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

Tag: listen to your body

When it comes to embodied life, there are no guarantees.

Hip replacement surgery came with warnings but no guarantees. Sadly, and to my dismay, I am one of the unfortunate ones who had complications.

My new hip feels great. It works great. I’m grateful not to wake multiple times during the night because of discomfort. I’m grateful to be walking without pain.

But, I’m hugely disappointed to have suffered nerve damage during surgery. I’ve run the gamut of emotions, from anger and “who’s fault is this” to despair when I let worry take me too far into the future living with a foot that won’t flex properly.

I woke from surgery with a mostly numb left foot and lateral calf, no flexion in my foot or movement in my toes and minimal capacity to extend/point my foot. By the time I left the hospital, some toe movement and extension had returned. The doctors said it would take time.

For a few weeks I had no flexion at all. Slowly, the numbing has eased with some flexion in my toes and ankle returning. And almost full extension has returned. For that, I am grateful and hopeful.

Nerves are slow healers. They regenerate at only 1 to 5 millimeters per day. And, apparently, they are also mysterious! None of the doctors, including the neurologist I consulted with last week, could provide a very clear or direct path forward. Multiple MRI’s and a nerve study test will supposedly get to the root of the problem so a treatment plan can be recommended.

This is not how I envisioned life 30 days after surgery. I knew I’d still be recovering mobility and strength, possibly still using ambulatory assistance. But I didn’t think it would be due to an issue with my foot.

No guarantees!

Last Saturday I led a group of 15 women in what we call “Self-Care from the Inside Out.” One participant, Yolanda, is also a breast cancer survivor with four years of life post-treatment. She laughs easily and sparkles with brightness and positive energy. We swapped stores about the limitations and complications of medical treatment. As cancer patients know all too well, at times you wonder if the consequences of treatments are really worth the hoped for outcome for survival–which, by the way, doesn’t come with a guarantee!

My friend Kerry went to Germany for naturopahtic treatment of bladder cancer a few years ago. She opted to forgo conventional “slash, burn, poison” methods (which would have included the complete removal of her bladder) and chose to pay out-of-pocket for a less drastic alternative. The treatment killed the cancer, she still has her bladder and she’s made significant lifestyle changes to enhance her body’s capacity to remain cancer free! As her husband Jeff writes in his blog about their journey, “Kerry continues to use food as medicine by aggressively pursuing a diet rich with fruits and vegetables, grains and a handful of animal or fish protein a day. Sugar is out save a glass of wine now and then. She will have to cut back on stress by trying to say no to anything pushing her beyond her limits. We know we are not out of the woods; cancer likes to come back.”

An orthopedic surgeon told another friend a few weeks ago that she needed hip replacement. She’s investigating stem cell therapy as an alternative. Of course, it won’t be covered by insurance. But a growing number of patients in the United States are wondering: Since there are no guarantees, perhaps a softer, gentler approach that works with the body rather than against it, might be a better path to explore before more extreme options are engaged!

No guarantees!

As I prepare to lead “A Contemplative Path to Health and Well-being” with Alive and Well Women this coming weekend, I’m drinking my own medicine. I’m working with the Alive and Well philosophy, principles and practices as I discern how to go forward with my foot that will not fully flex. Rather than just following conventional doctor’s recommendations based on facts about how bodies in general operate, I’m seeking clarity in what Eugene Peterson calls “the largeness” of God.

While I desperately want full flexion back and am trusting that will come, the real miracle isn’t physical healing. The real miracle is how I’m finding God in the midst of it. I’m seeing the bigger picture. Everyone suffers. No one gets out without scars, suffering and sadness.

One problem of the “miracle of medicine” is that it gives us the false hope that everything can be cured…and that we can live forever. I know no doctor ever says that. But isn’t that the burden they bear when things don’t go in the hoped for direction? Their job is to support healing. But they don’t get much training in how to cope when things go poorly or how to help people die.

Ultimately, it all comes down to Love. Love is what holds us, sustains us, guides us and helps us face suffering, disease and death with grace. Everything that comes to me is an opportunity to expand my capacity for Love–to give love, receive love and live in loving presence with myself and others. During this season here’s what that looks like:

– Letting Dave care for me, feed me, help me dress and shower, lovingly massage my foot and calf, do all the shopping, cooking and cleaning.

– Asking friends to come by to “Cissy-sit” in the first few weeks when I didn’t want to be home alone while Dave was at work.

– Letting my friends care for me, feed me, lovingly massage my foot and calf, run errands, drive me to appointments and spend afternoons watching movies with me.

– Going slowly and living a more contemplative life than I normally do when I can move more quickly.

– Being more gentle with myself and patient with Dave than I usually am.

– Not finding someone to “blame” or bring a lawsuit against because things didn’t go as planned!

And that is just the beginning.

If you’re curious about this path that I’ve spent the last 25 years learning to live and the past 11 teaching others, please visit the Alive and Well Women website for more information. We still have a few spots open for the Immersion that begins on Friday, March 31st. Perhaps one of those spots has your name on it??

 

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.

Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is a common and natural part of aging.  If we live long enough, normal wear-and-tear breaks down the shock-absorbing discs between the bones in the spine.  Symptoms of disease are more likely in people who smoke, perform heavy physical labor or are obese. Although it’s not completely avoidable, we can minimize the process by building strong core, abdominal and back muscles, maintaining good posture and avoiding lifting heavy objects.

Ironically, lifting heavy objects is often a central part of weight training. CrossFit is the latest example of a fitness program that relies on heavy lifting to build muscular strength. It’s been called “the world’s fastest growing athletic specialty.” And it’s also been identified by doctors, physical therapists and rival fitness professionals as one of the most potentially debilitating forms of training.

My Dear Spine - Wear & Tear and Mis-alignment

My Dear Spine – Wear & Tear and Mis-alignment

I can’t attribute my DDD to any one training routine. But I’m pretty sure that years of mildly compulsive exercise didn’t help!

My recent ventures into weight training weren’t extreme. I kept my dumbbells light, listened to my body and adjusted poses with support from my trainer. But my DDD (diagnosed 20+ years ago) coupled with an undiagnosed osteoarthritis in my hips, lead to increasingly stiff and sore lower body.

I landed at Optimal Performance Systems – an alternative to traditional physical therapy and training.  Their corrective movement therapy and vitality program has loosened up my hips in ways that yoga and traditional stretching had been exacerbating. And it’s deepened my commitment to helping myself and others focus on holistic health. The OPS motto says it all: “Exercise is optional. Movement is mandatory.”

bike

I love to ride my bike

I got back on my bike this weekend for Ciclavia Pasadena. While I loved it, I also realized I need to get a new set of wheels if I want to do any significant cycling. I’ll be giving up my old faithful road bike and the spine jarring mountain biking my husband and I used to love. But, I hope to find a way to keep enjoying the freedom and joy of riding my bike without further compromising my spine or hips.

When expected changes of aging or unanticipated challenges of injuries and illnesses arrive, we need to adjust. Ultimately, it doesn’t take heavy lifting to maintain functional levels of strength, flexibility and balance. Of course, if I ever need to move a large boulder or lift a car, I’m screwed!

At this point in my journey, heavy lifting is optional. But bending over to harvest zucchini and sweet peas from my garden is essential. I think I’ll choose the veggies and flowers!

 

 

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.

A lunch date with a colleague lead to a discussion about disembodiment. She said it was a new concept and asked me to explain. Disembodiment is the state of being disembodied – living as though we don’t have a body with it’s own language and role in guiding our lives. Even when it comes to physical health we often ignore our bodies’ signals as we follow the “expert advice” of doctors, fitness and nutrition professionals who presume to know our bodies better than we do.

The next day I received an email that made my day!

“I had our conversation on my mind today. It was extraordinarily helpful.  I suffer from colitis and it has been flaring up.  Normally I just ignore it but this time I asked “what is my body trying to tell me.” I was shocked by how quickly and clearly my answer came- I am NOT okay emotionally with a situation and I thought I was.  I just wanted to thank you for raising my awareness!

Body Language

Body Language

Mindful awareness is the heart of self-care: being present with your own experience in a non-judgmental, friendly way–especially of what is happening in your body at any given moment. Before the mind register that “something is not right,” the body speaks through sensations.

Most people have more than enough information about what they are “supposed to do” for self-care. What we lack is the capacity to follow through and consistently implement those good ideas.  What we lack is the practice of tuning into our bodies and listening to the wisdom inherent in our body’s language.

Not all connections come as quickly and clearly as this one. But you can start by developing your vocabulary for the language of the body: sensations.

Feel free to copy this image onto your phone as a resource for listening to your body. Set the alarm to go off once a day for a short appointment to check-in with your body. It only takes a minute or two to tune in to what’s going in your body. But, like any new language, it takes time and practice to develop.

The most important part is paying attention with kindness and compassion to your body. Aches, pains, bloating, tenderness…all have something to tell you. Will you listen?

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!

 

I’ve spent hundreds of hours sitting with women who’ve invested immense time, money and energy trying to find a way of eating that works for them.  I advocate intuitive eating, learning to listen to and trust your own body. In all my years I have never recommended self-help diet books to anyone. The way to optimal health doesn’t come from outside sources. It comes from listening to your life and becoming your own health expert. The “dieting mindset”‘ and behaviors must be replaced with mindful awareness.

So why now?

eat in alignment with your body

eat in alignment with your body

Unlike diets, The PlantPlus Diet Solution doesn’t tell you what to eat, but offers facts, guidelines and resources for listening to the wisdom of your own body and becoming your own expert as to what will best serve your overall health and well-being.

I’ve learned through twenty-five years of psychotherapy and health coaching with clients struggling with food and weight that, as Joan Borysenko demonstrates through research and examples from her own personalized nutrition experiments, “there is no one-size-fits-all diet.” The key to finding the “right” diet is through paying attention to the impact different foods have on our physical and mental health. Joan does an exquisite job providing tools and information that empower readers to become experts about what best serves our own unique biological blueprint for optimal energy efficiency.

In addition to providing extensive practical support, The PlantPlus Diet Solution explains why willpower alone fails to help people find a life-giving way to eat. Research on the impact of dietary composition and weight loss continues to reveal the importance of metabolic differences in finding the optimal combination of foods for any one person. When asked about the role adherence played in the effectiveness of any particular diet Christopher Gardner, Professor at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, stated: “We think some people have a harder time adhering to a diet because it’s the wrong one for them metabolically.”

Everybody is different!

I’ve been waiting for years for this material to become available at a popular level. Little did I know it would come from the amazing brain and big heart of my dear friend!

The PlantPlus Nutrition Webinar starts Tuesday, January 20th. For those who signup for the course and would like additional support, I’m offering coaching and weekly mindful awareness conference calls along with the Webinar.

And for those who just want to start with the book, the Kindle version is on sale for only $1.99 at Amazon.

 

 

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.

My mind-body mentor Joan Borysenko’s new book, The PlantPlus Diet Solution, is a compendium of relevant and accessible food science and health psychology. Full of practical tips and recipes it’s an exceptional resource in the self-help diet book genre. The personalized nutrition guidelines she presents aren’t for those who want a quick or easy solution to weight or health issues. But that is exactly what makes it a valuable resource for those seeking a sustainable, enjoyable and life-giving way to eat! Unlike most diet books, The PlantPlus Diet Solution doesn’t tell you what to eat, but gives you facts, guidelines and resources for listening to the wisdom of your own body and becoming your own expert as to what will best serve your overall health and well-being.

eat in alignment with your body

I’ve learned through twenty-five years of work with clients struggling with food and weight that, as Dr. Joan demonstrates through research and examples from her own personalized nutrition experiments, “there is no one-size-fits-all diet.” The key to finding the “right” combination of food for your body is through paying attention to the impact different foods have on your physical and mental health. Joan does an exquisite job providing simple tools that empower readers to become experts on their own unique biological blueprint for metabolism and optimal energy efficiency.

I especially appreciated her clear explanation about the role insulin efficiency plays in metabolism of carbohydrates–and some people’s remarkable capacity to store excess calories as fat. She identifies three types of bodies: 1.) insulin efficient people who can eat all the carbohydrates they want and never experience negative weight or health consequences; 2.) insulin resistant people whose bodies react negatively to diets high in carbohydrates; 3.) and the rest who fall somewhere in-between. Knowing where you fall on the continuum can be an important part of finding a way of eating that works best for your body.

Knowledge is power. Joan provides information to help readers make informed choices about nutrition as well as tools to increase self-knowledge. Best of all, she does so with authenticity and wisdom born from several years of “diet sleuthing” as she looked for solutions to her own nutrition related health challenges. Her personal examples, humor and lighthearted way of writing makes the science digestible for those of us who haven’t taken a hard science course since high school!

For Southern California locals, Joan will be in Pasadena presenting on her new book on October 25th at the I Can Do It! conference. I’ll be there and would love to see some of you there too.