This is something I've spent a lot of time thinking about because I want to know how to refer to my clients in a way that actually makes sense for them - here are my thoughts on all the approaches I've tried (and the one I created!) I hope it's helpful!!!
I use emeals. They give a two week free trial. I think it was $59 per year for a dinner plan (you can add on breakfast, lunch, special occasion, etc), and lots to choose from (kid friendly, vegetarian, paleo, etc). The recipes are all pretty quick.
It is somewhat seasonal (lots of squash and pomegranates on menus lately - yum!)
I love that I don't have to think with this one!
I choose the recipes I want to use as I enter the store and it makes my grocery list, with pantry staples separated out for easy shopping. The only down side is the app takes a few minutes to open - it always wants to refresh. Sometimes it fails to open at all, and then you are stuck winging it (see MY meal planning program below to get you through those days).
Also the web version is not interactive, you have to get the grocery list for all 7 recipes for the week - so just use the app.
I also noticed it saves me money at the grocery store (which is a claim they make as well)... as long as I don't just start throwing random things in (which I still sometimes do).
PLAN TO EAT
I've used Plan to Eat, but it requires a bit of computer time to devote to it. People who avidly use Pinterest seem to have great luck with it - they just move from Pinterest to Plan to Eat and pop them in the calendar.
You are completely in control of all the recipes each week. The service combines them into an easy to use format to schedule on your calendar and then compiles a grocery list for the days you select, which is mostly cohesive to put onions with onions, etc, but sometimes onions will appear more than once - not a huge deal, just a bug of the system to be aware of.
But if you don't want to go around pinning recipes, then this is NOT the plan for you. It takes time, time that I was never able to get into my routine.
It is only $40/year; they also give a 30 day free trial.
There is also my fellow Boss Mom, Sam Rodgers' Eating Clean Cooking Dirty!!!
I've used her plan before - it is all clean eating, with several options to choose from. It is based on the premise of one prep day that is longer than other days, then everything is basically ready to go when you want to eat it.
She integrates all the recipes into one set of instructions. She is seriously amazing at this!!!! It is like following ONE recipe, but at the end you are set for the week! She is as crazy about making yummy and easy to follow meal plans as I am about assimilating every self help book I've ever read into my coaching programs!
This is great if you want to streamline your time in the kitchen - it's not as good if you like to improvise while you cook. i.e. If you can't or don't like to follow recipes strictly, this is probably not the plan for you; messing with one recipe is ok, but messing with 5+ at once may not be a good idea.
She gives a free week to try, and then her monthly cost is fantastic for the quality of her product.
Finally I also have a meal planning book, but mine is actually ALL about how to have a plan...and how to improvise when you need to!!! Because I'm a master at improvising in the kitchen :) ...
But you still need a plan.
You can get a free week of sample meal plans and also an introduction to my approach (basically break it down into simple steps and commit to them one at a time.)
My approach works in conjunction with other meal planning tools! I use emeals AND I improvise :) Haha
Some of you may know this, but I know my business coach was surprised; I have an MFA in Creative Writing (with an emphasis in Poetry!)
When I first graduated I always felt BAD that I wasn't writing more poetry, but I remember reading a book about "being a writer" and it was all about staying true to the passion and it ended up having kind of the opposite effect where I was like "fuck that I'm only writing if there is audience for it!"
Haha, I guess my business mind was coming out before I even knew it :)
None the less, reading that book and my reaction to it was actually really inspiring because it actually freed me from writing what "I thought I should be writing" because of my degree to writing whatever the hell I wanted to!!!
For a long time I only wrote letter to friends!! Long, intimate letter to my lovely long-term (one 10 years and one 15 years) pen pals :)
But it was this freedom that has made the writing part of my business SUCH a joy and pleasure, and it was all the sweeter to complete my book and move towards publication because of this history with writing.
So...What makes my forthcoming book "Emotional Eating Detox A 21-Day Inspirational Journal to Understand Your Cravings, End Over Eating, and Find Freedom From Dieting Forever" different than other health books? It actually has nothing to do with food! You can eat WHATEVER you want!! It's all about the OTHER stuff going on that causes you to eat in a way that is stressful and makes you feel like crap! Check out my book here!
How's that for creative writing?
Last week I did a guided meditation at a new moon goddess circle. It was a guided meditation to go through a variety of symbolic visualizations, and after we experienced the guided meditation, we were then informed what each visual symbolized.
It started with a harbor, which represents my social life. I visualized three different kind of boats, which makes sense because I like a lot of types of social experiences. Then the boat we got on represents how we view ourselves... lucky for me, mine was a luxury yacht!!!! Hahaha!
So on and on it went, and I had a positive experience through the variety of visualizations, with no major surprises when what each visualization was supposed to represent was revealed.
At the very end of the meditation, we are visualizing laying in a natural space - mine was under a real tree in my grandfather's (now my parents') backyard, and "One of God's creatures comes to visit." Not surprising my totem animal came to visit: butterflies.
They also had a message for me. And my message was... Belly button???
Yes. It was. My message was "Belly button." I always knew I was quirky girl, but what the?
Ok, actually... it makes total sense because I've been thinking in terms of what the body might symbolize in our life, and so I knew that my message was not SIMPLY Belly Button, but rather a question of what Belly Button means!
So I've had the chance to contemplate this, which is of course the point of a guided meditation, to keep thinking about what insights I gained afterward.
And a belly button is interesting. It is actually a scar. It's a scar from being disconnected from your source of life!!!!!
But it's also a symbol that I have a mother; that we all have a mother. It's an opportunity to remember where I came from.
It's a symbol of a truly amazing organ: the umbilical cord. The umbilical cord is a twisted rope that takes the blood vessels from a baby and winds them around with the blood vessels from the mother (via the placenta), and the blood vessels get so closely intertwined that the nourishment from the mother's blood is transferred to the growing baby's blood!!!
It's truly amazing.
And once disconnected, the veins that give a child life are simply absorbed into the body. Even that can be symbolic, that we take the source of life from OTHER and we begin to nourish ourselves.
So I'll take that message! I love that message, in fact. I love what Belly Button says to me. What does it say to you?????
I want to talk about the things in our life that make us scream - either feel like screaming or maybe actually screaming, on the inside OR the outside!
And I want to talk about that right now because with all the gut wrenching news that has been happening lately, I think I speak for the collective, that we are on edge and much more likely to break into panicked screams at any moment.
Because you may not understand why, say, the dirty dishes in the sink are related to the destruction of paradise by the warming ocean's more powerful hurricanes.
You may not see it as connected to the aftermath of the Mexico City earthquake when the pile of papers on the corner of your desk or table is giving you nausea.
You may wonder if you have a slight stomach bug because you just don't feel right, when it actually could be the warming climate and drought fueled wildfires.
It may not make sense that the increase in violent hate groups is the cause of your headache or the feeling in your gut that just won't go away.
The level of embarrassment and shame I feel as a US Citizen for how our President behaves in public gives me near instant spikes of this hard to identify anxiety. I've decided that Trump has a new meaning - to me the word Trump means the taste of vomit in my mouth, because that is how his actions make me feel, dirty like I have the aftertaste of vomit in my mouth. This in turn causes low grade stress whenever I turn on the news.
We are in a heavy time. We are in an unstable time, both socially and environmentally. And these kinds of global changes cause anxiety. The thing is that anxiety can be expressed in our bodies as MANY DIFFERENT SYMPTOMS.
So poor sleep, neck pain, ache joints, stomach ache, diarrhea, super tired, exhaustion, anger, resentment, depression, or just generally wanting to SCREAM can all be results of our widespread anxiety-inducing time to be alive.
And, of course, as someone who focuses specifically on helping overcome emotional eating, ALL of these symptoms, and any kind of stress or anxiety can trigger reactions in how we eat.
For me personally, this anxiety has been giving me nausea, and so it actually diminishes my overall appetite, but then I find myself wanting to eat things that seem "Simple" in my mind, but usually that means SWEET.
For some of my clients, the anxiety can be quelled by eating throughout that day. However, this only sends you on your own personally cycle of guilt, which further adds to the stress and anxiety.
So what can you do to survive without turning to bad food habits?
1. Recognize that you are being affected by the global level of stress. It is honorable to have feelings that reflect the state of the world, understand you are empathetic and take steps to protect yourself (see step 3).
2. Identify what in your day to day makes you want to scream (dishes, messy bedroom, stacks of paper, whatever); you don't have to necessarily do anything about it if that's too overwhelming, but just recognize that it's symbolic of outside influences.
3. Make your personal self care a huge priority - it's not petty to take time to take care of yourself; limit exposure to news and media; get extra sleep; create a safe space for yourself to be nourished, which can be as simple as time alone or making a cup of tea.
4. Take action that aligns with your hope - whether this is giving money to causes you care about, joining as a volunteer, calling your elected representatives, or all of the above; identify ways to move your own personal agenda forward for things you care about.
All of these steps can take minimal time. Phoning your representatives can take 10-20 minutes per week, but is a POWERFUL way to feel empowered AND make change.
These are the steps I've found that help me have compassion for myself in a difficult time. Let me know what you've tried and what has helped you!!
My kids stress me out. It's just a fact of my life.
Why am I writing about this on my blog about emotional eating? Because stress is an incredibly common trigger of emotional eating. We all have stress in different forms. Maybe it's what's going on at your work. Maybe it's something happening in your relationship... Maybe it's your kids.
I spend a lot of time trying to understand my life and make it better. It may not be something everybody does, but it's what I do.
And in researching what to do when your kids stress you out... I have to admit I wasn't happy with much of the advice!
While there is of course a time and a place for prescriptions drugs/medicine, I was surprised at how many people talking about parenthood causing them stress or anxiety or depression or anger felt okay with taking drugs. Some people have biochemical imbalances, and drugs are amazing to help resolve something that would be a lifelong issue, or even in extreme short term cases.
I know for a fact that I wasn't angry or bitter or resentful or anxious or nearly as stressed out as I am now before I had kids. And I also know that it's not just my kids.
Yes, it's the fact that I am a parent, but it is this life-shattering paradigm shift that I have experienced going from not a parent to a parent.
And it is the absolute bullshit pressure that's put on a woman and/or the primary caregiver of a family's children!
This is the bullshit of patriarchy being lived out in my day-to-day family life.
Because, of course, biology is sexist. The women make the baby; the women make the milk. Therefore the women are usually the primary caregivers.
And yet there's this whole group of us who don't want to be in the traditional nine-to-five situation never see our kids --- and also don't want to have our brains rot from doing nothing but wiping butts all day.
Enter the mom entrepreneur. I love my business. I love my clients. I literally love doing the work that I do helping women change how they eat and how they feel in their bodies. It's amazing!
And yet raising a business is kind of like raising a child. It takes a lot of time and energy and patience.
So now I have my two kids and my business and... My husband.
And unfortunately he just really doesn't understand what I'm doing and so I don't always feel that I have full support. So there's this juggling act going on now. He's ambitious; he's generous; he's kind; he loves reading to our kids. But holy shit, if I have to tell him where the fucking mustard is one more time I'm going to blow!!!!
And that is the stress and anxiety that I'm speaking about. It manifests itself as an inconsequential detail that I feel like I want to scream about.
And you add this up over and over and over and no wonder women are stressed out. No wonder back in the day they had their breakdowns. Even if you're not trying to raise a business, just trying to raise a family is such an immense amount of emotional burden that is unbearable.
And for me it was worse without the support of other professionals who share interests outside of raising the kids. I'm not saying no one should be happy being a stay-at-home mom. I have dear friends who are deeply fulfilled by raising their kids. I'm not. I love my kids. I take parenting seriously. I probably take it too seriously and that's part of my problem.
And I need more. I need something else. I need the rest of my identity intact. Men don't understand that because they still have their identity. I'm not speaking for stay-at-home fathers; I don't know enough of them well enough; that's somebody else's blog post.
Most of the time the men keep working, and guess what? The men is still an engineer or a salesperson or a chef or whatever. The woman is the mother. And that is an emotional burden that can't be explained.
And I think it's almost worse in this modern modern world because we can microwave dinner if we need to.... we can send our kids to practice in an Uber if we need to... and yet we can't outsource somebody expecting us to know where the mustard is.
I hate to leave my thoughts unactionable. So I'm going to tell you the most basic and simple thing that I'm doing. It's incredibly hard.
And I think it's the only solution is to stop. Just stop. And it is insidiously difficult to do!
Because I feel like an asshole when I tell my husband that I can't help him find the mustard. It's just finding the mustard. How much time can finding the mustard take? What could I possibly be doing that's more important than finding the mustard?
Oh wait. That's just it. You add up all these little inconveniences and actually nothing that's important to me is getting done.
I know I'm giving the example of my husband even though this blog post is actually about my kids. That's because with little kids more than half of my interactions are instances like these:
"Mommy where the Crayons?"
"Mommy get me a water."
"Mommy I'm hungry."
Maybe you can relate. I'm a doer. I'm a Problem Solver. It is incredibly hard for me to not DO. So whether or not you have kids, you probably have circumstances like this.
Oh, I can stay late and file that last paper.
Oh, I enjoy that part of my work; I can do a little more of it.
Oh, I'll do that project better than anyone else; I might as well sign up for it.
And I just want to say that these are all remarkable traits!!!
I'm not disparaging my ambition or my compassion for my family or your passion for your work or any of that.
I'm just acknowledging that I need better boundaries and a lot of other women do too. Because that's the answer to reducing stress. It's simply not doing the things that are stressing you out.
For me I literally can't draw this line when I'm home. If my husband asks me where the mustard is it's incredibly difficult for me to not help him find it. If my kids ask me for a glass of water I actually sometimes try to say no but then I have someone crying half the time which, again, is difficult. So I have to find times to get out of the house. It's the only way I can change these patterns.
With my business it's the other side. I love my business. I want to do my business. I want to have it grow and get more clients and help more people. And yet... Sometimes I just have to say no.
So when my kids stress me out (or I scream at my husband about the mustard), I actually know that it means there's just too much on my shoulders. It means I have to get out from underneath all this patriarchal bullshit and learn how to simply say No.
I've felt "ungrounded" for about 6 weeks... since I took my extended road trip (which did deplete me), and yet I also returned on the day of the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville.
This was followed quickly by breathtaking news on what seems to be almost daily. Hurricane after hurricane, earthquakes, bills being signed regularly (in a way that feels secretive and undercutting), failed attempts at other more loud legislation, the ongoing wreckage that follows each natural disaster and needs attention lost in the slew of the next disaster, the equifax hack that puts half the country at risk of identify theft (possibly kids as well).
Oh yeah, and then the Colin Kaepernik protest suddenly being coopted by the NFL to make CK irrelevant and the NFL somehow the hero??? I'm no sports fan but CK still has no job at the time as far as I'm aware of.
And more quietly, I'm reading about the battle for net neutrality (I support this) but also the Communications Deceny Act, a more complicated issue that is somehow a battleground for where we draw the line between free speech and pornography AND amazing the way that huge non-traditional media formats like Facebook escape any responsibility for who they sell ads to or what purpose the ads may be for. Read up on this if you haven't yet. I'm not sure where I stand, but I think we need to have the voice of the people speaking out more than the largest tech giants.
And then on top of it all there is my regular life, which somehow seems simultaneously both petty and entirely unmanageable in the context of all that is happening right now.
So everyday I try to focus on living my regular life while integrating what I value into it.
I've gone through my kids books and gotten rid of some of the old, outdated 50s books that are racist or sexist. I've purchased additional books for our library showed greater diversity. I went through their books and changed skin color with colored pencils, to give them greater diversity because sadly, they were not that diverse. I've downloaded movies (what few I could find) with diverse lead characters. I"ve started frequently different farmer's markets in neighborhood with people of different skin tone than ours. My kids are a big part of what I'm doing in my day to day and I want to make sure they grow up aware that diversity is beautiful and that we need to use our voices to speak out for equality.
I also struggle each day to maintain my self care rituals. It's a fight to do it in all honesty. To put a few minutes of self massage on the to do list, which means leaving the dirty dishes in the sink sometimes. To make sure I shower regularly even when...well...the dishes are staring me down. To get myself dressed before the kids have started asking repeatedly for breakfast. But I do it as best I can, every day, and I forgive myself when the laundry or dishes take precedence.
And yet I feel the need to do more. I honestly want to GO. I want to BE where people need the help. And I can't - my day to day is too intertwined with little guys. So I give. I give small monthly contributions to Sierra Club, KPBS, and Planned Parenthood...and in the past few months I've given much more than the monthly amount - MORE to sierra club for post hurricane relief and planning for further climate change affects - I've also donated to The Color of Change bringing awareness to racism in our country and fighting for equality - to the Foundation Fighting Blindness in honor of my neighbor and my grandfather who lost their sight - to my son's school for their hurricane donations.
And that's CASH.
I also continue to up my donation of service for charitable fundraisers because the world has SO MUCH NEED right now and I have to do what I can, ALL that I can.
I also have to put my business into forward mode - booking talks, networking, speaking with clients. And I'll admit it's not easy to do when the world feels like it has so many pressing needs!!!
But when I think about putting it off, I also know that's not right. My passion is for helping people live a healthy, aligned life, losing weight and truly feeling GREAT about what they are eating, helping them KNOW each bite is the right bite, whether it's a steak, an ice cream, or a delicious and gourmet salad. So I know it's another part of what I HAVE to do for the world. Because the world needs SO MUCH, and I'm going to give the world the best of me.
What are your favorite self-care practices? And if you need ideas, sign up to get your sparkle back.