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Intuitive Eating

Recently, I touted an article on Facebook from a hot young author named Jessica Knoll (author of the best selling book “Luckiest Girl Alive“) who wrote about smart women falling for the pseudoscientific claims of the “wellness” industry. She wrapped up everything I’ve been feeling and saying for the past couple years in a wonderful op-ed piece in the New York Times. That all these trends – keto, Paleo, the Whole 30, you name it – are eating disorders in prettier boxes. All of them espouse a comparative model of eating, claiming certain foods are ‘bad’ for you while others are ‘good’. And while we could all use a kick start plan to eat healthier every once and a while as bad habits can be difficult to break without a good strong dose of discipline, the diet as lifestyle has been the norm since the 80s.

I wholeheartedly agree with almost everything Ms. Knoll wrote, but something keeps nagging at me: the idea that we still label what is women’s inherent nature (because, as Ms. Knoll points out, not many guys are sitting around the table talking about their thighs as they scarf down their burgers) as yet another methodology called “Intuitive Eating.”

Intuitive eating implies we need to learn a specific way to eat. We don’t need to learn anything else about food. We need to forget about everything that society has told us is right or wrong with our bodies. We need to un-learn all the ways we’ve dishonored, shamed and hurt our bodies whether that be through diets or abusive language or comparing ourselves to other women. We simply need to return to the inherent wisdom that was granted us at conception. The wisdom of our Divine Feminine. She knows why she eats. She knows what her body likes. She knows how to nurture and nourish herself whether that is with a kale salad or a chocolate chip cookie.

Women, we’ve been brainwashed. By advertising, magazines, celebrity culture and heaven help us, social media. And while it’s all around us, it’s been a covert operation, as Ms. Knoll points out, hiding under the alias of ‘wellness’ and ‘balance’. Slowly but surely, our patriarchal society has turned us against ourselves. Convinced us that we need products and expensive tonics and potions to live a fulfilling life and convinced men that we’re not worthy of praise, attention or love unless we look a certain way. Our capitalistic and consumer driven culture has made us question and distrust ourselves.

As I’ve written before, I’ve struggled with being in the ‘wellness’ industry, as I promote and write about workouts and food and nutritional supplements. I’ve done the best I can to strike a chord of balance between what’s absolutely necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle and what could be considered indulgent luxuries. Before I put anything out to the public I try to assess why I am doing so and will it help someone more than it will harm them?

I’ll be the first to tell you I got into this industry because I didn’t feel ‘enough’. Pretty enough. Thin enough. Successful enough. I was able to hide my insecurities in the name of health. I learned a lot on this journey, but my biggest lessons have come from unlearning everything I thought I knew about who I was. It has come from tearing down the facade I built to make myself okay. It came from questioning and continuing to question everything I know to be ‘true’ or ‘good’ or ‘right’.

While the wellness industry has done an amazing job convincing us we can never eat gluten again and be happy, we must not abdicate personal responsibility. As women, we need to take back our power and stop being so willing to buy whatever anyone is selling us. We must do whatever we need to return to that inexhaustible well of confidence, grace, trust, compassion, tenderness and yes, strength, that we were endowed with when we were conceived as females. And we must continue to fill it over and over and over and over again. With food. With friendships. With intimacy. With laughter. With joy. With vulnerability. With whatever fills up not only our bellies but our hearts as well. We must feed our souls.

We can begin this process by asking ourselves one simple question not only with food, but with all of our decisions. Why? Why am I eating this donut or this piece of fish or this broccoli? Why am I buying this potion or supplement? Why am I getting botox? (A question, yes, I recently asked myself.) And then, be brutally honest in our answers. Sometimes we may like what we hear, sometimes not. Decide accordingly.

Your answers may lead you down a rabbit hole that may uncover a root unresolved issue for you. While not always pleasant, these moments can be transformative and healing. If you have the resources and feel you need to, seek outside help like a therapist. Counseling can be helpful, but so can writing, reading, talking with trusted friends and committing to our own happiness and well being.

I don’t need L’Oreal to tell me I’m worth it. And neither do you.

And Jessica Knoll, if you read this – I’d love to lunch with you and discuss how to take up more space.

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Fitness, Food, Faith.

For years, I tried to change the outside. I believed my happiness and my joy was contingent upon what my body looked liked. I worked out like a fiend. I starved myself. When the starvation thing became unsustainable, I turned to raw food only. When raw food had my digestive system in complete distress I decide to go to holistic nutrition school in NYC.

It was one of the happiest years of my life, not because I learned exactly what to eat, but because I was living in a new city with new friends, surrounded by a community of like-minded people I loved. I was thriving. But when school was over, my friends gone, I once again found myself sad, lonely, wishing life was different. I was still working out – and working – like a fiend.

When all of the coping mechanisms I had employed in the past broke down, I turned to yoga. But unlike the yoga I had been practicing to this point, I sensed there was something beneath the down dogs and chattarungas. While many people prefer to skip the spiritual nature of the yoga tradition altogether, I was starving for it. I had exhausted all other resources to heal myself. Faith was my new fix and something that continues to grow and blossom every day.

Eventually however, I realized the answer isn’t in any of these things and it’s in all of them at the same time. Sometimes a good sweat is the answer. Sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes a crazy cleanse is just what you need – sometimes it’s the last thing you need. Sometimes more meditation or 200 rounds of mala beads saves you. Other times not so much. Sometimes all you need is a cocktail. Other times, it’s poison.

However, I’ve never found a situation that a good hug and belly laugh can’t cure.

It’s not that I’ve stopped practicing everything I’ve learned along the way regarding self- care – body, mind and spirit. It’s just that I’ve stopped relying on these tools to make things different. All of the trainings and teachings are leading me (notice the use of the continuous tense) to a place of radical acceptance. Can I accept myself in this moment, just as I am? Can I accept my pain, hurt, failure, flab, sadness, grief, anxiety, uncertainty, and insecurity knowing everything is temporal and, at some point, it will shift? To be replaced by joy, laughter, freedom, ease, liberation, success, confidence, and a stunning ass and abs you can count. (Maybe not six, but at least one or two.)

Life is flux. Life is change. Accepting it all – not trying to heal or change anything – has been the greatest lesson of all.

I have not stopped learning altogether, either. I’m still a sucker for a good self-help book and a weekend workshop or two. But I no longer take what I learn as gospel or a fix to heal whatever is broken within me. I now take it for what it is: learning. Expanding my mind and my toolbox.

All of this is why I have never been able to create a ‘system’ or program for anything – fitness, dance, yoga, etc. As soon as an idea would come and I’d get it down on paper, I’d change my mind. I’d think of a million and one reasons people shouldn’t be doing barre or  yoga or doing a cleanse or cutting carbs completely. I’d be on to lifting weights or self-massage or nothing at all. And I’d eat whatever the hell I wanted to. I never wanted to pigeon hole myself as the ‘barre gal’ or ‘dance gal’. Like many women, I am ‘all gals’ – and how I choose to express any one gal in particular changes from day to day.

I am attempting to embrace the fact that there are no answers. So I can stop looking. I can stop trying to figure out the un-figurable. My brain, which has been in overdrive for forty some years, can take a break. Quite frankly, the way mine runs, I was sure it would have quit by now. Wishful thinking.

This is a new practice for me, this radical acceptance. I’ve been conditioned to resist relaxation because you never know what catastrophe is lurking around the corner. Doing is easy for me. Being is harder. I’m now on high alert to bring awareness to those moments when I project into the future. When I find myself resisting the letting go, I breathe. I exhale. I dip into the wellspring of wisdom I’ve accumulated over my twenty years of study in the wellness space. After all what good is the thousands of dollars I threw into my studies if they couldn’t help me when I needed them most?

I confirm that there is nothing else but this moment and, in fact, I. AM. OKAY. I turn whatever tricks I need to change the tide of the momentum of my mind. And I do it over, and over, and over, and over again. Until it becomes my new normal.

(WO) Man

After a morning meditation the other day I was inspired by the idea of a woman’s circle. As I often do around new ideas, I created a mind map (see photo) to get a sense of what its purpose would be and what it might look like. Instinctually I wrote down the word ‘woman’ as (WO) Man. This said a lot to me about the very nature of what it means to be a woman.

Essentially, as a human race, we are all man. The Shiva energy or the supreme consciousness resides in all of us. But check out the difference between woman and man. Two letters. WO. Immediately I thought WOMB. The thing that makes women unique is literally our reproductive organs. I know some of you are reading this and saying ‘duh.’ But think about it. Your vagina, cervix, fallopian tubes, uterus, ovaries – all of the pieces and parts and energies that involve a female reproductive system – are just that. An intricate miraculous system that reproduces. A container that houses all the forces of creation. Holy shit.

This is our Shakti energy and women, this is the true source of our power. Our ability to create. Our ability to nurture. Our ability to give birth. Whether to another human being (I’m always blown away by that quite frankly), an idea or a movement. Our power does not come from shaming others – male or female. Our power does not come from executing a witch hunt or crucifying perpetrators. Our power comes from our ability to heal – ourselves and others – in the kindest most loving way possible. Which, by the way, may include a bitch slap every now and then if the nice approach doesn’t work. In fighting for our right to feel safe and free, let’s not lose what makes us so powerful. Our softness. Our nectar – the very source of our divinity.

My next question was Can men be included in this process? Yes. Should men be included in this process? Absofuckinglutely. They NEED to be included. But unfortunately, we’ve created a culture such that when either a man or a woman wants to explore, heal, and/or share their sacred feminine, they feel unsafe. Because that which has made women absolutely beautiful and unique and sexy and oh so powerful has been objectified. The very essence of our divinity has been scrutinized, disregarded and disrespected. We have all contributed. Men and women. We have allowed it. We have participated in its growth and dominance. We all must take responsibility for our part and we all must do our own work to heal it. Women cannot simply point our well-manicured fingers at men and vilify them.

Until we re-create a culture where it is safe for all of us to fully express and celebrate Her, it is necessary in some instances to hold separate containers for the work that all of us need to do. Thus, for now, my offerings will be limited to females so that they feel safe to be naked, vulnerable, and soft. I wish we could all dance with Her in the same room. To proudly express to the world all incarnations of Her and join and unite with Him in unabashed joy and pride. We are not there yet. But it is my prayer and hope that one day, sooner than later, we will be.

An Apology

In my limited world of social media (let’s face it – we’re really only friends with those people that think exactly the same as we do), a recent post on the ridiculous eating habits of health and lifestyle ‘guru’ Amanda Chantal Bacon, owner of the exclusive high brow brand, Moonjuice, sent my Facebook like reputation off the charts. While I stand by my position that her daily routine is reserved exclusively for those with boatloads of money and too much time on their hands, as the snide comments kept coming, I wondered why I felt the need to ignite such vitriol. Admittedly, my ego enjoyed seeing my social media status soar. Yet, I do not consider it my finest moment.

Which begs the question: are we only ‘liked’ or ‘loved’ when we ridicule others or offer inciting commentary that disconnects us further? I’ve noticed when I have something meaningful to say (from my perspective) or try to promote offerings on meditation or insightful teachings, my social media stats are not nearly as impressive. Why is it that our most applauded posts are the ones that encourage us to divide? Despite Facebook’s claim that it brings us closer in community, does social media reduce us to our lowest common denominator and at its core, make us a more shallow and divisive society? I argue yes. Yes it does.

There’s very little ‘listening’ happening on social media. How can we listen when words aren’t actually spoken? We can’t hear intonation, cadence or emotion through the pecks of a keyboard. There’s a lot of reacting back and forth as we tend to, as the old ones used to say, fire off at the mouth. There’s a lot of opinion flying around. And remember, opinions are like assholes – everybody has one. Apologies for the crudeness, but it’s a very appropriate turn of phrase in this case.

Thoughtful dialogue and debate seems to have flown the coop. No matter how insidious the rhetoric becomes, slaying swords is not the answer. Yet, social media is not really the breeding ground for thoughtful conversation. I myself don’t take social media too seriously. Admittedly, I often am flippant in my posts. It is not where I offer my highest intellectual offerings or insightful ponderings. Yet, it’s where most of us are spending our time. What does that say about our culture (myself included)? Should we shift? Can we shift? Or is it a beast that will continue to drive our daily patterns and habits? An addiction gone terribly awry?

I don’t have the answer but I think it’s worth asking the questions. At the very least, we can be more aware and conscious how we utilize social media. I can’t promise I’ll never write a snide or insensitive comment on social media or be an exemplary embodiment of peace, love and unicorns. I will however, do my best to rise above the social media sludge that seems to be dragging society down. And it starts with an apology to Ms. Bacon. Yes, I have an opinion and it hasn’t changed. I still find your daily health habits ridiculously unattainable for the average (even the above average) woman and concur with the NY Times  pegging you as a lifestyle guru selling self absorption. But I bet I’d like you and be able to tell that to you to your face.

Am I Bi-Polar?

Lately, I’ve been struggling with who I want to be – how I want to represent myself in this world. Sometimes I am the ethereal yogi who floats like a nymph through life. Effortlessly wearing flowers in her hair. Speaking of love and Goddesses as if they were my dear friends who I invite over for tea. Or am I the wild, strong, fuck all, sometimes crazy woman who dances on poles and takes shots of tequila? The woman who is perfectly happy being thrown up against a wall and possibly gagged. Can I be both? Somewhere in between? Is there a happy medium to be found? A fairy – slut sliding scale? Or do I swing from persona to persona like a monkey in the jungle? I suppose the point is to be comfortable inhabiting qualities of both extremes and embracing and celebrating it all. This is tantra. No good. No bad. Not even ugly. All Divine. Intellectually, I understand this. However, most times, it simply makes me feel bi-polar. Like a box of Cracker Jacks. You never know what sweet surprise awaits you at the bottom.

One day I feel demure, subdued and offer simple, quiet, knowing smiles to people. I nod Namaste. This woman wears flowy skirts and mala beads and loves lace and pink and is perfectly willing to let a man support her. After all, her greatest gift is simply to be, allowing her presence to light up everyone she meets. Her favorite word is love. And she floats instead of walks. She longs to live off the land, simply, communing with nature. She smells like essential oils and thrives off green juice and acai bowls.

The next day, I wake up with a different woman altogether. This woman wears red lipstick and eats burgers and dark chocolate and drinks wine and beer. She doesn’t give a shit how much she weighs. She has the urge to writhe and twist wildly and sway her hips in a way that would embarrass most people. She wants a man who will challenge her, be smarter than she is and not put up with her shit. She is strong, but he is stronger. She is fierce, unapologetic, and most times politically incorrect. This woman says fuck a lot and likes to scream and thrash about. She loves power and desires diamonds and a beautiful home. She is not satisfied simply being. She needs to do.

These are two examples. There are at least ten other women waiting in the wings. How easily I fluctuate between all of them scares me. It leads me to believe I’m more than just a little crazy. It also makes it very challenging to create a consistent marketing strategy and it’s why I’ve been struggling to create a new brand for myself. I have no idea who I am most days. Maybe my brand should be Bat Shit Bi-Polar. Or plain old Totally Fucked Up.

I suppose the perfect partner for me would be a man who really doesn’t know what he wants in a woman. With me, he can sample just about every type out there.

Quite frankly, it’s exhausting trying to respond to the needs of a different woman every day. Life would certainly be easier if I could pick just one. Play one role. I would likely have a more consistent career. I’d complete hundreds of projects I’ve conceived over the past fifteen years. It would even make grocery shopping easier. It’s hard when one woman wants mac and cheese and diet soda and the other craves more fiber and greens, sometimes at the same time. Thus, I make daily trips to the store depending on who shows up for meals.

I’m not sure what to do – if anything – to seal the fissures of my shattered personality. Maybe I’ll continue to vacillate until I settle somewhere along the continuum. I’ll delicately dance between each woman with as much grace, grit and authenticity as I can muster on any given day. It certainly keeps life interesting.

There are a few things all of my women have in common.

They want to love and be loved so bad it hurts.
They want to care too much.
They want to feel to the depths of their being.
And every single last one of them wants to be seen.

I Have Questions

I recently reached out to one of my teachers about a session I had completed with him a couple of weeks prior. I explained that while I was still bathing in the afterglow of the healing time together, I continued to feel unclear about a few things.  He said the very best answers are the ones that bring us to better questions. Yup, I had questions. I always have questions. I always want to know more. I’m like the four year old. Why is the sky blue? Why does the ball bounce? How does the car start? How did I get here? What is that all about? What does it mean? Where is it going? And of course, the biggest one of all Why am I here?
I suppose it’s good to be a curious soul. But there are times when I wish I weren’t so, well, inquisitive. Honestly, it often makes it difficult to simply sit back and enjoy the fucking ride.
I know all of my questioning is prompting me in a very particular direction. I know my curiosity propels me to my dharma – or role I play in the world order – something I wouldn’t be able to uncover without asking some very tough questions.
I do wish however, that more often, I could lay down and let shit go. That’s what I’ve been working on for the past few weeks. Trust. Faith. As simple as those concepts sound, they are challenging ideals to develop. At least for me. I grew up in an environment that for all intents and purposes, was very black and white. There is right and there is wrong. There is work and there is play. And ne’er the two shall intertwine. We live in a society that increasingly needs an explanation or proof in order to make things so. Trust? There are so many reasons not to. Sit back and wait for things to happen? Not an option. GO GET IT. Do, Do, DO.
I see the inherent beauty of my life. I FEEL it. I have a clear picture of what’s on its way. But to trust it’s coming? And believe in what I’ve ‘seen’ yet not be able to explain it? Or know exactly the next step I need to take to get there and trust She will show me the way? Well, that’s a tough one. As is patience. So here I sit, writing. Waiting for what’s to come.

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