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Good Enough For Me August 7, 2010

Posted by Jen in facing fear, Sprituality, travel.
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Before I started typing this post, I was searching for some pictures from my own personal catalog to add. I was doing this because I want this blog to feel both helpful and professional, but friendly, too! I want to let you know what’s going on in my world, and what it’s like to live a life that is free from ED, and how I deal with it.

And often times my life has nothing to do with ED, because, well, it doesn’t consume my life anymore. My life involves hiking and cooking and spending time with family and friends; it involves reading and walking and some part-time work at a mediation center where I work with fantastic volunteers that are mostly in their 70’s and 80’s that are a huge inspiration to me; it involves stretching and strength training and meditating and sleeping and writing and journaling and petting my cats and spending time with my partner, Anthony.

When I went to search for pictures, though, I felt that familiar pull of trepidation. “My pictures are terribly low quality compared to some of the other bloggers.” “I don’t know what to put up here; does anyone even care?”

You know the how the soundtrack in your mind goes. Old familiar fears, often showing up disguising themselves as helpful or sincere, pop up when you least expect them. And that’s when your choice comes in. You can listen to your head or you can listen to your heart. You can give in to the voices and walk away from the challenges you intended to take on, or you can tell the voices what you think of them. Or maybe just gently inquire about why the voices appeared in the first place.

For me, my pictures and blog, in that moment, just didn’t feel good enough. I don’t have a professional header, I only started blogging a couple of months ago and don’t have much readership, I’m still figuring out what the core of the blog will be. And that scares me. But when I stare the fear in the face, my only real desire is to have a place to share. A place to write about stuff like this, a place to talk about goal setting, health, wellness, recipes, food, disordered eating, and other things that I am passionate about. And that is good enough for me.

So how about some pictures?

A dinner plate I made in a pottery class last year. (Clearly, I am not a professional, this was just for fun!)

Mmmm....a frost green monster. One of my favorite smoothies!

Me at Pancake Rocks in New Zealand, back in 2007

Hawaii. Nepali Coast Overlook in Kauai. I've been lucky enough to visit three of the islands and have made two different trips to Hawaii.

Tulips from the nearby Biltmore Estate

Well, those are some of my interests in a nut shell. Travel, beauty, food, creativity. I didn’t put any cat pictures up, but my cats are definitely an enormous part of my life. Nola is keeping me company as I type this.

What about you? What are you going to today when something feels scary?


Thankful For BED August 1, 2010

Posted by Jen in Binge Eating, Emotional Eating, Meditation, Motivation, Sprituality.
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Because I think everything about Operation Beautiful (and Healthy Tipping Point!) are fantastic, I wanted to write something for Caitlin’s book kick-off. I hope every subject I cover on this blog empowers readers to feel great about themselves, and this post is about me finding my way out of binge eating disorder (the really short version!)

When I was in the deep, dark, chewy center of binge eating disorder, it was very, very hard for me to ever see a way out of it. Well, other than putting myself on a new diet every other day.

You see, I thought I could diet my way out of BED. I thought I could punish myself enough to make myself do what I wanted to do. I thought I could make myself stop overeating by restricting myself, by berating myself, but letting myself believe I was fat and unworthy. But I had it all wrong. I had to thank my disorder for what it offered, in the protection it was trying to provide, and find my way through it, not away from it.

Being thankful for a painful occurrence in life is not easy. Why would I be thankful that I had, for the third day in a row, stuffed my self full of peanut butter and bread and butter and chocolate and more bread and cheese and more food than anyone could ever comfortably eat in a single sitting? Why would I be thankful that I had spent the night hot and uncomfortable and bloated and feeling awful? Or spending the whole next day telling myself I was going to change, I was going to do “better” or “fix” myself?

Because my binge eating was a reflection of my life. Because my binge eating was giving me a gift, if only I would look at it. Because my binge eating was trying to protect me.

No one develops an eating disorder in a vacuum. No one eats uncomfortable amounts of food, or starves themselves, or purges their systems because everything is right in their world. Through therapy and lots and lots of reading and meditating, I finally understood that I was binging because I was unwilling to feel things. I was unwilling to deal with scary thoughts and emotions.  It had absolutely nothing to do with food. Nothing.

In my case, binge eating protected me. It protected me from scary stuff. It protected me from taking chances at things at which I might fail. It was trying to help me. Only when I realized this could I take a step back and say, “Thank you. I understand why you are here, and what your purpose is. But now I choose to face the scary stuff. I don’t need protection anymore.”

You can do it, too. If you have an eating disorder mild or serious, seek out the help of a counselor or coach.  Learn about it. Look into it. Read about it. Open yourself to the possibilities with which ED has presented you. You are a beautiful, stunning person. You deserve to live the most fantastic, joyful life possible. If something feels wrong in your life, thank it. Look into it. What is it keeping hidden from you? What amazing thing are you capable of?

Vegan Inquiry July 20, 2010

Posted by Jen in Motivation, Sprituality.
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The other day my mom emailed me the link to a really interesting article. It’s called “When Veganism Is An Eating Disorder”. You can read the full article here.


This article struck a chord with me. I have been a vegetarian since I was 13, though I certainly did not do it to avoid eating fat or to cut calories, as did one of the people mentioned in the article. I really just didn’t like meat very much, and was an extremely picky eater!

However, as time has gone on I have dabbled with veganism, and it has been a source of struggle for me. I do not believe I’ve ever chosen to go vegan for weight loss reasons, but more for ethical reasons. However, I still have some issues around it, because when I see that other people are vegans I often end up feeling guilty, like I should be a vegan because it’s healthier and better for animals and the planet.

FYI: “Should” is a red flag! If you notice you are doing something because you think you should, it’s time to stop and figure out where that voice is coming from! And, for your reading pleasure, I’m going to do some inquiry right here, live, on where my guilt and “shoulds” about veganism are coming from. (I’m using a loose version of the The Work, developed by Byron Katie.)


I should be a vegan because it’s better for my health.

Is that true? I think it’s probably better for my health because I’ve read that it is. And because the saturated fat and cholesterol in eggs and dairy aren’t good for me. And those foods also cause cancer. (I’ve ready WAY too many books on health and diet for my own good.)

Is it absolutely true in all circumstances? Hmmm. Well, if eating a vegan diet is causing me mental strife, and ultimately to be unhealthy mentally, then no. And if avoiding something with cheese in it, only to go eat three pounds of natural peanut butter because I’m feeling deprived, happened, that certainly would not be healthier than just eating the damn cheese.

How do I feel when I think that thought? Kinda anxious and guilty. Like I’m doing something wrong if I’m not eating the healthiest diet possible.

How would I feel if that thought could never enter my mind? Free! Happier, lighter.

Turnaround: I shouldn’t be a vegan, because it’s better for my health. I should be a non-vegan, because it’s better for my health. I should be my health, because it’s better for my vegan. (I’m not sure what that one means, just trying different combos.)

Do any of the turnarounds sound as true or truer than my original statement? YES! “I shouldn’t be a vegan, because it’s better for my health” feels true to me. I love, love, love eating vegan foods, and will probably always eat lots of them, but giving myself that label and putting that pressure on myself is not healthy. Also, the part where I wrote, “I should be my health” feels true to me. We should all be our own health. We all need to decide what truly feels right for us.

Phew, see how helpful inquiry is?

Your Ideal Day July 15, 2010

Posted by Jen in Meditation, Mindful Eating, Motivation, Sprituality.
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What does your ideal life look like? Okay, maybe that’s too big a place to start. What does your ideal day look like? How does it smell, taste, sound, and especially, feel?

Where do you wake up? Is it light or dark? Is it next to someone or alone? How does your body feel? Are you relaxed, excited, energized? What do you spend your day doing? Remember, this is your dream, no one elses. Below is a simple exercise to get you to get your creative “Ideal Day” juices flowing, but before that, I’d like to address something else.

Like, what the heck does your ideal day have to do with trying to lose weight, improve your body image, get in touch with yourself, and more? EVERYTHING, people, everything.

Why do you think you are so hard on yourself in the first place? Why do you think you eat when you’re not hungry. Let me tell you, it’s not because you’re living your dream life.

If you’re eating when you’re not hungry, you’re trying to avoid something else. If you are willing to go there, really go there, and explore what you want your life to truly be about, you’ll be one step closer to getting in touch with the real you, and getting your hand out of the Cool Ranch Doritos.

So, up for the challenge of imagining your “Ideal Day”?

  1. Go somewhere peaceful where you can relax, unwind, and be alone for at least 15 or 20 minutes. Bring pen and paper with you so you can record the details of your ideal day.
  2. Spend some time in your body. Take deep breaths. Wiggle your toes. Do some neck rolls. Close your eyes.
  3. Feel around for any tight or stressed-out areas in your body. If there is tension in your tummy, breathe deeply and see if you can’t let it go for now. Try to get to a place of presence and peace.
  4. Ask yourself, “On the perfect day, where do I wake up?” Fill in every single teeny tiny minute detail that you can. The color of the walls, the smell of the room or of breakfast, everything. Make sure to write down how you feel, and bonus points if you genuinely start to feel this way while you do the exercise!
  5. Ask yourself, “What am I looking forward to today? How will my day unfold?” Make certain to capture the feeling of what this ideal day will bring, and again, be as detailed as you can be.
  6. Walk yourself through the entire day, from the time you get up until the time you go to bed. Be detailed if you can!
  7. Notice where you felt the most excitement and the most reservation. This exercise could potentially bring up scary feelings and thoughts such as, “But I’d have to quit my job to be a ballerina!”, or “Oh no, I’d have to kick my 37-year old son out of the house to do the renovations I’m dreaming of!”, etc. Acknowledge the thoughts as they come up, but press on with the exercise.
  8. When you’re done, read over your ideal day. Fill your entire body with the deliciousness of how it would feel to be living this life.
  9. Keep the piece of paper. Read it every single day. Dream about your ideal day every single day. Let the good feelings wash over your body every single day. When you feel like beating yourself up over your weight or eating another doughnut, re-read your ideal day.
  10. Contact a life coach to get you started on your journey to actually living your ideal day! 🙂  Oh, did I say that out loud?

What’s your ideal day?

Women, Food and God. What Are You Waiting For? July 13, 2010

Posted by Jen in Binge Eating, Emotional Eating, Mindful Eating, Sprituality, Weight Loss.
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Did you see Oprah yesterday afternoon? She had Geneen Roth on as a follow-up to her May show, in which Roth also appeared, discussing her best-selling book Women, Food and God.


If you missed it, you can read about the show here. I’m just gonna say it: I think Geneen Roth is brilliant. I think her ideas and methods are the way out of the cycle of hell known as yo-yo dieting. It’s her methods that I use in my own life and that I encourage my clients to use as well.

If you haven’t read her most recent book, and struggle with food and dieting and body image, I’d go pick it up right now. Some people hate this book, as is true with anything anyone has written, ever. Some people don’t get what she’s talking about when she mentions “God”. Some people think she’s just plain wrong. I think some of those people are just plain scared.

It’s scary to give up dieting. It’s scary to trust your body to know what it needs and when it’s hungry and full. It’s scary to feel your feelings, especially when you usually numb them out with food. But you know what? It’s worth it.

It’s worth it to uncover your fears and dreams and hopes. It’s worth it to listen to and respect your body. It’s worth it because you deserve it. If you do what she says and get in touch with yourself and listen to what I call your “essential self” instead of what I call your “social self’ (she calls it “The Voice”), you’ll lose weight. But that’s not the reason to do this. The reason to get in touch with you, with God, with your spirit, with your center, is because you’ll be fulfilled in ways you never thought possible.

What are you waiting for? How many more diets do you want to start and fail? How many more nights do you want to spend with your hand in the cookie jar? How much longer can you avoid feeling your feelings and living your dreams? We’re all meant to do something wonderful. And that includes you. Stop stuffing down your wonderful self with food.

Why Do You Really Want to Lose Weight? July 5, 2010

Posted by Jen in Emotional Eating, Motivation, Sprituality, Weight Loss.
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Why do you want to lose weight?

It’s an important question I have to ask all of my clients. I may call myself a “weight loss” coach, but I really only want my clients to lose weight in a slow, steady, natural way, that includes them paying attention to their hunger and fullness signals, moving their bodies because it feels good, paying attention to the emotions that trigger excess eating, and being mindful in their life.

And one of the most important things to be mindful of are your reasons for wanting to lose weight. Over and over, I see people who want to lose weight because it feels like a way to “fix” themselves, or make themselves “better”. Losing weight may do a few things, including lowering your risk for some diseases and cancers, lowing your cholesterol, and may even make you happier. For a while. Most people will still feel the same way they did before losing weight emotionally.

Which brings me back to my original question. Why do you want to lose weight? Here are some common answers, and the truth that may lie beneath.

  • I want to be thinner (I want to be better. I want to impress others. I want others to love me. I want to be worthy of love.)
  • I want to look better (I can’t imagine I look good now, no one could love me like this, I have to change and be better than I am now.)
  • I want to fit into a pair of jeans I used to wear (I was better before, and I need to be that way again. The way I am now isn’t good enough. No one could possibly like the way I look in these jeans.)
  • I want to be happy (I can’t love myself at this weight, I can’t be worthy a this weight, I know once I lose the weight I’ll be happier, right?)
  • I’ll have more confidence in work and life (I can’t succeed looking the way I do now, people won’t respect me. I can’t stand up and do what I want until I’ve proved to myself I can lose this weight.)

I have another question for you: What if everything was exactly the same, even after you lost the weight? What if you still weren’t happy? What if you still weren’t brave enough to chase your dreams? What if you still felt unloved and undeserving? What difference would being thin make? Trying to lose weight over and over is just a tool to keep you removed from facing your fears and living your best life.

When you’re ready to open up to your true self, when you’re ready to accept that you are amazing and powerful, and can do anything, and when you’re ready to take a look at all the thoughts and beliefs in your head telling you you’re not good enough, then you’re ready to lose weight. And you know what? You’ll feel so good about the rest of your life going right that weight loss won’t even be the most important thing to you anymore. You will know you’re on the right track and worthy of the best damn life even, no matter what.

Freedom July 4, 2010

Posted by Jen in Exercise, Motivation, Sprituality.
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Happy 4th of July!

I know the 4th is all about celebrating our freedom as a country (if you’re from the U.S., that is!), but I thought it would be a good time to think about our freedom on a personal level.

In what area of your life do you feel bound, trapped, or stuck in a constant cycle of fear and distress? Where would you like to feel freedom?

How about being able to look in the mirror and feel free to smile at your reflection, no matter your size, shape, firmness, zittyness, hair style, etc?

How about the freedom to sit down to a meal and enjoy it, thoroughly, while listening only to your body’s satiety signals, not your mind telling you what it thinks of the food and drink choices you’re making.

How about feeling free to love yourself completely? To walk or run or jump or play and feel completely free to move your body any way you want to, just for fun, not for calorie burn? To ask for exactly what you want without apologies or regrets. To dream big. To tell yourself every single day, “I can do anything.”

Where would you like to find freedom?

Books That Have Helped Along the Way July 1, 2010

Posted by Jen in Emotional Eating, Meditation, Sprituality.
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I don’t know about you, but I love to read. Of course, if you’re sitting somewhere right now reading this, you probably crave information, too!

Over the years my philosophies on eating, spirituality, find balance, health, and weight loss have shifted, and I thought I’d share a list of books that I found very helpful along the way. These books improved my life in some way, whether it was to teach me to take better care of myself, reward myself for progress, be kind and loving to myself, or how to make an awesome healthy recipe.

Help with the body image/food/eating patterns side of things:

Help on the Spiritual Side

There are probably more resources that have improved my life along the way, but those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. I hope you’ll check one or more of these works out on your own spiritual and wellness journey.