For about 4 years now, I’ve been obsessed with a song from MC Yogi’s album Elephant Power. The song is called Be The Change and it’s the story of Ghandi, told in MC Yogi’s inspiring rap-form.I’ve listened to this song almost every time I’ve gotten in my car for the past 4 years and it’s meaning permeates more deeply each time.
“Be the change that you want to see in the world…. Just like Ghandi”.
Over… and over…. again.
At first for me, this meaning took on huge implications… things like:
How can I start a movement?
How can I get 1000’s of people to on board to make real change?
But then somewhere between the 5,000th – 6,000th times hearing the message… the meaning finally grew deeper for me.
It has nothing to do with the pomp and circumstance of big and elaborate movements.
It’s so much more subtle and occurs on an intimate, internal, individual basis.
Be the change is a personal commitment to doing the inner work.
It’s taking responsibility for your own life, your own addictions, your own wounds, and transforming them into compassion, empathy, and love.
This isn’t easy work (work I call Compassion Training), but it is the work of waking up.
Waking up to your darker shadow-y places and shining light in those directions.
And this work starts with yourself.
Giving yourself compassion, empathy, and love.
Taking care of those parts of you that you have neglected, that end up creating dysfunctional habits, and a dysfunctional delusional relationship with yourself, with others, and with the world around you.
Before we even start talking about starting a movement… this work is first…. and actually… this work IS the movement!
Most of you know my work in the realms of fitness and nutrition… helping folks start to look more clearly at their relationship to their body, movement, food, and nourishment.
When I give live talks, I’ve been quoted:
“If you struggle with your weight, with your relationship to your body, or your relationship to food, then healing that is part of your “spiritual journey”. In other words, it’s important work you’re here to do while visiting planet earth.
Healing these areas of your life is a doorway that shines light into your truth.
This is how I help.
Through this door… the doorway of a better relationship with your body and food, light shines into those shadowy places of delusion and transforms them into the truth of who you really are.
I’ve also found that through this portal, when taken seriously, other parts of your life start to come into alignment, like over-spending miraculously seems to stop, debts begin to diminish, intimate relationships deepen with vulnerability, and like your waistline, life begins to feel lighter.
Be the change you want to see in world is about the small daily things that connect you to yourself, your body, your relationships, earth, and the world around you in a more meaningful way.
It’s also not sexy.
I’ve found the more I practice this as my guiding philosophy, the glimmer and glamour of bull-shit promises of being a size 2 super model fade away for me.
The delusion is replaced by something much more profound.
The sexy is replaced with grounded-ness, roots into my life, realness and vulnerability in my relationships, and a deeper connection to truth.
(Which ironically becomes very sexy! I love paradox….)
And while the glitzy promises fed by a multi-billion dollar diet industry that “size 2=sexy” leave my consciousness, my solid size 6-8, feminine, curvy, strong body feels like home.
Why do I share this with you?
Because I struggled and struggled for years, obsessing about my body and the food I eat, until I realized… I’m not my body, I’m not my obsessions, I’m something so much more profound than that.
It required training my mind and my retraining my conscious and unconscious habits.
I did it.
If I can do it, anyone can.
Start with this:
Cook more… get acquainted to the food you eat
Give more compliments
Sense compassion welling up in your daily interactions
Pay more attention to your thoughts… notice negative habitual thoughts… do they serve you?
Get outside in nature
Find more pleasure in the smaller things (think a square of dark chocolate instead of a banana split)I love this work and I love to help.
I hope this blog post has inspired you to slow down and see that the real work is about getting real… with yourself…. in a loving and compassionate way.
I wrote this letter to give you inspiration, and also to have a better understanding of where I’m coming from as nutrition educator, coach, and teacher.
If this speaks to you, you are in a space of wanting to look at these shadowy places, and are looking for help to navigate through, you’re in the right place!
My question for you:
Please join me in the conversation and share below: Where do you struggle the most? Where are you most looking for answers?
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!
This holiday weekend, I decided it was time for me get naked in public.
No, this isn’t some April Fools joke a week late. I really decided it was time.
The first time this thought ever crossed my mind was when I was studying at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. At the Institute, we not only dove into the real reasons we hold more weight than our body needs (i.e. psychological and emotional reasons), we also did a ton of work around our relationship to food AND our relationship to our own body.
In our work around healthy body image, I remember my teacher talking about being very uncomfortable with his own body, and it wasn’t until he lived in a nudist colony (!?) for a period of time that he became totally comfortable in his own skin.
I remember thinking, “Wow! I don’t think I’d EVER just walk around naked for everyone to see my body.”
And that’s the first time it really hit me:
I have so many nit-picky complaints about my body. Sometimes I like aspects of my body, but unconditional love? For everything??? Even my soft belly and thick thighs? I then realized I’m rarely even naked in locker rooms despite the fact I’ve worked at health clubs my whole adult life.
This thought alone sent me into the deep work on fully loving and accepting ALL of me…. the good and the bad.
Side note and teaching moment:
This actually takes (real) work on our part to undo the cultural conditioning of perfectionism, followed promptly by hating our bodies when they don’t add up to what we (society) think(s) we (it) should look like.
The ever-evolving work for me has been practicing Self love first and foremost. I do this by slowing down. Not being so busy. Sitting for periods of time in quiet places. Being vulnerable to those who love me.
Being vulnerable to mySelf.
This gives space for thoughts and emotions to come up and become fully integrated and healed.
I also do this by putting myself in situations to teach me how amazing my body is. I’ll get dressed up and go salsa dancing. I’ll hit the beach in a bikini (especially when I don’t feel like it). I’ll do a fun and challenging workout… Or… (apparently) get naked in public!!!
Okay… back to our regularly scheduled Motivation Monday:
Since studying yoga more deeply over the past 4 years in San Francisco, Harbin Hot Springs seemed to be the buzz in my yoga community. It’s a clothing optional “California hippie” kind-of-a place, and for 4 years I’ve been curious to go, but never made the leap….. until this weekend. : )
I got there on Friday and decided to familiarize myself with the place before heading to my room. I hiked around the area, found the cafe, the restaurant, the gazebo, and the cool market where they sell everything from incense and crystals, to raw chocolate and organic bras. : )
Then, I kept venturing up and ended up at a gate that said “no glass allowed past this gate”. I looked up and saw a whole bunch of naked.
I couldn’t even see the four beautiful pools… all I saw was naked. : )
I became very anxious and my mind started racing. “What if someone thinks I’m staring?… don’t stare Audra!…. Just look down. Be cool. This is normal. OMG… I must look so weird to everyone else since I have clothes on! I’m not taking off my clothes… no way. I’ll just walk through as if everything is normal. Ok… that’s enough… get me out of here!”….
And that’s about how it happened.
I spent the rest the afternoon and evening hanging out in the places where people wore clothes. I took a yoga class, hung out at the cafe reading, then headed straight to my room. No hot springs for me. : (
I wrote in my journal, cried a little, and had a big heart-to-heart with mySelf.
Where inside of me was I still holding onto shame about my body?
Where was I withholding love?
I sat in silence and paid deep conscious attention to all the emotions and thoughts that were coming up inside of me, and I held them all in an unconditional loving embrace.
At 8:30pm, I decided it was time. There was a Full Moon Ceremony in one of the hot spring pools led by this 70-something year old wise woman…and I wanted to go.
Gave mySelf a big cosmic hug and kiss, grabbed my towel, and walked up to the pools.
I took a deep breath, headed into the co-ed changing room, took off my clothes, grabbed my towel, walked outside to the showers, cleaned up, then headed to the pool where the ceremony was about to start. There were probably over 50 people already in the pool as I walked down the steps to secure my spot in the corner.
Phew! I did it.
The ceremony calmed me (as well as the 70-something year old naked wise woman leading it).
It was meditative, relaxing, and after about an hour, we all looked to the east and saw the magnificent full moon burning bright in the sky. I cried a little.
What a perfect experience for me to have.
After it was over, I walked back to the changing room, put my clothes on, and headed back to my room.
The next day was a piece of cake. : )
It was a full day of lounging in the sun and hot springs. I was surrounded by people of ALL shapes and sizes. Every imaginable shape and sized body you can think of.
For me, it was a not only healing to feel comfortable enough in my own skin, but the healing really came from seeing how many other people were comfortable in their own skin as well.
It was truly freeing to have this experience.
I had such a great experience that I started thinking I would like to hold a weekend retreat their for women to work on healing body image challenges in a workshop setting while including trips to the hot springs to be naked in public!
What do you think? Would you come? 😉
If you have ever struggled with loving your body exactly as it is right now… I hope you go through this or a similar process for yourself.
Questions I’d LOVE you to answer:
Have you had a similar experience? OR have you always wanted to have a similar experience? If this intimidates you, would you be interested in joining a workshop led by me? I’d love to hear your story!
I can’t believe how many times over the past 2 decades I’ve been asked this question. I finally decided… it’s time to just answer the damn question!
Look, there’s going to be a lot of people out there with a special powder, shake, or special bar that will tell you they have the answer to what to eat before a workout.
First: What time are you talking about?
If you’re working out in the morning…. you’ve likely been fasting since the night before, so naturally your blood sugar is down. If you go out on an empty stomach it can cause BS to decrease even further, creating a situation where you’ll feel dizzy and nauseous.
This is the worst. It usually happens to folks who are newer to exercise and also are usually dealing unstable BS to start with, so by not eating you’re creating a big mess, you’ll feel like crap, and whatever workout you were trying to do goes out the door because you feel like you want to go hug the porcelain god. ugh.
But then there’s the other extreme where a new exerciser gets nervous about NOT eating, so they eat a Denny’s style breakfast before heading out for a workout session, and can’t figure out why they can’t stop burping and feeling like they’re gonna puke.
So now we know nothing is probably not good, and too much won’t work either, so the next question is:
THEN WHAT SHOULD I EAT?
And this is where it gets interesting. This is where all the expert advice out there (in my humble opinion) is totally bogus. This is a question that is best answered by going within.
Yes, that’s right…. discover for yourself the best food to eat! It’s like an experiment.
Let me give you an example.
Sally Sue figured out before her early morning workout if she ate a banana, it gave her just enough energy and blood sugar support and she had great energy for her workout.
If I eat a banana first thing in the morning before a workout, I will DEFINITELY puke it up. No questions asked.
It works for Sally Sue, it doesn’t work for me.
My mom works out with a personal trainer 3X a week at the God-awful hour of 5:30am. She’s been doing this for a decade. She’s 60. (I hear you… she amazes me, too!) She used to eat a 1/2 piece of Ezekiel cinnamon raisin sprouted toast with maybe a 1/2 Tablespoon of almond butter on it.
It worked for her.
On the mornings when I would visit and she somehow convinced me to wake up with her at that god-awful hour, I ate the same thing, and it worked for me.
Now days I think she does a small protein shake with almond milk.
The point I really want to convey here is what works for you might not work for someone else. You get the privilege of experimenting to figure out what will work best. Some folks have a hard time with food in their stomach, so they go for coconut water, a small protein shake, or a green juice. Some people prefer fruit, while others prefer a handful of almonds.
Your job is this:
Take into account what time you’re working out. If you had a nice lunch around 1pm and now around 4ish, you might Eat or drink something. Even if it’s just a little something (especially for early morning workouts or late afternoon workouts when you haven’t eaten anything since lunch). You’ll feel more energetic during the workout and your body will benefit from the extra boost of energy after fasting all night.
Don’t eat too much. If you over do it, you’ll feel like crap. I see new exercisers eat huge meals throughout the day, then add huge snacks in so they have energy before a workout, then make sure to eat after a workout…and wonder why they end up gaining weight even though they’re exercising.
What you eat is less important. Find something that makes you feel good and doesn’t cause an upset tummy.
Here are a few ideas, you can test out.
any piece of fruit
Ezekiel toast with almond butter
handful of almonds
handful of nuts and dried fruit (trail mix)
apple with almond butter
hard boiled egg with hummus
What have you tried in the past? What works best for you? Share below!
Have you ever felt so beat down by a situation that it makes you want to hide from the world and disconnect?
This exact scenario happened at the end of last year and that’s exactly what I wanted to do: fall off the face of the planet and ask God for “re-do”.
Now I’m not playing the victim here. One of the beautiful benefits I’ve received from a solid meditation and yoga practice is that I see clearly my part in any situation. But at the end of last year, my stress level was at an all-time high and I started to doubt in my ability to do just about anything.
In other words, despite wanting to disconnect, I chose to put myself out there and do what I do.
And you’ll never guess what happened. : ) Here’s the short list:
In the audience I saw clients I’ve known for over a decade come out to support me and hear me speak about nutrition and eating psychology.
When I asked the audience why they came, the first woman to raise her hand told me she’s here because she’s been an email subscriber for a few years and thinks I’m inspirational (she didn’t even have a nutrition question!)
Another encouraged me to keep doing what I was doing in the world because she thinks I’m good at it and I help a lot of people.
A professor of Biology at Stanford(!) was in the audience, and at the end of my talk, he told me my science was sound (phew!), and congratulated me on getting this message out to the world. He even said he teaches some of these concepts in his classes.
So why do I tell you all of this? It’s certainly not to brag.
But after being “under a rock” for a few months, it was a great experience for me to have. And it all started by me being willing to put myself “out there” despite wanting to retract.
It’s also a great reminder that life will always kick us in the pants at some point… one way or another.
Life handed me an opportunity “pull up my big-girl panties”, grow up, deal with what needs to be dealt with, all while keeping my heart open and the channels of forgiveness open. (Not just forgiving other people for their harm, but forgiving myself for my part, too.)
Life gives us kicks sometimes… we get to choose how we respond to it. Life gives us tickles sometimes, too. (Sometimes, like in my case, it gives you BOTH at the same time! Ooohh how I love the bitter and the sweet! )
The question is, can we keep our hearts open and learn the lessons presented to us with equanimity to the kicks AND the tickles.
I’ve decided to keep my keep my heart open.
That’s why I’m offering another lecture at the Sports Basement this Monday night from 7:00-8:15pm. Last week I talked mostly about Basic Nutrition 101. This week I’m digging deeper into eating psychology, emotional eating, and how our stress response is keeping us locked into a body (and often life) we’re unsatisfied with.
In addition to having some real conversation around topics in eating psychology, I’m also going to talk about nasty things you need to avoid (like the artificial stuff) and 8 really simple daily habits that if you begin to incorporate into your day, can have a profound effect on your health, energy, and waistline!
This lecture will be super casual (I’ll be coming straight from taking a Be Fit Boot Camp class!) and it’s NOT to be missed.
Now, as much as I love this time of the year, we are faced with huge obstacles. Comfort food, sugary drink concoctions, cookie baking parties (I already had to talk two clients down off the cookie dough ledge!), high-glycemic white foods, and of course, the “food pusher” who brings it all to you. You know who I’m talking about. That person who shoves the dessert plate in your face and won’t leave until you’ve tried at least 3 different varieties of the same sugary concoction.
Yikes! Don’t let this be you!
Since we are sitting right smack in the middle of the holiday season, I thought I’d share a few ideas with you for 6 Holiday Strategies you can implement right now to make sure you have the tools necessary to stay on track this holiday season despite the parties, food, shopping, and stress. So kick back, relax, and take a few moments for yourself!
If you’re going to drink… Look, you know I’m all about helping you reach your health, fitness, and weight loss goals. So my normal answer to this would be “Just Say No!” But alas, it’s the holidays and what you need is a survival guide…not perfection. So if you are going to drink, stay away from creamy and sugary drinks. Your best option is red wine. Your next best option is a high end white alcohol, like Grey Goose. Stick with 1 (no more than 2) glasses, and drink 1-2 glasses of water for each glass of alcohol.
Go Nuts! Go Bananas! Keeping some nuts and a piece of fruit in your purse/brief case/car, could save you from actually going bananas and overdoing it at your next meal. Think about it. You’re out and about shopping all day long, then it’s off to pick up the kids, run another errand, and then the next thing you know you’re STARVING. You’re going to do 1 of 2 things here. 1: You’ll go for the quick fix (aka: Starbucks and pastry) to tie you over before dinner, or 2: you’ll try to “be strong” and SKIP your snack, only to find yourself famished by dinner and then eating everything in site. Both of these scenarios could be totally eliminated if you simply PLAN AHEAD and pack an apple and some almonds. There it is. Done. And now you can get on with your afternoon.
Set your goals right now and focus! Look. we all know that when you have clear and precise goals in mind, then all the other stuff just goes away. What do you want for yourself this holiday season? Is it to look smashing at that special party, or actually make it through the season without feeling like you’re in a food coma the entire month? Imagine NOT waiting until January 1st to get focused.
3 Polite Bites might be the answer. I was just in Orlando for a business meeting with other amazing fitness business owners all over the country and my tell-it-like-it-is super-coaches. We all went to dinner and at the end our server brought out these great little desserts. There were at least 12 of them, but all were in very small little shot glasses, and all equaling about “3 polite bites”. So I had some. I enjoyed the evening, the meal, the company, and even the dessert without going overboard. Another scenario: When Aunt Ester is pushing the fruit log down your throat because it seems to make her happy, simply give it “3 polite bites” and be on your way. Aunt Ester is happy and you didn’t blow it on a fruit log.
Pay attention to how hungry or not hungry you are. This might the trick of the century. I actually wrote a blog about this very important concept this past summer after going back home for a visit and finding myself at two different family reunions in a 36 hour period. But here’s the gist, most of us don’t pay attention to the very basic instinct inside of us that tells us when we are hungry and then when we are full. Often times we eat when we are not hungry, over eat past satiation, and then 30 minutes later when we’re rolling away from the table, we wonder why we just didn’t put the fork down sooner! Start to measure yourself on a scale of 1-10. 5 means you’re neither hungry nor full. 4,3,2 means you are becoming more and more hungry (hint: try to NOT get below a 3 or 2, which can lead to eating the entire fridge!). And even more importantly, notice if you are a 6, 7, or 8. If you’ve hit these numbers of “fullness” then don’t eat! Just wait until you get hungry again. More details can be found here.
Make it a priority to move your body this holiday season… Having a plan to move your body most days–no matter what you choose to do–will have a profound impact not only on maintaining your weight this time of the year, but also help to increase your energy and decrease anxiety and stress. As much fun as this time of the year can be, it can also bring a crazy schedule and loads of stress. Making movement a priority will give you a sense of peace and contentment as you move through the holiday season.
"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."