What if you asked yourself this question each morning...
Would you say: Today I will struggle with food and my body's natural appetite. Today, I will look in the mirror and dislike what I see. Today I am going to obsess about food, plan my next binge, devour heaps of food, and then feel an immense amount of shame. Today I will spend countless hours obsessing about my body and how it “should” look. Today, I shall spend many joyless hours at the gym, punishing my body so that it can be just like “culture” says that it should. Today I am going to mentally beat myself up for not being “enough” of anything. Today I will live the life that society suggests instead of honoring my true wishes. Today I will say things to myself that I would never say to another living soul.
The truth is that we, women, most likely do this every day. It may not be conscious, but we do it. We step out of bed and our thoughts put us on a roller coaster of lack, loneliness, and pain. We spend so much of our lives, and our daily energy, on things that keep us small, that actually keep us from living. The age old question "What is the purpose of life?" I am very confidant that we were not given this life to go to war with one self, and the body we are in.
I believe we were given this life to Live! Wholeheartedly. Lovingly. Boldly. Authentically. Imperfectly.
We are taught to eat less and exercise more. If that worked then we wouldn't have such a high rate of body dissatisfaction and disease in this country. We know that strategy doesn't work, and it can be extremely confusing to know what the right approach to health is.
How my approach is different:
It took me 12 years working as a pharmacist to realize that I am not here to disempower people. I am here to remind people that we all have the ability and privilege to be healthy. Healthy not only in body, but in mind and soul as well. Western medicine tell us that we are sick, and broken. We are given the impression that we need someone else to “fix” us, something else to make us happy. I know from my own personal journey that this is not the truth. Your ability to heal lives within you, and as a coach I help guide you to that place.
I use both eating psychology and nutrition science. I focus on what is right for you and your body. As a result, eating and health issues become a place of exploration. Instead of seeing health challenges as the enemy, they become opportunities for growth and self-improvement. We move away from push and dis-ease into a place of ease and nourishment.
A bit about Health Coaching:
As a heath coach I look beyond what we have perceived as the culprit of disease (or dis-ease). So often food is where we point our finger, labeling it the problem. FOOD IS NOT THE PROBLEM! Our relationship with food is a symptom. Most often it is asking us to look deeper. As coach guides I guide my clients to re-examine their relationship with food and body, dive deeper into their behaviors and beliefs, and lastly shine a light on the aspects of life that have been overlooked or forgotten. By doing this work as a health coach I am able to empower women to take back their lives, to live fully, and to truly heal.
The founder for the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, Marc David, often said "The biology of the body is a reflection of the biology of the mind." Said a different way,
"The biology of the body is always mirroring the experience of the soul”
In other words our thoughts and beliefs are so powerful that they can have an actual impact on how our bodies function. It can affect the health of our cells, that comprise our organs, which make up our body as a whole! By living in the story that our bodies aren’t good enough the way that they are, or that the food we eat will make us fat, it truly puts the body into a response so that those beliefs will become truth! As a coach we work together to shift this internal belief system and therefore we create the change you desire. This is how we truly heal, from the inside out.
Thanks for being here! I'm Tara...
As a young child I was quiet, sensitive and introverted. For example, I would “forget” to bring something for Show and Tell hoping I wouldn’t have to talk. As I approached my teen years I started to emerge from my shell. People started to notice me. They started to notice my body. As a result I become a target for judgment, disdain, or admiration.
Girls hated me, and boys liked me. It wasn’t my choice to be given the body I was in. As a self proclaimed introvert the last thing I would have wished upon myself was center stage. I didn't want people to notice me for my body, I wanted people to like me for who I was, a kind, quiet, vulnerable girl just trying to figure life out.
Like most teenagers I loved magazines. I admired the beautiful women, and loved to learn about food and body. I went from a normal girl who ate pretty much anything, to a young woman who was a vegetarian and ate virtually no fat. At first I wasn't trying to lose weight, or look a particular way, I was just trying to do the “right” thing and eat healthy. By being so rigid with what I ate I became more rigid and controlling in other aspects of my life.
My world became smaller and my mental space became obsessive. The number of fat grams on a package was my gatekeeper and the number on the scale my addiction. Everyday I would run, stretch, and lift weights.
I did this because that is what I thought I needed to do to be healthy. And to me healthy meant loved and accepted. As the number on the scale diminished, so did my self worth. My original desire for health evolved into a greater state of dis-ease. I had stopped menstruating (as my hormone levels were pre-menopausal at the age of 18).
I couldn’t run without getting a side ache, and I couldn’t even give blood during the school blood drive because I was underweight. Somehow the number I had been obsessing about didn’t seem important any longer. I found a hole within myself. My heart was empty and I was lost.
I went to college in that state of utter confusion. I joined a sorority, which made absolutely no sense. Knowing my track record with the female gender this was like walking into hell and setting up camp. I didn’t know how to be friends with women, let alone myself. Within a matter of weeks my old habits started to fall away, but not by choice.
I no longer had control over the food that I would eat. What the cooks served is was I got. Counting fat grams was no longer an option. Eating foods that I had written off years ago, deeming them "bad", left me feeling bad, full of “unhealthy” food and full of shame. Lacking the ability to have compassion for myself, and offer forgiveness I instead found myself in a new whirlwind of self punishment.
For the next two decades I would live in the painful world of bulimia. When life got tough, I would turn to food to comfort, to numb, and to create a sense of control. A choice I was making out of familiarity, not consciously. Those behaviors that stemmed from a desire of health, love and acceptance became just the opposite. My behaviors became a place of pain, punishment and dis-ease.
In college I found myself in pharmacy school. I was drawn to sciences and health, and on paper, pharmacy sounded like the answer. Within my first year of the program I knew I was not where my heart desired me to be. Treating preventable disease went against everything I believed in. I felt stuck. Committed by time and money, I forged on the path I had started, not knowing how to change direction.
I graduated from Washington State University as a Doctor of Pharmacy in 2003, still stuck on the path that didn't feel right. I had a respectable job, in a great city. Yet I still felt empty and lost. The next decade was an exploration of self. I searched for peace within and looked to clarify my place in this world (since doling out drugs wasn’t it).
When I moved to the city I started bike commuting, which evolved into longer riders (like the STP), then to racing. For the first time I was a part of a community. The bike racing community was fun, supportive, and full of empowering women. I also discovered yoga, and for the first time found an inner peace, and a connection with spirit, something I had never known before. Once again, I found a community (mostly women!) that were so loving and positive.
I started to travel, opening the door to even grander experiences. I went to Thailand and practiced Vipassana Meditation for three weeks at a monastery. For the first time I sensed an opening within my being; a place of contentment and forgiveness.
I took a yoga teacher training course through The Samarya Center to gain a deeper perspective on the history of this ancient practice. It had become clear to me that there is another part of life. It isn’t just mind and body, there is more! I discovered an online holistic health coaching certification course through The Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
The blinds that had been covering the windows of my inner world were removed and a new direction in life became clear. Before I could consider coaching others to health, I needed to find a deeper, truer health within. After work with therapists, programs, clinics, and more therapists life became mine once again.
At this time The Institute for the Psychology of Eating entered my path. This last element was the missing link between Yoga and Health Coaching. This last certification course provided the tools needed to teach what I had spent the last 20 years learning on my own.
Food is not the problem, food is the symptom. My body is not perfect, my body is perfectly lovable. My thoughts are only my reality if I choose to believe them. The spirit within me knows where to find love, acceptance and happiness… I just have to dare to listen.
I struggled with an eating disorder for nearly twenty years. When life was tough (which we all know it can be) my symptoms and behaviors ruled my life. Today I am able to see how my eating disorder can be my compass.
When my life starts to stray from my heart's desires, my behaviors (symptoms) let me know. When the voice in my head starts to speak to me through a mega phone, or when food becomes a distraction, when the mirror becomes a torment, I know that something in my life needs to be seen, felt and loved.
My life has been a journey to love my body, and fall in love with who I am. So many years ago that was all I wanted. To be seen and loved for who I was. No one else could do it, and at that time, nor could I. Love and acceptance had to come through me first. I am now able to accept my body for all that it gives me, listen to my body when it has something to say, and forgive myself for the times when I am unable to.
If I can guide a shift half this size in other women, then I can't believe there could be a greater feeling in life. If this story speaks to you, take my hand, take a seat, and share with me your story. I truly want to know.