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 scientist 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.

The Diagnosis – Chapter 1

Over the Christmas holidays, I finished the first draft of my memoir. I started writing it in May when the first several chapters just flowed out of me night after night. Then, I put it on hold as I got stuck while talking about the middle of the journey into my eating disorder recovery. It sat untouched for about three or four months until I picked it up again in late November. I set aside time first thing in the morning to work on it and finished while on two weeks of vacation from my Corporate job in late December.

I am currently working to get feedback from others on the flow and then will work to publish it this year. A friend of mine suggested that I start to post portions of it (it is a total of 65,000 + words right now before any professional editing) so here is a portion of my first few hundred words (some chucks of content were removed to be more conducive to a blog), so let’s hear what you think.

If you think about it, God (or the universe if you don’t believe in God) has a way of giving you gifts in the most peculiar of situations. We may not realize it at the time. Sometimes, we need to be far removed from the situation (i.e. years) to realize the gift or gifts that we received. That was the case of my eating disorder diagnosis. It was not until I was far into recovery that I realized the gifts of which God had blessed me when giving me an eating disorder at mid-life. At the height of my eating disorder and body image issues, I was slowly killing myself. I didn’t see it that way, even though the doctors told me I had an unhealthy relationship with food. They even asked if I would keep my life the same if I knew the stress of my life and job would kill me in ten years. Despite these warnings, I didn’t see my eating disorder or my lifestyle as a problem. My eating disorder was a way to cope with all the stressors in my life, and my lifestyle was a way to show the world that I was worthy.

For so many years, my identity was my job title. Since I didn’t feel good enough as a mom when my kids were younger (my own mom was “better” because she was a stay-at-home mom), I poured my identity into my job title. My worth was equated with how much my paycheck was, and how much recognition I received at work. I spent years accumulating “stuff”―more projects, more people to manage, more recognition for exceeding expectations year over year, more material things for our home―all to define my own self-worth. I soon surpassed my husband and became the breadwinner of our family. I thought I was going places. Then, over the course of three years, my “worth” from my job unraveled, and the only thing to fall back on (my “mom role”) had already decreased in value, since my oldest child was now an adult and my youngest was soon there himself. I thought I had nothing left to define me. My fallback was gone. I was in a middle-aged woman’s body, seeing my value whipped out from me in what felt like overnight. Looking at my body evoked shame. My internal world had collapsed. I spent years trying to control everything in front of me―every last detail. Then came the eating disorder diagnosis that felt like a blow to everything I had worked so hard to secure.

Leading up to the diagnosis, I kept thinking,

“I don’t have a problem. I just can’t seem to lose weight on my own. I am fat. I eat when I am not even hungry, and I eat in secret. I am stressed from my job. What’s so wrong with that?”

Most of my former Weight Watcher dieters would say the same thing when they would notice a gain on the scale. It was a letdown. I kept thinking, “I am a failure at losing weight.” On the flip side, it was a score when you could go on a binge after a “successful” Weight Watchers weigh-in―a weigh-in that included a gold star and a round of applause from the group. I remember dreaming of the binge that was about to happen when that scale showed a loss. I would dream of cheeseburgers, French fries, Diet Coke (it was always about diet soda when on the Weight Watchers (WW) plan because it was zero points and I could drink as much as I wanted―sometimes thirty-two to sixty-four ounces in a day), chips, cookies, popcorn, cake, and whatever else I could find. I deserved a buffet of food for all the restricting I did the week before to obtain that approval from the WW staff, and the group at large. I would eat until beyond full, and then search for more in private later.

Food. It was always on my mind. What am I going to have for lunch? Let’s go out for dinner tonight. I deserve it as I’ve had a long day at work, or my boss was stressing me out. Then, when we got home, let me binge on popcorn, chips, cake, cookies, and whatever else I could eat when the kids were in bed and Dale, my husband, was off at work. I would hide “my food” behind other containers in the cupboards and fridge and get mad when someone else ate “my food.” It was mine. Didn’t they know I was going to escape with that later that night? It had my name written all over it, and I had been dreaming about the quick fix and escape since the 9:00 a.m. meeting with my boss earlier that day.

Despite all of this, I would still be in denial when the diagnosis came on October 27, 2017. I thought,

“I must have answered a question or two incorrectly on the assessments or the intake therapist heard me wrong on some of the questions she asked me in that hour and a half session.”

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 diagnosis 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.

Restless Energy Comes in 24 oz Bottles

It’s 11:58 pm on a Thursday night. And I can’t sleep. I’ve tossed and turned for over three straight hours. I was overly exhausted as I headed to bed tonight. I even took a hot bath and climbed into bed early. It’s been an extra long week – lots of work at my 9 to 5 corporate job, a lot of time in my off hours toward my coaching practice, attending my mom’s orthopedic surgeon appointment with her, my daughter’s birthday on Tuesday, and the last week where my family of four will be under the same roof until May (both kids head back to college).

Being awake at this hour, I now realize what caffeine is truly doing to my mind and body. In 2019 (that seems like forever ago, doesn’t it?), I read “The Chemistry of Calm” by Dr. Henry Emmons at the recommendation of my dietician, Katherine. It was all about how certain chemicals make us more anxious and restless. Caffeine was one of them. I didn’t believe that, even though I’d been a devote consumer of “Big Gulp” sized sodas at the height of my eating disorder. I’d vow to give up caffeine, suffering through the withdrawal headaches as I quit cold turkey. And then, there would come a time when I didn’t get enough sleep and wake up tired. The lure of needing to be “awake” would bring me back face to face with a caffeinated soda. “Just this one morning,” I’d say. Then, slowly over time, I’d be addicted to caffeine when one morning became a daily or twice daily habit again.

During my eating disorder recovery journey I’d come to realize what a pedestal that soda had been placed on for me. It became an instant cure of a sluggish morning. It took the edge off the morning when what my body really needed was more sleep. It took the edge off the anxiety of needing to have a crucial conversation. Yet, I didn’t realize the complete ramifications of it at that time.

Now, I sit here feeling very far removed from those experiences of my past and yet so close to being sucked back in. I’m wide awake. At 11:58 pm. My “normal” bedtime is between 8:30 and 9:30 pm. I didn’t sleep well last night so I sucked down a Mt. Dew this morning after my first few meetings. Then, feeling a little stressed, I chose to get a Dr Pepper with my lunch we ordered in. And I was still drinking it at 1:30 this afternoon, ever so mindlessly.

And now, some nearly 10 hours later, I am paying the ultimate price. I can now see how Dr Emmons was so right. Caffeine has riled my brain – made it extremely restless when sleep is what it really needs. I’ve been on this self-induced rampage of restless energy since 5:30 tonight when all the caffeine consumption caught up to me. I now see what I debunked as hogwash in 2019 is actually true. Caffeine is affecting me far more than I had ever thought. I am more restless on the days I have it. I try to be like the Energizer Bunny going about my day on those days it is consumed. I find it hard to relax. Hard to stay calm. It only took me one and a half years to come to terms with its impact when wide awake and physically feeling the restlessness in my body.

Now, the challenge will be to kick my caffeine habit again. And to offer extreme empathy to myself in this moment. The easy thing to do is to bash myself for drinking so much soda today. The empathic thing to do is to say, “Dear one, you are stressed. You are tired. We all make mistakes when we are stressed and tired. What is it you truly need for yourself now?” And then go do that. Even at 12:15 am!

Have you ever noticed the impact caffeine has on you? What will you do to start noticing if you haven’t already?

Setting Resolutions or Living Values?

Happy 2021! If you are like most in this pandemic-stricken world, you woke up today feeling a little hopeful for what may come this year. And because it was 2020 and we are still in a pandemic, you celebrated last night at home. In your living room. With immediate family only. For some, 2020 was a year that is gladly behind them with all it’s curveballs and loop-de-loops. For others, like me, it was a year of new growth in areas not anticipated going into the year of 2020. Will this year be the same as last year for you? Or will you go about and do something a little differently this year?

As I was in my early days of my recovery journey at the end of 2017, our group did a values exercise that I still rely on today. Before that day, I had not considered what my most important values were at the time. Each year since then, they tweak a little depending on what feels most important to live out that upcoming year. In 2018, the five most important values for me were:

  • Inner Peace: to experience personal peace
  • Romance: to have intense, exciting love in my life
  • Self-Esteem: to feel good about myself
  • Simplicity: to love my life simply, with minimal needs
  • Genuineness: to act in a manner that is true to who I am

And now this year (2021) they are:

  • Leisure: to take time to relax and enjoy
  • Mindfulness: to live conscious and mindful of the present moment
  • Adventure: to have new and exciting experiences
  • Growth: to keep changing and growing
  • Contribution: to make a lasting contribution in the world

Before this exercise, I would make a few New Year’s resolutions, mostly centered on body size and confidence, and then become frustrated with myself at year’s end when nothing had changed. I had little to no empathy or compassion for myself. I was living my life on a hamster wheel – day in and day out expecting something to change when my body size changed. Each year as I cycled up and down in weight, my happiness remained low because it was centered on what I looked like and how I felt about myself. I was truly unhappy and thought that the answer lied in the next diet or weight-loss program which was being touted on the TV the week leading up to the New Year.

Through a lot of inner work and coaching on what I really wanted in life, I became further and further removed from wanting to change my body size with the next diet. Once I made that determination, it was easier to find the space to allow compassion to come in. Then came the empathy to see myself as worthy no matter my size.

It can be hard to find the values you want to truly live by when society is telling you that there is something wrong with your body the way it is, yet this is an important step on your road towards compassion and empathy towards yourself. Try this same values exercise found here and let me know what you think. And if you’d like to further your acceptance of your body as it is, let’s schedule some time to chat further. Will this year be all about resolutions to change your body or values to live your life?

To Be vs. To Do Lists

Last Sunday, I had a laundry list of to do’s I wanted to get done. Because I wanted to be cognizant of my time, I even time-boxed them! Christmas cards will be 1 hour. Decorating the tree will be 2 hours. This coaching call will be 1 hour. And the list went on and on. I had more than 12 hours of time-boxed to do’s for Sunday. It was way more than I had time in the day if I was honest. It felt exhausting to think about, yet I was on a mission and hell-bent on getting it all done. It highlighted the fact that the achiever saboteur was lurking in me that day. That list screamed doing was more important than being that day.

I went about my to-do list that day. Coaching call done in one hour. Check. Christmas cards done in one hour. Check. I was checking stuff off my list. Check. Check. Check.

Then, a very good thing happened that pulled me away from my to do list in the middle of one of my to-do’s for the day. I was putting up Christmas ornaments on the tree around 1:15 in the afternoon when a good friend of mine texted me. She said she was decorating her tree and couldn’t find this one ornament that was near and dear to her family. I texted that I had too much stuff and could not find a certain decoration myself.

Then, the magic happened. She picked up the phone and called me! And we had a lovely nearly hour and a half long conversation! We hadn’t talked in a while. We covered a lot of ground in those 90 minutes. I didn’t even think about my to do list in those 90 minutes. I was doing something I 100% loved – having a deep conversation with a dear person. It also meant I was being a friend, and being a listener, and being a supporter, and being an inspiration all in one.

Having this deep conversation meant an hour and a half of planned to do’s didn’t get done.

And that’s ok because it reminded me that sometimes we create unnecessary burden for ourselves. We fill our days with to do’s rather than to be’s. We fill our days with things that really don’t matter in the end.

It feels good checking things off a list. Yet, nothing feels better than having a deep conversation with someone and having it be unplanned to boot! It reminds you how important it is to be more than it is to do.

Next time you have a lengthy to do list, ask yourself what’s really important and cross some things off the list and replace them with “to be”items. Will you replace some to do’s with to be inspiring? To be relaxed? To be in the moment? What will be one of you to be items?

Prioritize You Before Stress Demands an Automatic Restart

Ever get the blue screen of death on your computer? I recently had that happen to me and thought how easily the message that appeared could be applied to our own lives – “your PC (body) ran into a problem and needs a restart.” When we get this blue screen of death on our computers, it forces us to instantly shut down and restart. There are no other options.

So let’s think about this and apply it to our own bodies. What problem will you run into if you don’t intentionally prioritize your own self care? Are you running on empty and feeling like you are about to shut down? Are you looking to please everyone else on Santa’s list this holiday season and you are no where on that list? Do you have more to-do’s than time in your day?

If you are not careful, running on empty will eventually lead to burnout and will leave you with no choice than to take care of yourself – probably longer than spending several minutes a day over the next month on self care and probably when you least expect it. I have had this happen to me so I know firsthand. My diagnosis of an eating disorder three years ago forced a significant restart of my approach to life. And it took me quite a while to heal and recover. I’m not saying you will have something that significant happen. It can be something like sudden headaches or increased anxiety. It’s your body’s subtle way of saying take care of me before I give you the blue screen of death.

What problem will cause you to hit pause and restart if you don’t intentionally prioritize yourself today? As we enter this last month of 2020, why not prioritize yourself for a few minutes each day? Take two minutes each at 9 am, 12 pm , 3 pm and 6 pm (or whatever cadence feels best for you) to check in with how you are feeling. Walk away from your desk. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. And another. And another. Wiggles your toes so you can feel each of your ten toes individually. Wiggle them a bit more. Then rub your thumb and index finger together on one hand with such attention that you can feel the ridges of each finger rubbing against each other. Keep doing this for a bit. Then, bring your hands to your chest and say something loving to yourself. Take another deep breath. Let it all out with a sigh. Thank yourself for taking two minutes to get in touch with yourself. Open your eyes.

Would love to hear how this worked for you! It’s a practice that I try to do during the day myself and have seen significant changes. Let me know your experience in the comments below!

What will you say when you look in the mirror?

A few months into my eating disorder recovery journey, I looked in the mirror and said, “I love you” and then I winked at myself. I journaled about that experience afterwards. I truly felt like a million dollars when I said that in the mirror. It was because I had always bashed my body when I looked in the mirror before. Sometimes I avoided the mirror. I’d cover my body when bathing in the tub. I was too ashamed of my body.

Then, I started offering myself an ounce of kindness like this every once in a while. It didn’t always stick. Some days, it was a bash fest for sure. Some days I avoided the mirror all together. And I never looked at myself naked in a mirror. Then one day I stood in front of the mirror naked and sobbed. I was so ashamed. Yet as I cried (the kind where snot rolls down your face along with the tears), I realized that I was actually crying because deep down, I knew there was a little girl in there who deserved to be loved.

It would take a lot of reframing of the stories I told myself in my head and when I look in the mirror. Your body responds to what you tell it. If you tell yourself that your body doesn’t deserve to be loved, your body will respond accordingly. Your soul kinda dies along with it.

I have days where I battle a bit with my body, yet I’ve come to know and believe that I am that same little girl who was once 7 years old and I deserve all the love that I so freely gave her back then. If you’re not comfortable in your own body yet, try reframing what you say and realize that you too have a 7 year old girl inside of you too ♥️