If you look at the photos above, you'll see a big difference between them (and I'm not just talking about how much photo quality has improved in the past 11 years!). While the body in these two photos may not look that different to you, the energy within these bodies is like night and day.
At age 17, I was suffering. I hated my body and didn't know what to do with it. This continued on for about 10 more years. I struggled, I dieted, I exercised, I tried everything. And even though my body changed very little from my heaviest to my lightest, I had a very distorted perception of myself. No matter how "fit" or "thin" I looked, I hated what I saw in the mirror.
No matter how many people told me how beautiful I looked, I could not believe them.
I studied Kinesiology (fitness, nutrition, & health) in college, almost exclusively to figure out how to change the body I was inhabiting. I would work out sometimes twice a day. I would starve myself or only eat salad. I would neglect rest and hygiene in order to punish myself for having an unlovable body. I was so unhappy with the way I looked that I geared my whole career path toward getting a better body. But this is the only body I'd ever have. And while I wanted to physically change it, it was actually a spiritual change that made all the difference.
I found yoga in college, which really helped me start appreciating the experience of being in a body. I started to enjoy movement that was more gentle and healing to my body. And yoga began to open me up to a deeper spiritual awareness of being a soul inside this body. But my struggle continued for years and years. No amount of external validation would prove to me that I could love my body.
After college, I realized that I didn't just want to understand the physical body and become a personal trainer. I wanted to dive deeper and discover what was inside of this body. Through my knowledge of fitness and nutrition, I could manipulate the physiological functioning of my body to lose weight or tone my muscles. But this wasn't enough. Even when I lost weight and saw physical changes, I still wasn't happy with my body. I still didn't feel at home inside myself.
As my spiritual awareness expanded and I focused intently on practicing self-love, I started to notice a pattern. What I saw in the mirror had nothing to do with the way I looked physically. What I saw in the mirror was a reflection of the way I treated myself. On days when I would eat healthy and exercise, I would see a beautiful girl in the mirror. On days when I would be overcome with guilt for having binged on sweets in order to cope with my emotional pain, I would see an unlovable, fat girl in the mirror. And in these two different mirror images, my weight would be IDENTICAL and my physical form unchanged. It wasn't my body I was seeing in the mirror. It was the tortured soul of a girl who could not feel at home within herself. It was ugly.
The healing really took place when I started to wake up and heal my emotional wounds. I recognized that I would binge eat or indulge in sweets or other treats when I was feeling pain, anxiety, sadness, shame, or other dark emotions. I would soothe myself with comfort foods. But of course this would backfire when I would look in the mirror and realize that I had disrespected my body in the process of avoiding my emotional experience.
I started to meditate. I started to experience spiritual awakenings. I started to value my soul. I started to feel at home inside my body.
I began to desire treating my body well, not so that it would look any certain way, but so that I could provide a beautiful sanctuary for my soul. I wanted to love my body, not to be beautiful, but to FEEL amazing inside of myself and to keep my energy as pure as possible so that I could FEEL the presence of my soul.
And you know what?? When I stopped caring about what my body looked like and I started caring about how I felt inside, my body became more beautiful.
I remember a few months ago, I had my last big breakdown about my body image. It was the culmination of a massive pattern that I was healing. I was on the edge of a new realization, a brand new awakening. I had been sick with exhaustion from the mental anguish of self-judgment and shame. I was in disbelief that I could still possibly be struggling with this issue when I felt so spiritually mature in many other ways.
WHEN WAS THIS EMOTIONAL TORTURE GOING TO END?!
I wanted freedom from this suffering. I was reaching the brink of this crisis. Out of sheer desperation, I was finally feeling ready to change my old patterns and enter a new paradigm. I wanted to make a new deal with the Universe where I could finally be at peace within myself.
I was in the shower. I was bathing myself and sliding my hands over my soft flesh. Looking down at this physical being that seemed so foreign to me at times, I heard my intuition speak to me loud and clear:
"If you want to be free and peaceful in your soul, you need to be willing to gain weight."
This felt like a major leap in faith. It was a risk that I had never wanted to take. I had always wanted control over the way I looked and to be spiritually enlightened. But I somehow knew that it was time to give that up. I was finally aware that, sometimes on your spiritual journey, your body needs to change in order to provide a good home for the soul. At times when you are integrating a lot of new energy, your body may need to gain a little weight in order to feel more grounded and embody the new frequencies. At times when you are manifesting and creating change in your life, you may lose weight in order to let go of old energies and make rapid shifts. Sometimes the body is a mystery to us and we simply need to TRUST.
Trust or suffer, that is our choice.
On that day in the shower, I finally said yes to the offering from my higher self. I created a new agreement with the Universe. I would trust my body to shift and change as needed while I focused entirely on the health of my soul.
You guys, the results have been INCREDIBLE.
I don't know if you can tell from the photo above on the right, but I am finally comfortable inside of myself! I am finally at home in my body and my soul is happy in its sanctuary. I am at peace. I am free.
I eat what I want, but I want what feeds my soul. Sometimes that's chocolate cake. Sometimes that's kale salads. I want to eat what makes me feel alive and vibrant! And that's usually something healthy.
I don't feel the need to overeat or binge. I'm aware of my emotional waves, and I ride them with a peaceful willingness. No longer do I need to drown out my pain with a painfully full belly.
I move my body in the ways that feel good and loving. I exercise when I have energy. I rest when I'm tired. I stretch, I take baths, I breathe deeply, I nurture myself when I am sick.
I don't worry anymore. I'm not afraid to change and shift. And I'm in utter disbelief to report that surrender is what gave me the most beautiful body. This body is unique. This body is mine. And I am okay with that.
I am not perfect with this new paradigm, but I am happier than EVER. I am more in love with myself than EVER BEFORE. I have arrived. My soul finally wants to be inside this body, and I am home.
If there was one thing that I would recommend to you if you also crave this comfort inside your physical temple, it would be to WAKE UP. Let your soul be felt inside your body. Stopping running from your truth by ignoring the messages from your body. Commit to trusting your body and creating a safe space for your soul to rest. Create a sanctuary inside yourself.
I would be honored to help you with this, and the first step I suggest is trying my free starter kit. It will show you the doorway to peace, presence, and comfort in your human form.
If you have questions or would like to work with me 1-on-1 on your healing journey, message me here.
I love you because I have found a way to love me.
May you have the most epically beautiful healing journey.
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 write this, I am stuffy, congested, sneezy, tired, can't taste, can't hear... SICK for the 3rd day in a row.
In my ego, I'm like, this isn't right! I'm normally strong, healthy, and bouncing back quickly from any illness or ailment. But my soul whispers, this is just right. Be with this experience. Be here now.
When we are experiencing illness, it's tempting to ask lots of questions: Why me? Why now? What did I do wrong? When will this end?
But we might never get those answers. And sometimes, the more we fight an experience, the tighter it grasps us.
I have to be willing to let go and soften toward my illness. Worst case scenario, I might be sick forever... could I love my body anyway?
I taught two yoga classes today (stuffy and all), and in Shavasana (final relaxation) I felt suddenly inspired to say, "Wait for nothing, be present now. This very moment offers you something beautiful and divine." (Oooh! I definitely needed to hear that one!)
Do not wait for health to be happy & at peace. Find peace & joy in the present moment, no matter the circumstances.
Even though I'm looking forward to feeling better, I'm also working on feeling grateful for this sickness. In this moment, I am offered a chance to forgive, rest, surrender. I am learning about patience and dealing with the unknown. I am stronger because I know how to be sick, not just how to be well.
I love myself & my body deeply even though I make mistakes, even though I get lost, even though I get sick. I know that I can get through anything because I am able to sit with sickness, hold her hand, smile & be present with her for as long as she needs.
In the name of soulful evolution, I open myself to the immense variety of earthly experiences that help me grow- one of which is... getting sick! I treasure these times as much as the fun, healthy ones. And in this glowing light of self-love, I will heal.
Blessings to you and whatever THIS MOMENT brings you!
Smile and allow it.
Photo credit: Hartwig HKD via Flickr
“‘It’s impossible,’ said pride. ‘It’s risky,’ said experience. ‘It’s pointless,’ said reason. 'Give it a try,' whispered the heart.” -Unknown
I don’t know about you lovely souls, but lately I’ve seen just how important it is to listen to my heart.
My mind has taken me on torturous roller coasters of doubt and shame… “I’m afraid I’m not a good enough musician to even be worthy of making music.” “I’m worried that integrating my yoga & music businesses is stupid and no one will get it.”
On and painfully on in a dark, twisted spiral of emotion.
But a tiny voice in the center of my chest whispered to me, “Let all of that go and trust your heart.”
I immediately placed my palm over my chest, as if to hear my body better with my hand.
"All of this is perfect, sweet pea. You’ve done everything just right, and things are unfolding beautifully."
OH MY!! The sweet sensation of unconditional love washed over me. That loving little voice was my heart reassuring me that none of my struggles, emotional freak outs, or mess ups have actually been mistakes. It was all just perfect.
PHEWWW, what a relief! What makes no sense to my mind (or anyone else’s mind) is the pure and beautiful song of the heart. It’s the wisdom that makesmagicand miracles happen if you listen deeply. And dammit, THAT’S HOW I WANNA LIVE! From the center of my creative, brave, mystical, expressive, & unconditionally loving heart.
Don’t you, beauty??
So here’s a simple exercise I created for listening to your amazing heart. :)
(There’s a demonstration video below!!)
1) First, get grounded in your body and out of your head. Feel your feet and legs, feel your hips and spine, feel your belly and chest, feel your arms and hands, feel your neck, head, and face. Bring all your awareness and attention out of your thoughts and into the sensations inside your body.
2) Send a grounding channel of energy deep into the earth. Imagine that at the base of your seat (i.e. first chakra), you have a channel of energy flowing effortlessly, deep down into the earth, almost as if a magnet in the center of the earth is pulling this energy out of you. It’s infinite & free flowing and keeps you solid and safe on earth.
3) Place both hands over your heart. Clear your mind and focus your awareness on the feeling of your heart center. Maybe you already will feel a blissful, loving sensation or will hear a sweet voice whisper something reassuring.
4) Imagine a light glowing in your heart as you breathe deeply. With each breath you take, you add more light to your heart, and it expands to encompass your body. The light fills you and surrounds you with the loving energy of the heart. Feel the warm tingles of safety and compassion as you are surrounded by heart energy.
5) Hear a sweet & gentle hum coming from your heart. You can just listen for this loving hum or you can actually hum with your voice. (Sounds like “mmmm” as in something yummy). Enjoy the bliss and peace that you feel when you connect with your beautiful heart!
6) Finally, write down any messages or images that come to you from your heart and place it on your mirror, by your bed, or on your door. Each day remind yourself of the sweet & gentle voice of your heart.
So that’s my simple heart listening exercise! I made a little video to demonstrate this exercise (see below). I hope you enjoy it, and if so, please share with friends!
Much love to you all! From my heart to yours,
Photo Credit: Alice Popkorn via Flickr
I know… it’s not always easy to be loving toward ourselves.
Just the other day, I was in a storm of doubtful thoughts about my place in life. My birthday is coming up, and I really wanted to be in a positive space for the celebration of my life! Finally I broke through the clouds and thought, HEY! I wanna be on MY TEAM!
Like, no more self-sabotaging, self-limiting beliefs or actions.
Whatever scary, uncertain thoughts we have about our futures…they are merely thoughts. Not truth. Not reality. And if we cut them out right from the start, they don’t gain power and momentum by being repeated in our minds day in and day out.
Yes, thoughts are super powerful. We can also take actions that support positive thinking, feeling great, and truly loving ourselves. So here are my 5 tips for self-love in 2015:
1) Journal often- Omg. Writing stuff down is so powerful. If you’ve never journaled before, start. If you’ve journaled but you don’t make it a habit, step your game up. I try to journal every morning, especially if I’m stressed out or have a lot of kooky thoughts going on. And what, you might ask, should we journal about? Anything on your mind! I write down dreams I had, worries I’m stewing about, plans and to-do lists, hopes and dreams, anything that’s keeping my head in the clouds and out of the present moment. The powerful part is, when you write something down, you can release it from within. Your mind can cleanse itself of all the gunk and you can be aware and present for your amazing, fun, and beautiful life.
2) Be alone- For some of us, this is actually uncomfortable and a little scary! And for others of us, it seems impossible to get some space for ourselves with all of the busyness of life. But it’s ohhh so important. You have to get comfortable with the skin you’re in and get to know yourself without the distraction of others. Alone time is when you can process your emotions, daydream about the empowered steps you’re going to take on your path, and, —this is a BIG one— connect to your higher guidance and wisdom. Your intuition speaks when you slow down, quiet yourself, make space, & listen. Mmmmm. Even if it’s a few minutes when you wake up or before bed, find that time to go within and nurture your inner being.
3) Think positively- Yikes, I know this can be so tricky. We’ve all got a thousand voices in our heads with all kinds of opinions, fears, and worries. But once we step back and witness all the chatter, we see that these thoughts are taking us out of the present moment, which is the only time & place where we can actually LIVE and do anything about our issues and struggles! Practice this: notice yourself thinking a negative, self-limiting thought and say firmly in your mind, “Cancel that thought!” Take a deep breath and then reach for a higher thought. Replace it with something more spacious and hopeful.
Example: Negative thought- “No one has signed up for my meditation meetup! I must be no good at this, and I’m never meant to succeed at being a yoga-meditation entrepreneur.” (True story)
Higher thought- ”I trust that whatever happens is in my highest good. I believe in myself and my abilities. All is well.”
4) Forgive yourself- We aaaallllll make mistakes. And really they are perfect little mistakes that help us grow and find our way back to our souls. Let everything you’ve ever done wrong GO. Right now. Let it go. Free up your energy to live in the present and take empowered actions toward the life you want to live. My cute little suggestion: give yourself a pet name. I started calling myself “Monkey” when I need a nurturing little pat on the back. In my head I’ll say, “It’s okay, Monkey. I love you and you’re doing a great job. Keep going!” It has saved me from some dark and heavy days.
5) Breathe- You’re thinking, Ha! Already got that one covered- thanks lungs. I meant… breathe deeply, consciously, lovingly. This is truly the most powerful thing on this list because it can transform your energy, your mood, and your thought process in an instant! Practice taking 3 deep breaths when you’re upset and see how different you feel. Take 3 deep breaths in between bites of food and notice that you won’t overeat. Take 3 deep breaths when you wake up and welcome the life force energy into your being to start the day! IT’S MAGICAL YOU GUYS.
I hope this simple, yet profound list will help you fall in love with yourself this year. At the end of the day, you are the only beautiful thing you’ve got. Be in love with the person you are. Be love.
Photo Credit: Noval Goya 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.
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