I am excited to be at the beginning of the creative process for my 9 week body transformation programme. This is something that has been brewing for a while; however it needed me to take a break from the norm and to come away on holidays to find myself, to really get the inspiration for what I want to produce for you. It will be more than a diet plan; this will be where both you and I embark on a journey…..
If I was good at soulless marketing I would at this point promise you a 90 day money back guarantee, give you my house and declare myself a fraud if I cannot take you from this:
‘Perfect weight’ (whatever that is!); body confident, happy; and willing to flaunt all for the world to see now that you feel truly and utterly fabulous. The world loves you, you get the man (or woman), your partner adores you, work is a breeze, your account is in the black by several gazillions, your children are healthy, you live in a mansion and nothing interrupts your happy perfect life. Because everything will be ok WHEN you lose that extra body weight. Right?
I am not sure what to call this programme; I could call it any of the following:
• Tune in to your inner fabulousness.
• Find yourself and your hottest body.
• Learn how to achieve health, contentment, and a healthy body.
• Shed that emotional weight and find balance and along the way transform your eating so that effortlessly you get to a healthier body weight.
• Start on a path that will not only find you and the healthiest place of your life; but also turn off those inner diet demons for ever.
Or in a nutshell, the “stop beating yourself up’ diet plan; how you can in 9 weeks find a better place within yourself, a better relationship with food and exercise and all the while shedding those unwanted pounds that have landed on your hips as a result of that massive tug of war within between wanting to be somewhere thinner so that you feel better in yourself AND eating to make it all feel better.
We work on the ‘you’ stuff and I will guide you along the way by educating you in eating, menu planning, food choices, various weekly tasks to re-tune your body to health, and so on.
I am not dissing men; however women are the worst in the world in my opinion, at taking everything out on themselves. Angry with yourself? Then beat yourself up. Angry with someone else? Then beat yourself up. Run walk, gym, do, PUNISH, don’t eat, EAT, drink, smoke, take drugs, watch mindless TV, go shopping, do anything and everything to yourself that validates that your SELF and your BODY are just an object to take things out on or worse still to totally dissociate from yourself. You chose the pattern but it will swing either two ways; you will FIGHT or you will FLEE into an unhealthy coping pattern.
I think one thing we all have in common, is wanting to no longer live in that place of inner turmoil. And it is a place of turmoil. I think if we could look into the head of most women (men and now children), words like this will be flying around in there multiple times a day:
• I am fat
• I feel and I am disgusting
• I must do __________
• I should do_________
• When I am x I will be happy
• I am no good
• I cannot get anything right
• I am worthless
• I am not worthy of love (or anything good for that matter)
• Bad things are going to happen
• And so on
And even when we are not verbalising how we feel, deep within us there is an inner unease about how we FEEL within ourselves. We feel disgust at ourselves, we feel angry at ourselves, we feel worthless, we feel anxious, we worry, we feel uncomfortable, and we just feel all wrong in our bodies and our skin crawls. It is unbearable and we just feel like if we lose those few pounds everything WILL be ok.
I am going to share a bit of my world with you now to show you just how powerful our inner dialogue can be; if we don’t catch it. Yesterday I went running. Thus far, I had been bumbling along contentedly in my holiday break away from the worries of the world, thoroughly enjoying getting lost in myself and doing exactly what I wanted, when I wanted, as much as I could let myself (I am not perfect either this is a work in progress!). The past week I had the opportunity to get stuck into some self-awareness books and I was processing a lot; I love exploring books like this; they help me and they help me help my clients. I still struggled a little, during this down time with not feeling guilty over doing less, however for the most part I was in a GREAT place with being more mindful and in the moment.
Yesterday my parents arrived to spend a few days with me here in the holiday home. I love my parents dearly; they are my support team, my moral support, my business advice, my best friends, my ‘person’ to talk to and my place of safety and acceptance.
As the day went on something started to bubble up; I was feeling very body conscious, fat, uncomfortable, and like I ‘should’ be doing something; I felt an utter failure. At 5.30pm on a baking hot day in this fabulous summer ’13 heat-wave I put on my running shoes and hit the road. This is the amazing view that I was blessed with and I was barely able to appreciate any of it.
As I ran I felt so angry at myself; I had the internal dialogue of “run fat bitch run” in my head and my god, that is just what I did. I felt so uncomfortable in my skin; I just wanted to run faster than myself and out of my body all the while beating my body into a pulp. I had thoughts of laziness, should do’s, I am a failure, I am broke, and I am fat burning my brain and on top of this the awareness of what the hell is going on, and this is not the way I want to be and that I know better and what kind of therapist am I, if I am embarking on writing a 9 week body transformation programme for clients that is addressing self-acceptance and here I am wanting to quite literally punish my body for being some fat ugly mess that I cannot bear to look at in the mirror (later that night someone described this as feeling ‘fugly’ – shit we even have a word for this ). My head was swimming; where had all this intense emotion come from? I started to run through some positive affirmations; acceptance, I am perfect the way I am; recognition of how I felt and then I just stopped battling in my head.
The realisation that you cannot ‘positive affirmation’ your way out of an emotion hit me hard. And I realised that I just should be. I tuned in to the music in my ears, the beauty of the run, the hot heat beating down on me, and I did my best to just be. Instead of trying to run every step ahead of the emotions simmering through me; I watched what came up. I felt angry (at myself), I felt sad, I felt sorry for myself, I felt angry at feeling sorry for myself, I felt the emotions of a life-time of beating myself come up, and I acknowledged them as they rose. I thought I was going to pass out with an asthma attack the intensity of the emotions were strangling me and I don’t even have asthma.
Now ideally what I should have done then is stopped, and quite literally let that whole ball of emotion that was coming up my throat and suffocating my breathing fully manifest and quite literally take my breath away. I knew it wasn’t going to suffocate me; and the best thing to do is actually feel every bit of the fear, knowing that to face it is to dissolve it. And to let the tears that were demanding to make an appearance just flow. I simply should have just let it all run through my body; it wasn’t going to kill me. However ironically I had to meet a friend and was under time pressure so the best I could do was acknowledge these emotions and run with it. I did actually release them with my parents for a few minutes when I got home. I knew also that I had to own it; no one was to feel sorry for me; I just had to let the process unravel and then see where I was. To run home and cry and expect someone to make it better is simply passing it on. I needed to sit with it, release it, and change the dialogue that was burning in my head.
I was overwhelmed of the intensity of what came up for me; having been in a vastly different place in my life the past years. I was releasing a lifetime of beating myself up.
The reason I am sharing this story with you is that most of us, especially Irish women; are caught in a place of negative self-talk, absolute body discomfort, and are completely tuned out of what is going on within our bodies. Our feelings and emotions are based on our beliefs and perceptions of the world and it is important for us to feel, so that we can become aware. Instead we place all this emotion into a compartment deep within us and then hold it down. It is a bit like trying to hold many balls down in a swimming pool; it is impossible. We get bursts of anger, frustration, sadness, depression, and anxiety for example; feeling lost or completely separate from life and alone; we feel utterly exhausted; or we simply burn ourselves out in a gym, or eat.
It pains me more than anything to see women feeling like this and treating themselves this way; and THIS is the driving force for me to write this programme. Without sounding all new age and like I am in the therapy chair I want for you:
“To find yourself; to feel peace and contentment in your body, and to acknowledge the wonderful miracle of life that is your body, and the immenseness of your soul. To find a place of flow that is KNOWING that you have the resources within to handle anything and to trust the flow of life.”
Or another scenario may be happening and I see this often in my clients, and as you will read further along in my own story; your tempestuous relationship with eating and food may be related to the fact that you are highly sensitive, and this is your way of buffering the world and/ or dampening down or blotting out the anxiety of heightened emotions from others. Please follow the links here to learn more: http://www.drjudithorloff.com/Free-Articles/emotional-empath-EF.htm and http://theknowing1.wordpress.com/traits-of-an-empath/
“I want for you to embrace what it means to be beautiful within and to see the beauty within everyone, of every shape, colour and race. We are all ONE, and to find that place where there is no judgement within, means all the difference to how you perceive the world around you.”
I once asked a famous celebrity why did he change his external features so much? I felt an overwhelming sense of regret from this man about how most of his life he tried to change himself and his response was:
“I believed that what was on the outside was what was important; and now I see that it is indeed what is within that is important.”
This man is now sadly passed to the other side; he was one of the most talented singers our world has been gifted with; and he never once saw himself as we saw him when he was alive. I believe that he was too sensitive for this world and most certainly for the media extravaganza that came with his fame.
We are not created to suffer; we are not here to struggle through life beating ourselves up. We are here to experience life, with every sense that we have been blessed with. We owe it to the essence of our being to be present; present in every meaning of the word, to breathe with life. If we are stuck in a pattern of beating ourselves up and self-hate, and withdraw from ‘feeling’ because we feel so uncomfortable in ourselves then we cannot experience life to the full, and it will feel empty. It may require facing some of our biggest fears and truths about ourselves to come to a place of acceptance, yet the biggest leap will be when you decide to accept and love yourself just as you are; and that is quite simply perfect.
I have worked in the field of healthcare since I was 18. I am now 37; I have no idea how that 20 years slipped by so quickly, however in between the teens and the thirties I experienced something called life. Slowly with time, knowledge became experience; a desire to make a change became a passion to make a change; and having a feeling about what is going on for people became a knowing of what goes on for people. With time I learnt that the hardest thing I must do while working with a client is to be honest with how I see it; honesty hurts more often than not. I do my utmost best to never judge, I have not walked in your shoes; however I have walked in mine and that taught me some hard lessons. Along this journey with my professional career, I went through the ups and downs of my own life. I rode the wave and drowned in the troughs. And this then takes me to the next truth about honesty; which is that hard and all as it is to share my truth, it will help others. I ask that you don’t judge my path also .
The reason I am writing this programme is that I want for people to not only learn about how to eat for health, how to educate themselves in finding the best plan that works with their hormonal individualities, and how best to move their bodies to feel fit and empowered; but above all to find a better relationship with themselves. This is not a diet, to follow and then fall off; but a way of living that restores balance to your world.
Why is this so close to my heart?
Well firstly I am a woman and I understand what it feels like to feel utterly uncomfortable and shame within your body. I have battled myself and my weight most of my life; the battleground of my life was my SELF and my BODY.
Our early years tell us what kind of world we live in and for me it was one of absolute overwhelm and intense emotion. I know this in retrospect, all I knew as a small child was that the world around me did not reflect back the love and intrigue that I felt for the world; the world was utterly confusing. I now know that I was a highly sensitive child; an empathic child. All my life I thought something was wrong with me; when in fact there was nothing ‘wrong’ with me, I was just more in tune with the energies all around me than most. Actually I believe that we all in many ways are sensitive to what is around us; the only difference is some are conscious to it and others are not.
I could feel everyone’s anxiety, fear, anger, sadness, depression, self-loathing, money worries, bitterness, and grief; I could feel on a global scale what fears and darkness was out there; every emotion around me came right through me. I thought it was mine. As a child I could not understand why if I sent love and joy into the world all this other stuff bounced back at me. What had I done wrong? And why wasn’t I good enough? When somebody suddenly had an emotional outburst I never understood where it had come from. I felt confused, scared of the uncertainty, and deep down just couldn’t understand why, no matter how hard I tried or how much I wanted to fix it and make it better, I couldn’t. Something must have been wrong with ME. So when I couldn’t fix what was outside of me, I started to try to fix what was within me.
I started to feel very uncertain in a world that confused and overwhelmed me, I felt anxiety in the pit of my stomach over what next and now that I am aware of my heightened empathy I realise that I probably carried the anxiety of several others also in my stomach. The only thing in life I could control, I learnt, was me; my body. I couldn’t stop what I felt, I couldn’t stop my racing thoughts, I couldn’t blunt the bombardment of life but I could do my damned best to control my body. So I started to watch what I ate, and how much I exercised. And I soon learnt the payoff was that I numbed everything. I no longer ‘felt’ the world. The weight plummeted, this was positive affirmation I could indeed control things.
I am looking back at how this all played out; the truth is it wasn’t a rational set of decisions and steps that I followed; I was reacting instinctively and at the time I had no idea what I was doing. All I knew was that I didn’t want to eat; and when I didn’t eat everything felt better. In truth I wasn’t feeling anything. The problem was when I didn’t eat, I lost weight, and when I lost weight then people worried and when people worried it hurt even more and so the cycle of feeling utterly useless continued. The second problems was that being a perfectionist high achiever meant that I was very good at what I did; so I successfully landed myself in hospital aged 14 with an eating disorder after multiple rounds of bronchitis, fainting spells and well things weren’t good. Interestingly on an energy perspective, throat and lung problems relate to not feeling worthy of being alive, of suffocating in life and not feeling worthy of speaking your truth. Interesting!
Now at the time this was hell on earth; I didn’t want to be where I was, and spending time in hospital in the early 1990’s with an eating disorder when no one knew what to do with you was the most dreadful place ever to be. I was force-fed, given injections that when I look back I have no idea what they were nor do my parents; I was pointed at and identified by the nurses as the one that didn’t eat, and I was told by the doctors that I would die if I didn’t eat. I honestly didn’t think circumstances were that bad; I just wanted to get out of that awful place where at night The Rosary was piped across the intercom, and people died in beds beside me, and the food was awful, the nights dark and it was lonely. I painted every day; I think it was the only thing that helped me hold it together when I had no way on earth of connecting with what was going on within me. It would be a long time before I truly figured this all out. I started to eat, and I restored my body weight to ‘acceptable’ and took my body out of the danger zone. However my head was by no means healed in how I spoke to myself, how my body felt the world and how I coped in day-to-day life.
I spent my life pretty much treading a fine line between being an ok weight and being underweight. I was too smart to push it too far; however what appeared ok on the outside did not reflect how hard I found life being so incredibly sensitive. I felt very lost and as life took me to live in another country on my own, to carve out a successful career on my own, and basically to rely on myself it felt utterly overwhelming at times. Only I didn’t feel it at all as I expended every emotion in the gym punishing myself and every brain cell not required for work was spent worrying about my weight and food and what exercise I should be doing. I felt like the last person in the world I should trust in to care for myself when I clearly wasn’t doing a good job of it yet I was the only one around. I lived in anxiety, my mind was obsessed (this will happen when you are not optimally nourished – it is like a vicious cycle). I created all this separation from the world and people because I felt so worthless. In truth you are never alone and you are never separate.
What intrigues me however, is that every step of the way I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want to be unhealthy, I didn’t want to look thin and sickly (a battle in itself, as anyone that sees them self as far fatter than they are will understand), I didn’t want people to worry, I didn’t want to compromise my health and I wanted to solve it and figure it all out. I was on a journey……
Looking back if I had been fortunate enough to cross paths with a therapist that understood how it truly feels and also understands what it is to be highly sensitive and empathic then I would have learnt then the skills to walk an easier path (FYI there is one; her name is Suzanne Horgan and she is found here http://www.eatingdisorders.ie/). I did not find this person; instead I found a therapist that didn’t understand all this and instead created a place that was neither good nor bad. Some very unfortunate circumstances brought this therapist into my life ten years later and I saw the true extent of the potential harm and damage that a therapist can inflict in the life of a vulnerable person as they dominate, project, and create a place of utter isolation. Trust your gut in this one is all that I can say.
My experience taught me a lot and for them I am truly grateful. I feel a burning passion to someday work with eating disorder patients; for now it feels just a tad raw as being empathic I feel what they feel and my experience has taught me what this life is like. And that is one large chunk of sadness to deal with. I have worked with a few patients, with success. The most important piece of advice I will give is that it is not about the food (no problem is ever about the food!). It is about an extremely sensitive, lost person, trying to cope in a world that they do not feel a part of, yet feels like every part of them. They have lost all sense of identity and of what they want to do. And above all, this person just wants to feel loved and like they are enough. No matter how much you may want to fix it for this person, they tread their own path, and have their own free will; and so the decision to become ever so vulnerable at the start of the healing process must be theirs. I wanted to be well and so I spent most of my time figuring this out.
It was my greatest teacher and for the insights I am grateful and for the place of freedom that I am in now, I feel utterly blessed. (if you know someone suffering with an eating disorder, please seek professional help. This book, for them is also highly recommended http://www.amazon.co.uk/Regaining-Your-Self-Understanding-Conquering/dp/0757315011/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1373639156&sr=8-4&keywords=ira+sacker)
There is a saying that we mirror in life how we feel about ourselves; that we will seek the circumstances in life that validate our belief patterns. So I was in a place of not loving myself, of controlling myself, of criticising myself, of feeling disconnected to my body, of self-sabotage, or utterly punishing my body, I was exhausted, and you know the drill. So what did I do? I married it. Things really hit an all-time low yet at the same time I was embarking on the biggest wave of self-discovery and strength and somewhere in all this I found the inner me; and it said get out. Get out of everything! I guess this means that I had outgrown wanting to be in that place and the controlling I had permitted to happen was no longer acceptable; and the lack of love no longer made sense, and the criticism and judgement I felt all around me suddenly felt wrong. The inner me was transforming, and finding herself and the environment all around me was suffocating me. I never looked back; my biggest fear was spending time alone again, yet I never once doubted that I had the strength to do it.
The past three years have been the most wonderful rollercoaster of my life; finding my SELF, making sense of it all, and above all seeing that as I learnt to love myself the negative hurtful people dissolved from my life. Life has become a wonderful place full of intrigue, love, joy and connection. Every day I meet astonishing positive loving people. I travel alone and yet am never alone; I work hard, yet with purpose; I feel tuned in to a greater thing that I can only describe as a universal love and sense of being; and I feel an inner knowing that means nothing will ever be too challenging for me. I see life as a wondrous joyous lesson and I am the eager student. I have no idea how I got here to be honest only that it started with a passionate sense of knowing that there is just more to it all and to trust the process and go with the flow.
Of course not every day is easy; if I was not experiencing life in all its unedited versions then I would not be able to understand and connect with you. And share a path with you as we figure out your road map to feeling that sense of connectedness with life, of knowing that your purpose in this life is unravelling and of stepping into your whole self. So that you too feel at home in your body and choose to accept and acknowledge that you are a wonderful miracle that is a connected part in all.
I really hope that you decide to join me on this journey of finding yourself. I will post more about the programme as it is nears completion.
For now, I wish you love and light
“The important thing is this: to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are
For what we could become.”
“As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.”