Self-care Tip #1: Ask yourself this question

This year came in like a bang! And with it, the barrage of diet commercials on television and advertisements on social media. “Lose weight. For good,” is what each one claims. It is everywhere. And hard to get away from, as our society is hyper-focused on the thin ideal. It can be tempting to dive into the latest diet plan this year. But what if you focused on something besides dieting this year? What if you put all your energy into your own self-care, without a diet? What will be the possibilities?

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I have been on a self-love journey, that includes a self-care practice, for about five years now. When The Emily Program first told me I was diagnosed with an eating disorder a little over five years ago, I didn’t believe them. I thought I had answered a couple questions incorrectly on their intake assessment or that the therapist heard me wrong. I was almost 46 (3 weeks shy as a matter of fact) and had been working most of my adult life to lose weight. This couldn’t be. How could this be? I was in a larger body (at the time I was being weaned from a doctor prescribed appetite suppressant, so I was no where near my heaviest) and was extremely successful from a career perspective. I had achieved many great things and had many accolades in my career up to that point. This just couldn’t be.

Yet it was. I was 46 and needing intensive treatment to combat my eating disorder. One of the many things that I learned through the various treatment programs in those first several months is that I was not taking care of myself. Say what? I thought I was taking care of myself. I had many career accolades. I was a mom with two beautiful teenage children, and a loving husband. I lived in a suburb in a modest home. We just had purchased our first family dog – a 10 week old Goldendoodle puppy, we lovingly named Ollie. I had all these “things” that showed I was taking care of myself. Or did they?

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Unraveling the layers even more, I would come to realize that I was not taking care of myself.

Because taking care of myself meant so much more than what was reflected in my bank account, my home address, or the type of dog we had purchased.

I was avoiding important (aka hard) conversations with people “to keep the peace.” I was running on empty, thinking it was all about others – my kids, my direct reports, my husband, my mom, you name it. I was avoiding my feelings, “sucking it up” like I was taught. When I came to realize these things, I discovered that I truly needed to focus on developing a self-care practice that centered on my well-being, not my career well-being.

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So, I went about on my journey, practicing self-care in big ways. I would get a massage. Take big trips with my husband. Start up a morning meditation practice. Dabble in yoga. All in the name of self-care. To me, self-care needed to be big practices. Things that everyone does, is what I thought. Until recently.

As a member of the Positive Intelligence PQ coaches circle, I was recently introduced to an exercise that included visualization and contemplation on what was important. It included a visualization of our elder, wiser self. In that exercise, I experienced deep emotions when my elder, wiser self told me what was truly important amidst all the priorities that I had come up with in the first part of the exercise. She gently served up that self-care is the most important thing for me in this moment of life. And then she continued to nudge me to re-consider what self-care meant.

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As I pondered that a little more, I came to realize that self-care can be practiced every day, in little ways.

Whether that is using a framework I learned in treatment to have hard conversations with people, or giving myself permission, or doing a mini declutter. It is so many little things and those little things all add up at the end of the day.


With this, I launched a self-care Tips for Tuesdays practice on my social media this week. Each Tuesday of this year, I will post a small, yet powerful, self-care tip for everyone to try. This first Tuesday of the year, I posed the powerful self-care tip to ask yourself this question: “What do I need?” So often, we are busy running around during a given day that we don’t stop to ask ourselves, and our bodies, what we truly need. So that is the question (and tip) for this week – what do I need? Then, the challenge is to go give yourself exactly what it is you need. Do you need a little nap? A little joyful movement? Some much needed time with a loved one? What do you need?

Want to follow along with my weekly self-care tips?

Head over to my Facebook page and follow along. If you want to go deeper and be a part of a private group focused on body acceptance, sign up to join that group. There is no worry of diet talk in that space! If you want to go deeper with your self-care practice and want a guide on your side and an accountability partner, sign up for an initial Discovery Call with me. There is so much more possible when you partner with a coach on your goals!

Will this be the year you break free from diet culture?

Simultaneously dropping with the crystal ball in New York City on New Year’s Eve is the dropping of infamous diet commercials. Sometimes I wonder which is louder – the people gathered with their noisemakers in Times Square or the loud person squawking on the commercial, claiming that losing weight is the answer to all your problems?

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In my past experience, as soon as the ball dropped, singling a new year, it was time to get “disciplined” again and start a diet. It did not matter what I weighed. The commercials made me believe that I was the problem and they (the diet) were the solution. They convinced me that life would be blissful once I lost the weight. It was like all my problems would be solved once the weight was gone. And I believed that to its core. It’s why I was constantly on some diet in my adult years. Most years, I followed the Weight Watchers (WW) plan. The year before I was diagnosed with an eating disorder, I tried a doctor-subscribed appetite suppressant as a “last resort.”

I’m fairly confident that if I had not healed my relationship with myself that I would have given Noom a try this year. The Noom diet plan is fairly convincing that it is simply a lifestyle, much like WW.

But because I have healed my relationship with myself and my body, I won’t be jumping on the latest diet kick, such as Noom, when the clock strikes midnight. I’ll be spending my time with loved ones, eating a delicious home-cooked meal, topped off with an equally as delicious dessert. I’m not worried about eating too much tonight because my body knows that I will have delicious foods again tomorrow and the next day and the next day after that. I will serve up my plate as if it is just another meal on just another ordinary night. Food no longer controls me like it used to. At the height of my fad dieting, I believed that certain foods were taboo, so if I ate them, I would avoid eating them in social situations and then go to town on them when all alone. I had such a love-hate relationship with myself, food and my body.

Yet, I worked hard to overcome my eating disorder and body image issues at the age of 46 so that when I turned 50, I no longer had to experience the same New Year’s Eve as if it was a repeated Groundhog’s Day instead.

Diet culture is very convincing, but I am living proof that it is possible to break free from dieting and thrive without it!

Will 2023 be the year that you say goodbye to fad diets and body bashing and hello to confidence in your body?Book a discovery call with me today to see how you too can overcome diet culture and love yourself instead!

What’s tugging at your heart?

It’s been quiet in this space of my blog – I published the last one over 10 months ago in December 2021. Most likely, whatever “audience” or “following” I may have had here up to that point, has faded or vanished altogether. My old self would have beaten me up inside for that lack of “keeping at something.” My new self steps back and asks, ever so gently, why is it you have been away so long? What is keeping you from doing something you naturally love – writing?

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“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.”

-Stephen R. Covey

The past nine months have been spent on things that are most important to me – family, friends, rest, rejuvenation, and bringing “my baby” (aka my memoir) to life and to the world (she is out there if you want to pick up your copy on Amazon today – both paperback and Kindle versions). These were my strategic priorities so to speak. And I am not ashamed of them. They were needed after powering through nearly 5 years of healing and recovering, and a little grieving too, of the old life and the old self that once was. I was still suffering from so much achieving and striving for accolades, that I needed to shift away from that in the past year too. I needed to honor what I was so easily coaching clients to do. I needed to set my priorities accordingly.

I’m glad I am offering myself a tremendous amount of self-love these days. Everyone needs it, because we are all taught that the way to achievement is all about beating ourselves up and allowing for no softening of the heart if you want to win. This no longer fits me. It no longer is something that I chase after or actively pursue. Sure, I like to achieve no differently than you or the next person next to you. Yet, my pursuit of achievements these days are more strategic in mind. They are not achievements at all costs – those that used to allow no time for down time, creative thinking time, rest, hobbies, relaxation, or even, sadly, celebration. Achievements in the past were to be celebrated for only brief moments as there were more achievements to go after as soon as the latest achievement ended its pomp and cirmcumstance. I now realize that those days no longer serve me and my best interests.

I am thankful I focused these last 9 months where I needed to. I have no regrets, even though my business has taken a hit because of it. My core and foundation is more centered now, and can allow for new strategic priorities as we entered into a new year soon.

As you look forward to the upcoming year, what do you want to strategically prioritize? Has there been a way of life you have been putting off for someday that you want to start prioritizing? Is there a skill you have always wanted to learn but have put on the back burner all these years? Is there a sense of calmness you want to create in your life that seems impossible right now? What is tugging at your heart that wants to be prioritized for this upcoming year? Let’s take some time to get the creative juices flowing together to determine what is coming forward for you. Without that awareness, your priorities will go to the wayside for yet another year. Let’s change that this year and work together to make your someday into today!

It’s Time for Some New Rules

Everyone has their own set of rules for their life. And each person’s rules become their standards. We rarely question these rules and standards. Yet, did you know that most likely, your rules and standards were created at an early age?

Most likely, if you struggle with body image today, you have a distinct memory of someone commenting negatively about your body as a child or teen. This negative comment shaped how you viewed your body throughout your life, including today. It became your standard.

Somehow, this memory led you to create a rule that your body must look a certain way to be acceptable. You internalized the comment the person made and it has guided your thoughts that something is wrong with you and your body, and that you must change. The message: You and your body are the problem.

I have a distinct memory of this happening to me. Picture a blossoming young, pubescent eleven year old girl on the playground at an elementary school track and field day in the late spring of the year. I was not the athletic type and was typically selected nearly last for any team during gym class. I wanted to do my best at this event. I even wore my favorite matching short set and pig-tails. I went up to bat to kick the kickball and the boys, who I had a crush on at the time, yelled, “Here comes Tick Tock Titty!” I was mortified. They were teasing me about my blossoming chest (that may not have been in the most supportive bra ever). I wanted to run and hide, rather than kick the ball. In that moment, I suddenly realized that my body was different than most girls in my grade on that kick-ball field. I was larger chested, and my thighs we bigger too. That must be the problem. I must change myself so that I am never humiliated about my body again.

Unfortunately, less than fifteen months later, at the start of the seventh grade, I started my first diet. My pubescent body was sticking out too much and I needed to change it. I wanted the boys to like me. I wanted to simply “fit in” and be liked. The rule was still there – the problem is you and your body. Boys don’t like girls in bodies like yours.

Soon, these struggles with my body bled into other rules and standards. If my body wasn’t good enough, I thought the next best thing was my brain. Enter in a new rule – perfect grades are a must. When in the work world as an adult, it meant obtaining an “Exceeds” on my performance rating each year. The rule was that you must achieve at all costs, to prove you are worthy. I lived with the belief about my body and my worth for years as an adult.

Thankfully, I have been on a self-love journey for over four years now and I am breaking down these old rules that no longer serve me. I am coming up with a new set of rules and standards. I had to re-wire my brain so that these new set of rules and standards could take shape. It takes time and patience, and A LOT of grace! You can do this too. These old beliefs are no longer serving you. Let’s work together to re-wire your brain and thought patterns. It’s time to show this world just how worthy you are. Let’s start with you first!

It’s absolutely time to throw out the running shoes and stay put!

This week, I’m learning a heck of A LOT about my own anxiety. I really didn’t realize how bad mine was until a dear friend of mine told me about the Daring to Lead podcast with Brene Brown and Amy Cuddy last week. I listened to it and highly recommended if you haven’t listened and have anxiety. They talked about “pandemic flux,” which Amy wrote about in a Washington Post article.

Amy talked about how anxiety often makes us want to escape out of situations that make us uncomfortable. And our anxiety makes us think that life will be so much better in a different scenario (a better job, a better neighborhood, a better relationship, etc), yet studies show that we aren’t as happy as we think we will be when we make the actual change.

This really connected with me. It’s like I’d been hearing this for the first time, even though I was diagnosed with anxiety years ago and have been in therapy for it along the way! Dots were connected for me. It explains why I’d often say, “I hate my job,” and then obsessively start looking for a new one. My anxiety had convinced me in the past that a new job would be better off than the current level of anxiety I was feeling in the moment of a tough day. I can honestly say anxiety was a contributing factor of why I chose to leave my last corporate employer after ten really good years there. The going was getting tougher and my anxiety convinced me that I could not take it anymore and another job would be greener on the other side. It’s also why when I got to my next corporate employer and realized things weren’t as greener on the other side as I had envisioned, I instantly wanted to go back to the comfort of the company I had just left (I did not by the way and can now see the good in that decision not to go back).

Fast forward to today. My boss, at my corporate job, asked me to have lunch with him since he was in town. We had originally planned for tomorrow, yet he reached out at 10 am today to ask if I could make it today instead. I said sure. From the point I agreed until I left my house, I really couldn’t concentrate. This was the first time I was going downtown since Monday, March 9, 2020. What will I wear? Where will I park in downtown? How safe will I be? What will I order on the menu? All kinds of anxious thoughts popped up. I even thought my boss was having lunch with me to give me a pink slip (I know, can you believe that craziness?)! My anxiety convinced me that there was truth to that because I was recently promoted and feel out of my comfort zone. Like big time.

My instant reaction as I started to feel more and more anxious, was to put on my running shoes and escape (meaning, come up with a reason I can no longer make it and let my boss know). My anxiety had me use running shoes before. I could use them again.

As I got in the car to drive, I could feel a heightened sense of anxiety. I fell into my body and really felt where it was showing up. As I drove closer to downtown, I felt this push against my shoulders. It was almost like my anxiety was trying to protect me and hold me down, saying, “Turn around. Go back to comfort. Your running shoes know the way. It’s a familiar path that has been traveled many times.”

I tuned into these feelings in my body. It’s the first time I really did that during an anxiety “episode”. I drove slower as I approached downtown. It was like I was trying to slow the pace of my beating heart. I was calming myself with a slower speed. The last time I drove this route over eighteen months ago, I was driving really fast with music blared to tune out any sensations in my body. I was a stress ball of anxiety and didn’t want to feel it or hold space for it. I realized that on my drive in silence today when going at a slower pace (i.e. the speed limit).

As I turned down the familiar street that leads me right into the heart of downtown, I started to tune into my surroundings. I tried to be present. I noticed new things on that road. The yellow leaves on the tree. The fountain flowing with water in the sunshine. The beauty of an old building. The beauty of the cobblestone street in a portion of the road. The beautiful flowers outside the one hotel. These were there before. I just never noticed because I was purposely avoiding the present moment before.

Being present as I drove, allowed me not to “sweat it” when I got into the parking ramp and realized I made an immediate wrong turn, which forced me out to the street again. I had to drive around the block, but some streets were closed and under construction, so it literally took me ten minutes to get back to the parking ramp entrance. I arrived at my parking spot just before 12 noon. We agreed to meet at noon. As I walked from my car, my boss texted me to say he was at the restaurant. “It took longer than I expected to park so I’ll be there shortly,” I responded without any worry. And I was off.

I was proud of myself for today’s adventure. It made me realize how these small little wins are really big for me. It made me realize that it’s important for me to tune into my body even more. It made me realize how important it is to understand the effects of my anxiety on my life and my decisions. It made me realize it’s important for me to realize when my anxiety is at play and what’s going on.

I learned so much in this adventure today. While my anxiety tells me that I should look for another job because of the tough things my boss is asking for me to do, my body tells me that it will feel heavy, yet the answer is not in finding a new job at this point. That’s no longer the answer. The answer is to tune in and lean in, no matter how hard it will be to do so. The more I show up for myself and do the opposite of what my anxiety tells me, the more confident I’ll become! It is absolutely time to throw out those old running shoes and stay put in the discomfort!

What will change in your life if you were to lean into the discomfort of your anxiety?

“What do you need, Dear One?”

Those six words were whispered ever so sweetly from a dear friend of mine just yesterday. After briefly exchanging text messages about figuring out a time we could connect, she picked up the phone and called me. It amazes me how some people can just tell you need them. It still gives me chills today that our souls were connecting on a deeper level yesterday – hers was understanding that mine was in need ever so much.

In that moment of her calling me, she connected with my soul somehow and knew I was in need. She said, “What do you need, Dear One?” After my analytical/rational mind starting thinking and therefore, responding, “I think I need….,” my Sage (wise) mind took over and started to cry. It was the emotional release I needed after several weeks of pent up feelings and thinking I “just” needed to get my sh*t together. My Sage mind knew I needed so much more than what my rational mind was spilling out in words. Don’t get me wrong. My rational mind was on to something when it was trying to think my way out of what I needed. It’s just that my dear friend had a way of getting my Sage mind to take over and allow the emotions to be released in that moment so that I could get to the core of what it is I needed.

After letting weeks of pent up feelings and stress release out of me in that cry (to which my dear friend held space for me and sat quietly on the other end), I clearly knew what I needed. I needed rest. I needed relaxation. I needed to take care of me as much as I coach to my clients about their own self-care. It seems so logical to take care of yourself, yet oh so hard to put into practice if you have hyper-achiever tendencies in which you are recovering from.

My hyper-achiever tendencies got me great titles, grades, degrees and paychecks, yet those same tendencies got me stress, anxiety, strained relationships, an eating disorder and a few other health conditions. Every so often, I need to gently remind myself that I do not get my worth from any of these earthly things any more. I am enough. With or without these things. I am enough.

Today, I had a planned day off from my Corporate job, so I am taking great care to incorporate lots of rest and relaxation in my day. Even though I am a creature of great habit, I joyously chose to turn off my Apple watch alarm when some thunderstorms and high winds wreaked havoc on my neighborhood around 3 am and we lost power. It felt good to sleep in and not rush myself to getting in the shower, journaling, meditating, eating, walking and then logging on to a 7:30 am meeting. Instead, I arose just before 7 am. I sat around in my pajamas for a while. I then leisurely ate some breakfast with my husband – something I have not done in ages. I laid on the couch after eating breakfast and read a portion of a new book. When the hyper-achiever thoughts of “I should go here” or “I should do this” came as I read my book, I politely reminded myself that while those all sound rational on a day off, today’s intention was to rest and relax. It’s what I have needed for over a month now.

Sometimes, we have to chose ourselves over all else in this world. That is not selfish. That is being human. If I were to choose to be busy and do, do, do today as my hyper-achiever tendencies want me to do, I would have been faced with some severe consequences later. Maybe those consequences would not have shown up today, yet they would eventually show up. I’m glad I chose myself today and what it is I needed. What is it that you need, Dear One? How can I help you prioritize your needs and recover from your own hyper-achiever tendencies?

Healing Your Relationship With Your Body IS Possible

You can heal your relationship with your body, have joyful moments, and not obsess over what your body looks like. It’s not an overnight miracle and takes a lot of commitment on your part, yet it is so worth it. This very recent experience of mine highlights how worth it is!

I spent the day with my husband on Sunday. We took time to bring my mom some groceries and then headed south of town, winding down the road next to the Mississippi River, on the lookout for bald eagles. When we pulled into the small town along the way, we spied one in a tree. We stood in awe of this massive bird as he took off from the tree and soared over the river. We snapped photos of him, and then turned the camera towards ourselves and snapped a few selfies of ourselves. My husband even snapped a few shots of me. I eventually posted these photos on social media, with no anguish or shaming about how I looked. I actually thought I looked radiant, joyful, at peace.

Not once during the day did I think about my body nor about changing it. Yes, you read that right. Not once. Yet, it was not too long ago that my day would have gone something like this:

I would have spent a lot of time trying on multiple outfits to wear before leaving the house with my husband. “Nothing” looked good. I would bash my body in the mirror for some hated body part – my breasts were too big, my thighs were too wide or the fat on my back was too noticeable underneath my shirt. It would then turn into conversations in my head about how I just can’t lose weight and control my body. I would start to shut down and numb from feeling anything. I would have been so upset about the experience in the mirror that I’d not be fully present to experience the moments throughout the day. My inner judge would have capitalized on the episode in the mirror and shamed me the whole car ride to our destination. I’d be mentally exhausted by the time we reached our destination because the judge would convince me that I needed another diet. Somehow I wasn’t good enough the judge would convince me.

Then, as we stood to take photos, I would have refused to post any online because my chin was too big or some other body part wasn’t good enough. The internal bashing would continue on the car ride home. I’d be mentally absent for my husband and emotionally empty for myself. My husband would notice that something was off and I may have even snapped at him about something he said or did, all because of my experience earlier in front of the mirror. Feeling like I needed to change my body made me unable to experience life to its fullest. Any waking hour was spent agonizing over my body, my weight, and how to change it. I had no space for living my life.

It’s no wonder my relationships were unfulfilling. I didn’t have space for love. I didn’t have space for empathy. My judge convinced me I wasn’t good enough if I didn’t look a certain way or weigh a certain weight. When I’d get home, I’d seek out comfort with food. I couldn’t take all the internal bashing. I craved so much love that I sought it out in the foods I ate or the unhealthy boundaries I didn’t set with others. Because I couldn’t give myself the love I needed, I gave it away freely to others.

Does this sound like you? If so, my heart goes out to you. It is so hard to feel anything but shameful about yourself when this dialogue runs your life. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. You CAN heal your relationship with your body and food. I am living proof. I got dressed in what felt comfortable to me in the morning. I didn’t bash in the mirror. I didn’t have dialogue running in my head about how I could change my body. I stayed in the moment during the time with my husband. I felt joy. Real joy. The joy you feel when you know you are worthy and aren’t chasing after changing your body. It’s a wonderful feeling. You can feel this way too!

What in the world is body acceptance coaching all about?

Recently, someone asked me what body acceptance coaching is all about and why I feel so passionate about it. I think a couple You Tube videos help me explain my passion. One is the sketching of adult women by a forensic artist and another the interviewing of young girls between the ages of six and eighteen .

I’d like to introduce you to those videos. This first one is very moving. The forensic artist asks women to describe themselves to him as he sketches them behind a curtain. Then, he asks strangers to describe those same women as he sketches that version of her. The results are amazing. When I first saw this video eight years ago, I was moved to tears. I still am today.

How many times do you tell someone all the things “wrong” with your face, chin, eyes, hair or other body part and yet someone else compliments you on those very same features?

This is one of the reasons I do what I do. I used to be one of these women. I would point out my double chin, full cheeks and the bags under my eyes in any picture I had taken of me. If it was a picture with a full body view, I would point out how “fat” I was and vow to go on another diet. The cycle was vicious. I could never seem to find anything right with my body. If someone complimented me, I found fault in that compliment.

Another reason I do what I do is because I want the women I coach to show up compassionately for themselves and the daughters they are raising. These young daughters are so impressionable. They watch your every move and are keen on your own battle with your body. They pick up on your queues – mom is dieting. She must have something wrong with her. Mom fights back the compliments people give her so I too must find fault in any that are given to me.

I only wish I would have worked with a coach in my early twenties to fully accept my changing young adult body so as to offer it acceptance and compassion. My now 22 year old daughter witnessed me try diet after diet, never accepting the body God has graced me with. She also heard me turn down compliment after compliment, only pointing out what was wrong with my body.

As I watch the video below of the young girls talking about how they wear black leggings to look small or how they feel larger in comparison to their circle of friends, my heart aches. I do what I do to help change that, one woman at a time. Unfortunately, much of what these girls are saying in this video are common thoughts of adult women – there is something inherently “wrong” with me. It saddens me. I was one of these girls and it bled into most of my adulthood until a few years ago.

If you can relate to any of the women or young girls in these two You Tube videos, you are not alone, yet you can change your belief system. You can learn to accept the body you are in and show up authentically. You will feel freer, like a big weight has been lifted from you. You will be happier because you are no longer spending a bulk of your energy on figuring out how to change your body. You will have a better relationship with those closest to you because you are now offering yourself the love and compassion you were searching for them to give you.

I am here to help you. Let’s talk about where you are today and where you want to be tomorrow. There is a better way and you are so worthy of it!

What are your old habits telling you?

If you’re like most people, every once in a while you start to show signs of fatigue or even burnout. When we do, we often slip back into habits we thought we outgrew – getting less sleep, drinking more soda (or wine), or scrolling mindlessly on social media. Instead of scolding or shaming yourself for the habit that’s crept back in, what if you took a step back and offered yourself compassion by asking, “what is it I really need? What are these habits giving me that I’m not freely giving myself right now?”

This is what happened to me late last week. I was running on empty and thought the best response was to keep going full throttle because I had a lot of important “stuff” to do. The week prior, I had been taking care of my mom after her hip replacement surgery for seven days straight. I didn’t get much rest. I was physically and mentally exhausted, yet I went back to my full time job and running my coaching practice on Monday, as if I was super woman somehow. “I don’t need any time off. I can do it,” is what my head was telling me on repeat. Old habits started to creep back in. I was drinking a lot more soda than usual. I was spending more time than usual on social media. I was staying awake later than usual and skipping some good sleep hygiene practices. I started shaming myself for these habits.

I shamed and scolded myself for these habits until I had an appointment with a new dietician to talk about incorporating heart health into my intuitive eating practice. During that appointment she reminded me that when old habits creep in, it’s time to offer compassion and curiosity rather than shame and scolding. What is it I need? What are these habits giving me that I’m not giving myself? A-ha!!!! Lightbulb moment! It’s not like I didn’t know this intellectually before that appointment. It’s that I didn’t take the time to recognize and believe that in my heart. I was too busy staying in my head.

What I soon realized is that I was craving comfort because I was overwhelmed and feeling exhausted. I needed to offer myself some space and comfort in healthy ways. I needed some planned downtime.

That very night after my appointment, I did exactly that. I planned to do nothing after my work day. I took a hot bath and put my pajamas on early. I read. I listened to a recent favorite podcast. I went to bed on time. I was feeling better in the morning yet knew that it was not a once and done thing. I signed off early from my full time job the next day and simply rested. It was after that rest that I felt even better. I’d given myself what I needed two days in a row.

I’m sure there will be another time when I need to remember this because we are only human and life is all about the journey not the destination of “figuring it out” for good.

Every habit is an opportunity for extreme compassion and curiosity. Next time you start creeping back into old habits, ask yourself what it is you truly need. Chances are the old habit is giving you something you need and you are not giving yourself freely.

The Diagnosis – Part II

Continuing where I left off in my previous blog post about my book, here is more on the day of my eating disorder diagnosis from Chapter One. I really felt so much shame that day, as if I had done something wrong. It would take many months of treatment to realize that I had done nothing wrong and this was not about another weight loss program.

I signed in at the front desk nearly 30 minutes before my appointment that Friday.  I was given a ton of paperwork to complete, which included a variety of assessments.  How often do you eat more than what others would consider normal?  How often have you weighed yourself in the last 7 days?  How often do you…..All kinds of questions.  I finished the paperwork at the table they had me sit at and turned it in at the front desk.  Then, I headed to the bathroom. 

I came back and sat in the waiting room.  The tables were all covered with jigsaw puzzles.  I had a lot of time to kill since I arrived well in advance of my appointment. I wasn’t sure about the road conditions with the snowfall happening that morning and the route was one I hadn’t travelled during rush hour before.  I absently read a Suze Orman article in a Money magazine I brought with to kill the time.  I don’t even remember any of what I read.  I put the magazine down and sat in silence, wondering what was ahead of me.  A young girl checked in with her mat for yoga and said she didn’t have a co-pay when asked by the woman at the front desk.  Another young girl checked in and sat down nearby.  She started working on the puzzle on the table in front of her.  I remember thinking if only I could relax and do a puzzle.  I love puzzles.  She looks like she is totally enjoying herself over there.

A short time later, the young girl doing the puzzle was called back.  The therapist picking her up made small talk asking her how she was doing and what puzzle she was working on.  The therapist was so kind and friendly I thought. Another girl came up from the lower level and stopped at the front desk.  She was upset when asking about the package her mom mailed her as she had not yet received it.  Her mom told her she sent it, but it did not have a tracking number, so there was no saying where that package was at this point.  All I knew was that this girl really wanted her package from home.  My heart ached for her.  And her mom.

Finally, my time of waiting was up.  Jessica called me back.  “Teresa?” she would say as if wondering if that was me.  “My name is Jessica.  I am filling in for Julie, one of the intake therapists who is out sick today.”  Jessica led me back to her office that overlooked the parking lot in the back.  I could see the snow sticking to the grass as I sat in the chair.  After telling me that she reviewed the assessments I took, she started asking a lot of questions.   What brought you here?   What was your childhood  like?  How close are you with your mom? Dad? Siblings? What would it feel like if you gained 5 pounds?  What would it feel like if you never lost weight again? How do you view your body?  We spent an hour and a half together.  The tears just kept flowing.  I kept apologizing for crying.  Jessica kept telling me that most patients say the same thing and there is no reason to apologize.

At the end of our conversation, she told me I had binge eating disorder and that I needed Intensive Outpatient Programming.  I had not heard of binge eating disorder before.  My extent of eating disorders was anorexia and bulimia.  I knew what those meant in general, and yet had not really heard of binge eating disorder.  She said they were starting up programming in Woodbury and that it was very similar to the one at the Como location.  You either meet from 9-12 noon or 5-8 pm in the evening.  It was four days a week. 

“What?  I can’t do all of that.  That’s too much.  I’ve got too much going on.  I work.  I have a life.  Don’t you know? ” 

Looking back, this was the first acknowledgment of my eating disorder throwing a fit.  We don’t need treatment, you need me to survive, he’d say.  In hindsight, this was the best news I had received in a long time.  My life was spinning out of control and I thought if only I’d lose more weight, I wouldn’t be depressed, I could love my body and I’d be more confident.  This of course wasn’t true and yet it was where I was at in my journey.

I came home in the cold and snow.  I stopped at the McDonald’s drive thru on the way home to escape the news I’d just heard.  How can I have an eating disorder?  I must have answered a couple questions incorrectly or she heard me wrong when we were talking about my life.  It couldn’t be.  I just needed something to numb the pain and food was the cure.  I felt so alone, so ashamed.  How could you let this happen?  If only you would have learned something when on the appetite suppressant prescribed in 2016, you wouldn’t be this way right now.  Only now do I realize that my eating disorder (often referred to as “Ed” by many with an eating disorder) was putting on one big, fat shame sh*t-fest as “we” went through the drive-thru.

I felt even more alone when I told my husband later that day at home.  He was sitting at the kitchen table, attempting to wake up with a cup of coffee after working the night shift.  I told him I needed a hug because I was just diagnosed with binge eating disorder.  He asked me what I needed from him.  I responded, “Nothing” as I didn’t really know what I needed at that time and quite honestly, it was a typical response for me as I didn’t ask for help.  In actuality, I was numb. I was ashamed.  I felt so alone.  Like a failure.  I have a good job, make good money, have two beautiful children and I can’t get my sh*t together when it comes to food.  What is wrong with me?

It took a lot of courage to tell my husband.  The story I made up in my head was that he isn’t one who seeks out therapy for himself, so he will think I am looking for an excuse.  It got louder and louder – “you just are looking for an excuse to be fat.  We Schmitz’s don’t roll like that.”  Louder, louder, louder.

I felt even more ashamed after that interaction.  Only in programming would I learn about “Dear Man” and being assertive in telling Dale, and others, what I really needed.  That would take time and practice.  And I’d get there eventually.  Being assertive or confronting anyone, especially my husband, wasn’t anything remotely possible at this point in my life.  You kept everything inside and ate your feelings with soothing food later.  Numb.  I’ll just numb later and escape the conflict now.  Ed was always with me in these early days, dictating my every move without my awareness.  I had no idea this wasn’t my voice.  It would take lots of therapy to discover that these stories, these words, were all coming from Ed.

Looking back on this diagnosis and the weeks leading up to it, my authentic self seemed to be on to something.  I just didn’t know it.  Just 40 days before my diagnosis, I sat in my bedroom in my glider rocking chair, the one we still had from when I was first pregnant with Kaitlyn, my oldest.  It’s green and does not go at all with the red paint on the bedroom walls, yet it provides a sense of comfort, a sense of familiarity; a sense of simpler times.  The following was my journal entry on Sunday, 9/17/17 at 2:59 pm:

The sun shines in on the carpet, with a gentle breeze, making the shadows of the leaves sway along the carpet.  A distant motorcycle is heard from the highway.  Now the blow of a loud train horn as it chugs down the tracks.  The little bird chirps ever so quietly.  I imagine it is a small bird, yellow, with a tiny beak.  The windows are open and life feels good.  It feels good in this moment because I am in tune with my outdoor surroundings while in the comfort of my green glider rocker.”

Later in this same journal entry, I say:

“Sometimes you are forced to make a change which is for the best in the long haul.  I feel like a change is about a year or two away.”

At this point in time, I would not know the magnitude of the change that was coming in just a matter of days, not years.  I was so focused on losing weight and changing my body leading up to my diagnosis. If only I changed my body and was the “perfect” size, life would fall into place, is what I thought at the time. How so far from the truth…. 

****If you or a loved one is suffering from an eating disorder, please seek out professional care with an Eating Disorder treatment provider like The Emily Program. I am not a therapist. I just so happened to be fully recovered from an eating disorder and am now a coach who empowers women to show up authentically in their bodies no matter their size. It wasn’t until I recovered that I could see the beauty of my body no matter its size.