How I’m Breaking Free from Emotional Eating – Part IV

Well, I’m back from a wonderful family vacation in the Berkshire Mountains in Western MA. Overall, it was a great trip, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t have its moments of stress. ;-) One thing I realized is how important it is to make your needs known to others. Why? Because when we don’t, there is potential that our needs won’t be met, and this is a setup for a pity party. Many emotional eaters engage in pity parties and eat lots of foods that cause them to feel guilty and ashamed afterwards. This chips away at our self-esteem, makes us feel out-of-control, and helpless. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to feel any of those emotions anymore! I want to feel empowered by my choices and not diminished by them!!

So, we’re in the beautiful mountains enjoying the fresh air and scenery and within two days we’re heading to Boston, MA for two days. Now, I agreed to this trip so I was not surprised, but the truth is, I never really wanted to go. I was hoping that once we got to the mountains, we’d all be perfectly happy there and not feel the need to drive three hours to Boston.  This was not the case. What happened when we got to Boston? I was fatigued and found myself frustrated by all the noises, people, odors, etc. In addition, our son was in sensory overload and this never helps matters!

Back in the day, this would have been a perfect opportunity to have a pity party and invite my closest friends, (ginormous sandwich, cake, and cookies) but then I remembered that I don’t do that kinda stuff anymore! So, I had to adapt. I had to really dig down deep and figure out what was really eating at me. Was it the city noise or was it the fact that my needs weren’t being met? Did I want this visit to Boston, which was the first for my son, to be remembered because of all the food I consumed and my cranky mood or because of the sites I enjoyed seeing with my family? Once I got in touch with my feelings, I was free and began to enjoy my trip more.

I learned a valuable lesson on this vacation. I must be more clear with my family about my needs. I needed to have more cuddle time with my son, enjoy the solitude of mountains, and just spend time together in a quiet place. Once we got back to the Berkshires, and after a good nights sleep, I was able to express my feelings clearly to my husband. What a relief it was to get it all out! To finally say what I needed was so freeing. We all agreed to spend the next two days relaxing at the resort and enjoy the quiet time together as a family. When all was said and done, I did enjoy Boston. In hindsight, I don’t regret going, but I feel strongly that if I didn’t have the quiet family time those two days following our trip, I would have felt deprived and resentful. Those are not feelings I want to engage in if I can help it!

Are you clear about your needs with yourself and your loved ones?

When your needs are not met, do you find yourself getting “itchy” for something to eat?

Do you think your needs are important and that you have a right to express them?

What would it be like to express your needs?


How I’m Breaking Free from Emotional Eating – Part I

During my health histories with fellow classmates at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition where I’m studying to be a Holistic Health Coach and on my health/wellness Facebook page, people have asked me how I’ve been able to “get over” the emotional eating hurdle in my life. In truth, I suffered from compulsive overeating for many, many years which later led to periods of extreme emotional eating. Like we all do, I still have occasions where I emotionally eat, but it is very infrequent. This is because my relationship with food has completely changed… for the better. For example, I don’t typically feel the guilt and shame that I used to feel after having dessert or having a big meal with healthy foods. If I do feel a tinge of emotional discomfort after eating something, it’s  something for me to look at more closely so I can ascertain what was “eating me” at the time. I tend not to dwell on it or worry that it’s going to spiral out of control as it used to.

So, how am I able to do this? I’m planning to answer this question in a few blog posts. The first one I’m going to write about is how I’ve learned to LOVE MYSELF despite my imperfections. ;-)

Just as the image says, this is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do! Without this, I would not have the relationship with food that I now have. Please know that I work daily on cultivating this skill. Also know that I still have setbacks, but overall, I dig me!

An example of how I chose to love myself today was to power walk in the beautiful sunshine and NOT stay inside the gym to workout. Yes, I probably would have gotten a more serious workout in the gym (Expresso bike, elliptical, etc) , but I wanted to walk. So, I gave myself permission to go outside!! I got my heart rate going during my 2.5 mile walk, felt the sunshine on my skin, smelled fresh air instead of reconditioned A/C air, reset my mind,  and met a nice man and a sweet dog. I came back feeling refreshed and happy! I even had enough time to do some weights afterwards.

In the past I would have tortured and forced myself to workout inside because it was “better” for me, and I thought walking was kinda wimpy. That was a potential recipe for disaster because then I would have been resentful that I had to workout and would have been frustrated because I couldn’t do what I really wanted to do. Those negative feelings could have easily led me to emotionally eat. Now I love myself enough to listen to my intuition without feeling guilty or doubtful about my decisions. My goal to exercise (which is another way that I love myself) was accomplished AND I got to do what I really wanted to do. It was a win/win situation! No guilt, no shame, no beating myself for not doing a “serious” workout!

Among many other things, learning self-love has taught me to be more gentle with myself which had made life more satisfying and joyful. The more satisfied and joyful I am, the less the desire or need to emotionally eat.

Do you love yourself ? 

What are some things you can do to start loving yourself more?

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Hang on…Bumpy Road Ahead!

Yesterday, I posted on my Facebook page that my sweet and supportive father-in-law makes us a nice vegan meal once a week. Yes, I’m truly blessed! I have many people in my life that support my lifestyle changes, and some that have not. In fact, I’ve even blogged that I’ve lost some friends since going vegan. But I’m not here to dwell on the negative. I’m here to talk about how important it is for us to move past all of that regardless of whether we have support or not.

When I first began this transforming journey in May 2011, I felt lonely, a little sad because I was out of my natural element, and utterly clueless about what I needed to cook in the kitchen. So, like I do with any thing that I’m clueless about, I dug in and researched! I read everything I could and “Liked” every Facebook page that I thought would help me “get a clue” and provide me with the support I needed and craved. It amazed me how many loving and compassionate people were willing to share their journeys so openly online for FREE!! In fact, it’s one of the reasons why I’m so proud to be giving back with my Curly Haired Chica’s Health Quest Facebook page and also why I’m studying to become a Certified Holistic Health Coach at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

I think it’s very important to understand that we may never get the support from our families or friends that we naturally desire, but this should not stop us from continuing on our journeys! The best thing we can do for ourselves is hold strong in our convictions and remember why we are making these lifestyle changes. Once we are clear about that, their disapproval won’t weigh as heavily on our minds, and we free our minds from their judgment.

I know it isn’t easy. Believe me, I’ve had (and still do occasionally) days when it got me down. I’ve learned that the more I educate myself, the stronger I feel, and the more dedicated I become to move forward in my journey. Education is a powerful tool that empowers us. Once we embrace all that education has to offer, we are rewarded with its many benefits. Read, ask, watch, and make mistakes in the kitchen and anywhere else you care to venture. It’s all part of the process and part of the beautiful journey of discovery!

Whether we like to admit it or not, we are agents of change in a very unhealthy world. Every time we make positive, healthy choice in our lives it makes an impression on others whether we realize it or not. We have to do what is right for us and be true to ourselves. If that means we are going against the grain and our families and/or friends don’t agree, then so be it. We must become resourceful and seek support elsewhere, but we cannot give up on what we know is right for our bodies. Our health is our responsibility and no one else knows how we feel better than we do. We need to remind ourselves daily, if necessary, that we are doing this for OURSELVES and not to please anyone else.

Peace be with you on your journey. I’m so thankful that we are all here to support each other. The road can get bumpy sometimes, and it’s nice to have pals around who speak the same language.


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Getting Comfortable in Your Own Skin

My friend, Tina, at Veganized, Yoga Loving, Curly Headed Hippie wrote a great blog post this morning and my response to her post inspired me to write about a topic that has been on my mind for some time now.

Since I’ve gone vegan, my life has changed dramatically…all for the better. I’m happier, have energy to spare at the end of the day, my cholesterol has dropped 70 points, I’m less aggressive and more compassionate toward EVERY living thing (including insects). Veganism is NOT for everyone and I understand and respect that. While I’ve always known that we’re all individuals and have different needs, this point is really being emphasized more now that I’m studying to be a Certified Holistic Health Coach at Integrative Nutrition.

As Tina expressed in her blog, the one negative side of going vegan has been that people can be quite cruel in regards to other people’s lifestyle choices. I’ve been fortunate and don’t hear much from people (at least not to my face), but that’s probably because I don’t generally say that I’m vegan (even though I’m SO proud of my lifestyle), unless I’m around people who speak the same “language” or who are open to it, about it unless someone asks me why I’m not eating something that is being served. I feel strongly that I set the example in my actions and not by my words.

Sadly, I’ve lost friends since going vegan. I spent some time mourning the loss of two friends and it hurt a lot. After trying to figure out what I did wrong (which is my low self-esteem talking), I now see that God is simply making room for other, healthier people in my life. I don’t mean “healthier” as in the food they eat, I mean healthier in the fact that they will accept me the way that I am and not resent me for the life choices I’ve made.  Once I realized that, I don’t mourn them anymore.

I’ve learned in my 46 very challenging years of life that MANY people are threatened by people who are living healthy lifestyles. Commingling with people who are healthy (in mind, body, spirit) when one is not healthy can be a threat or an irritation to them. So, what many people do when something irritates them is eliminate it. I guess I was eliminated. OUCH!! What I’ve learned is that this is their choice and likely nothing that I did wrong, need to apologize for doing, or need to fix! Basically, it’s their sh*t and they need to own it just like I try to own all of my sh*t. ;-)

On the other hand, some of my friends and family have been very supportive of the lifestyle change. A few of them aren’t even interested in plant-based lifestyles, yoga, or half the stuff I post about, but they still “Liked” my Facebook page right away just to support me. Those are the kind of people that I want and need in my life. To me, that spells friendship.

Living a healthy lifestyle is within everyone’s reach but one has to desire it to achieve it. It doesn’t come about magically. This is my primary reason for going back to school to become a health coach. I want to help people who have that desire to lead healthier lives achieve their goals. This would give me pure joy!

I’m not sure if anyone can relate to my experience. If you can, I’d really appreciate your comments. As always, thank you so much for joining me on this quest. Your support and presence are very much appreciated!

“Curly Haired Chica”


Challenge Yourself to Empower Yourself!

Our hike yesterday was great! We went to two different locations, which were both equally stunning. In total, I hiked 6 miles (hubby and son hiked 4 miles). At one point the terrain was too difficult for my son, so we separated and I hiked it alone. I was determined to get to the summit, so I went for it. It was worth it because the views were spectacular and the workout was intense. When I reached the top, it occurred to me how much I enjoy challenging myself. It boosts my self-esteem and reminds me how far I’ve come in my journey.

I have to be honest, at first, I was a little uncomfortable hiking by myself for those 2 miles. My husband knew which trail I was hiking, we verified that we had cell phone service just in case I ran into trouble (there are also rangers around), but there was that lingering concern. There are wild animals on that mountain and I could have easily met one (secretly I was hoping to meet a cute black bear). I was completely alone and wondered if that was wise. Once I swallowed all my fear and decided to do it, I said a quick prayer asking God to walk with me, and I was off hiking with purpose. Once I got started, I soaked up the beauty of the surroundings. It was just me and the mountain…No one in sight! It was so peaceful and quiet. It was an awesome experience, and provided I was in the right situation, I would certainly do it again. (BTW, I’m an intermediate level hiker, I’m fit, and had plenty of water in my backpack.)

I encourage you to challenge yourself on a regular basis. While it isn’t always easy to get into the habit of saying “I’m going to challenge myself today”, the rewards are worth it. I can only speak for myself, but each time I do something that challenges me physically and/or mentally, I come away from the situation feeling so empowered, even if I didn’t do it “perfectly.” I am just thankful that I put my big girl panties on and tried it! That’s what matters to me. If I did well, that’s a bonus. What I try to focus on is the experience. I don’t always want to do it again, but at least I tried it once and can draw from the experience.

Challenge yourself in any capacity you see fit. If you are anxious about it (which is natural) go slowly and do it safely. Just do be sure to it. Make small goals for yourself and build from there. I feel strongly that if you go beyond your everyday limits you will soon begin to flourish in ways you never imagined. Remember, you have to challenge yourself to empower yourself! What can you do to challenge yourself today?

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In Search of Peace

I’ve been wanting to write a blog post for a few weeks now and wasn’t feeling inspired enough by anything until this evening. I’m constantly hearing people say how spent they are because they’re always “doing.” Do do do! It made me think about my life and the times when I’ve felt like all I was doing was running from one place to another “doing.” Just the thought of it stresses me out.

While many of us have families, some with school age children some without, many of us find ourselves running all over the place getting one kid to practice, rehearsal, a game, etc. Many of us work full-time jobs outside of the home and others are full-time parents managing a home. Both jobs require attention and make all this “doing” even more challenging because they limit our free time.

In all of this “doing,” when do we get a minute to find peace during our day or evening?

I will tell you what I’ve done to find more peace in my life. I’m not implying that I have the answers for everyone or that I’m at peace 24/7 because I’m not! But, I have reduced my stress levels substantially by following these guidelines.

  • I SIMPLIFY my life whenever and wherever possible! If my schedule is getting to gnarly, it’s time for me to give it a good hard look and see what has to go or be postponed. We must be honest with ourselves and know our limitations. Knowing our limits is NOT a sign of weakness, it’s simply an indication that we know ourselves and know what are needs are.
  • I remind myself that this too shall pass.
  • I learned to ask and accept help when I can and when it’s offered. This is an art and one that must be practiced often by chronic doers. In the past year, I’ve even asked my husband and son for help around the house. It’s made a huge difference in my stress levels and given them more purpose because they don’t rely on me for everything anymore. Ahhhhhhh! Another example of this was last month. One of the women from my church book club, which I started and now lead, sent me an email offering to set up for our monthly meeting.  My first reaction to her offer was, “That isn’t her responsibility. I should setup (coffee/tea, snacks, room) for the group…I cannot accept.”  After careful contemplation, I took her up on her gracious offer. It was so wonderful not having to rush home after work to setup for book club. That was a gift that I will gladly accept again if offered.
  • I take time at least 5 of 7 days to exercise. Some mornings I wake early and do some easy yoga stretching. I’m blessed to have a great gym at my workplace, so I  workout there during my lunch time. When I cannot get to the gym for a “formal” workout, I just walk. It’s also free and does not require anyone else. In addition to how fantastic it makes me feel physically, it also gives me some quiet time to collect my thoughts which I think is essential for doers. I heard this expression years ago and it’s always stuck with me…Move a muscle, change a thought!
  • I do mental gratitude lists. When I look at a pile of laundry, I try to be thankful that I have clothing to wear. When I look at a pile of dishes in the sink, I try to remember how thankful I am to have food and plates when so many people are homeless and starving in the world. :-( (Also see my blog post Gratitude and the Organic Apple)
  • I learned how to say “no” to the things that my heart really wasn’t invested in. This frees me up so when something I really do feel passionately about comes my way, I can jump on it without any hesitation.
  • I eat well balanced meals and I eat regularly. I’m a vegan, but whatever your dietary needs are, healthy food is essential in keeping our lives balanced. Take time and love yourself enough to eat well.
  • I make time to do the things that I feel passionately about. For me, it’s writing in my blog, spending time with my family, singing at church, reading, cycling, or cooking. Nurturing these passions helps keep me feel more at peace and satisfied with my life.
  • I pray often and about anything under the sun. 99% of the time, this brings about a sense of calm. It’s calorie-free, doesn’t require anyone to do it, and doesn’t cost a dime.

When I’m not “doing” all the time, I have time to really breathe in the beauty around me and truly enjoy life. I’m more grateful about my life, and have a general sense of well-being and optimism about my future that I don’t have when I’m over “doing.”

Ask yourself this question, “What can I do today to find more peace in my life?” Bear in mind that whatever you decide to do in your quest to find peace, it will likely require you to change. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it’s sure worth trying.

Blessing to all of us in our quests to find more peace!

Let’s give peace a chance.


Why I Don’t Weigh Myself Anymore

My day started out really well this morning. After all, it’s Friday, I get to wear jeans to work, I’m wearing my fave pink hoodie from our Maine family vacation, and my smoothie this morning was spectacular!

My day continued to improve when two colleagues complimented me on my new blog and shared how they could relate to the Gratitude and the Organic Apple blog post. They really made my day! Plus, I was about to meet an important deadline, and I was relieved!

Well, by now I’m literally skipping toward my daily lunchtime workout thinking “See, you’ve been down because you don’t think anyone is ever going to read your blog, and now you know at least two people have read it! I began to think, “Perhaps I should just go home now before anything bad happens!” But, alas, I was at work and needed to continue on with my workday and wanted to get in a good workout before the weekend.

Well, as soon as I walked into the locker room my nemesis, the SCALE, was staring me in the face. Not just any old scale, but a full-blown doctors scale!! It had been a long time since I’d weighed myself and I was kinda curious. But, I knew if I stepped on that scale it could ruin my whole day, so I continued to get ready for my workout.

To get ready for cycling this season, I’m doing some cross training and decided to try out some different equipment today. When I jumped on the stair climber, having not been on one of these contraptions in years, I had forgotten that it asks a lot of  questions before allowing you to begin your workout! Questions like:

Q: How long do you want to workout?
A: Since “Until I get bored” was not available, I chose 5 minutes because I had already ridden the Expresso bike for four miles.

Q: Level
A: Since I had no idea how many levels there were and it wasn’t volunteering this information, and “Baby Level” was not available, I chose Level 5.

Q: Weight?
A: My first thought was “None of your business.” My second thought was, “I have no idea.” For a moment I wanted to run back into the locker room and weigh myself, then I decided to leave the weight at the default number and started stepping.

The reason why I have no idea is because I decided a long time ago that weighing myself is not good for my mental health. I’ve been on a diet since I was about 10. I’ve lost and gained substantial amounts of weight so many times that I used to need two closets to house all my different sized clothes. No kidding! I’ve gone as high as a size 18 and as low as a size 5. I used to go up and down the scale like fingers on a keyboard! I’ve been on countless diets and consider myself a “foodie.” I’ve lusted for and used food as an anesthetic for years before the term “comfort food” was popular.

Since I began my veggie journey in October 2011, I know that I’ve lost weight because my clothes are very roomy and people often tell me that I look thinner, but I don’t know the magic number. When people ask me how much I’ve lost, and I tell them I don’t know, they look at me incredulously with crossed-eyes. For the record, that’s not a good look! ;-)

I’ve learned over the years that no matter what the number on the scale is, it’s never good enough. If it’s lower than I thought, I get over excited and feel the need to “treat” myself to something that will not serve me well. If it’s higher than I expected, I get depressed and think that I’m eating too much and begin to make rash dietary changes that also will not serve me well either. So why bother?

The truth is, I know when I’m at an ideal weight. I don’t need a silly scale to tell me that. When I’m being honest with myself, making sensible food choices, eating “normal” portion sizes, exercising regularly, drinking enough water, and managing my stress (which is directly linked to my food intake), my weight is generally stable and my clothes fit as intended.

I choose to love myself today by not allowing that number to taint my day. If you are looking to loose weight, I sincerely hope that you think about what I’ve written in this post. For me, honest, “clean” eating is the only way to successful weight loss and maintenance not a number on a scale.



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