Control vs. Structure

Artwork by Della McGee

Five weeks ago, my partner Mike asked if I would like to join him in a cut. A cut is a term in the weightlifting world to reduce calories for a specific amount of time to lean the body out. We had both gained weight over the winter. Mike did it intentionally to increase his muscle mass and me because of some hormonal challenges.

At first, I told him no. My reasons were because I did not want to have my identity based on how my body looked or how much I weighed. I have had body dysmorphia and disordered eating most of my adult life. After much thought, I decided to join him. Our long-term goals are health and fitness, and a leaner body assists us in reaching those goals.

I was able to change my mind because I have healed so much of my Not Good Enough Syndrome over the past few months that I realized that I could do this. My goal wasn’t necessarily a particular number on the scale. My goal was to feel lighter and leaner in my body.

Both Mike and I are people who work well within a structured routine. I want to stop here and say that control and structure are two different things. Control in the way I mean refers to rigidly trying to manipulate a change in a specific behavior or an outcome. Control has always contributed to binge eating for me. Structure is a guideline or systematic framework. Structure is fluid where control is inflexible.

The protocol that he and I chose to use is a fitness app called MyFitnessPal. Just a note that I use the free version and receive nothing from the company for talking about them here. You put in the amount of weight you want to lose or maintain, and it gives you a daily calorie count to reach your goal.

The most helpful decision we made was to create a daily schedule for our meals. We divided the calories up between 4 meals and a snack. We eat around the same time for each meal every day. There are exceptions to this, of course. Life happens.

This lifestyle change was incredibly hard the first 30 days as the body got used to this new structure. It takes that long to integrate new habits, so that made sense to me. Once the body adjusted to the schedule, the protocol became much more manageable. Mike has lost about 12 pounds, and I have maintained my average weight. I have noticed that my clothes are looser and my body looks leaner.

I have not binged once on this new schedule. I have stayed within my calorie range every day, give or take 100 calories in one direction or the other. I find this liberating instead of confining. I am not sure this would work for everyone. My personality digs structure. Not everyone does.

When I tried to control my eating, I was constantly in battle with myself. That battle would result in binging. There is no battle when I use the app to record my calorie intake. I have just so many calories to spend every day, so it makes me incredibly mindful of my choices. I have found that food tastes better. It could be because I am no longer engaging in unconscious eating.

Just like when I first entered A.A., I had to go to a meeting every day to maintain my sobriety. I need to use the app every day for the same reason. The decision to use the app is a lifestyle choice, not a diet. We eat whatever we want within the calories we have set for ourselves. I will keep you posted as I continue on this journey.


To check out my Yoga for Recovery class or any of my weekly zoom classes click here.

If you are interested in a really cool yoga mat with my original artwork or photography on it. You can look at them here.

Our Energetic Boundaries and Addiction

I recently taught a yoga class where I asked the students to become aware of their bodies’ physical boundaries. Our physical body is the container that holds our spirit. The idea was if we could become conscious of our physical boundaries, then we could take the next step of learning about our energetic boundaries.

All living things have an energy body or an aura that encircles their physical structure. From a metaphysical perspective, it can appear as if we are surrounded by a large egg made of light and color. This egg is our protection. When our energy body is strong and expanded, we are healthy and vibrant. When this body is weak, we are vulnerable to other people’s energy and dis-ease.

Our addictions weaken our energy body. Let me repeat this. When we engage in addictive behaviors, it weakens our protective, energetic boundary.

Envision this. You are at a party, and someone walks up to you and begins a conversation. They keep stepping closer and closer to you, and you keep stepping back. They are “in your space,” but there seems to be nothing you can do about it without seeming rude. The reason someone can invade your space so readily is because your energy field may be too close to your body, weak or thin.

How do we strengthen this field and therefore reinforce our energetic boundaries? Imagine you are standing in front of you with a large eraser. Visualize yourself sweeping the eraser from side to side from top to bottom just an inch or two from your body. Use the eraser on your right side and then your left. Now move to your back body and erase anything that does not belong in your auric field. Do not forget to erase above your head and below your feet. The eraser will know what “stuff” needs to go.

You may notice other people’s thoughts in your field or old wounds from the past. You might “see” debris or even rips or tears. Your eraser melts all of that away. When you have completed this exercise, fill your energy body with light or a color of your choosing. Doing this will reinforce and strengthen your energy body even further.

When our energy field is weak, we have a more challenging time honoring the boundaries we have made for our recovery. A weak energy body weakens our ability to commit to self-care.

Addictive acts are not the only way the aura becomes weak. Constant self-criticism or abuse can also take a toll. And, there are other ways to strengthen your auric field as well. Kundalini Yoga is my go to ‘getter done’ practice.

i hope you will join us on Saturday’s via Zoom for Kundalini Yoga for Addiction Recovery. Click here to find out more.

Are you interested in a really cool yoga mat with my original artwork or photography on it. You can look at them here.

How To Trust Yourself

If you have a history of addictive behavior, as I do, you might feel that trusting yourself does not come easily. I know how you feel. Time and time again, I have succumbed to the pull of my addictions. You may ask, how can I ever trust myself with my history of (fill in the blank)?

The key, for me, is to get quiet. Becoming quiet can be difficult, though. My ego-mind likes to keep me distracted from hearing my Inner Voice. It wants all of my attention.

Here are some ways that I have used to become quiet and listen to my heart speak.

  • Get out in nature. Go for a walk. Hug a tree. Sit by a lake.
  • Get creative. A simple coloring book will take you out of your active mind and bring you in into the present moment where wisdom lives. Gardening, photography, and painting can all be useful tools as well.
  • Exercise!  I use exercise to stay fit but mostly to quiet the mind and get me into my body. My favorite is my rebounder (mini-trampoline). I put on some rock and roll and bounce all the unruly thoughts out of me.
  • Breathe.  Long, slow deep breaths can bring you into your body where you can hear your higher wisdom more keenly.

Once the mind slows down, drop into your heart. The heart is where your Wise Voice lives. You can trust this Voice. How do you know you can trust it? Ask yourself how the message feels in your body. Are you feeling doubt or rightness? If you feel a rightness, this is your body’s internal navigation system telling you it is safe to follow through. This way of deep listening takes practice. I promise you it will be worth it.

Join our weekly Kundalini Yoga for Addiction Recovery class. There is space to share your experience, strength & hope after the class. To find out more about my online yoga classes click here.

Are you interested in a really cool yoga mat with my original artwork or photography on it. You can look at them here.

What Are You Really Craving?

Have you ever craved something and stopped to ask yourself, is this what I truly want? Most of us don’t ask the question. We will follow the craving, whether for food, alcohol, drugs, etc., hoping to satisfy it. According to the Buddha, it is our desires that are the cause of our suffering. If you have addiction issues, you know this to be true.

What if you stopped yourself the next time an impulse rises and asked yourself, “What am I really wanting or needing here?”

Think about this. What if your sugar craving were about wanting more sweetness in your life? What if your longing for a cigarette was to put up a “smokescreen” for some reason. Maybe your craving for drugs or alcohol is your desire to shut out the world around you.

There are many reasons that we crave dangerous substances or act out in unhealthy ways. Some of it is a physical addiction, but it can also be something else. Are we lonely, so we fill that hole with our drug of choice? Perhaps we want to soothe ourselves or escape from life for a little while, so we binge watch Netflix for eight hours straight. There is nothing wrong with wanting to feel something different, but maybe the tools we’ve used in the past need to change.

What To Do Instead?

Getting a massage or some bodywork can fill the need for physical touch. Instead of going after that second or third cookie, try being completely present with the experience of eating the first one. You would be amazed at how fulfilling a single cookie can be when we experience it in the present moment.

Exercise is a great stress reliever. I go for walks whenever I can. When I can’t go outside I jump on my mini trampoline while listening to my favorite music. Journaling or talking things out with a loved one is another tool I use on a regular basis.

Yoga and meditation have been a staple in my life for many years now. I attribute the practice of Kundalini Yoga specifically to my mental wellness.

Community is key to keeping us on the road to wellness. When we have community we have support. When we have support we have hope. When we have hope we become open to change. Try a 12-step group near you. The first time I stepped into an A.A. meeting I knew I was home.

What tools have worked for you on your recovery journey? I would love for us to share our experience, strength, and hope with each other.

Find out more about my weekly Addiction Recovery with Kundalini Yoga class here.

Are you interested in a really cool yoga mat with my original artwork or photography on it. You can look at them here.