Finding Beauty in Pain

Today I am sharing my ideas on transformation.  On how to take the unavoidable pain of life and turn it into the power to grow into the best possible version of your self.  on staying open, especially when you want to close. 

This approach allows you to take an honest inventory of where you are, so that you can move forward into the place you want to be.

Because before we talk about where we want to go, we need to first address where we are.

Change begins with acceptance and cannot move forward without understanding our past and present.

By practicing radical acceptance and allowance, we lovingly check-in and observe whats going on for us- through all the different layers.

Physical, mental, emotional, energetic, spiritual.

With a clear understanding of where you are, you enable yourself to transcend whatever that state may be.

 If we try to stay stagnant and resist the opportunities to grow, we resist the natural order of the world.

I think its really interesting that we have a cultural belief that says “people don’t change” 

It should really read that people don’t change until they are willing to. 

Because the truth is, people are changing all the time; growing, outgrowing, evolving and shifting.  People are also staying stagnant and resisting the opportunities to grow.  The key is that only you can decide:  Only you can accept where you are, in order to move forward to somewhere new. 

And this is no easy feat...

Generally speaking, being a human being is a hard.  No matter how privileged you were born into this life, you will still experience things that challenge, test and scare you.  Pain, just like its counterpart pleasure, is a part of the deal of being human. 

However, Buddha clarified for us that although pain is unavoidable, suffering is not.

Since everything we experience, exists on multiple levels, holistic healing asks us to process our own internal and external discomfort on all of these levels (physical, emotional, psychological, energetic, spiritual)

Our bodies naturally want to heal and reach a state of homeostasis: they do not want to exist in a place of pain or imbalance.

But our mind, which has been conditioned to fear and resist pain, will do everything it can to keep pain suppressed and avoided. 

But, it is in finding the courage to confront what is hurting us, we also find the power to transcend it.

How we deal with (or don't deal with) our pain determines how much power it has over us:

When we avoid our pain, it becomes the silent author to our life; it becomes the reason we react, we avoid, we distract and we escape.

When we truly feel our pain, we are able to process and release it in order to make space for something new.

When we practice presence and tune into our bodies, we are able to process, integrate and feel everything we need to in order to release and move on.  You already know how to do this, you do not need to wait for someone to teach you.  It's just about backing off from your mind enough to listen to your body.

Allow, accept and feel your pain.  This is how you avoid suffering.

 

 

When we view healing in this way,  we see that when things rise to the surface in the form of pain, frustration, anxiety, fear, depression, doubt- that they are rise up in order to be released.

Everything needs to come up to come out

The more we can reframe our struggles are opportunities for growth, the sooner we will be able to evolve into our highest version of our self. 

Think of it this way:

What you focus on expands:

If you focus on your shortcomings, the pain you’ve experienced, the trauma, you start to tell your story like you're the victim.  If you reframe to understand all of these roadblocks as necessary learning points on your path to self actualization/spiritual growth/soul evolution (whatever you wanna call it ;) you can actually start to feel immense gratitude for the misfortune and pain that comes your way.

It’s all in the way you tell your story.

The way we speak about our lives becomes our life.  Your thoughts and words continue to inform the way your life unfolds. 

The poet Hafiz explains

“The words you speak become the house you live in”

Where can you shift your story so that instead of identifying with the pain you have endured, you instead identify with the growth and wisdom that came as a result?

How can you rewrite your story so that you're the hero, not the victim.

SO ... How exactly can you transform your pain into beauty?

Trust the struggles you have experienced throughout your life.  They are here to teach you.  They are your lessons.  To encourage you to grow into the next expression of who you are

When you take an honest inventory of self, past and present, you give yourself the power to shed what hinders you, to uncover whats beneath the surface and release all the blockages you have that keep you from living a life filled with love, trust and compassion.

By the way, it tends to be a scenic route, there's not really an express route. 

You've gotta show up for yourself, day in and day out, and do the work.

here is find my all time favorite definition of healing by healer and writer Geneen Roth that helps sum it all up:

"Healing is about opening our hearts, not closing them.  It is about softening the places in us that wont let love in.  Healing is a process, it is about rocking back and forth between the pain of the past and the fullness of the present, and being in the present more and more of the time.  The purpose of healing is not to be forever happy, that is impossible.  The purpose of healing is to be awake. Healing is about being broken and whole at the same time."

 

I hope this helps you on your journey towards healing.

Its not always easy, so be patient and let your self take the long way home.

As always, thank you for reading.

Healing through Yoga

What it means + how to practice it

Yoga is many things to many people.  Each of us step onto the mat from our own unique path and bring with us our own intentions. 

But across all these different interpretations, at the very roots of yoga is a practical path of healing.   The practice of yoga, and its eight workable limbs, is a methodology for accessing our spiritual existence. it is a study of, not only the body, but also the mind, emotions, energy and spirit.  The physical practice is often the first step, the doorway in: Through the physical practices, we prepare ourselves to explore the more subtle realms of our existence.

Yoga is a lens by which we can see ourselves more clearly: the patterns of our minds, the habits of our bodies, and the fluctuations of our emotional and energetic frequencies. 

Through observation of self, you are able to transcend the habitual existence and create a new reality in which to live:  one consciously grounded in love, trust and acceptance. 

Healing is a process of going inward and observing what’s there.  It is begins with observation and moves to acceptance.  Through total + complete acceptance, of everything as it is, you set the stage for change to take place. There is this really important distinction between healing and fixing.  In healing, we go inward to observe our mind, emotions, energy, spirituality without necessarily needing to do anything except simply observe.

We are able to gain a better awareness of self by paying deep attention without needing to change what we find.

Yoga, especially the quieter practices of restorative, yin yoga and meditation, allow for practitioners to build our emotional resilience and emotional intelligence.

It is important to recognize that we tend to prioritize critical thinking and analytical mind in our culture.  our thinking mind serves a very important role, yes, But developing our emotional intelligence, the way we interact with and understand our internal state of feeling, is equally important in navigating our way around this life.

When you allow the physical practice to take you deeper inside, you are able to see your self more clearly as we are. The yoga postures, the breathing techniques, the relaxation and suggestions for taking care of your body off the mat- these are all steps towards to practice accessing a deeper state of awareness and connection beyond the physical realm.

Within the safety your yoga practice, you can explore the perceived limitations of your minds and bodies and learn to discern between the difference of the two. You practice to being present with your self through the broad spectrum of experiences, and through each experience, discover a lesson.

 

There's so much to say!  But I did my best to distill it down:

Here are Six concepts to connect to on your own path to healing:

1. Simply Observe:

Our existence (physical body, thoughts, hormones, mood, emotion, surroundings) are in a constant state of fluctuation. Rather than looking for everlasting happiness (which by definition doesn’t exist), its much more attainable, and enjoyable, to seek presence and acceptance in whatever comes our way.  Rather than attempting to cherry pick the good experiences and avoid the bad, the practice is about shifting your perspective to instead control your response instead of your situation.  Expect the ebbs and flows, internally and external,y and learn to observe them with trust and patience. 

2.  Practice radical acceptance

Change can only occur from accepting and understanding the current state.  This is often the most courageous step: taking an honest inventory of where you are right now through you body, mind and soul.  But once you find the courage to really look at and accept yourself, you’ll notice that change has already starting taking place simply by the process of acceptance.  Rather than thinking about healing as fixing, we can now think about it as observing and accepting. Through acceptance, you shift out of your conditioned responses to pain and discomfort, which are typically denial, avoidance or distraction and learn to sit with the discomfort as it surfaces without reacting to or resisting it.

3.  Become your own wisest teacher

As you observe and accept, you will accumulate a deeper base of knowledge and wisdom about our own existence; past, present and future.  There are so many amazing resources, healers and clinical professionals that can help us along are way, but ultimately each of us must ' do the work' ourselves to integrate what we learn and receive from the outside world.  I like to think of healing as a life-long science experiment on yourself. Always trying, learning, exploring, being curious about what works, what doesn't, where we can change, grow and evolve.

4.  Allow it to take time

Healing is not linear.  Growth is not linear.  It's not instant.  It's messy.  It's often uncomfortable and even scary at times.  Often two steps forward, one step back.  The only criteria is to begin and then continue and unfortunately, you can't really rush the process.  There's no fast-forward button: the only way out is through. Don't give up on yourself, ever, even if it seems like your progress is non-existent.  There is always progress when there is intention, but takes time until it becomes visible and tangible. Trust the process, trust the timing and keep taking little, tiny steps in the directions of your healing. 

5.  Practice being wrong

One of my favorite pieces of advice is "Accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher."  Its easy to become attached to our own practices and definitions of our self and what has worked of us in the past.  But now we understand that everything within us and around us is in a constant state of fluctuation.  So we must always be open to being wrong, to new truths and to changing our mind. Being wrong, not knowing the answer and failure are necessary ingredients in the recipe for evolution.

6.  Make Peace with Your Past

As we turn inward, we become aware of how often we are living in a reaction to the past or in anticipation of the future. In order to heal our past, we need to observe it and see it for it for what it was.   We are not responsible to the painful things we've experienced in the past, but we are responsible for how we process that pain as adults. Observe, accept, forgive, release. repeat.  By doing this, we are able to stop living in fear (that the pain of the past will come again) and instead live in love and trust.

This list is not meant to be exhaustive, instead a comprehensive list of concepts that have helped me.

When we approach ourselves in this way, we open up the door for infinite possibility and growth.  But if we continue to resist our current reality, we continue to be stuck in it.  If we accept it, we are now able to shift and change it.  Rather than letting your current state define you, you recognize it as a necessary step along the path to growth and evolution. 

 

 As always, thank you for reading <3

 

Shifting Your Relationship with Your Body and Food

creating your own self-care toolbox

 

Last week I shared a bit about my experience stepping away from a plant-based diet and how I was experiencing lots of positive effects from bring more protein and less carbohydrates into my daily routine.  And although this is true, it's only part of the story

Shifting my macronutrient ratios is just one small piece of why I feel good.  The truth is, there was a lot ( A LOT) of groundwork I did in reshaping my relationship with my body and food so that I could be at peace with both. 

I wanted to write about it, not to get other people to also eat the exact same way as me, but to open up a very important conversation about nutrition and wellness and how they relate to mental and emotional health.

 I write a lot about this on Instagram, but I wanted to write a post here about the foundations of a positive relationship with food and body before I continue to share more about specifics of what I like to eat.

Because if nothing else I’ve learned that:

HOW you eat and How you think about what you eat is much more important than WHAT you eat.

So here’s the back story:


Ever since I was in middle school, I had a disordered relationship with food and my body.  Like many people, I tried to control what I ate in an attempt to control what my body looked like.  This strategy, which is the foundation strategy of all diets and eating disorders, did not serve me AT ALL in the long run and created way more stress, anxiety and fear around food and my body than I ever initially had.   The last ten years for me have been about shifting away from this illusion of control and working to find a way to make peace with my body and the food I put into it so that I could participate in my life fully and happily.

Fast forward to today and through a number of different practices; wellness books, mindfulness, meditation, yoga, intuitive eating + self-care practices I truly have been able to change my relationship with food and my body.  Which is something at times I never thought I would actually, honestly be able to say.

its been these practices that have gotten me to the place I am, not any specific type of diet, meal plan or macro-nutrient combination.

Did you read that correctly?

Healing my relationship with food and my body has zero to do with what I do or do not eat.

K, good.  Glad we are on the same page.

Because, the truth is, you could be eating the healthiest food out there, but if you continue to fuel yourself with toxic thoughts and experience guilt + shame about everything you eat and what you look like, then you’re still going to feel bad after eating that glowing green smoothie.

Let me explain this in a little more detail:


What we think about our bodies directly relates how we feel in our bodies and the level of energy we have.

The thoughts we think stimulate different types neurotransmitters (electric messengers in our brains) which then stimulate release of hormones (chemical messengers in our bodies) that both create and contribute to our stress levels, emotions moods and energy levels.

So all those high anxiety thoughts regarding guilt, shame and fear about what you ate or what you’re going to eat?

Yeah, those stimulate our nervous system to shift into its high stress “fight-or-flight” reaction state called the Sympathetic Nervous System.  When our Sympathetic Nervous System is active, we have decreased ability to digest and metabolize our food AND increase levels of Cortisol (the stress hormone) running through our veins.  Cortisol causes us to store fat because it thinks our body is in danger.  Fat storage is one of our most basic,  evolutionary survival instincts.

So moral of the story: when we berate ourselves for eating that brownie that we said we weren’t going to? Our body hears us and reacts in an equally stressed out way


So what can you do? 

Work to shift your thoughts first and trust that the food piece will fall into place after (because it will).

It takes time, patience and practice to change your relationship with your body and food.  It also takes a lot of courage to confront and address the fear behind those thoughts and behaviors.  But its totally possible and completely worth it if you want to create lasting change and sustainable practices around your health and wellness.

Here are some strategies that have transformed my relationship with my body and food:


1. Intuitive Eating: 

Intuitive Eating is a non-diet strategy for healing your relationship with food.  Rather than looking for external cues on what you should eat and how much (diets, calories, weight) you tune into your own internal cues of hunger, satiety and fullness.  You use gentle nutrition to guide your choices, but ultimately it’s your Intuition that guides you.  Because, the simple fact is, our bodies are very good at telling us what to eat, how much and when is enough.  The problem is, we have gotten so far away from our Intuition around food, that we have totally lost touch with how to eat.  Once I was able to tune back into my own wisdom around food, I was able to use nutrition principles as a tool for honing in on the details of energy levels.  Get the difference?  Trust yourself FIRST, use the benefits of science second.  Here’s more details on the Ten Guiding Principles of Intuitive Eating.

 

2.  Legalize ALL Food: 

I learned this life-changing concept from a Master Class I took with Isabel Foxen Duke. I highly recommend checking out her website and blog if you’re struggling with a disordered relationship with food.

The idea with allowance is that you take the “charge” away from food.  So instead of classifying certain foods as good and some as bad and some as horrible, you actually make them all neutral.  In this way you “Legalize” your food so that no one type of food as an unnecessary power over you- the kind that creates: just one more bight, can’t put it down- gotta throw it away so I don’t eat the whole thing- type of relationship with food.  When your foods are all emotionally neutral, these situations naturally fall-away overtime.

 

3.  Address your Body Image issues: 

So here's the question:

Has hating your body gotten you any closer to loving it?

Without even thinking about it personally, we can notice from basic logic that hating something is not going to result in loving it. But it’s weird, because this is a strategy many people unconsciously engage inMany people never address their body image issues because they think they don’t have to: We have been brain-washed by the media and pop-science to think that if we just stick to our healthy eating a little longer, we won’t have any body image issues, because our perfect, dream body is at the end of XYZ nutrition or exercise plan.  Well, this simply isn’t true.  If we want to make peace with our bodies in the future we have to live and practice that peace NOW.  We’ve got to drop the comparison to all the glossy, photo-shopped ideals and start connecting with real images of real bodies that are similar to our own. 

 I know it’s really hard to go from hating or disliking your body/ parts of your body right into loving them.  And that’s where ACCEPTANCE comes in.  Maybe we can’t go directly from dissatisfaction to body-love, but we can shift from dissatisfaction to acceptance.


So think of acceptance like your bridge.  If you can practice accepting fully where you are, even if it’s not exactly where you want to be. And practice allowing yourself to be as you are, you are so much closer to one day loving your body than you ever will be continuing to hate it.  And this is where my next tip comes in.

 

4.  Establish a self-care routine:

For along time my definition of health was limited to diet and exercise.  One of the most profound things I did in my healing journey was to expand my definition of wellness to include mental, physical, emotional and spiritual wellness.  Within this holistic view, our well-being is a multilayered state of existence that depends on a wide variety of factors from the thoughts we think, to the food we eat, to the way we move, sleep, rest and play.  I have come to depend on a variety of different practices:  long walks outside, DIY organic facials, meditations, aromatherapy, Angel Cards, journaling, audio-books, restorative yoga.  Because my fear was directly around body image, it was super important for me to create a long list of practices to make me feel better that had nothing to do with food or exercise.

Start your own LIST and begin to diversify your toolbox for healing and self- care... <3

 

 

Additionally, if you’re reading this and struggling with disordered eating or extreme anxiety around your body and food (or know someone who is) please please email or Direct message for more resources.

 


Thank you so much for reading <3

 

 

Big changes, Inuitive Eating + Macro Nutrient Breakdown

Big changes, Intuitive Eating + Macro Nutrient Breakdown

I’ve implemented some personal changes lately that have been so positive that I wanted do share my experience on here.

After being vegan for my entire adult life, I've recently shifted the way I eat completely as a response to how I had been feeling.  I've used my training in Intuitive Eating to recreate habits around what I eat and how I move.

Here's where it all began:

The last year was really low energy for me. I didn't feel like myself and I had stepped away from my fitness routines, which has always been a big part of my sense of well-being.  At first this shift towards a mellower lifestyle felt appropriate: I was simply drawn towards softer ways to move + connect with my body: long walks, mellow jogs + lots of yoga. 

Like I said before, I am a student of Intuitive Eating.

Intuitive Eating is defined as: a methodology that teaches you how to create a healthy relationship with your food, mind, and body--where you ultimately become the expert of your own body.   You learn how to distinguish between physical and emotional feelings, and gain a sense of body wisdom. 

Intuitive eating asks you to live your life in a space of allowance instead of control.  Whereas in the past I would have tried to force myself to keep up the high intensity workouts, last year I used an intuitive approach to respect my body and allow it to rest as it needed. This was perfect for some time and gave me the space I needed to quiet down, tune in and let my body do its thing.

However over the course of the year it felt as if I had gone too far in one direction and fallen out of balance.  My energy was getting more drained, I always tired and was losing focus and motivation in all different areas of my life.

 I was actually craving high intensity workouts and really missing my community at my gym, but didn't have the energy to make them a part of my routine in a sustainable way.

The end of the year came around + with it much reflection + introversion.  I realized I didn't recognize myself in this moment of my life: the habits I'd fallen into where simply not serving me nor was a I proud of them.  My thoughts out loud and  inside were overwhelmingly negative and I was always waiting until till tomorrow to complete what I could easily do today. My personal drainage was seeping into relationships, career and overall happiness. 

Over a conversation with a friend, she reminded me of some of my favorite advice:

That if I wanted to change my future, I had to change my right now. 

 

Change my now. Not tomorrow, not next week, literally right here and right now was when I needed to change. 

 

I decided to go back to square one: food choice and water intake. 

 

After doing some research, I realized that the high carbohydrate / low fat vegan diet I had been eating for years simply wasn't energizing me any more and it was actually making me more tired and sluggish than normal.

I decided to switch up my Macro nutrient ratio. 

Macro nutrients are the THREE types of nutrients we need high quantities of each day:  Proteins, Fats and Carbohydrates.

By adjusting the ratio of these 3 main nutrient types, you shift the way food is metabolized in your body, how it becomes available for energy and how it is stored (r not stored) as fat.

For example,  my recent vegan vegan diet was very high carbohydrates (oatmeal, bananas, quinoa, rice, ezekial bread, smoothies) and lower in proteins.

 

 

Two weeks in of eating high protein, high veggies + no grain, low sugar diet I feel back to myself + I have already noticed TONS of changes:

 

My body composition has already changed significantly (muscle to fat ratio)

I have plenty of energy to workout, socialize and engage with the people around me.

Feel more satisfied + less hungry throughout the day

energy to workout at HIIT, spin + cardio based classes

Deeper + Sounder sleep

 I began the @whole30 right away to assist me in this B I G change to move from being vegan back to incorporating animal protein.

Whole30 asks you to cut out all grains, sugars, alcohol, legumes (beans) and focus on three meals per day with lots of water for one whole month. This program has been holistic and super informative to address all aspects of shifting food choice + relationship with it.  I highly recommend checking them out.

I share this, not to say that a vegan diet doesn't work: because for many, many years it worked very well for me.  But it got to a point that my body needed something different.

Was it hard to admit that? Yes.

 My identity had become attached to being vegan and ethically I am deeply aligned ethically with veganism. But you've got to let go of things that no longer serve in order to make space for positive change.

this adds to the existing conversation that there is no one size fits all diet that will fix your problems. And if you find one that does in the present, do your best not to get attached to it in the future.

Life is fluid, your body, mind and environment are all in a constant state of flux. It only makes sense that the food we eat and the way we choose to move our body are also open to change.
Food, and our relationship to it, are layered and multidimensional phenomenons: 

We eat for cultural, situational, nutritional, emotional and social reasons.  Our genetics, stress levels and endocrine (hormonal) systems all effect how we eat, process and metabolize food.

Be honest with yourself about where you're at and how it relates to where you want go.

When we undertake the practice of self observation, to notice what is and isn't working, we must do so without judgement or shame for what we see.

It would have been easy for me to fall into a judgement trap of succumbing to the thoughts like, "I can't believe I let myself get here." 

but i don't listen to that voice any more, because know now that those low- energy, negative thoughts only keep me more stuck in my current problem

In order to change the output (desired behavior), we have to change the input (thoughts).

So if you're looking to create sustainable and holistic change, try approaching it from an Intuitive place:

Start where you are. Check in and meet whatever you see with acceptance and love

Connect here if you want more information on whole30

Stay tuned with me if you're interested in learning more about Intuitive Eating! I have some exciting offerings coming your way!

Thanks for reading!

xx

Evie