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Scarcity and Lack: The Ringmasters of Holiday Stress


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Holidays can be lovely time full of joy, connection and reflection, but more often than not, that potential gets buried under feelings of stress, overwhelm and even dread. But why? Where do these feeling arise from as we navigate through the purportedly “happiest time of the year,” and is there anything we can do to avoid the compensatory behaviors we often find ourselves in (think: over-eating, over-drinking, under-exercising) in an attempt to cope?

 

Yes, and, let me explain.

 

In a culture of consumerism, the messages we’re given centralize around the theme, “You need this.” While there are incomprehensible ways to accomplish this, the basic premise of economics is: Sell people things they need in order to collect money you need in order to buy things you need… and the cycle continues. But before I go on further, let me just say that I don’t necessarily see anything fundamentally wrong with this picture. I have needs. You have needs. We have to find ways to meet those needs. Nothing wrong with that. So, for those of you out there rolling your eyes, thinking I’m shaming the world for consuming and trying to sway you into a counter-culture of communing and trading, I’m not. Let’s be clear.

 

I am, however, going to suggest to you that your needs, and what marketing companies tell you are you *needs, are two, very different things, and that believing your needs are never fully met is stressful to the body and mind, which is particularly present during the holiday season leads to unavoidable holiday gloom.

 

In other words, the constant highlight of the fact that we don’t have enough and will never be enough unless we buy, get or have ‘The Thing’ being sold to us, creates feelings of scarcity and lack. And furthermore, while actual scarcity has been shown in studies to be associated with decline in cognitive function as well as feelings of tenseness, irritability, fatigue and overwhelm, mere thoughts about scarcity lead to the same outcome. Meaning: Whether you don’t have enough, or whether you BELIEVE you don’t have enough, the results are much the same.

 

And to that point, no amount of breathing exercises, yoga, meditation or anti-inflammatory foods will be able to combat the stress you feel if your central belief is “I’m not enough. I don’t have enough.” Those two thoughts, which have an evolutionary basis in needs of safety, are not only stressful but destabilizing as well. Yet, we are inundated on a daily basis with messaging and marketing made to make us feel just that: Not enough.  

 

Turn on the TV and you will see endless advertisements directed at pointing out your flaws, what’s wrong with the world or how you can “fix” your life with this one simple tool. Cue the late night infomercials. But, it’s not always quite as boisterous as that either. A subtle message about those pesky grey hairs may seem totally normal to you based on the culture we’ve grown accustom to, but essentially the storyline is the same old song on repeat: You’re not enough the way you are – here, fix it with this.

 

No wonder we are all walking around tense, needy and irritable. I don’t know about you, but when I start to feel less-than or not-enough, I immediately want to dig into a box of cookies, a bottle of wine or, better yet, snap at the nearest person next to me just for existing.

 

In fact, when we feel fearful, stressed or uneasy about our lives, we tend to want to anesthetize that pain with creature comforts such as sugar, alcohol, sex, shopping or exercise. While in moderation, none of these things are inherently harmful, but excessive amounts of them can lead to negative consequences down the road, as most of us are aware. When we spend a whole month (or three considering they put out Christmas decorations at Halloween now) in the feeling of stress around upcoming holidays, we can easily begin to lean on these crutches more often than not, creating detrimental effects for our health.

 

To demonstrate this point even further, there has been some amazing work coming out of Princeton and Harvard professors Eldar Shafir and Sendhil Mullainathan pointing to the fact that scarcity, and the feelings of scarcity, actually lower cognitive abilities. Meaning, as humans, our decision making skills sort of fly out the window when dealing with the stress of scarcity. Now, they were mostly referring to financial scarcity in these studies, but have alluded to the fact in other articles that it doesn’t necessarily matter what the subject matter is. The reason being that when the human brain experiences stress, glucose levels plummet as energy demands increase in response to stress hormones being released into the bloodstream, and our attention focuses myopically on the stressor at hand, ultimately, making us dumber and hyper-reflexive in nature.

 

Now, this might seem like an intense description to lay out as a case against watching TV commercials, but nonetheless I think it’s worth mentioning since we are inundated with these messages more often than most of us care to recognize, making us victims of our own culture.

 

So, what to do? Because, let’s be honest, thinking about the ways your thoughts stress your body out is stressful in and of itself, and that’s not good for anyone.

 

Luckily, I believe the antidote to this conundrum is much simpler than we might assume. While I talk about it a lot, awareness – simple, sweet awareness – is once again key. Even reading this post, you will most likely think about things a little bit differently, and that, I believe is enough. Because next time you catch yourself feeling badly that you don’t have the latest style of workout pants or a bigger, fancier car or new furniture for your house or all the books you could ever want to read or the newest kitchen gadget from La Creuset, you might just stop and ask yourself, “Will this thing somehow make me better?” “Do I really need it?” “If I do want it, why? And lastly, “Even without this thing, can I be enough?”

 

Again, I don’t write this post to scare you out of wanting fun things, shopping for your loved ones or getting caught up in the Christmas spirit. We all celebrate differently, and if that feels good to you, and excites you and conjures feelings of joy – by all means, DO THE THINGS THAT BRING YOU JOY. But, if you find yourself feeling badly, feeling like you're lacking or ungrateful for all that you already do have, perhaps check in and tune in to see if the message is yours, or if you’ve been paying a bit too much attention to those outside voices whose message will always, and forever, be: You’re not enough.

 

Until next time,

Sy 

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Relationships: It's not them, it's you.


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I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships lately. Platonic, intimate, acquaintances and everything in between. The nature of them, how they affect our well-being, our health, our mindset and how, despite sometimes wishing they weren’t, they are integral to our joy and fulfillment during this lifetime. So, as I usually do with things I think about intensely, I decided to write about it.

 

Being an NTP, you’d think my job description ended at food, but what I’ve found over the years is that food is rarely the place of conclusion. In fact, it’s usually the commencement, the place where it all starts and continues to unfold into a deeper understanding of what health really means.

 

To me, health means being able to wake up in the morning satisfied and eager. Happy and content with your life and where it’s heading. Receptive and open to contrast as a learning tool, but not afraid and fearful of its presence in your life. Health means alignment between your body, mind and soul and a feeling of connection to a greater collective than you can concretely wrap your head around.

 

Can all of that be accomplished with food? I think not. Which is why I feel it necessary for us to take a holistic approach to our wellness and address all the conditions of our lives, including our loved ones – our loathed ones – and ones we don’t give much thought to, but who still exist in our awareness.

 

Whether we like it or not, relationships are central to our existence and we are in a “relationship” with everyone we meet. To demonstrate my point, according to the dictionary definition, relationships are defined as such:

 

“the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected.”

 

In other words, while we often save the word *relationship for our intimate and romantic ones, we are related and connected to everything and everyone we come into contact with, making relationships a very, very large and undeniable part of our experience. If I go to the grocery store to pick up food, I’m in a relationship of some sort with every person and item there. Now, the intensity of that relationship may vary, I may hardly notice some people while choosing to speak to others, but nonetheless, the relationship exists. From a purely objective standpoint, with this many relationships making their way into our daily experience, wouldn’t it make sense to ensure they are mostly positive?

 

But we don’t do that. We tend to think of relationships as passive. As though the people and encounters in our lives are exerted upon us and our only job is to consume them. To receive them and react to them.  If we are “lucky and blessed” we’re surrounded by people who make our lives better, and if we are “unlucky and cursed” we will be surrounded by those we consider idiots or people who make our lives miserable.

 

And this is wherein the problem lies...

 

What most people fail to understand is that the quality of our relationships exists in direct proportion to who we ARE in our own lives. In other words, your relationships are a direct reflection of YOU.

 

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With that in mind, do you like what you see looking back?

 

Upon learning this harsh, eye-opening truth, I remember balking a bit. I was more of the mindset that people were more hassle than they were worth. For the most part, I found that people were self-serving, annoying, dumb, lazy, mean, and uninteresting. I had time for a few select (read: “important”) people in my life, and even they were often the source of much of my pain. Particularly when it came to my romantic relationships. No matter how hard they may have been trying, I was consistently disappointed with their lack of attention, love and adoration, expecting an inordinate amount of devotion and connection that I myself was unwilling and unable to give in return.

 

So, you can imagine my surprise, and disbelief, when I found out that all of those relationships – the ones that caused me so much headache and the ones for which I longed to be more meaningful and deep – were a product my doing.

 

I’m not suggesting that we can manipulate our relationships to fit our ideals, but what I am saying is that if we want meaningful, loving, interesting, expanding, open, communicative relationships, we must first show up as those qualities in our own lives. Borrowing from religion, we call this a faith of sorts. The premise that I must first become that which I want to be and look for what I want to cultivate within myself without having seen proof of it in others. Because the universal forces which bring us together are interesting that way. If my frequency is more irritable than compassionate, more angry than loving, more negative than positive, by definition it will be difficult, if not impossible, to match up with anyone embodying those qualities.

 

Sometimes this is hard, especially when it means looking at old patterns and ways of showing up and choosing new ones. I remember specifically wanting more authentic, open and vulnerable relationships, until I realized what they would require of me. More authenticity and vulnerability. Unfortunately (or not), relationships are never one-sided, meaning that you will most likely have to become uncomfortable for a period of time while you learn to navigate new ways of being, communicating and interacting. Which is why most of us fail to make changes and then blame others for not being what we needed them to be.

 

When I was on the road to those more meaningful relationships, I had to dive deep into what I considered hot water and it was, at times, terrifying. It didn’t stop me, but sometimes my heart would race so fast I thought I would die and I had multiple vulnerability hangovers, as shame researcher Brene Brown affectionately calls them. I was wobbly and shaky and unsure of myself most of the time, but little by little I saw people opening up around me in ways I couldn’t have imagined before. Not only strangers, but friends and family I’d known my entire life. People I thought couldn’t possibly share my love for this work or whom I thought were content to stay where they were started joining me on my journey. We talked and laughed and cried – sometimes we pushed back on each other, but ultimately the more responsibility I took for massaging and nurturing my relationships, the more they blossomed before my eyes into something that felt real. That felt like mine.

While that’s simply one example of the way it could unfold, the overarching theme is this:

 

Get clear on what you’d like from your relationships and then work to become that person.

 

Your relationships will rise or fall to the level of your expectation and creation. They are not dead, but vitally alive and pulsing with possibility. Not outside of yourself, but in. And arguably, existing in a world where you feel enlivened, supported, loved, seen and connected is one that’s fantastic for your health. Next time you find yourself frustrated, disappointed or disillusioned with the people in your life, ask yourself how you can show up differently to the scene and see how it changes the landscape.

 

Until next time,

Sy

 

 

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Using food as a form of self-love

Let’s face it – you have a body and it needs nourishment, but you also have a body you feel needs to fit certain standards of beauty within a cultural context. Sadly, these two needs don’t fit into the same box for most women and, more often than not, we find ourselves sacrificing health for beauty or, conversely, believing that we have to sacrifice beauty for health. I don’t know about you, but the conversation I’m interested in having is one in which sacrifice is not invited to the party and we can literally have our cake and eat it too – honestly, why would you want cake you can’t eat anyway?

 

Most women, including myself at various times throughout my life, I know tend to view food in a very dogmatic, data-driven, numbers sort of way.

 

How many calories does it have?

Will it fit my carbs for the day?

Is it a bad food or a good food?

How many miles will I have to run to get rid of that dessert?

 

We act like food is merely an annoyance to deal with, something we’d really prefer not to engage with if we could just figure out how to bypass our biology…

 

“If only I wasn’t so hungry all the time!!! I’d totally look like a bikini model. Damn appetite. Damn body”

 

Comical yes, but sad and true nonetheless.

 

But what if there was a different way? A way to love and appreciate food. To court our food like a romantic, Italian lover and to fall in love with the very essence of it? To tap into the sensual, inspired side of food and to revel in its colors, tastes and smells? To find gratitude for its nutrients and excitement in its stunning beauty? And, further, what if the path to this glorious relationship with food was through our relationship to ourselves?

 

You see, whether you like it or not, you were given a body. And that body of yours is a precious gift. We, as in our consciousness, are not our bodies, but rather souls that reside in a body until we decide to leave. In that sense, your body really is on loan from forces that extend further than your ability to see them.

 

Imagine this: Let’s say that when you are born you are given a car. This car is meant to last you your whole life and get you everywhere you need to go. Now, knowing how fickle cars can be, I’m betting you’d treat your car with the utmost respect, love and appreciation. You’d feed it quality gas and take it for regular tune ups. You’d keep it clean and fueled up with all the right fluids and treat it with loving kindness. You wouldn’t push it to do more than its capable of because you’d understand that you don’t get another one if it were to die out, and you have places to go, people to meet, things to do! Ultimately, this car would be your most prized possession because without it your life would be incredibly difficult to maintain.

 

As clunky and mismatched as this analogy may be, your body IS your car and you do only get one in this lifetime. Your body was given to you for a very special purpose, and truthfully, I believe you picked it out with utter excitement knowing all that you could do together. You said, “that’s the one I want! Just look at it!”

 

In return, your body wants nothing more than to please you, to help you get around, to house an intelligent brain and take you on grand adventures – but you, in your human nature, are over here berating it, punishing it, scolding it and hating it. You curse your body and say mean things to its face. You talk about it behind its back and criticize it every time you see it. You expect it to perform like a work horse on a peasant’s diet and then get angry when it holds on to its last shred of comfort in your thick thighs, beautiful, soft belly and full cheeks.

 

Can you really blame it? I don’t know anyone or anything that can thrive under those conditions.

 

So let’s change the narrative. Let’s become renegades in the world of food and nutrition and diet, and say “No more” to the ceaseless marketing meant to make us feel bad about our bodies!

 

Let’s fall in love with food and get excited about what our “car” needs to keep living up to its fullest potential. Next time you’re in the grocery store, imagine what your car might need in this moment… What sounds delicious, fresh and vital? What makes your heart dance a happy dance when you think about it?

 

Can you imagine the perfect crunch of a salad leaf?
Can you taste the sweetness of a fresh peach?

Can you imagine a bite of nourishing, creamy butter on a warm piece of toast?

Is a delicious bite of decadent dark chocolate calling your name?

Does a bittersweet glass of red wine on the patio make your toes tingle with anticipation?

 

Intuitive eating and eating out of love are about so much more than always choosing the “healthiest” foods or foods that we deem good. Sometimes, in a moment of pure joy and self-love, a piece of dark chocolate with some smooth, creamy cashew butter just lights me up. Other times, I really want to snuggle on my couch, watch a good movie, drink some wine and indulge in a gluten-free pizza. The key being that both scenarios involve love, not angst, worry or guilt.

 

Choosing to fuel your body isn’t always about drinking green smoothies and eating salads, although those are great choices in moderation. Using self-love to heal your relationship with food means caring about the way you feel (emotionally) and eating with love on your mind and in your heart. It means getting excited about your meals, trusting your body to absorb the nutrients and tuning into what your body is asking for in that moment. It’s living moment to moment and understanding that you are a dynamic, changing being, and therefore, your food choices will be too!

 

At first, it can seem scary to let go of the rules and restrictions, especially if we’ve had them in place for a while. And for a tiny bit, you may go off the deep end eating everything you can think of in that moment. That’s ok. If there is one thing I can promise, it’s that if you approach it with a feeling of curiosity and love, you will come back to center and your body will balance itself out. After one too many pints of ice cream, you WILL crave some veggies, and in that powerful moment, you are on your way to intuitive eating. That is what it means to use cravings to your advantage and to listen to the messages.

 

Intuitive eating, born out of self-love, is not a dietary strategy. It is the relationship you were always meant to have with your body. The one where you wake up in the morning grateful for its existence and say, “what do you need today, how can I serve you? What would make you happy?”

 

The rewards from tuning in and listening to those messages are countless, but the greatest one I believe it the sense of complete confidence you begin to embody as you recognize the effort you’re willing to make for this priceless friend of yours. Knowing you are doing all you can for yourself in order for you to thrive brings about a deep sense of appreciation and gratitude for yourself, and that, my friends, is true self-love.

 

 

Happy eating!

 

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Inspired Action Vs. Action: What's the Difference and How Can You Tell?

So, have you ever felt the pressure to get something done, or to check something off your list, but felt totally uninspired to do it and let procrastination suck the life out of you? Yeah, me too. In fact, I started going down that familiar path today, but was luckily interrupted by a phone call from a friend that lasted well over an hour and took my mind out of forcing myself to write this blog and into talking and laughing and connecting. Afterward, not only did I feel inspired with tons of new thoughts and energies buzzing through my brain, but I felt excited to sit down and jam out this post because the lesson is applicable to so many of us. When we force our way through life, we get tired and burned out, but when we tap into the source of never-ending energy within us, life flows effortlessly and easily. And this applies to everything from our closest relationships to writing weekly blog posts. The rules never change. Hold on too tightly, and the sand falls out. Open your hand and let it sit, and it can remain indefinitely.

 

But, the key is recognizing this, because as we all probably know, it’s easier said than done when we’re up against a deadline or when our partner is drifting further and further away or when we don’t know whether we should quit the job or stay. I get it. I LOVE making lists and checking items off. I love certainty and am terrified by change. I find it so satisfying in the part of my brain that likes things orderly and organized – the part that feels safer when things are under control. But when our lists and expectations and goals become more harmful than helpful, it’s worth stepping back and taking a look at how our forcefulness is actually the cause of our discomfort, NOT the thing we think needs changes or fixing or completing.

 

Recently, I had a wonderful experience I’d like the share that demonstrates this beautifully. I’ve often heard from spiritual teachers that when we align with the universe and our intuition, projects, experiences and relationships all flow effortlessly, almost like divine inspiration flowing THROUGH them. And while I’ve certainly experienced many moments of peace and clarity, I’d never really had that deep knowing about something that made it feel like I was floating on clouds. I’ve always been the push-through-it type where it takes me 3 days to painfully hack out a blog post filled with more edits, typos and rewritten sentences than not and by the end of it I feel mentally and emotionally drained. It was the same for programs I’d put out, coaching follow ups or big ideas that flowed through my brain. I loved them, but I equally hated them because they felt hard and overwhelming and stressful. But recently, I’ve been leaning into the idea of divine inspiration and letting the work flow through me instead of wrangling it out, and I finally came to a personal understanding of this with a small e-recipe book I co-authored.

 

One of my favorite teachers talks about how meditation allows the brain to slow down and turn off long enough that we are no longer blocking our internal guidance. Up until the past few months, I’d always used meditation in a very physically-focused way as a tool for calming down my nervous system and squelching stress. But, lately, I started focusing my attention on it’s more spiritual attributes. Namely, as a way to connect to my inner guidance system and source.  So, one day, after a nice, but not out of the normal, meditation, I got an Instagram notification from a friend whose recipe I’d cooked and photographed that said, “You always make them look so pretty.” Not thinking anything of it, I laughingly wrote back, “you cook em, I’ll make em look pretty!” and then, right then and there it was as if I was handed an idea that felt so natural and logical, it was hardly a big deal, but I knew deep in my soul that it was inspired. I shot her a text and said, “Hey, what if we actually do that and create a book together. You cook, I shoot?” To which she replied, “Let’s do it.” And the Simple Summer E-Recipe Book you’ve been hearing me talk about for weeks now was born. But not only was the idea born, the entire project flowed so seamlessly it felt as if I knew all along how to put together and craft an e-book. Then the emails began flowing in and the each and every picture turned out perfectly with one or two shots. The recipes were delicious and easily perfected in less than a week and every phone and brainstorming session was smooth like butter! THIS is what we mean when we talk of divine guidance and inspiration. THIS is what it feels like when the energy of the universe is flowing through you and into your creations, experiences and relationships. THIS is what alignment feels like and what it means to let go and let god – or the universe – or Buddha – or source, or whatever you call it.

 

When we take time to meditate, to slow down, to enjoy our life, to connect and live calmly, we are then open and receptive to these energies. Had I not taken the time to meditate and slow down my restless mind, and instead, pushed through my day without stopping until my head hit the pillow, I would never have seen that path unfolding right before my eyes, nor had the good sense to take it! In fact, I probably would have written it off as a silly passion and convinced myself I didn’t have time for it. And how much I would have missed! From that idea sprang forth four others, including an actual cookbook and new podcast. This is what it means to sync up with the universe, let go of the control and let divine guidance have its way with you.

 

Sure we can push and grind and manipulate our world so that we reach our goals and make ourselves heard, but we can also relax into them and get the same, if not better, results. Having done it both ways, I can tell you that this is one the best things I’ve ever created because of how it felt while I was doing it. There was no stress, no angst, no overwhelm – only joy, excitement and fun along the way and when it was done, I looked at it and smiled grateful for the adventure it took me on during those weeks.

 

If you’re the kind of person who is used to #nodaysoff and #hustling and #workgrind, I urge you in this moment to consider whether or not that mentality is actually serving you? Are you feeling burned out, uninspired and busy? If so, take some time to replenish and sit your ass down for a meditation. If you can’t possibly bare the idea of that (we’ll have to chat about that another time), then do something, anything, to unplug.

 

Go on a walk outside, chat with a dear friend, get a massage, go on a long drive, watch a sunset, even have a glass of wine. Keep unplugging for as long as you need until you feel so inspired to do something you couldn’t possibly ignore it and when that happens, notice the ease with which you get it done. This is how we find our joy and inspiration my friends. It’s not through hard effort, it’s not through control and it’s certainly not through grinding it out. Sure you can get things done that way, but they will probably be half of your genius at best and leave you feeling exhausted and in need of a vacation. Whereas divine inspiration actually bolsters our energy and fills us with delight.

 

Have you ever had an experience with divine guidance? Do you live in flow with the universe? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Until next time,

Sy 


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Why I'm Changing the Direction of My Business, and Why I'd Love for You To Come Along!


Blog Post – Why I’m Changing the Direction of my practice, and why I’d love for you to follow along

 

 

I have a confession. I’ve been struggling for a while now, and truthfully the only people I’ve expressed it to are my closest confidants. I don’t mean to imply that anything is wrong, because its not, but I haven’t felt aligned with my practice for a couple of months now and the frustration has been swirling and building and gestating. Recently, this somewhat irritating energy finally decided to express itself, and I experienced a pretty major meltdown. However, once I finally dried my tears and got myself out of the shame/blame game, I realized the clarity that had been born from the moment. You see, I started out in the health and wellness community very passionate and excited about nutrition and its role in the vitality of the human body. I thrived on learning how to heal from chronic conditions that the conventional medical community dismissed such as anxiety, autoimmunity, depression and hormonal imbalance and ate up every piece of information I could. From there I got interested in other physically-focused aspects of health like sleep, exercise and the stress response, but then as I continued my research, work with clients and personal journey into the space of living well, I realized there was a big, fat hole no one was talking about. Well, not no one, but at least not the majority of practitioners I knew and listened to. The disconnect was: How other pieces of our lives such as work, relationships, self-acceptance, mindset and our ability to lean into feelings like love, vulnerability and joy fit into the puzzle of wellness AND can stop us from really ever getting out from under the story we feel is ours to bear. You see, many of my clients (including myself at one point) hit a wall and stalled out when we focused solely on nutrition. Sure they’d get results and feel or look physically better, but they would either fall back into old habits OR still walk away feeling like there was something missing. They’d get stuck in “healing mode” for months or even years at a time always looking for the next protocol, lab or aha-diagnoses to finally cure their issues, not realizing it all had to do with alignment.

 

The deeper I got into my own path with these internal subjects, the more I started sharing with my clients and the more results they started getting as well. They were becoming happier, calmer, more joyful and less anxious. They were aligning more with their soul paths and learning all about self-love and compassion and taking time, maybe for the first time, to implement self-care, which led them to show up better for everyone around them as well. WE began talking about relationships, and shame around money and their unwillingness to forgive themselves for not being perfect and as I watched these transformations unfold, I realized that I no longer aligned with just a nutrition-centered practice, but still wasn’t sure how to bridge the gap between where I was with my business and where I really wanted to be.

 

Then this last week, in the middle of another frustrating battle, and subsequent breakdown, with my copy, messaging and marketing (all things I dread by the way), I realized something – It wasn’t flowing because it wasn’t my truth. Well, not my whole truth anyway. You see, I’m not interested in taking my clients half way and focusing in on what I consider to be only one aspect of healing and transformation. I’m interested in co-creating and rendezvousing with those who are ready to chew on the whole enchilada. Those who are looking to wake up a year from now and say, “I don’t even recognize the person I used to be.” Those who are willing, able and committed to finding purpose and passion every day and who are ready to fight the good fight to bring forth their authenticity and divine truth.

 

Does nutrition line up with this? Absolutely. You must have a well-oiled machine if you want to win the race, but is it the whole picture? Not from what I’ve found. In fact, over the last couple years, I’ve found that there are really 6 key areas of the human experience that impact whether or not we will ever reach our fullest potential and live a life of freedom and happiness, of health and wellness. They are: Diet, Sleep, Exercise, beliefs/mindset, relationships and finances. And yes, I’m aware that the last one is a loaded topic, but it’s true. I’ve met people who were eating the best diets and sleeping 8 hours a night, but were riddled with dis-ease because they were constantly worried sick about money or, on the flip side, who felt terrible living large because what they really wanted was to live off the grid in a more sustainable way. Like it or not, money plays a role in all of our lives and our alignment with what feels good to us matters – whatever that may be!

 

In my mind, each one of these aspects compliments the others like a beautiful tapestry with multi-colored threads woven throughout. The picture simply wouldn’t be complete without each individual colored strand, and that is the way I have found healing to occur. I believe with my whole heart that when we are not in alignment with the higher purpose we come here to this earth for, that our bodies will find a way of telling us this. Maybe it starts out small like feeling a little tired and burned out, but as we continue to ignore the messages, our body and inner beings turn into screaming toddlers, throwing tantrums and trying every trick they know to get our attention.

 

The more we ignore the message, the louder the fits get until finally, and usually in a grand-gesture of frustration, we end up with something more serious like autoimmunity, heart disease, cancer, depression, anxiety, thyroid issues or some psychosomatic condition conventional medicine has no answer for (um, hello me). Then, and only then, with our backs pinned against the wall, do we usually listen up and THIS is the pivotal moment where we have a choice. A choice to choose a new path, the one that’s always been waiting for us, being held in trust by our higher consciousness, or to turn away in fear and continue to live a life with our hearts and souls closed off to all that we are wasting away what precious time we have left in this mortal body.

 

For those who choose option A, the path will not always be clear or easy – that is to be expected, and where I come in as a coach. I decided to go at this journey alone, but not because I wanted to. At the time, I simply didn’t realize there were coaches out there who were acting as mentors and guides and facilitators for those like myself who were walking the path of awakening and transformation, or I would have absolutely enlisted the help someone wiser. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t’ have teachers. I read books, I listened to books, I listened to podcasts, I read blogs, I Googled an inordinate amount of questions, I went to retreats, I spoke with friends and family, I saw therapists, I went to yoga classes, I meditated, I saw energy healers, I followed inspiring Instagram accounts and so much more. I submerged myself into the space of transformation because it was what I wanted more deeply than anything I’d ever wanted, and you can too. I went through much trial and error in my own journey, and while I certainly don’t preach one way of living (there are a million different ways to align), I do feel like all those experiences put me in a much better position to guide others down the path of awakening and reformation.

 

I believe that there are more of us than ever hearing the call. The call that says, “There’s more. I am more.” It is when we hear this call that we must listen or our resistance to it will build and gain so much momentum that our lives will begin to disintegrate before our eyes as the universe drags us along down the path to our dreams. We can go kicking and screaming, getting beat up along the way by the dusty road of stagnation and fear, or we can let go, surrender and trust that where we are heading is grander than anything we could have imagined for ourselves. It is our choice.

 

So, with that being said, this is the gentle, but exciting shift I will be making with my clients and in my platform. I’m not entirely sure how it will all unfold, and that part is exciting to me now. But I do know that this new, more expansive direction feels right and feels good. I can’t wait to be a part of the many journeys of total life transformation that are to come. Nothing gives me more joy than seeing my clients lives improve as they learn to lean into their intuitive nature and step into their power and vitality. But none of that is possible without addressing more than just our diets. More than just what’s in front of us in a way that we can see, touch and hear. We must go deeper if we are to truly change, and that is what I hope to bring to the table in this new direction. I hope you’ll stick along for the ride. I have a feeling it’s only going to get bigger and better from here. Until next time...

 

Much love, 

Sy 

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Are ANTS Stressing You Out?

ANTS. If you’ve ever had an an ant infestation, you’ll know just how pesky and downright yucky those little guys can be. While today’s conversation centers less around the bug-version of the pests, emotional and mental ANTS are just as annoying, persistent and damaging if left to their own devices. If you’re not not familiar with the the acronym, it stands for Automatic Negative Thoughts, and today I want to chat with you guys about why these patterns are so detrimental to our health and how they skyrocket stress levels.

 

First, let’s do a little unpacking of what an ANT is. Like I mentioned before, the name is pretty self-explanatory, but often times we aren’t even aware we’re engaging in ANT activity until we take a purposeful look inside our minds. I remember there being a time when I thought my thoughts were both uncontrollable and coming from somewhere outside of myself. I had negative, sad and pessimistic thoughts all day long, but thought that’s just the way my brain was made and that I was powerless to change it. Then I remember picking up a book called Change Your Brain, Change Your Life (mostly because I was desperate to get rid of my all-consuming anxiety and depression) and in an unexpected turn of events, learned about ANTS. ANTS are just negative thoughts we’ve been thinking so long and so frequently that they are hardly perceptible anymore.

 

For example: If you’re someone who struggles with body image issues, you may think something along the lines of “Ew, look at my love-handles” every time you pass a mirror without thinking twice about it. Your FIRST and most present (read: automatic) thought is to look for what’s wrong on your body, and I’m betting you’d be hard pressed at that point if I asked you to find something positive to note.

 

As another example, perhaps you’re someone who tends to be a worrier. In this instance, you’re probably looking for all that could go wrong in any given situation, event or circumstance rather than what could go right, and you most likely chalk it up to “being safe instead of sorry,” or even pragmatic thinking.

 

But here’s the thing, every time we think a negative thought, our body responds, and it’s not necessarily a good thing. From an evolutionary perspective, negative thoughts turn on the fight-or-flight mechanisms in our body because, essentially, they are signaling that something is wrong and that we should be ready for danger. This sends out stress signals to the brain which then compensate by releasing more signals and stress hormones to deal with the problem. Your body, as brilliant as it is in many ways, doesn’t really know the difference between a real and perceived threat, so whether you are truly in danger, or merely thinking negative thoughts that make you feel threatened, the response is the same.

 

This is why ANTS, which many of us think every day, sometimes all day, are so harmful both physically and emotionally. We are literally our own worst enemy when it comes to the thoughts we think because our thoughts create emotions and emotions create responses, and chronic, long-term exposure to these types of responses has a wearing down effect on the body’s systems. Over time, this exposure leads to stress-related pathologies such as digestive issues, headaches, tension in the jaw and neck, raised blood pressure and heart rate, wonky menstrual cycles, drained energies and much, much more. The human body does an excellent job when acute stress is present (think emergencies), but really isn’t designed to handle the pressure of long-term, low-grade chronic stress day in and day out. When we start to feel these effects, it usually shows up as “just feeling off.”

 

Many, in fact most, of my clients come to me because, while they can’t quite put a finger on what’s wrong, they recognize that they don’t feel alive, vibrant, healthy, and in many cases, happy. That’s when our work begins as we start to uncover and unpack all the ways that stress, in all its many forms, plays a role in our physiology.

 

 

So, now that we know how thoughts impact the body, the question you probably have is, “What should I do about it?

 

I like to tell people, in order to make real, transformative changes, you must first be aware of what it is you’re trying to change. Now, I realize that may seem a bit blatant, but often times we are looking to our immediate problems or issues, rather than the stuff bubbling underneath them. Heading back to our analogy about body image, it would be easy to think that if we could just change our body, we’d be happy. But underneath that desire is really just a wish for more safety and confidence, and those are emotional feelings, not physical ones. By taking a look at the thoughts we’re thinking that are causing us the pain (ie. I hate my body, I’m so ugly, why can’t I look like so-and-so) we can then, and only then, decide to choose again with thoughts that embody those feelings of safety and confidence.

 

 

But first, awareness. In order to become aware, you must bring the idea of ANTS into your immediate presence. I suggest doing this by putting reminders up in the house or on your phone. You can also take a written inventory of your particular ANTS and put that up for you to see somewhere. Get clear on the thoughts you think all day long that are no longer serving you, and then with this awareness, choose new thoughts in their place that feel better every single time they pop up. By doing this, you are re-training your brain to think positively and in a way that actually calms the stress response in your body rather than igniting it. You are your own best soother. You know exactly how to make yourself feel better in a way that no one else can once you tap into that intuition.

 

It’s not always easy to see these – after all, they are small and sneaky and sometimes, we don’t know they are there until we get bit – that’s ok. As with everything, noticing ANTS takes practice and commitment, but if you are truly interested in changing the way you perceive your life, body, job, relationships, health etc… this is a fantastic place to start.

 

 

The human brain is powerful beyond measure, and it’s an area of health that continues to expand as we learn more about the mind-body connection. Learning to tap in and tune in to the underlying current we build our lives upon is one of the most empowering steps we can take when it comes to creating a healthy body and a happy life. I’ve seen countless people get stuck in a space of healing and therapy and darkness, despite eating all the right foods and doing all the right programs, because they are too afraid to do the internal work it requires to be free. And that’s ok. It can be scary, and it can put us out of balance to look inside and get pointed and real about the ways in which we’ve been creating our own unhappiness. That’s quite the responsibility. But I believe we are all not only up for the task, but masters at it. You did NOT come into this world to worry about your body, fret over your job, fight with your family or beat yourself up every single day for not being perfect. You came into this world to thrive, love and experience all that life has to offer in the most delicious way!

 

If ANTS are something that have been infesting the deepest regions of your mind for years now, make today the day that changes. Make today the day you shine some light on those dusty old beliefs and shake out the proverbial rug. Your life is calling. Are you ready to answer it?

 

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Stress and Carbs: Unpacking Low Carb Diets and Female Hormones


How Does Stress Affect Our Bodies? 

Carbs. Most of us these days have a love-hate relationship with carbs, particularly since the introduction of low-carb diets like Atkins and the South Beach Diet. Many people have seen wonderful results switching from a SAD (Standard American Diet) to a low-carb approach and, arguably, many lives have probably been saved with the reduction of starchy, sugary carbohydrates like bread, pasta and pastries. Today’s post in no way, shape or form is meant to demonize low-carb diets or spread dogmatic information related to carbohydrate intake. However, as with any dietary strategy, it’s seem that we’ve taken this one a bit too far, especially as women, and I want to discuss some of the long-term ramifications that an extremely low-carb approach can have on our overall health.

Women are complex creatures. Just ask any man and he’ll most likely back this up! Sadly, most of us have come to despise the beautiful, feminine qualities that make us who we are, a.k.a. hormones. Either we spend our time trying to cover them up and push them away or we don’t give them much though at all and can’t figure out why we feel “off” or not “quite like ourselves.” Simply put, hormones are messengers. They carry signals from your endocrine glands around to various parts of your body to manage processes like hunger, menstrual cycles, stress levels, sleep, bone density, thyroid levels, sex drive and many other daily, bodily functions. In a word, hormones are VITAL to our health. But what happens when they get thrown out of balance? As you can see, hormones play a role in almost every function you can imagine, so they create quite a stir when things get thrown off kilter.

What Do Carbohydrates Have to Do with Hormones?

In order to understand why carbohydrates are important to hormone balance, it’s important to know a little bit about the stress response in the human body and you’ll also need to understand something called the “Pregnenalone Steal.” We’ve talked a lot about stress and how it effects the body. You can find more on the topic here. However, its safe to say that stress comes in both physical and emotional packages. When we refer to stress, most of us are talking about perceived stress, or emotional stress. This is the type of stress that exists in our mind when we’re feeling overwhelmed, scared, anxious, busy, angry etc. The reason we called it perceived stress is because of its relativity – what stresses me out might not bother you one bit and vice versa. Then there’s physical stress, which is the result of outside forces causing internal stress such as too much exercise, eating foods that don’t agree with our body chemistry, lack of sleep, etc. Both of these combine to make up our total stress response.

Now, the main hormone responsible for regulating our stress response is named Cortisol. Cortisol has several really interesting jobs in the body, but it’s mainly used to mobilize and gather up glucose to provide our arms, legs and heart with the energy they need to deal with a given stressor. For example: Let’s say you’re walking down a dark alley (not sure why, but just go with it) and a man in a dark hoodie comes up to you with a gun and asks for your wallet. In this instance, your body is immediately going to go into what’s called Fight-or-Flight mode, or in more technical terms, sympathetic dominance. During this time, you’re making split decisions about whether to fight him off or run away. Either way, you’re going to need a lot of extra energy and wits to get the job done, and this is what cortisol and adrenaline are responsible for. They do things like increase your heart rate and blood pressure, break down stored glucose for energy needs and increase your cognitive abilities. Cortisol is also released like this during exercise, which is why some people can get addicted to high intensity regiments. Cortisol makes us feel powerful, alert and energetic…to a certain point. You see, cortisol was never meant to exist in our systems for too long. It was made for acute, more natural, stressors like the scene described above. Similar to recreational drugs, the effects are only fun for the body and brain up to a certain point, at which they become degrading and dangerous.

So here’s the thing: The stress response will ALWAYS take precedence over every other function in the body. It was meant to get you out of dodge and save your life and dag nabit that’s what it’s going to do. Heading back to the scene above, do you imagine your body is thinking about digesting your dinner or making a baby? If you’re not sure, the answer is NO! Your body is thinking about two things – fighting or “flight-ing.” So – stay with me here and listen closely to this next part. Cortisol is released during both acute bouts of stress (the gunman) AND chronic ones. Chronic referring to: traffic on your way to work, fights with your spouse, hating the job you go to every day, eating too much sugar, eating foods you’re allergic or sensitive too, exercising too much with little recovery, worrying about money, worrying about health, worrying about your weight, worrying about anything and everything, staying up late watching TV instead of sleeping… you get the idea. Basically, most of us have created lives for ourselves that require us to put out much more than we put in and our scales are left way out of balance. During all of this, cortisol is being released leading to heighted and chronic amount circulating through our blood stream, which, funny enough, is stressful to our body.

Now, back to that strange term, “prenenalone-steal.” Your sex hormones and cortisol are made from the same building block called pregnenalone, which is made from cholesterol. In a perfect world, pregnenalone gets evenly distributed to all the different hormone pathways and all is well. However, in someone with high stress levels, there is a greater need for cortisol which means there is a higher need for pregnenalone. Your body will shuttle any and all pregnenalone to the process of making cortisol in order to keep up with those stress demands to the detriment of your other hormones. This is why we refer to it as a “steal,” because cortisol is essentially hogging all the good stuff for itself and leaving everyone else high and dry.

Tweetable (or something like that): If you’re experiencing chronic stress, and not taking any measures to reduce it, it will be impossible to balance your hormones.

So What’s the Deal with Carbs?

Now, you might be wondering at this point how your carbohydrate intake fits into this picture. We’re getting there, just had to throw in the foundations first. Carbohydrates play sort of a double role here.

In times of stress, we use up more nutrients because stress is expensive. It amps up our bodily functions and puts us in a state of high alert. This means we need more calories, more carbs, more fats and proteins and more vitamins and minerals than we usually would to keep up with the demands. This goes for physical AND emotional stress. Now, our bodies are pretty neat since they can literally turn proteins and fats into usable glucose. But, and here is the caveat, that is a slow process no matter how efficient your body is at it. Eating carbohydrates will always be the fastest way to increase blood sugar levels, thereby usable energy. When blood sugar levels drop, this is registered as a top priority stressor to your body. So – what happens? You’ve probably got it by now, but yes, cortisol gets called to action once again, further perpetuating the cycle. This is why, particularly in times of stress, eating some slow-digesting, complex carbohydrates can go a long way in putting a wrench in the nasty blood sugar/cortisol cycle we see so many women going through. Often times you’ll see someone start on a low-carb/high fat approach and it works wonders (by the way, we’re talking 10-50 grams of carbohydrates daily here) Their skin clears up, their energy shoots through the roof, the fat melts away and their periods balance out. But then, a little while later (sometimes months, sometimes years) things start to shift. Usually, we can trace it back to a stressful time period or event, and they start to feel terrible. They begin to feel bloated, tired and heavy, their cycles get irregular or go missing all together, their energy plummits and sleeping becomes erratic and unsatisfying. They can’t understand what happened or why they aren’t feeling good, so they naturally think, “I must be eating too many carbs again,” and start to restrict even more leading to greater and greater disturbances.

Often times, fixing these issues and imbalances is merely an equation of carbohydrates. Our needs to various nutrients change as the season and tides of our lives change as well. Sure, maybe high fat and 20 grams of carbs a day worked, but then you had a baby, started working out more to lose the post-pardem weight, got a full time job, lost a full time job, went back to school, had another baby, started eating more sugar because you’re tired all the time, started exercising even more to make up for it, and on and on and on… Life happens. Our job is to flexible and intuitive enough to understand this and to adjust our nutrition and exercise with the tides of our life. When our body needs a rest, give it a rest. When we are working harder than usual, give it more carbs. When you’re feeling rested, pull back a bit or up the exercise volume. Listen and flow. Usually when we get stuck, it’s because we’ve gotten stiff. Dead trees are stiff trees and they break in the wind. Trees that are full of life sway and bend when the winds of life stir. Which one would you rather be?

That’s all for today friends. If you’ve been struggling with any of the issues above or have been considering changing up your nutrition routine, you can always schedule a free discovery call here to see if Nutritional Therapy could benefit your health.

Much love,

Sy

 

 

 

 

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Helping Friends and Family Adjust to Your Healing Path

Today, I want to talk about something that often brings people (including myself in the past) quite a bit of pain and disconnection. Often, when we decide to take control of our health, and begin the beautiful journey back to vitality, we think it will be a road covered in rainbows and daisies, and that everything will be perfect once we reach our destination. There is a great deal about regaining one’s vibrancy that DOES bring joy, happiness and contentment, but what is less talked about, (yet, I feel equally important) is that it can also be a shedding of one’s self and one’s old, familiar territories, which can be unsettling and sometimes even painful.

 

As you step into a new life, you are awakened to new possibilities, new ideas, new beliefs and new paradigms that were previously hidden to you. If you’re currently experiencing this unfolding, you’ll know how rewarding, exciting and challenging it can be. Many people talk about feeling like their soul has been rejuvenated after a long, dark winter! Naturally, as humans, when something good or exciting happens to us, we want to reach out and share with our loved ones and bring them along for the ride. In fact, according to research professor and author, Dr. Brene Brown, “Connection is why we’re here. We are hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.” Which explains why we feel so ashamed when the people we’re most excited to share with end up rejecting the shifts that are bringing happiness and health into our lives.

 

Telling friends and family about your health concerns or dietary changes can be intimidating. It’s often a heavy subject and for some reason brings up a lot of pain, shame, blame and judgment. This can make it hard to want to stick to your new habits or, on the flip side, be around those friends and family members who make you feel badly. I don’t know about you, but experiences like this and the emotions surrounding them left me feeling very alone and very confused during a time when I was already feeling unsteady and unsure in my new shoes.

 

Sometimes, we aren’t even that excited, but have newly begun down a path that seems to be working for us and are just willing to stick it out for a bit. Wherever you are on the continuum, the fact remains that not everyone you meet or choose to spend time with will understand your new habits and some may even criticize, judge or find frustration with you. You see, these people have come to love and know you deeply, and just as much as change can be scary for the person IN it, it can be frightening to those on the outside as well. Sometimes our loved ones’ fear losing US, sometimes they fear being judged for their own struggles and sometimes they simply fear the unknown (don’t we all?!). But, it doesn’t have to create shame and blame and we certainly don’t have to make it a fight every time a family dinner rolls around.

 

After having been through my own ups and downs with loved ones, I finally figured out how, and where, my new lifestyle fit into the mix and wanted to share with you guys in case you’re going through something similar. It might not get solved right away and may take some finesse, but eventually you’ll find a new rhythm with your tribe, and maybe even welcome in some new soul family along the way! With change comes challenge, but with challenge comes clarity and strength – you’ve got this.

 

Tips for Helping Family and Friends Adjust to Your New Lifestyle:

1.     Have a chat. Often, we hide things we don’t like in dark corners where they seem scarier than they are. Ever seen a coat rack in the dark and thought it was a burglar? Well, then you get my point. Flip on the lights, and it’s not so scary anymore. What I’m suggesting is a metaphorical “flipping on” of the lights. Like I mentioned above, change can be scary. Bringing out the emotions surrounding it can really help to knock down barriers and build bridges of understanding. Perhaps there is a certain family member or friend who really seems to be irritated or having a hard time. In a gentle and loving way, ask if you two can have a chat and ask them why they seem to be having such a strong reaction to your new habits. While some of the things they have to say might seem hurtful, really dig deep and see if there’s anything you can learn. This isn’t a time for you to defend and argue your right to take care of yourself. In fact, doing so usually just puts even more of a wall between you and them. You know you have every right to care for yourself in a way that feels good. This conversation is more about opening up the doors of communication and making sure that both parties feel heard, loved and connected despite differences.

Now, I’m not saying that this kind of conversation is always easy or that it’s a sure bet to go well. Sometimes the person across from you is really just projecting their own “stuff” on to you and will lash out. But, in my experience, usually that person loves you and wants things to work out just as much as you do. Most people are more flexible than we give them credit for when swords are put away and vulnerability is present. And really, at the end of the day, what do you have to lose??

 

 

2.     Don’t expect others to accommodate your new eating habits or shift entire family functions. In a perfect world, everyone would see how amazing dietary and lifestyle changes can be and we’d all skip happily, and healthily, off into the sunset holding hands….eh, or not. 9 times out of 10, it will take people a looooong time to come around or get curious, and honestly, they may NEVER take interest in your new life. As painful as it can be, it’s really ok. It’s YOUR life and YOU feeling good is what matters. But in the same sentence, it is YOUR life and no one else’s. Therefore, if you have special accomodations that need to be made, it’s your job to ensure that it happens.  Sometimes other’s will be understanding and more than happy to adjust – great – but for those times when it’s not really an option, try these: Make your own food to bring to an event, offer to help prepare and arrange food for get-togethers, speak up with restaurant ideas when no one else seems to be picky, keep snacks handy in your car, purse or diaper bag and last, but not least, don’t be afraid to speak up about sensitivities or allergies.

 

 

3.     Have reluctant or confrontational friends and family over for a home-cooked meal. Sometimes people simply aren’t caught up on or even aware of what different dietary strategies look like. It’s easy to get caught up thinking that everyone follows the same guidelines as you or knows what “Paleo” or “Gluten-Free” means, but that’s usually not the case. Things we don’t understand can be intimidating and intimidation can cause us to withdraw or put up a fight. By inviting loved ones into your world, you give them a taste of what your doing and let them see that it’s really not such a big deal after all if you switch out bread with potatoes and margarine with butter. No doubt, most people will be happy to see that you are, in fact, still eating reguar ol’ food and having a good time.

 

 

4.     When traveling with friends or family, take a little side trip to the grocery store so that you know you’ll have what you need in any event. It can take a tiny bit of planning, but trust me, it’s better than stepping off track so that you don’t make a fuss and end up feeling terrible throughout or after your trip. I’ve definitely done that a time or two and, instead of feeling better, felt disappointed, sick and resentful. The trips I have loved the most are those in which I stay the course and keep my health a priority so that I can fully enjoy the time away. You can even explain this to others on the trip if they begin to wonder. I usually say something along the lines of “trust me, it’s better for all of us if I can regulate my food intake, so that I can be the best travel companion possible,” along with a little laugh and joking tone. While it might sound cheesy, it’s true! I really am able to show up better for everyone around me when my body is well taken care of, and it’s worth a little trip to the store.

 

5.     Last, but not least, sometimes there will be that one friend or family member who just won’t come around. As sad as it can be to come to an impassible road, you may have to prepare yourself for acceptance. It’s ok to feel pain over this and it’s ok to be sad. Let yourself feel the emotions of loss and disconnection and then move forward knowing that it’s you who really needs to be ok with your choices, not them. I get it – that sounds harsh and it doesn’t always feel good right away. But, the more confident and healthy you become, the more this will resonate with you. It’s not out of anger or blame that we have to let these relationships go, but out of love and respect for your body and their journey as well. They may understand someday, and they may not – it’s not up to you. We can hope, and work to communicate, but we can’t force acceptance and unconditional love from someone. This is when having a “soul family,” or people around you who support, understand and, are maybe even on, your journey can do wonders. You ARE a part of something. You ARE important and you ARE loved. Remembering this can take away the sting of losing someone and help you to know that the universe has your back and is waiting on the other side for you to step into your light.

 

I hope sincerely that everyone surrounding you is loving and open to your changes. Your health IS important and worth it. But, if not, it’s also my hope that you can use some of this advice to help you move out of the shame game that is often so destructive to progress and peace. Until next time.

Much love,

Sy 


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