Are You Your Body’s Worst Enemy?

Ever get hit with a smack-in-your-face reality check and wonder why it took you so long to figure this out? The kind that makes you wonder how you could be so stupid…how could you have let it happen when you clearly know better?

A couple of weeks ago, I was feeling terrific. I was emerging more & more from the shell of safety I’d built around myself during the big move. My thoughts were much more clear than they had been since the car accident, and though my belly was giving me occasional grief, my body was reacquainting me with the strength and resilience I thought I’d lost to the downhill slide of middle age.

I took a little trip home to Montreal to visit friends and such. At an acupressure session, I was reawakened to the deep healing you get from going for tune-up support rather than damage control. I walked out feeling like a million bucks!

That night, I went out for the first in a series of overly permissive meals, all in the name of my birthday. I proceeded to indulge, at one point or other over the next 2 days, in ALL the things I usually avoid out of concern for my health… at times, all at once.

I mean, come on, this was a time to be celebrating, a time to let myself go and enjoy.

While I’d just had all this lovely energetic work done on my digestive system, and was fully aware that taking it easy was important – in the same way a big workout after a massage or chiropractic adjustment is to be avoided – I still let my elbow be twisted about sharing a bottle of wine, I ordered the veggies smothered in sour cream. I didn’t refuse the invitation to share a slice of chocolate cheesecake.*

Little wonder that I felt like crap warmed over on the train home, sipping lemon water and swearing to eat nothing but vegetables and broth for the next week.

My logical brain wanted to pin the hangover on some particular culprit: too many late nights, one glass of wine too many, the chocolate, the pasta, the ice cream.*

The fact is, this had nothing to do with the dairy or the gluten or the chocolate or the sugar or the alcohol – they were incidental to this story.

The worst offender in all of it was myself.

 

Yes, there are certain foods and habits that you are best to avoid. If you’re trying to fit back into your favourite dress, if your arthritis prevents you from opening the pickle jar, if your gassy gut makes it too embarrassing to go out, there are definitely foods you know to stay away from, there are habits that help you feel better, that prevent things from getting worse.

It’s so easy on those days that you feel bad to stick to the tried & true routine. Once you start to feel good again, your resolve slips. The better you feel, the more exceptions you allow.

If you’re listening closely to your body, you will be aware of the subtle whispers when she hints that it’s time to ease up and be “good” again.

 

Then there are the times when you feel great, when you’re so high on yourself, you feel invincible, and you somehow believe that nothing could harm you. These are the days you understand what you want your new normal to be. This is how you dream of feeling every day.

Integrate that sensation when it comes; sit with it, get to know the edges of this newly expanded container around you, seek its wisdom. Settle into it.

If you don’t you’re liable to crash as I did.

The Hendricks’ call this the Upper Limits Problem – when you get to a state of more positive energy than you’re used to, and you (subconsciously) find a way to knock yourself back down a few pegs.

 

Is there a fine line, though, where the knocking down isn’t quite so subconscious, when celebrating becomes damage?

 

This may be harsh to say, but that’s what I call abusive.

What I did to myself the other day – ignoring the pleas from my inner knowing and ingesting things I ought not, and in large quantities; hurting my system more because it was extra sensitive, then back-tracking with promises to do better next time. Sounds like abuse to me.

bound in self abuseThe Bach Flower Essence for abuse/self-abuse is Vine. Think of the plant itself: perfect tool for self-flagellation. Even after you do the thing that hurts you, that was so stupid, you continue to beat yourself up about it for days and weeks to come. A vine is the perfect plant for tying yourself up in a knot.

Then it hardens, so that you end up being fully bound in old growth.

Thinking about vines reminds me of the princess in the tower, locked there by a nasty old witch, the character we’ve come to associate with evil personified. Could it be that witch is the part of you that keeps you locked inside the perceived limitations of your issues?

The witch is selfish in the way that she prevents the princess from sharing her beauty with the rest of the kingdom. In squandering your good feelings, in hoarding this better version of you by keeping her hidden or small, you deprive others of the opportunity to love you. You deprive yourself of an opportunity to love you.

The witch cares for the princess so much that she hides her away out of fear for her innocence, not wanting her to get hurt. Are you caring for yourself when you don’t give yourself the chance to heal, or is that a form of cruelty? It’s true: the more open you are, the more you stand up for what you value, the more vulnerable you are to ridicule and attack from the world around you. Yet, the more open you are, the more space you have to grow and blossom into that million dollar version you usually only glimpse.

All that to say that, as much as some of your back-sliding may be subconscious, there are times when perhaps you’re more aware than you’re willing to admit. There are times when you ignore your better judgment, your inner voice and the advice of your health-care practitioner in favour of the momentary freedom of not having to care.

There are times when your fears of stepping out of the familiar shell that is your life and state of health keep you bound in inertia.

 

The good news is that making mistakes is all a part of learning.

Deliberate or not, every time I overstretch the current limits of my body, I’m brought back to a place where I can regroup with compassion, and find a new route by which I can find my way out of the familiar in comfort.

 

I will say this again because I want to be sure you heard it:

When you get to that place of feeling better that you have in ages, of having shifted into a gorgeous expansion (albeit unfamiliar):

Integrate that sensation when it comes; sit with it, get to know the edges of this newly expanded container around you, seek its wisdom. Settle into it.

 

Do you abuse your body with misplaced care? When you share your thoughts and experiences in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.

* Note: none of the food items I mention in this anecdote are bad for you in and of themselves. They represent the worst culprits in this particular phase of my healing journey. We’ll talk more about permission and concepts such as 80/20 in an upcoming post.

 

Choosing Toxicity

 

Powerful words hit home at just the right time.

Clearing through my desk drawers, I came across “Your Metabolic Journey”, a sublime excerpt from Marc David’s Slow Food. Like any truly wise piece, it strikes a different chord each time I read it.

Going through once again, I paused at this part: “If you invite toxicity into the body then you are asking it into your personal world.” True. Could apply to me. The full impact of how deeply these words were meant for me didn’t show up until a few days later.

A Bad Habit Revealed

I hate to admit this out loud, but I tend to be the shoemaker’s child when it comes to my eating habits. Using the turmoil of a big move as an excuse, that tendency took over and became the beast I’d worked so hard to tame. My food intake was less than exemplary, less than nourishing.

I was eating stuff that I clearly know is bad for me (because of asthma and gallstones and other issues that seem to be cropping up like weeds as I age). I am a much happier girl if I stay away from gluten, dairy, sugar, dark chocolate (I know!), greasy food and alcohol. Yet, I was eating bread and pasta and baked goods constantly. I was adding cheese and creamy sauces to everything.

A Nagging Belief

As part of my inner journey, I recently came face-to-face with a belief I held around punishment necessarily following reward. Call it the Upper Limits Problem (à la Gay & Kathleen Hendricks), or a fear that something bad must follow the good, a loss after a win. I started living in dread that some mysterious shoe would drop because of many positive changes in my life, to the point that I was lying awake, imagining the possibilities in all sorts of permutations from identity theft to brain tumours to multiple forms of destitution.

I’m always on the lookout for when and how certain conditions start in body and mind, so I wracked my brain for the story or memory that would have set that belief in motion. Yet, it didn’t seem to resonate with any of the childhood stuff I’ve rehashed for other juicy info.

How Habits Create Beliefs

A few days later, I woke up to the fact that I was nursing a glass of port while nibbling a bowl of chips into which I’d dumped a pack of Reese’s Pieces.

This wasn’t a party or a special occasion or a rare occurrence. I was having them, the worst foods for my digestive and adrenal health – for the 3rd day in a row – as I supervised homework and got supper started. To be perfectly honest, I’d been eating chips and drinking alcohol more regularly than is good for me these past months, along with my other transgressions.

You see, I’d had a good day, was feeling carefree and I figured, “Why not?” knowing full well I’d likely be suffering in the days to come. This is a pattern with me. Nothing new.

And that’s when Marc David’s words hit me full force. The belief in punishment is not a result of some trauma that happened when I was 3. It’s the result of a current habit I’d let slip into daily routine.

How crazy is that? I’ve been punishing my body as a means of celebration.

How to Turn Awareness into Action

The lesson I’d received went one step deeper the next day when I, yet again, chose a glass of port over herbal tea for my mid-afternoon treat… because it was there.

It seems that becoming aware of the pattern wasn’t enough to get me to stop. It took a much harsher reality to snap me out of it completely.

The 8-year-old daughter of a dear friend has a usually benign condition that, in her case, causes intestinal bleeding. It’s been stable for several years, but has recently come back with a vengeance. The day after my big Aha, she was in surgery for the 2nd time in as many weeks, as 5 doctors performed innovative techniques to stop it once and for all.

This girl was fighting for her life, yet I continued to take my own digestive & healing capacity for granted by clogging them up with the very elements that cause me the most harm.

My good intentions took on a whole other meaning when they weren’t just about me. I needed a cause greater than myself – a Why – to jump-start the humility it took to step fully into the shift.

I’d been praying and sending healing light to my friend, her family, the doctors. It was time I put my prayers into action. …Maybe create a new belief in the process.

The only way I can build trust in the Universe’s inherent goodness, to trust the powers at be to keep me safe when things go well, is to build trust in myself to do the same.

Regardless of how magical the intention behind your thoughts and words, there comes a time when you need to set the wheels in motion with concrete action. If I want to free myself from unnecessary punishment, I need to stop punishing myself unnecessarily.

If I want to enjoy vibrant health, I need to stop the practices which dull that vibration.

A Belief is a Choice

Another thought lands as these realizations swirl through me, mind, body and soul: holding onto a belief or a habit is a choice.

And so I choose to detoxify. Not a full-on diet change, I simply reduce the ways in which I “invite toxicity” into my body.

I choose instead to “invite the sacred into [my] personal world, [so I] will find it inhabiting [my] metabolic world.” (Marc David)

I choose reward over punishment, health over setbacks.

I choose to feed my body, my thoughts, my beliefs according to the person I want to be.

I choose to show myself the Love I want to radiate to the world.

And you know what? Like magic, there’s been no question or struggle about nourishing vs harmful foods ever since.

What about you? Which of your habits perpetuate beliefs you’d rather clear? What awareness have you recently had which now needs action to alter your metabolism and your life?

When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.

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The Soul of Choice

 

You have a choice. You always have a choice.

Get some work done or binge-watch House of Cards? Go out with friends or stay in with your sweetie? Marry the guy or not? Fries or salad?

Do you realize you also have a choice when it comes to your health and well-being?

If the doctor tells you to take a certain medication or the naturopath gives you a list of supplements or your Chinese herbalist tells you to lay off the coffee and sugar, it’s up to you whether or not you do it.

On a certain level, it’s wise to go ahead and follow what they suggest. You’ve gone to whichever practitioner for help, so you do as they ask, trusting their expertise. It’s what you were seeking in the first place.

What’s not so great is if you’re following any of those suggestions blindly, without understanding what it’s for. (Yes, I do know people who pop pills daily because the doctor told them to, yet have no idea why.) It’s a bad idea to give all your power to the health care provider.

Then again, maybe that can be to your advantage, so you have someone to blame if things don’t work out as you’d expected. (She said in a snarky tone.)

You have a choice.

It’s your right.

It’s your responsibility.

When you follow suggestions and prescriptions blindly, you’re handing over more than your power; you’re giving away all responsibility for your own body and health.

The doctor, the naturopath, the Chinese practitioner is there to gather information and provide solutions according to what they know. All they can do is offer the help. I see myself as the lamplighter, illuminating a certain path. It’s up to you to take the steps, to follow the path…or not.

Responsibility in this sense means:

  • be honest with yourself that you need professional help in the first place;
  • be honest with your practitioner(s), giving them the whole picture and allowing them to support you as thoroughly as possible;
  • ask questions if you don’t understand either what’s happening, the suggestions/prescriptions you’ve been given, or what you can expect from the substance or lifestyle shift – both good and bad.

If, for whatever reason, what’s been offered doesn’t sit right with you, it’s your responsibility to take time, to gather more information, to ask for modifications or a 2nd opinion.

However, I’ll say it again, you must take responsibility for your choices.

This train of thought brings to mind The Lovers card from the Tarot.

Picture a man and a woman, naked, and on the verge of that first kiss, with all the delicious tension and possibility in that moment. The potency is so ripe, entire books have been written about it – what happens if they kiss? What happens if they don’t? (The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver is a must-read if you’re into that sort of thing.)

This is Adam & Eve about to bite into the apple. No matter what you decide, there are consequences. Some good, some bad. Stay in the state you’re in now, or dare to face the unknown world of something that could be either dangerous or liberating? Regardless of the choice you make, you must take responsibility for what happens next.

This card also reminds you that “getting naked” – dropping fully into your body with pure openness, even vulnerability – will clarify your decisions.

In the long, slow process of moving to another city, my husband and I have been learning all we can about the different neighbourhoods and making lists of what we want in a house. Then we cull the internet for places in our price-range that tick as many of the boxes we’ve made a priority, like a big backyard with trees and a finished basement.

On our list, we’ve also written down how we want to feel in our new home. Spacious, warm, welcome. It’s not until we actually go and drive around the areas, walk through the houses and “get the vibe” that we know for sure if a place is right for us or not. We need to feel it.

It’s the same with health decisions.

Yes, it starts with an informed decision, as described above. At a certain point, though, you need to turn off your head and connect to how it feels in your body.

Maybe a certain supplement gives you a headache, or the thought of going straight for high-tech meds intuitively feels too extreme for the time-being. Maybe the prospect of giving up sugar brings up fear or anger.

It’s possible that you need more information. It’s possible that you need support addressing the emotional reaction. Maybe your body is telling you something that doesn’t come across logically.

Noticing and addressing those sensations is a part of responsible choice.

OK, so you’ve made your decisions: you’re taking the pills and steering clear of the caffeine, but what happens if you slip up?

I could write a whole other post about this one, but let me make one thing clear:

Cheating is a choice.

Drinking a cup of coffee, eating a chocolate doughnut or kissing your boss: none of these things “just happen”. Perhaps fleeting and lost in a whirlwind of emotion and desire, but that moment of “Do or not do” is there.

The power of the moment, and your ability to make a wise choice, lies in doing so consciously. Understand that you are responsible for the consequences and the choices that come afterwards.

Is it one coffee, one doughnut or one kiss – savoured and enjoyed for all it’s worth? Or do you allow your efforts to backslide into a full affair with whichever substance has tempted you?

It gets back to how you want to feel in your body, even decide who you want to be, and determine if the belly ache you’ll have later is worth the 30 seconds of sweet in your mouth now.

At some point, my husband and I will have to stop flirting with ideas and make an offer on one particular house. Once you’ve thought about the options, you’ve got to pick which one(s) you’ll follow to improve your health.

The magic of choice lies in the commitment to what you’ve chosen. Follow your choice with your whole heart, and watch as healing and your life unfold before you.

What choices do you make on a daily basis for the good of your health, body and soul? When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.

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Featured image: Vi – The Lovers. Morgan-Greer Tarot

You’ve Got the Power!

Inspired by Judy Chicago, I’ve created a virtual dinner party: One category of my blog will be dedicated to honouring women who I want to be a part of my soul community. Each woman at my virtual table has a lesson to teach, even if it’s simply to inspire us with her ability to hold greater aspirations for ourselves than we’d ever thought possible. Each one will be a manifestation of the Goddess, a Wise Woman, a pilgrim on the road of the Sacred Feminine. I want to share the wisdom of these women as part of my community of support.

If I were to sum up most of the cases I’ve had in my practice over the years, I’d have to say that women come to me feeling like a greyed-out version of themselves and frustrated at unable to access the full-colour self they know and love.

This may sound really strange, but I get really excited when they come right out and say, “I don’t feel like myself.” It turns me on because that’s the moment of greatest possibility: these women know what they want…they simply need some direction to get there.

Let me explain.

Every time I watch The Wizard of Oz, I get a chill when Dorothy gets to Oz and this strange, technicolour world. She may be scared & confused, but her mind also quickly opens up to the opportunity for something she hadn’t quite imagined.

Glinda tells her she can get what she wants – to go home – and sets her on the path that will get her there.

The Wizard of Oz (1939) Directed by Victor Fleming Shown: Judy Garland (as Dorothy Gale) on the Yellow Brick Road, wearing the ruby slippers

The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Directed by Victor Fleming
Shown: Judy Garland (as Dorothy Gale) on the Yellow Brick Road, wearing the ruby slippers

Along the way, she finds others to accompany her, mainly because they too want something from the wizard, but she also learns valuable lessons that help in her journey. She discovers things about herself that she hadn’t considered before.

The first of which is trust: she trusts what the Good Witch has told her and heads out full of hope that she’ll get there.

The Wicked Witch, of course, comes along and tries to derail her efforts by playing on her fears. Sound familiar?

Maybe you don’t have someone throwing fireballs at you and your straw friends or chasing you with flying monkeys, but the prospect of stepping out of your comfort zone gives you pause, doesn’t it?

If there’s one thing we humans rail against (no matter the potential outcome) is change. It scares us as much as a fireball. Or we zone out as if we’d walked into a field of poppies.

In my office, it comes out as blanket statements like, “Make me better without having to give up my morning muffin and coffee routine. My cookies, my bread.” Or “I want to reduce my symptoms but I don’t eat vegetables.”

The other one I hear a lot, after I tell them what they’ll need to avoid is, “But there’s nothing left to eat!”

It’s that moment of panic when you’re not ready (or willing) to step off the edge of familiar.

And so you continue to wander aimlessly around the dark forest, looking for the wizard with the quick fix, because you don’t trust the yellow-brick road laid out before you.

Or, more likely, you don’t trust yourself to follow it.

emerald city

The one thing that keeps Dorothy putting one foot in front of the other towards the Emerald City – besides the fortitude of company and a few catchy tunes – is the fact that she keeps her eye on the prize.

She wants to go home, just as my clients want to return home to themselves, and she’ll do what she’s gotta do to get there. She even goes so far as to seek out the witch – confront her fears and discomfort directly – melting her into oblivion in the process.

At every step, she lets her desire for what’s possible outweigh the fears, the mishaps and hard work it takes to get there.

She discovers her determination and inner strength. The very energy that charge her ruby slippers with the super-power she had all along.

One of my super-powers is the ability to decipher the path that will get you from the B&W world of where you are to the technicolour place you want to be. You could say I’ve cast myself as the Good Witch in this particular movie.

And just like Glinda, I show up regularly to keep you focused on your goal when the way gets clouded with fear and uncertainty.

Do you have an image of what the technicolour version of your health and life look like?

Contact me today and we’ll figure out how to get you onto that yellow brick road.Free IC Button

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Your Daily Dose of Delicious

 

I used to have a list of “25 Rules to Live By” on my fridge. Don’t remember where it came from or who wrote them. It’s long since gone, but one of the rules has stuck with me:

“If it’s not delicious, don’t eat it.”

What could be simpler?

Beyond food plans and reset diets. Beyond reading labels or trying to balance your meals.

What happens when you choose your food by how much pleasure you derive from it?

With one of my clients, we refer to it as the “yummy factor”. One day, while sorting through healthy variations to balance her blood sugar, she declared, “I want my food to be yummy.” And so it should be!

Delicious involves all 5 of your senses as you eat your meal.

Soak in the flavours, colours, aromas, textures and sounds as you eat.

Used effectively, though, you need to remember to stop when the pleasure subsides.

Marc David, director of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, tells the story of a client he had who loved McDonald’s and ate it every day for lunch, in the car as he drove from job to job. Since he refused to give it up in his quest to settle his digestive pain and find a healthier weight, Marc made one suggestion: take the time to slow down and really savour his lunch.

So the man made the effort to pull over after getting out of the drive-through, and he took a full 10 minutes to eat his Big Mac. At the end of the week, he called Marc to say he hated McD’s. It’s salty and fatty and its only benefit was the convenience of grabbing it on the run.

Maybe you can’t relate to that guy, so consider instead what about what happened to me the other night.

We were out celebrating my son’s birthday and I let myself be tempted by one of the decadent desserts: salted caramel & roasted apple cheesecake, served in a waffle cone. It looked like an artfully spilled ice cream.

The first bite was heavenly. The second still yummy. By the 3rd, I was getting overwhelmed with the amount of sugar. With the next one, I started to think how that much dairy would wreak havoc on me the next day. I was no longer enraptured with the experience, yet kept shoveling it down unconsciously.

Rather than stay engaged with my sense of fun, relish the novelty of the presentation and savour just one or two bites, I let my inner glutton take over. Sure enough, I was painfully full all evening and congested the entire next day.

Delicious involves your sense of appreciation.

Appreciation for the art & skill that goes into good food – visual as well as taste.

Such sites as Yum and thousands of Pinterest boards owe their popularity to our hunger for their gorgeous food “porn”.

Even words can fill that need for delicious. When my husband reads out the recipe names from his latest Fine Cooking, it’s like sweet nothings being whispered in my ear. Roasted Beet Muhammara, Poached Egg and Asparagus Toasts with Lemon-Chive Beurre Blanc, Crispy Potatoes with Lemon and lots of Oregano.

Appreciation for the company and the setting surrounding you during a meal.

Even eating something you cooked yourself, alone in your own kitchen, you can revel in what you’ve created for yourself. Be grateful for the care you take of yourself.

Can you feel the difference in your body when you bite into something delicious?

Your whole body relaxes. (If you know anything about digestion, you know that’s the ideal state for it to work at its best.)

Your entire focus pauses, if only for the briefest of moments, to fully embrace the essence. Like those first soulful kisses with a new lover.

And that’s the thing. Delicious isn’t all about food any more than nourishment is.

I know we sometimes have a hard time getting past conventions. (My mother still thinks all I do is tell people what to eat.) I remember finding it somewhat odd – yet oh so fitting – the first time I heard someone refer to an adorable toddler as “delicious”.

Infuse your entire day with delicious from morning until night and fall in love with your life in a whole new way. All it takes is a hint of conscious awareness of what’s already there.

The delicious stretch while still under the covers.
The delectable heat of the shower hitting your skin and waking your brain.
The luscious flow of your dress sliding down your body.
The gratifying tang of the fermented carrots on your scrambled eggs.
The scrumptious smile on your son’s freckled face as he waves goodbye for the day.
The exquisite pause of being quietly alone before heading to the car.

Need I go on?

Life’s too short to drink bad wine, read crappy novels or sit through a boring movie.

“If it’s not delicious, don’t eat it.”

I spent 4 years studying holistic nutrition. I keep up with the latest superfoods and hormone balancing tricks. I teach my clients to adjust their lifestyles for better digestion. In the end, it all revolves around that one simple rule that was right in front of my face all that time.

What were 3 delicious things about your day so far? When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.

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