Are Your Perceptions Sabotaging Your Life?

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Approximately 80% of U.S women have battled with their body image at some point in their life.

Beginning as early as 6 years old, girls are influenced by social factors that can contribute to body dissatisfaction. Our society is obsessed with beauty and youth, and it drives people to chase after a form of perfection that doesn’t exist.

So why are we so overly concerned and unhappy with our bodies?

It has a LOT to do with what we see in the media 24/7, but I’ll tell you one thing, for some, it has nothing to do with weight at all. About 70% of healthy weighted women still want to be thinner or change their physical appearance in some way. As women, we are constantly playing the comparison game. When will we be enough as we are?

I believe what’s driving this is what we associate with society’s standards of beauty. “If I looked like that I’d be happier and more successful. I’d have more friends, deeper love, and more fun and excitement.” Changing our appearance seems like the answer to everything. But that is what I like to call “the grass is greener syndrome”.

It becomes dangerous when our perceptions become our reality. Our mind starts to believe that present day life isn’t enough. And so it begins – the journey to a destination that can never be reached because we perceive things to be true when they aren’t. Beauty and other external factors don’t create happiness; our mindset does. We have to look inward and love and appreciate who we are and what we have right now in this moment. Without that ability to love unconditionally, we will never find satisfaction because our mind will always believe there’s room for improvement.

People come in all different shapes and sizes. As a society, we tend to define a “healthy body” in ways that don’t translate to all women. We all have different bone structures, muscle compositions, and our fat distribution varies, but if you eat mindfully and move your body regularly, chances are, you are at a natural and healthy body weight for you.

Aim for eating whole, unprocessed foods 80-90% of the time, and leave room for spontaneity, fun, and relaxation the other 10-20%. That 10-20% of wiggle room in your lifestyle is crucial to your emotional health. “Eating clean” all the time and worrying about food in relation to your body image can limit your social interactions and deprive you of important social and emotional needs. Don’t allow body pressures to get in the way of your joy, social experiences, and relationships. Let yourself live free of anyone else’s standards, and celebrate the body that only you have.

If your weight loss is associated with better health, more energy, a longer lifespan, and a better quality of life, absolutely make the lifestyle changes necessary to feel your best. But, do it for you, and know when enough is enough. Set a realistic goal and enjoy the ride to get there. And, do me a favor. Start loving your body now, not later.

If you are in a healthy weight range for your height, age, and gender, but are still trying to lose weight or change your body in some way, try to figure out what the underlying forces are. Are you attaching ideals to body image that don’t truly exist?

  • What motivates you to lose weight?
  • What will you gain from your body changes?
  • How will you feel when you get to your target weight/shape?
  • How will the quality of your life change?
  • Will your relationships change?
  • How are your current relationships?
  • What will remain the same?
  • Are you holding on to a body stigma from the past?
  • Do you love yourself today? Why/why not?

Consider these questions. Answering these honestly may lead you to realize that what you’re missing in life isn’t associated with your body at all. Perhaps all you really need is a good hug from someone you love, a night out with friends to laugh and let loose, space to unleash trapped creativity, or a spiritual practice, such as meditation to give you mental clarity. It’s incredible what a little love and connection can do for your soul.

As I mentioned before, weight loss is recommended for some individuals for medical reasons, so always listen to the guidance of your doctor. My main message that I hope you will consider is to define your ideal body on your own terms, live in alignment with what brings you joy, and show yourself some love.

With Love & Gratitude,

Brittany 
Continue reading Are Your Perceptions Sabotaging Your Life?

What’s Gluten & Who Should Avoid It?

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Today the word gluten is BUZZING. Gluten free (GF) is often equated to healthy living, and is largely trending in the market place. So what is it, and why are so many people avoiding it?

Gluten refers to the proteins glutenin and gliadin found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt, and other forms, such as triticale and einkorn. It is responsible for giving baked goods a doughy and elastic structure, and is commonly used as a thickening agent and flavor enhancer. The name GLUten, not coincidentally, refers to its glue-like properties.

An awareness of the negative effects of gluten is spreading and more people are realizing that it could be the culprit of their ongoing issues. When gluten hits the digestive tract and is exposed to the cells, it is commonly mistaken as a foreign invader.

Celiac disease (CD) is an autoimmune disease that effects about 1% of the population. It causes the most severe gluten reaction, with symptoms including gastrointestinal disrupt, rapid and unexplained weight loss, anemia, dental and bone disorders, mouth sores, skin rashes, and tingling in the hands and feet.

When people with CD consume gluten, an immune response is triggered and initiates an attack on the intestines. Over time, the villi of the intestines become damaged, making it impossible for the body to absorb nutrients. Consequently, this leads to malnourishment and the development of many other chronic illnesses.

People with CD should never eat gluten. If you’re concerned that you may have CD, a blood test can be done to reveal antibodies, and an autopsy can show the intestinal damage for a diagnosis. It is important to note that you must be currently eating gluten for these tests to be accurate.

Having a wheat allergy is another reason why people could be having adverse reactions after consuming gluten, as wheat is the most commonly used grain. If an allergy is present, the immune system triggers an IgE mediated response. Symptoms will most likely be immediate, and can include swelling, itching, hives, watery eyes, difficulty breathing, and anaphylaxis.

Another category of people who should avoid gluten are those with Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS). They can experience many of the same symptoms as a person with CD, except their intestines stay in tact and their body doesn’t produce the antibodies to gluten. About 40% of the population carries the gene for NCGS, but not all develop a sensitivity.  Currently, there is not a sure way to test for this, but the best way to find out if you’re effected is to try an elimination diet. 

As you can see, diagnosis can be difficult, but if you’re suspicious, I highly recommend experimenting with a GF lifestyle. While 10 years ago GF living was close to impossible, GF options are now widely available in mainstream grocery stores nationwide.

One thing I want to highlight is that while GF options are now available for almost everything, it is important to focus mainly on food sources that are whole, unprocessed, and naturally gluten free. This includes grains and flours such as millet, teff, amaranth, rice varieties, quinoa, buckwheat, sorghum, certified GF oats, corn, nuts, and beans. *Oats are naturally gluten free, but you must shop for oats specifically labeled gluten free because gluten is often added to commercial oats as a binding and flavoring agent.

Like any changes in life, dietary changes can be stressful and challenging. Try to be patient with yourself and take it one day at a time. Remember, sometimes it’s our greatest challenges that make us shine the brightest!

Please share this with someone you love, and do something kind for yourself today.

With Love & Gratitude, 

Brittany 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Emotional Baggage Literally Weighing You Down?

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Today I want to share something that isn’t typically discussed in our culture: disordered eating.

When thinking about eating disorders (EDs), anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN), and binge-eating disorder (BED) usually come to mind. But, in reality, much of the population suffers from some form of disordered eating.

Why do I say this? I say this because over eating and frequent dieting are also forms of disordered eating. Frequent phases of deprivation, over indulgence, and reoccurring weight fluctuations are not natural, and are certainly not desirable for our bodies.

So why do we do it? For humans, food is so much more than physical nourishment. Food brings people together, provides comfort, gives immediate gratification, and connects us to the world around us. There are huge social and emotional components.

While I could go on and on about all of the reasons people eat, over eat, and diet, today I want to talk about something specific. A subject that hits home for me. I want to talk about the correlation between adverse life events, stress, and disordered ways of eating.

There are significant links between childhood trauma and disordered eating. People with EDs, including AN, BN, and BED, commonly have one or more experiences of trauma. This could be sexual abuse, physical abuse, physical neglect, emotional abuse, and/or emotional neglect.

It is my belief that many people suffering with forms of disordered eating do not recognize the correlation between their experiences and their behaviors. When people struggle with a negative life event, it is often pushed into the subconscious. Although it may seem dormant, those memories are very much alive, active, and quietly influencing daily thoughts and behaviors.

Although clinical studies have mostly examined the specified EDs mentioned earlier (AN, BN, BED), I want to address the other common irregular eating patterns –  the frequent dieters and the over-eaters that suffer with constant discontent in their bodies.

Stress and life-changing events, both past and present, have the ability to impact weight, mood, and natural functions. Many people who frequently diet and/or over-eat suffer with personal struggles that go far beyond their plate. It could be a past memory that lowered their self-esteem, such as a childhood weight issue, distress about their social class, or a negative comment that they adopted to define them. It could also be a current event, such as unemployment, financial stress, a death of a loved one, an accident, or an illness.

The reason I want to discuss this topic is because I am passionate about treating our bodies as a whole unit rather than simply focusing on the obvious and recognizable symptoms. If we ignore the root causes of our prevalent problems, we will enter into a vicious cycle of dis-ease within our bodies. Disease and stress only breeds more disease and stress.

If you are a yo-yo dieter or on a constant quest to find happiness within your body, I want to encourage you to dive further into your past and present situations. Is there something you are holding on to? If so, that may be why you are holding on to those extra pounds.

We are a society that spends so much time seeking out solutions, but how can we seek out solutions when we do not fully understand the problems?

People spend millions of dollars every year on weight loss shakes, fad diet books, magic potions, and all the other “easy fixes”. We turn to alcohol, drugs, tv, food, and other mind numbing habits instead of owning our emotions and tending to them. We are externally focused, when what we really need to do is look inward.

The answers to your ongoing problems will not be solved by a wonderfully marketed product or by ignoring your problems completely. You have the power to take control of your life, but it requires mindfulness and honesty.

My life mission is to help people overcome their personal obstacles and live their best life imaginable. It is easy to blame people, our past, and negative life events for our current circumstances, but things that are easy usually aren’t worth much and blame only gets you so far.

Be daring, be courageous, take ownership of YOUR life, get out of your comfort zone, and do the work for yourself. The beautiful life you will create as a result will be worth the great efforts.

With Love & Gratitude,

Brittany

 

 

 

References:

Guillaume, S. et al. Associations between adverse childhood experiences and clinical characteristics of eating disorders. Sci. Rep. 6, 35761; doi: 10.1038/srep35761 (2016).

Nierenberg, Cari. “Stress from Negative Life Events Linked to Obesity in Women.” LiveScience, Purch, 14 Nov. 2017, http://www.livescience.com/60936-stress-negative-life-events-obesity.html.

 

 

 

Weight, Bloat, & Skin Problems? I Have a Solution.

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As I sit here in my new favorite coffee shop, I am thinking a lot about my goals as a health coach. I explained in my last post what a health coach is, but while I am trained in all of those areas of coaching, my main focus is elimination diets and women’s nutrition.

I follow the belief system that there isn’t one diet and/or lifestyle suitable for everyone. As a coach, I will get to know you, your habits, and your preferences and together we will design a nutritional program customized for your unique needs and specific health goals.

I believe that the struggles we endure are insights into our life’s purpose. Struggling with food in my personal life started as a major frustration, but turned into my biggest passion. I want to share my story with you in hopes to inspire you, give you hope, and let you know that if you share in any of these feelings, you are not alone.

Throughout my late adolescence and into my early twenties, I struggled with disordered eating. Initially it was all about losing weight, but then it became more of a mind game. I loved the feeling of having power over my body and felt proud for being so “disciplined”. I thought I was in control, but in truth, my disorder took complete control over me. After years of treating my body poorly, filling it with artificial sweeteners, fat free and low fat garbage, counting calories, and eating just enough to keep my heart beating, I passed out off the toilet. This was my wake up call. I started to educate myself about whole foods, real foods, the importance of proper nutrition, and the relationship with food and wellness.

In the years to follow, I began another health journey. I was suffering from bloating, breakouts, IBS related symptoms, joint pain, and fatigue. I saw many doctors and all left me with same useless diagnosis. They said I had “IBS”, but provided me with no information regarding why I had it or what I could do to help myself. This is when I began to be my own best health advocate. I was discouraged by the professionals and new the one person who cared the most about me getting well was me. I began researching holistic ways of healing, and it always came back to the same thing – food. The quality, the source, the ingredients, and the food groups. To make a long story a little shorter, I discovered that I was intolerant/sensitive to dairy and gluten. When I cut these from my diet, my skin never looked better, and I had no more belly bloat, painful gas, and irregular bowels. I felt light, lively, and free for the first time in a long time.

After years of researching for my own wellbeing, I realized that I am not unique. Hundred of thousands of people suffer with discomfort on a regular basis and accept it as normal. I have something to tell you. While this may seem “normal” because so many people experience it, it certainly isn’t natural. You are meant to feel alive and nourished after you eat, not sluggish and in pain.

Now that you know my story, do you consistently suffer from acne, eczema, bloating, or IBS? Are you unhappy with your weight or do you often feel lethargic? By learning about your body and discovering your unique nutritional needs, you can get to the root cause of these symptoms and begin to feel comfortable in your skin from the inside out.

Everything comes back to what we eat. When we eat well for our bodies, we feel well in our bodies. Treat yours well and live the beautiful life you deserve.

With love & gratitude,

Brittany

 

P.S. For recipes, tips, and support follow me on Instagram and Facebook.