How To Follow Up On Good Advice

Louise Hay is a hero of mine. 

If you don't know who she is, Louise Hay is a motivational author who wrote the bestselling book: You Can Heal Your Life, and she is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. She was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer and healed herself by using a combination of physical, mental, and emotional exercises to understand, overcome, and let go of issues from her childhood. 

I told you... absolutely AH-MAY-ZING! 

I watched this video awhile ago and connected on so many different levels, but when the video was over, I just turned off my computer and didn't put anything into practice. 

And if you're anything like me - you'll think about it, maybe even talk about it, but you struggle to put it to practice. It's weird but I see this happening all the time. We hear great advice that we KNOW we should take, but we continually do the same things over and over again that don't serve to benefit who we are or where we want to go. It's bizarre. 

But I realized, maybe the reason we don't take on the good advice is because it's too much change all at once. Maybe, asking us to adopt 10 new rules for success feels overwhelming. If that’s the case, it’s really the best case scenario because it's easy to work with overwhelming things... you just have to minimize them until they feel doable. 

Every action comes from a thought first. Louise Hay would be the first person to tell you that, but when we overload our mind, we feel too burdened to actually take action.

Don’t make things heavy for yourself. Watch this video and choose 1 thing to change. Work on that and then, once it feels simple, add another.

Before you know it, you’ll be living all 10 and walking in the footsteps of the truly brilliant, Ms. Louise Hay.

With love & light,

Carolyn Kaufman

Resources To Manage Stress and MS

The only thing more stressful than the diagnosis itself is dealing with the symptoms.

MS is a really tough disease that can feel impossible to navigate, but I want to let you know that you have control of the ship and there are so many treatment options available to find relief!

When I first started on the MS path, I thought the only thing I could do was take my medication and “try to stress less”. I had NO IDEA what it meant to stress less (isn’t it a part of life to be stressed?), how to do it, and nothing gave me more stress than taking the medication itself.

I started with injections and I hated it, every single time. I just wanted my disease to go away, but instead, it seemed to get more fierce with each passing day. Everything felt out of control and I didn’t know how to feel grounded again. I needed help and felt completely lost.

That’s why I decided to write this post today. It took me YEARS after diagnosis to reach out for help… but once I did, I was AMAZED at how much is available for MS patients. Non profits like the National MS Society and MS Focus (these are just two of the heavy hitters but there are many small organizations as well) are working day and night to improve the lives of MS patients and I couldn’t be more grateful for all they offer. For example, MS Focus helps to relieve stress with grants for everything from Health and Wellness Programs, Homecare Assistance, Healthcare Assistance, and more!

If you have MS or are affected by a loved one with the diagnosis, use these resources. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Reach out to these networks for support and they’ll gladly direct you to relief…. and that’s what matters more than anything. YOUR RELIEF.

Happy healing,

Carolyn Rachel

How To Heal: Yin Yoga with Pamela Newman

An interview with Yin & Resorative yoga teacherPamela Newman.png

A few years ago, I found myself with a friend in New Hampshire at a Yin Yoga class. I’d been doing yoga at home for quite some time, but I’d never actually been to a class. I wasn’t sure what to expect and I felt nervous, but as the class flowed, I realized how beneficial this type of yoga could be. By the time it was over, my life was changed forever. I was head over heels for Yin.

According to Yogapedia, “Yin Yoga is a slower-paced, more meditative version of the popular physical and spiritual discipline of yoga. In Yin yoga, the poses are held for a long period of time (typically three to five minutes or longer) to target the connective tissues (such as the ligaments) rather than focusing on the muscles. As a result, the asanas are more passive holds, with little muscular engagement.”

After that first class in New Hampshire, I came back to Boston and immediately searched on google for a nearby class. As if divine intervention was guiding me, I discovered a class at the perfect time above my favorite restaurant in Cambridge (just an aside, it's called Life Alive Cafe and you should DEFINITELY go if you're ever in Boston!). Yin yoga with Pamela became a staple in my weekly routine and I loved how much mental strength I developed by focusing on my breathing during those long holds.  

Through that practice, I’ve learned to better manage stress, to carve time out of my schedule for self care practices, and that healing the body doesn’t have to be aggressive or quick… it can be simple and flow smoothly.

That’s why I wanted to interview my bright light of a yoga teacher and now my great friend, Pamela Newman, to share a little more insight with you into the world of Yin.

Carolyn: Hi Pam! Thank you for interviewing with me! You know how much I love your class and I’d love for others to become aware of the power of Yin, so this is great! Let’s just jump right in… Tell me, what makes yin yoga different than a standard yoga class?  

Pamela: Hey, Carolyn, thanks for having me! Yin targets your connective tissues as opposed to your muscles, like regular yoga classes do, so we do all of our poses on the mat for anywhere from 2-6 minutes.  Each pose is supported with props so you can relax the muscles to stress the connective tissues.

Carolyn: Right. So it’s less about getting a workout and more about relaxing the muscles, which is huge when it comes to reducing stress! What are some other benefits of taking yin/restorative yoga?

Pamela: The benefits are endless!! But to name a few, it helps with stress management, improved joint mobility, increased circulation, lower blood pressure, anxiety reduction, increased flexibility, and it calms and balances mind and body.

Carolyn: No wonder I love this class, I need all of these things… It’s amazing how one class can have such dramatic benefits! Can you break down how a class with you would go?  

Pam: Sure! We open in a relaxing pose to get centered in the present by either lying down or sitting upright. Then, we go through a handful of poses that we hold for 2-6 minutes. It can take up to a minute to set up each pose but, once you are comfortable in the pose, you resolve to be still for the remained of the time and attempt to keep your mind present throughout. At the end of each pose, we come out slowly and do a minute of rebound in a more relaxed posture. Every class ends with an extended Savasana (final relaxation pose).

Carolyn: Ah, Savasana, my favorite part! Despite all the benefits, Yin hasn’t picked up in popularity in the Western world yet. What prompted you to start teaching Yin and Restorative yoga?

Pam: After 10 years of regular vinyasa, ashtanga and Iyengar classes, which are all considered yang or active styles, I took my first ever yin class in Portland Maine with Sagel Ulacher and fell in love. I couldn't believe how challenging it was for me to be still for so long.  As a self proclaimed type A personality, I realized immediately the benefits that slowing down would bring me.  When I started my 200 teacher training I knew right away that I wanted to offer my students Yin and restorative because the benefits of slowing down were endless for me.

Carolyn: Wow, so you fell into it just like I did… except you’ve had a lot more practice with other styles! Ten years is a long time, what got you involved in yoga in the first place?

Pam: My older sister dragged me, kicking and screaming, to a hot yoga class in 2007 when I was staying with her in Princeton, NJ. I had been running for years and never felt so open as during class. I just felt the immediate benefits of better posture and increased confidence. After that, I was hooked.

Carolyn: Oh, that’s so funny that you went kicking and screaming! Funny how we always need what we’re resisting most. So, you teach yin all over Boston now… Who should come to your classes?

Pam: Everyone! Although I believe “should” is a judgment word, so I would say that physically yin yoga is accessible to most people. We use plenty of props to support each individual's postural needs and in our overly busy “on the go” culture, most people would benefit from slowing down and spending some time in their parasympathetic nervous system.

Carolyn: Ah! You caught me using the should word! Louise Hay would be questioning me up and down for using that. And yes, I completely agree… we spend so much time in our Sympathetic Nervous System (fight or flight) that it’s an absolute gift to have Yin to bring us back to our Parasympathetic (rest and digest). After decades of practice, do you have a favorite yoga pose?

Pam: Definitely Deer pose - I have been known to drool over the bolster in this pose :)

Carolyn: Haha, just the imagery makes me laugh. Let’s get back to your class. What’s the main way you hope your class attendees feel after class?

Pam: At ease, centered and grounded in themselves.

Carolyn: That’s beautiful. And what is the main message you hope people will take away from your class?

Pam: You are perfect just the way you are, let's love ourselves a little more and judge a little less.

Carolyn: Amen, girl! What are your top three tips for people who’ve never tried it or are new to yoga?

Pam: Come with an open mind and know you don't have to do any of the poses, breath work or meditation techniques that don't resonate with you.  Everyone's experience will be a little different and you can't do it wrong!

Carolyn: I love that. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions about yourself, Yin, and your class. It was such a pleasure, as always, to connect with you and I can’t wait for my next yin class! Just tell me now, how can people find you?

Pam: I currently teach around Boston at Yoga Works in Back Bay, The Corner Studio in Medford, and Coolidge Yoga in South End. To keep up to date on my classes or any pop ups, follow me on instagram at instagram.com/yinspiritwarrior!

Interviews by Carolyn from Without The Weight, Inc. are meant to share all the different options available to heal your mind, body, and spirit from a holistic lens. Any advice or recommendations are meant to work as complementary therapies alongside any treatment provided by your medical practitioner and are not suggested as a replacement for medical care.

Are You A Stress Eater?

Do you eat when you’re stressed?

Recently I was reading Deepak Chopra’s "What Are You Hungry For?” (which I TOTALLY recommend, by the way!) and it really made me reconsider the way I think about eating.

Actually, it made me think about what I was thinking about when I eat.

Turns out, I overeat when I feel tense. And I’m not talking mentally tense, which is what I work so hard to combat. I realized I was actually physically tense and that had a connection to the amount I ate. Weird, right?

Turns out, it’s actually pretty normal.

I started focusing my attention on releasing tension in my body through the day and I’ve been REALLY surprised. I had no idea that every little stressor was adding tension to my body and by the time I sat down to eat, my brain was desperate for any kind of release.

When we eat, we naturally release dopamine (AKA the happy chemical) and that release gave me the release I was looking for. The dopamine allowed me to feel happiness, which also meant my muscles could relax, and I’m hooked to that feeling.

Probably because my body knows that, as soon as I’m done, that tension will come right back!

I decided to follow the instructions in the book to make sure I’m getting the right foods and meditation, but I also tried one more thing. I decided to take a minute or two to take a deep breath and give gratitude for my food, where it came from, and how it heals me.

The effects were immediate. I’ve started eating less at each meal (and even feeling full!) and I haven’t been getting cravings to snack in between meals. By continuously bringing myself to a place of awareness, I’ve been able to reduce my food intake significantly!

The shift was so surprising, I knew I had to bring this awareness to my blog and share it with you! In the book, Chopra provides a quiz to help you discover if you’re a stress eater and if you think this might be an issue for you, I highly suggest taking the quiz!

Are You A Stress Eater?

Deepak Chopra’s: What Are You Hungry For?

“Check the items that apply to your eating and general situation.

___ Are you a woman? (Women are more likely to be stress eaters)

___ Are you sedentary?

___ Are you lonely or isolated socially?

___ Do you snack when you’re feeling nervous or restless?

___ Do you cope with stress entirely on your own?

___ Does daily stress and strain make it hard for you to fall asleep and keep sleeping for at least 7 to 8 hours?

___ Do you find yourself grabbing food between meals to relieve boredom or pressure at work?

___ If you feel stressed, do you immediately reach for sugary, fatty snack foods?

Score: ___

Rating yourself:

If you checked 1-2 items, you are likely not a stress eater. You haven’t set up a feedback look between daily stress and food. A score of 5-8 items (AHEM, ME) puts you firmly in the category of stress eating. You are coping with life using food, and a feedback loop has been set up so that the more you use food for comfort, the less effective it is, leading to even more eating.”

If you are a stress eater, don’t fret! Being aware of it can only help you improve. Start noticing how tense you feel, physically, emotionally, and mentally, and give yourself a few minutes to release that tension around food.

Did you take the quiz? Were you surprised by your results? Let’s start a conversation about it! Comment below and let me know your results!

How To Lose Weight Through Stress Management

Is the secret to weight loss something that can be done without ever getting up from your chair?

I know it sounds weird. Let me explain.

You’re most likely reading this post because you’re tired of always trying to lose weight. You’ve got the gym membership. you know the diet, heck, you may even have all the foods stocked up in your fridge. Yet, something always gets in the way

Cravings, invitations to events where you don’t want to seem difficult, or even just boredom or a bad mood can come into play and mess up all your weight loss plans. Before you know it, those margaritas from happy hour on Thursday extended to a weekend bender that leaves you bloated and disappointed all over again.

You get mad at yourself for being “weak” and then resolve to start all over again…. on Monday.

Sound familiar?

I’ve been there and through my journey of talking about it, I’ve found that it’s extremely common for other people to go through it too.

But why?!?!

I genuinely thought it was about the food. I thought that there was just something about me that was hyper programmed to want to eat massive amounts of salty, sweet, and delicious (but ohhhhh so bad for you!) treats, but when I look back at what gets in the way… those cravings, invitations, or emotions…. it made me realize that I was wrong. DEAD wrong.

It doesn’t actually have much to do with the food itself and everything to do with what’s going on in your mind.

I know, I thought it was crazy too, but the more I thought about it, the more sense it made!

Weight loss comes from diet and exercise, but if you can’t get yourself to do it, how can you ever be successful? Every action comes from a thought first. Your thoughts talk to the cells in your body and tell it what to do and it doesn’t matter if you’re going vegan or paleo, taking dance classes or doing cross fit, if your thoughts don’t match your goals, your body won’t know how to get you there!

That’s why I focus with all my clients on stress management over weight loss.

We look at slowing down our thoughts, becoming aware of the story line that goes on in our mind, and then using specifically targeted mindset exercises to help shift that thinking from negative to positive.

The truth is, in order to be successful, you have to think successfully. It starts in your head and once you learn how to manage your thoughts, your health, happiness, and healing will naturally follow.

What do you think? How has your mindset impacted your journey? Comment below and share what you’re struggling with and what tools you’ve used to overcome it!