No Matter What – Day 2

Cute 4 months old baby making a funny surprised face
Okay, it’s Day 2 and the game goes like this.  The world’s best coach Gillian gets to ask me a question and I get to answer because my commitment for the next 30 days is to write no matter what and hers is to coach no matter what.
You are invited to play along as well.  Find out how below.
G:  What has been the most surprising/unexpected thing about your life to date?
P: Short answer – everything!
Specifically:

  1. Life got infinitely more interesting once I turned 40 and has gotten increasingly better every year since then.
  2. After living in many exciting and beautiful places, I now live in a small farming community approximately 65 miles from where I was born.
  3. I also own my house and have a “real” job.  Oddly enough, I now I find this exciting and beautiful.
  4. I had clung to a dream so long that when it finally came true it took me awhile to realize I’d outgrown it.
  5. I got engaged when most people were having grandchildren.
  6. I changed my entire life by changing what went in my mouth (in terms of eating healthy, whole foods) and what came out (how I used my words).
  7. Relaxing into the moment makes my life so much easier than stressing into it does.
  8. The universe really does have my back. It will meet me half way. Sometimes I only have to go the extra 1/4 mile.
  9. It often takes 50 years to become an overnight success. Practice, practice, practice.
  10. Having the approval of thousands of people I may never know is not nearly as important as loving those in front of me.
  11. Pets make the world a better place.  So does Amazon Prime.
  12. Cleaning up my act has consequences.
  13. I had no idea how scary it would be to write “raw“.  This kind of “ask me anything” writing is terrifying because it demands a deeper truth.
  14. Invisibility is not a superpower.  Vulnerability is.  Gratitude is.
  15. My body – everyone’s body – is a wonderland. Mine is my oldest friend and ultimate ally. I cannot afford to ignore, abuse, or otherwise shame it.  Becoming a Certified Eating Psychology Coach was one of the best decisions I’ve made.  It healed the wounds unconsciously inflicted over a lifetime.

***********************
If you’d like Gillian to play the No Matter What Game, contact Gillian at http://gillianpearce.com  or https://www.facebook.com/GillianPearceCoach/ to set up your daily prompts.
I’d love to hear your responses to Gillian’s question of the day or my answers.  Please leave your comments below.

The Gift of a Year

patio fruit looking into camera
Birthdays are like New Year’s Day.  They are an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and begin again,  with more experience, courage, and hard won wisdom.
This year I am celebrating the beginning of my new year in the most unlikely of places, a remote fishing village on the Canadian border where snow is forecast for tomorrow.  No part of it was my idea.  Bermuda was my idea. But I’ll take any chance I get to put myself in front of a body of water, plug in my laptop, open a vein and let the words pour out.
This past year has been an intense one for me.  Although I am impressed by what can happen when I consistently put my mind, energy, and resources behind an idea, I’m also ready for some rest and reflection.  What better place to do that than in a rustic cabin where freezing rain and the threat of snow hamper any ideas of hiking?
The last time I was here, I was not a happy camper.  I was experiencing hormonal shifts that were causing mild panic attacks, brain fog, mood swings, and general irritability.
What I didn’t know then but am acutely aware of now is even though you are told it’s just part of getting older and you’ll have to learn to live with it, it isn’t and you don’t.  It’s just that most people don’t talk about it and therefore don’t understand there are plenty of things you can do to feel better.  Suffering in silence is not one of them.
The past year for me has been all about getting my groove back and helping as many people as I can  do the same.  So many people have said to me, “I thought it was just me.” Or “I thought I was losing it.”
I found functional medicine doctors who could help me figure out the havoc my hormones were wreaking in response to the confused communications from command central. I don’t blame my brain for rallying the troupes around the wrong initiatives. I blame a lifetime of eating habits based on convenience, comfort, and toxic nutritional beliefs and generally checking out when I should have checked in and made some course corrections.
Dismantling the habits learned over a half a century required some serious commitment, along with a few costly mistakes, considerable investments in products and services, an adventurous spirit, and a healthy dose of humor. I read every book I could find on about nutrition, wellness, and becoming ageless.
A year later, after two 21-day detox/purification processes, learning to select and prepare nutritious foods, getting regular acupuncture treatments and exercise, and completing an 8-month eating psychology coaching certification program, I’m down 20 pounds.  My blood pressure and cholesterol are down as well.
Is this the best gift I could give myself at this point in my life?  Absolutely.  Could I have done it sooner and saved myself a lot of grief and emotional anguish? Possibly.  But in order to sustain this lifestyle shift, I had to understand why it mattered so much.
Although it would have helped me tremendously a decade ago, some journeys take time.  It took Moses forty years to find his Promised Land.  According to that timetable, I’m right on schedule.
There is no going back and pretending I don’t know what I now know. So though it’s been a little silent on the blogging front as I’ve been figuring this out, teaching classes, and meeting with local doctors and nutritionists, my goal for next year is to bring this information to you on a regular basis. I think of it as creating a GPS system so you don’t have to spend years wandering around the desert, questioning your sanity.
What about you?  If you gave yourself the gift of a year, what would you love to accomplish so much that you’d be willing to put a plan together now to get there?
Share in the message below.

Detox Take Away #10 – You Eat What You Are

you are what to eat

We’ve all heard the saying, “you are what you eat.”  But as Marc David suggests in his insightful book, Nourishing Wisdom, “whatever you already are will determine the kinds of foods you reach for and the body you will help create.”  In other words, you eat what you are.

For example, if you think you have little willpower, you’re likely to crave foods that reinforce this idea.  Sweet foods, rich foods, foods that are simply irresistible will tickle your taste buds.  The more you eat them, the more you reinforce the idea that you have no willpower.

If, on the other hand, you are very disciplined, you may desire foods that reinforce the idea of control like bland foods, simple meals, or sugar-free, fat-free, or other alleged “health foods”.  The more the food supports the experience of being disciplined, the more in control of your diet you may feel.

If you limit your experience of eating only to food, you ignore the other ingredients that play a part in assimilation and digestion.  You’ve probably heard of the food-mood connection and experienced it for yourself.  You eat massive amounts of sugar and buzz around like a hummingbird all afternoon.

But how often do you look at the mood-food connection?  This is the way your mood affects your ability to assist or resist the digestive process.

Think about the last time you ate something in a hurried, stressed, or otherwise agitated state.  How did you feel afterwards?  Do cramps, gas, heartburn, stomachaches, or intestinal pain ring a bell?

What about the last time you had a thoroughly  enjoyable meal with family or friends where you ate food you might normally label as off limits but enjoyed every bite and relaxed into the experience?

Are you beginning to see how mood might affect the way you digest and metabolize food?

Mood can also affect your posture while you’re eating, which plays a part in your ability to properly digest food.  When you are slouched over your food, you set off a physiological chain reaction that can impact everything from your respiration to digestion to diminished brain function.

Just like you need to be aligned to do certain exercises correctly, keeping your back straight, chin parallel to the ground, shoulders relaxed, and knees slightly lower than your hips helps you get the most benefit out of eating.

Bringing your food to your face instead of hunching over to face your food up close and personal can make a huge difference in the way food moves in your mouth and down your throat.  It also impact the way you breathe and your ability to taste food along with your overall awareness of the meal.

Another aspect of mood deals with who is eating. This may sound silly to anyone but Sybil*, but think about it.  Are your food choices the same when you are feeling rebellious as when you are feeling focused?  I guarantee your food choices will look different when your inner teenager is in charge of the menu than when your inner athlete or inner healer is at the helm.

The good news is just as are you are not limited one particular role in life, you are not tied to one particular diet.  Your diet is a reflection of the role you are currently playing.  Understanding that allows you to move more gracefully from one role to the next, hopefully gaining confidence and competence in your choices along the way.

Detoxing for 21 days taught me I am capable of dogged discipline as well as righteous rebellion.  Experimenting with eating this way opened the door to self-discovery.  This kind of nourishment opened me up to a whole different kind of self-love.  The biggest challenge remains to be open and accepting of what comes up in the process.

So there you have it.  The last of the Detox Take Aways.

Next week I’ll switch gears and share my Top Ten Tension Tackling Tunes to Keep You Humming Through the Holidays.

Thanks for reading.  Please leave your comments below.

 *“Amazingly, researchers have discovered that in patients with classic multiple personality disorders, each personality has a unique and distinct physiology.”  In other words, each separate personality has a different metabolism.   –  Excerpted from The Slow Down Diet by Marc David.

Definitely add Marc’s books to your Christmas list!  He is an amazing thought leader in the mind-body nutrition field.

Detox Take-Away #8 – Sleep On It

Newborn Baby Boy in a Teddy Bear Costume

I’m a big fan of sleeping, dreaming, snatching some shut-eye, napping, you name it. Sleep provides the necessary perspective that excess caffeine or carbs can’t quite copy despite our attempts to chemically induce enlightenment.
It turns out sleep is also a really important player in the weight loss game. Experts consider it as important to health, well-being, and weight as diet and exercise. Yet almost two-thirds of us don’t get enough sleep in a typical week.
Most of us know what it feels like to be sleep deprived. But we may not be aware of its consequences.
Because fatigue dulls the activity in the part of the brain where decision making and impulse control reside, making good decisions becomes increasingly difficult when drowsy. When we’re overtired, the brain’s reward centers seek something that feels good. Temptations we may have been able to resist when well-rested cause us to cave when can’t keep our eyes open.
The type of foods we want when we’re sleepy tend to be of the energy dense, high carbohydrate variety.  Think candy bars, cookies, chips, soda, or energy drinks. These cravings coupled with a lack of impulse control can lead to bigger portions, late-night snacking, and all kinds of actions that can lead to weight gain.
Lack of sleep messes with our metabolism as well as hunger and satiety hormones like gherlin and leptin that clue our brain in to when we’re hungry and when we’re full. Cortisol can spike, sending the message to conserve energy and store fat. Insulin can also be impacted, making it difficult to process fats in the bloodstream and adding to the hunger hormone havoc.
Realizing this, one of the new habits I incorporated during the detox was getting more sleep.  This meant going to bed earlier. This was challenging because I often don’t get home from work until 7 or 8pm and then there’s dinner, dog walks, a little tv time, and tending to my blogging business.
I had to give up my late night routine of regularly bathing my eyes in the artificial light of my electronic devices and engaging in activities that stimulated my brain (Lumosity, anyone?). I needed to shift from work mode to relaxation mode. While unplugging a device shuts it down immediately, unplugging myself takes a little while.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to worry that I had eaten a heavy meal or consumed alcohol or caffeine before bedtime during the detox. However, it did make me realize how often doing so had interfered with my sleep.
By creating a reasonable regular bed time, I also established a natural and consistent waking time.  (No alarm clock for me, thank you.) I used to live for the weekends so I could sleep in. Now I find myself getting up at approximately the same time no matter what day it is. Mainly because my brain is badgering me to write and my belly is begging me to eat.  At last I have the energy and enthusiasm to create a day worth writing about.
What about you?
Do you get enough sleep? What helps you get the rest you need? How does not getting enough sleep impact you? What steps can you take to get more sleep?
Leave a reply below.

Detox Take Away #6 – Trust the Process

discovering new places

When I used to teach fitness classes, I remember thinking how much more motivating it might be for students if they could immediately lose a pound or two after completing a workout. Sure they felt better after having mobilized their bodies and activated their endorphins, but wouldn’t they be more willing to stick with it if they experienced instant weight loss?
We all know the real work of shape shifting takes time and consistent effort.  When goals are attained too easily or quickly, we can miss the message or sabotage the results. For many of us, weight is an incredible teacher. It certainly gets our attention and packs a wallop of emotion when we gain it or lose it.
Detoxing not only our bodies but also our brains is bound to take some time. We carry a lot of toxic beliefs about what we should weigh, how we should look, and how much of our value depends on an arbitrary number on the scale. Despite all my training, I’ve held on to some rather insidious beliefs about my weight that simply don’t serve me or anyone else.
Changing these beliefs and patterns of behavior is not easy.  There are a lot of variables to consider when attempting to make or break a habit. Factors like how often we automatically or unconsciously engage in the current habit, what benefits we get from continuing with the current habit, and what kind of habit we are attempting to change all impact the speed at which we can progress.
At the outset, 21 days seemed like a long time for a detox diet. However, I kept telling myself that 21 days in the course of a lifetime was not too much to ask. I reminded myself that I would gladly do this if it could save the life of a loved one. Hitting the reset button for myself might just save my own life.
I will not lie.  Some days were difficult. Every day I counted down the days until I would be done. Social situations were like land mines because they required special preparations and explanations and more effort than would be required if I just stayed home and kept the whole process on the down low.
The up side is that I felt better, cleaner, and lighter than I had in years. My brain fog lifted, my energy surged, and those few stubborn pounds melted away. But it didn’t and couldn’t happen overnight.
About half-way through the detox process I realized the only way out was through. I had to keep going. No matter how much I thought I knew, there was more to learn.  And that meant trusting the process.
Trusting the process meant relaxing into life. Trusting the process meant letting go of how I thought it should go. Trusting the process meant no matter what happened, I would be able to handle it. Trusting the process meant allowing the universe to have my back.
When I could do this, eating this or not eating that did not seem insurmountable.  Such a simple idea in theory.  But one that takes a lifetime of practice.  Or at the very least,  21 days.
Have you done a detox diet?  What lessons did you learn?
I’d love for you to share your thoughts or experiences in the comments below.