What The Heck Is Mindfulness Anyway?

Seriously, what is mindfulness?  The term is so overused these days that I think the true meaning gets lost.  In truth, the meaning of mindfulness is different for everyone.  Yes, the universal meaning is living and being present in the moment, not worrying about the future or re-living the past.  But, what does that mean?

To me, it is simply stopping what you are doing and looking around.  Ask yourself, “how do I know I’m here?”  My therapist asked me this question when I first started working with her and I tried so hard to come up with a profound answer but the answer is easy.

Right now, I know I’m here because I can feel my feet on the carpeted floor, the chair suppo2012-06-14 20.25.34rting my butt, my fingers on the keyboard and the light coming in through the sliding glass door.  It’s really as simple as that!  Look around and notice what you see.  The best thing about asking this question is that I’ve never ever answered it with a heavy heart, worry or anything but peace.  I’ve always enjoyed my surroundings and every worry or fear just faded into nothing.  Try it, I think you’ll like it.

What’s your definition of mindfulness?  Head to the comments and let us know!

P.S.  The above photo was taken by one of my favorite people – she knows who she is!

Shrimp and Quinoa Recipe

I created this recipe and loved it…it’s light and perfect for summer.  Enjoy!

Shrimp and Quinoa Salad
Courtesy of Michelle Wilson, LifeStrides

1 cup Red Quinoa – cook according to package instructions
2 Bell Peppers (any color), chopped
1 Zucchini, diced
1 Shallot, diced
Olive oil
24 Shrimp, cooked
2 oz. Feta Cheese
Cherry Tomatoes – cut in 1/2
4 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
1 Avocado, diced into cubes
2 Tbsp. Parsley, chopped

Cook quinoa according to package instructions. Meanwhile, add olive oil to a sauté pan and warm over medium heat. Add pepper and zucchini and sauté for about 5 minutes, add shallot and lower heat to low, add salt to taste and cook for 5 minutes or until shallot softens. Remove vegetables from pan and set aside. Add more olive oil to pan and add shrimp turning once and cooking until shrimp turn pink (about 5 minutes), remove from heat.
Pour quinoa into a large bowl, add vegetable mixture and shrimp and mix well. Add feta cheese, tomatoes, red wine vinegar and salt and pepper to taste, mix. Just before ready to serve, cut avocado and add to bowl. Sprinkle with parsley. Serves about 4.
This dish is so versatile! Experiment with different proteins, like chicken. Have veggies that need to be used before they go bad? Add ‘em in! Experiment with different spices – use cilantro instead of parsley for a Mexican flare. Kick up the heat by adding red pepper flakes. Anything goes!

The Photos Are In!

About 3 weeks ago, I posted that I was doing a photo shoot for some head shots.  Well, I received the finished photos and they look great!  Even so, I was very disappointed that I look so heavy.  I felt all the same emotions I’ve been having for the last 20 years…sadness, disgust, regret, shame, embarrassment and all because of my weight.  Of course, the most prominent thought was, “What will people who haven’t seen me in a long time think?”  The next thought was “Who will love me at this weight?”  My chest and torso began to feel tight with anxiety because of all these thoughts and emotions.  It truly overshadowed the joy of receiving beautifully taken photos.

Amidst all this turmoil, I had a thought that stopped my rant in its tracks which was “Do I have to think these things?”  It was the first time that I realized I don’t have to subscribe to the same old thoughts and beliefs that have fueled my shame and embarrassment in the past.  Who cares what people who haven’t seen me in a while think?!?!  Why be embarrassed and ashamed of myself?  I haven’t murdered, maimed, tortured or been knowingly unkind to anybody.  In fact, I’m dedicating my life to helping others break down their own toxic beliefs!  I’ve battled an eating disorder and have become stronger and healthier.  I may not be at a weight that is healthiest or pleasing to me but it’s temporary.  I have the power to change through soul searching, listening to my body wisdom and treating myself with love and kindness.  Most importantly, I am still changing.

This revelation was such a relief!  My chest loosened up and my brain stopped its frenzied thinking.  I began to look at the situation more objectively and, although, some negative feelings remain, they are quieter.  The most important “take away” from this experience is that I don’t have to believe the same things I have for years and years.  My beliefs, opinions and thoughts about things can change based on my experiences.  Thus far, my experiences have reinforced my toxic beliefs but, what if, changing my beliefs can create more positive experiences?  It’s definitely an experiment worth trying.

Want to see the photos?  Click here and leave comments about the one you like best.

Lighten Up!

Now that we are officially entering into the summer months, have your food cravings changed?  I’ve been craving lighter foods, like salads and fruit since the weather is becoming warmer.  The heavier foods associated with the winter months have lost their appeal.  Unfortunately, I don’t always listen to my body wisdom but, when I do, I feel so much better because my body is getting what it needs.

This ties into my blog post regarding Cellular Hunger where I discuss tuning in to bodily cravings to see what nutrition you need.  This is a great exercise to practice listening to cellular hunger because the change of seasons often triggers different cravings driven by the weather.

Have you noticed that your eating habits are crying for a change lately?  If so, head to the comments and let me know all about it!


Why Is It So Gosh Darn Hard?

Mostly everyone I know has a turbulent relationship with food.  We’ve taken the pleasure out of eating, we’ve made eating a battleground of willpower and we’ve made food the enemy yet we can’t live without eating!  If we have to do it, let’s make it enjoyable and stop fighting it.

There is no good or bad food – it’s just food.  Yes, limiting or eliminating genetically modified, chemically enhanced and over-processed food is a wise decision but relegating food to enemy status isn’t an effective strategy to stop bingeing or overeating.  Doing this mystifies food, makes it untouchable and we find ourselves wanting more because we want what we can’t have, right?

What if you decided to allow yourself to eat food freely, enjoy the act of eating and stopped beating yourself up about it?  I suspect this is a VERY different strategy for most which is good because stigmatizing food hasn’t worked to decrease the rates of obesity in this country.  It’s just made us crazy because we’re struggling against our most basic need as a human, it’s counter-intuitive.  There is so much fear around eating the wrong food, following the wrong diet and gaining weight that we’ve scared ourselves out of nourishing our bodies and enjoying the eating experience.

This approach is only part of the equation when trying to achieve a healthy relationship with food but, once mastered, can be pivotal in maintaining a permanent change.

Cellular Hunger

Mindful Eating BookJan Chozen Bays, MD in her book, “Mindful Eating” defines cellular hunger as signals from our body that tell us when to eat, when to stop and what to eat.  She states, “If we are to return to a healthy and balanced relationship with food, it is essential that we learn to turn our awareness inward and to hear again what our body is always telling us about its needs and its satisfaction.  To learn to listen to cellular hunger is the primary skill of mindful eating.”  She further explains, “The body has its own wisdom and can tell us a lot about what it requires if we are able to listen.  Unfortunately, as we get older we become deaf to what our bodies are telling us we need.”

Have you ever had a craving for salt or red meat?  These cravings could be signals from your body telling you it needs salt or iron.  Have you ever just needed to drink some water because no other liquid could quench your thirst?  This could be a sign that you are dehydrated.

“The essential elements satisfy cellular hunger.  These include water, salt, protein, fat, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins and trace elements such as iron or zinc.”  In fact, many episodes of bingeing can be directly attributed to not having eaten the proper nutrition, or essential elements, throughout the day, like protein or healthy fat.  These deficiencies are sneaky and often disguise themselves as cravings for junk food when your body is really calling for nutrients!  Small tweaks in the diet to include more healthy protein or fat will usually curb binges or eliminate them altogether.  Pretty cool, huh?

Do you tap into your cravings to see what they are telling you?  Can you listen to your body to see what it TRULY needs and eat accordingly?  This takes practice but is well worth it because it’s a pretty gentle way to achieve a positive relationship with food and maintain a healthy weight.




Built In Mirror?

Do you ever wonder if there’s significance to the fact that there’s no possible way for us to see what we look like, as a whole, without the help of an EXTERNAL device (i.e.  a mirror)?  I think maybe it’s because we aren’t supposed to focus too much on our outward appearance but rather focus on our inner soul to achieve joy, peace and self-worth.

What do you think?   The comments are open!

Say What Now?

As a follow up to yesterday’s post…

We do need to find a way to re-frame the things we say to ourselves, however, before doing that, acknowledging the mean thought and being curious about it is the first step in practicing this.  Sometimes it’s enough to be aware that you’re thinking mean things, the re-framing can come later.

Remember there’s no rush.  When you look at it like this, it’s pretty simple, right?

Say What?

Would you say the things you say to yourself to your child, spouse, best friend or parent?  Consider this the next time you throw yourself under the bus with mean thoughts and comments.  How can you “delete” these things from your consciousness?????

Tell me in the comments, they’re open for suggestions!

Be The Turtle

One of the most important things you can do to improve your relationship with food is to slow down while eating.

Ask yourself:  are you a slow, moderate or fast eater?  Are you eating like the turtle or the hare???  If the answer is the hare, concentrate on slowing down.

Do this by:

  • preparing a nourishing meal
  • setting the table
  • sitting down with no distractions
  • taking 5 calming deep breaths before eating and savoring (not rushing) through your meal

This has so many positive results like:

  • being able to gauge your fullness throughout the meal to avoid overeating
  • getting in tune with what your body craves food-wise
  • improved digestion, metabolism and calorie burning
  • experiencing pleasure from food instead of anxiety
  • a healing effect that builds over time

I know, I know…you’re asking “how can I eat by myself and not watch TV”?  You won’t know how until you try and I can almost guarantee that you’ll have such an enjoyable meal that you won’t want to go back to distracted eating ever again! Just remember the turtle ALWAYS wins the race!

For more information please check out the “Slow Down Diet” by Marc David.