Returning to wholeness

Women Returning to Wholeness

binge eating

Summer is coming to an end, temperatures are dropping and you’re most likely rearranging your closet for the upcoming fall/winter season. Do you love your closet?

Is it a place of affirmation of who you are? Is it filled with beautiful colours that enhance your skin tone and make you look great? Is it easy for you to put together an outfit that makes you feel like a million bucks?

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “How you do anything, is how you do everything.”

Often the relationship with your closet and the clothes you own is quite revealing about how you live your life and feel about yourself.

I’m sure we’re all familiar with the classic and frustrating situation of gazing at the array of garments we own only to conclude “I’ve got nothing to wear!”

Did you know that, according to fashion experts, most women wear only 20 per cent of their wardrobe 80 per cent of the time?

Let’s examine three typical “closet situations” that can be a springboard for personal awareness and positive change. In part 1 of this 3 part series let’s look at

# 1: You’ve got nothing to wear because your size has changed and /or your wardrobe is outdated.

If your closet is filled with a number of garments that don’t fit or are no longer appropriate for your current stage of life? Ask yourself…how long has it been since they were a fit? Months, a season or has it been years? Why haven’t you given them away? Is it a budget question or is there more to it?

A survey conducted in the UK at the beginning of the year found that eight out of ten women – that amounts to 20million across the UK – are hoarding millions of pieces of clothing that they can never wear.

Two thirds admitted of keeping the clothes in the misguided hope they will one day be able to wear them again. I’m sure that women on this side of the ocean can relate.

When you hold on to clothes that are too small (most likely you aren’t keeping a sexy dress you want to grow into) it can be symbolic of a general struggle to let go of things in your life. Keeping clothes that were appropriate when you just got out of high school or were still a student can also indicate that you haven’t fully moved forward and stepped into your current life or life style.

Sometimes there is an emotional connection to once favorite items of clothing because they remind you of happy times in your life. There is nothing wrong with keeping things for sentimental reasons. But they shouldn’t be part of your everyday wardrobe because rather than evoking positive memories, they risk triggering negative self-talk and stress in those moments when you’re trying to find something to wear.

 If you’re struggling with giving away what’s no longer a fit because a part of you longs to feel like you did “back then”, if you associate feeling good about yourself with being different from how or who you are today, try the following exercise:

Divide a piece of paper into two columns. In the first column make a list describing all the positive things you associate with the woman who wore the clothes that used to fit. In the second column, write down all the things you value and celebrate about who you are today.

Now compare the two. What stands out for you? Are there any items in the first column that you want to integrate into your life today? For example, if you used to feel sexier or more carefree, what can you do to welcome those feelings back into your current life? Perhaps you could take a belly dancing class. Maybe you could join toastmasters.  If you’re feeling really stuck, counselling can help you come to a place of greater self-love and acceptance as well as cope with the inevitable grief that comes with change. There are many options to help you change.

The only limits to being who you want to be, are the limiting thoughts you have bought into.

When you’re stressed or anxious your body releases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol makes you crave sugary and high calorie foods like chocolate, ice cream, donuts or pizza, just to name a few.

When you eat these foods your body responds by producing a hormone called serotonin.

Serotonin can be considered a “happy” hormone, as it greatly influences an overall sense of well-being.

Essentially wanting to eat certain foods is your body’s way to stop producing stress hormones and start producing pleasure hormones.

Here are 3 stress management and wellness tips to stop stress eating

1)  Take a deep breath

and another one and another one. Often when you’re stressed your breathing is very shallow and your body contracts. Neither one of these things feel good. By focusing on taking deep breaths right into your belly, you bring oxygen into your system and your body automatically relaxes. You can increase the calming effect by soothing yourself with a reassuring phrase like “It’s going to be ok.”, “I can do this.”, “I am safe.”.

2) Laugh

Laughing is often the best anxiety and stress help. Being able to laugh at yourself can heal you of any emotions that you are going through.

And remember the stress hormone cortisol? Well, laughter releases certain cells that suppress cortisol…. so no wonder it feels good and is good for you. Start an emergency laughter kit. Watch funny movies. Read funny stories.

3) Get your body moving

Take a brisk walk, do some stretching, play some music and do a jig. Exercise helps lower cortisol and other stress hormones in your body. The key is to do something you enjoy. So tune into your body and let it tell you how it would like to move.

Learning how to cope with stress differently and tapping into other resources will help you stop emotional eating. If you have come to a place in your life where you need to lose weight because you have diabetes or other health concerns and you need anxiety and stress help, or if you’re simply tired of yo-yo dieting this Coaching Program can help you.

 

Do you make negative associations with Anger? You’re not alone. Few of us had “healthy anger” role models. For many, expressing anger or being at the receiving end of anger brings up a whole range of uncomfortable emotions.

If you’re a woman, you might struggle even more, because you may have been taught to internalize your anger.

When anger has you heading to the cupboards, you can easily end up overeating while trying to express or rather repress what you’re feeling.

Did you know that suppressed negative emotions have been linked to causing serious illness like cancer?

Scientific research shows that negative emotions can affect the pH level of your body. Feelings like anger, revenge or hate create metabolic acids. When you suppress these emotions, over time, you increase your potential of high acid levels that can impact the potential for cancerous growth in your body.

So let’s step away from hurting yourself and look at some ideas for expressing your anger rather than stuffing it down.

  •   Vent on paper – do “the angry opera”

Use your journal or perhaps you have a file on your computer… and tell it like it is. Don’t  hold back. You don’t have to worry about anybody hurting you back, or about stepping on someone’s toes.

Express how you feel and how angry you are and get it out of your system. You could even write a letter (that you may choose to send or not) to the person who hurt you or who you are angry with.

Often getting it all out without holding back can give way to calmer feelings.

Because in my counselling practice, I  use an integrated mind – body approach I always encourage you to also release that pent up energy in some physical way.

Writing gives shape to your thoughts of hurt and anger.

But what about your clenched jaw, your tight throat, the knot in your stomach and the tension in your body?

Ideally you would have a safe space where you could shout or holler, make faces to stretch your jaw. Jump up and down, stomp your feet, do an “anger dance” or pound a pillow. Your car (not moving in traffic or with passengers) can be a great place to give vocal expression to your anger.

And always… don’t forget to breathe. Belly breaths activate the para-sympathetic nervous system and will calm you down.

  • The Serenity Prayer

Do you know the serenity prayer? It starts like this

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

When you’re angry or frustrated about something, it helps to have some sense of control. Take a look at what’s going on for you and decide if there’s anything you can do to improve the situation.

Sometimes there is and sometimes all you can do is learn from what happened so it doesn’t happen again.Consider that by eating you are stepping into the passive role of the victim. By taking assessment of what you can do, you also take some of your power back.

  •  Be assertive

Do you eat when others talk down to you, criticize you or take advantage of your good nature?

Don’t forget that you have a right to your own views, emotions, values and opinions. You have the right to say NO. And you have a right to feel good about yourself.

Get into the habit of sticking up for yourself. Someone picks on you – tell them to stop it. Set boundaries. By being assertive, you may find that some people will back down. Nobody has the right to treat you badly.

If you’re not used to asserting yourself, you might consider taking an assertiveness training class.

If anger has caused trauma in your life and is impacting how you respond and deal with this emotion today, solution focused counselling can help you.

 

Emotional eating can have different triggers. During one of the last calls of the Stop Emotional Eating Coaching Program   one of the participants shared that she noticed a lot of her emotional eating happened when she felt bored.

Here are 3 tips to shift out of boredom and stay away from the cupboards:

You might be tempted to do so  if you happen to watch the latest Nabisco Cookie commercial for the “Chips Ahoy Chewy Gooey Cookies”  because… “they are crammed with joy.” In my counselling practice for women, I specialize helping clients overcome emotional eating and address the root causes of depression.

Burnaby counselling for women helps you stop emotional eatingIn these times of stress many individuals struggle with increased depression and anxiety. As you may know, when you’re depressed, your serotonin levels are low. Low serotonin levels in turn trigger cravings for refined carbohydrates like cookies or chocolate.

When advertising helps instill the belief that a cookie is “crammed with joy” is it any wonder that the rate of emotional eating related weight gain is also on the rise?

Let’s not forget that children watch TV as well.
(The cookie commercial is geared towards children)  Between the age of 4 to 10, children develop  their ability to think. How many of us think to point out to a 6 year old that a cookie is actually not crammed with joy? To the average adult it is just advertising that we tune out. But somewhere in our brain and somewhere in the developing brain of our children this message gets logged.

So let me repeat my earlier question. Is it any wonder that emotional eating, Food Addiction and obesity are on the rise?

If we take another look at the connection between serotonin levels and cravings we also need to remember that low serotonin levels affect how you feel about yourself. Anyone who has ever felt depressed will recall that they weren’t exactly bursting with self-esteem at the time.

One of the most common grievances accompanying low self-esteem that clients share with me is their fear of weight gain and feeling too fat.

It is a dilemma. Sugar does raise serotonin levels momentarily, so it would appear that the Chips Ahoy Chewy Gooey cookies are indeed “crammed with joy”.

Personally I think I would like the ad better if it ended with one of those rapid monotonous voices we recognize from drug commercials which could say “Some side effects may apply. Eat with caution when depressed. The intense flavor may trigger binge eating, overeating or continuous grazing until the box is empty. After effects may include and are not restricted to weight gain, self-loathing, feelings of powerlessness”.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with Chewy Gooey cookies. As I always say to my clients:
There are no forbidden foods as long as you eat mindfully. So the next time you have a cookie, do enjoy and savor the smooth creamy fudge in the middle.

Then consciously take a breath, connect with your body and check in to see if you really want another cookie. Perhaps you do. If you find yourself eating  more than a whole handful, ask yourself what you are really hungry for in this moment.

Get help for depression and anxiety with Burnaby counsellingIt may well be that you are looking for a little bit of joy. And that is ok. But remember that you can make a choice. You can eat more cookies, or take another breath, put down the cookies and take a moment to remember what else gives you joy. Maybe you like to hug your pet, kiss your child, play a game, do some gardening…

Now check in again with your body. What is truly going to meet your need for joy in this moment?

No matter what choice you end up making, be present with yourself and give yourself permission to truly savor the moment and your chosen activity.