First Priority: Healing My Physical Body

I had bad PMS when I was in my first marriage.  That went on for years.  I remember making the realization that at one point I wasn’t in a good mood about 2 wks out of the month. (That is 50% of my life.  5 solid years out of ten, etc.)  Scary to think of it that way.  PMS
used to be a time for me when any underlying thing just came to the
surface.  If there was some pain in my life, it was like I couldn’t
ignore it or cover it up during that time.  It
was like I
couldn’t control it.  And, oh dear, there were lots and lots of those
pains and hurt feelings – layers of them.  Both
because of what I was faced with, but also because I didn’t know a dang
thing about what I now talk about on the blog – (i.e. choosing happiness by pursuing virtues regardless of the circumstance, watching my own reactions, owning my own self worth, etc.)

The last year of my marriage is when I got really desperate and
decided that I really, really wanted to figure out how to heal from all
I had been through.  At the suggestion of my acupuncturist/spiritual
healer – I also started to take better care of myself
physically as the first priority.   My spiritual healer would explain it like this:  
“To have a rich and abundant life, you have to nourish yourself.  You need healthy soil in order for a life to take root.”  In other words, if your physical body is being abused over and over with sugar addiction, caffeine addiction, toxic foods, an overload of carbs and processed foods, lack of food or constant overdose of food, and lack of sleep/exercise/sunshine, then your mind and spirit will have a really hard time operating optimally.  The idea of “managing your energy” might feel like a hopeless cause as every bit of energy that you do have will just be going towards mere survival on a physical level and nothing more.

So I took my mentor’s suggestion very, very seriously and began to REALLY begin to care for myself physically.  This was SO KEY to my spiritual/emotional healing, I cannot even tell you.  I think caring for my physical
well-being helped me to have the hormonal balance, mental strength, and
energy to begin to then heal emotionally.  It was also the first time I ever felt like I actually was a spiritual person (that was so shocking to me, let me tell you!)  That was the most empowering time
of my life because I really did begin to feel healed inside for the
first time.  I thought that might never be possible.  Do you know what a big deal that is to feel healed?  It truly is a miracle.  (I think that’s why I feel so passionate about writing this blog – I want you all to feel that!)  It was then that I had a feeling of
self-worth for probably the first time in my life.  I also had the
strength to begin to love a fellow human being who was not in a good
place in his life and who was not treating me well.  I had the strength
to begin to forgive and to no longer have expectations of him – but to just free
myself from being hurt by his behavior.  I even had the energy and desire and ability to reach out of my immediate circumstances (my crumbling marriage) and serve other people.  I guess ultimately I
had the strength to surrender my “natural” self (ego) and tap into a higher
part of me that I didn’t even know existed.  This stuff is HUGE.  And the beginning of it all was nourishing my physical body.

Our dear readers, I want to just pour my heart and soul out on this one…and suggest that if you really, really do want to change your life and heal, caring for your physical body really is the #1 starting point.  I feel badly that I haven’t written more about this when I’ve known all along how important it is to succeeding at a lot of the things we talk about on this blog.  But it’s not too late to share.  So I’m going to share a few posts about what I did to heal physically. Stay tuned.

And, as you think about your own life, have you had experiences that made it clear how linked our physical wellness & nourishment are to the abilities of our mind, soul & spirit?  Or any other thoughts about this subject?  I would so love to hear.  I think this topic could be one of the most important ones we ever address and I hope I can do it justice.  I really hope to hear of your insights, knowledge, questions and experiences…as together maybe we can have some powerful information here on this corner of the web.  And maybe some lives can be changed.  I know it can happen. 

Love to all – I mean, seriously.  We really do have love and respect for you.


(Last spring I took this photo around the corner from our home.  Isn’t nature such a beautiful example of what can happen with healthy soil and nourishment?)


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  1. Anonymous July 23, 2013 at 10:52 am - Reply

    Dear Mara,
    Firstly I love your photo it does something to me inside, a deep joy.
    Secondly HELP I am struggling to "move it or lose it" I have the idea of exercise but no action.
    How do I get desperate enough to get physical without being a big fattie first. I have never had to worry about my body shape however as I am now 40 I can't neglect my body like I used to. My spirit is lighter, my body is heavy and slows me down and I know I am not realising my full potential.
    I look forward to this corner of the web and the wisdom and experience of others. Thank you Debs

    • mara July 25, 2013 at 4:31 am - Reply

      Debs, let me just say that you are AWESOME for wanting to improve. You totally can do this. Start with a walk every day. To start, do it for 30 minutes if you can. Or if you need to do less, do it for less. And make it a power walk…meaning walk fast enough that you sweat. Find some music or a podcast that you enjoy and take some headphones. Or, find a walking partner. Also, get some shoes that are comfortable. And that's it. The first few times will be hell because you won't want to go. Your body might feel sluggish at even the thought of putting on some shoes and walking out. But just do it. After a few days, your brain and your energy will feel so alive. I'll be doing this with you in Brooklyn. πŸ™‚ Wish we could be walking partners!

  2. Andrea July 23, 2013 at 11:10 am - Reply

    I cannot wait to hear more about this! My physical well being is out of control & by default everything else is too. I have thought a lot about how to change but I agree-I am in mere survival mode & it seems impossible to find the energy to do something different.

  3. Deborah July 23, 2013 at 12:28 pm - Reply

    I'm very excited to read more about this subject. I personally go back and re-read your "the skinny on being skinny" posts when I feel like I need to snap out of a bad rut. I find that portion size is a big thing that I need to have more control of. I need to eat many small meals during the day, but those meals have grown over the years and it has now proven difficult to bring them back down to the correct size. Any more words of wisdom on that (or even the same words, repeated) would be appreciated!! πŸ™‚

  4. Camille July 23, 2013 at 12:51 pm - Reply

    Mara, I wish you knew how perfectly timed for me this is. I'm excited for the posts to come. Lots of love from D.C.

  5. Anonymous July 23, 2013 at 12:58 pm - Reply

    Mara, so glad you posted this!

    I remember one of your readers asked you recently how a person just "chooses" to have a better reaction in a stressful situation. I think–like so many things in life–that preparation and prevention before a stressful situation crops up is a key to learning to respond with love. And that is exactly what you are talking about here!

    When our bodies feel better (and consequently spirits & souls), we are in a better state of mind (and frankly a better mood) and are able to respond with love more of the time. That sounds almost trite, but it even works for deeper hurts over time, as it appears you will be teaching us.

    So the choice to respond with love comes long before the heat of the moment. In addition to keeping our goal to respond with love right before our eyes through study, we also make little choices all the time that will prepare us to have more love in our hearts – and a big part of that is caring for our bodies.

    This is especially obvious when caring for children. When they begin to act up I go through a mental checklist regarding them…are they hungry?…are they tired?…have their little bodies been cooped up inside too long?…etc. Just like little kids, we need physical care and sunshine too!

    • danny July 23, 2013 at 1:24 pm - Reply

      Great comment: " I think–like so many things in life–that preparation and prevention before a stressful situation crops up is a key to learning to respond with love."

      That was perfectly said

  6. Amy July 23, 2013 at 1:02 pm - Reply

    Oh my goodness, I love this post.

    When I went through a divorce two years ago, I was meeting with a therapist to help guide me through those deep waters. I began practicing affirmations and one of the affirmations she and I created was this:

    "My first responsibility is to my own growth and well being. The better I feel about myself, the better I'll be toward others."

    At first, this seemed so foreign to me because I thought it was selfish to think of yourself and I should always be looking outward. But in fact, it's so enables us to be of service, open to new opportunities, etc. if we are taking care of ourselves first.

    I personally know that to feel better about myself, I need to exercise, nourish myself spiritually and budget my finances daily. When I have those three things covered, I find that I'm much more adequate to be my best self.

    • Sharlee July 24, 2013 at 6:28 pm - Reply

      "The better I feel about myself, the better I'll feel towards others." So so true…and honestly it seems so much easier to tackle this with taking care of our physical bodies first. I KNOW that when I eat a more wholesome diet and honor my body, I become more the person I want to be. I appreciate Mara saying this is the number one starting point, because it seems like if we try to tackle the other parts of us first, it's so difficult and often discouraging. I firmly believe our bodies and souls are taking care of one, we take care of the other.

  7. Anonymous July 23, 2013 at 1:13 pm - Reply

    Hi Mara,
    Great post. I too cannot wait to hear more. The thing is, we know we need to nourish ourselves. What we don't know is HOW to nourish ourselves. What to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner, snacks, etc.
    Some of us (like me) need it spelled out!
    Love and light πŸ™‚

  8. Ashleigh Son July 23, 2013 at 1:33 pm - Reply

    This post really resonates with me. I am really looking forward to your future posts. Overall well-being is so tied to physical health it is not funny. Thanks for bringing it up. πŸ™‚

  9. Anonymous July 23, 2013 at 1:34 pm - Reply

    Oh yes please! Can't wait! I got so excited when I read the title so please please if you can post about this tomorrow πŸ™‚

  10. Raven July 23, 2013 at 1:40 pm - Reply

    I look forward to this series. I'm in the thick of trying to get healthier and nourish my body after giving birth to baby #4. Sometimes I think it's easy for moms to put their own nourishment on the back burner and I look forward to being inspired by what you have to say.

  11. Jenny D. July 23, 2013 at 1:48 pm - Reply

    Oh man, I'm a believer! I learned first hand this year how true all this is. I started by overcoming my sugar addiction and after I overcame that major hurdle, I actually started to feel more spiritual which was so, so unexpected. Things I had been struggling to understand and wrap my head around actually started to become clear and nearly effortless! I then went on to cut out gluten and dairy. It has been life changing for me. I'm still fairly new still to all these changes so I'm excited for your upcoming posts.

  12. Gina July 23, 2013 at 1:59 pm - Reply

    I have been reading your blog for about a little under a year now and this past Saturday, at 39 weeks I experienced a stillbirth. The healing process has started and I just wanted to say thank you to you and your husband. I truly believe that part of the reason the healing process is going so well is that I had read all your posts and learned so much about choosing happiness even in the worst circumstances. This post today was especially poignant to me as I am healing physically from labor and the grief of it all. Thank you. Thank you so very much.

    • Anonymous July 23, 2013 at 4:54 pm - Reply

      While reading through the comments my heart broke when it read yours. I am so very sorry for your loss. I can't imagine what you must be going through but just know that a stranger in Nevada is thinking of you and hoping for good and peace and faith and love and healing for you.

    • Brianne July 23, 2013 at 5:28 pm - Reply

      Gina, I am so very sorry for your loss, too. Sending you lots of love and warmth and hope for peace and healing from Pennsylvania.

    • Louise July 23, 2013 at 9:24 pm - Reply

      Oh how I feel for you. So much love and prayers from the UK xx

    • Anonymous July 24, 2013 at 7:41 am - Reply

      I am so sorry to hear of your loss, I wanted you to know you are not alone. I you and your husband loads of love from New Zealand

    • mara July 25, 2013 at 4:01 pm - Reply

      Gina, my heart just hearts for you. I'm so, so very sorry. What a gift that your healing process is going well. I couldn't be more grateful that anything here has been helpful to you. All I can say is it's a gift from God when anything like that happens. We are just trying to share truths and provide the space here for people to discover their own truths and their own power to heal. We love you and send you prayers from Brooklyn.

  13. Leanne Rees July 23, 2013 at 2:13 pm - Reply

    Mara, as one of the earlier readers said, this series of posts couldn't come at a better time for me. Over the last two or so years I have been trying to change some of my very bad life habits, most of whihc are around food and exercise. I really think that it will be beneficial to hear how you put your wellness as priority number one in your life. I SO agree that it's all so very interconnected and I really want to have my life rooted in good, healthy soil.

  14. Whitney Shepard July 23, 2013 at 2:32 pm - Reply

    I love that picture, and the words that followed. I am constantly inspired to be a happy healthier woman by your posts.

  15. Taylor B. July 23, 2013 at 2:35 pm - Reply

    I really needed to hear/read this today. Thank you.

  16. Ange July 23, 2013 at 2:37 pm - Reply

    Mara, I so agree. I notice such a big difference in my life when I take care of ME first by eating healthy, running and remembering my yoga practice. I feel much fuller and whole even if there are still problems in my life.

  17. Maria July 23, 2013 at 2:49 pm - Reply

    oh i'm so glad you're going to write about this. Chang is SO holistic- if you only focus on one aspect of changing, things may still be out of balance. I know if i eat sugar and other yuckies, it becomes VERY difficult for me to have joy. I can't imagine trying to make big emotional changes w/out looking at healing my physical body through good food and natural therapies!

  18. Krista July 23, 2013 at 3:12 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this. I completed a Whole30 ( March, and I did see a huge improvement in my moods by the end of it. It took me a good three and a half weeks for me to start seeing a change in my emotional health. The problem is that I only continued to do that really strict diet change for about a week longer, then slowly began to slip back into my bad habits again, and it has been so hard for me to get back on track.

    Thank you for reminding me about how much better my responses to other people were (especially dear husband)when I was eating what my body needs and saying "no" to those things that do my body harm. I found out that dairy causes my skin breakouts, but I figure, hey, I can live with a week-long breakout because this cheese is totally worth it. Bloating and gaining five pounds from eating wheat isn't really a big deal, right? I can totally live with that. Your reminder that my diet is linked to so much more than my physical self, and that it plays a huge part in my emotional reactions to those I love is huge. I can live with those extra five pounds without being too upset about it, but I (and those around me) don't deserve to receive the negative part of me just because I crave that bagel with cream cheese.

    So thank you so much for this reminder to take better care of myself in my quest to gain control of my reactions and emotions. Your words are such an inspiration.

  19. Anonymous July 23, 2013 at 3:12 pm - Reply

    Ok I so feel the same way with PMS!! Do you have any symptoms at all anymore?? I feel like you described me exactly!!! So please tell me what you did physically to help your body! I need to know!!!

  20. Anonymous July 23, 2013 at 3:13 pm - Reply

    Can you write the follow up to this post today?? Haha. Please?? πŸ™‚

    • anna July 23, 2013 at 6:01 pm - Reply

      I know!!! I got to the end wanting to read more!

    • mara July 25, 2013 at 4:04 pm - Reply

      Hi ladies – – yes, I'll write more and more. And..yes, my PMS has COMPLETELY disappeared. No symptoms since I made these changes and it has been about 6 years. It really has been a miracle. It's SOOOO wonderful to be free of that. It just leaves so much room for joy and love and kindness, etc., etc.

  21. Tiffany July 23, 2013 at 3:29 pm - Reply

    I agree completely. If you are eating well and exercising it releases so much mental tension. I just don't mean in the release of endorphins which has been proven to make us feel better but also in mental thought waste. Some of the thoughts I use to beat myself up with either don't exist or are a lot less, not that I condone beating yourself up mentally, but hey I am a work in progress. Anyway, if I am eating healthy I never feel bad about what I ate that day, I feel proud and nourished. If I am exercising, I feel excited about my body and proud of the muscles that are developing. I feel strong.

  22. Christina Coonradt July 23, 2013 at 4:11 pm - Reply

    I have dealt with anxiety for years, and I recently made the connection that I become particularly anxious if I don't have caffeine. I was so embarrassed to realize that my body relied on daily Diet Cokes to function! I quit caffeine cold turkey and feel so empowered.

    • mara July 25, 2013 at 4:09 pm - Reply

      YAY. Diet Coke has become such an accepted cultural norm – – it's almost like a "popular" thing to do. But it's just poison. I can't tell you how many women I know who drink it regularly but then wonder why they get headaches and PMS and anxiety or why they can't sleep. Anyway, so, so happy you were able to make that change! So good.

  23. Scarlett July 23, 2013 at 4:50 pm - Reply

    This is a great post! Taking good care of yourself IS so important, but it's always been a challenge for me. The thing that makes the most difference for me is sleep! When I'm well rested, I feel better about life in general and have energy to handle problems positively and react better to situations. When I'm sleep-deprived, I feel more depressed, anxious, impatient, etc.

    I've been into Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project books lately. She talks about this subject, too, and shows how to make specific goals to improve, such as giving yourself a set bedtime every night, instead of making more general goals like "get enough sleep." She also talks about the importance of taking care of your physical space–getting rid of clutter, displaying things that make you happy, etc. Those suggestions have been really helpful to me.

    I'm sure you will have a lot of great info to share, as always. Looking forward to your future posts. Keep up the good work, Mara! Have been loving your blog lately.

  24. Mairi July 23, 2013 at 5:23 pm - Reply

    After struggling with obesity ever since I was a child…. well, I am still struggling.

    I have been dieting ever since I was 8 years old (I am now 38). I lose weight and then I gain it back. It has cost me oh so much as far as my soul is concerned. I have wasted a decade of my life, hidding in my appartment and being depressed about the way I looked. I felt like a non-human. I felt like I had no soul, no spirit.

    And then I lost all the extra weight. I found my sexual self and I spent my days and nights searching for approval in the eyes and bodies of men. I found myself in an even deeper mess, since now I had the "love" I was hungry for, but I was never fed.

    My healing was brought to me when God brought my wonderful husband in my life. I begun to be fed.

    I wanted to share this with you, because now, now that I know I am loved, I feel the need to find a way towards health (instead of dieting). I know now that I don't need to lose weight in order to become lovable, but that I want to chose health because I am permitted to love myself.

    Excuse my loooong and perhaps confusing post πŸ™‚

    • mara July 25, 2013 at 4:26 pm - Reply

      I just LOVE your comment here. Thank you so much. I think health / weight / dieting are too often pursued to get more self-worth or acceptance or love or attention or wholeness. But being skinny or at your goal weight or wearing a certain size of pants will NEVER offer true self worth. I agree with you completely…I think the key is to take care of your body and to nourish it and be kind to it…out of LOVE for yourself. And really, it's a matter of believing that we all have self worth and value – at any size, at any weight – – we ALL have it just as we are!! The weight cannot and will not change that. We just need to own it and act like it. And part of that includes stopping the abuse of our own bodies and nourishing it out of respect and gratitude for what we have.

  25. Brianne July 23, 2013 at 5:33 pm - Reply

    I'm so excited that you're going to write more about this, too! I have always had trouble with PMS and mood swings, and it lasts for about two weeks, too. It does not feel good at all, and it makes me feel like a crazy person. I'm a vegetarian and have gone dairy free for a short time before, and I felt great. I'm currently considering going dairy free again, and maybe even gluten free. (I just don't know what to eat/not eat.)
    Thank you for being such a loving force! xoxo

    • mara July 25, 2013 at 4:28 pm - Reply

      I want to have a few more posts about foods to eat. Hopefully soon!

  26. Jill July 23, 2013 at 7:39 pm - Reply

    Love this and looking forward to your follow-up posts! I really feel that a clean and healthy body is so fundamental to a clean and healthy mind and spirit. πŸ™‚

  27. Anonymous July 23, 2013 at 8:11 pm - Reply

    I started dancing when I was going through a bad break-up (weeks before the wedding). Eight years later, it is still the best part of my life. I am stronger, I feel and look better and healthier, and the dancing makes me crave good things like water, fruit, and sleep. When I eat the wrong things, I don't have the energy to dance. Same when I don't sleep well or enough. The dancing has given me a good reason to give up things that weren't best for me (physical and otherwise), but in giving them up, I've benefited in so many other ways that don't directly relate to dance. I love ballet and ballroom, but all dancing is wonderful for body and mind, I think.

    • KelliO July 23, 2013 at 9:21 pm - Reply

      I will second that about dance any day!

  28. July 23, 2013 at 8:52 pm - Reply

    Boy can I relate to this one. I credit 100% my strength to leave my ex husband with Zumba. I have always loved dance and took it as a child, but it was not until I started doing Zumba that I rediscovered my love for dance. I felt healthier, had more energy and, frankly, started looking pretty hot! All key ingredients for me to get the energy to finally leave him and be happy to be alone. I ended up losing 45 pounds (and the ex-husband)! My Zumba instructor even asked me to write a testimonial because he saw my body transformation. Now, I am committed to working out at least four times a week with intense cardio workout like Zumba. Even if I am tired and stressed, I MUST go to work out. It's not an option any more. It lifts my spirits and keeps me grounded. A happy surprise was that once I gathered my strength, I met my adoring husband soon afterwards. Viva el amor!


    • mara July 25, 2013 at 4:29 pm - Reply

      Points for Zumba!!!! That is so awesome.

  29. KelliO July 23, 2013 at 9:24 pm - Reply

    In my first semester as a dance major, I read this talk: Our bodies have such potential, and truly they record our feelings, stresses, and habits. I believe there is undoubtedly a connection between body and spirit. Thanks for reminding me that I need to refresh that. So looking forward to more posts!

  30. Kimberly Bonham July 23, 2013 at 10:10 pm - Reply

    I can really relate to this post. For years I had major stomach problems. When from doctor to doctor to doctor and took test after test after test. Nothing was found. I decided to take my health into my own hands and started really caring for my body. What a huge difference it has made. Not only do I feel healthier but I have a lot more energy too! I also find that when I am taking care of myself and my body (treat your body as a Temple), I am spiritually stronger too.

    • mara July 25, 2013 at 4:33 pm - Reply

      Love this. Thank you for sharing. It IS all about taking health into our own hands.
      And at least in my experience with seeing doctors my whole adult life, I have only had ONE doctor mention anything about nutrition, diet, foods, etc. And trust me, I've seen a lot. In fact, most of them totally disregard diet and other health suggestions and even balk at the mere mention of it. It's sad that so many people maybe don't take their health seriously enough because quite frankly, most doctors do not either. Most of them just run tests and prescribe drugs, which has nothing to do with obtaining true health.

  31. Martha July 23, 2013 at 10:28 pm - Reply

    amen, amen, amen, amen. can't wait to read more of these posts! running and water-drinking save my sanity every single day.

  32. whitney @ thecurtiscasa July 23, 2013 at 11:01 pm - Reply

    So glad I stumbled on this post, Mara! Such great timing… After a little period of depression, I feel like I have so many things going well in my life and I'm still plagued by tinges of sadness sometimes.. Maybe I need to feed my physical body better and the rest will follow. Thank you so much…

  33. Colorado76Gal July 24, 2013 at 1:43 am - Reply

    I really needed to hear this today. I used to run all the time and felt the best I ever did. Within the last six months, I have had a lot of things happen with work, family and personally that it just feels like a weight on me and I am so tired all the time. I know I need to get back to it ………since life doesn't need to change me……. I need to change life!!!

  34. janna beth July 24, 2013 at 3:04 am - Reply

    Yoga – in that it taught me both dedication and to listen to my body – is giving me the strength to pass by processed foods, and make healthy food choices in healthy amounts. I've always been thin and fit, but only because of a good metabolism and rigorous commitment to working out for the purpose of staying thin. I'm learning to value exercise for how it makes me feel, not just for the calories it burns.

    • mara July 25, 2013 at 4:34 pm - Reply

      Love this. Danny and I recently took a yoga class and LOVED it. We can't wait to go back for more.

  35. Anonymous July 24, 2013 at 4:11 am - Reply

    I'm so excited to hear what you have to say! This is an area that I need help with and motivation!

    I feel like if I am off emotionally or spiritually, my body feels it. (I get ill, ulcers, I break out, I feel heavy, stressed, and anxious.) It is not a good way to live. – Amy

  36. Anonymous July 24, 2013 at 6:17 am - Reply

    Loved reading the comments–it makes me so happy to know other people are pursuing health and finding contentment along the way. For those commenters who asked about where to start, just do one easy and simple thing (walk for five minutes, floss one tooth, eat one more handful of veggies…) Do that one habit until you're killing it. Then do another easy, simple thing. Repeat. Give yourself mental high fives as often as possible.

    As for me, I discovered last year that avoiding gluten helps me beat depression. I'm not sure why but gluten's effect on my body might be connected to my energy levels and sleep habits. The change in my overall mood and attitude was immediate and lasting. Oh, and a gluten-free diet also means I no longer get horrible awful no-good cramps every month, as I did for FIFTEEN YEARS. Seriously, those bad boys are gone!

    Mara, I think you're right that skin problems can be diet-related. I'm working on limiting my sugar intake, to see if that will make a difference. P.S. Don't you think an A Blog About Love reader health challenge would be fun? We could each try making a healthful change for a month or two and then send you our thoughts and results for an update blog post. πŸ™‚

    I'm really looking forward to your next posts!

    • mara July 25, 2013 at 4:38 pm - Reply

      I forgot to write about the cramping! Yes, my cramping went away completely, too.

      I couldn't love the "health challenge" idea more. THANK YOU. I totally want to do this and will work on trying to figure out how it could unfold.

      LOVE this comment all around. Thank you so much!!

  37. Michelle Bunt July 24, 2013 at 9:13 am - Reply

    Hi Mara,

    I love this post. I have been on a journey of emotional health for several years now, but it's only really starting this year that I have started making physical health a priority. I discovered I had auto-immune issues, and this kick-started me taking my health seriously. I have adopted a gluten and dairy free lifestyle (which I have been doing for last 7 months). It has helped me lose a lot of weight, my skin is so much clearer and I have more energy.

    I also went and saw a medical intuitive recently who helped me process some emotions that she sensed were physically holding me back. She also showed me that I was deficient in iodine (so now I have been applying iodine topically to my skin daily). I'm also starting to take vitamins.

    The next step for me is to engage in a regular physical exercise. I'm looking at taking up yoga and bellydancing. I really enjoy physical exercise but I never managed to successfully make it part of my regular routine.

    But as many people have already said I totally agree that the links between physical and emotional health are huge πŸ™‚ Good on you for tackling this subject. Looking forward to hearing more and hopefully getting inspiration for me on my continuing journey.

    Arohanui to you and Danny(this means "lots of love" in Maori – our Native language in New Zealand)

  38. Lauren Ashley July 24, 2013 at 2:31 pm - Reply

    So true, if we don't have our health, what is there? We have to all care for ourselves for that we'll have the ability to care for others in our lives. Thanks for sharing. xo!

  39. Anne July 25, 2013 at 1:53 am - Reply

    I LOVED this post and it was so timely for me! Growing up, my family always ate relatively healthy, but moving out has been so good for my health. Learning how to eat correctly for my body (which for me has involved eliminated lots of sugar and carbs)has been a challenge, but boy has it been rewarding. Having more energy and a clear head in addition to feeling great have made those changes worth it. Thanks for giving needed encouragement to continue with these lifestyle changes!

  40. Mimi July 25, 2013 at 2:17 am - Reply

    LOVE this post and can't wait to read more on the topic. I wholeheartedly agree! Thank you for sharing as always πŸ™‚

  41. Anonymous July 25, 2013 at 2:31 am - Reply

    Pleassssssse write more about this! I'm absorbing every word! Thank you!

  42. Angie July 25, 2013 at 5:09 am - Reply

    Mara – Today marks one year of being [mostly] gluten, dairy, and sugar free, and it feels so good!

  43. Anonymous July 25, 2013 at 6:25 am - Reply

    You've obviously hit a nerve! I, too, look forward to reading as many of these posts as you can bring yourself to write. It's such an important topic, and such a struggle for so many people.

    I know everything I could possibly need to know about nutrition and exercise. I used to be an athlete, so I'm even familiar with using my body that way. I'm smart and well-read – have three advanced degrees, including from Ivy League institutions. I share this just to point out that the problem often isn't a lack of information. It's also not a lack of desire. If I could have one selfish wish, it would be to get my weight permanently under control. It negatively affects how I feel about myself every minute of every day, how I perform at work, my love life (or lack of one), and everything else. It's the only area of my life that I don't do well at or feel I have control over. Unfortunately, there's some stumbling block that makes me over eat and that makes me choose to stay in bed or on the couch rather than exercising. I've tried every trick in the book that has ever been published on the topic, but my subconscious keeps dominating my conscious.

    So, I look forward to hopefully learning from you.

    As you address this topic, please do know that most of us with weight issues struggle with things that you will have a hard time relating to. Please remember that this comes easier for you than for many. From a previous post, it seems you've always been thin and you've always been able to more-or-less control your portion size. For me, over eating and binge eating actually feels like an addiction or like something that's outside of my rational control. The exercise thing is also irrational. I watch my mom die slowly from diabetes, yet that's oddly not enough to push me to exercise when there's no rational reason that I shouldn't. It's maddening.

  44. Alison Rae July 25, 2013 at 3:11 pm - Reply

    Mara dear, thank you so much for posting this! I have been experiencing horrible PMS and you described it perfectly. Everything just seems to come up and become uncontrollable. I feel like I am always using PMS as an excuse for acting or thinking poorly and it does truly seem to be two weeks out of the month! I am trying so hard to change this and really choose happiness. Thank you so much, I look forward to reading more of these posts!

  45. Miranda July 25, 2013 at 5:07 pm - Reply

    I suffered from PMS for years and eventually discovered I had endometriosis and PCOS. I thought it would be impossible to have children when I finally found the right man and got married the second time. I was never able to get pregnant during my first marriage, which turned out to be a blessing. I learned so much about stress and nutrition. It really makes a difference to sleep, unwind, eat right and exercise.

  46. Anonymous July 28, 2013 at 2:46 pm - Reply

    Two "shot in the dark", "pie in the sky" ideas to throw out there:

    A Summer Workshop/Talk:
    Each year, I try to sneak away for 2 or 3 days of spiritual renewal/invigoration/exploration combined with some solitude and some fun and some relaxation. (eg: yoga workshops, spiritual growth weekends, weekends at kripalu, open center in nyc, the Handel Group, Elena Brower, etc). I was thinking that I would like to schedule one of these get-aways for this summer. So I found myself pondering what the ideal get-away would be for me right now — and I decided the ultimate get-away for me right now would be attending a talk/workshop by Mara combined with a day or two at the beach. Any chance you are doing any type of talk or workshop this summer? Seems like the idea of "taking care of your body as your top priority" has resonated with a lot of readers. Maybe there is a fertile market for having a talk/workshop consisting of a combination of "taking care of your body", spirituality and an intro to love 101. You could test the market by allowing people to register and pre-pay with the understanding that the event would only be held if you hit a certain number of registrations.

    Online Group:
    I find the process of posting my daily food diary online extremely helpful. It gives me a sense of accountability and makes me feel part of a bigger movement of people who are interested in "making physical care their top priority". Any interest in taking advantage of this momentum and formalizing an online group. Members could pay a monthly fee ($25?, $50?) and you could start a website that is id-protected. It doesnt have to be anything fancy. Just a way for people to check in every day and share their progress and learn from others. You could post links to old posts that deal with the topic and write new posts. You could assign new, small tasks weekly. At some point, we could move on from physical care of the body to other topics that you are interested in teaching and leading change bit by bit.

    Thanks for all the ways you inspire us to live better lives.

  47. munna singh August 8, 2013 at 12:50 pm - Reply

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