Category Archives for "Blog"

September 6, 2017

How to Overcome Emotional Eating

​Emotional eating is something many of us do, without being aware of it. It is the number one culprit to weight gain, and can keep us stuck in a vicious cycle with food.

​It can also leave us feeling like a failure when it comes to healthy eating and "staying on track." Any time you eat without being physically hungry, it's usually for an emotional reason. These emotional reasons could be boredom, loneliness, anger, needing comfort or soothing, or just wanting to numb out. There are many others, but these are the main triggers.

Eating during times of transition can be a big trigger for emotional eating as well. Especially when we are transitioning to the evening after dinner, and life ​starts to quiet down. This is a time where we ​tend to want ​comfort and soothing after a long, stressful day at work or with the kids.

​Although we can have good intentions, those good intentions often turn into a whole pint of ice cream on the couch while binge-watching Netflix. Identifying if you are an emotional eater is actually simple; Ask yourself how often you eat when you are NOT physically hungry. If it's more than 30% of the time, then that is a pretty good indicator that you turn to food to soothe yourself or change your state.

In this video I share my top ​3 tips on how to identify if you are an emotional eating and what to do to in the moments when you feel like you might spiral out of control with food. I also share ways in which you can identify triggers for emotional eating.

Take a watch and leave any comments below to let me know what you discovered! ​

November 17, 2015

Food = Love?

For many of us, our first connection with food was through our mother’s breast when she held us and stared lovingly into our eyes while we suckled ourselves into bliss.

This bond and connection we had while being fed by our parent(s) can often set the course for many of us to equate food with love. And why wouldn’t we?? We are getting a basic need met through the connection of love and intimacy.

As we got older we may have been rewarded with food when we did good on a test, or even got our favorite treat if we had a bad day or got a boo-boo.

Sometimes we turned to food for comfort when we didn’t have any where else to turn, or any way to express our emotions, or the tools to communicate what we were feeling, because let’s face it; FOOD IS SAFE and it will NEVER turn its back on us!

This comfort seeking in food tends to turn to binge eating, emotional eating and over eating. In times of stress, we turn to food. If we’re sad, we turn to food. If we’re bored, we turn to food.  We lean on it. It becomes our friend. You get the idea.

How many times have you sat down in front of your TV at night and ate mindlessly? GUILTY! Or continued to eat even when you’re not hungry?! Guilty, AGAIN!

It always blows my mind how many people are in a FOOD PRISON. I used to be one of them.
I work with clients every day with this very struggle. Food is their every thought. They do “good” and eat healthy for a while, and then something happens in their life, and they get off track and spiral downward. They sabotage their efforts.

At this point, they just decide to throw it all away, because they feel like a complete failure. And then their body starts to betray them, and they feel bad physically. Then they might realize they need to make a change, so they look for the next quick fix. But a quick fix is not what will help.

What I have learned from my own journey and experience with emotional and binge eating, is there IS NO QUICK FIX. It takes courage and brevity to turn and face it. It takes action, perseverance and digging deep to break these ingrained habits and patterns that have been laying their tracks since childhood.

One way I began to break this cycle was to hire a coach to support me in taking the journey inward. I knew that trying another diet or food program would not fix what was going on inside me. Yes, meal plans are great and work for many, but what I realized is that my feelings didn’t disappear with a meal plan.  It was time to go deeper to see what I was REALLY hungry for when I overate and turned to food. I wanted to know why I turned to food in times of need, stress, loneliness and boredom. What was I looking to fill?

This was definitely an intense process, and at times achingly hard, but I knew that if I wanted to experience freedom in my life with food, and my body, I needed to go deeper.

Do you know what I discovered as I was going through this journey of self-discovery? That what I was really seeking and hungry for was; LOVE, CONNECTION and VALIDATION.

After uncovering this, I began to work more with my coach on what steps to take to be able to give myself that love and connection I was needing. I had turned away from myself and disconnected from my own body and heart. I was putting my value and worth in the way my body looked and what I weighed. Wow, what a PRISON I was in.

Little by little, I started to break free, and release the shackles that bound me. And now I can truly say that I am no longer in the prison of my own making. It took time, dedication and commitment, but it was worth every step.

If this is something that you are experiencing, it’s time to take charge of your life and break yourself free. One place I recommend starting is by reading the book, “When Food is Love,” by Geneen Roth. Actually any book by Geneen is amazing!

And, if you are really ready to take it a few steps further, and you need the support and accountability to do so, please email me and let’s have a conversation. I want to support you in diving deeper and really starting to break yourself out of prison. Remember, the only way out is through!

Look at how one of my clients found her freedom, “Before I started your program, I felt so overwhelmed with various programs that I lost touch with what is organic/authentic for me.  I am finally re-connecting with myself again and feeling liberated with this new sense of discovery!!!!”

Your turn?

Love your Body, Love your Food, Free Yourself!

March 6, 2015

Toxic Behaviors: Are They Holding You Back?

jennyA couple months ago, my business partner Allison and I had a very special speaker at our monthly women’s event, Gather n’ Glow. Jenny Schatzle of The Jenny Schatzle Program is a dynamic, motivating and authentic woman who has created an amazing life and career for herself, but not without struggle.

After sharing her story of overcoming addiction and food issues that have plagued her most of her life, she then asked the participants, “What toxic behavior is holding you back and keeping you from becoming all that you can be?” And then she claimed, “We all have one, so get honest with yourself.”

This gave rise to a lot of emotion for me because I knew exactly what mine was immediately, but it wasn’t something that was outside of myself, or even easy to admit. Most people’s toxic behaviors usually consist of drinking, drugs, gossiping, eating bad food, over eating, mindless eating, watching too much TV, getting involved in other people’s dramas, meaningless sex, etc. For me, it was none of those.

Now you may be thinking I am some Mother Teresa, or that I am bragging, but the truth is giving up some of those toxic behaviors I listed above took time and commitment to myself. I have been very intentional about the way I live my life, and living as cleanly as possible, because it feels better than living the other way, and believe me, I did the other way for years and it never felt good at the end of the day. I always came up feeling empty.

But what I did come to realize as I felt the sting of her question, and if I was really honest with myself, that my most toxic behavior is my own self-doubt and thoughts of unworthiness that creep into my day on a regular basis and keep me from really showing up fully in my business and life in general.

You may not know this about me because you only see my highlight reel on social media, and we all know that social media is not the real truth of anyone’s life,  but self-doubt has been something I’ve struggled with my whole life.

I think on some level we all have feelings of self-doubt and unworthiness and that is what can drive us to these toxic behaviors. It’s hard to look at ourselves, and uncover those dark shadows that live within. It’s easier to wear the mask and pretend everything is A-ok. But what I have come to realize is that, if we don’t look within and address what is driving these toxic behaviors, and get honest with ourselves, our life will never be as full and rich as it could be.

Jenny shared how she felt completely out of integrity with herself each day and even though she knew it,  she didn’t do anything about it because her ego had better ideas. She is a very well-known fitness trainer in Santa Barbara and one that many people respect and look up to. She would work out intensely every day and train people while preaching that they need to be healthy, eat healthy, etc., yet she was engaging in toxic behaviors on the weekends to an extreme of drinking, partying and over-eating. She would justify it by stating that she was being social and having fun with her friends, but she started to realize how out of alignment she was with her words and her actions. She wasn’t walking her talk. Once she got truly honest with herself, and started to take different actions, her whole life changed and her career exploded and she met her amazing husband.

Cleaning up my external life has been the key to a lot of wonderful things opening up for me, and I have to say, that unless I check myself regularly from an internal perspective when I have feelings of self-doubt, I recognize that I could let them ruin and run my life. But I don’t.

What I find super helpful is engaging in a daily practice of cultivating self-compassion, acceptance and turning toward myself, versus turning to an external behavior that wouldn’t support me and would only make me feel worse.

I listen to what my self-doubt really is telling me and ask myself if it’s really true, or if there is a deeper message to be heard, because sometimes there is.  I am not saying this is easy. The inside work is always the scariest, but to me, there is no other way. I want to live life full out and really be able to embrace all parts of me, not just the “good stuff.”

So, I ask you; where can you get honest with yourself and truly identify those things that you are engaging in that hold you back? Whether it’s drinking every night, over eating, justifying eating bad food, sabotaging negative thoughts etc, how can you take action to start to acknowledge and change those behaviors? Just one small step makes all the difference in the world. So take one!

Know that I am rooting for you and loving you on your journey, whatever it is!

 

March 1, 2014

A Broken Heart: a.k.a A Healing Opportunity

A broken heart. If you are a human living on this planet, I know you know what I am talking about. They suck, plain and simple.

A dear friend of mine once said to me, “I don’t believe in broken hearts, I believe that your heart is broken open even more during a challenging time.” Yes, I do agree with this, and yet, the excruciating pain of a “broken heart” in the present makes it hard for me to grasp this concept. I get it on an intellectual level, but the actual physical pain in my heart says otherwise.

I get that with pain, there is always opportunity for more healing, learning lessons and connecting within. And believe me, I’ve had my fair share of broken hearts and opportunities. Actually, sometimes it feels like more than my fair share, which makes me wonder if karma is at play here too? Or, maybe my lesson is SO big the Divine needs to keep reminding me to turn within and trust myself? Who knows, but I have to say, sometimes it just feels like too much. Do you feel me?

One day recently when things in my life weren’t really flowing, and I was in complete resistance, I prayed for a break. I looked up at the sky and said, “God, please give me a break, for once.” And boy did I get one, in the form of a break-up. Not funny God!

Here’s the thing, the Divine/Universe/God doesn’t know the difference. It will present whatever we ask for to match our internal reality and vibration. I was obviously vibrating very low because of my resistance, and I was met exactly where my energy was. It’s just the law of nature,; wherever we vibrate energetically is the level that we attract from.

You see, I had been a serial monogamist most of my life. Moving from one long-term relationship to the next, without a beat in between. Five years, Three Years, Two and a half years. You get the idea. This is how I stayed occupied and how, ultimately, I avoided myself, and the massive amount of pain that was running around inside. Putting my attention and focus on others allowed me to be avoidant. After a broken engagement in 1999, I decided to take time alone and to cancel my serial monogamy subscription. I felt that I needed to heal and work on myself and ultimately “fix” what was wrong.

Well, all the frantic seeking for healing and fixing  turned into a 7-year journey of being single (hmmm…7 years in Tibet? I think not.) I felt like there was something broken in me I needed to fix, and that was why I couldn’t make a relationship work. I felt hopeless and I could see my painful patterns staring me in the face.

I had a crazy idea in my head that before I could find my “soul mate” (which by the way, I no longer believe in one soul mate, but that there are many brought in to teach the soul lesson that is needed at the time) I needed to be fully healed, in other words “perfect,” and without baggage. And what this thought process did was leave me in a place of feeling even more broken, and discouraged. It’s just not realistic.

Yes, I grew up with a lot of baggage, who hasn’t? You know, the classic alcoholic, rage-aholic, violent father, who was never around. And when he was he was screaming obscenities and making holes in the wall. A mother who was in constant survival mode, with three kids in tow, fending for her life. So, basically I had to fend for myself. I had to figure it out on my own. I had to stay silent to survive, and I had no one to turn to for safety. I had zero, or what felt like, support. I don’t say all of this so that you feel pity or sadness for me, we all have our stories and they make us stronger. Yet, I do say it, because maybe it will resonate with you and you will not feel alone in the world, and it will give you the inspiration to keep going further in your healing journey.

Anyway, after that 7-year stint of seeking, I felt healed, I felt clear, I felt ready to meet the “perfect” guy and start a life with my partner. I was convinced that all the yoga I did, going to see healers, chanting, you name it had really changed me and healed me. Well, God had another plan.

I met D at the end of 2008 when things in my life were in the flow and I was feeling really good. Well, this relationship rocked my world, and turned it upside down. It brought me to my knees, and not in a good way. It was everything I DIDN’T want in a relationship/partnership, and had been working so hard to not create. He was literally my father incarnate, and yet for some reason something in me couldn’t leave, no matter how many times I tried and how “wrong” it felt.  The relationship brought out the ugliest parts of me. It pushed me past my limits. It reduced me down to the smallest I’ve ever felt.

So, you may be wondering why I stayed? Why I put up with abuse? Why I didn’t get out sooner? All of those questions that people wonder, but may never say out loud. Well, what I’m going to say next is very important, and it’s not rocket science, but an idea that most of us don’t really grasp or understand and one I didn’t understand until very recently.

We DO what we KNOW.

That’s right. NO matter how much outward seeking we do, or meditating, or yoga…we still can do what we know, on an unconscious level. There’s old parts of us that are still in charge, and sometime we have no control over them. It’s almost as if I had to go through this horrible experience to finally let go of the abuse of my childhood and turn inward to that part of me and really heal.  I had to literally go up against my father, in a different form, so that I could finally forgive him and learn to trust myself.

You know, the first 8 years of our life are the most formative, and this is where we learn about loving ourselves and how to relate to others in the world. If we are not given love and affection, we don’t know how to feel and build our own self-love. Others reflect love to us from the moment we come into this earthly field, starting with our parents, and it teaches us to love ourselves, and others. If we don’t have that, guess what? I’m sure you can guess. There are tons of studies out there that result in babies dying when they do not receive love, touch and affection from another human being.

D was a perfect reflection of my inner reality. He mirrored all of my insecurities, fears and lack of my own self-worth right back to me.  All of the “work” and seeking I did didn’t even scratch the surface of that deeper part in me; my small little one who never felt loved and felt terribly burdened by hurt, betrayal and loneliness was running the show. Sometimes our past does follow us into the present, no matter how hard we try to leave it behind. In fact, what I know now is that the harder I tried to leave it behind, the more it showed up. Hmmmm….

The abuse from that relationship took a detrimental toll on my physical, mental and emotional health and it has been a long road back. Taking these last two years to go within and heal has been the biggest gift in my life. I stopped looking outside of myself for answers. I picked up tons of tools so I could work with myself, and my precious, hurt little one, and I started to love on her. That was really all she needed. For me to be a parent to her and to feel supported.

Eventually I got back out there. Not an easy choice, because I was scared and unsure. But I went online and met an awesome guy. We have been dating for the last 7 months, and recently split up. So, here I am with another opportunity in front of me, or to be blunt, a broken heart.  And it’s funny, because I finally thought I had met someone who would be my life partner, and be able to go on this crazy ride of life together, but again, not the plan.

The big difference this time around is that the man I attracted was willing, loving, communicative, kind, mature, generous and amazing. The complete opposite of my father and D. We shared the deepest connection I had ever felt with anyone. He was a beautiful reflection of how much I had grown over the past 2 years, and and how willing I was to take a risk, even after being emotionally destroyed through abuse. And all of this was because I had turned into myself for healing, versus seeking outside.

Unfortunately, the timing wasn’t right for us for partnership, but it was perfect in what I needed reflected back to me; my own loving, beautiful, giving, tender, available heart. And even though my heart does feel broken, or broken open, as my friend would say, I am deeply sad and feel like I might be swallowed up by it some days, I am so, so grateful that I went into that relationship fully and gave my all, even with fear present.

I knew on a much deeper level that it would be different this time. And, I knew, without a doubt that I could show up for someone bigger than I ever had, and I did. And I had a person beside me, if only for a short while that reflected all of that back to me. I took a risk, because I now KNOW that I AM worth it. I finally felt like I had done nothing “wrong” (a huge feeling in past relationships) and that I AM capable of a healthy, loving, beautiful relationship and I am NOT BROKEN! Sometimes it’s just a matter of Divine Timing.

You know, I was given my biggest lesson in the world in that abusive relationship with D, which I can now see was all on purpose and I am, ultimately grateful for it. And that lesson was about TRUSTING myself. I didn’t trust myself at all back then, and that was why I stayed and put up with the abuse. I DID what I KNEW, even though I “knew” better and that was something that I I would’ve never figured out if I didn’t go into that relationship.

So, to wrap all of this up, sometimes we just need to go through things; big things. Other times we need to go through small things. My heart aches, but my relationship with the Divine is opening up to new levels, and I have a sense of partnership I’ve never had before, and it’s with the Divine in me and trusting in myself and the Higher plan. And I have to say, it’s not always easy. There are days I am brought to my knees, but in a different way than before. This time it’s more from a knowing place that I DO have someone beside me supporting me, it’s my Divinity within.

So, if you are struggling with a broken heart, or a challenge with someone in your life, turn into yourself and ask your Higher Self for guidance, because you DO have the answers. And use the people in your life closest to you to get support, and to affirm that big reflection of the love that you are.

Remember, everyone arrives in our life at the perfect time to deliver the perfect message and lesson. Sometimes we can’t see it in the present moment, or understand why, especially if it’s painful. Trusting in yourself, and the higher plan for your life will make this journey a whole heckuva’ lot easier. Don’t be afraid to take a risk. Whoever is in front of you is there for a reason and remember, the only way out is through.

I Love You

Melissa

May 14, 2013

My 2 Days with The Big “Z”

Most of you who know me or have been following Karma Chow for a while, know that I have been struggling with some health issues over this last year and a half. Namely, exhausted adrenals, hypothyroidism and the dreaded Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS.)

I have been on a journey for this last year to heal myself, which was part of the reason I left Los Angeles, or City of Crazy, as I call it, and moved to Santa Barbara, aka Blissville. Can you see why?

This is the view from our dog park..yes, dog park! This is the view from our dog park..yes, dog park!

Over the course of this time, I have seen many different kinds of people to help me with my healing; naturopaths, hormone specialists, nutritionists of all kinds, kinesiologists, acupuncturists, massage therapists and more.  I have literally spent thousands of dollars, been poked and prodded, peed in many cups, and I am still struggling in a lot of ways.

My life for the past 20 years has been built around healing naturally and healing my body through clean eating, yoga and exercise. Which is how Karma Chow and my passion to help others, came to be. This way of living is something that is NOW ingrained in me, a strong belief system, if you will, because it worked for me, up until about 2 weeks ago, when I had to seek out other help (when I refer to “other,” I mean traditional medicine.)

Now, I know some of you may be thinking, well, if this is what you do for a living, why can’t you heal yourself with all the knowledge you have? And I have, up until a certain point. Eating a clean, vegan diet has saved my life in many ways, but I hit a wall with my healing and these new “dis-eases” in my body, and I couldn’t figure out how to heal or feel better without extra support. So I had to turn to people who have way more knowledge than I do.

As a child, I suffered from asthma, migraines, allergies, IBS, TMJ and more. A lot of this was food related, and a lot of it was emotionally related too. I had a rough upbringing with a lot of emotional turmoil, and as a kid, I didn’t know what to do with my emotions. I wasn’t taught how to express them, or to know that they are just emotions and they are not good or bad, they just are (if you are a parent reading this, teaching your kids how to express their emotions, healthfully, can save them from a lifetime of health issues.)

So, in the process of not knowing how to express my emotions, or feeling the support to do so, I stuffed them all down, and kept silent, or I identified with them, which made me feel bad and broken. This resulted in ill-health.

When I began my spiritual and clean eating journey many years ago, all of these illnesses I mentioned above (IBS, migraines, etc) healed over time. Now granted, I still had emotional stuff, and always will. I am human after all, but over the years I have compiled a pretty nice size tool box full of some shiny tools to help me through the emotional storms when they happen. But sometimes, I would find myself in situations where I was sitting on the floor with all the tools strewn around me and they just didn’t work, or seemed a bit rusty, if you will.

This leads me to present day and the WHY I am now living with CFS, Adrenal Exhaustion & Hormonal imbalances. I almost said, “fighting” and not “living with,” but the way I see it, the more we fight against something, the more it will persist, so I am learning to gracefully live with these things, while taking the positive action to heal.

There are so many campaigns out there that are termed, “war on cancer, war on violence, etc”…it just seems like a going to war with something, or someone, never really fixes the problem, it just exacerbates it more, and keeps us in a negative mindset.

I’m not sure if you know about CFS, but it’s a mystery disease to many,
even doctors. It’s basically caused by the body fighting viruses that
will always exist there, once contracted. As a kid, without even knowing
it, I contracted Epstein Barr Virus (EBV), otherwise known as MONO (the
kissing disease.) I have no idea when I got it, but I suspect it was
when I had a bout with walking pneumonia in my very early twenties. I
also picked up a couple others along the way, and with my immunity not
being strong as a child, my body was throwing a welcoming party for
these immune blasters.

Little did I know, until about a year ago, after my functional nutritionist recommended I do a specific viral blood test, that I had all of these so-called dormant viruses in my system. These not-so-nice suckers will live there for my lifetime, and if I am put under a tremendous amount of emotional stress, or any kind of stress, they will reactivate and wreak havoc to my system, thus Chronic Fatigue. My body is constantly battling against itself, not to mention a low working thyroid and exhausted adrenals, which can all be a result of the CFS.

As you may imagine, these things have taken a toll on my emotional health as well. I went through 2 pretty rough years of an emotionally abusive relationship, and with my body constantly being in Fight or Flight and survival mode, all of these things were brewing under the surface. I guess I should’ve known considering I lost a tremendous amount of weight, weighing in at 124 and standing at 5’11” and couldn’t keep it on, no matter what I ate (yes, I know some of you would beg for this to happen, but not at the price I paid…although I do have to admit, my ego-driven, feel-loved-for-the way-I-look part of myself loved being that thin for a while, but that’s not real, that’s insanity! And to top it off, that’s not where my body can function. All of our bodies have a natural weight where they work best at.

Once I left the relationship, which took some time, and a long time to forgive myself for staying, my body shut down. I didn’t have to be in fight or flight anymore, and I hit a proverbial (very thick) wall and couldn’t get out of bed.

I had a constant course of
stress and cortisol running through my system for these 2 years, which
activated those little intruding, but dormant viruses. AND, to top it
off, my thyroid stopped working properly, my hair started falling out,
my digestion was a mess, I couldn’t sleep, yet I couldn’t get out of
bed. I had ZERO energy. I started to feel down, and like I was slipping
into a depression.

I was taken off of exercise because of my poor little adrenals and the fact that my blood pressure was so low, I would faint occasionally. Now exercise is the one thing that actually helps CFS (and I love it,) but because of my adrenals being so exhausted, exercise would just exacerbate things (extreme exercise puts undue stress on the body.) So all of those feel good chemicals that come from exercise were no longer available to me, including serotonin, and my body was depleted.

I began to gain weight, about 20 lbs worth in a year..and it wasn’t good old lean muscle, it was that icky, gooey stuff that most of us don’t really like. My body felt out of control, flabby and just plain bad. As clean as I ate, I just kept putting on weight.

I know I needed to put on a few, because I was tired of my friends telling me how gaunt I looked, but I couldn’t control it anymore. My body was just doing it’s own thing and I couldn’t do anything about it. Now for someone who has struggled with emotional, body image related eating issues most of her young life, this was a huge challenge for me. One more thing to add to the mix!

For a full year and a half, I felt like crap. Sure there were some good days, but mostly my days were low, I was emotionally and physically exhausted, but I couldn’t sleep. I had insomnia and my cortisol was so messed up, that in the mornings I felt like I drank a bottle of Jack the night prior (you know what I’m talking about.) This was so much of a problem that I ended up taking valerian root, and did some research on oils that could help with sleep, but despite all those I never felt rested, ever!  I couldn’t stand to be around people, the things that I used to love to do, didn’t do it for me anymore. I just couldn’t find an ounce of joy anywhere. All I ached for was to feel like myself again, and I was scared I never would. I felt like my health was taken away from me and I would never get it back, and I was responsible for this!

About 2 weeks ago, I was invited back to be on LIVE TV in San Diego for the San Diego Living Show. I also received a very special invite to the book launch of my dear friend and celebrity yoga teacher, Many Ingber for her first book, Yogalosophy (which I penned the meal plans and recipes for and it’s awesome, so I suggest you pick up a copy) I was so excited for both and couldn’t wait, but my body had other ideas.

The weekend before these 2 amazing events, where I was actually going to finally meet Jennifer Aniston (yes, I think she’s super cool), my CFS came on with a vengeance. I spent 4 full days in bed, and the 6 days leading up to that, feeling like I was living with a permanent hangover that came from 3 bottles of Jack, not one! UGH!
When the days came for me to show up, I couldn’t. Not only was my body not doing what I needed it to (giving me energy, feeling alive, etc), but my spirits were in the tar pits (if you live in L.A., you know what I’m talking about.) To put it bluntly, I was EFFIN DEPRESSED.

I couldn’t take it anymore. My body was betraying me and I was missing HUGE opportunities that a lot of people live their whole lives for. Being on TV, meeting Jennifer Aniston and other awesome celebs, and seeing my dear friend launch her book. What the??  But I had to miss it. I couldn’t even pull myself up to get there, and FAKE it.  I was in serious pain, sadness and desolation. I just laid in bed and cried, not knowing what to do. Now my business was suffering along with the rest of my life.

All of this brought me to feel, enough is enough, I had to do something.  So, I talked to a dear friend of mine who is a psycho therapist and asked her about Anti-Depressants. WHAT??? Yes, you heard me. Now this is something I NEVER in my lifetime thought I would resort to. I am the “master” natural healer after all. But, I knew I needed something. I have friends who are on them, and knew others who received great benefit from them, so I bit the bullet and went to see a doc to get a prescription.

I cried in the doctor’s office, because I never thought I would be in this position. Now don’t get me wrong, I think drugs are great in a lot of cases, and they help a lot of people, but I have lived anti-drug for mostly all of my adult life, and for good reason. but this felt like I was battling a chemical deficiency, and it felt like I needed a little something to help me through.

So I walked out of the doc’s office with a script in hand for 50mg of The Big Z, Zoloft (the mildest, and oldest AD on the market, which means the least side effects.) BTW, I can’t tell you how easy it was to get a prescription without divulging much information, it kind of freaked me out, and now I really get why so many people have prescription drug addictions.

Anyway, I went right to the pharmacy, feeling a little shame, when the pharmacist took my prescription and looked at me funny, or so I perceived. I thought, “he’s going to know I’m screwed up.” And it was all just a huge projection of how I was feeling about myself inside.

I got the prescription and went home. That night, I took that little oblong blue pill before bed, and as I was swallowing it, I didn’t feel right. Something felt “off,” icky and bad. My strong belief system was being challenged and screaming at me, “this is not good for you, this is poison.” Now how good can it be to swallow something that is suppose to help me, but at the same time I am thinking it’s poison? Not very. I believe our thoughts are just as powerful as anything in our own healing, and these thoughts were not going to help me.

So that night, wouldn’t you know it, I had horrible nightmares, I didn’t sleep, I tossed and turned, I was nauseous, I got up 2x because I thought I was going to vomit, I felt out of control. My whole world was reeling. The next day was just as bad because I couldn’t come to terms with what my life had come to.

That next night, I did it one more time. This time, I tried to be more positive and tell myself that the Big Z was going to help me, but a very loud voice rang out as I was swallowing that little blue pill, “this is poison.”  Everything I had known up until this point felt like it was disappearing. Feelings that I haven’t experienced since I was a child were coming forward. I felt completely helpless and out of control!

The second night, again, horrible nightmares, insomnia in between. I was up all night staring at the ceiling feeling scared, alone and totally screwed up. I began to pray because that is all that I could do. The thought of not living felt easier than going through all this pain, for so long. Life seemed very grim.

The next day as I got out of bed, I said to myself, “that’s it, I’m done. I can’t do this, I can’t put this “poison” in my body.” So, I made an appointment to see my acupuncturist, because my body was in so much pain. I talked to her about my experience and she pointed out that my decision to take the drugs was obviously not aligned with my deeper truth, and came from a place of desperation. At that moment, I received a wave of clarity and made a informed (by my very intuitive gut) decision to not take the Big Z, and to figure out a way to heal myself from the inside out, naturally.

That night I went to bed, Z-free, and I slept really well (first miracle,) with a little help from melatonin. I didn’t have nightmares, and for the first time in over 2 years, I woke up feeling good (2nd miracle.) I didn’t feel like I was run over by a truck, something inside me felt different. I didn’t feel a heavy fog hanging over me (wow, so many miracles.)

I got out of bed, and sat down to meditate as I often do, and right after that, something inside me told me to unroll my yoga mat on the living room floor, which I hadn’t done in over a year because of how much my body hurt. I proceeded to do 90 minutes of yoga, on my own, letting my body move how it wanted.  It wasn’t easy, but it was SO powerful and freeing. I couldn’t believe the shift I was feeling. I was scared it would go away any second and I’d be back in that dark, deathening tunnel of despair. I just kept moving and breathing deeper than I ever had, and I felt my breath start to open up my body.

I can’t explain it, but all I know is that the very act of taking The Big Z, felt like the lowest, low I could ever go (side note: I do not believe this to be true for everyone, as some people need drugs to help them and I am totally in favor of that – we are all very different and that’s part of what I teach with clean eating) and it WOKE ME UP!

So today, over a week later, the fog is STILL gone. I have done yoga almost every day since that beautiful day filled with miracle after miracle, and I have been engaged in life again. I am breathing deeper, feeling my body, meditating daily and getting out again. The message that I received that first morning while I was meditating was, “get back to what really matters to you; yoga, meditation and your breath because these things have helped you so much on your journey to heal, in the past.”
It rang SO TRUE. It was like peals of church bells going off in my ears. I felt a BIG YES resounding through me, it truly felt like a miracle. And I can say that today, I am SO humbled by and grateful for my 2 days with the Big Z, because those 2 darkest days of my life opened me back up to the beauty of myself and my ability to heal. Thank God for those little, blue oblong pills.

Now this doesn’t mean that my adrenals are healed, my CFS gone and my hormones perfect, but what it does mean, is that I will continue on my healing journey, naturally with the addition of yoga & breathwork, which to me is one of the most powerful healers out there. The truth is, I was in such a low place that I couldn’t even feel the beauty of these things when I did them because of the cloud that hung around.

I’m not sure if this will stay with me, but while it’s here, I will relish in the deliciousness of it and I will always remember that morning I woke up, humbled by the presence of God in my life and the all-mighty universe supporting me when I took an intended action. It is a constant daily practice of awareness, positive intended action, and surrender. Surrender being the hardest of all.

I will also seek out natural ways to lift my mood like, St. John’s Wort, 5-HTP and serotonin producing foods. I hope that reading this has helped you in some way, and as I continue on my healing path, I will share my journey as I know that we all need the love and support.

With Love and Gratitude….

**(If you or someone you know
is suffering from depression, please seek help immediately, in whatever
realm you feel works for you!)

August 30, 2012

Do you Cave When you Crave?

Cravings! Ah yes, we all have them, and most of the time they can be unhealthy. Cravings for foods that are sugary, salty, fatty, crunchy and fried are among the most common types of cravings, and as most of you know, these types of foods are usually not always the healthiest choice for us.

As a wellness coach and nutritionist, I work with people coaching them on how to get rid of bad habits and create new, healthier ones. I help them to recognize their cravings and how to work through them by using many different methods, which bring them to a new state of awareness with their eating.

The majority of the time our cravings are emotional and often times the act of eating emotionally can result in a lifetime of bad habits. Think about it. When we were kids, our parents usually fed us as a reward if we did something good, or as comfort if we were hurt or sad. Our first food came from our mother’s breast, the ONE person we equated love with. So it’s no wonder we equate eating food with receiving love.

And not only is that not enough, we have the large corporate food companies dialed in with scientists working around the clock to create the perfect combination of sugary, salty, fatty foods. These foods stimulate the feel good centers of the brain and leave us wanting more. If these foods are eaten enough, they can actually rewire the brain to crave more of the same. They alter the biological circuitry of our brain (see “The End of Overeating” by David A. Kessler). Just the right combo of these three together will spark your brain into caving for your craving. And from there, habits are built.

So not only are cravings emotional, but they are physical as well. But don’t fret, there are ways to alter your habits and control your cravings. You don’t have to be the one who “caves” every time there is a cookie in front of you, or a slice of wedding cake sitting on the buffet. You look at it, and you don’t really want it, but something in you goes for it, and before you know it, you have finished a huge hunk of cake. It’s that feel good center of your brain that remembers how it felt when you had this decadent combo before. You have rewarded that behavior. The pathway that you have created from eating so many of these types of foods in your lifetime is activated and then you want more.

But you can control your cravings, and although it may seem daunting at first, these three simple steps will change the way you relate to food and yourself.

1. Recognize your craving and what is driving it: stop yourself before going for the food; take three deep breaths and ask yourself what is driving this craving. Are you really hungry? Or are you making an emotional choice? Get quiet and listen. A lot of people will go for food when they are stressed, sad, lonely or emotional. If you feel any of these things, or you just experienced a stressful situation (a fight with your partner, unwanted news, etc.), tell yourself that food is not the answer and then reach out to a friend, write in a journal or take a walk around the block.

2. Plan your food each week so that you know what you will be eating and how much: Take time each week to make a menu of what foods you will be eating. Make healthy choices and know that eating healthy foods will bring you a sense of prolonged wellbeing versus the instant gratification you get when eating the “cave” foods. Eating healthy foods will begin to crowd out the bad foods and create newer, healthier habits.

3. Take contrary action: Do the opposite of what you’ve always done. I learned this awesome and very powerful slogan in a 12-Step program and it changed my life. Anytime you find yourself wanting to indulge in a craving, take an opposite and healthier action. Instead of eating candy, grab a piece of fruit. Instead of eating cake at a wedding, ask for a glass of sparkling water with lemon. Instead of sitting in front of the TV eating a carton of Ben & Jerry’s, pull out your yoga mat and do some stretches instead. The very act of doing these healthier and contrary behaviors will start to rewire the brain and you will find that you will start to crave the bad foods less, and crave the better actions you are engaging in. Your brain will start to connect stretching in front of the TV as a positive and from there, you will continue to build on this foundation to a healthier way of life.

I know that controlling cravings isn’t easy. Believe me, I have been on a lifelong journey learning how to give my body what it really needs, versus what I think it wants. I have found that the healthier I eat, the less and less I want these unhealthy foods that don’t serve me. It’s a process and a journey, so remember to be gentle with yourself and just take one positive step forward when you find you might Cave to what you Crave!

June 16, 2012

A Celebration of Men!

I was inspired to write this blog from a video post my dear friend, Amber founder of BodyHeart, put up on Facebook today. It was about celebrating men. And as women how we can help men to open their hearts and feel safe enough to be vulnerable. Supporting them in their journey within to become the best version of themselves they can be.

Let’s face it, men are just as sensitive as women are. We may not always see that, or recognize it, as women are more apt to wear their hearts on their sleeves, but that doesn’t mean men don’t have feelings and aren’t sensitive and caring.

My father is no longer alive, and I had a very strained relationship with him. As a result, I have had a hard time, in the past, trusting men and trusting them to take care of my heart. Granted, I know that I am the only one who really takes care of my heart, yet when I am in relationship, this is something that I desire from a man to know how to do, and to show up in a loving and respectful way where he cherishes my heart. And on the other side of that, knowing that I am committed to showing up for him in that way too.

I have struggled most of my life with abandonment from men, and I know that also comes from an old belief that I learned from seeing my father leave all the time when the going got rough. The truth was, he was just scared. He wasn’t really leaving me, he was doing the best he knew how given the circumstances. He had a lot going on, alcoholism, gambling, violent rage, it’s no wonder he couldn’t stay…and I know now that this had nothing to do with me. In a lot of ways, he was probably protecting me by leaving. Through my experience with all of this I can now feel compassion for him and I no longer have to hold my dad or any man hostage anymore with my irrational beliefs about abandonment. It wasn’t personal, or ever is, and I get that.

When I read the beautiful blog that Mastin Kipp posted the other day on The Daily Love titled, “Here is the Key to a Woman’s Heart” it really got me thinking about Men and how most men are just as afraid to love as women are.

The bottom line is we are all human beings…we are the same in so many ways, but different in our gender and the way we handle things, and even how we communicate. Men are now becoming more in touch with their feelings and opening their hearts in ways I have never experienced before, and it is truly inspiring and beautiful! Fear is what causes most men to run from women. And I think it’s an honor to let men know they are safe with us and can be vulnerable without the fear of us hurting them or using it against them.

Being in the Spiritual Psychology program at the University Of Santa Monica, has really opened my eyes to this even more. More and more men are turning to spirituality and opening to their own vulnerability. It truly is a beautiful thing to witness and I feel so honored to see this process. And as I put myself in vulnerable situations with men, I realize that men CAN be trusted. I know this is my own filter and irrational belief that I adopted long ago and being open to seeing men in a different way has healed my life in so many ways. It has helped me to open my heart, helped me to understand men better, and be more compassionate as well as helped me to understand myself better.

What I know is that men are sweet, kind, loving, vulnerable, smart, go-getters, fixers, lovers, providers and supporters. Men are to be celebrated and celebrated a lot! Men are to be respected and honored for who they are, just as any other human being.  Men are solid, they can be leaned on and they can hold for us in ways that we may have never thought possible.

So, with Father’s Day coming up, how can you celebrate the men in your life, whether it be husband, dad, boyfriend, uncle, brother, nephew…? How can you show up for the men in your life each day that lets them know how much they mean to you and how much you celebrate them for who they are?

Men deserve to be acknowledged, prized, listened to, honored and loved with reckless abandon. So, give your dad, lover or brother a call and let him know how much he means to you and how much you honor his presence in your life!

With Love & Gratitude!

January 27, 2012

Losing the Weight of Your Emotions

When I begin working with new clients and I hear from them that they have tried every diet known to man with no “success,” I always know there is something deeper happening than their desire to lose weight. Of course their desire is valid, but usually it’s not just about the weight that they are carrying and they want to shed. They’ve struggled with yo-yo dieting and cleansing and many other avenues that they thought would get them healthy and lean, but they ended up back where they started or even further back.

The reason I became so interested in food and nutrition, is because I have struggled most of my life with emotional eating and a distorted body image. I must say, it hasn’t been an easy road at all and I have done so much work around deeper healing and looking into why I have this “issue”. Some days I have intense feelings that keep me up late into the night obsessing over the bag of rice chips I ate, or the ½ pint of coconut ice cream that I downed when I wasn’t even hungry.  I can also tend to obsess over body image issues…that my jeans are tighter today than they were yesterday, or my belly is not as flat as it was the day before, or if every calorie I put in my mouth is going to make me fat.  These times come much less frequent these days and I am not going to say that I have totally healed, but I have definitely dug into deeper parts of myself to see what is running these parts of me and learned how to give myself what I really need in those moments to move through them much more gracefully than in the past.

Eating is something we need to do to stay alive. It’s not like other addictions where we can give up said substance and still survive, even though it may feel like we are going to die without it. Food is our nourishment, our vitality, our life. If we don’t know how to relate to food and our bodies in a healthy way, then we will have issues with weight, overeating, under-eating and so much more. I think you get the picture.

Our emotions and feelings play such a big role in our lives. It’s so important to look deeper into these feelings we have around our body, eating and food as they will give us messages of what our bodies and our souls really need. It’s not about the next quick fix diet, or cleanse or fast. It’s about really going inward and asking your body what it needs, or asking your soul what it needs and most of the time that answer is – Love.

Loving ourselves is such a huge part of learning how to live with emotional eating. I don’t think this “addiction” ever fully goes away, but the more we learn to love ourselves, the more this little, or big, monster will calm down and take the proverbial back seat. I know that some of you may be thinking that you are not ready to look at what it is that is driving your overeating, or emotional food choices or body image obsession, but I am here to tell you that the only way out of this, is through this.

If you struggle with any of the things that I have mentioned, seek out help with a professional, start to write in a journal, begin to really get in touch with “WHEN you are eating, WHY you are eating and WHAT you are eating.” Start to notice what you put in your mouth and why. Is your body really hungry or are your emotions screaming out to you for something else? Are you craving love, attention and affection? If so, how can you give this to yourself? Maybe you could call a friend, or stop and take a few deep breaths – whatever it is that will help you really tune into what is going on internally, before you fill your mouth with an unhealthy food that will not nourish you in any way except to feed your “in the moment” craving for something else bigger.

Begin to really notice those moments when you have a craving and see if you can stop, take a breath and check in with yourself. Do you really want that sugary donut, bag of chips or chocolate bar? Or do you really want a hug from someone?  So many of our food cravings are brought about by memories of comfort when we were kids. So it’s normal to want certain foods if we are feeling down or sad, but the wise thing to do in a situation like this is to skip the food and find a way to comfort yourself. I know this sounds strange, but the love we give to ourselves and feel for ourselves is the most important love of all. So where and how can you start to love yourself more so that you don’t become slave to your emotional eating, which can lead to extra pounds, depression, shame and self-loathing?

Just one small, positive action can start to break the cycle…what will yours be?

January 27, 2012

Labels: Do They Help Us or Hurt Us?

I have been a vegan for quite a while now and I am also a vegan chef, so being vegan is part of my livelihood and I believe in it. For most of my life I have gone back and forth between the labels of vegetarianism and veganism. For a long time, these labels fed my ego and helped me to feel “powerful” in a sense. I felt better and “smarter” than others, because I was doing the “right’ thing. I was making healthy choices and saving animals at the same time. I would even go to the extent of preaching to others how they should be vegetarian and I judged them if they weren’t or if they ate unhealthy.

But, what I am finding now, as I live a healthier life and work closely with others to assist them in finding a healthy lifestyle that works for them, is that these labels do not matter and in a way, I am discovering that they can actually hold us back. When we label ourselves, we set ourselves up for minimal growth and also scrutiny from others.  I cannot tell you how many times I have been scrutinized by people when I eat out or when I make a decision to eat an egg, and listen to my body vs. following my label of vegan.  And, how many times I have looked over my shoulder to make sure no one sees me eating an egg or a bite of goat cheese! Our ego needs to give almost everything we do a name, and most of the time that doesn’t serve us. Think of any kind of label, even designer labels. Some people will spend thousands of dollars more on a designer label so that they can get attention or feel good. I personally know people who are addicted to designer labels and feel unworthy if they are not donning some expensive purse or piece of clothing. I am not saying this is a bad thing, yet it’s definitely an ego-based decision and doesn’t seem to allow for much internal growth.

When we live in a world of black and white, right and wrong, good and bad, I can understand labeling, but if we want to grow as a society and in our own personal lives, labeling leaves much to be desired.  Labeling can pigeonhole us into ONE way of being and thinking. Even political labels can do this. Yes, we all have our beliefs and there is nothing wrong with that, or, in fact, even right with that, they are just beliefs. And as human beings we get to make new choices and have new beliefs any time we want and that is the beauty of free will.  I have found that labeling myself a vegan has, at times, brought me much discomfort in the eyes of others. I understand that this discomfort is my own, and I also understand that I get to call myself whatever I want without buying into the judgments of others.

To me what matters most is that I am healthy, energetic and I am eating whole, plant-based, unprocessed foods and listening to my body by giving it what it needs. Also, that I am being of service to the world no matter what my label. For me veganism was a choice for many different reasons, which started with health reasons. As a kid I suffered from allergies, digestive issues and the like, yet it was also a natural progression that happened as I started to care more and more about what I put in my body and how I wanted to feel. The cleaner I ate and the more I cut out the processed foods, the better I felt. But I could’ve just cut out processed foods and continued eating meat, yet for me, my body really didn’t like it. Honestly, it grossed me out and I just didn’t want it anymore. So I decided to become first, a vegetarian and eventually a vegan.

What I realize now is that I don’t want to label myself as a vegan anymore. I know how much it means to me, but if I am following the “vegan guidelines” of how to be a “proper” vegan, I fall way short. Why? Well, because I still eat honey (something vegans frown upon), I still wear leather (and I am mindful not to buy new leather products), I will on occasion eat an egg if my body wants it, or even have a bite of creamy burratta mozzarella when I am in Naples, Italy where Buratta originates…When in Rome. I don’t want to be under the scrutiny of the vegan label anymore, and that doesn’t

mean that I won’t still claim I eat vegan, cause I do, but what I am leaning toward now is that I am a person who loves vegan food. I am a person who loves to eat plant-based, whole foods and I am a person who cooks vegan food for others and teaches others how to have more plant-based foods in their life.

Vegan, Vegetarian, Flexitarian, Ovo-Lacto Vegetarian, Pescetarian, these are all just labels that we use to describe the way we eat. One thing to know is that these descriptions of eating lifestyles don’t necessarily mean that we are healthy! And they definitely don’t always mean that we know what our bodies need or want. The key is to listen to what you really want and what resonates with you in your heart, not what others do. It’s about your own wellbeing and no one else’s.

I have learned that the way to teach is to lead by example and not from a place of preaching and self-righteousness, but from a place of my own authentic experience and how it has changed me for the better.

And on another note, I love, love, love animals and don’t think that they should be mass produced as they are and killed for food. I love the Earth and I know how the meat and dairy industry negatively affects the earth.  I became a vegan chef so that I could do my part and teach people how to eat healthier, while helping to save the planet as well and I am also aware that preachy vegans or people who judge others for their choices are not helping themselves or others. Everyone has to find their own path in their own time and we get to give them the dignity of that!

November 4, 2011

A Bat Eating Ozzy Osbourne Goes Vegan…

I’m sure you have all heard that The Oz, and I don’t mean the Wizard of, has gone vegan. When I heard this, I thought,  “how great to have another convert on board that is taking charge of their health.” Whenever I learn about people going vegan, of course I am always excited because I believe so strongly in it and how it can change lives for the better and help to heal illness. I know because it did for me. I also feel a bit of concern inside because when most people go vegan they do it on a whim after seeing a movie or reading a book, yet they are not really educated on what going vegan means.

Anytime a celebrity turns vegan it makes the news and it’s the biggest news of the day. It’s almost as if everyone is waiting for the “fall” of that person going Vegan. When Natalie Portman stopped being a vegan while she was pregnant, she got flack. When another celebrity went vegan after she got pregnant she was criticized. When did our food choices become such big NEWS other than the awful state of the obesity & heart disease in this country? That’s what we need to see more of, not when a celebrity goes vegan but when an unhealthy, disease-ridden person takes charge of their life and decides enough is enough.

I’ve met many unhealthy vegans and vegetarians in my day and it’s mostly due to the fact that they stopped eating meat but didn’t know how to supplement their diet in a healthy way, so they used a lot of processed foods to do that. Eating & adding all these processed foods to their diet ends up making them sicker than before they became a vegan. Going vegan is not just about cutting out meat, well, to some vegans it is, but to me it’s really about getting healthy through a plant-based diet. I wrote an article for the awesome Daily Love last week about labels, and how I’ve felt scrutinized through labeling myself a vegan, and how sometimes labeling ourselves can prevent us from really growing (you can read that here). This way of life is about health and nothing more. Being vegan doesn’t work for everyone. We are all not cookie cutters and what works for me, certainly may not work for you. That is why you need to explore and educate yourself if you are thinking about a diet makeover.

My job is to educate others on a healthy eating lifestyle as I feel it truly is the most important thing in life. What you put in your mouth has everything to do with how you feel, what your body looks like and the state of your health. Of course, there are a lot of other factors, but what we eat is where it all starts. If we put bad food in, we feel bad. If we put good food in, we feel good. It’s pretty simple really, yet so many of us just cannot get that equation right. Many genius scientists from the past were on to this way before we were. I know we have all heard the saying from Hippocrates, “Let thy food be thy medicine, and let thy medicine be food.” This dude knew what he was talking about. Back in his day there were no processed boxed, canned or bagged foods. There was only food that came out of the ground and grew on trees or bushes. This is how our great-grandparents ate. Food healed us and it can still do so today, but we need to respect it and learn about and get back to the root of it.

I know the OZ has suffered with a lot of health issues and some..uh..dementia so I am truly happy he has gone vegan after seeing the awesome documentary, Forks Over Knives, which by the way, I recommend anyone reading this to watch it. I am really interested to see how veganism changes his life. He made a positive choice and that’s a really great thing.

What positive choice can you make for yourself regarding what you put in your mouth? Before you label yourself a vegan, consider just cutting back on certain things, going slow, taking it one step at a time, adding more healthy, whole foods to your diet and then see how your body responds. I guarantee your life will get better and better and then you will start to make more and more positive, healthy choices!

GO OZZY…thank god the bats are safe!