About re-discovering intuition and using it for better health and nutrition.

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Our body is amazing and can do so much! If only we would take care of it and nourish it. The body is constantly trying to tell us what it needs to feel nourished and be a better vessel for our souls. The thing is, we don’t really listen. Our head gets in the way.

Yes, our head gets in the way with all its knowledge and experience, with its shoulds and shouldn’t’s, with its predictions and calculations. But wait, for over and above there is also intuition, that immediate gut feeling frequently silenced by our head.

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Intuition in the sense of listening to our body’s wisdom, is the ability to understand something without the need for conscious reasoning.

When we connect with our body, listen to our body, and follow our intuition to discover what is truly needed to feel nourished, then both our nutrition and health begin to morph into an optimal state. This optimal health state (different for everybody) is often forgotten while we listen to what our head tell us instead of our body wisdom.

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Intuitive nutrition is an amazing way to seek our very own perfect nutrition, balance, and health. Simply because each body is unique and there is no a perfect way for everybody. Also, there is not a way to nutrition that will work forever because we, as human beings, are constantly changing.

Re-discover intuition: Ask yourself what your body needs now. If you are craving, what’s missing? And if you are hungry, what’s needed: food, a walk, rest, or hydration?

Choose to be kind and grateful.

Images from the web.

My body during times of emotional distress.

I find myself currently reading two books. I’m very happy to be able to do this since it’s been a while since I had much time to sit, relax, and read. I also wish I had better memory to remember what I read afterwards. It is a fact I tend to forget a lot but there are always a few sentences which will stick and stay, and I’m grateful for it.

The first book is Walking to Listen by Andrew Forsthoefel. Reading this book has been a delight. I have not read a book that made me feel this way since I read All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot a decade ago. Both books are completely different but give me the same (not easy to describe) pleasing, homely, human feeling. This one is simply about walking (through the US) meeting people and being human (it contains so much depth!). It is such a treat and very light to read.

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The second book I‘m reading is The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van der Kolk, M.D. A book packed with science and powerful human stories, it’s been amazingly interesting to say the least.

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As of late, while reading both books, I have been going through some very stressful situations, so I decided to share how my body usually reacts during hard times. Believe me when I tell you that both books are related to my train of thought in curious ways.

I am imperfectly human and unashamed to describe how sometimes I go through rough patches. Some expect psychologists to be perfect, have perfect families and perfect knowledge or control over our emotions.  Such ideas are nonsense. The more experienced (in life) and humble about it the psychologist is, the more he/she is able to help people. Perfection helps no one.

The way my body reacts during times of stress is that every single time I experience overwhelming stress or a strong negative experience there is a direct effect on my weight. Yes, weight gain (even if I don’t eat) and stressful times seem to be inevitably linked for me. My digestive system is also invariably affected, migraines and muscular pain are the next step, lack of good sleep, and finally exhaustion are my most common symptoms during hard times (not that all of these happen all the time or in the order in which are mentioned). Always varying in intensity depending on the event, these symptoms are the very reason I got passionate about self-care and eating psychology in the first place. This is the way my body process emotional distress. Through time, I have learn to work on these reactions (and ask for help when necessary), to take care of myself better during difficult times in order to minimize the blow and the recovery time. There is always room for improvement and since life goes on, we never stop learning (or healing).

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I am a strong believer in sharing our experiences in order to help one another. I am also a strong believer in empathy. I believe that there are no bad events or experiences that last forever (unless we keep feeding them). Self-care is a priority, healing is always possible and that’s why I am really enjoying both books so much right now.

Choose to be kind and grateful.

Images from the web

 

A not so simple opinion on forgiveness.

This was one of my first blog posts. I wanted to share it with you again. I would love to hear your opinion on forgiveness…

We all get hurt one way or the other. Such is life. It is the way we react that counts, or so I’ve heard. The truth is we need to forgive constantly in order to move on. In fact, we tend to forgive small things on a daily basis without even noticing. But when a major offense (or group of accumulated offenses) like abuse, serious lies, betrayal or any action resulting in a major loss comes crashing our way, the reaction is different. It may be immediate or it may take some time but we feel hurt, confused, vulnerable and  sadness, resentment and anger explodes within us.

 

 

 

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We have a problem now, besides the offensive act commited againts us I mean. We click into survival mode and find that pain and resentment are so uncomfortable that we try with all our might to put those feelings and emotions away, bury them and forget about them. This process may last hours, days, months or years. The subsequent effort in denying what we feel may create health consequences. Now, this may not be true for some people, but for some people it is. It happens that our heart knows, our soul knows and every cell in our body knows that we are in pain and that we are unable to forgive at the moment, and our whole being acts accordingly, even if our mind says otherwise.

Permanent unforgiveness causes chronic stress. Our feelings and emotions are alive and if buried, they will try to find a way out. This chronic stress response causes our body to release cortisol and excess insulin, to say the least, which results in short term or long term health issues that may include: low immune defense system, indigestion, weight gain, inability to loose weight, excess weight loss because of malnutrition or malnourishment, headaches and even depression.

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It is important to notice that forgiveness of a major offense will not take away the pain and resentment right away. Forgiveness is the switch that turns the power of healing on. Healing is a process, a slow one sometimes, which would be easier to undestand with an example of physical injury. Such may be the case of a person  riding a motorcycle when, suddenly, a newly licensed texting and driving teenager hits this person. They rush him/her to the ER and after a month in intensive care, this teen comes to see this person looking for forgiveness. This is a nice person, so compassion fills his/her heart and he/she forgives the kid. Did this person got out of the hospital the minute he/she forgave? Did the pain go away? Did the broken bones heal instantly? No. Healing will be a process of months, maybe a year or more. He/she will have scars, maybe for life and will need therapy, probably. But this person will go on and life will be good again someday because he/she is strong and just helped the recovery proccess by forgiving the kid for everything.

When a person is devastaded on the inside, the healing process may be slower than a physical one. It may take an hour, a day, a week, months even years but forgiveness always starts the healing process.

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Time doesn’t heal everything, it can make it worse actually, specially if we don’t forgive. So we have to choose either to forgive, let go and start healing or to resent, hold, bury and start affecting our health. So, forgiveness becomes a self care decision. We don’t forgive for the offender, we mainly forgive for our own self. Because we should love ourselves enough to care for our own well being. Because we live once and do not want to waste away life. Because we want to help our body, soul and heart to let go and relax in order to have a good working metabolism, better health and live in the best way possible.

It is so important to take our unresolved emotional and psychological issues into account when there is a physical health problem and viceversa. Forgiveness is key, it is within our reach and it is so worth it.

Choose to be kind and grateful. 

Images from the internet

Diets everywhere I go.

I felt compelled to write about the subject because it seems to be everywhere. Last week, I attended four dinner parties, two brunches and a (whole day) pool party last Sunday. Those who know me well may swiftly testify that such a quantity of events is huge and abnormal for me. Still, I could not manage to avoid the subject (diets) at any of them!

Peer pressure is defined as “a feeling that one must do the same things as other people of one’s age and social group in order to be liked or respected by them”. Diet peer pressure exists. There are hundreds of serious articles published about this.

I’m 45 and even though many may think I’m in need of one, I am not on a “diet”. Nevertheless, my personal health, the same as my family’s, is always a top priority for me. We all happily exercise in whatever way we enjoy the most (because healthy exercise is supposed to be about joy not torture) and we thoroughly enjoy eating (quality food) mindfully and joyously. My life has not been ruled by diets for years. Notwithstanding, it still bothers me… the fact that diets overpower any other subject as conversation topic at dinners, brunches and everywhere else. Even though I’m sure about my lifestyle choices, I can still feel the social pressure and general dissatisfaction.

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Sometimes it even pains me. Yes, it pains me to watch life’s moments wasted away like that, energy that could otherwise be used for so many positive topics. But the worst part is to perceive that uneasy feeling silently shared by everyone: The feeling of not being beautiful enough, not thin enough, and not good enough; the feeling that lingers silently within each amazing soul I see at the table around me. Such valuable people, accomplished women, incredible and amazing daughters and moms who have achieved so much, such big beautiful hearts being uncomfortable, terribly uncomfortable with themselves.

The situation may bother me but most of all worries me. Since dieting is a temporary food plan, diets are not sustainable and neither do they create sustainable change for most people. Moreover, the deprivation of restrictive diets may lead to a diet-binge cycle which in turn may lead to guilt and frustration, finally leading towards self-loathing (specially in teens /// all other women or men not excluded though). Also, years of chronic dieting may result in slowing down metabolism and health issues.

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I really hope lack of self-appreciation not to be the result of the permanent year round ‘in a diet’ status of the wonderful people I saw recently. I hope it with all my heart. I also hope to go to a ‘diet free’ social event and soon.

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Choose to be kind and grateful.

Images from the internet

Body confidence: A battle for many, who only a few dare describe.

An epidemic which silently steals away energy, happiness, and life itself! I hear stories like the one portrayed here ever more often than I wish. Please take the time to read it completely. Thank you to Embracing Authenticity for sharing this. You are so right!

Raise your hand if you’ve ever looked in the mirror and been left feeling utterly deflated. Believe me you’re not alone, I have both hands raised too! Thinking about it I don’t really know anyone who is completely satisfied with their body, it’s either too big, too small, to short. Blotches, pimples, wrinkles and hair […]

via Body Confidence – Why it’s not all about change… — Embracing Authenticity

Choose to be kind and grateful.

Image from the internet

You don’t need an eating disorder for your weight loss pursuit to become a chronic form of self-abuse.

I have two beautiful daughters. I have fought hard to help them choose to deter themselves from materialism, to love themselves and their bodies, to respect themselves and their souls above all.

We live in a difficult city where looks and what you own takes precedence above all. Now more than ever, I would like to tell so many teenagers that they are beautiful just as they are. Just the same, I would like to tell so many women that the fact that 40 does not usually look like 20 is not a tragedy and that obsessing about it depletes life of energy and takes away time that could otherwise be dedicated to loved ones and to new, enriching, and exciting experiences.

Some weeks ago I read another blogger’s (Tracy I, Fit is a feminist issue) as she wrote about having been suffering from food poisoning. She wrote what follows: “Back in the day I, or one of the friends whom I complained to about my affliction, would have thought or said something like, “at least you’ll lose some weight.” Now, this is a ridiculous thing to say, I realize. But back then it was assumed that weight loss was an ever present goal in the life of every woman”. Sadly, I believe it still is an ever present goal that somehow has morphed into this idea that losing weight will make every trouble in life go away. So, lets do ourselves a favor and post this somewhere we can see it as often as needed:

Important note to self:

Loving myself and taking care of myself and my health is a priority, if the self-care nourishing process I choose includes losing pounds it´s ok. However, if the way I am or the way my body looks prevents me from living a full, happy life and I choose then to attack myself and my body until the process becomes a perennial obsession, then it’s not ok. Get help.

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Choose to be kind and grateful.

Images from the internet

About food, an overwhelming day, and my love for hiking.

We just celebrated my oldest daughter’s birthday and the fridge is full: muffins, banana cake, banana pie, and cookies. After a completely overwhelming day full of unexpected news about work and money, together with several events highlighting (still partially digested) truths about how my life is upside-down now, and a day in which I had planned to take a break to just read and rest… finding myself craving what’s inside the fridge freaked me out at first (I don’t even like banana! I can’t stand it).

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AAAhhhh anxiety! I’m tired and dehydrated. There, problem detected and accepted, emotions validated… now what?… Breathe…

After having a cup of soothing herbal tea I get prepared to call it a day. I tried to pray but it was not working. Of course He is always with me but I don’t want to talk neither listen, I’m too tired. I proceeded to do some tapping but I was not being that comfortable about it either. Panic… I was not going to be able to sleep like these. Breathe…

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I thought: “I will go mind hiking! Yes”.  I closed my eyes and started taking deep breaths… I was walking… there’s so much green, the smells, the wind, the temperature was just right for me. I could hear the wind through the trees. The wind… the lake is just around the corner… it was so silent and peaceful. I was able to pray there. I was able to rest there too. I wanted to stay there and never wake up…

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I really love hiking but I can’t do it as often as I wish I could. Therefore, I do my mind hiking and regain whatever strength I can gather from it. It is so important to release stress before sleep at night. There are so many ways of achieving this. What do you do to release stress before sleep?

Choose to be kind and grateful.

Images from the internet

Free energy enhancers.

No energy drinks, supplements or coffee… better use one of these:

-Slowing down.

-Letting go of fear.

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-Rest and down time (doing whatever is necessary to have at least some).

-Nourishment (good quality food, enjoyable activities, hobbies, friends).

-Quiet (to de-stimulate, to pray, to listen to ourbody).

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-Being yourself instead of pushing (Perfectionism and ego).

-Forgiving.

-Trusting.

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-Allowing love in and allowing it to flow.

-Letting feelings be.

-And of course, nature! 😉

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Choose to be kind and grateful.

Images from the web

 

“We are what we eat”… not exactly.

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We are not just what we eat but what we metabolize and, in order to do so, our bodies should be in a relaxed and balanced state. Of course the quality of the food we eat and the choices we make are very important; along with (just as important) stress management and taking care of hidden bottled up emotions. Otherwise, we could be eating the healthiest of foods and still be unable to achieve health.

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People who has survived traumatic events (even from long ago), highly sensitive people and those who live at a fast and stressful pace all the time may see signs of metabolic unbalance even if they follow a healthy diet. Toxic beliefs and negative self-talk also affect how we digest and assimilate food.

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We are complex human beings and  we are not just what we eat… not exactly.

Choose to be kind and grateful.

Images from the internet

Defense mechanisms: Destroyers or growth opportunities?

Life is challenging. Everybody, yes everybody, uses defense mechanisms to survive. This is not a conscious choice but by becoming aware of the defense mechanism(s) we tend to use the most, we might handle life in a more positive way.
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As we discover those places in our life where we feel no control, let’s focus on progress, not perfection. So let’s review the mechanisms in order to identify them and work on being more conscious of our reactions, and instead of labeling our experiences and reactions as negative, be able to generate a personal transformation. Instead of using them as destroyers, turn them into growth opportunities.
Displacement: This one is used by everybody when we are tired, low on energy, or not nourished enough. We transfer our feelings to someone else. This is usually the case after having a hard day at work and then we snap at our children or partner. It’s important to know that treating ourselves poorly by negative self-talk or by using (any) toxic substances (even food) is displacement in its most damaging form, a true destroyer.
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Rationalization: It’s hard to accept that sometimes even good people do something bad. Rationalization is making an excuse for a behavior by blaming circumstances where we believe ourselves to be innocent bystanders. This prevents us from being able to handle the truth. It’s ok to fail, be embarrassed, and feel scared sometimes.
Repression: Events we think we forget but create negative automatic thoughts at a subconscious level which in turn make us feel bad. This is the case with all irrational beliefs.
Projection: When we attribute to others what we think are unacceptable impulses or behaviors. What we don’t like in others usually we don’t like in ourselves. This is the case when we are always in the right and that person is always in the wrong; or when we hate something in ourselves, therefore we hate it in others.
Denial: Simply put, denial means not accepting reality. Denying helps with negative impulses that otherwise might fill us with anxiety. The problem is that by being in denial, we are not able to learn from an experience, accept advice and grow. It’s understandable, some truths are too painful to be accepted in full but are better digested in small doses.
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Regression: We use this defense mechanism when stressed and go back to an earlier stage where we felt more happy and safe. This is the case of childish behaviors or the abuse of comfort food.
Reaction Formation: This one turns an unacceptable impulse into the enemy, demonizing something we are attracted to, or trying to feel repulsed by our deep down desires. As a result, instead of defending ourselves we destroy using feelings of failure and guilt. It’s a polarization. This is the case with certain foods (like sugar is the enemy) or sexual impulses.
Intellectualization: This one serves better instead of rationalization. It’s coming up with a reason to explain an event without using a story around it.
Sublimation: Love this one! We take our troubles and turn them into something good. We take unacceptable behavior and let it out in a positive way by using healthy outlets. This is the case in painting, playing a musical instrument, a sport or any hobby that makes us feel better after a stressful day or experience. So we might lose interest in such activity that unconsciously served to let out frustration once we don’t need the outlet anymore.
Defense mechanisms are neither bad nor good, they just are, but we need to discard the ones that may be preventing us from evolving, living a full life and achieving good health. Therefore, if we practice taking responsibility and developing positive interpretations of our experiences then we will not needlessly punish ourselves for imagined failures or losses using self-criticism or negative self-talk, victimizing ourselves or looking to others to save us from ourselves or even make us happy. We will also be more conscious of why others behave the way they do and be more understanding.
Choose to be kind and grateful.
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