Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

End of Summer Sale


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Not sure where “my muse” is this week… I have not felt like writing. Well, this is not entirely true….. I have been avoiding what “my muse” is suggesting I write about. I have been deeply entrenched and focused on letting go of my sugar addiction and believe it is too personal and too complex to share how it relates to my spiritual growth……

Even though, it has not been my main goal, I have lost 8 pounds in the last two weeks as I have made changes to my diet. I’m currently following a high antioxidant diet, known as the O2 Diet.  I don’t believe in diets, but I needed something to kick start some new eating behaviors. I felt I was intuitively led to this diet which I see as a good nutritionally based program.

In what seems like another life, I taught weight management and nutrition classes for over 10 years for a number of organizations including Weight Watchers (WW) and Dr. Sear’s The Zone. I even developed my own holistic program called “Whole Life Eating” which I taught when I was a yoga studio owner in 1999-2000. I maintained my WW “goal weight” (within a few pounds) for about 12 years. About 6 years ago, I started gaining my weight back – a few pounds a year, until I gained all my weight back and more.  Looking back, I made excuses that I had to eat at work with my special needs clients (they were happier when I ate what I  helped them cook) and also that I couldn’t buy the healthiest foods on my  limited budget. I then added another part-time job, along with teaching  children’s yoga classes. My next excuse: “I  did not have time to focus on taking care of myself.” I really didn’t have much motivation to do anything about my predicament  until…. I finally had to buy bigger clothes – a size larger than I had ever worn before. Even then, before losing any weight, I knew I needed to wrap my mind around the idea of wanting to have a more healthy and slimmer body.

It just so happens that a dear friend of mine, Ed Mowrey (http: //www. radicalforgivenesscoach.com/abouted.html) was testing a new weight loss program called Radical Weight Loss (RWL) at that time; so I joined his test class. We had CDs to to help us visualize our ideal weight as well as exercises to help up forgive our past eating behaviors and patterns. Yes, this program is based on Radical Forgiveness by Colin Tipping (http://www.radicalforgiveness.com) which has incredible tools that help one to forgive oneself and others. RWL helped motivate me to research different internal cleansing programs to aid in my weight loss efforts. My focus was not just to lose weight, but live healthy; so I wanted to clear out some toxins from my body too. I chose to do a “liver cleanse” with the support of a local nutritional expert and chiropractor, Devorah Feinbloom (http://www.drdevorahfeinbloom.com).

Before starting the cleanse, I got food poisoning. I ended up losing weight just because I had “no stomach” to eat much for almost a week. Was this just a coincidence, or did the Universe bring me a bacteria to help my body catch-up with my mind’s thought of a slimmer me? It definitely got me watching what I ate. I then breezed through the 3 week liver cleanse with not much effort  Well, except for living in the bathroom. The herbs and all the water got me “going” quite often. I lost a total of 17 pounds and I was eating a lot more fruits and vegetables. More importantly, I was not craving sweets all the time.

A year goes by and I have kept my weight off… but my cravings for sweets came back. Not sure I ever really lost them. My needing a sugar fix is like most any other addictions, it can easily grab a hold again if one is not being conscious. For me, I am very much an emotional eater, so sweets are a big comfort food. Looking back over that year, I got involved in a new relationship which brought changes into my life. Mostly good changes, but good changes can also bring stress. I also am one one to celebrate happy times with good food!

On top of all my usual reasons to eat, my new boyfriend was a vegetarian and I wanted to please him. He was thin, yet loved a good home cooked meal.  I was often cooking pasta dishes, meals with lots of cheeses and hearty breakfasts such as french toast. Starches are a form of sugar, so they contributed to my cravings which I gave into at work. My job was full of stress working with special needs pre-schoolers. My boyfriend and I were also going out to more social events, so to comfort myself when I was feeling out of place or vulnerable, food became my best friend. I easily put on 10 pounds in about a year and a half.

Into another year and I’m now on a downward spiral. My relationship ends and I put on 5 more pounds to soothe my broken heart. Then to top it all off, I break my ankle.  No exercising this past Spring, so I pack on another 5 pounds. To some gaining 15- 20 pounds is not that bad. In fact, many friends said, “Annika, you look great”. I did not feel great! Underneath, my sugar blues were wearing me down.

There are many kinds of addictions in this world and sugar has only become more widely talked about in this fashion, I would say in the last decade. Sugar is something that most people eat in some form everyday! So why is it an addiction for me? An addiction is a habit that one has no control over. As I mentioned earlier, I use sweets to comfort me and calm me. I want to be free from needing a substance that keeps me from being real. I also know it is contributing to other physical ailments in my body.

I will be turning 50, in about a month and this has been a lifetime goal of mine: to eat in a healthy conscious way that nourishes all of me. August tends to be a time of  reflections for me, as the transiting sun travels through my 12th house (which rules dreamtime, the collective unconscious, ect.) for those of you who understand astrology.

Knowing this as a professional astrologer, I made a commitment to myself  to go on an inner journey to integrate my shadow self during the month of August. Looking at pieces of myself that I would rather ignore. I did not know exactly how I was going to do this, but as I explained in a previous post, I ended up going on a retreat. I  also was guided to read and use techniques from Thich Nhat Hanh’s book Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life (http://www.savorthebook.com) and Geneen Roth’s book Women, Food and God (http://www.geneenroth.com). With these books in hand, I knew I was on my way to healing my food and body issues.

As in 12 step addiction recovery programs, I knew this time I needed to work more with God/Spirit to really shine light on my stuff and move through it.  I would give my sugar addiction to God,  in addition to using the mindful and conscious eating techniques that are mentioned in the above books. Note: The techniques in these very recent popular books not new. In the early 1990’s Jon Kabat-Zinn, founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, & Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School was one of the first to bring mindful techniques mainstream from Zen/Buddhist teachings.

Here’s some of what my journey into my shadow has been like: Two weekends ago, I was at a potluck gathering with about 50 people. During the first part of the event, I was outside enjoying the company of friends. However, as dinner time came around and there were all kinds of  fresh delicious food dishes as well as all kinds of sweet treats.  I resisted eating too much and stayed within my diet plan, so to speak. I did feel the need though to keep picking at healthy foods. When dinner was over, I just wanted to go home. I stayed yet, I felt awkward and felt kind of frozen inside. Somehow, I managed to enjoy the community sharing that then took place. On the way home, however, I had visions of my famous “to die for” double chocolate zucchini cake with a mound of melting chocolate chip ice cream on top. I felt like my mind was going to hell. I had made this cake for the potluck and actually had some leftover at home. Was I sabotaging myself or what? I did some mindful exercises, as best I could, while I was driving to shift my thoughts and calm my cravings. It seemed to help.

When I walked into my apt, however, I got triggered emotionally when I saw that a light was on in my bedroom. I knew it was left on “to help me see“,  yet I was feeling a deep fiery inner rage. Thank God,  I have learned to just observe my emotions and that I could ask God to take my craving and this rage…. somehow I was able to sit down and make myself a soothing cup of green tea. As I went to bed, I knew that by not stuffing myself with food, I was able to see and recognize what was coming up from inside me. Now,  I needed to integrate this raging shadow energy and discover the source of its true origin.

During the night, I had a dream: I was being carried away in a river filled with raw sewage. I had to swim with all my might to swim back up river to where I had fallen in. A friend was near by, but did not help me. There is more to this dream, but this is what helped me to get a handle where my underlying anger was really coming from. Luckily I was meeting with folks later that day that could help me process the dream and my anger.

I won’t go into the details of my process, but since delving headfirst into what came up, I have felt so much happier and peaceful within myself. It is interesting as a peace minister, I have learned more about my own anger in the last few years than I have throughout most of my life.  I can now be present with my anger as it comes up and integrate it – allowing my emotions to evolve into a higher state of consciousness rather than hide them from myself and the world. Eating mindfully and taking on my shadow is a day at a time process, but I believe it is bringing me closer to myself and to God.

Hindu Prayer: Affirmation to My Body

I recognize you are the temple in which my spirit and creative energy dwell. I have created you from my need to have my spirit manifested on earth, so that I may have this time to learn and grow. I offer you this food so that you may continue to sustain my creative energy, my spirit, my soul. I offer this food to you with love, and a sincere desire for you to remain free from disease and disharmony. I accept you as my own creation. I need you. I love you.

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