I'm a Certified Health Coach and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor in Columbia, MD. I help women overcome chronic dieting, overeating, & body image struggles. I help you heal your relationship with food and your body, so you can be the best version of yourself: confident, happy, and doing what you were meant to do with your life.
At any point in my life, if you had asked me what my biggest problems are, my answer would have been: “Food and money.”
I ate too much, and I didn’t have enough money.
I “tackled” these problems all the time. I was constantly looking for new low-calorie recipes. I had a new plan every day for how to curb my eating problems (it was usually some form of no-eating-this-certain-type-of-food-ever-again). I was constantly making lists of all our bills and counting up how much money we could make if my husband and I both had part time jobs and only spent $200 on groceries every month and took out another home equity loan to pay off the credit card debt that had, once again, gotten out of control.
But nothing ever changed. In fact, things got much, much worse.
It finally dawned on me somewhere in my 30s that no matter how little I ate, how small my body was, how much money I made, or how carefully I budgeted and planned, I still felt out of control around food and money. But I had absolutely no idea these two things were related.
I tackled my relationship with food first, because it was the one that occupied the vast majority of my attention. I was constantly thinking about food, worrying about what I had eaten, and trying to change how I felt about it. No matter how controlled I was, how careful I counted calories, how much I exercised, how many articles I read, or how many 0-point soups I perfected, I was still a mess.
During my recovery from binge-eating disorder, I learned how restriction and deprivation caused the crazy feelings about food, and the solution was to eat more and learn to love myself no matter what. No small task, but at least I finally understood the pattern and could focus on the solution. Huge relief!
Once I had mostly resolved my relationship with food, I realized my money problems were bigger than ever. And the most confounding part was that I had no idea why it was so out of control. No matter how much money we made, it wasn’t enough. No matter how carefully I planned, we were always struggling. And no matter how much freedom I gave myself with spending, I still felt deprived and miserable.
I remember receiving a totally unexpected check from a title company after we purchased our home. Apparently there was some miscalculation and we had overpaid on taxes. The check was more than $3,000. I think most people would be really happy with that little gift from the Universe, but I sat and stared at it, with the deepest feeling of despair. And you know what I said? “This won’t be enough to get us out of debt.”
And then my next thought was, “Oh my god...what’s wrong with me?” I absolutely could not feel safe with money. There was never enough.
The worst part is not knowing what is wrong. When it comes to money, the solution seems really straightforward, doesn’t it? Just get more money.
I was working 4 jobs (in addition to being a mother to 3 kids, 3 dogs, and 3 cats), stretched incredibly thin, busy all the time, and still couldn’t pay the bills. I finally reached rock-bottom, and knew something had to change.
Because of the work I’d already done on my relationship with food, I knew the money thing was a deeper issue that I hadn’t discovered yet. But still didn’t get how closely related the two issues were.
Fast forward through hours of Money Bootcamp, Financial Reiki, books, articles, meditations, subliminal messages, hypnosis, tapping, prayer, conversations with family, and Quicken tutorials, and here’s what I finally understood: my relationship with money reflected deep feelings of deprivation.
Just like my relationship with food. Duh.
It’s no coincidence that these two areas of life are the most basic elements of survival: you literally cannot live in this world without food and money. And I didn’t feel worthy of having enough of either.
You know how when you feel like you’re eating too much, you think the solution is to eat less? And then that doesn’t really work because the less you eat, the more obsessed you become with food? The more you diet, the more backlash binges you have.
Well, that’s what we do with money, too. The more you struggle, the more guilty you feel about spending. The more you deny yourself. The more you restrict and cut back and deprive yourself, and the more you reach for the credit card for some relief. At least that’s what I did.
When you feel deprived in some area, you compensate in unproductive ways. If you’re wearing stained underwear with holes in them because you don’t deserve or “can’t afford” to buy new ones, you’re deprived. If you eat Ramen noodles and fruit snacks 3 meals a day because you’re “broke,” you’re deprived. If you never go out and have fun, buy concert tickets, or have meals with friends because you feel like there’s not enough money, you’re deprived.
The solution to both issues is meeting those deep needs; relieving that sense of deprivation and restriction. Giving yourself enough.
Maybe it’s not even enough food or enough money that you need, but something much deeper. Maybe you need enough love, support, or comfort. Maybe you need enough self-respect or self-care. Maybe you need enough fun, happiness, and fulfillment.
I always find it helpful to ask myself: “If it’s not about food, what is it about?” and now I’m also asking, “If it’s not about money, what is it about?” What is the deeper issue that you’re compensating for? What do you really need?
What do your relationships with food and money look like? Can you see the similarities? Leave a comment and let me know!
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What do I hear over and over and over again as an Intuitive Eating Coach?
WilI lose weight?
What’s my set point weight?
How will I know when I reach it?
Do I just have to accept that I’m going to live in this body forever?
and sometimes all the disclaimers that follow:
I mean, not that I really care about my weight...
Of course that’s not WHY I’m doing this...
I’m really just curious.
Ok, first of all, Yes You Do. We all care about our weight. Because we live in this thriving diet culture and have been taught that our health, happiness, and success all depend on the size of our body.
So, of course you care about weight.
And even if you know that diets don’t work, and you’re committed to learning a different way to relate to food, and you’re determined to love yourself unconditionally…
You still think about your weight.
I do, too!
I still have those fleeting thoughts about how much better I would feel in a smaller body, or how I would be able to rock that cute dress I saw at the mall, or how I wouldn’t have that fleeting moment of panic when I’m about to see someone for the first time since my recovery.
But you know what always helps me get my thoughts back on track?
Remembering how fucking sad I was when I was thinner.
Here’s what I’ve come to realize over the course of my recovery and becoming a professional in this field: for me, being thin comes at too high a price.
Let me explain what it looked like for me…
After a lifetime of hating myself, and fleeting attempts to change my body, I finally got motivated and stuck to a diet. For over a year. And I lost a tremendous amount of weight (over 100 pounds, just to give you an idea of the magnitude).
By all accounts, I should have been happy, right? But what I actually was was starving, sad, and disillusioned.
Suddenly, everyone loved me. People in my office who barely made eye contact with me before were hunting me down, grilling me about my diet, and looking and talking about my body in really inappropriate ways. Men were hitting on me at gas stations. Everyone was watching me, or at least that’s how it felt.
And I was so damn hungry. I had to monitor every bite I took, count every point, check off every piece of fruit or glass of water. It was taking all my time and energy, and I was exhausted. I literally felt like I was balanced on the point of a needle, and one wrong move would send me careening into oblivion. It was a horrible, lonely feeling.
But you know what the worst part was? I still hated my life. Being smaller didn’t solve anything. This thing that I had invested all my time and energy in, and had fantasized about my whole life, and was sure was the key to my everlasting joy and success...meant nothing.
I was still the same sad, insecure person living an extremely unfulfilling life, and I had to face the terrifying question of what was really wrong. I had finally “fixed” my body, yet nothing had really changed. What an enormous disappointment.
I had a very typical post-diet experience: lost my energy and attention for it, weight started creeping back on, self-confidence in the toilet, anxiety through the roof, and now fully immersed in the restrict-binge cycle (eating the bare minimum to stay alive throughout the day, and spending my evenings walking back and forth between the sofa and the refrigerator until I finally collapsed into bed with a worrisome stomach ache).
It took me quite a lot of self-reflection, therapy, and time to finally realize that my self-worth was not directly attached to my weight or size. And once I got to that point, I had to make a choice.
I had to make a conscious decision that being happy mattered more than living in a smaller body.
Yes, I know no one wants to hear that. I know we all want to hang on to the illusion that if we do this “right,” we’ll eventually be skinny (and there are a lot of other Intuitive Eating professionals out there that want you to think that, too). But I’m not going to mince words about it anymore.
In order to find peace with food, and fully and unconditionally accept yourself, you have to stop worrying about your weight.
You have to accept that living in a larger body might be part of the process, and love yourself anyway.
You have to decide that striving for social acceptance by forcing your body to be smaller isn’t worth the price you have to pay.
And you have to decide that you are worthy and lovable no matter what shape you take.
I’m not pretending it’s an easy journey or a simple decision. But you may as well know the final goal at the beginning, even if you decide to avoid it for as long as possible.
But make no mistake: it’s up to you. You don’t HAVE to make the same decisions I did. You don’t have to accept yourself in the body you’re currently living in. You can continue to pursue thinness and control yourself around food and spend your energy trying to be more socially acceptable.
But just be clear that you’re making a conscious decision to do that. You won’t find real peace and freedom around food as long as you are trying to make yourself smaller. Which is fine, if that’s what you choose.
But for me...I’m never going back. I’m putting my happiness and freedom at the top of my list, and letting all the other little shit go.
One of the most disheartening stories I ever heard was about a woman in hospice care, literally at the end of her life, refusing a bowl of ice cream because it was too fattening. I hope I get to the end of my life and look back on a full, vibrant, fun life full of laughter and success, freedom and joy...and huge bowls of ice cream.
Done With Dieting
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Have you ever had a really good coach, mentor, or teacher -- maybe on a high school sports team, an ally on your first job, or just some caring person who took a little extra time to help you with something? What was the key thing that made that person so helpful?
We all need support when we’re learning something new. There’s a lot we can do on our own, but the wisdom and guidance of someone else, who is a bit further along in the journey, can be invaluable.
If you ever decided to learn something new or change something in your life, chances are, one of the first things you did was look for someone to show you how. You may have gone to a class, watched a YouTube video (just ask my husband about the drywall finishing skills I acquired from a 4-minute video), or just asked someone for guidance.
You could have just read a book and tried to figure it out, but the advantage of getting someone else to walk you through it is that they can support you in your weak spots, give you hints to make it easier, and celebrate with you once you’ve mastered it. There is absolutely no substitute for have someone in your corner who maybe knows a little bit more than you do and wants you to succeed. That’s why even in the most well-structured online courses, there’s almost always an option to ask a question or reach out to the teacher for help.
When I started my own business, there was a lot I could do on my own. I read books and blogs and took courses. I learned so much. I got the basic concepts down on my own, kept myself really busy learning new technology, and dove into each new idea with unbridled enthusiasm.
But I reached a point where it felt like I had literally hit a wall. I had no idea what to do next. All the systems were in place, I had done all I knew how to do, and I was getting nowhere. Because I had some vague goal of doing it all on my own, I was extremely resistant to paying someone to help me. I was sure there were enough resources out there for my to be truly solo on this journey.
Here’s the thing I’ve since come to understand: when you’re working within your own set of values, ideas, and beliefs, it’s impossible for you to even see what’s holding you back. What a good coach does is challenge you, suggest new ideas, and support you in adding to your current knowledge. They can see where you’re sabotaging yourself, and offer guidance to think and do things differently.
One of the reasons I absolutely love being a coach is that moment when I can clearly see the limiting belief that’s holding my client back, and we can work together to reframe it. The coach’s job is to help get clarity, and provide relief.
Coaches take all different forms. Maybe you know someone who’s in a really happy marriage, and you get advice from them about how to navigate disagreements with your spouse. Maybe you’ve hooked up with a really successful professional in your field, who you can turn to when you feel stuck or overwhelmed. Or maybe you just call your sister when you’re having a tough time, and she’s great and giving you a pep talk and helping you calm down. Or maybe you need to find a professional who specializes in the thing you’re struggling with.
Here’s the caveat about a good coach, though: they have to be able to set their own judgments aside, have your best interest at heart, and actually know what they’re talking about. I’ve heard so many horror stories of people who felt vulnerable and needed guidance, but accidentally paired up with someone who was negative, judgmental, or just extremely rigid in their own beliefs, and ended up making things even worse.
When you’re getting advice or support from someone, notice if it feels right. Make sure the advice you’re getting is in alignment with your values, makes you feel good, and provides you some relief. People usually mean well, but sometimes they end up projecting all their sore spots and personal challenges onto you.
We’re not meant to navigate this journey through life alone. We naturally gravitate to other people who we feel aligned with, and it’s in our nature to help one another. If you’re struggling with some aspect of your life, find someone who can help. You can be absolutely sure that there’s someone else around you who has been through what you’re going through and would be happy to offer you some guidance. The first step is opening yourself up to receive that support.
Contact me if you’d like to learn more about how a coach can help you.
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Using Your Thoughts, Behavior, and Words to Create a New Reality
When I was working through my eating disorder recovery, I became aware of how powerful my thoughts and words are. I remember suddenly realizing how frequently my thoughts and words were focused on the negative, or on my challenges, or the things I was still struggling with.
I was in the habit of making lists of my problems, convinced that if I just focused on them enough and thought about them enough and talked about them enough, I would somehow know how to fix them. It was only when I started to realize how unproductive it is to focus on what you DON’T want that things really started to change for me.
When I first learned about the Law of Attraction, my mind was literally blown. No wonder I had been struggling for so long -- I was doing it completely wrong. I needed to shift my attention to what I want, and talk about success and ease and accomplishment. It wasn’t an easy transition, but when I finally started to do it, my recovery accelerated immediately.
It is absolutely true that what we put our attention on expands in our life. So many of us are entirely focused on our problems and the things we don’t like, so we just keep getting more of the same.
I remember the the first time I really asked myself what I DO want, I was paralyzed by fear. I had absolutely no clue. I had put so much of my energy into my problems that I had never even considered what the solution would look like. What did I really want out of life? What was I even working toward? My ability to create a vision for my future had been completely stifled by my obsession with fixing my body.
Writing my new story was a game changer for me. It wasn’t easy at first, but the more I shifted my focus to this ideal, fantastic, happy life I wanted, the clearer my vision became. And once I knew what I wanted, I was able to make actual progress working toward it.
The key for me was creating the vision of my ideal life, and then designing my thoughts, words, and actions around that vision. When you’re struggling with something, it is so tempting to think about it constantly. I couldn’t believe how many of my thoughts, words, and actions were centered around my inherent flaws, my shortcomings, and the things I needed to “fix.”
If you’re struggling with money, how many times a day do you think, talk, and act like you don’t have enough money? How often do you find yourself saying things like, “I can’t afford that,” or “How much is THAT going to cost?” or “How will we pay for that?”
If you’re struggling with your body image, don’t you think, speak, and act like you don’t love yourself? Don’t you constantly say self-deprecating things, frown at yourself in the mirror, and feel ashamed when someone accidentally touches that roll above the waist of your pants?
It’s easy to think that our thoughts and feelings will change once we fix the problem, but that’s the reverse of how it actually works. Your objective reality will change in response to your thoughts and feelings, so deliberately altering the way you think, talk, and behave is the first step to fixing your problems.
Create the vision of what you want (actually write the new story).
Talk, think, and act like it’s already true.
Watch it take shape.
So here’s what this process could look like:
Problem: I’m unhappy with my body.
Current Way of Dealing With It: Talk and think constantly about how you don’t like it. Criticize yourself, insult yourself, and focus on your “flaws.” Feel out of control around food and dread exercise (or use exercise to punish yourself).
Creating a New Vision: Write down what you life will look and feel like once you have resolved this problem. How will it feel to be comfortable in your body? What will change in your life once you’ve learned to respect and care for yourself? How will your demeanor, career, and relationships shift when you’ve mastered self acceptance?
Change Your Thoughts, Feelings, and Actions to Reflect the New Reality: Speak about loving yourself, think kind, compassionate thoughts, and behave as if you have deep and abiding self-respect. You talk about the parts of your body that you love, notice how strong and capable you are, and pamper yourself a bit so you feel great.
Watch Your Reality Changing: Your new words, actions, and thoughts gradually start changing the way you feel about yourself. You notice you feel safer, more loved, and less stressed. You find yourself willing to accept all your parts, and feel gratitude for your body working as well as it has to move you through life. You’re more motivated to take excellent care of yourself, and treat yourself with compassion and love. You struggle less with emotional eating, and find it easier to incorporate gentle movement into your routine.
Start shifting your attention to what you want, and I promise you that accomplishing your goals will get infinitely easier. Positive change comes from positive thoughts, actions, and words. That’s just how it works.
If you really feel stuck in a pattern of negative thinking, schedule a Clarity Session and I’ll help you get started creating the vision for your ideal life. We’ll talk about your current challenge, identify your goal, explore what’s standing in the way of reaching it, and create a plan for fixing it. You’ll get a clear outline, on paper, including your intention for change and a Daily Affirmation.
3 Ways the Law of Attraction Will Help Improve Your Body Image
Are you the kind of person who worries all the time?
I believe worrying is a habit, and we do it for a couple of reasons. Maybe you got into the routine at some point when you had legitimate stuff to worry about -- whether it was a chaotic family situation, feeling unsafe, not having enough money, or something else that triggered you to feel insecure and unsupported.
This constant state of vigilance can lead us to become chronic worriers, to the point where it’s distracting from life and keeping you in a perpetual state of unhappiness and stress. You may even believe that worrying is productive...that if you didn’t worry, you wouldn’t be able to solve your problems and things would get really out of control.
If we remember that handy Universal Law of Attraction, we know that we are always attracting people, events, circumstances, and experiences into our lives with the energy we are generating. So, it follows, then, that since worry is negative energy, it attracts more negative things. In short, the more you worry, the more things you will have to worry about.
How Do You Stop Worrying?
For someone who has relied on worry as a cozy partner for most of their life (raise your hand!), it’s not so easy to just stop worrying. Even when you know that worrying isn’t productive, and wish you could stop, it’s one of those things that feels so familiar that it almost seems like you can’t survive without it.
If you are aware of how worry is sabotaging your life and want to do things differently, here’s a handy guide for how to handle worry thoughts in a more productive way:
3 Simple Steps to Break the Worry Cycle
1 - Can you do anything about the thing that’s causing you to worry?
Sometimes the worrying is “justified” in the sense that there’s something you really need to fix and do have control over. If that’s the case, quit worrying about it and go fix it. Sit down, write down the problem, brainstorm solutions, and come up with a plan for how to address the problem right now.
2 - What are you using the worry to distract you from?
Consider whether you are using the habit of worry as a convenient (and familiar) distraction from something else that you really don’t want to deal with. Sometimes I find myself literally creating things to worry about when I’m procrastinating. It usually falls into the category of over-analyzing something someone said or anticipating an unpleasant event that hasn’t even happened.
“When my husband said that [completely innocent thing] this morning, what did he really mean? He didn’t really seem that interested in me yesterday. Maybe he was just tired, or maybe he’s not attracted to me anymore. I wonder if he’s losing interest in our marriage. What can I do to fix this?” etc...etc...etc…
In these kinds of situations, once you’ve become conscious of what you’re doing, it’s possible to turn things around by having an internal dialogue about it. Tell yourself that you’re making up things to worry about, and ask yourself what you are trying to distract yourself from. I find this to be a reliable way to break out of the cycle and focus on what I really need to do. You might be surprised by how good you’ve become at using worry to help you escape or distract from unpleasant tasks or situations.
3 - If you weren’t worrying, what amazing things could be happening?
Worrying stifles your energy and your ability to create positive change. It drags down your vibe, puts your attention on what you DON’T want, and prevents you from focusing on progress and personal growth.
When you find yourself worrying, think about what you positive things could be happening instead. If you weren’t wasting your energy with worry, what could you accomplish? If you didn’t get distracted by these negative thoughts, what wonderful things could you pay attention to and magnify in your life?
Getting into the habit of immediately shifting your thoughts like this is something that will serve you well in every area of your life once you get the hang of it. It’s a muscle that you probably haven’t exercised in a while if you’ve been a chronic worrier, so you’ll need to practice a bit before it becomes second-nature.
Breaking the cycle can be as simple as noticing the worry, giving it your full attention to see where it’s coming from (and if there’s anything you actually need to do about it), and gently challenging yourself to shift your thinking in a different direction.
Why do we call it a comfort zone when it sucks so much?
I’ve decided to start calling it a familiar zone, because that’s really what it is. There’s nothing comfortable about staying small, keeping yourself “safe” by not stretching yourself or doing anything new.
We evolved to seek familiar circumstances, events, and people, because that’s what we needed to do in order to survive...back when our daily lives consisted of hunting and being hunted.
Fortunately, most of us no longer face actual physical threats on a daily basis, but our brains still react as if we do.
The fear that kept us in the cave hiding behind the bigger guy when the tiger was strolling by is the same fear we feel when we try new things or face unfamiliar circumstances. BUT, avoiding that fear keeps us living in this little protective bubble that actually gets really sucky once we realize how unfulfilling and miserable it is to be stuck in that smelly, dark cave. Don’t you want to get outside and dip your toes in the river?
Change occurs when we realize the pain of living in this stagnant, unsatisfying familiar zone is worse than the discomfort of stepping outside of it, growing, and trying new things.
Whether you’re struggling with your career, your relationships, your body image, your eating habits, your finances, or all of the above, real change can only occur once you make the decision that your familiar zone is not cutting it anymore.
It feels like it’s keeping you safe, but it’s not actually.
Not if you’re lost…
Not if you feel like a failure...
Not if you feel hopeless, and confused…
The life you yearn for lives just outside that familiar zone, although it may feel a little uncomfortable to move into that new place...at first.
But the confidence, peace, joy, and satisfaction of living your best life is well worth the temporary discomfort. I promise.
Are you at that point, where the familiar zone is starting to stink like a pile of rotten mastodon bones? Are you ready to step out (and get a little uncomfortable) and start looking for your ideal life?
Several months ago, I got a call from a woman who wanted my help. She struggled with her body image, confidence in her business, and just generally wanted to improve her life.
After our first session, I started to get concerned. It was clear that this woman was a seasoned self-help veteran, having already read most of the books I would have recommended. She had been working on herself for a long time, yet she was still stuck...
I had a brief moment of insecurity, wondering how I could help her when she was already so entrenched in this process. What did I have to offer? What could I tell her that she hadn't already heard a hundred times in a hundred different ways?
I decided to stick with it, and trust that she came to me for a reason. I recommitted to my belief that the Universe is always connecting me with my perfect clients who need to hear what I have to say, in some way, shape, or form.
Sure enough, after a few more sessions, I started to hear those welcome words that let me know things are really starting to shift...
"I'd never thought of it like that, before..."
"I was thinking about what you said, and I had a huge A-HA!"
"I just feel so much more confident. I never would have been able to do that before I started working with you!" (I hear this one a lot, which is pretty awesome)
What genius tip did I share? What secret message did I bestow upon her?
The truth is, I just supported her. I mirrored her thoughts and statements back to her. I gently challenged her old ways of thinking, and suggested ways to reframe her limiting beliefs. I helped cut through the self-help noise, get clarity about where she wanted to go, and figure out what was holding her back.
It's hard to change on your own, because all you have are your own thoughts and feelings, and it's your own thoughts and feelings that got you where you are right now...possibly stuck in an unpleasant situation, unhappy with some aspect of your life, or just dissatisfied with the way things are going and desperately wanting to be more fulfilled.
If you want to change, you need advice, you need a different perspective, and you need a cheerleader.
I'm very proud that my clients see such great results, but I'm really here to tell you that it's not your fault you haven't been able to figure it out on your own. Setting a clear intention to do things differently is the most important first step, and seeking the help you need to get there is the next.
Maybe there's a genius blog post that will give you some clarity, or a great book that will inspire the crap out of you. But if you're in that all-too-common place of feeling like you've tried everything, or just don't know what to do next, you might need some personal support. Just like my client.
Let's get on the phone and talk about what's going on with you. You might be surprised how great it feels to have someone in your corner, helping you figure out what you need and how to get where you want to go. Schedule your free introductory chat here.
What are the first steps to becoming an Intuitive Eater?
Intuitive Eating can feel really overwhelming in the beginning. 10 Principles? Changing the way I eat entirely? Learning to understand my internal signals about what and how and when to eat? For someone who’s used to dieting or following guidelines about eating, this enormous change can feel scary, confusing, and almost impossible.
I hear the same concerns over and over again:
If there are no rules, how do I know what to eat?
If I let myself have whatever I want, I’ll gain weight at lightning speed!
Will this out of control feeling around food ever end?
So, how do you get started becoming a confident, happy intuitive eater when it feels so difficult?
Presenting...A Beginner’s Guide to Intuitive Eating: How to approach your new relationship with food and your body in a gentle, easy, sustainable way without getting overwhelmed or eating Oreos for every meal for the rest of your life.
Become aware of your food rules, and work to dismantle external influence over how and what to eat.
No eating after 7:00pm? Chocolate only on Saturdays? Only salads for lunch? We've all got 'em, but you have to give yourself full permission to eat. What the rules do is keep you in "supposed to" mode rather than thinking about what you need or what you'd like to have. They tell you to trust someone else more than you trust yourself. Intuitive eating is about reconnecting with yourself and listening to your body, so these rules gotta go!
Make a list of all your diet rules. Every single one...even if you think it’s for health or nutrition. Stay very away of these rules every time you plan a meal. Make an effort to eat according to your own desires and needs, rather than some external guideline.
Curb cravings and out-of-control feelings by having hearty, well-rounded meals with foods you enjoy.
Do you feel overwhelmed by cravings or eat like there's no tomorrow? Chances are, you've created feelings of deprivation from dieting. Sometimes it can be physical -- like you actually need more calories or some kind of nutrient that you're missing -- but most of the time it's psychological.
All the rules and restriction have created this crazy emotional reaction to food, so you eat even when you're not hungry and feel super vulnerable to specific foods (especially the ones you've restricted or had rules about in the past).
Be sure to eat until you’re satisfied at each meal, and have snacks to prevent overwhelming hunger. Allow yourself to enjoy foods you really love -- even if you’re eating larger quantities of them than you’re comfortable with, just allow it to happen. It won’t last forever...I promise.
Try to be present for your meals, so you avoid eating past the point of comfort.
This is different than eating without distraction. I don't know about you, but there is literally never a time I am without distractions. This is about just paying attention to what you're doing so you don't zone out and lose touch with your signals. In order to honor your hunger and stop eating when you're full, it's helpful to eat a little more slowly than you might be used to and think about the way your body feels from time to time throughout the meal.
Consider sitting down to eat, and thinking about the texture and temperature of the food you’re eating while you chew.
Make efforts to improve your health and the way you feel without using weight-loss as a marker of success.
Focusing on weight loss prevents real progress toward health. When people want to feel better and improve their health, they frequently decide to go on a diet. Doctors are even in on this gag. Here's why it's a problem: weight loss is a huge challenge, you're quite likely to fail at it (like, at least 95% likely), and there's no guarantee that it will improve your health. Real health comes from behaviors and lifestyle, not a number on the scale.
If improving your physical condition is a goal, focus on specific things like exercising, getting adequate fiber, eating fruits and vegetables, drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, and managing stress. Talk to your doctor about ways to improve your health that don’t revolve around weight-loss.
Improve your overall self-care, to show yourself some respect.
If you aren't happy with your body, I bet you don't treat it very well. The bottom line is: if you look and feel like crap, you're going to treat yourself like crap. If you look and feel the very best that you can, regardless of your size, you are going to want the best for yourself. You need to receive a clear message that you are worthy and deserve superb treatment. The better you feel and look, the more motivated you will be to take great care of yourself in every way. How do you like to be pampered? What do you really deserve? You will feel so much more confident when you show yourself some love and affection.
Consider adding some weight-neutral self-care into your routine: buy some new, comfortable clothes that fit perfectly, take a hot bath, give yourself a pedicure, or maybe just spend some time noticing and appreciating all the different parts of your body that work so well.
Intuitive Eating is the path to freedom for so many people who’ve struggled with dieting and self-loathing. Don’t get overwhelmed by all the information and principles; just get started healing your relationship with food, and focus on slow, steady progress. It’s certainly not a quick fix, but it’s well worth the effort in the long run.
If you’re really struggling, don’t be afraid to seek support or more resources. There’s an Intuitive Eating workbook available now, many free support groups on Facebook, and several professionals working in this specialty. If you’re ready to take the next step in your journey, consider my Making Friends With Food program. Find more information at https://www.teddeyhicks.com/makingfriendswithfood
Intuitive Eating saved me in many ways. I remember the sense of relief when I first read the book...finally understanding why the more I tried to control myself around food, the more out of control I became. Or why my first real diet was a euphoric journey of success, and then I gained all the weight back as soon as I loosened my obsessive death grip on eating, exercising, and point-counting.
It was a relief to finally hear someone say that I need to be kind to my body, I need to reconnect with my body, and I can give myself permission to have anything I want to remove the emotional attachment I had to certain foods. I love the focus on weight-neutral self-care, and really understood for the first time how to take care of my body and love myself (without needing to lose weight first).
I gave up dieting for good (it was so powerful to learn how harmful it is), and started living my life. I worked really hard on being mindful about my food choices, allowing myself to have whatever I wanted without guilt, but also considering my health in a loving, gentle way. And it worked really well...for a while.
But, I Never Stopped Bingeing on Chocolate
Here’s my deep dark secret: I never stopped bingeing on chocolate. I literally kept a stash of chocolate in my bedside table and usually ate all of it, every night. At first, I would be super compassionate with myself -- it’s ok, it was a learning experience, I can be more thoughtful about what this was happening and what I really needed instead of the chocolate.
And then I started feeling frustrated with myself -- why did I feel so out of control at night when I had given myself full permission to eat whatever appealed to me all day, why was I treating myself with such disrespect, and why, why, why couldn’t I figure this out? I’m supposed to have all this stuff down pat, and be able to help other people get it, too! My frustration morphed into shame, which honestly just made things 100 times worse.
For a long time, I promised myself that I would hide this problem -- no one except my husband would know that I sat in bed night after night, eating, frankly, way more chocolate than I’d ever consumed in my life. It was so embarrassing, and I felt like a big, old imposter.
I was very aware of why chocolate was my nighttime comfort -- that’s a time of day when I felt very lonely as a child, and chocolate was one of those special things that I couldn’t get enough of when I was a kid. Whether it was the red cellophane-wrapped heart-shaped boxes my dad gave us for Valentine’s Day, or the Cadbury Cream Eggs at Easter, or the brown paper package of M&Ms that I bought the first time I walked to the store on my own, or the chocolate oranges we always got in our Christmas stockings -- chocolate was comfort and fun and love and freedom and celebration for my entire childhood.
The problem is that even if you really understand why the compulsive / habitual / binge-eating is happening, it’s not always so easy to make it stop. I kept having this recurring thought that if I could just “do” Intuitive Eating well enough, I wouldn’t be having this struggle. My deep subconscious programming about chocolate was just too powerful.
I remember having the very clear thought one day: I wish I could replace that old story in my mind that chocolate is comfort and love. And, then I remembered that I’m actually a hypnotherapist (it took me a few minutes), and that I CAN reprogram that old story for myself. Funny how it’s always so much easier to deal with other people’s problems than your own.
I decided to create a hypnosis script specifically about desiring foods that support my health and wellbeing. This is a touchy area for Intuitive Eaters, because it can be a slippery slope back into dieting mentality when you start thinking about controlling yourself around food. I was careful to create a script that incorporated self-confidence, freedom and peace around food, well-balanced eating habits, as well as the natural and automatic gravitation toward nourishing foods that give me energy and support my physical health
Does hypnosis really work?
I decided to use myself as a case study. I listened to my own recording about Health & Peace With Food, and the next day I found that I didn’t even think about chocolate at bedtime. The day after that, same thing. Since I created that script and listened to it before bed, I have had exactly 0 chocolate binges (or any other kind of binges).
The important thing is that I’m not restricting myself. There’s still chocolate in the house -- in the kitchen, where it belongs -- and I have some when I want it. But I no longer feel out of control, and I’m not longer hiding it or eating far more than my body needs to comfort myself emotionally. There are some days when I don’t even want it!
The other amazing result of this hypnosis script is that I’m eating a more balanced diet. I really have found myself craving salad more frequently than usual, and I’ve been much more motivated to buy and eat fruits and vegetables with almost every meal (which is making me feel much better physically).
I know there’s no magic pill that will solve everyone’s problems, but I really believe in the power of hypnosis and I have proof that it worked for me.
I hate writing my goals. I have never felt like I was doing it right, and my Virgo brain gets all obsessive about whether I’m being too specific or too general, if I have too many goals are not enough, if I’m supposed to focus on something I really want right now, or how I want my life to be in the future.
I know deep down inside that if I’m not clear on what I’m asking for, I’m certainly not going to get it. And I know the point of goal-writing is to keep them forefront of mind and maintain focus...to come back to what you really want and avoid getting derailed by the distractions of daily life.
I’m happy to have found a way to accomplish all this in a way that works better for me, that makes me feel calm and centered, and allows my desires to evolve in a natural way. It’s quickly becoming my “go-to” activity for staying aligned and grounded while I manifest my ideal life.
Who Am I, What Do I Really Want, and What is My Intention for Today?
This is a quick practice that you can do morning, noon, and night, whether you are feeling excited and aligned, or overwhelmed and stressed. I promise you will feel more relaxed and rooted in your truth after doing this, and it doesn’t require any special preparation, environment, or a huge time commitment.
Just sit in a quiet place and close your eyes, and ask yourself Who Am I? Just embrace whatever comes up -- it might not be the same thing every day. My list is often like: I’m a mother and a wife, a sister, daughter, niece, and aunt. I’m an insightful, caring businesswoman, who’s learning and evolving every day, and helping others along the way.
Then ask: What Do I Really Want? Again, the answer might change from day to day, and the daily variations can really inform what’s going on with you at that moment. You might be surprised by what comes up. There are no rules to this, so just allow whatever comes to you to be the answer. It could be anything from professional success, wealth, a new spouse, to a nap or a chocolate milkshake. Just allow yourself to really get in touch with what you need or desire at that moment.
Finally, set your intention for the day. How do you want to feel? What do you want to accomplish? What do you want to do? It may be something like: I intend to feel calm and happy today, and navigate every situation with a peaceful heart. Or, I intend to complete my thesis today and finally return my mother’s phone call. Just allow whatever it is to be exactly right.
Answering these three questions, in this order, takes you from a big-picture view of your life, to your goals and desires, to the specific action or feelings you’d like to accomplish in the moment. What I love about it is that it allows your thoughts and feelings and desires to shift, while keeping you focused on where you want to go.
It’s easy to get caught up in the daily stuff of life, and start manifesting accidentally rather than intentionally. And it’s also super tempting to think that self-improvement has to be this big project that we have to make time for and schedule into our calendar.
If you do nothing else, I promise you that this daily exercise will have a profound effect on how you feel about yourself, and your clarity about your goals and desires. It will calm you down if you feel overwhelmed, it can motivate you if you feel stagnant, and it will center you if you’re having one of those days when life is kind of dragging you around by the ear and you barely had time to grab a shower, much less sit and meditate for 45 minutes.
I hope you find it as useful as I have. Email me and let me know how it goes for you!
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