Organic Melinda

healthy living with a Latin twist


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Day 30 – A Day of Work, Work, Work

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 I have switched my site to a new server. I will only be posting on this blog for the next week or two until I have completed the site transfer. 

To My Little Princess,

What a day this has been. Mami woke up to edit for a client, transfer my website to a new server, edit for another client, and work some more.

I am sorry for not being as attentive as you needed me to be, but I am glad that I got to hold you in my arms while I worked. You got to play with my hair and fall asleep on my chest.

I know that there will be many more days where I will have to work around the clock in order to establish my business.

I hope that this will be a temporary process and the income will flow in from Eat Like A Vegan and my Healthy Living Consultations.

I have faith that things will get better, soon, and we wont have to fret about whether or not you can run around and drop food on the floor here and there.

Grandma has been gracious enough to let us stay here for the month, but our time here is coming to an end soon. We have to find a place to live.

Luckily, Daddy has a job interview on Wednesday, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that he gets it. That would be so awesome, because he has been working part-time. But, we shall see what the future holds.

I am pushing through, applying to jobs, and continuing my efforts.

I really hate the thought of having to leave you for 50 hours a week, so I am trying my best not to have to, baby girl.

Now that it nears 5 a.m., it’s time for Mami to get some sleep.

Everyday of my life,

Mami Loves You

—-
About this Series:
In honor of Latino Heritage Month, I will write 30 letters for 30 days to my beautiful daughter. This series is entitled, Mami Loves You. In these letters, I will tell her about the world around her, and reflect on her development.

Each Tuesday and Thursday, I will honor a Latina woman that I believe is a great role model for my daughter to admire. Through these letters, I pay homage to my role as a mother, and I will teach my daughter about one of the cultures that has birthed her.

To Subscribe to the series Mami Loves You, follow the link: http://mamilovesyou.com/ and fill out the form.

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Day 29 – Somersaults

Dear Little Acrobat of Mine,

After my interview with Tasleem Jamila of Radio Islam where she and I discussed living gmo-free, supporting local farms, and my services, you and I had a ton of fun this afternoon.

I took you on a trip to the backyard and brought you to stand in the sun for a little while.

Afterwards, we came back home, and I played with you in bed. I would place the blanket over my head and you would lift it up and laugh so hard.

Then, we could go under the blanket together. You would giggle and put your feet in my face telling me to kiss your toes.

I tickled you as you laughed and laughed some more.

We sang capoeira songs. Now, you know two songs – la la la eu and oi sim sim sim oi nao nao nao. You sing them on your own, clap your hands, and then make me join along.

you and Daddy doing capoeira

During one of these moments, you did your very first somersault, today!

I am so proud of how athletic you are at only 18 months old.

You are flourishing so quickly and getting so smart.

Of course, you’re still my baby girl as you demand kisses and cuddles.

You always want to fall asleep in my arms and stay there the whole time you’re napping.

I am usually happy to oblige.

I have to breastfeed you, now, so I have to go.

With a boobie in your mouth,

Mami Loves You

—-
About this Series:
In honor of Latino Heritage Month, I will write 30 letters for 30 days to my beautiful daughter. This series is entitled, Mami Loves You. In these letters, I will tell her about the world around her, and reflect on her development.

Each Tuesday and Thursday, I will honor a Latina woman that I believe is a great role model for my daughter to admire. Through these letters, I pay homage to my role as a mother, and I will teach my daughter about one of the cultures that has birthed her.

To Subscribe to the series Mami Loves You, follow the link: http://mamilovesyou.com/ and fill out the form.


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Day 28 – Prisoner of Love

To My Love,

Hello, my sweet. You are rest, right now, and I am right besides you. I have a super long to-do list, but, even in your sleep, you want all of my attention.

Today has been an odd day for me. I was up much of last night working on my second book, editing my website, setting up the course material for DDFS, and I didnt get to sleep until about 8 a.m.

I woke up around 10:30 am because I had a meeting scheduled with Francesca, who has been a guiding light these past 6 months. She’s helped turn me into a more competent business woman. Today, she and I talked about my course design, workshops, and pricing. She’s been super helpful in helping me turn my skills into a business.

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You’ve been clingy much of the day. I am sure that you can feel how preoccupied I am with thoughts in order to secure our survival.

Because I have been so busy trying to build my businesses, I am just going to lay here next to you while you sleep and comfort you.

You’re more important to me than all of the money in the world. Mami is just trying to secure our financial future.

This series is coming to a close in just a few more days, but I have decided to keep writing to you at least a few times a week.

I cannot wait until you’re old enough to read these letters.

Every day,
Mami Loves You

—-
About this Series:
In honor of Latino Heritage Month, I will write 30 letters for 30 days to my beautiful daughter. This series is entitled, Mami Loves You. In these letters, I will tell her about the world around her, and reflect on her development.

Each Tuesday and Thursday, I will honor a Latina woman that I believe is a great role model for my daughter to admire. Through these letters, I pay homage to my role as a mother, and I will teach my daughter about one of the cultures that has birthed her.

To Subscribe to the series Mami Loves You, follow the link: http://mamilovesyou.com/ and fill out the form.


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Day 27 – Perfection is Myth

To My Little Love,

I was having a discussion about perfection with Annie Sanchez from Debt Free Like Annie.  She told me that she likes that I set goals and work towards them without obsessing over making every single detail perfect.

My response to her can be summed up in this quote:

“My farts will never smell like mangoes.”

The phrase just slipped out while I was writing to her, and while amusing, it gets to the heart of what I was trying to explain.

We often obsess over things being perfect. We want the perfect job, the perfect house, the perfect body, the perfect meal, the perfect life experience, but it doesn’t exist.

If anything, it is the flaws and imperfections that provide detail and render life beautiful.

I learned many moons ago that my pursuit of perfection would, literally, make me go crazy.

I decided I would get my doctorate degree when I was roughly 10 years old. From that moment on, I worked super hard at everything. I joined almost every after-school program I could throughout middle and high school, and found myself at Barnard College of Columbia University where I pursued education with the same fervor I did as a child.

At the end of that pursuit, I found myself with few friends and on the verge of insanity when, upon graduation, I was unemployed, back at my mother’s house, and had to make that terrible trip to the Department of Social Services and apply for food stamps.

I cried the entire walk there. I cried quietly in the waiting room. I cried after I applied, and yet again when I got home.

I continued to send my resume and landed a job, again, which I worked at very hard, but the pressure that I had placed upon myself to live a life I had dreamed of when I was 10 years old caused me to have severe panic attacks.

I couldn’t even keep the job, which was a high paying research analyst position in Wall Street, because my entire existence became consumed with panic attacks.

Perfectionism often comes with the consequence of high levels of anxiety.  The more pressure you put on yourself on having a particular item be perfect, the more your level of anxiety increases until you are in a state of panic.

Once you are used to being anxious most (or all) of the time, your body transitions faster and faster to the flight or fight mode activated by anxiety.

I began to unconsciously hyperventilate all of the time.

My battle with panic attacks resulted in an extreme fear of death. The more I tried to control my environment, the worse my panic attacks got. This battle lasted about a year.

And, then, I had a breakthrough.

One day, as I laid in bed having one of the worst panic attacks of my life which convinced me that I would die, a thought occurred to me – just relax Melinda.

I took a deep breath, said La illaha il Allah, closed my eyes, and decided that I would allow myself to die if I was going to.

The next day, I woke up.

I felt refreshed. Maybe, even renewed.

When I gave up the illusion of control and my anxiety over dying before that perfect moment I envisioned in my head, the panic attack stopped.

I have had very few, if any, panic attacks since that day.

That moment taught me that life would never be exactly what I wanted it to be, and insisting that life be some ideal version will only cause me anxiety, fear, and imbalance.

Good mental health is not about life being perfect. It is not about always being happy. It is not about everything always falling into place exactly how you want it.

Instead, you can only be a truly healthy person when you learn how to cope with the difficulty around you, how to make the best of it, and how to appreciate what you have.

Letting go of the twin illusions of perfection and control does not mean that you don’t work towards the betterment of your life. It doesn’t mean that you half-ass things and don’t put your all into them.

Rather, it means that you become even more responsible for your own actions, because you have a deeper understanding of your own accountability.

I believe in being able to shape things through my actions.

Things will never be perfect, but they will be what you need to grow and expand into a full human being.

Always by your side,

Mami Loves You

—-
About this Series:

In honor of Latino Heritage Month, I will write 30 letters for 30 days to my beautiful daughter. This series is entitled, Mami Loves You. In these letters, I will tell her about the world around her, and reflect on her development.

Each Tuesday and Thursday, I will honor a Latina woman that I believe is a great role model for my daughter to admire. Through these letters, I pay homage to my role as a mother, and I will teach my daughter about one of the cultures that has birthed her.

To Subscribe to the series Mami Loves You, follow the link: http://mamilovesyou.com/ and fill out the form.

 


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Becoming a Healthier Me

Health, to me, is holistic. It includes your body, yes, but also your mind, heart, and spirit.

Physical health will quickly deteriorate if you are experiencing anxiety, financial difficulty, stress, and fear.

This year, I have made a lot of gains (or losses) when it comes to my weight.  I went from 162 pounds post-partum to 129 pounds, but I haven’t been as healthy as I want to be.

In Progress

In Progress

Emotional eating has been a really big struggle for me this year. I tend to turn to food when I am anxious or overwhelmed with my situation.  But, the tips that Yaritza, Lori, and I came up with have been helping me overcome emotional eating.

Now, I want to make greater strides for my mental health – end my anxious mind.

Exercise is an essential part of that.

I began doing yoga this month, and, mostly, for the spiritual aspect of it.  Holding each stance forces us to quiet our minds and be at peace with the limitations of our own bodies.

Limitations, have, especially, been hard for me this year, because I am used to being strong and capable of taking care of myself.

A car accident in May left me with spinal damage, and I came to discover that I have nerve damage in my left hand.

The goal, now, is to strengthen the nerve in my hand and re-align my spine, so that I can continue my journey towards physical fitness.

Yoga will strengthen my core and improve my flexibility, so that I can do what I really want to do – CAPOEIRA!

I have started doing capoeira, again, but I have lost a lot of my stamina and endurance due to the months that I had to take off from practice. I am also not physically able to do a full range of motions without being in pain later.  I have to be super careful with all that I do and ensure that I do not get hit.  It’s been frustrating that I cannot even play the pandeiro for more than a few minutes because my hand weakens super fast, now.

I really want to go back to the basics of capoeira and re-learn the movements.

So many capoeiristas are in a rush with their careers. For me, I just love the strum of the berimbau and the total feeling of connectedness to the universe that I feel while I am swaying in the roda.

Capoeira is a place of peace for me, which replenishes my mind and spirit while toning my body.

My mental health is my primary concern, right now, because I want to be a conscious parent while raising my little girl.

I know that eating well, exercising, meditation, and self-control are the foundation that I need to be a good, sane, stable mother and a good role model.

On the physical front, I really want to get toned – like super toned.

My original goal prior to my car accident was to compete in a Fitness competition in the Bikini Category.  I had started preparing for it, and had to quickly halt the process.

The doctors have put me on severe no weightlifting restrictions, right now, though, due to herniated discs in my spine, but I am convinced that I will be able to tone my body without necessarily lifting weights.

As my financial and living situation improve, which I know they will, soon, I will really be able to dedicate myself to the craft of bodybuilding and represent vegan bodybuilders and Latinas on that stage.

I have to remember that every meal I consume will either heighten or hamper my chances at strutting myself on that stage.

I want to body build, because I just want to see what my body is fully capable of.  I want to feel like a warrior – strong and confident.

A long time ago, I dedicated myself to being a lot more than just average, and I am on that journey.

Being a #healthyme is vital to being a #successfulme.


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The Causes of Emotional Eating and Tips to Stop

With commercials and advertisements constantly telling us to eat, eat, and eat some more, many of us feel hungry all of our waking hours. Yet, what often follows food advertisements is an onslaught of more advertisements about diet and weight loss.

We are constantly being told through media images that we must eat to enjoy life, to be cool, to hang out, BUT we must be fit, muscular, and thin while we do it.  These mixed messages often leave us in a state of confusion.  You add the fact that food is tied to so many of our identities and cultural memories, and eating can often become a blanket of comfort, a tool to deal with pain, and an escape from anxiety.

In this post, I will share information on the causes of emotional eating through my own experiences and those of Marriage and Family Therapist, Yaritza Zayas and Lori Brannen-Graham, a Personal Trainer and Holistic Nutritionist.

Defining Emotional Eating

Yartiza defines emotional eating as, “The use of food (any food) to cope with a feeling state that is overwhelming. This does include feelings that are categorized as “good” or “happy” (i.e. pride, excitement, etc) not limited to “negative” feelings (i.e. sad, upset, anger, etc).”

Lori states, “Emotional eating can be defined as using food to either comfort oneself in times of stress or ‘self-medicating’ through food.”

According to webmd.com, “Eating to feed a feeling, and not a growling stomach, is emotional eating.”

Unpacking the Definition

In other words, we all experience emotional eating.

Emotional eating is not a problem that is only experienced by people who are characterized as over-weight. It is, also, not a problem that is only experienced by women.

Having a celebratory drink or slice of cake after running a marathon or getting a job promotion is a form of emotional eating; as is the stereotypical image of a girl downing a pint of ice-cream and a box of chocolate after a break-up.

Emotional eating can also be seen in fitness models and bodybuilders eating weekly “cheat meals” to deal with feelings of deprivation after a week of strict calorie-counting.

Many people eat when they are bored; this, too, is a form of emotional eating.

When Emotional Eating Becomes a Concern

Celebratory eating is, generally speaking, not a problem if it is not excessive.

The concern with emotional eating rises when it becomes a cycle that an individual cannot break him/herself out of or an individual feels like s/he has little to no control in stopping.

If you eat, and then experience feelings of guilt, anger, or frustration, it is a good idea to ask yourself why you just ate.  Were you hungry or did other emotions spark your desire to eat?

In our interview, Yaritza and I discussed food as an addiction.  Like any drug addiction, food can serve to mediate anxieties, fears, feelings of worthlessness, and can make you feel good.  It has been well-documented that sugar has addictive properties akin to cocaine.

Emotional eating can also be form of self-sabotage and an immediate outlet to cope with unwanted feelings. Survivors of physical and sexual abuse are known to resort to emotional eating as a way to make themselves what they perceive to be physically unattractive or as a way to cope with feelings of emptiness or pain.

So, if every time you are sad, anxious, or angry, you run to the refrigerator, you are probably an emotional eater.

 Causes of Emotional Eating

Emotional eating can start at a very young age, such as when children receive food as a reward for good behavior.  In my conversation with Yaritza, we discussed the prevalence of this behavior in the Latino community. While treats as rewards, in of themselves, are not a problem, they create a connection between good feelings and food, which can last a lifetime.

Here is a free-list of other factors that cause and/or contribute to emotional eating:

  • stress
  • anxiety
  • a break-up
  • anger
  • sadness
  • lack of impulse control
  • wanting comfort
  • inability of coping with and handling difficult emotional states
  • feelings of deprivation
  • eating below caloric requirements
  • boredom
  • psychological difficulties or mental illness
  • having an eating disorder

Each of these factors can work together to create an environment conducive of emotional eating.

Personal Stories

Lori shares her difficulties with emotional eating when she was a bodybuilder a few years ago.

 “I had developed ritualistic eating habits and patterns that consequently led to some health issues and the feelings associated with emotional eating. I would restrict myself all week knowing that I had a planned ‘cheat’ on the weekend. During the week it’s all I could think about….I dreamt of chocolate. It was always the same disappointment each time, though. I would spend the following day lethargic and cranky, promising myself to not binge until the following weekend. I led this lifestyle for so long it just became normal to me.”   

While Lori struggled with feelings of self-deprivation and extreme calorie-counting to maintain a competition-ready physique, Yartiza shared her emotional triggers.

“I have battled with overeating and my trigger was anger. I have a quick temper and to avoid getting violent or to calm the anger feelings I’d overindulge to get so stuffed that I couldn’t move and essentially  become helpless and a non-threat.”

I have also struggled with emotional eating as a way to mediate anxiety, stress, and even as a way to stake claim over my body.  Perhaps, the last part was more triggered by anger.  In a previous post, I shared my struggles with having a positive view of my body.  I discussed some of the difficulties that arose from constant name calling, and my mother policing everything that I ate.  At times, I would eat just to defy her.

Anxious and stress-related eating began when I was in college. I had to work multiple part-time jobs while going to college full-time and maintaining a high GPA.  During mid-terms and final exams, I would sit down with a giant bag of chips, a large container of salsa, and a jug of purple soda.  All of the junk food would provide me with a sugar rush that would keep me awake long enough to study and finish papers. However, I would feel the damaging effects of eating so much and so unhealthy for days after these events, especially when I would binge eat to stay awake for 3-4 days straight.  

Dangers of Emotional Eating

Emotional eating, for many, is a coping mechanism to deal with difficult times, but it can actually cause further difficulties.

Certified Personal Trainer & Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Lori explains, “There are many dangers associated with emotional eating, including (but not limited to) many psychological troubles such as self-loathing, guilt, frustration, disappointment, shame, and/or feelings of failure. These feelings can perpetuate stress and keep the cycle on-going. Emotional eating can be habit forming and long term can cause metabolic damage. It can also lead to yo-yo dieting (to compensate for an emotional food binge) and lead to major body weight fluctuations. “

Family Therapist, Yaritza asserts that emotional eating can lead to “lifestyle diseases like obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. [and it can be] linked to other addictive behaviors (not limited to high risk behaviors like drug use, for example).”

Another danger of emotional eating is that individuals might not learn other ways to cope with difficult emotions or times.  It is important to have healthy ways of coping with life’s difficulties and celebrating good times without turning to food.

Tips on How to Stop

Now, that we have an understanding of the factors that lead to emotional eating and the potential dangers, here are 8 tips shared by Lori, Yaritza, and I on how to overcome emotional eating.

1. Practice Mindful Eating

“Use hunger as your guide and eat until you are comfortably full. Practicing mindful eating can bring your focus and awareness to the food directly in front of you. If mindful eating becomes a habit it will become harder to revert back to emotional eating,” advises Lori.

2. Stay Hydrated

In our phone interview, Yaritza explained to me that our body signals are the same for thirst and hunger. Many times people confuse the two sensations.  If you have eaten in the past hour or so, and, all of the sudden, you are very hungry, drink some water.  If it satiates your desire to eat, then you were thirsty, not hungry.  Staying hydrated also helps you to feel fuller longer.  Most people require their weigh divided by 2 in ounces of water per day.  For example, I weight 129 lbs, so I would need at least 65 oz of water a day.

3. Recognize  Your Triggers

It is important to figure out what triggers your desire to eat or over-eat when you are not hungry.  Once you figure out what is causing you to eat when you are not hungry, then you can begin to stop.

Lori states, “When you are in a moment of wanting to soothe yourself with food, find something else to do. Replace that habit with something new.”

4. Keep a Journal

It is good to keep a journal of your feelings and a log of your food.  By keeping track of your feelings, you can begin to identify the emotions that trigger binging, explained Yaritza.  Keeping a food log makes you accountable to what you are putting into your body.  Keeping a journal has helped me a lot in my own battle against emotional eating.

5. Exercise

Yaritza and Lori are very physically active women.  They exercise almost every day and both commented on the importance of exercise as a tool to cope with stress, anxiety, and other emotions that lead to emotional eating.  Exercise, also, releases feel good hormones into your bloodstream, which can curb negative emotions which may trigger food cravings.

6. Eat Enough

It might seem ironic to suggest that you eat more food when you are struggling with emotional eating, but I found that feelings of deprivation are a major factor in emotional eating.  Make sure to eat high quality, healthy food, and keep healthy snacks around you.  If you are not eating enough to sustain your body and activity level, you will definitely feel unwell, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

7. Switch Out Sweet Treats for Healthier Ones

When I find myself wanting to eat because I feel stressed or anxious, it is hard for me to find junk food in my household.  I really avoid it like the plague, because I know that the momentary feeling of goodness and satisfaction will soon give way to my stomach hurting and feelings of regrets and anger towards myself.

So, instead of feeding my emotions cupcakes and cookies, all I can find in my refrigerator are carrots, hummus, and fruits and vegetables. While this does not directly solve the problem of emotional eating, it serves as a baby-step in the process.

8. Seek Professional Help

It is always a good idea to speak to a therapist or psychologist when you are an emotional eater.  Therapy can provide you with a tool-kit in order to better manage your triggers.

Resources

If you have any more questions on this post or any of my previous posts, please send an email to organicmelinda@gmail.com.

To learn more about emotional eating and how to cope, click the links below.

http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/

http://www.eatingdisordersanonymous.org/