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

Tag: Energy Regulation

Mindful eating is simply eating with attention. But in our fast-food, eat-on-the-run world, just paying attention to what you are eating and how you are eating can be challenging. For overall wellness, nourishment and digestive health, how we eat can be as important as what we eat! Join us for an evening of slowing down, savoring each bite, honoring your body and celebrating the abundance we’ve been given.

SAVOR

SAVOR

WHAT’S INCLUDED?

In addition to meal and beverages, our time will include teaching on mindful eating principles, guided experiential learning on hunger awareness and engagement with five senses and five primary tastes, personal reflection on how you eat and facilitated conversation.

WHY MINDFUL EATING?

In our diet-obsessed but food abundant society, rather than being a joyful and nurturing experience, eating is often fraught with anxiety, distraction and guilt. While we may know that eating with attention could be helpful, deeply engrained patterns of relating to food and the hectic pace of life can undermine our efforts.

In addition to providing a delightful evening savoring a meal with a welcoming and compassionate group of women, this workshop will help you:

  • Strengthen your capacity to listen to your body’s signals about hunger and fullness
  • Understand the interplay between physical, emotional, spiritual and other hungers
  • Expand your awareness of the multiple levels of satisfaction possible through mindful eating

Dinner takes place at a private home in Pasadena. Space is limited to 12 with only 10 spots still open. More information and registration at Alive and Well Women.

A young adult friend spoke with me last week about her struggle to embody her sexuality. In her late 20’s and single, she’s part of the fall-out from the “purity culture” that advocates virginity and emotional purity before marriage. She’s also part of a movement to find a better way to support healthy sexual development in church communities.  After our conversation she referred me to a blog that gives voice to the inner dissonance I hear from many women and men raised in purity culture.

That interaction was on my mind when an op-ed response to the FDA’s recent approval of “pink Viagra” appeared on Sunday. In spite of significant controversy surrounding its’ safety and efficacy, flibanserin is the first drug approved to treat low desire disorders in pre-menopausal women. The author Emily Nagoski holds a doctorate in health behavior and describes herself as a “science-driven sex educator.” She calls the science behind the drug outdated and invalid. Distinguishing between spontaneous desire (which is not essential for sexual satisfaction or well-being) and responsive desire which emerges in anticipation of pleasure, she notes that “responsive desire isn’t worse than spontaneous desire, it’s just different.”

As a post-menopausal women with history of fairly robust spontaneous desire, I get the difference! Most often I operate on responsive desire these days. But just because my libido isn’t as strong as it used to be doesn’t mean I’m disordered or that I am any less in love with my husband than I used to be. It’s biology. It’s life circumstances. It’s 26 years of doing life together with freedom to have sex anytime we want. And, many other factors that come into play over the normal life cycle of those of us whose abundance of resources allow us to worry about having less sex or less dramatic orgasms than we used too!

Yet the pharmaceutical model doesn’t take those psycho-social-spiritual factors into consideration when looking for an answer to our multi-layered sexual, mental and emotional “problems.” Like the anxiety and depression that the drug industry would have us rush to diagnose and treat with medications, so-called problems of “low” desire may be manifestations of disordered lifestyles and distorted values about sexuality and intimacy. We live in a culture where we use excessive amounts of caffeine and sugar to compensate for sleep deprivation and then over-the-counter products and alcohol to help us wind back down. Much commercially produced food is nutritionally deficient. We over-work and over-spend. Is it any wonder we get to bed at night and lack spontaneous desire?

Moreover, the fact that hoards of middle-aged women helped make Fifty Shades of Grey a bestseller and box office hit is clear evidence to me that our cultural values about sexuality and intimacy have landed in the trash heap! If sadism and masochism are what it takes to get us turned on, we’ve certainly lost our way as to how to be sexually vibrant and loving human beings.

Ironically, the very teachings meant to “safeguard” the virginity of young people in purity culture can contribute to later problems with desire. As another young woman told me, “Sexual desire was just as bad as sexual activities. You were supposed to suppress it until you married. Then, it would somehow spontaneously emerge again.”

Rachel (who tells it like it is in her blog) is trying to ‘rid herself’ of purity culture thinking, but she hasn’t found anything concrete to replace it. Here’s how she describes her struggle:

Evangelical Christianity made it really easy to know what was right and wrong. It was easy to know when I was supposed to feel guilty (most of the time). I never really had to think about what I wanted in regards to sex because all that mattered was what the Bible said. And now I have to constantly question, “How do I feel about this? Will I regret this? Does it matter that I don’t know him that well, don’t like him that much, don’t think this will lead anywhere? If he does this, should I do that? Because I want to? Because he wants me to? Because it’s expected? Because I’m drunk? Should I do anything when I’m drunk? What is this saying about me? Does this say anything? Am I saying yes because I am horny or because I want to be nice? Will this change our relationship? Do I care? When is it okay to leave?”

And those questions are exhausting.

Yet those are the very kind of questions we ought to be helping our children consider from the first time they fondle their genitals in public or ask questions about sexuality that make parents uncomfortable. Not these exact questions, but similar ones that are appropriate for the challenges of their developmental stage.

Children and teens need to be empowered with discernment skills to access inner guidance. Not just about sexuality, but about all the moral challenges of life that if they choose to live with open hearts and minds, they will inevitably face. They need to sense, feel and think about their sexuality throughout the developmental cycle and make choices each day about what to do with sexual pleasure they’ll naturally feel if not repressed.  They need to be equipped to discern the difference between healthy self-exploration and release of sexual energy via masturbation and self-pleasuring that is compensatory or otherwise unhealthy. They need us to help them consider the potential consequences of getting emotionally or physically intimate before their psychologically or otherwise ready to commit. And so much more.

They need us to help them learn to think and discern God’s path for them in a complex world where black and white answers are insufficient for many of the challenges they’ll face.

Ironically, the best book I ever came across for working with teen sexuality went out of print because the Christian publishers didn’t want to acknowledge teens might be sexually active! Thankfully, you can still pick up a copy of Judy and Jack Balsick’s Raging Hormones: what to do when you suspect your teen might be sexually active on Amazon.

Thanks be to God for my young friend, Rachelwhotellsitlikeitis, and others like them. May God’s grace show them a better way to pass on to the next generations.

We all know that walking is good for you. Just getting up from your desk to walk around the office or outside for a few minutes has plenty of health benefits. After all, sitting is the new smoking.

But a study by Gregory Bratman at Standford University found that when compared to an urban walk, a nature walk resulted in even more emotional and cognitive benefits than an urban walk. Moreover, it may even change the wiring of our brains!

Winter Day at Occidental College - All Brown Now

Winter Day at Occidental College – All Brown Now

I imagine the same results would apply to walking on a treadmill versus getting out under the trees on a dirt path.

I live 1/2 block away from a busy street in Los Angeles, California. Some days I have time to get away to a more scenic and natural place to walk. But on a busy work day, like today, that isn’t going to happen.

So, I’ll put on my walking shoes and make the best of the tree lined asphalt and concrete streets nearby. I might stroll through the urban oasis of nearby Occidental College where a small but sacred few acres of dirt paths wait to be trod upon.

Walking is good for your health. Walking in nature is even better!

Whatever you do today, urban or nature, make time for a walk. Your body and brain will thank you!

 

 

The helping professionals I train in self-care often have long-standing patterns of accommodating, people pleasing and over-extending themselves to the point of burnout. I equip them with skills and information and help them create personalized self-care plans to support optimal health.

But life-long relational dynamics frequently sabotage self-care efforts. We know what we want to do, make a short-lived success at it, but then get pulled off track and back into self-neglect.

Adam Grant’s book Give and Take: Why Helping others Drives our Success took my understanding of the costs and rewards of giving to a new level. His identification of three types of reciprocity styles–givers, matchers and takers–gave me a conceptual framework for thinking about how to work with myself and other helpers who are blessed and cursed with the “giver” style.

A Revolutionary Approach to Success

A Revolutionary Approach to Success

- Takers strive to get as much as possible from others–it’s all about them!

- Matchers seek to give evenly with others–tit-for-tat!

- Givers contribute to others without expecting anything back!

Interestingly, givers are both the champs and chumps when it comes to professional success. When we make others better off at our own expense we end up at the bottom of the success ladder. “It appears that givers are just too caring, too trusting, and too willing to sacrifice their own interests for the benefit of others.” But when we learn what Grant calls the skill of “sincerity screening” we can create value for ourselves while maximizing opportunities to give to others.

Sincerity screening involves learning “to distinguish genuine givers from takers and fakers. Successful givers need to know who’s likely to manipulate them so that they can protect themselves.” To learn more about assessing motivations check out Adam’s presentation at Google.

Give and Take is full of research and examples of the many factors involved in assessing reciprocity styles. Illustrations from business, education, sports and health professions along with fascinating studies of corporate dynamics makes the book entertaining as well as information.

My reading in Henri Nouwen’s The Inner Voice of Love this morning brought spiritual insight about how to give without burning out:

When you get exhausted, frustrated, over-whelmed or run down, your body is saying that you are doing things that are none of your business. God does not require of you what is beyond your ability, what leads you away from God, or what makes you depressed or sad.

I want to follow Jesus’ revolutionary call to “give to everyone who asks…”  I don’t know what Jesus would have said about giving to the takers and fakers. I suspect it’s related to what he said to the Scribes and Pharisees about the dangers of hypocrisy. It’s a matter of discernment that I’ll continue to ponder and pray over as I seek to give to those who ask as I do what is within my ability to do.

I give thanks in advance for the good that will come as I listen to the inner voice of love and deepen my understanding of how to identify the takers and fakers who aren’t operating from the same value system.

In 2007 I began offering retreats, workshops and groups for women struggling to live in harmonious relationship with their bodies. Topics have included: dieting, fitness, health, beauty, perfectionism, sexuality, stress, mind-body connection, compassion, self-care and mindful awareness–just to name a few.

Sharon Song was an early adopter of the alive and well way. What began when she attended a Christ-centered yoga class back in 2007 has evolved into a shared mission to help women heal shame-based relationships with our bodies so we can love and enjoy being in our bodies, just as we are!

AWW VisionIf you relate to Sharon’s story, please visit our Alive and Well Women Facebook page.  We’d love to have you join us in creating communities where women can be ourselves, unconstrained by other people’s agendas for our lives.

Sharon Song

Sharon Song

Over-caffeinated, over-sugared, over-stressed and over-committed is how Sharon once described herself. She was on the verge of burnout and completely disconnected from what her body really needed.

“Alive and Well helped me learn to listen to my body–especially the stress that was telling me I needed better self-care. I learned that loving and caring for myself is a way to connect to God’s love for me.”

Sharon lives and works in South Los Angeles with an urban ministry community. Inspired by her own transformation, Sharon became a certified fitness trainer and is training to be a spiritual director. She’s committed to using what she’s learned to support others in living healthy, sustainable, urban spiritual lives.

For more from Sharon, please visit her blog “Live Move Be in the city” – a journey of South Los Angeles urban life. Featuring the Sonshine Shop thrift store and vintage items. Explorations on faith, fitness, fashion, food, fun, and more.

Today I’m saying YES to continuing my Lenten practice of staying in my own lane–especially with social media.

Emerging research indicates that the sense of connection afforded by social media may not be worth the price: fear of missing out, depression and social media compulsions that cause reasonable, moral people to act in ways that go against their deepest values.

My recent 10 day fast from social media confirms the finding that happier people check social media less often. I also spent more time reading and engaged with my work and relationships. No wonder I was happier. I had more mental energy to give to the people, projects and passions that are important to me.

Every time I engage social media I invite hundreds of other people’s worlds into my consciousness. Every Facebook post I scroll past registers in my mind, whether I acknowledge it or not. My brain must process and decide to by-pass ads and ignore posts that I might stop and view if I had all the time in the world…but I don’t.

Mental energy is limited. The brain uses more energy than any other organ–up to 20% of total expenditure in a given day. The seemingly small task of scrolling through posts for a few minutes, deciding which to engage and which to pass, depletes mental resources needed for more important and meaningful engagements.

Yes is a mindset, an attitude, a way of being in my life that feels the fear of missing out if I don’t check out Facebook or Instagram, then chooses to keep focused on the here-and-now of my own life.

Yes to being faithful to the present moment.

Yes to being here now.

Yes to staying in my own lane.

The sacred space of my mind needs clear boundaries around engagement with social media. I’ve known this forever. I want to stay connected with loved ones, see their kids grow and watch their pets do stupid tricks. I want to use social media for good. I don’t want to be used by or used up by social media.

What about you? What do you notice about the impact of engagement with social media on your life?

Are you using it?

Or is it using up precious energy and time that you’d prefer to invest elsewhere?

 

 

 

 

It’s 80 degrees here in Southern California today. My morning clients all canceled and the Occidental College pool up the street is open for laps. But there’s some nasty bugs going around. I had a coughing little boy in my home Tuesday. Seems everyone I’ve encountered this week is getting over something. I’m running at about 85% optimal energy level and last night my challenged hip was achy. Hmmmm….

To swim or not to swim? Here’s what I decided about listening to the wisdom of my body!

 

“To pray is not to hear oneself talk; it is rather to make oneself so still that God’s word can come through.” (Peter G. Van Breeman, SJ)

Stillness does not come naturally to me. Newton’s observation that an object in motion tends to stay in motion unless an external force is applied to it fits me to a tee. It’s equally applicable to my body and my mind. Once I start the day, my mental energy begins a steady climb, sometimes getting so amped up that by the end of my work day, I find it hard to stop. My body and executive self say “Enough.” But my too busy mind isn’t ready to downshift and let go.

I get so “full” of myself and what I think needs to be done that I can’t hear the still small voice of God, of goodness, love and kindness that tells me my value and worth aren’t measured by how much I produce.

Eight years ago I began a daily centering prayer practice that changed my life by changing my brain. There’s plenty of emerging research verifying the neurological changes evoked by meditative practices. I noticed changes within a few months.

Reflecting on my experience in my journal I wrote: “I wonder if immersion in meditation and spiritual practice in a community of support altered my brain chemistry? I wonder what neural pathways in my brain were shifted to affect this new level of consciousness and presence within myself, this sense of well being, of mental quiet, of emotional stability and unity?”

My experience verifies the research: when I practice daily, I’m less reactive, more focused and less distracted, and cope more effectively when things aren’t going according to my agenda!

Miss Liberty Belle - 8 weeks old

Miss Liberty Belle – 8 weeks old: a lovely disruption!

Our August trip to Ireland last year, followed by Miss Liberty Belle’s arrival in September, disrupted my rhythm. I have yet to get back to a daily 20 minute practice. And that’s exactly why I’m writing this blog – to remember and recommit to daily practice now that I’m not traveling and Liberty doesn’t need constant supervision.

In support of myself and participants in my mentor Joan’s PlantPlus Nutrition Webinar, I’m leading a free 15 minute mindful awareness conference call every Wednesday morning at 7 a.m. (PST). You are welcome to join us!  Contact me and I’ll send you the details for accessing our budding community of support.

I’m grateful to Joan, Jon Kabat-Zinn and other pioneers in the mind-body medicine field who valued the experiential data of their patients and persevered with their work in the 1980’s when the vast majority of the medical community discounted the power of ancient practices for bringing good health of body, mind and spirit!

If you’re suffering with stress-related physical or psychological symptoms (links to assessment tools on Joan’s website) meditation can help. And I’d love to support you in getting started.

I hope you’ll join us on Wednesday morning at 7 a.m.  I look forward to hearing from you.

(Photo of Miss Liberty Belle by Tracey Kuhlin Pet Photography)

My friend and mentor Joan Borysenko begins her on-line PlantPlus Nutrition Program on Tuesday, January 20th.  Topics covered include:

– Understanding why the Standard American Diet (SAD) is creating an epidemic of chronic disease.

– Learning to eat the foods that are best suited to your own body’s metabolism, which changes across your lifespan.

- Harnessing the power of mindfulness to make shifts in your awareness and habits.

– Understanding how diet affects psychological and mood issues like depression and anxiety, and how to improve them.

eat in alignment with your body

eat in alignment with your body

As noted in my review of the book that you will receive as part of your registration, the personalized nutrition path Joan will help you discover isn’t for those who want a quick or easy solution to weight or health issues. But that is exactly what makes her such a valuable resource for those seeking a sustainable, enjoyable and life-giving way to eat! This isn’t about losing weight, it’s about feeling your best and having the energy you need to live your best life. She’ll provide facts, guidelines and resources to help you listen to the wisdom of your own body and become your own expert as to what will best serve your overall health and well-being.

If you can’t make the conference call classes on Tuesdays, no worries — all sessions are recorded for reviewing at a later time. In addition to all that comes with the program itself, I’m offering additional coaching support and weekly phone conference mindful awareness sessions for those who register through me. I’d love to support you in making 2015 the year you align more fully with the wisdom of your body.

To register through me and get extra support at no extra cost, use this link to go to the home page and register. Then follow up with an email to me to arrange extra support. Here’s to a new year of loving yourself by meeting the real needs of your body and letting go of old patterns that no longer serve you!

 

 

This is old news that our instant gratification conditioned culture doesn’t want to hear. So here’s the reminder as we begin 2015:

DIETS DON’T WORK!

When I first saw this Daily Beast article, I was hesitant to re-post on Facebook. I prefer to encourage rather than discourage. The negative spin of the headline “Why Your New Year’s Diet Will Fail” activated my resistance to generalizations and absolutes. But, truth is truth. All the research indicates that most often, diets offer temporary weight loss at best and in many cases contribute to increased metabolic efficiency — they train your fat cells to hold on tighter to that stored energy you’re trying to get rid of!

DIET = SLOWER METABOLISM = WEIGHT GAIN

Sure, some people begin their road to better health with a specific diet and eventually transition into permanent lifestyle changes. But they are the exceptions, not the norm.

The diet industry is profiting heavily off our discontent. Recent estimates indicate that in the U.S. alone $20 billion of our hard earned money goes into diets that don’t work. As nutritionist Evelyn Tribole points out, the diet business model uses our culturally induced shame to create a fail proof business model: “It’s the only thing we buy that, when the product fails, we all blame ourselves and then go buy another version.”

So, before you go waste your money on another diet program, I suggest you take time to reflect on the core issues:

How’s your relationship with your body?

– Do you honor your need for 7-9 hours of sleep a night?

– Do you drink plenty of water and stay well hydrated?

– Do you minimize the use of caffeine, alcohol and over-the-counter medications to regulate your energy?

Begin with the basics of self-care so your body will trust that you have your own best interest in mind.

If you aren’t already getting adequate sleep, start with that. Insufficient sleep disrupts the hormone cycles and metabolic functioning that support your body’s optimal energy efficiency.

If you aren’t drinking enough water, start with a commitment to hydration. Most of us need 9-13 cups a day minimum. More in some cases.

And if you’re using “legal” drugs (yes coffee and alcohol are drugs) to compensate for disrupted sleep and energy cycles, begin with getting that part of your energy regulation normalized.

If you’d like support in making these foundational changes in your relationship with your body, I’d love to be of service. Contact me about how health coaching can help you create a more loving relationship with your body that will support positive behavioral changes.

I look forward to journeying with you in 2015 as we love and enjoy living in our good bodies, just as we are.