Is it all about getting to those goals?

Is it all about getting to those goals?

Goals. Ambitions. Achievements.

Intentions. Actions. Merits.

A couple of different conversations and observations over the past few weeks or so sparked my inspiration for writing this blog post.

A friend shared on her FB page the other day about how she’s arrived at the point in her life that she’s going to let go of the strong focus on go-goal-getting and instead be more open to receive what comes.

To savour the journey itself more, rather than just looking at it as a means to get to the destination.

 

straightforward nutrition mindful eating

Then there was the conversation between two of my colleagues who work in the mindfulness/ Intuitive Eating / non-diet approach space, which sparked a self reflection on how I know do my own work, and (try) to live my own life.

One colleague put the question out to the community of “How do I help my client know that she has arrived at being an intuitive eater? How will she know that she is finished with our work together?”.

Another colleagues chipped in with the deep wisdom of that when we work in this space of mindfulness and mindful eating, there is really no “arriving”, in the same way we have when we are measuring against a specific outcome, like x number of lb lost, of being able to run a certain distance in a certain amount of time, of being strong enough to lift a certain amount of weights in the gym.

What we are doing in this space is perhaps more about cultivating resilience and courage to meet life as it unfolds.  I think we are creating skills for being able to better bounce back from our life experiences.

Don’t get me wrong, I do think it is important to have goals or maybe more like strong intentions and most of all a sense of purpose, to keep us moving forward. Personally I like how Danielle Laporte puts it; “How do you want to feel?” And then let this be our guiding intention that will frame and inform our actions and behaviours.

goal getting

I have reflected a lot recently on how I now often work in my clinical practice in this less ‘goal oriented’ and more self care and skills driven way. I really love when people share with me their breakthroughs of how they have made choices that are reflected in putting themselves first in a self loving caring way.

But it is also so challenging at the same time, because it takes so much trust in the process, from both parties. It is extremely rewarding though!

Myself and my friend and collaborator Jen, have discussed these ideas of goals, outcomes and intentions and how it relates to mindfulness, many times. That mindfulness meditation it isn’t really a practice that you use as a means to achieve a particular outcome. It is a way of learning to meet life as it is, from where you are.  Pick up any good quality book on the subject by any of the teachers who have practiced this tradition for a long time, and you will see that this is very much at the core of the teachings.

 

From the practice we develop skills to be more resilient to do just that (meeting life as it is), and as a side effect we tend to experience many positive benefits.

 

Time and time again, my clients voice how hard they are on themselves. And I’ve discovered how often people feel it’s either all or nothing, and if they are not all in, they are not doing it right, which often has the side effect that then “I may not do it at all”.

The truth is, changed IS hard. But it does ALL count, every single bit that we are working on, trying to do different, in order not so much to change who we are but to care for ourselves better, more kindly.

I’m not sure that most of us needs more drive, more focus or to be harder on ourselves to create change. Maybe what we do need is a strong intention, as sense of purpose but most of all a sense of worthiness. Alongside a hefty dose of self compassion and some self kindness.

What do YOU think?

 

straightforward nutrition

My Sugar Story

My Sugar Story

“Don’t be ashamed of telling your story. It may inspire others” – Unknown

With that in mind, I will tell you mine…

 

healing your relationship with food and eating

Once upon a time there was a little girl with thick blond hair, living in the countryside of Sweden, together with her loving mum, dad and baby brother.

This little girl was raised by very health conscious mum and sweets / candy never really featured in the house. In fact it wasn’t until this little girl was about three years old that she had candy for the very first time, much to her mother’s dismay(!) Simply because her childminder felt sorry for the little girl, that had yet to experience the sweetness of candy…

The spell of innocence was broken.

The little girl discovered that she really loved the sweet taste so much! Sometimes she would even trick her brother (who seemed to be totally ambivalent about sweets) to have some of his too. (Or even sneakily steal some… Not very proud moments)

As this little girl grew up to become a teenager, she continued to enjoy the pleasure and sweetness of all kinds sweet. Jellies, chocolates, biscuits. To be honest, eating them brought a lot of pleasure, yet she never thought of using them to sooth feelings, nor had she any trouble with her weight.

Then one day things changed for this (reasonably easy going) teenager.

She was told that she was fat. Too heavy to continue to ride her favourite horse at the racing stables.

 

So she decided to do what every sensible person do who have issues with their weight… She decided to go on a diet.

 

Over the following decade she read ALL the diet books, she tried to; stop eating, eating in secret, overriding her physical signals of hunger and satiety. She tried diet pills, exercise, and replacement products to keep her weight to a number that she felt represented her happiness.

Through all of this, still loved the taste of sweet, so staying off sweets and chocolate was really challenging.

Each time she couldn’t stick to the plan she had set for herself, she would throw her hands in the air and go ”F*ck it, I’ve blown it now so I may just keep eating”.

What perhaps this (now) young woman didn’t realise was that the sweet foods were soothing the lack of other sweetness in her life.

She didn’t see the connection between her eating and her living. She didn’t see that she was working long hours in a very physically demanding job, where she often didn’t feel appreciated or valued.

 

She didn’t make the connection how the sweetness of food was filling the void and the lack of sweetness in her life.

Because she was too busy weighing herself every day, berating herself for the fact that she couldn’t be “good” with food and that she was still ‘feeling’ fat.

She felt sad, lonely and unworthy. And on top of this she was also tired and suffered with digestive issues.

 

Then one day, when as she was racing towards the black hole of depression, she woke up and decided “I need to change my life.”

 

She saved some money, organised a job on the other side of the world.

She changed her environment.

She got a fresh perspective.

Though she stilled weighed herself daily at this point in time, she also started to explore and gather some awareness of how, what and why she was eating.

 

Then all of a sudden, a moment of awakening and insight struck! “Wait a minute, my happiness cannot be determined by a number on the scales. It has to come from within”.

(Hello INSIGHT!)

 

This ONE realisation, changed this young woman’s life forever.

She simply got off the scales, gave herself full permission to eat whatever foods she wanted (candy and all). She placed her focus on eating when she was physically hungry, and she began the tedious work of paying attention to and stop eating when comfortably full.

She began to honour her body instead of fighting it.

 

In this moment, this young woman began her healing process of creating a healthy relationship with food, eating and her body.

 

She began walking the path to freedom, peace and wholeness.

my eating story

 

To be honest, this hasn’t always been an easy process, and there are still times that body image issues and negative thoughts around my body appear. They never truly went away regardless of what size my body is /was. But today I have much more awareness, I can hear them more clearly which mean I can recognise them for what they are, thoughts not facts.

 

So why am I sharing the story of this little girl who liked the taste of sweet so much, who eventually grew up to become a nutritionist, food blogger and mindful eater?

 

It is because I learnt so much from unravelling my story and perhaps someone else may recognise themselves in it.

It is also because I see so much suffering around food and eating, in today’s “sugar phobic and fat fobic” world. And this is impacting on people’s quality of life.

The sense of restriction that is created around trying to avoid something that is so abundantly prevalent in our western society, can all too easily back-fire.

 

More than anything, I believe, when it comes to navigate the challenge of consuming sugary foods (or fatty foods, or any food for that matter!), is that it is fundamental that we are making our choices from a place of care rather than fear.

 

Because when we do, we can approach it with an open and curious mind.

To hear and recognise the subtle messages it give us, if we pay attention.

Rather than getting stuck in a cycle of blame and shame, we can with care and kindness recognise that perhaps this particular food and craving is doing something for us?

Maybe it is filling a void?

Maybe it is a symbol for how we are living our life?

Once we get curious about this, we can create space for choice and be discerning of what it is we truly need and want.

 

To truly heal my own relationship with food & eating I also had to toss a couple of limiting beliefs into the FIRE.

Like;

  • When I have a perfect body I will be happy
  • Eating “perfectly” will make my body perfect
  • I am “good” when I eat “good” foods
  • I am “bad” when I eat “bad” food

Giving myself full permission to eat ALL kinds of foods (no rules), and letting go of the “good” and “bad” labels have paved a way out of restriction (precipitating bingeing) , a letting go of any labels also helped me let go of any associated guilt and shame (very liberating!)

This has helped me to arrive at a place where I can listen and pay attention to my body’s needs and eat from a place of pleasure AND care. It tastes like freedom and feels like nourishment.

 

So I invite you to get curious. What is your Sugar Story trying to tell you?

And if you want some more tips and tools on this journey then sign up to my FREE three parts video series below.


 

Do you long to let go of obsession around food, eating and weight? Would you like to feel freedom and peace around meals and beyond, but need some help and support to get there?

It would be an honour to walk with you on this path. Please email me HERE to set up a free 30 min consultation to explore how this may be possible for you too.

Food as Self care

Food as Self care

What does self care through food and eating look like?

This was the question I proposed at our latest Nutrition & Mindfulness Retreat. The overarching theme have been that of stress and how to develop stress resilience, so that we can live in the most fulfilling way possible.

Food and eating is fundamental for survival, yet so many of us develop a really complicated relationship with (often) both. The most basic needs can become neglected, ignored and  / or abused.

We somehow forget how to  nourish and care for ourselves, in the most basic way – with food.

straightforward nutrition

When we think about self care we may think about massages, hot baths and fancy retreats. We may forget about the importance to care for ourselves, as well as our bodies in a kind compassionate way, often because we get too busy caring for everybody else’s needs!

Having done a number of interviews for my side project The Selfcare Path Podcast, with lots of practitioners from all over the world, one thing that every single one talked about was the importance of taking care of ourselves, FIRST!

 

We simply cannot pour from an empty cup. Even though many of us like to think so…

 

So back to self care and food. What does it look like when I take care of myself in the most nourishing way possible, using food?

This is where bringing some mindfulness to the table can be super helpful. By cultivating both awareness as well as self compassion, I can best support and serve my body with what it needs, when it needs it.

We may straightway think that nourish ourselves with food mean making the most nutritious choices possible. And yes, it does, in a way. But before we even decide what to eat, we need to honour our need TO eat.

 

First of all (re)learning to recognise the subtle cues of hunger and then HONOUR them (i.e eat!) is important. Even vital! Just like making susre we get adequate sleep and water, we need to feed our bodies if we want them to function well. Or perhaps function at all…

The second thing is to ask ourselves what we are hungry for? If we are physically hungry, what specific food am I hungry for?

 

This is where it can get complicated. We may have lot of external rules for what we “should” be wanting and what foods are good for us. Or we may fear that if we let ourselves have exactly what we want we will be living on bars of chocolate and crisps forever.

It is at exactly this point where we need to build strong trust as well as deep listening, so that we can actually hear what it is our BODY wants. Not necessarily what the mind is craving…

straightforward nutrition

Mindful eating, is not restrictive (because restriction only backfires!) yet it is not really about eating whatever we want, whenever we want, either.

Mindful eating is to respectfully listen to our bodies for what it needs and then honour that need. This takes time and practice.

Food is fundamental nourishment for our physical body and our survival, so when we feed our bodies in ways that are both nourishing and satisfying we are taking care of ourselves. Self care through food.

 

So how do you know what (food) choices to make ?

 

By trying to make a food choice that is both nutritious and satisfying will also most likely mean that it will definitely be nourishing too.

Being mindful not only give us the opportunity to listen to the signals of hunger, fullness & satiety. It also gives us the chance to be present and make a choice to have what we are hungry for.

It’s all too easy to ignore these subtle signals from our body, when we are stressed.

We eat foods that are easy to grab on the go, struggling to carve out time to prepare meal.

We eat fast, not chewing well and perhaps not tasting much either.

We eat too much or not enough. Neither which serves our body in the way it deserves.

 

Of course, it is not always possible to make the right match for what you desire and what your body is calling for each and every time. Sometimes we are more mindful than others. Sometimes we don’t have to hand what we want or need, sometimes we let ourselves get ravenous making it hard to to make an informed choice, and other times we eat until we feel uncomfortably full.

This is where self compassion is so powerful.

When the negative voice pops up we need to be kind and caring towards ourselves, rather than letting this inner mean voice take over,  and getting stuck beating ourselves up. Instead we can with kindness recognise that perhaps this particular choice at this particular moment, wasn’t the wisest move. And then move on.

This is how we create freedom with choice, and freedom with food.

self care through food

 

So maybe it is time, that we pause to check in if we are hungry? And if we are then nourish ourselves with colourful, tasty, satisfying foods, not because we “should”, but because we care?

How are you going to nourish yourself with some self care through food this week?

 

Do you long to let go of obsession around food, eating and weight? Would you like to feel freedom and peace around meals and beyond, but need some help and support to get there?

It would be an honour to walk with you on this path. Please email me HERE to set up a free 30 min consultation to explore how this may be possible for you too.

 

Cultivating Body Awareness

Cultivating Body Awareness

For the Senses

“May the touch of your skin

Register the beauty

Of the otherness

That surrounds you.

 

May your listening be attuned

To the deeper silence

Where sound is honed

To bring distance home.

 

May the fragrance

Of a breathing meadow

Refresh your heart

And remind you, you are

A child of the earth.

 

And when you partake

Of food and drink,

May your taste quicken

To the gift and sweetness

That flows from the earth.

 

May your inner eye

See through the surfaces

And glean the real presence

Of everything that meets you.

 

May your soul beautify

The desire of your eyes

That you might glimpse

The infinity that hides

In the simple sights

That seem worn

To your usual eyes.

– John O’Donohue, Benedictus – A book of blessings

mindful eating

How do we cultivate body awareness?

The more I learn about health and healing, the more I am becoming aware of the mind-body connection. And the importance the we recognise and honour this connection.

Some of the understanding of how this connection works, seems to be emerging in new research, whereas in more ancient traditions this have long been recognised, even though the exact workings of the physiological mechanisms weren’t yet discovered.

 

We are all connection between our mind and body. A living Whole Person, even if it doesn’t always feel that way… Yet sometime we either feel like we are “living in our head”, or it is looked upon in medicine that any of the physical symptoms we are experiencing that doesn’t seem to have a clear cause is “just in our head.”

 

I think most of us have had the experience of driving somewhere, and yet when we arrive, having no recollection of how we got there.

So how do we bring our wandering mind back home to our body?

mindful body awareness

This week I had a gentle reminder of how to do this. When listening to a really interesting conversation over on my favourite podcast On Being about how trauma lodges in the body with Bessel van der Kolk, one sentence in particular stood out for me; “The core experience of ourselves is a somatic experience”.

So just like John O’Donohue so poetically shared it, opening our senses to experience the world, is how we orientate our human experience in the present moment. When we open up to our sensory experience we are in fact bringing our mind home to our body.

Bringing our attention to and cultivating this mindful awareness of our outer experience (sight, hearing, smell, touch) can indeed help us become better listeners to our own body’s faint whispers. To hear the more innate sensations such as feelings of hunger, fullness and satiety.

 

The better listeners we become, the better caretakers of our bodies and ourselves, we become.

 

In meditation, the breath is usually the focus of attention. Even though I have a little bit more experience with sitting meditation practice now then when I started out a few years ago, I still feel like I often struggle to catch when my wandering mind has drifted off, doing its own thing. However, this past week I was attending a virtual retreat (yes exactly as it sounds) and one of the practices we were doing was walking meditation. I have practiced walking meditation before, but it had been awhile and I had forgotten how grounding I find it.

In walking meditation the focus is on your feet rather than on your breath. You start off, standing still, placing your attention on your feet, noticing how they feel against the ground. If you can do it without shoes, or even barefoot (outdoors if weather allows) it is even better. To me it really feels like a home coming. When I place my attention and focus on the sensations of my feet, I know that I am HERE. And nowhere else.

Once you’ve taken a few moments of standing, you move slowly, moving one foot and then the other, paying attention to the movement of each foot as it lifts, moves through the space and then being placed back down again.

Funnily for me, when my focus is on something like my feet, then it becomes much easier to “see” what kind of thoughts my mind is engaging in. Like planning, projecting and remembering.

Maybe it is because when your attention is on your feet, it is kind of obvious that where they are is also where you are.

straightforward nutrition

So now, perhaps this week, tune in and see where your feet really are? And let them softly kiss the earth with each step, with appreciation that you are in fact here.

 

 

When judgement gets in the way of change

When judgement gets in the way of change

I’ve been pondering all week, what to write about next. As I wass doing some research into the relationship between stress and digestion for our 1 day retreat this past weekend, I thought perhaps I should share some of those findings with you.

But then I thought, what about the stress around making the “right” food choices?

What about the “being-a-good-girl inner voice”, which in my experience can have a pretty nasty condescending tone? And the judgement that often follow when we don’t make that “right” choice…

 

judgment in the way of change

For some reason, I’ve struggled emotionally in the past week or so with “being good enough”. I think it may be related to a recent opportunity that presented itself and that I’ve been wanting to be part of for a very long time. So when I finally got the chance, of course I was ecstatic, which then followed by self-doubt. Can I actually deliver on what I say that I can? What if I can’t?

Oh the beauty of the turbulence of emotions! I even caught myself thinking that, perhaps I should just throw in the towel and quit and say that I’m no longer interested. If you quit you can’t technically fail, right? This “quitting” pattern is one of my old protective mechanisms for when things get stretched a little toooo far outside that famous comfort zone. So I’m totally aware of the lure of taking the “easy” option out.

Thing is, there’s a distinct difference about quitting without even trying, or to pivot and try something different because what you are currently doing isn’t working.

The fear of the unknown is what’s playing out here, together with some self-judgment, which can all to easily lead to self-sabotage.

Each and everytime we try something new, we can never be certain of the outcome. Well come to think of it, each and every morning we open our eyes we cannot even be certain of what the day will bring… We can have hopes and expectations, but we can never be sure. Hindsight is as they say “a wonderful thing”.

Whether you’re embarking on a journey of self-discovery and spiritual growth, a new way of eating or even something as simple (yet sometimes challenging) as trying a new recipe, embracing the uncertainty of it actually means that anything is possible!

 

But it is scary. There’s certainly many times in my life I’ve wished for a crystal ball…

 

And then we decide to take the leap anyway, and before we know it, this voice of self-doubt and  judgement creeps in.

Self-reflection can be a wonderful gift to gift yourself. I’ve seen both for myself and with clients the leaps and bounds that happens in a transformational way when we start looking in the mirror and begin to question what we believe, think and do. But… And this is a BIG but, if we bring judgement into the picture, it becomes a big hindrance in the process of change.

 

when judgment gets in the way of change

 

Why? Because when I am busy lambasting my own actions with my own self-righteousness, THIS is where my focus is at. If I’m so busy getting down on myself and my actions, I can’t actually see the reality for what it is.

Maybe the decision I made seemed to be the right one at that particular time, with the information that was available to me. And if it turned out afterwards that it actually wasn’t the wisest move, I am missing a valuable opportunity to learn why it turned out it wasn’t the wisest one, if I’m caught going around in a mental circle of self-ridicule.

Take for example the common thing of having a “bad” food. Perhaps something that’s not the most nutritious thing you could ever ingest. But eating any kind of food doesn’t indicate that we ourselves are “bad” in any way.

Now, if I start judging myself for this one particular food choice and place some of my self worth based on these choices, I completely miss out on the information of how this food actually makes me feel.

Does it make me feel satisfied, or more hungry, or perhaps it may even cause me physical discomfort. Or maybe it turns out I didn’t enjoy the taste as much as I initially thought I would? All vital clues and cues for how I might choose next time I am presented with a choice of having this food or not. But if I’m caught in a spiral of judgement, all I’ll hear is how “bad” I am, and that I should know better, etc. Which will just leave me with guilt, shame and a stress response that my body now also have to digest…

Judgement simply gets in my way of learning from my experiences, experiencing life as it is as well as preventing me from perhaps making a different choice that may serve me better next time.

 

mindful living

 

I love this great poem by Portia Nelson, which I first was introduces to by a client last year, but that we also shared at our recent retreat. It pretty much sums it up.

Autobiography in Five Chapters

I

I walk down the street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk

I fall in.

I am lost…

I am hopeless.

It isn’t my fault.

It takes forever to find a way out.

II

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I pretend I don’t see it.

I fall in again.

I can’t believe I’m in the same place.

But it isn’t my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.

III

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I see it is there.

I still fall in…it’s a habit

My eyes are open; I know where I am;

It is my fault.

I get out immediately.

IV

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it.

V

I walk down another street.

 

So open your mind, get curious and look at any and all of your experiences as valuable learning opportunities.

And most of all, be kind to yourself.

 

Feeding the Hungry Ghost – Cravings & Desires

Feeding the Hungry Ghost – Cravings & Desires

Have you ever heard the saying “feeding the Hungry Ghost”?

 

In Buddhism these creatures are depicted as having large empty bellies but with thin necks so they don’t get nourished and are never really satisfied.

These ghosts are always looking for external satisfaction. What is the next “thing” I need / want?

It hit me one day before Christmas when I was out walking my dogs, how busy I’ve been feeding my own “hungry ghosts”. I was busy thinking about some particular things I wanted to buy and how great it would feel when I could get them, but which current budget restraints where stopping me from buying. I caught myself thinking “When I get this then I will be happy and satisfied”. And then I realised that I am always looking for something, or something more. More money and more TIME (definitely always more time!).  More of this and more of that.

As I was making this observation, I could see that my wanting was partly coming from my scarcity mindset, of “not enough.” Because why would I want for example more time if it wasn’t for the fact that I believe that I don’t have enough of it?

I also realised that this feeling of not enough, can manifest both as a feeling of Fear of Missing Out (or FOMO as the cool kids say), and as a way of thinking “I will be happy when…”

Both of which puts my happiness on hold until some unforeseen date in the future…

mindful eating

 

Cravings can have many faces. Especially when it comes to food and eating, not to mention our body! But in my understanding what tends to drive them all are a desire to feel better. Whether that is in ourselves or about ourselves.

The renowned Physician Gabor Máte who has spent a large part of his career working in the field of addition touches more on it here in an excerpt from one of his books.

Luckily many of us don’t live our lives on that extreme end, but with that said, we all have cravings of various kinds to grapple with.

 

Are cravings and desires the same?

Not necessarily.

 

I see cravings as something that has a sense of urgency, as well as something that is of external nature which we use (like a substance or behaviour) to make us feel better in the moment.

For me a desire is more something that’s generated from within. A desire to feel a certain way or act in a certain way. How do I want to feel? And what do I need to do to feel that way?

There’s nothing wrong with desires or wanting to improve on what we are. What we have to be vigilant and watch out for though is when we get caught with thoughts that go “If only… then I would…” Or “I will be happy when…”.

I heard a colleague speak in an interview recently about how she once heard the Dalai Lama ask his audience the question “If you had everything you ever wanted, would you feel satisfied?”. She relayed that when she pondered this question for herself , it gave a profound insight into the fact that our “wanting” and desire is part of human nature. Which in turn made me think that even though one of my aims for this year is to own less “stuff”, there’s no point in telling myself that I shouldn’t buy any stuff.

That kind of restriction would definitely back-fire, for me. It would be the same as saying no more chocolate (ever)! So rather than restricting myself, my plan is to be a lot more discerning with my choices this year. Do I need it? What will it bring to my life? Why do I want it?

straightforward nutrition

There’s so much information that can be gotten from asking ourselves those kinds of questions, which help us move from a place of not enough and a fear of missing out, to a place of freedom, that comes from choice.

Perhaps in this space we can also see that, yes for sure some things and certain stuff may enhance our life in some way, but it will never give us a deep sense of fulfillment, like the sensation that we can generate from within.

So it becomes important continue to ask the question “What do I need right now?”, with kindness and curiosity.

Because as it’s been said a million times (probably since it is a universal truth), that it is only in this moment that we can make a choice and to make it one that will serve us right now, but perhaps also may ripple into our future.

And if it turns out it wasn’t the best one? Sure, we can always begin again.

What choices are you going to make this week, to honour what you need,

and not just what you want?


 

Do you long to let go of obsession around food, eating and weight? Would you like to feel freedom and peace around meals and beyond, but need some help and support to get there?

It would be an honour to walk with you on this path. Please email me HERE to set up a free 30 min consultation to explore how this may be possible for you too.