Cissy Brady-Rogers
Cissy Brady-Rogers Cissy Brady-Rogers Cissy Brady-Rogers

Archive for June, 2013

Yesterday a client came to session stating that she didn’t think she was a good fit for coaching. She hates paperwork, forms, filling things in and writing things down. “I’m not a journaling kind of person.”

Welcome to My South Pasadena Office

It was awesome!  I love the way she took charge of what she wants and needs. She spoke her truth and started a conversation about adapting the tools and process of coaching to fit her needs and personality, not the other way around.

Women are biologically wired and socially conditioned to adaptation–to fit ourselves into other’s versions of reality rather than listen within and find our own way. This “substantial female preference to affiliate under stress” underlies the people pleasing dynamic that leads us to be silent when we want to speak up, say “yes” when we want to say “no” and compliantly fill out forms that we want to tear up and throw into the trash can!

The personalized health planning model I’m training in at Duke Integrative Medicine is a medical model. Paperwork, quantitative tools for assessing where you are now and where you’d like to be and creating measurable goals to guide behavior change are part of the package. It’s an excellent model with some solid initial research demonstrating positive health outcomes.

But, it’s just a model, not a magic formula.

I’m reminded of the scripture that says, “Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12.2).

Lasting change doesn’t come from the paperwork, the diets or the programs that the world has devised–many with good intentions and great benefits for some people. Transformation comes from renewing your mind, learning to attend to and  listen for your own truth, not by trying to adapt yourself to fit my model or anyone else’s.

From a Christ-centered perspective, transformation comes from deepening your connection to the mind of Christ within. To strengthen your awareness of the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control that come from the Spirit of Christ within you.  It is within you, not in a book, a pill, or  a new routine.

Wired to attend and adapt externally, even after all these years of healing work, I still excel in people pleasing.  A big part of my on-going transformation comes from mindful awareness and centering prayer practices. Turning my attention within and just being aware of what is going on within and around me, without responding, has taught me a new way of being in my body and my life. When I neglect my daily practice of twenty minutes, I notice a significant difference in my ability to hold onto myself, take a stance and not fall into social adaptation patterns that don’t benefit me or others.

Like other helping professionals, I offer services, programs and information to support transformation. But the bottom-line of what I offer is meant to help you listen to yourself, trust yourself and live from within. That is the new way of being in your body and your life.

Listen to yourself, listen to your body, know yourself and be a discriminating consumer of services, information and programs.

I loved sitting with my client yesterday. The internal listening and honesty she exhibited in our conversation about the model and her health goals will guide her toward authentic, sustainable new ways of exercising, eating and living–because she’s living from within!

The recently released DSM-5 (Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) adds the classification of “Binge Eating Disorder” to it’s compendium of mental health diseases, justifying it as a medical condition requiring treatment and covered through insurance. Yesterday the American Medical Association voted to designate  obesity as a disease, thereby labeling 78 million American adults and 12 million children with a medical condition requiring treatment.

These decisions are important and necessary as they increase treatment options and availability for patients. Prior to inclusion in the DSM-5, without a specific classification and criteria, insurance companies often resisted covering costs for treatment of binge eating. Along with the impact on treatment, our hope is that these changes will also reduce stigmatization,  further research, and increase awareness among healthcare providers.

Sadly, these decisions also reflect the consequences of living in an eating disordered culture. Highly accessible, inexpensive, nutritionally deficient, calorie dense foods have become standard fare in our American cuisine.  A recent Los Angeles Times article on founder of The Cheesecake Factory noted that one of their pasta dishes contains more than 3,000 calories – enough energy in one meal to fuel many of us for a day and a half. Additionally, cultural normalization of overeating, treating food as a reward and entertainment (entire television networks devoted to food), distorted portion sizes, and array of other culturally accepted attitudes and behaviors, all factor heavily in both binge eating and obesity.

Data on processed food production and pricing set alongside statistics for statistics on obesity indicate a correlation between increased availability of processed foods and increased obesity over the past thirty years. Correlation may not equal causation, but it’s certainly connected.

Why do we continue to focus on the problems resulting from an eating disordered culture while not addressing the systemic issues that may initiate and definitely contribute to both of these conditions?

Why does the medical community continue to use an inaccurate measure (body mass index) as it’s criteria for health?

Why doesn’t the government step in to address the huge role that the food industry plays in these problems?

When it comes to fixing the troubled relationships that people have with food and their bodies, we’ve put too much focus on the individual  and not enough effort into addressing the dysfunctions of systems that feed their diseases. My training as a systems thinker tells me that when one part of the family is symptomatic, we need to treat the whole family for sustainable change to occur. Pinning the problem on those suffering from the effects of a broken system (the “identified patient” in family systems terms) is not only ineffective, but leaves individuals bearing personal responsibility for problems much bigger than any one person.

I love sweet peas. I love their delicate but strong blossoms, the way they fold in on themselves on one side and open up on another. I love their unpredictability–the way they weave up the fence, around the trellis or wildly splay out everywhere ignoring my effort to contain them. I love the variety of shapes and colors. I especially love their sweetness–along with jasmine and gardenias, they announce spring’s arrival.

the more you take, the more they give

I met a sister sweet pea lover who gave me yet another reason to love them. Like God who loves to love us without limits and yearns for love to blossom everywhere–the more you take, the more sweet peas give.

Sweet peas on the kitchen counter and dining room table, in the bedrooms and bathrooms. I can’t keep up with them. The more I cut, the more they produce. The more I take, the more they give. Even this morning, after several months of production, another bouquet.

Sweet Peas Everywhere

So it is with God’s love–the more I take, the more I get. My job is to take Love, to receive Love, to open my heart to Love wherever it appears, however it comes, whomever delivers it.

My twenty-four year marriage has been my greatest school of love. Like the peas, I can’t predict or control how my husband will love me. I want red sweet peas and spontaneous, romantic, weekend escapes. I get purple and white flowers and well planned vacations to high-end resorts that he gets great deals on using his internet search skills! I want variegated blossoms and the theater. I get beautiful solids, my laundry done on Saturdays and the bed made every morning. I open up to the real love he can give and let go of my agenda for what love “should” look like.

sweet peas straight from the vine (background)

My job is to take the love that comes, delight in it and be grateful for it, not waste precious energy trying to get red flowers to grow from purple seeds!

I open to the love as it comes, not guard my heart until I get the version of love I think I deserve. Not that I’m giving up hope that one day he’ll actually surprise me!

Spiritual Director Sr. Mary Ann Scofield once wrote that the most difficult thing of all is to take in how truly, deeply and unreservedly loved we are by God because it changes everything.

What will happen if I open my heart, take my guard down and let God love me?

The more I take, the more I’ll get!

I will be changed.

I will become more of the person I was created to be–made by Love, of Love, for Love. I will become a better Lover of God, of my husband, of my neighbor, of myself.

Being a great Lover is the only thing I know for sure is God’s will for me. All the other decisions of life fall into place when I focus on resting and trusting in this great love that changes everything because it changes me.