Category Archives: wellness

This is hard to share… [But allows me to step into my power]

Sometimes when I look in the mirror, I hate what I see.

Like when I’m naked after a shower. I’ll wonder why I wasn’t born with perfectly toned arms. And why did god give me such soft cushioning around my hips?

Thankfully this is the exception now rather than the rule.

I consider it residue from my eating disorder.

I consider it residue from years of hating and bashing my own body.

For as long as I can remember {we are talking 5 years old here} I’ve been aware of my little belly – this little pooch – and was obsessed with “how do I get rid of it?”

Before I understood how a woman got pregnant, there was a time when I’d worry my belly contained a baby in it. {Maybe only 9 years old at this point.} I felt relieved for a while, knowing it would probably just go away.

When I learned what crunches were and that they’d give me washboard abs like the women on MTV’s Spring Break, I counted crunches. And then always wondered why nothing was changing…

I snuck cookies from the cookie jar and then felt overwhelmed by immense guilt and tried to eat more carrot and celery sticks to make up for it. Especially since I learned you burned more calories chewing celery than you could consume from them … something like that…
One of the only full length mirrors in our house growing up was in my parent’s bathroom and I vividly remember tracking my progress. Standing sideways as I looked in the mirror, flattening my tummy until I achieved the look I was going for. Flat as a pancake.

I was determined to one day get there.

So determined that my negative body image and horrible relationship to food spiraled into a full on eating disorder in college. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be sticking my finger down my throat, making myself puke into a dorm room toilet. I did this for years and one day someone told me “take it one day at a time” – after this I was on the path to recovery.

It took a while and many ups and downs and exploration of self. And more pain. But once I jumped on the path I have never looked back. I only see glimpses of the residue my eating disorder left behind. The moments when I look in the mirror and for a second step out of my power.

And now when I sit down with other women who tell me they too had an eating disorder and that THEY TOO hid it from most people closest to them my heart simultaneously aches AND feels joy.

I ache for the fact that they went through the pain alone. They blamed themselves for everything. They sought control through food and exercise.

The joy comes from knowing the relief that accompanies sharing. When we share our stories of struggle, grief, and pain we unburden ourselves of shame.

It’s because I let go of shame about my body that I can stand in front of myself in the mirror and say “hell yeah!” to my body. I can embrace my little belly and the cushion around my hips.

So what’s your body image story? What are you carrying with you that is creating blocks from seeing your own light? From saying “HELL YEAH!”?

If you feel like sharing, I have time this week and would love to listen and guide you toward releasing body shame. Click below to set up your free discovery call.

http://www.maggieconverse.com/apply

Here’s to stepping into your power,

Maggie

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Migraines: A New Chapter

migraineday 2Today I awoke with a piercing pain on the right side of my forehead, just above and slightly behind my right eye. I awoke to that, plus nausea. I immediately thought to myself “CRAP.” I had the sinking feeling I might be in for a migraine attack. Fear rose and I deliberated between muscling through the day or making the calls to cancel appointments and clients.

 

As soon as I stood up to go to the bathroom and drink some water I knew it: this one was for real. Sometimes I wake up with a mini-migraine that subsides after going through morning rituals of drinking water and moving around. The quality of pain is different than that of the full on migraine attack. The migraine attack includes the piercing pain traveling down the back of my skull to the top of my neck, that metallic taste in my mouth, and the nausea. These things signal it’s time to slow down and take care.

 

And what I’m learning, is that these migraines require time and patience. I’ve gotten to know them, to understand the ebbs and flows, the build up to peak pain and nausea, and then the slow descent back to feeling like myself again. Where I notice things like how blue the sky is, how wonderful it feels to move around, and how delicious food tastes.

 

To provide some background, for the last year I was on a clinical trial drug where I received a monthly injection to prevent migraines. Doubtful as I was, the trial worked and I was nearly migraine free for an entire year. When I say it changed my life, I really mean it. Long gone were the days of regularly canceling work and social events. And the PediaLite that sat in the back of my fridge for nearly a year finally got tossed out as I no longer needed it.

 

To wake up with this piercing migraine today triggered fear that “the migraines are returning.” I really don’t want to return to the way I was living my life where I would be out of commission for 2-3 days at a time 3-4 times per month. The only places I visited were the couch, the bathroom, and my bed while waiting for the migraine to pass. Needless to say it was a big lesson in impermanence: I constantly reminded myself “this too shall pass.”

 

As I venture into this new chapter of my experience with migraines, I am vowing to be gentler with myself. I wonder: What can I learn? How can I move more slowly? How can I take better care of myself? This process is sweet, soothing, and softening. Even just by taking this new perspective, I feel more at ease.

 

I spent an hour this afternoon lying on my floor supported by two bolsters and covered by a cozy white blanket with gongs playing in the background. I was transported out of the pain state. Even though the migraine didn’t totally disappear, the pain lessened and I felt more relaxed.
I felt grateful to surrender to the process of migraine and at the same time to take accountability for my own self healing. After giving myself this mini gong bath, my faith that “everything would be ok” was fully restored.

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4 Weeks Migraine-free!

gratitude-quotes-03I want to shout something from the rooftops: 4 WEEKS MIGRAINE FREE!! I have been holding my breath and waiting for today to come because it marks a pretty monumental thing for me: 4 weeks without a full blown migraine attack. I have had headache days and days when it felt like I was in the early stages of a migraine but … NOPE! Not a single fucking migraine. I remember what it felt like to live this kind of life. Where I can make plans, and keep them (well, most of the time).

I have been struggling with the fact that this improvement is likely due to the fact that I am participating in a trial study for a new migraine drug. I wish I could tell you “I am healing myself 100%” … A part of me absolutely HATES that I get an injection of this drug every month … but then there is the part of me that recognizes and is eternally grateful for advances such as this in modern medicine.

I do make sure that I eat well, sleep well, move my body, and feed my soul – all things necessary for a healthy life.

So instead of feeling guilty that I am on this new drug, I will feel indefinitely grateful that I am starting to see the light. Migraines are no joke, it has been a rough few years and I can hardly begin to explain what a relief it is to know that I can possibly live this way again. Even if it is temporary, I am grateful. INSANELY grateful.

What are you grateful for today?

So instead of feeling guilty that I am on this new drug, I will feel indefinitely grateful that I am starting to see the light. Migraines are no joke, it has been a rough few years and I can hardly begin to explain what a relief it is to know that I can possibly live this way again. Even if it is temporary, I am grateful. INSANELY grateful.

What are you grateful for today?

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Why We Need to Acknowledge Our Progress

It’s those little things. All those small steps. They add up and then you look back and you’re like “WOW – I’ve come so far!”

I hear my clients and students talking a lot about how far they feel from where they want to be. How far they are from their goals. And I find myself reminding them often that they need to remember where they came from. That they need to keep acknowledging their progress.

We live today in a culture where we are taught that we are never enough. Not good enough, tall enough, thin enough, fast enough, pretty enough, lean enough, muscular enough, liked enough … I’m sure you can think of plenty “enoughs” to add to this list.

Whether we have a family, career, children, or all of the above, we feel this sense of lacking. Of never being or doing enough.

We see only what we wish we could be, have, or become. And don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful to dream and go for those dreams. But the issue lies in fixating on that and comparing where we stand to where we wish we stood.

I think about this a lot when I’m coaching and teaching but it hit me personally when I was skiing last week.

IMG_6813Let me just say that I am a total fair-weather skier. There is nothing about the way that I ski that shouts daring, adventurous, or “advanced.” But it occurred to me when I was breezing down a blue run (that’s about as advanced as I get – a nice wide open blue square run) that I’ve actually come pretty far from the days as a kid when I tumbled out of the chair lift with my dad and spent the next 15 years convinced I would never be a “winter sports” person, let alone put on another pair of skis ever again.

I’m still not your typical “winter sports” kind of person – I take it easy on the slopes, choosing the “fun” runs over the super challenging ones –  but I have developed enough confidence in my skiing ability where I can now ski with some pretty badass skiers and snowboarders, or accidentally make my way down a black diamond without screaming in fear all the way down. To top it all off – I won’t hesitate to brag about the fact that I NEVER fall.

I had a moment of total frustration last weekend when I was with a group of three snowboarders – all very near and dear people to me. On every run I was behind them and it just felt like I couldn’t catch up hard as I may try. I decided I needed to take a run on my own (go figure it was called “Easy Street”) and as I glided down Easy Street I couldn’t help but smile as I gave myself some credit.

I gave myself credit for getting out there, for putting skis on, and for making it down the hill. I could be in awe of those I was skiing/boarding with. Plus they taught me all the cool snowboarding jargon like “Shredding the Nard” – gnarly!

I could also be in awe of how far I had come – and my mish-mosh of ski instruction over the last 10 years, all of it informal and a lot of figuring shit out on my own.

So, I’m glad I had this experience of being in a position where I first felt completely lacking to then making an effort to acknowledge my progress. And as soon as I did, I felt completely full. I felt like I was enough.

 

 

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3 Reasons Endurance Athletes Benefit from Health Coaching

Why Do Endurance Athletes Need Health Coaching?

Ironman Lake Placid 2012 – just before the finish!

I have been fortunate to coach some pretty incredible endurance athletes over the last few years. And we aren’t talking professional endurance athletes: we are talking the athlete who has a family, a career, hobbies, and somehow manages to integrate a training schedule with enough hours to constitute a part-time job.

I love working with these people because of their intense drive and motivation – and also because I speak their language. I understand feeling like the “crazy” one who leaves a dinner party at 8:30PM because you have a 5AM training session.

So I was thinking about this – why DO endurance athletes need coaching? There are a myriad of reasons so I’ll start with three that really stick out in my mind:

Don’t ignore the basics: food and hydration.

Are you feeling drowsy every afternoon because of that 5AM brick workout, or because you are low on your water intake? Or could it be that skipping lunch because you are “too busy with work” is finally starting to catch up on your energy level during evening hill repeats? Proper hydration and nutrition seem simple enough but when we are juggling training for an endurance event PLUS everything life throws our way, we need to make sure we don’t ignore the basics.

It’s training for your mind and soul.

We spend so many hours every week fine tuning our body in preparation for race day. But what about preparing your mind? In coaching we confront all of the fears … the “what if’s?” of race day. One of my biggest fears around Ironman Lake Placid (and this is probably a popular one for many of you) was “What if I don’t finish?” I worked with MY coach and confronted this fear and came up with a mental game plan for how I might feel or react if I didn’t finish. And when I explored the what if’s instead of ignoring them, it felt like I got all my worrying out of the way. Like I had just “cleansed” myself of worries and had an (almost) worry-free race day!

It makes race day that much more meaningful.

One big reason I love coaching endurance athletes is that these folks have giant hearts and they aren’t afraid to dream big. They have an internal drive that pushes the envelope and is constantly curious what the human spirit is capable of. When you find tune your intention and reason for racing it’s like giving yourself an unlimited stash of mental GU gel. It’s a natural burst of energy that keeps you going through challenging training days and culminates in that final push on race day. Every race, every year, the reasons may change – they shift because we go through different obstacles in our lives. But when we cross the finish line, it’s so much more than just a PR or just a race – it’s a celebration. And that race can become one of the greatest learning experiences you’ll endure.

 

If you are interested in health coaching in preparation for an endurance event, or have any questions about what coaching might be like for you, please don’t hesitate to email me at maggie@maggieconverse.com. Your first 30-minute session is on me!

 

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Homemade Hummus – easy as 1, 2, 3, 4 ingredients!

You will almost always find this item in my fridge.

I love making hummus because it never fails to shock me how incredibly easy and inexpensive AND delicious it is to make it at home. I know hummus typically contains tahini (and lots of salt) but I’ve grown to really love this very simple recipe – you taste each and every ingredient!

homemadehummus

 

Simply Homemade Hummus

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of water (or reserve the water from chickpeas)
  • My toppings of choice: fresh parsley, pinch of cayenne pepper

Add all ingredients into a Cuisinart or blender and mix until smooth. If you prefer a chunkier hummus, mix until slightly chunky. Top with parsley, cayenne, or anything that sounds good to you!

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My New Years Wish For You

May Your New Year be Mindful and Delicious…

May it be filled with more love and less fear.May you continue to remind yourself “I am enough. I am good enough. I am doing enough.”

May you let yourself fall a few times, be a total mess, and grow from the process of putting the pieces back together.

May the choices you make serve you, as you learn to let go of what doesn’t.

This is my New Years wish for you!

I also hope you will join me as we embark upon the New Year together, starting this Monday January 5 … 
Sign up with me to jumpstart your New Year with tasty recipes, weekly intentions, and taking a look at the WHAT and WHY of what we are putting into our body. Click here to sign up and for details!  
Sign-up with a friend and receive a free phone consult! 
With Much Love,
Maggie
farbetterthingsahead
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Upcoming Event: Bundle Up Hike/Run/Walk!

Bundle Up Trail Journey

I love finding new places to run and hike, so when I was introduced to the Norwalk River Valley Trail (thanks Erica!) I was beyond excited.

Now, I get to share this wonderful space with YOU. I will be teaming up with lululemon athletica Westport on December 13 for a serene (and free!) journey through the Norwalk River Valley Trail.

We will start with a short meditation followed by a 2 mile walk or run through the trail.

Bring the kids, the dogs, and yourself!

There will be coffee and hot cocoa waiting for you at the end – provided by Coffee Barn of Wilton.

Saturday December 13 – 9:30 to 10:30am
(Please plan to arrive early)
Parking: Please park in the commuter lot next to Orem’s Diner.
We ask that you kindly RSVP to maggie.converse@gmail.com.

We want to raise awareness of the trail and we also have a goal to raise $1,000. We are already halfway there!

There is a suggested donation of $25. So that we know it is for the Bundle Up event please enter “BUNDLE UP” in the comments section when you make your donation of any amount. We will announce the total amount raised on the 13th.

Donations can be made by clicking here. Don’t forget to use the code BUNDLE UP!

We will see you on the 13th!
Bundle up run (1)

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A Feeling of Everything-is-alright-ness & Philadelphia Half Marathon

I think I love doing these races so much simply because they make me feel more alive. Just getting to the starting line last Sunday for the Philadelphia Half Marathon was a total well of emotions. And when I crossed the finish line … well you will just have to read on to find out what happens.

This year has been a big old wake-up call for me, most especially pertaining to my health.

I have been practicing yoga for nearly 15 years, teaching yoga for 8 years, and health coaching for 3 years. I am also a perfectionist. Or at the very least have some major perfectionist tendencies. This perfectionism has kept me from coming clean, or being totally honest not only with myself but with every person in my life – from those who I see on a daily basis to those who sometimes peek at my social media presence.

My migraines took a turn for the worse around Christmas last year. They became more frequent, longer in duration, and the symptoms were more severe than I had ever experienced. I was getting a migraine every 7-10 days lasting 2-3 days and, without fail, I could not hold anything down; vomiting regularly and spending at least a day recuperating and rehydrating. I am still dealing with these severe migraines but I have taken several steps to make taking care of them a top priority.

I didn’t want to tell anyone what was really going on except for a select few because I thought admitting that I was having a challenging time meant I was a failure – in so many ways – including a failure as a yoga teacher and health coach. It hadn’t dawned on me that being truthful with myself and giving my health the attention it needed was a huge part of being the best teacher/coach I possibly could.

Since December 2013 I had to say no to so many people and events: from endurance events to weddings to teaching … it started to become so very apparent that my health was not in a good state. Not only that but I was not giving my health the attention it deserved.

I would be struck with a migraine and on top of the physical pain and discomfort I would sink into a state of depression. I am now learning to transition into migraine-mode with more forgiveness and compassion for myself. It’s is tough work, but I am learning to let go and let the migraine just take me into the migraine-state for however long it needs to process through my body.

So what on earth does this have to do with a half marathon? Well, I was hesitant to even sign up for the Philadelphia Half Marathon. What if I got a migraine on race day? It was something I thought of every time I laced up my sneakers and went for a run. The list of what if’s ran through my mind endlessly. I finally came to peace with the fact that a migraine might happen on race day, but I also accepted the exciting possibility that it might not.

The very last run I went on before we left for Philadelphia, I said to myself “I’m going to run this thing” – that became my mantra and I visualized approaching the starting line with my friends and imagined what it would feel like to get back into doing this thing that makes my heart sing.

And guess what? I ran that thing! I got to run the Philadelphia Half Marathon and even set a personal best at 1:57:43. This was the first race for me in about a year which, if you know my history with triathlon and running, is a pretty big deal as I have spent the past 4-5 years filling my calendar with races.

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 3.54.42 PMSo what happened when I crossed the finish line?  My eyes filled with little tears, I got that knot in my throat, and my heart swelled up. (I think I’m officially a “Finish Line Cryer.” Is that a thing?)

The days that I have spent on my couch in more pain and discomfort than I can come close to describing … those days have given me a greater appreciation for the days without a migraine. Where I am grateful just to toe the line at a race and be amongst the running community. Where I am grateful to share race stories with my friends, our teeth chattering as we make our way back to our hotel. Where I am grateful for that hot shower after a race, the water washing away the sweat and soothing my aching muscles.

It’s a feeling of lightness, of “everything-is-alright-ness” … and maybe migraines have given me more awareness of its existence.

PhilaHalfI am grateful for my experience with migraine. Migraine has given me a deeper understanding of debilitating pain and discomfort; it has given me greater appreciation for the days WITHOUT migraine – what a sweet blessing those days are; migraine has taught me to accept the help and support from loved ones when it is offered, and to ask when it is needed; and migraine got me to get my butt in gear this year to make my health a priority. We should never be so busy that we cannot take care of ourselves.

 

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What is gratitude, anyway?

Gratitude

I took some time to sit down and think about what exactly Gratitude means to me and what it feels like. Here is what I came up with…

Gratitude envelopes your entire body and soul. I feel it, physically. My body starts to gently quiver, as if I have the chills. My stomach is a flutter, I can take a deep breath and let tiny tears of joy fill my eyes for a moment.

What does Gratitude leave you feeling?

I feel an abundance of love, an abundance of so much of a good thing, that exists in life. And you begin to recognize how gratitude heals and how gratitude carries you through those trying times in life that we all endure. This feeling of gratitude wakes us up in the morning and helps us to sleep soundly.

Gratitude allows us to experience pain and also to laugh heartily. It is with this mindset of gratitude that we are able to know ourselves better, not for the things we do or the tasks that we check off our list each day, but for our ability to feel and be present.

In Tal Ben-Shahar’s book “Happier” he shares the concept of a gratitude letter. A gratitude letter, he explains, “is not just a thank-you note. It is a thoughtful examination of the meaning and pleasure that you derive from the relationship; it describes particular experiences and shared dreams, and whatever else in the relationship is a source of joy.”

A Gratitude Letter helps us take this feeling of gratitude one step further. Because know that gratitude is not simply saying “I’m so grateful,” it is not simply a mindset, but it is a way in which we interact with those who surround us.

Who can you write a Gratitude Letter to this week? Explore how gratitude is so much more than a feeling, but also how we communicate that feeling.

We will work on exploring Gratitude Letters and what exactly Gratitude means to YOU on Radiant Retreat 2015. Registration is OPEN! To learn more and to register click here.

 

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