stress

How Comparison Blocks You From Food and Body Freedom

When I first committed to taking a new approach to food, exercise, and my body, I knew I wanted to do things differently. I knew that another diet, protocol, cleanse, or shortcut would not bring me the freedom I was seeking.

So, I set out on a new path and changed the way I think and feel about food, my body, and myself, using the tools I now teach my clients. I quickly started to see the life-changing benefits of addressing the root cause of my struggle, doing the deeper work, breaking through limiting beliefs, and aligning my thoughts and actions with my desires. 

But many days, I would wake up feeling empowered and set my intentions to eat, move, and think in a new light, only to hit a crippling roadblock that had the power to throw me into a downward spiral. I would fall down the slippery slope of comparing myself to others.

I would come across someone who appeared to have everything I wanted and almost immediately feel bad about myself. You won’t be surprised that the majority of my comparison, jealousy, and resulting anxiety was generated by the Internet and social media. 

I followed all of my friends and idols who drank green juice, mastered yoga poses, ran marathons, cooked delicious meals, traveled the world, built thriving businesses, spoke eloquently, and just oozed self-love. I know I'm not alone in falling prey to this addiction.

None of my progress mattered when I saw someone else who had "more." I justified my behavior by saying I needed inspiration and to be in-the-know. While we all need inspiration and education, I too often ended up wading around in jealousy, disconnecting from myself, and wasting a ton of time worrying about whether or not I would ever live up to the success of others.

My ego (aka fear-based mind) would pipe up and tell me that there’s no way I was good enough to achieve what they had already accomplished. I would scroll through Instagram and Facebook, read newsletters, blogs, and articles, and wish I was where they were. I obsessed over the filtered and edited versions of their lives and thought to myself, “I’m never going to have that” or “How could I possibly do what they do?”

This energy only detracted me from that which I desired. I knew I had to break the self-destructive habit. I had to learn this lesson: 

Comparison is the voice of the ego, always working to keep you in a place of fear. No matter where you are on your journey, comparing yourself to others will only slow you down.

When you let comparison take over, the ego can easily sneak in and fill your mind with thoughts of negativity and fear, which lead you to believe that you are separate from those around you, those you admire, and everything that you wish for yourself and your relationship with food and your body.

If comparing yourself to others is sucking your energy and slowing you down, consider taking these steps to break the habit, shift your perception, and move forward:

  • Raise your awareness. Become the observer of your thoughts. Notice when your ego leads you to believe your body and relationship with food is lacking. Believing in these thought patterns is what keeps you stuck in the problem. Call them out consistently. Shrink them down. This practice will lead you to a point where you can release your limiting beliefs about food and your body that are holding you back.
  • Catch yourself in the act and change your thoughts. When you notice negative comparing thoughts come up, say to yourself: “I am determined to see this differently.” Choose to shift into positivity. Reach out and compliment that person, and then consciously move on. Instead of looking at the greatness in others and feeling bad about yourself, look at the greatness in others and say to yourself: "The light I see in others is a reflection of the light in me."
  • Act as if you're already there. Notice the qualities and habits of others that attract you, and then act as if they are already a part of your character. Find their confidence in your own actions. Watch what they’re doing and mimic what seems to work for them. This could mean making yourself a beautiful meal, going for a hike, signing up for a new class, or simply changing your attitude. Don't allow yourself to stay stuck in self-pity and negativity. Take action.
  • Lean into love and gratitude. Remember that your connection to yourself and your intuition is your greatest asset. Leaning into self-love and gratitude for what you do have will strengthen this nourishing force inside of you. Comparing yourself to others will keep you separated from it. When you feel jealous or unworthy, an easy first step is to make a list of as many things as you can that you're grateful for right at that moment.

When I stopped comparing myself to others and started training my mind to focus on the positive, that's when it began to grow in my life. My commitment to building a deep loving connection to my highest self began to reflect in my connection to food and my body. This is the deeper work that will lead you to sustainable transformation.

If you’re ready to stop comparing yourself to others, strengthen your connection to your intuition, and finally heal your relationship with food and your body, I would love to connect with you here.

Sending you love and light!

What Energy Do You Bring to Your Food?

My relationship with food has had its ups and downs, to say the least. But I’m grateful for the rocky road that led me to where I am today, because it's taught me fundamental lessons about myself and my life that I would not trade for the world.

One lesson that changed the game for me: The energy you bring to your food is a reflection of what you're feeling within. 

At a very young age, I found comfort in food when I was lonely. I woke up early, snuck snacks from the kitchen before my parents got out of bed, and shoved the wrappers in between the couch cushions. In my teens, I stayed up late and secretly binged to numb the pain of having few friends and feeling like an outsider at school. No amount of food was ever enough to fill the void.

In my 20s, I was fed up with my body and weight loss obsession took hold. Over the course of a few years, I lost over 40 pounds, ran a marathon, cut out sugar, dairy, gluten, soy, grains, and preservatives, and ate an organic whole foods diet. While I gained superficial confidence, no way of eating or exercising ever made me feel whole. So I pushed myself harder and grasped for more control.

Whether I was mindlessly eating or strictly following a diet, I was constantly trying to avoid or control feelings that I didn’t want to feel. 

I kept searching for something outside of myself that would fill me up and bring me peace of mind and body, but nothing worked. Over time, I began to approach most food - even the healthiest of vegetables - with fear, anxiety, shame, guilt, self-deprecation, or a mixture of negative emotions - whether I knew it or not.

I reached a point where I no longer wanted to control food and my body. I knew I had to let go, but didn't know how to stop. I feared gaining weight, but also feared restriction. I didn't know how to accept or listen to my body. I didn't know how to change my ways without swinging back to the other far end of the spectrum where I would overeat. 

The lesson I needed to learn: No matter what type of relationship you have with food, it's a direct correlation to your relationship with yourself, the world, and your life. If your self-esteem, safety, security, or purpose are out of alignment in any way, your eating habits are going to be too. 

It took me a long time to learn, and even longer to accept, but I finally realized that I needed to look at the energy I was bringing to my food, in order to understand and ultimately address the root causes of my disordered eating. Once I accepted this was the path I needed to take, everything began to shift.

To begin shifting your relationship with food, look within and ask yourself:

  • What energy am I bringing to my food? (Controlling, rushed, fearful, mindless?)
  • If I'm mindlessly eating, what feelings am I trying to avoid? (Pain, loneliness?
  • If I'm controlling my food, what feelings am I trying to control? (Fear, stress?)

When you avoid, control, and restrict, you block your connection with your intuition and your body's innate wisdom, which blocks sustainable healing. In order to create permanent change, you must practice raising your awareness, get passionately curious, and address the energy at the root of your eating struggles.

Good news: As a complement to the deeper practice, you can jumpstart your shift by proactively bringing positive and loving energy to your food. Experience what it's like to be present. Use mealtime as an opportunity to practice how you want to act and who you want to be.

What do you want to bring to the table? If you feel called to learn more about how you can increase the energy you give and get from your food, I’m excited to share that I will be hosting a FREE workshop at WeWork Soho South in Manhattan on Wednesday, September 7, 2016, 6-7:30pm.

And if you're ready to dive in, do the deeper work, and transform your relationship with food, your body, and yourself, I highly recommend you connect with me here.

Sending you love and light!

 

We Are How We Eat: Why Mindful Eating Is Worth Your Time

We’ve all heard the saying: “We are what we eat.” 

Of course, there’s truth to this statement. There’s a reason why we feel better when we eat fruits, vegetables, and whole foods and worse when we eat junk. Everything we eat and drink directly affects our cells, which need specific vitamins and minerals to function. These cells are grouped together as tissues and then organs that compose our bodies and sustain our lives. We need nutrient-rich food to stay healthy and energized.

But at my recent mindful eating workshop, I set out to show everyone: “We are how we eat." 

When I struggled with disordered eating, I ate “perfectly.” Every single one of my meals included vegetables, fruits, lean protein, and/or healthy fats. I took supplements to make up for any deficiencies. I avoided sugar, gluten, dairy, soy, and processed foods.

I bought organic and local as much as possible. I picked up superfoods at every trendy health food store and juice joint in Manhattan. I ate probiotic-rich fermented veggies and drank bone broth to strengthen my gut. I stayed hydrated. I watched my portions. I tried my best to eat three meals at approximately the same time each day.

And yet, I was left wanting. No matter what or how much I ate, I always felt hungry. No food seemed to give me the energy I desired. I was exhausted. My digestion was a mess. My menstrual cycle was nowhere to be found. I felt like it was nearly impossible to concentrate on anything other than food and my body.

So, I continued to search for a way of eating and exercising that would solve my problem. I constantly asked myself: 

“What am I missing?”

“What am I doing wrong?”

“Why are so many other health-conscious people bursting with energy and excitement, while I’m confused, anxious, and overwhelmed?”

At the time, I didn’t realize what I was missing. I didn’t realize that my mind was so consumed with worry over whether or not I was eating the right foods and how they were going to affect my body that it left no room for gratitude, enjoyment, curiosity, or understanding.

I approached every meal in fear (whether I knew it or not). I didn't want to gain weight. I didn't want to fall back into old unhealthy patterns. Stuck in my own head, I completely removed myself from the actual experience of eating. My mind was disconnected from my body. 

As I ate my nutritious meals quickly and anxiously, I didn’t notice the swarm of fearful, stress-inducing thoughts flying through my mind. It took me a long time to acknowledge what was really happening, and even longer to understand its negative impact on my body. 

I studied the physical and psychological benefits of mindful eating and put techniques into practice. Not only did I experience an instant improvement in my digestion, energy, mood, and body composition, I also became more present, focused, productive, and graceful in other areas of my life. 

Our thoughts and feelings impact our bodies on a cellular level, just as much as the food we eat.

Science shows that chronic stress can halt digestion, disrupt hormones, damage the immune system, raise blood pressure, and even shorten life expectancy. When our sympathetic "fight or flight" nervous system is buzzing in the background, our bodies are constantly under attack, so our biological resources are allocated to relieve the pressure.

On the flip side, positive thoughts of joy, gratitude, and forgiveness are proven to ignite the parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for the body’s “rest and digest” activities like sexual arousal, muscle and tissue repair, fuel storage (increased insulin activity), salivation, digestion, detoxification, resistance to infection, and waste elimination.

Moral of the story: In addition to eating nutrient-rich food, we quite literally need positive, loving, and empowering thoughts to foster health and vitality. 

Here are three ways to start eating mindfully now:

  1. Show gratitude. Expressing gratitude before you eat helps you to slow down, center yourself, appreciate the food you've been given, acknowledge what you're putting into your body, and activate the balanced mind-body connection needed for optimal digestion, nutrient absorption, and metabolism. As a bonus, take a deep breathe of gratitude before each bite.
  2. Chew. Chewing your food thoroughly (ideally until liquid) prolongs your eating experience, elevates your senses, enhances the communication between your brain and organs, and releases saliva with a special digestive enzyme not found anywhere else in the digestive tract. As Kundalini Yoga master Yogi Bhajan would always say: "Chew well. Your stomach has no teeth."
  3. Have a conversation with yourself. While you're chewing your food and continuing to breathe, stay present with your thoughts and take back your power. Recite the internal mantra: "I'm nourishing myself with..." Proactively connecting with this intention throughout your meal will support you in slowing down, chewing thoroughly, enjoying the experience, and stopping when you're satisfied.

If you already know these tips, but can't seem to consistently put them into practice, I highly recommend we connect here.

If you feel called to learn the full spectrum of mindful eating techniques and how to tune into your body's unique hungry and fullness signals, please join me at one of my upcoming mindful eating and meditation workshops. I would love to see you there.

Sending you love and light!