Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Nurture Yourself

Take heart! We are now moving out of the darkness and into the light. The long, cold days of winter darkness will gradually get shorter now that the solstice has passed and we will see just a wee bit more light as each day lengthens as we move towards springtime. Yes, it is a hopeful time and a time to really think about replenishing yourself.

Many of us have struggled with power outages and frozen pipes and it isn’t even January yet….BUT there will be a little more light each day now and that will help us to move through whatever further challenges the winter brings. Some of you live in warmer climates others in frigid ones as do I. No matter where you are, however, it is a good time to think about the ending of this year and the start of the next. It is a time to reevaluate the choices you have been making and to make plans to nurture yourself into the best physical and emotional wellness and balance possible as you journey forward.

It is tempting at this time of year to hibernate and feed ourselves. We are likely to be less active and to park ourselves on the couch more often with a mug of hot chocolate and a fistful of cookies. The winter can be prime time for emotional overeating and so it is helpful to focus on the return of light and the movement towards the warmth of springtime.

Spend quiet time contemplating ways to transform old, unhealthy behaviors into positive, life giving ones. Light a candle and reaffirm your intention to treat yourself with love and respect. This is the task as you approach the new year and gain about two minutes of light each day. It is a time to appreciate yourself and to nurture yoursef to the very best of your ability.

Be well and stay warm,
Dr. Denise

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Before you binge...

Before you binge, take a few minutes to close your eyes and figure out what you're feeling. If you attend appropriately to your feeling, the urge to binge will likely pass. (For example, If you are lonely, call a friend; tired, take a nap; bored, read a book.)

Use the remedies in the Bach Flower Emotional Eating Support Kit. This contains three extremely powerful and effective essences:
Cherry Plum keeps you in control, Crab Apple improves body image and Chestnut Bud helps you stop sabotaging yourself again and again as your stress levels keep rising rise and your waistline contiues to expand. These all-natural remedies, derived from flowering plants and trees, are safe, effective and can be used without the worry of side effects. The Bach Original Flower Remedies provide a calming positive aid to balancing emotions and restoring energy.

When the urge to overeat strikes and you know it isn't physical hunger, it will help to distract yourself for a short while. (For example, take a little walk, meditate, just sit and breathe, prayer helps as well.)

Be sure your nutritional needs are adequately met. If you haven't giving your body the nutriants it really needs, it will continue to send hunger messages and it won't matter if you eat a tub full of pasta or a bowl of candy, you will still experience hunger until you are so over-filled that you don't feel well. Also, stay hydrated as dehydrathion can mask itself as hunger.

Remind yourself of all your blessings and enjoy your special holiday.

warmly, Dr. Denise

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Holiday Party Survival

The holidays are here and this means extra parties, extra goodies and sometimes extra pounds. Here are just a couple of ideas to help you stay on track yet still have fun during the festivities.

Eat before you get to the party so you won't be so hungry upon arrival -- I suggest some fruit and protein, like a cheese stick, an apple and some whole grain crackers.

When we feel better emotionally, psychologically, we naturally take better care of ourselves and make better choices so give yourself some "nurturing" time before the festivities begin, like taking a nap, meditating, enjoying a nice country walk if your climate permits.

Something that has been VERY helpful for my clients is to take an index card and write a list of reasons you want to be in control and eat well at all times, such as "I want to feel proud of myself when tonight is over" or "I want to continue the great work I am doing on being healthy and I know if I go overboard tonight that it will be a terrible setback" or, my favorite, "I am worth taking the very best care of myself." When things feel tough and you are tempted to do some emotional eating, slip away to a quiet place like the rest room and read your card. This will bring you back to center.

Limit alcoholic beverages. When we over drink, we are most likely to overeat as well.

Enjoy yourself but treat yourself with the love and respect you deserve!

warmly, Dr. Denise

Monday, December 1, 2008

What are you thankful for?

It is that time of year – the holiday season has arrived full force. Our economy is struggling and we may be eating more than ever as I explained in one of my November posts. What is vital is that we see beyond the hardships of today and allow ourselves to focus on the abundance that we do have all around us.

It costs nothing to watch a sunrise or sunset or to play a game with a child, toss a ball for your puppy or visit a friend who is alone. These are some activities that can make your holiday worthwhile. What do you appreciate in your life? What are you grateful for?

I am blessed to have a modest but warm and cozy home, a car that doesn’t let me down. I have many friends and family members whom I love and who love me in return. I am basically healthy and, although not wealthy, I always have food to eat. I have a voice and I can sing, although those who hear me may run from my not-so-melodious tones. No matter. I am having fun and that’s what it’s all about.

Think of the joys in your life. Remember the best of times and make this day count. For me it is about my attitude. If I look out at the gray New England skies this afternoon I can focus on the dismal, damp, chilly experience of the cold or I can focus on how snuggly I am inside sipping hot tea and relaxing. I can meditate and later I can go out into the elements with my puppy to walk and to wonder how the earth can be so beautiful in shades of pastel grays and browns. My walk will be what I make it.

So remember, it is up to you. Each and every minute you are the one who can change your life. You can hide under a pile of cookies and perpetuate your emotional eating routine or you can remind yourself that you are in charge of you and move forward. It helps to list things you are grateful for and then to meditate, play music or just involve yourself in an interesting project. There are as many ways to avoid emotional eating as there are humans. What are your ways? What do you want to do differently? How can you take the very best, most gentle care of yourself without abusing yourself with empty calories and lost time?

Today is yours. Meet it and make it count! As always, I remind you that you are worth it!

My very best wishes,
Dr. Denise

Monday, November 24, 2008

Make Today Count

I am an early riser – one of those people who stand outside the gym doors at 5 AM waiting for them to open. There are several of us and I do doubt our collective sanity from time to time. I also live in an extremely frigid climate at this time of year and 5 AM at single digit temps is a challenge. My bed feels warm at cozy at 4:30 and the temptation is strong every morning to take a day off. Occasionally I do but most mornings I don’t even entertain the possibility of missing my time at the gym.

Some wake-ups are easier than others and today I numbly dressed, grabbed the car keys and headed for the gym in the pitch dark. I have been having persistent pain in my right heel lately and this has provided me with a legitimate excuse to stay snugly in my little cocoon . Upon awakening today, however, I had no foot pain – no excuse -- but by the time I got to the gym my pain had returned. I made a snap decision not to let this little pain bother me since I was already up and out and so close to the elliptical. I reasoned that a short while wouldn’t hurt so much and it would make my trek to the gym worthwhile.

I was wrong and the result of my foolhardy decision was a definite set back in my healing process. I regretted my decision but it was too late to take it back. No “do-overs” for me. So I started to sulk and feel sorry for myself. The day ahead looked bleak and I had no desire to jump into my daily routine. I was wrapped in self-pity and began to feel exhausted. I only wanted to climb back into my bed and hide away for the day.

I had to leave the gym after a pitiful few minutes and decided to stop at our early morning grocery for a few supplies before I returned home. My foot ached with every step down the aisle and by the time I had gathered my few choices and arrived at the cash register I was emotionally spent. Everything looked bleak and I only wanted to escape this day – I considered stopping for muffins or donuts on my ride home to anesthetize myself (very old self-destructive, emotional eating behavior that still occurs to me occasionally).

As I paid for my groceries the cashier wished me a good day and I wished her one as well. She thanked me and smiled and said she intended this day to be an excellent one. I was surprised by her cheerful voice and her firm intention to have such a fabulous day. I thought perhaps today was a special day for her – her birthday or anniversary or something. I asked why she felt today would be so wonderful and she replied simply, “Well, I’ll never have this day again and so I don’t want to waste it. I want to make the most of it.”

I left the store realizing that I do sometimes waste days and I was clearly on the way to wasting this one. At times I unconsciously wish for time to pass miss the magic of each moment. So this lovely cashier gave me a reminder, a gift. She prompted me to recall all the good in my life and all that I have to be grateful for. So today, instead of crawling back into bed, I am counting my blessings and enjoying the moment, and my foot isn’t hurting at all! I pass this beautiful woman’s wisdom on to you as a gentle reminder that today is what you make it and you will never have a chance to live this day again! Make the most of it!

Dr. Denise

Monday, November 10, 2008

Economy Down, Weight Up

What does overeating have to do with the economic crisis? Answer: a lot!As we watch our country suffer economic decline we react by becoming more and more stressed. Our bodies flood with the hormone cortisol and our appetites rage. Powerful emotions surface and we may experience many difficult feelings. We are likely to worry and have trouble sleeping and then two more hormones come into play. We excrete excess ghrelin (which increases hunger) and our production of leptin (the hormone that signals satiation) decreases. So the extra stress we are experiencing is likely to increase our appetite and consequently our numbers on the scale.

As human beings we cannot help but react to what is going on . We are all being touched by this crisis in some fashion and we are likely to seek food for comfort. This is a natural reaction, so please don’t beat yourself up if you have indulged in a few extra snacks lately. We learn at a tender age that sugars and carbohydrates will take away our pain. These substances mask themselves as our friends. They urge us to take care of our uncomfortable feelings by stuffing our bellies with creamy pastas, pastries and chocolate. The hard part is that they deliver what they promise. These foods help us in the short term to stuff our feelings deep inside where we don’t have to deal with them. When the effects of these “anesthetics” wear off, however, our physical bodies scream for MORE and our emotional selves join the chorus and demand “treats” to continue keeping feelings at bay -- this is how we perpetuate emotional eating patterns..

If you have been soothing yourself with food, please don’t beat yourself up. That NEVER helps! None of us can walk our paths perfectly at all times. We are all human and we all make mistakes. Move beyond the urge to punish yourself. Recall that there are no mistakes, only lessons and be as gentle as possible with yourself.

Do all you can to take the very best care of yourself -- eat the healthiest foods possible, drink plenty of water, build some exercise into your routine, rest, relax and have some fun. A powerful aid for my clients is the Bach Flower Emotional Eating Support Kit. This contains three powerful flower remedies that my clients have used successfully to manage their eating behavior -- Cherry Plum helps you remain in control, Crabapple improves body image and self-appreciation and Chestnut Bud helps you to stop repeating the same mistakes and sabotaging yourself again and again as your stress level continues to rise while you watch your waistline expand.

Have a great day! Dr. Denise

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

We're all a Part of Something Bigger

We’re all a Part of Something Bigger

Today is an important day in the United States of America. It is Election Day and the turnout at the polls is record breaking. I have not witnessed such fervor ever before. People in line, at least in my New Hampshire town, were not teasing of laughing about the election. People did not have a casual attitude about this at all. The majority were fervent in their commitment to a particular candidate and reluctant to voice their choice.

The election is an example of a country united. We may be divided along party lines but that we are all in this together is the underlying feeling. We all care about domestic and foreign issues and we care about our country and its’ future. Tonight millions of us will be staying up late to watch the election results as they roll in. It will be history making and exciting. For some of us it will be an evening of celebrations. For others, grave disappointment. Tomorrow our country will be setting sail on a new course.

So think about how you can bring this down to a personal level and chart a new course for yourself. We are all a pert of something – a family, an institution, a country. How can we be the very best possible part of our connected world? What can each of us do to help our world move towards unity, peace and mutual respect? What is your part? I am thinking hard about what mine is.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Embracing Change

Change happens. That’s the way life goes, is it not? Each day when you lower your feet to the floor you have no idea what you have in store. Many of us mindlessly pop out of our cozy beds in a groggy state of half sleep and are instantly on autopilot. We move through our homes doing the same things we are accustomed to doing every other unremarkable morning and we move along often not noticing our surroundings or doing anything differently. Little changes occur and we may not even notice.

There are those times however when change is in the foreground and your choice is clearly to embrace it or resist. I am reminded of this right now as I am moving my office location to Exeter, NH which is about 12 miles from where I’ve been the past several years. At first I thought that this would be simple. After all I have moved a number of times in the past. But from the moment I began searching for my new place I was constantly surprised at how much was involved in this undertaking.

From meeting with the painter, choosing colors, arranging for mail and phone services to change, learning the rules and operations of my new building to selecting window treatments, shopping for a new chair and arranging the actual physical move, I must admit I have felt on the verge of collapse from time to time. But, when this exhaustion has crept up on me and I have felt overwhelmed, I have (usually) been able to take a time out to regroup.

Taking a few minutes here and there to breathe and to remind myself of why I am moving, the distinct advantages I will have in my new space and that I am so blessed to have found such a beautiful place so much closer to my home affords me the chance to calm myself and get back in touch with the fun of it all.

So it goes with me and with all of us. If we stop, regroup and remind ourselves to be grateful for each moment, we align ourselves with positive energy and gratitude. If we resist and push ourselves along our journey, not pausing to embrace our changes and to take gentle care of ourselves, then we assure ourselves that we will miss all the fun. When we are not having fun is the likely time to soother ourselves with junk food. So my message is this:

Have more fun. No matter what you are doing take time to pause and check in with yourself often, every day. You may not be able to control everything that happens around you but you do have the power over what you are doing to yourself inside. When you visit yourself in a few moments of quiet and remind yourself of your blessings then emotional eating is likely to recede into the background and your attitude will change. You will feel good about you and that is a big step towards feeling good about everything else.

Enjoy your day! Warmly, Dr. Denise

Monday, October 20, 2008

Your Needs Are Important

Every time I post here, I share strategies you can employ to feel better and be radiantly healthy – physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually and to lose weight if that is your goal. Reading these brief notes will help you to reaffirm your personal commitment to health. Remember, being healthy does not necessarily mean being thin, or wealthy or even wise -- nor does it mean being perfect at all times. Each of us is on our own path to radiant health. Each of us aspires to feeling happy and calm and to living our lives with zest and energy but each of our paths is unique. We may all seek similar things but how each of us finds health and happiness will be different.

We want to feel well but how to achieve this goal can be confusing. Each of us is bombarded daily by messages telling us what to eat, what to do, how to be beautiful and how to live every aspect of our lives. My philosophy is a different. Rather than looking outside of yourself to figure out how to be, look within. I believe that you know way down inside of yourself, what to do and how to be. You may not know, however, how to listen to your own inner voice of wisdom. I will share ways to listen and to hear that little voice deep within from time to time.

In this blog I offer many ideas to you. I give you the information you need to make informed choices about your physical, emotional and spiritual health. I shed light on some of the reasons we may choose self-destructive behaviors and I hope these postings inspire you to take your health and well being seriously.

Please make yourself your number one priority. No one else will be there to take care of your needs. You have to pay attention to your own feelings and then decide what you need. This is your job, no one else’s. Most of us grew up without the unconditional love that every child deserves. Our parents were often too busy, too tired, too self-absorbed, too young, too stressed or too something to give us all the love, attention and care we needed. In this way, we learned that our needs are not important.

Well. They are. The past is whatever it was and the time to move beyond it and to begin taking action is now. I will check in here every week and I would love to hear from some of you. This will provide an opportunity for us to dialog and for you to look at the progress you are making as you move along your own, unique path to radiant health and a life of joy. Please send your questions and comments directly to me at denise@deniselamothe.com . I look forward to hearing from you! Meanwhile, enjoy this lovely fall...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Isolation Causing Problems?

Sorry to be so late this week with this entry. I am in the midst of moving my office from a small, tiny actually, town into a small but lively city. I have noticed my energy dropping for the past several months and kept trying to figure out why. My emotional eating is no longer in control of me and I exercise every day. My relationship is solid and fulfilling and I live in a beautiful condo in a very friendly community. I also have the best little dog in the universe. However, no matter what I thought of, I couldn't put my finger on the cause of this low grade depression.

Then one day it occurred to me that I might be lonely. Now I am a person who has many freinds and always has plenty to do. Boredom and lonliness have been strangers to me... until now. My intention is to live the most fulfilling and joyful life possible and in order to do so, I have to be happy. To feel happy, I have to attend to my own needs and do what it takes to pull energy to me and to feel good.

Once I realized that I was sad from operating for so many years in isolation, I quickly began a search for the "perfect" office for me in my town of Exeter, NH. My intention was to find a place large enough to house group meetings. I am interested in expanding my group proactice to not only groups for emotional eating issues and life fulfillment but also for people who are taking care of elderly parents or other loved ones.

It is no surprise that the universe cooperated with me and I walked right in to find the perfect office that meets all of my needs. So, I am busy, thriving, doing what I know is the very best for me. I feel an energy that I have been out of touch with for quite a long while. My message to you is this:

Sometimes when we find ourselves sad and often overeating it is a clear message from our own emotional guidance system telling us that we are not moving in the right direction. We need something that we are not giving ourselves. Please pay attention to what you love, what brings you joy and then spend a little quiet time every day focusing on the discovery and manifestation of whatever brings you your joy. I was isolated and craving connection. You may be overwhelmed and needing some quiet. You are unique and so your needs are quite individual. Do whatever you really want to do. This is your life to live and mostly to enjoy!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Powerful Urge to Hibernate

As I sit reflecting on what the fall season means to me, I become quiet. I notice the bright splashes of color outside my windows and the urge to hibernate is strong. Did you know that we do, in fact, have the urge biologically to hibernate? This is a throw back to ancient times but it still can, and does, affect us. People naturally want to eat more in the fall as preparation for the long winter sleep ahead – only we don’t do the sleeping part anymore!

Our emotions can feel particularly intense when we find ourselves struggling to avoid these urges to overeat. I suggest you notice the urges and give yourself extra food if you want to -- but make your choices as healthy as possible. Get out in the fresh air, walk, breathe and give yourself some extra time to really nurture yourself. Emotional eating won’t be the primary activity of your day if you feel balanced and content.

What do you need to do to get through those times when your urge to fatten up before hibernation takes hold? Think of ways to “get happy” without the sedative effects of those sugars and carbohydrates. You can dance, talk with friends, sing, draw, paint, write poetry, read a good book, list things you are grateful for, etc. Use your imagination to create your own list. Post it and read it often. Then relax. You deserve to feel content, balanced and joyful – even when you have the urge to overfill your belly and fall asleep until springtime!.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Don't put yourself down! It NEVER helps!

Never berate yourself for overeating: that will only lead you to more indulgence. You know that dieting and depriving yourself does not work. Scolding yourself is always counterproductive. Comparing yourself to others is never useful. The only way to truly feel better is to learn to relax, to nurture yourself and to appreciate the wonderful person that you are. Following are a few suggestions to help as you forge your path in a more positive direction. These are in addition to paying attention to your physical needs.

Live your life as mindfully as possible. I suggest you read some of Thich Nhat Hanh’s books such as Peace is Every Step or Being Peace. These will teach you ways to value the present moment. Staying in the present instead of worrying about the past or what may or may not happen in the future will help you maintain balance in your day. No matter how hectic your schedule, carve out time for yourself every day to attend to your personal needs. Don’t just use left over time to nurture yourself. If you do, there will never be a spare moment to take a bubble bath, read a book or write in your journal. Make yourself the #1 priority. This is not just something nice to do. It is an essential, central part of overcoming overeating.

Develop a specific time to nourish your spirit. Make your own sacred routine. We each have different needs. You can experiment to find ways to satisfy some of yours. Try taking a class in Yoga or Tai Chi. Learn to meditate and enjoy feeling peaceful and relaxed. (Herbert Benson’s book, The Relaxation Response is an excellent guide to meditation techniques. He will teach you how to breathe deeply and sit within the stillness.) Pray. Spend time outside. Notice things around you. Look at the stars at night -- feel the warmth of the sun during the day. Explore things that interest you.

Treat yourself like the goddess you are. Think of things you like to do and do them! Restore your spirit. Schedule relaxing massages. Manicures, pedicures or facials are fantastic. Write in your journal. Dance. Sing. Treat yourself to a movie, a play, a walk on the beach or to a fine dining experience. Use your creative talents. Draw, sew, knit or paint. Try modeling with clay or writing a poem. No one can tell you what is best for you. Our needs are individual and very personal. One woman’s relaxation is another’s stress -- play with different ideas and you will discover ways to soothe your emotions and refresh your spirit.

This will help you feel better without choosing emotional overeating.... I promise!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Where is your better feeling place?

We all have times – minutes, hours, days, months when we feel “down.” Life catches us off guard sometimes and we can easily find ourselves in what I call a major funk and often overeating to soothe our emotions. When you find yourself stuck with unhappy feelings and nothing much seems to go right, what do you do to turn it around? Where can you turn to reconnect with yourself – to make contact with your more pleasant feelings?

I know that for me I forget my own advice at times and try to do all the things I know to do to move me forward to a happier place. I don’t like feeling out of sorts and sad. I think that I will find my better feeling place when I feel better. That makes sense on the surface.

But I fail time and again to realize that I have it backwards. To feel better, I have to consciously go to my better feeling place. This is what works for me: First I have to give myself permission to relax and remove those perfectionistic self-expectations that sabotage my efforts to accept myself as the human being that I am – not super-human, not bionic, but vulnerable and frail at times just like everybody else. (Can you relate to this?)

Then I ask myself where this body of mine would be most comfortable. I may choose to lie down for a while or sit in my favorite chair and read or meditate. I could choose to do some sketching or take my little puppy to the ocean for a walk. At any time, on any day my better feeling place changes. It is vital to go there though, wherever it is at the moment, and to do whatever I want to do at the time.

This is my better feeling place – wherever I need to be in the present moment to take care of myself. Later things usually seem more manageable and I can relax a bit. Think of where you can go and what you can do when daily stress overwhelms you. Then be patient. Your feelings will pass but you may feel better sooner if you allow yourself to retreat for a while and take time to reconnect with yourself.

And please do check my website from time to time for new workshops, articles, services and products. And make today a fabulous one! Do something fun!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Helping the overweight child

As a professional speaker and psychologist I am often asked questions about preventing obesity -- for adults and children. This blog has focused primarily on the difficulties of the adult but today I dedicate this to the millions of children who struggle. If you have children, please read this and pass it on. It will give you ideas for preventing obesity in children as well as ways to help if they are already overweight. Also please don't hesitate to contact me if you have questions or would like would like me to deliver a program for your organization or association.

tell your child they look fat or will get fat.
comment about their weight.
embarrass, humiliate or shame them.
put your child on a diet – this will ultimately cause weight gain
focus on appearances.

ALWAYS assure them that you love them for who they are, not for what their body size is or is not. Focus on making healthy choices – on feeling as (physically and emotionally) healthy, strong and balanced as possible.

Do not use food to reward or punish your child. Rewards should be things like extra time with you, a hug, a little later bedtime or a special outing. Punishments (better thought of and explained as consequences of the child’s behavior) include early bedtimes, no television or loss of a privilege.

Be aware that food and mood are intertwined. If a child is eating sugars and refined carbohydrates and not getting enough protein, they will likely be depressed, lethargic and angry. Stressors that are a natural part of life can become overwhelming to them.

Know that a bagel, pretzel or bag of popcorn is only sugar in disguise. White flour products, pasta, corn and starchy vegetables metabolize immediately into sugar in our bodies. These are the foods that put on extra pounds.

Also know that we all need healthy fats every day – (olive oil, a bit of real butter). These will not add pounds but, if you do not get some healthy fat, your body will think it is starving and you will make up for that with craving more carbohydrates and sugars.

Make sure they are eating protein three times a day and some carbohydrates, like fruits and whole grains and you are likely to see immediate, positive changes in their behaviors and moods. Make a list of proteins your child enjoys and consult your list when you’re in a hurry (some suggestions: meatballs, homemade hamburgers instead of fast food, almond, soy or peanut butter (Be careful, commercial peanut butter can be loaded with sugars. Buy natural if you can. Also, other nut butters are more nutritious than peanut butter.), yogurts and cheeses, nuts). Remind yourself often to provide protein of some sort at each meal (especially breakfast).

Soft drinks are loaded with not only sugar, but caffeine as well and children are very sensitive to both of these substances. Limit (and eventually eliminate) sodas. Encourage your children to drink plenty of water (or juice mixed with water if you must.) Fruit juice is loaded with sugar and even though it is a natural sugar, it still causes weight gain and fosters dependence upon sweets. Buy juices with no sugar added. Often hunger is really thirst in disguise. Once your child has had a healthy drink (preferably water) and is hydrated, he or she may not be tempted to grab snacks.

Help your child to understand that they really do need a protein at each meal. It feeds their muscles and they need it to be strong and healthy and happy. Talk matter-of-factly and directly about this. They may rebel at first, saying they don’t like chicken, meat, fish, almond butter, nuts etc., and you will have to be very firm and unwavering about your absolute intention to take the best care of them possible because you love them so much.

You are the parent and you decide. At first a child may not like you for setting limits. Later they will appreciate your effort (maybe not until they are parents themselves).

Introduce changes gradually and don’t get into power struggles about it. Simply say, “You can have the cookie (candy, ice cream, etc.) if you want, but you do need to have some protein first so your body gets what it needs to be strong and happy.” If your child says, “OK, then I won’t eat anything.” That’s OK. Tell them they can make that choice. Your child needs to know that you have their best interests at heart and are not going to give in or bargain and plead for them to eat. Unless your child has a serious medical condition, it won’t hurt him or her to miss a meal once in a while.

Fast foods and sugar-filled treats should be offered sparingly. Limit pizza (if your child has pizza once in a while sprinkle it with ground meat, tofu or poultry), chips, fries, fast food burgers, ice creams, bagels and candies (and remember that the “healthy” alternatives, like granola bars and fruit treats sold in grocery stores are loaded with sugar).

Have truly healthy alternatives on hand. In summer, frozen fruits like raspberries to snack on are particularly refreshing. Celery stuffed with nut butter or soft cheese, nuts (unsalted preferably), raisins, yogurts, raw veggies with dips (like lo-calorie salad dressings). Be creative. Make trail mix from dried fruits and nuts and toss in a handful of M&Ms for appeal if you need to do this at first to capture your child’s interest.

Limit TV, computer and video game time. This forces kids to use their imaginations and, if they are also undergoing dietary changes, they may feel better and choose to do more physical things. Any creative activity burns more calories than sitting in front of a TV or computer screen. This also enhances self-esteem which is at the core of food control issues.

Encourage your child to try all sorts of physical activities such as a family walk or bike ride. Plan frequent weekend hikes. Try a nearby swimming pool or beach. Let friends come along. Model an active life-style as much as your own time and physical health allows.

Talk directly with your children. Have weekly family meetings. Discuss how you’re doing as you work on improving your health and ask them how they are doing. Listen. Tell them you love them and want all of you to be as healthy as possible, which is the reason the whole family will be making some gradual changes.

Talk with them, on their own level, about the dangers of fast foods and sugars. Discuss how playing video games and watching television too much is harmful and that more and more children and teenagers are gaining weight and getting sick. Point out television commercials that are made to trick children into eating more fast foods and sugary foods. Tell your kids that people are just now becoming aware that some foods we have all been eating are really harming our health.

Be sure that your child gets plenty of rest. Children are busy growing and their bodies need time to recoup. A set bedtime is essential. A half an hour or so of quiet time before “lights out” and/or a warm bath or shower close to bedtime can help with unwinding and preparing to go to sleep. Do not allow eating for at least an hour or two before bedtime. Lying down to sleep with a full stomach interferes with they body’s ability to fully relax and rest.

Make sure you ask your kids how they’re doing every day and listen to their answers. It’s hard being human and especially hard being a child who can’t understand the complexities of life the way we can as adults. Notice how your child is acting and how he or she appears to be feeling. See if what you are observing matches what they are telling you. Let them know you are noticing and that you are always there for them. Resist the temptation to lecture. Instead listen as caringly and attentively as you can. Hold fast to your limits and boundaries but don’t be too rigid.

What is most important is:
Letting your children know you care…
Feeding them in the healthiest ways you can…
Paying attention to them…
Asking them how they feel and validating them…
Listening to what they have to say…
Respecting them…
Setting clear, sensible boundaries…
Outlining clear expectations (and reasonable consequences when you must)…
Giving freely of your love…
This is all that’s needed.

And, finally, please remind yourself often that…..

Copyright 2006
Dr. Denise Lamothe of Exeter, NH is an emotional overeating expert and author of
The Taming of the Chew: A Holistic Guide to Stopping Compulsive Eating.
She is a clinical psychologist, doctor of holistic health, author and professional speaker.
Ph/Fax: 603-778-4814 -- http://www.deniselamothe.com/ -- Denise@DeniseLamothe.com

Monday, September 8, 2008

Vacations should be mandatory!

When I talk to my clients about taking care of their bodies, minds and spirits I always stress the importance of relaxing, having fun and giving themselves a break from the stressors life delivers on a daily basis. Why then, I wonder is it so hard to follow my own sage advice? I am in Acadia National Park in Maine at the moment and truly relaxing for the first time in a long while. It was hard to leave e-mail, the office and phone behind but as we progressed farther and farther north and away from from those work-related pastimes I found myself breathing a little more deeply and anticipating the adventure of a few days in "paradise" of Maine.

We did bring a lap top along and I wanted to be sure to say hello to all of you who have so faithfully been reading this Chew Tamer's blog. But... this is the only time my fingers plan to bounce over the keys. Today a small hike of about 3 miles of the most replenishing scenery on earth. I strongly suggest you visit here if you ever have a chance. There are 57 miles of carriage roads just for hikers and bikers and most have gentle uphills and downs. It is easy to walk at a relaxed pace and drink in all the delicious treats mother nature has to offer.

Of course for those of your who prefer more rugged terrain, there is plenty and I generally do choose more difficult trails. I am learning, however, that it is fine to simply breathe, relax and enjoy. I am delighting in having unstructured time and not being in a rush about anything. I am cherishing every moment, staying in the present and I will return to New Hampshire at the end of the week refreshed and eager to immerse myself in my writing, speaking and meeting with clients with renewed zest and enthusiasm.

I hope never again to wait so long to give myself a break like this and I hope this little message serves as a reminder to you to do the same. Life is too short! Vacations will do more to stop emotional eating and promote healthy weight loss than any diet ever could -- they should be mandatory!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Explaining my Practice

Besides being an emotional eating expert, professional speaker and author, I have a private counseling practice. I am often asked to explain my clinical practice and so I am sharing my philosophy and practice with you in this blog. I hope you find it useful.

My practice is atypical. I function both as clinical psychologist and doctor of holistic health. The combination of roles provides a unique opportunity to incorporate a naturopathic philosophy into my overall practice. I tailor my course of action with each client depending upon their needs as they present them. I will outline many aspects of my work but first the most essential is the concept of respect – for the client, for the process and for myself as helper. This is the cornerstone of any successful practice.

When anyone inquires about my services, I engage them in a collaborative conversation. I want to know how they perceive their needs and what their perceptions are regarding the situation for which they are seeking help. This must be a mutual process. It will unfold through a combination of efforts – their’s and mine. I have great respect for my clients’ objectives. They know what they want and are looking for ways to achieve the goals they set. I function as a resource and facilitator. My training and experience is used to assist them along the path they have chosen.

Sometimes through the process of our work together a client might feel the route they are taking is not serving their best interest. This may happen many times throughout the course of our meetings. I encourage clients to revisit their goals and then we discuss the new options that manifest themselves. This often results in a change of direction and movement towards something more fitting and productive. When it occurs, this is a positive step and leads to greater understanding and more vibrant health. Each person has the opportunity to reevaluate and rethink former decisions and become more focused and flexible. These are necessary life skills and enhance the client’s self-esteem.

I am interested in a person’s entire being. It is vital to know how they are caring for themselves physically, emotionally, intellectually, environmentally and spiritually. It is also important to know some things about their socialization process and the forces that have shaped their ideas of how to perform in the world. I inquire about expectations they have based on their gender, skin color, age, sexual orientation, level of education, etc. and I ask about their lifestyle in general and how closely connected they are to other people and to nature.

It is important that I use my skill and knowledge to help clients assess how they are caring for themselves physically. We discuss the importance of a nutrient dense diet that is as natural as possible. I tell them about different vitamins, herbs or food that may be helpful to them. I stress the benefits of sunshine, fresh air, moderate exercise, rest and play. I never prescribe anything. Instead I make them aware of alternative options. I talk about helpful services they may not be familiar with, such as Reiki, Polarity, Massage, etc. They choose what modalities sound interesting and decide what they would like to explore.

Some clients benefit from consulting a nutritionist. Others engage the services of a personal trainer or schedule acupuncture treatments. My role is to educate and to provide as many resources and viable options as I can. I do not presume to know exactly what my clients need although I do believe in educating them and introducing them to relevant books and publications so they can enlighten themselves further. In this way they make clear, informed choices and take full advantage of the healing modalities available today. I help each client explore various courses of action and assist them in making a plan for themselves and in refining that plan from time to time. Ultimately it is their responsibility to choose the options they wish to explore and to follow through.

If they report they are having difficulty, we address their resistance to change and examine some of their self-imposed limitations. We also discuss their feelings about making life-style changes. As a psychologist I again enlist the client’s aid in this process. It is never “I the doctor” and “you the patient”. It is always “us”, engaged in a respectful, mutual process of exploration where we combine our energy and insights to promote movement toward optimal health. We become a team. This creates a more open, relaxed and trusting atmosphere in which to explore all possibilities.

This inevitably results in more choices for my clients – choices about available options, possible directions to head in, services to seek and ways to increase their knowledge. My goal is to listen closely, to help each person move towards greater awareness of themselves and to discover ways to access and utilize their personal healing power. It is my role to encourage each client to assume responsibility for themselves which includes their choices in the present as well as how they have operated in the past. I urge them to look at themselves with gentle eyes -- not feeling judgmental, ashamed or guilty. I explain that the past is gone and choices made then do not prevent us from making different, healthier, more self-loving choices now. I encourage them to let go of the past and remember there are no mistakes, only lessons. I urge clients to be mindful and to stay in present time as much as possible. I encourage each to focus on making as many self-loving choices as possible in each present moment.

I also ask clients to pay close attention to their spiritual selves and to nurture the spiritual light within. I urge them to spend quiet time each day going inside of themselves to discover their peaceful center. I teach meditation, deep breathing or some type of reflective practice if they are open to it. I also encourage them to pray. This helps them quiet the incessant chatter of daily living, notice their true feelings and to discover what they really want.

I offer suggestions to help people uncover and strengthen their spiritual, creative and playful natures. For example, I might suggest starting a journal, spending more time in nature, taking an art class, dancing, singing in a choir, writing poetry or joining a cooking class. It all depends upon the client’s abilities, motivation and interests.

As a clinician I realize the importance of maintaining my own attitude of curiosity and am constantly educating myself. It is vital that I keep up with what is going on in the fields of psychology and holistic health in order to disseminate current, accurate information and offer the best service to each client.

It is also imperative that I model the healthiest lifestyle possible for my clients. I take the best care of my body, mind and spirit. Of course, I cannot do this perfectly at all times, nor can my clients. I share this with them, letting them know that what is important is not that we are perfect but that we do our best. There are no mistakes -- only lessons and no one can expect to behave perfectly in every moment. It is the human way to make less than self-loving choices at times. The road to optimal health is to recognize when we drift off course and to make our best effort to reset our compass in a healthier, more self-loving direction.

I also create a peaceful atmosphere in the office for my clients and myself and talk with them about the importance of freeing their chi energy. We discuss the principles of feng shui and ways to make changes in their home and work environments to help their movement towards greater, more vibrant health.

As I continue to educate myself and to evolve, I share myself freely with clients. This is humbling, sacred work and each time I sit with a client I ask spirit to guide my words and actions. I remind myself that each person is entering my space with their own agenda and it is their agenda that is important – not mine. I love this work. I feel blessed and I silently salute the spirit within each person whom I serve.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Be playful -- It helps!

An attitude of playfulness helps stop emotional eating and ease the difficulties that are bound to arise on every Chew Tamer’s journey. It is an essential part of our healing process. I often ask my clients to share their childhood adventures with me -- things that took place before they learned the adult lessons of being fearful, worried and over-burdened caretakers. We discuss these stories and often they are surprised and delighted to discover that they have a playful, creative little imp hidden deep within. Many who come into my office, with or without food control issues, find reclaiming childhood playfulness frees them to become interested and involved in the development of something new in their lives. This information may manifest immediately in positive changes or in more subtle changes that take longer.

As an emotional eating expert and clinical psychologist, I have learned that epiphanies come in their own way and at their own time. Ask yourself what you would like to add to your personal life. Don't consider an activity because you feel you should like it or because someone makes a suggestion. Only consider things that ring true for you. Close your eyes right now and think about times you have felt joyful. Then ask yourself these questions: When were some of those times? Why did you feel so happy? What made those experiences important and freeing? Were these times you took on challenges, spent time with neighborhood friends or enjoyed an activity by yourself? What can you do today to recapture some of those joyful, illusive feelings?

Who are you? Are you a painter, a skydiver or a gourmet cook? Maybe you're a deep-sea diver or a yoga instructor. It doesn't matter. What does matter is that you're having fun. Try different things. If you try something and don't like it, try something else. Get actively involved in the process of living your life consciously. Be proactive, not reactive. Don't wait for life to happen, because it won't. Only you can do it. If you don't take responsibility for making the changes you want and creating the YOU you want to be, no one will. Managing your life is your job. Don't think of yourself as a victim. The time to act is now! Each moment that passes by without doing something for yourself is one more moment you have missed. Don't wait!

I certainly missed my share of opportunities along with many of the gifts life has to offer. My words are written solely to give you the impetus to create the most exciting life you can. Separate yourself from all the roles you play in life - parent, child, friend, partner, etc. - and spend time thinking of who YOU are. When I ask a client "Who are you?" I often get a teary reaction, simply because a conscious response has never been considered. Most people are far too busy playing roles they have learned to play and attending to everyone else. Spend time contemplating what you love to do. Brainstorm some ideas. No matter how far-fetched or impossible they seem, capture them on paper. This will grease the cogs of your brain and refresh your spirit. Feelings deep inside of you will become the manifestations of your dreams. You cannot create something new in your life if you don't know what you want. Spend time discovering who you are. Only then can you move towards the life you truly want to have - filled with zest, joy, health and balance.

Start now to uncover the creative, playful, delightful little imp dwelling deep inside of you!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Secondary Gains from Overeating

I often ask clients what they are getting out of their compulsive eating behavior. Most look at me as if I’m from another planet and insist that they get absolutely no benefits from eating compulsively or from being overweight. I can understand their surprised reactions, for how can an issue which feels so painful and all-consuming bring with it any advantages? Inevitably, when I suggest we talk about the possibility, people resist the idea. “How can this weight or this behavior bring me anything positive?” they ask. It seems too hard to think about, impossible to imagine. I often tell them the following story to illustrate my point:
Once I was working with a woman who had been steadily gaining weight since the birth of her first child. She was referred to me by her medical doctor when her weight began seriously taking its toll on her health. She was dangerously obese when we met and was becoming increasingly depressed and discouraged. We worked together for quite a while and, despite all of her best efforts and mine, she continued to put on more weight. Sporadically she would make attempts to take control of her emotional eating but nothing was effective.
One day, after several months of unsuccessful weight loss attempts, we began talking about her family situation and she disclosed to me that her husband badly wanted another child. Her first child, an extremely active little girl, kept her busy constantly and she strongly resisted the idea of adding to their family (and thus her workload). She feared her husband’s anger and possible abandonment if she openly stated that she did not want another child to care for. Soon she realized that her weight kept her from having to confront her husband or deal with the issue at all. Her doctor had emphatically told her that having another child was far too dangerous an undertaking if she became pregnant at her current weight. Losing weight would mean confronting the issue and admitting the truth to her spouse. Once she realized this she knew that she would never let go of her extra pounds until she figured out how to handle this matter directly with her husband.
Scenarios like this one happen frequently as part of the therapy process. People sometimes find out that their weight and out-of-control behavior provides them with illusions of safety. If they are overweight, they can avoid the situations that they fear. They may think such thoughts as, “If I am heavy, no one will make advances towards me. If I am fat, I can’t possibly _______ (fill in the blank: go to school, ask for anything, be successful, take risks, compete with others, have a good relationship, etc.) If I am fat, I won’t be called upon to give my opinions or ideas. People won’t take me seriously and I won’t have to risk being wrong and feeling foolish. If I am overweight I may be excluded from good jobs where I will be expected to be responsible and competent (it is illegal, but it happens). If I am obese I can stay close to home – buses, planes, trains and subways have small seats so I can’t possibly travel.” This thinking provides an illusion of safety.
Being overweight is not simple and generally there are at least a few hidden, unconscious agendas behind the eating behavior. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and think for a few minutes about the advantages you get from being overweight. Then return to the present. Write those advantages down. Now note any other, more nurturing ways you can take care of yourself and your feelings and write these down. Next, choose one area where you would like to make a change. For example, if you have discovered that one advantage of overeating has been to numb feelings of grief, you might plan to talk with a friend about your loss. In this way, you allow your feelings to surface and find expression and you no longer need food to anesthetize yourself. You can do this exercise often as a way of checking in with yourself and changing your compulsive behavior.

My warmest wishes, Dr. Denise

Monday, August 11, 2008

Deprivation Diets NEVER Help!

As a leading international emotional eating I can tell you that we are the fattest people on earth? Do you know why? One reason is because we diet. Did you know that diets actually cause weight gain? Each diet promises a slender, healthy body, yet, as we diet more, the numbers on the scale continue to rise. As we realize we are getting fatter, we are likely to become more discouraged and anxious. We may search frantically for the latest, fastest ways to lose weight and diet more desperately. We may find that the harder we try the fatter we become! Following are some reasons to never diet again:

Diets forbid us to eat the healthy fats we need to feel satiated.

Dieting lowers metabolism.

Diets encourage us to consume diet products that are often filled with chemicals and devoid of nutrients.

Diets foster a lifestyle of deprivation and, if we feel deprived, we are likely to make up for that later by overindulging.

Diets limit our choices and restrict us. We may resent this and act out our anger by overeating.

If we severely restrict our caloric intake and we deny ourselves the pleasure of savoring foods we love, we will build resentment. If our friends are enjoying pasta and we are chomping angrily on a dry chicken breast and a few leaves of lettuce, we are guaranteeing ourselves that we will make this injustice up later by overindulging on junk foods.

The intention then is not to diet but instead to strive for balance. We do this by first educating ourselves about what foods promote high energy and health. Then choosing these foods most of the time. We can indulge now and then, noticing how we feel when we make less than self-loving choices and how we feel when we select nourishing, health-promoting foods instead. Over time, as we strive to be more mindful about our choices and their consequences, we can make more and more self-loving choices. Remember, there are no mistakes, only lessons!

This is the most effective overall strategy to achieve a life of zest and radiant health. Deprivation diets are never helpful. They do cause weight gain so be gentle with yourself!

Enjoy the rest of summer! Warmly, Dr. Denise

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Are Your Good Intentions Gone?

Have you ever had this experience? (I have hundreds of times!) You wake up in the morning regretting the way you ate last night and decide that today will be different. You set your intention firmly. Today you will remain conscious and choose foods and beverages that will foster health, energy and maybe even weight loss. You will be vigilant, aware, and you know that you will feel great about yourself as you move through your day making one self-loving choice after another.

You start your day with a wonderful, health-promoting breakfast – oatmeal, yogurt and fruit perhaps. You feel fantastic knowing that this day is truly a new beginning and today is your chance to turn things around. As you face the stressors of the day, however, your resolve weakens and you start slipping into the wasteland of unconsciousness and emotional eating. This means that your fantastic intentions are fading quickly into the background and your awareness is now off of your best interests and on to the problems and distractions of your routine.

By afternoon, your “best laid plans” have evaporated and the good intentions of the morning have been abandoned. As you reach for a “pick me up” of caffeine and sugar in the waning hours of the afternoon, you may make a quick decision to try again tomorrow if you even remember that you did start out with some really good ideas about how to take loving care of yourself all day. More likely, however, you are unconscious by then and won’t really notice and revisit the issue until tomorrow morning when you awaken regretting your behaviors of yesterday and once again resolving to make today the day you actually remain conscious and attend to your real needs.

So what happens between the morning yogurt and the evening bowl of ice cream? Why did you venture so far your path? How did you slip so easily from mindful to mindless without even noticing? These are worthy questions for you to ponder. It is easy to collapse into mindlessness and many of us have been doing that repeatedly for years. Now is the time to do something different. Now is the time for you to make yourself #1 all day long.

Here are a few suggestions. You can get a buddy to check in with throughout the day and ask each other how you are managing your stress and reminding each other to be gentle and loving with yourself. You can carry a small journal around with you and make a brief entry each time you feel like grabbing more snacks. You can schedule short breaks into your day when you can sit quietly and take deep breaths for a few moments. These are some ways to keep on your personal path.

You can also use The Bach Flower Remedies found in the emotional eating support kit – cherry plum, crab apple and chestnut bud. These can help you enormously as you learn to treat yourself and your body with care, stay in control and stop the frustrating cycle of overeating, feeling awful and overeating more to medicate yourself. I have been amazed at how helpful these little drops have been for my clients. You may find they provide an effective means of stopping the mindless eating and staying more conscious of yourself.

My very best wishes,
Dr. Denise

Monday, July 28, 2008

Look Within

As I blog each week, it is my sincere desire to share strategies you can employ to feel better – physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually, to stop emotional eating and to lose weight, without dieting, if that is your goal. Thank you for joining me here and I hope these brief notes will help you to reaffirm your personal commitment to health. Remember, being healthy does not necessarily mean being thin, or wealthy or even wise -- nor does it mean being perfect at all times. Each of us is on our own path to radiant health. Each of us aspires to feeling happy and calm and to living our lives with zest and energy but each of our paths is unique. We may all seek similar things but how each of us finds health and happiness will be different.

We want to feel well but how to achieve this goal can be confusing. Each of us is bombarded daily by messages telling us what to eat, what to do, how to be beautiful and how to live every aspect of our lives. My philosophy is different. Rather than looking outside of yourself to figure out how to be, look within. I believe that you know way down inside of yourself, what to do and how to be. You may not know, however, how to listen to your own inner voice of wisdom. This takes practice and a way to start is by giving yourself quiet time each day to reflect and to notice what you are feeling.

It may be hard to carve time for yourself out of your busy schedule but please make yourself your number one priority. No one else will be there to take care of your needs. You have to pay attention to your own feelings and then decide what you truly need. This is your job, no one else’s. Most of us grew up without the unconditional love that every child deserves. Our parents were often too busy, too tired, too self-absorbed, too young, too stressed or too something to give us all the love, attention and care we needed. In this way, we learned that our needs are not important.

Well. They are. The past is whatever it was and the time to move beyond it and to begin taking action is now. I will check in with you weekly except for times I am away or unable to access my computer. Please use this blog as a reminder to you to provide an opportunity to look at the progress you are making as you move along your own, unique path to radiant health and a life of joy.

I am enjoying being on this journey with you and would love to hear from you anytime!
Be well!
Warmly, Dr. Denise

Monday, July 14, 2008

Emotional Eating and World Turmoil

What does emotional overeating have to do with turmoil in our world? Answer: a lot!

Most of us have instant replays in our mind and hearts when we hear words like “9/11”, tsunami, Katrina, Iraq, earthquakes, fires and floods. When our ears hear the words and our eyes view the pictures, our whole being reacts. Emotions instantly surface and we may flood with an array of feelings. We may feel frightened for others as well as for ourselves -- unsafe, helpless, furious, overwhelmed, or sad, to name just a few possible reactions. We may feel relieved that we have survived and at the same time feel guilty that we have survived while others have not. We may become depressed and anxious and not understand why.

As human beings we act and react. Part of us may try to actively suppress or deny our uncomfortable feelings while another part of us may be reacting to the news by grieving or feeling angry. There is no one right way to react or to feel. When we are experiencing intense emotions, some that we understand and some that we may not understand, the end result is that we are in distress. Hearing of and witnessing the suffering of others causes stress and we may turn to unhealthy, old patterns in search of relief. We may seek food for comfort. Millions of us do!

This is a natural reaction, so please don’t beat yourself up if you have indulged in a few extra snacks lately. There is plenty of distressing news coming at you via the airwaves. We learn at a tender age that sugars and carbohydrates will take away our pain. These substances mask themselves as our friends. They urge us to take care of our uncomfortable feelings by stuffing our bellies with creamy pastas, pastries and chocolate. The hard part is that they deliver what they promise. These foods help us in the short term to stuff our feelings deep inside where we don’t have to deal with them.

When the effects of our “anesthetics” wear off, our physical bodies scream for MORE and our emotional selves (which haven’t yet recognized and experienced our emotions) join the chorus and demand more “treats” to continue keeping feelings at bay. Some of us may seek alcohol, sex, gambling or drugs to avoid the complex emotions of everyday life. We Chew Tamer’s may be more likely to prowl the bakery aisle at the grocery store or to use any combination of escape mechanisms.

Remember, your feelings exist for a reason. Each feeling is telling you something. Each is bringing you valuable information about what’s going on around and within you. Listen. Experience your feelings and let yourself feel every high and low that life brings your way. No one ever said that life meant experiencing only pleasant emotions. In fact, we need the difficult ones to appreciate the joyous ones.

If you do choose (and it is a choice, though it may not feel like one at the time) to soothe yourself with food, please don’t beat yourself up when you are done. That NEVER helps! None of us can walk our paths perfectly at all times. We are all human and we all make less than self-loving choices at times. Move beyond the urge to punish yourself. Recall that there are no mistakes, only lessons. Be as gentle as possible with yourself first. Then do what you realistically can to help others. Listen to them. Pray with them. Share hugs, warm smiles, resources and words of encouragement. These are the greatest gifts.

And remind yourself that life flies by. It is a blink of time. Amidst the stress and turmoil, tap into the peace and quiet strength within yourself. Bypass unhealthy choices as often as you can and don’t beat yourself if occasionally you can’t.

Most importantly, appreciate each moment of this exciting, emotional, and sometimes turbulent journey!

Be well…
Dr. Denise, Emotional Eating Expert

Monday, July 7, 2008

Connecting with our pets

To stop emotional overeating, we need to nurture our spirits. For many of us one avenue to rediscovering our creative spirits is through connection with our pets. You may be wondering what animals have to do with stopping emotional overeating? Plenty! As mentioned earlier, anyone with food control issues will most likely also experience low self-esteem, elevated stress levels, physical and emotional problems, inactivity and fatigue, low self-confidence and social isolation. So, I cannot resist including a few words on the therapeutic effects of our little furry or feathered friends. Research has shown that living with and caring for animals helps remedy all of the above conditions. About twenty-five years ago professionals began using animals to help patients with physical and psychological problems and over time the field of study has expanded. It is now well accepted that our animal friends provide us with numerous benefits. Being with them is not only good for us but perhaps necessary for optimal health and happiness.

Many kinds of animals have helped humans in ways we are only beginning to understand and appreciate. There is evidence that people with pets are healthier, less prone to hypertension and heart disease, have lower blood pressure, less anxiety, and manage their stress more effectively. They are more active, social, connected and responsible, and have higher levels of self-esteem. Pets give unconditional love and help us to focus outside of ourselves. There is no doubt that animals of many species can help us correct imbalances in our bodily systems and ultimately to heal eating difficulties.

Blood pressure is lowered when we watch fish swim lazily in an aquarium, or when we talk with our bird, hamster, ferret, goat or turtle companion. Petting an animal can have the same effect -- be it a dog, cat, guinea pig, or horse. Pets also provide a sympathetic ear and we can confide our most secret thoughts and feelings without fear of being judged or exposed. This is most therapeutic! An animal provides a channel for communication and we can express our feelings through verbal and physical interactions with our trusted pets. They provide a willing ear and are a source of unconditional love and companionship.

When our needs for connection are unfulfilled, we may fill the void with unhealthy food choices. In some situations a pet just might help -- not for everyone perhaps but for some of us. Please visit www.deniselamothe.com/Sapphi.htm to meet my little fuzzy friend.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Be Yourself: Everyone Else is Taken

It does seem to me that more and more people are approaching at a new level of understanding. Despite all the confusing messages about what to eat and how to eat it, people seem to be recognizing some basic “truths”.

First is the fact that diets DO NOT work – in fact they CAUSE weight gain. They do this by enticing us with promises that are unrealistic. They say we will permanently shed pounds by depriving ourselves of food and consequently, fun. Then our bodies scream at us to feed them more because we do not feel satiated. Chances are we have not eaten enough of the foods we require to have the energy and zest we need to meet the demands of each day.

Emotionally we may feel sad and discouraged about how we have deprived ourselves and make up for that by eating double or triple the amounts and eating much more often. We then gain weight back and as each pound tips the scale, our feelings of guilt and shame grow in proportion to our waistlines. Of course, this leads us back to check in the refrigerator or cupboards for some little morsel to “take the edge off” our pain and we stay spinning in this cycle of deprivation…overeating…beating ourselves up… seeking food for comfort …gaining more weight and trying even harder to be “good” (no, “perfect”) dieters. These more fervent attempts to diet and drop 20 pounds in a weekend only reinforce our failure and cause more and more emotional eating and self-deprecating feelings.

It is clear that we do not have to exercise for hours a day at our local gym but that we do need to use our bodies and move them around every day. We can swim, walk, dance, bike, do chair exercises or whatever else pleases us. We can stretch our muscles gently with yoga postures or Tai Chi movements. We can appreciate the many ways our bodies serve us in every moment and stop beating them up or trying to force them into unrealistic shapes and sizes.

We are also beginning to understand the sleep/appetite connection. Much research has proven that lack of sleep causes an excess of ghrelin to be released in our bodies. This hormone causes an increase in appetite. Simultaneously, we slow down our production and release of leptin – the hormone which signals our brains that we are satiated. No wonder those of us who are always tired and dragging ourselves through life are eating our weight in sugar on a regular basis!

Please interpret this information as permission to slow down and to relax more. We live in a high tech, fast paced world where we can never go fast enough. Remember, this increased stress causes the release of cortisol in our bodies and this increases our appetite dramatically... caffeine also causes leaps in our cortisol levels (not to mention its contribution to sleep deprivation). I think people are getting this message.

My hope is that folks are recognizing that life is about a lot more than being thin. Thankfully, being healthy tops the list these days for many of us Chew Tamers. As the obesity epidemic in our country and worldwide grows, I like to think that a parallel movement is underway. This is the time for all of us to work towards greater energy, vibrant health, and body sizes that support our efforts to enjoy the experiences life brings to us every day. We can learn to accept ourselves no matter what size or shape we are at this time. We can find and embrace opportunities for self improvement every day. We are all works in progress moving towards our ideal state of radiant health. And remember, you are never alone. We are all on this journey together!

And, in the meantime, as a bumper sticker I saw once reminded me…”Be yourself! Everyone else is taken!”

Monday, June 16, 2008

What Would You Like To Ask Me?

Thanks for joining me on my Chew Tamers' Blog. PLease drop me a note and let me know how you like it and what issues you would like me to address. As emotional eating expert and author of The Taming of the Chew, I have worked with thousands of folks who struggle with food control issues. It is a long and often disheartening battle and I am here to help! I would love to hear from you!

You will find new posts on my blog weekly. I will share strategies you can employ to feel better – physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually and to lose weight if that is your goal. Reading these brief notes will help you to reaffirm your personal commitment to health. Remember, being healthy does not necessarily mean being thin, or wealthy or even wise -- nor does it mean being perfect at all times. Each of us is on our own path to radiant health. Each of us aspires to feeling happy and calm and to living our lives with zest and energy but each of our paths is unique. We may all seek similar things but how each of us finds health and happiness will be different.

We want to feel well but how to achieve this goal can be confusing. Each of us is bombarded daily by messages telling us what to eat, what to do, how to be beautiful and how to live every aspect of our lives. My philosophy is different. Rather than looking outside of yourself to figure out how to be, look within. I believe that you know way down inside of yourself, what to do and how to be. You may not know, however, how to listen to your own inner voice of wisdom. I will share ways to listen and to hear that little voice deep within.

In this blog I will offer many ideas to you. I will give you the information you need to make informed choices about your physical, emotional and spiritual health. I will shed light on some of the reasons we often choose self-destructive behaviors and I hope to inspire you to take your health and well being seriously.

Please make yourself your number one priority. No one else will be there to take care of your needs. You have to pay attention to your own feelings and then decide what you need. This is your job, no one else’s. Most of us grew up without the unconditional love that every child deserves. Our parents were often too busy, too tired, too self-absorbed, too young, too stressed or too something to give us all the love, attention and care we needed. In this way, we learned that our needs are not important.

Well. They are. The past is whatever it was and the time to move beyond it and to begin taking action is now. I will provide an opportunity for you to reflect and to look at the progress you are making as you move along your own, unique path to radiant health and a life of joy.

Thanks for joining me! – Be well!

Monday, June 9, 2008

What's Your Commitment?

What’s Your Commitment?

Having been emotional eating expert for many years I have had the opportunity to speak with thousands of people who sincerely profess their desire to stop overeating, to take better care of themselves and to finally create the body they have been wishing for – a body that is radiantly healthy, slender and attractive. These desires are expressed with passion and power and are often dramatic. It is clear that they have suffered and worked hard and made many heroic attempts to lose those extra pounds that are keeping them unhappy and frustrated. Attempts at weight loss, however, are never easy and often end not only in failure but also in creation of a higher number on the scale and even more pounds to lose.

With so many people struggling and working hard to overcome overeating why is the success rate so small? One reason is that the intentions, however sincere, must be followed by true dedication and often are not. Let me explain: If you want to accomplish anything, you have to dedicate yourself to it and make a full commitment. Parenting is a good example of this. When you have a child, you make a commitment to caring for it. You don’t make decisions all day long about whether or not you will parent. You just DO it because you have committed yourself to doing so. If you are running a race you must commit to that to do well. If with every step you are thinking about whether or not you will take the next step, you will certainly turn back and fail when the going becomes challenging.

People who have achieved greatness, mountain climbers for example, have done so by committing themselves to the task at hand. Can you imagine setting off to climb Mount Everest and spending each hour of your climb debating whether or not to turn around and give up? No! To reach the summit you have to set your focus there, keep it there and remain true to your vision of achieving your goal. So here is the good news and the bad.

The news is that in order to accomplish your goal of vibrant health, the body you aspire to and creation of a life of joy, you have to make a firm commitment to doing so. This is both the bad and the good news. You can choose it to be either. On the “good” side, it is possible to achieve your goal. On the “bad” side it will take work. Did you think you could lose weight and achieve the body you desire with no effort? If you did then consider this a wake-up call and start now deciding what you want to commit to. You can acheive greatness!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Healthy, Happy Summer Travels

Most of us will travel in some fashion over the summer and some of us realize the importance of making and checking lists ahead of time. We may make packing lists, lists of items we need to take along and lists of things to do when we reach our destination. Some more organized people even have lists of lists! But many of us neglect to consult the most vital list of all – our self-care list. We are complex beings and must attend to ourselves – physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually and environmentally to have a healthy trip free from emotional eating and our usual reactions to stress.

Life is stressful. We are always on the go and trying to meet the needs of others while balancing the often-difficult demands of our personal lives. When we find ourselves away from our homes, on the road, eating airport snacks and sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings. We often get out of sorts. We may not have opportunities to exercise and we may have to deal with delays, plan changes and set backs.

Before you head out the door, pack a self-care checklist to review before your departure. Attending to your needs on all levels will insure consistent health and balance. You will look better, feel better, radiate higher energy and have a lot more fun on your vacation!

Following is my personal checklist.

Physically: Have I been eating well, avoiding caffeine, alcohol, saturated fats, sugar and simple carbohydrates as often as possible and eating good amounts of protein every few hours? Have I packed healthy snacks to take along, like cheese, nuts and fruit? Do I have my I-pod and earphones for music and my neck pillow for my comfort? Am I well hydrated, drinking at least 64 ounces of pure water each day? Have I been keeping regular bedtime hours, getting a sufficient amount of quality sleep? Am I keeping moderate exercise a priority in my life?

Emotionally: Have I been attending to my feelings and expressing myself appropriately; not holding in feelings or stuffing them down with unhealthy foods? Have I really been taking time to nurture myself? When was the last time I truly relaxed? I bring a journal along with me. This provides a place to vent or explore my feelings. Writing down how I feel can be very helpful. Clearing myself emotionally means I can better attend to the tasks at hand. I am less distracted or preoccupied.

Socially: Have I been spending time with positive people that I enjoy being with? Am I having fun? Am I paying enough attention to my relationships? Do I stay well connected so I don’t find myself isolated and lonely? Do I apportion my time with others with the alone time I need to stay balanced?

Spiritually: Have I been taking quiet time for myself? Do I spend time every day praying, meditating or just sitting and quietly breathing? Do I remind myself often to stay in the present rather than worry about the future or hang on to difficulties from the past?

Environmentally: Have I brought what I need to set up a comfortable environment in my hotel room (perhaps a favorite photo, bath oil, small scented candle or incense)? I bring along my down pillow that I put into a compression sack. This fits easily into my suitcase and ensures that I will get a good night’s sleep.

Whether on or off the road, it is essential to take gentle care of ourselves. The busier we are, the more we need to do this. Only by paying attention to our own needs, can we best serve the needs of others. I wish you happy travels and radiant health!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Stop, Look and Listen

Stop, Look, and Listen

Pause long enough to notice your surroundings. Notice the colors, the scents, the sounds and all the details. Allow yourself to tune in to the full experience of just being wherever you are at the moment. Then quiet your mind with some deep breaths and begin to notice what feelings are percolating around in side of you. You are likely experiencing a number of things. Try to identify some of the most powerful feelings. It may help to write them down. Then, as you acknowledge these feelings to yourself, you can tune in fully to the experience you are having at the moment.

For example you might say something like...I notice I feel tired and overwhelmed. I didn’t sleep well last night, and I have been worrying a lot about my job, or relationship or money or health or something else. I feel tension in my neck and shoulders and I am cranky and short tempered this morning. As you notice these things, you position yourself to decide what you truly need to do to take the best care of yourself in that moment. In the past you have most likely used food to dull these important feeling messages, and you have missed the chance to identify your real needs. You may find you are tempted to grab a few pastries or some candy when you do this exercise. Your reaction is natural if eating has become the primary way you have been meeting your emotional needs. But perhaps you can defer that automatic response of food abuse and instead think of what else might better meet your needs.

Noticing your feelings and stopping to pay attention to them is a most important part of making the decisions that will help you as you continually strive for balance and joy in your life. Using the valuable information your feelings are providing for you to create the experience you truly desire is part of the training process. It is at those times that your Chew is working with you and helping you identify what you really want and need for your own peace, health and well-being.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Dr. Denise’s ten tips to help you stop emotional overeating

1. CHOOSE THE HEALTHIEST FOODS YOU CAN FIND TO TRULY NOURISH YOUR BODY – You need protein, vegetables, complex carbohydrates (whole grains, veggies) and some healthy fat every single day. You will feel more balanced emotionally when you are caring for your physical needs.

2. DRINK LOTS OF PURE, NON CHLORINATED FILTERED WATER – Buy bottled water or filter your own. Becoming dehydrated affects all your body systems and your emotional self is happier the healthier you are!

3. MOVE YOUR BODY CHOOSE ACTIVITIES THAT YOU ENJOY – You don’t have to exercise for hours at a time. Do less and enjoy feeling yourself as you become stronger, more relaxed and more emotionally balanced.

4. EXPRESS YOUR FEELINGS – No one knows what’s going on inside of you if you don’t tell them. Holding your feelings in leads to emotional, spiritual and physical distress… and is likely to lead you to the cookie jar.

5. MAKE AS MANY SELF-LOVING CHOICES AS YOU CAN – Do this every day and in every area of your life! You will be happier and more content and less likely to develop those emotional food cravings.

6. GIVE YOURSELF QUIET TIME – We all need rest and peaceful time to check in with ourselves. Use deep breathing, meditation or some form of quiet introspection every day.

7. SPEND TIME IN NATURE – We are all a part of the world around us, not separate from it. Relax outdoors, feel the sun and the rain, the warm and the cool. Notice the stars and breathe.

8. NURTURE YOUR SPIRIT – Be creative, laugh, play, hug someone. Stop taking life so seriously. We are all still children – only in bigger bodies. Be child-like.

9. APPRECIATE YOURSELF – This is your job. Others are too busy to make your happiness and well being their mission. If you have expectations that others will meet your needs (and they might sometimes…) you will likely be disappointed more often than not.

10. ALWAYS REMEMBER THERE ARE NO MISTAKES ONLY LESSONS – and whatever you do, NEVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES BEAT YOURSELF UP. This will only make things worse. We are all perfect, yet it is not the human way to behave perfectly at all times. If you beat yourself up, you will feel BAD and sugars and simple carbohydrates will scream out for your attention.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Food Control is Difficult

Food control is difficult for many, if not most of us. At times we may feel possessed by urges to stuff ourselves full of excess calories. We are then listening to the voice of our “Chew”. We all have a “Chew”, also known as our “saboteur”. This is the part of each of us that says, “Go ahead, eat whatever you want. You deserve it! It is OK to dive right into that sugary, carbohydrate-laden snack. Life is tough! Enjoy it all! You can worry about your weight/health tomorrow, or Monday, or next week!” Do any of those messages sound familiar?

Certainly it is fine to indulge now and then. Life is to be enjoyed and so is food. For most of us, however, stopping our eating can be tricky at times. We crave. We overeat. We feel bad about doing it. We admonish ourselves which can lead to more craving and continued overeating and then, no matter how much we put into our mouths, we often don’t feel satiated. (This pattern can lead to serious eating disorders in some cases.)

We are not content because satisfying the “Chew” requires more than candy bars, sodas and pasta. Being truly satiated means attending to all of our needs, not simply our need for food. We have to fuel our bodies regularly to function and must make nutritious choices as often as we can. This does not mean eating perfectly at all times. We also require other things such as adequate rest, plenty of water, a fair amount of exercise, companionship and now and then laughter.

We are not simple or one-dimensional. We are complex beings with multiple needs and we have to nurture our emotional, intellectual and spiritual selves as well as care for our bodies. We may be doing our best to fulfill our physical needs for nourishment, rest sunshine and exercise but we may not be quite as tuned in to providing nourishment to our whole selves. We all have many needs and these are often neglected with today’s emphasis on glamour and perfection. We try to be perfect, to look perfect and to eat perfectly. This is not possible! We cannot do it. Most of us would never expect those around us to behave perfectly at all times, nor would we punish them if they occasionally overindulged.

As mentioned in earlier blogs and The Taming of the Chew, it is the human way to overeat sometimes and, at other times to eat less than our bodies need. It is the striving for perfection that repeatedly gets us into trouble. Because we are human, we set ourselves up to fail if we strive to be perfect. We set this impossible goal, fail to meet our expectations, and end up feeling like failures. We punish ourselves by heading for the nearest “fix” of chocolate, pasta or cookies to help us feel better.
Instead of dieting, bingeing, depriving yourself and beating yourself up, be gentle with yourself. Think of what you truly need and treat yourself with love. As always, I remind you, you are worth i

Monday, April 21, 2008

Chewlett to the Rescue

Life is stressful and it is vital that we nurture our relationships and talk with family and friends whenever we can. Being able to vent our frustrations or share our triumphs with someone who cares about us helps us feel connected. It may be difficult to attend to our need for connection at times. Here is an idea that many have found helpful:

I would like to introduce you to a fuzzy little friend who can help you to thrive during the holiday season, or any time you need to talk to a buddy – The Chewlett. I find that when folks are stressed, lonely, tired, sad, etc. they are often tempted to race for a fix of sugars and carbohydrates to calm themselves down and take the edge off their feelings. They can reach for their Chewlett instead and tell their little friend what’s eating them. The Chewlett makes them smile and is happy to ride in a pocket or purse, sit on a desk or dashboard and remind any of us to take care of ourselves and make self-loving choices. The Chewlett is happy to go anywhere and we can count on our little buddy to listen to us anytime we need to talk.

I am frequently asked for tips on how to avoid self-abusive self-abuse bingeing. Here are a couple of ideas to help you through:

Besides chatting with your friends, family members or Chewlett, reserve time each day just for yourself. Along with the hustle and bustle of life come many tasks that compete for your time and attention. See if you can delegate some of your responsibilities to others.

We may find ourselves rushing around taking care of everyone and everything but ourselves. We each need to find ways to create private, quiet, relaxing time for ourselves. If we don’t, we will become overtired, overwhelmed and consequently likely to over-feed ourselves as a way to cope with stress.

If we set aside moments here and there to nurture ourselves, we are far more likely to take care of ourselves in healthy ways all year long. And, when we take the very best care of ourselves, we are better equipped to attend to the needs of those around us. We are more relaxed, more balanced and more energetic. Life can be more fun and less like an exhausting marathon.

So please slow down and enjoy this wonderful springtime of the year. Do only what you truly want to do and decline needless chores, chaos and calories. Make this the best season ever by taking the very best care of yourself. Keep yourself number one. You’re worth it! I wish you and your loved ones many, many blessings!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Tiredness Misinterpreted for Hunger

After months of hibernation, it is finally springtime! Flowers are bursting out of their underground winter hiding places and there are many compelling reasons to be out of doors. Raking, mowing, weeding, feeding bending and lifting all may exhaust us physically and this end-of-the day tiredness can be misinterpreted for hunger. Food gives us energy and we need the right amount of the right nutrients for our body to function properly. Often, however, we fool ourselves into thinking we need to eat when our body actually does not need more food. This is likely to happen when we are tired. We might think we need to eat food to energize our body. Although this may be the case at times, such as in a life or death situation, usually, for many of us, food is not what we really need. We may really need to sleep or soak in a warm bubble bath.

When we are tired, we are more emotionally vulnerable. We may find ourselves eating to save us from experiencing our feelings. When we feel tired, angry, frustrated, anxious, bored, lonely, unappreciated or afraid, for example, food becomes a quick and easy way to seemingly perk us up and fill the void we are experiencing. It is easier to tear open a bag of chips grab a chocolate bar than it is to sit with those painful feelings.

Feelings of hunger are tricky and often have nothing to do with the fueling of our body. Our body doesn’t need excessive amounts of potato chips, chocolate or macaroni and cheese to function optimally, so when we tell ourselves we need them for energy, we are not telling ourselves the truth. Fats, sugar or caffeine may give us a temporary rush of energy – but this is short-lived, and masking discomfort will leave us feeling even more “tired” than before because we are not giving our body the nutrients it really needs to “energize.” So, when we choose sugars, fats or excess carbohydrates we may not be truly, physically hungry. Cravings we experience deliver valuable messages to us about what we really feel and what we really need. Our job is to pay attention to these messages and to give ourselves what we really need at the time. Proper rest, a healthful diet, and a peaceful lifestyle give us energy – not junk foods. They may be what our Chew clamors for from time to time, but they are never what we really need.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Are We the Fattest People on Earth?

Modern Maturity Magazine reported years ago, “With the exception of the population of a few Pacific islands, Americans are the fattest people on earth.” Why are so many of us overweight? Why are so many of us prone to eating to excess? Why are we, as a culture, obsessed with food and body size? Why have so many of us alternated between eating compulsively for periods of time and then dieting for a while? Why has this become a common, life-long style of food management for so many? Why have millions of women and men become entangled in a pattern which is so self-destructive and that can lead to obesity, high blood pressure, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, a general sense of being out of control as well as a host of many other problems? We are all different, of course, and some people have not experienced such a struggle. Most of us, however, eat more than we want or need to at times, and, for some of us, compulsive eating has become a life-style. Why do so many of us do this and what can we do about it?

As a New Hampshire Licensed Psychologist and a Doctor of Holistic Health, I have studied this issue and specialized in working with people with food control concerns for over twenty years. I write from both my personal and professional points of view, after having waged my own private war with compulsive eating and dieting – enduring phases of obesity, bulimia and anorexia. I have finally found a path to a healthier life with a more positive, balanced and appreciative attitude towards myself, my own body and food. My body is not and will never be “perfect” according to our contemporary societal standard and I will never negotiate my path “perfectly.” However, after more than sixty years of walking around on this planet alternately starving and stuffing myself, the idea of perfection has become irrelevant. It has been replaced instead by a feeling of peace and an appreciation of myself and of the many wonderful things my body can do.

My perspective about compulsive eating behavior and my philosophy of treatment is this: Our physical bodies and our emotional and spiritual selves are intertwined and we have been heavily influenced in our society to look and act in certain ways to be accepted and approved of. So, to feel in control of our impulses to eat compulsively, we need to address all of these areas and map out strategies to bring each of these aspects of ourselves into balance. This requires us to know ourselves physically, emotionally and spiritually and to understand the impact social and environmental forces have had on us throughout our lives. This is no small task but it is possible and worthwhile.

The focus must not be on being thin. It must be on loving yourself just the way you are and eating in ways that feel nurturing – not compulsive and self-abusive. My wish is that you feel healthy, peaceful and happy with yourself regardless of how many pounds you weigh. I have spent countless hours in my role as a therapist listening to my clients’ painful histories and experiences and helping them in their personal struggles to control their eating. People have come to share their stories of guilt, self-hatred, shame and frustration. In their pasts, some have lost weight, some have not. Some have developed an ability to accept themselves no matter what their weight may be, and others have abandoned hope, finding the battle against compulsive eating too demanding and discouraging.

This is easy to understand. We are bombarded daily with confusing messages about what to do, what to eat (or not eat) and how to look and act. The problem can easily become overwhelming! Many of us have tried an assortment of fad diets, weight loss gimmicks, pills that claim to melt pounds away and exercise machines that promise thinner thighs and disappearing bellies in an impossibly short time and with little effort. These attempts to control our bodies and to mold them into shapes idealized today generally end in failure, cause great anxiety and the urges to overeat become more persistent than ever.

Strive to understand your food control issues physically, emotionally, socially, environmentally and spiritually. Each of us must explore this frustrating issue in our own way. Be patient with yourself (There are no mistakes, only lessons!). Nurture your physical body, attend to your spiritual practice, look for the humor in situations and allow yourself to name and express fully whatever emotions you are experiencing. Surround yourself with positive people who will offer support and encouragement and you will notice your focus gradually shifting from outside of yourself to inside. You will free yourself from others’ expectations and start really considering yourself and your own needs. And, above all, be gentle with yourself. You are just as important as any other being on this planet and you deserve to give yourself all good things.