Yesterday I blogged about the importance of meditation. Today I feel like doing some stream of consciousness, nee rambling inspired story writing. So I’ll sway offtrack a bit, now and then.
Be forewarned. This is going to be a lazy hazy story, filled with personal stuff, so if you want to skip to the meat of my message, you could just whip right down to the blue sub-heading that reads,
“Here’s Your Takeaway from All this Rambing”
And if you’re looking for one of my more solid blog posts, filled with a more equal balance of story and learning, turn to any one of my other posts.
The Juicy Woman Blog is Almost 8 Years Old
BTW, did you know that I’ve kept this blog running for nearly 8 years? Yup! To read through the history of this year, just check the archives on the right of the page and search by date. Then if you want to go back further, click the link that says, “More” and you’ll be taken to the earlier years.
I started blogging back on August 18 of 2005 with a letter that I wrote to my coaching buddies following my graduation and certification for becoming a professional empowerment coach. Wow! The more things change, the more they stay the same. Same passion has taken me through all these years.
Why The Rambling, Andrea?
I’ve been asked by several of my clients to share more about my personal process of food recovery. So in deference to them, I’m coming out and disclosing what I would have kept under wraps before.
Generally I would never have gone public with this kind of transparent sharing because it makes me really vulnerable. Truth be told, the holidays were a really tough time for me this year. In the past month, I did several radio shows, blog posts, and teleseminars talking about what I had learned about how to handle the holiday challenges.
I’m still going through some of my stuff so you won’t see any easy sweeping answers coming from this post, because I haven’t yet figured it all out for myself, hence the rambling.
But in the last couple paragraphs, I’ll give you some practical idea of why it’s important for you to integrate meditation into your life, to add that slow down ritual to your day. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, meditation rocks.
I want to show you how you can benefit from meditation, especially if you’re feeling overburdened by something in particular like being down and frustrated because you’ve overeaten or gained weight during the holidays or if you’ve been grieving a loss. In my case, I’ve been grieving a loss. My dad and I have been estranged for several years now and for some reason this year, (maybe because it’s my 50th), it’s been really difficult to deal with the sadness I feel about not being able to just call him or go hang out with him, especially since he lives so nearby. Sad! I’m so sad just thinking about it.
A Bit About Me
Because I’m an empowerment coach and author and a woman in recovery from years of dieting and self-abusive habits, I teach and inspire groups of women and girls to love the skin they’re in by sharing my stories and expertise of how I went from hating myself to loving who I am. I create customized confidence building and stress relief programs for groups.
Because I have several speaking gigs coming up this week, I’ve been working on what I want to say to my audiences. I’ll be speaking to several different groups; professional women, teachers and on Thursday I’m leading a Town Hall Meeting/Assembly for the whole school of 4-6 graders at Eldorado Elementary School in Spring Valley.
Since I talk about body image and self-esteem, I’ve been thinking a lot about how specifically I want to frame my stories. Generally I just come in with 3 basic points, share what they’ve asked to learn by speaking from the heart and draw whatever I need from my audience by reading their body language, and keeping things interactive. Because I talk about what I know, it comes so naturally and I don’t even have to think about it and it’s more like playing than work. I’m just in the flow and whatever brilliance and inspiration comes to me, I share it. Not wanting to get too religious, I talk about the universe alot, but for me, I mean God. To me, they’re one and the same. I believe I’m doing God’s work by spreading love and all things are connected.
I have a strong faith upon which I rely that is the source of my strength. But I don’t talk about it and wave it around like a flag unless it feels right to me.
In school settings, I have so much fun speaking to groups of kids because I’m always keeping things real, just being me. Whether I’m playing to the crowd and making the kids laugh“Yo, yo yo-ing,” imitating a rapper, or talking about the mind/body connection, baring my soul or quoting Einstein, I always do it to the max. I’m a natural born actress, and I love hamming it up for my friends and fam. I do the best italian tough guy voice you’ve ever heard.
Reveling in the energy of youth keeps me young. It’s like being a kid again. I love it.
Lately I find myself writing and sharing what I’ve been dealing with in order to help other women in similar situations. For me, writing gives my soul a chance to take flight because it empowers me with a voice. Because I lived with so much abuse in my life, I went for such a long time thinking that I didn’t have a voice or a choice. Now I know that’s not true so I teach and inspire other women to recognize their personal power by sharing my journey of finding mine. Writing from the heart is more fulfilling than any food I could ever eat.
One of the constants in my life is that I’ve always loved food.
If you’re a foodie like me, you know what it’s like to really lovvvvvvvvvvvvve food. I remember times before I made the decision to stop dieting (when I was on Weight Watchers®), I’d spend nearly every waking hour thinking of what I would eat, how much and when.
When Food Had Me In Its Thrall
For years, from the time I was 10 to 44 years old, I’ve been a dieter. Because I thought I would be happier, if I were thinner, I tried so hard to avoid eating so many things because they were so fattening.
During those years, I did everything I could to control my frenzied craving impulses. I didn’t buy those foods. During the week, I kept them out of the house. I figured if I didn’t have them around, I wouldn’t want them. But it didn’t work that way. I craved them all the time, and then when I couldn’t stand feeling deprived a moment longer, I would buy them, and I felt compelled to eat every ever lovin’ morsel until they were gone.
Once I got my hands on them, I’d lose my mind and binge on them. Sometimes those binges lasted days, sometimes weeks, other times years. Now the relationship between food and me is different now. We’re happy together now because I know that losing weight won’t solve any of my problems. So I work to handle my stress and face it head on and I’m no longer enslaved by my addiction to food.
Finding a New Peaceful and More Balanced Relationship with Food
Today I don’t follow a diet, and I feel very comfortable being surrounded by all foods. I will just as easily choose to eat a salad over a Snickers® any day of the week. Yes. I have that freedom of choice.
It’s pretty typical for me to have cake, cookies, chocolate, ice cream, potato chips and other edible goodies available within reach. Food shopping now is such a blissful experience, because I don’t feel the urge to buy everything I see. I don’t get anxious or develop cravings when I see other people eating, or when I look at pictures of food. If I want something, I’ll eat it. If I don’t, I won’t.
I prefer to taste things in my mind and if I want them later, I’ll buy them to have around. If I’ve forgotten something at the grocery, on the occasion, when my husband goes to the store before he comes home from work, and he asks me what I want him to pick up, I’ll say whatever’s on my mind and ask him for that particular thing, be it romaine lettuce, more Rice Chex® or whatever. I may say, “Get me a couple Snickers, Honey.” But many times the ‘fun’ food will usually go uneaten for weeks but I like having them around just the same.
It’s the accessibility of those foods and having them around, that is so damned important to me, more so than actually eating them. Because having a choice means that I’m not deprived. (Tomorrow I’ll share an excerpt from my Lovin’ the Skin You’re In book entitled, “9 Bags of Chips” It’s about the whys of my decision to stop dieting and my potato chip epiphany.)
But lately I’m listening a lot more closely to my body. I’m 50 years old and it’s started to talking to me more. Now I know that digesting milk products has gotten really uncomfortable and unless I’m willing to slog down a Lactaid pill, having a dish of ice cream will just translate to one very uncomfortable evening feeling like a gas bag. So I’ll opt for low or non-dairy delights like sorbet or orange sherbet. Small adjustment, since the pain and discomfort is more real to me than the feeling of deprivation.
But now I’m beginning to become aware of pains that I never had before. Soon I’m going to go to the doctor to find out what is really behind it, but I think those pains in the back of my feet upon awakening are inflammation which is caused by an inability to digest wheat products or a higher glycemic index from ingesting too much sugar. So I’m beginning to modify my eating, to support pain free living by choosing to go gluten free because my body feels better when I don’t eat wheat. No pain.
Feeling the Pain of Feeling the Pain: Not Wanting to ‘Rock the Boat’
But feeling weepy with the holidays, I didn’t want to make a big deal about anything and I just wanted to blend in with the wall paper, so I purposely chose not to buy any gluten free products. I just didn’t want to get into any discussions about anything because I just didn’t want to be noticed.
I gave up my office so that my step grandson, Aiden could sleep comfortably and I tried to be as accommodating as possible, and not make waves. Basically because I fell into big time people-pleasing mode, my holidays were hell on ice. So once everyone left, I was thrilled to pieces to go back to doing what I love; working.
Getting Back to Work
Because my office is in my home, I have the convenience of being able to work in my pajamas. I rarely do, especially when I’m coaching or doing teleclasses on the phone, because that requires more focused energy and to me, pajamas don’t lend the type of dynamic energy that I want to share with my clients.
But writing, that’s a different thing. Once in a while, I get started writing or working on a video or a speaking project, and because I love what I do, I lose all sense of time and space.
I had been through a really tough time over the holidays feeling a tremendous sense of loss being estranged from my father. I was missing him so much and feeling the pain of that.
During the week that my stepdaughter, Janelle was visiting, I wasn’t quite myself. I was really off my game. I was feeling anxious and overburdened and had lost touch with the bigger and better parts of me. When I finally gathered the courage to share with her what was upsetting me and why I was feeling so jealous of her, that’s when I started to come back to being myself. But for the most part during the entire holiday season, I was coasting in misery, and not focusing on caring for myself at all. My meditation practice had come to a screeching halt and with the exception of one or two days, I wasn’t listening to my inner wisdom at all-just feeling my hurt feelings and letting them roll over me. I did that feeling sorry for myself thing for another two days.
Then last Wednesday morning, I ran into my office to work on a project crazy early like 6:00 a.m.I had been so busy writing that I didn’t even think about eating until long after lunch, around 2:30. I stopped to take a quick lunch break to enjoy some of my mother in law’s Spanish style Chicken Noodle Soup. Yum.
Soon after my daughter, Cara came home, and we spent some time together. By around 4, I was back in the office again writing. I kept on working for another several hours. By that time, my husband and son was back from work. Because I had already told everyone it was going to be a grab and go dinner because I was working, everybody did their own thing.
Waiting too Long to Eat: Don’t Wait ‘Til You’re Ravenous with Hunger
By the time I came downstairs, I was ravenously hungry. My eyes scanned all the sweet food prospects first. Leftovers from Christmas. The cookies on the counter, Angel’s 2 day old birthday cake in the fridge, the assortment of ice creams in the freezer. Quickly rejecting those options, I knew that I wanted something really solid because having only had the soup, I had barely eaten all day.
As I went through the fridge, I was frustrated by the sheer amount of food and lack of space with everything piled on top of everything else. It was maddening as hell seeing that mess there, but I quickly cast away that thought and tried to re-focus on what to eat. My thoughts were so scattered and I was anxious and far too hungry to think clearly.
In a flash, I remembered that Cara had made an amazing meatloaf the night before, I knew exactly that’s what I wanted. Feeling so ungrounded and wound up, I craved the comfort of making a meatloaf sandwich and putting ketchup on it just like when I was in kindergarten and my mom used to make me meatloaf sandwiches on white bread with ketchup for me. The meatloaf was there. But I couldn’t find the ketchup anywhere. After a frustrating and fruitless attempt to look in the garage refrigerator and flash through the pantry, and rustle through the condiment drawer in hopes of a single packet, I came up with nothing. Anxious and out of my mind, I was so hungry. I cut a small sliver of meatloaf and tasted it. No. Didn’t want to eat it hot. I wanted it cold with ketchup.
Angry as hell, I re-wrapped it and anxiously placed it back in the fridge. “S@@@” I screamed aloud.
Still surveying the fridge for what to eat, my eyes landed back on the cakes leftover from Angel’s birthday 2 days before. “Yum, I loved that Better Than Sex Cake that Janelle had made. So Bingo that’s what I pulled out of the fridge. I cut a piece of it and had that with some cookies and cream ice cream.
Generally I don’t recommend eating the combination for dinner, but I did. And I was so sorry. All night long I felt like a gas bag. Not a fun thing. Gluten and dairy Oh My God! Andrea. Really?
Fast forward to the next day, I still wasn’t being very resourceful since I hadn’t meditated in weeks. Driven by old hiding habits of trying to lose myself in work, again I made a bee line for the office early in the a.m. and didn’t end up officially starting my day with a shower until after 2.
As my 16 ½ year old daughter, Cara and I drove to the supermarket that afternoon to get ketchup, she said, “Mom, what the hell happened to you yesterday? What was up with the cake and ice cream for dinner? You looked like a crazy person, running around talking to yourself and unwrapping leftovers and putting them back.” Why aren’t you eating more solid foods and eating more regularly?
Then suddenly it hit me. I had been getting into this habit of overworking to the point of ignoring my hunger until it became ravenous, and then losing all sense of judgment about what I would eat, because my thoughts were so fuzzy.
In my next lucid moment, I asked myself, “What was I doing differently that had put me on the path of lack of self care?
Then I realized, it had been days since I last meditated and set aside time for myself to focus on slowing down. That’s what was missing and the reason why I wrote the post I did yesterday, because it wasn’t just a gift to you, but to me also to remind me how important focus and self care is in our lives.
Here’s your takeaway from all this rambling:
As busy women, it’s so easy to get pushed and pulled into so many different directions, wanting to help others and do so much to change the world. But unless you find some time in your day when you can get grounded and be more present in taking care of yourself which includes paying attention to what you really want to eat and not settling for less, and getting some fresh air each day, then your tank will run empty.
Finding time in your day to meditate and slow down is a gift that you give yourself. You do deserve it.
By keeping you tuned into your higher power, it enables you to turn a deaf ear toward all the silly and judgmental and fearful and overwhelming thoughts that we flick through our minds throughout the day.
If you find yourself upset or worried about something, like getting fat over the holidays or feeling weepy about something, you’ll get a second wind of inspiration by sitting down and communing with some quiet in the presence of your own higher wisdom.
It helps you to see the bigger picture and to focus on what’s really important. Meditating each day sends a message to your subconscious mind that you are worth it, and that you do deserve to take this special time for yourself and that your self care if important, because you are.
In the end, it really doesn’ tmatter that you gained weight, or lost it or stayed the same, because life is bigger than that, and your value can’t be measured on a scale. And in order for you to be the amazing person you are, you have to start focusing on what makes you shine and shutting out the voices of the outside. Meditation will do that for you. But as my story shows, it only works when you work it. So do work it or don’t. It’s all up to you. You have the power to choose what you want.
But when you do something that feels good and makes you feel good also, isn’t it nice to know how you can fill yourself and satisfy your needs without having to rely on anything or anyone else? You can. The next step is up to you.
What do you think?
I’d love to hear your comments and listen to your story. Let’s have a discussion about this. What works for you? Click on comments and share away.