Tag Archives: wellness

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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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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Because none of us are perfect …

I’m going to share with you EXACTLY how I’m feeling today.

I have been bogged down with the overwhelming feeling of being … overwhelmed. Add to that a healthy dose of anxiety.

I feel like I am spread so thin. I don’t know if it’s because I actually AM spread thin, or if I need to work on getting even MORE organized. But I feel like I have a long list of to-do’s, a long list of people to catch up with and visit, and a relationship that I also want to make sure I devote enough attention to.

The funny thing is … I also want to work more. I want to teach and coach more and have more projects that are a labor of love.

I wrote down a to-do list of only the day’s tasks but what is heavily weighing on me is that I keep missing time with friends and family – whether it’s because of work or a migraine (this happened recently), I just feel like I am not doing enough and not being in enough places at once. I am overwhelmed with guilt. And I find myself in a place where I do not know how to create balance.

This drives me up the wall because I want to help others create balance. But let’s face it, I can’t always walk the talk, hard as I may try. One thing I am doing is taking action and doing something purely for myself to help manage the stress that I create.

Action Step One: I made an appointment for acu-pressure this afternoon because I know that always helps me calm down and see the world through clear eyes and a clearer mind.

photo (7)

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The Wellness Make-over

My dear friend and colleague, Sophie Herbert Slater, and I went on a hike in Trout Brook Preserve about a month ago where she pitched to me this brilliant idea she had been brewing for months: a Life Balance Jumpstart program that would allow clients to work with one-on-one with us as yoga teachers and wellness coaches.

We are beyond excited that we are finally ready to launch Life Balance Jumpstart and invite you to sign up with us. (For the moment this is limited to those residing in the Fairfield County area.)

What does this entail? You can visit our website for the full details but to get an idea…

Life Balance Jumpstart is an intensive 5-week program designed to help YOU feel and be your best.  Our mission as experienced wellness coaches and yoga teachers is to share invaluable tools that will not only help you establish greater life balance now and in the future, but also assist you in navigating life with more grace, confidence, curiosity, and resilience.  Our passion is helping our clients feel balanced, nurtured, and connected with their sense of purpose. From here, so much is possible.

Sign up before January 15 and save 10%! Email lifejumpstart@gmail.com with questions and to get started on your wellness make-over.

Life Balance Jumpstart

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Pumpkin Chia Mini Muffins

Pumpkin Chia Mini Muffins

Pumpkin Chia Mini Muffins

I made these for Tuesday night’s Pop Up Yoga NYC ‘s yoga and nutrition fundraiser to go with the chia theme and they were a hit! I love all things pumpkin and these were especially tasty – great texture, not too sweet, and packed with protein and fiber in every bite. Personally, I “tested” 4 as a snack and then had leftovers for breakfast (slathered in butter) the following morning. That’s right. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Chia Mini Muffins

  • 4 tbsp Chia Seeds (I think I added even more- you can play around with it- I was very generous with my chia)
  • 1 Cup Coconut flour
  • 1/2 Cup White Flour
  • 2 Tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tsp Nutmeg
  • 2 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt (I did not use)
  • 16 oz can pure pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2-1 cup coconut milk (either Silk or SoDelicious brand- play around with portions but I probably ended up needing about 1 cup to balance the coconut flour)
  • 1/4 cup Agave (or even less!)
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla
  • 1/2 cup Chopped Walnuts (optional)

Mix together all of the dry ingredients.
Mix together all of the wet ingredients.

Fold Wet ingredients into dry ingredients.
Pour into greased muffin pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Yoga and chia were enjoyed by all at Tuesday's fundraiser!

Yoga and chia were enjoyed by all at Tuesday’s fundraiser!

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Yoga & Chia Power Event – to benefit Sandy relief in Staten Island

On Tuesday, December 18 I will be teaming up with Pop Up Yoga NYC, Chia Star, Pushcart Coffee (Peter’s Field loc.), SandyBaggers, and fellow health coach Steph Miller (www.hecticandhealthy.com) to provide an evening of yoga, wellness, and fundraising to support a local business in Staten Island – Not Just Bagels.

I will lead a 40 minute calming vinyasa flow class which will be followed by an informal discussion and Q&A of our featured product – Chia Star. Steph and I will explain why we love chia and it’s amazing health benefits! Chia seeds have been dubbed “the running food”, “a miracle”, and “the ultimate super food” by athletes and advocates alike.

In keeping with the grassroots culture of SandyBaggers, we are donating the proceeds from the event to a small, independent fundraiser.  “Not Just Bagels” in Staten Island was one of many family-owned businesses obliterated by the storm;  in addition to having their homes ruined, their only source of income was wiped out too. Many people cut their losses and abandoned the properties, but this family is rebuilding because they have no other option. The government and FEMA have not been helpful. A few SandyBaggers met them on-site last month, helped them clear the debris, and now it’s time to rebuild. The fundraiser link is here, to learn more about their story: http://www.indiegogo.com/NotJustBagels

SandyBaggers at Not Just Bagels

SandyBaggers at Not Just Bagels

Details:

Dec. 18,  8:30-10:00pm
Pushcart Coffee @ Peter’s Field – 301 East 21st Street New York, NY 10010

Cost: $15 admission or $5 admission + donated item (all proceeds go toward Not Just Bagels fundraiser)

Suggested donated items: Bottled water, blankets, Non-perishable food, Contractor garbage bags, Cleaning supplies (Sponges, Laundry soap, Dish soap, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, Mold-X), Tyvek worksuits, Rubber work gloves, P100 particle respirator masks.

Email me (maggieconverse@me.com) with questions or to RSVP. You can also RSVP by clicking here.

We hope to see you on the 18th!

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