In this special Insatiable podcast episode, I celebrate a major milestone: 30 years as a cancer survivor.
I’ll share how what resolved my acne, depression, IBS, infertility, and out of control eating was learning how to redefine health beyond losing weight and learning to trust in my body feeling satisfied, not sacrificing and suffering.
And how this new orientation led to transformational health results I didn’t even know were possible. Including sustainable weight loss, a truce with food, and a relationship of awe and gratitude for my body.
I’ll also share:
- Why knowing the difference between Authorities and Experts is essential for transformational results. Especially if like me, as the first generation of childhood cancer survivors, there’s very little research to go on for your own body challenges.
- How I got out of the insanity of “I know sugar feeds on cancer” yet would binge on it during “scanxiety” season. If you struggle with health issues that are exacerbated by eating things you know you shouldn’t, this mindset shift helps.
- How mainstream goal setting, predicated on “You are not your story! Day 1 starts today” sabotages us exactly like “Diet starts tomorrow” and a different approach to goal setting that resolves our root-causes and works in our real lives.
- The root cause of my binging and weight loss obsession that cancer deepened but wasn’t any more destructive than diets. And a simple practice for you to get to the root of your destructive eating habits.
- What I now believe about how weight is or isn’t related to health.
And then I answer listener questions, which include:
- What role does diet play in your life as a survivor?
- Have you put your cancer in the rear view mirror, or does it still occupy your thoughts?
- Residual worries and things you have to be concerned about that others don’t?
- How can friends be supportive?
Mentioned in This Episode
In this workshop for Coaches, Therapists, and Other Health Professionals, we will cover:
- The emerging research on why eating and exercise are in a unique change category and how this changes the client goals and coaching for deep impact.
- The protective role of bad habits and why this understanding is essential for sustainable change (i.e. compliance), including the idea that a client has to “Tony Robbins” their way out of their bad food and health habits.
- Why more tools that stay on the surface aren’t the answer and how an evidence-based, root-cause resolution of a client’s resistance to change creates elegant solutions so they aren’t failing at one more thing
- “Complexity fitness” and its role in empowering clients by ending the sabotaging, all-or-nothing mindset.
I’ll also be discussing my ICF-certified, trauma informed Truce Coaches Certification that opens up again in September, in which we definitely do not use SMART goals and instead, get to the root of client’s food and body issues so you or your clients don’t need any more tools. You can register at alishapiro.com/smartgoals.
[0:00:00] AS: Hello Insatiable listeners.
Ah, so good to be back here with you. I know it’s been a minute. If you’re on my list, you know more of my whereabouts.
If you’re not and want to know, go to my blog at alishapiro.com/valuesgap. Will link in show notes. In fact, the reaction to that email and the follow up is really what has shaped today’s episode.
In short, I’m resurfacing after a Heroine’s Journey from Motherhood and “earlish” menopause that has my cells and values rearranged and rearranging.
And I feel great as I’ve resolved so many of the health challenges I’ve had in the last two years: plantar flascitis, insomnia, low immunity. And I lost 20 pounds. And I’m much stronger physically than pre-pregnancy. I haven’t felt this athletic since high school. And I love it!
And Thank the Goddess because I gotta say, I understand why nature wants us to have kids at a younger age.
And, I am thrilled I can keep up with Eça. At 43, I’m holding my own at the pool or playground. I’m giving him a run for his money. After all, he still needs a 2 hour mid-day nap!
And it’s built my capacity to show up for the social change that is mine to do. So important to have this these days. We need all hands on deck.
The full scoop is on my blog, alishapiro.com/valuesgap.
Two more updates before we get in today’s episode:
If you are a health coach, healing professional, or therapist who looking to up level your coaching skills, I’ll be offering a workshop on Tuesday, August 23 called SMART Goals:
How they Sabotage Eating and Exercise Goals and What Works for Deeper Coaching Impact on August 23 at 12 pm.
IN THIS WORKSHOP FOR COACHES, THERAPISTS, AND OTHER HEALTH PROFESSIONALS, WE WILL COVER:
- The emerging research on why eating and exercise are in a unique change category and how this changes the client goals and coaching for deep impact.
- The protective role of bad habits and why this understanding is essential for sustainable change (i.e. compliance), including the idea that a client has to “Tony Robbins” their way out of their bad food and health habits.
- Why more tools that stay on the surface aren’t the answer and how an evidence-based, root-cause resolution of a client’s resistance to change creates elegant solutions so they aren’t failing at one more thing
- “Complexity fitness” and its role in empowering clients by ending the sabotaging, all or-nothing mindset.
I’ll also be discussing my ICF-certified, trauma informed Truce Coaches Certification that opens up again in September. In which we definitely do not use SMART goals and instead, work to get to the root of client’s food and body issues so you or your client’s don’t need a ton of tools and then one more thing to fail at because no one has time for more tools! In fact, the less the better when you address root-causes of food and body image issues. We will discuss more in the workshop and show notes.
Third update: Insatiable Season 13 will drop in October. So excited. Amazing theme and guests. Can’t wait to start the conversation I think we need right now.
Now onto this special special podcast to celebrate my 30 year cancer anniversary, which was May 22!
30 years ya’ll. I’m 43 so I’ve lived about 67% of my life as a cancer survivor. Just wild to me when I really take that in.
In 1992, Philly greats Boyz to Men’s End of the Road was on the top of the charts and cancer was much more rare. For children, it was even rarer. So was survivorship. I’m part of a Long-Term Follow Up study for childhood cancer survivors and the recent newsletter said more children than ever are surviving cancer and we survivors are living longer. Great news. A real testament to Western Medicine.
And I’m still angry not enough people are asking why are more children and adults are getting cancer. Prevention will always be easier.
For those who are new or don’t know, quick recap:
When I was 13 years old, I was on my Dad’s Nordic Track. From what I remember I was trying to lose weight for a middle school dance. Took my pulse on my neck clavicle, which shows you how much body literacy I had; I didn’t even know where to take my pulse.
Instead of my pulse, I found a lump. Dad took me immediately to Doctor. A few short weeks later, diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease, an immune cancer. Stage 2A. A meant no symptoms. 2 meant I needed chemo and radiation. I had six months of chemo, a month of radiation and by age 14, I was in remission. And haven’t had any relapses since.
And what I would later find out in my early 20s is that Western Medicine saved my life AND destroyed my body.
I want to repeat this because the world is polarized and people are having trouble holding the AND: Western Medicine saved my life AND destroyed my body.
I don’t think my cancer would’ve been effectively treated with natural medicine.
And, those life saving medications destroyed my body.
In my early 20s, I was struggling with stubborn acne, IBS, depression and worsening out of control eating and I continued to battle my weight. I had actually been battling my weight before cancer, having gone to WW at age 11. And cancer was like the only sabbatical I ever took on trying to lose weight.
As a result of diets, cancer, and my subsequent health issues, I had a deeply entrenched story that my body was a disappointment. And I had tons of proof, as all of our body stories don’t come out of nowhere.
And yet, as Dr. Clarissa Pinkloa Estés says,
“The doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door.”
My body story became an invitation into the wild SELF, which I see as being a healthy rebel. With wild being alive and present to what is true for ourselves and the changing nature of what life is asking of us. In other words, who is life asking us to become?
And the way I changed my story was yes, to get out of diet culture. But I don’t think it’s enough to be anti-diet. We have to know what are we working towards. I want you to expect more than body tolerance. I want you to experience deep body satisfaction.
And this is what my Truce Coaching framework is about: taking our body discomfort story and making it a door to the Wild Self. Yes to leaving diet culture behind AND deeply understanding the power we have when we learn how to hear what our body is saying to us and asking us.
Being our wild self is often referred to as authenticity today. I take it one step further so that you feel powerful enough to feel comfortable in your body by creating a life on your own, authentic terms. So to me, your Wild Self is authenticity + courage. And our food falls into place the more you grow into your Wild Self.
Today, I’ll be peeling back the curtain a bit further into how to plot twist your body story, using my cancer experience to illustrate some of what goes into changing our body story, which will change your eating habits, especially the stubborn ones.
I’ll also emphasize the values gap I addressed in my emails to my list that resonated so much for people.
Because body discomfort and subsequent unhealthy body stories emerge when we have a values gap. And this values gap matters deeply right now.
So today you will see how I evolved by value of health from one of “health equals being thin” to one of a more true definition of health and that radically evolved my body story.
If you’re struggling with body discomfort, eating out of alignment with your goals, and chronic health issues like depression, anxiety, Hashimoto’s, or fertility/reproductive health, this episode is especially for you. While you may not have had cancer like me, we are in different boats in the same river.
And that river is one of insufficient research, understanding, or a clear, integrative and holistic map to guide what will work to relieve your body discomfort.
I am part of the first generation of childhood cancer survivors. Us being physically alive is a new frontier. And while this is great news and something I will never take for granted, the LTFU I mentioned above just noted in its most recent newsletter that 3/4 of childhood cancer survivors develop at least one chronic health condition in the decades after their treatment.
This was definitely me. And I didn’t find many useful answers for my depression, IBS, or disordered eating, especially because at the time, I hadn’t connected that to my cancer treatments.
This was in part because there was no research.
And if you are a woman with any sort of health issues, you need to realize this as well. There’s research in pockets but part of your own Heroine’s journey will be to endlessly advocate for yourself.
Also, our medical system isn’t designed for wellness. Doctor’s are trained in disease management. Wellness, at its best, asks very different questions like what are the root- causes depression or out of control eating.
As a result of there basically being no wellness frontier 20 years ago, I’ve had to forge my own path in defining health. And you will too. I wish this weren’t the case. And, we can be part of the change our culture needs by learning to advocate for ourselves and create the frontier to make it easier for others behind us.
This episode is about how I forged my own path, which began 20 years ago, in a very different environment. Dieting wasn’t politically incorrect yet. No HAES community. No social media. Functional medicine was super fringe.
I hope what you take away from today’s episode is that the key wasn’t what I ate or what I did. Because my path is unique to me. And yours will be for you.
Rather, it’s HOW I made those decisions and how I evolved my idea of health that ultimately grew me into the health rebel I am today.
Specifically, it was to trust that my bodies feedback was valuable, perhaps invaluable. Especially when what worked was the opposite of what I was told was healthy.
This means I had to trust that I could feel good in my body. That I could trust in satisfaction, not sacrificing, which diet culture and patriarchy both encourage in women especially.
And I hope anyone listening who feels like there is still more to your body story, more healing, satisfaction, and freedom, that you will listen and believe in your Wild Self to courageously and authentically advocate for yourself more than before this episode.
Ok, let’s do this. Today, going to discuss some points I don’t think most people know to ask and listener questions.
I want to start with The Difference Between Authority and Experts
It is essential to understand how Authority and Expertise is different if you want to change your food habits and evolve your body story.
To put it in story terms, you are the protagonist or leading character in your body story. The experts are magical supporting characters at best, villains at worst.
This is a developmental milestone that requires *really* understanding there isn’t someone who is all knowing and thus, ONE ANSWER.
One TWF client just shared one of her key takeaways was she has so much more compassion for herself because she now understands her food habits and being healthy are so much more nuanced and deep than she was led to believe.
To define authority, I’m going to use my own definition that I think is helpful to really begin to embrace this difference.
I think of Authority as this idea that someone else or some force outside of us knows EXACTLY what we should do.
I joke with my clients that the Ancient Greeks looked to the the God and Goddess for all-knowing authority. Then with the Christian Crusades came the Church and people looked up to Priests as THE Authority. Then it was Doctors and Celebrities, including Celebrity Doctors. And now we’ve replaced them with Instagram Influencers.
Have we fallen this far? Or are we at rock bottom and can now go up from here? Time will tell!
Basically for the last several thousand years culturally, maybe with the advent of patriarchal religions, we’ve been increasingly told to trust someone outside of our bodies and not our bodies themselves.
Experts on the other hand have certain knowledge. I think of experts as having an opinion based on how they see the body in this case.
And we often confuse Experts as Authorities. As a result, whether you are reading a diet book or going to a functional medicine expert, you might think this is THE SOLUTION. Hopefully this is THE PROTOCOL that works.
For example, one of my clients was told to go on a Low-Fodmap diet. She printed out seven different Low-Fodmap diets from various experts. She discovered 7 different Low-Fodmap diets, not ONE answer but seven opinions.
Let me give you a current Truce With Food client example to illustrate why knowing the difference between Expert versus Authority is like pushing a snowball down hill and gives you cumulative results.
My client Margaret gave me permission to share. She says:
“Prior to Truce with Food, I had hired and thought I was getting a top Nutritionist (who has celebrity clients) would help me buy my way out of health issues and get all my “perfect” answers. She is knowledgeable, leans heavily towards vegetarian and vegan lifestyles and no doubt knows a lot about nutrition and oncology. The only issue is it is a “one size fits all” sorta plan.
When I had asked about meat, already suspecting my body needs it more than the little she had recommended, she had said there isn’t any definitive research on it. Meanwhile, my instincts questioned this, but figured the Expert would know.”
So you can see Margaret was previously viewing an expert with a well-informed oncology nutrition opinion as an Authority. And Margaret doesn’t have cancer.
Then after working with a Naturopath during TWF, she discovered red meat a few times a week has profoundly eliminated much of her Endometriosis bleeding and pain and anemia.
Her body is providing outstanding great research on what works for her even if the scientific literature hasn’t caught up.
Now, Margaret is growing in her ability to self-advocate. Our ability to self-advocate is in direct proportion to how much we trust our bodies.
Her snowball is picking up speed.
She shared with our group “I am learning to advocate for myself and realizing I need to have the final opinion. One example is I sensed the water filter recommendation my ND gave me wasn’t what was best for me. I did my own research and realized I need a different one for my health goals.”
I share this example because it illustrates it’s not about Western or Natural medicine, which is what NDs are incredible with. It’s about Experts versus The Authority!
I’ve had so many clients discover that what they’ve learned from both “sides” doesn’t actually work for them! It’s about the right tool at the right time.
In my own body story, learning to challenge the idea that I should be vegetarian as a cancer survivor was what began to loosen my body is a disappointment story.
Because at the time, I belived THERE IS ONE DIET FOR EVERYONE. 20 years ago. Times were very different. And, the popular thinking, which I think is actually still true today, is that cancer survivors should be vegetarian, vegan, and low-fat.
So I was a “Good Girl” and religiously trying to follow that.
And, my hunger, cravings, and depression got worse. But, I thought trying to override my hunger and cravings were good things to do because sacrificing = reward in patriarchal religions!
In reality, both are signs that you aren’t eating the right foods for you and your metabolism is haywire.
I had heard about blood sugar through Dr. Barry Sears who wrote the Zone Diet. Because while I’d love to tell you that I was looking for solutions to my health problems, I was focused on losing weight. I had been socialized to believe that being healthy was about being thin.
So I mostly read diet books with a health slant because “I wanted to lose weight in a healthy way”. I was going to be extra Good and hoard all the Gold Stars.
What I learned from the Zone was a great start in emphasizing blood sugar. Yet what the Zone Diet got wrong, for me, is that not everyone balances their blood sugar with the Zone diet. Another great example of expert versus authority.
Through a lot of experimentation, I discovered I needed a more Paleo diet. With this Paleo diet, my hunger became easy to satisfy. My cravings disappeared. My moods were more consistent. My obsessively mean thoughts about myself lessened (I know now that was anxiety but anxiety was rarely a word used 20 years ago). It was dramatically easier to be in my body everyday.
And wouldn’t you know it, the more I learned how my body actually worked, the less of a disappointment my body became.
And because I was feeling better, not sacrificing and suffering, it was easier to be consistent with these changes. And this consistency with the right foods for my body, lead to my skin clearing up, my IBS reversing and my depression being so much better. At the time I thought I had reversed my depression but I didn’t realize I could feel even better.
This is when I began to get out of the matrix, where “normal” is crazy. As I had the common sense realization that wasn’t so common to me at the time that if I felt better and healthier today, I’d have the best chance of being healthier tomorrow and into the future.
And this was how I got out of the insanity of “I know sugar feeds on cancer yet would binge on it during “scanxiety” season. If you struggle with health issues that are exasperated by eating things you know you shouldn’t, this hopefully helps you too.
It’s counterintuitive but I had to stop putting pressure on my food choices to prevent or cause cancer. Instead, I had to do it because it helped me feel better immediately.
So for example, I had to connect how sugar made scanxiety season harder for me in the present, not make eliminating sugar about some future potential health state.
If you aren’t familiar with scanxiety season, this is when as a cancer survivor or patient, you get tests to see if you are still cancer free.
And what I did to originally “motivate” myself was to focus on the research: a high sugar diet creates conditions for cancer to be more likely. I’m sure someone would love to challenge me on that. Go ahead. I’m not messing with it for my short or long term health. I do eat sugar, purity isn’t healthy either. But I eat very little.
So now I had this sense of agency with my health that I previously didn’t have. I didn’t understand why I would do what I didn’t want to be doing during scanxiety season when I felt so much better “not on the sauce.”
In my case, I was past the five years of cured when my eating was at its peak of being out of control. So for me, my scans were about being monitored for thyroid and breast cancer bc of an increased risk from the radiation to my chest. And of course, there’s always a chance your original cancer will come back but that’s not the main focus. Fun, right?
And because our health-care system isn’t designed around patients, there is usually a long lag time between scheduling your scans and getting your results.
And what I would notice is there was an increase in how much sugar I ate as the tests actually got closer. And even more while waiting for the results. And then I would go celebrate with something sugary afterwards bc of course, I deserved it for having to deal with all this!
I had understood at this point that food could be medicine. But I was thinking only in physical terms like less hunger, cravings, and stable moods. Yet once I could connect how sugar reduced my emotional resilience during scanxiety season, reducing it was easier because I was like “Why am I going to make this harder for myself when it’s already super hard?”
Because I noticed I had less anxiety and catastrophizing the less sugar I ate. I was able to sleep better which also increased my resilience.
And now, because I knew the foundational diet that worked for me, now having anxious, racing thoughts were now a symptom or out of the ordinary, not chronic and thus, just how I thought I was wired. The contrast made a profound difference.
In Truce with Food, we call connecting how we eat to feeling better, Quick Fixes. Meaning, how do the right foods for you quickly make your life easier? Because adults aren’t motivated by long-term changes. We have too many others things going on that need our attention. So we need immediate improvement to understand the value.
And note: I didn’t have to completely eliminate sugar or be “perfect” which was way too much of a stretch at the time to still get results.
Just had a TWF call where a handful of clients are amazed at the results they are getting doing small changes as they connect their food changes to their own individual “Quick Fixes”, and not being all or nothing around reducing, not eliminating dairy for example.
And the cool thing is the more you can self-advocate with your body, including its emotional needs, the more you find these unexpected “Quick Fixes” because they are so personal and yet to be discovered.
One TWF client was sharing “it’s weird but TWF has made me less afraid of dying” because she is living more and not waiting on some perfect weight or time.
If you’re struggling with a chronic health challenge or pain, I highly recommend you figure out what your Quick Fixes are for today and drop the pressure of food “totally resolving” or reversing your condition completely.
Instead, focus on improving symptoms or pain perhaps 10-20%. That will give you more energy to do the next step AND in the process, discover other things outside of food matter a lot too! Because once that boulder is going down the hill, you can’t stop, won’t stop!
Some Quick Fixes to connect your food choices to that recent Truce with Food clients realized were more energy, clear thinking, “happy just because”, less pain, more restful sleep, more satisfaction from food, and increased sex drive.
Now, I do want to mention emotional safety here. Because that was a big piece of this. Food is important AND emotional health matters deeply.
I realized I needed someone at the oncology, scarcity results appointments with me. That changed a lot of things. What a difference. Sometimes my sister would come, sometimes Carlos would come.
But having them there and sharing with them and my parents I was scared about the appointments rather than trying to be strong released a lot of emotion. Physically, my nervous system felt held.
So that was key. It also took pressure off the food because I realized food wasn’t the only contributing factor to having a resilient scanxiety season. And the less pressure we put on something, often the better we do!
For anyone with chronic illness, so important to have a community that “gets it”, and providers who see you and are willing to work with your self-advocacy. In other words, their willing to be curious with you.
So as my eating became more aligned with my goals and I had more surprising health results, I lost 15 pounds as a side-effect of focusing on feeling physically better, I was shook.
At this time, I didn’t even have the vision that I could be this healthy or lose weight as a side-effect of what I know now as sending enough safety signals to my body, both in terms of food and emotional health during really stressful periods.
How did I know about this but not one doctor I had seen over the last several years didn’t? Or my therapists didn’t know how my food could reduce my obsessive thoughts?
Now I feel like a bad ass yet humble rebel but at the time I was like, NO ONE IS IN CHARGE AT THE WHEEL. In other words, this facade of an Authority I could trust in had it’s first massive crack. And this first crack is often the most startling.
It’s destabilizing. And can be liberating if you have someone to support you who is on a body self-advocacy path too.
A Truce with Food client, who cannot believe how much she’s changed and I were talking about how liberating it is to become the authority with our body and stories.
I’m like, “I never told you what to do once. And she’s like YOU DIDN’T”. We were laughing! But it’s serious because she has an increasing confidence in herself and her bodies wisdom, not me. And that makes all the difference.
Remember, you are the star, the leading character of your story. And while these days, at least with the people I hang with, it’s common to question Western Medicine, the personal development industry is cut from the same ideological influences.
And what was curious to me was that myself and my clients often get results we don’t really even think are possible, especially in the beginning.
I didn’t go into changing my food to try to reverse my depression or IBS or skin issues. I was trying to lose weight.
It was these unexpected developments that weren’t even goals I knew to have that that created that boulder going down the hill, which feels like natural motivation.
And ironically, not being as focused on weight loss or setting that as my goal, which is what I had done for 18 years, is what actually enabled me to lose weight.
So this also made me question this idea of how we set goals and ultimately, how we sustainably change. What was more deeply happening that enabled these kind of transformational results?
What was happening developmentally, but I didn’t have the language for was I began to value how important it is to be healthy outside of what you weigh. My value of health was expanding and as a result.
Which brings me to my next point that is essential to how we set food and body goals to evolve our body story. And that’s How mainstream coaching goals, predicated on “You are not your story (or past), Day 1 Begins Today!” sabotages us and what we need to do instead.
What I wouldn’t be able to name until I went to grad school but what was happening was my relationship with my body was changing. I went from battling it and a highly dysfunctional relationship to one of mutual respect.
And how I was setting weight loss goals, in the form of SMART goals or just looking for a better plan or formula, was actually sabotaging me. There’s many reason for this but a main reason was SMART goals reinforced the success and failure judgements I already had of myself. This added shame and deepened my body = disappointment story.
In so much of the health, fitness, and personal development, there is this push to leave your past behind and “rise above”. And so we gear up with the same goal, different expert.
It’s the same thing we believe when we say “Diet starts tomorrow.” We are pretending we don’t have to address the existing relationship we have with food or our body, which is predicated on a very real past.
And as the Eastern philosophy quote says, “What you resist, persists. What you embrace, dissolves.”
And so what I found is we have to learn to relate to our body differently to evolve our body story. This means we have to listen to our current symptoms and not just ignore them.
This includes by first understanding “bad habits” like “bad” symptoms: messengers, not inherently bad.
Therefore, we can’t just try to hack or break them. Because they are actually protective.
And as a result, we think we need all these tools just to do what we know we should.
I found it’s better to ask, why do I need so many tools to manage my emotions and why is my capacity and resilience diminished?” because that will lead us to a very real past we have to address and heal.
For example, EFT is really popular, I think for emotional eating and weight loss too. And I’m not here to assess it’s pros and cons. But to me the question is, “Why do I have to tap so much?”
And to me, what elegantly answers that question and what I wish I had known before I ever tried to diet was that safety is the root cause of my binging and weight loss obsession that cancer exacerbated but wasn’t the root cause.
It would’ve saved myself a lot of time, money, poor health, and shame.
When you understand food is safety, you understand your “self-sabotaging” or “bad habits” around your food, exercise, and health are actually self-protection. And they are often protecting you from the enormous feelings, often shame is in the mix, that our stories generate.
So not only do you address the root cause so you need less, not more tools, but also this orientation requires relating to yourself in a trusting, respectful way rather than thinking you have to fight yourself.
Little experiment here on the podcast:
Think about how you feel about yourself when you think your bad habits need to be fixed or you need to break them. How does that make you feel about yourself?
What if you knew your bad eating and health habits, including not using all the tools you’ve ever learned to make yourself feel better, made complete sense? What if you discovered your bad eating habits made complete sense? How does shift how you feel about yourself?
Usually we go from one of “gearing up” in the first question, which is a way of saying battle, to one of relief and curiosity. Rather than thinking we need to battle ourselves, it’s a trusting that we are doing the best we can based on our past.
Given my sense of there being an all-knowing authority around our food choices was shattered, I began to question the universally accepted values of willpower, discipline and the overly-male influenced theories of coaching, being necessary for change.
And what I discovered is when our body story or other stories we have about how to be A Good Girl or Boy in our lives are active, we turn to food for emotional safety to feel like it will all be OK.
Or, our stories also prevent us from having the time and energy to take care of ourselves. I shared in my values gap email that my story around needing to be exceptional meant overworking was now my last remaining vice as food is no longer an issue for me.
And this at a time that being super busy and productive was deeply unaligned with what life was asking from me.
The best way to think of emotional safety is to imagine the felt sense of your favorite cozy sweatshirt that you put on when you take your bra off and relax.
That’s the felt sense of what food gives us. And if we don’t eat, that’s also the felt sense of safety we feel familiar with, an absence of OKness.
And I want to note because while I’m sharing only about my cancer story, so many other experiences, like failing at dieting especially, influenced my body story. Dieting perhaps did more damage because with cancer, I also felt my body was incredibly strong to survive that. Whereas dieting, it was just failure, failure, and shame.
But there was also a story that came from being bullied in fifth grade. This experience is what turned me into an emotional eater and created a story about myself being an outsider. And so I would eventually realize anytime I felt “bad” or different in a bad way, I would eat.
Many of my clients feel like outsiders, too. Sometimes from bullying or being othered in some way, including but not limited to their bodies. Or they are creative, sensitive, and they sense normal is what is actually crazy. This makes us already rebel-prone. HA!
And note to my kindred outsiders and rebels: the “Normies” need your medicine right now.
So if we apply this to story work, some of my clients have a story, “I have to be ON to belong.” In other words, they can’t be that WILD self. ON is code for gearing up to belong.
So then they think they have social anxiety, because in the past, they were truly othered in groups or social situations. And they hate small talk, which seems to be the “normal” thing to do.
And this othering? They didn’t make this up. And so their social nervous system is on alert, generating this anxiety. This social anxiety and eating to cope with it is protective. The social anxiety is trying to secure their belonging. And the eating is that metaphorical attempt at being comforted or grounded because the social anxiety has them up in their heads, monitoring what they think other people are thinking about them.
And here’s where this is different than CBT. In the Truce Coaching, we know you can trust in your thoughts and feelings because they are coming from real lived experience. We don’t need to try and reframe them.
Instead, to work through our stories, we need to tune into ourselves, our bodies, and hear what our needs and wants in the present, not the past, are. And when we satisfy those needs so we belong to ourselves first and foremost, our big story feelings diminish. And then we don’t need all the tools for our emotions.
Because when we focus on improving the relationship to ourselves, we build self-trust and our capacity to choose differently in the present when we often couldn’t in the past, which is incredibly healing. This increased capacity and discernment on what your body is telling you is that boulder continuing down the hill versus hitting a plateau. Our belief in our ability to be ourselves and create a life from that place builds.
And overtime, this enables us to live into a new self-authored body story.
So an important practice to get into when you are engaging in bad habits, ask yourself, What’s at risk if I do what I know I should? Trust your bad habits make sense and remain curious.
One listener, who is also a former client, asked me How was being self-authoring was integral in overcoming post-cancer issues later in life. I’ll answer that question here because it illustrates what I mean by self-authoring our body stories.
For those unfamiliar with my Truce Coaching or developmental psychology, self-authoring is a developmental ability to self-author our story and in effect self-author our values.
For example, I grew up in a family that actually valued health. And I especially valued health after going through cancer. Yet when it came to how I defined my health value, my definition of health was that to be healthy was to be thin. To say it another way, the only way for me to be healthy was to lose weight, because we are also socialized that you can never be to thin! So weight loss became my goal.
And I didn’t come up with this on my own! My family talked about health often through a weight loss lens because our families are learning from the medical community + diet culture. And even in natural medicine.
And these communities and fields are nesting dolls of patriarchy, white supremacy, and capitalism. As Insatiable guest and feminist marketer Kelly Diehls says, it’s the water we swim in and so we are all wet.
So this health value and it being solely defined by thinness was like a surround sound. So even though it was freaking cancer that made me so thin, not being able to challenge this health value definition deepened my body is a disappointment story because I still believed weight loss was THE answer. Again, it would solve everything. And, weight loss was achieved through calories in, calories out. And the more I became disappointed in my body, the more my self-trust deteriorated.
From a practitioner lens, self-authoring means your client is able to be with increasing nuance and complexity or complexity fitness as its called in developmental psychology. This is important because your clients don’t need to be told what to do. They need to tune into their emerging, present needs, which are changing at a faster rate than ever these days. If you’ve had as many daycare closures as I have, you know what I’m talking about!
But to use a food example, originally, I only understood food as calories. But then I learned how it was medicine. And then I learned it to be about safety, not willpower or discipline. I also understand it as symbolic. In other words, I can understand food means so many things and choose how I want to use it today. That power of choice – and knowing we have other choices – changes everything.
But if we are still in our socialized values, we really won’t value food beyond calories and tying our efforts back to weight loss. Or thinking we have a willpower and discipline problem versus the less simple answer of our stories and how to change those. We aren’t able to know what we don’t know in other words.
Socialized values are where we all start off as adults. Because we all start out in what is called the socialized mind. This is where we adopt the group norms and accompanying values we grew up around, which for most people is learning about food and exercise and tying that back to weight loss.
And this is how humans operate…we are quit shit at challenging our stories unless we make it a conscious process. If you think of the Jenga game, your stories are the bottom layer of blocks. And then you have all these built up ideas of what is “good” and “bad” to do or not do.
So what we basically do in the Truce Coaching is just pull out the bottom layer. It’s more effective and efficient. No need to work through all the layers. We just go for the jugular, which is why I say becoming self-authoring is destabilizing and liberating. So many clients are like “Who am I?”
And this is why as my health deteriorated, you would think that my definition of thinness = health would have cracked. But again, my body story made me think my body was the problem, not what I believed in. It was that bottom foundation Jenga layer that I had built so much protective resistance around which was how to be “good” to prevent my body from being a disappointment and the shame of being “bad”, which made my body a disappointment. And again, all of this was based on real experiences.
As a result, I thought my body was the problem. Not my goals and approach. And again this was 20 years ago so it was hard to find information that challenged this.
Yet as I shared earlier in the podcast, learning to connect food at first to my Quick Fixes and then being the major medicine to that point in reversing my acne, depression, and IBS, expanded my idea of what health was. Because I realized some of my weight was inflammatory driven and not calorically driven. If you’ve ever gained weight after steroids or antibiotics, you probably have experienced this too.
And I want to mention because it’s politically incorrect to say today and yet, I’m gonna say it because being with what is real is medicine in and of itself.
While I was in tremendous physical pain during this time, the reality is my weight is what motivated me to figure out how my body worked. You can’t flip a switch to suddenly not care about your weight loss overnight, especially since we’ve been groomed since birth to care about it.
Often it’s vanity and the pain around our weight that gets us started on this challenging self-authoring path. But it won’t keep us going.
And adding to the nuance was I did lose 15 pounds as a side-effect of this food as medicine approach, so food as medicine and calories were now equally central to me.
As a result, my health value expanded beyond weight loss. It was also now about physical day to day health, like not being depressed or up at night in pain with IBS.
Now, the more self-authoring you become, the more you question everything. You become even more fun to be at parties. If you think you hate small talk now….HAHAH!
So when I couldn’t keep eating healthy around scanxiety season or when I was stressed, I would emotionally eat, I now knew to question the mainstream answer of “discipline” and “willpower”.
And want to note I was no longer bingeing or thinking about food much, which again, felt like a huge relief at this point. I didn’t yet know I could have an even more normal relationship with food!
So as I shared earlier, becoming self-authoring by reversing my acne, IBS, and depression plus really understanding how important emotional health, particularly our stories are as the bedrock of our relationship to ourselves and how we take care of ourselves, were expanding my idea around health.
This understanding about emotional health deepend in 2011, right after getting married, I fell into a depression. Carlos had moved to Iowa for his MFA and I was finishing up grad school at Penn in Philly.
This time, my eating went the opposite way. I wasn’t eating a lot. Didn’t want to get out of bed. It was more intense than a functional freeze for my nervous system friends. This was an episodic experience of depression.
And I knew our eating habits, especially if its our thing, are often trying to get us to pay attention to something more deeply. So when I went to an integrated doctor, Dr. Rozenswig, about more holistic approaches to being a cancer survivor and he ended up suggesting visual imagery therapy, I was open to it.
Because this is another strategic way self-authoring changes you: as you realize what works for your body and our ideas of health expand, you will become open to “Alternative” or “Complimentary” medicine. I’ll never forget one TWF client said TWF made her more confident to tell friends she saw a psychic. HAHA! Shout out to Laurie. I love ya!
A funny side note is I had ended up crying in Dr. Rozenswig’s office, probably from how down I was feeling at the time. And as he left the room, I asked him how he survived medical school because he was so kind and really believed in the invitation in my depression. He said, “Ali, that was my near death experience.” I laughed so hard!
So I worked with Bob, my visual imagery therapist who has been on the podcast (Fat is Not a Feeling Episode, think its Episode 34. It’s a good one) and I did deep work around the grief and emotional losses I had related to my cancer.
And becoming more self-authoring enabled me not to see this depression as something to fix or mitigate but rather, I had to sink further in and welcome. Again, relating to it as an important messenger, not something to battle, is the HOW I continued to evolve my body story.
Also again, complexity fitness, which requires context and nuance. This is my story. Not trying to say this is everyone’s answer for depression. In fact, my earlier chronic depression was very different root cause than this. It was more physical. And the self-authoring work I did around my own physical healing made me strong enough to be able to be with this depression in a constructive way.
In Greek Mythology, depression was viewed as a visit from the Underworld. So I relied more on this metaphor. Also note: my privilege in part made this possible. Yes, I’m so proud of myself for the courage I had to do this healing AND, I also had enough safety around me to take this risk.
This was a massive healing turning point for me as it allowed me to trust my body and that when my eating habits are out of alignment with how I want to feel, I need to pay attention, not try to break these habits but to understand the wisdom in them.
It also rid me of the notion of what is now called toxic positivity these days. In other words, I realized the transformational gold was being with the hard feelings. Being with those and working through them rather than trying to “think positive”. After this experience, I no longer believed in a hierarchy of emotions or the goal is to “be happy”. I realized the goal is to be alive to what is happening.
And that emotional safety isn’t that everything goes our way. Rather, we have our own backs, especially given our pasts when we often had to doubt or abandon ourselves.
And I want to note I gained about 10 pounds from not eating enough and I also wasn’t really exercising. But I didn’t care because this work felt more important so another huge turning point of valuing my health more than weight.
Because we live in a fat phobic culture, we assume if we are healing deep enough we will lose weight or if we are gaining weight, something must be wrong. Just not true. Again, nuance and context.
And this experience put my body story on a new trajectory. I became in AWE of all my body was holding and just waiting for me when I was strong enough to work through it. And visual imagery is when you have images come from your body and so it’s also this huge initiation into the body speaking through metaphor.
So my ideas of health really became about food and emotional health, specifically the stories that live in our bodies and how we can work with those stories, and welcoming difficult emotions. Again, this was back in 2012, before Dr. Brene Brown blew up and Glennon Doyle had a podcast called “We Can Do Hard Things.”
Then I was pretty smooth sailing health wise as far as I can remember. My weight was stable, food and exercise was simple, and I l was very fulfilled emotionally. And of course self-authoring spills out in your life in so many other ways. That’s another podcast.
So I guess about 5 years living my life like it’s golden, minus Trump’s election, and then, I wanted a baby. I had gotten pregnant pretty easily and miscarried.
So after I didn’t get pregnant again for about two years, and being 39, I did a fertility work up at a hospital here. And I was told I was infertile because I was in early menopause, most likely from my cancer treatments.
I didn’t know if I could successfully challenge this diagnosis like all the others I had. Especially because my health pillars: emotional health, food and movement were solid.
And I had self-authoring confidence and a radically different body story at this point so it wasn’t that hard to challenge conventional fertility “experts”, who I saw as experts not Authoritative at this point in my life. I also trusted in my bodies resilience and ability to heal. I realized that even with cancer treatments and how toxic they are, the body can still make a comeback.
Obviously challenging this “diagnosis” worked out by me relying on the expertise of my Naturopath and Acupuncturist! And what was cool was learning more in detail how important the gut microbiome is to our overall health. My ND helped me clear Lyme bacteria from my gut and my thyroid normalized. I didn’t have to make any dietary changes bc my diet was solid. Which made me realize sometimes our health involves very simple tweaks!
I also took herbs and realize how powerful plant medicine can be. And again, finding 2 practitioners who believed in me and were philosophically aligned with the bodies capabilities was also critical. Dr. Joy and Dr. Bonnie, Ming Yip is her real name were like, “Hey, this is a Tuesday for us.” So becoming self-authoring will usually have you seek out different practitioners too.
And also, BTW, you can totally get pregnant in menopause. I didn’t know this because as women, the extent of our fertility socialization is “Don’t get pregnant” and take Motrin for your cramps!
So this really again, expanded my idea of what health meant, including understanding how we will all have to “train” for climate collapse, which is part of why Lyme is everywhere. That led me to buying a sauna to help with detoxification. But that’s just for wellness, not for any current post-cancer issues.
And then my body story became even more one of awe, especially after getting pregnant on my own AND giving birth in a very self-authoring way!
I do want to emphasize that self-authoring doesn’t mean everything works out for you. It means you will probably have more courage to pursue the road less traveled and researched (!), and have a richer, more interesting experience at the very least. And you have a better chance often of reaching your goals.
For example, my breast milk didn’t come in, most likely from the radiation bc I examined every other root cause and none applied. And I tried everything. And it still didn’t work out much to my devastation.
And then finally most recently here, being self-authoring helped with my horrific insomnia I had. And a lot of people say this is a classic perimenopause symptom. But being so self-authoring at this point, I’m like “OK, but do I have to live with this or do I have some agency?”
Because most of what I was initially reading didn’t address the root causes. So for example, take a melatonin supplement. OK, why am I not producing enough melatonin?
Long story short, I hired a sleep coach based on a client who had stubborn insomnia herself but is a bad ass self-authoring health rebel so kept searching. Shout out to Jess!
And working with this sleep coach who was able to navigate the complexities of insomnia, which are part gut, hormonal, and lifestyle shifts was incredible. For example, in perimenopause and menopause, you can’t push your body like you used to. You are more stress sensitive. And now I’m emotionally resilient yet my body needed physical breaks from how non-stop I was going before working with Kelly, my sleep coach.
And now my understanding of health has expanded even further, to include slowing down and community of like-minded people.
And I want to touch upon weight from a self-authoring perspective. Again, this is my self-authoring understanding. Someone else might have a different experience. But because I used to think health was only about weight, it’s important to see that it too evolved in nuance and complexity.
I see weight as a chicken or the egg question: do we have imbalances that make us gain weight? Or do we gain weight that leads to imbalances? Or is our weight what it is and it doesn’t matter health wise like in my Visual Imagery example? And, too often we tie everything back to weight without getting started on other things that will make us feel better. Happened with some TWF clients this round, thinking they needed to lose weight to start running again for example. Found a trainer who was like, um no, here’s how you can slowly start back up again, including with your knee issue.
Again, I have more complexity fitness around the whole weight conversation than I did 20 years ago when I began this self-authoring journey.
So by self-authoring my health value, I’ve expanded the “inputs” beyond diet and exercise to the holistic suite of “safety signals” I’ve discussed.
And because my body story is no longer one of disappointment, I orient towards expecting the best from it if I’m willing to do the work to address the root causes.
This includes trusting in meeting my body where it’s at. For example, when I started back at the gym about 18 months ago, I started slow. It wasn’t until I was about six months in of consistent working out that I could actually push myself at the gym because of my sleep stuff and foot issues. And now, about a year later, I’m doing box jumps and lifting weight I never thought I could.
This also includes it shifts the providers I work with, ones who mainly have higher expectations for the body and understand root-causes too.
One final note: I often think about in relation to self-authoring and post-cancer issues is what I have prevented versus just resolved.
For example, I had polyps in all three colonoscopies I had in my 20s and once in my 30s. Just had a colonoscopy two years ago and polyp free! Again, eating meat which supports my blood sugar and that supports the gut….with colon cancer you hear not to eat meat too.
But has my diet and lifestyle supported no polyps (and that was 7 years post last colonoscopy bc I space the recommended tests out bc there are risks with early detection screening).
I have 1,000 examples of this, including how I wonder non-intervention has helped me and Eça’s health. Maybe in 30 years I’ll read about some of it in a research paper like seems to be the case with what I thought was “WILD” 20 years ago, like there is no one diet for everyone, yet my body and my clients experience proved in real time.
And with all of this, my self-authored value of health is now: “Are you alive? Are you in touch with the aliveness force pulsing through your body and allowing yourself to follow the risk in those callings?” And I can handle the complexity that different health habits and modalities at different time will support us in having the capacity and resilience to rise to the challenge of answering the call.
Now, I’ll get to more listener Qs:
What role does diet play in your life as a survivor?
Diet is huge for me, especially because the sense of agency it does give me. I’ll never know how much of this agency is perceived or real because we never have 100% control over things, perhaps not even 50%. Who knows.
But given the other cancer risks I have and because I know how much of cancer is environmental and if I think too long about all the environmental threats I would never not have anxiety, it really matters to me greatly that I do whatever I can to reduce my risk.
And my diet plays a huge role in being healthy, not just free of cancer, here at 43. Again the LTFU says 3/4 of childhood cancer survivors have a chronic illness from treatment. I know diet has been huge for me in terms of reversing my previous chronic illness and developing issues outside of cancer and cancer treatments. Again I’ll never know how much bc so many types of cancers, treatments, genetics, etc. Lots of complexity and nuance in terms of each cancer survivor’s experience.
I’ll also add that while it’s huge, the more I’ve expanded my ideas of health, the more I realize how diet is a smaller part than I originally believed.
But it is essential to me and I think this might be the biggest tragedy of diet culture is that so many people only think of food related to calories and not how it can serve them in their lives. I also think this is a huge gap in Intuitive Eating that hopefully will be addressed. It’s such an opportunity to evolve food from food is only about calories or neutral to medicine too. Because as we can connect how food can make us feel better, we really start eating healthy for ourselves and not the internalized authoritative forces of “I should be eating this because of X or Y.”
Have you put your cancer in the rear view mirror, or does it still occupy your thoughts?
Answer is both. At this point, it’s mostly in the rear view mirror. Especially getting Hodgkin’s Disease again.
However, in those years more close to treatment and afterwards, every pain I wondered if it was cancer. If you are only a few years out from treatment, I think this is pretty normal.
And to this day, if something persists in my body longer than I think it should, I can catastrophize.
However I know my patterns from all the healing I’ve done so that gives me the ability to separate my perspective from the current reality of probably not. That healing again, from becoming self-authoring and opening myself up to health information beyond weight loss, I also understand so much more now how cancers happen.
And so I have a stronger sense of confidence in cancer not coming out of nowhere AND what I can do to reduce my risk.
For example, some of my neighbors are still spraying their yard here in 2022. Even with all the info on how RoundUp and cancer. When walking with Eça, I am looking out like a hawk for whose yard has been sprayed and who hasn’t because he just wants to run and lay in all the grass and while it feels so defeating bc when it’s sprayed, it’s in the air and gets into the water, I work on reducing his and mine exposure. His body is so small and this stuff is just horrific for kids bodies.
So because of how much I know, cancer is something I’m frequently trying to prevent with what I can control and also holding the reality that a lot of what drives cancer, how our food is doused in glysophate, air pollution from the petrochemical industry, PFAS, etc is mostly out of my control. So I see a lot of things as a cancer threat OR wonder if they will be found to be a cancer threat.
So that’s the answer related to cancer itself occupying my thoughts.
And then, there are health challenges that bring back the emotional pain. Like my infertility diagnosis. That ended up being triumphant but in the beginning, there was a lot of grief.
And then post-birth, my breast milk not coming in most likely from radiation all those years ago or being in early menopause while being a New Mom, that was a hormonal nightmare. And, most likely not really having the choice in a second biological child.
But just like I had to learn not to tie everything back to weight, I try not to tie everything back to cancer. For example, I know other people who have never had cancer struggle with infertility or others who in early menopause. Finding having COVID does that to some people.
This is important because when we feel like it’s our body that’s the problem, that adds another layer of unnecessary pain and shame that isn’t necessary to the very real pain we need to work through.
But I also have to honor the grief because grief doesn’t go away. It was really devastating to me and really made the first 8 weeks of Eça’s life so difficult bc I was trying all the things to be able to breast feed. I did all the things. And it still didn’t work out the way I wanted it too.
So those are a few ways that I’m in relationship with my cancer today.
Residual worries and things you have to be concerned about that others don’t?
Going to speak for myself here. First thing that came to mind was how much I know about cancer and health care in general that most people don’t or it doesn’t feel enough of a risk that they do anything about.
I remember one of my best friends came to see me right after Eça was born. Hey Kelly if you are listening! She is a smart cookie. Harvard MBA. And I was telling her about my birth and she was like WOW, you really thought a lot about this.
And I’m like I can’t believe many people don’t!
This comes back to the hard and freeing reality that our health care providers are experts but not authorities. Medicine is a practice. US Medicine, again, saved my life, and it is very structure and how it operates has been organized around Capitalism. This dictates what gets studied, what questions get pursued, what treatments are on the table to review.
If anyone interested in a deep dive, highly recommend Secret History of the War on Cancer: Dr. Devra Davis.
Also want to mention, I don’t think doctors, hospitals, government officials are all bad either. To simple to say anything is all good or all bad is again, the ability to be with nuance and complexity. And I saw so much binary action going on with COVID. So feel the need to say it’s too simplistic to point one finger at these places without looking at the more complicated forces that have influenced them.
So while there’s a lot we do know. There’s a lot we don’t know.
Also recognize I’m a 5 on Ennegram which means I feel safe when I know. Many people do not. Not right or wrong…just this is how I’m oriented.
So that’s the “mental” piece of managing this. And it translates into a lot of choices.
Like I won’t go through those radiation machines at the airport. I know they say, “Oh, exposure is insignificant.” Well yeah, if that’s the only exposure you ever get. And, did you really study that all that well? given their real purpose is to make money off the “War on Terror”.
And the other big piece is navigating the complexities and health choices that come with such harsh treatments.
One tiny example is that I’m at an increased risk of breast cancer from my radiation treatments. And yet, some studies show Mammogram radiation increases the risk in high-risk patients! Hence part of why my oncologist had me get MRIs.
Anyhow, I remember when some of this analysis came out, people were enraged at recommendations to not have Mammograms. And yet, it’s true.
And again, this is why knowing your body and personal risk is so important. I’ve been forced to learn this and now I’m fucking grateful because it is a ZOO out here in terms of health information and recommendations and how the political climate is informing science policy.
Because ultimately the question is,
Where’s the balance? It will be different for each person and not sure we can ever have 100% confidence in our risk perception.
And even with the MRIs I do, I’ve spaced out more than is recommended because I’ve been suspect of the MRI dye. And wouldn’t you know it…it’s now coming under scrutiny. I remember when scheduling my MRIs about 10 years ago asking what was in the contrast and the woman saying its Gallinum, it comes from the Earth. I’m like Radon comes from the Earth! Doesn’t mean I want it in my body.
And the other physical thing aside from cancer is potential heart issues from treatments. Still learning about the full risks and some ppl do have heart issues from radiation especially.
And this comes up with something like COVID and the COVID vaccine. Can’t believe I’m even going to poke the bear on vaccines in this podcast!
So we now know COVID is considered a vascular disease with regard to the serious complications and causes of mortality.
I got COVID before vaccines were even available.
The COVID vaccine does have known risks, specifically some heart risks. And it’s a new technology. I heard on Dr. Aviva Romm’s podcast her sharing how doctor’s usually won’t take a new medication for three years themselves bc they want to see what side-effects pop up from new drugs! Now she did say most physicians she knew were taking the COVID vaccine.
But I’m not sure most physicians know how to be healthy. They know how to treat disease but these are two separate things.
So anyway, layering on that Hodgkins Disease the cancer I did have is from an over active immune system and I got COVID before vaccines were even available and at the very least some some level of natural immunity, what do you do? Especially when we are still at the very beginning of the COVID learning curve.
I have to stay current on a lot of research, digging below media headlines and trying to find strong sources. It takes a lot more time and energy than I prefer.
How can friends be supportive?
Love that this was asked.
#1: Don’t say everything happens for a reason. Other people say that to feel better for themselves. Like there is an order to this and thus, they aren’t at risk. Not true. IMO.
#2. Offer to come to a treatment with someone. Often this part of someone’s world is so isolating even though it takes over your life. Coming into that world with someone is hard, because so many people also don’t want to be in that world. Or keep checking in on them. Send them cards and presents. Feels good to know people are in your corner.
If kids, offer to watch the kids while they recover form treatments. Hell on Earth to watch kids when you are sick yourself.
Cook meals they love. Can’t underestimate the healing power of being held like this.
#3. Don’t give people health or natural medicine advice unless they ask. I believe whatever path you think has the best chance of working is what has the best chance of working. And if someone is interested in complimentary medicine, support them bc many people around them won’t, often including their doctors.
#4. Be comfortable with someone’s discomfort by learning to be more comfortable with your own. It can be really hard to find people who won’t try to put a positive spin on a cancer experience. Asking someone, “Where are you now in this cancer experience?” and practice just listening, not trying to fix, can be soothing for that person.
Mostly what comes to mind. I also think if you know a parent whose child is going through this, helping them with their siblings or whatever goes a long way. In our culture, we often lean away from the people who need the most support bc of our own discomfort with how messy cancer is. Be the person who learns to be in the mess.
Ok, I’m going to wrap up here. A lot. Transcripts are always available at alishapiro.com/podcast.
- Expert versus Authority and Growing into an authoritative force so you can self-advocate with your body
- Learning to relate to our stories and selves differently so we can repair the self-trust in ourselves by entertaining the idea that your bad eating habits make complete sense
- This includes really understanding food is about safety and getting curious about What is at risk when you don’t eat or do the thing you know you should to feel better?
- And really learning to expand your ideas of food beyond calories or even medicine so you can more fully heal. This also means understanding food is important AND it’s not the only thing that matters.
- And it’s OK if your desire to lose weight doesn’t go away over night. Be able to hold the AND. That matters to you AND learning how your body works and sending the physical and emotional safety signals it needs for you to feel as great as possible in your body is the key to transforming your eating habits!
- And, self-authoring is the BOMB! It is more work upfront and it guarantees you’ll continue to learn how to support your body, health and create a life on your terms from all the courage and self-trust you reclaim.
If you found there was something in here for you or no someone who would benefit from this episode, please pass it along.
And if you are a health coach or healing professional that wants to break into coaching around food, health and body, come to my SMART Goals: How they Sabotage Eating and Exercise Goals and What Works for Deeper Coaching Impact on August 23 at 12 pm. Sign up at alishapiro.com/smartgoals.
Truce Coaches certification begins again this Fall.
Thank you for being here today. And remember Season 13 of Insatiable will be back in October! Can’t wait.