Tag Archives: body image

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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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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embracing my softness

i am embracing my softness.
my body goes through changes. I keep growing. When I’m running regularly my body looks different / maybe more toned? In my head I feel like a ripped badass. I felt this way during my 5 consecutive years of triathlons…
those days are long gone now.

but why not feel like a badass in my softness too? it’s usually the colder months when my body goes into softening mode. i notice it in my arms since i’m still wearing tanks when i’m teaching. i’ll catch a glimpse of myself in the studio mirror and notice it around my belly since my pants don’t fit quite the same and i have a little belly puff over the elastic waistband.

every year i’m getting more and more used to the softness. and feeling equally badass, if not more so, as a soft maggie, than a more firm/toned maggie.

i’m getting more accustomed to it, embracing it even, because of this: i am not defined by what my body looks like. i am not better for being toned. i am not bad for being softer. i also am not better for being soft! and i am not worse for being toned! ha! See how that works there? I know – I’m still wrapping my brain around it.

It’s all good though. All of it. All the shapes and sizes and stages our bodies go through. because the real maggie, the real you, is within. it’s untouchable and it’s felt through connection, through exchange, and through energy. Amen.

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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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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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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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It’s OK To Want These Things… {Just Please Be Kind}

It’s OK if you want to lose weight…

So long as you do it from a place of loving yourself. Where you are losing weight primarily for your health and to look great because you know you deserve it. You’ve gotta accept yourself as you are first for the real change and growing to occur. Otherwise you’ll always feel like you’re not enough.

It’s OK if you want to get in great shape…

Because you want to show your body how much you honor it instead of punish it. And because of you – no one else: no man, woman, or group in society can tell you how you are supposed to look. Get in great shape for YOU and you alone.

It’s OK if you want to lay off carbs, alcohol, or sugar for a while…

But be sure you are not depriving yourself of enjoying the things you love. Be sure this is not a way to torture yourself because you feel you’ve done something “bad.”

It’s OK if you want to exercise daily…

Just know that when you move mindfully, this can have a powerful impact on your body and your energetic vibration. And when we exercise out of obligation, we end up feeling worse – physically and spiritually. Please make exercise a practice about loving your body not hating it.

It’s OK if you feel crappy about how you look sometimes…

We all have our moments. But remember to source your inner power. Remember a time you were strong and made it through something. Re-live it. Feel it all over again. You’ll be amazed at how powerful and beautiful it makes you feel.

I share these thoughts with you because, I know we all need a little nudge sometimes. We all need reminders to lift ourselves up. And sometimes, often times, we do need accountability and support from one another. If you’d like to chat this week, click the link below to set up your free discovery call.

http://www.maggieconverse.com/apply

 

 

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