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Believe Coaching Guest Blogger

Fasting to Freedom

You know that person who’s just… kind, genuine, everybody’s buddy? I do. He’s Rob Cohn.

Rob radiates compassion. He’s an excellent listener and a scholar of wellness. He’s been on a journey of fasting, a topic that fascinates me because… frankly, it scares me. I, like many others, have an emotional and mental attachment to food, thankfully not in a debilitating way… but the idea of fasting is intimidating to me.

I asked Rob to tell his story here because I suspected there was more to all of this than, “Hey, let’s skip eating for a few hours!” My suspicions were correct. Take it away, Rob.

 

“YOU WILL NEVER SUCCEED”

Those words are never something you want to hear especially when you are visiting a neurosurgeon for a spine surgery consult.

Let me back up for a moment.  I have had back issues for many years. In part they were caused by a car accident I was in 32 years ago as a passenger. The car I was in was t-boned by another car making a left turn, going about 60 miles an hour, slamming into my door.  I shattered the top part of my femur and broke the ribs on my right side. I had a total of four surgeries over the next four years with three of them being within the first year.

That’s not the whole story.

The story actually goes back to less than two months before my 13th birthday. My mother passed away from a battle of breast cancer. It was soon after that my love affair (which turns out to be my addiction to food) began.  I grew up in Jewish family that was all about food. I recall having access to all of the food you could possibly imagine! a After my mother died nobody really knew how to help me, so I turned to the one friend I always had which was food.  Food became more than my friend. It quickly became my lover and the one thing that I could always find and feel safe with.  As you can probably imagine, this is also the time when my journey with weight struggles began as well.

I yo-yoed up and down for years and years. I probably have lost and gained hundreds of pounds of weight over the years.  I tried every single diet I could find and each and every time they worked. What didn’t work was me, because I was never healing what I was trying to stuff with food. I was not changing my behavior. In fact, looking back what I was doing was punishing myself for my mother dying. You see, secretly I never wanted to leave my mother. As I am writing my story, I am struck with awareness that deep down inside I was wanting to join my mom in heaven. It is a profound feeling coming into realization that I was subconsciously sabotaging my own life because I missed my mother so much. This is not the case any longer. My passion and vigor for life is back. My goal is to live the happiest and healthiest life possible.

In 2012, I was involved with a group of people who were practicing intermittent fasting. I thought they were crazy.  Who the hell would want to purposely not eat for hours at a time? Who ever heard of stopping to eat at 5 or 6 PM for the rest of the night? They must be crazy, really something wrong with them.  I totally rejected that idea.  I then found another way of eating and lost the weight again, then you guessed it, slowly came back on.

In 2015 I had back surgery which was very successful. I don’t know how much I weighed then, but it was more than it should be. Fast forward to 2019 and I started entertaining the idea of intermittent fasting.  After I began researching and listening to audio books and podcasts, it actually made sense. I learned that our bodies need a break from digesting food.  We are really not designed to have food so readily available.  It is ok to not eat for hours at a time.  I started with extending the hours past sleep a couple hours and then started adding more hours a little here and there until I made it to 16 hours fasting a day.

On February 18th, at my surgeon’s office he did me the biggest favor by telling me if he operated on me that day, I would not be successful because of my weight.  He gave me a goal to work on before my surgery.  That motivated me even more. Let me tell you being in constant pain, not being able to walk pain free for more than 10 or 15 minutes at a time is not fun.  At 54 years old I get to a point where it is more important to take care of myself than to have that food that will make me sick and keep me obese. I dug in. I started extending my fasts even more. I went 18 hours, 23 hours, 26 hours. I have done a couple of 36-hour fasts, 40-hour fasts and my longest to date is 46 hours.  Let me tell you it is a mental game. I have never focused on something so much in my life to have that determination. I was never willing before to go through the discomfort of being hungry. I will tell you as a result I am beginning to feel the FREEDOM of not being tied to food 24/7 and it has freed up time to pursue other things. A side benefit is I am saving money on food too. More importantly I am creating a new relationship with food I have never had before. I am boosting my confidence and self-worth because I am creating that mental strength, which are outcomes I never imagined.

I am proud of myself and I am keeping my word to myself. If I can do this so can you!  Now I BELIEVE AND KNOW I CAN SUCCEED!

If you would like to learn more about fasting, there are many experts out there to learn. We all have to find what works for us as we are all different.

If you would like to follow me:

Facebook – @robcohn

Instagram – @rob_cohn

I have also created a group of friends where we support each other in our fasting goals, Fasting with Friends – https://www.facebook.com/groups/fastingwitfriends/

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Guest Blogger Purpose Teacher Life

Words & Intention

I know Emika Smith through my Rescue work… but I’ve gotten to know her, the brave, introspective her who is unafraid to tell her truth and is empowered to step out and speak up, through her social media posts.

She posted something several weeks ago about her weight loss journey that just struck me. In the post, Emika shared, with candor and with strength, about the impact of people’s verbal feedback… how, even when their intentions aren’t harmful, their word choice can be hurtful.

Emika’s message struck me so profoundly that I asked her to write a guest post for my beloved blog… and I am honored that she said yes.

Emika Smith, the floor is yours…

Something they don’t tell you in college, specifically if you studying to become a teacher, is that most days you will not always teach the content of your specific degree.  I currently have my Bachelors Degree in Music Education and right now I’m hustling for my Masters of Science in Music Education.  I’m halfway through my 6th professional year.  Not a brand new teacher, but also not a veteran teacher.  Right smack in the middle.  Maybe once I hit 10 years in the classroom I’ll deem myself a “veteran” but who knows.  Every September feels like day 1, year 1 and I immediately forget everything I know about music.

What they don’t tell you in college is that you will be a parent, a friend, a psychologist, a nurse, a counselor, and a cheerleader.  You will teach kindness, social skills, coping skills, emotional processing, and then, maybe a couple of rounds of Hot Cross Buns.

I recently had a situation in my classroom with a 4th grade class where I had to stop the music-making and switch gears.  The kids were talking about who knows what.  Frankly, my “teacher ears” were on.  Meaning I’m not listening to everything the kids are saying, just keeping an ear open to anything inappropriate.  And lo and behold one child goes “Oh Emily (not her real name) is so annoying!” Literally shouted the statement.  And then there’s me, rolling my eyes in my head, Alright, here we go…“John (also not his real name) that may be your opinion but keep it to yourself, it’s unkind.”

We go back and forth a little and John goes “But Mrs. Smith, words don’t hurt.”

Stop.  Music-making done for the day.  Objective: Students will be able to be a good human being.  I respond, “Words do hurt, John.”

I’m not going to give you a dialog of our discussion, but ultimately I (hopefully) gave the children a lesson in how although we are entitled to our opinions, it’s best to keep those that may be hurtful to ourselves.

What I’ve learned over the past 6 years is that it is literally my job, to pick and choose the words I say out loud to children with such caution, not only to make it clear what I’m trying to teach, but to make sure that every child leaves my lesson with knowledge and understanding.  What I have recently learned (if you need a time line, maybe say the last 2 years) is that this skill, if you want to call it that, applies to every aspect of my life when it comes to communicating with others.

I was diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder back in 2016.  Through trying to express and articulate my symptoms, feelings, emotions, reactions, and needs to various medical professionals and family members, I learned how important choosing words truly is.  If I were to substitute one word for something else, it can mean a whole different thing.  And in a case where my physical and mental health depend on my ability to communicate what I am feeling, it can mean a huge difference in care and progress.  Thus, not only affecting me, but my family and those I interact with on a daily basis.

In February 2019 I made the decision to go ahead and get weight loss surgery.  Multiple factors led me to this decision and I had the support of my husband and my family to gather up all of my courage to proceed with one of the biggest decisions of my life.  In the months leading up to my surgery, scheduled for July 1, 2019, I slowly and discreetly let my administration, coworkers, and other family members know about my decision.  I’m a relatively private person, but if someone asks me a question about something personal I usually let them know.  Most of what I post on social media is pictures of my family or pets, and a funny meme. If I post something personal it’s usually for a good reason, I’m not out there advertising every little thing I do.

Summer came and went and I returned to work in August about 35 pounds lighter.  There was a visible difference and it was noticed by everyone.  We are a small school and we are all relatively close to each other.  I enjoyed the compliments and enjoyed informing people of what I had done.  I answered questions that were personal, but not invasive.  Everyone was genuinely happy for me and it was extremely uplifting.

It’s now January 26, 2020 and I’ve dropped down to 71 pounds gone forever.  I am in the single digits for pant sizes, no longer labeled as “obese” according to my BMI, and my overall health has improved drastically.  I still get compliments from coworkers which is lovely and I like to think I accept them gracefully.  Recently a school worker commented, “Oh Emika, you are just wasting away!”  The week before she had used the word “disappearing.”  Both statements were with a huge smile on her face and I didn’t detect any negativity behind her…*clears throat*…“compliment.”

Flashback to my 4th grade class and that statement from my student echoes in my head, “words don’t hurt.”

Today, those words did hurt.  Wasting away?  Do I look sick? Do I look unhealthy?  Am I really “disappearing?”

I go home and look at my print out of my results from my last weigh-in at my surgeon’s office.  My BMI is down, my cholesterol is normal, my muscle mass increased, my fat percentage has dropped significantly.  No, I am not “wasting away” I am HEALTHY!  And it occurred to me—I was wasting away when I was heavier and morbidly obese.  I was wasting away when I was huffing and puffing going up and down the stairs at 28 years old.  I was wasting away when my belly was too big for me to buckle my shoes for my best friend’s wedding and needed my husband’s help.  I was wasting away when I couldn’t get up from sitting on the floor in my classroom.  No one was concerned about my health back then…

In a time where we constantly write and post words online, and we establish electronic paper trails between us, our peers, and colleagues, our words and the language we use are permanently attached to us.  They follow us forever.  There is no more “he said, she said” because most of what we say is shared out online for the world to see; for people to screenshot and “share” before you get the chance to hit the “delete” button.

Every day I am amazed at what my students do, say, and accomplish.  Many of them show the grace and maturity of an adult, when actual adults lack awareness and mindfulness.  People are so quick to just say what they think without actually thinking about how their words may come across.  I understand and appreciate the intent behind that woman’s words, however they still stung.  I know she is genuinely happy for me and my success.

If we are friends, you know that I will say something if you say something that comes across a certain way, or that I will question your intended meaning.  I had a moment like that with a friend earlier this week.  If I love and care about you, I love and care about you hard.  And that means I am also going to challenge you and make you think because the last thing I want for you is to be misunderstood and have negative consequences.

You can’t take words back.  You can explain your words, but you can’t take them back.  So before you say anything, just think about your intent. And as the old saying goes, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.”

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Believe Energy Guest Blogger Healing

Fairy Tales

Three Things Jen Weir and I have in common:

  1. We share a coach.
  2. We live on the east coast.
  3. We are committed to helping you find your passion and live the life of your dreams.

I am honored to welcome Jen to our Believe in Bunnies community today. Enjoy her wisdom and check out her wonderful work over at WeirTX.com

The floor is yours, Jen:

Fairy tales are timeless. As a little girl, I loved listening to the Cinderella movie record, (yes, the record), twirling and dancing throughout the house wishing my fairy godmother would whisk me away from the abuse and hardship I lived in. To this day if I hear “Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo” I am transported back to that apartment in Germany, dancing around and around.

As I grew up, I still loved fairy tales, yet I resolutely decided those were not for someone like me. Fairy tale stories and movies are, well, fairy tales. Fictional. Silly illusions and pipe dreams, created to draw little ones into a false sense of reality.

Who knew, telling myself a story of “that can’t happen to me” would seal the deal on never achieving what it was my heart truly desired? Never would I have imagined that because of the story I kept telling myself, finance and business goals would become difficult to realize.

As an adult in a career I was quite successful. On the outside, success looked like it was mine. But when self-reflection was in play, there was a sense of “not quite”.

It wasn’t a manner of discontent, it was more of, I had set a goal and yet fell just short each time. In one place of work I was successful, but not at the top of my field. In another, I was a sought-after educator, but not the best of the best. “No one can be the best in their field, can they?” I reasoned. After all, biblically speaking, aren’t we to be content in all things, satisfied with less in life? I mean, really, who did I think I was anyway, wanting to achieve outstanding success.

 

Mediocrity started to find its roots in my soul.

That is, until I set foot on my most recent path.

 

The business I found myself in, quite literally stumbling into it, there was no ceiling. There was room for anyone who wanted that kind of success. It was completely and totally up to me, my efforts and my choice. Period. No one else called the shots. I set my sights on the top! I went after it, hard, only to met with mediocre results. Once again I found middle of the road success. “Most people in this company would give anything to be where you are,” said a well-meaning friend. But, I’m not most people…

 

Why couldn’t I grab hold of this elusive dream?

 

The story I had told myself all my life… greatness and success don’t happen to people like me. Desperately asking my mind the question, why am I falling short month after month, the answer came. You see, when you ask yourself a question, your mind searches for the answer. My mind spoke back to me saying, “sweet girl, this is the story we have told since we were that little girl”. Growing up in abuse, poverty and separation from parents created a story of unworthiness. It’s not a good story, but it is a powerful one. Also, its one that is simply not true. It is built on lies and false perspectives.

It’s one thing to recognize the false story; it’s another to be able to break free from it. In order to grab what is rightfully yours, you must tell a different story and in order to do that, you must heal from emotional wounds that are creating the lie.

If you realize your life is not what you would have ordered, may I gently suggest, you deserve better? You deserve the life you have always dreamed of, that one from when you were twirling as a young child.

Ask yourself some questions;

  1. How do you talk to yourself each day? Meaning, that mind chatter, what is it like? What does it say, and what feeling does it create within you? When you self-talk, do you feel uplifted?
  2. Why are you talking that way to yourself?
  3. If a miracle occurred tomorrow, that would start a path for you toward the life you desire, what would it be?

 

Once you write these out, sit with the third answer. Look at it, why is this the miracle? Write out an affirmation statement of actually having this thing, such as “I am ______, or I have ______, or I create____.” You see, affirmations are a form of strengthening the brain. Affirmations come from the Latin root word ‘affirmare,’ meaning to make steady or strengthen. When we speak out affirming words to ourselves or others, we are creating a steadiness in others and strengthening our minds in order to believe and accomplish that which we are seeking.

As you speak out affirmations, use your mind to imagine, what it would look like in your life, if what you’re creating those desires. Imagine the feeling that comes with it. Perhaps even the sound. If your accomplishment ends in fanfare like walking across a stage, perhaps you can pair your dream with a walk up song.

Rewriting your story takes some careful thought and time to put it into practice. Be patient with yourself. Sometimes a memory will come up that you connect that is the reason you have this belief. That’s the sweet spot my friend. That’s the point you must push past and break through to the other side.

*** if you just started signing The Doors tune, you are my people***

It’s true though, breaking through that barrier that has held you back al these years takes a bit of pushing and effort on your part. But i can assure you, when you do, oh that victory is so sweet.

For those who just read this and thought, yea, lovely, but you have no idea my life. There’s no way I could possibly do … Can I tell you, I hear you, and not only do I hear, I see you my friend. After investing three years into the study of why dreams aren’t achieved and what is holding people back from breaking free from the past, I wrote a course in order to help those folks do just that. It would be an honor and a joy to walk with you in that journey back to your fairy tale life. Some stories take a little more than simply running through a few journal prompts. Some require digging, uprooting and replanting. If that is you, this course was written for you. Apply here~ https://www.weirtx.com/essentially-free

 

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Believe Purpose Rescue Uncategorized

Goal-Getter

I met Jill Velasco several years ago through Rabbit Rescue. She and her husband are two of the most giving, dedicated volunteers on the team.

I treasure my friendship with Jill. She’s creative, giving, smart…

We are in a book club together. Her art hangs on my wall. Her words about goals and authenticity that I’m sharing below are just magic. Thank you for writing for us Jill!

As many of our friends know, my husband and I are big fans of the TV series, “The Office.”  I’ve re-watched this one show many times but the other night, one part stood out to me.  Having a Graphic Design background myself, it is fairly often that I am compared to Pam Beasley, the Dunder Mifflin receptionist.  In this one particular episode from season 2, the women in the office are invited to partake in a Women in the Workplace meeting. It’s in this meeting that Pam is provided with information on a program offered by her company to take graphic design training courses in New York and fulfill a dream of hers.  Filled with excitement at this opportunity, Pam is suddenly deflated and discouraged to pursue this by her then-fiancé, Roy.  It was what her officemate and friend, Jim said to her at the end of the episode when he hears of this sudden change of heart that hit me.  “You gotta take a chance on something, sometime…”

Regardless of how excited Pam was at this prospect, she let someone else decide her path and choices, making her talk herself out of an opportunity due to the negative thinking that it may never lead to anything or it being impractical.  While we may not all be in Pam’s shoes with a fiancé like Roy, how many of us have talked ourselves out of doing or working towards something we really desire?  Now don’t get me wrong. There is no such thing as a “sure thing,” not every idea will be a great one and more than likely you’ll not strike it rich overnight. But, if you have something in your heart that means the world to you, isn’t it at least worth a chance at exploring?  If you set out a plan and decide on the path that you need to take to get you there, while putting in the work necessary to see it through, it could be more realistic than you think.  There are always going to be hurdles, people who may not believe in you, financial and time constraints but you never know unless you try.  Surround yourself with those who cheer you on and support your goals, walking beside you when things are tough while learning to separate yourself from those who just wish to discourage you and keep you down.  We all only get one chance in life and no one knows exactly how much time they have or where they are in line.  Why should we always keep waiting for the “right time” to come around?  There is no better time or investment spent than on yourself in pursuit of your dreams.

 

Jill Velasco is an Artist and Educator specializing in graphic design and colored pencil portraits and botanicals.  To see more of her artwork and writing, visit jillvelasco.com or follow “Jill Velasco Art” on Facebook and Instagram.

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