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'Achieving You' To Make Peace With Your Body

Falling into the life lull of tranquility and safety is intoxicating. Throughout human history, and the history of just about everything living and breathing, survival has been key. If we didn’t survive as a species or individually, nothing would quite matter. In our daily lives today, if we are lucky enough to achieve a reliable state of being, then other life thingshopefully will come into play.

These other life things are hard to recognize or even be aware of at times. They matter tremendously though and take a bit of deliberate thought and inner soul search to discover them. Having awareness is quite challenging due to the intoxicating impact of life safety. After all, if we’re safe, why rock the boat?

How do we evolve from a place of safety to a state of exquisite happiness? For starters, we need to identify and pursue our inner dreams and longings which represent our soul selves. What is our mission or purpose? Who are we? How do we want to feel? How do we want to contribute to the world? Are we happy in our current lives?

Finding Your Best Feature

Most all of us have something about our bodies we dislike. Here's a list off some typical negative-body complaints:

 • I'm too fat/too skinny

• I'm too tall/too short

• I hate my nose/hate my lips

• My hair is too curly/I hate being bald

• My skin is too light/too dark

• My feet are ugly

• My butt is fat

• My breasts are too small/too large

• My penis is too small

• My stomach sticks out.

I could go on, but I won't. I'm sure you get the picture. We're experts at denouncing our bodies and on focusing acutely on our perceived flaws.

Here's my suggestion. Take several long, deep relaxing breaths. Try to feel a sense of calm. Now, look in the mirror. You may be tempted to immediately go on the attack against your body. But, wait. Let this time be different. The task here is to look at yourself and find your best feature. "What?", you scream, "I can't do that!! I don't have a best feature!" 

Beautiful You ~ A Daily Guide To Radical Self-Acceptance By Rosie Molinary

I have a slew of health improvement books at home covering a vast variety of wellness topics and conversations. This is the first that I've chosen to not only reference but to actually review. For the record: I love beautiful you, a daily guide to Radical Self-Acceptance by Rosie Molinary! This is a must have for anyone challenged in any way by their body image.

beautiful you is an easy to read book that offers daily self-esteem suggestions and challenges. Many self-esteem issues can remain hidden and go unrecognized. What's so great about Ms. Molinary’s listings is that they help to focus on areas that can hurt us and need TLC. 

Of course, we all won't relate to every single daily item listed. (She offers 365 daily listings to cover the full year.) I can almost guarantee though that many of the challenges listed will touch the vast majority of readers struggling to believe in their beauty.

With each daily topic, Ms. Molinary proposes we try to see/experience things in a different light by answering self-reflective questions and/or participating in a suggested exercise. Eventually, with genuine attempts to experiment with the topics and their accompanying assignments, one can start to get out of his or her own head and put old, hurtful beliefs into realistic perspectives. The author also guides us to see beyond ourselves. She invites all to become a member of a greater, healthier and larger community in which we reach out and contribute our beauty and gifts to others in need.

Here are just five of Ms. Molinary’s daily guides. The other 360 are marvelous ones as well

I have a slew of health improvement books at home covering a vast variety of wellness topics and conversations. This is the first that I've chosen to not only reference but to actually review. For the record: I love beautiful you, a daily guide to Radical Self-Acceptance by Rosie Molinary! This is a must have for anyone challenged in any way by their body image.

beautiful you is an easy to read book that offers daily self-esteem suggestions and challenges. Many self-esteem issues can remain hidden and go unrecognized. What's so great about Ms. Molinary’s listings is that they help to focus on areas that can hurt us and need TLC. 

Of course, we all won't relate to every single daily item listed. (She offers 365 daily listings to cover the full year.) I can almost guarantee though that many of the challenges listed will touch the vast majority of readers struggling to believe in their beauty.

With each daily topic, Ms. Molinary proposes we try to see/experience things in a different light by answering self-reflective questions and/or participating in a suggested exercise. Eventually, with genuine attempts to experiment with the topics and their accompanying assignments, one can start to get out of his or her own head and put old, hurtful beliefs into realistic perspectives. The author also guides us to see beyond ourselves. She invites all to become a member of a greater, healthier and larger community in which we reach out and contribute our beauty and gifts to others in need.

Here are just five of Ms. Molinary’s daily guides. The other 360 are marvelous ones as well.

Coming Out Poem

This is a day for anyone identifying as LGBT, to declare themselves to themselves and to the world about who they are and what they’re about! I think it’s a great idea for all of us whether gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, straight, or exploring to come out and be proud. Hiding under a rock can get lonely.

Reach out to anyone with whom you feel safe and let your authentic, beautiful colors shine! And, if you want to get in-shape, but are in-the-closet, stressed, sad, etc., it will be extra difficult for your body to take on its authentic size. When the inner you is struggling, cortisol, the stress hormone, is released which then impedes fat loss. Click below for my own coming out poem.

Beautiful Olive Oyl, Beautiful Me – Part 3

Welcome back to the story of my struggles with eating, food, my body, and self-esteem! Despite being The HealthShrink, I’ve had plenty of long-term challenges in my relationship with food over the years. Back and forth, losing weight, gaining weight, losing self-esteem, and, then gaining some esteem back. That was the problem though. My inner feelings with regard to whether I was a good person or not, a success vs. a failure, pretty vs. ugly, smart vs. stupid, valuable vs. insignificant, etc., were all tied up into a gigantic knot over my body size.

I know my experiences are not necessarily unique. So many of us have had this same difficult struggle supporting and believing in ourselves. It’s too easy to get off the ‘truth trail’ and led astray onto the ‘road of nonsense’. What’s the ‘road of nonsense’? Believing we’re not good enough exactly as we are today. Thinking we need to lose weight to increase our goodness and overall appeal. Looking for love and acceptance from others before we even grant it to ourselves.

We’ve all grown up in a society that puts enormous pressure on how things are supposed to be. And, that includes us and how we’re supposed to be. I was striving to fit in and wasn’t quite sure how to do so. I didn’t possess the correct body equipment – no long, blonde, straight hair, flat-chested, muscular, no blue eyes, not thin enough, etc. How could I ever be beautiful? I believed I might as well give up, accept my shortcomings, and feel miserable forever. In short, I was not enough of some things and too much of other things. I’m sure you can relate.

 

Beautiful Olive Oyl, Ugly Me - Part 2

At now 58-years old, my relationship with my body, eating, food, and spirit have changed and evolved enormously. I have high hopes for continued evolution and I welcome future growth. Let me cut to the chase and then back pedal. The biggest change in how I eat, relate to food, and feel about my body is directly connected to how I feel about myself from the inside out. By focusing more on the actual me, the me-soul that is inside, and less stressing, fussing, and obsession with how I look on the outside, I’ve reached a place of inner calm and acceptance.

Of course, it makes sense that so many of us are externally focused. There is an enormous amount of pressure from Hollywood, glamour magazines, social media, and more to look a certain way. That way usually means, if you’re a woman, thin with shapely breasts, long blond hair, pretty face, etc. For a man it implies being tall, muscular, lean, and handsome. Most of us strive to achieve the ‘look’, sometimes without even realizing the pressure we put on ourselves for perfection. If we get close to the ‘look’, we may have a ‘false, positive sense’ of feeling good. When we’re far from the ‘look’ we frequently can feel down, dejected, lonely, angry, and ‘not normal’ or less than. How sad, really.

 

Breath, Mindfulness, Eating and Our Health

As you may recall, I attended a week long workshop in August at the Cape Cod Institute called “Breath-Body-Mind Techniques for Stress-Resilience and Well-Being” by Richard Brown, MD and Pat Gerbarg, MD. I loved this seminar! It wasn’t just about what I learned – which was great, but how I felt after class each day – which was at least equally great!

The course was composed of science info regarding the health impact on people whopractice 5-second breaths-per- minute (bpm), aka – coherent breathing, for 20-minutes daily, as well as experiential hands on breathing practice with accompanying slow, healing body movement ala qigong.

 

A Special Day

While vacationing recently at Pine Lake Manor in the Catskill Mountains with my extended family, this day stood out among the others with its wide variety of highs/healings, and lows/depletions. It represents the ups and downs of life, while supporting mindful efforts to seek out healing, inner-peace, fun, resilience, and love. Take a look.

Tuesday, July 19th

• 9:30am – Outdoor, Lawn Yoga with Samantha Jo – It was a stunningly beautiful morning. The temperature was in the 70s, humidity was low. There was peace and quiet in the air with only the soft rustling of the leaves in the background. There were about 10 of us cousins spread out on the green grass. Shade was nearby.

I’d taken some, but not many, yoga sessions in the past. I stopped when I injured my groin muscle in a class. Today, several years later, I felt like giving yoga another go. So, I did. Samantha, our leader, was absolutely wonderful. She was gentle in direction, respectful of people’s body limitations, and helpful in cueing us into position. There was no sense of rush. Possibly the best part for me was Samantha’s spiritual presence using words to guide and move us towards internal freedom, body opening, trust, loosening, healing, and empowerment.

 

 

Beautiful Olive Oyl, Ugly Me: Part 1

As I have frequently pointed out, “It’s important to change not only what we eat, (clean, single-ingredient foods including grass-fed, pasture-raised, wild, organic, local, in season, gluten-free), how we eat, (in the Relaxation Mode, non-distracted, slowed down, observing bio-circadian-nutrition rhythm), but also to address and enhance our relationship with food, eating, appetite, body-image, and ourselves.

In today’s article, I share my own experiences and relationship with eating, body-image, and myself in my younger years. In Part 2 of this series I focus on the evolution of my relationship with eating, food, appetite, my body, and my spirit.

My Background

Once upon a time…I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and as much as I wanted.

The Biggest Winner

After the release of my May e-newsletter, From The HealthShrink, I received the following note from a dedicated reader, Anne. She was inspired to write after reading a front page article in New York Times on 5/2/16, entitled, “That Lost Weight? The Body Finds It,” by Gina Rolata.

Here’s Anne’s note and my response:

Hi Susan.
Thanks for the newsletter, which I look forward to reading.  Did you see the article in today's Times about how difficult it is to keep weight off?  Quite depressing, actually.  A topic for another edition!

Thanks,
Anne L.


Good Morning Anne,

Nice to hear from you! Yes, the article in the Times is telling the truth. It’s what I’ve been saying all along; stats show 97% of us who lose weight will gain it all back and more usually within 2 years. The Biggest Loser is no exception. The reason for that is fairly simple.

This reality show, like most of us, continues to operate under the misguided weight loss guise of calories-in /calories-out and excessive exercise. The truth is, this is a trick. We can very, very rarely maintain weight loss acquired this way. Restricting our food and calorie intake is an unnatural and even punishing way to live. Eventually our brain will send out very strong hunger messages and craves for food. Most of us become miserable and ultimately, we give up, give in and eat. Then, quite often, we start to feel guilty, angry, and hopeless.

As long as we’re alive, eating is actually normal. Self-induced starvation is not. In reality, our brain is just doing its job when it makes our metabolism sluggish to counteract the reduction in food consumption. This is the brain’s way to protect us and our survival.

April = Stress Awareness Month

I very frequently speak about the importance and need of getting into the relaxation response (vs. being in the stress mode) as a way to gain overall health and authentic body size. Simply put, when we’re stressed, our body releases insulin, a fat storage hormone, and cortisol, a stress hormone. Together the 2 set the stage for increased body fat and decreased lean tissue.

Now there’s nothing particularly evil about cortisol whatsoever. In fact, without it, we’d have difficulties surviving. It makes us move fast in every sense of the word when there is actual or perceived danger or threat. Certainly, in great part, after some 200,000 years our human species is alive and around to this day thanks to cortisol.

Hello Again - April 2016

So glad to be back with our April Resilience Issue where you can count on more exciting information all with good health, calm, body comfort, and love in mind!

There are 2 big themes going on this month and it was hard to pick just 1 to follow. So, I didn’t. I went with both. But, before getting into that, let me mention something super exciting. I’ve just moved to a new office after a decade long of being where I was. I can’t tell you how excited I am to be changing digs. The new space continues to be in the Upper Westside of Manhattan. I’m now on Columbus Ave at 67th Street very nearby Lincoln Center. It’s a convenient location and the neighborhood is bustling. I’m actually right across the street from WABC so I’ll keep an eye out for hot-off-the-press news stories! At any rate, our feature banner image above is of me signing my new office contract. As my dear friend and website designer/master Rafael DeArce of dRC Online says, “Change is good.” Well, good works for me!

March,2016: National Women's History Month

I think it appropriate to take a moment to thank Elizabeth Cady Stantonand Susan B. Anthony who worked together for 50 years, (1851- 1902), on behalf of American women to have the same rights as men. TheirNational American Woman Suffrage Association, started in 1869, focused on getting women the right to vote. And, both of these women worked really hard together for equality for women beyond having the right to vote. Other causes included allowing girls to study the same subjects as boys, equal pay at the work place, and permitting married women to maintain control over the money they earned, (previously a woman’s salary went to her husband).

Chocolate Benevolence!

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, it’s time when many select a loving gift for a dear friend, colleague, relative or significant other. I completely support this old-fashioned, thoughtful and giving tradition as it promotes healthy hormone release and well-being for both the giver and receiver. While roses and jewelry are always on the Top-10 Hit List for demonstrations of our Valentine affections, giving chocolate is ever popular as well. And, when a clean version of the beloved cacao bean is used, I LOVE the idea of gifting chocolate to a Valentine! In short, the right kind of chocolate is not only delicious but provides us with numerous health benefits as well.

Here’s what I mean.

A Celebration Of Family, Community And Culture

Joyous Kwanzaa – Dec.26th-Jan.1st : Inaugurated in 1965 by Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa is the first holiday created to help African-Americans reconnect with their African cultural and historical heritage. The name Kwanzaa actually derives from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, meaning first fruits of the harvest. There are 7 principles of Kwanzaa or Nguzo Saba and each is dedicated to 1 of the 7 days of this holiday.

To Scale Or Not To Scale!

Food is good. Food is healing. We absolutely need to eat to stay alive! So then what is actually harmful to our psyche and threatens to damage our relationship with the gift of food, eating and having a healthy appetite? Scale addiction!

There are many of us, myself included, who have been led around by the scale and that dreaded or revered number that pops up. Whether, "I lost 2 lbs. Great! I'm psyched!" Or, "Oh no, I've put on weight! I'm so upset! I'm not going to eat today." We let the scale and that number tell us how we're going to feel and subsequently behave. And, some of us can get so obsessed with the scale that were on it daily or multiple times a day.

New Weigh, New Year's Resolution!

It's holiday season. What most of us can realistically expect is that we're going to eat more than usual. It's just part of how we celebrate. And, we're going to gain weight. No shock.

Of course, many will make the all too familiar, "I'm going to diet" or "I'm going to join a gym", resolutions to start off the new year. Great intentions! My input though: if we really want to lose weight once and for all, let's stop doing the same old, same old and let's start doing something radically new. Now, that's a resolution that peaks my interest!

Thank You Abenakis!

Thanksgiving, 11/ 26 - November is the month in the USA for giving thanks! We all know the tradition dates way back to 1612 when the first settlers or Pilgrims celebrated a successful corn harvest with the Abenaki Native Americans, (it was the Abenakis who taught the Pilgrims how to cultivate corn, extract sap from trees, catch fish and avoid poisonous fish. Giving thanks!) I especially enjoy Thanksgiving. Despite the frequently chilled temperatures here in the Northeast and other parts of the States, it’s a time when the heart can warm.  

 

To Scale Or Not To Scale!

Food is good. Food is healing. We absolutely need to eat to stay alive! So then what is actually harmful to our psyche and threatens to damage our relationship with the gift of food, eating and having a healthy appetite? Scale addiction!

New Weigh, New Year's Resolution!

It's holiday season. What most of us can realistically expect is that we're going to eat more than usual. It's just part of how we celebrate. And, we're going to gain weight. No shock.

Coming Out In Italy!

My spouse Janet and I just returned from a beautiful 11-day trip to Italy. We traveled fairly extensively by train and visited Venice, Florence, Viareggio, (a very pretty Tuscan town in the Italian Riviera), Cinque Terre, (5 antique towns built into cliffs overlooking the sea), a natural hot springs spa near Siena and Southern Italy in my maternal grandparents hometown, Santeramo in Colle in the province of Bari, (the heel portion of this boot-shaped land.) We also visited other beautiful and historic places with my Southern-Italian relatives, but I'll leave that for another time.

Happy Hallow's Eve

Halloween (October 31st) - This yearly holiday celebrated in many countries offers a lot of fun times for young and old alike! There's trick-or-treating, costume parties, jack-o'-lanterns, bonfires, apple bobbing, haunted attractions, scary stories, horror flicks, and of course, lots of candy! Sounds rather perfect to me! But, what actually is Halloween, and why celebrate?

Trick-Or-Treat!

Welcome to the 3rd week of October, 2015! As we head towards the end of this month, we approach a bunch of special holidays all of which involve fun, socializing with family/friends and eating a lot of food. Let me just remind you, no food is morally bad. The difficulty lies more with the quantity of food we eat irrespective of whether healthy or not. Excess food consumption or gorging in-and-of itself creates a lot more work on our digestive system which then ignites the stress response. Once stressed, the body releases cortisol and insulin which ultimately equates to fat storage and lean tissue depletion. Certainly, we can say that the poison is in the dose.

Beautiful Now! Why Re-Shape?

Sometimes I wonder what people think when, on 1 hand I, as an Eating Psychology Coach, advertise my services to help a person deal with their weight naturally, while on the other, I encourage people to love themselves exactly as they are right now. I’m thinking this can be a rather confusing message. After all, if we’re supposed to love ourselves as we are now, why address body re-shaping and/or weight at all?

There’s more than 1 explanation, so here I go.

Body Image, Soul Image

I'm too short, I'm too tall, I'm not beautiful/handsome enough, I'm too scrawny/fat; my thighs are too large, my stomach too fat, I have a big nose, my ears stick out, I'm too flat-chested/too buxom, I can't stand my curls, I'm losing my hair, I’m too white/dark, I hate my feet, my toes, my legs, my penis-size, my butt, my belly, my arms, my chest/breasts, my neck, my chin, my teeth, my face, my eyes, my cheek bones, my hair, my baldness, etc. Did I leave anything out?

I Like You Just The Way You Are

I was 8 years old when the television series, "Mister Rodgers' Neighborhood", first aired in 1966. The show ran until 2001 and it was targeted to pre-school children. I wasn't a follower of the show. Even though still a child myself, I was a bit too old. Of course, I had heard of Fred Rogers and I knew he had a following, but I really never sat down to watch. Not until I was a teenager and the show was in re-runs. 

Dream, Come True!

When I grew up, my 2 brothers and I weren't allowed to have pets. My mother, and I'm sure father were opposed. I remember as a kid wanting a dog really badly. We lived in the suburbs and had a decently-sized backyard. I imagined playing with a dog in our yard and taking him/her out for walks. But my mom's response was always the same: "We can't have animals in the house because your brother and I are allergic." Sigh.

Potato Chip Frenzy: In Loving Recovery

In last week's blog, "Tribal Connections: Soulful Medicine", I wrote about the wonders of belonging to 1 tribe or more. How with the right folks who support and love us, life becomes grander and a bit less difficult.  I shared about being away on vacation with one of my very important tribal connections, i.e., my extended family including 10 or so women cousins. I love them and am grateful for having them in my life. And, there are 2 things in particular we seem to do a lot of whenever we meet up. One is to play cards. The other is to eat a lot of junk food. I mean, a lot!

Having Tribes: Soulful Medicine

I'm very fortunate, or at least I think so. I grew up in a big Italian-American family with lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins. My maternal grandparents emigrated to New York from Southern Italy in 1912. My grandmother, Rose, the youngest of 8 siblings, left her very large, closely knit family behind. Of course, back in those days, traveling abroad to visit relatives was arduous at best. For my grandmother it took almost 1 week to sail 1 way across the Atlantic Ocean and then back, (a trip she made twice). Even a simple, "hello," to her parents could only be accomplished by what we now call, "snail mail." The strained connection for my grandmother from her country, town, culture, family and friends was painful.

Listening To Our Bodies: Gluten And More

There has been plenty written about in the media these days about the impact of gluten. It's understood now that people having Celiac Disease need to avoid gluten in all its many forms. As you might know, gluten is actually the name for the protein contained in grains like wheat, rye, barley, malt, spelt, kamut, bran, bulgar, semolina, triticale, etc. While gluten intolerance in people with celiac can cause long-term damage to ones intestines and become absolutely debilitating, sensitivity to gluten in those not having celiac can be extremely troubling as well. 

Gluten-Free Me

Living with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, an auto-immune disorder (AI), (my thyroid is under attack by my immune system as it is suspected of being an invader), I understand about the frustrations AI disease symptoms can bring - pain, discomfort, fatigue, bloating, digestive distress, anxiety, etc. While I think it's greatly important to be followed by an MD, I also believe the buck doesn't stop there.

Independent Nation - Independent Self

Happy Independence day to the USA! Wishing everyone who celebrates, a wonderful holiday full of pleasure and good times. However you spend your time, if you're enjoying yourself and in a relaxed mode, you're on the path to healing and weight reshaping.  Beyond enjoying the day, let’s also take a moment to reflect upon the significance of the celebration.

June Is Special!

June 28th: Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender (LGBT) Pride Day - 46 years ago, there were a series of protests conducted by the LGBT community against the local police for raiding and arresting patrons of the Stonewall Inn located on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, NYC. This was a time when LGBT people could be arrested simply for being themselves.

 

Truth, Justice, And The American Way

It's the day following the U.S.A. Supreme Court's historic decision that gay marriages must be recognized throughout the nation. The earth has not gone off its global tilt and life appears to be going along its merry way. I'm a supporter of this ruling for more than 1 reason. On a personal note, having gotten married in New York City 2 1/2 years ago to my partner of 20 years, it was a joyous and very exciting time! My wife and I hosted a wedding party that was full of so much love and fun while surrounded by our closest family and friends. Psyched that we were able to do this in our home state of New York, still it was troubling that many in our great country didn't have those same rights or opportunities. Also, it was a dumbfounding thought and experience that, despite legalizing our special union into marriage, despite all of our love for one another and our 2 decades together, when we traveled to any of the hold out states refusing to recognize gay marriage, my spouse and I would suddenly and abruptly no longer be married. Hugh? (Did this mean we'd have to return all of our wedding gifts?) 

Rise & Shine • Come & Get It: Being Attuned To Bio-Circadian-Nutrition Rhythm For Fat Loss & Optimal Health

Given that in the Northern hemisphere June is the month of the summer solstice, (first day of summer and longest day of the year), it seemed ideal timing to write a piece on the very real connection between the 24-hour period which follows the earth’s rotation around the sun known as the circadian clock and our bodies own natural rhythm.  We all know that the earth revolves around the sun and that it takes close to 24-hours to get this done.  But, did you know that our bodies also have a natural metabolic rhythm that mimics the rhythm of the circadian clock? The circadian clock interfaces with metabolism in numerous ways that are essential for maintaining metabolic homeostasis.1 And when our lifestyles are out of sync with the circadian rhythm this takes us away from optimal health and our ability to lose fat. It’s all true and simply stated, not eating and living in sync with the rhythm 24-hour clock can lead to non-caloric weight gain and increased stress-levels.2