Do you weigh yourself?
Where do you keep your scale?
Do you weigh yourself?
Where do you keep your scale?
Over the years I’ve come to believe that women’s capacity for joy and pleasure is smaller than our capacity for difficulty and pain. We can handle the daily tribulations of life’s stress, suffering and dragging under the weight of the pressure of work, family, caring for others, and “going without” until our martyr mindset crushes us.
But how much pleasure, joy, fun, freedom, power, and self-care can you take? When was the last time you had pure, unadulterated pleasure, at a long stretch, guilt-free, just for you? Something that didn’t involve chocolate cake or a bottle of wine, that is.
We try. We give ourselves a semi-annual spa day, splurging on a pedicure and lunch out with a trusted friend. But after those two hours are through, we’re right back into begrudgingly serving, rushing, going, doing, doing, doing.
Why is it so challenging for women to own our capacity for pleasure?
It begins with our birth. From young years girls are told to do for others more than they do for themselves. While third-wave feminism and the realities of the global marketplace have brought more and more women into medical, business and law schools, we are still brought up as the caretakers, and perhaps our natural evolution as a species makes women slightly better at the childrearing and home keeping skills.
Taught to care for others first, putting our needs last, we feel incredible guilt and no agency around claiming what we desire. Being labeled as smart and powerful is still second place to being considered pretty or popular.
Are we masochistic? No. I believe we are afraid. Afraid of being singled-out, cast out, put in the spotlight of shame. Afraid of being labeled selfish, a bitch, or unfeminine in any way. And I believe that fear is very old, and very deep rooted in our cultural psyche.
Somehow, along the way, being known as a powerful woman changed into something else, someone less demanding for herself.
Perhaps it began with the great witch trials in Europe in the 1500-1700s. Tens of thousands of independent women, healers and midwives, were tortured and burned for their power and position.
Before the witch trials, women held a special place and power as healers and midwives, dispensers of natural medicine and knowledge. We were respected individuals who provided valuable services to the community.
Are we still afraid that we might be burned at the stake for taking a place in the sun? For demanding the freedom to take our pleasures where we may? I believe our culture was branded with fear from those hundreds of years of terror.
It’s no wonder women have been afraid to assert their rights to power, knowledge, and pleasure all these years. In her classic history Witches, Midwives & Nurses, Barbara Erhrenriech shows the early European history of women as healers, and practitioners of all medical knowledge.
After the witch-hunts wiped out the female medical experts, known as witches and midwives, the male-dominated medical and religious systems were able to take complete control over the physical and spiritual well-being of Europe and the American colonies.
Women became beholden to “experts” and doctors, and lost touch with their power as healers, medicine makers, and respected members of the culture. Women who knew too much were cast out, and the female body became subject to dangerous, and unnecessary medical practices including ill-conceived hysterectomies, heavily-medicated childbirth, and barely tested contraceptives.
Being a woman became a disease.
Not only did we lose the power of being the medicine women of our clans and villages, we weren’t trusted to know anything about our bodies, or to participate in our own care. Natural childbirth not only fell out of fashion, but women who wanted to birth at home, or stand or squat rather than be forced to lay down to make delivery easier for the doctor were treated as unreasonable and uncooperative.
As much as things change, they stay the same.
The medical profession is no longer at the 90/10 ratio of men to women, as it was in the 1970s. In fact, it’s almost evenly 50/50. Still, women remain afraid of their bodies, and sure that there is something inherently wrong with our natural state of being. We will never be perfect – far from it. We can never be good enough. And the roots of these beliefs are ancient and pervasive, encoded in our cultural memories.
We women have been active participants in the human history of medicine. There is an old, institutionalized sexism at play here, but it’s barely understood or acknowledged. Knowing the history of the present moment gives us a deeper awareness of possibility. If you knew you came from a line of midwives and healers, would you be more apt to trust your intuition, body, and opinion when it came to matters of your own health?
We simply need to see how history has played out in the modern marketing, messaging and entertainment around us that we consume, get clear that the icons of femininity aren’t all that’s true, and that we are perfect. Our bodies are strong, magnificent, and capable of powerful healing. And we women have the right and power to trust our own inner wisdom, heal our bodies and live any way that feels good and pleasurable.
What do you think about all this? Leave your comments and questions below…
Support your liver this fall with traditional Indian Kitchari stew – a pleasantly spiced, but not spicey-hot, stew. Easy to make ahead for a busy week, simply reheat portions with a little water and serve with a tossed green salad for a great, warming meal!
½ cup brown rice
1 cup red lentils
6 cups water or sodium-free vegetable broth
1 cup carrot, large dice
½ yellow onion, large dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ inch ginger root, freshly grated
1 tablespoon coconut oil or grass-fed butter or ghee (clarified butter)
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
½ teaspoon coriander powder
½ teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
handful fresh cilantro leaves
1. Rinse and drain the rice and lentils, being careful to remove any stones.
2. Add to the 6 cups of water in a large soup pot and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes.
3. Add the carrot, onion, garlic, and ginger root. Cook for another 10 minutes.
4. While the vegetables are cooking, place the oil, cumin seeds and mustard seeds in a separate skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until they begin to pop. Add the remaining spices and salt and stir for 30 seconds.
5. Add the cooked spices to the kitchari mixture, stir well, and cook for 5 minutes more. Add another cup or two of water if you need more liquid.
6. Top bowls with a few fresh cilantro leaves and serve hot.
I gave myself everything I wanted this morning.
I accepted an offer of help…
I ate what my body craved…
I cared for and clothed my body to feel good & ready…
I listened to the sounds my ears yearned for…
And now I feel ready, and strong, creative, and grateful.
I haven’t always treated myself so nicely.
I used to rush through almost every moment of my day, ignoring my desires and even basic needs.
I rushed because I thought I needed to get somewhere else, that how I was in the moment wasn’t important.
And my body started to get tired, my brain unfocused, and my heart a tad bitter.
Working harder and harder wasn’t making me happier, and I got to the point where I realized I wasn’t living my life. I was waiting and working for something else instead of enjoying what I had.
So I made some small changes.
Inspired by other people I admire, people I liked a lot and look up to – you know those people who seem to have it all figured out and float through life successfully?
Those men you adore and women you have girl-crushes on?
I started looking and listening for clues when in their presence. I looked for how they lived that brought them so much joy, peace, fun, success, and realness.
I looked and realized that they took things slow.
They are single-taskers, not multi-taskers.
They wear clothes that make them feel good and good-looking.
They spend their time doing things that light them up.
When they have “chores” or “duties” they look for the fun in every task.
They make their beds as a juicy ritual.
They hire out tasks that are best done by someone else.
They laugh a lot.
They eat well, and healthfully.
So I started small, and have been building up.
And today, I’ve acted the way I want to feel.
…Instead of “doing my duty as a mom” I let my partner take my son to school, freeing up my morning.
…Instead of throwing on the comfy yoga pants and sitting right down to work, I showered, put up my hair and chose a pretty outfit.
…Rather than get cranked up on caffeine, I boosted my energy with a few yoga stretches, hot herbal tea, and a green smoothie
…As opposed to leaving the dishes in the sink, I cleaned up the kitchen which helps my energy and life feel managed.
It’s the small things that make me feel capable.
It’s the little gifts that create a healthy life.
What can you give yourself right now to help you feel in control, talented, and loved?
This summer I made a new friend, and she’s a friend with benefits: she’s a cookbook author!
Diane is smart, sassy, and doing great work in the world. Her popular online program, 21 Day Sugar Detox, has finally been made into a beautiful book, and I’ve been trying out recipes.
My son and I worked together and put these mini-donuts together with another recipe, her Vanilla Coconut Cream – can you say YUMM!?
2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil or unsalted butter
3 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
1 green apple, peeled and shredded on the big holes of a cheese grater
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 tablespoons full-fat coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flour
1/3 cup almond flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Scrape the beans out of a fresh vanilla bean and smoosh together with a rubber spatula at room temperature with coconut butter until well blended.
I believe what I see and experience.
And I’ve seen that when I, and my clients, allow ourselves to have what we want, whether it’s chocolate, sex, sleep, TV, or potato chips, and don’t beat ourselves up for enjoying it, you’ll find yourselves at a happy weight. Not only that, we enjoy our lives and feel well on a regular basis.
Science and experience back this up. A study by Nichole Mead and Vanessa Patrick proved that when a person tells themselves they can have something they desire, just not right now, they will eat less of it and feel more satisfied. The cravings relax their death grip on the brain and body, and you like yourself a lot more because you’re saying, “Hey body, yes! Good idea! You can have that! Let’s just wait until later. You rock.”
This flies in the face of what most diet gurus recommend, and how I used to teach my clients and programs. Years ago I told my clients to clean out their fridge and detox their cupboards of the treats they were supposed to avoid. Now, this is still true if we’ve discovered through a food-sensitivity experiment that they need to avoid gluten, dairy, sugar or some other food.
Now I make a different recommendation, and it works so much better, feels easier, and helps my clients relax. When I began researching these studies in the last few years, as I was exploring my own cravings and trying to understand the foundations of how a healthy life is truly lived on a daily basis, I realized they proved how I was living my own life and how my most successful clients got happy and health quickly.
My own cupboards are stocked with the best quality options of everything I want. Real grass-fed butter, and my favorite organic soy creamer. 75% dark chocolate and cold honey crisp apples in the fridge. Organic spicy chicken sausages, baby bitter greens, raw sauerkraut with whole grain mustard, and Earl Grey tea – in decaf and regular.
My favorite foods are always around, I eat when I’m hungry and I never feel deprived. I eat slowly, at the table, and make a lot of yummy, MMMM sounds. Yes, I often crave chocolate after lunch. But I know my body and brain well. I know that if I eat chocolate right after lunch, I’ll get foggy and tired and won’t work very well. I’ve learned that if I tell myself “Nice! I love that lavendar chocolate up in the cupboard. I’ll have some after dinner tonight,” the craving usually evaporates and I often have a bit later. I’ll often make myself a cup of spiced decaf chai tea or drink some of my favorite chia seed kombucha instead, and I’m satisfied. Many nights I don’t have any chocolate at all. But when I do, I enjoy the heck out of it and don’t feel guilty one bit.
Deprivation diets are based on struggle, effort and willpower, all of which are in short supply for modern women and men. Relaxation and permission to enjoy is based on self-love and trust. Establishing healthy habits is the first priority. Use your willpower to create the habits, then you can ease into enjoying your food, eating out with friends and family and not be so freaked out by “sticking to the rules.”
My client Mary had a similar journey to mastering her cravings by developing new after-lunch habits. Mary worked in a hectic law firm in midtown Manhattan. Most days she would skip breakfast, and grab coffee and a pastry on the way to work. She would get take-out for lunch, and work at her desk while eating. About three o’clock Mary would get cravings for candy, coffee or potato chips. She was trying to stick with a diet plan to control her blood sugar, and couldn’t lose weight and keep it off. Once she “caved” to her afternoon cravings, she would feel the familiar “what the fuck” effect and binge on whatever snacks crossed her path.
When we began working together, I helped Mary create a new breakfast habit. After going through a food sensitivity experiment and three-week detox, we discovered that Mary needed to have protein in the morning to feel her best, and avoid dairy and gluten. We started her on a breakfast smoothie habit that included raw greens to help her digestion.
Instead of working through lunch with take out balanced on her lap, Mary began making her own giant lunch salads, topped with her favorite tuna, eggs and olives. In the afternoon, when she needed a break from computer work, we set Mary up with a walking break. A five minute walk to a nearby juice store, where she picked up a tangy-sweet apple and greens juice, got her moving and hydrated. Once back at her desk for the afternoon, Mary was energized from the walk and enjoyed sipping on her green juice that became a favorite.
Sure, the afternoon chocolate and chips cravings still came up sometimes. And sometimes she had them when she wanted them. But usually Mary told herself “Yes you can have that tonight after work, once you get home and put your feet up. If you eat it at work, you probably won’t even notice it because you’ll be too busy to enjoy it!”
The trick, as Mead’s research showed, is to give yourself, later, exactly what you desire – and not a substitution. By allowing herself to enjoy real chocolate or real potato chips when and if she wanted them, without shaming herself, Mary’s cravings naturally reduced and she started eating better, and in less quantities.
Studies show that when people tell themselves they can have their cravings just not right NOW, they are liberated from the internal conflict and don’t end up eating as much later due to the self-loathing and guilt. Putting off the “guilty pleasure” to some vague future moment was emotionally and mentally easier and relaxing.
The other aspect of this work that’s so fascinating to me is this:
Depriving yourself is not effective because you’ll throw away your commitment once your willpower is gone. If you tell yourself you can have it later, you relax. AND you aren’t depleting your willpower this way.
But I think first you have to build up your trust with yourself that you are count-on-able. Once you start to believe that you’re reliable, those moments when you tell yourself you can have it in the future? You believe yourself and relax.
So you have to start cultivating self-trust.
Never say Never to yourself. Say, later.
This year was a big year of growth and expansion – and I want to learn more about my new readers and tribe!
In order to get to know you better, provide the best, valuable info you want, and give away some killer goodies,
I’m holding my 2013 Reader Survey from today until October 20, 2013 – and just by
filling out the form, you could win a brand new Amazon Kindle and my Healthy Hottie kit!
CLICK HERE and spend 5 minutes filling out this form, and you’re entered to win this awesome give-away!
Win free goodies from Topricin, Nutiva, Teeccino, Fomentek and SmartyPants Chewable Vitamins!
Your information is private and confidential and for my eyes only – your info won’t be shared with anyone.
Thanks for your time, and good luck!
Gluten-Free, Vegan Ginger-Date-Cherry Muffins
(That’s Oh My, Gluten-Free Muffins for everyone who’s not in my head)
We hosted a brunch last week in our little Brooklyn apartment last weekend. In case you didn’t know, brunch is my favorite meal. If you look back through my recipes I’ll bet you’ll find that 90% are brunch related.
Why do I love brunch so much? Because you can have anything you want and it’s all perfectly acceptable brunch fare. Sweet, savory, raw, paleo, and vegan dishes all happily co-habitate the table and everyone gets the taste combinations they desire.
Plus, it’s the only meal where drinking alcohol before noon is totally acceptable.
So last weekend I declared that I would bake. Then I forgot to look up a new recipe to test out. I got to the cupboard at 10am on Sunday morning and decided to wing it. I discovered some bits and pieces of dried fruits that were too small for a fruit cake, but once combined became the perfect amount for a dozen muffins.
Sometimes forgetfulness is the mother of tasty invention, and this is a great example of a lemon situation turning into delicious lemonade.
Except it was muffins.
Yield: 10-12 muffins
½ cup dried fruit (mind was a combo of candied ginger, Medjool dates and dried cherries)
2 tablespoons hot water
1 cup almond meal
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ cup Sucanat sugar
1/3 cup melted coconut oil + 2 extra teaspoons for oiling muffin tins
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
“How can I get my picky kid to eat healthy?!”
An exasperated mom wrote me, and here’s my video to help:
They’re tiny, they’re adorable, and their downright delicious.
These itty bitty cucumbers are a little bit lemony tasting, and pair perfectly with end-of-season cherry tomatoes and grapes.
Also known as Sanditas or Mexican Sour Gerkins, these little babies are being grown around the US now, and I’ve seen them in well-stocked grocery stores and farmer’s markets on both coasts. Check your local store now, or order seeds for next year here and grow your own!
Serves 6-8 as a side
2 cups cucamelons (aka sanditas), washed, dried & halved
2 cups cherry tomatoes, washed, dried & halved
2 cups red grapes, washed, dried & halved
8 leaves fresh basil, washed, dried & torn
Juice from 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch sea salt
Combine the cucamelons, tomatoes and grapes in a bowl.
Tear the basil and add to the bowl.
Combine the lemon juice, olive oil and salt in a small bowl. Whisk well.
Pour olive oil mixture over the cucamelons and toss gently. Serve immediately and enjoy the happy sounds of delighted guests.
Inspired by Elise Kornack’s Tomato & Sandita Salad in New York Magazine October, 2013
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