Slow Food

Remember last week’s blog post when I talked about stress, the effects of stress on our body, and the difference between life stress and self-chosen stress? 

If not click this link to read all about it!


This week I want to talk about one self-chosen stressor in particular.  It’s insidious in our culture, and most of us are not even aware that it is a stressor!  

Are you a fast eater, a slow eater, or a moderately paced eater?

Ninety percent of people asked this question answered, “fast”.  And guess what?  Human biology interprets eating fast as being stressed.

Remember, we saw that constant low-level stress causes increased insulin, and increased cortisol which can lead to:

  • weight gain
  • inability to lose weight
  • inability to build muscle
  • decreased calorie burning
  • increased fat deposits at midsection
  • increased inflammation
  • gut microbiome die off
  • nutrient wasting
  • decreased energy
  • appetite deregulation
  • desensitivity to pleasure
  • decreased metabolism
  • decreased Thyroid function 
  • decreased oxygen uptake
  • poor sleep

Imagine how this affects us if we have a weight challenge, or body transformation goal!  Even if we are not pursuing a food and body goal, none of these optimizes our health.  It makes complete sense that we want to reduce stress whenever possible. 

If you answered that you are a “fast” or even “moderately paced” eater, then you have now identified a stressor that you can choose to get rid of!  Reducing stress always has positive benefits, so why wouldn’t we put some effort into slowing down with our food?

The main reason is because eating fast is a habit. 

Generally, until someone asks us this question, we never even consider our eating speed.  In fact part of the problem is that many of us never even consider our food! 

We may skip breakfast or grab a pastry at the coffee shop, then eat lunch at the desk or running between clients, then grab some take out on the way home for dinner.  If any of these behaviors sound familiar, then you have a golden opportunity to release some of the stress that you carry!

(Slowing down with food is also a first step in releasing patterns of bingeing, after-dinner eating, and overeating.)

If you are interested in trying to break the habit of eating fast, you have much to gain!  So what do you have to lose (besides stress)? 

Here are some other symptoms caused or exacerbated by fast eating which can also diminish or go away completely:

Eating fast is a habit.  Eating more slowly requires some effort because we are creating a new habit, and new habits take time. This is NOT about counting bites. This is about relaxing with food and increasing pleasure! This is about enjoying our mealtimes and boosting happiness. This is about being present, becoming aware & listening to our body.

Fast eating is a habit.

Slow eating is a habit worth cultivating.

Grow on!

If you want to release the stress of fast eating, start by coming to your meals in as relaxed a state as you can.  Try to eat somewhere quiet when possible, or at the very least not in an environment that feels stressful.  Don’t watch the news, and incorporate some music that relaxes you if that appeals to you.

Before you begin to eat, take two or three grounding breaths.  Allow your heart rate to calm, then turn your attention to your meal.  Be present with your food.  Savor the flavor.  Explore the textures on your tongue.  Really enjoy the relaxed time with your food.  Food is meant to be a satisfying pleasure.

If you are eating food you do not enjoy, ask yourself, “why?”.  Food is meant to nourish body, mind and spirit, and we absorb far more nourishment from food we enjoy than from food we do not enjoy.

If you generally take 5 minutes for your meal, try to make it last 10 or 15 minutes.  If you generally eat in 15 minutes, try to stretch that out to half an hour.

I hear you!  

Life is busy.  Sometimes, unfortunately, we might actually have only five minutes to eat.  We can still approach our meal in a more relaxed and calm manner.  If you truly only have a short time, make that time count.  Breathe deeply and relax.  Taste what you are eating.  Be present to the flavor and texture. 

Enjoy!


Find lots more information on the benefits of slowing down when we eat in this fabulous book by Marc David, the founder for the Institute for the Psychology of Eating.

Body Transformation Playground ~ FREE!

I am SO excited about my Mind Body Eating Coach certification training at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating!

I am studying Mind Body Nutrition, and Dynamic Eating Psychology.

Soon I will be a Certified Mind Body Eating Coach with several unique tools to help people with issues like emotional eating, stress eating, binge eating, yo-yo dieting, under-eating, food guilt, body shame, food and body judgment, intense appetite, digestive issues, and more.

I am discovering so much, and am eager to share with others!

I crave space to share the concepts and tools I am learning, and opportunities to answer questions that will arise in my coaching practice. I want to share with YOU if this is something that interests or excites you!

I envision creating a group coaching program where I help women and men – who have tried repeatedly to transform their issues with food and body – to finally achieve their goals. 

To align with this vision, I created Body Transformation Playground!

I am inviting you to play!

I know many people think of body transformation as hard work, and I want to reframe that by introducing some fun things we can do that lead to sustainable change. Of course if your goal is a super lean body and six-pack abs, then some kind of hard work and sweat will be involved, and most health and nutrition coaches have tools to help people map a path to this kind of goal.

I’m talking about helping those of us who have lifelong food issues we have repeatedly tried to “fix” with one kind of eating/exercise plan or another.

I sometimes engage in emotional eating.

Like so many people, I have used food to soothe stress for my entire life. Until I learned to address the emotional reasons I eat, no plan that my coach and I concocted could ever succeed, and no changes I made would stick. Weight loss and workout plans sometimes create results, but until we address the deeper issue of what to do about our stress, we can easily get derailed, or after progress we slip back into pre-programmed habits that land us back where we started.

If you are experiencing emotional eating, stress eating, binge eating, yo-yo dieting, under eating, unwanted weight, food guilt, body shame, judgment around food and body, intense appetite, or chronic digestive issues, you are NOT alone! PLEASE join me on the Body Transformation Playground for six months FREE!


You heard me right! The Body Transformation Playground is open to you for FREE for the next six months – if you choose to join – just because you’re on my mailing list, or because someone on my mailing list forwarded this to you!

If you want to explore real body transformation, I am here to play!
Let’s make it fun!

What’s Included?

Body Transformation Playground includes a twice-monthly email focused on the juiciest tidbits, toys, and tools for body transformation that I discover in my psychology of eating classes. The emails will include fun ways to transform our relationship with food, journal topics around food and body, motivational images, ongoing encouragement, and so much more!

Once a month on zoom (audio only), I will host Body Transformation Playground live, where I practice teaching the concepts I am learning, answer participant questions, and possibly even do a little live coaching when time permits!

I will share all I am learning about eating psychology and how to free ourselves from our eating issues, and in return all I ask is that you submit questions, and give feedback.

Submit questions. Tune in to hear answers. Give feedback. That’s it!

My coaching skills are solid, but my tech skills need polishing, so these first six months will be a learning space, play space, and experimenting space for all of us while I learn how best to create fun effective content, record videos, post replays, and handle Zoom meetings, all while playing with the toys and insights I am learning at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, and sharing them with you!

Beyond this six-month series, I will be offering the Body Transformation Playground as part of a package for paid clients, so jump in now!

Join me to play with the idea that body transformation can be more fun than we have been allowing! Join me to discover more ease and enjoyment on the path to sustainable transformations!

If you are interested, subscribe by emailing me at cyndicombs@gmail.com

Simply email with “SUBSCRIBE TO PLAYGROUND” in the subject, and I will manually add your address to the list.

Currently, I am committing to Zoom meetings (audio only) on the following dates, but I may add more dates!

Dates to add to your schedule if you are interested in Body Transformation Playground:

All times listed are Pacific Daylight Time

  • Sunday, April 24 @ 6pm
  • Friday, May 27 @ 6pm
  • Monday, June 20 @ 6pm
  • Saturday, July 23 @ 9am
  • Sunday, Aug 21 @ 6pm
  • Monday, Sep 26 @ 6pm OR Friday, Sep 30 @ 6pm

I chose different days of the week to accommodate many schedules, and I am willing to be flexible with these dates based on feedback!

If joining this series excites you but you cannot make these dates, please reply to this email to let me know what day/dates/times would work for you, and we will try to work something out and add at least a few dates that will work for all of us!

Thank you so much for being willing to play some new ideas!

My practice grows through referral!

As you can tell, I am SUPER excited about my expanding coaching practice!

PLEASE forward this email if you know anyone who struggles with weight issues, emotional eating, stress eating, binge eating, yo-yo dieting, under eating, food guilt, body shame, food and body judgement, intense appetite, or digestive issues!

THANK YOU. I appreciate you!

Accepting Divine Guidance

My mother turned eighty this week.  I bought a ticket to fly to Iowa in the dead of winter to help her celebrate the big day, but I didn’t tell her.  I decided to surprise her since no one who knows me would ever suspect that I would fly to Iowa in February.  (I am allergic to snow.)

I have been planning the trip since October.  I bought a new coat since winter coats aren’t really needed here in California.  I bought some leg warmers.  I packed my suitcase about two weeks ago because organization is one of my superpowers.  I paid to check a bag because, winter layers.

Two days before I was to fly it became very clear that travel was not worth the risk of covid, as fully vaccinated and boosted people were being hospitalized with the newest variant.  I chose to cancel my plans.

Of course I was disappointed, but I accepted the situation as Divine Guidance.  This was simply not the right time for my trip.

As I unpacked woolen socks and warm winter wear, I realized I had the next ten days off with nothing scheduled. 

My logical mind rushed in with a plan to reach out and book as many massage clients as possible.  Instantly I felt my energy drop, as if just booking them would exhaust me. 

My intuition speaks to me in my gut.  I have learned that when something feels warm in my gut, I move toward it.  If something feels cold in my gut, I try to move away from it.  Rebooking my week felt cold, but I momentarily resisted my intuition because one of the voices in my head was whispering, “we need the income!”

Luckily for me, a recent episode of my favorite Podcast, the Spiritual Sandbox, was whispering in my other ear, “Give. Yourself. A. Fucking. Break!”  That felt warm.  Then a Karen Drucker song popped into my head to join the party singing, “Money is coming to me easily and effortlessly!”  I laughed with relief, knowing that I didn’t need to break my neck to rebuild the week’s paycheck.  

I finished unpacking and picked up a book I had been meaning to read.  I spent the rest of the day reading and playing a silly word game that I love.  The next day we drove to San Francisco, took a long walk and enjoyed a picnic by the water.  I went shopping for a new pair of walking shoes one day, and found a really great deal.  I slept late, wrote blog posts, and finished watching the Book of Boba Fett on Disney. I meditated each morning, and made time to journal, and connect with friends.

I let my mom in on the planned surprise and Divine redirect. She agreed with the wisdom of my choice. We chatted daily, and agreed to celebrate her birthday in May when Iowa weather won’t be so bitter. 

It was a really relaxing, energizing week.

My tax refund arrived yesterday and covered the week’s bills. I feel well-rested, rejuvenated and ready to rock a full week of coaching, and massage clients!  I needed time off more than I realized. The Universe knew that, and arranged it for me – when I was willing to follow my gut.

The Universe is always guiding us.

Grow on!

What is your gut telling you?
When you consider a decision, does it feel warm or cold?
What happens when you follow that guidance?

Fuck the Resolutions

Many people start thinking about making changes in their life around this time of year and lots of us resolve to “do better” at something.  People tend to think of New Year Resolutions in broad strokes, making BIG changes that last all year.  According to Forbes, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail for a variety of reasons.

One reason resolutions can fail is that humans tend to want the whole enchilada and when it does not come fast enough, we get discouraged and may stop trying.  If the goal is to “reduce body mass by 30 pounds,” then you’ve only succeeded after the 30 pounds are gone.  Every day between now and the day the weight is gone, we have “failed” to meet the goal. See? 

If we’re after a big goal, we’re more likely to reach it if we have support in the way of an accountability partner or coach, and if we break that big goal into steps that become smaller goals that build confidence as we go.  

So I say fuck setting one big resolution for the year that “changes everything.” I recommend that clients create smaller sustainable intentions that are actually steps leading to their big goal.

What’s one small change you can make today that you could maintain for one week?  There are millions of changes we could choose to focus on, but which one feels most beneficial for you right now?  

Here are just a few that my clients choose to focus on:

  • Increased hydration
  • Move the body more
  • Eat more vegetables
  • Reduce sugar intake
  • Track foods/food journal 
  • Add supplements

Instead of trying to do all of these things (and more) until the big goal is achieved, set an intention to focus on one thing today.  Just one.  Just for today.

Then tomorrow, set an intention to focus on that same thing.  If you follow your daily intention every day for a week, it is becoming more familiar, less cumbersome to carry out.  At the end of the first week, ask yourself (if you’re ready) which change you most want to undertake next.  Then you can choose that as your new daily intention – alongside last week’s intention.  

By the end of the January you will have made four small changes that you are practicing regularly.  The first two at least will already feel like habit.  You’ll have reached four goals already, and be on your way toward your BIG goal. 

These small daily/weekly successes are the building blocks of the confidence we need to make those bigger changes.  One reason resolutions can fail is we don’t have the confidence that we are capable of creating change.  So building confidence daily and weekly with changes that create improved health and well-being is crucial.

Even if you stick with the first intention from the first day and let that be your guiding intention for the whole month, think how much can change with just one change!  Any one of the changes listed above done repetitively for one month (renewed each day as our intention) will create change we can see or feel.

It’s easier to maintain focus for one day than for a full year, so daily intentions can be far more effective than year-long resolutions. Set those big goals for sure, but let your daily intentions carry you toward them one small step at a time.  

Grow on!

What will change for you if you make just one small change today? 
What’s one small change you can make today? 
How possible is it to maintain that change for a week?
What change do you most want in your life? 
How can you break it down into smaller action steps? 
What is your intention for today?
How can I help you with that? 

Helping clients get past what’s holding them back to reach their goals is what I do! Schedule a free 30-minute chat HERE to see how coaching can help you reach whatever goal you are ready to reach! You will walk away with at least one action step to move you in the direction of your goals, and a better understanding of what coaching is and how it works.

Be Selfish in Service of Others

Most of my clients live to serve others.  Nurses, parents, teachers, supervisors, business owners.  All of these people have a lot of things they want and need to do, but doing what WE need or want is often at the bottom of our to-do list, AFTER all the stuff we do for others. 
It’s human nature!  It’s the way we have been conditioned.

Why do my workout when I can fold the laundry in service of the household, or cover a shift for a busy co-worker? Why take time to meditate when there are so MANY things on my to-do list?  It seems so selfish to rest when I could help a friend instead.

If any of these thoughts resonate for you, you may feel exhausted a lot of the time.  Many of my clients tell me they feel selfish when they take time for themselves, or that they simply do NOT have time to do things that they want to do because they are too busy.

Is a cell phone selfish for needing to be charged?  
Is a toddler selfish for napping?  

Of course not.  We know that the charging and napping are a natural part of the cycle for the phone and the toddler.  It’s the same with us!  

In serving our own needs, we are not being selfish. 
We are completing the cycle.

We can’t just give and give and never fill ourselves back up. 

When we try, we get sick.  We get symptoms of stress.  We feel resentful towards others.  We may overeat in an attempt to soothe our emotions.  If any of this sounds familiar, you are not alone.  If someone you love comes to you and tells you she has no time to do the thing she loves to do, what advice would you give to her?  Most of us would encourage them to do THAT, to make time for it because we can see how important it is for them.

What fills YOU up?  

If you are not sure, think about things you USED to do that made you feel engaged, creative, excited, or happy.  If you enjoyed dance classes in your youth, maybe there is a local class to join, or maybe you can put music on in your living room and just move your body.  What’s stopping you?  If we’re too tired, maybe we need a rest day, or maybe our battery needs charging.  In the latter case dancing will increase our energy, not deplete it!

Many of us need to take a rest day.  When was your last day off that wasn’t full of errands and housework?  Allow yourself to schedule a day (or an hour) where you actually rest!  Take a nap.  Try restorative yoga. Sit and watch the sunlight sparkle on water.  Try just being instead of doing for a little while. 

Figure out what feeds your soul, and feed it daily.  Or at least weekly.  Maybe once in a while?

The more we charge our batteries, the more energy we have for any cause we want to serve.  It sounds SO simple, yet most of us resist it because our culture has conditioned us to resist it, to keep moving, keep producing.  

Society wants us to prove our worth through action, but we are worthy because we exist.  Once we accept our worth, it becomes vastly easier to see the value in giving ourselves whatever we need to thrive. 

Grow on!

What do you need right now?
How soon can you fit it into your schedule?

Running the Gauntlet

Mindless Eating to Conscious Choice. ~ Part 1

I know a woman who faces a daily challenge in her workplace.  She works in a government building with lots of staff, multiple offices, and a reception area overflowing with free treats.  She says that it feels like she’s facing a gauntlet of candy every time she has to pass the reception desk on her way to her office.

Human beings evolved as hunter-gatherers. We evolved to eat food when it was readily available.  When our ancestors found sweet berries and fruits out in the wild, they understood that those things had a limited shelf life and would be gone soon.  They ate sweets when they were available. All of them.  This is normal human behavior because of the way we evolved.

Google image

The woman went on to tell me that it was possible for her to resist the sugary treats early in the day, however the later her work day wore on, the less in-control of her own decision-making she felt.  That makes total sense.  When we rely on willpower, it’s like a bank account we draw down throughout the day. By late afternoon we may have used up our entire supply of willpower. This is common for most of us when we try to resist something.

This resonates completely for me.  I can’t tell you how many times I started an eating plan with complete conviction, only to fall victim to old familiar patterns later in the day. It’s easy to do.  Familiar eating patterns often call us back because they ARE familiar. We can get there with our eyes closed.  Sometimes we’re in the middle of a behavior before we even realize we’re doing it!

This is even easier to do when we find ourselves in an environment with free-flowing food.

Easier still when we find ourselves in a series of environments with free-flowing sweets, high-fat foods, and alcoholic beverages, served up alongside heaping helpings of social pressures, anxiety, and stress. 

Like the modern holiday season!

Halloween to Super Bowl is one long gauntlet of goodies.

If tradition demands we eat particular treats on special holidays, who are we to argue?  It’s so EASY to find any reason to eat off plan!  It’s easy to get distracted, and head down that familiar path toward eating foods that soothe our emotions, but do not serve our health.

The gauntlet lies before us, and the challenges are familiar and inviting.

Family members want to love us with food.  Holiday buffets are loaded with sugary nostalgia, satisfying fats, and dopamine rewards.  The desire to release stress, feeds our desire to eat because eating releases dopamine in our brains which actually relieves stress and makes us feel good.  It makes total sense that if we are feeling stressed, we want to engage in familiar behaviors that we know will release stress.

Often our own beliefs challenge us and limit our choices: “I have to eat the pie on Thanksgiving!”  Or whatever it is for you – peanut butter cups at Halloween, cheese balls or fudge at Christmas – that “thing” you can’t resist.  We convince ourselves that we have no power over certain foods by reciting mantras like “I can’t say no to cheese” or
“I can never resist chocolate.”

Those beliefs limit us into thinking we MUST say yes to the holiday delight.  What if someone offers seconds?  Thirds?  How many times must we say yes to it?  Yes to them?  Until the treats are all gone?  Until we are no longer in the vicinity of the treat?  And what if we want to say no?  What if we’re really full?  Do we still have to eat the pie just because it’s that holiday?  

If we convince ourselves that we are powerless whenever our favorite temptation is about, then guess what?  Of COURSE we give in when it’s sitting there free for the taking (we’re powerless not too, right?).  We have trained our mind (brainwashed ourselves) to BELIEVE that there is no other option.  We believe the lie we have been telling ourselves – that we are powerless to resist.  It’s there in front of us, so we HAVE to eat it.  We convince ourselves internally that we have no choice.  It’s a slippery fucking slope.

Then when we overeat, we scold and shame ourselves for “doing it again” or for not sticking to our eating plan.  

I find the descriptor ‘gauntlet’ particularly apt since it has two definitions that fit this situation.

Gauntlet: 1) an intimidating or dangerous experience one must go through in order to reach a goal.  2) the punishment of receiving blows while running between two rows of men with sticks.

But the punishment of blows comes from the self-defeating thoughts inside our own head, not rows of men with sticks.  

How was your Halloween?   
How successfully did you align with your own intentions and goals?   
How does your energy feel when you read those questions? 

If the questions above leave you with a sinking feeling, you are judging yourself harshly. 

Our own harsh judgment is one of the BIGGEST things holding us in this pattern of wanting to change, trying to make changes, not feeling 100% successful with the new behaviors, beating ourselves up for ‘failure’, and then comforting with the old behaviors we are trying to avoid – which leads to further ‘failure’ and beating ourselves up.

This was my pattern for decades.  Coaching helped me disrupt that behavior pattern so I could finally grow forward!

So how do we disrupt familiar behavior patterns that are harming us?  How do we walk past the candy basket on the desk fifteen times a day when it has our favorite morsels?  How do we navigate the holidays without overeating?

HOW do we move from mindless eating to conscious choice?

As a core energy coach, I have a process to help my clients do JUST that.  Today I want to share just the first crucial piece.

I have discovered from my own experience and from talking with clients that retraining our self-critical messaging is of utmost importance when it comes to making conscious, intentional choices around food.

How to Retrain Your Inner Critic

The critic voice in your head is a part of you.  That critic arose with the most noble of intentions – to protect you from harm.  She cries in alarm whenever she senses danger.  When our critic voice tells us to keep small, play it safe, don’t make waves, don’t try anything new – she is sincerely trying to protect us from emotions that feel crappy.  When we experienced fear, embarrassment, guilt, shame, regret, rejection, anger, and so many other painful emotions, we did not like the way they felt.  Our critic voice arose to keep us from experiencing those emotions again.

image borrowed from the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine

If she perceives that we may experience uncomfortable emotions, she will say anything to protect us from that – even make us feel like shit so we don’t risk embarrassment or rejection.  Weird, right?  The human mind is fascinating.

We tend to be far more forgiving of others than we are of ourselves, so there are a couple of techniques that I find helpful to stop the exhaustion created by inner critic messaging.  In the moment we become aware that we are repeating an OLD behavior pattern, we can choose to beat ourselves up again, or we can choose one of these helpful alternatives:

Toddler Technique ~

If we had a toddler at home learning to walk, and she lost her balance and fell on her diapered butt, would we scold her? Of course not. We encourage her when she is doing well, and understand that it is completely normal when she loses her balance.

How different is this from how we treat ourselves when we fall short of your goals?  It’s very common when learning new behaviors to get frustrated or irritated with ourselves when we lose our balance, or don’t get it perfectly right on the first try.

When we’re learning new behaviors, we’re going to fall occasionally!

Can we give ourselves some grace around new behaviors, just as we would the toddler, while we find our balance?

How possible is it to treat yourself with as much love and gentle kindness as you would treat your toddler?

What emotions come up if you treat yourself that way?

Put another way; Will we beat up on our toddler-self, or lovingly encourage her to try again, and help her regain her balance?

Helpful Employee Technique ~

Pretend your inner critic voice is a valuable, loyal employee who wants nothing more than to protect you.  If you ignore or repress the critic voice, she generally screams loudly because she is afraid you will leave her behind, she will be lonely, and you will surely come to harm if she is not there to protect you from danger.

What if instead of ignoring or repressing her, we give her praise and appreciation for being SO good at her job?  

We can let this aspect of ourselves know that we value her service so much that we have a new and more important role for her.  We can offer this employee, who protects us so aggressively, the job of protecting us from all the harmful inner critic messages that we have internalized.

We can make a list for this employee of all the messages we WANT to internalize, and retrain her to read those messages when she catches the old messaging sneaking in.  This employee wants to help, and she is already really good at spotting harm!  We can retrain her from a critical voice to a healing, nourishing, supportive ally.

Sometimes our helpful employee will fall back into old patterns.  That’s perfectly normal after years or decades of being trained to be hyper critical. 

Gently remind her that we’re not doing things that way anymore, we’re going in a healthier direction.  Read over the list of new messages again to gently get your employee back on the right track.

We can retrain our inner critic to be a helpful employee. It’s a vital first step toward disrupting familiar patterns of behavior that we wish to change.

Grow on!

What sorts of messages has your critic has been using to beat up on you?
What kind of things trigger you beating up on yourself?
What kind of things trigger your need to protect yourself from negative emotions?
What messages would you like to internalize? Make a list of these messages for your helpful employee, and read it often!


If you want to learn more about the process to move from mindless eating to conscious choice, book a 20 minute conversation AT THIS LINK. I would love to chat with you to find out if partnering with me can help you overcome what’s holding you back, and start creating the changes you desire!

Are you worthy of oxygen?

Many of my clients resonate with a caregiver vibe.  Wives, mothers, teachers, doctors, nurses.  We know what it’s like to sacrifice for our children, our parents, our spouse.  We nurture, support, encourage, and serve.  We enjoy helping others, love to see them reach their potential, live out their dreams, achieve their goals and desires, grow to be strong, happy, and confident.

I have used the oxygen mask metaphor with dozens of clients and friends.  You know how the flight attendant always tells you that in case of emergency, you should put your own oxygen mask on first and then help anyone who may require your assistance?  I try to impart the importance of that to my clients.  Of course it makes sense.  We can’t help anyone if we can’t breathe, right?  

I remember when one of my clients protested that example, insisting she would assist those in her care before herself.  When I asked how helpful she might be if she didn’t have oxygen, she insisted she would hold her breath and care for others before tending to her own needs.  She went on to say that she’d rather die than put her own needs above her children’s.  She’s certainly not alone, it’s quite common for parents to feel that way.  But how helpful is it?  

*As helpful as giving mouth to mouth resuscitation while only exhaling and not inhaling.

*As helpful as your cell phone when you don’t plug it in.

*As helpful as pouring from a water pitcher you forgot to fill.

If we forget to fill up inside, what on earth have we got to give anyone?

And where on earth did we get the idea that anyone is more worthy
of our energy and oxygen than we are?

My client is NOT alone.  I have engaged in this energy-drain over a good portion of my own life and a surprising number of my clients have echoed similar sentiments when it comes to meeting the needs of others vs our own needs.  Many of my friends and relations are givers and fixers as well.  Myriad humans believe it is either selfish or greedy to put their own needs first.  Different cultures and religions have different variants of the idea that to honor others above the self is somehow noble or even sustainable.

I cry bullshit.

Yes, I thrive when helping others.  Everyone, but especially my kids and my clients. Yet when I make sure my own needs are being met, I am so much more effective at connecting with and supporting others, and I have an increased ability to affect positive, sustainable change.

It’s true for me.  It’s true for many of my clients.  

How true is it for you?

Grow on!

Are you allowing yourself to breathe? 
Are you denying yourself air because of some limiting belief you heard and internalized many years ago? 
How frequently are your own needs being met? 
What are you putting off that would truly make your heart sing? 
What is the thought/belief holding you back from meeting your own needs? 
How willing are you to start letting go of those limiting beliefs?

Allow yourself to take a DEEP cleansing breath, reminding yourself how very worthy you are.

And as you exhale, release the old belief that doesn’t serve your health.

Inhale worthiness into your blood and bones.
Exhale old beliefs that do not serve.

Repeat multiple times daily until energy shifts and you are closer to believing the new thought than the old one

Breathing is a Superpower

Breathing itself is a superpower, because that’s what inspires life.  Literally.  Without breathing, we cease to exist.  Powerful!

Yet many people pay little or no attention to what’s happening with their breath.  Our lungs function without any conscious attention or effort on our part, so most of us take our breathing for granted.

What if I told you that becoming aware of our current breath pattern, then consciously choosing to shift our breath allows us to harness that superpower?

Try it right now.  Stop reading and take a long slow deep breath.

What shifted for you?  Likely what shifted is that more of your energy is here, now, which means more of it is available to you.  Focusing on the breath brings us into the present moment.  

There is a Hindu belief that says the number of breaths allotted to us in a lifetime is predetermined, and that we can delay the time of death by regulated breathing.  Read more on that here and learn some breathing techniques to lengthen your life!

Shifting breath is a helpful first step in processing our emotions. 

It’s pretty well documented that we can change our breath pattern to disrupt negative emotions and change our mood.  Deep, slow breathing into the belly is strong medicine for anxiety, fear and anger.  Expectant mothers take classes in how to shift their breath so they are better prepared to face the pain and endurance required during childbirth.  Athletes focus on breathing practices to help reduce fatigue and promote stamina. I used to suffer from severe travel anxiety and changing my breath was the best tool I found to curtail it in the moment.

I encourage clients to take a deep grounding breath as soon as they realize they are experiencing any emotion they do not wish to feel.  It’s the pause that gives us just enough space to choose how we wish to process the emotion.  Focusing on our breath can be a powerful first step in shifting old behavior patterns, or trying to break a habit.

This article in Psych Central talks about a study that indicates that emotions may be caused, at least in part, by the way we breathe!

A shift in breathing is a shift in energy, and often allows a calmer perspective when we find ourselves in chaos.  We can use breathing to decrease stress, calm nerves, sharpen focus, minimize negative thoughts, and increase energy!  

Like I said, Superpower!

Grow on!

How much attention do you pay to your breath?

What is your normal breathing like?

How do you feel when you slow and deepen your breath?

Try inhaling deeply, then exhaling forcefully when you are experiencing an emotion you do not enjoy.  What shifts for you?

Explore different breathing techniques on YouTube.  Which ones appeal to you?

Navigate the Holidays without Spiraling into Anxiety or Stress Eating!

I used to think it was NORMAL to put on 5-10 pounds during the holidays.  I told myself it was no big deal, everyone does it, I’ll drop the weight later.  

Sometimes I did. More often I gave up.  I grew heavier as years passed.

Joy & Cyndi ~ 2005

Two years after I got sober I was using food like a drug and weighed over 220 pounds.  I would eat like I could NEVER get full, even when I was full, then restrict my calories ridiculously, and try to lose the weight as fast as possible.  

I beat myself up for the extra weight I was carrying, scolding myself, causing increased stress, which caused me to eat more and gain weight, for which I scolded myself.  I felt ashamed for being so WEAK that I turned to food for comfort. That caused MORE stress and MORE eating to numb those feelings.

That was my pattern for over a decade.

My chiropractor told me that my debilitating pain was caused by inflammation in my lumbar spine, and that inflammation was caused by inflammatory foods. He did not say what foods were inflammatory, but I cleaned up my act and stopped eating so much sugar, at least for a little while. As soon as my back  felt better, I went back to eating whatever I like. Then I woke up one morning with half my face paralyzed. The medical doctors had a name: Bell’s palsy, but no idea what caused it or what to do for it.  They told me the symptoms could last for as little as three weeks, or be permanent.  They had no way to know. 

The palsy symptoms have slowly improved over time, but have never gone away completely.   Several months after the onset, I read a book that suggested that palsy symptoms might be due to inflammation. That got me to thinking about inflammatory foods again.

I knew that some of the foods I was eating were damaging my health, and that the medical community was of no help. I decided to start looking for a naturopath hoping that she might be able to help me.

I searched for a naturopath for months before finding one completely by accident. In early October, I was driving home from the beach and pulled over to stretch my legs. When I got out and walked around the sidewalk there was her sign. I should have made an appointment right then, but I took a picture of her sign with her contact information and filed it away. 

I really wanted to talk to someone about those lingering palsy symptoms, but I knew without a doubt from the center of my being that she was going to tell me to change the way that I was eating.

I made a conscious decision that I was not willing to give up sugar and treats until after the holidays, so that I could eat whatever I liked and enjoy myself without feeling restricted or left out.

I put it on my agenda to  make an appointment with the naturopath early in the new year.

That holiday season I ate like a fiend.  Everyone knows if you’ve got a diet coming up you double down on calories, right?

Between Halloween and Christmas that year, I gained 20 lb. When January came I was miserable.  My energy was depressed. I wasn’t working out. I had night sweats that soaked my sheets.  I was ashamed of the way I looked. I didn’t like the way I felt. I was nauseous most mornings.  I was hungry all the time, and I was heavy with shame.

Of course I forgot about calling the naturopath right away, and in early February, I awoke one morning with pain in my intestines that I was certain would kill me. I was really sick. And I was scared.  I had a panic attack, and my blood pressure rose off the charts.  

I went to the hospital, and got no answers, and no warm fuzzy feeling the answers were coming. Then I remembered that I was going to call that naturopath. So I did.  

At our first appointment she told me that she suspected food allergies. She did a blood test, and put me on an Elimination Diet that excluded all the foods known to be troublemakers for two weeks while we waited for the results. I had no problems whatsoever sticking to the eating plan because the pain was an all-too-real indication that there was something seriously wrong with me and I needed to make some changes.  Digesting HURT, and I didn’t’t eat anything but produce for nearly two weeks.

When the food allergy test came back, it told me something I had long suspected.  Dairy is not my friend. In fact, the food allergy test showed that I am allergic to dairy, sugar, and wheat.

I thought my life was over. 

The idea of living without dairy and wheat seemed impossible, restrictive, and heinous.  As far as I was concerned the perfect diet was bagels and cream cheese for breakfast, quesadillas for lunch and pizza for dinner.  Everyone knows the perfect hiking food is a big hero sandwich loaded with cold cuts and cheese.  This is the reason I hadn’t gone to see her in October!  

But, I knew that my health was in serious trouble. My body was giving me very clear messages about that. It needed to make changes in what I was eating.

So I stopped eating dairy, wheat and sugar.

And guess what? Not only did I feel better right away, and start to see improvements in the symptoms I had been experiencing within a week, I started to see improvements in things I had not related to food. My skin cleared up. The Eczema on my ankles and elbows went away. The night sweats vanished. My energy level increased tremendously. I started sleeping better, and my libido returned.

By the time my birthday arrived in June, I had dropped 50 lb without doing a single workout. The only change I made was to lose the dairy, wheat, and sugar.  It was like a miracle. I had been trying to drop excess weight my entire life.  

Sugar In The Wound

Despite my triumph, when stress began to increase, or I was pressed for time, I headed back down that well worn path to the comfort of food, and the ease of wheat and dairy foods. 

I mean salads, REALLY, who has time for all that chopping?!
Am I right? 

Just two weeks before my first vacation to Europe, I was SICK again. 
I put myself on the elimination diet and called my naturopath.  This time I got a diagnosis of SIBO.  Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth is no joke.  I was sick at least part of nearly every day of my European vacation.  I lost 10 pounds the first 5 days we were there.  Horrible, miserable intestinal symptoms.  We still had a fabulous time, we simply had a lot of challenges along with the fun.

It was after that trip that I realized that dairy and sugar had become my new booze. At the time, I actually had many thoughts about being powerless over sugar. I told myself things like: “I can’t pass up Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, I can’t resist free candy, Halloween is my favorite holiday, I can’t leave any cookies for later, If it’s in the house I have to eat it.”  And I knew with every cell in my body I didn’t have the power to pass up cheese on a buffet table. 

That kind of conviction will override healthy intentions every time!
I had these mantras in my head that blocked my success despite my overwhelming desire to regain my health. I felt like I must be crazy!

Even though I lived through evidence in my own life that proved this eating pattern makes me sick, miserable, and unable to enjoy my life, I returned to it again and again when I was feeling stressed or lonely!

Even though I suspected long before my naturopath told me that I was allergic to cheese because of the way I craved it –  just like alcohol –  I returned to it whenever I was upset, AND whenever I felt like celebrating.  It was truly a deadly double edged sword.

Even though I had experienced hangovers from overeating just like I did from over drinking, if I was stressed or upset when I walked into an event with free food, I was almost guaranteed to overeat even when I told myself I wasn’t going to do it.

But after Europe, I was finally ready to admit that I needed to make changes.  I wanted to feel energized and healthy.

I knew I had to make changes, but in my experience, I could not eat a little or I would end up eating a lot. I had learned that with my addictive foods, it was ALL of it, or none of it, so I restricted myself completely.  That year at Christmas, I ate ZERO goodies.  I avoided parties and gatherings as much as possible so I wouldn’t screw up.  I didn’t make my usual holiday candies or cheeseballs.  The entire family complained.  I didn’t buy candy to put into stockings.  I shot resentful looks at people enjoying holiday goodies.  I was miserable, resentful and I felt left out, but  by golly, I had my food addiction under control.

How many of you think that lasted?
By Halloween that year, I was sick again. 

Turned out that being aware that I needed to change was a great start, but I still didn’t have the whole picture.  I was trying to resist the food cravings with willpower alone, and my willpower eventually ran out.

I was so tired of the weight roller coaster, the night sweats, the inflammation, the achey joints, that powerless feeling I got around chocolate.  I was sick of it all. 

Worse than that, I was tired of letting myself down!  I felt trapped in an vicious cycle of wanting healthy change, planning to make those changes, and then not following through.  It left me full of self-doubt and lacking self-confidence!

I felt like I was spinning out of control, like I was powerless over food, like I would never figure it out.  And right in the middle of my turmoil, my normally helpful and supportive partner brought home a couple of bricks of cheese from the grocery store.

Rage.  

Why would he do this?  He knows I can’t eat dairy!  He knows I am sick!  He obviously knows I can’t resist it.  He knows this will end up on my burger and he doesn’t care!  I wanted to eat ALL of it because – who cares?

I care.  

I clearly heard the voice in my head say, “I care.”  Who cares what he brings home?  He’s not forcing me to eat it.

And like a ton of bricks it hit me.  

Esther Hicks and Abraham tell a wonderful story about getting tabasco in your pie.  Just because the tabasco is in the kitchen does NOT mean it will get in your pie.  The only way the tabasco gets in your pie is if YOU put it in your pie.

SAME with the cheese, Cyndi!  The only way the cheese gets in your pie hole is if you put the cheese in your pie hole!

I had NOT been taking responsibility for what I was eating.  

I had been refusing to take responsibility for what I was eating by pretending to be powerless over certain foods.  I was giving away my power by clinging to the belief that if certain foods were available, I HAD to eat them.  I was pretending that I could not control myself around sugar and dairy, when in fact, I am the ONLY one who can choose my actions.  I was simply choosing to give in to temptation and pretend it wasn’t my fault, that it wasn’t my choice, that in fact – I was powerless to change the foods I was eating.

EVERYTHING changed for me with that simple realization.

I took the steps I needed to take to STOP overeating, and stop eating foods I am allergic to, foods that cause harm, inflammation, and all kinds of health problems.  

I’ve learned to navigate the holidays without spiraling into stress and overeating, and I’ve developed a process to help clients do the same!

Grow on!

Is your body ready for some healthy changes?

Join me for my first masterclass to explore these key questions:

●  Why do I overindulge even when I tell myself I won’t?
●  What’s kept me from achieving my health goals in the past?
●  Why do I backslide into old behaviors when I’m stressed?
●  How can I reduce holiday stress that leads to stress eating?
●  Is it possible for me to avoid weight gain during the holidays?
●  How can I stay motivated during the holidays?
●  BONUS – How can I indulge a little bit without overindulging?

Click this link to join the masterclass for just $1!

How to Increase Your Own Motivation

What’s your Why?

Why do you want to do the things that you want to do?  If you don’t know the answer to this question, chances are your motivation is pretty low.

Having a deep, powerful why is a monumental motivator!

Want to motivate others?  Help them connect to their why!
Want to motivate yourself?  Ask yourself WHY you want to do this thing for which you seek motivation.

I hear some of you say, “I don’t WANT to do it, I HAVE to do it.” 

That’s why you have no motivation!

If we feel forced to do something we don’t want to do, of course we don’t feel inspired to jump right in and do our best!  Have you ever noticed that getting out of bed to go to a job you’re not thrilled about can be a real challenge?  Conversely, how challenging is it to get up on the first day of vacation?  Easy, right?!  When we want to do it, we’re inspired to action!

So what will it take to shift “have to” into “want to”?

There are often things that feel like we “have to” (NEED to) do them – as if we have no choice.  But we DO have a choice.  Always.  Sometimes we have a choice about what actions we can take, and sometimes our choice lies in how we perceive what we are doing.  It’s the second set I want to discuss today.

Two Easily-Relatable Examples

Work Scenario –

I have to go to work because I have debt and DREAMS!  I NEED money, so I am forced to spend my time in this way that I do not want!

Health Scenario –

I have to lose weight.  I don’t like how my body looks.  I’m unhealthy.  My doctor says I have to give up foods that I love and work my body harder, and I just don’t want to!

All of the thoughts in each scenario point in the direction of unwanted.  They push against.  These are energy draining thoughts, and most of us FEEL our energy drain just reading them.  Who wants to LIVE them?  If this is how our thoughts feel around any subject, we will NOT be motivated by them.  We might find ways to buffer our feelings and just put up with the crappy job.  We can certainly create plans with action steps that could lead us to our health goals.  But if the whole thing feels like it’s being forced on us, then we are powerless to create sustainable change.

We want to be at choice.

Choice empowers us.  How can we choose to reframe the above thoughts so they are serving and motivating us instead of draining us?  There are as many possibilities as there are people.  It’s going to be different for each of us, but here are some possibilities to consider:

Work Scenario –

I have a steady source of income.  I am moving toward my goals.  I’m paying off debt.  I’m saving for my future, getting closer to my dreams.  This position is a blessing, and a stepping stone on my path to the next position that suits me better and checks off more of my boxes.  I am content that I have this place to stand where I can see my dreams moving toward me, and I can choose to be delighted that I feel my dreams moving closer.  I choose to spend some of my time earning money, and make the MOST of the rest of my hours by finding things that lift my vibration and allow me to enjoy each day of my life!  This is not where I end up, this is the middle of my story, and so much MORE is flowing to me now!

Health Scenario –

I want to feel healthy & energized.  I want to feel confident in my skin.  I want to trust myself & the choices I make.  I can make small adjustments that bring steady improvement.  I want steady improvements.  I want to move in the direction my goals.  I want to learn what foods truly serve my greater health.  It’s not the same for everyone, and I am curious what I will find to be true for me.  Trying new foods is exciting.  I wonder which activities feel good once I give them a chance?  What wonderful new foods and activities will I discover that I love?  I want to feel excited about healthy choices.  I am excited about growing confident.

Which ones resonate for you? Which motivate you? What are some energy supporting thoughts that came up for you as you read these? 

Changing our thoughts takes practice, because the thoughts we’ve been practicing are already in there and attracting more thoughts like the ones we’ve been practicing!

The first step to changing our thoughts into ones that motivate us is awareness!

Grow on!

What came up for you as you read the thought examples above?

What thoughts are you currently thinking that already motivate you toward your goals?

Which thoughts are holding you back?

How can you reframe those to support you in moving toward your goal?

What’s your Why?