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Can you diet on your body love journey?

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TW: Diet talk

Can you diet on your body love journey? The truth is I don’t really know. I think everyone has to answer that question for themselves. Your body, your rules. But if you are wondering about this, here is my story of going on a special diet, every thing that I did and everything that happened.

I have been suffering with digestive issues for quite a while but at the end of 2016 they got much worse. And I won’t go too deep into the specifics, but it seemed like the best course of action was for me to go on a special diet recommended by my medical team.

This was SUPER triggering for me. I knew it would provoke my disordered eating, my body dysmorphia, and depression. I knew it was going to be hard, like so fucking hard.

I’ve been on a body love journey for years and for years I have worked to dismantle diet and weight-loss culture from my psyche. Since the winter of 2014 I have been practicing intuitive eating to help to rebuild and heal my relationship with food.

Because of all of this I knew I would have to tread carefully into this health choice.

So instead of calling this special diet a diet, I came up with some alternative less triggering terms. I called it a healing journey through food or food selection healing and even a healing journey opportunity so that it didn’t even mentioning food.

I used the intuitive eating approach as much as possible within the confines of the diet. I have this great magnet on my fridge courtesy of the awesome people at Be Nourished.

fullsizerender

And I would use it to assess my hunger, and what kind of food I desired from the selection of food available to me. So even though I was restricted I could still listen to my intuition and listen to my body.

I also said affirmations to myself while I did the food prep: This is an opportunity for healing. This is an opportunity to put myself first. I make this food with love. This is what loving myself looks like.

I even went for an aromatherapy session to create a special essential oil blend that would be my power scent to help me get through the rough times that were coming.

All of the work I did to prepare and supports I gave myself really helped…

 

The only thing was, this diet was actually making me sicker.

 

Like really sick.

 

Even though it was making me sicker, on some level I felt this sense of accomplishment for having conquered my fear of food restriction to point that I didn’t want to let the diet go, and I also didn’t want to let it go because I really believed it would be the thing to help heal me.

But the choice was being made for me. This diet that I was trying to use to heal me was just making me sicker. So under the supervision of medical professionals I stopped.

And this was when a new journey began. I began to think about my digestive issues from a different perspective, from a more energetic perspective.

I don’t doubt that my digestive issues have come from years of trauma and abuse being stored in my belly. Through many very hard years when I was young I would feel sick to my stomach all of the time. It would feel like I just couldn’t digest food. If I put food into my belly it felt like it would just sit in my stomach undigested. And any time something horrible happened, I felt it in my stomach.

Through the guidance of my amazing friend and body positive Naturopathic Doctor, Kyla Wright, I now I know more about digestion. And I know that what my body was telling me was true. We cannot digest our food properly while in our stress response or the “fright, flight, freeze” response. If we need to be in immediate survival mode (stress response), our body just doesn’t have time or energy for longer term survival processes like digestion.

This was very helpful and adaptive for humans at one time. But now, today, in our world we can tend to feel threats all around us throughout our day in the form of emails, social media, traffic, and constant messages that we aren’t good enough and that we need to fix ourselves. And all of these “threats” put us in a stress state for most of our day, which can seriously affect our digestion.

This has been a HUGE aha for me.

I just had never really thought about it before. So I began to implement a softer approach to my digestive issues. I started getting better rest. I did more restorative yoga as my personal yoga practice. I wrote myself a yoga nidra for digestive health. I used mudras (hand positions) to help my digestive processes. I talked to my belly telling it loving thoughts before I put food in it. I filled my belly up with healing light to continue the process of mending from my traumatic past.

And today, I am happy to say I am back on my intuitive eating journey and also on a new intuitive healing journey. And my digestive issues have been steadily improving.

This is what I would like to offer to you. If you are struggling with digestive issues or would like to work on your relationship with food and digestion, my Yoga Therapy for Digestion Workshop is for you! In this workshop we will explore how yoga therapy can help improve our digestion through poses, mudra (hand gestures), and yoga nidra (guided relaxation).

The early bird price for this workshop is ending this Thursday January 12 so register today for only $31.50 with GST by sending an e-transfer to krystal@thelusciouslife.ca with a note about which workshop you are registering for and your email address so I can send you a welcome email.

If you aren’t able to make the workshop, I also made you this Yoga Nidra for Digestive Health that you can download and use any time to help you on your own healing journey.

I hope to see you this Sunday!

Happy digesting,

Krystal

Yoga for Anxiety and Insomnia

Legs Up the Wall (1)

 

 

I have heard from quite a few people that this season of change seems to be raising their anxiety. And I am definitely experiencing this too. That, and insomnia, my old friend, has come to visit me again. It is as if we all want to make some big moves, shake things up and see all of our dreams perfectly manifesting. And we want it right now!

All those seeds we had underneath winter’s snow are wanting to burst forth and immediately become full blown blossoms. But that’s not the way things happen. Things must sprout slowly. It must be the right timing. The necessary needs and nurturing must be met if our ideas are going to bloom into their full potential.

This drive to make things happen NOW is making us move faster, push harder, and lean into the future instead of being in the present.

All of this anxious energy combined with the increased sunlight in the evenings is creating the perfect recipe for insomnia for many of us. We’re wired but we’re also oh so tired.

Here are a few yogic techniques that we can use to help us through this time of transition.

 

Legs Up the Wall Pose (Vipariti Karani)

Legs Up the Wall

How

  1. You can use a bolster under your hips as I do in this photo, but if you are less flexible you might want to not use a bolster at all or use a lower form of support, like folded blanket. If your hamstrings are tighter you may also want to be a little farther away from the wall, rather than having your buttocks up against the wall. If you use support you will want to place 5-6 inches away from the wall to allow for your tailbone to float in this space.
  2. The easiest way to come into the pose is to kneel near the wall and place your buttocks against the wall and then roll into the pose. If this a try. It may take some practice to figure out the easiest way for you to come into the pose.
  3. Extend your legs up the wall feeling the weight of your legs into your hip joints. Feel your tailbone floating in the space between the wall and your support. And feel your pubic bone higher than your sternum.
  4. Take a small roll (made from a towel for example) under your neck if the cervical spine feels flat.
  5. Soften your eyes and stay here for 5-10 minutes.
  6. Roll out of the pose slowly.

Benefits

  • Can be done in bed
  • Balances hormones
  • Stimulates the immune system
  • Lowers anxiety
  • Relieves back pain
  • Calms the mind
  • Reduces swelling in the legs and feet

Alternate Nostril Breathing

How

Follow along using this video on my YouTube channel of a simplified version of Alternative Nostril breathing.

Benefits

  • Balances left and right sides of the body and left and right brain
  • Calms the mind

Meditation for Grounding and Protection

How

Listen to this Meditation for Grounding and Protection inspired by Tamara Hawk.

Benefits

  • Help you to feel more grounded and safe
  • Lowers anxiety
  • Lowers high blood pressure
  • Lowers the levels of blood lactate, reducing anxiety attacks
  • Decreases any tension-related pain, such as, tension headaches, ulcers, insomnia, muscle and joint problems

In general meditation also:

  • Increases serotonin production that improves mood and behavior
  • Improves the immune system

Are there other things you do to help yourself when you are feeling anxious or experiencing insomnia? I would love to hear about them in the comments below!

Wishing you a calm mind and deep, restful sleeps,

XOX

Krystal

P.S. If you are looking for more ways wake up from our winter hibernation in a gentle and sustainable way, check out my Spring Retreat with Dr. Kyla Wright, ND and my spring yoga classes starting April 5, 2016.

 

A UNIQUE SELF-CARE PRACTICE

BLOG - SELF-CARE PRACTICE

 

What is Self Care?

Self care is care provided “for you, by you.” It’s about identifying your own needs and taking steps to meet them. It is taking the time to do some of the activities that nurture you. Self care is about treating yourself as kindly as you treat others. It’s about self-compassion!

Worth

Which is why self-care is also linked to our own sense of worthiness. If we do not believe we are worthy of the acts of self-care or of taking that time to look after ourselves, then practicing self-care is like an uphill battle.

I definitely struggle with feelings of being unworthy. And since, in recent years, I let go of most of my unworthy feelings around my weight it allows me to see how much my level of productivity is also linked to my level of worthiness.

I hustle all the time for my worthiness by trying to show myself and the world just how productive I can be. The big one is how much I hustle to prove it to myself.

This shows up in my life by driving me to keep working into the evenings, forgoing rest, meals, movement, meditation, all in the name of productivity. I truly know now that shaming myself into practicing more self-care is also not going to work. “I should go for a walk.” “I should take a break.” “I should have meditated today.” All of these thoughts will then just get piled on to the thoughts of: “I should have finished that proposal”; “I should have gotten that facebook post out”; and “I should be creating more content for my business”.  The result will be a big crash. I won’t feel good about myself. So I won’t feel like connecting with others and I will feel isolated and ultimately I will feel depressed. It’s a vicious circle.

This is why I love Brene Brown SO much. If you haven’t heard of her, google her TedTalk. Brene says, ‘There are no prerequisites for worthiness. Worthiness is an as-is, here and now proposition.’

So all of this to say I think some of THE BEST self-care and the most accessible (but maybe not the easiest) to practice is noticing when we are hustling for our worthiness and asking ourselves “Is there another option in this situation?” “If I am trying to prove myself to others or myself, what am I hoping to gain?” “Do I maybe already have those things because I am the only one with the power to give that to myself?”

And then to switch our thinking to:

“I am the only one who decided that I am worthy. I am the only one who decides that I am worthy of love. I am the only one who decides that I am enough. And that is what I decide, I am enough. I am worthy. I am worthy of love.”

I say this is accessible because you don’t need any new equipment and you don’t even need to carve out more hours in your day to practice this so it is always available to you. However, changing our thoughts and beliefs can be WAY more challenging than trying to stretch your calves everyday. I have definitely heard the feedback from yoga students that it is less scary to try coming into a challenging pose for two minutes than to try sitting with yourself in silent meditation for two minutes.

Self-Care Exercise

This practice will be an exploration from a place of self-love and worthiness of what self-care looks like for you. I believe self-care is very personal and can look very different in different situations. There are the usual acts of self-care

  • Talk openly with a trusted friend.
  • Sit outside and listen to the birds.
  • Practice breathing exercises
  • Take a warm bath/shower

But maybe there are some ways that we can practice self-care that are little outside the box and personal to you. For example, I love playing with creative expression of how I dress, my hair and my makeup and lately I have been doing what I call, “galaxy eyebrows” where I colour my eyebrows with blue and purple and pink shadows. It helps me to feel like me. It helps me to feel like my authentic self and this lowers anxiety and improves my connection with others.

Some general ideas of things that might be self-care are:

  • Things that makes us feel good and like our authentic selves
  • Things that comfort and ground us
  • Things that make us feel calm
  • Things that lower stress
  • Things that help us feel connected
  • Things that make us happy
  • Things we are enthusiastic about

Here is the practice:

Begin by sitting comfortably. Close your eyes and settle in. Let the world outside melt away. Let go of anything that happened earlier today. Let go of anything you think you need to do later. And bring your awareness into this room. See where your body is in the room. Then see the room around you begin to fade away as you gather up your awareness and bring it fully into your body. Fully into the present moment. This time is just for you. There is nowhere else for you to be. Nothing else for you to be doing. Just being in your body. Being in this moment. That is enough.

Practice breath observation for one minute. If you notice other thoughts, label them as a thought and let them go. Then come back to the breath.

For the next minute begin to breathe in and out through your heart. Breathing in and out of the spiritual heart. The area behind the breastbone and to the right of your physical heart. Like your lungs are in your heart. Let your breath caress your heart.

In this meditative state, ask yourself the following questions to get more clear on what self-care really means for you:

  • What makes me happy?
  • What helps me feel calm?
  • Where do I find comfort?
  • Where do I find connection?
  • What tools do I have to release stress?
  • What helps me to feel good about myself?
  • When do I feel connected to my authentic self?
  • What do I feel passionate about?

Breathe here listening to your heart and getting clearer on the actions you can take to practice self-care.

I hope you enjoyed this exploration of self-care. I would love to hear about any discoveries you made in your meditation. Please share them in the comments below.

xox

Krystal

 

The Reverse Bucket List (Inspired by Rebecca Tracey)

The Reverse Bucket List

Recently, the stellar Rebecca Tracey, one of my business mentors over at The Uncaged Life, posted an inspired blog piece for what to do when you are feeling like crap. We can all get wrapped up into comparing our lives to others and feeling like we are not doing enough or that we are not enough in general. In fact, I have written about my own struggles with that before here. I love learning new ways to give myself a little boost when I’m down and her Reverse Bucket List idea is a pretty quick and easy way to get your brain thinking more positively and focusing on all you have to be grateful for. Instead of a list of all the things you hope to achieve, The Reverse Bucket List, is a list of all of the things you have achieved.

 

To help you get your mind in a space of gratitude, consider the all experiences you’ve had- all of the wonderful experiences, like travel, falling in love, or learning something new. All of the wonderful experiences and even all of the challenging experiences. The ones you may have overcome. Even other challenges and experiences that you have learned from and that you have grown from.

 

Gratitude is an incredibly powerful skill for creating healing in the body and relieving stress. It can help improve relationships and increase our sense of joy! When we cultivate a sense of gratitude we tend to live more in the present moment rather than dwelling on the past or striving for some future achievement. Instead we become content with the present. Honouring and acknowledging the gift of the present.

 

Don’t just take my word for it, neuroscience says practicing gratitude helps to boost dopamine and serotonin, “feel-good” chemicals in your brain.

 

So with all of that in mind, I offer you my Reverse Bucket List of all of the experiences I am ever so grateful to have had.

 

  1. Take my yoga teacher training
  2. Start to love my body 
  3. See the ruins of where Caesar was killed
  4. Swim in the Mediterranean
  5. Swim naked in the ocean
  6. Swim with sea turtles
  7. Wear a bikini and rock it!
  8. Heal from past trauma (at least partially)
  9. Fall in love
  10. Feel proud of how I communicate in relationships
  11. Become a treeplanter in Northern Ontario
  12. WWOOF for a summer in B.C.
  13. Visit every Canadian province and territory (ok, I haven’t gotten to PEI yet, but I’m comin’ for you PEI)
  14. Improve my second language. “Parlez vous francais?”
  15. Experience the loss of someone who was like a sister
  16. Go train-hopping from White River to Thunder Bay, Ontario
  17. Attend rocket science camp
  18. Have a career as an Environmental Scientist
  19. Work in a Natural History Museum as an artist
  20. Work in an Evolutionary Biology laboratory on a project that was published in Nature
  21. Dance all night under the northern lights
  22. Perform in a castle made of snow on a frozen lake
  23. Finish my B.Sc. at McGill University
  24. Land a lead role in my high school musical
  25. Ride a bike in Paris with a baguette sticking out of my basket
  26. Help underserved youth
  27. See bioluminescence. So cool! Check it out!
  28. Facilitate people feeling great in their bodies and about their bodies every day!
  29. Pay off one of my student loans (and that last one is not far off)
  30. Heal from an eating disorder
  31. Start my own business
  32. Help make the world a better place every day doing what I love
  33. Film videos of me moving my body and put them online
  34. Bake a pie
  35. Produce my own zine
  36. Snowmobile on the tundra
  37. Be the best damn daughter and sister I know how
  38. Learn that I’m “Internet Famous”
  39. See the desert
  40. Create a Yoga-Based Self-Regulation Program to be taught in schools
  41. Produce my own Yoga Nidra CDs and Yoga Therapy DVDs
  42. Go off to a cabin to write music for a month
  43. Sing Italian arias in front of judges
  44. Devote 7 months of my life to taking ALL THE DANCE CLASSES
  45. Survive depression
  46. Cultivate a regular yoga and meditation practice
  47. Run my first Body Love Retreat – The Feelin’ Good Retreat
  48. Become a certified Yoga Therapist
  49. Teach yoga classes where I am the biggest body in the room
  50. Be in love with myself

Whew! So often I feel unworthy about my lack of productivity. Looking at this list reminds me, it’s ok to take a break. Next I hope to add to this list that I have developed such a strong practice of self-care that my self-care is preventative, rather than necessary because I have extended myself too far. #goals

 

What about you? Does this list inspire you to create your own Reverse Bucket List? Post it here in the comments and tell me how looking at your Reverse Bucket List makes you feel?

 

Thanks for reading!
Krystal

therapy swim

The Bikini Body project: Day Five – Breaking the Barrier

Hey guys and gals.

It’s day five of the Bikini Body Project and I am still working it with all my might. I want to send a big hug out to everyone that has been offering words of support. I am so amazed at the thoughtful and healing discussions that this project is stimulating. One of my goals was to help me overcome my fears, but I also strongly hoped that this project would help to inspire others. And I have heard from some of you that you are even thinking of starting your own ruhcus.

I LOVE IT! And I am here to support you in anyway I can.

On day five of this project, I found out that I had lost a friend to suicide. His loss brought up my own struggles with depression and my fears around it swallowing me up too. So on this day, I went to the beach in my bikini and took what I called a therapy swim. Crying into the water for all the people who have so much love to give and can’t break the barrier. I broke a barrier for me that day of going for a swim, at the beach, in my bikini. It’s not huge or anything, but it is an act of saying to myself “I am ok” and “I am enough”.

therapy swim

Sad, but heading to the beach.

Lots of love,

Krystal