I remember being 8 years old laying on the couch with my knees bent, looking down at my thighs.
Despite what I know now about my very normal sized 8-year old body, at the time, I thought I was fat and I had proof because my thighs touched.
To this day, I remember having the thought, “I wish I could just cut off the parts that were touching… then I’d like my thighs…then I’d be happy.”
It’s easy to hear a story like this and feel sorry for that 8-year old. Clearly, 8-year olds (including myself) get this message from family, older siblings, friends, TV ads, magazines and such…. so it’s easy to see how it’s not my 8-year old fault.
Yet as adults how many of you reading this right now can’t stand a part of your body?
“I despise the way my arms jiggle… I hate my thick thighs…. I get sick when I look at my stomach in the mirror”
—those are exact words I’ve heard from different clients.
The internal dialogue that goes on (sometimes obsessively), hating on your own body, is like waging war… with yourself.
And the damage cuts deep. It undermines the infinite wisdom of our bodies and disconnects us further from the possibility of healing.
While it might be true:
there might be weight to lose
there might be muscles that could use some toning
there might be food addictions that need to cease
To have an internal dialogue of hate and disgust just makes matters worse. Hating on yourself will never get you to where you want to go with your body.
Why did I share that very vulnerable story I still remember from being 8 years old?
Because if you struggle with holding onto more weight than your body actually needs to be healthy, there’s a 99% chance that you use food in ways that numb and deflect the feelings and emotions that you don’t want to feel.
It’s a way of hiding our feelings from ourselves or others.
I tell you the story the of my 8-year old self because the truth is if you use food (or alcohol, sex, drugs, shopping, relationships, gambling, etc) in this way, there really ARE parts of you that didn’t get enough at some point in your life (usually in childhood).
What do I mean my enough?
Enough love, acknowledgement, encouragement, and a real knowing that we ARE ENOUGH with no strings attached.
And when these old, untouched feelings pop up, when they speak up and act out, it really feels as if they were true… as if we aren’t enough.
We believe that these old, child-like, undigested feelings are true, so they take over and we act out by over-eating, over-exercising, over-spending, etc. Anything to fill the hole. Anything to make us feel like ENOUGH.
But the truth is, food (or shopping/drugs/exercise/alcohol/etc) will never be the answer to fill the empty hole.
And what makes it worse is when we validate these old feelings with hate for our body or our circumstances.
Until we touch these parts of us with love, the cycle will never end.
If you’re still with me, then I probably struck a chord of truth in you. So then you might be wondering at this point, “What the hell do I do?!”
If food, or whatever your choice of distraction to your undigested feelings isn’t the answer… then what is?
Well, you can’t control your past.
You can’t change the past circumstances that created the false belief that you aren’t enough, or the false destructive behaviors that you learned along the way.
But you do have control over how you relate to yourself right now. When these undigested feelings come up, you can either beat yourself down:
(“I hate my body, I’m disgusted with how I look, WTF is my problem?”)
OR… LOVE YOURSELF UP.
When you catch yourself ridiculing, beating up, putting down, or disrespecting yourself, immediately shift into kindness and love.
You can say to yourself instead:
“Oh sweetheart…. I know you’re upset… and I want to hear why… no more fighting… tell me more…. I have only love and kindness to how difficult this is for you…let me put my arms around you and shower you with love”
This profound shift in our inner dialogue drops the war and begins the healing. This is where we fill ourselves up with what was missing from long ago.
It’s not easy.
It requires a great deal of perseverance, compassion, and consciousness… ALL OF WHICH can be cultivated over time.
This is but one example of one of the many ways I work my clients to get to the root causes of what’s really going on, pull those root weeds out gently, and fill them back up with the love and tenderness that’s been missing.
This is the real work: the constant daily attention given to yourself that over time has you filling up on life instead of food. This is how doing the healing inner work changes your life, and yes… your body.
Share with me in the comments section below: What do you do to be kind to yourself? Are there ways you’ve learned to speak to yourself, honor yourself, or give yourself the sense of “enough”?
Our whole community can come together and learn from each other by sharing below!
I haven’t seen this since I first wrote it in my tiny apartment in San Francisco after becoming newly single and making the commitment to get to the bottom of my issues with food and my weight. The process I went through was so organic, so sweet, and the deep self-love I had just started giving myself comes oozing off the page.
This is an entry at the beginning of my decision to heal my life… which included stop dieting, restricting, and controlling my food.
It’s weird.. it’s like this softening of my heart, softening of this rigidity I’ve grown to call “me” of the past decade: must go to school. Must support myself. Must be strong. Must restrict. Must take charge. Must be in control.
It’s like it’s all collapsing. Like layers of bricks are falling down. Like shreds of metal are falling off around my heart to expose a softer, more vulnerable Audra.
The feeling is an intense vibration around my heart and chest. It pounds harder despite the fact I’ve given up caffeine. From the vibration wells up deep intense tears and moaning and crying pretty much on a daily basis.
I’ve stopped controlling my food, which has led back to a sweet sugar addiction, a soft belly and wider hips. I start to hate myself, but then as I’m experiencing this openness in my heart, it’s impossible to hate at the same time.
So instead of hating my softer belly and wider, thicker legs, I’m choosing softness of my heart.
The more I choose this softness, the more my heart opens up. The more my feminine energy is sparking.
At first the weight gain felt like a huge protective mechanism. I truly felt ungrounded, scared, unprotected, insecure…. These are all feelings from my deep childhood…. From the ages of 5-8. (Which not so ironically was the start of my emotional and binge eating patterns, when my parents divorced)
Because quite literally, the animal within, the deep primal self knows that if it is threatened and feels unprotected, then it will direct you to become larger. In the animal kingdom, size matters!
So in the midst of these feelings, emotional eating began and my size literally increased.
I see it and feel it. But when my mind starts freaking out, I look at my larger naked body in the mirror, touch my soft belly and large hips, and cry with loving thoughts. I hold myself in love and respect for the moments I am going through.
When hate or discord starts to seep into my thoughts, I drop to my knees and ask God for a miracle. Dear God… my thoughts right now are poisonous for my soul and body… much more poisonous than the sugar I’m craving. Please God… I need a miracle. I need to love myself no matter how I look or feel. I need to feel deeply into myself, no matter how good, bad, or scary the emotions may be. Help me God to remain open and loving toward myself. –Amen
And you want to know the crazy part?
That shit works!
In “A Return To Love” Marianne Williamson says, “It’s not that we ask too much from God, it’s that we don’t ask for enough.”
Well shit… it’s time I started asking!
At first, just the process of asking would send me into uncontrollable tears, hot flashes, and trippy vibrational feelings that would start at my heart’s center and permeate through my chest. Eventually those vibrations would reach past my chest, up and down my spine, and into the rest of my body.
I truly believe that this process is what got me out of a pattern of mindless emotional or binge eating, and into a more mindful, loving space of emotional and binge eating.
And it’s from this space where love starts to shine through.
I’m so proud of my journey and my courage to go on it.
Losing weight is easy.
What’s harder is learning how to be in a body you love unconditionally despite it’s size. What I love about this journal entry is that the peace I experienced in that moment wasn’t because I dropped 10 pounds. The peace I felt was because I embraced and loved my body even as it was expanding.
I went from mindless emotional eating to CONSCIOUS emotional eat…. and was thrilled at the progress!
Eventually as I kept working through my process, whatever excess weight I was carrying at that time has since disappeared… and not because I forced it off with a restrictive diet or obsessive amounts of exercise. What I did gain was a big helping of unconditional self-love. I even remember going clothes shopping during this time since I had nothing that fit me. I remember enjoying the shopping process, loving my body unconditionally, and finding clothes that made me feel beautiful.
One aspect of reaching your goals within the realms of weight loss, health and fitness has to do with changing your eating habits. I’ve said it a million times and I’m guessing I’ll say it a million times again, but cleaning up your food, and doing it on a consistent basis is the key to changing your body and losing weight.
And there is a diet, a plan, a guru, a program, or an organization, on every street corner telling you how to do it. If you ask someone who’s lost weight, they will tell you the name of their diet, plan, guru, program, or organization that got them there. True?
Here’s what I have to say about that:
They are all RIGHT! With the exception of a few diet programs that I think need to fall off the face of the planet (fasting med programs are the first that come to mind followed by the ingenious cookie diet), most will give generally sound advice: Stop eating so much crap and start eating more vegetables.
While I think shifting your lifestyle and eating habits are a bit more complex than the above general statement, for the points that I’d like to make today…the above will suffice.
The one crucial step that every single “program” seems to skip over however, is the insanely complex an intricate webbing of emotions tied into how and why we eat.
Because if it was just as simple as “eat less”, and I could give you the exact list of what to eat and you followed it to the tee, there would be no problems and we would all live happily ever after wearing our bikinis and Speedos on the beach without a care in the world.
But it’s not that easy.
Emotions play a huge part in our successes and failures when it comes to choosing the right foods and to weight loss in general. The best diet plans in the world will do you absolutely no good if you’re unwilling to stop eating Ben & Jerry’s after a long and stressful day at work. No guru can help you if you can’t stop yourself from “trolling” the kitchen unconsciously before and/or after dinner (or in the middle of the night for that matter…)
The underlining issue here is getting your emotional state of being in check so that you will have a greater chance of success at this game.
Now, when we are talking about emotional or compulsive eating (same thing by the way), lets be real here: Who doesn’t eat emotionally? Think about how we celebrate birthdays and holidays. We do it surrounded by lots of food. I’m not talking about labeling emotional eating as “good” or “bad”. I’m talking about paying attention as to who is ruling your world: “you” (your higher self) or “your emotions” (your not-so-higher-self).
I was listening to a great speaker today, Dr. David Bruner talk about this exact concept. He was speaking about when people lose all control and blame it all on their emotions. “I just couldn’t control myself”, he joked. His tone was light and it was quite funny because when it’s all said and done, the truth of the matter is that we—our higher selves—are completely in charge of our emotions. There is an internal choice to make. We get to decide when we act out emotionally. If you are used to letting your emotions guide you through life, this may seem unrealistic. But if you listen very closely inside of yourself, there is a moment before the emotion takes over where your ‘higher self’ has the opportunity to choose one path or the other. It really is within your control.
What I offer my clients are resources and tools to help them overcome this battle.
1. When it comes to emotional eating, the first step is to realize and bring it to your conscious (aka: AWAKE!) mind that you are choosing your food for reasons other than health and life.
2. It’s not about judging the above decision, but it’s about noticing if it serves you. It might serve you to eat cake at a celebration, or indulge in wine and chocolate on Valentines Day. The question is: ‘Does this food I’m about to devour serve me and the higher good of what I want for my life?’
3. If the answer the above questions is an unequivocal “no”, then it’s probably time to take a look at what’s going on deeper inside of you. Because if you are emotionally eating and it serves no helpful purpose, then what you are really doing is attempting to solve an emotional problem by putting food in your mouth. And here’s a little hint that’s 100% accurate: IT NEVER WORKS. Ever. There is no type or amount of food that can fix whatever it is. Never. Ever. Never. (Did I get my point across?)
I’ve recently received many wonderful emails from some of our Challengers who have had some struggles in this area.
One in particular, whom my heart goes out to, has just recently lost her sister. Just hearing her say those words brought tears to my eyes and even as I write this, my heart goes out to her and her family. She was so set with her plans of showing up to her training sessions and eating clean because she’s already done the internal work and realized that this is her year to get her health and weight under control. And as soon as she discovered her sister’s untimely death, it all went out the window.
I offer this example to you as a real-life and very valid reason as to why someone would “fall away” from their worthy goals. But tell me, how does food fix anything? It might comfort you in the moment, but then within seconds the pain is still there and now you’re pissed because not only is your sister still gone, you just ate too much crap and feel worse than when you started. The food was an attempt to make the pain go away, but what it did was create more pain. Food will never fix the problem.
What is really needed in this moment is to FEEL THE PAIN. To be so present to the moment that instead of trying to push the feelings away or stuff the feelings deep down inside, you choose to go a different route….you CHOOSE to feel it.
Now, lets get clear here. I’m no therapist. I’ve taken my fair share of “life and wellness coaching certifications” and read enough self-help books to understand all of this cognitively, but actually DOING the work (i.e.…. putting the cookie down and choosing to “feel the pain”) is really freaking hard.
But really, it’s the only answer to a better, healthier, and more productive life.
And the truth is that you will never completely attain your weight loss and health goals until you can work through your pain and get to the bottom of it.
The good news is that there is a lot of help out there.
1. Go get a good therapist. Get the bottom of why you do what you do. Tackle this with all of your heart and desire because you are worth it and you deserve to live a healthy life in a healthy body that is filled with pure energy for every day. Emotional/compulsive eating will zap you of the very life energy you are seeking. It will occupy your thoughts every second of every day, as some of you already know. When you are finally finished with this way of living (why not be done with it right now?), then having qualified help while you are working through this can save you a lot of time and get you to the bottom of this faster.
2. Although controversial, (some people don’t like her concepts of God), I absolutely love the book from Geneen Roth: Women, Food, and God. And it’s not just for gals. It is profound and gets to the heart of emotional/compulsive eating like no other book I’ve read. Plus Oprah love it. : ) And considering Oprah is the most public figure I know of when it comes to emotional eating, I dug right in and grabbed this book by the horns!
3. The Diet Cure by Julia Ross is mandatory reading for most of my nutrition-coaching clients. She shows that often times emotional eating has more to do with unbalanced physiology/hormones within the body. Once you can get everything back in balance, then you will naturally not crave foods that create the emotional spiral of over-eating. I think it’s a great book to teach about proper nutrition and amino acid supplementation. I don’t think it digs deep enough into the real reasons for emotional eating…. and I truly believe that until you can “dig deep”…it will always creep back in eventually.
4. Working with a qualified Nutritionist. I highly recommend finding out if you are gluten-sensitive, lactose intolerant, sugar/caffeine addicted, or just plain outta whack with your hormones. Often times the emotional problems are totally connected to the fact that your hormones are all messed up because you can’t stop eating sugar. Getting the right tests and working in the right environment might help. But take my warning here: if you haven’t dealt with the compulsive eating issues, and then you have a nutritionist tell you to STOP eating a certain food… well… all hell could break loose and you end up eating exactly what you aren’t supposed to! Many people get all excited to “go get a test” or “get the latest diet”, when what they really need to do is deal with the underlying problems…which leads me to say: go re-read number one.
5. There are a TON of tools and tricks you can use to help you along with this process, and I’ll share one of my favorites that I use with my clients right now. I teach my clients to keep an untraditional food journal. One that not only keeps track of what you ate but also keeps tabs on your emotional state of being during and at the end of the day.
Whew! That was big.
I like to think I have very sound nutrition programs that include re-education, habit-changing focus, and the right style coaching to get the job done. But no great “program” or “plan” can be successful until you are in a place where you (the higher you) are in control of your emotional choices.
The most important takeaway here is that when it’s all said and done, YOU are the controller over your emotions, not the other way around. While you may feel debilitated or defeated at times, the truth is you are POWERFUL BEYOND MEASURE and the sooner you connect your thoughts and beliefs with this truth, the sooner you will figure out how to manage your emotions, the sooner you will stop using emotional/compulsive eating as your crutch, and the sooner you will start to live the life of your dreams.
As anyone who has finally taken this step toward killing the emotional grip will tell you, it’s like you’ve finally gotten your life back. Imagine spending your time focused on your family, your career, and your fitness goals (instead of your weight loss goals and your obsession with Ben&Jerry). It becomes a paradigm shift that you for sure cannot live without.
How has emotional eating affected your life? What are YOUR secrets to managing this? Share with us all.
Who would’ve guessed that I would be reflecting on my year in India of all places. (We’ll get to the “why” in #6) But getting away from it all is a great idea to gain some clarity and reflect upon the year past….the tropical weather doesn’t hurt, either. ( – :
This post is to help me as much as it is to help you. I feel like I’ve been on a roller coaster ride this year and I’ve learned some very valuable lessons that I want to share with you. They are lessons to live by for certain.
Lessons in 2010
1. Be Uncomfortable! If I could sum up this entire year for me, I would use the word “Uncomfortable”. What I mean by “being uncomfortable” is that I did things that I knew I should do, that made me scared, nervous, and anxious. One of the biggest fears for me was jumping in with full commitment to running my own Boot camp and Personal Training business. There are Boot camps around every corner, so fear can easily leave me sitting scared and doing nothing. But here is the take away message I want you to remember; anything you do doesn’t have to be perfect. So often in life we wait until everything is perfect to start that new job, get into a new relationship, get in shape, or focus on your relationship with your spouse. I have realized that we are wasting so much time waiting for the perfect moment to do anything! If I hadn’t gotten past my fears, there would be no Be Fit Boot camps and Personal Training, and I wouldn’t have been able to help 100′s of amazing people who I didn’t have access to prior. I don’t possess anything special that you don’t have, so make 2011 the year of being uncomfortable!
2. Be a Go-Giver. If there was one amazing shift I had this year, it would be becoming a go-giver. Running fitness programs to give back to a worthy cause helping not only our members change their lives, but also at-risk kids right here in the Bay Area, Haiti Victims, and our soldiers returning home. I’ve discovered that being in service to others is really the only way to true fulfillment for my life.
3. Pay it Forward. Everything I am taught in my education as a health and fitness professional, a nutrition educator, wellness coach, (and all the other hats I wear), is about paying it forward to you. But really, what I’ve learned this year is how powerful you are. YOU have the ability to change your life, show it to the world, and show up as a role model for those around you. And then giving YOU the permission to be empowered instead of letting fear hold you back, because maybe you think you don’t have the right knowledge or education to inspire others in your life. So many of our members have gotten amazing results. I feel it is my job to help get you amazing results, to believe in yourself, educate you, and empower you to go out into your circle of influence to be a beacon of hope with those who struggle with their health and fitness. Paying it forward by sharing your stories with others is how we change the world one person at a time.
4. Success breeds Success. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but if you are serious about getting results in certain areas of your life, success leaves trails if you’re willing to find out what others have done. If you are interested in changing your health, body, mindset, and life, then click here to see and hear the stories of many of our members who have done just that. They did it…and now they WANT to pay it forward to you. In my business, I have surrounded myself with the best coaches in my industry and through them have met other mentors all over the world who are way ahead of me in their game. I truly believe that Be Fit Boot Camps and Personal Training keeps growing and succeeding because I have surrounded myself with success (while other trainers and gyms are shutting down and quitting).
5. Invest in yourself.My story: I have spent well over $18,000 this year alone on education, self-care, and fitness. I study nutrition, physiology, psychology, coaching concepts to facilitate behavior changes, meditation and other spiritual topics, business, leadership, time management, and finance. I’ve hired the best coaches in my industry, attended certifications programs and conferences, and purchased many products to better myself as a leader, role model, and business person. Your story: Investing in yourself is the best thing you can do. You read my blogs and are a part of my life because you care about your health, fitness, and nutrition. But it’s only when you take that critical step of making the investment into your life that providence moves and the planets align so that there is no other choice but to succeed. I’m not trying to get all “hokus-pokus” on you. I can say this because that’s exactly what happened to me and my business once I decided to invest in myself. Once I finally “made the leap”, success was the only possibility. If you are interested in learning about my story and watching me speak to over 200 of my peers about the success I experienced this year (because I finally decided to invest in myself), then go ahead and click here. The speech I gave won me the very prestigious title of “Member of the Year” with my coaching company. The lesson? If your health and fitness really matter to you, making the jump and investing in yourself will quite literally change your life.
6. People first: Family, Friends, and Community are our lifeblood. I decided to make this voyage ½ way across the world to India (which is where I am writing this article) because of a very important lesson that was taught to me in a way that I never want to be taught again. A very close friend of mine and one of Miguel’s best friends died on Thanksgiving weekend. He was the picture of health and just celebrated his 37th birthday 2 weeks before. Why does it take a tragedy to realize just how important the people in our lives are? This year for me has been a daze as work has taken priority over friends and family. While I believe in my work and am passionate about it, my friend Victor taught me that family and friends come first. It’s so easy to forget, especially in our success-driven valley. 2011 will be focused on nurturing my closest relationships first, while building our Be Fit community into a strong, educated, and supportive community for all who seek a better, healthier, and fitter life. Two of our very close friends for over 7 years, Kristen and Giju, will be getting married right here in Trivandrum, India on January 2nd. I am so honored to be here in this magical country to be a part of their special day. (This experience alone could also be considered another lesson learned this year called: Actions Speak Louder than Words….but we’ll save that for another day!)
7. When you change your body, you change your life. From all the interviews I’ve done with our members on their successes, it’s true that all of them lost weight, and probably are in the best shape of their life. It’s usually why people seek out our Be Fit Program in the first place. But it’s what accompanies their newfound bodies that interest me the most. They’re self-esteem is through the roof. They see themselves in a light of power and possibility. Anything is possible now. You see, changing your health, fitness, and weight are within your control. And when you experience that, it literally changes all aspects of your life. I’ve seen it time and time again…maybe it’s your turn for 2011? (read: it IS YOUR TURN for 2011!!!) The human body is one of the most amazing and fascinating things around. Once your mind sets the stage, your body will follow suit every time. When the mind gives the body permission to push past the comfort level, magic happens. Overcoming limiting beliefs about ones fitness level is very powerful and has brought some of my clients to tears. (Hell, it’s even brought me to tears!) A common thing I hear is something like, “I can’t believe I just did 100 Burpies. I never considered myself athletic, I always was a little chubby, and hated gym class. I just can’t believe I can do this!” Another common one I hear is, “I thought as a woman I wasn’t suppose to or shouldn’t be able to do pushups on my toes… I should just do them on my knees. I can’t believe now I can do 50 perfect pushups on my toes and kill my husband in a pushup contest.” Make the decision to change your body and watch how many other amazing changes happen in your life.
Question of the day: What in 2011 did you learn about yourself? Please share in the comments below.
"Hey there hottie! I'm Audra. What? We haven't met? Well, my most delicious + juicy introduction begins with Food, Sex, and Dirty Little Secrets. Interested? You can grab the guide here and start getting real with yourself so you can live in a body you proud of, and experience a more meaningful life filled with deep love and connection."