I’ll be 40 in 4 days…
And what I hear from so many women, both older + younger, is that they want to feel like they’re living their own lives.
And that too often we wake up one day, or look in the mirror, and say:
what am I doing? Is THIS what I want?
I felt that way when I realized I couldn’t trust my marriage and asked for a divorce.
I felt that way when my body was breaking down, and I knew I needed to eat meat again.
And that feeling shows up in daily choices around how I spend my time, how I run my business, and what I do with my energy.
Our deep fears keep us from sharing our quirks, truths, and following our cravings. Cravings for experiences, creation, well-being, and adventure.
Fears of being publicly shamed, Fears of being selfish, being too much, being too loud, Just being ourselves. And then made wrong for our truth.
“What you say no to is as important as what you say yes to.”
I’ve gotten pretty clear about what I want, and sometimes that requires getting clear on what I DON’T want.
In positive psychology there are studies showing big birthdays (anything with a 0 at the end of it…30, 40, 50, you get it) instigate big changes, big goals, and an awareness of time passing.
What I WON’T do…AKA My To-Don’t List:
eat foods that drain my energy, and put me in a food coma
spend more than 30 minutes on social media a day
let my phone distract me from my family get lost in gossip magazines + reality TV (AKA the “comparison trap”)
let fear get in the way of sharing my ideas with the world
waste energy judging other women
read my book reviews online
apologize for taking time + resources for my self care
apologize for taking up space
spend time on projects that don’t serve me, my readers and listeners
get lost in negative mind chatter that my body and life aren’t good enough
respond to negative online attacks – haters gonna hate, and I don’t need to throw them any more fuel
To-DON’Ts from my readers + Cleanse members:
Joanne: I will no longer undervalue what I do for a living (graphic designer) or accept less than I deserve…
Allison: 1) apologize for needing a lazy day, AKA staying in bed and watching TV till 2pm while snuggling with my cat 2 ) feel guilty for satisfying a food craving 3) work for corporate America
Jan: stop using the word “just”…just a 5K., as in “just” walking rather than running
Carolyn: my story that there is not enough love in the world, my story that things have to be hard, my squicky relationship with money
What I WILL do…(AKA big motivating desires, or things I want to fill my life up with)
Move + stretch my body daily in ways that feel good, grounding + strengthening
Ask myself how I want to feel when I choose my meals
Take random, surprise days off with my son + go make memories together
Write as if my soul will wilt if I don’t express it, because it does
Cook + eat foods that boost my energy (recipes)
Get 7-9 hours of sleep a night
Meet up with at least 2 friends a week Read a new book for fun every month
Get the tattoo I’ve been dreaming of, now
Take a trapeze class Roller skating birthday party (done!)
Frequently initiate juicy dates with my man
Read and play daily with my son
Take time for myself to read, walk, be in nature
Ask for time off, time away, time alone, and not feel guilty for it
Take my bike for a tune up so I can ride the first nice day of spring
Call my Dad, brother, and Grandma regularly
Write thank you letters to all the people who helped me spread the word about Women, Food, And Desire
Take hot baths and read inspiring books
Tell everyone I love them any time I feel like it
Draw, paint, color, and play my ukulele – and share them all with people
Give away $100 as a family every month to awesome charities…
Live as if 40 were my LAST birthday, because really, who knows?
This could be it. This could be my last year – or I could have 40 more years, as glorious as the first batch. What will I do with this time? How do I want to feel? What do I want to remember on my death bed? How much love can I share?
I want to hear from you: What will you NOT do anymore? What’s NOT serving you? And what DO YOU WANT?
Make a list. Declare it. Do it. xo, AJ
I couldn’t budge my muffin top…
My belly would bloat up all the time…
I was addicted to sugar and caffeine…
I was too tired to fight for what I wanted in life…
…and what I wanted was hidden by clouds, kind of indistinct and hard to define.
(new career – but what? new relationship – but who with, and was I worthy? creative time for me – what medium?)
When I heal my body, (again + again)
I still find that my belly’s health is a big part of the process.
I talk a lot about the four root causes of cravings, and that the first place to look at any craving,
at any health issue, is in our guts.
Your gut is the seat of your health + your intuition:
* it’s where your immune system is either built healthfully, or falling apart
* how well you digest your food impacts your energy, mood, nutritional cravings, and “elimination” (aka pooping)
* 95 percent of the body’s serotonin is in your gut – that’s one of your feel good, relaxed hormone
* neurons in the gut generate as much dopamine as those in the head (for help with sleep, mood, pleasure + attention)
* we store emotional trauma, sexual fears + hurts, and injuries to our childhood safety in our gut
Your gut is your second brain.
It’s also your intuitive, feeling brain.
It’s where we make a lot of our life decisions from,
because we need to feel good + strong in this part of our body to go after the things we desire.
(ever make a gut decision, feel nervous knots or have butterflies in your stomach before a big event?)
But when it’s bloated, covered in layers of extra stress-induced fat,
in pain, or just uncomfortable all the time…
you just can’t connect to your intuition, or feel strong about your decisions.
You will be tired, want to hide, or cover the pain with emotionally craved foods.
That’s why one of the first areas we heal in the Cravings Cleanse is the gut.
To feel and see a real shift in your body, energy, and mindset (and life!)
we need to heal our guts and take out the foods (I call them the Toxic 6)
that hurt our digestion and cause a real disconnect between the brain in your head
and the brain in your belly.
Foods that help the belly heal are:
1. easy to digest – Toxic 6-free, fiber rich, but not hard on an impaired digestive system
2. nutrient + enzyme rich – contain healing ingredients like L-glutamine, Omega-3s, probiotics, and enzymes
3. tasty – if they don’t taste good, we won’t eat them, will we?
4. and non-inflammatory – foods that won’t cause damage, leaky holes in your gut, or poor digestion
They are also free of gluten, dairy, soy, corn, sugar, and caffeine…AKA the Toxic 6,
which cause leaky gut, bloating, fatigue, bacterial overgrowth, and brain fog.
And as I have seen over the years in person experience and working with thousands of clients,
when your gut is sick, your brain, intuition, confidence, and energy all take a hit.
That’s why I include so much information on gut health in
my programs like the Cravings Cleanse & Mindset Makeover.
Past members have totally changed their gut health with the Cravings Cleanse:
“This is the easiest Cleanse I’ve ever done! I’ve tried to get off sugar, caffeine and alcohol before, but this time I’ve been successful! I’m feeling energized, less joint pain, and my gut is happy and thinner – finally. The weight is dropping off, and I’m feeling a lot better. My husband isn’t officially doing the cleanse, and he’s feeling really good! He wants to do this every 6 months.” Aliza from NYC
“I have more energy! My digestion is way better, and I’m not constipated anymore. I’m noticing smoother skin. I have my family eating with me! that is huge…” Serena, Grapevine, CA
Your experience of yourself and the world will be strained and
based on old fears when your gut is in knots, constipated, impaired, or uncomfortable all the time.
It’s time to heal your gut, and feel the energy, strength, and intuitive knowing that your body is capable of:
* remove the Toxic 6, one of the cornerstones of my upcoming Cravings Cleanse 8-week program
* add the foods and supplements that will begin to heal the matrix of your intestines + improve your digestion
* get clear on how past events + traumas have been stuck in your body and how processing them, seeing them, and loving yourself are an important part of your healing journey
We can’t just look at food or emotion as we create the body and life we crave.
Foods and emotions can be either toxic or healing.
Are you ready to find out which foods and emotions have been keeping your belly stuck?
Cravings Cleanse + Mindset Makeover — What if you could spend 8 weeks supported by a beautiful circle of health seekers who are creating their best health + best lives with Alex? What would your life, body, and days feel like if you had the health, confidence, and energy you truly crave? Enrollment is now open, spots are limited. Learn more here.
I’m on the verge of tears…
Women, Food, And Desire was just named 1 of 12 books to read that’ll help your divorce be a little easier.
I had to write this book.
When I was divorcing my ex, I became totally disconnected from my body. I allowed the shame and hurt of the infidelity to separate me from my own self-worth, even though I hadn’t done anything wrong.
I had to write this book – because this culture, our shame, and the Diet Industrial Complex, are keeping us from having the love, worth, and health that we deserve.
If you have a friend going through a divorce or break up right now, and you think Women, Food, And Desire would help, please send them a copy.
And give them hugs. Lots of hugs:
Here’s a link to the original article:
P.S. It is an incredible honor to be featured alongside one of my favorite books of all time, Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. Jaw. Dropped.
Day 6 of the #MindsetMakeover – Share Your Strengths!
The human brain is wired for “negativity bias” – we look for things that have gone wrong, or COULD go wrong, so that we don’t do them and maybe die.
And when our brains are stuck in a negative thought loop, emotional eating for comfort and relaxation come one like wildfire.
Research from Positive Psychology suggests that the most successful (and happy) people start with a strong talent + then add skills, knowledge + practice into the mix.
We’ll be healthier + happier if we build on our authentic selves–who we already are–starting with our strengths. CLICK TO TWEET THIS!
BUT a lot of people are usually unaware of their own strengths. I have seen this truth confirmed time + again in my work with clients at various stages of their healing journey.
So here is a simple way to discover one of your top strengths:
FILL IN THE BLANK — “I LOVE ME WHEN…”
One of my strengths is humor.
Other strengths that might resonate with you include leadership, gratitude, love, love of learning, spirituality, curiosity, creativity…make up your own!
Share your strengths below, take a picture of yourself with a sign like mine and post on Instagram or Facebook!
Tomorrow is the last day of this #mindsetmakeover – then I’ve got a BIG announcement to share with you!!
My marriage didn’t support me in being healthy or feeling safe. The people in my “dietary community” weren’t thrilled when my diet changed – and I lost a few good friends when I was honest with them that I was no longer vegan.
When you’re trying to transform your lifestyle or diet, or doing your best to avoid certain foods that you have a complicated relationship with, there is one thing that can help you get through to your goal of health and well-being.
Not just any old acquaintance will do:
we need FLOURISHING relationships where we can share our wins + celebrations as well as our troubles.
There’s a popular theory that we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with.
If we’re the average of the 5 people we hang with most, how are your relationships supporting your health goals? CLICK TO TWEET!
Positive Psychology backs this up by explaining our “mirror neurons,” or neurons that fire when we witness behavior in other animals, as though the observer itself was acting.
We are programed to act like the people around us, which helps us stay connected to them.
This idea is a bit scary when you think about the family you grew up with who you may not feel good around…
Or the partner who has sabotaged your health and wellness goals in the past, either knowingly, or subconsciously…
Or the co-workers who are obsessed with birthday cake, after-work drinks, and gossip parties.
What makes a relationship really healthy?
FLOURISHING RELATIONSHIPS HAVE/ARE:
* EMPATHY – you feel each other
* BELONGING – you feel like family
* ATTUNEMENT – to be on the same wavelength
* VULNERABILITY – you can be yourself
* TRUST – you’re each reliable + honest
* APPRECIATION – you enjoy good qualities of each other
* AUTHENTICITY – faithful + genuine
* LOVE – a deep love is shared
In the past I had people in my life who didn’t help me flourish, weren’t honest with me, or I didn’t feel like I could really be myself around them. Today, my close circle of friends feels much different. And I’m more honest with my family about what I need and who I am.
So even if you feel like you don’t have these flourishing traits in the 5 people closest to you, don’t give up – there are loads of awesome folks around who are looking for someone like you:
curious about real connection…
looking for fun, true, authentic friends…
empathic, thrill-seeking, life-loving pals.
I want to hear from you in the comments below:
What relationships in your life are “flourishing” or help you with your goals? What else do you see about your relationships in this context?
not just about yourself, but about the world and people around you and how you feel in your body – isn’t that the big goal?
That’s why I love to cook, especially for other people, and that’s why I’ve been studying positive psychology.
It’s all about what helps us flourish – not just feel “fine.”
What I’ve learned so far may not seem totally earth shaking to you, but it has made me think hard about what I do with my time, and why.
And it’s all coming down to one thing:
Other People Matter.
Happiness and contentment aren’t about how much money you make. In fact, after our basic needs are covered (in the USofA, that’s about $50-60K a year), we don’t feel a lot happier when we make more money. We just think more money, more stuff, or having the right stuff will make us feel better about ourselves.
The one thing that makes us happy, if you’re rich or poor?
Having strong, connected relationships. Having people you can share your wins and your troubles with.
In short: we crave connection. We crave being with other people who love us. It’s a basic human need.
Well, one of my favorite things to do with other people is share good, delicious, healthy food. Making it together, talking while we cook, planning the meal, and savoring the delicious aromas and flavors – that is jus what life is all about.
So I want to share my new favorite recipe with you – a pumpkin soup, baked right in the pumpkin.
Pumpkins are wonderfully round, sweet, and immediately make me feel cozy.
They’re also super healthy! The health benefits of pumpkins or winter squash are long:
Considered an energetic tonic and a warming food, pumpkins and winter squash are medicinal for the spleen, stomach, large intestines and lungs. It improves energy and blood circulation, and is high in beta-carotene, which is good for eye health. Rich in vitamins A, C and potassium + magnesium, pumpkins are high in carotenoids and have anti-carcinogenic properties.
So this recipe is healthy, easy, fun to make, and really fun to eat with someone you love. Go be happy, love.
Pumpkin Soup Baked In A Pumpkin
For this pumpkin soup recipe, you’ll need:
1 pumpkin (edible and sweet)
2-3 tablespoons grass-fed butter, olive oil or coconut oil
1 yellow onion
2-3 cups stock or broth (vegan, chicken, etc)
The pumpkin I was growing in my back yard was carried off by what I can only assume was a whole gang of New York City squirrels – so I had to buy one from the local farmers’ market.
I chose a 3 lb. “Sugar Pie,” which is sweeter than the standard carving pumpkin you see around Halloween. Preheat the oven to 350F.
Carve the top of the pumpkin just like you would for a jack-o-lantern. Scoop out the seeds and stringy guts, and save the seeds to salt and bake later.
Do not leave the pumpkin seeds baking for too long while you talk on the phone to a friend like I did. Please set a timer.
Use 1-2 Tablespoons real butter, ghee, or coconut oil to coat the inside and outside of the pumpkin. Scatter a couple pinches of salt around the inside, and don’t forget the bottom of the pumpkin lid!
Chop a yellow onion into large dice.
You could do this step first, and carve the pumpkin while the onions are cooking to save time.
Brown the onions over medium heat for 8-10 minutes with 1 Tablespoon butter, ghee or coconut oil.
Fill the pumpkin with cooked onions.
Pour home made vegetable or chicken broth (or stock) over the onions, filling up the pumpkin to about 1-inch from the top.
If the broth is unsalted, add 1/2 teaspoon salt and stir well.
Place the pumpkin lid back on, and place the entire pumpkin into the oven.
Bake for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, checking to test for doneness. You’ll want the inside of the pumpkin to be spoon-ably soft.
Remove from the oven and gently remove the top.
Use a towel to grasp the stem, as the pumpkin will emit hot steam when you open it. Have your spoons at the ready…
Eat that soup straight from the pumpkin!
I like placing it on the table amongst the family and allowing everyone to take a spoonful from the pumpkin before scooping servings out to individual bowls.
There’s just something really fun about eating soup directly from a pumpkin.
Make sure that everyone gets a bowl-full of stock, onions and cooked chunks of sweet pumpkin.
Is it your turn to share your big win?
I love the live calls in my Cravings Cleanse program.
We get to hear each other, talk, share, and come together.
And last night’s call was the BEST. Ever.
See, I’m about to start a certification program in Positive Psychology (life-long learner, anyone?) and I went to a talk given by my soon-to-be-teacher this weekend.
She told us that most of us have someone we can turn to when things are tough, when things go wrong…
But few of us have people we can go to when things are GOOD.
And when we have a tribe of cheerleaders who will happily support us when things are AWESOME, we are much more likely to be happy and healthy.
So I want to share with you what my amazing Cravings Cleanse women shared on our call last night –
It was so cool, with happy tears in our eyes, to CHEER each other:
“Something is working – I’m down to a size 14 and I haven’t stepped on a scale yet. I’m feeling teary…”
~ A, New York
“This cleanse and eating this way that really helps me to rid myself of bloating. This has been such a help in making me feel healthier…”
~ Dana, New York
“Thank you – I get so much from these calls and hearing everyone talk about the same things I am feeling. I feel very lucky to be with this group.”
~ Kathy, Rhode Island
“I really do feel like eating healthier now!
This cleanse is really showing me how to be super kind mama to myself!”
~ Eileen, California
“I just feel SO much better in this cleanse!
No more gas, the bloating is gone – the cravings are gone!
I didn’t even want the junk food in front of me because it didn’t feel good.
I’m feeling really satisfied with the shakes! They taste so you can actually add a lot of greens and it still tastes really good.
I’m learning and FEELING which foods make my body feel and WORK well!
All the little tricks you’re teaching are really helping – I’m feeling really good about this program. I’m so grateful for the group – the great energy of the posts and the support.”
~ Sara, New Mexico
“My ankles and wrists are getting smaller – it’s really amazing.
I’m having an easier time feeling well, even in the midst of all my moving, unpacking, the crazy life, I’m sticking with the program.
I feel good, I’m comfortable, and I’m not craving, I’m listening to my body, I’m trusting it, I’m even exercising!
~ A, New York
This is what I want for you.
To feel well in your body…
To be free of the annoying cravings and negative thoughts…
To want to treat yourself really well – and do it…
To be cheered, seen, and appreciated for all you are.
The final Cravings Cleanse live program of 2014 starts next Tuesday, 9/23 at 12pm Eastern.
The calls are all recorded, and you do the steps at your own pace, while we come together for live coaching and support.
Click here to join us now if you’re ready for massive love, powerful shifts in your body, and a new relationship with pleasure, and food.
P.S. The Bring-A-Friend offer is good until Saturday! Click here to join now and you can bring a friend for only $10.
Ever go through one of those stretches of time when life seems to be giving you about as much as you can possibly handle, if not more?
Yeah, me too.
This has been a roller coaster of a year for me, and I’ve been hearing from some of you that your lives have felt out-of-control or more than you can handle.
Often it feels like it comes all at once.
Just to give you some details:
– I got my next book deal from a major publisher (good)
– My mom got diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer (bad)
– My partner published his own book (good)
– My son was diagnosed with extreme dyslexia (bad)
– My mom died (horrible)
– My dear friend and mentor got diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer (WTF? Horrible)
– My son learned to swim and ride a bike (amazing)
– My friend died from cancer, and two more friends were diagnosed (tears & breakdown)
So, yes. Life is a roller coaster, and the ups and downs, “awful” and “awesome” are unknowable and unpredictable.
The truth is, we can’t control a lot of what happens in life, yet we do have the power to react to it in ways that move us forward, strengthen us, and bring us closer to those we love.
I know that resilience, the ability to bend without breaking, to stay strong and make it through the storm even though the winds toss your hair and make you feel scared, is a skill you can learn, a strength you can practice.
To grow and protect your well-being, you need the ability to bounce back.
To get through trauma and drama without breaking, you need to practice.
To live through major challenges and thrive, not just survive, requires health, support, community, and hope.
And it isn’t just something you need for major tests in life, we need resilience to get through every day.
If you’re in stress mode all day long, it depletes your willpower, hope, and patience. Multi-tasking, social media addiction, sugar binges, and a lack of relaxing, pleasurable movement keep us far from resilient.
And when we don’t feed our bodies and support our health with the foods we need, our capacity for resilience is diminished.
That’s why I teach my clients about skilled resilience:
The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties (toughness), while performing well with training, experience and knowledge.
Skilled resilience means eating the right foods (most of the time), moving my body so she stays strong and flexible, finding pleasure and joy every day, staying connected with the friends and family who support me, staying open to the wonders in life that keep me hopeful and excited to be alive.
I couldn’t have weathered this storm of grief in the last year without the skilled resilience I’ve learned and honed over the past decade.
And my clients tell me that the training they learn through my cleanse programs gives them the experience and knowledge to give their bodies exactly what they need to maintain their center, their balance, their truth.
My client Sandi experienced a rough patch and needed support to get back to feeling good in her body:
– her dad died
– her boyfriend left
– her job got super stressful
– her commute got longer
– she wanted sugar, fat and salt all day long and was feeling exhausted and impatient
When I started working with Sandi, we started with the most important guiding question I can ask anyone:
How do you want to feel?
Once we defined that Sandi wanted to feel calm, free, and strong, we were able to look at her food choices in a new way. It wasn’t about “eat this – it has fewer calories” – she could look at a menu and choose a food because it would help her feel calm, free and strong. Once she understood her cravings type, she could make the perfect food choices based on how she was feeling and how she wanted to feel later.
This was a totally new way of choosing food, and it began her on her journey to a body she loves, with energy to spare.
Learning to tune into her body’s needs, her soul-filled desires for calm and strength, allowed Sandi to listen to her body in a new way.
This is one of the most powerful aspects of skilled resilience.
It’s a practice of awareness, a daily inquiry into what will help you feel the way you want to feel, while honoring what’s true without judging what you see.
It may seem simple, but it isn’t always easy.
In the coming weeks I’ll be talking more about cravings, what they can teach you, and how to develop your own resiliency with grace and strength.
I’ll also be announcing my next group program soon (It’s called the Cravings Cleanse) – and it will draw together all of my best lessons, experiments, tools, resources, and community to help you act and move towards building your own resiliency with grace and strength.
I want to hear from you: In the comments below, tell me what skills you know you already have that help you stay resilient. You may not have thought you had the tools, but I’ll bet if you really look, you could tell a tale of how you’ve weathered storms and come out stronger in the end.
You could also share what ONE thing you know you could be doing differently to help grow your resilience:
Attention: This book has shifted me profoundly, and may cause the same for you…
When I met Meggan Watterson through mutual friends I was struck by her presence and her inquisitive listening. Not knowing anything about her, I was compelled to keep talking with her, and loved being around her. She just emanates real. We hung out at a few parties and talked mostly about our little boys.
It wasn’t until I got a copy of her book to review REVEAL that those feelings made sense. Meggan is a modern-day spiritual pilgrim and guide – and her story is truly inspiring.
Anyone who walks out of their Sunday School at the age of ten because she knew something was missing in the lessons has my ear…thus began her lifelong search for the divine feminine.
She discovered that being spiritual meant accepting her body as sacred.
And that the voice from her soul was a deep, profound love of self that she had never known in a feminine-absent religious upbringing.
Reveal is laced with entertaining stories of her awakening, as well as ancient tales of the divine feminine from various religions that I had not heard of before.
Meggan encourages us, through her brave honesty, to explore our spirituality by stripping down to the truth of who we really are.
Reveal spoke to me in a deep, loving way.
I asked Meggan about how she learned to listen to her body in order to discover her spiritual truth:
Through your spiritual journey, your true self/soul spoke a truth to you for the first time – that your body is sacred. What sensations did you feel?
“I felt a sense of being home- if that makes sense. The home though wasn’t external to me- it was this being fully present- fully aware of being embodied- and I felt like I had found the place I had been searching for. I also felt warmth- the way people describe whisky sliding down the throat and into the bloodstream. I’ve never had the stuff myself but it felt like warm honey was suffusing my entire body- relaxing every muscle and letting me know physically what the word surrender feels like.”
How did you learn to listen to your body, and are you still learning?
“I learned to listen to my body the hard way- by experiencing again and again what happens when I do not. Smile. After a while it gets old, or the inner-teenager gets bored of the rebellion and the awareness comes that the body has wisdom the mind cannot fathom. For me it started with an awareness and a respect for my body when pain or illness arises. I listen to what it’s communicating about me- my lifestyle- my stress levels. And yes, listening to my body is an ongoing spiritual practice- one that takes patience and commitment. And one that yields the most exquisite moments of bliss and alignment as well.”
Meggan’s honest journey inspired me to look at my fears about my own body – that I’m aging, that I was somehow bad or a failure for leaving my vegan diet, and that because I’m a mom I’m no longer attractive somehow. These fears are mostly managed, but the “inner critic” still lurks, and powerful connections help me keep them at bay.
I’m just one of countless women who longs for a deeper connection with spirituality, religion, the Universe, and other women that encourage embodiment rather than denying our true selves. No matter where you are in the search for connection or spectrum of spirituality, Meggan’s story is about the craving in all of us to drop the heavy burdens and shed the extra stuff, the shoulds, that hold us back.
*I got this book for free to review, and I’m psyched I did! I would have spent money on it – and will buy more copies to give to my clients and friends.