Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Ten Ways To Shine Today

  1. Smile -Laugh -Hug-Love. Express positive emotion towards others and give yourself a big dose of happy hormones too!!
  2. Take ten minutes to be mindful; use all your senses to really see,hear, feel, touch, smell and absorb the moment.Beauty is all around you.
  3. Write yourself a post it note with the most positive thing you love about yourself. Put it up somewhere noticeable - take a photo of it and make it your screen saver.
  4. Get out in the fresh air and hop skip, jump, be silly -  find puddles if you can or imagine the sun is shining even if its cloudy and grey
  5. Sing at the top of your Voice - in the shower... in the car...on the treadmill.... who cares!!
  6. Look in a mirror , really look at yourself,stare into your eyes and say out loud  " wow I'm gorgeous, I'm amazing... I Love Me " Then blow yourself a big kiss.
  7. Fill a big glass jug with ice,thinly sliced cucumber and lemon wedges,top up with fresh cold water and pour into a beautiful glass.Toast your own success.
  8. Grab some paper and coloured pens or pencils and doodle... don't set any creative goal just take the pens on a walk and explore the boundary's of the page. Words, lines, shapes play with them, express yourself in whatever way feels good.
  9. Imagine any stress in your life trapped in a large colourful balloon, picture holding tightly on to the string, really feel it in your fingers then open your hand and let go. Look up to the sky as the balloon drifts away becoming smaller and smaller until it is a speck on the horizon....until you have to squint to see any colour or form then it it has gone and with it all the stress. take a big replenishing deep breathe, Notice how good it feels to relax and move on as all the tension has faded away.
  10. As you snuggle into bed take a moment to recall all the good things that today bought with it and thank yourself for allowing them into your life.

Inside-Out Weightloss

Although this post is called inside out weight loss it’s actually about the link between our mind and our attitude to our bodies, our health and fitness and the way we nourish ourselves. Many people are unhappy with their bodies; an unhealthy attitude towards food is conditioned in lots of us from early childhood. We are bombarded with body images from all directions, we compare ourselves and cast judgement…. too fat, too thin, too less, too much. We try these diets that exercise advice, a new miracle cure, and with each new idea we expose ourselves to more stress and firmly embed the impression that we are not good enough as we are. But what if rather than looking at what we should eat and how much activity we must do we just stopped and listened very carefully and quietly to what our OWN BODY is really asking for.
That’s the idea of inside out weight loss. Each and every one of us is individual; we will all have personal reasons for adopting unhealthy relationships with our bodies and food. If we stop looking outside to an expert tell us what to eat and instead pay attention to our own thought process, get in tune with the inner workings of our mind body connections, and pay attention to the deep emotional needs that drive us towards an unbalanced lifestyle, then our bodies would regain the equilibrium that we crave. Your mind is your most powerful tool in creating your healthiest, fittest and attractive body. It influences every single process in the body including your fat storage hormones. I could go into the whole stress – cortisol – leptin- insulin weight gain cycle but I think you may just switch off. When I help people with their personal journey back to the fit and healthy body they deserve stress is the first topic we unravel. Once cortisol levels lower, the stress response is switched off and leptin is functioning optimally, the cycle rights itself and making healthy eating choices just comes naturally.

 I use the CRASH cycle to explain how we respond and react to stress and how poor food choices increase stress to create a downward spiral. Of course we are able to use the same functions to encourage an upward spiral to health and vitality when we activate the relaxation hormones.
 An easy way to start listening to your own responses to stress and food are to add ‘Vitamin T’(Time) to your diet - Take time to savour and enjoy everything you put into your body; use all of your senses when you eat, make each meal slow, tasty, pleasurable  with a sense of occasion. And take the time to listen to how your body responds; if you feel sleepy after a meal that is your body's way off dealing with the stress needed to process a food that doesn't agree with your system.
It’s important to get a daily dose of ‘Vitamin P’ (Pleasure) to flood your body with the happy hormones; pleasure and stress cannot live side by side. Do Stuff that makes you feel good (see previous posts about love and oxytocin). When we take the time to incorporate a daily relaxation practice into our lives we release a whole basket of positive chemicals that leave us feeling good for hours after; Serotonin the happiness hormone which regulates the mood, prevents depression and makes you feel super happy. Endorphins make you feel even more relaxed, reduce your anxiety and your sensitivity to pain.  Dopamine helps you to feel mentally alert, lack of it might cause lack of attention, lack of concentration and bad moods. (Tip -Dopamine can be also be released by eating foods that are rich in protein.)  Phenylethamine is the hormone that results in the feelings we get in the early stages of a relationship.  Gherlin is another hormone that reduces stress and can help you become more relaxed. And of course Oxytocin which makes us love ourselves, love others and bliss out.
 So If weight loss is your goal ask yourself, what if in letting go of the stress my body were able to let go of the FAT.... just like that... how would that feel?  Allow the time, the space and the pleasure to savour the idea of how your life would be if you could achieve the healthy body goal you have set yourself. What would you look like? How would others respond to you? How would you feel about yourself? What would be different in your everyday life? Come up with novel and ingenious ways to give yourself the love and praise that you need to be fulfilled, happy and full of vital energy. Start with the smallest steps and choreograph your own dance back to the amazing you that is waiting to emerge. You may find that you move onto the 5 D's without even being aware of the changes as you begin to trust your mind to know what is best for you; when you feel safe, secure, relaxed and at ease you effortlessly experience a healthy balanced attitude to food and work with your body to produce the best YOU available.

You may find these articles helpful -

Friday, 23 January 2015

Blade Runner & Love

I do like Radio 4. Confession out of the way. Today’s History  of Ideas got me thinking about Blade Runner and Love. The philosophy of Wittgenstein is a bit intellectually over my head but the programme has lingered all day in my thoughts; is it our ability to Love each other that makes us Human. If we fell in love only to discover our intended was Not- Human would that matter? Second confession, I could easily fall in love with Rachel and it wouldn't matter whether she was a Replicatant or not.  Why do we invest so much time and energy in being in Love? Blade Runner has been the sound track to more than one of my ‘Love Affairs’; looking  back, I think it may have been a good idea if I had access to a testing device similar to the one that  BladeRunners are equipped with (the Voight-Kampf test) which enabled them to distinguish androids from non-androids. The device measures the changes in the subject’s pupils when asked increasingly difficult questions, and the questions are designed to elicit “empathy” responses to scenarios of animal and human suffering. My radar for those amongst us capable of Empathy  was not very well tuned in the past; Love was lost on those who weren't capable of feeling it for themselves let alone any one else. But as I wasn't very loving toward myself how could  I expect any one else to fill those gaping holes. ( They were fun, even if not entirely healthy, relationships which taught me loads, so I'm not unhappy about experiencing them)

Which leads me back to yesterday’s theme of loving yourself more. When we can Love and appreciate ourselves we attract healthy relationships that make us feel even better about who we are. It doesn't need to be complicated; you can make a few small adjustments right now.  If I were to ask you to rate on a scale of 1 to 10 how much love and kindness you had directed towards yourself today what would you say? Make a note of that score. Then make a commitment  listen to a  visualisation that takes just 10 minutes, make time to listen regularly for at least a week  and check back in after seven days. Ask yourself the same question…. You may be amazed at your score. After only little more than an hour you can really begin to change how you experience yourself. 


Thursday, 22 January 2015

Putting You First - Love Part 3

 OK so having looked at the limitations of loving another perhaps what we need to really do is look at how we love ourselves. And I for one don’t find it that easy to look in that direction; it all feels a bit to ‘New Age’ and dare I say it, ‘A bit American’. However it is true to say that without meeting our own needs we are not going to manage our relationships with others in a mature adult fashion.  
My personal position is that the most effective way to kick start really feeling that deep positive self-regard is professional therapy; you get to talk about yourself for 50 minutes without any interruptions and it’s the therapist job to make you feel understood and accepted. You are soon going to feel all warm and loving towards yourself. I'm not necessarily talking about Freudian or traditional psychodynamic analysis stuff here, but a humanistic approach to counselling based on congruence, empathy and unconditional positive regard. Finding the right therapist to allow you to totally be yourself for, perhaps, the first time ever with another person is life changing. Experiencing unconditional positive regard from others changes the way we view ourselves and how we value ourselves. And when we discover ‘I'm OK and hey, so are You’ then we can truly learn to love.
I was introduced to Transactional Analysis, where the I'm OK– Your OK idea stems from in Los Angeles in the mid-eighties by a wise friend who was trying to discourage me from making a big mistake. I made it any way. And it’s taken me a long time to work out what I need to do to be OK, and love and accept myself. Some days I really don’t act that kindly towards ME but when I do I'm nicer to everyone else in my world. These are some of the things that work for me and in the coming days I'm going to break them down into ten minute tasks that can be incorporated into daily practise without any real effort. You may want to give them ago and just become a bit more open to loving yourself and getting that Oxytocin flowing.
PS - I read recently to take with a pinch of salt anyone who offers Life Advice and has perfect white teeth, a tan and highlights; I have none of those so you are quite safe!!!
1. Be kind to yourself.
We all have faults, things we would rather not have said or done; we tend to be harsh on ourselves, often because the people who were supposed to love us were thoughtless and unkind to us. We hear their criticisms in our minds and take those concepts to be our own. But we don’t have to listen. It is unlikely we would speak so harshly to a friend so why allow our internal dialogue to be so destructive.
Focus on your positive qualities; look at your strengths, your abilities, all the good things about you. Let go of judgements, don’t compare yourself to others, and turn off the self-hatred switch once and for all. ( I have a great visualisation/ self-hypnosis practise for locating and flipping that switch that I will discuss tomorrow and if I can get the technology to work I will post an audio version)
2. Feel the love within you.
 I know that does sound a bit weird but you need to locate where that love for yourself exists. Close your eyes, take some deep breathes and just imagine a time when you felt really good about yourself then imprint that picture on your mind.  Really take your time to feel how happy you were with yourself at that moment and choose to spend more time focusing on self-love. ( I’ll be expanding this practise so it makes more sense but just try this for starters.)
Say nice things to yourself – out loud if you can – it may feel fake to begin with but who cares. You tell your friends when they look good so extend that to you.  Try positive affirmations.  Feel compassion and love toward yourself.
3. Give yourself a break.
No one is perfect. You don’t have to be. No one is happy all the time. No one loves themselves always. No one gets by without a bit of conflict. How awful would it be without all the variations?
(Just sharing here, but I no longer have access to the highs and lows of a menstrual cycle and I miss PMT. I have to create and take responsibility for adding a bit of drama to my life in order to shake it all up a bit.)
So embrace your imperfections and forgive your off days. Loosen up on the high standards for yourself emotionally and mentally. Everyone feels sadness and even pain sometimes; embrace all your emotions without being judgemental.
4. Learn to be Alone.
Are you comfortable in your own skin? Can you be alone without the TV, your phone, the i-pad or other distractions?  What happens if you sit in silence and BE? It may be that feelings of anxiety, fear, or judgment begin to bubble up but you have to have the space to listen to yourself; to go within allow and yourself to be heard.  Practice moments of alone time and become aware of how you treat yourself, embrace solitude and become mindful of your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs about yourself. Discover yourself, you may be surprised to learn what a great person you are and how much there is about you to love.
5. Be Grateful.
 OK So I know we are getting into Oprah territory here but looking at all the reasons why we should count our blessings does make us learn to appreciate ourselves, as well as having an almost magical effect on all our relationships. Start by listing all the things you are grateful for yourself for being or having achieved; I'm always grateful for my failures because if I had realised some of my ambitions earlier in my life I may be stuck with a successful career that I would have had a hard time justifying getting out of. Learn to re-frame so being grateful becomes automatic.
6. Be kind to others.
Yes, it’s a feel-good-cycle; being loving to others is a gift of love you can give yourself which in turn brings you more love. Practice conscious acts of kindness and giving but the trick is to do so without anyone knowing!
The love you’re sharing with others in the form of kindness and help will make you feel more love and fulfilment in your life.

There are some inspiring tips here to get you started -

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Love Part 2 - The Role of Oxytocin

Follow up to yesterday’s post. On a personal note we turned off the TV last night and settled down to answer the 36 love questions. The first set were pretty easy, much laughter and no tension. By the end of the third set we were being polite with each other. And I sensed a little bit of passive aggression as we agreed not to linger on the last question. Turn off the lights; put the cat out, end of.
So take care when (if) you choose to try this in an established relationship, it may just be that it highlights what's not working or how one of you feels more 'heard' than the other.
So how else to rekindle loving feelings? How about hormones? Specifically the major love hormone Oxytocin. Can increasing our oxytocin levels make us more open to love and intimacy? 
According  to some endocrine scientists  hormonal manipulation may well be the way to a future where love is guaranteed, where oxytocin  will be provided chemically, or even genetically engineered from conception, making us more receptive to love and more monogamous. 

Oxytocin is best known for its roles in childbirth; it is released in large amounts during birth, and facilitates breastfeeding. One of the oldest applications of oxytocin as a proper drug is during labour and delivery to induce or augment contractions. Some midwives will recommend nipple stimulation to get labour moving if contractions begin to slow as this really gets the oxytocin flowing. The intense bonding and overwhelming love we feel for our new-borns is down to an oxytocin rush that causes us to fall in love and glues our attachment to the little darlings.
So what about  oxytocin  in couples;  professor Ruth Feldman at Bar-Ilan University in Israel,  studied oxytocin’s role in the mother–child bond before  comparing oxytocin levels in new lovers and singles. “The increase in oxytocin during the period of falling in love was the highest that we ever found,” she says of a study she and her colleagues published in Psychoneuroendocrinology. New lovers had double the amount of the hormone than present in pregnant women.
Given its attachment role will oxytocin work as a relationship enhancer? Science seems to think the way forward for marriage guidance is artificial oxytocin supplementation to maintain or even improve romantic relationships.
Feldman thinks that the types of behaviours that are present in healthy relationships are intimately linked with oxytocin in a positive feedback loop. “Oxytocin can elicit loving behaviours, but giving and receiving these behaviours also promotes the release of oxytocin and leads to more of these behaviours,” she says. She believes therapy alone can boost the oxytocin system, but  doesn't see a problem with jump starting the process with outside help; talk and hormone therapy together might be the solution to long lasting love.http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/be-mine-forever-oxytocin/ 

Having tried the talking what can we do to increase the oxytocin naturally and make us feel more connected and loving?

In no particular order.....
1. Give full attention. Instead of being glued to the TV, give the person you are with your complete attention. Watch their face and listen to what they are  telling you.
2. Give a present.  Oxytocin studies showed that receiving gifts raise oxytocin. The key is not to expect a gift in return, just surprise someone for no reason.
3. Share a meal. Eating moderately is calming and helps us bond with others. Including a glass of wine is fine, too. (You can increase the effect by combining with #1 and 2) 
4. Nipple stimulation. Even imagining having your nipples tweaked can produce a full on oxytocin rush; incorporate it into a visualisation or self-hypnosis practise and expect powerful results. 
5. Have a bath or shower together.  The warm temperature and time together offer the chance to reconnect with fun. Remember when your children were little and bath time was a shared experience, well its equally oxytocin inducing with your partner.
6. Ride a roller coaster or jump out of a plane. Activities that cause moderate stress and are done with one or more other people raise oxytocin.
7. Stroke a dog. This doesn't always work unless the dog belongs to you, but if you are a "dog person," any old dog will raise your oxytocin. I can’t find any evidence about cats however
8. Use the "L" word. Tell those around you that you love them, often, and on repeat. Think about those you love when you can’t be with them and really feel get in touch with the way it floods you with hormones. 
9. Daily hugs.  Touch not only raises oxytocin, but it reduces cardiovascular stress and can improve the immune system. Plus you give others the gift of oxytocin.(# 2)
10. Use social media. This is a bit counter intuitive to me but apparently, 100% of the people tested using social media had an increase in oxytocin. ( I cant find this research now so cant back it up)

And if all else fails my husband forwarded this to me this morning -
http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/01/26/fall-love  A follow-up study to see whether the intimacy between two committed partners can be broken down by forcing them to ask each other thirty-six questions no one in a relationship should actually ask.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Love is the Question....

I have been giving the idea of Love a lot of thought this week.  The 36 question experiment that has appeared in many publications got me started, and when I read through the questions I realised I don’t know many of the responses my husband was likely to give. And then I began to think about others that I really love and what there probable replies would be. I don’t think I know my loved ones anywhere nearly as well as I would like.
I have decided to rectify this and conduct the 36 questions experiment on my marriage (I was about to add my current marriage, I think I have a better idea of the likely answers my previous husband would give!) We have been together three years and really are at the getting to know each other stage still so it’s going to be interesting. I wonder why we haven’t had the kind of conversations that would have addressed these questions; What if we had asked each other these things before we got married?
Perhaps you may be wondering what effect these questions would have on your understanding of your partner? Can it make us love them more? Be a little kinder when we feel irritated by the daily habits of another that don’t correspond to our exacting standards? See our partner with a new sense of awe and renew intimacy.
So tonight's the night...

Set One

1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?
3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.
12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

Set Two

1. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
2. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
3. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
4. What do you value most in a friendship?
5. What is your most treasured memory?
6. What is your most terrible memory?
7. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
8. What does friendship mean to you?
9. What roles do love and affection play in your life?
10. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.
11. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
12. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?

Set Three

1. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling …”
2. Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share …”
3. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
4. Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.
5. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.
6. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
7. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.
8. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
9. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?
10. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?
11. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
12. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.