I've so been enjoying my correspondance with Sheryl, a friend of mine, who i know from Arnold's Way and yoga class. She is so wise, loving and nurturing. It feels like we are friends for many generations. She feels like an old soul.
I've taken snippets out of her letters that might resonate with you. Some of the themes are repeated, but it has been good reinforcement for me to hear. Maybe that will be good for you, too, in case you have those same challenges.
ON TACKLING ONE THING AT A TIME
It's about getting into a routine...nailing one healthy habit at a time. Once I get the eating plan plate spinning, I'll work on the exercise plate (that's where I am now) and get that plate spinning. Once I get that plate successfully spinning, I'll tackle getting another life style change plate spinning. But you can't get all of the plates spinning at the same time. This can be overwhelming.
Michelle, do you meditate? It's SO important. I was doing these elaborate meditation techniques, then a small voice inside of me told me to ditch the complicated routines. Just sit and focus on the third eye and dive deep inside and just "listen" as deeply as I can to the silence. Over time the silence will grow deeper and deeper. It's a cumulative effect that grows gradually. God is the voice of Silence. Love and Hugs, Sheryl
Sheryl, it's amazing how you came up with that meditation! That is almost the exact meditation i was taught by Roy Masters, whose meditation is available at http://www.fhu.com/. We focus on the third eye and feel the warmth of our hands to bring us out of thinking. We learn to "see" our thoughts instead of react to them, and to pull ourselves out of thinking into being by doing this meditation. It has been so tremendously helpful in my life, when i do it! Actually, i've been doing this meditation on and off for like 25 years, mostly off, or i'd probably be skinny! xoxoox michelle
Here's what I do, Michelle. Make it a regular practice to sit for fifteen minutes in meditation - you focus on your third eye and just watch your thoughts rush by without attaching your emotions or thinking to it. Just watch the thoughts parade by like a rushing stream. In time, the stream will quiet down and your mind will become more and more still. Don't worry that in the beginning, your itching, scratching, jumpy and nervous and you're thinking non-stop. Just "watch" it all as if you are watching a movie, but without holding onto any of the thoughts that jump into your mind. Just go into "observation" mode for those fifteen minutes.
Sheryl, this is VERY similar to the meditation I was taught. We focus on the third eye and focus on the warmth of our right hand. We intentionally focus on feeling the warmth of the hand and count from finger to finger feeling each finger. Focusing our attention on each finger, each finger warms up. This is to ground you in the present moment. Soon, you will notice that you've started thinking and you've stopped feeling the warmth in your hand. Notice what you are thinking, and yes, "watch" it and "observe" it like you're watching TV on a screen. Catch yourself if you react and get "involved" in the story, pull yourself out. When you realize you are caught up in thinking, go back to switching your attention to looking out of your third eye again and feeling the warmth in each finger, counting each finger until it warms up. 1-thumb, 2-pointing finger, 3- middle finger, etc... Allow each to get warm and go round and round the hand enjoying the quiet and peace of living in the moment. You will find you always get caught up in thinking again. Thinking is living in the past or the future or in a fantasy world. Feeling the warmth, and learning to 'watch' your thoughts is living in now, living in the present moment. Becoming an observer of life and your thoughts is the way out of disease, addiction, mental illness.
ON USING FOOD:
Michelle, it's very typical for a lot of us to "use" food as a form of comfort and to numb ourselves from emotions that are just too difficult to bear. It takes a lot of emotional and spiritual strength to live through the difficult feelings without using food to stuff those difficult feelings downward.
I have a tendency to do the same on a smaller scale than you. I go through binges. But I'm also finding that certain foods trigger a "I want to have more of this" type feeling than others. Salt, sugar and fat can be triggers for me to eat more. But we actually need to have all three of these tastes in some form for our bodies to function.
THE DECISION TO CHANGE HER DIET
What helped me to make the decision to go on the Fuhrman program in the first place is that I'm seeing a lot of people my age and older on multiple drugs, have already had heart attacks, or have diabetes, bouts with cancer, etc. My husband was diagnosed with partial blockage of his carotid artery leading into his face. He'll have to probably go on a statin drug to clean it up. He doesn't want to be on high blood pressure meds and cholesterol meds for the rest of his life and then have kidney or liver problems in older age. I have both cancer and heart disease in my family and my maternal grandparents died in their early sixties. I'm 56 and my husband is 59 years of age. We have been out and about during the Memorial Weekend, and we are surrounded by temptations everywhere we turn. The only thing that is preventing us from going hog wild, is that we keep saying to ourselves that we don't want to be on meds or to suffer some horrible disease for the rest of our lives, and that we'd better get our health in order by taking responsibility and changing our diet. My twin sister and my aunt one time said to me.....that I'm being selfish in NOT taking care of myself. They wanted me to know that they would grieve horribly if I died sooner than is normal because I never took care of myself. That shook me up.
ON HOW WE TREAT OURSELVES IMPACTS OTHERS
I had always thought that how a person takes care of their body is their own business. But then it really hit me that when you don't take care of yourself and you wind up getting some terrible disease or illness, it DOES adversely impact those we care about. Look at what your mother's illness has done to you, boubie. Your mother's illness DID affect you. You love her and didn't want her to suffer. But, Michelle, boubie, there are people who care for YOU and who LOVE YOU, who would be bereft and deeply adversely affected if you got sick and your health was compromised in some way. So this is a strong motivator to me as well that....it's not just about "me." It appears as if when I hurt myself, it's just me that I'm hurting, but in reality, I'm also hurting the ones I love as well. So you have Cliff and all of your dearest closest friends and family members who deeply love and appreciate you who would be extremely bereft and saddened and adversely impacted if something bad happened to YOU. So think deeply and feel deeply about this and really get that on a deep level. This will give you the motivation you need to resist the temptation.
ON REHEARSING IN ADVANCE!
Just be wherever it is that you are. Just plan for the day and rehearse for how you are going to handle the events of the day where your eating is concerned. Then when your trigger comes up for you, you'll have programmed yourself to respond and react in a constructive rather than a destructive way. You will be overjoyed at your success.
...Whatever program you feel aligned with....the raw vegan diet....sure....fine....whatever. Keep imagining the foods that you are allowed to have on the program of choice. Yes, your addiction-backed behaviors are still going to be in place, but now when you grab for something, it's going to be automatically those foods that you have imagined and verbalized continually in your head before the impulsive behavior takes place.
This really works. I observe that I still have my compulsive food moments, but I see that I'm grabbing either fruits and vegetables (a small amount) to fill that void moment.
...Keep rehearsing what you WANT to do, don't fill your mind with all of the things you do WRONG. Rehearse how you WANT to act. I know that this works, because I have compulsive tendencies (thanks Mom and Dad - Oy vey!) Rehearsing keeps me focused on following through on my good intentions.
CREATE AN EXERCISE ROUTINE, THE ROUTINE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE ACTIVITY IN THE BEGINNING
Next, choose a form of exercise that YOU LIKE and enjoy....not what others are shoving down your throat to do. If you only feel comfortable doing a form of exercise for five - ten minutes, then just do this for five to ten minutes, but try to be consistent with it. It's a matter of establishing a routine that is comfortable for you.
...As far as exercise goes, just think in terms of doing something. Do SOMETHING. I don't care what it is for fifteen minutes every day. The idea is to get into some kind of routine with it. Try to vary it so that you don't get bored with it. Make sure it's an activity that is fun and that resonates with your own heart. I love yoga. I love to walk outdoors when the weather is nice and I love to dance. Right now, I'm following David's routine suggestions because he seems to feel that I'm not pushing myself hard enough with my exercise program. But at your stage where you are at, I would just do fifteen minutes each day until this becomes routine for you and the routine becomes easy for you. Then you can take those activities and do them for a half an hour. Then you can move up fifteen minutes till you get to an hour's worth of exercising a day. But it doesn't have to be a full hour at one time. You can break it up to two half hour stints. But make sure you are doing something that you enjoy. Go easy on yourself at first. Put on a record with your favorite music and just move around to each one. Trust me, you will be tired after fifteen minutes of dancing to the music. But you will have so much fun doing it. (No acrobatics please.)
ON SELF WORTH AND LOVE
From a spiritual perspective, boubie, you know that we are all here to learn how to "love" period, end of sentence. And this love is to be directed indiscriminately to everyone and every animal....and that includes you. Those of us who have eating disorders (and I include myself in this), have somewhere along the way harbored this deep seated belief that "I am not worthy." We have to reprogram ourselves to fully understand that we are indeed worthy. If we weren't, we would not have been given the opportunity to have this "life" in the first place. Love you so much, Michelle, boubie. Love and Hugs, Sheryl
...But I'm not perfect with it. There is NO SUCH THING as PERFECTION on any plan you take on. Nothing in this life is all or nothing. Even Arnold will say you have to take it one meal at a time.
WISDOM ABOUT HOUSE CLEANING:
Michelle, I like your idea about cleaning every day for 20 mins. Here's what i do because i hate to clean but hate a dirty house. I clean up after every meal I make in the kitchen. I clean the toilets and sinks in the home on a Friday before I receive a house guest. I clean all of the rooms in the house once a month. (Bathrooms - Monday, Kitchen, all tile floors and laundry room on Tuesday, dust mop bedroom floor and vacuum all rugs throughout the house on Thursday and dust every room on Friday morning. Then I'm free the rest of the month to do whatever it is that I want. But I'm not good with the piles of paper myself. I never seem to have the time to sort through the paper stuff and file it away. My husband is a thrower and I'm a saver. Ugggghhhhh! I can identify with the feeling of "overwhelm" that you feel on occasion. But I think that our health has to be the priority for now. Love and hugs, Sheryl
Thank you, Sheryl, for all of your wisdom! My job now will be to create a plan/routine that applies these techniques and to stay disciplined and follow through daily.
Much love to you!
xoxo michelle joy