I am sure you have faced many minor stresses in your life, from a broken refrigerator, a flat tire to a dead car battery.  These stresses are not really life altering, and the way our body responds to them is actually helping us to stay focused on solving the problem at hand. It is what we call the “fight and flight response”, a mechanism that allow us to prepare or adapt and defend ourselves for sudden dangers or threats. However, when the stress response is turned on all the time, it can have an impact on our immune system, weakening it and preventing it from fighting off diseases.  If you are reading this article you are probably dealing with one of the highest levels of stress triggers: “divorce”.  Because this journey is so stressful and taxing, it is extremely important that you make YOU a priority and take care of your mind and body.

That’s easier said than done, though. I know, because when I was going through my divorce the stress also triggered fatigue and sometimes depression, so healthy eating took a back seat and foods that were quick or comforting and often loaded with fat, salt and sugar became part of my escape. Although I never gained weight, I did become a sugar addict that really started impacting my health.  Ultimately it made me feel worse, and my escape strategy backfired badly.

I knew I was doing myself a disservice all along, so why did I keep indulging and why is it that we fall into these patterns of self-destructive eating habits?

Because high calorie comfort foods can stimulate the release of certain chemicals in the brain that make us feel good—at least in the short term—and also make us want to keep eating.  So as much as we know it isn’t good, we crave to feel those “feel -good” temporary feelings. That is why we often get into this vicious cycle, of unhealthy eating habits or overeating which can lead to weight gain, which again increases psychological stress. And that, in turn, can lead to more overeating. So you see it’s a vicious cycle, and the only way to stop is to make a commitment to yourself that in order to help reduce your stress level you are willing to stick to a plan that will get you back on track, living your life healthy and to the fullest.

Here are 5 Healthy Eating habit tips to help you manage your Divorce Stress (or other stresses)

While you might not be able to make the stress of your challenging marriage or divorce go away, there are things you can do to help you manage stress levels and the way in which you respond to them.

  • Eat balanced meals.Try to include some lean protein with each meal, like poultry, egg whites, low-fat dairy, lean meats, fish or soy products. Protein satisfies hunger and also helps keep you mentally alert. Round out your meal with fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. I love throwing in some chickpeas into my salads, or a can of tuna or grilled chicken cubes to get my protein into my diet. (am not a meat lover – so I made a list of alternative protein rich foods).
  • Eat regularly and don’t skip meals.  When you’re stressed, it’s easy to put meals off or even skip them altogether. I used to do this all the time and then binged on sugar loaded foods. But energy levels will suffer as a result. And you might end up pigging out when you do finally eat. If stress is an appetite-killer, try eating smaller amounts of food more often during the day.
  • Try to avoid using food as a stress reducer. A brisk walk or a cup of herbal tea might work instead. If you feel the need to eat, hard crunchy foods help relieve stress by putting tight jaw muscles to work. Try snacking on a handful of almonds, soy nuts or baby carrots. (I love baby carrots)
  • Cut back on caffeine. This was the hardest thing I ever gave up. I used to be on 6-8 cups of coffee daily. People often feel a lack of energy when they’re stressed and turn to caffeine as a pick me up, but it can disrupt your night’s sleep and causes internal stress. If caffeine keeps you awake at night, drink decaffeinated coffees and teas.
  • Try to keep mealtimes pleasant and separate from work or other sources of stress. If you’re eating at a desk while you work, or paying bills while you eat dinner, something’s got to give. Take a little extra time to slow down and relax while you eat. That way, you’re likely to eat less and enjoy it more.

I hope you will be able to implement some of these tips in your life. They were a real game changer for me and I am thankful to myself for staying the course and getting myself back on track. You can do it too!

If you are struggling and feel overwhelmed and alone, feel free to reach out for your complimentary “Unleash your power” complementary session. Click here to schedule your appointment.

If you are going through a challenging time in your marriage, or just got separated or divorced, chances are that your self-image and self-esteem may have taken a serious beating.   

If you have survived a verbally or physically abusive relationship you probably feel the way your ex intended to make you feel. Worthless, useless, broken, unattractive and just simply shattered.

How I know? I was there myself. I was a young mother, overwhelmed with emotions of fear, loneliness, and I felt like a total utter failure.  I remember my brother in law once telling me, “you have to get yourself together, look at you, you look like crap”. I was hurt, but it was a wake-up call for I did take look at myself and the person looking back at me in the mirror was not someone I knew or recognized. I used to like to take care of my appearances, dressed stylish and enjoyed wearing makeup (I was even a free-lance make-up artist at the time). But during that time, it became an afterthought and I started neglecting myself more and more.  After that comment I started making an effort to put myself together a little more, and I noticed something incredible. When I was neglecting myself I was thinking and acting like a victim, I had no energy to do what I needed to do for myself, to stand up for myself, to face my soon to be ex  at the time and fight for what was rightfully mine.

Once I started taking care of myself again I had more confidence and a new energy started flowing through my veins giving me the pulse I needed to become a victor rather than stay in victim mode.

Someone once asked me: “why do some people feel attractive even if they don’t have model like looks, whereas others who are very good looking such as models and actors don’t necessarily feel this way?” The reason is because physical beauty is only a part of what makes a person feel attractive.  Beauty is both a physical as well as a psychological experience and it is based on three qualities:

  1. How we actually look (genetics)
  2. How we take care of ourselves (health and grooming)
  3. How we feel about how we look (positive self-regard)

In order to really have a positive beauty self-image you have to have all three qualities. I am sure you have met people or have friends who are very good looking (genetics), yet they don’t feel attractive. That is because they most likely lack one or two of the other elements needed to have a healthy beauty self-image or self-esteem.

So how can you work on rebuilding your self-esteem, start feeling more attractive and learn to love yourself again?

Here are three tips and exercise I want you to try:

First exercise:

We live in a time where the media has a tremendous impact on our beliefs.  Many people tend to think that beauty is based on a reality created by others.  The truth is that you have the power and ability to define and create YOUR self-image based on YOUR own criteria rather than following the reality created by your culture like the rest of the herd.

Action Step: Write down three physical features and three aspects of your personality that you like the most. You might find it challenging to come up with any, so try and think of the ones you are least critical of. Here are some examples: I work hard, I like my eyes, I am honest, I am great mother, I like my hair….Now put your list in order of importance and elaborate by writing one sentence about each aspect on your list.

Discovery: If you are like most women you will notice an interesting thing. Most likely your physical features ranked lower from the ones about your personality. This exercise places physical beauty in perspective and helps remind us that the core of our self-esteem is based on our personality characteristics more often than our physical features; even if our culture has us thinking differently. Physical beauty is just one aspect of our identity, attractiveness is SO MUCH more.

Second exercise:

Looks matter to most people, but there is a big difference between attractiveness and perfection.  Although no one ever looks perfect all the time, unfortunately the media has created the image of perfection. An image that is FALSE. We ALL have our bad hair days, blemishes, bloating, and pimples, but airbrushing and Photoshop can magically make them disappear.  Learn to accept yourself with your imperfections because we all have them.

Action step: this exercise is focused on your physical features. Write down three that you believe are most appealing to you. For example: your thick hair, your blue eyes or straight teeth. Describe each feature in a sentence like, “My straight teeth are attractive, especially when I smile”.

Discovery: remember NO ONE has perfect features, but everyone has at least a couple of attractive ones. These can contribute to the core of your self-image. You can learn to use them for confidence and to improve your beauty self-esteem. For example: I always hated my nose, but many people have told me that I have attractive eyes so I focus on bringing out my eyes by wearing makeup colors that make them stand out. If you have straight teeth, keep them healthy by taking care of them so you feel good about yourself when you smile.  If you change your perspective between perfectionism and beauty to a more realistic definition, you will be able to improve your beauty self-esteem.

Exercise three:

We are our own WORST critics. Few people find as many faults with their appearances as we do. We can change the way we talk to ourselves by replacing negative thoughts and inaccurate “internal negative dialogues” with more positive ones. This is something I work on all the time.

Action step: Look at yourself in the mirror and then listen to the words that come into your head.

Ask yourself: Is the tone critical? Do the words remind you of someone or sound similar to those your mom once said? Your dad? Your schoolmates? Your ex? Then really question the validity of these words. For example I have a client who hates her curly hair, because her mother always used to tell her that she wishes she had straight nice hair. Is curly hair really unattractive? Do the extra few pounds that you are carrying around mean you are FAT and undesirable? Now rewrite these dialogues as if you would be talking to your friend or your daughter. If your daughter asked you how she looked, what tone do you think you would use? Does it sound anything like the tone you use towards yourself? Now look in the mirror and use the tone you would use for your daughter in your own inner dialogue.

Discovery: we can shift the way we see ourselves by practicing consistent, supportive internal dialogue. You will be amazed to see how much you can change when you replace all your negative chit chat with more loving and positive accepting conversations. Instead of being critical and trying to fix yourself, you can try and look the best you can, and accept yourself for who you are. Use your own kinder mirror as a constant source to build your beauty self-esteem and you will look and feel a lot more attractive.

Let me know what you discovered by doing these exercises and how they have helped you.

Feel beautiful!

 

 

With the holidays behind us and the New Year starting you might feel some renewal of energy and hope.  New Year’s bring new opportunities and new beginnings. You have been struggling and feeling confused for months or maybe even years now in your marriage and feel completely overwhelmed and sapped out of energy. Deep down you know that your life was meant to have more meaning, satisfaction and love, you just don’t know how to get to it.

Before the holidays you were contemplating to tell your husband that you have reached the end of the road and feel like something has to change, and in a big way. Then you decided that you can’t do this to your children and family and pushed it off till after the holidays. Now that the new year is starting you are hesitating and don’t really know how to approach this.  You might have made a resolution to yourself to make this year better and change things, but like many resolutions we don’t know how to make them happen, especially when they demand a big commitment or change.

I am here to tell you that you CAN change things and find a way to live your life fully and with happiness.

So here are 5 tips on how to make the change you need in your relationship now:

  1. STOP procrastinating 
    Chances are that your marriage has been shaky for a while now and that things have just been getting worse. Maybe you didn’t do anything about it because you had some good days here and there and thought that things will fall into place somehow. Here is the reality, things don’t change unless you DO SOMETHING about them. You don’t magically lose weight unless you actually follow a diet and change your lifestyle. If things have been challenging to the point where you feel sad,lonely and overwhelmed in your marriage the chances are they will stay this way and probably get worse. So make a commitment NOW that you are NO longer going to procrastinate seeking the change you are looking for.

    2. Get Clear
    Make a list of Pros and Cons in your marriage, what working on it would look like, and what ending it would look like. Write it down. As a relationship and divorce coach I advise my clients to make an extensive list that goes into great detail. It will provide you with clarity and help you make rational decisions rather than a knee-jerk emotional reaction to something that your spouse may have said or done (or not done). It is a way for you to be really honest with yourself and help you explore the underlying reasons for your decision and answer the most important question of all: “Should I stay or should I leave?”. Whatever the answer is, it should be so convincing to you that it will remove all doubt and help you take the next step needed to follow through with your decision. If it means that your decision is that you don’t feel you have tried enough, or found the right relationship coach or counselor your next step is to find someone you trust and connect with and feel they can help you. They might not be able to save your marriage but it will give you the comfort of knowing you have done everything in your power and have given this a fair chance. They will also help you gain clarity and understanding why this marriage could or couldn’t work. If you feel you have done everything you could and think that divorce is the right decision for you this list will help you better identify your worries and fears, which you will have to address if your plan to go through with your divorce.

    3. Educate yourself
    Before you set out to go through with the divorce process make sure to educate yourself. Don’t use this as an excuse to procrastinate and get yourself stuck again, but do use the luxury of free internet access and resources that can help you better understand the process and issues you will be facing during this journey. It will help you better understand what to expect and what to ask as you seek guidance from professionals whom you will have to engage with or hire. Be careful however, because there is a lot of information out there, don’t let it overwhelm you don’t set out to become an expert on divorce. The purpose to educate yourself is to be better prepared but not to overwhelm you.

    4. Seek Professional help
    What I mean is a third party! Not a family member or friend. They mean well but are too emotionally connected to you to have a real clear perspective and are not trained in the ins and outs that pertain to divorce. Find someone who can guide you on how to have the preliminary conversation with your spouse about trying one last resource to work on your marriage or ending your relationship. As a relationship & divorce empowerment coach and mediator I enable the spouse who initiated pursuing change or divorce to stand clear in their decision and maintain a civil calm approach no matter what. It is always best to take the high road and try and resolve issue peacefully and if must be dissolve the marriage in a civil manner. War always results in fatalities, so chose peace even when your heart is filled with anger and resentment.

    5. Break the news
    As humans we usually avoid having difficult conversations with people. I am sure you may have had many conversations over the course of your marriage that should have been had, but you wiggled your way out of it. Maybe it was about finances, or maybe it was about responsibilities, or intimacy, whatever they were you just couldn’t bring yourself to bring them up to your spouse. You probably kept things bottled up inside and whatever was hurting, or upsetting you just got worse. With your new year’s resolution make a commitment to yourself that you will not push off this conversation. If you feel that you want to try and pursue relationship counseling or coaching plan a time to sit down with your spouse and express how you feel calmly and openly. Tell him/her how important it is for you to seek guidance so you can both find the right path for yourselves. Now is the time! Just do it.

Take this opportunity to reach out for a FREE confidential Unleash your Power and Clarity session and start the year off RIGHT. Book your appointment here.

Here is a bonus gift for you, don’t forget to download your free guide on how to avoid the top 10 mistakes you want to avoid during your divorce. http://Divorcehelp1.gr8.com