To set yourself free, let yourself be!

mouse blog

Have you ever been in the situation where you’ve got food in the house and you just can’t let it be : it whispers to you , prods at you, worms its way into your every thought  until you just have to have it? Maybe you even have to keep going until it’s completely gone.

I’m sure we’ve all been there and know what it’s like not to be able to let food be! And here’s my take on this : if you just can’t let food be, chances are you’re just not letting yourself be! Chances are, you’re actually using food to prevent yourself from BEING.

Well, here’s a revolutionary thought for you to try on (especially if you consider yourself to be an emotional eater) : what if you could just let yourself be?

What if you were able to let yourself be fully present to your inner experiences : allowing (even welcoming!) emotions, thoughts and feelings to come and go , whatever they were ? What if you were able to be fully present to your outer experiences, whether these experiences matched up to your idea of how life SHOULD be or not? This is what I mean by just letting yourself be.

My prediction is this : let yourself be, I mean really be – and you’ll always have a CHOICE about whether you let food be or not.

To set yourself free , just let yourself be!

(And if you’re not quite sure how to let yourself be in this way, I’ll be posting more about this soon 🙂 )

© Jane Talbot 2013

Let’s Try It Again And This Time With Feeling!

Affirmation 2

I had such lovely feedback about yesterday’s post (which was all about setting intentions and connecting with the motivation behind the intention) that today I’ve decided to post one of my favourite “intentions” which may help to bring you both focus and courage as you continue your journey towards optimal health!

So, here goes  ~  “Every time I dare to feel, I am helping myself to heal”.

You can read a little bit more about how useful this intention might be here

If you’re enjoying the notion of daily intention-setting (and are looking for a little inspiration) just keep your eye on the “Heading In The Right Direction” category which you’ll find on the right-hand side of the page. I’ll post any “goodies” there and you can just help yourself 😛

With you every step of the way,

© Jane Talbot 2013

Heading In The Right Direction!

Affirmation 1I’m no great one for “affirmations” but I certainly support the view that clarity around our intentions and motivations can help us to head in the “right” direction!

On a recent mindfulness weekend, our meditation teacher was explaining to us how intention (what we want to do)  is like pointing an arrow (setting the direction) and how motivation (our “why”)  is like the energy of the bow (the energy that keeps the arrow heading in the right direction). He suggested that in our meditation practice we should begin every session by reminding ourselves of both our intention and also our motivation for developing mindfulness (which may be different every time we sit on the meditation cushion!)

Of course, there is no reason why we should limit this approach to a meditation practice. In fact, I can see real value in reminding ourselves of our intentions and motivations within the context of our journey towards optimal health. You could think of this practice  as a gentle nudge in the right direction 🙂

So today, I asked myself about my intentions and the motivations behind those intentions.  And I asked myself on a “just for today” basis (on a “forever” basis for some of us can be a little overwhelming!)

When considering my intention for today, I came up with the words you see on the image above : “I love myself enough today, not to eat and drink my feelings away.”

When considering my motivation for this, the answer I got was  “This is important to me because I want to be fully present to life and to my inner experiences. I want to learn from my feelings.I want to be fully ALIVE!”

If  my intention resonates with you at any level, I hope my words offer both comfort (in knowing that you are not alone) and a gentle nudge in the right direction.

And as you consider today’s journey, what might your personal intention and motivation be? (Oooh – and do feel free to share what you come up with : you just never know how inspiring your words might be for someone else!)

Heading in the right direction,

© Jane Talbot 2013

Welcome Your Whole Self Home!

Appetite for lifeWhen we “battle” with our weight; when we attempt to “overcome” so-called negative emotions;  when we “hate” our bodies;  when we desire to “beat” our appetite;  when we numb the gap between how things are and how we’d like them to be with food or with alcohol ~ we only increase our suffering.

All these actions are a form of resistance. Resisting how things really are.  And, as many thought~ leaders in the field of mindfulness and self-compassion suggest, pain multiplied by resistance equals suffering. (Buddhist maths seems to be quite simple!)

So maybe… just maybe… it’s time to do something different. Maybe it’s time to stop the war. Maybe it’s time to drop the resistance. Maybe it’s time to reduce the suffering. Maybe it’s time to make peace. Maybe it’s time to welcome our whole self back home.
When we turn towards the fullness of who we really are;  when we are prepared to be fully present to life and to our inner experiences ~ we develop a completely different appetite. An appetite for full-on living. And when our appetite for life increases (and we satisfy that appetite in healthy ways) , we might just notice our body aligning itself with its new way of being 🙂

“Resistance is futile” ~ The Borg

© Jane Talbot 2013

The Descent

RilkeBeing stuck in the diet trap can sometimes feel like drowning . We  gasp for air ; we reach for something (anything) to hold on to ; we flail about trying to reach the safety of the surface. We are desperate to escape the perils of the water and yet , in our drive to survive, we fail to acknowledge what is pulling us down into the depths.

The surface seems so tantalisingly close. Within our grasp. We can see the light of the sun penetrating the water above us. We can see the hulls of boats. We can see the legs of other swimmers . We sense the possibility of rescue at arm’s length.

And even though something from the depths is hauling us downwards : we struggle against it. We refuse to acknowledge its pull or what it means for our survival. We put all our energy into attempting to get to the surface and to get out. Afterall, the surface looks so close. So tempting. Rescue looks so certain.

We flail. We grasp. We reach out. And, exhausted, we sink.

Until we free ourselves from what is dragging us into the depths, the surface will always be beyond our reach. It is the descent that will free us.

The latest fad diet;  fat-loss pills and potions;  shakes and vitamins ;  celebrity miracle body-sculpting regimes;  “lose- weight- while- you- sleep” audio programmes : these are all on the surface. Promises of rescue. So close. And yet, if we swim in this direction, we will never escape because the pull downwards is still there and will always be stronger.

Our real chance of escape lies in our courage to dive into the depths, to discover what is pulling us down and then to free ourselves  so we may swim in any direction we choose. In order to free ourselves from the diet trap, we must be prepared to descend into the very guts of who we are. We must be prepared to face the stories, emotions, thoughts, beliefs and attitudes which shackle us. We must be prepared to work skillfully with what we find and, above all, we must respect what the depths of the our vast oceans hold.

Divers are often fearful of what they may find in the dark recesses where the light of the sun never penetrates. And yet, when the divers shine their torches, the most beautiful, raw aspects of nature may reveal themselves. Wondrous, wild and untamed ~  our deepest nature reveals its secrets when we are prepared to dive.

You want the “real secret” to weight loss that the advertisers harp on about? You’ll never find it outside, on or above the surface. The secret is inside you. And all you have to do is go diving for it! (Oh – and I should give you a bit of a warning ~ it’s not just the secret to weight loss that you’ll find in your depths 🙂 )

“It is not too late to dive into your increasing depths where life calmly gives out its own secret”~ Rilke

© Jane Talbot 2013

Look In The Mirror And Meet Your Team!

Team Huskies

Recently I saw one of those “motivational” pictures doing the rounds on Facebook. It was aimed primarily at people wanting to improve their sports performance but I think the sentiment behind it was meant to be universally applicable in the field of human “achievement”.

It went something along the lines of  “look in the mirror and meet your competition” . What I took from those words was :  if I want to improve (or achieve anything in life) then the best way to do this is to compete against myself.

10 years ago, as a hard–core perfectionist, this would have really appealed to me. I’d actually think it was quite healthy too ~ the ability to drive myself to higher and higher standards, knowing that I had a worthy adversary in myself.

I hold a very different view now because that way of thinking  created separation within me ~ I was setting up inner conflict. If one part of me wins, then the other part loses. In this paradigm, I am in struggle against the very fibre of my own being ~ and in creating this internal separation, I create external separation. I begin to believe that success is predicated on competition : on being better than (or worse than) , on winning (or losing) , on succeeding (or failing). It’s me against the world (and just for the record, that pattern takes a huge amount of energy to sustain).

Somehow the psychological maths didn’t add up. Surely, if I want to achieve anything, it’s best to have access to ALL my resources rather than some of them? Surely it’s better to have all of me heading in the same direction, rather than part of me? And which part of me am I competing against anyway? Why would I want to compete with myself at all? Would I really want a part of me to lose?

So I changed my mind about the whole success thing. I decided that I wouldn’t compete with myself, I would collaborate with myself instead. I would welcome everything I had onto the team ~ even the most unlikely candidates! Of course, I’d welcome the likes of passion, focus and endurance on board. And also I’d welcome those who were usually left sitting on the bench ~  frustration, anger, shame, hurt and the rest of those “bad boys”. It’s a bit of a raggle~taggle squad, I’ll give you that 🙂 .

I’ll tell you something straight : there is an incredible amount of energy available to you when you’re not resisting who you really are. There is an incredible amount of energy available to you when you welcome your whole self onto the team (and I’m of the team management philosophy which believes that if a team member turns up to the practice field, he gets to play ~ no matter how skilled he is… because eventually, he learns how to be part of the wider team and he’ll find his natural place in the squad). I don’t just want a few good individual players – I’m looking to build a squad which can work well together , a squad which can respect all team members and their roles. I want a team that really wants to play for me – I want ALL of me on my side.

 When I go  training now, I no longer compete against myself. I collaborate with myself. And if you were to ask my which side I’m on, I would answer : I’m on all my sides!

Look in the mirror and meet your team. (And yes, my sports performance is improving 🙂 #WinWin )

© Jane Talbot 2013

Feed Your Demon!

Feed your demonsIn more than 13 years of working with people who want to lose weight, I’ve never met anyone who couldn’t identify with the term “demon” when referring to their appetite. Many people go as far as to describe themselves as being “possessed” when their appetite howls for food. They describe their appetite as if it were a roar direct from the bowels of hell.

I’ve learned alot in 13 years ~ and I’ve learned alot from my own demon too. In fact, I’ve learned so much that I’m thinking of setting up a “demon sanctuary” 😛

What I’ve realised is that the so-called demon is expressing a really important unmet need – its howl is loaded with powerful information for us . We may hear it – and misinterpret its message as physiological hunger. Or we may hear it and be frightened of its call – and feed it into silence.

The demon is expressing a deeper hunger ~ a deeper spiritual craving, a raw existential desire, an appetite for connection. And if we could take a moment to actually listen to its call, if we could meet its need in a respectful way, if we could feed our demon what it really needs to the point of satiety, if we could bring our demon in from the cold and cherish it, offer it welcoming refuge … can you guess what might happen?

Well , I’ll tell you ~ it won’t be a demon any more. It will be your most powerful supporter in your journey towards health. It turns out that your demon is an angel in disguise.

Feed your demon. Love your demon. Give your demon a home. Because it isn’t a demon at all ~ it’s the call of your deepest wisdom. Listen to it.

If you want freedom ~  feed your demon!

© Jane Talbot 2013

Trust Is A Must!

Trust is a must 2Yesterday, in a very small house, in a very small town, in a very small country ~ something very big indeed happened.

Yesterday, for the very first time, our Jack Russell Terrier brought his beloved tennis ball into the kitchen and nosed it towards my feet.  Yesterday, for the very first time, Sparky passed the ball so that I could pass it back. Yesterday, Sparky played with me.

If you’re reading this and wondering why this is such a big deal ~ it’s a big deal because JRTs are traditionally the premier league footballers of the canine world. And yet, when we picked up Sparky from the local rescue kennels a year ago, he didn’t even know what a ball was for. In fact, he was afraid of balls. He was afraid of alot of things : loud noises, sudden movement, being abandoned. If he thought he’d done something wrong, he immediately took himself off to hide.

Over the past year, we’ve watched Sparky closely. We’ve worked hard to understand what he’s trying to tell us. We’ve spent plenty of time with him and made him feel a very welcome part of the family. We wouldn’t be without him : he even came on honeymoon with us! We’ve rewarded him, we’ve comforted him and we’ve encouraged him. We’ve learned what he loves the most – walking , smelling things, snuggling and being close. And we give him those things because we love him.

And yet in this past year, Sparky has still been wary of us. He’s still been nervous. We can understand that ~ he’s a rescue dog and we’ll never really know his history and how he came to be in our local pound. So yesterday was a really big deal in our house because Sparky trusted us enough to know that we wouldn’t take the ball away from him (it’s a closely guarded treasure that is never far from his paws).

As he gently nudged the ball to me, he looked me straight in the eye. He waited to see what would happen. I nudged it back. He returned it to me straight away. This wasn’t wild, haring JRT fun (which is his usual style), this was something gentle. This was about connection and trust. And it was a deeply moving moment.

So what’s all this got to do with you, your body and your weight? Well. Here’s the thing. If you’re reading this, chances are that you’ve been “battling” with your weight for quite some time. Chances are you may not have cared for your body in the optimum way. You may not have exercised it , you may have overfed it, you may have stressed it, you may have loathed it, you may have wished it wasn’t yours. In short, there may have been times when you wished you could have left your body in the local pound!

And here you are today and you’re ready to lose weight. In other words, you’re at the point of picking the dog up from the pound. A dog that’s been neglected and hurt ; a dog that’s had its trust broken ; a dog that hasn’t been listened to ; a dog that just hasn’t been allowed to be a dog! [Sorry for being a little direct here but I’m just going to say it how it is.  I’ve been guilty of exactly the same crime and it wasn’t until I acknowledged that the “bad guy” in all of this was not my body, that I was able to make peace with my body and lose weight]

So – here it comes. Brace yourself : if you want a healthy relationship with your body, there’s some stuff you need to do. If you want the rewards from the relationship, you have to be prepared to re-build the relationship with your body and rebuild the trust. And it might take time. And that relationship will require nurturing and supporting for the rest of your life.

And listen. It may not go as smoothly as you’d hoped at first. It might take a while to understand your body’s communications, its needs, wants and desires. It may take a while for your body to trust you again – and it might take you a while to come to terms with your role in the original breakdown of the relationship.

But one day, your body will pass you the ball and the joy that passes between you in that moment will create the kind of alignment required to live a healthy, active, nourishing life which is good for every single inch of you : mind, body and soul.

Now is your opportunity to make the connection with your body and to welcome it back into the family. Show it compassion. Show it love. Let it be close, let it be comforted, let it be fed, let it play, let it rest and let it choose when it’s ready to pass you the ball.

A healthy relationship between mind and body is key to maintaining a healthy weight in the longer term. And in that relationship, trust is a must 🙂

© Jane Talbot 2013

How To Stay Upright On The Wobble~Board Of Life!

THBC Blog Wobbleboard

Anyone who has been to a fitness class in the last decade or so has heard the term “core  stability” thrown about as frequently as the ubiquitous kettle~bell 🙂 You may have heard fitness professionals talking about which exercises are particularly good for your physical core – and why core strength is important for sports performance, for long-term health ~ and for the way our bodies look. And I’m not arguing with the validity of all that. It makes perfect sense.

But why stop there? For me, health and well~being goes beyond the physical. The principles of core training can be usefully applied in both the psychological and emotional realms of our lives too.

When life throws a curveball at us, it’s good to know that our physical body can support us. And it’s also good to know that we can rely on our core psychological and emotional stability too. The ability to maintain equilibrium whilst honouring challenging emotions ; the ability to maintain an attitide of loving kindness and compassion towards ourselves and others in difficult times; the ability to maintain hope, to stand up and be who we really are, to hold supportive beliefs about ourselves and the world around us; the ability to engage with life as it really is, rather than as we crave it to be ~ this is true core stability.

True core stability is what keeps us upright on the wobble~board of life! And when you have developed the ability for this kind of stability, you’ll no longer need to rely on food (or any other kind of crutch) to keep you upright ~ you’ll be too busy enjoying the wobbly nature of full-on living 🙂

© Jane Talbot 2013

Feel It To Heal It!

Feel it to heal it!

As “emotional eaters”, we can spend an incredible amount of energy trying to avoid our feelings. Eating is not only a way of numbing our feelings but it also denies us the opportunity of learning from, and accommodating the life-affirming validity of, our feelings. Whilst we cling on to the hope that eating will “make it all better”, it won’t. We all know that.

In fact, eating increases our suffering – it’s an act of “resistance” that prevents us from experiencing life as it is. Our eating behaviour is an attempt to bridge the gap between how things really are and how we’d like them to be. It just doesn’t work.

However, we may reach a point where we find the courage and capacity in ourselves to generate sufficient equilibrium to take bold steps. We can step towards acknowledging our feelings; towards offering ourselves and our emotions compassion; towards meeting the deep unmet needs our emotions are expressing in healthy ways ; towards actually feeling our feelings. Yes, actually feeling feelings 🙂 !!

By being in our body  and present to our emotions, by learning to give welcoming refuge to all parts of ourselves, by offering compassion to our own wounds, we begin to heal. It is through such tender, active feeling that we achieve the deepest, most joyful healing. It is through such feeling that we learn to experience the joy of life AS IT ACTUALLY IS.

Feeling leads to healing 🙂 Oh – and in case you are wondering – as we learn to be with our emotions and with the glorious messy nature of life in this way, most of us experience the added bonus of a naturally emerging, healthy body. As we stop resisting, the weight stops persisting.

Keeping it real,

© Jane Talbot 2013