Leap

“What if I fall?
but oh, my darling…what if you fly?” – Erin Hanson

When did you stop dancing?

 I once asked Baryshnikov how he leaped, so high and so free. How he broke the chains of gravity.

He said (and it’s the only thing he’s ever said to me, so listen up:) “When I leap, I do not think about the ground.”

So today in crossfit I had a crazy experience.

This was coming on the heels of an emotional drive there, in which I gave myself a pep talk. “It’s time for you to stop hiding,” I decided. “You thought it served you. It doesn’t. You put on weight, you slouched, you did everything you could in order to hide. You thought it would make you safe; that people wouldn’t look at you, then.
But safety isn’t going to help you rise. You’ve got to leave it behind now. Time to hold your head up. Expand. You’re afraid the scary men will come for you if you shine too brightly, aren’t you. Let them- you are strong now. You can defend yourself.”

There’s this thing called box jump. It seems a bit silly and not very difficult – you just jump onto a box. that’s it. with both feet at the same time. I couldn’t do it – I could do one foot at a time. I’d go as fast as possible; I’d alternate legs – I made it challenging for myself to make up for the fact that I was too afraid to take both feet off the ground at once.

 Now – I can jump rope, and I can do it fast. Both feet at once. But I can’t go very high, or so I told myself, which kept me from progressing to more advanced moves…

 today, my trainer Aaron Anderson said : try with both feet.

I said no, Aaron, this is a mental thing. I truly can’t .

 He said, okay, so just stack two weights on the ground. Start low. do it with both feet.

 So I did …

and I encountered a young me who used to fly. She was a dancer. She broke the chains of gravity and she really flew. She was proud of her leaps… I had forgotten all about her, and how those moments off the ground felt like the reason I was living. How flying became an obsession. How, in my pre-Juilliard days, my joy, my reason for living, was dance. I felt my spirit unleashed when I danced – I felt set free.

 and then, I fell.

It’s not the falling that is the hard part. injuries heal, though my knee will never be the same …

it’s the fear that stays with you.

 I was in a show – I had to dance, something I had choreographed myself, on a little walkway that was built around a live orchestra. The audience and orchestra were below me – and they seemed so FAR below me… and I fell one night.

 It wasn’t a big deal. After that, I was more careful. But something happened …

 I apparently wrote stories in order to protect myself.

 “you are too heavy.”

“you are a more earthy dancer. Do modern, Stick to the ground.”
“you have big, strong legs. You weren’t made lightly – you weren’t made to fly.”

 Now I know what it was that came up and choked me, when I spoke to Baryshnikov.

 That longing came up again today. So silly – so small…. jumping on to a stack of weights, and jumping off again.

 Every single jump (there were about 150 total, then I added another weight and did more)

 I was terrified. Paralyzed. Legs shaking.

 I was sobbing in crossfit; I could hear myself over the music, my breathing fast, panting like a terrified little girl.

 I kept going.

 This is a small thing….but each jump, I was taking that little girl by the hand and asking her to choose.

 Leave the ground.

Leave the ground.

Don’t think about falling.

weightsleap

photo by Mark Edward Lewis

IT’s not the falling itself or the injuries – it’s the feeling of terror that shocks through your entire body when you feel the unknown, the loss of control. Unsure where you’ll land or what will happen next.

 That blind panic has kept me grounded for so many years. In trying to protect myself from ever feeling that fear again, I was actually living inside it. I was knee-locked, grounded, weighted down, my wings clipped, never to feel the joy of reaching as high as I could again…

 I had thrown stones at my own mockingbird, and I had killed her with the relentless weight of my fear.

 So, here’s the thing: a big step can look ridiculous to anyone on the outside. Those weights looked like nothing. People thought I was injured; they were kind –

They didn’t know I was forcing myself through the scariest thing I have experienced in years.

 But I did it.

 It doesn’t matter how low that leap was. I did it, over and over until the little girl inside me released her stranglehold on the ground.

 Leap. Leap. Do not think about the ground.

 We are not here in this life to be as safe and comfortable as possible until the day we die.

 Leap. For your dreams, for your crazy desire to feel free of this earth for one moment, for the thing your heart yearns for that comes up in your throat and chokes you with tears when you try to speak it aloud —

 Leap.

 And do not think about the ground.

On “Fatness” (and the Words We are Feeding Ourselves)

A little backstory: I was an actress, long, longlong ago. I constantly battled with bad body image – I got to the point where I would allow myself a little milk in my breakfast of coffee, because that was the protein for the day…
I never ever got thin; this is not a story of anorexia…it’s a story of wasting time and energy with self-hatred and REALLY bad self-talk.

I got in a car accident. I stopped acting. I was in a toxic relationship. With these factors at play, I gained 30lbs. for the first time in my life, I was not muscular or fit…and for the first time since I was 10 years old, I felt really good in my body.

…what? Yeah. I know. crazy. As soon as the toxic partner left my life, I began to cook simple meals of salmon, kale, rice. I began to make smoothies. I bought a juicer and learned about juicing. I began to simply nourish myself as a way to heal the broken emotions. I was still 30lbs heavier than my usual weight, but I felt absolutely incredible. I felt beautiful, sensual, accepting of myself.

awesome2

I began to box, which made me stronger and healed me emotionally and physically. I lost 30lbs (or some weeks, 25.) my former “thin” clothes are baggy. I am strong, which feels good.

I was asked to act again, and this time I agreed without even thinking twice about it – for sentimental reasons. It’s a show which is not a big deal in the world of performing, but it’s an awesome project and it was a big deal to me, because I’d been talking to the producer for about seven years, and it’s a return to something I said I would never do again. It turned out to be an extremely beautiful experience. Acting. I had forgotten why I loved it so much all those years. I felt very much in my power and whole, doing something that makes me come alive, and working with incredible people.

And here’s the thing…with the acting, the body-hating has come rushing back, like an old, familiar, dysfunctional relative that I just can’t shake.

I am the same measurements as Jennifer Lawrence, whom I read is “obese” by Hollywood standards. This has made me spin out quite a bit. “Obese.”

I notice the softness of my belly when I sit up in bed, and I think, “that’s going to go.” I see photos of myself from the shoot, and I think “wow, I look fat. If I’m going to continue, I need to lose 15-20lbs.” I notice my arms when they aren’t boxing, and I think “Body, we are going to be eradicating this excess gunk.” I look at myself in the mirror at boxing class, and I think, “I am the biggest girl in here.”

These thoughts are as bad for me as a huge serving of McDonald’s.

My self-talk has become militant, grim, almost violent. This is SUCH a huge change…when I look back at my year of healing from The Most Unbelievably Awful Relationship, the energy I had back then was allowing. nurturing. forgiving. calm. serene.

So the Inner Health Coach has to step up now and coach herself…and because I want to help my clients, I’m doing this publicly.

First of all, let’s talk about Obesity. It dismays me to see an actress like Jennifer Lawrence called “Obese.” There are comments by people who say she’s “fatter,” or the supporters who seem to think they’re being very generous, saying “she’s just a little soft and feminine, that’s all.” When I look at her, I see a person who is in a very healthy place and shape for her own body. Different bodies are going to have different versions of “healthy,” and it can be a heck of a lot of work to maintain the fighting-fit, very trim version that Ms. Lawrence has, that is still somehow considered “obese” in Hollyweird.

So what concerns me is this: when I have a client who is struggling with weight gain, or wants to make a big change and is carrying around a lot of excess; when that client is needing to start small (thus building sustainable change by creating good habits!), how do they continue if they are bombarded with this crap about a very fit person being “obese”?

One of the reasons people need health coaches is that what can happen in the beginning (and sometimes creeps back in from time to time, though it gets easier to work through it) is hopelessness and giving up. Our mind “gremlins” (the harmful “voices” or self-talk) want us to stay where we are. There is a big part of us that resists change, even if that change is a huge improvement to our lives. So the self-sabotage begins.

A person may get up to go for their 15-minute walk, and say to themselves, “I just feel so tired. The weight isn’t coming off. This is useless.” …and BAM, they sit on the couch, grab the chips, and push down the feelings of hopelessness with food. They give up.

This cycle takes time to break – a little change, and sticking with it every day until it becomes a habit. That creates the positive momentum. The cycle is a powerful gravitational force, and The ONLY way to beat it is with self-talk, with affirmations.

Because before we feed our bodies, we need to feed our minds.

Every time I pick up on a flaw and say “THAT is going to go,” I am keeping myself stuck in a place of victimhood and health-lessness. I feel the energy drain, and I feel the dragging sadness set in. Without the energy, how can I prepare healthy meals? How can I exercise?

So the shift that needs to happen is this. First, a big shift in self-talk.

Notice the harmful thought, “My belly is too soft.” “I am fat.” and tell yourself, “You know what, that thought isn’t helping me.”
Then feed your body and mind a good thought to counteract it. “I am strong.” “I feel good after that workout.” Don’t use negating words or try to do something like “I am not fat,” because the focus in that statement is still on the harmful word “fat,” and you’ll just get into a pointless argument with your gremlin. Use positive language that builds. Focus on the things that feel deeply true; the things you feel grateful for.

Gratitude is a HUGE antidote to toxic self-talk poison. “I am grateful to you, body, for getting through that workout. I am grateful you are strong.”

or even start very small: “I am grateful to be able to walk.” I had a therapist tell me once to start really REALLY small…to go for a walk and start with my feet. “thanks, feet, for carrying me.”

Seriously- how much do we take for granted? Our feet…The ability to breathe…

Then it’s time to begin again, to revise the vision.

If I look too far ahead and create goals like “I need to lose 20 lbs and be thinner,” I will look at the gap between where I am and where I want to be, and I’ll just feel overwhelmed.

So what I do is shift the thinking. The goal is now “Today, I will drink more water, do my best in boxing class, and make some healthy meals.” I will plan the meals- miso soup, kale stir fry, isagenix shake… I have a few standbys I have learned how to make quickly, so I never get into that I-don’t-know-what-to-eat,-I-guess-I’ll-just-grab-processed-food rut.

THEN, (and here’s the huge thing that this entire article is about)
I learn once again to love myself as I am, in this moment, right NOW.

That’s the thing that concerns me about all this Hollyweird stuff people are reading. If we are comparing ourselves to someone else and reading criticisms given to that person and taking those criticisms, multiplying them by whatever our differences might be and then applying them to our own bodies,
how can we love ourselves as we are?

Hilda

this is Hilda, the first illustrated “plus-size” pinup. She’s by Baron von Lind.

Sustainable, long-term change begins with acceptance right NOW.

I have experienced this firsthand, and know it to be so so so deeply true. If I could only tell ONE thing to everyone in this world who feels they want to work their way to a more healthy body, mind, and spirit, I would say just this one thing —
First, love yourself as you are right now.

Because what happens then is that the Grim, battling, self-hating, rigid, angry determination to CHANGE goes away.

What comes in its place is peace, allowing, the feeling that you CAN, patience, and steady perseverance.

What comes in when you take deep breaths and love yourself as you are right NOW, is that the body feels safe, no longer chastised, and it’s more ready to listen.

It’s more able to release the unwanted weight when it is being treated with kindness.

This is the foundation for lasting, sustainable, non-painful, joyful change.

It takes a lot of work to love ourselves as we are right NOW and to silence the self-hating thoughts; if those thoughts have become deeply ingrained habits, carving new thought pathways will be like trying to get the deer to walk along a different track so your grass can grow back…it might feel impossible.

Just breathe deeply, and take it slow. Take it with a sense of humor and self-love. Approach it with a sense of adventure. This can actually be fun!
Think some good and loving thoughts; wake up in the morning and think of three things you are grateful for, create an affirmation for the morning or the whole day, and watch as the self-hating thoughts dwindle and eventually grow silent.

And then, do what needs to be done to feel good TODAY. learn to massage kale, and make a stir fry. Tell yourself when you prepare it and when you eat it, that you are feeding yourself nutrients because you are worth it!

Will I continue to act? I do not know. But I do know that whatever work I do, I want to have a solid foundation of self-confidence and I want to celebrate my life! Let’s do this!

Hilda2

Hilda lighting the way…

Boxing Fueled by Veggies Experiment day 10

it’s only day 10 of following a vegetable-based diet.
No meat, no dairy, extremely minimal processed foods– a diet consisting mainly of home-juiced green veggie juices (with a limit of one fruit), power foods smoothies (chia seeds,maca,cacao,berries,wheatgrass, chlorella…)
vegetable stir fries, miso soup, nuts & fruit as snacks, and some tofu, some rice & some oatmeal…
having a history of anemia, thinking I *needed* animal protein, I was scared to do this…I thought I would feel weak and tired – especially when boxing. I had tried to follow a vegan diet before, but had become so exhausted & ill, I was reluctant to do this again – until I listened to some IIN lectures and realized that I’d been working for a lawyer at the time and I’d been so rushed, I had relied mainly on processed foods. Not Good.
Could my exhaustion have been from processed foods & not enough leafy green vegetables? I decided to find out.

Day 10: after an hour of impact (including focus mitts), drenched with sweat, I felt like I had just had the warmup. I needed another hour of class. I jumped rope after class & still felt like…when’s class going to start?
I’m going to continue this experiment with my eyes open for changes, but I’m thinking that there is plenty of protein to be found in vegetables, especially kale & broccoli…mushrooms are a powerhouse…”protein complimenting” is not necessary (ie. eating beans w/rice to make a “complete protein”–I have not been eating beans.) it’s just important to stay away from processed foods and eat lots of greens, and actually pay attention to chewing your food well–during the chewing a lot of important sh*t happens, yo!

veggie-fueled boxing!  I’m excited.

Overcoming Post-Thanksgiving Slump!

I had someone ask some advice about post-Thanksgiving slump, and I feel like addressing this here.
“How do I get going [on my diet program] again? Thanksgiving really set me back! I feel defeated.”

This morning, not gonna lie: it was difficult to pry my eyes open at 4:45 a.m to get ready for boxing. Breaks are GOOD for us- giving the body a rest is actually essential to progress- but once we’ve lost the momentum, it takes an extra push to get going again–laws of physics, yo!

So: remember that. Give an extra push.

Once you begin it, it will be easier.
Once you get started again on whatever it is you’re trying to get back into (whether it be diet or fitness or work or all of the above,) you are sending yourself the message that you can trust yourself.
You’ll feel that sense of completion, which is really important for us to experience every day.
You’ll have kept your word to yourself, which is of the utmost importance to building momentum and success–once you trust yourself that you’ll do what you say you’re going to do/ want to do, there will be no stopping you 🙂 It’s important in relationships, yeah? it’s also important in the relationship you have with yourself.

Some concrete steps:

Image-stay away from regret or self-recrimination. those things will keep you bogged & toxic.
– drink water, say “let the healing begin,” and let the holiday excess go.

– create a few affirmations for yourself. keep them short & sweet. Mine today was simply a bit of gratitude to keep me going while that jump rope was killing me : “thank you, body, for being so strong.”

– If you’re REALLY having trouble getting going, if your brain is coming up with all kinds of arguments that you should stay in bed or should eat those leftovers…visualize how you’ll feel once you have completed your workout or gone back to healthy eating. Really feel that in your body. That’s how I get to boxing just about every day- that flood of good feeling, of power & accomplishment, is something I want more of- so I crawl out of bed in the dark, and I get myself to the gym.

-If it’s gym we’re talking about, it’s harder to go in the dark and cold winter mornings. Get a routine ready ahead of time so it’s less effort to be ready. lay out your favorite clothes, set up your tea, organize what you’re going to eat to fuel your workout. The comfort of a routine feels like great self-care – while getting ready, you’re also sending yourself the message that you are worth care, consideration and effort. 🙂

– If it’s healthy eating we’re talking about, consider adding good things IN to your diet, rather than going cold turkey (wokka wokka) on the leftovers. Drink water, make something like one of my favorite snacks – kale & portabello mushroom stir fry, very simple– and eat that. The vegetables will “reset” your taste buds back to green & savory, so you won’t be craving that pumpkin pie so much.
Also, it helps to really imagine how you feel AFTER you eat sugary stuff…visualize it..feel it… and ask yourself if you want to feel exhausted & bloated!
Then, keep the portions small. A bite of pumpkin pie or stuffing or whatever tastes just as good as a whole serving. Fill up with the good stuff & remember you are doing this as an act of love & nurturing to your body and yourself.

– remember: a little bit at a time. don’t compare yourself to others- just do a little & keep going. If you go to an exercise class, stretch & breathe when you need to, but stay the whole time. You’ll have that sense of completion, you’ll know you didn’t give up, and each time you go, you’ll be able to do more!

bottom line is, if you feed your body with loving thoughts, it will surprise you. If you are patient with your body as though it is your child–patient and loving– it will respond. If you are compassionate with yourself and just keep going, you WILL see massive change-  give it time.  Thoughts are as important as good nutrition, because our body responds to negative thoughts by kicking out hormones, trying to “fix” stress and stay in homeostasis.

You are beautiful just as you are. A break is good for us — it will kick us out of any plateaus or stuck places. now let’s get moving again!

feel free to message me with any questions — I’m a rookie holistic health coach, gaining experience 🙂 

Jacob’s Ladder – God Was In This Place (yes, even this)

“Good. Strong back,” he says, and traces two fingers down my spine from neck to tailbone. (There is only one man in the world at present who can get away with this without risking injury.)

חלם –  chalam – to dream. What does it mean? Dream.  There  is immense power in a waking dream, or disparate pieces of a dream in the process of coming together. The blacksmith holds the steel in the fire, not until it is red hot, but beyond that- until it is a really terrifying thing he’s holding, capable of harm, at the white-hot edge of creation. What courage it takes to hammer it then; what strength and care, and trust in himself. Image

It is the “The Shabbat of Jacob’s ladder. Of dreams that move toward reconciliation,” Rabbi Wolpe says.

I feel like I’ve been been in the fire a long time, not truly trusting myself. It’s been a long quest, this “Tigger Leaves the Theater World” adventure.

Now, today, with the feeling of two fingers tracing down my back which used to be broken, which used to radiate pain and be my reason for shutting myself away from the world and losing hope- two fingers tracing down my strong back, straight and enduring as steel, I have a new feeling: I can hold these weights in this pose indefinitely. I have truly healed. I am stronger than I ever knew… and right in that moment, I know why I have been doing this crazy thing…I know why I’ve been doing all the separate, seemingly incompatible things I’ve been doing and learning.

Every blow, each terrible, hard lesson, everything I tried, every failure or loss tempered me. Made me strong. Showed me the depth, breadth and resilience of my own heart.
Because of it, I know now what I have to give the world. I know what stories I can tell, I know what I can teach, what healing I can bring to others.

חלם –  chalam – to dream, also means to be healthy , strong, to restore to health.

I can look back to many moments over the years and say truly, “God was in this place, and I – I did not know it.” There was a reason for everything- even the car accident.

Trust yourself. Keep going. Whatever you burn to do, whatever gives your soul joy- there will come a time when each separate piece begins to come together and make sense. Don’t listen to doubting voices; listen to the wild beat of your own heart. Keep going! It is the Shabbat of dreams… What is your dream?