Recharge yourself on November 23rd: A day of quiet nourishment for the mind & soul

‘Tis the season of guilt and overwhelm for many women.

Are you dreading the parties full of festive food that you feel you can’t eat?

Have you already given up on self-care, making ambitious plans for losing weight or feeling better in the New Year?

Spend a day at the Brew Creek Centre in Whistler where you will learn fresh ideas on eating, exercise and self care.  Explore a feminine path to health with a philosophy that provides a simple and sustainable way for women to be well.

Questions?  email helen@helencroza.com or call (604) 815-4131

Register here.

 

Recharge Yourself - A day of quiet nourishment for the mind & soul

Personal stuff and why I say it’s never too late.

 

After taking some time away from social media over the summer, I decided to take more chances and be “all in”.

Previously, I chose to keep my personal life separate from my biz, until now…

I realized that being more transparent about my challenges can inspire women to realize their dreams – instead of feeling completely stuck, too old, or desperately in need of shaking up their beliefs about themselves. So I decided to share more.


For starters…

This is my beautiful boy Sam – the inspiration behind my new writings (blogs) under the category
“Mommy has menopause”.

My reflections on life and health from a first time mom who is old enough to be a grandmother.

When I say “it’s never too late” to be who you want to be…I’m not kidding.

I became a registered massage therapist at 20 (sometimes it’s never too early).
I went to university for the first time at 28.  
I moved out of the country to go to graduate school at 38.
I got married at 48, and in my 40’s my goal was to become a mother by the time I was 50. A month to the day of my 50th birthday, that dream became true.

I’ve also had breast cancer. Even though I ate (still do mostly) organic food, was fit and happy, loved my work, and had fantastic family and friends…life happens.


I know about reaching goals…even the ones that you don’t dare to believe or that others think are crazy!

If you’ve been following me you may know that I struggled with bulimia for many years – about 20. My work with women is built on my success in ending my bulimic behaviour and pursuing my dreams.

I want to help other women pursue their dreams.

It’s that simple.

When you struggle with eating and have body issues that is your growing point.

That is the doorway to your transformation.

That’s why for you, dieting and finding the right exercise program are band aids…diversions from where you really need to look.

You need to work-in not work-out.

Understanding what is happening on a psychological and spiritual level will set you free.  

 

Helen

What Nature and Weight Loss Have in Common

What Nature and Weight Loss Have in Common

One of my daily resources for getting out of “overwhelm” is Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Havehttp://marknepo.com

It reminds me of the bigger picture of my spiritual growth while grounding me in the spirit of everyday life. Nepo offers daily writings and meditations. I’ve read this book almost daily over the past 10 years!

As I’ve said before, tending to my spirit was a big piece of understanding myself and ending a life of bingeing and purging.

The other day Nepo described how in the natural world the cover that protects us is no longer needed once the centre is strong. So skin or bark shed to allow growth. But we humans can hang on to the “cover” so it grows thick and we lose touch with our essential selves.

This reminded me that the “cover” or protection can be the outer appearances of how we want to be seen – whether that means our physical body, our choice of clothes, how our relationships look, or the kind of career we choose.

I think of body and food issues as both the “cover and protection”.

We can focus on our body or “cover” as the problem and source of our unhappiness because it’s: “not thin enough”, “not right”, “too old”, “thighs too big”, “stomach too big”, or “breasts not big enough or too big”.

Our body can also serve us as a “protection”; it gives us something concrete to fix about ourselves when we don’t feel secure about our inherent worth. Having extra weight can be the protection that makes us feel safe.

Finally, we are “protected” when we avoid and numb the urge and voice of our essential self by turning to food or exercise, or whatever makes us feel “safe”.

So…quietly grow your centre.

Pay attention to that niggling feeling, the persistent small voice, the pattern that keeps repeating itself. How is your essential self trying to get your attention?

To help you with this, here is a suggestion. 

Instead of focusing on counting calories and burning calories…starting today and through the month of July quietly focus on a part of your life that needs your attention. 

Grow your inner self.

Whatever it is…take some small action.

Say “yes” to the thing that scares you. Say “no” to the things (or people) you are afraid to say no to.

See what happens when you shift your energy to growing on the inside, and how your body changes as a result.

Outside circumstances of relationships or work will shed or morph into a better fit.

Nurturing your own growth is a way of honouring the Feminine to take up space in your life.

I really believe that the more we allow this energy to be expressed, the more we value the act of nurturing. Nurturing leads to growth. Growth leads to fulfilling one’s self-expression. Self-expression expands our sense of self…and that’s where well-being truly come from.

Here’s to growing and becoming,

Helen

 

How Our Fears Affect Weight Loss

How our fears affect weight loss

Courage may be your best friend for finally discovering your best body. 

If losing weight were just a matter of eating differently and exercising, it wouldn’t be a billion dollar industry would it?

We know it’s about more then changing eating habits…but we often forget this detail as well.

So how does fear play into weight loss, you may ask? Here are some examples that I have heard over the years from clients. Some are straightforward and others might surprise you as they are just below our conscious awareness.

  • “My husband is worried that if I lose weight other men will be interested in me and I will leave him.”
  • “I might become more attracted to other men and leave my husband.”
  • “Attention from men makes me nervous.”
  • “My friends will be jealous.”
  • “My sister will be jealous.”
  • “My mother will be jealous.”
  • “Who am I to be thin and attractive?”
  • “Other women will think I’m a skinny bitch.”
  • “If I lose weight it will make my friend(s) feel badly about themselves.”
  • “I won’t have a reason not to pursue my dream job/relationship/vacation.”
  • “I’ll feel free and who knows what I will do!”

Now, most of these statements were not the first thing out of a client’s mouth. But often, without a lot of questions, these real fears surfaced. Once we state our fears it becomes pretty clear why losing weight is such tricky business.

As you can see from the above list, a whole lot of people may be weighing in on your food choices and the amount you eat…all quite unconsciously.

Why would you lose weight and risk the potential backlash from the people you care about…or even people you don’t care about? Facing harsh reactions is scary. Feeling others’ sadness and disappointment in themselves is uncomfortable.

So, what’s a gal to do when she’s just trying to feel good about herself?

Here are the two ways to think about and deal with your fears and the reactions involved. Being proactive will put you in a positive and empowered position.

ONE: When fear is based on fantasy.
When you engage in imagining how others will react to you, you are using a style of thinking called “Cognitive Distortions”. These fall into different categories, but common ones are: mind-reading, fortune-telling, personalizing and catastrophizing.

As soon as you hear yourself imagining what others are saying or thinking, tell yourself, “STOP”. Thought-stopping is a way to keep the runaway train in your head under control.

Weight loss is a by-product of being emotionally healthy. When you change your thinking from fear-based to neutral or hopeful, you decrease your stress-level and anxiety. You then decrease two reasons for turning to food to cope. As well, lower cortisol levels (stress hormone) are linked to weight loss.

TWO: When fear is based on experience.
Here fear is based on reality and you have clear memories of the last time you were at a better weight. Friends didn’t take kindly to you feeling and looking great. Your mother made negative comments. There were side-glances from coworkers that didn’t feel supportive. Or, unwelcome attention from men.

These experiences could have been in your teens, 20s, or last summer. Usually, the earlier this happens to us the more impact it has and the more unconscious the fear can be. These experiences can take more work as they trigger fear and vulnerability. That said, it is never too late to take back our power.

Be proactive in knowing the fear-provoking situations that derail your best intentions. Know that some people will be envious and if a “friend” doesn’t support you in feeling your best, then are they really being a friend? Maybe you fear losing that person so it’s been safer to keep them comfortable and maintain the relationship.

Family is trickier, as these relationships go deep to the core of our need for love and belonging. The “fear factor” runs pretty high when it feels like you are alienating your tribe. But, know that any comment that isn’t supportive comes from that person’s own discomfort. Maybe they fear losing the you they are familiar with. Maybe you will start a new career or be more active. It can feel like you are leaving them behind.

Change can be scary for everyone. As well, misery loves company so you getting on with feeling fabulous can be a threat. Not a real one, just imagined.

Can you see all the places where fear can get in the way of losing weight?

It takes courage to change.

If you can name and let go of some of your fears and fantasies about what will happen when you lose weight, you will be far more successful in reaching your goals.

As always, be kind and gentle with yourself.

Our fears are often just trying to keep us safe from unknowns. We are wired to stay safe and maintain the status quo.
Except we aren’t talking about stepping out of the cave into the mouth of a saber-tooth tiger. It just feels that way.

Here’s to facing your fears…and feeling lighter right away.

Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be You.

Helen

How Food Addictions Eat At Your Soul

How food addictions eat at your soul. 

Is your relationship with food a spiritual problem?

You know the saying about not seeing the forest for the trees? When you wake up every day and the first thing on your mind is either:
a) What you shouldn’t have eaten yesterday
b) What you are going to eat today
c) When you can work out to burn calories
d) All of the above

Your mind is so used to ping-ponging between these thoughts that the problem stays focused on your behaviour and the inner fight with the voices in your head.

I usually address the psychological and emotional aspects of food struggles – what you think, unconscious beliefs, feelings, and how you numb those feelings.

What I haven’t written about is the spiritual aspect of this problem. Your relationship to your soul and spirit may be the main reason why you are unable to answer questions such as: “Why can’t I just eat when I’m hungry?”, “Why do I binge?”, “Why do I stuff myself with food?”, and “Why do I turn to food when I’m angry/lonely/guilty/envious?”

Even a preoccupation with healthy eating can be an addictive behaviour. Orthorexia is a new term used to describe an obsessive preoccupation with not eating anything perceived to be unhealthy.

Dr. Gabor Maté, author of In the Realm of the Hungry Ghost, has a broad definition of addiction: “Addiction is any behaviour that has negative consequences but a person continues to crave it and relapse into it, despite those negative consequences.”

Deep down, when we engage in behaviours that we regret, we know that we are harmingourselves. It is that harm to our essential self that speaks to the need to consider the deepest part of our being – our soul, and paradoxically, the big picture.

When we turn to food as a coping mechanism, or focus too much on what we eat, we may be avoiding our essential self, denying our soul the attention it needs, or preventing it from expressing itself.

Time for some soul searching?

If this idea is speaking to you, step back and take a different approach to your eating habits. Turn your attention away from the what, when, and how much when it comes to food. Just for a day or over a weekend, give yourself some space to explore.

Whether you believe in a specific religion, spiritual philosophy, nature, or the universe, identifying your “raison d’être”, your values, or just coming clean with yourself about what is important to you may shed some light on why food means so much to you.

A key part of healing my relationship with food was acknowledging that I was on a spiritual journey. Looking at my struggle from a soul perspective allowed me to step back and listen to what my soul needed.

By seeing my food and body issues from a spiritual perspective, I was able to understand the bigger life lessons that my soul was learning.

Instead of feeling frustrated and disappointed when a situation would trigger a binge, I would compassionately ask myself, “What lesson is this teaching me?”

Having more compassion for myself translated into one of the best gifts we can give others…understanding and compassion.

I focused on the positives, on what made me happy, rather than on how to stop bingeing.

There isn’t one simple answer to why we eat too much, obsess about food, or use food to cope. When I dealt with my eating behaviour (bulimia), I looked at family dynamics, became aware of negative self-talk, and asked myself the big questions about the meaning of life…and the meaning of my life. That was a turning point.

Be well and ask your soul what it is hungry for.

Helen

5 (+1) Ways to Simplify Your Health

Health and Wellness Basics

5 (+1) ways to simplify your health.

If you were inspired by the new year to make some changes, that’s great! If you are having a hard time sticking with healthier habits have a look at these time-tested basics for feeling good in your body.

My hope in sharing these tips with you is to help you cut through the enormous and ever-changing health, weight loss, and lifestyle advice out there.

I’ve been a student and seeker of health, personal growth, and healing since my teens. There wasn’t a diet, fitness fad, or New Age technique that I didn’t try through my 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. From crystals to cranial-sacral therapy, there are a lot of ways to heal your body and soul.

When I started massage school (in 1979) massage parlours were frequently in the news. When I told people I was going to massage school, they would ask me, “Do your parents know?” As a fresh-faced, outdoorsy 20 yr. old (and 5 ft tall), I didn’t look like I worked in a parlour, nor did I fit any of the Bond movie masseuse stereotypes – muscular swedish woman or geisha.

I had never had a massage before going to school, and remember the day I got up the nerve to ask a class-mate what “holistic” meant. We all have to start somewhere on the path to taking charge of our well-being.

The lessons I learned as a massage therapist about the healing power of touch, the connection between emotions and disease, the mind and body connection, nutrition, self-care, movement, breathing, and rest are still the basics to living as a well-being.

Here are my best picks for staying and getting well.

5 (+1) ways to have a solid foundation for feeling and looking well.

1) Get a massage. 
There are many physical and psychological benefits to massage. But, it has to feel good…duh. I’ve had many clients tell me how they tried massage but it was uncomfortable. The most frequent complaints: it was too painful, or the room was cold. Talk to your therapist if you are not comfortable.

You are the expert on your body. And, you are not obligated to chat with your therapist. Many people have told me that their massage therapist talks too much so it’s not relaxing. Allow yourself time and space to be quiet and let your mind drift.

2) Breathe.
It’s the first and last thing we do in this life. Pay attention to your breath. Learning how to use your breath is one of the simplest and most effective de-stressors you can find. Breathing gently in and out through your nose will calm and centre you. It keeps you present when your mind is dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.

3) Stretch.
There’s an old saying “flexible spine, flexible mind”. When your body feels more open and you move with more ease…your brain will follow. “But I’m not flexible…” I’ve heard this lot but it’s not a reason not to stretch. It means that you can’t compare yourself or waste time getting frustrated with yourself. Get down on the floor and move your joints through whatever range of motion you have while watching TV. Take 5 minutes. Breathe gently while you stretch.

4) Hydrate with water. 
Drink the cleanest water you can find, i.e. avoid plastic bottles.
But, don’t obsess about it. I’m not sure that guzzling down massive amounts of water in order to reach a set amount is healthy for any body…nor does it feel very good.

5) Fix the emotional stuff.
All the health food and exercise in the world won’t help if you are chronically stressed and unhappy. Smoothies and yoga can certainly help you cope and keep you going. But, spending everyday in a toxic work environment will erode your health. If your relationships drain you and leave you feeling badly about yourself, then kale will only go so far.

And…Green Smoothies.
Green smoothies are a new addition to my wellness toolbox and they are a keeper. These are homemade and very basic. They usually consist of: a green (kale, spinach, swiss chard), ginger, lime, apple, water. Sometimes I throw in parsley, tumeric, or use a pear or blackberries. I drink it alone so all that good stuff doesn’t have to compete with anything else. 

Of course this is more advice, and I did say there is a ton of health advice out there already. But I have been around the health and wellness block, and these 5 will make a tangible difference in getting you to the healthiest version of yourself.
 
Here’s to simple health to be your Best Self,

Helen