mental health

Breaking the Cycle of Emotional Eating

Emotional eating is real--tired, stressed, bored, sad, even joy can lead to excessive eating. 

Feeling a lack of control can also contribute.

That’s me. Something I’ve struggled with for as long as I can remember, and something I have been working tirelessly on over the last 12 months. When unforeseen circumstances arise that are out of my control, I take immediate action. I try to remedy. Try to regain control.

When I cannot fix it, when the situation simply is what it is, that’s my trigger.

The truth is once we enter a state of emotional eating it’s almost impossible to to stop. It also brings about very real feelings of guilt and shame.

The key to breaking the emotional eating cycle is to understand your emotions, and the factors that typically lead to the act, and rather than eating to cope, dive in fully and change your actions.


First, just stop. Breathe.

Take a look inward and understand what it is that you’re feeling. Being able to name our emotions as they’re happening has actually been proven to diminish the intensity of it.

Be as specific as possible. For example, when I was in the middle of my divorce, I was feeling A LOT. So rather than stating a very general, “I feel sad,” I would challenge myself to go deeper. What I was really feeling — absolutely terrified that no one will ever deem me worthy of love or being faithful to. That no one will ever want me, and I am going to be alone for the rest of my life.

Go deeper to lessen the intensity of what you’re feeling, and show yourself compassion. Acknowledge what you’re feeling, and tell yourself it’s ok to feel that way. There is no reason to feel any guilt or shame for feeling this. Remind yourself that it will pass; what you’re feeling is not a permanent state.

When I was first practicing this, I would write it all in a journal. I carried my journal and a pen with me wherever I went, because when I was in the thick of divorce, starting over as a single mother, and my mother’s cancer, big emotions would hit at random throughout the day.

Just like anything, it takes practice. I’ve taken myself through this so many times, it’s second nature at this point. I no longer need the journal.

Now, what factors have lead to your emotional eating?

Who were you with?

What were you doing?

What was your stress level?

Did you sleep well?

Remaining mindful in an emotional state is key. Reacting to a feeling is immediate, it’s an emotional state in itself. It’s not based on thought. Responding, on the other hand, requires thought. It requires mindfulness and understanding. It requires compassion.


Understand your patterns.

To break the emotional eating cycle you also want to understand what your typical patterns are. For most, emotional eating is a habit engrained by repetition. They go into autopilot and reach for the same foods time and time again.

So what is your pattern? Do you go to the grocery store? The drive through? Is it food you keep at home regularly?

Once you identify your patterns you can take action to break them. 

Creating new patterns and habits, and breaking old ones takes a tremendous amount of practice and time. Yes, you will stumble. Yes, it is going to feel hard. Some days will feel impossible. But it will get better. It’s only a failure if you stop trying. When you quit, that’s when you fail. But if you get back up and continue to press forward, you will make progress, and it will get better. I am living proof of that.

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” - Calvin Coolidge

XOXO - 

Jules

33

Today is my 33rd birthday. I’ve never been one to loathe aging. In fact it’s quite the opposite. I’ve always viewed each birthday as a personal new year; a time to reflect and show gratitude.

Between my divorce, navigating life as a single parent, my mother’s cancer diagnosis, and my sister’s car accident, the last year has been absolutely brutal. Without a doubt, the most devastating challenges I have had to face thus far.

For years I was the queen of keeping a cool exterior. I viewed showing any kind of emotion, or asking for help as signs of weakness. Mind you, not when other people sought my council. No, it was only weakness if I required help. 

I was a rock. I could handle whatever blows life was going throw. And I was going to do it by myself.

This mentality seemed to serve me well through the first 30 years of life. It wasn’t until my marriage started to unravel, and I had completely lost myself in the roles of mother and wife, that my no emotion, no help, rock mentality started taking its toll, and some destructive behavior started becoming a daily practice.

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness.” - Brene Brown

I had never learned the tools to cope with big emotions because I had never allowed myself to ever feel them. I shoved them into the dark depths, where they would never be seen (of felt).

I knew in the midst of coming to terms with my decision to file for divorce, and having just learned of my mother’s cancer, that this was a pivotal moment in my life. This was not something I was going to be able to send into the labyrinth, never to be dealt with. The pain, fear, and anger I felt was overwhelming. Consuming. And I realized I only had two options; let it break me down, or break me open.

I chose the latter.

We are not what happens to us, we are how we choose to respond to what happens to us.

We go through the tough stuff to grow and be better; because there will come a day when someone is struggling and are in need of the tools you’ve learned, and you will be able to provide them.

33 is a new year. There will be more pain (such is life), but there’s also going to be a whole lot of vulnerability, joy, and mindfulness.

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” - Brene Brown

XOXO - 

Jules

Vulnerable

Being vulnerable is not something that comes naturally, at least not to me. But as I have been in a relentless pursuit of self-improvement over the last 9 months, I’ve realized my pain, suffering, and growth have the potential to help others.

I separated from my husband in November of last year, and my daughter and I moved to Oregon. In February, as I was coming to terms with my decision to file for divorce, and navigating life as a single parent who was completely starting over, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. 

I had never known that kind of pain. I was mourning the loss of my marriage; the death of the dream I had for our life and our family. And to face it while also fearing for my mother’s life, I broke. Life brought me to my knees and I knew I wasn’t going to get through all of it without feeling it.

Vulnerability. Asking for help. Showing emotion. They all equated to weakness. I have always cared for people, but I have been so detached from my own feelings, for the last 23 or so years, I never had the capacity to have true empathy. There are people in my life who have known me for years, but they’ve never really known me. I’ve always had a nearly impenetrable wall, that I don’t think anyone had ever successfully made it to the other side of. 

But now, because of what I’ve been through and the work I’ve done on myself, I have cultivated much deeper relationships with my clients, my friends, and my family.

We all have trauma. It doesn’t matter how it compares to others. If it’s causing you pain, if it’s causing you to suffer, it’s real.

I want you to know that I hear you. I see you. I feel you. You will get through this, and you will get through the next obstacle life throws your way. And you will keep getting up and keep getting through it. And I am here, fighting the same fight with you.

"Owning our story can be hard, but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerability is risky, but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy - the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light." - Brene Brown

Stay strong my friends, and shine bright.

XOXO -

Jules

Self-Care Non-Negotiable

“Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” - John Muir

What do you need to feel balanced? To feel whole? These are questions I ask every client, and it’s important to understand, because these should be your self-care non-negotiables.

I am a mom, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a coach. There are people who need and deserve me at my best. It used to feel like a constant battle to be everything my daughter needs, everything my clients need, and to also give myself what I need. All too often we forgo what might be best for us, because we feel the need to serve others before ourselves.

But what I’ve learned over this last year is that making one’s own mental and physical wellbeing a priority is not selfish, it’s essential. When you are caring for yourself properly, you’ll be operating closer to your optimal, which in turn will allow you to serve those you love with more enthusiasm.

So in reality, self-care is an act of selflessness.

My self-care non-negotiables:

- Move (and sweat) daily.

- Time in nature. Being amongst the trees is where I feel most at peace.

- Quiet time to read and meditate.

So, now I ask you. What do you need to feel balanced? What do you need to feel whole? What are your self-care non-negotiables? And most importantly, are they part of your daily routine? If not, it’s time to re-prioritize.

I deserve me at my best. And so do you, my friend. But if all we do is give, burnout is inevitable. Self-care is key. When you feel whole, you shine. And the world needs your light.

XOXO -

Jules

“An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly.” – Unknown

The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

“Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live.” – Jim Rohn

It’s no secret that regular exercise has an immense impact on mental health; just as significant as the impact on your physical health. There have been countless studies on the topic, but I think the information is still lost on most of us. Some of the most significant benefits of regular exercise include:

Improved sleep. Sleep is essential, and lack of sleep will have a significant impact on both mental and physical health. Lost sleep has also been show to affect the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for focus, concentration, decision-making, reaction time, and more. Once sleep deprivation has reached a certain level (differs from person to person), it has been shown to hinder cognitive response, similarly to what's seen with intoxication.

Any level of regular exercise seems to make for better rest, but vigorous physical activity enhances deep sleep, and deep sleep is where we recover most.

Increased sex drive. I’m pretty sure this one is self-explanatory. I mean really, who doesn’t want a more active and fulfilling sex life?

Increased self-confidence. As strength and endurance increase, you will naturally feel stronger and more capable in life. With regular exercise, people report elevated perception of their own attractiveness and a more positive self-image.

Simply setting a plan and sticking to it automatically gives a sense of accomplishment. And as your body starts changing (increased muscle tone, fat loss, etc.), there’s a natural boost in self-confidence, which will only aid in seeing yourself in a more positive and loving light.

"Strength of mind is exercise, not rest." – Alexander Pope

Stress relief. Exercise is physical stress, so how does physical stress relieve mental stress? Physical exertion does wonders for your stress levels. It increases concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress.

Exercise and sports also provide an opportunity to get away and enjoy some solitude or, if you’re someone who is recharged by being social, it provides an opportunity to make friends and build networks.

I’m the former. I am an introvert by nature, so when I get to the gym, I say hi to the front desk guy, and then the headphones go on and I’m in the zone. I rarely speak to anyone. Not because I don’t like people, but as a stay-at-home-mom, this is literally one of the only times of the day I get to be “alone.” And I need my alone time.

Exercise is also play and recreation; and when your body is busy, your mind will be distracted from the worries of daily life, and will be free to think creatively, or to not think at all.

Stress can have a severely negative impact on your mental and physical health, and is not something to be ignored. You can read more on the negative effects of stress here.

Improvement in mood. Elle Woods said it best, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.” Girlfriend knew what she was talking about. Exercise does release endorphins, which leads to feelings of happiness and euphoria.

Study after study has shown that regular exercise can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. In fact, in some cases regular exercise was just as effective as prescription medication.

Increased energy and stamina. It’s been shown that individuals who exercise regularly are significantly more productive, and have more energy, than their sedentary peers.

Increased mental alertness and memory. Studies have shown that cardiovascular exercise creates new brain cells, and that a tough workout increases levels of a brain-derived protein (known as BDNF) in the body, believed to help with decision making, higher thinking, and learning.

Regular exercise has also been seen to increase the production of cells in the hypocampus, which is the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning.

If you’re new to working out, it’s probably going to feel like more of an exhausting chore than a stress relief, but stay the course. The first 2 weeks are always the most difficult, then suddenly, the day comes when it’s not so difficult. You don’t lose your breath as easily; you’re able to lift a little more weight. Soon it will become something you enjoy, and eventually, something you need.

You just won’t feel right without it.

“An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.” – Henry David Thoreau

XOXO –

Jules