Holding the Numbers Lightly

lifetooshort

 

Numbers.

I have a lot of conversations about numbers in my line of work. And not the numbers that my accountant or financial planner talk with me about (ugh) but the numbers that are used to help us measure our physical health.

My clients over the last decade have taught me that these numbers can be destructive, shaming, and spike their inner drill sergeant to start screaming awful things about their worth + value.

Working with those who struggle with eating disorders, negative body image, and disordered eating has taught me a lot about some numbers and how they can be draining and all-consuming.

I am referring to the number:

on your scale
of the size of your pants
of calories or points of a food item
on your labs (I like these numbers but they can often be used incorrectly)
of calories burned

While I believe our emotional, relational, and spiritual health are deeply enmeshed with our physical health, I want to address these numbers — particularly the number on your scale — and how you use them as you seek to make changes in your physical well-being.

When it becomes clear to me that these numbers are toxic to my clients and are preventing any real change from happening, I often ask them to take a big risk and leap of faith.

I ask them to get rid of their scale.

Sometimes they are not ready to get rid of it, so I hold it at my office (you should see the space under my couch) or they put it in the trunk of their car or have a trusted friend hold it or hide it.

Afraid of losing control without their scale, my clients ask:

What if I gain a ton of weight?
How will I know if I am making progress?
What will motivate me for change without the scale?

I always respect this resistance. I get it.

It’s a frightening idea to let go of this measure that helps them manage their anxiety + fear and has been serving as an emotional container for some time. But if they are in my office, I suspect this means of containing has reached capacity.

The scale simply does not serve as an effective means of control and in fact spikes obsessive thoughts about weight, food, numbers, and what other people think.

Stepping on the scale fuels the “never enough” crazy-making because:

  • If it is higher than you would like, you feel anxious, depressed, ashamed.
  • If it is right where you want it to be, you are excited but also paralyzed by fear of doing anything that will change that number in the wrong direction.
  • Even If you have achieved a weight in the range that is best for your body, sometimes the desire to go even lower gives a rush that is hard to resist.

Contrary to the many messages we are inundated with in our culture, weight is not a direct correlation to our health.  Last week, the results of a meta-analysis study of weight and mortality revealed those deemed overweight were associated with significantly lower all-cause mortality.

This study is more indication of the need to rethink how we define overweight and obese. I want to be clear, the results of this study are not a pass for those who need to make changes in how they care for their body. But shaming people to make changes to better their well-being is not effective and is destructive.

Determining our well-being is way more complex than a number on a scale or an antiquated formula or chart. These faulty formulas are pervasive in our culture and prey on those who are feeling pretty crappy about themselves, who are desperate for change and relief.

When the number on the scale is the primary measure of your success in achieving your goals, you are vulnerable to a shame spiral.

When this number has power over your worth and value, it is time to get off the scale until you can recalibrate that way of thinking and learn how to bench negative emotion so you respond to your pain in ways that are not harmful to yourself and others.

Many clients report a positive emotional benefit after taking a break from the scale. They report less anxiety and that their inner drill sergeant has dialed back the volume.

Let me be clear: I think it is important to own all of these numbers…

…at the right time in your healing journey.

At the wrong time, shame, perfectionism, impatience, and fear can take these numbers and wreak havoc on your sense of worth, your mood, your focus.

Megan Holt, Potentia’s Coordinator of Nutrition + Wellness, often monitors the numbers on the scale for our clients while working with them on strategies towards true health that are customized for each individual. (Note: We all need a Megan in this culture!)

When our worth gets tied up in numbers, we make changes — often needed changes — for reasons that do not support sustaining change.

Our goal is to help people really discover where their bodies have the most energy and function the best. We support people discovering their food preferences and moving away from calling food good or bad. It is so amazing to see people find a way to enjoy food while still nourishing well.

When we use eating, restricting, or eliminating food in unsafe ways to take away the pain or to numb, dull, and repel, we do not allow ourselves to develop the emotional muscle to bench the hard stuff in life.

Food — eating it or restricting it — is powerful. It can be fun + enjoyable, too.

But for many, tolerating joy is very triggering and even less tolerable than shame and fear. Going back to the dark space, albeit uncomfortable, is known. And our brains like known.

So, if you are starting off this new year and food + body issues are one of your primary goals to tackle this year, awesome.

But please hold the numbers lightly.

And if you notice the numbers on your scale or on food items you are eating or the size of clothes giving fuel to your inner drill sergeant, then take a pause.

Ask your dietician, your nurse, or doctor to do blind weigh-ins for a while and not to talk about numbers for a bit as you seek to recalibrate your thinking.

These numbers are one of many factors that measure your progress on the journey towards true health, but they are not the sole indicator of progress as they may fluctuate for a variety of reasons.

Hold the numbers lightly as you seek true health in your life, and fiercely guard your heart from believing your worth is tied into a number.

Cheering you on —

Rebecca

Please follow and like us:

New Year’s Eve Soap Box (and good tidings, too)

 

I am a big fan of this time of year.  There is something about the beginning of a new year that brings with it rejuvenated hope, a fresh start, space to dream.

This time of year is also when everything media is saturated with promises to help you with your resolutions about exercise, weight loss, nutrition + wellness, relationships and more.

In particular, the diet industry along with fitness, health and personal improvement gurus are promoting the heck out of their various programs to help you make 2013 your best. year. ever.

So much of this hype genuinely speaks to many of you who are uncomfortable in your skin.  Food, family, fat, and other f-bombs get thrown around out of frustration a lot at this time of year.

And for those of you who have be on the diet, weight cycling, body hatred, I am not enough, scale-obsessed train for some time now, promises of quick relief to real pain are seductive and haunting.

Clicking “buy now” brings promise of solutions to real concerns and serious pain points in your life.

But this incessant talk about weight, body and food is like adding fuel to a dangerous fire burning in the hearts and minds of many who are crushing against the emotional pain of serious food+body issues, anxiety, depression, unhealthy perfectionism, loneliness+disconnection.

To be honest, there are some quality people and quality programs out there that can help you on your way to true health. And then here are some that frustrate the heck out of me as they exploit, are unsafe and make promises that are not based on sound research or true health.

While I believe there is room for a variety of definitions of health, I am fed up with definitions of health being reduced to the number on the scale and the fear of everything fat. Good intentions to help improve wellness are creating more anxiety+depression around food+body issues.  This deeply concerns me.

Restricting, denying, punishing, shaming are not sustaining change agents.

There is a whole host of struggles we have to tackle as we seek to improve the quality of life for all. We do need to move more and strive to make whole, fresh, organic food affordable + accessible to all.  We need to play more, laugh more, rest more. And improving our support of those with mental illness is a non-negotiable.

Seeking change is important.  It is a natural part of growth.  But when desired change is motivated by a numbers on scales, fear, people pleasing or performance – it will wreak havoc on your mind and soul.

Change is hard, change is messy; change is an ebb and flow.
Change is often needed, demanded.
Change is uncomfortable; change is frustrating; change is important.
Change is about showing up, fighting through fear and shame.
Change involves trusting like you have never trusted before.  Once step at a time.

Never forgot, homeostasis will fight to the death to maintain status quo.  That is why change is so difficult.  Especially when we avoid doing our own deep soul work.

I love Donald Miller’s recent post on resolutions.  He states they do not work when:

  • Our resolutions are not meaningful
  • We failed to make a plan
  • We forget our resolutions.
  • They just were not for us.

Donald Miller went on to say when resolutions do end up working is when we:

  • Choose a meaningful ambition
  • Create a plan for our meaningful ambition
  • Engage in conflict
  • Share our story with the world

If we are seeking changes that fuel deep soul meaning in our lives; if we have the emotional muscle to handle conflict internally and externally and own our story instead of shrink from it, well, look out 2013.

Suddenly obsessing about numbers+other people’s opinions do not have as much power with this new lens.

What do you desire to change this year?  How are you going to go about making these changes?

Are you trying to do it all at once or can you tolerate a step, a shift in direction, a phone call or email to start the process?

Are in this alone?  You may feel that way but my faith informs me differently.

Get clear on the changes you are seeking. Be specific.

  • Check your motivations for change. Are your desired changes life-giving or fear-based?
  • Check your expectations and desired results. Are they realistic for you, your body, your current life situation?
  • Check your beliefs about change. Do you have hope you can change?
  • Check the source of doubt, fear and shame against your faith.

And then turn towards lasting change and away from diets + shame-based expectations.

Happy 2013!

Rebecca

PS – And for those of you in the San Diego area who want to work on creating sustaining change in your life, check out our Cultivating Courage Workshop series launching in a few weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

Please follow and like us:

Because I Can.

 

I will

  • crawl into my daughter’s bed in the middle of the night and not worry about waking her up from her slumber;
  • tuck and re-tuck the covers over my son’s sleeping body while watching his chest rise + fall;
  • never cease to be grateful for my amazing teacher+lifeguard husband who rescued my heart the day we met;
  • not push aside the quiet nudges to reach out to someone when I am thinking about him/her;
  • allow myself to sink into the pain of grief+loss+horror of those I do not know but with whom I still feel connected;
  • cling to the promises of my faith to guide my way during the unfathomable;
  • stop taking so much for granted only to be woken up by senseless tragedy;
  • fight to keep blame+bitterness+fear from consuming my thought life by limiting my intake of news and social media;
  • live a life that would honor the innocent souls whose lives ended way to early;
  • live a life of courage reflected by those who put others’ lives before their own in the face of danger;
  • continue to advocate for + treat those who seek healing from traumatic/distressing life events;
  • respect the different ways people grieve and hold that space with tenderness;
  • remind myself the only person I can change is myself knowing changes I make start the domino effect of change on a grander scale;
  • pray without ceasing for the Sandy Hook Elementary Community;

because I can. 

Rebecca

PS: Here are some excellent resources for talking with the young people in your life about tragedies put together by high school teacher, Larry Ferlazzo (hat tip Joanna Poppnick), and Brene Brown.  I also love this post on what to say and what NOT to say to someone who is grieving.  Brilliant!

 

Please follow and like us:

Choices

 

Make healthier choices.

Make safer choices.

Make wiser choices.

Make the right choice.

Make. a. choice.

Everyone has an opinion on how you should best live your life, what is healthy, what is holy, what is true.

Yet, if you delegate your life-compass to the opinions of the collective other, you will flounder.  This delegating of our power of choice takes many forms:

If you use a diet as the foundation of your choices, you will be on a path to crazy-making.
If you let shame inform your choices, you will live a life of disconnection.
If you are a slave to chronic people-pleasing, you will be in constant despair.
If you are surrounded by unsafe people, you will be robbed of your dignity + your voice.
If you struggle with perfection, indecisiveness will emotionally paralyze you.

What is the basis by which you make your choices?

If your foundation for making choices is not clear and life-giving, then life may end up being quite difficult.

Do you make choices to get the approval of others?  To get relief from pain? To get the best results? To simply just move on?

Choices bring up the fear of making the “wrong” decision.  Sometimes the best choice is so, so clear.  And often, choices can feel murky and overwhelming.

You can choose to do more of the same or something different.  More of the same is often easier – for a while.

No matter what your circumstances, you always have a choice (though the choices before you may all be less-than desirable.)

Can you choose to tolerate disappointing others, the pressure of expectations, the fear of failure?

I do not know about you, but disappointing others, failing, unmet expectations have crushed me + leveled my sense of worth + left me doubting my ability to make the “right” choice.

My lack of trust in God and my inability to bench negative emotion left me wrestling for years with all the choices in front of me subsequently draining my peace + sense of purpose.

And then something changed.  I did my own deep soul work.  Deep. Soul. Work.

Because of this work, I am able to bench the fear of the unknown.  This new super power strength led to my ability to manage a career change in my 30’s. It also helped me choose to be vulnerable and to fall in love + become a mom (which brought in a whole new slew of choices to stretch my new super powers.)

I started listening instead of reacting.  Resting instead of fighting.  Praying instead of always asking others for advice.  I started to trust God and myself like never before.

It has been liberating finding my voice and choosing not to put my worth on the table for debate. It has been healing not to feel consumed by fear of losing control but instead grounded by the compass of Truth+Peace.

But it still gets gnarly at times.  Heck, this whole growing and healing thing is a process that never ends – which is extremely annoying at times.

But the men and women I work with on a daily basis inspire me to press on and do the work I am challenging them to do.  Not a day goes by without witnessing a client wrestling with the choice to turn away from harmful thoughts, actions, relationships.

Now:

I choose to try instead of striving for perfection.
I choose to risk failure instead of never taking a risk.
I choose to slow down and be proactive instead of reactive.
I choose to not hate myself and instead strive for self-grace.

I see my choices differently now.

Choices are Power.  Clarity.  Opportunity.  Experience.

Can you choose to trust the small, healthy voice in you that encourages you to take a leap of faith; to take action; to choose to do something different?

Go… Stop… Say No… Say Yes…

Start… Finish… Create…

Rest… Nourish… Leave… Love.

What choices are you struggling with today?  What one simple action can you take to today to tackle your challenging choices and turn the struggle into your super powers of clarity and power?

Choosing to live in faith instead of fear –

Rebecca

 

Please follow and like us:

The Spacious Place

 

This is the inaugural post launching our “Friends of Potentia: Words of Wisdom” guest post series.  We are thrilled to have Leeana Tankersley of www.gypsyink.com share her heart and wise words in this tender post.  Thank you, Leeana, for your vulnerability and for modeling true beauty.

***

Over the last three years—since becoming a mother—I have looked in the mirror, and more times than not, resembled Charlize Theron from “Monster” in most every way.

Dark roots. Bad skin. Scowling.  Just generally the most unattractive version of yourself you could imagine.

This has been a grief for me, as I would like things to feel much more like the Anthropologie catalogue then they have ever turned out to feel.

Three babies in three years has put me face-to-face with myself in such an intense way, that I have had to do some reckoning.

For as long as I can remember, I have struggled to feel a sense of spaciousness within myself.  Instead, I have spent time feeling ill-at-ease in my own skin, squeezed from self-contempt.

Motherhood intensified all of this immeasurably, and I was confronted with the following question: was I going to be a constant critic of myself or was I going to learn to be a companion to myself?

I saw these little creatures at my feet. Gorgeous, wide-eyed tinies.  And I knew I needed to find a new way of thinking, of being.

After all, how could I really be there for them if I had no idea how to be there for myself?

Practically speaking, one of the things that has most helped is better understanding the concepts and practices behind 12-step recovery.

I had this swirling mess of voices and anxiety in my head, and so I looked into how a person might break down such a big problem, how a person might begin to think (and then act) differently, how a person might stop certain habits and begin new ones.

That’s what 12-step offers us. In my opinion, the single greatest truth from 12-step is the idea that we must approach each day anew.

We don’t graduate from our struggles.

We don’t arrive.

Things aren’t ever solved, once and for all. We wake up each day and we begin again. We put into practice those truths that have become part of our health.

And then we do it again tomorrow.

I’ve become really attached to a Scripture passage from Psalm 18:

“But me he caught—reached all the way from sky to sea; he pulled me out 
of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos,
 the void in which I was drowning. 
They hit me when I was down, but God stuck by me.
 He stood me up on a wide-open field; I stood there saved—surprised to be loved! (Psalm 18:16-19, The Message)”

Instead of “wide-open field,” other translations use the phrase “spacious place” or “broad expanse.”

YES.

That’s the kind of living I want to do. How about you? Don’t you long to live from the spacious place instead of the squeeze? Don’t you long to offer yourself breathing room instead of badgering?

I really believe that we can live our lives drowning in the void, or we can live our lives in the spacious place. I have floundered in the void, as some of you have or maybe still are.

There is so much more life in the spacious place.

There is so very little in life that we can actually control.  Almost nothing.  Three little babies will teach you that quickly.

But one thing we CAN control is this: How we treat ourselves.

The truth is, I still look like Charlize Theron from “Monster” most every day. And, the truth is, that’s still hard for me.

BUT . . . somehow I can forgive myself now, I can care for myself, I can see that things will go so much better if I will simply stop believing that I am the sum total of my perceived inadequacies.

God has offered us a very broad grace. Can we offer that same grace to ourselves and, what’s more, wake up tomorrow morning and choose it all over again?

Believing in you,

Leeana

***
Leeana Tankersley is the author of Found Art: Discovering Beauty in Foreign Places (Zondervan 2009), a memoir inspired by her time in the Middle East. She currently lives in Bahrain with her husband, Steve, and their three kids: Luke (3), Lane (3), and Elle (8 months). Leeana blogs at www.GypsyInk.com.

Please follow and like us:

Slowing Down + Feeding Ourselves Well.

Source: potentiatherapy.com via Rebecca on Pinterest

Today is National Food Day.

The effort behind this movement is a “nationwide celebration and a movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food.”

We believe there is room for all foods in how we feed ourselves.  We also believe food is medicine.  When we nourish well, we feel well.

So many we work with have:

  • an obsessive;
  • a fearful;
  • a love/hate;
  • a distant
  • a frustrating

relationship with food.  Food does not have to take away your power.  Instead, it can empower you to live, be, and serve well.

When our clients begin to heal their relationship with food, they discover their food preferences, the joy of caring for their bodies and, yes, the joy of eating.

Eating well = fun + freeing.

Eating well = freedom from the loud voices in your head that shame you for eating a food deemed “bad”.

Eating well = energy, clarity, slowing down, enjoyment, community, connection.

The grassroots effort of the Slow Food Movement to maintain the diversity + quality in our food supply while supporting farmers through purchasing locally grown whole foods is exciting because it brings home the fact that how you feed yourself not only impacts you but those in your community.

Slowing down and feeding ourselves well: It’s good for our bodies, our community and our planet.  AND it’s totally affordable. (Seriously!)

Wow! A big part of healing your relationship with food, your body and your story involves being a part of something bigger in your life.  One simple way you can jump start that process is by checking out your local farmer’s market and connecting with those who grow/raise your food.

Several venues here in San Diego County will be hosting events in honor of National Food Day. Visit www.foodday.org to find an event near you.

Also, check out the San Diego Farm Bureau’s website to find your local farmer’s market. (or the FB in your local area.)

Go get some farm fresh tomatoes for your tomato sauce.  Or grab some fresh apples and free-range eggs for your apple spice cake.  Pick up some freshly harvested greens for your dinner salad tonight.

And if you see us at the market, please say hello!  We are honored to be a part of your community.

Slowing down and eating well –

Rebecca + Megan

Please follow and like us:

Dividing the Pain

Source: bdbhbe.blogspot.com via Rebecca on Pinterest

I received an email last week from a dear high school friend detailing the failing health of her mother.  I immediately picked up the phone and called her.  My plan was to let her know she is in my thoughts and prayers + how much I love her and her family.

But as soon as I started to speak, my words turned into a hot mess of jumbled words and tears.  I choked up as I realized the depth of my love for my friend, her family and the role they all played during such an important season of my life.

To be honest, I was a bit disappointed in myself for my ramble as I had wanted to be “strong” and a rock for her during this tough time. I felt a bit like my message was a burden and that did not sit well with me.  A few days later, I wrote my friend and apologized for my hot mess of a voice mail message and more coherently articulated my sentiments.

Minutes after I fired off my apologetic email, I received a voice mail message from my friend.  She was so gracious and noted how touched she was by my expression of emotion in addition to being encouraged knowing how her mom had impacted me.

(Note to self: authentic and sincerely expressed sentiments are ok.  Lighten up on yourself for not being “perfect”.  Yes, I am a recovering perfectionist.)

And then my friend said something so beautiful and brilliant.

“When you have things like this happen, you just want to divide the pain.  When I sent the email message to those I love sharing the bad news, there is some comfort I received in dividing that pain and having others hold it with me.  So, thank you.”

My friend shared more about the path that was ahead of her and her family as they seek to make her mom comfortable while her body slowly shuts down.  This led my mind to race with memories of how our lives and families intersected over the years:

  • time at her childhood house;
  • getting ready for homecoming;
  • sleep overs;
  • sneaking out and skipping school during state tournament season;
  • late-night swims;
  • eating at their kitchen counter;
  • getting in trouble at their kitchen counter;
  • practicing our cheer routines;
  • going to her cabin;
  • flying to California for my sweet sixteen/golden birthday birthday;
  • double dates;
  • mean girl drama;
  • jerky boy drama;
  • family weddings;
  • and few other memories that are best to remain private. 🙂

I love my friend’s statement about dividing our pain and am very aware of how so many people I know personally and professionally keep their pain silent within themselves, often for fear of being rejected or a ridiculed.  And some do not feel like they can manage the vulnerability of being seen in their pain.  Then there are those who do not have safe community they can reach out to and trust when they are struggling.

I really believe lasting healing happens when we divide the pain by giving witness to our hurts and invite others into our experience to share our load, our burden.

And for many of those I work with at Potentia, I have had the honor of giving witness to their pain, struggles, shame and fears.

The power of sharing your story, receiving support + respect instead of shame + judgements is medicine for your soul.

Let’s be honest, it is risky to be open about your heart struggles. To allow yourself to be seen – with safe and boundried people –  as not strong enough, tough enough, perfect enough allows the lies of these negative beliefs to dissipate.

I really think we miss out on incredible healing opportunities when we do not divide the pain and instead put on masks telling people, “It’s all good.”  or  “It is meant to be.” or  “It could be worse.”  My friend could have minimized things but instead she leaned into her safe and loving support system.

I wonder, what are the negative beliefs that are keeping you from reaching out?

What one risk can you take today to reach out and divide the pain?

Never forget: Real+Safe relationships heal.

Having a safe and sincere relationship with God, yourself  and others is crucial to managing the curve balls of life + experiencing the blessings in life to the fullest.  Shame says, “stay hidden”.  Truth says, “You are worthy to be seen”.

Dividing+Conquering  –

Rebecca

PS – Thank you Mrs. A for raising an amazing daughter who blessed my life richly and for loving me – along with the rest of the young women in your world of influence  –  as one of your own.

 

 

Please follow and like us:

Faith Fast or Crash Diet?

Source: google.com via Rebecca on Pinterest

 

I was recently asked to put together a handout for an organization getting ready to start a community-wide faith-based fast and I want to share this important information with you, too.

Spiritual fasts are a powerful and important discipline which can bring about some truly meaningful experiences and growth.

But in today’s culture riddled with the extremely high incidence of eating disorders and disordered eating, I encourage individuals and leaders to please consider the following when engaging in a spiritual fast:

• When fasting from food, daily hydration is essential for sustaining LIFE.
• Fasting can trigger eating disorder symptoms in persons, especially those who have recovered or are in recovery for these issues.

• If at any time the goal of a fast shifts to primarily losing weight, it is no longer a fast but a crash diet. Fasting should not be used as a tool to promote weight loss. It’s ineffective, and it also lowers metabolism.

• Many who struggle with food and body issues will engage in a fast as a mask for their disordered eating. Given the prevalence of eating disorders, disordered eating, dieting, and body shame in our culture, regularly focusing your community on the priorities of the fast is crucial.

• Food restriction tends to intensify food related obsessions and talk, and this can persist for some time even after the fast. This kind of talk can also be very triggering for someone struggling with food and body issues. Encouraging a “no negative food or body talk “ pledge during a fast is wonderful to include at the start of a fast.

Validating and encouraging other non-food options for fasting can help people struggling with eating disorders and disordered eating have the freedom to participate in a fast with their community.
• Many report feeling like a “bad Christian” or “not a good enough Christian” if they choose to not participate in a fast “perfectly” ie: fasting from food. Helping individuals in your community to make the best decision for their mind, body, and soul is respectful and empowering.

• Fasting is not recommended for active persons that wish to continue with exercise during the fast. Our bodies need the fuel (and electrolytes) before and after exercise, and throughout the day!

• Certain groups should never participate in fasting, and these include: children, elderly, pregnant women, persons with a history of disordered eating (or currently struggling) or are undernourished, persons who have problems with blood pressure (or are on medication for blood pressure), kidney disease, diabetes or are prone to hypoglycemia, persons with unique nutritional needs or nutrient deficiencies (just to name a few).

What are your thoughts on this hot topic?

I would love to hear about your experiences with spiritual fasting in the comments below.

Rebecca

Please follow and like us: