The “NOW” Diet

Sat nam…mtherlvrs…

Why my restricted diet didn’t work:

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I grew up in a controlling home; Mum and Dad were eastern Europeans and followed the mantra of “finish what’s on your plate before you can leave the table”. Food was served to me, and I rebelled growing up by ordering chicken fingers and fries on special request at every dinner out (even when not on the menu). “Picky eater” was what I was dubbed. But in retrospect, I can see that my little self was trying to solidify herself in self-assurance and in my rebelling, I was attempting to gain control over my own life. I became so keen to rebel that it then became my identity because I was so sick and unhappy of being told what or when to eat. Essentially, my identity became “Fuck you, I’ll do the opposite of what you want me to do.” The trouble lay in my identity becoming a mask of coping through rebellion, instead of true intuitive listening to my own needs. What the hell did I like to eat?

Long ass food journey of Bulimia, Anorexia, seasoned with Anxiety and Depression. Honestly, now, as I heal, I can say that self-awareness and being present is the key to finding myself. There is no fear and no need to escape myself when I’m present. If I dissociate, numb myself, mindlessly eat shit that bloats me, if I don’t tune into my true hungers, be them mind-based or physiological or BOTH, then I lose myself. The cycle continues in this catalyzing way, the vicious turmoil of pain and more pain, craving more and more escape. More water, more salt, more foods that engage my psychological needs to FEEL (think shitloads of Tabasco, heat, FEELINGS, SENSATIONS, etcetc).

After high school and university, binge-purge escapism persisted. I was a sensationalist. I rebelled so hard and didn’t eat the “real food” served at home, buying into my now-ingrained habit of rebellion by way of non-food items (egg white fluff pancakes, fat-free coffee whitener, sugar free jam…copious amounts of splenda…) paved way to finding a healthier way in more routine, and Timothy Ferriss’s “slow-carb” diet. This was a new awakening for me. A peek at physiological nourishment. So I followed, strictly. Slowly, binges stopped. I ate on time, without hours of punitive fasting, and real food like eggs and hummus. But my deep sense of self was still not looked at. I was covering up the wound, not looking at the pain, again, escaping. I’ll bless my own soul for surviving though, because each step along this journey has molded my NOW. Thanks sexci Ferriss for the SC diet because it gave me nourishment, body nourishment and not soul, albeit, but still good food. But, HARK- (?)

This new diet, “Paleo” became what I believed to be my saviour. But then my life gradually took on an insane routine-oriented blinding, rubbish-path. Obsessed with timing of food, and so keen to listen to body hunger cues while still bloating and dishonouring my intuition, I closed off my own life.

Today, right now, I am changing. More aware of myself than ever before, I don’t want to hide from my feelings anymore. When I release this stronghold of routine, I am forced to FEEL. When I feel all of my needs, all my body’s speech, I am so goddamn grounded. Fuck, I just now had the first real food breakfast I’ve had in years, instead of my usual super-diluted protein-powdered blended “smoothie bowl” (sometimes smoothies good, sometimes chew, aye?!). What I am realizing is that the reasons my “diet” and most “diets” don’t work, is because WE are always changing. We have to constantly tune into our needs, no singular rules will work. For example, kefir, good shit, right? Honestly though, not alllll the time! Sometimes my body doesn’t want kefir, and sometimes it does. That’s WORK. That’s discomfort in awareness. Listening, because we are DYNAMIC beings, this human shit we partake in. Always changing, no constant, no definitive rules. Sometimes poo 2x a day, sometimes 4 (sorry for those less than 2….bless your souls….might I suggest flax? sometimes…).

That’s that. I’m on my way. We all are, aren’t we?

And now, some funny indian comedy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_o_GAZMnmuM&t=70s

Have a sweet ass Monday!

Anorexia and the Window of Tolerance

Warning: “informative read” aka kind of boring but really good insight #ifimaysaysomyself….

Anorexia Nervosa is physically visible as a disease of bodily malnourishment, and can be easily spotted in a struggling individual. Physical markers like shockingly low weight, gaunt face, cold hands and feet, inability to focus, among others, are easy to spot. However, the deeper seated malnourished inside the mind hides more than only the body shows. The psychological turmoil faced by those suffering ranges from abuse, trauma, pain, lack of control, a poor or non-existent self-worth, and more. Overall, the suppression of pain has been cultivated by the anorexic, in order to survive a life circumstance. Of the many causes, the reaction is the same, and can be expressed as an inability to stay within a symbolically thin window of tolerance. Mindfulness, and reconnecting with the lost sense of self as one learns to reacquaint themselves with safety in their own presence is key in healing from Anorexia Nervosa.

Trauma, regardless of the avenue experienced, is something many of us face in our lives. Through evolutionary coping mechanisms that instill a survival instinct, we engage in dissociation as a protective means to attempt to find peace and to live on. An eating disorder manifests in this way, by means of coping and controlling external stimuli when feeling out of locus of control. The Anorexic feels forced to dissociate from their body, to not live inside it, but to hover on the outside, where they feel safely disconnected from the source of trauma and pain. This is a very wise way in which to survive pain and threat, and is defined as the Fight or Flight response. The Fight response directly speaks to a feeling of emotional overwhelm, panic, feeling unsafe, angry, racing thoughts and anxiety. This can be named the state of “hyper-arousal”, and is a state of coping where we have left our window of the tolerable level of trauma experience in our lives, and are in overdrive of engagement. By contrast, hypo-arousal, the “flight” response, is where the individual numbs themselves, disconnecting from painful thoughts, engaging in feelings of shame and diving into a deep, isolating depression. It should be noted that both states cultivate a sense of isolation, as an Eating Disorder originates from feeling unsafe in one’s own body. And so, by receding from contact, the Anorexic is seeking to blanket themselves away from harm’s way.

Conversely, the happy window of tolerance that is to be cultivated for a physically and psychologically healthy individual is one that can be described as a condition where one finds it easy to carry on with daily life in a state of well being. When this window is in an appropriate range, life’s challenges are easy to cope with. When the window shrinks through dissociation, receding, numbing and when survival mode kicks in, many events are triggers into dissociation from the body, and the coping mechanisms harnessed are engaged. For anorexics, this being self-starvation.

Although the causes range drastically of why trauma occurred that shook the person so much that they found life to be unsafe, the idea of suppression and dissociation are always present. This is why the healing process must include a reintegration of the self back inwards. Emotional resilience results from a deep sense of connection with one’s needs, and is in a healthy state of balance within a range of tolerance when the boundaries of one’s limits are known, and able to be recognized in the present moment. Physical markers by form of body signals are shown, such as a rapid pulse, body temperature, observing racing thoughts, cold or hot flashes, restlessness or a sense of apathy. When these informative feelings surface, it is important to acknowledge them, and to reflect upon their source. This is the beginning of cultivating a sense of mindfulness back into the body, when the Anorexic has made it an innate habit to shut off the mechanisms of feeling emotions. By using meditative and mindfulness techniques, the healing journey can begin, and slowly, compoundedly, the Anorexic will gain awareness that the coping mechanisms that once saved them are no longer needed, as the threat is gone. In this way, the window of tolerance will widen, when occurrences are no longer seen as threats to one’s safety. A deep sense of ease will be reinstilled into one’s life, fuelled by an unwavering sense of self-knowledge, self-trust, and calamity to face life’s challenges. As this process takes place, the coping of self-starvation will slowly be weaned. Techniques like yoga, meditation, Qi gong, reflection, journaling, focusing on the breath, psychological therapy, and art expression are all means though which grounding self-knowledge provides a healing space to recover from loss of self, and from a life outside one’s shrunken window of tolerance.

Anorexia Nervosa is a debilitating illness, whose cause has a multitude of trauma. However, manifestation in dissociation from one’s body, and a loss of sense of self are all present and necessary in order for the disease to form patterns in the Anorexic. By becoming aware of the self through methods like Yoga, Mindfulness, Meditation, Qi Gong, talk-therapy, journaling, reflection, art therapy and more, an Anorexic is able to widen their window of tolerance and learn to feel safe in the world. As this regrounding process takes place, the window of tolerance widens, and one can slowly learn to end the coping cycle of self-starvation. The hope of recover is something that every hurt person needs, and getting support through this process is integral to a wholesome recovery. Pain is not a feeling that is enjoyable to experience, but by observing it and trusting in the self to overcome it, life becomes more safe. It is not that we tolerate more pain; it is that fewer of life’s challenges cause us to lose our ground, as fewer are experienced as pain. Knowing thyself is the gift of liberation, and there is hope.

Sources:

“Mindfulness And The Window Of Tolerance”. St. Michael’s Hospital Mental Health (2017): n. pag. Web. 7 Mar. 2017.

Melanie Sakowski is a Holistic Nutritionist, a Yoga Instructor, a Triathlete and an Eating Disorder warrior on a healing journey in Toronto. She believes in the power of self-connection through mind-body work in a holistic view of wellness, and looks forward to helping others heal from trauma through a multifaceted approach to wellness.

Where I’m at Now

There are so many stories about post-recovery from dis-ease, and here’s one for the now of dis-ease. Being in The Storm is meritable, valid and crucial. The “in-shit”, not the “aha”that comes through healing. What about the pain in healing? I’ve struggled with eating disorders of all sorts for years. I am currently in a bout of depression, keeping afloat, finding peace within me, tempted by escapism and distraction albeit, but aided through therapy to return to the source, myself, to heal.

Lack of self-love and compassion are so harmful, especially when cultivated compoundedly, and one day, they avalanche into presence, and you don’t know how they built up because you can’t see the forest for the trees. It’s so easy to continue with routine and avoidance, but half a life is not Life, not My Life.

There is so much wonderful information about the recovery process and causes of eating disorders. My roots lie in lack of self-love, lack of meaningful self-attachment, lack of self-purpose and pain avoidance as a form of survival. Ultimately, I’m “holding on”, attempting at an obtuse way to control where I feel I am out of control in other aspects of life. I’ve read Pema Chodron’s book “When things fall apart” recently, and her theme is that of groundlessness. This is the essence of life, not grasping on to solidity, not striving for consistency or any form of permanence. To breathe though all the shit and be. I have to believe that I am worth nurturing, worth thriving, worth a whole life.

Eating disorders, after all, are never about the food. With the visible symptoms of weight and food, it’s so easy to falsely blame source, but symptoms aren’t cause. Like Eastern medicine; Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine both reach for the sources of illness, which lie deep within. Oh fuck, that’s The Work. In the Now. Right now, I had a controlled morning, a controlled breakfast, a controlled schedule. I have been doing 60 min spins on my indoor trainer since returning from my Vipassana 10-day silent meditation course (of which I stayed 3 days because #O#%*@&#$!!!!). I was doing little runs, like I had done in New Zealand, but my body wasn’t accustomed to the pavement and Brimley hill, and spoke in form of a calf strain. Body isn’t recovering well because I stand in the way via not loving myself enough to properly treat my whole self. And so, I spin first thing in the morning. I woke up hungry, and rode through it after taking a Ginseng shot from Xiaolan, a Chinese Medicine goddess in Toronto (an inspirational woman to my being, to the Healer I will become as I heal myself). Breakfast was a “smoothie bowl” with Vega pro and peanut butter, but so diluted because man, ultimately, a damn protein powder smoothie bowl isn’t real food to my body. Real food is how I will intuit my needs and properly fuel, instead of monotonously following routined habit because it is “safe”. This is fear based, because I am afraid of leaving the safe level of comfort with myself that I’ve chosen. The “safe” liking of myself that dictates the set point at which I choose to live my life and treat myself day in- to day end. Wow, fuck eh. That’s it. The thermostat switch needs to change right thur.

I am slowly doing little acts of self-care, and believing that I deserve it. Fuck all this hippie spiritual non-consumerism sometimes because I really feel good in my new silk dress (although as I love myself more, my ass will look more apple-bummed and nicely “jolly” in it). I give myself the space to be human in this lifetime, in this consumerist age. It doesn’t mean that I am less spiritually grounded or rubbish like that. Although I’ve taken a break from social media; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, all of which I had abused and was blinded into thinking that those relationships were real, when really they were void-filling. I see that these resources can be tools, just as Mind is a tool. My left hand pines for the phone to scroll on insta while eating, but I am reminding myself constantly to “use my mind” instead. Mindfully respect myself and food while I eat. I see how I treat food as a void filling my attachment needs (to self, to others, to purpose), and it is so easy to fall into habit of self-blinding when it hurts the most to accept where I am at, right NOW. Fuck, right now I have a bit of indigestion, and want to expend my being into something, to FEEL, and so I write. I am a little bloated after breakfast, because I know my set-point of Self-love has been hyper-vigilantly controlled after my morning spin – it’s like I am now able to maintain that “threshold pace” for the day after starting on that note. I am close to changing, to choosing Yoga in the morning instead of spinning. My legs are so tired from spinning and I don’t enjoy it. I love running, and want to heal so that I can run and do it out of enjoyment rather than compulsivity. To settle in the groundlessness of not knowing how the world will be tomorrow, maybe I run, maybe I don’t.   To love myself enough to trust in the adaptation process. To have my drives stem from a place of utterly compassionate self-love and a deep desire for self-care. That’s why I didn’t aimlessly walk around today, aimlessly trek downtown, aimlessly take my laptop to the plaza’s lib or employment services centre to punch out this post or to distractedly read or scroll though twitter feed. To side-tab endlessly at Craigslist job postings that I deep down know aren’t pursposed for me right now, healing is priority. I am so keen to help others and be of service, but see this at the time as a way to distract myself from healing Me. As I heal, I will be able to help so much, to give, to work, to be around others at this vibrational level in a balance of giving, receiving, wholesomely. It’s 10:17am, and in my head I know I’m counting down the time until lunch, kind of. I see how I fill my time with emptying and filling, as a means to play out a supposed life in the set-point I am at. I wish to raise my self-love set-point. I am starting with breath and awareness.

No phone at the table.

Compassionate shoulder-melting

Finding my “still-pointed awareness” prior to meals

Connecting, meaningfully to others that uplift me

Seeking inspiration from other Wild Women

Slowly letting go; cultivating curiosity with letting go of my “anchors” that aren’t serving me

Using muscle testing when I am uncertain of my path

Trusting that the universe has my back

Petting Cleocatra

Dear little Melanie,

I love you,

I’m sorry,

Please forgive me,

Thank you.

Beet Blueberry Superfood Smoothie Bowl

beet hemp smoothie bowl

Beet Blueberry Superfood Smoothie Bowl

When I find something I like, I keep it.  Here’s a great smoothie bowl that I’ve been making.  I like to add whole foods, chewable foods, to it, because there are certain body processes that are initiated by the act of chewing; our body primes our digestive system and gets signalled to release enzymes etc.  So, smoothies in moderation.

Ingredients:

scoop of frozen blueberries
some slices of cooked beets
splash of almond milk
splash of water
2 tbsp Great Lakes Gelatin, the green one (I get mine here)
Superfoods: 1tsp of each – spirulina, wheatgrass, maca powder, acai berry powder
Vanilla and Almond Extract, when I’m feeling fancy or whatever
Cinnamon and nutmeg
Himalayan Pink Sea Salt

Blended and topped with: bee pollen, cacao nibs, flax seeds, unshelled hemp hearts, banana, Manitoba Harvest Hemp pro 70 (unflavoured), and I eat it on the side with a coupla spoonfulls of nut butter, yogurt, apple and cheese.

It’s good shit.

Coming from a space where I had an eating disorder, and was a binge-purger, and had anorexia nervosa, or whatever diagnostic category is titled for an abusive relationship with food, I now look at foods based on the way my body thrives from the nutrients.  And I eat, because I love myself, unconditionally (and ongoing process).  This is important.  Food is not a “treat”, it is a beautiful accompaniment to a beautiful life.  I don’t deserve or not deserve it.  It is what it is, and I am always grateful.  I eat real food, from the earth, wholesome, no sugar/fabricated/man-made poop.

It’s a blissful way of self-respect, encompassing a symbiotic relationship between the nourishment that I am about to receive, and my mind state and body state of acceptance of the food.

Self-love is always the way, and breathe deeply.