Category Archives: Health & Wellness

lifting with love

I started a new exercise program this week. At least once a week, for an indefinite period of time I am doing personal training. It was under my own volition to change things up from the routine of hiking, walking, yoga. It was also an act of self-care.

 

Because of my recent lyme diagnosis, I’m not supposed to be doing long endurance training like running, cycling, or even super long hikes. (So I hike with breaks.) But movement is paramount to my joy.

 

Movement, in nearly all forms, is my soul’s dance. I learn to be patient and understanding with my body, so that I can be patient and understanding with all parts of myself.

 

So when I started training this week with Luc at Sherpa we kept it short to 30 minutes. Perfect so as not to overexert myself.

 

I felt so good carving out this time just for me. It felt good being under the guidance of someone else. It felt good moving my body in different ways. I noticed where I’m weak and I noticed where I’m really strong.

 

I noticed that nearly every single time in my life that I’ve picked up a weight or walked into a gym it was to change or fix the way that I looked. And I noticed that this time, that just wasn’t the case.

 

It wasn’t about fixing my body. It was about expanding my movement horizons and stepping outside my safe movement boundaries. It was about laughing and learning and loving. It was about ultimate self-care; staying strong while I’m also making ample time to rest and recover from the lyme.

 

My arms, I noticed in the mirror, have so little tone to them right now. This used to send me into a tailspin of negative self-talk and self-hate. But this time, as we were doing some kind of weight lifting thingy, I looked at my untoned arms with love. Like, dammit, they’ve been through some shit and they’re still here! Lifting heavy things!

 

It felt really good to exercise and move this way. It felt freeing. It felt joyful. I saw my shapes in the mirror and embraced them. I felt strong in my soft body suit.

 

I know that not every day will feel like this. But it’s exhilarating to know that this is possible.

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It’s Valentine’s Day, I’m single, and loved.

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.

A Course in Miracles

This is the first time I’ve been single on Valentine’s Day in a very long time. It’s something I always dreaded. I am pleased to report: I feel better on this v-day than any other in recent history. 

We are all navigating love in all our relationships: friends, family, our beloved(s) and most importantly self-love. We are all doing our best. 

I’ve always been really hard on myself when it came to romantic love. Since age 18 it’s been easy for me to meet someone, dive heart-first into a relationship, and fall in love. I’m what you’d call a “serial monogamist.” I’ve said I love you to 7 people in a timespan of 15 years. I don’t know what that means. For a while I thought something was seriously wrong with me. Am I ‘Addicted to love’ like the hit 80s tune?

I’m letting go of shame over my ability to fall into relationships and into love. I’ve carried a butt load of shame about my collection of relationships. I spent more of my 20s in relationships than single. The more ex-boyfriends i accrued, the more reluctant I became to tell each new partner there were so many before him. 

Not to mention the immense shame I felt each time one of those relationships ended. It was like there goes another failed attempt at love. 

I felt like I had a screw loose. That something was fundamentally wrong with me. How was it that I could find these men and fall in love and then out of love so easily? I had gotten really adept at the process. 

Turns out all these partners were exactly what I needed at that moment. I needed them to reflect back to me what I needed to work through. Some people can do this solo- I guess my growth thrived from the influence of relationships, especially the ones that seemed exceedingly unhealthy. 

It’s been 7 months since my last serious relationship ended. Full transparency: I’ve been dating since then and I’ve met some pretty remarkable men. But I haven’t fallen in love with any of them. 

This is a record  for me. And I know it’s because there’s someone else. It’s me.

I’m learning what it means to love myself. Not in an ego way. But in a deep, soulful way. I finally understand now that the more I am able to accept and love myself exactly as I am, the more space I create for a fitting partner who accepts and loves themselves in the same way. 

So this is my love path right now. There’s no rule book for love. Sure there are plenty of books out there about love but honestly there is no one right way to navigate love and relationships. As one of my friends once told me: The heart’s truth is never convenient.

Sometimes we meet people at what seems like the most inopportune time- but our heart soars just from the simplest exchange with them. And sometimes we meet people who seem perfect in theory! On paper they are exactly what we thought we wanted. But when we try to put the pieces together it just doesn’t fit. 

We all have to ride the infinite feelings and adventures of love. We all have a unique path and hopefully we can offer some help to each other along the way. And whether we have a partner or not, may we all remember to keep filling up our self-love tank. 

Here’s to love. 

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My ME-ness is Unstoppable. Unbreakable.

I had a call this morning with a woman who is opening a fitness studio in Fairfield County. We were connected by a mutual friend in the fitness industry. She asked me about the style of yoga I teach – this Bowspring – because she had never heard of it. She gave me space to describe the practice and all that it has done for me: how it has furthered my recovery and growth beyond the confining walls of my eating disorder and poor body image.

I explained how my dance background influences my teaching style and that I encourage my students to explore or how I’ll often not so eloquently put it: “make shit up” — meaning if their body is feeling moved, answer that call. To not be afraid to wobble, or mess something up, or look like a dumb-dumb. (Because you never look like a dumb-dumb. When making shit up, you look like a brave soul connecting with your deepest truth.)

For a moment I regretted my words. Why did I have to be such an idiot and admit I tell my students to make shit up to a potential employer/partner?!

It was at this moment when the women stopped me and said she didn’t need to hear any more. She didn’t need a demo class. She was ready to put me on her schedule because she connected with my philosophy and my approach to movement. I could hardly contain my gratitude as I explained to her my vision has been to collaborate with other studios. And here she was, a messenger from the universe, manifesting my vision.

So the lesson? To keep speaking my truth. To keep stepping into my shoes. To keep fully inhabiting this body with my being. My ME-ness feels unstoppable. Unbreakable.

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My ME-ness Is More Powerful Than a Wrinkle On My Forehead

There were three of us in the room Monday night at the eating disorder recovery center. Two students, plus me. Something about all our energies combined made for a very sweet vibration in the room that night. The electronic candles were scattered around the makeshift altar and I had soothing spa-like music playing on my Beats Pill.

The woman with the flowing grey hair wore a shirt with a radish on it. We started off the class in lighthearted banter talking about “trigger clothing” and how her radish (or turnip depending on how you looked at it) shirt managed to escape the search when she was first admitted to the center a couple months ago.

It escapes me what theme I gravitated to for this particular practice because what stands out so much is what it felt like to be in that room with them, and what happened after our class…

I taught them but I received so much. It felt effortless to guide the two women through a series of seated poses, to all fours, back to a seat, and finally to a restorative pose where they were able to luxuriate for over 10 minutes.

I closed the practice by giving them some reiki and felt extremely moved by both women’s willingness to be so open and vulnerable with me.

After I called them back to their bodies, the space, the breath, and the two sat up, one woman turned to the other woman and said:

“I have to say that you just looked so beautiful in that twisted pose,” as she emulated the flowing grey haired woman’s posture and demeanor.

She continued:

“You looked so confident and proud.”

“The next time I see you slouching around the house I’m going to remind you what you’re capable of,” she said with a laugh.

I refrained from any kind of commentary on this exchange I was fortunate to witness and just allowed it to happen, amazed for one by my student’s ability to see another woman with such high regard. To lift her up instead of compare.

The confident and proud woman RECEIVED the compliment with such grace and humility. She then in turn said how she’s going to sign up for yoga when she returns home. How it has changed her. How she now finds a new engagement and fascination with her own body and how it moves and works in a multitude of ways.

“Like if I move my right hip a little wider I feel stronger and then my shoulders can broaden,” she explained.

Oh my goddess I was in heaven just listening to this. I didn’t need to direct them. I didn’t need to insert my own feelings on the subject. These two women had learned so much, had grown leaps and bounds. I just watched them taking what they were learning and letting it rip!

Now I just have to keep believing that yoga has an incredible ability to support women in their path to recovery from eating disorders.

I’ve said this so many times before in earlier blog posts but … Yoga Healed Me.

Just a few weeks ago I found myself talking to a friend who is 4 years sober and found sobriety and recovery through the amount of time he spends outdoors: hiking, climbing, camping, you name it. I found myself thinking about how we all have such individual healing and recovery paths.

In those early years of recovery when I was at my worst I never went to treatment, barely spoke to a therapist (I can count – it was 3 sessions), and didn’t even tell a medical doctor about my bulimia until years after the worst was over.  

This isn’t to say these are not viable, successful options for recovery. It is my belief that they are.

For me though my path was, and still is, yoga. (It should be noted that in the 10 or so years since the worst of my eating disorder I have integrated therapy and life coaching among other healing modalities onto my path and I include this information in every health history I complete).

First yoga was about understanding my body better. Much like my dear student who found fascination with the movement of her hips, I started to love the way my body moved. I loved my thighs for how strong they were.

These days it keeps hitting me that my yoga practice has illuminated a path toward a deeper understanding of this:

I am not just my body or my cellulite or my round tummy. Nor am I just how well my clothes fit. I am not just my migraines. I am not just my relationship to food. I am not just my eating disorder. And, as much as my ego hates to admit it, I am not just my personality. My Maggie-ness, my ME-ness transcends AND encompasses all of that. My ME-ness is part of a universal energy that is so much larger and more powerful than a wrinkle on my forehead.

There is still an infinite amount of understanding and learning and knowing I have left to do. And because this is something that feels very big and infinite and scary and exciting, I’m going to pause. Let this marinade and … To be continued…

With Love,

Maggie

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I share my story because: HOPE

Wednesday night I arrived at the eating disorder recovery center 10 minutes early. I set up my electric candles, lit palo santo, and turned on soft music. We practice in one of the therapist’s office and it helps to have some items to spark the senses and shift the energy.

The house was full that night – 6 women, ages 19 to 58, and they were all in attendance for class. There was a buzzing energy. They seemed in good spirits. They seemed excited.

As they set up their mats and props the more outspoken women announced they were all on the same exercise level and informed me they could MOVE more. I nodded, said OK.

We talked about the day as we all settled in and took our seats. I had them take a deep breath, close their eyes, and asked for a one word check-in from each.

I heard:

Insecure…

Frustrated…

Numb…

Sick…

Excited…

And then I heard:
Maggie, last time you were here, you said you went through something [eating disorder]… it helped me a lot to hear that. Can you tell us more?

I felt like the librarian at story time. I opened my eyes and looked at her. I said of course.

I told them they could open their eyes if they liked. I told them I had an eating disorder. I told them it was serious 10 years ago. That was my bottom. I told them I never received formal or clinical help beyond a few visits to a therapist. I felt misunderstood. I only told my boyfriend at the time and best friend. I didn’t feel comfortable talking to anyone. I felt so much shame.

But, I said, I felt safe in one space. All the time. And that was in my yoga practice.

I told them recovery is not linear. That I had several setbacks. Not necessarily becoming bulimic again but severe anxiety, bouts with mild depression, and then most recently I started using excessive exercise to curtail my weight and had to put the brakes on endurance training and racing for a while until I could create homeostasis with that.

You see, I told them, recovery is not a one and done deal as I’m sure you know.

It’s a daily commitment to yourself. Letting go of the shame about my eating disorder was a huge part of recovery too. Being able to write about it and talk about it openly is part of recovery.

They nodded in agreement.

Another woman chimed in:

It’s so helpful to hear you say that and then to see you standing here in front of us. Like you’re using your story to help other people. You made it.

It gives us hope, she said.

I realized in that moment that for these women before me, hearing my story was as empowering if not more than learning any yoga pose. But what spending 10 minutes at the beginning of this class did for our asana practice was powerful. I saw more smiles, felt more energy, and gained more of their trust than ever before.

By being vulnerable, I instantly felt a deeper connection with these women. They knew I understood what it feels like to be in their shoes. They knew I understood shame. About my body and about my story. And they knew it was possible to move through it and beyond.

Leaving class Wednesday night I felt an exchange between myself and the 6 women. We gave each other incredible gifts. I gave them hope, and in return they listened, they lit up, and they reminded me to keep sharing my story. That I am on the right path. And I choose every day to keep on going.

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What I’ve learned so far from giving up endurance races this year…

If I were to recall my new year’s resolution for 2016, it would be this: “Do not sign up for any major race.” And by god, I’m doing it!

I’m writing this now (and not waiting for January 1) because it’s been over a year since my last race: Chicago Marathon on 10.11.15.

Not doing a big race this year seemed like such a weird goal for me, especially after 6 straight years of non-stop triathlons and half-marathons/marathons. I’ve honored my promise with myself though and here’s what I’ve noticed since setting this intention:

  1. Running is fun again. Running pretty much stopped being fun. My body felt like poop when I ran and it was all about the time/pace or how running balanced out/burned off the food I was eating.
  1. I’m moving my body in ways that truly fill me up. Like hiking or walking Daisy. Instead of moving/exercising out of obligation.
  1. I feel way less pressure to fit in exercise. And what’s the point of exercising if it doesn’t totally light me up?
  1. More time!!!! I noticed in the past year how much I would prioritize training over a hang out. Or over taking time to sit down and read a book. Or write. Or focus on my business. Or take a long bath. Or nap. Or meditate. Or do NOTHING.
  1. It’s gotten easier. At first friends asked me to sign up for this half-marathon or that Ironman… the endurance athlete bug in me lit up at the thought of it. I even tempted myself with an ultra [still am tempted…] But when I kept coming back to my WHY and was the WHY strong enough to compel me to ditch my intention and sign up for a race… the answer always came back to no. And after several months, turning down races started to feel like a YES. It felt like a yes to honoring my body in a new way.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with training for a race. In fact 95% of the races I’ve done have been some of the greatest days ever. Like Ironman Lake Placid, my first year doing NYC Triathlon, and Chicago Marathon. Whew. Amazing days!!! But for me I know that I need to be careful. Or … mindful. Last year, I recognized I needed to create a new pattern and redefine my relationship to running and races.

And so I took a year to pause and notice. Even as I write this, I notice that in the process of letting go of my attachment to being “an endurance athlete” I also let go of a few other attachments (things/beliefs/people/relationships) that just simply did not serve me.

I’m still toying with the idea of one day jumping back on the endurance bandwagon [my heart is still set on an ultra-marathon] … but my approach is slower and much more intentional than ever before.

Why I’m not doing any big races in 2016 – Original blog post from January

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When things don’t go the way you want…

On the way to meditation this morning, I got a flat tire. And a wake-up call.

I left my house expecting “create more calm” and ended up having a scattered, stressful morning.

Just as I turned into the parking lot I heard a loud pop and felt the tire go out.

I had enough time to pull into a parking spot and dig in my bag for my Triple A card. I started to dial.

I needed to get this fixed. I believed:

-I was being punished.
-I had done something wrong (like eat flatbread the night before) to deserve this.
-This horrible, frustrating thing was happening TO me.

It took a moment but I put my phone down. Left my car with the flat tire in the parking lot, and walked into meditation.

The meditation was all about how powerful it is to STAY. Especially when we are in an uncomfortable situation.

The flat tire was a perfect example. I stayed.

My first reaction to the flat tire related back to my belief of: “I am always in trouble.” Here I was doing penance for my bad actions:

-Eating a “bad” food
-Getting softer around my midsection
-Not being as diligent with my exercise schedule lately or…
-Not being as kind as I could have when breaking up with an ex-boyfriend

I noticed this belief of always being in trouble { I’m in the process of shifting} reared it’s ugly head when I got a flat tire.

It hit me: the flat tire was NOT the universe’s way of punishing me.

Instead it was the universe’s way of teaching me how to stay, stop, and slow down. And see things for what they really are:

-Just a flat tire.
-Just a decadent meal.
-Just doing my best in a break-up.

These things are neither good nor bad. They simply are.

The fact that I’ve gained a bit more softness to my figure lately has nothing to do with how good or bad I am. It has nothing to do with my self-worth!

So … I stepped into this morning expecting calm, cool, and serenity.

And what I got was a jolt.

I got another wake-up call to keep building the muscle of body love and body awareness.

This morning did not go the way I wanted. It was uncomfortable, frustrating, and scattered. But as I waded through the messy morning muck, I stumbled upon a clearing, and a deeper connection with my deeper self.

My higher self, being, soul … ached because I was judging my evolving body. My soul needed love and compassion. So I gave it just that, went home, and entered back into my meditation.

So you see, when you go through a hard time – whether it be a flat tire or a life changing event – there is always, ALWAYS, a breakthrough on the other side.

And it’s in these instances where we must remember:

You are not being punished.

These instances give us opportunity to dig up what no longer serves us and make space for new:

-love
-growth
-awareness
-dreams

You must get out there and STAY when things get uncomfortable or messy or scattered. There is so much power in our ability to stay.

It can be hard to stay and often we need support when life feels messy. I’d love to chat with you to show you how.

http://www.maggieconverse.com/apply

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When a migraine hits…

When a migraine hits I feel at a loss. I want to detach from my body. I feel fearful of the impending pain, discomfort, nausea, and vomiting that are a part of the whole migraine experience. I feel disappointed in myself for letting this happen. I feel a piercing pain in the right side of my head that travels down the right side of my neck and sometimes into my upper right trap which then seizes up toward my ear.

 

When a migraine hits I feel hopeless. I feel excited to find my comfortable spot on the couch. Although true comfort never seems attainable. I feel misunderstood and disconnected from almost everyone – hard as they may try to sympathize. I can’t stress enough: it’s not just a headache.

 

I feel like I am letting people down. I’m sure of it. I want to be 12 again in my parent’s house with my mom changing my ice pack every time it gets warm. Alternating between taking sips of icy ginger ale and eating crushed ice. The only things my stomach can somewhat tolerate.

When a migraine hits I feel responsible and at fault. I feel like there must be something I could have done differently to avoid this. And sometimes, I feel like in some way I am deserving of this.

When a migraine hits I feel isolated and alone and I want a familiar face around me. I want a warm hand on my back, reminding me it’s going to be ok, that this will pass. That even though THIS happens, I am still loved. It doesn’t make me a bad person.

 

When a migraine hits I feel depressed and disassociated from my body. In fact I want a new body: a new head, arms, intestines, and legs. Not because of the way my body looks this time, but because of the way it feels. I can’t imagine greater pain or discomfort (although I’m sure on some level it does exist – probably childbirth).

 

I feel the lure of distraction from a bad rom-com or TV series that can take me to another place where I imagine everything is good and perfect. I am healthy and don’t have to worry about a thing.

 

When a migraine hits I feel reminiscent of when they weren’t quite so bad. When they didn’t interfere with the life I want to live.

 

When a migraine hits I also remember. I remember that this too shall pass and am reminded of the transient nature of … EVERYTHING. I remember all the ways I am loved in texts received and shoulder rubs given. I remember how grateful I am for the days when I DO feel healthy. Healthy enough to work and enjoy the time I have on this earth.

 

When I wake-up the morning after I am left with the residue of the migraine. The pulsing in my right temple is still there but I feel lighter. I feel like my body has gone through the ringer and I’ve made it to the other side. Phew. I feel like I have been given a gift of the day ahead of me and the days to follow. I worry less about being able to fit in a run or knocking off all the things on my checklist.

 

Maybe I have also been given the gift of migraine to help keep me in check. To turn me around sometimes and to continue to grow what is good in my life. To Worry less and Love more.

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June Offerings

I’m gearing up and getting excited about two new offerings coming up this June:

  • Meditation & Running (or walking!)
  • Bowspring Semi-Private Classes

AND these classes will be at my new location in Norwalk, right of exit 16 on I-95. Check ’em out!

JUNE Offerings

Meditate & Run (or walk!)
4-week series starts June 1st

“Sweat cleanses from the inside. It comes from places a shower will never reach.”  
– Dr. George Sheehan, the Philosopher of Running

What if when we exercise, we could experience it as a soul enriching activity instead of an obligation or a chore we “should” do?

As a runner I have drawn many correlations between running and meditation. Often taking to the long runs because of their tendency to put me in a trance-like state of intense concentration and pointed focus. Both practices require patience, consistency, and patience.

Explore the relationship and effects meditation has on moving mindfully. You can run or walk. The first 30 minutes of class will be dedicated to breathing and meditation and the remaining time will be spent in movement that elevates the heart rate. (If it’s a rainy day we will still get outside so come prepared!) You will be guided to focus on a specific theme each week pertaining to deepening the mindbody connection through meditation and movement.

Wednesdays June 1, 8, 15, 22 at 8:15-9:15AM
Thursdays June 2, 9, 16, 23 at 5:15-6:15PM
$175 for 1 class series or $300 for both
Location: Total Life Care Center, 152 East Ave, Norwalk
Email maggie@maggieconverse.com to register.


“What I am vs. What I should be”
Semi-Private Bowspring Classes 
4-week series starts June 6

Disassociation: the disconnection or separation of something from something else or the state of being disconnected.

When I read the definition of disassociation I understand this to be an opposite of yoga. It sheds light on how yoga helped me heal from an eating disorder and how it helps me cope with the pain and discomfort of migraines. When we are in pain (emotional or physical) as humans we tend to react by disassociating. We distract ourselves with alcohol, tv, drugs, sex, gossip, food, self-loathing, quickly fixing what we think is broken, and so forth. A true yoga practice asks that we connect and ASSOCIATE with our bodies and our beings. It creates space for us to let go of “what I should be” and instead recognize “what I am.”

This is a unique yoga experience that I have developed where we will deeply explore physical movement and engage in conversation. What you are feeling, both physically and emotionally, is the focus of the work we will do together in these intimate groups. Through movement and the understanding that comes from asking questions and dialogue, you will be guided to make the shift from “what I should be” to “what I am.” It is a long journey that is a lifelong practice that will allow you to awaken to your truth and break the habits of disassociating from our bodies and our beings.

Mondays starting June 6 (last class June 27)
Intro / Beginner at 8-9:15AM
Intermediate / Advanced at 9:30-10:45AM
Cost: $250 for the series
Location: Total Life Care Center, 152 East Ave, Norwalk
Email maggie@maggieconverse.com to register.

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When your coffee tastes like soap…

IMG_0151When you make a beautiful French press full of coffee, #bulletproof your coffee in time for your early morning client, and take that first sip and it tastes like soap…
 
I share this small anecdote because, typically, I would beat myself up for f*cking this one up. For not cleaning and properly rinsing my French press or thermos. For wasting that good coconut oil and butter. For thinking I was so on top of everything this morning – so much that I made bulletproof coffee – only to find that I screwed it all up…. Typically I would berate myself for being so bad and seeing this as an example of a failure.
 
Instead, this morning I tried something new:
 
I took that first sip and noticed my coffee tasted like my cucumber sea salt dish soap. I took another sip, thinking maybe it’s just in my head, maybe if I keep drinking it, the taste will magically disappear. I noticed myself feeling hopeful that I would get that smooth bulletproof taste without the hint of soap. The taste was definitely not going away. It definitely did NOT disappear.
 
And then I laughed. I smiled. I softened. I was more gentle with myself for this mistake and saw the humor in it. I acknowledged that I am not the greatest at rinsing my dishes thoroughly and that’s all it is. Just because I leave soap on my dishes does NOT mean I am a bad person or that I suck at life. It just means I don’t excel at rinsing dishes. Boom, that’s it.
 
This is a new habit I am working on building and an old habit I am working on moving away from. Building new habits, I’m learning, happens when we notice our actions and work from a place of self-acceptance and even self-love.
 
What habits do you notice coming up for you today? Don’t worry about changing anything right away. Simply notice.
 
With Love.
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