If I die tomorrow, I want you to know this

It happened six years ago. The day I thought I would die. I still remember it to this day.

I walked into school like any other high school senior. I had gotten accepted into my dream college and was looking forward to passing the last few months of school being bored, pretending to work, and chatting my days away with my friends while we were still all in one place.

Instead, I was pulled into a separate room, to be interrogated.

“We have received an e-mail from your e-mail address that contains pictures of a document you didn’t have access to. We want to know what happened.”

1-20-14 if i dieI told them I didn’t know what they were talking about. That I hadn’t sent any e-mails. They refused to show me their copy of the e-mail. They only asked me if that was my e-mail address (it was).

They asked me if my final grades mattered for college. What college I was going to. If a phone call accusing me of fraud would make them revoke my admissions offer.

They pulled in every single other student in my class. Made several girls cry.

Parents came in, argued, threatened, all to no avail. The corrupt system was well defended.

Someone had hacked my e-mail address and sent an e-mail as if having been delivered from my address to the school principal and my homeroom teacher, as well as a few other students, containing pictures of a future test they had “found”.

For this, I was being punished.

I tried to prove my innocence – but the e-mail provider needed to have the original e-mail, and they refused to even let me see it, let alone have it.

I tried to bring a lawyer – they informed me that this was internal school business so the lawyer couldn’t interfere.

During those few months until I graduated, I experienced the most intense emotions. Fear, anger, fury, desperation, hope…

One day, I just broke down. [Read more...]

My theme for 2014 (+ my theme-discovery process)

I’ve been pondering my theme for 2014 for a while.

My first thought was “courage”. But that didn’t sound just right. Too cliche.

1-2-14 truthThen I thought of “surrender”. Hmm, closer. But still not right.

I didn’t want it to be a word I just so happened to choose. I wanted it to be intuitive. Holistic. Resonate deep within my being.

This is a word I will carry with me through the year. My mantra to help me dive deeper into the changes I’ve chosen to make in my life.

So I took a piece of paper, and started writing down… [Read more...]

What question are you afraid to ask yourself?

I’ve been sitting on this post for a long time. In the spirit of naked, bold un-confidence and authenticity, here it is.

I sat there, head in my hands, for what felt like a very long time.

I let out a sigh – I needed to move on. I couldn’t let this keep getting to me. [Read more...]

Why you’re stuck and nothing is working

So you’ve made up your mind to eliminate a bad habit. Or build a good one. To change something about your life. Make it better.

You want to lose weight and feel good in your skin again.

You want to get organized and stop procrastinating.

You want to make your business more successful.

You want to wake up early and be productive.

You want to cultivate the habit of mindfulness and become more zen.

You’ve gone out, done your research, and immersed yourself in books, websites, and “friendly advice”. You’ve tried a dozen different diets, snoozed a million times, taken more business courses than your wallet can afford, and only become more frustrated in the process.

No matter what you try, nothing seems to change. You’re stuck, and you’re ready to throw yourself on the floor and stomp and cry like a toddler because nothing. is. working, dammit!

I’ve been there. [Read more...]

Stop emotional eating

Switching it up today! No video, partly because I couldn’t find any time with nice weather to record, and partly because there was just too much to say and I needed to organize my thoughts a little better. Writing does that for me. Let me know how you like this format vs. video!

I used to eat not only when my body needed it, but when my soul did, too.

As if there was some sort of a stomach-heart tunnel, I downed bowlfuls of mac ‘n cheese and ice cream to fill my emotional holes. But when I would collapse, feeling like I was going to explode, I regretted it.

Every single time I regretted it. And yet, I kept doing it, day after day.

Post 24 emotional eatingSometimes I would be good and eat clean for a week. Then, in a binge worthy of the biggest sumo-wrestlers, I would consume half my weight in food, and regret it enough for the entire week.

The thing is, it did feel good. For the brief period of time eating was actually involved, I was too preoccupied with shoving food down my throat to think about my problems. It was a brief escape from the stress, anger, or fear that had been plaguing me.

But no matter how much food I stuffed down, my stomach could only hold so much. Eventually, I’d be feeling like a balloon that’s about to pop, guilty and frustrated, and whenever I closed my eyes my problems were still there. Eating had not magically made them go away.

The time came when I had put some weight on and started trying to lose it. After low-carbing, high-carbing, veganing, paleo-ing, I finally found my way down the scale with intuitive eating.

The trick? This one limited eating in both frequency and quantity to a measurable external factor: hunger. Emotions, no matter how strong, never quite translated into hunger.

Although it took some self-control and much journaling, I eventually learned to abide by the natural rhythm of my body, curbed emotional eating, and learned some valuable lessons along the way.

1. You’re doing this for a reason. Find it.

Overeating is hurting you. But, despite the fact that you know it, you just can’t stop. You always seem to take two steps forward and three steps back.

The reason why it feels so impossible to stop a bad habit is because you subconsciously have a reason for doing it. So, the first question you must ask yourself is, “how is emotional eating benefitting me?”

In my case, emotional eating maintained my victim status. I gave so much power to my emotions that I considered them at fault for causing me to gorge myself and the resulting guilt and weight gain.

Once I realized this, the solution was not so difficult. All I needed was to not allow myself to be a victim anymore. While still not easy, this was easier than fighting against a subconscious part of myself.

What’s your reason?

2. You don’t taste your food

Just how fast do you shove spoonful after spoonful in your mouth when you binge? Do you ever have any time to taste it, or is all you notice the feeling of a full mouth and distending belly?

Isn’t it ironic that when you overeat you stuff yourself with foods that taste good, but never actually take the time to experience the pleasure in their taste? Why are you punishing yourself like this?

This one takes a lot of work, but remind yourself to actually taste your food every time you eat. Only put one bite at a time in your mouth, and don’t take another one before you finish chewing. Putting the fork down in between bites helps me from slipping back into the old familiar pattern.

Also, be sure not to distract your senses while you eat. I sometimes read while I eat, but I mostly try to enjoy and honor my food for the nutrition and taste it brings. It feels like I’m honoring myself at the same time.

Which brings me to my next point…

3. You don’t see your worth

How do you treat yourself? Do you love and honor yourself, like the precious butterfly you are? Or do you treat yourself like a useless rag you keep in a corner, musty with tears and heavy with shame?

When you overeat, you are punishing yourself because you see yourself as worthless.

The more blame and shame you fling at yourself, the more you’re going to punish yourself in other ways (like emotional eating).

This revolves around a bigger issue. You believe you are less than others. Less than who you really are.

But you really are equal to everyone else in this world. We’re all the same. We all come from the same earth, and we all return to the same earth.

If you want to defeat emotional eating, you have to refuse to punish yourself.

That’s why your motivation must come from love… love for yourself because you’re tired of hurting yourself; love for your children because you want to inspire them to lead a healthy life. It can’t be for any external reason. Only love can give you the push you need to stop hurting yourself.

Eventually, you will learn that you have much more power than you think. You will learn that conquering emotional eating is conquering  yourself. And you are the only one who can do that.

4. You can run, but you can’t hide

No matter how much you eat, your feelings are always there when you are done. Emotional eating numbs you to them for a short time, but then they come back.

They come back stronger. And they come back bringing the guilt you feel from punishing your body.

Then confusion starts to set in. Why am I doing this to myself? Why are my feelings coming back? Why didn’t eating take them away?

Then you go to the fridge to eat more, because this confusion, along with the blame and guilt and fear and frustration are just too much to handle.

And so starts a vicious cycle. One that you cannot end unless you realize that the only way out is through.

Over time, as you work through your emotions and drop their weight, you will feel stronger, and you will start honoring your body. You will conquer yourself with love, and you will shed the weight off of your shoulders.

One day, your motivation will become your reality. On this day, you will look back and say, I won.

Share your story!

Have you crossed paths with emotional eating? How have you defeated it, or how are you defeating it? Your story can help inspire someone who reads it just when they need it the most.

Is hooking up safe?

This past weekend the New York Times released an article about women in college and their preferences for hooking up rather than dating. You can read it here.

Penn is my alma mater, which means it’s very close to my heart. This article didn’t really sit well with me. In general, I feel that it unfairly (1) selectively singles out Penn and (2) generalizes from the girls it quotes to the entire female student body. But, of course, I understand the temptation of piggybacking on the reputation of an Ivy League school for publicity. Next time maybe try Princeton, and ask “Penn mom” to give advice?

(I should mention here, in case that joke didn’t hit home, that Penn and Princeton are rivals.)

Snark aside, this raised a very important question in my mind. Just how safe are hook-ups and one-night stands anyway? Initially it seems like an easy and harmless (with proper precautions) way to de-stress and have your needs met all at once. The next day, you’re back to the hustle and bustle of daily life. No consequences. Right?

Of course, it’s never that simple. Modern technology might have provided ways around the physical consequences of (willingly) hooking up, but we still possess a monkey brain behind all of that civilized intelligence. And this monkey brain may just retaliate in the most unexpected ways later on.

In this video, I explain how this combination of hooking up and monkey brain can spell bad news for your future emotional well-being. (please excuse my bad hair day… we all get ‘em!)

Unfortunately, you can’t measure the consequences of hooking up. They blend in along with everything else you experience and show up in tiny ways in day-to-day mostly unconscious behavior. Shame is a tricky little devil. It sneaks up on you and strikes just when you least expect it (and you most often don’t even realize it). Unless you have a policy of complete authenticity in your life, there’s always going to be some shame hanging around waiting for you to address.

What’s your take on this?

How to stop being jealous

Growing up, I was very competitive. While I loved my friends and wanted what was best for them (and helped them achieve their goals as much as I could), I also wanted to be the best.

You know how it goes… “I’m happy for every achievement you have, as long as your achievements are not greater than mine.” The ugly truth.

Over time, of course, I learned to work with these little demons of mine and stop comparing myself to others (which is, let’s face it, the main cause of jealousy). That is a big task, and it can take years of practice to master. I am reminded of that reality every time I feel that knot in my stomach when someone else just happens to stumble into success… and I still seem to be here slaving away with seemingly zero results.

But, like you, I don’t like being jealous. I never wanted to be jealous in the first place. It’s just this ugly feeling that creeps into my soul and shows up in the worst circumstances – the times when I want to be there for my friends and be truly happy for them.

Fortunately, I’ve found a system that works for me when I find myself in the throes of jealousy – it might work for you too.

Before you roll up your sleeves, here are two things you should understand about jealousy first:

1. Your friend has probably worked a lot harder than you think. Chances are, they didn’t just stumble into success half-assing their work. They worked their butt off. Maybe even more so than you.

2. You are jealous because you compare yourself with others. You compare yourself with others because you’re insecure and have the self-defeating belief that by being “better” than those around you (by what standards, anyway?) you will command more respect, appreciation, and acceptance. Chances are, once you finally do get ahead, you will realize what an empty illusion this is. But, for now, it seems very hard to shake.

Now that you understand what jealousy is made of, click play on the video below to learn what you can do to let go of your jealousy and be truly happy for your friends.

Jealousy is a nasty little demon… but when you understand why it happens and take the right steps, you can successfully let go of these feelings and get back to your cheery old self.

Do you struggle with jealousy? What do you do to help yourself let go of it?