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To Be “Weird” is to Be Real

While watching the sun rise today I met two amazing guys…pretty sure it was spiritually orchestrated by God. One guy shared a song by Jason Mraz called “Sunshine”. We listened to it and shared stories about ourselves as the sun came up. The other guy apologized for being “weird.” We all smiled and agreed how nice it is to be at a place where we are not considered “weird”, but instead appreciated for our unique individuality. He then shared a quote from St. Paul:

“I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself.” -1 Corinthians 4:3-5

Wow! I was not at all expecting this guy to quote a verse from the Bible. If that’s not God giving me a little message this morning, then I don’t know what else is. Love how He uses people to speak light and love to me in places where I least expect it. I am so grateful for Kripalu and am so grateful for my quiet solo retreats where I can just go within and rediscover who I am and who I’m made to be.

To be weird is to be real. To be weird is to be genuine. To be weird is to be authentic. I love “weird” people!

Check out the song:

@ Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health

Making Wise Mind Decisions

Fear and guilt come from the human part of the psyche called the emotional mind. They incorporate emotion and compassion, but lack logic and reason. They feel overwhelming and urgent and seek immediate gratification. When our decisions come from a place of fear or guilt rather than a place of inner wisdom, then we risk harming ourselves or another human being, therefore disrupting God’s greater plan. Fear and guilt are not love. 

Opinion and judgment come from the human part of the psyche called the reasonable mind. They incorporate logic and reason, but lack emotion and compassion. They feel shameful and critical and cause rejection and divide. When our decisions come from a place of opinion and judgment rather than a place of inner wisdom, then we risk harming ourselves or another human being, therefore disrupting God’s greater plan. Opinion and judgment are not love.

When we bring both the emotional mind and the reasonable mind together, we meet at the heart and encounter wise mind or inner wisdom. True love comes from inner wisdom. Inner wisdom comes from God and God is love.

Learning to Dance in the Rain

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

I used to feel like a victim. I walked through life feeling exhausted and crippled by my own perception of a situation. Exhaustion led me to become vulnerable to darkness. It led me to focus on all the ways I’d been mistreated, misunderstood, rejected or abandoned. It led me to see all the flaws in everyone around me. But as I grew closer to God, I realized that just the opposite is true. The only thing I’m a victim of is God’s mercy, grace and love. I have a Defender on my side and that Defender chose me on purpose to fight these battles. He chose me to walk into these storms because He knows that I can.

We have one life and one universal purpose in this life. Our purpose is simple. It’s to be a speck of light in a whole lot of dark. It’s to be the love in the hate. This does not mean that we should dismiss our feelings of sadness, anger, frustration, disappointment, or any other yucky feelings. It simply means that we can feel our ugly feelings without becoming crippled by them. It means that we can choose to walk right into a black storm and see it as an opportunity to be the eye; the calm and the light.

Today I choose to be the joy in my storms. I finally learned to dance in the rain and I am free. You can be free too!

The Hardcore Truth About Intuitive Eating and Weight Loss

I started my journey about 4 and a half years ago with intuitive eating. I actually started with Geneen Roth’s work and attended her workshop on Women, Food, and God. I learned a lot about self-compassion at this workshop and was introduced to the idea about being intuitive, eating when you are hungry and stopping when full. Her focus was on mindful eating. Shortly after attending this workshop I discovered Elyse and Evelyn’s book, “Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works.” So I bought it with the hope that it would reinforce the ideas that Geneen had taught me. Intuitive Eating felt right to me, but did not help me to lose the weight I wanted to lose. It actually helped me to gain more. It allowed me unconditional permission to eat all the foods I had restricted in my life for so long. Those foods were my “binge” foods. My binge foods were foods I was not allowed to have, but eventually caved in and ate because I wanted them so badly and just couldn’t take it anymore. So when I did allow myself to eat them, it became “The Last Supper” mentality and I binged them. As I slowly started allowing these foods back into my life, my brain became confused because I was used to binging on them. I felt like I had no control and could not stop. I gained about 15 lbs that year. I had also just opened private practice and made some other significant changes in my life. So between emotional/stress eating and trying to figure out how to allow these restricted foods back into my life, my brain was simply a mess. I grew discouraged and frustrated and I ended up putting the book away for about a year. My struggle with food became more challenging because for the first time in my life I had learned that there was another way to eating. I had the knowledge because I read the book and attended Geneen’s workshop. My brain was so confused when it came to eating. One part was telling me that I could eat what I wanted and the other part still wanted to restrict, telling me that certain foods were “bad”. I was in the readiness stage of Intuitive Eating, but I just didn’t know it then.

I can remember this one night, about a year and a half after taking Geneen’s class and reading the Intuitive Eating book by Evelyn and Elyse, I laid crying on the bathroom floor, desperate for help, fearing that I would gain more and more weight as each year went on. I had gone on and off a few more diets that year and nothing helped. I just kept slowly putting on more and more weight. I remember praying for God to show me something more as I knew in my heart that a diet was not going to be my answer. About a half hour after pleading with God, I opened my Facebook and scrolled down to find an advertisement for the book “Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works.” This advertisement was not just for the book, it was actually for the certification program to become an Intuitive Eating Counselor. I clicked on the link and read all of the requirements. I immediately knew that I wanted to study with Elyse and Evelyn, not only to help my clients, but to help myself. I signed up and began the process of becoming a certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. I knew deep inside that Intuitive Eating was my answer and I knew that signing up for this commitment would push me to work through it instead of running away from it.

I started exploring and learning more about the principles. I learned that I had met criteria for principle one: reject the diet mentality. I was more than ready to face my fears of gaining more weight and decided once and for all to just do it. I decided that I was going to submit to the program and start listening to my body, even if I gained 20 more pounds. In that moment I decided to let go of the number on the scale and the size of my clothing. I began to let go of all restricted foods. I began to honor my hunger and fullness. But I gained more weight and I was devastated.

I was another year into the program and fully certified. I was 30 lbs overweight and ashamed of myself, yet in my heart I knew I was healthier than I had been when I was a normal weight. My body was not physically healthier, but my mind was. I had gained weight, but I had also gained freedom from restrictive eating and dieting. There were so many times that I wanted to run back to another diet. What kept me focused on the program were the first 4 chapters in the book, specifically the one on the stages of Intuitive Eating. I can remember reading through stage two: the exploration stage. This stage explains to us that as we desensitize our brains to the old patterns and restrictive behaviors, we may overindulge in the foods we used to restrict. We may gain weight, but eventually we would reach a plateau where the weight gain would stop. At first I would binge on the foods I was reintroducing, but that slowed down rather quickly and I just simply ate those restricted foods every day and maybe even a little past full. Now looking back I can see the pattern. I was working through principle one and struggling with most of the other principles. But stage two reminded me that it is okay and that I needed to explore these foods and new behaviors and that I cannot judge how long that process is to last.

For me the exploration stage lasted about 2 years. And it was really scary. Two years feels like a lifetime. There were many doubts in my head and many thoughts of shame as I was sitting up in front of my clients teaching them about how I believed in intuitive eating, yet I knew and still do know in my heart that my body is not at it’s normal body weight like the book says it will end up. I started running small groups teaching Intuitive Eating and sharing my journey through the program. I began to focus on the progress not the perfection of my journey. The progress was that I was free from dieting and my relationship with food was healed completely. I no longer had a love/hate relationship with food. I finally had freedom to love and appreciate all foods with my whole heart. And I was no longer binging my restricted foods. I was no longer overeating them either. Over much time and exploration, I began to hone in on the skills of honoring my hunger, stopping when I am full and eating foods that are satisfying. The satisfying part was a bit of a struggle because for a good couple of years all I wanted were the foods I restricted because they were what satisfied me.

I am obviously being super honest here, knowing that my story may completely deter people from hopping on the Intuitive Eating self-discovery journey. But I promised myself that I would always be truthful to people. I do not believe in candy coating things. Intuitive Eating has been the hardest thing I’ve ever followed through with. And for 4 years, the reward was mental, not physical. But looking back, I can see that it was the mental part of me that needed healing first. This is not the same for everyone. Some people get the physical first, some people the emotional and some the mental.

I am happy to say that this past summer I had another Intuitive Eating “ah ha” moment. I was teaching an intensive 11 week summer program and when we got to principle 7: Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food. It hit me that this is where I was stuck and this is exactly why I was still overweight. I started keeping a food diary for a few weeks. Sometimes it was just a mental note. Point being that I put my mind to being self-aware of when I was eating, what I was eating and why. I became extremely mindful and payed attention to my hunger and fullness. The “ah ha” moment came when I noticed the pattern that I was eating every single night, especially nights after work. As I came home from work, kids practices and games, etc, I would immediately go to the fridge or cupboards and eat something. Sometimes I was stressed and sometimes I wasn’t. The food choices were not “bad” and they were not “too much”, but the reason behind my eating was not hunger, it was stress and habit. And the foods I was choosing were foods that numb emotions. This helped me to realize that I had a stress problem, not a food problem. Now that I could recognize the pattern, I put my mind to not using food to cope. It was very difficult and I remember going back to the group I was teaching and sharing with them that I was only able to make it through two nights straight, then on the third night I just couldn’t take it anymore and would stress eat. But I kept noticing and being compassionate with myself and two nights, turned into three, then four then five. Now a side note is that in the month of August I rung up a rather large credit card bill, but was not stress eating as much. You see, I numbed out with shopping instead. I quickly noticed this pattern and decided to incorporate some relaxation techniques into my evening. I also assessed my workload at home, work and personal and set some boundaries. I also noticed that transitioning home and upstairs to the shower and bed were difficult for me. I was tired and just wanted to go straight to comfort. Anyhow, there are a number of things I have implemented into my nightly routine and I am happy to say that while this is rather the newest part of my journey, my clothes are looser and my body shape and size is noticeably different from just 6-7 weeks of managing my stress and not using food to cope. I am putting my energy into this principle right now and really being mindful of my feelings and patterns and utilizing a multitude of coping skills and setting boundaries. I am also staying true to my Intuitive Eating journey and mindfully making sure that weight loss and numbers are not my focus. There is no number goal or even expectation of where this journey will lead to. My hope continues to be freedom and peace.

Here is my point to this very long story. Intuitive Eating is a process that takes time. There are 10 principles and I had 35+ years of behavior and patterns to undo. I have been practicing Intuitive Eating for about 4-5 years now and very slowly I have watched my brain patterns and my behaviors change. I cannot diet anymore. It’s like my mind doesn’t know how to do it. My brain would have to relearn it all. My brain has rewired itself to practice honoring my hunger, stopping when I am full, honoring my satisfaction, honoring my exercise, etc. And finally, I am in the exploration stage of honoring my feelings without using food, shopping, etc. I am being compassionate with myself by reminding myself that I could be in this stage for the next year of my life. I am super excited that the physical is finally starting to be healed.

My best advice to you. Stay with it. It does work. It is a long-term process, but the reward is a long-term change. You will never go back to your old ways because your brain literally changes neuropathways. Going back would take just the amount of work that it takes to relearn how to be intuitive. Continue to learn and explore this program one day at a time, one principle at a time and one stage at a time. You will go through the 5 stages with each principle. Be mindful of your expectations of yourself and of this program. Remember that the first stage is readiness, the second is exploration. You cannot get to crystallization without going through the first two stages. It is scary. It is humbling. It is spiritual. Most of all, it is worth every single struggle I’ve had to go through to get to where I am today. If I can do it, then you too can do it!

To Believe or Not to Believe

This morning I got to share my faith with another human being. An opportunity within our work together allowed me to share these words. I asked for wisdom and courage and this is what came out. I share here that maybe it will resonate with someone else.

“The spiritual self-care. This is one of my favorite topics to talk with people about. I will share a little of my story here and you can take what resonates with you and feel free to dig deeper.

I grew up Catholic and went to Catholic school 1st-8th grade. I was brought up with a faith in God, His Son and the Holy Spirit. But growing up I did not understand this faith because it was confusing as all hell. All I felt I was taught was to know all the things I should and should not do. And I was taught that God sees all and will punish me if I “sin”. Again, I had no idea what the heck that meant, so I learned to associate God with fear and shame.

But I remember as a child feeling God and knowing that what I was being taught contradicted the feeling I felt in my body and in my mind and in my soul. I remember questioning many parts of what I was being taught. I remember wanting to explore my faith deeper. But I was afraid and did not have the support. Most people thought it was crazy that I even cared.

So I went about my life without exploring this part of me. In my twenties I sought out therapy after almost dying from alcohol poisoning on my 21st birthday. Between counseling and my college classes in dysfunctional family therapy I came to learn that I was an “adult child”. So I started going to ALANON which is for family members of addicts. It was there that I began to rediscover God as my “Higher Power”. I studied the steps and grew to understand God in a much different way, as someone who could help me by leading and guiding me if I learned how to let go of the control I was trying to have over my life.

In my thirties I went through a huge mental breakdown and will not go into all the details because it is written in a book that you are welcome to read if you want (RENEWED: A Mind, Body, Spirit Approach to Self-Renewal). But anyhow, after this breakdown I began to turn to God even more and realized that the church I was attending was not where I belonged. I decided to explore churches because I wanted to get more involved and also wanted my children to know God. We found a non-denomenational church that we have been going to ever since and it has changed my life and my relationship with God completely.

I’m not saying your answer to life is to find a church, but I am saying that a huge piece to the healing puzzle is finding yourself spiritually. I do not believe all of our paths are the same, but I do believe that we all have a Higher Power that tries to guide us. I believe that God brings people onto my path for me to help with the gifts He has given me. I believe that my eating disorder was not a punishment or something God gave to me, but something God uses to help others and teach others about through me. I believe that God can guide you and has given you many gifts that He can help you to use to and pour into others.

I choose to call my Higher Power God. Maybe it’s because I grew up calling Him God. And to me that is okay. I believe God gave us nature as a gift and I feel closest to God when I am in nature. I see God in people sometimes, certainly not all of the time. I am grateful that I stepped out of my comfort zone and dug deeper into exploring my beliefs and my faith. I now have a relationship with God. I do go to church because I love connecting with God in this way and I learn a lot from it, but today I understand that churches are people and people are human. People are incredibly flawed. And even God’s church will hurt, reject and disappoint.

I share this with you not to convert you to believe in God or anything like that, but more because I want to challenge you to explore your spiritual beliefs. What do you know about God? Have you ever felt His presence? What keeps you from exploring your spirituality? I know mine was due to being hurt many times in a church and by people who claimed to follow God. Do you talk to God, and if not, would you ever ask Him to reveal Himself to you so you can learn about Him for yourself?

Anyhow, I am hoping this is okay that I shared this with you, but as I said, the spiritual self-care has become the biggest part of my healing journey and I find it the most exciting to talk about. I will be praying that you find yourself spiritually because it is awesome!!”

Pressing the Reset Button Now

From the minute I pulled into the parking lot, I could feel you near. I can hear your voice and I can feel your embrace. It’s like it’s just me and you this weekend; like I am your only focus. Being present, connecting with your Spirit in such a deep and powerful way. The silence and the beauty make it easy to hear you, feel you and see you; they make it easy to know you are here. No hair, no make up, no need to look or be a certain way. I am free to just be. My only goal these next 48 hours is to be with you. I embrace it fully. And in turn, I feel a sense of love, peace and safety that I cannot feel outside of here. I watch and listen as you go deeper into the depths of my soul, restoring me to the core. Change me. Heal me. Renew my spirit. I am yours and you are mine.

@kripalucenterforyogaandhealth

#takingtimetobreathe #reset #weekendwithgod

The Journey to Inner Wisdom

I love the challenge of a new climb; the beginning of a new journey.

I got in my car today with the intention of connecting with God through the sights, sounds and smells of this fresh winter blanket of snow. I was longing to explore my inner self in search of deeper meaning, new wisdom and more answers. After going back and forth, it becomes clear to me that I am to travel a new path today; a trail I’ve never been to. And I love the challenge. I love the excitement I feel in seeing something new for the first time. A fresh snow, a new trail, a new sight. It’s like God painted this picture just for me today.

After making my decision, I get into my car and drive to my destination. I pull into the parking area. It’s empty. Fear begins to creep in and I ask myself…Should I be here alone; all by myself? I hear my loved ones in my head telling me it’s dangerous, begging me not to go out there alone. But something inside of me pulls me deeper into the unknown; I want to see more. I want to explore.

I step out of my Jeep and put on my gear, take out my GPS and head out to the trail. There’s that fear again and I begin to question myself once more.

Will this trail be marked or will it be covered with new snow? Will I find my way or will I get lost? Will I get attacked by a wild animal or worse, a human?

I keep walking towards the woods.

As I continue to move forward I see a tall, slender, old woman in the trail walking toward me. The sun is glimmering over her and the reflection from the snow is like diamonds around her face. She is beautiful! I say hello and she smiles and says hi. She has to be at least 80 years old. I tell her it’s my first time and she tells me how much I’m going to enjoy the trail. We say goodbye and continue on our separate ways.

As I begin my journey to the top, I now have a clear path. This woman’s footprints guide my steps and I can see so clear where I need to go. The fear is gone and I say to myself, “If that 80 year old woman can do this alone, then so can I.” It is then that I realize…

The journey I am on is life.

The search is for wisdom.

The fear is the unknown.

And the answer….

It’s the peace and freedom in knowing that I am never alone.

I don’t know where that woman came from as there are no other cars in the parking lot this morning. And there is nothing for miles down the road. I don’t know where she is going as when I turned to look for her, she was gone. What I do know is that she was my reminder today that I do not ever have to be afraid because I am never alone.

Fear nothing.

Embrace the journey.

Grow in wisdom.

You are never alone.

Joshua 1:9

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”


Learning how to feel in a culture that does not want us to is like trying to row a boat against the current. We may rock back and forth and side to side. We may even flip the boat and fall out. But If we persist long and hard enough, the currents will shift and we will eventually make it to shore.
-Katie LaPlant

My Story Part 4

books renewed

Thank you so much for allowing me the time and space to share my journey and experiences with you.  This story is the first part of the book I wrote called, RENEWED.  RENEWED is not only a book, it’s a program that teaches people how to take care of themselves physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally by re-learning how to connect to their inner self.   I want to take a moment to share with you the outcome I’ve experienced as a result of following the RENEWED approach to intuitive living.

I started RENEWED with my story to explain where I came from and what my cultural, societal, family and religious background was like growing up. Like most of you who chose to read this, I grew up not knowing how to take care of my whole self. My inability to live intuitively was the result of the culture and society we live in. That society and culture impacted my grandparents, who projected what they learned onto my parents, who projected what they learned onto me. I had to re-learn how to listen to my inner wisdom and inner self. I had to learn to connect to my intuition. And most importantly, I had to learn how to manage my stress by practicing self-care so that I could stay connected to true self.

So much has changed as a result of relearning how to listen to my mind, body and spirit. The biggest thing I learned was how to have faith in God. During my mini breakdown, when I decided to finally learn how to cope with stress, I was challenged to trust in God. I chose to believe in Him and chose to ask Him for help. As I stated in the beginning of this book, I’ve always believed in God, but I had never truly surrendered my life to Him.

My relationship with God started with a physical and mental problem. I was desperate to feel better; desperate for my anxiety to go away. I was desperate for sleep. I was desperate for peace. I had little energy, but tons of motivation to get well.

Since turning my life over to God and learning how to listen to my intuition so many things have changed. I learned how to accept that life is a process. I may pray for something to be restored or healed, but most of the time, it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. I learned how to be grateful for my troubles. I learned how to view my troubles as a chance to learn and grow. I wouldn’t say that I get excited when I have troubles, but I do have peace during my troubles.

Today I can recognize my stress within a matter of hours to a few days. I no longer spend week after week in stress. Today I know that when I start to feel uneasy, then I need to take a step back and assess my path. I still encounter stress and I still encounter depression, but I know that it will pass. I also know that it can be a sign that something in my life is off or needs to change.

When I started to live intuitively, my fears of people and fears of talking went away. I am now writing, blogging and beginning to speak to groups of people. I am leading groups and teaching. These are things I never would have imagined myself doing as they used to cause me a great deal of anxiety. And best of all, today the inner critic does not bother me after I talk in a social setting. I no longer obsess about what I said or didn’t say or about what they think of me. Intuitive living allows me to live for God, therefore, I do not need to be afraid. If God brings me to it, then He will provide the resources I need to get through it.

I learned how to accept my faults and failures and know today that I am not perfect, nor am I expected to be. I know that it is
okay to mess up and I do it a lot and am able to smile during and after my mistakes. Today I know how to laugh; I know how to have a sense of humor.

I also know how to grieve. I know how to recognize expectations and I know how to feel the loss and rejection that comes when my expectations are not met. I no longer run or hide from my problems, nor do I need to get defensive.

I no longer struggle with bulimia. I am learning to fully embrace my body for what it is today. I am intentional each day with physical self-care and I do the best that I can. I continue to struggle with emotional eating at times, but I think everyone does. I am able to remind myself that I am not perfect, so I am not going to eat perfect every day. I am much gentler with myself. I do not restrict food today. I enjoy food to the full. I love food and I love the different seasons in nature and holidays that are included. I enjoy every bit of eating, especially during the fall and winter seasons.

Today I engage in exercise that I enjoy. I love to cycle with my husband, walk my dogs, lift weights and jog on occasion while catching up on my favorite television shows. I do not put the pressure I used to put on myself to overwork my body. I love the movement I do and enjoy my time at the gym, on the bike or in nature with my dogs.

Today I have purpose. I understand that I am here on this earth for a reason. I seek that purpose every day. I understand that it changes and evolves over time. I own my own practice and am building programs that teach people how to take care of themselves. This is one of my favorite changes I’ve encountered. I feel like a butterfly who exploded out of its cocoon. I love my job and feel so blessed to be doing
it. Work brings me a sense of fulfillment and validation. And when I take on too much (which I can do sometimes), I take a step back and regroup by adjusting my schedule.

Today I have friends. I have real friends who care about me. I have friends and family that I know would be there for me if I needed it. But more importantly, I am not dependent on them for happiness nor do I need them to feel good about myself. I have healthy, loving relationships.

I have a church that I absolutely love. I cannot imagine my life without this church. One of the best things I ever took the risk to do was to explore my faith. Today I not only attend church, but I volunteer at my church. I lead at my church. Most importantly, I grow at my church. I am not afraid at my church. I do not feel bad at my church. I have no guilt or shame at my church.

Throughout this journey, God has become the most important part of my life. I used to put my faith in money, relationships and food. But today I know God. Knowing God allows me to live without fear as well as to have freedom from guilt and shame.

My journey has been long and it has been hard. But I would not change one part of my journey. Today I like myself a lot. I am a pretty cool person who does pretty cool things. I could not say that before. My journey has taught me how to let go of some of the hardest things I’ve ever been challenged to let go of. I know I still have a long journey ahead filled with continuous healing and growth, but I have faith and fully believe that I will continue that journey. My life gets better and better and the blessings get bigger and bigger.

There are circumstances and situations I dread in the future to come, mostly having to do with losses of loved ones, because let’s face it, that is never easy. But I know that I have God and I also know that this life is not eternal. I know that I do have an eternal, spiritual life waiting for me when I am done here. This gives me great peace.

RENEWED is a program I’ve developed as a result of my personal and professional experience in working with people who struggle with stress, anxiety, depression, relationships and even addictions. My hope is that it will reach people and help them too. I believe that God has a plan for this program. I believe that He used me to create this to help others. While I have hopes for what will become of this, I know that no matter what happens, God is in control.

My hope in telling you my story is to help you to uncover yours. My guess is that you can relate to some of the feelings I felt and the experiences I went through. To continue reading more about my journey with self-renewal, check out my book, “RENEWED:  A Mind, Body, Spirit Approach to Self-Renewal”.  If you would like to learn more about how I can help you to find peace and balance in your life, please visit my website at www.mindbodyspiritcounseling.net.  To join a RENEWED group or attend an upcoming 5 Week Transformational Workshop, please check out the Events at Mind, Body, Spirit Counseling. 

Peace and blessings,
Katie

My Story Part 3

books renewed

Emotional Crisis
Throughout my childbearing years I worked as a clinical
social worker in the Children’s Department of a community mental health center. I was working toward my license part time. It was an amazing experience for me. I
worked in community mental health for ten years. During
those years I met a lot of clients. Some were as young as 5 and some were as old as 19. I could relate to their feelings of anxiety and depression. Because some of them were diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I decided to diagnose myself with bipolar disorder. I can remember sharing with two different therapists that I thought I had bipolar. I don’t think they believed me.

A few years ago, during the time of Tyler’s surgery, I decided to see a psychiatrist to get some psychotropic relief for the anxiety I was feeling. What I really wanted was a pill to stop my compulsive eating. At this point I had given up on ever reaching my pre-baby weight; I just wanted to stay in the overweight category of the BMI (Body Mass Index) scale. The psychiatrist diagnosed me with bipolar disorder and started me on minimal medications that had somewhat of a positive effect for a short period of time. After a few months the medications were increased by the psychiatrist and a year later I was being faced with a taking a second and third drug which was a pretty serious medication.
I was still overweight and completely obsessed with being a size 4 again. The medication wasn’t doing a thing as far as I was concerned. If anything it was causing me to binge eat more. But the doctor insisted that I needed the medication. I told him “Thank you very much but I don’t want it anymore.” I asked for his blessing to help me to wean off the medication. He was very sweet and kind and agreed to help me, but did not agree with my decision. My therapist was worried too. I could see it in her face, but she whole heartedly supported me through the entire process and told me to go with my instinct that was screaming for me to get off these medications. Yes, it was that voice again.
I did wean off the medication. It was complete and utter hell. It took 3-4 months to regain balance in my body, mind and spirit. Once again, I cannot believe my husband stayed with me through it all. I was an absolute mess through the whole process. I had severe panic and anxiety accompanied by insomnia for three months. I almost caved in and took a medication for the insomnia, but fought through it. This period of my life made the most impact on me. Surrendering to that experience truly changed my life forever. During that time I questioned everything I learned about mental health, physical health and spiritual health. It was my moment of complete surrender.

Finding Balance
Through that experience I developed a relationship with my aunt who was learning how to be a yoga teacher. She taught me how to breathe and how to connect with my body. She also taught me some gentle yoga postures to help me relax. I could only do these things for about two minutes at first. My mind would race, my heart would pound and I needed to get up and move. I felt like I could not breathe.
That summer I met two holistic nurse practitioners. One introduced me to vitamins that helped with anxiety and sleep. The other helped me learn about how food affected my mental health. She encouraged me to try an elimination diet for a few weeks. I was so desperate to feel better that I did it. I cut every single processed food, dairy, sugar, caffeine and gluten out of my diet for four weeks. Then I slowly added foods back in. It was the start of learning how to listen to my body.
I could not believe how sensitive my body was as I added the foods back in. I got headaches from certain foods and I noticed body pains from others. I noticed gas, bloating and digestive issues. It was eye opening. I didn’t stay on a clean diet for long because the desire to compulsively eat was stronger. Shortly after, I went back to my old ways of compulsive eating. I think I even purged a few times that year which was something I hadn‘t done since before I had children. But, I knew I was on the right path because I was sleeping better and feeling better.
That Fall I went on my first retreat to Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. It was a terrifying, but life changing experience. I took a workshop on anxiety that weekend and learned about the inner critic voice in our heads. I began to implement what I learned into my life. Being at Kripalu healed my anxiety. Overcoming my fears and trying new things, talking in small groups with people I didn’t know, crying in front of others, eating healthy food and practicing breathing and yoga techniques for the weekend all changed my life.
At Kripalu I learned how to take care of myself and more importantly why I need to take care of myself. I learned that weekend that I need to put myself first. So I began to do it. That year many things changed. I developed a very close relationship with God. My relationships with friends changed. I could not take care of my friends anymore because I did not have the physical or mental energy. I learned how to ask and accept help. I was not used to this and it was a challenge for me to accept help from others. But that voice and feeling in my heart told me that if I wanted to get better, then something needed to change.
Little by little my need to please others disappeared. Fear of people, criticism and judgment slowly faded. I opened a small private practice that grew quickly and left my job of almost 10 years. I lost friends in the process and fought with family that year, but I healed. All through this I continued to use food to cope with my feelings.
I recently decided to face the next challenge…my biggest challenge…my eating disorder. I call it my cross. My eating disorder has always been the cross I bear. I tried every diet out there. I tried Overeaters Anonymous and just recently was talked into trying a very expensive shake diet. I did lose weight for about 2 weeks, but gained 15 pounds back. I finally decided I needed to look at why I gained 15 pounds after all I had been through and all I had learned.
As my spiritual practices continued, the answers became clear as to why I was putting on the weight. About two years ago I lost a good friend. I considered her my best friend because she knew the deepest and darkest things about me. I shared my whole self with her. We shared our spiritual beliefs, our fears and our worries. She was my neighbor and dear friend. Our kids were friends and our husbands were friends. We vacationed together and even decided to do some spiritual healing work together. One day during her journey of growth she decided that she no longer wanted to be in a friendship with me. She refused to tell me why and abandoned the friendship without giving me a clear reason.
I tried several times to reach her, but failed. I spent two years of my life struggling with understanding why and how she could just get up and leave. I wondered why and how she could spend time with other women, but wanted nothing to do with me after all we had shared together. I questioned why I was so unlovable. I asked her for forgiveness; not understanding why I needed to be forgiven. I gave her the space she needed to figure things out.
I gained about 20 pounds while grieving the loss of our friendship. I became embarrassed and ashamed when I would run into her and drive by her house because it was noticeable that I was struggling with food by the amount of weight I gained. I wanted to hide. I knew it was time to go back to Kripalu for healing. I found a workshop by Geneen Roth on her latest book “Women, Food and God”. I felt that intuitive feeling again, so I bought the book, read it and began the process of implementing her principles and guidelines into my life. But, I gained a few more pounds.
Something inside me pulled at me to not give up and keep learning and going. I knew I had no other choice. Every single attempt to lose weight failed. So I did. I attended her workshop which was the most amazing of them all. She taught us about intuitive eating which is the process of listening to our mind, body and spirit regarding eating. I continue today with the process of intuitive eating. What does it feel like eating? Am I mentally hungry or physically hungry? Recognizing when I am full has been the biggest challenge of all. The process of intuitive eating led to my lifestyle of intuitive living.
True Surrender
It has been about a year and a half since attending that workshop and starting an intuitive living lifestyle. So much has changed for me. What started out as learning how to listen to my body, turned into listening to my body, mind and spirit. They are all part of the whole. I wrote my first book after that workshop. It was intended as a coaching tool for clients to help them begin to dialogue and process their food journey. That book evolved into this program.

My spiritual life grew quickly after that workshop. I started doing things I would have never done before. Once I could feel what was going on inside me, I could begin to listen. Soon after I learned how to listen, I started to take risks and began obeying my intuition. I learned one very simple thing; if I take the risk and obey my intuition, then I will not fail. But if I ignore it; then I will become anxious, imbalanced and eventually depressed.

I still encounter daily challenges. I mean come on now, I am a wife and mother of three very busy children. All three children have their challenges. I am constantly battling the education system which can be very stressful. My kids are involved in karate, hockey and football which involve a very busy practice and game schedule. I have two puppies I am trying to train which has been very overwhelming. I am a small business owner and I am in the process of writing this program so I can share it with many others. And I am very involved in my church. Life still gets overwhelming, but today I know how to recognize when I am stressed and I know what to do to re-balance myself before it turns into a chronic anxiety or depression.

Click here to read “My Story Part 4″….

My hope in telling you my story is to help you to uncover yours. My guess is that you can relate to some of the feelings I felt and the experiences I went through. To continue reading more about my journey with self-renewal, check out my book, “RENEWED:  A Mind, Body, Spirit Approach to Self-Renewal”.  If you would like to learn more about how I can help you to find peace and balance in your life, please visit my website at www.mindbodyspiritcounseling.net.  To join a RENEWED group or attend an upcoming 5 Week Transformational Workshop, please check out the Events at Mind, Body, Spirit Counseling.