chronic illness

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!

9 Things To Know If You're Newly Diagnosed

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Getting a diagnosis can change your life.

Suddenly, your life revolves around symptoms, medications, and doctors appointments. You feel scared, tired, and overwhelmed all at the same time with no clear exit.

Life as you know it changes completely.

Nine years ago, I was diagnosed with Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis and since then, nothing has been the same.

I’ve seen the dark side of this illness, but I’ve also discovered ways to find the light, and that’s what I want to share with anyone who’s struggling.

That’s why I made this infographic with my 9 things to know if you’re newly diagnosed. If you have anything to add or comments on how these tips helped you, please comment below and share with anyone reading!

With love & light,

Carolyn Rachel

How To Stop Hating The Process & Have Fun Losing Weight

Does Motivation Really Help?

Every time I've ever gone on a diet, I had to pump myself up like crazy the day before. I'd go out and got a stack of health/self love related magazines, buy a giant haul of fresh foods from the market, and stay up all night putting together recipes and meal plans. 

Every single time, I refused to allow one negative thought to come into my brain. This was it. After almost 2 decades of trying and failing, I was finally going to lose the weight. 

But after a few days of being perfect, weighing myself daily, and feeling a surge of confidence... a familiar little voice popped in my head. 

"You've been doing SO WELL, you deserve to cheat. Just a little bit. What's one meal?" 

I'd try to shake the thought and do anything else, but the longer I ignored it, the louder it got. The thought of food would take over my brain whether I was hungry or not and, no matter how many glasses of water I drank, I couldn't shake the idea. I desperately wanted relief from the hunger in my brain and my resentment grew with every healthy meal that couldn't satisfy my urge.

Before I knew it, the motivation would dissipate and I'd feel miserable. I just wanted to be normal and happy, to be able to eat food without gaining 10 lbs overnight, and I hated the amount of effort it took just to "be good". 

So, I'd give up to the urges which usually led to a binge and a whole lotta self hate the next morning.

What Was I Doing Wrong?

I HATED the whole process and loathed that I had no choice. I felt trapped between doing something I really didn't want to do and something I knew I had to do. 

Notice how I said I just wanted to be normal. Happy. And for some reason, I assumed that would come from weight loss. I'd done something that most of us do - I attached an emotional association to weight loss that didn't actually exist. 

I could've pushed myself to lose weight, but it didn't mean I'd be happy once the weight was off. It didn't mean I'd be more confident, comfortable, or successful. The things I was looking for from weight loss, It turns out, didn't have anything to do with weight loss at all!

But when my MS flared, my mindset changed. Losing the feeling on my right side, the ability to walk for 4 months, made me appreciate the process because of where it would lead me. 

Suddenly, that green smoothie wasn't a replacement for bacon and eggs, it was a vehicle to walking without a cane again. Getting to the gym became easier because every time I could do an extra minute meant I was closer to getting my life back. 

I put myself in a headspace of working for a goal that made me happy and, even though none of the actual work had changed, it turned out that the only thing that needed to change, was my mind.

So How Do You Enjoy The Process?

When I was heavy, I was already happy. I loved my family, friends, boyfriend and degree. I had everything I wanted, I just couldn't figure out how to the conquer the weight and it consumed me. 

I felt like my weight was preventing me from being happy, so I prevented myself from enjoying my life. I put experiences on hold until I could hit my goal and refused to just allow myself to just enjoy the moment because I always had my weight on my mind. 

I was MISERABLE trying to lose weight, so how could I ever expect to have any sort of success from it? You would never work that hard to do something you hate...

So once I regained the ability to walk, I knew I needed to maintain motivation. The memory of my illness wouldn't be enough - I needed bigger goals.

I started choosing goals that I loved and actually wanted to train for. I wanted to travel, to ride in a bike marathon, and to hike mountains. Suddenly, my choices weren't based on the scale, they were based on my abilities, and I needed to make the same healthy decisions regardless of the goal. Food became a source of energy instead of calories and trying new and healthy recipes became a game. I decided to try one new "healthy-but-indulgent" recipe a week that would satisfy my sweet tooth, but that didn't ruin my path to success.

I continued to workout, but I started realizing how much I hated certain workouts. If I was going to love my life, I needed to spend my time loving what I was doing, so I chose exercises that felt fun. I tried yoga, hiking, swimming, hula hooping, boxing, dance classes - anything that would make me WANT to get my workout done. Now, I look forward to my workouts every week and I'm always up to try something new!

Lastly, and most importantly, I dedicated time every day to feel grateful for the process. I felt so grateful that my body was able to do these things and as I reflected on that, I got an instant boost of happiness. This kept me on track and allowed me to see the benefits of my work instead of on what I was "missing". 

Just Remember...

You are in control of your experience. When you sit in the mindset of a negative experience, you can only get a negative experience. So if you're ready to stop waiting for your life to be as amazing as you know it can be, use these tools to make happiness your vehicle to success and let the frustrations fall to the side. 

It's time to live your life, Without The Weight. 

With love & light,

Carolyn Rachel

 

 

 

 

Why I Quit My Job For A Check Off My Bucket List

I made the decision to quit my job in the middle of a date. 

It was November and the weather was just starting to change, an inescapable reminder that another winter was on it's way. As we sipped red wine and laughed over dinner, we talked about all the things we wanted to do with our lives. 

After coming from a lifetime of making excuses, my list was long. Ever since I was a kid, I've always put off experiences because of my weight. I wanted to do all those things, but not until I was thinner. Then, when I was diagnosed with MS, that only fueled my excuses. I was happy enough in my day to day routine that I didn't think about all that I was missing.

But eventually, the decline of my health made me hate my daily experience and all I could think about was what I was missing. 

Then, in 2014, I ran out of time. With years of severe chronic pain and a new cane in my hand, I knew that later was quickly becoming never and the sicker I allowed myself to become, the less I'd be able to do. 

From that summer forward, I put all my energy into healing myself and it worked! I lost the weight, ditched the cane, and I went back to work full time. 

I felt like I was on top of the world... except I wasn't. I'd put in more heart and soul than I knew possible to heal my body and the idea that I did all that to work just so I could sit behind a desk seemed preposterous! 

The lightheadedness from the wine kept me giggling, but our conversation felt heavy in my gut. My thoughts were racing and I couldn't stop thinking about how I was wasting time. How I could always get another job. How I needed to go enjoy my life, the life I'd worked so hard for. 

I knew, right there and then, that I was ready for something different. 

I couldn't keep myself together. I looked at him and said "I think I'm going to quit my job in January and go somewhere. Maybe South America." 

He immediately responded, "I absolutely think you should." 

It was the tiny bit of validation that I needed to lock in my decision. Now, I just needed to tell everyone else. 

Visiting Machu Picchu in March 2016

Visiting Machu Picchu in March 2016

Quitting that job was the hardest thing I'd ever done. I loved my boss, my office, and my sweet parking spot right in the middle of Cambridge, but I knew that I needed to have an adventure. 

So I put in my notice and, the following January, I took off for Peru. 

Going on that trip alone was terrifying, nothing l'd ever done before, but at that time, it was the only thing that made sense. 

Life is short, but we make it feel impossibly long. The pain and suffering that came from living with morbid obesity and Multiple Sclerosis taught me that and I wanted, more than anything, to take advantage of the time I'd created for myself. 

I wanted to see the world, to push myself to new limits, to live my life, without waiting.

So, I did. And it was the best decision I ever made. 

For anyone reading this. I want to urge you to listen to your gut. To make decisions based on what would benefit your health and happiness. To stop waiting for the right time and to start experiencing what you want from life right now. Nothing is guaranteed, so what are you waiting for?

It's time to live your life, Without The Weight. 

With love & light,

Carolyn Rachel

How To Start Loving Yourself

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If you know me in person, you know there's two things I talk about AD NAUSEUM: Dating and self love. 

I'm obsessed with both, not surprisingly, because they're essentially the same thing. 

I know it seems silly, but it's important to love yourself. Really important. Based on my experiences through research, coaching, and self work, I'm a firm believer that you'll never be able to hit your goals (or maintain them) without developing an authentic relationship with yourself. 

I only know it because I've been working on the relationship with myself for a few years now and, I'm not gonna lie, it was really weird to start.

Most of the time, it felt uncomfortable and awkward. Kinda similar to my actual dating life, really, and I struggled HARD to accept it - even from myself!

But the moment I opened the door for a serious relationship with myself, one based on commitment, trust, and appreciation, I started to receive an incredible natural high.

I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. Let's bring it back to dating... 

It's similar to the high you get from starting a new relationship with someone. That giddy feeling. I couldn't believe that it was possible to have those same feelings by developing a relationship with yourself.  

Here I was, giving myself the love, attention, and care that I seek in a partner and I still got butterflies in my stomach, felt that excited/nervous feeling, and an all around happy attitude for life. It's that powerful high that develops into deep rewarding love and commitment. 

It works the same way when you're making the connection with yourself.

When I started flirting with myself (I kid you not, actual FLIRTING), I realized how awkward I felt. As I pushed myself through self sweet talk, I started wondering WHY it was so uncomfortable. Shouldn't I be comfortable enough at this age to act weird without judgement while I'm home alone? 

You'd think... but instead, I judged myself hard. My mind was racing. I made fun of myself for looking stupid and I pointed out every single "flaw" I would have picked myself apart for had I been out flirting with men. 

Once I realized that the judgement I was feeling was all in my head, I forced myself to ignore it and persevere. 

I wanted to be confident and comfortable with myself. I wanted to enjoy my own company. And damn it, I wanted to think I was as sexy, cool, and dateable as I hoped any man would think I was. 

But as I pushed myself through the awkwardness, I started wondering where these negative thoughts about myself came from. Who said I wasn't good enough, cool enough, or sexy enough? Who said I was these awful things that I told myself in my head? 

Then, it hit me.

We're taught to hate ourselves from a very young age. Everywhere around us, we're bombarded by media, telling us that we aren't good enough (and here's a product to help change you into becoming a "better version" of yourself). We listen to other people complain about what they don't like about themselves, what they don't like about others, but we rarely hear people talking themselves up in a positive light. It's absolutely absurd!

As a society, we've set up social norms on what's attractive or worthwhile and if we don't fit into those standards (surprise, no one does!), we get upset and beat ourselves up. 

Once I realized that, I made the decision to counter those thoughts. I don't care what society has designed to be beautiful because that isn't my idea of beautiful. That's taking someone else's opinion and giving it such a high personal regard that it becomes a fact. A fact that works directly against me!

I knew I deserved better than what I'd been giving myself so I made a commitment to change in my best interest. I was finally going to be an advocate for myself because if I wasn't going to love myself, how could I ever expect anyone else to?

So, I turned away from the negativity and the hate and I poured all my energy into love. These are the steps I took and I highly suggest 

How To Start Loving Yourself in Three Easy Steps

  • Stop being so judgmental. The very first law of Deepak Chopra's Seven Spiritual Laws of Success promotes practicing non judgement. Now, that doesn't just mean judging yourself (although it's a good place to start!), but it applies to all people/situations. If you're in a place of judgment, it's hard to see things with love, and you have to break the cycle of judgment in all respects. Being judgmental is just perpetuating society's standards and we've already touched on how those standards are simply opinions. Make it a challenge to point out one nice thing about everyone you see each day, even if you don't like them. Make sure to include yourself in that daily challenge when you look in the mirror in the morning. By focusing on the things you like, you'll retrain your brain to start automatically looking for those things (and stop looking for things to judge!)

 

  • Take yourself on dates. YUP. I told you it was weird, but part of cultivating a relationship with yourself is through actually dating yourself. Get dolled up for yourself, pick something fun that you've been wanting to do, and then go enjoy it. Whether that's people watching at a cute cafe, checking out a museum, or taking yourself out to dinner - it's important to spend some time alone with yourself so you can get to know who you really are! 

 

  • Be mindful of your self talk. Obviously, I'll want you to tell yourself that you love yourself, but I know that can feel like a lot all at the beginning. There's no shame in moving slow (in fact, its encouraged!) and your self love can develop as you progress.... again, similar to a partnership. That being said, you're never going to like yourself (or love yourself) if you talk shit about yourself, whether that's in your head or out loud. Notice when you say things about yourself that aren't nice and then call yourself out for it. Point out the parts of you that you like and put your focus on that. Make it your mission to point out your positive characteristics as often as possible instead of harping on the negatives. 

This is self care. This is self love. This is the art of healing. 

And if you're struggling to say it to yourself, please know, I love you, sweet soul. 

Love & light,

Carolyn Rachel