This is a story about the two dogs in our family as I was growing up. They were polar opposites. Puff was a Terrier German Shepherd, which means he was a small German Shepherd. What he lacked in size he definitely had in heart, as he was the sweetest dog ever! He was my best friend.
But Puff wasn’t perfect. No pup is. He came from “the pound” and we didn’t know all of his back story. He did have some issues. On occasion he would leave us a puddle on the kitchen floor. His dipped head not making eye contact, and his hunkering down with tail between his legs, told us he was sorry for his mistakes. And it was easy to forgive him.
One day, we added to our family a little Pekingese dog which we named Kemo. Dad said it was an Indian name, short for Kemosabe, which means, “faithful friend." Unfortunately, he didn’t live up to his name. Kemo was however interesting to look at. He had that signature pushed in face and long brown hair with a curled up tail. Although, unlike most Pekingese pups, Kemo’s tail was off to the side of his body a bit and a little jagged on the curl part. This was due to an accident. You see, when Pekingese sleep they tend to unravel their tails and lay them flat. Kemo would do this when resting under the couch. One day mom was vacuuming under the couch with her Electro-Lux Power Vac and caught the hair from Kemo’s unfurled tail. The whole tail rolled up into the vacuum before mom knew what had happened. This traumatic episode in Kemo’s life may have something to do with his nasty disposition. From that day forward, his tail looked the same as the Japanese anime character, Pikachu’s tail.
Kemo had a mean streak. He was what I call a “yip yappy” kind of dog. Which means he had an annoying big mouth! He would torment my Puff. Bossing him around by following after him just “a yipping and a yapping” and he would constantly be snapping at his heels. Poor old Puff couldn’t make a move without the nagging attacks from Kemo. At times Puff tried to ignore Kemo by lifting his head and looking away. This didn’t work. Kemo would yip louder and snap even more. Puff would cower and hide with tail between his legs slipping away as best he could. In his own way he even tried to win Kemo over by “killing him with kindness.” At meal times, Puff would put Kemo first by standing several feet behind him until Kemo finished eating. And only when Kemo had finished would Puff slowly go to the bowl and take a few bites of what was left. Every now and then, Puff would look over at Kemo with sadness in his eyes as if to say, “I’m trying to be good to you.”
But Kemo would just get more and more aggressive. Kemo wanted to be in control of Puff. Put him in his place. He was mean and nasty! You could see the heaviness in Puff’s eyes as Kemo was unrelenting. Until one day, Puff had enough! It was a beautiful spring afternoon, sunny and warm. My brother, sister and I were outside with the dogs playing in the backyard. Those were the days when kids played outside in the fresh air and sunshine. Kemo came running around the side of the house near the chain-link fence where Puff was standing minding his own business. Puff was enjoying himself by listening to birds sing and watching squirrels run on a tree branch. “Yip, yap!” “Snap, snap!” Kemo at Puff’s heels again. “Yip, yap!” “Snap, snap!” Puff just couldn’t take it anymore. He grabbed Kemo by the scruff of the neck and tossed him up high into the air. Kemo landed on the top of the fence post. He squealed in agony as he hung there from his eye lid. In a frantic effort to free himself he wriggled and jolted and swung his body from side to side. We rushed to remove him from the fence to find that his eyeball was hanging out of its socket. It looked like a golf ball just hanging there. Although it was later put back into its socket, Kemo no longer had sight in that eye. To his dying day his eye bulged out and he had a new nickname, “Pop Eye.”
And that is about the time when I became a cat lover.
But what does all this have to do with FitMamas and exercise and mindful eating? Well, not much really. It's just an encouragement to show love, kindness, and forgiveness. Let's not be like Kemo and let past tribulations and traumas overpower our lives to the point where we can’t give or receive kindness. We are all on this journey together. The Apostle Paul put it best “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
Bob just said, “It’s okay to binge.” * I’ve never heard anyone say that, much less my favorite experts, Bob and Brad, self described as “The Most Famous Physical Therapists on the Internet.”
But wait a minute! I’ve basically been saying the same thing in our family for years. “There is a time for feasting.” I say it all the time. Turns out, God Himself in His infinitely perfect plan for us said it first! There are multiple times of feasting not only mentioned but actually mandated in the Bible.
So, let’s live out what we believe. Why beat ourselves up for celebrating, loading up on and enjoying good food and fellowship. Yes, we may have put on a few extra pounds over the holiday season. That’s the reality of feasting. So perhaps now it is time to pull back a little on the food and exercise a bit more. We will get back into balance and a natural rhythm with healthy foods and portion control. It is okay!
*It’s not okay when you are in an addictive binge eating cycle. If that is you, get some help from your doctor. Check out FitMamas blog, “Are You Eating Your Feelings?”
Here are Seven Satisfying Food Tips to help you get back on track in the new year. Try these tips for the month of January. Maybe start slow by adding a couple tips over the next few days and then add more. Take charge of what you eat and enjoy every bite!
Easy Steps to Success
Krunching Kris Kringle (pictured above) was gifted to me a couple Christmas’s ago. The gift-giver knows me well. She knows that I love the exercise ball. She knows that this little ornament will speak love to my heart. What a sweet little gift. Thank you Jen! It’s one of my favorite tree ornaments. I smile every time I see it.
God the Father gave us the perfect Christmas gift through Jesus Christ His Son. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11
Merry Christmas Everyone!
So if you're tired of the same old story,
Oh, turn some pages
I will be here when you are ready
To roll with the changes, yeah, yeah
Keep On Rolling -- REO Speedwagon 1978
Oh my goodness! I am loving my professional soft roller. Learning to work with a roller especially for relaxation and self-massage has been an amazing journey for me so far. I’ve been able to address (like never before) the constant pain I have in my neck and shoulder which knots up, holds tension and messes with my posture and alignment. It’s a stubborn overworked and stressed out upper trapezius muscle that started to go awry after the birth of my 17 year old. Seventeen years ago, I twisted funny to lift him and found myself in a neck brace for months, and the little booger (the trapezius muscle, not my son!) continues to plague me. But now, Oh! The satisfaction of using the roller to push into and break up that knotted muscle, while releasing the tight and tense fibers through gentle rocking motions has me “Oo’ing” and “Ah’ing”! I found that the roller unlike any other tool for stretching (including the exercise ball which, if you’ve taken “On the Ball!”, you know I absolutely love) breaks up knots and surrounding tissues in order to heal stubborn areas of pain. I actually went through one whole day this week without feeling any aches or pains. That is a first for me. I also learned a position on the roller which when done for about a minute or two totally relaxes my body. Last time I did it I fell asleep on it. I’m very happy to be on this roller adventure.
My husband has long suffered periodic back and shoulder pain. He tried one of my new roller discoveries. Although reluctant to admit it, he is finding relief. I know because he keeps going to the wall with the roller to work out his pain. Why is he reluctant to admit it? He lives with me! I have put that poor man through so much. I experiment on him all the time. He has to suffer all the contraptions I pull out to fix whatever ails him and to try it before I use it on my students. He’s a great sport and we all can thank him that he allows me to practice on him. Unfortunately the last time I practiced on him he could hardly walk for a week. Now the roller is helping him heal up from that experience.
Here’s one more reason to love the roller. My students love it! One of my “One-On-One” Personal Training students has a goal to de-stress. She is a 24 hour round the clock care-giver in her own home. She needs ways at home to relax her mind and body. Being very in tune to the complexities of the connection of mind and body and the importance of this connection for healthy daily living she embraced the roller with me. We used the roller to find neutral spine for relaxation, to massage through arms and wrists to help with tennis elbow, to roll through the foot to help with plantar fasciitis and to stretch out tight hip flexors. And she was able to relax and roll. Her response has been emphatic! “I love the roller!” Used by permission, Thanks Margaret!
Friends, I’m enjoying the roller so much. It’s fun to explore. I’m not at a stage of life where I get to travel much. My heart longs for Italy, France, Scotland . . . I don’t know if I’ll ever get to any of those places. But I’m going places with my roller. I’m on a rolling road exploring my own connections between my body and my mind. I’m learning the language of self-massage, relaxation and Pilates for strengthening as I roll along. The travel gear is light because the roller is all that is needed. The carry-on bag consists of yoga socks and a hair band. I’ll admit feeling a little out of my comfort zone when I roll my body out on a new place, but I’m trusting my instincts and finding comfort. I’m pleased to encourage my students to new experiences and their personal benefits as they use the roller too. It’s a beautiful journey. Come with us! Let’s get “On a Roll!”
Our very first Cardio Strength Blast course and we had a Blast! We embraced each session, testing our strength and challenging our resolve. Every Power Move and each Pattern Progression was practiced, perfected and implemented in class and at home. We learned options to make this format work with injuries, for low impact or for the more advanced. Everyone was successful! New class coming up again in January. Join us.
Upcoming FitMamas Events Sign up before Thanksgiving for any or all of the following and receive $10.00 off each event.
Cardio Strength Blast!
(Round 2) January 5-26, Saturdays at 7:00 AM Pasadena $120.
On a Roll!
(Using a roller to stretch, strengthen and massage)
February/March by appointment (Measurement accountability and or individual Trainer Assisted Stretching) Maximize the Jazzercise 30 Day Challenge!
Try this sampling of Cardio Strength Blast! in the comfort of your home. For more Cardio Strength Blast! with different Pattern Progressions, Power Moves, and Personal Training attention join me for upcoming sessions in Pasadena and Linthicum.
Instructions/Pattern Progression to get the most out of the video workout session.
Wow! Amazing! Thank you to all those who voted for me and to the kind soul who nominated me. What a wonderful surprise. This has touched me to the core and given me even more determination to provide "fun, functional, full of life fitness for the everyday woman." With love and joy, Penny.
Acknowledging feelings is one way of valuing ourselves
Why is it important to acknowledge our feelings? Because our feelings can be helpful tools which allow us to know ourselves better. What we feel is important and our feelings deserve attention. But beware! Sometimes our feelings cause us pain. I know mine have over the years. It takes courage to thoughtfully consider the reasons behind our feelings and ask, “Why do I feel this way?” Of course there may be a simple answer, “I feel tired because I need rest.” Or the answer may be much more complex. Sometimes we discover we have been eating our feelings because we are wounded in some way. At some point, food became our source of comfort. Here is a little exercise you might want to try. It has helped me.
The Imaginary (or real) Dry Erase Board Exercise!
The next time you are tempted to eat when you are not hungry, take a moment to capture what you are feeling by imagining it written out on a white board in front of you. Step back and take a long look at what you wrote on the board. Separating ourselves from our feelings helps us see them more clearly. Now take a deep breath and release that air with a loud whoosh. Take another look at your board and push through the surface of what is written. Probe a little deeper beyond “Why do I feel this way?” Ask questions like, “What, if anything, am I covering up or hiding or ignoring or just putting off?” “Am I afraid of something?”
Many feelings may surface and you may think there is not enough time to look at them all. Just capture those feelings on paper and stick them in a box to address later. Try to commit to looking at just one a day. A good place to do this is in a journal. I have found journaling to be very beneficial. Journaling about our feelings may help us discover the deeply rooted reasons we have been covering them up with food.
Perhaps when you were a child, key people in your life became overly emotional and loud, screaming and out of control with their feelings. Now you are afraid to feel. Perhaps, you were ignored or belittled when you tried to share your feelings. You were to be “seen and not heard.” So you began to pretend, betraying feelings with a smile on your face when on the inside your heart was broken. I know. I have been there. We are taking time to understand ourselves and grow as people.
Next, let’s ask ourselves an outward facing question, “In what way can I be kind to myself and others while gently addressing some of my feelings.” Let’s turn those feelings into something good.
Putting our feelings to good use!
Maybe the dry erase board says, “I feel lonely.” We can ask ourselves, “What can be done about loneliness?” “What does loneliness need?” Get creative and brainstorm some ideas specifically for this feeling. What to do when I feel lonely:
1. Call a friend. Or family member, just to talk.
2. Write a letter to encourage someone else.
3. Do something good for a neighbor (e.g., take them a plant or cut their grass).
4. Take a walk with your pet.
5. Read a book.
6. Journal about loneliness.
Although simplistic, this task puts us in the driver’s seat and helps to replace eating our feelings with the start of a good habit. No more stuffing feelings down with food. We are getting food out of the way and beginning to live more fully. We are nurturing personal growth. We are experiencing freedom as we walk out of binge eating bondage. Freeing ourselves to receive healing and to become a comfort to self and others.
Yesterday I ate because I was truly hungry. I stopped when I was satisfied. I had some feelings I wrote out on my imaginary board. It said, “I feel sad.” I sat with sadness awhile and I cried. I chose to write about being sad in my journal. Then I took a walk outside in the sunshine and prayed about my sadness. After some time, I turned my prayers into thanksgiving. At night, when I laid down to sleep, I was feeling good. I was in charge of my feelings. I ate well too. I enjoyed my food and I was mindful to make some nutritious choices.
The next day, I did it again. I ate because I was truly hungry. I stopped when I was satisfied.
Benefits (Freedom from Binge Eating)
1. Growth as a person.
2. Hidden beauty comes out and impacts others.
3. Depths of character bubble up.
4. Wisdom surfaces.
5. Self-talk is kind and gentle.
6. A lightness and inner peace comes out.
7. Thoughts are clearer.
8. The mind is less cluttered making room for mystery and adventure.
9. Confidence emerges.
10. Sleep is more productive and peaceful.
11. Forgiving ourselves and others.
12. Confronting lies that have kept us stuck.
13. Removing fear and anxiety.
14. Dealing with hurt and anger.
15. Being a better support and encourager to others.
16. Discovering the wonderful person that had disappeared under food.
A Final thought…
Feelings are not right or wrong and not all feelings require action. If we want to, after looking at them, we can simply erase them from the board. The important thing is we got them out and away from us and we did not eat them.
Most feelings come and go. But some bad feelings return again and again to beat us up. Sometimes feelings need to be expressed to others. This takes thought, prayer and a temperament that is kind and considerate. If you are stuck and not able to get in touch with your feelings or your feelings are coming out in an unhealthy manner, please seek help. Contact a therapist or counselor that can help you work through your feelings and support you on your life journey.
I’m in charge of what I do with my feelings. I can eat them. I can push them down with food. I can eat sorrow, loneliness, anger, frustration, worthlessness, regret, hurt, guilt, disappointments, anxiety, and on and on it goes. I can even choose to eat happiness, comfort, excitement, enthusiasm, and on and on it goes. I can eat my feelings until I bloat myself with heaviness and deplete myself of all strength. I can eat my feelings until I’m weighed down with depression, stuffed with shame, swelled up with destructive self-talk and feeling fat. Then I can hate myself.
Next I will promise, I’ll never do that again! I’m so sorry. Tomorrow, I will pull out that diet plan. I’ll go get the groceries I need to make sure I eat right. The family will have to fend for themselves at meal times. I’m gonna fast a couple days this week too. I’ll pull out that new exercise video. This will be the last time I do this to myself, the last time I go to bed beating myself up over food.
Guess what. It’s tomorrow and I’m doing it again. I’m eating my feelings. I’m in a pattern of what author Michelle May M.D. in her book, “Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat”, calls “The Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle.” It’s a pattern of binge eating and overeating. This is a condition called disordered eating.
I’m in charge of what I do with my feelings. When I choose to eat my feelings, it’s as if the true me is locked away in a prison, walled up into silence and made invisible. Perhaps it’s too scary to feel. When I choose to eat my feelings, I’m not working toward growth and development as a person. I’m stuck. I am not caring for myself by addressing true needs that may surface. I’m also holding myself back from living to my full potential and from helping others. I’m hiding under food.
But what if today, I didn’t eat my feelings? What if I unlocked the prison door, lifted myself out from under all that food, and let my feelings come out. What if I took a serious look at those feelings and separated them out and away from my eating. What if today, I took charge of my feelings and directed them toward a productive outcome. I am in charge of what I eat. I’m eating today only when I am hungry.
Once upon a time:
I planned the meal. A gathering of friends and family to celebrate a Birthday. All his favorite foods made to perfection! I pulled out the china and polished the silver. I served courses and displayed the food with color and beauty. I kept the conversation rolling while I attended to every person’s needs. There was a toast to mothers and sons. We talked about a daughter’s upcoming wedding. The bridesmaid’s dresses are pale coral chiffon. Going back to school was another topic we discussed. A friend was sharing about her newborn grandson. Celebrating life together! That’s the appearance of things.
Since everyone was now gone, I sat down and rewarded myself with a third serving of dessert. I thought about the successes of the evening. The compliments and accolades over my “Rolling out the red carpet!” Some said things like, “You’re the best cook in the world!” “Oh my! That is so delicious!” “You’ve outdone yourself.” Everyone seemed to have a good time. I was secretly savoring my success with a thick slab of chocolate cake. Numbing out a bit with every bite. And I was eating my feelings.
There’s just one problem. I’m embarrassed to tell you. No one knows the truth. I didn’t know it myself, until I stopped eating my feelings. You see, when I made “all of his favorite foods” it wasn’t for the Birthday boy. I made those foods for Joe, because they were Joe’s favorite foods. My oldest son Joe died 10 years ago. So why was I cooking for him? It was a way to feel connected to him. It was a way to bring him into the family gathering. It was a way to share him with friends and to feel part of the group. It was how I could manage the friends whose grown sons are getting married. The memories of kids going back to school. The grandchildren I will never have since Joe is no longer here. My future lost. And all those compliments over the food. Those were the exact things Joe would have said to me!
End of story.
When I stopped the painful, self-debasing, life debilitating cycle of binge eating. I began to care for myself and live with deeper purpose. I realized I was holding myself hostage. I was stopped, dead in my tracks. Stopped from healing, growing, and living life to the fullest. I was hiding away and missing the freedom that comes from loving others without the food cover up. Now, instead of eating my feelings, I take charge of my feelings. I’m eating today only when I am hungry. Do you want to take charge of your feelings and join me? Stay tuned for my next blog posting to find out more.