Category Archives: New Year

If weight loss is your goal this year…

As the new year approaches my social media feeds are inundated with folks ready to start new diets, pursue new weight loss plans, and commit to reaching optimal health with a new and improved body. All these goals require a restricted approach to eating and exercising. Rules and regulations regarding what to eat and what not to eat, adhering to calorie counts and burns, and tracking weight, body size, and portion measurements.

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There is nothing wrong with wanting optimal health or wanting a smaller body. The question is why? I spent three and a half years in eating disorder therapy discovering why it was so important to me to be thin that I would starve myself to near death to stay that way. I was everything culture required me to be according to its definition of health and beauty. But in that I damaged my body, lost touch with my biological body cues, and was in constant angst over every pound and calorie, how my body looked, and if I was good enough yet. Why? Why did a thinner body matter to me so much that I would put myself through that life-sucking anxiety?

It was because I didn’t trust that who I was and the body I was given and the mind I was given was good enough to be of value. If I lived in a larger body, then nothing else about me really mattered.

Of course you could say I was an extreme case having an eating disorder. Maybe you don’t have an eating disorder, but if you are constantly frustrated with how your body looks or operates; constantly on and off diets; constantly worried or ashamed about what you’ve eaten; constantly up and down in emotions based on what you have or haven’t eaten and how you have or haven’t exercised, then I dare say you have disordered beliefs and habits around food and your body. A diet won’t ever remedy faulty beliefs about yourself.

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If your New Year’s resolution is to start a new diet I am curious to know three things:

1) Why do you want to be smaller?

2) What is losing weight going to give you that you don’t already have right now?

3) If you could find health and happiness in the body you have at this very moment, would you still pursue weight loss?

When I advocate for your body, whether large, small or somewhere between, without the use of diets and restrictive programs, I am not judging your desire to be healthier or thinner. I wanted the exact same things. I get it! What I am advocating for and trying to help you understand is there is another way to be and feel healthy and energized and joyful and whole inside the body you have right now regardless of your size. You are valuable and valid and lovable and sexy and creative and purposeful right now at whatever weight and pants size you are and regardless of what you eat.

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I don’t want to discourage you or boss you or judge you in whatever health journey you decide for yourself this year. I want to be brave and share the process of intuitive eating with you because not only did it save me, but it freed me from food and body anxiety. I know it will for you too. It’s a process of self-discovery and creating new beliefs about yourself that are live-giving instead of life-sucking. Maybe you will get thinner and maybe you won’t, but that isn’t the goal for once. Finding happiness and body love where you are right now, that’s the sustainable “new you” you’re going for.

Happy New Year! May 2019 be a year of curious discoveries and unexpected pleasure in whatever you pursue.

And don’t forget to check out the fun little gift I have for you!

Let the weight loss bandwagon pass

Twenty seventeen has been one of the most challenging years I’ve ever experienced. It started with my young daughter suffering through major depressive episodes that came with suicidal thoughts, self-harm, and inexplicable anxious behaviors. In early spring one of our elderly cats of 17 years passed away. Late spring brought the murder of one of my dearest cousins in a tragic domestic violence murder-suicide event. By summer my daughter’s mental health was so unstable and scary that we began her on medication (which was unnerving because she’s so young). Fall melted into the holidays which included two surgeries (one for my husband and one for my daughter), my own knee injury that many times renders me to the couch, and a school change for my daughter.

Was the year all bad? No. In April my daughter and I both earned our Taekwondo black belts; in the summer we adopted an amputee cat who was slated to be euthanized; in late summer my husband and I celebrated 13 years of marriage; and in November we adopted a therapy puppy named Jade who’s been an unexpected gift to our lives.

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With all the changes and the extreme emotions my body, mind and heart have endured, it’s no wonder that my eating disorder has begun to chatter again. It tells me that I’m gaining weight; that I look fat; that I’m eating too many carbs; that it matters how I look. A few weeks ago it told me to skip lunch, eat a tiny breakfast, skip the cookie. With New Year’s Day approaching and the resolutions to lose weight and “get healthier,” the ED says that’s a bandwagon I should join. My eating disorder is a liar. And a bitch. (Pardon my language.)

I brace myself for the weight loss resolutions that splash across all the media platforms because they are always triggering for me. Plus I have a bad attitude about New Year’s resolutions because we often make them with no realistic strategy for how to accomplish them and fail before the end of February leaving us face-down in a pool of guilt and shame. It’s depressing.

However, as I reflect deeper on the cusp of a new year, I realize that my body, mind, and heart never failed me this year. God never failed me this year. Though my daily connection with God grew distant and the sound of his voice became a mere whisper, I know He was close because my body, my mind, and my heart never gave up. When I listened to my body I was listening to the Spirit. When my body told me to lie down, I did. When my heart told me to let the tears flow, I did. When my mind gave me a new strategy to try, I did. When I was hungry, I ate. When I needed to move, I walked. When my brain needed help, I went on an anti-depressant. When I needed a friend, I reached out. And all of it was HARD. The eating disorder was so loud and convincing at the same time.

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Here’s what I am going to do, and what I encourage you to do too: let the weight loss band wagon pass right on by. Don’t jump on. Resolve to stay in tune with your body each day as it is. Don’t think about what it should be, what you want it to be, what it needs to be. Think about and maybe even write down (as I did here today) all the challenges and joy it’s brought you through in its current shape. It doesn’t matter if we’re round or flat; curvy or straight; heavy or light. Life is deeper that shape and weight. What matters is that our body, mind, and heart don’t give up. Resolve to pay attention to yourself, grow appreciation for what your body does right now, and enjoy the freedom of being detached from food rules and body regulations.

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Given how hard 2017 was for me, it’d be easy to say “Sayonara! Don’t let the door hit you in the hiney on the way out.” However, not only did I survive the year fully in tact–well, except for the bum knee–I am ready to take on whatever 2018 brings. The lies of the eating disorder are just lies and I’m not listening. Thanks to God, my body, heart, and mind are strong and ready for 2018.

Resolution revolution

It’s time for a New Year’s resolution revolution when it comes to body image and fitness. I’m already seeing the propaganda pump for diet programs and gyms, which are all basically subliminal messages telling you that you’re fat, you eat like shit, and you’ll be more valuable if sculpt your unhealthy self into a shiny new healthier you.

I call bull.

I am all for a healthy self, but not the way our culture defines health. Culture defines healthy as having a skinny, rockin’ bod that lives on protein and leafy greens. I define health as being connected with my body right now, listening and responding to what it’s asking for. No judgement. No restriction. No shame.

Of course I didn’t (couldn’t) do this without some help, without some guidance from someone who’s learned how to be connected and continually practices staying so. But I’ll get back to this in a minute.

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Let this be the year that:

  • Instead of striving for the body you’ve always wanted, learn to love the body you live in today.
  • Instead of regimenting calories on diets and depriving yourself of food,  eat when you’re hungry; stop when you’re full. Eat the foods you like and try new foods; don’t eat foods you don’t enjoy.
  • Instead of focusing on losing weight, focus on reconnecting with your body.
  • Instead of jerking yourself around in the gym, be gentle with your body; show compassion to yourself by moving in a way that you enjoy.
  • Instead of scolding yourself into motivation with harsh and judgmental words, encourage yourself with kind words and positive perspectives.
  • Instead of listening to the noise of media, culture, and societal expectations, immerse yourself in quiet meditative practices.

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Unplugging from the negativity of self-judgment (grounded in the external world) and reconnecting with your body (grounded internally in self-love) takes practice. It isn’t intuitive. I’m speaking from experience, and I’ve spent all of 2016 practicing with the guidance of Yoga with Adriene. WAIT… don’t click away.

If “yoga” got you all deflated, please understand that Adriene isn’t the twist-yourself-into-a-pretzel kind of instructor. Her mantra is “find what feels good.” She constantly guides her viewers to forget what they think they know about yoga and encourages focus on sensation over shape.  But the best aspect about her teaching is it’s rooted in connection and self-love. She’s 100% counter-cultural and that’s what I love about her.

I don’t do yoga for the workout. I do yoga for connection, meditation, and practice of self-love. The yoga mat is where I’ve learned to connect with my body and God; to speak kindness to myself; to learn how to breathe; to slow down; to be thankful for my body; to notice what my body can do (as opposed to what it can’t or what I wish it would).

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This is the year for a resolution revolution. This is the year for reconnection. You choose how this looks for you, okay? Don’t listen to the media. Heck, don’t even listen to me. Reach inward and listen.

Peace and love for 2017, dear friends.

**If you’re interested in checking out Yoga with Adriene, I just signed up for her new Revolution series starting January 1. It’s free and all online, so you practice at your own pace, in your own space, and on your own schedule. It’s for all levels, all body types, all genders… so don’t be scared to try if you’ve never done it before.

 

 

New Year’s #Resolution–One Word

photodune-5356293-resolutions-xs

It is “that” time of year again, when we pick a bad habit, make a resolution to change, and become discouraged by February when we haven’t made the progress we were hoping—if at all.

As cliché as it sounds, the truth is we cannot change overnight or in a month or even in several months. Ditching old ways takes time because we feel comfortable and safe the way things are. We need time to not only develop new habits that are healthy, but also provide feelings of delight and success so we keep going. Resolving to start a running regimen to help you lose weight is a relatively safe and healthy way to exercise. But the resolution will fail if you would rather be chased by a pack of hyenas than to run by choice.

Change is a process of discovery through trial and error; we need time to grow results once we find what we’re looking for. January to February isn’t much time, so give yourself some grace if you are feeling discouraged. Give yourself the entire year, okay? 🙂

While goals are important because they help us measure progress and success, I shy away from life-changing resolutions. Instead I pick one word to focus on for the year, and I live  in a way that honors, engages, and illustrates the meaning to me. Last year I chose center. As a writer, a freelance editor, a mom, a wife, a friend, a daughter, my plate gets full. I often let self-care of my needs slip right off the edge, leaving me feeling tired and empty. The intention of center was to find ways to anchor myself in the midst of life’s swirling tornado of demands, rather than becoming worn rubble at the end of the day.

LightuntomypathMidway through the year, I was out for a run (I love running!), engaging in something that allows me to feel good and tends to my self-care. As I turned a corner, I was met with the most gorgeous sunrise. Typically I don’t stop in the middle of a run because I have a schedule to keep; that day, however, I chose to stop. I had to. I admired and savored the picturesque scene in front of me. It wasn’t the run that centered me that day. It was the second I became present in the moment of what I was experiencing.

Who cares how far I go or how fast I get there if I don’t notice the beautiful things that are happening along the way?

My one word for 2014 is present. I cannot feel centered if I am not fully present in those sideline moments I take for myself, not to mention my everyday interactions. I don’t want to miss something that gives me perspective on what’s important in life. As I said last year, this isn’t about being self-centered. It’s about caring for myself – my heart, my spirit – so I can be better for others: my family, my clients, my community.

Remember, life is what gives us the material to write about. Setting goals for life gives us the journey to document through writing. Whether you create a list of resolutions or focus on one word for 2014, be mindful and take notes of what you’re experiencing this year. Live it, write about it, and share with the rest of us; your life gives us perspective in ours.

What is a resolution, goal, or word you would like to aim for in 2014?

Happy New Year!

When I grow up– Am I there yet?

“When I grow up, I’m going to be a singer on stage.”

That’s what I thought when I was five. I even drew a picture of me on stage with lots of circles at the bottom of the page that were supposed to be the audience; there are blue, pink, and yellow lights above my head. I think my parents may still have that drawing.

They also have the first book I wrote and illustrated in primary school. The Tale of Peter Rabbit. 🙂 My own rendition, of course, though it pretty closely resembles the classic story.

I also declared when I grew up I would eat all the sugar cereal I wanted, stay up all night, live in Hawaii, get married, and write a book so I could go on the Today show to interview with Matt Lauer.

Summerselfportrait

Today I’m celebrating my 33rd birthday and I’m wondering if I am a grown-up yet. I hope not. It seems there were some pretty great things in store for me I had never imagined for my life. Like, eating cake for breakfast is way more thrilling than stuffing myself full of sugar cereal. And while I love Hawaii, I don’t know if I could live there ; Oregon is pretty darn fantastic–so fantastic that I can’t imagine living anywhere else. The jury is still out on whether I’ll write a book or not… but maybe Matt Lauer would still want to talk about editing? 

But more importantly, I didn’t dream:

  • I would meet and love my two life-long friends Nikki and Ana.
  • I would marry a good man who I’d meet during a root canal.
  • I would ride in a hot air balloon during a summer sunrise.
  • I would run a business given to me as a gift from God.
  • I would go parasailing over tropical waters.
  • I would be part of writers’ life-journeys all over the world.
  • I would experience a South Dakota sky-scape at night.
  • I would teach people how to find their story and write it well.
  • I would love people who thought they didn’t matter.
  • I would overcome an eating disorder.
  • I would be the mother of two individuals who teach me how to live life better.
  • I would drive my son in the middle of the night to the top of a hill to  watch a meteor shower–only to go back home and share granola bars in the back yard instead.
  • I would listen to my daughter talk about life over a couple of chocolate pudding cups.
  • I would…

The list keeps going, so I hope I’m not “there” yet! I am humbly thankful for my first 33 years here. God has given me a great life– a life that has taken me to places and people and moments I never would have imagined for myself. I’m still a child in His eyes, and when I “grow up” I hope I can say with confidence and peace that I’ve lived my life well– that I loved and lived the moments that mattered most.

 

Mother/son morning downtown--did some reading homework in Portland's Waterfront Park.

Mother/son morning downtown–did some reading homework in Portland’s Waterfront Park.

Goodeditor

“You are a great editor.”
(Didn’t know my children paid attention to what I do–And they think I’m pretty great at it!)

Lifeoverpuddingcups

Talking life over pudding cups.

Two sweet gifts

My two sweetest gifts… and at times biggest conundrums. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hubz and his li'l girl.

Hubz and his li’l girl.

Oh, I don't sing on stage but I sing ALL the time at home. In this one-time moment, I got to sing while  my brother played guitar.

Oh, I don’t sing on stage but I sing ALL the time at home. In this one-time moment, I got to sing while my brother played guitar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here's the dude I met during my root canal. :)

Here’s the dude I met during my root canal. 🙂