The Hope Beyond Fad Diet Fallout

In my world of fitness, there is ALOT of talk about nutrition and food. Different diets produce different results for all different types of folks. It is so easy to get confused, or feel exhausted from experimenting with diets and seeing too many changes, or worse yet, none at all. Not to mention the mess of not knowing which one to choose.

In a recent bout of frustration about my own current weight management struggle, I made a toddler tantrum sized putting-my-foot-down decision that I would become vegan.

“I need to get this bloat off me, so I’ll eat nothing but veggie broth and water until I am thin again.” ( Don’t worry, my vegan loves, I do not think this is anything like what veganism entails, this is just what my brain told me in this moment…I digress)maxresdefault (1)

<Pause for self-judgement break> Yeah, because THAT mentality towards food always works, right? Give me a break!

So, in this new state of delusional determination, I opened all my food delivery apps to change dietary settings to vegetarian/ vegan options. Instead of the settings button, an article popped up on my screen. As a new feature in the app, I had not seen links or advertisements like this before. This is where the universe kicked in with a nudge in a better direction with this article:

The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating  

Saying to my husband with intrigue, “Hey, I am intuitive. Maybe this is an answer to my weight struggles?” I read the article. I read it about six times.

I know most of us, if not all of us, can say we’ve said and heard the same old song and dance. “I’ve tried (insert whatever diet here), and it either didn’t work, or it worked for awhile until it didn’t anymore”

Loads of experts tell us that it is not in what diet we follow, it is about a whole LIFESTYLE change. But, honestly, how intimidating is that to hear?

Great, you’re telling me that I have to change the way I live my whole life?

Yes you do. We all do. And it sucks at first. I have tried pescatarianism, being almost fully paleo, taco-bellianism (JK, but I love you crunchwrap), and intermittent fasting, all with varying results. Whether it was lower cholesterol, higher body fat, more lean muscle mass, or better skin, each “diet” came with it’s positives and negatives. I adhered more to some and less to others. I performed better, looked better, and had more ego based outlooks about my body. In reflection, however, the only one true end product was always the same.

Food decisions were controlling my relationship to food itself.

So in this particular “diving head first into lifestyle change” moment, I was stopped abruptly by this concept. It occurred to me that I can change my thoughts about my body, and in a huge way. Not what, when or, how I eat, but how it FEELS to eat.  Not only will this help it change, but through mindfulness, I am also giving myself the power to heal my relationship to food. 

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Before I go further to explain the concepts, I want to point out that this “feeling” towards food is NOT EGO BASED. In other words, we are not eating just cookies because it “feels so good”. Honestly? Intuitive eating allows us to sit in stillness and ask ourselves, how will I really feel after I eat this food item? What will my body feel like? Will shame or guilt set in after the food is gone? Will my body feel nourished, alive, and taken care of?

In other words, we do not let the mind and addictions to sugar, chemical preservatives, and cravings take over. We sit with ourselves and look within, asking the mind and body to connect and be honest. If that seems impossible, please, give it a chance and let me sum up conceptually from the article referenced above to shed more light.

  1. Reject Diet Mentality: We covered this above. Lose the idea that you have to label yourself one thing in order to meet your weight goals.
  2. Honor Your Hunger: What did you just say to me? You mean to tell me that I should eat when I’m hungry and not fast and kickstart my metabolism with 17 protein shakes and a lemon water every five seconds? No dude. No. When your mind gives you the signal that you’re hungry. Just eat. Period.images (1).png
  3. Make Peace With Food: (this is a big one so I will quote it) “Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. If you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and, often, bingeing. When you finally “give-in” to your forbidden food, eating will be experienced with such intensity, it usually results in Last Supper overeating, and overwhelming guilt.” Bam….you’re free.
  4. Challenge the Food Police: Resist the urge to praise or judge yourself for the things you eat. Constantly feeling like “I ruined my good day with one chocolate cake bite” or “I was AWESOME today because I only had 1200 calories” is blocking you. It’s difficult, I know, to let this concept go as it is ingrained in our ego. So, if you won’t resist your self critic, then treat yourself like you would treat your best friend.
  5. Respect Your Fullness: Take five when your plate is half gone, and check in with your body. Do you feel as though it needs the rest? Are you going to clear your plate because of other reasons? My particular downfall is seeing the money wasted by wasting food. So I used to eat everything on my plate, leaving me uncomfortably full. There are ALWAYS leftovers, doggy bags, or in our family’s case, chickens to be fed.images (9)
  6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor: What a gift! You mean to tell me that I can find pleasure and satisfaction with eating? Yes! When we are not pressuring ourselves with the obsession over a body type, food can become an exhilarating dance between palate and plate. Discover that eating what you want in a headspace that isn’t deprecating can satiate more than just your appetite!
  7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food: I do realize that this one can be a sensitive topic. Eating your feelings, however, 100% of the time fails to make you truly feel better. So, learn ways that work for you to honor and heal your states of mind and heart without involving food. This will lead to a healthier relationship to food, and avoid the numbing we tend to do with the big emotions we can feel.
  8. Respect Your Body: Going through some inspirational memes the other day, I found this one:11755248_929402183794248_4932479781640736249_nThis was a game changer for me mentally. This whole time, I have been treating my body like it doesn’t exist as an entity. Like it is a stranger to me. Being hypercritical, wanting this part to change, or that to grow, or this to shrink. Would you talk that way to your best friend? No, odds are, they are beautiful in your eyes. So, let your body be your best friend. Choose to honor it, trusting it will help you feel better about exactly who you are.
  9. Exercise–Feel the Difference: Reject the exercising to lose weight mentality. Just exercise to feel your body move. Counting calories or making sure you exercise to burn the most calories puts you right back into that place. If we can focus on the JOY of moving your body, and what your body may be asking for that particular day, then we can learn to feel the everyday needs of our body. In that, we become more mindful and more apt to want to exercise.
  10. Honor Your Health: In each day, ask yourself what foods makes you feel healthy? Be gentle with yourself if that choice in one day does not meet ridiculous “dietary standards”. The point of this step is that one snack, in one day, isn’t going to make or break the rest of your life. Take one day at a time, and honor the consistent progress of your work.

So what is the difference between “Fad Dieting” and Intuitive lifestyle changes? Well, in my opinion, it is all in how you FEEL. Fad Dieting will create quick fixes that may or may not have results. Those that do have results, find that they either fade away, or that they are unsustainable, leaving an individual with negative and discouraging feelings towards their work and their body image. Rinse with new diet, and repeat.

If you have found something, a food relationship, that helps you intuit your connectivity to yourself, both physically and emotionally, then you have your keeper. Some examples out there include the Whole30, which places emphasis on “resetting your health, habits, and relationship with food.”

The authors of the article that I reference, Intuitive Eating, have created a very easy way to dive into this level of mindful eating with this workbook.

I will leave you all today with this (pictured below). Keep it in mind, and practice it with an open heart and mind.

Bon Appétit

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IMG_6228.jpgKristy is a Professional Birth Doula, Certified Massage Therapist, energy worker and mom of 2 in Virginia.

Labor Day 2.0

If I found myself unexpectedly on a trivia game show, I could probably have told you Labor Day was in some way a holiday to honor the struggles of those in the Labor movement in the late 1800s-early 1900s ish. I knew there had been strikes over working hours and conditions. And yet… I didn’t reallllllly know why we had this day where so many people were off work and stores offer awesome sales. I wanted to know how we, today, could best understand and honor this day. So I put on my nerd hat and started reading.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I stumbled across an article by Jay Zagorsky, “The Eclectic Economist”, titled Have we forgotten the true meaning of labor day? In it, he says, “Labor Day came about because workers felt they were spending too many hours and days on the job.” He describes the working conditions of those laborers – 70 hour work weeks, 7 days a week, few if any holidays.

wait…. is he talking about parenting?

He suggests, “If you work all the time and never really take a vacation, start a new ritual that honors the original spirit of Labor Day. Give yourself the day off.” … tell me more!

Now, I’m not saying hard labor in a late 19th century factory is the same as raising kids and maintaining a household amidst admittedly first world problems. And probably someone’s going to get on a high horse and ‘educate me’ on the insensitivity of this post.

On the other hand… 70 hour work week?? wow! sounds luxurious! If you are lucky and your kids reliably sleep 8 hours a night, you, as a parent are still left with 112 hours a week of duty. Repeatedly doing the same actions, in a single work environment, over and over and over… few if any bathroom or lunch breaks. You have to admit there are some major parallels up in here. Labor comes in lots of different forms these days. We are all more worn down, more disconnected, more at-the-end-of-our-frayed-and-breaking-ropes than ever.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t celebrate the work done by those early activists to fight for safer and more humane working conditions. Of course that should still be part of the day. But, can we not also update this holiday like we have for so many others?? How many of you still light a bonfire and sacrifice an animal on Samhain (Halloween)? Who’s asking the town bum to order around the wealthy people to celebrate Christmas (Thanks History Channel for that crazy info)? Holiday celebrations change as we do over time.

I propose a new kind of Labor Day celebration. Whatever your “Labor” is – do the opposite. Are you slaving your days away in an office away from your family? Stay home. Turn off your computer and phone and just be with them. Are you a stay-at-home parent, never getting a minute away to breathe? Get the grandparents over or hire a babysitter and go do something utterly selfish that feeds your soul.

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Photo by Artem Bali on Pexels.com

And then, make time to think like those early activists and plan how to make your laboring life more humane, more healthy, more supportive of a whole YOU. Write it down, then plan how you will make it happen – like a better version of New Year’s resolutions. Because you’ll keep this one, right?

Labor Day: Because you’re worth it

Happy Labor Day 2.0 people!

DSC_4458BWDr. Annie is a family physician, mom of 2 with 1 on the way, married to a busy doctor and dedicated to fending for her own non-laboring self-care time.

Kristy, Au Naturale: Massage is not a Luxury

Show of hands on who is stressed about something right now? Literally, anything. Laundry, money, marriage, kids, work, blah blah blah blah.

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Close your eyes and feel your body. Feel where it is tense. Is it your shoulders? Your jaw? Your glutes? Is your brow furrowed or your posture slouched?

Now stop reading. Feel it. Take this time.

Now actively release those muscles and become aware that whenever we think about the simplest thing that causes us stress, our bodies produce this physiological response called tension. It is only the most practiced of us (aka, the Buddha) that can be fully aware of these muscular stresses, and actively manage them without the help or guidance of others.

This is exactly why I do not believe that we can call Massage Therapy a “luxury” any longer. We, as the human collective, are just too seemingly stressed out about our lives and the state of the world to recognize how it is affecting our bodes.

What we end up following, is a cycle of tension, and pain, then anxiety and decreased ability to cope with the pain.

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This has a dire effect on us as a whole being. The way our body responds to stress is three fold. It is physiological, emotional, and psychosocial. Most of us turn to medicine to manage the symptoms. Which has its benefits as well, but what if it were more simple than that?

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The Body is Smart

There are over 50 physiological responses to stress. Overwhelmingly and alarmingly, these responses effect our body systems’ ability to function properly. Below are descriptions of different bodily systems as they respond to stressors placed in our lives.

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The Answer is Antique

The power of touch and “healing” touch has been around for 5000 YEARS. Five freaking thousand years people have been using Massage Therapy and healing therapies to ease the symptoms of stress and illness, be it mental, emotional, or physiological. I say, if it ain’t broke……

Massage Therapy is the perfect antidote to most of the stressful situations in which we find ourselves on our daily grind. With frequent (at least once a month, if not every 6 weeks) Massage Therapy, one can benefit GREATLY.  Pictured below are just some of those benefits outlined.

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But what about our psychological health? It is no surprise that stress creates emotional problems such as anxiety, depression, family tension, short temperament, coping problems, and increase use of improper coping mechanisms. Massage therapy can help by increasing self worth, decreasing blood pressure (aka anxiety), boosting energy levels (aka helping with depression) improving sleep (hello resting awesome sleep face) and increasing ones awareness of their bodily tensions. This latter benefit is important so that we can understand our body’s response to stress, and address is as it presents itself before it becomes a reason to create a problem.

The fact is, no matter what you believe, that we are primitively designed to live in the moment. Most of the animal kingdom, when not hunting, do not spend their time worrying about taxes, relationships, promotions, etc.

They spend their leisurely time sleeping, cuddling, BEING.

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I’ve got $5 that she’s not thinking about TPS reports

Massage Therapy is THIS. Not a luxury, but a primitive and necessary reminder that our bodies, brains, and souls need a time out. We need to allow ourselves an hour (or more) every once in a while to tune out from the world and unplug, and tune INTO ourselves.

As mothers, so often when we experience touch in our lives, someone wants something from us. The new baby needs to nurse. The toddler needs comfort. Our spouse needs…. another kind of comfort. Having someone touch you in a healing way is not a regular occurrence for most moms. For other women, whether you’re single or an empty-nester without the kids hanging off of you, touch might be nearly absent. That hour of nourishing touch is even more important in these stages of life.

So, whether you’ve never had a professional massage or it’s just been too long, now is the time to sit down with your budget and find $50-150 per month for this. We are talking about one Target run for a lot of us here. Only, instead of a few bags of (admittedly cute) stuff you were convinced you need, you now have invested in healing every aspect of your life.

You can’t pour from an empty bucket, people. Replenish your needs so you are better able to share yourself with those who matter to you.

18835945_10103938084553859_8628446883750688728_n Kristy is a married mom of 2, doula, massage therapist, and dedicated crossfitter with a passion of healing the human body and mind in Virginia.

Momday Feels: Kristy & Annie

Just because some parts of our region fall victim to the whims of a picky groundhog’s opinion on what is considered a shadow, doesn’t mean we can’t make spring bloom
whenever we (damn well) want inside our homes
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Go home March, you’re drunk!
Some fun indoor spring projects can boost the mind into happier places.  For instance, if you love summer gardening, starting seeds in February-March can get you a head start with those ripe summer tomatoes, squash and zucchini. Plus – seeds offer more variety (I see you heirlooms) and are wayyyy cheaper than buying started plants later on  (so more money for wine to go with that Caprese).
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Starting an indoor herb garden from potted herbs found at your local grocery store can not only provide you with some beautiful greenery indoors, but can also inspire delicious meals and teas for entertaining or relaxing. Or sometimes, you might just need to smash a sage leaf or lavender flower in your palm and snort sniff it when your kids won’t stop whining that they’re borrrrrrrrrred, when is it gonna be summmmmmerrrrrrr?!
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It doesn’t have to be plants either. Finding a way to do sometime just for YOU can turn your whole day around. Imagine if instead of getting addicted to cigarettes, or drugs or even your iPhone you were addicted to self care. It’s all well and good when you have those special times to really get away and treat yourself, but what about the days you’re stuck at home or at work?? Where could you sneak off to “get your fix”.
Maybe you take an extra minute hiding in the bathroom to swipe on your favorite lipstick.  Perhaps you hide in the pantry and just fully savor a bite of expensive dark chocolate. Maybe when the kids are (finally) good and distracted, you leave the laundry unfolded and dishes undone and just do 5 minutes of yoga, or dancing to your fave song, or put on a face mask or masturbate (lock the bedroom door for that one) or paint your nails… whatEVER makes you feel more present and joyful in YOUR body.
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I know keeping fresh flowers around my home helped me out of a rough bout of seasonal affective disorder. (Thanks to the suggestion of a certain DIY badass renaissance mama—love you Christiana) Seeing the fullness and brightness of the blooms, helped inspire the productivity of purging my kitchen of all the useless junk (tupperware tops with no bottoms and visa versa…why are there never matching sets??) which made more space for organization!  I also had the benefit and joy of picking out my favorite blooms and buying them for ME. Don’t wait around for someone to buy them for you. Treat YO-self!
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So try it sometime..buy yourself some of your favorite flowers, stop and smell them, and smile. I dare you to make yourself smile today…. Kindness to yourself is the ultimate gangster.
IMG_9104Kristy is a married mom of 2, doula, Crossfitter, homesteader and massage therapist in Virginia. Annie, doctor mama of 2 in California co-wrote this with her.