Breakfast to Get You Out the Door (when you can barely get out of bed)

 

Don’t you hate it when health consultants and nutritionists tell you that all you need to charge your day is a good breakfast? Do you want to hit someone the next time you hear that the right balance of protein and vitamins will get you going in the morning? (ahem…guilty as charged)

Sometimes the well-intentioned advice hasn’t taken into consideration the fact that you can barely get out of bed in the first place. Given the fact that your life is in such a turmoil right now, the only thing that energizes you is the thought of pulling the covers over your head and staying there until next July.

The only motivation you have for not giving into the obligation are your hungry kids and a fear of getting fired.

Overwhelm is like that. You just don’t want to have to think or feel or do life because every time you try, it’s as if you’re about to drown in the immensity of it all.

So you go through the motions. You throw some cereal at the kids, maybe pour a coffee down your own throat with the last bit of banana bread from yesterday and get on with your day.

Sure this routine might keep you putting one foot in front of the other, but the truth of the matter is, it’s only going to keep you stuck in that vicious cycle of overwhelm.

Physiologically, all coffee does is put your body into stress response – something you don’t actually need help with right now. And if you don’t already feel derailed enough, a lack of food in the morning or something sweet will ensure the impact on your blood sugar will up the ante.

I know. I know. You’re not actually hungry and putting a half decent supper on the table is about all you can manage when it comes to cooking.

Even if you don’t feel like getting out of bed in the morning, the one thing you can do for yourself is connect to your body. It’s for this very reason that your morning needs to start somewhere other than food.

Connecting to your body, as you do nothing more than breathe – listening to your body – is the one act of nourishment you can offer yourself before you even consider what else the day holds.

This is where practices, such as meditation, affirmations, or with receiving a ray of light into your heart, come in. When you start the day with even the tiniest reminder of who YOU are in the middle of the upheaval that is your life right now, you open the door to possibility for more.

You open yourself to the energy stores you forgot about, you open yourself to the early stages of renewed self-love, you open to what it takes to feed yourself adequately.

In those moments, there’s nothing to do but breathe, connect and listen.

One day, maybe you’ll realize you’re thirsty, so you start with a glass of water, maybe a squeeze of lemon.

One day, you might feel hungry, so you have a bite of last night’s chicken (or the banana bread).

One day, you may actually get the urge to boil a few eggs for everyone…

The thing I love so much about breakfast – other than the food part – is that it holds the forgiveness of a new day, a new leaf. No matter what happened yesterday, no matter what you ate or didn’t eat, breakfast is a chance to start again, to put a different foot to the fore, and maybe make a few strides towards better mindset and better health.

Trust that one day you’ll get yourself to the ideal of adequate protein, good fats and other nutrient-dense options in the morning. Likely sooner than you think when you start by nourishing your soul for now.

My morning routine has become the ritual that allows me time to reassess, to nourish my whole being, and to start each day with intention despite the whirlwind life can be. Your routine may not look like mine, and may evolve over time – the important part being that it’s an expression of who you are and what YOU need on a given day.

What gets you out the door each morning? When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.

We all have friends caught in the temporary web of overwhelming life shifts. Offer them your support by sending them this post using any (or all!) of these share buttons.

Read This When Your Heart is Breaking

 

You have to be as blind as Cupid not to notice that it’s Valentine’s Day, but how do you celebrate a day of love when your heart is breaking? I don’t mean the Hallmark, boy-just-broke-up-with-you heartbreak of adolescence. (Painful, yes.)

I’m talking about the energy-draining way your heart breaks when you have to fold your business, when you sell your house, when your period stops for good, or yes, when your man walks out on you (or you leave him). A breaking heart carries with it the heavy sadness that makes you want to curl into a ball, close your heart off from any more potential for hurt, and hide under a blanket for the foreseeable future.

Yet, you’re expected to be happy about the changes in your life (sure some are indeed for the best), to let go and move on, to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I mean, aren’t we all about being healthy in our processes – doesn’t being healthy mean feeling good?

The decades of twists & turns, ups & downs of my life have taught me differently. Circumstances like divorce, loss, injustices, as well as triumphs, opened me to the rainbow of emotions I hadn’t always understood before. Mainly, I hadn’t understood how they were connected to my health.

I often talk about how I learned that emotions are felt in the body, from a book. These weren’t separate phenomena going on in my head that had no practical bearing on me. They were actual, physiological responses altering my moods, my eating habits and essential to my survival. (Read more about the impact of emotions on your eating habits here; read more about the necessity of the core emotions here)

I learned – through joy and sorrow, success and hardship – that allowing the flow of all my emotions is part of the quickest path to renewed health, inner strength, productivity, and to love…loving myself, that is.

All that to say that even if you’re not bursting with thoughts of romance and crepe-paper hearts this week, that’s ok.

You’re feeling what you’re feeling and that’s not only ok, it’s necessary.

When you give yourself the time and space to literally curl inward, sleep a few extra hours, watch too much TV and only talk to your journal, you are performing a beautiful act of self-love. If your daughter was heartbroken, you’d make her tea and let her cry on your shoulder – chances are that’s what you need as well.

It’s extremely difficult to allow yourself that kind of wallowing; trust me, I know. When you’re the one who keeps everyone going, when you’re the one in control of the situation, it can seem nigh on impossible to fall apart. Perhaps you even harbour a fear that if you let go, you’ll sink into a rabbit hole of sadness and self-pity, even debilitating depression, and never find your way out.

That won’t happen. Emotions are simply energy-in-motion. Given the freedom to move, they do what they have to do and subside, like a wave. The times I surrendered to the depths of how I was feeling, I’ve always bounced right back within a day or two, recharged and motivated to take whatever necessary steps were next.

Sometimes you need to get to the bottom of the well before you can turn around and see the light.

If your heart is breaking – scratch that, WHEN your heart is breaking, because it will break, there’s no getting around that in this life – be gentle with yourself.

Listen deeply to what your body and your heart truly need in the moment and give it. Treat yourself with the loving care you would offer your best friend in the same situation.

Make your favourite, creamy soup and eat it 3 meals a day.

Spend the hours you need curled in bed pouring your sorrows into your journal.

Call the one person who will listen without judgment or advice.

Put on some heart-wrenching music; sing at the top of your lungs, dance in whatever way you’re your body wants to move, and let the tears flow when they come.

If nothing else, breathe. Connect to the one certain thing in the moment and the rest will follow as it needs.

Need help opening the doors to your heart again? Here’s a little ray of light you can let seep into the cracks and get things started.

My morning routine has become the ritual that allows me time to reassess, to nourish my whole being, and to start each day with intention. Next time I’ll discuss how to stay focused even when things are falling apart. (Sign up in the box below if you want to hear more.)

What nourishes you the most when your heart is breaking? When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.

Have a friend whose heart is breaking this Valentine’s Day? Pay the love forward by using any (or all!) of the buttons below.

Can Your Body Handle Changes in your Life?

 

You drag your feet to the end of each day. You catch every virus going. You can no longer eat (or drink) like you did when you were 25.Your nagging little digestive pain isn’t quite so quiet. You go from caring too much about things to not caring less.

What’s going on with you lately? Are you falling apart or just getting old? Or is it that life has taken a left turn and you’re not quite able to keep up?

Who was it who first said that change is the only constant?

Some changes are well thought-out choices, some are inevitable, and some pull the rug right out from under you. This is true for all of us.

Becoming a mother, losing a mother, losing a job or starting a new one, divorcing your husband, the kids moving out, a diagnosis (yours or another’s),… Life is full of transitions, with an ever-evolving need to recalibrate.

I’ve seen how outer transitions clearly show up directly in the body – in clients whose discomfort with a certain situation manifests as physical discomfort, disease and pain. Occasionally these women are conscious of that connection, quite often they’re not.

These cases walk into my office as

  • The 46-yr-old who understands, if reluctantly, that she needs to adapt her eating and lifestyle to reflect the creeping signs of age and perimenopause
  • The teacher whose irritable bowel finally drives her to get help – a cry of distress from deep inside that she can no longer digest the status quo with her husband
  • The writer who weeps in frustration before the basic task of preparing supper because of eating restrictions from the doctor, the same one who’s too unsettled from moving for the umpteenth time to grasp any sense of normal anywhere
  • The mother who wants to take charge of her body since several flus hit hard after her own mother dies; flip side to the one whose fibroids spawn complications as her kids move out
  • The professional who woke with labyrinthitis (dizziness from an inflammation of the inner ear) the week she retired.

In my 30s, my own expanding waistline signalled a need for me to grow in a different way.

Think about it. When you’ve felt your worst in body, had something major just shifted (or wanted to shift) in your life?

Could it be that these symptoms you’re experiencing during life’s transitions are a message from your body that something needs to change in YOU as well?

Health, by definition, is a balance whereby you have what it takes to cope with, and recuperate easily from, whatever ails you. When your life changes, it necessarily sets you off balance. In the best case scenario, you’re in a place in your body, mind and soul where you can regain your equilibrium without much ado.

However, when the transitions coincide with your usual aches & pains getting the better of you, or new ones showing up, when your anxiety’s up or your energy levels are down, it’s a sign that you were thrown more off-balance than you’d realized.

Your symptoms are a sign that you need to care for yourself more thoroughly, more consciously and more deeply than you have been.

I know what you’re thinking. When things are in flux – even when it’s your choice and all for the best – you’ve got to make sure everyone around you is looked after, not to mention the details and to-dos. How can you possibly think about yourself at a time like this?

If there’s one thing I hope you’ve learned by now as a wife and mother and multi-tasker extraordinaire, is that you can only be so, effectively, from a full cup.

Perhaps the discomfort you feel at these points is actually your body reminding you that NOW is the time to look after you. Dare I say, it’s the perfect opportunity to dig deeply into what YOU need to survive the upheaval and land on the solid ground of who you are.

I’ve spent the last year riding a physical, mental, emotional roller coaster through a move from my lifelong home in Montreal to Ottawa. Under two hundred kilometres’ distance, but light years in how far I’ve come in myself. Perhaps it’s this experience that has pushed me to own up to a strong compulsion to help women struggling with the pain of change to reach a new normal.

More than finding a healthy balance, I want these women to thrive, even blossom into their full, beautiful potential.

As a result, my work is undergoing a slight transition of its own. My client work still revolves around encouraging you to listen to your body for making your best healthy choices. My writing will continue to offer tips, stories and inspiration for finding whole health from the inside out. I will still encourage conversations in the Whole Health Dinner Party group around the same.

The upgrade will be that my focus is now on supporting women who feel the shifts and changes of life take a toll on their body, guiding them to care for themselves in ways that allow them to land safely, feeling healthy, on the other side.

If this is you, tell us how change affects you, and where you need the most support when life changes directions. When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.

Be sure to sign up in the box below, so I can continue to support you fully.

If you have a friend who could use an extra hand to hold while she crosses the ravine of another transition, please get her in on the conversation by using any (or all!) of the buttons below.

How to Dance Your Way to Better Health

 

More and more, the experts are telling us to clear blocked emotions as a necessary part in your healing journey. Dr. Northrup’s “You have to feel it to heal it” and other variations make complete sense. Yet, many of us – my hand’s raised her – are so out of touch with how we feel, it’s a challenge to truly GET that concept.

There was no room in my upbringing for the full spectrum of emotions – how many of you had parents who gave you space tantrums? Laughter or tears or outbursts of any kind, my brothers and I were told to “settle down”. The only emotions we ever saw in full regalia was anger – my father’s, sometimes my mother’s when we’d driven her completely up the wall – and never something we were free to send back in their direction.

Raised to use my head, I had little inkling that the feelings I knew had any depth beyond the small ripple they created in my mind and moods. Being a good girl, I was encouraged to keep it that way.

Believe it or not, I actually learned how to feel from a book. I was at my first yoga retreat, and picked up a stray copy of Gay & Kathleen Hendricks’ Conscious Loving. That was when, at age 29, I learned that emotions are felt in the body. Yoga was the doorway to my more fully realized self, in that it gave me the tools and space to start along a path of integrating all my parts – body, mind, heart & soul.

It’s been a long, ongoing process to learn – nearly another 20 years for me to find the courage to explore my feelings to their very fullest. For the longest time, I was scared of big emotions, in others as well as myself. They are so chaotic, unpredictable and potentially dangerous.

And you know what it’s like, you want to do things that make you happy and get through the negative emotions as quickly as possible.

Thing is, emotions are neither good nor bad. Like the rain, they have no inherent value. In cold & dark November, it’s depressing, at the end of a scorching July day, it’s a godsend. The rain necessary for life to shift and change and grow.

We try so hard to increase our joy, always looking for the shortcut or the magic bullet to happiness & love, that we’ve lost touch with the healthy aspects of anger, fear and sadness. We have no time in our schedules to give them space, so we ignore them, override them with a smile or suppress them with pills, alcohol, sugar and other drugs.

Emotions are like water. Close them up for too long and two things can happen. With no hint of movement, the pool stagnates, creating a breeding ground for mould, bacteria, parasites (auto-immunity, cancer, arthritis, heart disease, IBD,…) Holding back a river requires a strong dam and a lot of physical energy, depleting your body’s defenses and feeding such states as anxiety or depression. There’s also the risk that the slightest crack in the wall will release a wild, even destructive flood.

Like water, e-motions are nothing more than energy-in-motion. They need to flow. They become unhealthy when we avoid them or let them get pent up.

Your core emotions, and the physiological responses they create in your body are part of your communication system. They are in place as part of your survival.

Follow the movement, the dance each one invites you to share and you’ll see what I mean.

(I’m serious, stand up and do this with me – maybe one day soon I’ll add a video to help this along.)

We start with Joy or Desire.

Think of something that has made you just overflow with happiness. Where do you feel it? Likely, it’s somewhere in your torso, your heart centre. Sit with it a moment until you feel the movement in there. Perhaps it’s open-chested, shoulders back, leaning in.

Desire is a step forward.

It says, This feels good, this nourishes me, let’s go for it!

It connects you to the world and people and situations that light you up. That nurture you and help you grow. It’s that feeling of a little girl seeing her mom after a long absence and running to her full-tilt, with open arms.

The direct opposite of Joy is Sadness.

Think of something that makes you sad. Where do you feel it and how does it move? Still in your torso, I bet, though closing inward this time. Sadness retreats, curls you into a ball.

It tells you where you’ve disconnected, be it consciously or not, from your loved ones, your community, your sources of nourishment.

It’s part of your survival in the same way that a seed ensures the survival of a plant. The seed’s job is to disconnect, to leave the mother plant. It’s a tightly closed capsule that contains all the energy and nutrients necessary to create a whole new plant. Once it finds the ideal environment and gets exposed to a bit of water, it cracks open.

When you’re sad – usually at the (forced or planned) disconnection from someone or something you love – you can feel uprooted. It’s survival to gather your resources and save your energy until conditions seem safe again. Shedding a few tears (or buckets-full!) will eventually crack open your heart and mind to re-engage with life.

Anger is your inner mama-bear at work.

Without going overboard, think of a situation that pisses you off. Notice where it sits in your body and how it wants to move. It yells and waves its arms around and snarls and wants to throw things – it basically says, Keep the hell away from me!

Anger can be scary in that it is large and loud, but it’s purpose is not to inflict harm.

Anger protects your from harm. It helps you set and maintain healthy boundaries – that perimeter of safe, personal space around you. It kicks in when that safety has been breached.

Bears don’t attack people for the heck of it. Generally a wild animal will only attack if you’re too close to their shelter, their food or their children – when you’ve threatened their basic needs.

If you’re angry (frustrated, irritated, impatient, annoyed, irritable,…) it’s an indication that your survival, that one of your needs – what you need to both survive and thrive – has been removed or threatened. (See this list of basic human needs that, yes, include things like touch and attention.)

Anger moves up and out. It’s loud and needs a lot of space. Follow that flow – better out than in!

A child psychologist once gave me the “anger rules” for my boys. They basically say you’re allowed to be angry, you’re just not allowed to hurt anyone (including yourself) nor damage anything. She encouraged us to make an angry corner where the kids were allowed to punch pillows, shred paper, yell & scream or whack a door frame with a tea towel when the need arose.

Try giving yourself permission to do the same. You might even want to put on a timer so you don’t go too far overboard. (The tea towel one is great, especially when you also yell all the furious, horrible things you want to say to the person/situation that has you riled.) Let loose in your tantrum! Then let yourself settle back into the calm. You’ll find that you are now able to deal with whatever was bothering you with a more rational & productive approach.

Maybe I’ve left Fear for last because it’s my own particular nemesis.

Call it childhood programming or part of my path, but fear is my first reaction to any situation even remotely out of my comfort zone. It blows up to unreasonable proportions. I’m a great one for lying in bed at 3 am turning molehills in mountains that threaten to crush me in their shadows.

What scares you? How does it show up in your body? Fear is a step backwards…or in my case, turns me around and has me run away screaming. Fear can also freeze you in place.

Its purpose is to keep you out of harm’s way. When you get to the edge of a cliff staying stock-still or stepping back are the only wise choices.

Fear says, This doesn’t feel right, let’s get out of here, or check things out before taking another step. When you’re walking down a dark road, it’s the feeling that reminds you to get out of there as quickly as possible.

Fear has a tricky counterpart: it can be the feeling your ego sends when you’re about to walk down an unfamiliar road. Because you have no way of knowing which twists and turns and cliffs you’re likely to encounter, it tries to prevent you from going that way at all.

I’ve learned to use this type of fear as a tool: it reminds me when to step back to reassess and informs me of how huge the potential reward and growth will be at the other end. (This can be a strange concept to wrap your head around – some days, I’m not sure if I get it fully myself – it will likely show up as its own exploration in a later blog.)

Emotions are the energy of life. The dances they lead you on are the steps to a more fulfilled, more expanded, more fully actualized version of you.

Emotions are the cues to being fully yourself. In the physiological world, the distinction between what yours and what isn’t falls in the realm of the immune system. Giving free flow to how you feel will improve your ability to stay strong in the face of disease.

Want to know the beautiful part of exploring my emotions? The more space and time I give them, the less afraid I become of them, the more confidence I have to say what I need to say, the more likely I am to express what I truly need. The repercussions of this on my life blossom continuously.

How do you move with and through your emotions? Which one gives you the hardest time? When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.

Invite your friends to join this dance by using any (or all!) of these buttons.

 

PS I’ve started using Bach Flower Essences to help support myself and clients through the many movements of this dance. If you want to know more about them, contact me here.

How Your Emotions Change How You Eat

 

In the last post, I wrote about a simple approach to making your meals healthier. Simple. That word is so deceiving. It means “easily understood”; it does not always mean easy to carry out. A simple decision might be easy, such as “I’ll drink a glass of water as soon as I get up.” Deciding to give up sugar or choose whole foods over processed is simple, however, if it were easy, people would just buy different groceries and I’d be out of work.

I’ll go a step further and say that “simple” holds a certain amount of wisdom and potential for growth behind it. Giving your kid a new limit, like no TV on Tuesdays, is simple, though requires you to stretch some of your parenting muscles, and him to exercise his creativity. Letting him watch because you’re tired today is easy, but may not be the best thing for him…or you…in the long run.

When you first introduce the idea, there will be resistance (aka a temper tantrum or two) until the new routine becomes habit. He’ll bend over backwards to negotiate a trade (“I’ll stay off on Wednesday”) or to convince you that letting him watch TV “just this one Tuesday” will be ok. While it’s important to hold space for those possibilities to come up, it’s best to stand your ground. You know from experience that if you hold firm for 10 minutes, he’ll back off and end up having a blast rediscovering the Playmobil he hasn’t touched in months.

Similar scenarios will play out in your head after you give up, say, sugar or dairy. You’ll have inner (or outer!) tantrums about how it’s unfair that you can’t have ice cream when all your friends are eating it. You’ll negotiate extra kale or a longer workout tomorrow, or promise yourself this will be the last bowl of ice cream you’ll ever eat in your entire life.

Like a good parent, you need to give those outbursts room to release. Maybe not by kicking and screaming in the middle of a restaurant, but in your journal, talking to a friend, or by dancing it off in your living room.

Once the storm has passed, this is the opportunity to explore neglected nuggets that might have gone unnoticed for months or even years. I’m talking about emotions and memories that get stuffed under that need for ice cream.

“I’m afraid I’ll never enjoy my food again.”

“I don’t want to burden my friends with my health issues.”

“I’m sad that I can’t eat what I want.”

“I feel like I’m being punished…like my body’s betrayed me…like it’s all downhill from here…”

Ah, now here are the forgotten toys – the parts of you that you shove to the back of your emotional drawer.

In my yoga class last week, we focused on hip openers. The teacher prefaced the class by reminding us how, as part of the second chakra, home of how we connect and relate to the world around us, the hips are the drawers where we dump all the emotional stuff we don’t want to deal with. Like the trinkets and old clothes that clog up your dresser, stuffed emotions block the internal feng shui of your body – unexpressed emotions clog up the flow of energy and movement in your life. No wonder we women end up with tight or arthritic hips!

Your intestines, as well as your uterus and ovaries, also sit in that same area of the body. What does that say about the women who show up in my office? Women with IBS, constipation, bloating & gas, menstrual pain, fibroids, infertility. Seems the hips aren’t the only place that collect our emotional junk for storage.

Beyond the brain-gut connection, this bit of energetic anatomy clarifies how emotions and food are so tightly linked. Incidentally, the stomach, liver and pancreas lie in the 3rd chakra – the seat of your will and anger – another potential hotbed of emotional turmoil mixed in with your eating habits.

Just as cleaning out the dresser breathes new life into your wardrobe and your home, giving those old emotions space to move up and out opens up your body and life to similar movement.

Perhaps April is a synchronous time for me to be preparing to put my house up for sale. The urge to spring clean has helped motivate my efforts. As I declutter and clean and sort and donate, I have the time to get curious about the emotions that surface: about leaving this place, leaving this city and everyone I know. There are days when I have to stop the work and just be with the sadness, the fear and anxiety. There are days when I plow through another closet. And some when I avoid it all by eating every sweet and starchy thing I can find in the pantry.

There’s another good word: avoid. A-void, void-less. In stuffing my face with cheese bagels and apple pie, am I trying to re-clog the space I’ve so diligently created?

I’ve done a lot of writing, a lot of crying, talking, singing, dancing, and I’ve supported myself through the pain with flower essences and body work. Perhaps it’s time instead for me to sit in that open space and allow possibility to unfold. Here goes… feels like I’m bored in my room with no TV…until I start to notice the “toys” around me.

The void morphs into a sacred space, where waits my love of adventure, my excitement about setting up a new house (I already catch myself playing mental doll’s house with some of the places I’ve seen online.), a clean slate for my work and a whole city full of friends and clients I have yet to know.

Without really trying, my urge for sweets has subsided and I’m ready to nourish the new life I’m about to create.

This type of work isn’t easy…you may have to face some harsh realities about yourself, or wade through some pretty nasty sludge. It starts with the simple act of giving the shadows in the corner room to breathe. It starts with the simple gesture of being gentle with yourself no matter what surfaces.

It starts with listening to your body.

What have you discovered about yourself as you make a food shift, or other life transition? Or where do you get stuck every time you try? When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.