Archive for Support

Support makes all the difference in our lives

I just finished co-facilitating a support group for young women recovering from eating disorders.  Having suffered from them earlier in life, I thought this would be a good experience for me to give back to “my people”.  

It was without a doubt one of the most powerful experiences for me. My role as a facilitator was simple: listen, support, and listen some more.  As a result, I learned so much about them and myself through them.  The funny thing was as a facilitator I barely said much. It was if they were the teachers and I was the student.  Once I got the group going each session and opened the floor up for people to check in about how they were feeling or what was going on for them that week, the group ran itself.  It was an incredible community of young women bravely and openly sharing their personal lives with others in a safe and non-judgmental place.  It was powerful to experience what on in that room each week.

 What I found most amazing was that by the sheer act of listening I became much more empathic.  At first, it was hard and I was not prepared for what started to happen. I started to feel my own pain again, and could really relate to what these young women were going through.  It felt like someone spilt open my wound and poured salt on it.  I started to relive it all over again and it hurt, a lot.  Nevertheless, each session got better and better and ironically ‘the salt’ became the remedy and cleared out the remaining debris.  By the third session, I was there in the trenches with them all and at the end of each night, I wanted to hug each one of them before they left and give them the strength to go on.  

I was so proud of them and felt it was my obligation to encourage and support them for all their hard work, because I knew exactly what they were going through.  I had been there myself and had not forgotten. These young women are already hard on themselves, hence their eating disorder, I thought.  Moreover, they know what they need to do.  I thought what they really needed was more encouragement and positive affirmation in their lives. I know how hard it is to be objective with yourself, so positive reinforcement could mean the difference between them feeling good or feeling bad.  So, I continued to tell these amazing girls how wonderful they are and commended them on their continued commitment to themselves.  I pointed out how far they have come and what a great job they were doing, and how much I learn from them.  I meant every word I said, and saw the hardwork, frustrations, tears and triumphs in them each week.  Wow, it takes tremendous strength and support to unravel and understand your self.  It is true when they say, it takes one to know one. What a determined and amazing group of young women they are! 

 Each night I walked out teary eyed, humbled and honored to be there for each one of them.  I thought this it; this is what it is about.  We are all hurt and wounded in our own ways, which can create a lot of shame.  The more we hide from our feelings about anything, the more power we give them and therefore the more pain we feel.  In order for us to move on in our lives and be the amazing person that each of us is, we need to have those ’safe harbors’ in our lives with people we can really open up with and be ourselves. This allows us to keep our hearts open, even if it means we may feel more vulnerable, and the more we do this we learn that there is strength in our vulnerability, since it allows us to stay connected and find the support and love we seek.

 This experience has been invaluable to me.  I thought I knew a lot, but what I found out was that I don’t know what I don’t know, and that you stay the course in life by keeping an open heart and mind and by using your ears and mouth in the right proportion. When you trust that, each moment is exactly the way it is supposed to be and that you are doing the best that you can, only then can you let go and trust that you are right where you are supposed to be.

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The Power of Listening

I have not written in a while and I miss it.  Writing is a great way for me to process information and share with others.  It is kind of like talking aloud.  I get all my thoughts out, good, bad and crazy, with no interruptions which helps me get clarity.  It is a process though.  I think, write, refine and repeat.  Some posts come out better than others do, but nonetheless I get it out, then I feel soothed, centered and replenished.  It is a form of self-care for me, a time when I really listen to myself.  Ah, I already feel better!

 Have you ever found yourself feeling much better and clearer after sharing your thoughts with someone?  We all do, which is why listening is such a powerful tool for you to offer the people you love. The funny thing is the person doing the talking always feels closer to the person listening and feels as if they know them better as a result.  It is an interesting concept. The next time you are actively listening to someone see how he or she responds and you will see what I am referring to.  They will hug you, thank you or just feel calmer and better and maybe even tell you how much they like you… go ahead, try it. 

When you listen, really listen to someone in a non-judgmental way, you are really saying; I care about you and I am here for you.  It is a powerful message to give someone. The problem is that we all want to be heard and not everyone likes to listen or listens well, so we walk around with these unmet needs.  So do yourself a favor and learn how to really listen, it will do wonders for all your relationships, that is as long as the other person reciprocates.

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How to Make Healthy Eating a Part of Your Daily Routine

It is not hard to eat  healthy, but it does take some thought and preparation to make it happen.  Here are some tips to get you started in the right direction.

1) Do NOT skip meals

a)Eat breakfast –break the fast from the night before and jump-start your metabolism

b)Make lunch the biggest meal of the day when your digestion is at its peak

c)Eat a light dinner. Try to eat before 7pm so you digest your food properly before going to bed

2)Stock up on healthy snacks so you always have good options available

a)Create your own trail mix: silvered almonds, dried fruit, dried edamame, unsweetened coconut flakes

b)Hummus and veggies

c)Celery rib and peanut butter

d)Apple and nut butter

e)Popcorn and nuts

f)Plain or greek yogurt with fresh berries or grapes

g)Mozzarella stick

h) Frozen banana or grapes

i)Kashi cereal, raisins and nuts

3)Drink more water throughout the day

a)Upon rising, drink a glass of water to get one out-of-the-way

b)Fill up a one liter bottle and carry with you throughout the day

c)When hunger or sweet cravings arise, first reach for a glass of water – a lot of times we are just thirsty

4)Substitute whole grains for white foods

a)Instead of white rice, buy brown rice, barley, basmati rice or wild rice

b)Instead of instant oatmeal, buy rolled oats or steel-cut oats

c)Instead of white bread, buy sprouted or whole grain bread

d)Instead of white pasta, buy brown rice pasta, soba noodles, whole wheat pasta, or buckwheat pasta

5)When grocery shopping

a)Select different color produce so you get all the vitamin and nutrients your body needs

b)Stock up your pantry and freezer with staple goods so you can throw together a quick, healthy  dinner when you have no fresh food

c)Buy packaged size meat, fish or chicken and divide into single portion sizes and freeze

d)Have a default grocery list of 2-3 of your favorite meals that are easy to cook and you can pull together in a pinch

6)Get in the kitchen, forget the rules and start cooking

a)Make it FUN, turn on the music or put on a headset and talk with family and friends

b)Recruit your children and/or significant other to help and make it a family affair

c)Cook once, eat twice.  Make enough to freeze for another day

d)Pick one day and a couple new recipes you want to cook

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Change Is A Choice

Tonight I watched The Biggest Loser and was inspired to get off my butt and write. I must admit, I love the show. Of course, I love the field of health and fitness, but more importantly, I love rooting for the so-called underdog! That inspires me the most– to watch these people commit to changing their lives.  It is powerful stuff!  GO Biggest Loser Contestants; I am rooting for you! 

Although the show creates a very controlled environment that is hard to duplicate in our normal day-to-day lives, the contestants learn key principles. They get an Education about food and exercise, which creates Awareness about themselves and making better choices, and they have an amazing Support system.   

These three principles are the key to getting through any obstacle in life, not just weight loss. However, in order to overcome a food addiction you need to get to the root of problem and find out what is driving the behavior. This is true of any addiction whether it is food, alcohol or drugs. Essentially, they all do the same thing, which is numb, the pain. As you see on the show, behind each contestant’s weight is a story.  A story that contains a lot of pain that was too difficult to cope with so they turned to food instead. 

And I have to say, I get that. As a young adult, I was anorexic and bulimic so I, too, have a story, which led me to that place of destruction. So I have been ‘there’ although at the other end of the spectrum, but the issue is the same.  It is never about the food; it is about your feelings.   

That is why I am so passionate about health and wellness today! I can tell you this, there is nothing more powerful than to be at the optimum level of health and fitness that I am today and help others to get there too.   

In fact, I am excited. Tomorrow night I will be co-facilitating my first support group for people with eating disorders. Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to tell my story to people who are in recovery and it has been the most powerful and empowering thing I have ever done for myself.     

The closing to my story that I share with them is this: I can tell you there is an incredible reward for working through your pain and all your “stuff”. It has led me to a newfound freedom I have never felt before. I look at things so differently today and I am a more compassionate, understanding, energetic and loving person. Who knew – it is truly amazing! The world responds to me differently and has become a mirror reflecting back to me all that I am in the form of new beginnings, peace, happiness; healthy relationships with others, and more importantly, a healthy relationship with myself. New opportunities have arisen; there are more smiles, laughter and peace within. The landscape of my life has changed drastically.  I now realize that life is precious, good and filled with greatness. With all that said, I would not change a thing about my past for it has led me to where I am and who I am today. And, I can finally tell you, I like this place. I like the person I am. And, I want to help others feel the same way about their life and the possibilities that exist for them. So cherish your dreams for they are gifts from your soul and blueprints to your future!

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Paying it Forward

Today I encountered a great teacher who reminded me how powerful it is to listen and to be there for someone. It was a gorgeous day out and I had some time on my hands before my next appointment, so I walked down to the shopping center to get a cup of coffee and do some errands. The best part about my walks, I always meet someone new, exchange a few smiles or laughs with people who fill me up. 

As I got closer to my destination, a van pulled up and a tall, middle-aged man got out. He seemed a bit frenzied but greeted me with a kind smile and a hello nonetheless. I noticed he left his van running and thought; perhaps he is in a rush. He asked if I was going into the coffee shop and I said yes.  He then asked if I would watch his truck. Huh, I thought.  I just told him I was going into the coffee shop. As if maybe he forgot, I half jokingly said, why don’t you turn off your truck!  He laughed, dropped his head and said I am afraid it will not start again and the story started to unravel. At first my antenna went up and I thought, oh no, I am not being roped into this one. I say that because in general people tend to tell me stuff, sometimes too much. Therefore, I said, I will listen to your problems if you will listen to mine. Boy did he laugh!

We engaged in conversation as we walked in the same direction. He said, come on Amy; let me buy you a cup of coffee. I agreed and as we continued to talk, I realized the man really needed someone to listen to him. He was on-edge and anxious and I could feel it. In addition, he just divulged he had come from having a drink; it was only 10:30 am.

It turns out he is a contractor and this was the second van that broke down on him today. On top of that, it was payday, he was out collecting past due accounts and no one could pay. One person needed three more days, the other person never showed and the last person wrote a bad check for 3k.  Now he was worried about the ramifications: how would he pay his people, what about the materials he bought, etc. 

Ge’ez… I thought I was going out for a nice walk with the intention of having a few laughs! Now my heart is bleeding for a man I barely know. However, I could not walk away from him: I know what it feels like to need support, so I listened without interruption as he unraveled himself.

In the end, he was so grateful and a much happier man. I told him I would say a prayer for him.  He said, no; do not pray for me, I pray for myself. I said, no, you do not get it. This is the buddy system! I will pray for you and you pray for me, because I need your help too!  We both laughed. He was smiling ear-to-ear and could not thank me enough. In fact, he leaned in, gave me a kiss on the cheek, and asked if I would like to meet again.  I graciously declined, but took in his kindness and the lesson incurred and we both walked away feeling much better about ourselves than we previously had.

I know there will come a day when I will need the favor returned, so I keep paying it forward and making deposits in my karmic account!

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