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The Masculine Vs The Feminine

Archetypes are vastly underrated but are deeply important and make up the polarities of the world. The masculine and the feminine are the same as yin and yang, sun and moon, emotional and mental, earth and sky, and so on. Each archetype plays its essential role in the world and is needed in equal parts to create harmony and optimal function. The problem that we face, especially in the society we live in today, is that masculine traits and how we approach living and eating are overpowering the more feminine approaches many of us are internally seeking.

"The field of nutrition and the field of eating psychology both suffer from an intense, lopsided, and imbalanced masculine approach".

Heres are some terms that have been used throughout centuries to describe each archetype:

  • Masculine: left brain , logical, linear, one-pointed, straight, to the point, goal oriented, intellect, mind, hard, heroic, purpose, clarity, systems, hierarchy, protection, boundaries, order, commitment, will, strength, information, science, numbers, calculating, measurement, penetration, problem solving, directional, singular, war, combat, fight, muscle, metal, survival, king, prince, father, brother, warrior…
  • The feminine: right brain, creative, nourishing, embodied, artistic, circular, emotional, musical, unpredictable, chaotic, flowing, watery, colorful, connecting, associative, soft, loving, caring, food, body, fat, earth, soil, procreative, communicating, inclusive, intuitive, no boundaries, open, receptive, spacious, non-linear, curvy, sensual, touch, pleasure, images, pleasing, surrender, yielding, dance, birth, earth, mother, queen, princess, devouring mother, sister, goddess, unknown, mystery…

With our focus solely on nutrition and ways of feeding ourselves, do you notice how when you look at the terminology above that we are wired towards a more masculine approach? In a masculine approach we focus on numbers, grams, measurements, systems, more muscle, heroic exercises, the "right way", or the "perfect" diet. I'm not saying that these methods are wrong or bad, but what it shows for women is that it is an approach that simply won't work long term.

Young woman on the market

Men and women are very different, we may be equals but make no mistake, we were not created the same. All you have to do is look at the general anatomy of each and see that it's not rocket science to realize we aren't the same. So if we aren't the same, why are we told to use the exact same, cookie cutter methods of dieting and exercise programming regardless of gender?

You can fight me on this one but the fact of the matter is that women are not encouraged to embrace their femininity when it comes to eating. Adopting a more feminine approach when it comes to how we feed ourselves would look more like this:

nourishment over nutrition, pleasure over feeding, mystery over scientific certainty, flow over meal plans, movement over exercise, eating over will power, body wisdom over body knowledge, fat over muscle, garden grown over laboratory grown....

Natural vs Unnatural Real Against Fake Arrow Words

Until we start to embrace a more feminine approach to food, women especially will continue to struggle with body image, disordered eating patterns, and re-bound dieting. I want to just say again that masculine approaches aren't wrong or bad, but that for your average woman on planet earth they will not work long term because the woman will not feel embodied and will not be encouraged to find her natural appetite. Notice that the feminine approach is not only for women, but for men as well. Finding natural appetite, using self love rather than self loath as motivation, and letting go of the scale and this "perfect" number you may have in your head that you have to be, that has no real scientific basis, is essential for an overall healthy practice when it comes to the psychology of eating. Everyone would benefit from eating more naturally and freely regardless of gender.

Homework:

1. Start to tap into your own body wisdom of what to eat and what not to eat. You know your body better than anyone else so let go of searching for the perfect diet because it doesn't exist. Eat foods that fully nourish you on every level, not just the foods you think you have to eat to meet nutritional requirements. Keep in mind that the body will always naturally gravitate towards foods that build it up if you allow it to. Even though you may crave certain foods out of circumstance, the body actually craves nutritionally dense foods.

2. If every exercise burned the same amount of calories, what would you do? Whatever your answer is, do that. This is called embracing movement rather than just simply exercising.

3. Go on a No Diet diet for one month and see what happens.

 

 

Information in this post was taken out of the lectures: Feminine and Masculine Psychology by Marc David, Founder of The Institute for the Psychology of Eating.

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Getting Acquainted With Rhythm

Hello all my faithful followers, I apologize I haven't blogged for a few weeks. Thank you all for your patience while I continue to learn through my psychology studies.

I want to talk to you about rhythm today. Life is all about rhythm, and rhythm is life. Everything we do follows a particular rhythm, from the sun rising to the sun setting, from our blood pumping in and out of our heart, and from the breath that goes in and out of our lungs, we as humans, are rhythm.

Our bodies are created to follow rhythm in everything we do, and in terms of eating, our bodies follow what science calls "bio-circadian nutrition". Circadian rhythm refers to our sleeping pattern, or our rhythm with the sun and moon as we sleep, so bio-circadian nutrition, like circadian rhythm, also works in tandem with the sun.

Our metabolisms are organic, and we are organic as humans. We live harmoniously and are closest to our homeostatic level when we flow with nature.

In the morning our metabolism is like a small fire, if we put too much wood on the fire, we will snuff it out, but if we give it small amounts, our fire can ignite. Eating a smaller, nutritious breakfast is the best way to stoke the fire. As the sun rises to its highest point, our metabolism also rises to it's highest point, this is between the hours of 12-130pm (high noon). Knowing this, we can then gage when our biggest meal should ultimately be. As life ebs and flows, so our metabolism follows throughout the day. Between the hours of 2-4pm our metabolism starts to drop, which then shouldn't come as a surprise that most people start to crave sugar or caffeine around this time of the day. This is very good news because it means that you don't have a willpower issue, your body is actually just following its natural rhythm! Between 5-9pm your metabolism starts to rise again signalling the time to eat your last meal of the day. Lastly, between the hours of 1-5am, your metabolism is at it's lowest, which means calorie burning potential is also at it's lowest.

Now I know that life gets in the way and we can't always eat our biggest meal at noon, but we can use the information about an ebbing and flowing metabolism to help us understand our physiology better. Remember though that the most important thing about eating is to be in a state of relaxation. Eating a big meal at noon while talking over a stressful business meeting compared to eating a larger dinner in a peaceful environment will not win due to meal timing. I believe that in the long term bio-circadian nutrition is an extremely helpful and beneficial concept to grab hold of if for nothing else but to work in harmony with nature.

Working night shifts are not natural or organic to the body, nor is eating a bunch of food very late into the night (or early depending on how you look at it). I'm not saying not to work night shifts, especially if that is your job, but I am saying it is not a natural way for the body to conduct itself.

Start to experiment with bio-circadian nutrition and see how your body responds, and start to notice all the areas in your life that follow a natural rhythm.

 

 

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Eating Set Backs: An Avenue to Know Yourself Better

Many of you most likely equate a set back with failure, but I want to propose a different view point. What if every time you "screwed up", "fell off the wagon", or "relapsed", that it was actually a good thing? Struggling with bulimia for 6 and a half years taught me that set backs will happen. Being addicted to drugs and alcohol also taught me that set backs happen (or relapses as they call them in the substance abuse world). With every set back I used to get really down on myself because I did exactly what I didn't want to be doing, or what I said I didn't want to be doing. When we say one thing and do another, it is very frustrating because we view ourselves as hypocrites and failures. With every set back that I came face to face with, I got angry with myself. What I learnt about anger was this though: when anger is channeled appropriately, it can be a driving force, and a very successful driving force. There is belligerent anger but there is also a very healthy and passionate anger, and when you learn to direct your anger for something that truly bounds you in a passionate way, and out of love for yourself, the potential for success is astounding.

In the start of bulimia, I was motivated by a hatred and anger for my body. I hated the way I looked, I picked a part my body piece by piece, and nothing was ever good enough. As I grew to love myself and appreciate my body, flaws and all, I was motivated by an anger towards hurting myself because I truly began to love what was. Can you can see how passionate anger spawned from love can be a driving force now? We have been made to believe that anger is bad and that we have to shove down intense emotions, but in my case, singing koom-bi-ahh around a campfire wasn't going to motivate me to change. I guess you could say that love was my main motivator, and you'd be absolutely correct, but it was also deep passion, and the anger towards self-injustice that drove me to get better.

With every set back, I learnt more and more about myself, and after a while, it was almost if I welcomed them because it would cause me to dive deeper into getting to know me better. If you don't have the desires to get to fully know and understand yourself, your triggers, your fears, loves, hates, desires, etc, every set back will keep you knocked down. It's time to get to know yourself better and the things that set you off. It's time to get angry and passionate for your own sake. If someone was treating your best friend like garbage, and you could see the hurt it was causing in your friends life, you would probably have some intense emotions (like anger), towards that or those individuals. You would be angry because you love your friend more than anything else. Now see your friend as you.

Learn to love yourself like you would a best friend and I promise you that your body will transform. Your body will have no other option but to transform because you've created the appropriate breeding ground for shape shift to take place. Your body will not let go until you let go of perfection or the belief that every time you fail, you're a a failure. When you start to view each set back as the opportunity to get to know yourself better, you won't be stressed out when you fail, because here's a helpful piece of advice, you're going to fail...over and over and over again. If you can't handle failure, you are not prepared to be a human being on planet earth. Failure is not a bad thing, but an avenue to learn. Life prepares us and teaches us that we are more than the labels we place on ourselves, like the label "failure". Although you've failed at something doesn't make you a failure, and although you've encountered a set back, doesn't mean you're not going to overcome in the end.

Eating challenges prepare us for life because the are direct reflection of our life. Look at each set back with food as a way to learn more about the life you live now. For example, if you failed at trying to eat more slowly, take a bigger look at the pace of your life and see what areas you may be going light speed in. If you over indulge or struggle with disordered eating patterns, what areas of your life may be in disorder? The way you eat is a direct reflection of the way you live.

I want to thank everyone for following my blog and all the feedback I've been getting. Everything I write, I write for you guys, and for everyone who truly wants life transformation and a new relationship with food.

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Why Your Diet May be Failing

I have officially begun my studies through the Institute for the Psychology of Eating and I am already learning so much. I am excited to share all of my newfound knowledge with you guys over the next year and beyond. When you see yourself, what do you see? Do you pick yourself apart piece by piece, do you hate your body, or do you have a genuine love for yourself while knowing you're not perfect? Statistically speaking, 95% of women are dissatisfied with their body. That's basically every single woman walking around planet earth! And whether a women has, to society's standards, the "perfect" body, she is still unpleased by her appearance. I'm focusing in on women because the number is simply too big to ignore, and because  almost every single woman is dissatisfied, they are also in a constant state of stress response because they are in a state of self-loath.

I have talked to you about the negative effects of stress on the body when it comes to your metabolism, but let me give you a few key notes to refresh your memory. When the body is in stress response it has:

  • decreased metabolism
  • decreased digestion
  • increased blood pressure
  • increased cortisol and adrenaline production, which leads to excess weight gain

What do we do now with this information though? The problem that many of us have is that we see our end result but want to take a completely different path to get there. Let me explain. We see a body or diet that we deem perfect, we see ourselves laughing and happy, trying on clothes that always fit, having coffee with friends in our skinny jeans, great love transpiring out of physical connection with someone, and just being in love with ourselves. We then use strategies that enforce deprivation, self-loath, and hatred towards the body through numerous ways such as: starving oneself, over exercising or using exercise as punishment, and by trying to beat ourselves into submission, all while thinking that a path of un-love will give us the result of something we love. Your destination will be the same as the road you take. If you take a path of hate, you will end up (even if you lose all the weight), still hating yourself.

You see this time and time again with rebound weight loss clients. They lose a bunch of weight through extreme measures and gain it all back. 99% of all weight loss clients on a weight loss diet or program will gain their weight back within one year. Again, that's a huge number! Why is this happening? Because they haven't learnt to love themselves now and everything that comes with that. When you love yourself and start to walk in fulfillment, true metabolic power breaks through because loving yourself, means letting go. Once you let go of the "perfect diet" or "perfect body" and you start to relax into who you truly are and what you were created or purposed to do, weight loss will be a by product.

It's time for you to love what is. Love yourself and watch your body transform!

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Birds of a Feather Vs Opposites Attract

It's interesting how many times you hear the phrase "opposites attract" when talking about relationships. While this does happen a lot of the time, I think there is a certain danger in surrounding yourself closely with people who have views, opinions, and lifestyle choices that are opposing to your own, or to where you want to get to in life eventually. I'm not saying that your views are the "be all and end all", and that you shouldn't listen to anyone that talks outside of your views (because that would be very narrow minded), but what I am saying is to be conscious of how close we get to those who are not headed in the same direction in life as we want to go. This isn't being cold or mean to people, but it's about knowing what you want and the route you need to take to get there. Gegensatz

I battled a drug/alcohol addiction from the age of 17-21, and the more I surrounded myself with people who were using drugs, the more I in turn wanted to use. This is not rocket science, because I am the sum of the people I hang around with. If I am trying to change my lifestyle, eat healthier, exercise more, spend more time with family, meditate or pray more, or whatever your goal is, then wouldn't it be more advantageous to surround myself with people who are doing those things? This sounds like common sense, but as my friend Ashley said last night "common sense isn't so common anymore".

In a successful relationship, be it romantic or plutonic, both people have to relatively be on the same page. I believe that we are truly attracted to those who possess qualities that we want more of in our own lives, and that we gravitate towards those who challenge us to be a better version of ourselves. To then get into a serious relationship with someone who is completely different from who we are, and the way we conduct ourselves, is a recipe for disaster.

What does this all have to do with nutrition? If you want to be successful in your eating and lifestyle choices, you have got to surround yourself with like minded individuals. If you wanted to stop drinking, you probably wouldn't be hanging out in bars every weekend, would you? The key to success is creating an environment around that supports the growth of your goals, while at the same time, not making provision for temptations. You get to create your own environment, no one else chooses that for you. If you're not finding the success you want, then maybe it's because you've created a lacking environment.

It's time to take some accountability for the choices you have made and the responsibility to change what isn't benefitting you. I'm not saying that you should stop talking to people who don't eat healthy or exercise, please don't think I mean that. Just be careful who let close to you because, you are the sum of those you hang around with. Birds of a feather flock together, so choose your flock wisely. Opposites attract, but choose opposites that possess qualities you already have, but want more of. South Korea's migratory geese

 

 

 

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Week 8: Know Your Triggers

It is the final week of the 8 week challenge, and I hope everyone has gotten enlightenment in some area or another. I've had many different comments about each week and I appreciate all the feedback. Thank you all so much for following and supporting my blog. This week I want to talk to you about triggers when it comes to eating. Triggers are feelings, situations, events, etc, that propel you into an episode of disorderly eating. Triggers can cause you to either overeat or under eat, fear food, love food, use food as a drug, or use food as an excuse. Triggers come in all forms because they are different for everyone. They are dependant on circumstance, history of the individual, and time of occurrence. AR15 trigger

Everyone has triggers, not just with food, but within life. For example, the feelings of anxiety may trigger an alcoholic to drink, or the situation of eating a meal may trigger a smoker to want a cigarette after. Christmas time may trigger an individual to eat baked goods, or the event of a wedding may trigger feelings of loneliness. There are thousands of triggers and they all mean something different to each individual. When it comes to eating, it is imperative that you know your own personal triggers.

When I was in the 5th year of my eating disorder, I finally started to get acquainted with my very own triggers. I finally started making the correlation between specific feelings or events that triggered me into either binging or severely restricting food. As I started to connect the dots, true healing started because true self discovery started. Instead of pushing my feelings down or to the side, I started to deal with them instead of turning to or away from food as a form of control.

The feelings that trigger most of the clients and people that I have counselled are the following: anxiety, fear, doubt, inadequacy, guilt, shame, loneliness, hate, lack of purpose, and excitement. Of course there are many others, but these seem to be the reoccurring ones. When these feelings come up, it is important then to counteract them before an episode of disorderly eating commences. How do you counteract a trigger though, especially when you are in the thick of a specific feeling or event?

Causes & Triggers of Stress & Anxiety

1. Breathe- First I tell my clients to breathe. Because the stress response occurs in the body when any of the above mentioned feelings come up, breathing will help your body to "calm down" and help you think more clearly and rationally. And because increased oxygen means more oxygen to the brain, you will also be able to problem solve more efficiently.

2. Pause- Stop whatever it is that you're doing, and let yourself process what's happening in or around you.

3. Feel- Let yourself feel emotion. It is familiar with human beings to not feel what they're feeling. "Suck it up, stiffen your upper lip, or be a big girl and don't cry" are sayings we know too well. When you don't let yourself feel the emotions that come up, that energy will be directed elsewhere and manifest in different (and usually not optimal) ways.

4. Know- Know that every feeling or situation eventually passes. Some may take longer than others, but eventually, all things comes to an end. Deeply knowing this will help you get through an episode when a trigger sets you off.

5. Experience- Experience every aspect of the emotions that come up. Experiencing is different from feeling in the sense that through experience we gain a greater understanding of our situation, and feeling we gain a greater understanding of our innerman, or our soul. When you experience something, your eyes open a little wider, and see a little broader than before. When you truly feel something, you're then able to empathise with yourself or others more effectively.

6. Let go- After all is said and done, we eventually have to let go and move on. Like letting go of a loved one that's passed away, or a friendship that's ended, we need to let go of the feelings that control us and hold us back from moving into freedom. If you do not let learn to let go of fear, anxiety, loneliness, the feelings of inadequacy, or any other trigger you may have, you will never win the battle with food which starts as a battle in your mind.

I trust that each one of you reading this will get through your battle with food and into successful eating. Like always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me!

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Week 7: Guiltless Eating Equals Successful Eating

I had a request from a client to talk about guilt in my next blog, and after our session, my mind cannot stop going over a comment that he made. While I was explaining how it is more beneficial to the body to eat any kind of meal without guilt, even if what you were eating wasn't necessarily the best choice, his response was: "But I just like guilt so much". Gavel and GUILT text on sound block I was shocked at first and then in awe. At first I couldn't understand how anyone could possibly like guilt until he explained his "light saber story". His son was playing in the living room with his new light saber that he got for Christmas when all of a sudden, the toy swung and hit my clients very big and expensive flat screen tv. The screen cracked and the tv was ruined. Because his son knew better than to be playing by the tv, my client was obviously fairly agitated (for lack of a better word), at the whole situation. They went and bought a new tv but a couple of times a day, my client would say to his son "do you like the new tv, isn't it nice"? He said that this approach works because it makes you feel bad so you won't do whatever you "shouldn't" have done again.

If anyone grew up in the 90's or earlier (or even today), you've probably been raised with the guilt approach. I'm not trying to be mean or say parents were bad parents, I'm just being honest. Most people, including myself, grew up with our parents using guilt on us, and it's not their fault...it's their parents fault, and their parents parents fault, and so on. This is a very well acquainted approach to problem solving that actually doesn't work as well as we thought it would.

"Eat all of your food, there's starving kids in the world that would love the food that's left on your plate".

"I made this specially for you and you won't even have a taste"?

"That's all you're going to eat?! I spent all day cooking this meal and there are lots of leftovers".

These statements may all seem harmless but what they really say is "I don't know how to get what I want from you, so I choose to use guilt in order to make you do, or act, like I do". My client used guilt on his son (and yes, he is totally fine with letting me ere his laundry), because guilt was used on him as a child and in his mind, it worked. But I questioned him and asked, "did it really work"?

Guilt uses negative willpower to try to force us into changing. It pushes us instead of draws us towards what we want, and it uses fear instead of love and acceptance. When it comes to the way we eat, when guilt is present, our metabolisms are directly affected. Guilt creates an environment of stress because the more guilt we have, the more we focus on how bad of a person we think we are. When the body is under stress, all of its vital functions to promote life and healing are inhibited by the fight or flight response (which we talked about in week 2). Not only are we under stress now, with feelings of low self-worth and inadequacy, but our "happy hormones", like serotonin and dopamine are at an all time low. Schiefertafel mit der chemischen Formel von SerotoninWhen we have this hormonal irregularity, we instantaneously reach for things that we know will heighten it as soon as possible. What elevates those hormones the quickest and easiest? Sugar, or refined carbs that turn into sugar. And as we eat our sugar, fat-laden "comfort" foods, we eat it with a heaping pile of guilt, which in turn, keeps our metabolism depressed even further and leads us, yet again, to eating even more. And thus, the cycle of guilty eating continues. Late Night Binge

 

As a human being, you will have to eat. If you don't, you will eventually die. If we know that life comes with constant change in every area, especially our diet, and we know that we may not always make the best choices for what we eat, then wouldn't it be better for our overall metabolisms to let go of guilt when we sit down for our meals. You choose to eat what you will eat, and whatever your choice is, is your choice. If you are eating foods that hinder your body, assess why you're eating them and what effects they have on your body once consumed. Note your energy levels, your feelings of satiety, and anything else the meal might have affected. If the meal you ate didn't help you in life, recognize that and move on. When you allow yourself to first eat, then assess the responses that food gave you, your body will naturally draw away or move towards that specific food again. You will begin to subconsciously choose foods that give you energy, mental clarity, or foods that will fully nourish you. There is no advantage to eating your food with guilt, unless you'd like to develop an eating disorder.

Attractive man breathing outdoorYour mission, should you choose to accept it, is to eat every meal this week completely guilt free. This may be challenging for some of you, but decide within yourself to not only eat, but to eat and live.

 

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Week 6: Letting go of the "perfect" diet

Hi everyone! I hope you are all finding great success by incorporating the strategies we've gone over in the prior weeks. Not only will these strategies transform how you feel on a deeper level, but I am convinced that when you focus on how you eat before what you eat, weight loss is sure to be a by-product.

As we move into week 6 I wanted to share a little bit of my dieting history with you. From the age of 15 I have been dieting, and it was at the age of 15 where I first became unsatisfied with my body. Being a teenager, I ate how most teenagers eat so there was room for improvement, but I chose to diet out of fear and out of a deep self-hatred for myself. Dieting was one of the many outcomes of low self-worth and with each diet, I chose to rob myself of freedom in eating. The diets I was trying were all very unsustainable and subconsciously I think I knew that.

When you are dealing with low self-worth, you will inadvertently do things in your life you know you will fail at just to reiterate that you are indeed, a failure. So when people try to find this "perfect" diet that will get them the results they so desperately want, they feel that all their dreams will come true. I will say this though, you may lose weight on a diet, but if you do not have a genuine love for yourself, you will eventually find a way to prove you're a failure and you'll end up sabotaging your efforts. You see this time and time again, a person will go on a strict eating plan that has foods she doesn't really like, or expectations she couldn't possibly meet for various reasons. Most diets don't take into account though that people have different lifestyles, likes and dislikes, and that everyone goes through times where certain foods will benefit them more than others. Eventually, the dieter will fail because she deliberately chose a plan she could never follow on a long term basis.

There is no one diet that will always work because life is constantly changing. If the one constant we have in life is change, shouldn't the way we eat reflect this too?

For example, when you're sick, would it not be more beneficial to have foods that sooth a sore stomach like bread or crackers and soup, even if you think a grainless diet is the only way to eat? Or when it's a cold winter day, wouldn't a meal of meat and potatoes be more satisfying than a cold salad, even though the potato has starch and for some reason you believe that starches weren't ideal? The point I am trying to make is this: there is no cookie cutter, perfect diet, that will work for you for the rest of your life because change is always going to come up. If you moved to a different country, your eating would change. If you moved to South America, you would eat more fruit, even if you thought fruit wasn't the best option. Different climates call for different ways of eating.

When you finally let go of all your lists of "good" and "bad" foods, and diet plan after diet plan, you will experience your greatest success. So am I going to give you lists of what to eat and what not to eat in this 8 week program? No I'm not. Marc David took this approach and when I followed his own 8 week program it aggravated me at first because I not only wanted that false sense of control I thought a list would give me, but I subconsciously wanted something that I would fail at just prove myself "right". True freedom in eating comes when you let go of the rules this world has placed on the way you should view food.

No list will ever give you what you truly need, because what you truly need, your body already knows. This is where self exploration comes into play. When you sit and listen to what your body needs specifically at different points in your life, your way of eating will nourish you on every level. The fear of "if I let myself eat whatever I want, I won't be able to stop", will quickly bare itself as false. When you restrict yourself, you will rebel against yourself. Forbidden foods have been a temptation since the beginning of time.

This week I want you to really ask yourself what would fully nourish you each day. What foods are best for you specifically this week? What are you craving? What are your cravings telling you? Does not having a list of "good" and "bad" foods feel stressful or freeing to you? Ask yourself why if it does or doesn't. And as always, please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.

Happy eating everyone!

 

 

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Week 5: Fill Your Tank With Premium

Hey everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas that was filled with lovely meals, eaten with complete satisfaction and enjoyment, surrounded by loved ones. As we move into week 5, I want you to reflect how your eating habits, and even more importantly, your thought patterns have changed. I want you to think about how you view sleep now opposed to before you started the program. Are you sleeping better? Are you making sleep more of a priority? Are you doing anything differently to insure you get longer hours of sleep each night?

Now I want you to think about breathing. Are you learning to breath more? Do you fully understand the importance of breathing in terms of metabolism and overall health? Does anything change physically when you breath deeper opposed to shallow breathing?

Are you learning and applying ways to manage yourself under stressful situations or feelings? What are some of the things you're doing to help you when you feel stressed out? Are you aware of the physiological responses your body goes through when stress starts to creep its way in? How do you combat them?

Lastly, are you letting yourself enjoy life, and enjoy food? Are you learning to let go and listen to your body before listening to anyone else? Are you asking yourself what specific foods and specific amounts your own body needs throughout each day, instead of looking to magazines and diet books to tell you and plan out your meals? And are you exercising in a way that celebrates the bodies movement, instead of using exercise as a form of punishment?

Because we are going into a new year, it's the perfect time to do a little reflecting on the things you've accomplished, and the things you'd like to do better or differently next year. It's also a good time to give yourself permission to feel whatever feelings come up, whether they are positive or negative, and channel that energy into your plan of action moving forward.

Week 5 is all about celebrating you, and honoring your body. This week we focus on quality. Now quality can mean various things and it's completely contextual. Mainly, I want you to focus on quality food, but also I want you to focus on a quality eating experience. Let me explain what I mean by that. It's one thing to choose organic or local foods (which I am 100% in agreement with), but the way you prepare your meals is just as important.

Imagine making yourself a meal, it doesn't have to be anything fancy, but you really take your time to prepare it. You may decide to bake some chicken in the oven. You get fresh chicken breasts, cover them with rosemary and thyme, and place them neatly in a baking dish. While that's cooking, you prepare a beautiful salad full of mixed greens, nicely chopped peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes, and finish it off by dropping handfuls of luscious berries and slivered almonds over it. Then you toss it gently as you drizzle in olive oil, and dash it with some sea salt and pepper. You set the table for you and maybe a guest or two, setting out each plate with its accompanying utensils perfectly placed. Everything is ready and it looks and smells delicious. You are proud to feed this not only to your guests, but to yourself. It looks appetizing, so it is appetizing. The production of the whole meal has literally increased its nourishment.

Now imagine rushing in, frustrated you're home late and have to cook. You take the same ingredients but this time, you throw some frozen chicken breasts onto a tray and shove it in the oven. You take the salad and stuff a few handfuls into a bowl. You chop up the same vegetables into thick chunks because you can't be bothered to take your time, and finish off by rushing though your meal, stressed out that it's late, and not taking the time to appreciate the fact that eating is a necessity. While you eat, you are angry and, your whole eating experience negates quality in every way. Same ingredients, completely different experience. Can you feel the difference and how it would even effect your digestion differently, even though it's the same ingredients?

This ties into what I was talking about last week, and the previous weeks as well. Quality of a meal and how it's prepared is essential to healthy eating. There is a lot of questioning surrounding organic vs. non organic and all I am really going to say about that is, pound for pound organic and local varieties are nutritionally more dense than non organic. If you want to truly eat clean, you will choose foods that are pesticide free, hormones free, and have been grown or raised in an ethical manner. I personally choose organic or local whenever I can, which is about 90% of the time. I also choose high quality places to dine out at, and choose the freshest foods that I can on their menus. Quality looks different to everyone though, so here are a few questions to ask yourself with eating throughout the week:

Are you taking time to prepare and present your meals in a way that is pleasing to the eye and to the palette?

Are you cooking your meals from whole, fresh ingredients?

Are your meals rushed or made to be an enjoyable experience?

Are you reading ingredient labels? Do these labels have ingredients that you can't pronounce or is it  filled with chemicals?

Start to treat yourself like a premium gasoline car. Choose to put only the highest quality food in your body because you are the most important thing in your life. That's not being narcissistic either. If you have a family you need to care for, how can you care for them if you aren't healthy? Treat you, and those around you, by celebrating you every time you eat. Take your time to prepare meals, present them nicely, and choose the best ingredients that you know how to. This is a sign of true health, being able to say "I choose only the best for me, because I am worth it".

 

 

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Week 4: Be Pleased And Start to Achieve

We are on to week 4 and I hope everyone has gotten enjoyment out of sleeping more, breathing deeper, and stressing less. I am super excited to talk about this coming week because, since practicing myself, as well as having other clients practice what I'm going to talk about, goals are being achieved faster than anyone expected. I also want to give a shout out to Marc David, founder of The Institute for the Psychology of Eating, which I will be attending in January, and author of one of the books that has revolutionized my life and the way I work with clients. It's called The Slow Down Diet. I recommend this book to everyone with no discretion, and have gotten a lot of my blog information for my weekly challenges from it. Week 4 is all about presence and pleasure. In the fast paced world we live in, we are rarely present for when we eat. We eat in front of computer screens as we work our way through lunch, we sit in front of television screens as we eat dinner, and we rush through every meal, eager to get onto our next task. During the day we eat while we are doing all these things but the question is, have you really eaten?

the brain with hands and utensils

There is a response in the body called your cephalic phase digestive response (CPDR), which is the term scientists use to describe the visual stimulation, tastes, aromas, and pleasure derived from eating. This is the "head phase" of digestion (cephalic meaning head), and it literally accounts for 30-40% of total digestion. If we are not aware when we eat, we massively cut down the potential of our digestion.

The simple awareness of a meal ignites chemical responses in the body, like increased saliva, gastric, and pancreatic enzyme secretion, and forces blood to the digestive organs to prepare the body for incoming food. Lack of attention means we don't get the oxygen we need from that increased blood flow to the digestive organs, which in turn, slows down our metabolic rate and can lead to digestion issues, lowered immunity, and fatigue.Happy Couple Eating Pizza. Cooking Together

If you don't let yourself fully experience the event of eating, the brain interprets this as a "missed meal" and is left hungry. Even though you may have consumed enough calories, or maybe even too many, if you  didn't pay attention, you haven't really fed yourself. This is where weight gain happens, when we fail to realize we are eating as we stuff ourselves full. Failure to pay attention results in over consumption more often than not because we are designed to relax, enjoy, process, and experience each meal. Have you ever sat in front of the tv and eaten a whole bag of chips? Try eating a whole bag of chips sitting at your kitchen table with nothing on in front of you. My guess is, you wouldn't...ever.

CPDR is required whenever we sit down to eat, it is essential that we fulfill this natural, God given desire the body has for food. We need food to live, and our bodies need satisfaction when we eat, that's just the way it is. You can be on the strictest of diets but not achieve the body (or mind for that matter) that you want on a long term basis, because you aren't meeting this requirement. And if you are miserable when you eat, nutrient absorption is drastically decreased.

Imagine now, going through a holiday where family and friends get together to enjoy each others company around the dinner table. Imagine stressing out about food that you don't necessarily deem "healthy" or "on the program", and missing out on a truly enjoyable and loving experience. Imagine missing out on the pleasure of dining around those who's hands have lovingly crafted your meal, and around those who love you as you are, also knowing that by not enjoying the pleasure of food and letting go of your fears, that your body is pumping out stress hormones and your metabolism is slowing down. Fat is being stored, and your CPDR is not being fulfilled.

This week, it's time to sit back and enjoy eating. I'm not suggesting to binge on whatever food you like. What I'm suggesting is that you let go. I challenge you to enjoy eating a meal and not beat yourself up about it or punish yourself in the gym the next day if it isn't the healthiest meal. Because this week is over Christmas, I think it's quite fitting. When you relax about eating and eat in a way that builds the body, you naturally stop eating when you've had enough. This takes self awareness and intentional eating. Listen to your body, and slow down and enjoy your meals.

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Week 3: Transform Your Health by Stressing Less

I'm sure it doesn't come as a shock when stressful times come into your life. Everyone gets stressed from time to time, so the old adage "stress management", has a flaw. We cannot manage life's stressors, but we can learn to manage ourselves under times of stress. If you don't know much about the stress response, let me give you a little lesson (the coles notes version). Fight/or Flight is the technical term for the response our body goes through when we face something stressful. Thousands of years ago, fight/flight helped us in natural disasters, confronting attackers, or running away from anyone or anything. When the stress response is activated during an event, your heart rate speeds up, blood pressure elevates, stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol are released into the circulatory system, respiration quickens, blood flow is rerouted away from the stomach and transported towards our extremities to give us the necessary power to either fight or flee. What also happens during stress is the digestive system shuts down. Digestion is not needed when you are running away from a hungry lion who's looking for lunch.

Fast forward to 2014. You are anxiously rushing through your morning trying to get to work, meetings, etc. You may or may not eat breakfast, maybe you have a coffee and a muffin on the run. Then you rush through lunch or sit in  front of your computer eating while you work, not being present for your meal, which should actually be an event, not just something we need to get through, to rushing through the rest of the day. Have you ever felt after a meal, that wasn't relaxed, that your food is still sitting in your stomach? It's because it is. All your bodily energy went to fight/flight instead of digestion. That means you could be eating the healthiest food on the planet and have your digestion dramatically reduced because you ate it on the run or when you were anxious. The same part of our brain that turns on stress, also inhibits digestion, and vice versa.

Do you ever wonder why European countries have some of  thinnest and healthiest people, yet none of them count calories or exercise in gyms like we do in North America? In fact, lots of them smoke cigarettes, drink everyday, and eat bread, pastries, butter, cheese, cream etc. The one big difference between us and them is pleasure and stress. In France, eating is an event to be enjoyed and a event that takes time. Meals span out over hours, food is savoured and eaten slowly, and most importantly, no one is worried that their lunch might make them fat.

The more you worry about your weight, the more cortisol you pump out, which in turn stores fat, especially around the midsection Quite literally, the more you worry about fat, the fatter you'll become. Clinical study after clinical study have shown that an excess in cortisol is strongly associated with fat accumulation because one of cortisol's chemical response is to store body fat and inhibit muscle growth. The bottom line is we need to relax, and we need to be able to digest the food we put into our bodies. Your objective for the week is to slow down when you eat, and slow down in life. Here are a few things you can do to help you:

1. Breath deeply. We talked about how important breathing is last week and it trickles into this week for sure. When you are stressed, breath deeply. You can trick your body into thinking it's relaxed by your breath. Breath deeply while you eat to encourage digestion.

2. Slow down your exercise. This is important if you do high intensity workouts more than twice a week. Stress is stress, and chronic stress, which is a result from excessive impact with anything (including exercise), does and will take it's toll on the body. If you don't exercise at all, get out a few times this week and just walk for half an hour.

3. Meditate on what is good. If you don't think you're into meditation, think about the last time you worried over meeting a deadline. That worry is a form of meditation, only geared in the wrong direction. Spend your day thinking positively, and about how you're going to reach your goal of renewed health.

4. Love yourself. When you love and value yourself, you will naturally gravitate towards foods and activities that nourish the body and build it up. When you love yourself, you will remove unnecessary stress that has dominated you, and you'll reclaim your life. When you love yourself, you won't force feed yourself, starve yourself, or yo-yo diet. You will listen to what your body actually wants, and that will be different for everyone.

Marc David says, in his book The Slow Down Diet, "By including more time with food, you can elevate yourself from a mammal that feeds to a human being who eats".

 

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Week 2: Breath Your Way Into Health

I hope you're enjoying getting more sleep and all the benefits that come with it! This week we are going to focus on boosting your overall metabolism, on every level, through something so simple and inexpensive, but yet needed to support every function we have to sustain our life. This week, and optimally from here on out, we are going to focus on breathing. So you're probably thinking, "how can breathing help me get healthy or even lose weight"? Let me explain. From his book called The Slow Down Diet, Marc David talks about how breathing affects our digestion and therefore affects our metabolism. The way we breath is in direct concordance with weight and weight management because it is linked to stress and the fight/flight state we go into when we are under stress.Attractive man breathing outdoor

When we are stressed, we adopt a shallow and short breathing pattern, which then kicks in our sympathetic nervous system that says "I'm in danger, run"! When this fight or flight/sympathetic response kicks in, one other major thing happens, our digestive/parasympathetic system turns off. This system is responsible for telling our tummies to digest the food we've eaten and to relax and recharge. If we are constantly stimulating the sympathetic nervous system, our breathing remains shallow and any food we have in our stomachs end up sitting there without being digested until we come back to a homeostatic level.

If you look at calories as something that needs to be "burned", what do you think burns them? Oxygen. If you want to be a metabolically burning machine, you will adopt a deep, full, and relaxed breathing pattern. The more food you eat, the more you need to breath because after a meal, the parasympathetic system kicks in and the brain automatically increases air intake to supply the demand for more oxygen needed to digest your food. So if you are on a low calorie diet, your body will adapt to the smaller portions and decrease the amount of oxygen needed, thus decreasing your overall metabolism.

This is where exercise helps the body to burn fat, by increasing the demand for oxygen, and by helping the body to better utilize that oxygen. If you practice breathing deeper, you can reap some of the benefits of aerobic training and increase your bodies ability to burn it's internal fuel source, fat.

Ron Teeguarden says in his book The Ancient Wisdom of the Chinese Tonic Herbs, "Regardless of the amount or the quality of food we consume, it will not energize the body if the breathing is insufficient, just as a candle will not burn if there is no air available". It is imperative to your overall health, and the health of your metabolism to breath properly. Not only will increased oxygen supply all the demands of your internal organs, it also helps us mentally to stay relaxed and composed in times of stress. You can trick your body by adopting a relaxed breathing pattern when you're stressed.

Tips to help you breath your way to health

1. When you eat, consciously think about how you're breathing. Putting your fork down between each bite and taking a deep and quiet breath in through your nose, holding for a moment, and exhaling out through your nose, will ensure you are helping your digestive system to function optimally.

2. When you feel stressed, breath in deep and quiet through your nose, hold for several seconds, and exhale out through your nose. Repeat this process 10 times.

3. Maintain an upright posture as you eat to allow for fuller and deeper breaths.

4. Take breathing breaks throughout your day, even if it's only for a few minutes. It will help to reduce stress and increase mental clarity.

5. Dine in a relaxed and peaceful environment where you can enjoy the company you're with. Eat slowly and breath while you eat.

As always, let me know if you have any questions or concerns! Happy breathing :)

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Guard Your Hearts

Sometimes in life we choose to let people in closer than what's appropriate for that particular relationship. The problem that arises from this is that not everyone is meant to be in your "inner circle". I have experienced first hand what it's like to let too many people close to my heart, only to end up getting hurt. Taking full responsibility for my own actions, I realize that I have enabled this by my own behaviour to improperly guard my heart. Guarding my heart doesn't mean I have to be cold to people, but it does mean that not everyone gets to know me on a deeper or intimate level, and I don't have to apologize for it. Some of my clients, and maybe you have/are experiencing this, are excited about changing their lifestyles and out of pure, innocent excitement, might share their endeavours with too many people. The problem with this is that misery loves company, and not everyone is going to be on board with your new life. Be careful who you share your heart with, not everyone is going to be on your celebration train, and that's ok. Know who your adversaries are and who your cheerleaders are. Of course you don't just want to hang around people who only appease you and will never challenge you, but don't talk about the treasures you store inside with thieves.

This was on my heart to share with my community of followers and all my clients who are trying hard to lose weight or change their life styles, but are amongst people who are cynical and who would rather bring them down than build them up. This is a writing that I've done, not only for me, but for those of you out there who have struggled behind the scenes, and who are trying to be better.

Judgement

I've laid my cards on the table

You lay down your judgement

A chain link fence around my soul

You can see through the wire

Thinking you know me so well

But you haven't seen behind the scenes

Sitting in my wooden box

Alone and tearing at the seams

You hear my laughs

They masquerade

The false happiness is shown on my face

You don't care to dive right in

You're shallow waders, too egotistical to swim

More complex than what's displayed

It's my own fault I expected your grace

So here I am, I guard my heart

The chain link fence

Becomes a fort

A secret place that no one knows

Except the ones that know my soul

Apologize not

I don't feel guilt

You weren't apart of the house I built

I close the door

You stand outside

Missing the beauty that's inside

As I grow up and realize

I formed my circle from a web of lies

Only I can live my life

Your opinions of me don't survive

Cocooned in life, in love, and grace

I will not let you invade my space

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Week 1: Rest and Grow Young Grasshopper

Hey everyone! The 8 week plan to renew your health starts now....or tomorrow. I decided to wait until a Sunday to start up the first week. Not because I think goals should start at the beginning of a week only, but because I know most people like to start something new at the start of their week, and not generally in the middle. There's a lot to be said with starting your week off on the right foot! I have been deciding what the 8 weeks is going to look like for the past several days, and the more research I do, the more I am convinced that the most important thing to address first is sleep. Beautiful girl sleeps in the bedroom, lying on bed

I truly believe that sleep trumps everything when it comes to true health. It trumps exercise, it trumps a clean diet, and it definetly trumps any weight loss or muscle building aids out there. Without sleep, you will never be able to manage your body composition optimally or live a life of radiant health. Here's just a few of the things that are linked to your health when you don't get adequate, restful sleep:

  • obesity
  • cardiovascular disease
  • diabetes- type 11
  • depression
  • hormonal imbalances
  • Immune function suppression

When we sleep, it is our bodies chance to heal and regenerate itself from the daily demands we put on it, not only on a physiological level, but on an emotional level also. During sleep our bodies have the chance to detoxify, regulate blood sugar, balance hormones, and repair damaged muscle and tissues throughout the body.

Weight Loss and Weight Gain

Hormonally, in terms of weight loss and or/weight gain, sleep is directly related and a huge component. If we are hormonally imbalanced, our systems cannot perform at the level we need it to in order for it to be metabolically stable. Studies have shown that people who get 6 or less hours of sleep per night have:

  • decreased glucose and insulin sensitivity, which contributes to type 11 Diabetes.
  • increase in the hormone ghrelin, which sends off hunger signals ("I'm hungry").
  • decrease in the hormone leptin, which sends off signals of satiation ("I'm full").
  • increased cortisol levels, which is one of your stress hormones.
  • decreased growth hormone levels (GH), which helps the body grow, repair, and combat body fat.

In short, it would then appear that a lack of sleep makes us sick, fat, hungry, and stressed. Probably not the most conducive environment for a healthy mind or body. So what is this weeks focus? To sleep. And by sleep, I mean sleep well. This week I want you to focus on getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night. This may seem difficult to some people and it will mean strategic planning. Here are some strategies that will help you get to sleep, and that will effect the quality of the sleep you are currently getting: fridge with food

1. Stop eating 2-3 hours before bed- This will help your body to focus on sleep, not digestion. Eating meals too close to bed time will affect your sleep quality.

2. Turn off all electronics an hour before bed- This means turning off the tv or the computer, putting your phone away, and reading an actual book, not an ipad. finger push on power button

3. Create a bedtime routine- For me, I like to have a bath (usually in the winter), floss and brush my teeth, pack my gym bag for the morning, then read for 20 minutes.

4. Limit caffeine consumption- Try to stop consuming any caffeine after 1-2pm. Because caffeine is a stimulant and has a half life in your body, you want to stop consumption at least 8 hours before your bedtime.

 

5. Go to sleep by 10pm (unless you are a shift worker)- There are many reasons to go to sleep at the earlier hours of nighttime, but the main one for you to concern yourself with is simply that you need to get 7-8 hours of restful sleep. The reality is that most people get up around 6am, if not earlier, so by having the lights out by 10pm will allow you to get those hours in. If you're a shift worker this is obviously not always attainable. Instead, create a dark and comfortable environment that allows you to get to sleep easier, and bank those crucial hours.

I am convinced that when we get the sleep we need, everything else starts to fall into order because true homeostasis can be met. You have the right to sleep, so give yourself permission to. In a stressed out and over worked society that demands our constant attention, sleep usually falls to the wayside and is seen as a luxury. Sleep is not a luxury, it is a necessity, and your health is the most valuable asset you have. Allow yourself to mentally turn off at the end of each day and sleep long and soundly.

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding this topic, or any input you'd like to give to all my readers by leaving your comments!

 

References

Rachel Leproult & Eve Van Couter, Department of Medicine, Chicago, Ill.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3065172/

Spiegel K, Leproult R, Van Cauter E. Impact of sleep debt on metabolic and endocrine function. Lancet. 1999;354:1435-1439

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8 Week Challenge to Renew Your Health: What does true health look like?

I have faced many challenges throughout my life in my journey to finding true health. I have tried countless diets and methods of eating, all in hopes of transforming my body. This whole "body transformation" that most diets focus on though is transforming the outside of your body, but true health starts from the inside out. This is the number one mistake that all diets have, they focus on getting the outside to look a certain way and negate to focus on the root cause of why you got to where you are in the first place. If you want to truly transform your body, it has to start internally. The most important factors for weight loss or optimal body composition need to be addressed first, and that's not necessarily the diet plan you should be following. When I set up my initial consultation with a new client, these are some of the questions I ask and what I'm more interested in changing right off the bat.

1. How well do you sleep? How many restful hours of sleep do you get a night?

2. How would you rate your stress level in your personal life, and how would you rate your stress level in your work life on a scale of 1-10 for each?

3. What is your digestion like?

4. How are your energy levels throughout the day, from waking up to going to sleep?

5. How often do you exercise, and what type of exercise do you predominantly do?

6. What does a typical day of eating look like for you?

Do you notice how only one of those questions ask the client about actual food? Make no mistake, what we eat is essential for optimal health, but there are so many other factors that go into really transforming your body. Because the majority of my clients are seeking weight loss, the most important thing I tell them is this; you have to create an environment that is conducive to weight loss.

In this 8 week challenge, I will be going over different strategies to help you create that environment. Notice the title isn't transform your body, it's renew your health. Your health should be your number one focus, first and foremost. Weight loss will come naturally when you make this your main focus, I can guarantee it. This approach is not exercising more and eating less, we've tried that over and over again, but it's not really working is it? This approach is focused on treating your body with the respect and love it deserves, like giving it nutrient dense food it can thrive off of, or exercising in a way that builds up the body and not abuses it or tears it down repeatedly.Change, Same Green Road Sign Over Dramatic Clouds and Sky.

So if you're interested in truly transforming your body in a way that is healthy and sustainable, then get ready for this 8 week start up program to get you on track. I will be posting a different strategy to implement into your life each week. Each week the strategy I post will be your main focus and nothing else. As you progress into the weeks, you will keep your previous strategies and simply add on to them. This is not a magic weight loss diet plan, this is a plan to change your life. It is not a quick fix, you probably won't lose 30lbs in 8 weeks, but you will have more energy, you will sleep better, and you will be on track to achieving your dream body. This is a lifestyle, not a diet plan. If you are serious about your health, you will be serious about changing the things you are doing that are causing your body to hold on to fat, and the things that are making you sick and tired. Keep your eyes open for Week 1 coming very soon!

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When Life is Sweet, You Won't Want to Cheat

Friendship improves happiness, and abates misery, by doubling our joys, and dividing our grief. - Joseph Addison

Have you ever noticed that when you are engaging in a conversation with someone, who's attitude is positive and who builds you up, making you leave the conversation uplifted instead of down trodden, that life seems to be easier in the areas where you may have been struggling before? If you've never experienced this, it is imperative that you get around people that will do this.

Good friends and a strong uplifting community are like medicine. Over the past few weeks I have developed a new friendship with someone that is so positive and encouraging. Not only do we have fun in whatever we are doing, but I leave every conversation feeling built up and not torn down. I noticed that over the past few weeks, I have had almost zero cravings for sugar. Coincidence? I think not.A female doctor holding paper people, focus on the hand

When you go through each day without support from friends who motivate you to stay on track, it makes life extremely hard and we often turn to food for comfort. We were born and rooted in community, and we are relational at our very core. We have come from tribes and small villages thousands of years ago, where we helped one another, but now we have come into a society that glorifies independence. Is independence what we really need to succeed though? On the contrary, when I feel alone, or that I have no one around me I can depend on, old feelings and habits often find their way back, and I start to crave foods that will "comfort" me, taking the place temporarily that should have been filled by the support and love of others.

I don't have many great friends, maybe a handful, but I'm ok with that. The friends I have always support me no matter what. They don't appease me, they speak the truth in love, and they make me want to be the best version of myself that I can be. Depression is something that I have struggled with the better half of my life and I have found that the best medicine to treat it is friendship.

It is very important who you choose to surround yourself with. You are the sum of the company you keep. If you hang around with people that are negative, who are unmotivated, and who see the glass as half empty all the time, you will end up thinking that way too. In order to be successful in any area of your life, you have got to get around people who are successful in their lives too. If you lack happiness, get around happy people, if you lack finances, get around financially stable people. Learn from those around you and be mindful of who you let into your life. Surround yourself with people you want to be like. Billionaires aren't hanging out with people who have no ambition in life to succeed financially, they hang out with other billionaires.Two female friends meeting for a coffee

When you start to fill your life with friends and people who motivate you to achieve your goals, life gets so sweet that all the sugar in the world could present itself and it still wouldn't cause you to cheat.

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Your Perception Isn't Necessarily The Reality

Working in the health industry, I have talked with hundreds of people about achieving optimal and true health. The reality of the fitness industry is this though: What looks "healthy" or appealing to the eye, isn't always the result of true health. I work at a gym that has some of the most professional, qualified, and advocators of what health is really supposed to be, and for that I am truly blessed, but not all gyms are created equal. There is a massive movement in the figure/bodybuilding world where people diet and train hard to get down to an obscenely low body fat percentage to go pose on a stage, in a bikini or speedo, to be judged on their appearance. The end result for the majority of these people can go one of two ways.

1) They don't place and end up feeling extra inadequate about how they look, which results in an increase in Body Dismorphic Disorder (BDD), eating disorders, rebound weight gain, and/or depression, if they don't already suffer from one of those things already.

Or

2) They place, maybe get their Pro card, and go on to do more shows where they often come to an end, sooner than later (for most), which usually ends up resulting in BDD, an eating disorder, rebound weight gain, and/or depression.

It seems like the fate of these competitors is pretty much the same whether they place or not. Realistically, not too many people go on to be famous fitness models or top winners in world wide federations, and if you are and you're reading this, good job but can I ask you "what do you see when you look in the mirror"? Most Pro card winners don't see the lean, mean fighting machines that they truly are. Most of them see someone lean, but even more so they see all room for improvement they have or the slight imperfections here and there.

I know this mentality all too well, not because I did shows, but because of the results from going through a drug addiction matched by an eating disorder. I didn't see myself for what I truly was, all I saw was imperfections and all I saw was fat, when I was basically a walking skeleton. At 6'1, I was 50lbs lighter than the picture of me to the right. I worked out every morning and every afternoon, and presented myself as a "healthy" individual. But what people didn't know when they saw me was how much damage I was doing internally, both mentally and physically, with drugs and with purging/starving myself.

meskinny3cropped-2014-07-01-NIKON-D800E-2777.jpg

When you see body builders or figure competitors, don't underestimate the means they have used to get to the place they're at. I'm not saying what they do isn't hard work, believe me, I know the time and dedication that goes into preparing for a show, but that's also my point. To get to a body fat percentage as low as 10% for a female means that more often than not, reproductive functioning ceases, hormones are altered, and metabolic damage occurs, that's factual. Not only does it take a round out of you physically, but mentally you have to be prepared to give up your life for 3, 6, 9 months, or however long you're doing shows or preparing.

This type of lifestyle consumes you and it's a very extreme approach. Extremism in anything indicates an imbalance. When I think of what true health looks like, I think of someone who is vibrant and full of life, who has a lean body composition but not to the point where it's doing metabolic or hormonal damage. I see someone who doesn't take life so seriously, who can laugh, go out with friends, who has energy to play with their kids, who devotes time to others and not to obsessing about food or what they cannot eat, and who has aspirations in life that don't revolve around vanity. There's nothing wrong with wanting to look good, or presenting yourself nicely, and taking care of yourself physically is essential, but if looking a certain way consumes your life and your mind everyday, this is not a sign of true health. This is perfectionism and disordered habitual patterns masquerading as health.

 

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Success Series: Part 3 of 3

Well, we've come to the end of the success series. Here are the last 5 tips to help prepare your body, mind, and spirit to be the most successful version of yourself that you can be. Thanks for giving my articles a read, and for everyone that gave me great advice. It's a beautiful thing when you have people around who will support you, challenge you, and mentor you. Change, Same Green Road Sign Over Dramatic Clouds and Sky.

  1. Embrace Change

We are an ever evolving society, and if you aren’t willing to evolve along with the times, you will stay stuck in the past as everyone else advances. The one constant we have in life is change, I’ve said that before, and you have to look at change with an open mind and be willing to get out of your comfort zone. Being unwilling to accept and embrace change will only stunt your growth and deter you from success. A sign of true health is being able to adapt to any given situation. If you cannot adapt when something changes, or refuse to step out of your box, you automatically lose by default. 

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  1. Be Thankful

Learn to develop an attitude of gratitude. When you remain thankful, you don’t take anything for granted. People are turned off by arrogance, or those who exalt themselves. It’s important to live life with a humble posture and to not become prideful. The prideful will fall and the humble will be raised up.

businessman hand holding support

  1. Share Information And Data

One person is generous and yet grows wealthier, but another withholds more than he should and comes to poverty”. If you want to be successful, you have to be willing to share with people. If you keep all the information you have learnt to yourself, what good is it? People can sense sincerity, and if you don’t want to sincerely help people and are only motivated by money, people will sense that and won’t want to contribute to your success. People don’t want to be seen as walking dollar signs, they want to know someone is there to help them.

Graduation hat with old book

  1. Continually Educate Yourself

There is no greater power than knowledge. To be the best you can be in your specific area, you have to be knowledgeable, and that takes education. You don't necessarily have to go and get a PhD in something, but learn from those in your field of interest that know what you need to know. Successful people are productive people with a passion to learn, and to learn continuously. Spend your time doing things that contribute to your success. Listen to podcasts, read, write, and keep learning. Fill your time with education. There is no maintenance in life, if you aren't learning, you are going backwards. Don't ever think you know it all.

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  1. Love

Love never fails”. This is probably the most important key to becoming successful. When we love and value, not only others, but ourselves, we create a safe environment to grow successfully. If you don’t love yourself, you will never put yourself in a place where you can truly flourish because you won’t think you’re worth the effort. You have to believe it to your core that you are worth the effort, and you are worth loving yourself so much that you couldn’t bare to let yourself not succeed. Shout out to my wonderful Grandparents. You got this whole love thing down pat xoxox!

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Success Series: Part 2 of 3

Continuing on with the next 5 pieces of advice to becoming and staying successful in work, in relationships, and in life. I have gotten so much inspiration over the past few weeks from the people I'm surrounded with everyday and am so thankful.

 Best seller

  1. Live Each Day With The Purpose To Be The Best

Chad Smith, Senior Vice President of Catch Engineering, and a personal client of mine said this, “If you want to be successful, be the best at whatever you do. It doesn’t matter what you want to do, you could be a janitor, that doesn’t matter. But if you’re gonna be a janitor, aim to be the best damn janitor there is”. Life seems pretty bleak when there is no purpose. Purpose yourself to do what you love for work. It’s your choice to do whatever you want to do. If you hate your job, work somewhere else, it’s really that simple. You will never want to be the best you can be working at a job that you don’t love because you aren’t working with a purpose, you’re merely working for a paycheck only.

Time is Money on Red Keyboard Button.

  1. Be Willing To Put In Time

One of my favourite quotes was said by Estee Lauder, founder of one of the most widely known women’s skin care line, said “I never dreamed of success, I worked for it”. If you want to slack off in life and never put in any hard work, you don’t deserve to reap the benefits that come from putting in an effort. I’m not saying you have to run yourself to the ground each and every day, but you will have to determine within yourself to put in countless hours at work. One of my clients, as a partner in her firm, mother of 3 small girls, and one of the hardest workers I know says this: “Pick one goal and go after it with everything you have in you. If that means you have to work 80 hours a week to reach that goal, that's what it means. And you have to be willing to sacrifice things along the way, like your time”.

New Opportunities - Green Pushpin on a Map Background.

  1. Don’t Say No To Opportunities

This is a piece of advice I got from my client who has been with me the longest at my current place of work. He doesn't talk a lot, but when he does, it's worth shutting your mouth to listen. “Never turn down opportunities, but on the same hand you have to build consistency. You don't want to be jumping from one thing to the next, job after job. If I look at someone's CV and they haven't built any amount of tenure, I'll toss it to the side”. You have to be willing to do things that you don't feel like doing, but actually should be doing that contribute to your success, especially in the beginning. Work now to play later.

Business Team Giving One Another High Five

  1. Celebrate With Others When They Succeed

One of the most helpful pieces of advice I’ve received is this; “There’s enough to success to go around, and just because one person is successful doesn’t mean you can’t be successful. There’s enough pieces of the pie to go around for everyone”. When you trample over people to become more successful, you will fall, and you will fall hard sooner or later. This is the big secret, success is not a fight between people, or being better than someone else, it’s about working with people to create something greater than you could create on your own. Team up with people, feed off each others victories, and celebrate in someone elses success.

mind, body, spirit, soul and you

  1. Don’t Neglect Your Health

Thomas C. Corley, author of his #1 bestselling book, Rich Habits – The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals, says “Wealthy people are healthy people”. When people are physically healthy, their productivity levels remain high because they aren’t fighting off sickness or disease. If you are constantly missing work because you’re sick, you are making less money than those who are working. Generally, people who are successful have educated themselves and have learned that physical activity and a diet that's high in nutrients will help them succeed at work and in life, whether they're thinking about that consciously or subconsciously. Eating clean and exercising are your life insurance. Utilize them.

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So You Want To Be Successful? Part 1of 3

I am blessed to work with some of Calgary's most successful people, both financially and personally. I train CEO's, Engineers, Lawyers, Partners, and many others. I'm in contact with some of the most brilliant people in the world, I truly believe that. These people are hard workers, entrepreneurs, and high achievers, and I get to pick their brains everyday. I have been working on a list of qualities and advice on the keys to becoming successful from theses brilliant minds. I've gotten a lot of information so I am going to do a 3 part series of success.

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  1. Have a Vision

Without a vision, the people perish”. In order to be successful in life, you need to have a clear vision of how you want your life to be. Everyone’s definition of success is different, and each one of us have a special role that we play here on earth, and because we are all very different, it’s important to set out just who you want to be and where you want to go. You can get ideas from others that have gone before you, but ultimately, your life will look different. If you do not have a vision for your life, you will never live up to the person you were created to be. Sit down with a pen and paper and write it down. Post it on your bathroom mirror so you can see it every day and start to work towards making your dreams become your reality. You cannot just simply dream without taking any action and expect to achieve results.

white spheres in equilibrium. Balance concept

  1. Keep Your Life Balanced

Successful people are balanced people. Yes there are very rich, stressed out people who work long hours, but remember, the definition for success isn’t just having a ton of money. To be truly successful means having a life you are proud of at the end of each day. If you spend all your time working and neglect your family or friends, you are not fully successful. Set aside some time each week to do something that is not work related. For me, I call a friend or family member just to chat, even if it’s only for 10 min. Take vacations when you feel burnt out. Buy something nice for yourself after a profitable month.

Get Over It! road sign with sun background

  1. Laugh In The Face Of Adversity

If you think there are never going to be hard times that come your way, you are sadly mistaken. When we are going in the right direction is most often when we come against the greatest adversity. If you are facing a trial in your life, it’s most likely because you’re on the path to something great. When you are doing what you’re meant to be doing in life, it will initially come effortlessly and the chips just kind of fall into place, but there will be people or things that come against you that test your dedication.

Overcoming Adversity

  1. Get Back Up After You Fall

One of the world’s most famous and successful pop vocalists, Beyonce Knowles, quoted this in her song, “Perfection is a disease of a nation”. Perfectionism has been the thorn in people’s sides for a long time, and the cause of their demise. A perfectionist thinks that they should never fail, but failure is one of our greatest tools to learn from. When we fail, we get the opportunity to get back up, to create strength and determination. Failure doesn’t have to be a bad thing, failure is a learning tool, so accept the fact that you will fail. Be ok with getting knocked down, but don’t be ok with staying knocked down.

Positive against sunny city view

  1. Surround Yourself With Positive People

Your level of success is determined by the people you surround yourself with. If you surround yourself with people who complain all the time, people who are negative, and people who are unsuccessful in life, it will rub off on you eventually. People’s attitudes are contagious so it’s crucial that you surround yourself with people who have positive and successful attitudes. If you want to be inspired, get around people who are driven, who laugh, who put others first, and who have a strong work ethic. Get around people who motivate you, those people that, when you leave after having a conversation with them, you have a renewed zeal for life, get around those people.

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