7 years ago, Mary walked into my office. After years of caring for her own children and everyone around her, her physical and emotional health had taken the last seat on the bus. She was tired, wrung out and emotionally eating and drinking her way through her days on sugar, low fat carbs and diet drinks. I cannot remember the catalyst for her to pick up the phone and schedule an initial consultation with me but I do know she wanted to lose 25 pounds and make some sense out of the decades of chronic dieting that had sent her on a wild roller coaster ride of counting, depriving, weighing, approving and disapproving of her body. She wanted help sifting through the confusing and frustrating messages about how to lose weight healthfully and be happy in her body.
5:15am. Alarm buzzes. Jump out of bed and head to the gym.
That was me at a time in my life where exercise OWNED me. I did the same workouts every day. I hit the treadmill for the same amount of time. Burning a certain amount of calories. Doing the same stretches, lunge routines, arm routines and cardio workout.
Because, hello!? Body image.
Last weekend, after weeks and weeks of hustle, I found myself taking 3 days to do...nothing.
- There were at least 5 loads of laundry to fold laying on my bedroom floor.
- Garden beds to weed.
- School papers and mail to sort.
- A closet to organize.
- Flowers to plant.
- Garage items to purge.
- Garage sale items to tag.
- Thank you notes to write.
- A basement to sort…let’s not even go there!
- And we were hosting friends for dinner.
And on and on.
I was on my yoga mat in a Hot Power Flow class on Tuesday morning at 8:30 a.m. Let me just say that I haven't done any hot yoga or power yoga in quite a while and so the challenge of the class was more than I remembered. It was just plain hard.
What I noticed half way through the class though was that while it was hard for me to flow from pose to pose (hard pose to hard pose by the way), what was most hard for me was what was happening in my mind.
My Negative Nellie was loud and she was getting louder and louder as the class went on. I caught her saying things like:
- "You can't do that pose."
- "You used to be able to do that flow."
- "This is harder because you're older now."
- "You might not want to come back to this class next week."
- "Why did you quit yoga for so long and make this harder on yourself now?!"
- "Girl, you're weak."
She just wouldn't stop.
Maybe you can relate? Maybe your Negative Nellie gets loud and relentless about your parenting or your workouts or your diet or your work or your looks or ________________. I know from personal experience and from the women I coach that it can take a lot of mindfulness to quiet this critical voice.
During what I'm sure was about the 97th Down Dog of the class, I realized I was being so 'mindful' of my physical body and how well I was (or was not) doing the flows, that I wasn't being mindful of my own self-talk. Which is when I decided to consciously let Nellie know that I didn't need her on my mat with me. Thanks but no thanks. Sorry but not sorry.
Instead I got mindful about my mind. I invited in a more compassionate voice and she had a completely different message and tone. What she mostly said, over and over is: "Angelle, you have done harder things than this. Lots of harder things. This is nourishing for you. There's no perfect way to show up on your mat. Show up like you've done over and over in your life when you've been called to do harder things."
Deep breath. Yes, of course. I've had to show up over and over in my life for things way harder than this. Things like losing my father and my mother-in-law; going through and coming out the other side of intense depression; teaching 30+ kids how to read and write and do math every day; carrying three babies inside of me--two of them at the same time--and then giving birth to each of them; getting my Masters Degree when pregnant with a 1 1/2 year old at home; traveling to NYC 11 times to receive my health coach training when my three kids were 4 and under; having my first grader have an emergency medical procedure under anesthesia; helping my daughter heal from PANDAS/OCD when she was 9; restoring relationships and finances and my own health over the years. And. so. much. more.
That compassionate voice also came through to remind me that I don't need to do hard things alone. Most of the 'harder' things I've done in my life have been with the help of my tribe, whether I asked for their help or they offered it. Connection. Community. Support.
I've shown up in my life and done way harder things than these Power Flows. And that was enough. Enough to carry me through the 2nd half of that still very hard class. That very hard class with a whole bunch of other people who were also showing up for themselves and each other.
I share this with you dear sister of mine, because when you're struggling in your life to take care of yourself; to nourish yourself well; to sit down and eat every day instead of skipping meals or rushing through them; to register for a class you really want to take or to make it through the class after you said yes; to follow through with a program you signed up for (yes, I'm talking to you beautiful 14-Day Resetters here!); to get yourself to bed earlier; to start a business; to quit a job that's life-zapping or to ____________________ AND if your Negative Nellie is non-stop chattering at you about how you're not 'enough', I want you to stop and think about all of the 'harder things you've done' in your life. Let those feelings of strength and wisdom and, as a sister coach calls it, bad-assery fill you up and fuel you through whatever it is you're going through. Invite in connection, community and support.
Let's not sell ourselves short, ladies. You too can get through things that feel hard, especially practicing self-care, because you've done harder things and you are divinely supported.
Over the past several years, I've adapted a wonderful ritual that has become a beautiful rhythm to my morning.
My morning tea.
Most often, I find myself sitting for tea for 20 minutes after I send the kids off to school, but on weekends, like in the photo below, I enjoy it with a gorgeous plate of sauteed greens and eggs. My husband is the breakfast chef in our home and makes these insanely delicious creations.
We're on to the final part of this 4-part series on the True Causes of Cravings. Are you starting to see that your cravings are not a weakness on your part at all? They are loving messages from your body and spirit on how it desires to be nourished. Plain and simple. Isn't that beautiful? Today in part 4, we're talking about the juicy and scandalous topic of emotional reasons for your cravings. (In case you haven't read them, here's part 1, part 2 and part 3 of this 4-part series!)
Cravings often feel frustrating, compulsive and out of control. Like you have no willpower and you and everyone you love is paying the price. Like so many women, you probably are desperately wanting it to be different for yourself but nothing seems to help and you have no idea how to get rid of these cravings and the control they have over you. You might even feel hopeless or frustrated, possibly defeated or ashamed.
This is me. 20 years old. Profoundly depressed, completely malnourished, unbelievably underweight, and experiencing the most intense battle of my life with food, mind and body. I was riding the downward spiral of guilt, shame, deprivation, obsession and starvation. I put on a "happy" face and protected this corner of my life from everyone. I didn't talk to anyone about it. When people asked how I was doing, my response was always "I am doing fine...how are YOU?" focusing on others while turning a deaf ear to the blaring chaos in my own internal world. Inside, I hardly recognized myself. Starving myself was "eating away" at my truest nature: playful, vibrant, silly, feisty, social, intuitive. I became withdrawn, obsessive, overwhelmed, rigid and reclusive.