuff listed above, and spend those holiday hours giving thanks and feeling grateful.

Your tummy will thank you for it.

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