Days 18-30 of 31: Body Love Yoga Challenge {Failure + Body Positive}

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Failure

 

Yup.  Twelve whole days has passed since my last post.  From all accounts it would appear as though I ‘failed’.  I had, afterall, promised to blog daily throughout my 31 day yoga challenge.  I said I would do something and…I didn’t do it.

Yet, this Body Love Yoga Challenge had other plans for me and the truth is, by Day 18, I was spent.   My mind and body were completely exhausted.  Not so much from the physical yoga, but from the mental and emotional walls my yoga practice was apparently bull-dozing around me.

When I embarked on the Challenge I seriously had no idea what was in store. If I had, I might not have signed on, but oh how grateful I am that I did. The past 30 days have taught me not only to let go, but also how much I need to repair the messy relationship I’ve had with my body the past 15+ years.

 

See I thought I was the perfect picture of health———

Vegan, only consuming organic foods, never allowing processed food to cross my lips.

Any dessert had to be made of the highest quality ingredients.

Daily workouts.

Setting rules {no animal products, no gluten, no sugar, then no grains, ok maybe some animal protein is ok, wait no animal! -the list went on} and abiding by those rules.

And then something happened.  My body turned against me.  My precious, one-and-only body decided to stop working.  Two years ago on January 6, 2012 I got my last period.  For a year I waited, unwilling or totally unaware of the responsibility I had over this.  In January 2013 I was given the ‘diagnosis’ of early menopause {just shy of my 30th birthday I need to note}.  After a second Doctor’s opinion I gladly accepted her diagnosis of Hypothalamic Amenorrhea and tried to shrug off the early menopause thing.

I hate diagnosis.

I hate labels.

And yet isn’t that how we so often find the ability to identify ourselves?  I am this. I am that.  I am vegan.  I am blonde. I have Hypothalamic Amenorrhea.  Well darnit {I had typed a not-so elementary word and then my conscious got the best of me so darnit it is} I am so stinking sick and tired of pulling on another mask to try and define me.

I am not any of this.

I am simply me.  A girl turned woman who happens to have dimples and a smile from ear to ear when she doesn’t allow her worries and mind to get the best of her.  A spirit that is reminiscent of a curious cat – an intriguing interrogator that absolutely loves to ask a million question and know exactly why it is you do what you do, a soul that still loves to spend hours working on {and finishing puzzles}, who loves to meet new people, visit new places and try incredible love-infused high-vibrational delciously-tasty foods.

Ahhhhh yes that is me.

I am not the labels or the boxes I have made for myself to shrink to fit into.

And yet I am also a woman who is desperately trying to find who she really is.  A woman who so fiercely wants to love herself and feel peace in her body and a woman who desires, with every core of her being, the gift of her period again and the incredible blessing of a child – oh how I want to be a momma!  And oh what a struggle this is for me right now.  As I type this I have five dear friends on the brink of motherhood and yet I struggle with knowing whether I’ll ever be able to share in that experience.  The thought breaks my heart and moves me to tears.  I am not married and no, am not trying for a little babycakes right now and so, in some way, I believe these feelings are not validated.

Yet I know they are.

I’d love to talk more about this, but the truth is I’m still discovering it myself.  What I do know is: I am finally willing to accept the power my food and body obsessions have had over me and my life.  And, more importantly, I am ready and wanting to let go of the control this has held over my body and of the incessant negative self-talk.

When I first heard the words Hypothalamic Amenorrhea and its relationship with eating disorders; I thought – me? Nope.  Definitely not me.  I’m not too skinny.  I don’t starve myself or make myself throw up.  In fact I love food too much.  But the reality is food has consumed me – not just physically but mentally and emotionally too.  I am currently reading Intuitive Eating and found this paragraph to sum up my relationship with food perfectly:

“The Careful Eater can spend most of her waking hours planning out the next meal or snack, often worrying about what to eat {insert in when to eat, what not to eat, how much to eat etc etc}.  While the Careful Eater is not officially on a diet, her mind is chastising every ‘unhealthy’ fatty or sugary food eaten {heck grains, almonds, cauliflower, sesame and beets aren’t even allowed in my book!}.  The Careful Eater can run the fine line between being genuinely interested in health, and eating carefully for the sake of body image.”

That last part  -for the sake of body image – really stung.  That is the ONLY reason why I’ve been eating the way I have.

My dear friend Lily, who has helped me tremendously over the last year to navigate my relationship with food + body, is hosting a Body Positive workshop in May that will focus on body image, food, exercise, and self-love.  It is going to be held on May 3rd and is being hosted by the non-profit, The Body Positive.  Originally started as an eating disorder support group, The Body Positive has now evolved into working with people that have varying relationships with food and their bodies.   According to Lily, “Even if you have a beautiful relationship with food and your body, this will still be beneficial to learn techniques in how to help others create a more positive way to love their body and how to nourish it more intuitively. At the workshop we will start with an introspective approach and explore our own body relationships and then move into techniques around intuitive eating and reframing what a healthy relationship with food and our weight can look like.”

I already purchased my seat for the workshop and have attached a flyer with more information.  Feel free to email Lily with questions at lily.stokely@bastyr.edu. Also feel free to pass this on to anyone you know who may be interested. Space is limited to only 25 people so be sure to sign up quickly if you wish to attend. http://thebodypositive.org/tbp/workshops-and-groups/

BeBodyPositiveWorkshopFlyer_Seattle2014-page-001

 

Day 17 of 31: Body Love Yoga Challenge {self-talk}

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think you can

What is the tape recorder in your head saying right now?

Does she/he praise you?  Lift you up?  Give you motivation to keep going?

Or does he/she put you down?  Tell you it’s never enough?

The idea that our thoughts create our lives is nothing new – since the making of The Secret seven or so years ago this idea has become mainstream with people talking about the power thoughts, words, beliefs, affirmations, etc. have on our lives.  I believe this – WHOLEHEARTEDLY – and yet how do we actually change the neg-neg self-talk to the more positive pep talks within?

I know I am so quick to tell someone else how great, beautiful, special and talented they are and yet, the woman in the mirror?

Oh how awful I am to her.

It breaks my heart to know what I say to her, day in and day out – a broken record I have become for sure.   I have noticed that with my yoga practice this negative self-talk has been screaming her wild voice more than normal.  Perhaps because she knows she is on the verge of getting the boot.  Well today I really did take a step to kicking this negative nancy to the curb and, I must say, it feels really good.  I woke up this morning and as I got ready for yoga she started her usual verbal assault, but this time I stopped it {almost immediately} and simply said:

‘Enough.  You are beautiful and you are perfect just the way you are.’

Yup I did. and I am proud to say I don’t feel the slightest bit of embarrassment over my cheese-ball, self-loving, positive-affirming self.

I read an article last night in Spirituality Health Magazine and I love what Dr. Joan Borysenko said in response to this question:

What impact does negative self-talk, such as criticizing our bodies and ability, so common with women, have on our health?

In general, we are conditioned in this culture to judgement and comparison, always comparing ourselves to other people.  That’s what gives rise to such negative self-talk.  We have this great wound of unworthiness, the wound of self-hatred, the feeling that, somehow or other, we have to beat the competition and we have to prove ourselves in some thing to be worthy. That’s a big, big problem.  No matter what our spiritual roots are, If we can start to practice kindness toward ourselves, it would go a very long way.

I loved this.  It hit me to my core.  I am so tired – fed up! – with my lack of self-love, my constant judgment of not only others, but even more so of myself.  What a dis-service my inner voice has been to the incredible and amazing me. I want to, need to, must, change the dialogue that goes on between closed doors in the space between my ears.

I find this topic fascinating and would love to know below what you think and how you work to keep the voice in your head loving and kind?

To see how one woman is spearheading positive self-love, check out her website: http://www.operationbeautiful.com/

For affirmations to say to yourself visit Louise Hay or, for tips on creating a more loving relationship with the {wo}man in your head, check out this link.

And lastly if you still need proof at all that your thoughts and words actually do affect your life, just watch this AMAZING video. xxoo, Jamie :)

Day 16 of 31: Body Love Yoga Challenge {show up}

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show up
not because you should
not because you must
but because of the magnitude of love
because of the magnetic force of compassion

show up
because you can
because life has come knocking
and you are there to answer now
not when or then
but in the immediate potency of the call

show up
not because it is time or timely
not because it is easy
or tough
smooth or rough
not because it is reasonable or not
but because this is what matters now
no matter
what next

show up
because it feels right and real
because it makes your heart sing
or sob
because it might ache
or break
if you did not
because joy lives in the present
in your presence
just show up

~Minx Boren

I so didn’t feel like showing up today.  And yet I did. I drove the 45 minutes this morning to meet my sister for yoga. I simply showed up.  And boy was I happy that I did.  It’s amazing what can happen when we just show up.  Show up to all the experiences, all the emotions – just show up to everything whether it feels good or not-so-good.  I have learned that to be present in the darkness is just as important as showing up for the lightness.  Sometimes the dark is scary and we want to turn on the lights as quickly as possible, but it is often in the moments between dark and light that we learn the most and grow the most.

So as we move in to the last two weeks of our Body Love Yoga Challenge I commit to just showing up.

After all isn’t that half the battle?

How are you each feeling?  Have you been able to show up the past two weeks?  Has something held you back from showing up completely?

How can I support you in showing up these last two weeks of our Body Love Yoga Challenge so you can feel empowered and inspired in your beautiful amazing body??

Let me know in the comments below – so much love to you all!!

xxoo, Jamie

Days 14+15: Body Love Yoga Challenge {coming home}

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ImageSo you may {or may not} notice that today is another 2 for 1 blog special.  See I had every intention of blogging yesterday, but the truth is I made an unexpected trip home this week to Chicago and spent much of the day with my family. Home was calling and I answered.

And with that I think I took one of the best yoga classes of my life today at a studio near my parents in Barrington, Illinois – Nirvana Yoga Studio.

It was one of those classes where literally I felt like it was tailored to me and my life. Everything our amazing teacher, Jean, said; I heard.  And everything she said I felt was spoken specifically for me.  Like the multiple mentions of ‘coming home’ to find a sense of well-being and ease within.

Of course the reality was, what she said was meant for everyone in the room and I wasn’t anything special.  I just had to show up and be present.  That’s what I think yoga is all about.  Showing up and being present - Coming Home.

Coming home to the quiet place – whether it be within, on the mat or literally home in the physical sense – to find that sense of peace and serenity.

Actually, isn’t that what life is really about?  Finding a stillness, a sense of peace in what is the present moment.  Perhaps coming home is a time of surrendering? Surrendering to all that is, whether it is a moment of joy or a time of suffering – we can come home to find the stillness and peace that is within each of us.    To me Coming Home is a time of rest, of rejuvenation, a time to simply just be.

I felt so present to my practice today, to my thoughts, feelings and emotions that I left undoubtedly with a bit more pep in my step {oh yes I did} and sparkle in my eye.

I so needed to come home.  To come home to my family, to come home to me and yes, to come home to my yoga mat.

I took a picture of this quote in the bathroom at the studio – do you believe this?  I can honestly say, hands down, I have faith that every instance of my life is just as it’s supposed to be.  The good, the great, the bad and the oh-so ugly moments are all blessings and lessons for me to practice gratitude and this idea of finding peace within for what is, exactly the way it is.

In line with this idea of coming home and being mindful is this quote I saw on a friend’s facebook page today from Ram Dass.  When you are feeling overwhelm for the future or turmoil about the past try asking yourself these two questions and see if it brings you back to the present.

Ask yourself: Where am I?
Answer: Here.
Ask yourself: What time is it?
Answer: Now.
Say it until you can hear it.

Here is my schedule for the remainder of my time in Chicago:

Sunday:  Lulu Yoga with my sis downtown

Monday: Beginner’s Yoga with my parents at Nirvana Yoga {oh yes, first time class with the pods – cannot wait!!!  I know they are just as excited ;-)}

Tuesday: Yoga with my oldest friend ever – well not really oldest as in age, just oldest as in we’ve been friends for over 25 years…I know, wild!!!

Wednesday: At home yoga courtesy of http://www.yogaglo.com  {have any of you ever tried this site??  My yoga teacher today said it is AWESOME – can’t wait to try!}

I’ll be back to Seattle Thursday so stay posted for my class schedule later in the week; I would so love to have any of you join me in the home stretch of our 31 day Body Love Yoga Challenge!!!

So much love, light and peace as you journey to find your own way home.

xxoo, Jamie

Day 13 of 31: Body Love Yoga Challenge {my first love + chocolate cake}

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Hating BodyToday I was so grateful.

So grateful for my body.

For my family.

For this journey called life.

I started my morning with my little body love note and I realized how thankful I am for all my body’s cravings as of late.  The betrayal I so felt by my body for all its sugar, flour and sweet cravings the past few months have in fact been a total gift.

For the past three months I have hated my body, so very much despised it, for being uncontrollable and for my apparent lack of willpower with succumbing to eating {devouring} more sweets than I probably have in the last five years.

Then today I realized what a blessing these cravings have been.  All the brownies, cookies {dough}, cake, chocolate, etc. have reminded that I need {and want} sweetness in my life.  And for me, that undoubtedly includes food.

I am so grateful for my body and her intense cravings.  She needed to get my attention and realized it required drastic measures.  My body has reminded me of my innate LOVE of food, of sharing food and especially for creating one-of-a-kind desserts {all made from nature} that are so full of wholesome goodness, rich sweetness and natural deliciousness!

And oh how I have rejected this for so much of my life.  I have always been so stinking terrified of food – that which I truly love and brings so much joy to me I have completely shunned. I have done everything and anything at times to keep myself out of the kitchen for fear of what?  Fear of not trusting my body or the food choices me {she} would make.

So in light {an in honor of my first love} I wanted to share this DECADENT raw, vegan, gluten-free, you-name-it-free Chocolate Cake with you.  I first made it working as the pastry chef at Chakra 4 Vegetarian Cafe in Phoenix and last made it exactly a year ago for three amazing and beautiful friends’ birthday – It is so perfect for Valentine’s Day.  So perfect in fact that I saw nearly the same recipe in this morning’s paper and so, I wanted to share with you.

What gift did your body give you today?

So much love + light to you and your sweet physical self.

xxoo Jamie

Raw Raspberry Ganache Layered Cake

INGREDIENTS

Cake
3 cups dry walnuts
2⁄3 cup unsweetened cacao powder or
carob powder
1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup pitted Medjool dates, soaked for 15-30 minutes

Frosting
1⁄3 cup soaked pitted Medjool dates
1⁄4 cup coconut nectar (can substitute with agave, maple syrup or honey)
1⁄2 cup ripe avocado
1⁄3 cup cacao powder

Filling
1⁄2 cup raspberries

DIRECTIONS

To make the cake, combine the walnuts, cacao powder and salt in food processor
and pulse until coarsely mixed. Avoid overprocessing. Remove the dates from the soak water (retaining for later use) and add to the mixture along with the vanilla.  Pulse until well-combined. Add date soak water as needed.  Mixture should hold together when you press it together between your fingers. Shape into two stackable cakes of desired shape and set aside.

To make the frosting, combine the dates and sweetener in a high-speed blender
and process until combined. Then add the avocado until smooth.  Add in the
cacao powder and process until well-combined.

To serve, frost the top of one of the cakes with half the frosting and top with
the raspberries. Stack the second cake on top and frost the top and sides of the double layer cake.  Serve immediately or place in the refrigerator for a couple hours to firm up.

The cake on its own will keep in the fridge for two weeks. The frosting will keep separately in the fridge for 1 week. The assembled cake with raspberries will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Days 11 + 12: Body Love Yoga Challenge {Body Thanks}

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ImageLast night I made a commitment.

A commitment to give gratitude to my body every day.

You would think that since this yoga challenge is prefaced with ‘Body Love’ that I would have been focusing a bit more on that little {big} piece.

The truth is I’m terrified about it.

As much as I want to say I love my body, honor my body, totally embrace and trust it.

Well.  Then I’d be lying.

The real truth is I have been at war in my body my entire life.

Since I can remember I wanted it to look different, I wanted to be different.  And so I spent the last 15+ years trying to will it to change and undoubtedly using food to try and control it.

I have come to believe that eating disorders, disordered eating and body hatred are not about the food or about the body.  Instead I really believe it is simply a symptom for some that our souls are out of alignment with our higher purpose.

Imagine the times in your life when you felt totally in vibration with the world around you, when everything just seemed to flow.  Did thoughts really arise around food, your body and your eating habits?  Or did your eating habits just become second nature and take a backseat to more important things at task – like living your most authentic life?

Yeah me too.

And you know what?  Those times in my life where I did feel completely in vibration with my surroundings, my situation, my experiences – I ate whatever I wanted.  I ate scones – oh did I eat scones! – I ate grains and I ate sugar and I believe I even ate bacon.  Yup at one point, lots of crispy bacon.  And guess what?  I didn’t gain an ounce.  In fact I didn’t even think twice about my food choices.  I just ate when I ate because I was either a) hungry or b) really wanted a bite of what was in front of me.

See I really don’t think it’s our weight or our bodies that dictate our emotions.  I really believe it is the disconnect felt somewhere else in our life circumstances that cause the disordered eating and body hatred. Perhaps it is not accepting a piece of ourself or not fulfilling the gift we’ve been given to serve.

I know I have been given a blessing in the form of my body and health struggles this past year {of which I do plan to share more of in another post once my current vulnerability hangover subsides}.  For now, in the words of my Aunt Sue:

‘I embrace the joy of having a physical body

and so each day I am going to take a minute or two and write a little love note to my body telling her what I am thankful for that day.  I am curious if you have a little love note you’d like to share below on What you can thank your body for today?

So much love, light + sweet gratitude to each of you…

xxoo, Jamie

Day 10 of 31: Body Love Yoga Challenge {Dark Truth}

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Only in Darkness

 

 

You know I almost didn’t blog.

And I almost didn’t do yoga.

And then I reached out.  I texted my brother.  I connected with a dear friend.

I turned on my friend Shari’s Yoga Nidra CD and surrendered.

Surrendered to the pain.  the discomfort. the confusion and the sadness.

 

 
 

Yes that is my life as of late.  It’s so easy to share when life is great. When we feel on top of our game.  When our successes outweigh our failures.  But what about in the times of darkness?

I know in the past I never let on.  I’d cover up the pain with a smile, my need to talk with questions for you.

I almost wasn’t going to share tonight and then my friend said ‘nobody likes perfect. we can’t relate’ and I thought of how much I have tried to be ‘perfect’ throughout my life. And of course never EVER living up to my idea of perfect – never looking perfect enough, never being skinny enough, never being fun enough, smart enough, just never enough.

We live in a society where we idealize perfection – we boast and color our lives like a mirage.  We talk about the great times, we share our best photos, our upcoming trips, our latest accomplishments {I have done all of the above and then some of course}, but we all know there’s so much in between our highlight reels that we don’t share.  I heard recently this – ‘Don’t judge your insides by other people’s outsides.

I feel like that could be the motto for this decade. We are entrenched in a society of baloney, of movies, of make believe.

I didn’t want to write tonight.

As I lay on the floor sobbing over the state of my emotions, my life – wondering where it went wrong.  I thought about all of you.  I thought about the inspiration each of you have given me in your posts, your phone calls, your emails and your texts over the last ten days.  It amazes me.  How much we all yearn for community and for connection and yet how hard it can be for so many to connect.

I have learned over the past year that true connection occurs in moments of sheer terror, pure pain and utter helplessness.  In these vulnerable moments we give someone else a gift of permission to share their truth.  I hope that each of you know in your moments of darkness that you are not alone – that someone, somewhere is lying right there next to you crying their little eyes out to.

So much love, light + pure gratitude to each of you for joining me on this journey and truly being present; it amazes, inspires and completely delights me.  Thank you xxoo

Jamie

A beautiful song for each of you during the good and the dark times…Xavier Rudd, one of my new musical favs – enjoy :)

**A poem courtesy of my dear friend I have yet to meet Leslie Laya Raznick:

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice-
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations, though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen branches and stones.
but little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do-
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Mary Oliver, Dream Work, Grove Atlantic Inc., 1986 & New and Selected Poems, Beacon Press, 1992.