Your Health = Your Life

 Paradise

The way you start your day is the way you live your day.   The way you live your day is the way you live your life…Louise Hay

The key to discovering and living your life purpose is a healthy mind, body and spirit.  If you don’t have total health, you have nothing.  Feeding your body also feeds your spirit and mind.  As humanity begins to come out of the daze of eating poorly, it is also time to acknowledge the pull of our heart’s desires. Many of us are now questioning  our life purpose and seeking help to discover who we truly are. I thought I was completely in sync with my soul; where I was supposed to be and pursuing what I was supposed to do. Then in 2012 I experienced an awakening that began in the midst of my late mother’s illness.

My mom had been admitted into a Nursing Home/Rehabilitation Center to recover from hip surgery.  When I visited her every day I had to walk through the long halls of the nursing home to her room. I was sure that after working in a small nonprofit healthcare clinic that I knew what poor health and lack self-care looked like. But being in a nursing home was an eye-opening experience.  I saw first hand what happens when human beings make choices that deprive them of their health and deny the life they were born for.

What we eat feeds not only our visual senses, it also feeds our cells, organs, mind and spirit. Most of the patients were there permanently. From this shocking experience, I can say without a doubt that what you put into your body and your mind determines the quality of your life. My friend and business partner Kym and I have successfully gotten beyond disregarding our health so now we want to help you create a life filled with health, joy and self-love.  We believe that your greatest teachers are the bad choices and mistakes that you make and taking responsibility for them.

When you begin the voyage to transform your life from unconsciousness to consciousness, you’re deliberately creating a healthy way of life. As with any major change, we recommend that you begin by exploring the reasons for your problems. We guarantee this will be painful in the beginning, but if you’re determined to live your life on purpose then it is well worth it.  Going on an inner discovery will take time, it may feel like you’re stuck and not moving forward, but trust that taking a leap toward creating good health is a big step.

This video talks about healthy choices to feed your brain and keep your energy levels high naturally.

Your desire for living authentically in the joy of your purpose and passion can only increase when you’re focused on total body and mind health.  Your health is the foundation of a life of passion and purpose.  If you neglect your health, nothing else works.  You know more than anyone what you need to do, you know in your heart when you eat that piece of cake or tell yourself that you’re not ready to embrace a new lifestyle that you’re creating an excuse to put off the most important part of your journey toward your dream life.

So, where do you start?  We suggest that you begin with your values, beliefs and the patterns you have developed about how you think of food. Literally and consciously look first at yourself (with love), then at the choices you make and why.  Take a walk into your kitchen, open all of the cupboards and your refrigerator and look, really look at what your feeding your body.  Is what’s there out of habit?  Is what’s there nourishing your body, bad habits or pain?

This process is emotional, but shedding light on the problem is the only way that you can change the direction of your life. How do you achieve the feeling of freedom and reverse a lifetime of bad habits?  Let me suggest that you try the process that worked for me, remember that this is only a suggestion, if you know of a better way for you, then by all means use the process that will reap the most success for you.

Take out a big garbage bag and start tossing all of the unhealthy, emotionally chosen items.  In your heart you know what your body needs to have to achieve excellent health.   For me, it was  cathartic to throw away the processed junk and replace it with wholesome, fresh food. Taking control of your body’s health means taking control of your life. I can tell you from first-hand experience that the best feeling in the world comes from taking a stand on your own behalf.

Louise HayWhen your desire to live your life with purpose and passion exceeds your desire for poor food choices and overcoming low self-esteem, you will have made a giant step for you.  To help you to stay in touch with your intention, I invite you to put some affirmations on your refrigerator and cupboard doors.  Louise Hay is a master at affirmations and a woman I admire greatly,  She founded Hay House Publishing at the age of 64, so anyone using age as an excuse not to change is only creating a limitation based on beliefs and nothing more.

Some great affirmations from Louise Hay

  • I make healthy choices.  I have respect for myself.
  • I enjoy the foods that are best for my body, I love every cell of my body.
  • I return my body to optimum health by giving it what it needs on every level.
  • I am pain-free and totally in sync with life.
  • I am the only person who has control over my eating habits. I can always resist something if I choose to.
  • Water is my favorite beverage.  I drink lots of water to cleanse my body and my mind.

We don’t tell anyone which lifestyle plan to choose, but we will suggest that you shop from the outer “halo” of the store and choose unprocessed items from the center of the store, such as natural cereal (oatmeal), peanut butter, rice, beans, tea, etc.  It is also beneficial to go to your local produce stores and choose organic whenever you’re able.

Eating should be fun, celebratory and enjoyable in a sensible way.  Food isn’t a replacement for whatever emotional distress you’re experiencing.  As you gain confidence and an understanding of your responsibility to your emotional health, and learn to listen to yourself,  you will know what your body wants and needs. Once you take control of this part of your life, you will be better able to focus on the next steps to finding out what your purpose in life is.

Holiday Humor – Family Cooking Disasters

Merry Christmas!  I love to laugh and enjoy life  I thought I would share some of my family’s mishaps in the kitchen as my holiday gift.  Laughter is the best medicine, especially at natural disasters that don’t have any injuries or sad endings, except for the food’s demise.

Now, even though I eat very healthy, food is still an important part of my family’s life.  Some of the most humorous and memorable times for my family is when an unexpected cooking disaster happens.  The love of food has always offered a creative space where we try new things to make the food an experience instead of just a meal.

We have been cooking for years, so you would think that with our collective experience accidents are far and few between.  Well, not true the number of mishaps and cooking accidents we have had over the years have been innumerable.  Our tradition is to share our stories and laugh together.

Whenever something happens in the kitchen,  the first reaction is horror, which always melts into laughter.  Experience is not a guarantee that nothing will happen, it is usually a certainty that something will, simply because we believe we are more skilled and become a bit over confident that nothing will.

Never Multi-Task When Making Breakfast or the Mic will Catch on Fire

Microwave on Fire

It was the weekend, I used to always put more on my to do list then I could handle.  Whenever I made a meal on weekends, if there was a way to put something on to cook and go do something else then I would.

It was early morning and I wanted to get my laundry started, so I decided to get the bacon going and go start the washer.  I put the bacon on the browning rack, put it in the mic, turned it on and walked out of the kitchen.

I was busy with the wash when I detected a strong smoky smell.  I ran across the apartment to discover enormous flames shooting up in my microwave.  When I moved in front of it, I saw the flames were coming from the bacon rack.  I freaked out, started yelling, (I have no idea why) and began running around, not sure what to do.  Then, I remembered no water on a grease fire, so I grabbed the box of baking soda, popped the door open and tossed it on the flames. They died down then they burst up again.  Then I grabbed the salt and threw it on the now higher flames that were shooting out of the open door and brushing the bottom the kitchen cabinet.  Again they went down but didn’t go out.  So in a fit of desperation I grabbed a big glass filled it with water, stood back and threw it on the burning pan.  Thankfully this time flames finally died.

Relieved, I pulled out the blackened bacon and ashes still on the greasy, watery pan and tossed it in the sink.  Then there was the burned, salty, powdery, watery mess in my microwave and a smoke stains all over the bottom of my kitchen cabinet.  Comforted that the kitchen didn’t burn down, I stood there laughing, assuring myself  that I would never multi-task when making breakfast again.

I Couldn’t Stand Chocolate for Three Days

I love chocolate, I mean really love it  The idea of hating chocolate never entered my mind until  my mom and I decided to go into the candy making “business” for three very long days one Christmas back in the 80′s.

My mom and I decided to make homemade chocolate covered coconut candy for holiday gifts.  We were both eager to start our candy “factory”,  little did we know what we were letting ourselves in for.

First, I want to praise to all of the chocolatiers in the world who happily do this for a living.  My mom and I found a simple recipe for chocolate covered coconut candy.  We agreed it was a wonderful and unique gift to send to our family for the holidays.  Before we started we read the instructions which seemed pretty simple.

We donned our aprons, had our holiday spirit on and started our candy making adventure.   We took out all the ingredients all set for some holiday fun.  I put the coconut balls together while my mom prepared the chocolate.

The recipe said to, Melt the paraffin and add chocolate chips. Stir until blended. Place toothpick in balls and dip into chocolate. Let them drip a little. Place on wax paper until set.  An important part of this story is we lived in Phoenix, Arizona. Christmas is rarely cold there, so the kitchen was fairly warm (I believe we had the sliding glass door open).  Mom melted the paraffin and added the chocolate.

I took the coconut/nut mixture straight from the fridge, rolled it into balls then put it on toothpicks and started dipping.  The first few went fine.  What we didn’t realize was as the coconut balls that sat on the counter were starting to melt  in the heat.  Because we were going amateur speed, it didn’t take long for things to go wrong.  I can’t remember who it happened to first, but as we dipped the coconut balls into the hot chocolate mixture pieces of coconut started to fall off to into the melted chocolate, a piece here and there, so we stopped,  We began fishing out the coconut pieces out and put the tray back in the fridge.  As we started again, things got worse, not only did pieces of coconut fall off, the candy was now breaking off into the chocolate in chunks.   I could have cried, but we both laughed and finished what we could.

Knowing this was for Christmas gifts we hung in there for three days of this candy making mess.  When we closed the last tin, we vowed we were out of the candy making business forever.

My Mother’s Famous “Drop” Cake

droppedcakeMaking desserts was something my mother had done most of my life.  She used to clip recipes from magazines and newspapers so I cannot remember where she got this incredible custard filled lady fingers cake recipe (that we now affectionately call ‘Mom’s Drop Cake”) that she decided to make, but I remember the ingredients were expensive and there were a lot of steps.

Mom began by lining the spring form pan with a layer of lady fingers.  Then she made the wonderful custard filling to finish the cake.  She turned on the oven and set the temperature.  I hung out in the kitchen visiting with her watching as she put the ingredients together.  She carefully poured the mixture over the bottom of the pan, filling it nearly to the top of the lady fingers.  It looked heavenly, she gently put her hands around the spring form pan, slid it to the edge of the kitchen counter to put it into the oven.  She announced, “here we go” grabbed it and as she held it up, I watched in horror as the entire cake dropped out of the pan and spread all over the kitchen floor.  She stood there stunned, after the shock of what just happened subsided, I felt an uncontrollable urge to laugh.  She looked at me very seriously and said, “Don’t you dare laugh”, but it began to bubble up anyway so I bolted down the hall to the bathroom, shut the door and laughed until I cried.

As I got control of myself, I went back out to the kitchen which was an indescribable mess to find out that mom had forgotten to close the spring on the springform pan.  Still giggling I told mom I would clean up the mess, she told  me she was going to the store to buy all of the ingredients and would make it again when she got back.  The second recipe turned out fabulous.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Peace and Love

Something More – Steps to Achieving Great Self Esteem

Changing the Direction of Your Life by Focusing on a Healthy Self-Esteem (transform yourself from a caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly)

We have all been conditioned to place our values on the clothes we wear, the pounds on our body, the color of our eyes, the shape of our face.  What we should be asking ourselves is, “Who am I?” What is my dream?  How can I serve?  How can I make a difference? Are you starting to see how you can make a difference in your thoughts?  Rather than allowing your ego to control your life, allowing your soul’s essence to bloom and flourish is the catalyst to creating confidence and a positive self-esteem.  When you begin to go inside and live from the inside out, your visual picture of yourself will change considerably.

Self-esteem is the confidence in the who of you instead of the look of you.  It is about allowing your inner spirit and self-worth to join together to be the light that you truly are.  Realizing the power of all of the parts of you that are being edged out by ego definitions and beliefs of appearance will be transforming.

Take time to focus on these steps to transform your life from ordinary to extraordinary:

Live Consciously. You can do this by paying attention to how you feel and to the thoughts that come into your mind.  Watch and observe your reactions by listening to your body. For instance when you think: “I am hungry” are you eating because you’re supposed to or because it is “time” to eat, pay attention to your intuition, your heart, be mindful of your life.

Learn from Mistakes. It is okay to say, “I made a mistake”, own it and learn from it.  We all make mistakes; the best way to deal with a mistake is to realize that you discovered something about yourself and you will go forward a better person.

Listen To Other’s Point Of View. It is easy to get caught up in our own opinion, even if it’s negative.  Asking for and listening to other points of view can help you to realize your own truth and what you have intuitively known all along.  This is a great way to develop your listening and learning skills.  We are all capable of teaching, but only if we are willing to listen and learn.

Take Care Of Yourself Physically, Emotionally and Spiritually. Have internal conversations to stop negative self talk (use the command CANCEL, CANCEL) and start thinking about how you can create a better life for yourself and finally, stop victimizing yourself and telling stories that make it seem as though you were unconscious when difficult situations happen. Taking care of yourself should be focused on your intellect and spirituality to create new behaviors.  We all have choices, it is up to us to take responsibility for our own emotional well-being.

Respect People’s Differences. We are all different. It took me a long time to understand this. We all feel safe with people that are just like us. Respecting other people’s differences doesn’t mean that you agree with them, it is understanding that they have the right to be who they are, believe what they believe and act as they act and deserve respect as human beings.

Take Responsibility for Your Life.   Wayne Dyer says in a guided meditation, “No matter how much I protest, I am totally responsible for everything that happens to me in my life”.  Keeping this in mind will help you to create a new way of thinking and being.

Speak and Act from Your Own Convictions. Don’t be afraid to speak up, I had the “disease” to please everyone and said “yes” when in my heart I was saying no. You are empowering yourself when  you take control of your life when  you say no and speak your truth, you will feel better about yourself because you’re being authentic.

Have a Sense of Purpose & Direction.  Having a sense of persistence is a big step toward having a good self-esteem. Your choices are important. You were born for a reason; your purpose is to begin to discover who you are and what you want your life to look like.

Meditate DailySpend time each day in a quiet and serene environment.  Put on some relaxing music and be still.  Use your ability to visualize your ideal situation, work, home, family, health, etc. See it in your mind as you would if it were real and the way your ideal life would look,. You will soon begin to understand why you are doing it as time goes on.

Create Your Life. Examine what you need, your desires, unique assets and abilities and how you can use them to achieve the life you intend for yourself. Commit to having to an authentic life without feeling that you have to achieve perfection. Rather then establish goals,  create intentions which are easier for the human brain to “adhere to that are reflective of your desired outcome.  Use your imagination to envision the life that you want, combined with the feelings that you already have achieved for your intended life.  Celebrate your successes and expect and learn from your mistakes. Draw on the positive within yourself – become aware of negative thoughts and beliefs that may show themselves. Creating a vision board reinforces your intentions and reminds you of the power you have to create your own path.

Be Confident. Treat yourself with kindness and encouragement. Pessimism can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The lack of confidence can appear as lack of self esteem, when it isn’t, just like having confidence can appear that you have great self-esteem.  Self esteem and confidence are very different

Have unwavering faith in yourself and your unique abilities, it can eventually lead to strong self-esteem.

Forgive yourself. This is probably the most important of all of the tips that I am offering.  When you can forgive yourself, you will lighten your load immediately. Not forgiving is like wearing dark sunglasses that distort everything that you see, and you want others to see through the same glasses. When you forgive, it is like leaving behind a heavy weight.  Imagine that you are a boat tied to a dock when you cannot forgive someone or yourself. It is difficult and painful work to go anywhere until you release the past. Forgiving is putting down all of your baggage and leaving it behind. You travel lightly. It has nothing to do with worthiness—yours or others’. You and they are both worthy. That is not the issue. The issue is whether you wish to continue to carry your baggage.

  • Avoid ‘should’ and ‘must’ statements. If you find that your thoughts are full of these words, you might be putting unreasonable demands on yourself — or on others. Removing these words from your thoughts can lead to being inspired and you will find that you will begin using your imagination to create your new reality.
  • Focus on the positive. Think about the good parts of your life. Remind yourself of things that have gone well recently. Consider the skills you’ve used to cope with challenging situations.
  • Re-label upsetting thoughts. You don’t need to react negatively to negative thoughts. Instead, think of negative thoughts as signals to try new, healthy patterns. Ask yourself, “What can I think and do to make this less stressful?”
  • Encourage yourself. Give yourself credit for making positive changes. For example instead of thinking fearfully about a situation, and thinking what if, be  focused on what you do want and the outcome that feels good for you.  This is a great step to relieve yourself of worry and fear.

Your gifts, talents and treasures are unique to you, the only way the world is going to benefit from your gifts is if you believe that you are worthy and have something to give…which means that you must love yourself enough to be the dynamo you were born to be.

Namaste My Friends.

The Ultimate Love

Healthy Attitude

You are worthy because you were born. Gary Zukav

Even if you don’t believe it now, you were born a masterpiece, your self-worth is the foundation for a happy life.  To be less preoccupied with your body image and more aware of your soul or your spirit requires that you change your focus from your physical or external appearance to your heart and inner voice. In other words, instead of being absorbed with your body image, shift your thoughts to being dedicated to loving your essence and your soul’s development, the spirit and joy of who you are and the reason you’re alive.

When you have positive self-esteem, you’re connecting  with your highest self.  When you have a low or no self-esteem, you are absorbed with your outward appearance which supports thoughts of your image, which is ego driven that inevitably hold you back from the life you are here to experience.

Do you feel unfulfilled or unhappy with your life and think that there is nothing about you that is lovable or worthy?  Instead of criticizing or judging yourself, imagine yourself as a painting, you can choose to replace what doesn’t feel good with what does. Eliminating low self-esteem is a process, one belief, one feeling and one thought at a time.  What took years to develop will take time and effort on your part, all you have to do is take tiny steps every day to heal and allow your true essence to appear.

Self Love

The Creation of a Healthy Self Esteem

Self-esteem is created by your thoughts, relationships and life experiences. Developing a healthy self-esteem includes cultivating a positive emotional well-being, becoming assertive, resilient and creating a new belief system.  It is learning to love yourself unconditionally.  You freely give love to your family and friends, why not give it to yourself.  After all, if you don’t love yourself, how can you love anyone else?

There are two primary reasons why self-awareness is so important:

  • It will help you to observe yourself and create a life free from self-judgment and criticism. (How can you best respond to what you cannot clearly and objectively see?)
  • It helps you to see yourself as you truly are and discover your authentic self. Isn’t it about time you started to get to know yourself?

Be Attentive to Your Needs. Is your self-talk encouraging you to ignore your needs because you tend to concentrate on living up to other’s expectations or unrealistic expectations you have created for yourself?  As children, we were conditioned to believe that what other people thought about us was more important than what we felt inside, who we truly were. In order for you to build a positive self-esteem requires that you listen to your intuition or gut instinct, sensations and insights.  Setting time aside each day to be alone with your thoughts will help you to develop that sense of awareness.\

Dr. Wayne Dyer explains:

Here are the major perceptions of those who know they are worthy and deserving of all of God’s blessings:

  • My self-esteem comes from myself. (As a child of God, my worthiness is a given.)
  • I accept myself without complaint and without conditions.
  • I take full responsibility for my life and what it is and is not. (I blame no one.)
  • I do not choose to accept guilt into my life. (I live in the present moment.)
  • I understand the importance of having harmony between my thoughts, my feelings, and my behavior. (This harmony translates into peace and contentment.)

Your soul wants to experience harmony and peace.  When you can connect with that concept and the realization that your soul is the truth and magnificence of who you are, you will exude that beauty and confidence to everyone around you and the world. Wayne Dyer

Peace and love, namaste. (to be continued)

Creating Soul Sanctuaries – Shifting Your Awareness

No one else can choose your attitude.  Your perspective and choice of attitude give you the power to be in control.  That is the essence of freedom. Irene Dunlop

Creating your own soul sanctuary should be a vital part of the process in your journey to create a new lifestyle and change the direction of your focus from food to your personal growth. Shifting your thoughts and focus on unearthing the core of who you are and what your purpose in life is will begin the seeds of growth and healing within you.  When you begin to see yourself as a whole person rather than just the weight of your body or the food that  you eat. your life will change dramatically.

Three years ago I began my personal and spiritual transformation.  It changed my life forever. my focus shifted, my whole world changed.  How I perceived myself and who I was allowing myself to become was reflected in the people who came into my life   When you become clear on your direction and allow your authenticity to surface, you are aligning with your core.  When you open that space in your heart, things that you never imagined begin to happen.  People that are like who you truly are will come into your life.

Developing a healthy lifestyle has less to do with food and more to do with why you’re here, what your purpose in life is, what achieving great health is all about and rediscovering yourself. Whenever you embark on a new direction or focus in your life that is rooted in who you truly are, a major transformation will naturally occur.

Part of your “job” in adopting a new vision of yourself is to see yourself doing something that evokes your passion.  Something that creates energy and excitement to make a difference.  If your life revolves around the inspired part of yourself, the soul that whispers to you to create an abundant and joy-filled life, it will be  very easy to put food and eating in its place as a way to nourish and energize your spirit.

Have you ever done something that “took you away” or that you got so lost in time dissolved?  What was it?  Is it something that fills your heart and gives you peace? Creating a sanctuary within yourself allows the energy of the Universe to flow through you.  Rather then focus on mistakes, problems or contrast in your life, seek time to fill your soul with joy.  Be gentle with yourself, don’t get upset or frustrated when you miss the mark or don’t meet your own expectations, each day, each hour, each minute is an opportunity to start over.

Soul Blooming

The point of creating a healthy lifestyle is to turn your attention to all of your senses, mind, body and spirit.  Do you have or are you seeking spirituality?  Having faith and some form of spirituality in your life is so important.  Because when you have faith and a spiritual connection it can and will change the direction of your thoughts in a heartbeat.  It is more than positive thinking, it is an awareness of something greater than yourself allowing your soul to flourish.

As a flower blooms in spring to display its beauty to the world, as does your soul.  It is calling to you each and every day to be who you truly are.

From Deepak Chopra, the seven questions to discover your soul profile:

1. Who am I?

2. What do I want?

3. What’s my purpose in this life?

4. What sort of contribution do I want to make?

5. What are my unique skills?

6. Who are my heroes?

7. What is a meaningful relationship—what do I expect from one, and what do I give?

Can you feel it already? The transformation from a life focused on food and eating seems much less important than the creation of you.  It is a day by day, step by step process. Rather than hold expectations, hold none and allow yourself to develop at your own pace.  It is like a plant blooming, first the seed is planted, then watered to bring that seed to life.  Your energy will flow, your mind will become more creative, the love will flow from you to those in your life and the people who you meet.

Start your transformation by including meditation in your day.  I have created time in my day the first thing in the morning, it sets the tone for the day and gives you a feeling of harmony and peace as you prepare for the demands of the day.  If you’re a beginner, guided meditation is best to give your mind a diversion so you aren’t dealing with brain created thoughts that interfere with your natural stillness.  As you progress in meditation, your mind will begin to create visions of places and feelings that you want to experience.

Find a group that meets on a regular basis that will encourage your personal growth.  Meetup.com is a fantastic place to do that, I’ve joined a few groups myself, it’s changed my life.  If you join a group and find it isn’t what you expected, leave and find another.  Keep you in the forefront, be proactive on your own behalf. I know if you’re a parent, finding time for these things may seem difficult, if you are happy, relaxed, feeling positive and open to change, just think of the  message are you sending to your children.  While I don’t regret my past choices (if I knew better I would do better as Maya Angelou says), if I had made better choices for myself, things would have flowed easier.

Creating a soul sanctuary is making a determined choice to care for yourself.  A sanctuary is a place of peace and love so you can turn your attention and life to focus on the importance of creativity, happiness and joy.  Rather than seeking it in food, you will find it within yourself and what will spring forth from that fountain of love will surprise and delight you, you deserve it.

Peace and love.

Do You Eat to Soothe the Challenges of Life?

Any time you are feeding a feeling instead of a rumbling stomach, you are emotionally eating. The never ending vicious circle of emotional eating  whether stressful or joyful can lead to self destructive behavior and loss of self esteem. Eating to soothe pain or celebrate life has become a common response through years of conditioning and cultural beliefs. Problems begin when we become frustrated with ourselves for allowing our emotions to decide what and how much we  eat.   We  have family responsibilities tugging at us when we could really use some “me time”.  Kids need dinner, errands to run, it is easy to choose something comforting to soothe the “pains” or “highs” of the day. Then there are cultural beliefs that are focused on food, it seems like we can never win, but in reality we can.

Women not only eat when life throws us a curve, we are more likely to eat when we experience job burn out. In doing some research, I discovered an article based on a Finnish study that confirmed that women who are fed up with their jobs may be more likely to turn to food for comfort in times of stress.  The study, reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that those who reported work burnout were also more likely to have a habit of “emotional eating, or eating when stressed, anxious or down, rather than just hungry. Men have issues with emotional eating just as women do, they just don’t want to admit it.  Night-eating syndrome affects an estimated 1.5% of women and men, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

I had a schedule that was always stretched thin, so it made it easy to justify my habit of emotional eating.  If I got upset in any way, tired,  unhappy or I wanted to celebrate, I usually went home to cook something comforting or out to a restaurant. Whether happy or upset, eating was pretty much the response to my feelings and I usually felt worse afterward.  Not only was I frustrated with myself, I was stuffed and exasperated for overeating and unkind to myself.

To justify my choice to “feed” my feelings with food rather then deal with them in another way, I created an emotional web of lies that I used as an excuse to continue to eat uncontrollably, feel miserable so I ended up overweight.  That my dear friends is a serious lack of self esteem.  We not only live it, we continually create stories that we tell ourselves and the world, not realizing that our self esteem is in the tank.

Why we eat, when, and how much are not black and white questions — there are many shades of gray. Emotional eating cannot be resolved overnight. At  some point in our lives, most of us become emotional eaters. It’s not something to feel guilty or shame about.  Instead, it is vital to ask yourself some important questions:

  • Do you  feel guilty or unhappy about what you eat?
  • Do you go without eating when something has gone wrong in your life?
  • Do you find yourself eating when you’re not hungry to feel better?
  • Do you think about food all the time or just when you’re upset?
  • Do you eat when in the middle of an emotional situation?
  • Do you seek high fat, high carb, sugary foods and beverages when you’re emotionally charged?
I have  over the past few years discovered that there are many ways to steer away from eating in response to whatever life brings by finding alternative ways to occupy your mind to move away from reactive eating and handling stress or “celebrations”  through healthier and more creative options.  For me, it was going on a journey of self discovery.  That started it all.  I decided that I wanted a healthy life, not go on a diet or fitness program.  What I wanted was a healthy body and an active life. So, I joined a personal growth group, I read self-help books that really made an impact on me and I started to take better care of me.  Rather then put myself last on the list, I moved me up to first place.  Now, don’t wince and say, but my family needs me.  Of course they do, but in order for you to be there for them, you have to be in top shape, and a role model for your children as well as your family and friends.
Another major find for me was discovering a diversion that consumes me in a healthy way.  Nature photography has become the outlet that helped me to discover myself.  I get lost and absorbed in the intricacy of nature and the natural beauty that surrounds all of us everywhere.  My camera is my way of seeing the world in a way that I never did before.  Each of us has something within us that is just “crying” to get out.  Grabbing a candy bar or a bag of chips and soda never lasts and it damages our health.
I don’t recommend an eating journal, not only was this not an answer for me, I’ve talked with other women who found that it wasn’t helpful for them.  From my experience of what does work is paying attention to how you feel or mindful eating.  Ask yourself am I really hungry or are am I trying to push the feelings I am experiencing down with food.  For me that was an eye opener.  I also have developed a system where I pay attention to how my body feels, is my stomach growling?  If yes, a healthy snack or well balanced meal will fill the need, if the answer is no, then I begin the process of self-talk that helps me to handle the problem through changing my thoughts.  This can be something as simple as addressing how you feel, what has upset you or what other ways you can celebrate an occasion and then decide that you want to feel good, happy and content with yourself and life and start your own personal growth “workout”
Just as in a fitness program, a personal growth workout is making a determined effort to exercise your brain and dissolve old belief patterns.  Instead of feeling negative, upset and frustrated, begin to change your thoughts to whatever makes you happy.  Watch a music video on YouTube, read something inspirational, find something that makes you laugh, breathe deeply and take a walk.  You are your own very best friend and the one person you can rely on for knowing exactly what you need to feel good.  It takes effort, but from my own experience in elevating myself to first priority, I can tell you that it will change your entire world.
To help you to eat the right foods when you’re emotionally charged and relax your rattled nerves, I’ve gathered a list that can help you to replace sugary or fat loaded junk food and learn to find comfort in something healthy that will actually improve your health.
Almonds, Pistachios & Walnuts
When all hell breaks loose, reach for a handful of almonds. They’re bursting with vitamin E, an antioxidant that bolsters the immune system.
Dark Chocolate
This is a great substitute for junk food because it’s likely to satisfy your craving for something sweet and make you feel good at the same time. According a 2011 review from Yale University researchers, eating chocolate in moderation can improve feelings of fullness, cognitive function and mood.
Avocados
The next time you are stressed and crave a high-fat, creamy treat, skip the ice cream and try some homemade guacamole – the thick, rich texture can satisfy your craving and reduce those frantic feelings. Plus, the monounsaturated fat and potassium can lower blood pressure.Oranges
Fretting over a job interview or stress at work? Peel an orange. The magic nutrient here is vitamin C. In a study in Psychopharmacology, German researchers subjected 120 people to a public-speaking task plus a series of math problems. Those who took 3,000 milligrams of vitamin C reported that they felt less stressed, and their blood pressure and levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) returned to normal faster.
Salmon
Stress hormones have a rival in omega-3 fatty acids. A 2003 study from Diabetes & Metabolism found that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids kept cortisol and adrenaline from spiking. Omega-3 fatty acids also protect against heart disease, according to a 2002 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.To develop peace of mind and create a life free from emotional eating is a journey just like anything else in life.  It takes effort, baby steps and a desire to change your focus from food to life.  If I did it, anyone can do it.  I am a living, breathing example of being able to stop the madness by learning  to love myself unconditionally. It sure does take the stress out of life and relieves the burden of having to be everything to everybody.   Just remember if you don’t love yourself, no one else will have a chance to  love you.  We are all here on this planet for a purpose, not loving ourselves is not the reason.
To begin the process of eliminating emotional eating implement these easy and healthy ways into your daily life:
Relaxation – This is imperative to not only help you to stop emotional eating, it helps to relieve stress and change the direction of your thoughts.  Meditation is a simple practice that will change your life.  There are a variety of guided meditations for weight loss and emotional eating. One way to practice is with a qualified instructor or with a CD or on YouTube.  Whichever you choose, when you meditate, you relax and focus on specific images such as seeing yourself enjoying nature or time with family or friends, or see yourself in a new outfit after you’ve lost weight, or creating a new, positive mental image of your body.
Instead of acknowledging your feelings with food, when you feel a situation arising that may trigger emotional eating, call a friend to talk, seek a support group (meetup.com is a great place to look).  Move your body, go for a walk, bike ride or swim.  Don’t beat yourself up if you make mistakes along the way, it is all part of the process.  Remember each moment is an opportunity to start your new lifestyle.  Be forgiving, gentle and loving with yourself , remember it took years to be where you are.  Take baby steps and be proud of each accomplishment, no matter the size, you did it!

The Truth About Women’s Weight Struggles

The Weight Watchers™ research department publicized a report that stated that the genes a person is born with has an impact on body weight and the cause for our weight concerns. Indicating that 40-70% of the difference between individuals with respect to body fatness, can be attributed to genetics. While the study is true, except in very rare cases, the genes that impact body weight do not directly cause obesity. What their report is actually saying is that genetic makeup influences the susceptibility to weight gain when a person lives in an environment that supports eating excess calories and/or limited physical activity.

Other reasons that women struggle with weight loss are:

1. The food choices you make at the grocery store.  Anything that is packaged and prepared is fake food.  These products are full of artificial ingredients and preservatives and have no nutrients or value that your body needs.  A little secret, prepared foods are loaded with FDA allowed insect parts and they are created with certain artificial tastes so you will want and eat more than you should.  Are your cupboards full of boxes and packaged foods?  My tip, shop on the outside “halo” of the grocery store.  Buy whole, natural foods that will give your body what you need.  By the way,  frozen vegetables and fruits are excellent choices, they are flash cooked and frozen immediately after being picked, they are loaded with vitamins and nutrients.

2. The type of exercise that you do.  First, include activity that goes beyond your  normal pace each day. Park at the back of a parking lot instead of near the door, then walk briskly to the store.  Instead of just walking or running, do short bursts of fast running and walking then cool down, and repeat this throughout the day, it will rev up your metabolism and help burn calories. Ride a bike, swim whatever you do, don’t just exercise once a day, be active all throughout your day and you will naturally increase your metabolism.

3.  Unconscious overeating.  We all have had  a tendency to overeat.  After all, we were told to clean our plates, asked if we were full and offered more if we weren’t. All you can eat buffet restaurants are the worst places to go out to eat. Keep this in mind when you are about to sit down to eat that your stomach is the size of your fist.  When you see how much is on your plate and you know you have too much food on it try this avoid all distractions like talking, reading or watching TV instead, enjoy each bite and pay attention to how you feel as you take in the food on your plate.  Rather than concern yourself with portion control, calories or carb counting, pay attention to how your stomach feels as you eat.  When you eat consciously you will know when you have eaten enough, you will no longer be hungry, your stomach will tell you when you’re satisfied.

4. Eating excess after exercise.  In a study published in the January 2010 edition of “Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews” researchers Todd Hagobian and Barry Braun found that women consumed more calories to compensate for those expended during exercise while men didn’t change their eating patterns. Theorizing that physical activity has gender-specific effects on the brain’s appetite control centers, making it even more important to adapt to the natural satisfaction lifestyle.

You don’t have to spend money on an expensive diet program to lose weight. You can change your weight yourself despite the statistics, reports and findings. Your weight is not at the mercy of your inheritance,  you have the power to choose to break belief patterns, old habits and take control of your health. That means that our experiences throughout our life with food and our eating habits cause us to unconsciously eat to maintain our weight.  Because food is given such great importance, it supports our belief patterns and encourages being overweight or obese. So, instead of dealing with life’s challenges, we reach for something comforting and stuff our feelings down, then we feel badly after we do it.

At the age of 12 my weight problems began developing when my life changed significantly.  My mother decided to take me to a dietitian so I could learn how to restrict my calorie intake.  The “diet” I was put on allowed so many calories a day, included an exercise program that I had to follow and like magic I was supposed to lose the weight and keep it off.  Who at 12 years of age wants to go on a “diet” that consisted of dry salads, and food different from the rest of the family?  Because it was a “diet’ that I had to go on and not a natural way of life, it was the beginning of many that failed miserably.  The problems with my food source was two fold, the way it was made and the way our family meals were (salad, meat-based main dish and a rich dessert).  As children, we can only eat what we are given and develop a relationship with food based on the environment we are raised in.

There is another issue that is strictly a female problem.  When women reach mid-age, around 40, we  tend to gain extra weight during peri-menopause that we believe we are stuck with.  The good news is that weight gain isn’t just because of hormonal changes, it is also related to lifestyle, stress and our self-esteem. Meaning that through developing a strong self-esteem, adapting a healthy lifestyle,  managing your stress  levels and by incorporating increased physical activity into your daily life, you will defy the odds and create a healthier body.

Like many women, I spent years on the diet roller coaster.  I would diet and exercise to lose weight, then if a challenging situation came up or there was a reason to celebrate, eating something good was the “habit” that I would fall into. Sound familiar?   My belief or habit was that diets were a there as a backup to lose weight whenever I overate. While great in theory, diets are restrictive and set us up for failure.

Choosing a healthy lifestyle where you develop conscious eating habits means never “dieting”, counting calories or carbs again.  That does not mean that you will be forced into a life of eating dry salads, carrot and celery sticks. It does mean naturally controlling the amounts of food that you eat in accordance with what your stomach satisfaction comfort level is.  Naturally reducing the quantity of food on your plate or snack will happen because you will know what your satisfaction set-point is.  No one’s set-point is the same because everybody has different needs, bone/muscle structure and activity levels.  So, each of us will tailor what we eat to align with the way we live and what our individual body requirements are.

Last year I was invited to attend a seminar for natural nutritional supplements where my life was forever changed. The speaker, a nutritional biochemist and health educator, shared a story about his trip to an island where he got some of the natural ingredients for the products he creates.  He spoke of how the islanders gathered around his tent and were watching him eat in amazement believing that he was going to explode from the amount of food he ingested.  In America, it is our natural habit and conditioning to eat until we are full.  He went on to say that these islanders were astonished because they only eat until they are no longer hungry.  At that moment I had a major “aha” moment!  For the first time in my life I realized that I had the answer to being healthy all along, I just didn’t know it.

Re-learning the role of food and eating will help you to gain control of your health and weight, no matter what your age. This way of living isn’t about a dress size or starving yourself, it is about eating what your body naturally needs, becoming healthy and being happy with yourself as you are. You will find that celebrating an occasion won’t always mean eating cake, cookies or ice cream any more.  Instead, you will find other ways to celebrate like going to a spa or a movie, giving yourself a gift, taking time to read a book or spending time doing something you love to do.  If we begin to retrain the way we think about food and what triggers us to eat, we will have conquered an important part of our weight problem.  Life is too short to spend it battling with our weight when we should be spending it being happy and enjoying life.

Remember, we have all been conditioned for many years at no fault of anyone; it is just the way things are. It takes time to break habits and transform your beliefs to change the way you think and the choices you make that will free you to be on the outside who you are inside.  Be gentle with yourself. The results when you do achieve your goal will be a high level of energy, a noticeable vibrancy and confidence in yourself.  Choosing to live a healthy lifestyle is a decision that will change your life forever.

My next blog will discuss refocusing your emotions and energy away from food to a healthy outlet.

If you are local to the Tampa Bay area, check out my group Smart Healthy Lifestyles for Women  for meeting times and location.  You do not have to be a member to attend the meetings, you do have to be a member to have access to events and to join the Facebook Group page

http://www.meetup.com/Smart-Healthy-Lifestyle/