We all know that diet and exercise are very important to weight loss and health, but I want to remind you that mindset actually comes first. The mindset you need to develop in order to lose weight (and keep it off) is that of completely loving and accepting yourself.
I know this seems a little bit counter-intuitive because most of us who are trying to lose weight are in the habit of feeling bad about our bodies and punishing them with strict diets, excessive exercise, and negative thoughts.
But it’s time to stop that pattern once and for all. No longer should you hate your body, starve yourself, push yourself too hard, and ultimately collapse back into unhealthy eating and self-loathing. The time is NOW to start loving and listening to your body.
All healthy behaviors start from a place self-love, and once we decide to completely commit to loving ourselves, we create weight loss that lasts! No more swinging back and forth between gaining and losing weight. Loving your body creates life long change and stability.
So how do we develop a self-loving mindset?
First of all, we need to become aware of our thoughts and silence the voice of the inner critic (the voice in your head that says you are too fat, not good enough, not beautiful enough, etc.). Start to listen to your thoughts and cut out any negative thinking patterns.
Secondly, replace those self-critical thoughts with words of kindness and love toward yourself. Be proud of yourself for trying your best to lose weight; celebrate those things that you love about your body; appreciate your health and your life.
Finally, we must develop a deep self-awareness by getting in touch with our bodies and listening in. The path to true health and wellness is through the guidance of the body.
The body always knows what it really needs in order to be well- what foods to eat, what exercise to do, when and how much to rest. We just aren’t used to listening to this wisdom from the body! We typically use our minds to choose behaviors that we think are what we need, but they often go against what the body needs.
Example: you push yourself to exercise when your body really needs rest, and so you get sick with a cold. Or your body is craving meat because you need more protein in your diet, but you force yourself to eat salad instead.
The wisdom of the body is vast and extensive. We just need to learn how to trust it. Listening deeply to the body’s needs will help us develop a loving, trusting relationship between mind and body.
The body trusts that the mind will nurture it and care for it, and the mind trusts that the body will lose weight and stay healthy. This positive relationship between mind and body is the sweet spot for wellness and happiness!
In order to practice this deep self-awareness, you can try a meditation where you listen closely to what the body is telling you. Start by sitting or lying down comfortably. Close your eyes and feel the room around you. Feel the ground beneath you and the air touching your skin.
Then feel your whole body: your feet and legs, your hips and back, your belly and chest, your arms and hands, your neck and head, your face and your breath.
Listen closely to what your belly is saying: are you hungry right now? Are you already full? Are you satisfied? If you are feeling hungry, what are you hungry for? Quiet your judgments and assumptions, and listen closely to the guidance of the body.
Then listen to your heart: what does the heart need? Does it need more self-love and acceptance? More compassion and patience?
Finally, listen to your mind and the quality of your thoughts. Does your mind know the truth of your body and your heart?
Could you come into more alignment with your mind, body, and heart? Start to really trust the wisdom of your body and silence the voice of your inner critic.
When you practice this mindset for losing weight, soon you will love the body you already have!
As I'm sitting in a coffee shop, typing away, with my lavender latte, it's raining outside here in "Sunny San Diego." Isn't that so life?! We can't hold on too tightly to expectations and outcomes. Sometimes it just pours rain in a sunny place.
And there are times when we are drenched and downtrodden by our own storms within. Dark clouds loom over hope, and emotions flow endlessly like infinite drops of rain. At least that's how I feel sometimes.
At these moments of darkness, I often feel lost in life or unclear about my path and purpose and what to do next. It's apparent that I'm stuck in my mind and can't hear the voice of my soul, the voice that always feels like home, the voice that guides me back to inspiration, hope, and clarity.
So how do I get back there? How do I start to feel at home again in my heart? How can I hear my soul?
This morning, two things became clear to me as I walked under a turquoise umbrella through the drizzle to my favorite coffee shop. Two important things showed me the path back to my soul.
1) Don't indulge your fears.
2) Follow your joy.
Ahh this first one is crucial and sometimes tricky! The mind loves to get wrapped up in the illusion of fear because its job is to protect you. So the mind will wander off to deep, dark, scary corners of the imagination thinking about all of the possible bad things that could happen to you. And hopefully by analyzing a million possible nightmares, the mind will figure out how to prevent them! But we know in our hearts that this is a dreadful waste of time & energy. So how do we stop ourselves from burrowing down into the rabbit hole of fear?
First of all, it's important to differentiate between the voices in your head. For simplicity's sake, let's just say you have a small mind and a big mind. The small mind is the one who indulges in fearful worry, trying to control circumstances and outwit the Universe. The small mind will drive you crazy if you let it!
But the big mind is the voice of strength, love, and protection. Big mind is the one to shut it down when small mind is scampering off into fear. When you feel your small mind wandering away into anxiety, stop those thoughts immediately and don't indulge in the tendency to daydream about your worst nightmares. Feel the guidance and love of your big mind, like that of a protective parent.
"No sweetheart, don't go there. You're going to be fine." Then laugh, sing, pray, or refocus on a hopeful thought to keep your energy up and out of small mind territory.
With practice, you'll soon start to recognize the voices of small mind and big mind and can learn to control the fearful indulgences of small mind with the direct, loving guidance of big mind.
So that's part 1: Don't indulge your fears.
The next part is really fun: Follow your joy!
One of the best ways to reconnect with your soul is to do what feels light, joyful, inspiring, or relaxing to you (often in the most simple and humble of ways). Honestly, your soul doesn't care how productive you are, how much money you make, what you ate for breakfast, or how many calories you burned at the gym. Your soul operates in BEING not DOING.
It can be tempting to think that you have to have a certain career in order to be living your soul's purpose. Or that your soul is only satisfied when you are "successful" on the outside. But truthfully, the soul exists in the pure laughter from deep in your belly or in the quiet peace of feeling your connection to all of life. The soul leaps for joy when you choose love over fear. The soul wants you to express as much joy as possible, not to be as rich, fit, or important as possible.
So when your small mind starts to worry about your success, your purpose, and your path, remember that your purpose exists only in this moment, right now. And your purpose right now is to let go of your fears and reside in your joy.
Following your joy can be anything that lights you upside. It could be something small like treating yourself to a latte, wearing your favorite shirt, making a homemade gift for a friend, or taking a picture that inspires you and posting it to Facebook. It doesn't have to be revolutionary, important, OR make you lots of money. The way back to the soul is through joy in the simple, small things.
Don't look for your soul in your career change, in your workout routine, or in your next relationship. Find your soul in the spark of joy within you that has no words, no expectations. Find your soul in the easy way of being that you already are.
With much love & joy,
P.S. Check out this video I made on Meditation Monday that discusses these two steps to hearing your soul
As difficult as pain can be... it is not wrong. Both physical and emotional pain have very important messages to bring us- we just need to learn how to decode them.
Many of us have been taught that feeling negative emotion (anger, fear, jealousy, despair) and going through physical illness or injury means we are doing something wrong. And while these symptoms often serve as red flags to look at a deeper issue that needs attention, I hope you'll join me in welcoming pain as a wonderful messenger and finding clarity through pain with radical self-love and acceptance.
The first step in finding clarity in your pain's messages is to allow the pain to be there. Yes, it's uncomfortable. But it's powerful for a reason. Start by letting yourself, your body, your inner child be right for feeling the pain. When you notice a physical, emotional, or mental symptom of pain, open your heart with curiosity as to what it is telling you. If you push the pain out of awareness, you send it right back into the shadow where it came from. Help yourself bring these deeper issues to the light by allowing their presence in your consciousness.
The second step is to BREATHE. DEEPLY. By taking full, deep breaths, we open our bodies physically and energetically to allow the emotion to pass through. The moment we judge ourselves and disagree with the pain, we create an energy blockage inside the body. When we don't accept our pain consciously and openly, we stop the energy flow in the body at whatever frequency the pain resonates. If it is a control issue, you may block the energy flow in the solar plexus (location of the Third Chakra). If it is a communication issue, you may block the energy flow in the throat (location of the Fifth Chakra). It is important to breathe and open the body to prevent any energy blockages from occurring (and sometimes emotional pain will manifest as physical pain as a result of these blockages). Imagine your body as a wide, open channel that allows emotion to flow effortlessly through. You are merely the conduit through which emotion can pass. Become big and expansive. Breathe deeply and allow the pain to flow. The sooner you accept the experience of emotion and pain, the sooner it will pass.
The third step in discovering the clarity in your pain is to not take it personally. Try not to identify with the pain and judge it as your mistake or your flaw. It's best to imagine being a curious observer, simply witnessing your human experience. Pain is a very important part of being human and you are absolutely RIGHT for feeling it. Imagine stepping outside yourself and searching for cues as to the deeper meaning in this specific pain. Learning about the chakras can be very helpful because physical symptoms often crop up in areas that resonate with a particular chakra, and each chakra relates to a different aspect of the self (as I mentioned earlier). Another helpful tip in discovering the messages in physical pain is to analyze which side of the body the pain is on. The left side of our body relates to feminine energy, our relationships with females, and our ability to receive, allow, embody. The right side of the body relates to masculine energy, our relationships with males, and our ability to give, control, produce. Become a curious investigator of your pain and value its messages like a secret treasure you're meant to discover.
The final step in finding the clarity in your pain, (and this is a helpful tip for pretty much anything) is to journal about it. Get out some paper or a special notebook and start writing. About anything, literally. Write about the pain- what does it feel like? How would you like to feel? Then freely write about anything else that comes up. Maybe you realize that the pain occurs when you have an argument with a particular person or when you sabotage yourself. Maybe the pain reminds you of a childhood memory. Let yourself explore all your feelings, even things unrelated to the current pain or current situation. Write until you feel empty of thought. Allow these words and messages to come up. You may discover a helpful hint that brings clarity to your pain.
Then sit back and love yourself THE MOST! Go for a walk, take a bath, enjoy a special treat. Do something loving and nurturing for yourself. Feel so proud of yourself for being brave enough to look into your pain with loving eyes and find its deeper meaning.
Check out this Meditation Monday video I created that will help you breathe through pain and welcome its deeper meaning.
Sending you extra love and light on the journey,
You may have heard quotes like this before. From the über-famous Twilight series to Shakespeare, many poets, writers, and teachers have illuminated (no pun intended) this delicate balance between the dark & light of our lives. And I must say, I believe I just lived this paradox.
You might remember that back in July, I hosted a one-month-sober challenge where I invited THE WORLD (haha, literally) to join me in spending the whole month of July sober in order to discover deeper clarity and awareness about ourselves and our journeys. WELL OH BOY... be careful what you wish for, cuz I got a BIG dose of gut-wrenching clarity that month. *Just goes to show how powerful our intentions are, yes?!*
I wrote about what I learned from sobriety at the end of the challenge, but what I didn't share with you was the deep & utter darkness I experienced that month. It began with realizing that I no longer want to pursue a music career at this time in my life. All of the work, schooling, equipment, practice, hope, tears, money, & energy that has gone into pursuing music for the last 4 years has come to a deadening, empty, depressing halt. If that didn't hurt enough, I saw the Amy Winehouse documentary (about her ultimate demise as an artist and beautiful being) and felt the heart-shattering pain of her turbulent journey that I could relate to in so many ways. I saw other very dark things around me: in my friends, on TV, in my nightmares. I couldn't get out of this heaviness and despair.
BUT I KNEW, deep deep down, that there would be light after this. I remember telling my mom on the phone, "I really know that everything will be alright, but I'm just tired of going through this." Please hear me, it takes relentless faith and so much love & compassion for yourself to live through these dark nights of the soul, and after living it myself, I KNOW that YOU CAN GET THROUGH IT TOO! So rest assured, sweet pea, light is on the way...
For the whole month of August, I needed rest and healing from this powerful clearing experience. It really felt like I had been energetically gutted of so many old beliefs, patterns, and plans. I didn't know what inspiration could possibly fill me next, I just knew I was empty. I needed rest.
My friends, I'm still patiently waiting for the next surge of energy, purpose, and inspiration to come, but I believe it's being delicately formed in me now. I feel glimpses of hope, light, and ideas. I woke up this morning with soft & gentle guidance: close your eyes, meditate, draw from your decks of tarot cards, write. this. blog. *Thank you.*
2015 began with SO MUCH LIGHT and inspiration that I was freaking blinded and completely blissed out, like I was surfing a mountain of jewels. YEAH. Then exactly halfway through the year, just like I asked, I was given the deepest, darkest clearing for the highest, brightest clarity. I can only imagine the kind of light and inspiration that is coming to me now as a result of this powerful experience.
*Dear friends... the more darkness you experience, the more light you are capable of experiencing!! Trust that.*
So... my tips for getting through your darkest times??
1. Go deeper into the darkness: When you feel yourself becoming sad, lost, empty, follow that feeling deeper. Allow it to be, and discover all that it is teaching you. Let it happen. Be heavy and dark as long as you need to so that you can be cleared completely.
2. Have the utmost faith that light is on the way: You can only truly allow the dark times to fully be expressed if you have the utmost faith that everything will be okay and that this dark night of the soul is temporary. BELIEVE that light, hope, & inspiration are on the way, and you'll find the patience and courage to delve deeper into your darkness.
3. Love yourself the most: Resist the urge to judge yourself for not being the "perfect" happy person who has everything figured out. News flash: that's no one! Have so much love & compassion for yourself. Speak to yourself as you would a scared child. Be the safest person for you to be around. Love yourself more than anyone else ever could. Your own self-love will see you through this.
It is with truly humbling gratitude & grace that I share with you my stories and my inspirations. It is my honor to be connecting with you in this way.
So much love,
Photo credit: Picture Quotes
I was having lunch with a friend the other day and she was telling me that she just got back from a trip to Sweden (her home country), but it still feels like she needs a vacation! I think we can all relate. Sometimes, our vacations end up exhausting us further and creating new challenges physically, financially, emotionally…
It’s really important that we have a way to relax within ourselves and not have to jet away every time we are stressed. I told my friend, “Why don’t you take a vacation inside yourself?”
What I meant was, she needs a way to take a break from her usual thoughts, feelings, and actions so that she can refresh her sense of well-being and peace. And this can be done without making any big changes. She doesn’t have to plan an extravagant holiday to take a vacation within.
Here are 5 ways to take a vacation inside yourself:
1) Take a break from being so hard on yourself! – For just a day, a week, or however long you choose, take a break from criticizing yourself, judging yourself, or needing to be right/good/perfect. In fact, allow yourself to do the bare minimum for a while and don’t feel bad about it! Free yourself from the harsh inner critic and just BE.
2) Don’t worry about money – This has nothing to do with how much money or wealth you actually have. It has everything to do with how you feel inside. Trust that you are endlessly abundant and well on your way to receiving many more blessings. Take yourself shopping, out to eat, or don’t even spend money but simply stop worrying about how to make ends meet. For even one day, give zero attention to money. Rest into assurance that you have and will always have plenty- you’d be surprised what kind of magical things can happen when you already believe you are abundant!
3) Let yourself enjoy food – Whatever you feel like eating, go for it. Listen deeply to your body and, for a day or even a whole week, eat and truly savor whatever yummy delicious things you crave. Have a special treat from childhood that you miss. Go to your favorite restaurant. Make yourself an extravagant new dish or dessert. Just enjoy every bite! When you feel nurtured in this way, you won’t feel the need to binge eat because you aren’t depriving yourself.
4) Rest as much as you want – Take a breather from the old exercise routine and sleep in. Go for a relaxing walk instead of running or hitting the gym. If you feel like sitting on the couch all day… do it. Every once in a while, our bodies need the chance to totally recuperate and rest. Once again, listen deeply to what your body is saying and rest as much as you’d like.
5) Resist nothing, everything is here to help you – This can change your whole world. Instead of viewing a situation as an obstacle to overcome or an enemy to beat, try viewing everything you encounter as a special gift that is here to help you. That rude driver who cut you off? “Thank you for teaching me patience.” That friend who betrayed you and hurt your feelings? “Thank you for reminding me to love myself unconditionally.” That expensive parking ticket? “Thank you for helping me remember how abundant I am.” Everything in our lives can be viewed as a blessing and a gift. And then there’s nothing to resist or fight.
I hope this list helps you feel free within yourself and able to take a vacation any time! You deserve it, beautiful.
Gia Gia xoxo
Photo credit: Andrés Nieto Porras via Flickr
Gia writes about her journey through life and the many twists and turns of spiritual growth, relationships, health & healing, life as a performer, and the ever-unfolding path back to her heart.