Stress and overeating

Jessica Dewar Yoga Blog Yoga Melbourne

I will be the first person to tell you I’m a repeat victim to the stress and overeating cycle. As a sweet tooth, this also means I head for high carb meals or sweets. At the time of my indulgent massacre of the cupboards, I’m telling myself messages like – “It’s OK Jessica. You train hard each day. You deserve it.” I’ve become an absolute master of tricking myself into believing it’s ok and not harming to the body going on these binges. Truth is, this is a really unhealthy way of living and eating. Not only because of the physical consequences of cramps, bloating and lack of energy (that shit will strip you of energy when the initial high wears off), but then there is the mental anguish too. The guilt that follows when you realize, “Crap! I gave into those stupid voices in my head again! Grrr!”

My kryptonite is muesli. I LOVE MUESLI! Whilst I refrain from buying the toasted muesli (amazing stuff!), I still get excited with each and every bowl of muesli. I could inhale the stuff. When I’m stressed, this is the first thing I look for in my cupboards. Then after devouring half the bag, the regret sets in and the cycle of guilt, followed by more emotional eating – because it’s like, “well I’ve stuffed it up (healthy eating for the day) now. I may as well punish myself some more and eat more crap…” I know everyone reading this can relate to these sorts of stories in some form or another. We’ve all been there.

What I’ve found with yoga is my ability to feel more connected to my body. So whilst I may go on a binge every now and again, I’ve found over the years these have become less and less and less because I can now feel my body’s response to eating crappy foods. I notice the physical and emotional changes within, which encourages me to make more conscious choices about what I ingest and what I avoid. Granted, there are still those days when I hand over complete control to my sabotaging inner voice and divulge the contents of the cupboard. But more often than not, I wouldn’t allow this to happen because I know the end result will not be pretty.

It’s important to remember yoga is not just something we do on the mat. The journey to inner peace, deepening our self-awareness and control of the mind is both on an off the mat. The postures are our training so that when we step into life, we can apply what we’ve learned to everything we do, and that absolutely includes our eating habits.

 If you too can relate to my experiences with binge eating, I would love to hear your story. Together we can help others to realize they’re not alone and we’re all working hard to make better, more conscious decisions for our health.

Sending huge hugs,

Jessica xx

Imperfection is perfection. Embrace it.

Jessica Dewar Yoga

Chatting with a beautiful soul today, another yogi, I was reminded of how valued honesty and vulnerability is in the world. How refreshing it is to read content from another human and know it’s completely 100% authentic. That it hasn’t been toyed with to suit what other people want, but rather that it gives people a window into another persons life and all the ups and downs she faces within it.

My intention for this blog was very clear from the beginning. Be truthful. Be real. Be me.

This was important to me for two main reasons.

1)   I tend to get through the tougher times when I write them down. It helps me to clear my mind and somehow gives me the strength to keep going. My partner ALWAYS know when I haven’t been blogging or journaling. My thoughts become scattered and irrational. This is not a peaceful way of living. So getting it out – whether on paper or computer – is really therapeutic.

2)   I can’t help anyone unless I’m completely transparent and authentic. I don’t know about you, but reading stories where nothing goes wrong and is somehow perfect – is not only boring, but it’s complete shit. LOTS of things go wrong in my life, and I’m not afraid to be upfront about being human. It’s in the going wrong where I learn my most valuable lessons, so I do my best to embrace the good and tough times equally. It’s a humble and calmer way to live.

I personally don't like the photo I've used for this blog and truth be told - whilst we're on the subject of honesty! - I wasn't going to show it to the world. But me being me, and being too dam stubborn to let the ego take over and delete it from the blog, I decided to share it. You see, in this picture my technique is very poor and I cringe every time I look at it. My shoulders are slumped, my core is weak, my feet are barely off the ground and my body is too far forward. I recall having a lot of nasty little rocks under my palms when I attempted this asana and it really affected how I came in and out of it. Whilst I look smiley and happy, because I was having a huge amount of fun doing this shoot, I was also hoping any lacerations to my palms wouldn't get infected... Infection is not ideal at the best of times, let alone when you're in India. What I've come to accept (not easily I might add), is who cares if the posture wasn't perfect?! If another practitioner looks at the image and sees how imperfect the posture is - who cares? I don't. Because it says more about them at the end of the day then it does about me.

One of my all time favourite chick flick movies is Bride Wars. The other is Bridget Jones’ Diary. Officially the best movies in the world and I could watch them on repeat (and have done so many times) day in and day out. I just love them. So, in Bride Wars, after all the malicious attempts to ruin weddings, Kate Hudsons character (a successful lawyer) shares her realization that she doesn’t have to keep everything together all the time. That it’s an exhausting way of living. Now, whilst I appreciate this isn’t the deepest of movies, at the end of the day this message really is quite poignant. Because the truth is – not only is it exhausting and stressful trying to have everything together all the time (because you fear what others might say if you have a hair out of place), but it’s also impossible. I know I’ll never make a Stepford Wife?! (I can’t help but grin as I write this, knowing my partner will read it and be like – “Yup! You got that right Jessica!”).

Women in particular can be very harsh with themselves in this way. We get promoted and fear it’s only a matter of time until we get caught. We feel undeserving of compliments, success and often love – real love. But the truth is, we are the right person for the promotion – it came to us because we worked for it God dam it! We are deserving of all the compliments, success and love that comes our way. I know this to be the case with men also, just not as strongly as it is for women. We spend WAY too much time worrying about what others are thinking about us rather than just being present in the moment.  A really stressful way of living and I’m super guilty of this. I work hard every day to alter my thoughts to ones that are life giving rather than life taking, as this is. Yoga has been such a powerful tool in my life for this very reason.  

I share my ups and downs with the world, firstly for me. Secondly, I hope that in doing so I encourage other men and women to be OK with not being perfect. To be OK with always being in suck mode. To having a stressful day and not having your shit together all the time. To trust everything will work out even in those stressful everything is falling apart times  – because it will. At the end of the day, my journey is my journey and I can either choose to enjoy it or be stressed out of brains trying to perfect it. I know what path I will choose. Which shall you?

Sending love and worthy vibes to you,

Jessica xx

Step away from the wine bottle! A simple, non-alcoholic way to relax

Jessica Dewar Yoga Paschimottanasna

How many times have you come home and just collapsed onto the couch after just a crappy day at work? About the only amount of energy you actually have left is to find the half empty bottle of wine and fill the glass to the brim. Sound familiar? I've totally been there!

Back in the corporate days, drinking a glass of wine (possibly two depending on how bad the day was), became my way of trying to slow down. I almost felt non-functional until the first gulp. Unfortunately... turns out this is not the healthiest habit to fall into. But whilst I completely understand the desperation to just chill out and unwind at the end of the day, alcohol is not a very effective way of relaxing the body and mind. If anything, we're just numbing ourselves to the dramas of the day just gone, or what might lay ahead. Believe me, I know what it feels like to be in this frame of mind.

What I've learned over the years (through a lot of trial and error with my body) is that alcohol is never a long term solution to stress relief. But we all need an outlet as feeling like you’re on overdrive 24/7 is just as unhealthy, if not worse.

You see, when our adrenal system is on overdrive, EVERYTHING starts to fall apart. Our eating habits are all over the place, we’re irritable, are short tempered and tend to snap at those closest to us… the list is never ending. Stress is also hugely responsible for heart disease, one of Australia’s biggest killers, hence the urgency to bring those cortisol levels down!

For many years I couldn’t work out why my weight fluctuated despite near killing myself at the gym 6 mornings a week, why I struggled with sleep and why I was unable to sit still for more than two minutes. Upon doing a complete overhaul of my life, I came to realise stress was at the bottom of everything. It wasn't until I realised this (after spending a small fortune over the years) that I began making fundamental changes - I’m talking leaps and bounds - in my life, for I knew if I didn’t, then something would have to give… and probably not in a good way.

Without feeling like you need to submit your resignation letter today to get out of a job you despise, I first recommend learning to draw your attention deeper inward. Because at the end of the day, it turns out there is nothing out there that can change the way you think, feel, behave. It all needs to come from within. Sounds simple enough right? Wrong! We would love to have a quick fix answer but truth be told it really does come down to mindset and breath. So often we go through the day without taking even one deep inhalation and exhalation. Our breath slows all the systems in the body naturally so it makes sense why we need to breathe more! This is your detox, your getaway retreat, you treat to self - breathing!

So with that said, a beautiful asana to help calm the mind and slow the breath is Paschimottanasana (see picture). A forward fold which naturally slows the heart by lowering it to the ground. Here, the whole body is given a chance to slow down. Don’t worry if you can’t touch your toes. What’s important is keeping the straight spine and then working to slowly fold the body. In time, when the back and hamstrings release, you can come to rest on your thighs and calves. After 9 breaths, when you come up, the whole body will have come to a much more relaxed state allowing you to continue functioning despite feeling like the world is falling apart. Done daily for a minute or two, you will begin to notice huge benefits in the body, breath and mind. Give it a try and see!

What’s your experience with stress been? And how have you learned to manage it? I would love to hear from you!

Sending huge hugs and relaxing vibes.

Jessica xx