How can a thought be toxic?

How can a thought be toxic?

Negative body thoughts. We all have them from time to time – some of us more than others. Thoughts like “I’m too fat,” “I hate my body,” “I wish I looked like her.” For some women these play like a constant broken record, day in and day out. For others they crop up after a heavy meal, a bad day, or when they see a picture of themselves. So what makes these thoughts so toxic? I want to introduce a term that is used when we talk about chemical toxicity: Total Load. Total Load refers to the build-up of chemicals (a.k.a. toxins) in our bodies. These might include exposure to pesticides, household chemicals, beauty products, heavy metals, etc. Individually, each of these chemicals may be relatively benign at a small dose. But over time, with repeated exposure, they can start to overwhelm our systems – and that cumulative effect is the Total Load of toxins, which can lead to symptoms and disease. Just like those chemicals, each individual negative thought or belief about ourselves or our bodies can seem relatively benign. Like I said, most of us have these thoughts from time to time. But when our inner critic just won’t shut up and the tape reel that tells us there is something wrong with us because of the size of our bodies never stops playing, that cumulative effect – or Total Load – starts to do longer term damage. And while it isn’t the obvious form of damage that chemical and environmental toxins cause, it is real, physiological damage just the same. When we put up with a barrage of toxic thoughts and beliefs, we live in a constant state of low-level stress. And that long-term low-level stress response produces real bio-chemical reactions in our bodies that lead to decreased digestive capacity, increased cortisol, lower metabolic power, inflammation, and many other undesired impacts on our bodies. While a lot is said about the power of positive thinking, we don’t always remember that negative thoughts are just as powerful. So now that we know how important it is to change our way of thinking, what do we do? When we are in a cycle or habit for years or decades, just knowing that we should stop doing it isn’t always enough. That’s why I decided to create a free, fun 10-day detox to help us all re-frame those negative thoughts: It starts tomorrow, the first day of spring (a perfect time for a detox). All you need to do to join me is click here to join the Women’s Body Gratitude Circle Facebook group, which is where all of the action will be taking place. I look forward to...

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Everyone knows…

Everyone knows…

“Everyone knows that Weight Watchers works.” Those are the words spoken at the beginning of a recent WW television ad. And I cringe each time I hear them. For a multitude of reasons. And it’s not even just because, well, everyone does NOT know that. In fact, more often than not, the words I hear about Weight Watchers are along the lines of “I just don’t know what to do about my weight. I guess I’ll go back to Weight Watchers because it worked for me before.” And that always makes me curious because if the system worked so well, why did you stop and why do you need to go back? And it’s only a little bit because what really matters when it comes to weight loss is the long term. Quite frankly, for people who are hormonally healthy, there are a lot of ways to lose a moderate amount of weight and keep it off for a period of weeks or months, WW being one of them. So what? Show me the statistics 1 year, 5 years, 10 years out. It’s hard to find that information, but this blog post goes over some of the numbers that WW published several years ago. No, the biggest reason that statement gets to me is what it does to your psyche. Because if, as they say, everyone knows WW works, then what does that mean when it doesn’t work for you? Well, if the program works, then the problem must be you. You must be the failure. The willpower weakling. The one and only person for whom WW didn’t work. That makes me sad. And a little angry. Because that means (if we use the numbers in the blog post I referenced) that 1998/2000 of you didn’t do it right. You screwed up. You cheated. You ate too much. You couldn’t follow the system. You stopped doing it. Your fault, your fault, your fault. WRONG! If the programs out there result in a 99% failure rate, you are not the problem! Got it? You are not broken. You do not need to be fixed. There is nothing wrong with you. You did not get it wrong. You got hungry! You got tired of a program that required you to eat less than your body needed to thrive. You didn’t want to count points for the rest of your life. You wanted to go out with your friends, to have fun, to have a life. Who could blame you for that? So no, everyone does not know that Weight Watchers works. Everyone does know that weight loss is a complex challenge for complicated, interesting human beings – and it goes beyond...

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Living In Your Body

Living In Your Body

Are you living in your body? That seems like a strange question, doesn’t it? Where else would you (or could you) be living? But the truth is that there is a difference between occupying a body and fully living in it, embracing it, being embodied. Many of us have become accustomed to living in our heads. We analyze everything. We think more than we feel. We live in a world of shoulds and have-tos – it’s part of our survival. From how much money we need to how hard we have to work to how many calories we should eat to how much we should weigh. We worry about things and wish things were different. We analyze our past and plan our futures. And it’s all done in our heads. And some of us believe that there is something not right about our bodies. Too big, too soft, too boney, too curvy, too many curves in the wrong places, not enough curves in the right places, too heavy, not pretty enough. And when we spend our days – and eventually years or decades – disliking our bodies, we tend to leave them. We pack up and move out and disconnect and reject those awful bodies that don’t cooperate and mold themselves to what they should be. And once we’ve disconnected from our bodies and moved fully into our heads, we start to lose our body wisdom. We lose our connection to our emotions, which reside in our bodies. We forget that we are actually whole and perfect and complete just the way we are. And from that place of disconnection it’s impossible to have a body that we love – not matter what size or shape it is. About 10 years ago I was at my idea of my “goal weight.” I was wearing a size 6, something I never thought was possible for me, having worn a size 12-14+ most of my life. I remember being at Macy’s, browsing through the rack of clothing marked with the letter “S”. And in that moment I had this overwhelming feeling that someone was going to come from behind, tap me on the shoulder, and say “Excuse me, Miss, the Extra-larges are over there.” That’s how dis-embodied I was. And from that place of living outside my body, as I’d become so accustomed to doing, it is no surprise that gradually, over the years, the weight came back on. I never owned that new body. I have very few pictures of myself at that weight. I was still the big girl – even if there was an “S” or a “6” on the labels of my clothes. Embodiment is a feeling,...

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Good Vibrations

Good Vibrations

Are you madly, head over heels in love … with your body? If you are, you are a rare woman and I applaud you. More likely, you are like the rest of us – much more critical than appreciative of the flesh that sits beneath your head. Yes, there are things you like, and some days are better than others, but if you could mold your ideal body, I’m guessing you might change a thing or two. And if I suggested you just stop all negativity now and love your body as it is, as great as that sounds, you probably wouldn’t be able to do it. Ouch! Not a fun realization. Now what? What if I told you that I have a fun, easy, way to start moving in that direction with a community of like-minded women? Wouldn’t that be nice? It all starts with the practice of Gratitude. It seems like everyone from Buddha to Oprah has something to say about gratitude! So what’s the scoop when it comes to gratitude? Here are a couple of perspectives on it: Neuroplasticity Neuro-what?! Neuroplasticity means that our neurology that was once thought of as fixed is actually changeable. In other words, we can change the way we think. Once we get used to a certain way of thinking, our brains form physical patterns in our neurology and we tend to fall back into those patterns over and over again (no, it’s not just you!). Neuroscientist Rick Hanson likes to say “The brain is like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positives ones.” We naturally gravitate toward negative thinking – it is human nature. So how do we change it? One way is to develop a practice of intention, presence, and appreciation. And a way to do that is through a gratitude practice. So, back to the challenge of loving our bodies – if we can set an intention toward more loving thoughts and then actually practice appreciation and gratitude for our bodies and the amazing miracles that they are, we can start to create new neural pathways so that our natural tendency is toward positive body thoughts rather than negative ones. Science is cool! Law of Attraction and Good Vibrations And now for the slightly more “woo-woo” portion of today’s post… You’ve probably heard of the Law of Attraction, brought into the forefront by The Secret back in 2006. According to Wikipedia, “The tenet of the film and book is that the universe is governed by a natural law called the law of attraction which is said to work by attracting into a person’s life the experiences, situations, events, and people that “match the frequency” of the person’s thoughts and...

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Body Gratitude Circle

Body Gratitude Circle

During the past year I have had the pleasure of being a part of a Gratitude Circle on Facebook. The premise is simple – post something in your life that you are grateful for each day and see what unfolds. There are many well-documented benefits to having a gratitude practice – the key one being that it promotes happiness and a sense of well-being. Appreciating what is already present allows you to relax into your life rather than constantly searching for what could be. As I established my own gratitude practice, I got to thinking – what if I created a Body Gratitude Circle? A safe space where women could establish their own gratitude practice – only make it specific to the miracles that our human bodies are? I began to imagine the power of a group of women coming together, not to complain about what is wrong with our bodies, but to elevate each other through appreciation for all that our bodies do for us each day – that we often take for granted. I’m excited to announce that I have created that space! And I would love for you to join me.   It’s simple – just click here and request to join the Facebook group. Starting November 1, 2014 for 3 weeks, all you need to do is post at least one thing you are grateful to your body for. It can be as simple as being grateful to your heart for beating, being grateful to your legs for allowing you to take a walk in nature, being grateful to your eyes for letting you see the stars in the sky… You get the idea. This group is for you if you have ever had a negative body thought – if you have ever been a member of the “I hate my thighs” club – if you have ever been unhappy with your belly, your butt, your boobs, your hair, your skin, your nose. If your mood can change from good to bad simply from seeing your reflection, your muffin-top, or your picture. It’s time to start transforming that suffering from the inside out, in a sacred, safe, supportive space. November is a time of thanks-giving, which makes it a perfect time to adopt a practice of gratitude. But don’t worry – if you are late to the party, you are still welcome to join in. It’s never too late to start! My intention is to start with 3 weeks – and then check in and see where else we want to go. The Facebook group is a closed group – which means you can search for it and request to join, but everything posted can...

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You’re Too Sensitive

You’re Too Sensitive

Has anyone ever told you that you were too sensitive? Maybe the first time you heard that statement you were young – and it was a sibling, a parent, a teacher, a classmate, or the neighborhood bully. And maybe even now you hear it from a friend, a partner, a spouse, a boss, or a co-worker. Being a sensitive soul in this world is a hard burden to bear at times. We can find ourselves taking on the pain of the world, on top of our own pain. When I was little, I was told I was too sensitive. If someone said something that brought up pain or shame or guilt, I broke down. And sometimes when that happened, I was told that I was being too sensitive. “Stop crying.” “Get over it.” “Don’t be such a baby.” So I came up with a brilliant solution. I hid out. I numbed out. I sat in my room, alone, with the door closed, reading books and eating Trix or Lucky Charms out of the box. I stuffed my feelings with sugar. Because at 8, 9, even 13 or 14, those were the resources I had. My closed door and my food and my books. That was my escape route from my personal pain, and from feeling the pain of the world. When you are a sensitive soul, you feel things deeply. Sometimes too deeply. And when you don’t have the tools to cope, you invent things that work for you. Maybe, like me, at times it was to numb out, to hide, to avoid. Or, maybe for you it was about finding something you could control – your food. Counting, restricting, managing your intake and your exercise. And maybe it was both. Control when you could, spin out and numb when you couldn’t. Yesterday I had a meltdown of sorts. It was triggered by an email, but really it could have been anything. Because I was already feeling very sensitive. And while I still have my ways of numbing, when the feelings get too big, they find a way out. My meltdown started with some yelling in frustration (in the privacy of my own home) and a little bit of foot stomping and pacing. Because it needed to come out. And then last night I found myself watching The Blindside and, for the better part of the nearly 3 hour movie, I cried. I cried, not because I was still feeling sorry for myself, but for a combination of gratitude and feeling the pain of the world. Seeing the hardships that the main character in the movie went through, I felt so much gratitude for the privileges I’ve had all...

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