Category Archives: mindfulness

How Spiritual Practice Guided Me Into Eating Disorder Recovery

This was originally posted 9/28/17 on Nonpoliticalnews.com as “How Yoga Saved Me From Myself.”

I grew up going to Catholic Church every Sunday and CCD until I asked my mother in 8th grade if I could quit. I told her there were aspects of it that didn’t feel aligned with my beliefs and she agreed under the condition that my sister and I accompany her to the hippie church in the barn in the woods every Sunday. We complied.

I hold nothing against the church, or any organized religion. I am aware that many people derive deep healing and goodness from religion. My religion, however, wasn’t serving me. Little did I know I was already on a spiritual path in 8th grade and I recognized that the Catholic Church didn’t support that path.

I have had issues with my body since I was a child. My earliest memory was that my little puffy tummy was a problem. I prayed it would go away by the time I was a grown-up.

Fast forward to high school. I was tall and had body dysmorphia. I believed my body was unsightly.

By my first semester of college I developed bulimia nervosa. It felt like a completely normal thing to do as a means to having a sense of control. On the surface, I saw nothing wrong with the behaviors I was committing to.

My best friend and boyfriend at the time were the only ones who knew and they did everything they could to help but overall I isolated myself.

I lived in my mind: constantly calculating calories. I sought control over food and my body. But mostly I wanted control over every aspect of my life. Food and my body were the most attainable way to feel any semblance of control.

There is a lot from this dark period that I don’t remember. I’ve blocked it out for self-preservation. I was also so distracted by my obsessive mindset and behavior that I detached and disassociated from my body and college experience.

In college I found a yoga studio. I had been practicing yoga since age 16 but there was something about going to this no-frills studio that resembled the rituals of going to church but this time it felt right; it felt like a spiritual match.

No one said: a spiritual practice will heal you! But this is exactly what happened. As I practiced yoga regularly, I also grew my spirituality. I integrated yoga teachings into daily life.

When I learned the yogic practice of non-violence I saw my eating disorder as being brutally violent toward myself. I had to stop.

My primary concern for years was controlling my body/appearance since I couldn’t control the world around me. I was operating on a very small-minded level.

As soon as I decided I was going to heal from my eating disorder, I felt at ease. I surrendered and loosened my grip on control. My world-view expanded. I valued my intelligence, my passions, and my relationships. I felt like I was part of something greater than myself and my appearance.

This was over 12 years ago. Today yoga is still part of my spiritual practice. Today I walk in nature and connect to something greater than myself. I meditate and remember we transcend our bodies. I spend time with my dog and cats, friends and family, and revel in the relationships I cultivated. My spirituality is all around me and is in my daily life.

I’m not saying you need a spiritual practice to live a good life. I’m saying it worked for me. And it keeps me in recovery from my eating disorder, every day.

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How letting go of the desire to control everything slowly granted me emotional freedom

I am investigating the importance of speaking my truth. And acknowledging, allowing, and accepting my emotions.

We hear that a lot. At least I do. From teachers and coaches and writers and influencers. And sometimes it makes sense to me but sometimes I’m like “I know I’m saying this thing that is GOOD but I don’t fully understand why.”

And last night something came together.

Last night I started to further understand – in my body and soul – the importance of not only speaking my own truth, but acknowledging, accepting, and allowing my feelings instead of shaming myself for having certain feelings {i.e. sadness, guilt, despair, etc.}

Sometimes I am afraid to say how I feel because I am scared to let people down. I am scared of messing something up. I am scared of causing someone pain. I am scared of upsetting something.

And so what does all of the  above really mean?

It means that I sometimes find myself terrified of speaking my truth and my feelings because I don’t want to lose control over a situation.

For a long time this was my default. And so, I would remain silent. For fear I would cause an upset, to myself or another person. I was afraid I’d lose control.

And so, I remained silent.

Silence is still sometimes my jam. But it doesn’t always serve me.

And I’ve spent a huge portion of the last decade learning about my own emotions. Primarily, what exactly to do (or not do) with them.

What I realized in that instant I uttered those words [I am afraid to say how I feel because…] is that I internalized the feelings, the hurt, the discomfort , and the pain.

And all of that discomfort materialized into more visible symptoms like anxiety, panic, and an eating disorder.

So what’s the point of even coming to this conclusion?

The point is that I see even greater value in being able to acknowledge and allow my feelings to process and to express them when a situation calls for it.

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve bit my tongue and not said how I felt or what I thought because I feared judgment and I feared my world spinning out of control.

Freaking Control…

So now it’s about loosening the reigns on control. It’s about stepping into the emotions because when I do just that, they aren’t so scary or overwhelming and, usually, after giving them some of my attention (not ALL of it) they slowly fade away.

I don’t suppress them anymore. I don’t pretend that I don’t feel these uncomfortable icky feelings anymore. (And I used to because in my mind that meant I had no control over myself >>> which inevitably led to an eating disorder.)

I recognize that I too am human. I recognize that the emotions I deal with on a daily basis are part of the human experience.

While it may take me a little longer than some to move through emotions, I’m ok with that. I’m learning. I’m being patient with myself.

I’m also learning that emotions don’t have to take the lead! Which means… I’m stepping into my power.

I soften to what I feel. I surrender. I don’t give up on myself. But there’s something in THAT [the softening and surrender] that, for me, let’s the emotions feel less scary. I remember that they, like all things, will eventually pass.

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One day I decided NO MORE

I know how to do the hard stuff. That doesn’t mean the hard stuff isn’t hard. Or that it doesn’t feel like work.

I know how to muck through shit.

Why?

Because I’ve mucked through shit before. I’ve had to completely re-haul my patterns, my habits, my behaviors and my beliefs around my body, food, exercise, and my self-worth.

And do you know that I did a lot of it {at first} on my own?

Of course I reached out to people when I FINALLY freakin’ realized “It’s OK to ask for help!” And then those people got me even further on my path of doing the work.

But it’s a powerful realization to sit down with: You can alter your patterns, habits, behaviors, and beliefs.

It’s a journey.

And I’m going to tell you, the most difficult part of the journey {for me anyway} is saying I want to make these shifts. Is saying I want help.

Not just from this person and that person and this other person over there. But accepting help… no wait … RECEIVING help in the myriad of ways it comes to you.

One day I decided NO MORE with my eating disorder. I was probably mid-forward fold in yoga class. Sweating through my tank top. And I made this decision on my own. For myself.

No one said to me: Maggie, you have to stop.

No one said to me: Maggie, no more.

Actually, that’s not entirely true.

Because I said it to me! I decided I was done. I decided I WANTED to change the way I treated myself. I decided I wanted to change my relationship with myself.

I decided I was ready to take my emotional journey one step further.

I decided it was time to turn down (way down) the volume on self-hate and self-loathing.

I didn’t decide because someone told me. Because hardly anybody knew in the first place!

This is not to say there’s no room for support from others. This is not to say there’s no room for interventions in this world.

But the person in the seat of “needing change” has GOT to be the one to ultimately flip the switch and choose the direction of their emotional, physical, and spiritual journey.

This is so powerful to me because when I am confronted with a new challenge, a new pattern in my life to shift {example: I did it with my romantic relationships!} I know that I can do it.

Does it mean it’s gonna be easy peasy? NOPE. It’s still gonna be damn hard.

Does it mean it’s gonna be so worth it? YES.

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You’ll only hear me mention bikini body on these two occasions…

I was inspired to write this post after reading the article Enough Talk of Bikini Bodies by Renee Engeln Ph. D. 

You’ll only hear me mention bikini body on two occasions:

 

  1. When I’m telling you that you already have a bikini body
  2. The notion of a “bikini body” just doesn’t matter because it’s made up anyway

 

I don’t know about you but I immediately tune out when I’m in an exercise class and the instructor starts getting into “x will give you a six pack” or “y will get rid of your love handles so you’re ready for bikini season!”

 

I immediately notice the shame/fear-based motivation and I tune the instructor out and do my best to tune into my own resources that I am enough. That my body is already beach ready — and so are everyone else’s for that matter! There was even a time in one particular class where the instructor started talking about burning fat off our bellies… oh how I wanted to scream out:

 

“All of your bodies are wonderful – exactly as they are!”

 

I know it’s not the instructor’s fault and I always try to have compassion for them. And I know this is a particularly heightened issue for me because of my own history with an eating disorder and body image issues but as most of you know I’ve come along way to the point where I no longer feel the need to change the way I look or act or speak or think or feel in order for me to be worthy or deserving of this life or loved or accepted.

 

But when someone starts telling us you need to get a bikini body or you need to get a six pack or you need to get rid of your cellulite or you need to get rid of your tummy or love handles … that is saying that our bodies, as they are in this very moment, are wrong and need fixing. The message we get is that we are only acceptable with certain conditions when in fact this is absolutely not the case.

 

This just isn’t true!

 

If we have the luxury of free time in our day to move our bodies why on earth would we ever choose to do so in a punitive or fear-based or shame-based manner?

 

We are all busy with families, careers, relationships, friendships, homes, fury friends, and so forth that what happens when we get that little sliver of time in the day for ourselves?

 

Why not chose to approach movement with a more neutral, if not positive, frame of mind?

 

Why not chose to move because it is beneficial for your physical/mental/emotional health?

 

So when we have that opening in our schedule where we can pop into a class, or maybe we can even get to the trail for a run or ride a bike or swim in the ocean…  Let’s instead remove the intention to punish ourselves. Let’s stop focusing on how bad we are for eating too much of whatever it is we love to eat. Because… doesn’t that just make for a shitty experience overall?

 

I know it does for me and I know it does for a lot of my clients and my students and that’s why I feel it’s extremely important to create a relationship to movement that is mindful, sometimes even joyful. Movement can empower us to feel more like ourselves instead of the person that we think we should be because society tells us were covered in flaws that we need to fix.

 

You don’t need to be fixed. And if you’re with me here on any of what I’ve just said, you’ve gotta check out THIS is Mindful Movement. Because it’s the antidote to the bikini body/6-pack/burn away your fat fab and craze. And you get lots of personal guidance attention from … yours truly! Via online yoga classes, meditation, coaching, and more.

It ALSO happens to be super affordable at $39 a month or $385 for the whole year. Yup. You heard me. You get a ton of 1-on-1 attention and guidance from me plus the support of the group.

Whether you sign up or not, I cannot stress this enough:

You do not need to be fixed. You are enough. You are whole exactly as you are right now, today.

With Love,
Maggie

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When someone offers to help you up a mountain … Let them!

For that first incredibly difficult rock to climb on the Pemi Loop in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, Chris literally extended his hand to me as an offering of assistance.

 

To help me up because CLEARLY I was struggling.

 

But nope. I would NOT TAKE HIS HAND. I would not take his help. I had to do it myself.

 

I was pissed at myself. I was on the verge of tears (on the side on a fucking mountain.) I was pissed at Chris for trying to help me.

 

Didn’t he believe I could do it on my own??? (Nope. I clearly could not and needed help but had no idea how to ask… or receive for that matter.)

 

I stubbornly wrestled my way up the rock and in doing so, banged my right shin really hard (I now have a bruise covering half my shin.)

 

You can’t shut down like that. I’m offering you my hand and you are just shutting down.

 

Holy shit. He was so right.

 

As much as I hated to admit it, he hit the nail on the head.

 

My eyes welled with tears when he said this because it wasn’t just about climbing steep rocks and mountains.

 

All my life I don’t like the way it feels when someone helps me. At least when I’m not asking them for help.

 

It’s like they’re telling me I’m not doing a good enough job.

It feels like they’re bossing me around or trying to control me or tell me what to do.

 

And I DO NOT like being told what to do.

 

Where does this come from? {I ask myself…} Why do you so hate being told what to do? Why are you so resistant to help?

 

Is there a belief that needing help means I am not enough…

It means that I am not strong enough…

It means that I should already know. I should already have the answers.

 

But I don’t have the answers. I don’t always need to know everything. And I can’t do everything on my own.

 

And therefore there’s an old story in me where desperately needing help means I have failed.

 

So… needing help means I failed.

Needing help means I am a failure.

 

For the rest of the trip with Chris, I accepted his extended hand or trekking pole. Almost every single time he offered.

 

And I noticed this:

 

Not only did it become easier to accept assistance, but I started to trust him way way way more.

So … there is a correlation between receiving help and trusting others.

 

Receiving help = trusting others.

 

That they have my best interests in mind. Or that they (in this case Chris) just want to help because they straight up love you and want wonderful things for you.

 

They want to help because they straight up LOVE you.

 

Not because they expect anything in return.

 

Not because they secretly want to push you off the ledge (that only happens in action movies.)

 

Not because they have an ulterior motive.

 

No… the motive is love.

 

The motivation is LOVE. Giving love. Receiving love. Exchanging love.

 

THAT my friend is unconditional love.

 

And it’s unconditional love to accept a loving hand. To receive it with your full body, heart, and soul.

 

THIS is uncovering an old belief. And setting it free to make room for a new belief. We are going to do tons of this kind of stuff in my Fall Mentorship. There are very few spots available so as to keep it an intimate group. So I highly recommend taking a look and signing up if this sounds like you!!!

Fall mentorship link>>> http://www.maggieconversemethod.com/events/2017/9/15/fall-mentorship

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But… What if I mess up?

Sometimes I hide behind the veil of:

 

I’m afraid of being wrong / What if I’m wrong?

 

Or it might sound something like this:

 

What if they judge me? (Which really is “what if I slay the judgement on myself?)

 

OR…

What if I mess up? WHAT IF I MESS UP?

 

Because GOD FORBID I mess up!!! Then what?!??! (<<<the internal dialogue.)

 

THIS is the {very old} drum I catch myself beating when something feels scary. When I was climbing down waterfalls and up steep ledges last weekend in New Hampshire, I found myself physically STUCK at times. And do you know why that is? Because I was so fucking scared of messing up.

 

Because even after many years of working on myself, there are still the occasional moments where these mindsets feel like dear old friends. They feel familiar. They feel comfortable. They feel, in a funny way, safe.

 

When I know damn well these mindsets hold me back. These mindsets prohibit me from:

 

Asking for what I need.

Speaking my truth.

Taking a chance on something I believe in.

Feeling fucking amazing.

Embracing my successes and building them.

 

There is a perfectionist within me that has definitely gotten smaller and less prevalent over the years. But sometimes, she likes to rear her little head and say things like:

 

But … what if you fuck this up? Better to keep quiet. Better to shut down than be your big bold self.

 

So where do we go when we feel stuck in old patterns?

 

The good news: the only way to go is up.

 

Make a shift. Ask for what you need. Give less fucks about being judged or being wrong or MESSING UP.

 

And in fact, GET CURIOUS about what happens when you mess up. Because is it really so bad? Usually… nope.

 

And… you can never really mess up because … even if it feels like you mess up … you always have the opportunity to learn something.

 

Thank you for tuning in and reading (if you’ve made it this far.)

 

Tell me: what are your old patterns/beliefs and how do you bust through them?

I provide loads of this kind of work and guidance in my fall mentorship. To help you bust through old beliefs, patterns, and thoughts. Trust me, it’s good stuff. Click this link>>> http://www.maggieconversemethod.com/events/2017/9/15/fall-mentorship

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If you find yourself on the precipice of punishment…

When we punish ourselves we stop the positive energy from flowing and squash our vibration.

When we punish ourselves, we are stopping a good thought, feeling, belief that wants to be set free and acknowledged and felt.

Do not beat yourself up for punishing yourself.
That’s like double damage.
Instead notice when and how you do it, with cat-like curiosity (because they are curious damnit!).

What does it look like? What does it feel like?
WHERE do you feel it in your body?

If you find yourself on the precipice of punishment, check in with us here.

If you find yourself on the verge of punishment, write shit down. Let it be messy and uncensored.

If you find you are on the verge of punishment, breathe.

I learned this week I’ve been punishing myself by telling myself I am undeserving of my dreams being fulfilled. Well, I manifested one today – BECAUSE I COULD – and I broke through a huge block and my mindset is starting to shift… FAST.

My loves – to remind you – if you feel you are punishing yourself FOR ANY REASON (too much cake, not enough exercise, not enough money, not enough work, etc. etc. etc.) pause and check in.

 

Join my High Vibe Body Image Tribe on Facebook or email me at maggie@maggieconverse.com

XOXO

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My version of guilt-free eating…

Have you ever read David Richo’s book “Being an Adult in Relationships”? I know, I’m 33 and I’m STILL not quite an adult in relationships but … I’m working on it. Plus I love the honesty of the title. Like – we are ALL just trying here to be the best human beings we possibly can be.

 

I bring this up for 2 reasons:

  1. Read the book. Whether you’re in a relationship, between relationships, or whatever. It’s incredible.
  2. While reading this book I felt that many of the principles David Richo talks about apply to one very important relationship: the one we have with ourselves. And for us body image goddess warriors, the relationship we have with food and eating.

 

I applied Richo’s Five A’s of Mindful Loving to mindful eating, or what I like to think of as ‘guilt-free eating.’ Now I know what you might be thinking and NO I’m not going to tell you to skip the ice cream or whatever your favorite food might be. This actually has to do a lot with our mindset and how we treat ourselves around food and eating.

 

Without further ado, here are my five A’s to guilt-free, loving, mindful eating. Plus at the end download my pretty graphic! XO

 

ATTENTION

Practice being aware of yourself and your deepest needs, desires, and feelings around food. Listen to your needs, desires, and feelings. Notice what you are saying and doing around food and eating. Give yourself the loving attention that you deserve.

 

ACCEPTANCE

See your eating habits with understanding. In order to make changes we need to feel safe and relaxed. Even on your “bad days” – can you accept yourself? Can you recognize your own truth? From a non-judgmental point of view. Even if the truth is messy or uncomfortable. When we feel accepted, we feel safe and stable.

 

APPRECIATION

We must feel appreciated in order to feel loved. Appreciate the work you have already done to get you to where you are today. Appreciate your best days, your really good days, and your messy days. Appreciation means feeling deserving and worthy of self-love and self-respect.

 

AFFECTION

How can you display affection toward yourself? A warm bath, a cup of herbal tea, a mediation practice, yoga, a hike in the woods. Affection is the pairing of attention, acceptance, and appreciation. When those 3 are aligned, affection flows!

 

ALLOWING

Let yourself be who you are. Today, tomorrow, and every day after that. Allowing does not mean you do not create boundaries around food, but that these boundaries are established from a place of self-love and ACCEPTANCE of who you are and where you are at from one moment to the next.

 

I made a pretty purple graphic to help you more easily navigate the Five A’s of guilt-free eating and you can download the PDF here.

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The perfect time is never. AND it is now.

Recently I discovered I’ve been waiting for the perfect moment for years. I was waiting for the perfect moment to book my dream road-trip out west. I was waiting for the perfect moment to come out as a body image coach. I was waiting for the perfect moment to visit my sister. I waited 8 years to get my dog, Daisy! It’s cool though. I know, to some extent, I needed to wait. I also know, that I tend to overthink and overanalyze to the point of excruciating self-induced anxiety that leads to feeling stagnant and putting things off and avoidance.

There actually is no perfect moment. Except that there is – the moment is NOW. And it’s now, and it’s now.

Is this making sense? Allow me to backtrack a little…

I’ve been wanting to travel more. It was one of my intentions for this year. I want to spend more time out west, visiting national parks, being in nature, visiting my sister, friends, going where my heart desires. But I kept putting this off for many reasons: work, family, pets, bank account balance, migraines. I overanalyzed my reasons for inaction to death.

I’ve been waiting for the perfect moment to live certain aspects of my life the way I want to live them. I’ve been waiting to be more virtual as a coach/teacher, to be at a certain income level, to be free of migraines, and to have a full time pet-sitter.

And then recently something happened and it PUSHED ME. I was diagnosed with lyme disease. It’s not the diagnosis I hoped for and it’s pulling me through an emotional roller coaster, but it also explains a lot of my recent health struggles.

There is something about a debilitating illness (migraines) combined with another debilitating illness (lyme) that can get a person to take stock of their life and move their boundaries[link to Sherpa].

So a few weeks ago I booked a flight to Los Angeles. I left my beloved puppy for the first time (not easy). I spent time with my sister, ate delicious food, went to yoga, walked to the beach, did some work, and returned home with a new perspective. I then booked another flight to LA two weeks later to do a little more work, spend time with my sister, and fit in some adventures. This is all happening while I’m still not at my desired income level and my migraines are definitely not totally cured.

And then it dawned on me, sometimes you have to do things in the order that might seem backwards. At what might seem like the most imperfect time. And guess what: This is absolutely 100% allowed!

My career is not set up the way I envisioned it need be in order to take trips like this. But the funny thing is: these trips are motivating me to move my business along in such a way that supports my health (ease up on teaching / increase coaching) and lifestyle (more time visiting national parks and in nature).

All this time I convinced myself my circumstances had to be JUST SO and so I waited, and waited, and kept finding excuses not to do what my heart and soul wanted.

I’m tired of listening to the broken record of me. I’m making changes. I’m traveling. I’m doing more of the work of my heart’s truth. And wouldn’t you know June is looking like the perfect time for a road trip out west with a dog named Daisy. (US National Parks here we come!)

The external circumstances of our lives may never look the way we expect them to in order to make the big (and small) decisions. The perfect time is never because we can always find reasons not to do the things our heart desires. The perfect time is NOW because sometimes we have to soften to those reasons or boundaries that are telling us “No, you’re not ready.” Especially if they are fear-based boundaries. Sometimes we ARE ready; we’re just scared.

Sometimes we need to allow ourselves to be guided by our hearts and intuition. Maybe it’s a medical diagnosis, the loss of a job, a death, or a birth that propels us forward toward the big dreams. And aspects of our life might seem so terribly messy we couldn’t possibly fathom planning a trip, starting a business, getting married, having a baby, or diving heart-first into a relationship. But be open, my friend. You will know when you’re ready. Your heart and your gut will be screaming it from the mountain tops. They will be telling you you’re ready! Not your bank account, not your mom, not a self-help book, not your partner, and not even your dog can tell you when you’re ready.

You will know when the perfect time is. You will know what to do. The perfect time can be never. And it can also be now. It is never, and it is now. It just depends how you look at it. Are you ready to remain open to surprise, adventure, and delight in this life?

Can you lighten your grip on the boundaries of how things SHOULD be? See what happens when you lighten the grip and permit yourself to be a little more guided instead of trying to figure it all out. Feel your way through it.

And if you need it, I am giving you permission right here: You have the permission to soften, to listen, and be guided. The perfect time is now.

What about you? What are you waiting for? What are the big dreams you’ve been sitting on? Maybe they need more time to marinade and they are just waiting for that little push.

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Noticing my negative thoughts

One of my recovery students asked me recently what do I do with my negative thoughts?

I define these negative thoughts as any thoughts based in fear, doubt, or judgment.

Thoughts like:

“I’m bad for eating too much dessert” 

“I better burn this off”

“I’ll never look the way I should”

“I’m not worthy/deserving of love or respect.”

Even this one… “I’ve gotta lose weight.”

It’s fine to have a healthy awareness of the benefits of certain food and exercise, but ask yourself this: what is my intention? Are you choosing to eliminate dessert from a place of self-love or is it more punitive like you’re keeping yourself in line?

Shifting our negative thoughts is not an overnight process. It’s a multi-layer, multi-step, non-linear process that beings with one simple step: NOTICE.

Here’s what i told my student:

I first have to notice and acknowledge I’m having negative thoughts.

And then I kind of stop myself in my tracks. I pause long enough to not only notice the thoughts but to feel them – how are they feeling in my body and where? Well, usually tense. And how are they feeling emotionally? Usually they are accompanied by immense anxiety, nervousness, frustration, and sometimes depression.

I pause, I get quiet, I notice.

I’ve trained myself NOT to rush and immediately “fix” the thoughts. I must allow the thoughts and the subsequent feelings they trigger to move through my body. Or else they’ll build up in the basement and years later I’ll uncover them in dusty boxes and guess what… by that time they’ve grown tenfold! By that time the negative thoughts have become the most nasty, diminishing stories about myself I could possibly come up with. So believe me, if you try to quickly stuff the negative thoughts away, they are only going to grow bigger.

The next time you find yourself in the cycle of self-loathing thoughts, all I want you to do is really make space to notice. Notice what you are feeling. Acknowledge the feelings, physical and emotional, and then make space for these feelings to flow through you.

Loosen your grip on the thoughts, soften a little, and notice what happens.

Stay tuned for next steps in the process in Part 2!

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