Breaking Habits & Being Honest

This time of year I usually find myself craving all things Easter candy – Peeps (gross, but I love them!), Cadbury Creme Eggs, chocolate coconut eggs, etc. On St. Patrick’s Day I usually want to get a beer or two and eat some corned beef hash and soda bread. Of course, I usually give in to those cravings with the reasoning that a few pieces of candy or a few beers and some salty corned beef isn’t going to hurt me in the long run. I still stand by that rationalization, but on Sunday I made a drug store run for my poor sinus pain-filled husband and found myself eyeing the candy near the check out counter with barely a tinge of longing. It was rather amazing. I realized that St. Patrick’s Day had come and gone without one sip of beer or bite-full of beef and I hadn’t even thought about it. Instead I attended my Pilates class and had a delicious salad for dinner, never feeling as if anything was lacking.

I attribute this change to a lot of things. Physically I think eating mostly whole, unprocessed foods, and drinking lots of water has helped curb all kinds of cravings. Emotionally/spiritually, I see the support of my husband and regular meditation, Reiki, and yoga as having important roles in regulating my emotions and keeping my anxiety in check.

More and more, as I think back over my past I see how much of an emotional eater I have been. All those forbidden foods that I snuck into my room to eat with abandon provided temporary relief from whatever I was feeling: anxiety, loneliness, anger, lack of security, lack of love, just plain old lack. I was in such denial. I vividly remember watching Oprah one afternoon when I was in high school. She talked about emotional eating and how people use food to fill a void, and sometimes use their weight as a way to protect themselves. I scoffed at that and said to my mom, “Well, that’s not what my problem is. I just have a big bones and a slow metabolism. It’s so frustrating.” Twenty-some years later I realize that it is exactly my problem (or at least a big part of it).

I don’t think I’ve ever really binged. Not in the way that it’s been described by others anyway, but I did eat past the point of being full regularly. I didn’t even realize that until my past few visits with my family this year. Pretty much as soon as I entered my childhood home I would head to the kitchen to find snacks. I snacked until dinner, ate more than usual at dinner, and snacked some more. I should point out that no one else was doing this, just me. When I went to bed I was so full and uncomfortable. I actually woke up in the middle of the night with raging heart burn and once even coughed up a bit of vomit (sorry for the TMI, but I think it’s helpful to be honest).

As I tried to fall back to sleep I pondered a few key questions: Why did I feel this way? Why did I eat so much? Why did I feel like I couldn’t stop eating the whole evening? When I got really honest with myself I realized it was a combination of anxiety and sadness that I was trying to tamp down with whatever I could get my hands on. The sadness was from missing my dad. The anxiety was an old feeling that has permeated my life for as long as I can remember. I no longer blame my family for that, though. I had a pretty good childhood. I just wasn’t really equipped to handle my parents’ divorce and other changes, and I don’t think anyone knew how to help me with that. Still, the feelings return the minute I walk in the door and if I don’t acknowledge them and sit with them, I end up stuffing my face to the point of getting sick.

Being honest about my feelings, particularly the “bad” ones, is a constant struggle. As a highly sensitive child I learned to keep a lot of my emotions to myself. I continued that habit into adulthood, only revealing my true feelings to a handful of close friends and my mom. Writing – fiction, journal entries, free-writing – was my steadfast refuge, but even that began to feel unsafe after I graduated from college. I worried that spending all my free time writing was keeping me from living my real life and so I slowly evicted myself from my one safe haven.

Luckily, after a bunch of failed relationships – some self-destructive and emotionally wrought – I met my husband. Even that relationship had a rocky start, but here we are in our fourth year of marriage. R has helped me in so many ways, but especially by not letting me shut down and hide from my feelings. He pushes me to have conversations that I would otherwise run from and to acknowledge not only what I feel, but also how I let those feelings overcome and undermine me. It’s not easy work, but it’s necessary work and I am so grateful for his patience and love. For the first time I can remember, I feel seen and loved for who I am, not who I’m trying to be.

So while I’m working on breaking habits like turning to food for comfort, and denying my emotions, I hope to re-ignite my old writing habit by posting here more often and keeping a journal again. Words can help us sit with uncomfortable things and see a way past them. If any of this resonates with you, I hope you’ll come sit with me from time to time.

Just Veggies January

2015 is off to a pretty good start. My good eating habits had slowly slipped away during the holidays so I decided to make January a meatless month. I always feel so much better when I don’t eat any meat, poultry, or fish. My energy levels are higher and my digestion feels easier. The tricky part is finding new things to eat so I don’t get bored. Luckily, I received the Wellness Mama Cookbook for Christmas which has given me a few ideas, along with all kinds of recipes from Pinterest.

One dish that I am loving is roasted sweet potatoes and apples with cinnamon which I adapted from the cookbook. It’s really versatile. I threw in some scrambled eggs for a comforting breakfast dish. Another day I added muesli and Greek yogurt. Throwing in some feta cheese or meat would be great, too.

SweetPotatoApple

On the snack front, I’ve been obsessed with pommegranate arils. They are great by the handful or mixed with Greek yogurt as well.

Snack

 

On the exercise front, I froze my yoga membership for the month of December because I knew I would be way too busy to go regularly enough to justify the cost. I still had some Groupon classes left over for a nearby fitness studio so I returned to Zumba and tried out Piloxing and PiYo. I used to love TaeBo and Piloxing is similar, so it was great! I enjoyed PiYo, too, but it went a little too fast for my taste. There is a lot of potential for injury, in my opinion, so I think I’ll stick to my Vinyasa and Pilates classes for that.

On the accountability front, some members of my essential oils team are hosting a health and wellness challenge for January and February. I joined and will be using some of the Young Living products aimed specifically at metabolism support. I plan to post more about them after I use them for a bit. My order arrives on Wednesday and I’m super excited to try it out!

And, finally, I found a new workout buddy in my neighborhood. I’m a member of a council at work and so is she. We met at our most recent meeting, discovered we live in the same neighborhood and decided to take some classes together. This morning we tried out Burn the Barre for the first time and loved it. We’ve already agreed to go again next Sunday! This may just be a New York City thing, but it’s tough to get people to venture out of Manhattan and into the other boroughs to hang out. I’m excited to have a potential new friend in the neighborhood.

I hope your 2015 is off to a happy and healthy start!

Holiday Sanity and Sadness

These past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity – celebrating Thanksgiving, getting ready for Christmas, closing out 2014.

Yoga, meditation, and Reiki have been at the top of my priority list during my free time. I have to say they’ve really helped this busy season feel relatively stress-free! Let’s see if I can still say that after spending time with my extended family over the next few days. 😉

I have to admit that today I’m feeling a bit down and missing my dad. This time last year it felt like such an accomplishment to get to the holidays in one piece that I didn’t really allow myself to feel much of anything. This year, the sadness is there. It’s not such a heavy sorrow anymore. Rather, it’s a dull ache that makes itself felt a little bit stronger from time to time. There’s so much more I could write, but I think I’d rather hold it all in my heart a little while longer.

I hope you all have a great holiday with your loved ones! See you in 2015!

Self Care or Selfish?

self-care-survival

 

Isn’t it interesting how so many of us put ourselves last on our list of priorities? How many times a day, a week, a month do we put off doing something that would make us feel better or help us relax? We get the message from some many different places (family, society, religion) that we should sacrifice, put others first, and ignore our own needs or else we’ll appear selfish, self-centered, greedy, etc.

But I’d like to argue that it’s not true. We can best give of ourselves, help others, and be of service only after we’ve taken care of ourselves. How can we positively contribute to anything or anyone if we’re exhausted, burnt-out, sick, or even feeling resentful of the fact that we’re sacrificing our needs? We can’t.

Now, I’m not saying that we should all drop everything and only focus on ourselves, everyone and everything else be damned. And I’m well aware that there are people out there who are currently over-extended and have so many responsibilities, and people to care for that the thought of self care is laughable. Sadly, that is reality for a whole lot of people because we’ve all bought into the ideas mentioned above. But what if even those folks found a way to take five or ten minutes for themselves to relax or recharge in whatever way they pleased? Maybe that would mean sitting down with a cup of tea, or reading a chapter in a book, or just really paying attention to breath for a few minutes. The little bit of pleasure we can get in those five minutes can lead to finding a few more five minute breaks throughout the day, which might lead to ten, which might lead to twenty. You see where I’m going here.

I see too many people who have spent their entire lives putting others before themselves (consciously or unconsciously) and now, when their health is compromised and they need to be taking care of themselves, they don’t. They don’t know to make themselves a priority and they’re uncomfortable with it because it goes against the way they lived their lives up until this point. It’s heartbreaking, frustrating, and unnecessary.

I encourage all of you to take some time for yourself EVERY DAY and do something to help you relax or make you happy. It’s such a simple act and can have such a profound affect!

Today, I took a nice little tea break and sat in the afternoon sun for twenty minutes. It was a wonderful way to relax and recharge. I returned to my office with renewed focus and a desire to get things done.

How are you going to care for yourself today?

 

Changing Focus

Hello friends,

Sorry I’ve been gone so long! A lot has changed over the past few months and I’ve decided to shift the focus of this blog to match what’s been going on in my life. My weight loss and health goals haven’t changed, but they are not the only things I’ve been focused on lately. I realized that I have so much trouble posting here because there are so many other things I want to be writing about and sharing with you!

I’ve started a new journey that is truly focused on self-care and healing physically and emotionally. I’m currently growing my essential oils business as an independent distributor for Young Living. I’m completing a Second Degree Reiki training this month. And my love for yoga and meditation hasn’t waned one bit. I hope that all of this will grow into a new path where I can teach people how to care for themselves and easily support their own health and wellness.

My goal is to share many of the things I learn along the way with you. I also want to share the “curves and swerves” of life with you on a regular basis. There will probably still be posts about weight loss and goals, but I hope that these other topics will make this a more interesting and fun place to visit.

Happy November, everyone! Expect to be hearing from me more often!

Bridal Shower Fun and Victories over Emotional Eating

The bridal shower went off without a hitch yesterday. We all had a lot of fun!

Here are those favors made by my cousins that  I mentioned in my last post:

favors

We had some cute accessories for the bride to wear. Those are sunglasses with the words “Bride to Be” at the top, and a crown with a veil.

brideaccessories

And here is the delicious cake I was saving all my extra calories for. It had chocolate and vanilla layers with chocolate and vanilla mousse filling. Yep, it was an amazing as it sounds.

cake

After the shower, I high-tailed it back to NYC to relax and revel in the fact that I don’t have any more traveling on the agenda until the actual wedding at the end of September. Phew! It’s been a rather hectic summer with all of this dress buying and party planning.

Reflecting on the weekend, there were a few moments of food choices that I am really happy with. Often when I visit my family I instantly revert back to the insecure, out-of-control emotional eater that I used to be. No matter how much I would coach myself on the way there, it seemed like all of the motivational quotes, mantras, and plans just flew out the window. This time, however, I was able to stop myself from falling down that slippery slope before I even crossed the state line.

While waiting for my train in Penn Station on Saturday morning, I decided to buy an iced coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts. As I got closer to the counter I started thinking I should get a doughnut, too, even though I had already eaten a healthy egg-filled breakfast. The internal dance of reasons for and against a doughnut began. After a few minutes, I caught myself and recognized that I only wanted the doughnut because I was feeling anxious about the shower and all of those feelings that can come up when spending time with family. I reminded myself that a doughnut was not going to help the situation or make me feel better. On the train, with only my iced coffee in hand, I was proud of my decision.

That night we went out to dinner which is usually another time when I let old habits and emotions get the better of me. Not this time! This time I ordered grilled chicken, baked potato, and a salad. I was actually satisfied with my choices and happy that I was able to ignore the fried food beckoning to me.

The meal at the shower was another victory of sorts. I decided ahead of time that I would choose the roasted turkey breast sandwich over the cheeseburger. Even though, many of the people around me ordered the burger, I was once again happy and satisfied with my choice. And I indulged in a piece of that delicious cake without one twinge of guilt.

These little victories are not so much about the calories saved, but more about not letting my emotions affect my eating choices. Those “comfort foods” never really leave me feeling comforted. In fact, they usually lead to some half critical/half joking comments from my mom (even if she just ate the same thing!) which leave me annoyed and wanting even more of them. It’s an ugly cycle that only I can break. I can’t control how the people around me treat me, or what kind of emotions/insecurities re-surface around them, but I can control how I react to those emotions. This time around, I think I did a pretty great job!