Category Archives: inspiration

How has my work with eating disorders impacted me personally?

About 7 years ago I created the curriculum on Eating Disorders for New York University’s Graduate School of Social Work. I LOVE teaching this course and feel a tremendous amount of gratitude for the opportunity to teach such eager men and women something that I feel so passionately about.

Someone in this past class asked me something that no one has asked me yet – How has my work with eating disorders affected my own relationship with food, my body and myself? I didn’t have a quick answer. I really had to think about it. Am I negatively affected in some ways? Am I positively affected in some ways? Do I eat more, as many people describe as a common “side effect” of working with eating disorders?

I gave it some thought and then very genuinely talked my way through my answer. It’s true that on days when the topic of actual food arises, I tend to leave craving foods I wasn’t otherwise thinking about. But I can generally get back in touch with what I really want and satisfy myself. Sometimes that doesn’t happen and the craving is really strong. I’m okay with that, too!

Regarding my body, I spend a lot of time with my patients discussing and exploring body acceptance, honoring ones body and doing all of this in the face of familial and societal pressures. I truly feel that body dissatisfaction, to some degree, has become almost a rite of passage for everyone, both men and women. Doing this work has offered me a daily reminder of the choice I have (we all have) to either reject or to succumb to these pressures and fall into the “I’m not good enough” thinking that lives in tandem with the “thin ideal.” Even in moments when I have a tinge of “not good enough,” I quickly find myself automatically catapulted into some sort of anger or frustration about being told that I have to look a certain way in order to be acceptable.

I shared the above and then continued, “Overall, it has made me more empowered! I never feel so healthy and empowered as I do when I leave my office at the end of the day – most of the time.” WOW! I was a little surprised to hear myself say this with such gusto but it’s true! Working with both men and women struggling with eating disorders has empowered me! Of course, it can be difficult, frustrating, devastating and many other things but what I feel the most is EMPOWERED! Why? I think it’s quite simple. Life in general, as well as doing this work genuinely and authentically, as I hold myself accountable to do, has forced me to develop my own personal ethos and it is from there that I try every day to live both personally and professionally. My ethos includes things like empowerment, authenticity, direct communication, vulnerability and compassion for myself and others.

Today I would like to invite you to consciously consider your own personal ethos and if it matches how you are living most of the time (and let’s face it, none of us are perfect – that’s not what this is about). If you don’t have a personal ethos, then I’d like to invite you to create one for yourself!

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the secret to the perfect bikini body

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The weather is getting warmer! Talk and anxieties of the perfect “bikini body” are in the air!
Do this exercise, spot train this area, don’t exercise this area, don’t eat this food, definitely eat this food, only eat these foods, blah, blah, blah.

I have a secret – I know how to get the perfect bikini body! Are you ready?

Okay, here we go… grab your favorite bikini – or any swimsuit for that matter.
Put it on and stand in front of the mirror.
Stand up tall and proud with your shoulders back and your chest open.
Throw your hands in the air and gleefully shout “WOO HOO!” with a smile on your face. That’s it!
Yep, you already have the perfect bikini body!
Now it’s up to you to honor and love love love it!!!

Go on with your life and stop worrying so much! You’re already fabulous and you’ll be even more fabulous once you realize how awesome you are!

OH! That reminds me of one more thing. The other thing that makes for an amazing bikini body is confidence! Own it, flaunt it and shake what your mama gave ya!

Now get out there and enjoy yourself!


What do you love about your body?

Men and women spend an enormous amount of time using negative self-talk to minimize, judge and criticize themselves. Most people aren’t even aware of how incessantly this internal tyrannical tape plays. Think about it in your own life – how much negative self-talk to you engage in? If you engage in any, it’s already too much!

I decided to reach out to a bunch of women and ask them what they love about their bodies and why. While this question was easy for some, it posed a challenge for others.

Here are their unedited responses. After you read them, I encourage you to take a moment to pause, reflect, answer the same question and give yourself some love! Feel free to share your love in the “comments” section below!

What do you love about your body and why?

Wow. My gut response was so overwhelmingly negative – I love NOTHING! – that now I have to do this and come up with a list, not just for you, but for me. 

I have always wanted to be able to fold over and touch my toes… I have discovered ballet barre and now I can!!!

Today I love my legs because they are strong and powerful and look super cute in my patterned tights right now!

I love that my body carried my children and gave them life. When I see my stretch marks and scars I try to remind myself of that rather than pick my body apart.

I love my body because it is made of the same stuff as the stars we wish on. It allows me to dance and move out into the world with you. My female body is so beautifully complex it reminds me that it has allowed for all human life to exist. Now how could I hate on that?

This is a really hard task and cause for a great deal of reflection. I think it has different meanings for each age and stage and for me causes me to look around and internalize all that is happening around me. I love my body because (so far) it is keeping me healthy and whole. It is allowing me to maintain my family and home, and giving me the opportunity to actively engage with those I love. My body is giving me the gifts of running in the park with my grandchildren and taking an 11 mile walk with my daughter, when we thought we were going for a stroll. How lucky I am. Thanks for affording me this wonderful time for reflection. Yes we take so much time in our lives using “fat talk” and hating our bodies….but rarely do we hug ourselves to say thank you.

I love that my body is so strong and resilient. It really doesn’t fail me and I feel blessed. I love that it’s petite but still womanly, not skinny. On a more superficial level I love my flat stomach.

My instinctual answer would be my smile and laugh because that is what most people recognize about me which I find is a really nice thing, actually cause it exudes more than an exterior appearance.

I love that my body is strong and healthy!

I love that my body can dance because I am never happier than when I am dancing.

I can touch and feel and love up my babies.

What I love about my body is that it has/had the miraculous ability to grow a child! Despite the changes from my pre-baby body, every time I see the differences in my body now, as a mother, I look at those changes with gratitude. I think about my body as having the ability to grow an adorable and wonderful little boy! What a wonderful thing!

I love my legs because they are strong, take me to places, let me dance, and keep me grounded.

As a mother of two daughters that mean the world to me, I am blessed to have a body (regardless of what it looks like) that has allowed me to produce and care for my two precious girls.

My cleavage.

I love my lats! I used to be upset that they make it tough for me to find dresses that zip up all the way. But, then I realized that without them I couldn’t do pull ups. I don’t know a lot of women who can do pull ups so I will keep my lats and stick to skirts, woo!

I love my body because it’s strong and unique, and it hasn’t failed me yet.

One thing that I really love about my body is that it is strong.  I like to feel the muscle tone in my legs and ass.  It feels good to think about our assets for a change.

I love that my body could still support me in a headstand when I was 8½ months pregnant! I feel so healthy and strong knowing I can support myself and my little guy now whether he’s inside or outside of me because of all my years of yoga and Pilates training.

I love that my body is able to move and engage in activities that I love to do.

I actually do love how it can grow in strength and stamina, even sometimes when I am not initially convinced that it can.

The one thing I love about my body are my legs, because they are long and somewhat fit. 

This feels weird but here goes: I like my feet. I was always too klutzy to wear heels, but as a result nothing is misshapen or bent or bony growth where it shouldn’t be. I actually like my rear. A little dimply now but still shapely. Collarbone — nicely defined. Veiny hands and arms like my dad’s, so I’m partial to them.

Right now, I LOVE my belly!!  It’s huge but I’m growing another little person inside. And yes, with the big belly comes some extra cushioning, which can be, at times, harder to accept, but I know that all of it is for a higher purpose – to create a healthy, happy and strong baby!

I’m learning to love that my body is mine and unique to me.. comparisons need not apply!!!

I have loved my body most when it was doing something–skiing, surfing, yoga, Zumba…..having a BABY.  That is when I am grateful not critical.

I love my collar bones. They make me feel sexy.

When I stop and think about it, what I truly love about this body that has carried me through this life so far for better or worse for the last 40 years is that it is absolutely uniquely mine with all of its quirks, beauty and perfect imperfections. It’s been the vehicle through which my persona, spirit and soul has had the good fortune to experience everything from the extraordinarily mundane to the awe and the profound and I am utterly grateful for its functionality and intuition and guidance as well as all of its strength, exhaustion, muscle and flab, power and flexibility, aches, pains, tension and the relaxing, the calming, the sheen and the freckles and wrinkles, and yes even the wrinkles… ok well im still practicing with those 😉 

At the age of 36 I now love more than anything else that my body has the capability of growing life. When I was younger loved the freedom of movement, and ability to fully control my actions. While I still love those things, giving up control to let someone else grow is my amazement.

A few years ago I probably said I love my arms, abs, legs, butt, strength. Since not being as active and able to workout like I used to, not eat the same as I used to and with the medication I am on….my body has changed. I am feeling better mentally than I was last year as I am learning to love me and my body again… but it has been a struggle. I was so mad at ‘my body’ for failing me. I was so angry and felt like my healthy lifestyle was a total waste. I am thankful now, and think differently. If I didn’t have the healthy lifestyle I would have been more ill and unable to deal with this darn Lupus. I loved the body I created from working out and eating well. To be honest, I feel like I have lost my identity as a trainer. My body was proof of my lifestyle. Sounds crazy but this is how I feel. In the last few months I have made some mental breakthroughs and am learning that I am just as strong (even stronger) than I ever was. I work out daily and do what I can. I always eat healthy and that is all I can do.
What do I love about my body? My smile and positive outlook.

I love my body because it carried and delivered my children with such health and perfection, and it now allows me to hug them and chase them and carry them and love them. I am so grateful to my body for allowing me to do this that I feel like I owe my body lots of love and, in return for all it has done for me, I always really try to take very good care of it.

I love that my body has survived two major surgeries, adapted to the complications, and ultimately healed itself. I am truly amazed at its response to trauma and feel blessed that my body didn’t fail me and gave me second chances.


awareness

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It is said that ignorance is bliss. Perhaps this can be true for the short term, but for the long term, I respectfully disagree.

Awareness affords us the opportunity of choice. Choice offers us agency in our lives. Increasing self-awareness allows for more choice and more influence in your life. It’s as simple as that!

So why does it become more complicated? The type of active awareness that I am talking about is not discretionary. While it is fun and exciting to stay aware during times of opportunity, pleasure and peaceful times, it can be more difficult to continue this awareness during times of distress.

Now it’s up to you to practice awareness. How you feel, think, see, smell, taste and sense are all part of mindfulness and these things change every minute. You can sharpen your senses enough to notice internal shifts, the dance between external happenings and your internal experiences.

Why should you? Because when we are aware of how we are doing, then we are also aware of what we need more or less of and with this awareness, we can respond accurately to promote an internal sense of soothing and satisfaction.

I’ll leave it to you. Take this moment, right now as you are reading this. Notice what you see and then notice your surroundings beyond your computer screen. What do you smell and taste? How is the temperature in the room and how does your body feel? What noises do you hear around you? What else do you notice?

Now notice how you are feeling emotionally. Are you feeling calm? Anxious? Is your heart beating quickly or does your body feel relaxed? How are your surroundings affecting you this minute?

Keep practicing and check in with yourself throughout the day (yep, every day!) and you will cultivate a healthier, more connected relationship with yourself!


roll your body!

Whatever the time, whatever the weather, your body needs some love! I posted about foam rolling this past winter but it’s so amazing, I felt it deserved another moment in the spotlight!

One thing that I love to do all year round, but particularly in the wintertime, is foam rolling. Unless you’ve gone out of your way to foster a delicious relationship with this item, you’ve probably avoided it at all costs. Many describe the experience as excruciatingly painful. I was one of those people but stuck with it. Now I love that hurts-so-good feeling and have moved on to the rumble roller (which I can’t say enough about).

Here’s the rundown:
Myofascial release: fascia is a complex web of soft connective tissue located just below your skin. Muscle and fascia make up the myofascial system. This system can become tight for a variety of reasons and what you’re left with is pain, tightness and a restricted range of motion.

Foam roller: a very dense foam cylinder that can be used to massage the body, particularly on areas of tightness and on trigger points.

Put them both together: using a foam roller to roll out your fascia is just like getting a massage. What happens is this: imagine a sponge. Now imagine ringing it out so much that it becomes completely flat. When you add water, the sponge becomes thick and spongey again. That’s what foam rolling does. It compresses the fascia and rehydrates this connective tissue.

There are lots of ways to use a foam roller (disclaimer: if you have injuries or any concerns about engaging in this practice, you should consult with the appropriate professionals before doing anything). But if you’re ready and willing to give it a go, you can find a plethora of exercises on the internet. Also, Sue Hitzmann created the MELT Method® that can help guide you.

Consider it. And if not with foam rolling, find a way to open your body and joints. You can even take this moment, right now, to allow your shoulder blades to melt down your back, breathe deeply into your lungs, fill them with oxygen from the bottom, up and breathe out in one slow and controlled breath. Let go. Now repeat.


the struggle for control

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Control. People struggle to get control, to keep control, and conversely, people also struggle to let it go. But here’s the thing, It’s all been an illusion. You never really had it to begin with! That’s the good and the bad news. The bad news because there have been times when we’ve all wished we had more control. As for the good news, consider this: What if you actually did have absolute control over everything in your life? Imagine the responsibility and pressure it would bring. It would be too much for anyone to handle.

The reality is that we have very little control over most things. Yep, it’s true. What you can control is how you move through what life throws at you. So what now? For starters, you can stop trying so hard! Let go and reclaim some of the energy that was hemorrhaging into your struggle for control. Redirect it towards being in the present moment and doing the best you can with what you have in front of you.

It may be scary to consider this shift in thinking but if you give it a try, I’m confident that in time you will experience a sense of relief and empowerment.


stop worrying, it’s not going to help you!

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If you think that you might have something to worry about, don’t.

Karl A. Pillemer, Ph.D. recently blogged about a surprising finding in The Huffington Post. He created the Legacy Project in order to find out what elderly people knew that younger generations didn’t. He and his team asked 1,200 men and women over the age of 70, “What are the most important lessons you have learned over the course of your life?” Answers consistently addressed time spent on worrying.

Pillemer shares some of the sentiments in his blog:
I wish I hadn’t spent so much of my life worrying.”
Don’t believe that worrying will solve or help anything. It won’t. So stop it.”

I recently heard someone say that, “worrying is like praying for what you don’t want.”

Truth be told, this seems universally easier said than done. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that one of Pillemer’s recurrent answers to his Legacy Project question reflects the tremendous amount of time and energy people feel they’ve wasted on worry over the course of their life.

So what can we learn? When we feel our wheels turning (and turning and turning and turning…) and the worry begins, we can use this as a reminder that worry doesn’t actually solve anything. It won’t get you to an unknown answer more quickly and it won’t help you prepare for what is ahead. Don’t waste your time dwelling and when you feel your marble rolling in that direction, stop it! Make an active, conscious choice to reframe your thoughts and focus more on what you do have control over. And if you don’t have much control in the situation at hand, then acknowledge that you are in a difficult place and try to sit with it. But don’t worry! It won’t help you!


how do you define beauty?

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Merriam-Webster defines beauty as “the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit.”

Pythagoras and Euclid attribute beauty to the geometric concept of the Golden Ratio (a+b is to a as a is to b). Science has even backed up the idea that this physical symmetry seems to be more attractive. But what does that mean, anyway?

So what really defines beauty? The good news is that it’s totally up to you! YOU define beauty. YOU decide!

How do YOU define beauty?
Do you define beauty by physical attributes that you have very little control over?
the size of your jeans?
the color of your hair?
the number on your scale?
your age?
your height?

Or do you define beauty by inherent characteristics?
how you carry yourself?
your morals?
your values?
your personal ethos?
your confidence?
your energy?
your character?

Consider what you find beautiful in and about others and what makes you feel beautiful. Are these things that you notice and value every day? How much do you focus on physical attributes? How much do you focus on inherent characteristics? What would it be like to focus more on who you are as a person (your innate awesomeness) rather than focusing upon your external appearance? How would that shift your relationship with yourself? How would it change the ways in which you interact with others and move through the world? Perhaps it’s worth experimenting with. Spend a day or spend a week making this conscious shift. What do you notice? How do you feel about yourself?

In the meantime, I want to know… how do YOU define beauty?


it’s 2013… now what?

It’s February 2013. By now the mad rush of everyone trying to live up to their resolutions may be dying off. Now what? Figure out what you want and go get it! It’s all about imagination, honoring yourself and intention (here, too!). Don’t underestimate yourself, there are plenty of people around who will do that for you.

By the way, I’m not talking about resolutions here. I actually don’t believe in them. It’s difficult for me to feel passionate about any statement that is made solely because of a date on the calendar. I do, however, strongly believe in intentions (you may know this by now if you have been following my blog). I also believe that you can consider your intentions at any time!

Given the ubiquitousness of January resolutions and promises, this year I encourage you to trash your grand resolutions and consider what it that you want more/less of? More free time? More sleep? Less anxiety? Deeper relationships?

The best place to start is recognizing the things getting in the way and what would it be like to remove whatever obstacle (or belief) is preventing you from having met your intention. Work it out and watch yourself soar!


baby, it’s cold outside

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The temperature drops, it’s cold, your body tightens, your shoulders creep up to your ears, your hips tighten, your breath shallows. This is what happens to my body and I assume I’m not alone.

One thing that I love to do all year round, but particularly in the wintertime, is foam rolling. Unless you’ve gone out of your way to foster a delicious relationship with this item, you’ve probably avoided it at all costs. Many describe the experience as excruciatingly painful. I was one of those people but stuck with it. Now I love that hurts-so-good feeling and have moved on to the rumble roller (which I can’t say enough about).

Here’s the rundown:
Myofascial release: fascia is a complex web of soft connective tissue located just below your skin. Muscle and fascia make up the myofascia system. This system can become tight for a variety of reasons and what you’re left with is pain, tightness and a restricted range of motion.

Foam roller: a very dense foam cylinder that can be used to massage the body, particularly on areas of tightness and on trigger points.

Put them both together: using a foam roller to roll out your fascia is just like getting a massage. What happens is this: imagine a sponge. Now imagine ringing it out so much that it becomes completely flat. When you add water, the sponge becomes thick and spongey again. That’s what foam rolling does. It compresses the fascia and rehydrates this connective tissue.

There are lots of ways to use a foam roller (disclaimer: if you have injuries or any concerns about engaging in this practice, you should consult with the appropriate professionals before doing anything). But if you’re ready and willing to give it a go, you can find a plethora of exercises on the internet. Also, Sue Hitzmann created the MELT Method® that can help guide you.

Consider it. And if not with foam rolling, find a way to open your body and joints during this cold weather. You can even take this moment, right now, to allow your shoulder blades to melt down your back, breathe deeply into your lungs, fill them with oxygen from the bottom, up and breathe out in one slow and controlled breath. Let go. Now repeat.