Body Image Coaching

Hi there,

One of the commitments I made this year was to be a model or a guide for women to learn how to accept {and one day love} their bodies and their beings. I’ve spent a lot of time hiding out behind the ambiguous title of health coach or wellness coach.

It felt safe to not get too specific. Not to tell people the work I really dream to do. Or to not pigeonhole myself to one niche. But do you know what happened? I kept coming back to Body Image. I kept coming back to how shifting my perspective on my own body image enabled me to see through my body shell and see all parts of myself. Value all parts of myself. NOT just how I look. It helped me to get over fear-based exercise. To ditch dieting. To better understand and accept who I am.

And at long last I’ve created my Body Image Coaching page. Woohoo!

No more hiding behind ambiguities. I have to follow the work that simultaneously breaks my heart and builds it back up – time and time again.

And, after a very sweet, supportive conversation with my sister this weekend in LA, I’ve decided to offer payment on a sliding scale. I want to make this available to as many women as possible who need it.

I encourage you to reach out to me if this resonates with you. I encourage you to share this with any woman you think would benefit from the work.

This work is not just about loving our bodies. It’s about shifting the collective consciousness of women to fully embody and ROCK the bodies we were born with. To treat them with the utmost respect and love.

With Love,

MC

PS. Not on my email newsletter list? Sign up here to receive the latest offerings and events! XO

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Bidding farewell to the days of fear-driven exercise

I’m bidding farewell to the days of fear-driven exercise. I’ve spent far too long afraid that if I don’t exercise enough, consistently, or at least 3 times a week I’ll put on a few pounds.

It just doesn’t matter anymore. I noticed this last week when I was getting over a cold and migraine. It had been over a week since I’d taken a yoga class or gone for a hike or a vigorous walk. And I noticed something exquisite: there was not an ounce of guilt or anxiety in my body.

I used to feel intense anxiety and stress over fitting a run or a rigorous yoga practice into my schedule. I felt like a lazy bum if I missed two days in a row, or god forbid, more than that.

This is not me hating on exercise. This is me noticing how my relationship to exercise has changed. Exponentially.

There was a year when my hip (torn labrum and then some) was constantly in pain and I developed IT Band syndrome on top of that. Even though I was wincing in pain during a slow jog, I convinced myself I needed to push through it. I knew what was best for me — rest, take it easy, be gentle — but I willfully ignored my intuition. Not just once, but for months.

Too often I would sacrifice the health and well-being of my body and end up icing my knee, rolling out my hip, in the hopes that I’d undo the longer term damage and be up and running again in just a couple days. This somehow settled my nerves.

Exercise was not only punitive, but a vehicle to avoid feeling deep, dark, difficult emotions. I was afraid of the potential changes in my body if I didn’t exercise but I was more afraid of the feelings I’d have to confront if I sat still for too long.

That’s not to say I never had a run that brought me to tears (I did) or a yoga practice that left me weeping (I still do). But along my road to recovery from my eating disorder and severely negative body image, my relationship with exercise was deeply in need of transformation.  

Today, I feel thankful that I’m no longer exercising in excess and that I’m saying goodbye to the days of fear-driven exercise.

Today when I exercise, when I move, it’s a body prayer. It’s a connection and a call to the divine. Staying aligned and checked in to the energy flowing through me. Saying hello, how are you?, I cherish you. Saying thank you, I see you, I hear you and … I love you.

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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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Go With What You Know

It’s good to go with the flow. But it’s better to go with what you know – what you know to be true for you. Trusting yourself is the ultimate lesson. It’s where all the guidance leads.

-Melody Beattie

A few days before New Years Eve I was on my way to meet someone. As I was getting dressed to leave my house for dinner I had a funny feeling in my stomach. I questioned whether or not I should cancel but then didn’t want to be so abrupt last minute. But even as I got into my car and drove the 2 miles to South Norwalk the funny mudded feeling started morphing into a very clear “No, no, no, no, no.”

As in “No, don’t go.”

I hushed my intuitive voice but it roared loudly as I spent 10 minutes searching for parking. (This never happens to me!)

Shit, I thought. My intuition is really trying to tell me something.

But I wanted to be the cool, laid back girl who just goes with the flow.

I’m like, whatever! Easy breezy!

An hour into dinner I learned some unsettling (but not at all life threatening) news. Unsettling enough however that I could no longer remain in this person’s presence. My time had been wasted and I felt like a fool. I communicated this, calmly.

I requested the waiter give me my food to go and left this someone on their own. I still feel slightly guilty for not paying my share of the bill but … karma can be a bitch.

Suffice it to say I knew all along SOMETHING was up. And if I’m being really honest with myself, I could feel my intuition trying to tell me something the day before.

Only I talked myself out of it and blew it off as overreacting to something silly.

Perhaps this unsettling event needed to happen. It needed to remind me just how powerful my intuition is and that I could use a little brush-up on my listening skills. It reminded me to go with what I know.

If going with the flow is sometimes like following the shoulds or following the crowd, going with what you know is blazing your trail and honoring your truth. Even if it can get a little uncomfortable at times.

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Why I’m Grateful 2017 Started With a Migraine

After 2 days in bed with a migraine I had a really long meditation this morning. And something occurred to me: I avoid planning the big stuff that my heart desires and I avoid taking steps toward being more successful because I sometimes have a “what’s the point?” mindset. I am afraid I’ll to live like this for the rest of my life. Getting migraines, checking out of life for a few days. And so I commit to just enough… because why would anybody trust me? Why would I commit to workshops? To helping others heal? When I am so screwed.

It’s difficult to explain a migraine. I believe Joan Didion describes it best in her essay “In Bed:”

Once an attack is under way, however, no drug touches it. Migraine gives some people mild hallucinations, temporarily blinds others, shows up not only as a headache but as a gastrointestinal disturbance, a painful sensitivity to all sensory stimuli, an abrupt overpowering fatigue, a stroke-like aphasia, and a crippling inability to make even the most routine connections. When I am in a migraine aura (for some people the aura lasts fifteen minutes, for others several hours), I will drive through red lights, lose the house keys, spill whatever I am holding, lose the ability to focus my eyes or frame coherent sentences, and generally give the appearance of being on drugs, or drunk. The actual headache, when it comes, brings with it chills, sweating, nausea, a debility that seems to stretch the very limits of endurance. That no one dies of migraine seems, to someone deep into an attack, an ambiguous blessing.

Suffice it to say I feel depressed while in the throes of a migraine. I am completely disconnected from the rest of the world. I am in survival mode. It is a huge undertaking sometimes just to get comfortable. And there is that period of 1-3 hours at the apex of the migraine where I am at a total loss. I question going to the ER. I question how the heck am I going to make it. I cry because I don’t understand the returning question: Why me?

Something shifted in the first migraine of 2017. It wasn’t any less intense. I was debilitated. Barely capable of answering texts and had to ask my neighbor to walk my dog Daisy. What shifted is I was able to allow myself to go through it. I still had the panic of the apex but I allowed it to happen instead of fighting, resisting, or willing it to just end.

And when I sat in meditation this morning I felt it: I’ve been allowing migraines to run my life. Not just when I have them, but when I don’t have them: I am afraid of making plans and having to break them. I am afraid of being judged by others when I cancel on them for the 6th time in 2 months. In my professional life I am afraid of hosting a retreat by myself because what if, god forbid, I get a migraine and cannot fulfill my commitment to a few dozen people?

I’ve been teaching yoga for 10 years now, health coaching for nearly 5, and now I’m practicing Reiki. And what I realize is I’ve been afraid of becoming more successful for fear I’ll be found out by more people that I suffer from migraines and am a canceler. Or that I am untrustworthy and I’ll lose students and clients.

I relaxed into this last migraine as much as possible. Turning off email, NOT checking social media, and texting or calling people only when absolutely necessary. It took a lot of the pressure off and I treated this migraine like an extended meditation. I kept telling myself “You don’t have to be anything other than YOU. In whatever way that shows up. Right now. It’s OK.”

I reminded myself what these migraines teach me: to have the utmost empathy for other people’s pain. In all the various ways pain can show up.

I’m not feeling disheartened or down by my realization. Instead it’s something to work through. 

It’s actually a relief to be able to see and articulate. I see it as momentum forward in understanding myself better. And I see that I have a choice: I can stick with the “what’s the point” mindset OR I can create a new mindset through new thoughts and new beliefs.

I’m choosing the latter.

 

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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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I remember…

I remember..

Ballet class.

And trying to squeeze into my pink tights and black leotard.

I remember…

How the tights made an impression around my belly, that no leotard, skirt, or dance shorts could hide. To my great disappointment.

I remember sucking in my stomach because I believed having any kind of belly made me overweight and therefor “bad.”

I worried that I was the biggest girl in class.

I remember comparing myself to the other girls.

I wished I had slimmer, streamlined bodies like theirs.

I remember looking in the mirror and seeing a flailing mess of a 10 year old girl.

And when I think back to this girl who hated the sight of herself so much, I give her a soft pat on the back and a giant hug. I tell her she is enough, exactly as she is. Smart enough. Strong enough. Beautiful enough.

I tell her it’s ok to have the extra cookie at snack time. She’ll grow into her body and one day look back at photos of herself and be amazed by what a dancing fool she was!

I tell the 10 year old version of me that one day she won’t care about doing sit-ups or eliminating all the fat from her body. And that it’s gonna feel so freeing!

And she’s going to look to other women for support and inspiration, instead of comparing herself.

This is a small part of my story. And I can’t help but think, some of it might resonate with you. Or your children. It’s why I created my Raising Role Models program.

Where we, as adults, provide the best opportunity possible for the children and youth in our lives to grow up with self-esteem and healthy body image.

Please take a look at the mini training I put together. In it I offer 3 shifts you can make TODAY, on your own that will shift not only your own body image, but also your child’s.

Click here to watch my Raising Role Models video.

And if you’d like to learn a little more, I encourage you to sign up for a free call with me this week by clicking the link below.

Click here for your free call with me.

With love, always,
MC

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What is the purpose of our deepest emotions?

Our deepest and darkest emotions are not merely to put us in an everlasting state of sadness.

How many times have you experienced pain only to ask: Why? Or … Why me?

We don’t experience pain simply for pain’s sake.

Osho explains this concept very eloquently:

This pain is not to make you sad, remember this is where people go on missing… this pain is just to make you more alert – because people become alert only when the arrow goes deep into their heart and wounds them.

Take a moment and consider the moments in your life that have really moved you. Pushed you forward on your journey.

It might have been the end of a relationship, a death, a betrayal, or financial struggle.

But what happens when the arrow pierces us deeply in our heart?

If we are open to it, we become more alert and wake up to the world around us and the gifts the universe has in store for us.

We make decisions based on what will truly serve us, help us heal, shift us away from unhealthy patterns.

And sometimes we do need the arrow to go deep to become more alert. Sometimes we do need the wound to wake up.

When we are more alert we become connected to our truth instead of our ego.

And when we connect with truth over ego, our slate gets wiped clean and we see things more clearly. Our path is less clouded by the weeds of distractions and priorities come into alignment.

So the next time you are confronted with pain, or even discomfort, sit with it and see where it takes you. Allow it to wake you up to something perhaps you’ve never truly seen before.

May our learning never end.

With Great Love,
MC

PS. Click here if you’d like to schedule a discovery call with me. I’ve got time slots blocked out for the next week or so and would love to connect one-on-one with you.

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