Where’s the Love?

How are you at receiving, really taking in, the love and abundance around you? In the clamor of everyday life, can you feel the great joy that is your natural state?

Me, I sometimes struggle.

I know in my head that I am loved and respected. I have a beautiful family, gorgeous friends, lovely colleagues, several spiritual communities. Love is all around, but I often can’t feel it. Old brain training and all—what we do and don’t get in childhood becomes the patterns of our brain in adulthood. It’s a fact. But it’s not our deepest, fullest truth.

Which is a good thing, because not truly experiencing love not only leaves me soul-starved and set up for some kind of soul-crushing, body-hurting binge, it frustrates the heck out of people in my life. It’s not nice for them when I deflect their affection.

Today while I was cycling in the park a simple little idea popped into my head:

Start where I am! I adore music, dance and other movement, and nature. Why not load up on these fun, nurturing things and sink way down into them as they are happening. Deepening my experience with these safe, joyful activities, I know from brain science, educates body and mind for ever-deepening enjoyment of the bigger, deeper, eternal joys of life.

I can’t just wait for these times to happen. I need to put fun stuff on my calendar, and let them happen fully, then slow down to feel the delight in my throat, chest and solar plexus. The sweet, cool, relaxed sensation that comes, that’s love. That’s contentment. That’s serenity. Unshakeable. The real deal. Infinite, eternal, sustaining, curative, centering, powerful.

Thus educated, my system is all the more ready to receive love and joy. Here’s another little secret: I don’t do this just for me. When I feel full and fed, I am stronger. I can reach higher and deeper, make stronger connections and be the peace I want to see in the world and in the people around me.

How about that?


Find more like this at gayedelman.com.



8 Ways to Help Your Favorite Food Addict

A helpful ghost story:

Make this ghost story a winning one!

Make this ghost story a winning one!

A nice man, at his wife’s request, ordered my book The Hungry Ghost: How I Ditched 100 Pounds and Came Fully Alive for her Christmas present.

With the order he wrote, “It’s so hard for me as a man to know how to help her. Do you have any advice?”

That inspired some suggestions for how to support someone tormented by overweight:

  1. Listen without interrupting. When people stop any bad habit, compulsion or addiction, they have a whole lot of feelings with nowhere to go. They may need to release that energy by talking about it.
  1. Show appreciation, sincerely and often. Tell her how beautiful she is, mention what a nice job she did with something, compliment how hard she’s working at her new regimen. Ten times a day is not too much. Keep remarks sincere.
  1. Don’t criticize her food or try to tell her what to do, unless she requests your help. If she asks, first say, “What do you think?” Or even, “What do your food support people say?” Your job is never to try to control. Your job is to be an honest friend, not a fixer.
  1. Curtail your own iffy food behavior. If you like to snack of her favorite binge foods, maybe you could not keep them in the house for awhile? If you’re feeling resistant, ask yourself why you won’t support your spouse this way. As for you feeling deprived, trust me, you’ll survive. And you know what? How you’re feeling? She’s feeling a thousand times worse.
  1. Encourage her to take care of herself—doc visits, nice walks, fun stuff like museums or movies, coffee with friends. Consider being flexible about her self-care even if it inconveniences you. Particularly if her obesity is advanced, she’s in an urgent life-and-death battle with a terminal illness.
  1. Be patient. Never stop believing in her. I had two pals who always had confidence in me, even though it took me many years to find the permanent way out of obesity. I’ll  never forget that, or lose my profound gratitude.
  1. Have some fun! Laughing is great medicine. Laughing together is love. Go ahead. Get silly! Wisk her around the kitchen to a great song.
  1. Help her celebrate her efforts to recover, not just her milestones. The process is not just about reaching a certain number. It’s also about turning the new behaviors into a way of life, one day at a time. Healthy rewards—an extra hour to read a nice novel, skipping some yucky chore for the day—for small incremental changes reinforce them and teach her that she really can do this, and that the effort is totally worth it.




You probably don’t want to hear this

Imagine this: A Thanksgiving that doesn’t end with me in hideous pain from a super-stretched stomach. Where I don’t end up so sluggish from sugar that all I crave is for everyone to get the hell out of my face so I can get to my nap.

I’m about to have my 24th one of those holidays. Through some grace I still can’t explain, all those years ago I started eating healthy every damn day of my life, come hell, high water, birthday, Thanksgiving, pushy hosts, or my own inner pull towards kinds and quantities of foods that were deadly for me.

As you may know, I wrote a book, The Hungry Ghost, about my healthy eating transformation and the 100 pound weight loss that ensued.

There’s one big mother of a problem with my story, though. It contains a message that very few people want to hear.

Who wants to be told that no matter how hard it is to lose weight—and it is hard—it’s ten tons harder to keep it off?

Who wants to hear that you have to work at it, every damn day? That there are no magic beans?

I am no paragon of virtue. To this day, I don’t know why I got what I got, the restoration of health and sanity, along with profound gifts of inner resources to sustain this miracle.

But I do know how it happened and keeps happening: I spend a minimum of two hours a day managing what I eat and—this is critical—what I think and feel. We’re talking prayer, meditation, peer support groups and phone calls, self-care. That’s not counting physical exercise. Or food planning, shopping and preparation.

And don’t assume I’m a lady of leisure. I began this work with three young kids at home, and a couple years after started it, started working full time a 90 minute commute from home.

It can be done. It breaks my heart that people are still looking for the weight-loss magic, even as I understand how attractive the idea of easy rescue is. It breaks my heart to watch how people head into the holidays simultaneously dreading and thrilled by the prospect of extreme overindulgence.

I lay awake nights sometimes, wondering what will make them decide, just this once, to put a happy healthy body and clear head above stuffing themselves silly with massive quantities of food that’s chock full of illness-inducing substances.

I’m not saying don’t have a few bites extra, if you know for a fact that the small indulgence won’t ignite a flat out, soul-crushing, body-killing binge. But if you are going to push the edges of everyday eating, at least do it with forethought and awareness. Me personally? I daren’t fool around, because knowing what to do, and doing it, one day at a time, is literally life and death. Once I start eating certain foods, or even just more than I know I need, I can’t stop.

How about you? Somewhere in your own little self, you know the truth about you and your food, too, don’t you? Do you dare live from there?

And if you want to read a really, really good book about how I did what I did, with oodles of advice about what you can do starting right this minute, I wouldn’t say no. You can get a custom-signed copy of The Hungry Ghost on my web site, where this blog also lives.  Or find a quicker, cheaper version from Amazon.

Bottom line: I love you. I want you to be serene and healthy. You are more important than all that food. There are ways to feel satisfied, loved and safe that don’t hurt you. Trust me, you’ll be so glad you took such good care of yourself. Maybe not right away. But eventually, and then, every day for the rest of your life.

5 Secrets of Sustainable Weight Loss

Please don’t envy me. People do sometimes. I can see it in their eyes. But envy is a distancing sort of thing that denies the envied her humanity and the envier her own possibilities. Instead, consider stepping into my shoes for a moment.

Yes, I did lose 100 pounds 20 years ago. Yes, I’ve kept it off all that time.

But to this day I don’t know why when the doctor told me I needed blood pressure medicine, that then and there I committed to a new level of self-care regarding weight and food. The only thing that explains it is grace, that nameless, faceless something that comes over a person and a life and says, “You are healing. You are safe. You are well, no matter what.”

While I don’t know for sure why I received this beautiful miracle, I do know what actions I took.

I found role models and teachers and did what they did, or what they otherwise taught me that I knew was smart and wholesome.

It was not easy. It still isn’t easy. Folks who choose the path of extreme healing may not be popular in circles where people like to laugh off personal responsibility and tell you it’s okay just this once to have that certain special food you know will bring you down. Life goes on the same as it always did. The world doesn’t shift to suit our new state when our food is under control.

But we can achieve remarkable health if we work for it.

There are five strategies that got me where I am and keep me here:

  1. Food plan. I avoid at all costs foods that cause bingeing. I also weigh and measure all my meals.
  2. Support system. I surround myself with kind people and talk to them all the time.
  3. Body movement. Gentle exercise very day keeps my metabolism up and decreases stress, anxiety and depression that can spark unhealthy eating.
  4. Self-nurture. Radical self-care cures upset emotions like no food ever can.
  5. Belief system. Daily time for prayer and meditation to a power greater than myself fills my soul. When my soul is full, I don’t even want to overeat.

So, please don’t envy me. Instead, consider doing some of what I do. Dare to experiment relentlessly, one day at a time, to find what works for you. We can never, ever give up on ourselves.

What say you? Isn’t there one little teeny tiny thing you can do today to take really, really, extremely, very, very good care of you?

Find more about what I did and do in my book The Hungry Ghost: How I Ditched 100 Pounds and Came Fully Alive. Find more inspirational suggestions in other blogs at gayedelman.com. You can also sign up to receive the blog as an email newsletter.

Fun with Friends!

A couple of Sundays ago I had a ton of fun speaking to the friendly folks the Unitariangay at lectern 4-14-2 Universalist meetinghouse near me in Lincroft, New Jersey. The title of the talk was “Your Food, Your Spirit: Clearing Worldly Obstacles to Soul Growth,” based on my new book The Hungry Ghost: How I Ditched 100 Pounds and Came Fully Alive.

I’m so grateful to my friend Jo Grazide  (who took all these photos) for introducing me with such kindness and generosity.  And to all the folks who showed up, listened eagerly, laughed at all the right places and asked really good questions at the end.gay edelman talk at uucmc 4-14-8

What was really satisfying was seeing how well my experience recovering from food addiction translates into larger things like slowing down, listening to one another and our higher power, and generally being a kind, more caring person.

Because when it gets right down to it, whether I’m using food, drugs, alcohol, TV, gambling, etc., to avoid being present in my life, I’m not having my life. I’m not present to myself or the people I love and serve. As the sub title of The Hungry Ghost says, our goal is not just weight loss or cessation of hurtful distractions, but complete freedom! Now there’s a universal purpose for you!

gay edelman talk at uucmc 4-14-6

gay edelman talk at uucmc 4-14-7

16 Ways to Feel Good NOW!

Today is all we have. Let’s make it a good one!

Self care is not selfish. It’s impossible to be who we’re supposed to be in the world if we aren’t who we’re supposed to be to ourselves. When I first learned this lesson, I had to make a list of possible ways of self-nurture because in the crunch, everything went right out of my head. I’ve had so many conversations this week where we ended up talking about baseline self-care that I decided to share my list. When I’m feeling lower than whale poop, like nobody likes me, everybody hates me and I might as well eat worms, I know I need a dose of self-mothering. Some nice things to do:

• Slather on sweet-scented lotions or oils

• Light a scented candle

• Go to the library, wander through the stacks and take out whatever speaks you—a whole pile of novels, memoirs, travelogues. Don’t forget the section of movies, music and books on tape

• Pick up new do-dads for your hair, a new hairbrush, a different conditioner while you’re food shopping

• Send thank you notes to people who’ve done something nice for you. Send one to yourself in the mail

• Pet your dog or cat

• Get your hair cut just the way you like it

• Schedule a massage. Too pricey? Start saving up. Make a jar and put a few bucks in whenever you can

• Drink a cup of hot herbal tea

• Go through your photo albums

• Call a trusted, nurturing, supportive friend

• Go to meditationoasis.com and listen to a guided imagery.

• Have a nice nap

• Take a walk in a nearby nature site—or around your back yard

• Tend your houseplants

• Color, in a coloring book or on a blank piece of paper. Don’t forget to breathe in that eau de Crayola!

6 Ways to Release Old Trauma

We can’t change the past but we can loosen its hold on us. The brain heals. New circuitry gets laid down. New cells grow. Pain eases. We thrive.

Healing is a lifelong process. Start now.

  1. Physical exercise. The ideal minimum is 20 minutes a day; if that’s too much, do what you can.
  2. Mindfulness. Be in the now. Be in the present moment. Do this by gently remembering your breath. Feel it go in. Out. Use your senses. Hear the cars going by. Look around the room and pick out all the red or blue. Feel the air on your skin or your feet on the floor. Smell the atmosphere around you.
  3. Meditate. A more focused form of mindfulness, this means sitting quietly; you can repeat a one-word mantra (love; peace; om) or just gently, repeatedly follow your breath. Start with three minutes a day, but start, even if you just sit on the edge of the bed when you wake up in the morning.
  4. Get help. If you haven’t already, ask a trusted friend or health care professional for a referral to a psychotherapist who specializes in trauma recovery.
  5. Ingest wisely. Honor your body’s nutritional needs. Eat moderately, and only healthy food. If there’s something you can’t stop eating once you start, don’t start. Trust me, you’ll be happier.  Ditto drugs and alcohol. Don’t use what hurts you. It’s not worth it. You deserve better.
  6. Dare to be joyful. Just feel into delight a little at a time if that’s all that’s possible for now. For abuse survivors, happiness can feel dangerous. Dare to feel the fear and be happy anyway. It will get easier. Promise.


Does God Care About My Shower Curtain?

God is in the details, even the really small ones.

I used to be an atheist. I was very religious about it, quite adamant about there being no God. I made a god out of the no-God, in fact.

But then I had to believe in something, to get my body and my life back from rampaging overeating and obesity.

I went to a peer support group and was told that to get help I had to believe in something other than my own ego or my own will. If I would invoke this power, the others promised, I would have recovery.

Fast forward a couple of decades or so. My dreams have come true. One hundred pounds gone forever. Good-as-possible health is mine. And along the way I discovered within me a capacity to connect with an energy, a force, a being that is so powerful, so loving and kind, well, it’s more than I dare see or think about our feel some of the time.

It’s the human condition, or at least my human condition, to resist the power of joy.

Anyway. When I first decided to try out this newfound higher power years ago, I figured I’d test it with my outfits in the morning. Okay, HP, I’d think-pray, guide me. How bad could it be, right? Worse case scenario, I wouldn’t have a best-dressed day.

From there I learned to turn more and more over until, on a good day, I truly do surrender my entire life—efforts, outcomes, others—to the universe and just keep trudging forward, doing the next right thing. On a good day, I trust that while I may be confused, someone/something bigger, better grander than tiny moi isn’t.

But I still struggle to believe that Higher Power could care that much about me and my little life.

Yesterday I was shopping for a new shower curtain. You should know, btw, that I hate to shop. I mean, detest it. There were a lot of designs. I stood there a good five minutes. I kept thinking about my bathroom’s plain white walls. I tried to think what the other folks who live me appreciate or at least not hate. Décor-wise I really felt any color would do, what with the white walls. I mean, I was really dithering, trying, you know, to get it perfect. Finally, I checked with my gut, grabbed the bright and shiny one I’d first been attracted to and went home.

Last night I put it up. Bam! It matched perfectly the salmon pink fixtures and gray tiles I’d forgotten all about in my focus on the forgiving white. It’s lovely! It matches! Honest to God, I felt the presence of a power greater than myself. (Don’t laugh. I’ll explain.)

Now I don’t believe God gave me that shower curtain. I don’t have a Santa Claus God who finds me parking spaces and puts checks in the mail just when I need them. I don’t think life or God is that simple. (Besides, if God gives parking spaces, then who gave me the whiplash? See why this doesn’t work for me?)

However, I’m now wondering: Does the real God have better things to do than help me choose a shower curtain? Apparently not. This God, the God of my understanding, is so powerful, so enormous, so beyond my human understanding, that yes, it can participate in this huge executive decision regarding my downstairs bathroom.

So how much does this all matter? In terms of showers, and the big picture, not much. In terms of knowing I’m not alone, that there’s a source in me to resolve all issues great and small, my experience is a reminder that his eye is on the sparrow. And, it seems, on even silly little joys like my shiny new shower curtain.





Growing Up Is Hard to Do!

I discovered this poem on a friend’s refrigerator magnet. Whew! I could not find the author, so if you know, do tell. In the meantime, I love how it gently and firmly reminds me of a few things: Joy is mine. Joy is not guaranteed, it has to be claimed. I have to do what I have to do. I can only do what I can do. Compassion is power, gentleness is strength. There is no magic but there is possibility, potential, hope and acceptance of life on life’s terms is freedom. This, my dear ones, is how we become grown up.

 Miracles Happen

 After a while you learn the subtle difference between holding a hand and chaining a soul.

And you learn that love doesn’t mean security.

And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts.

And presents aren’t promises.

And you begin to accept your defeats with your head up and your eyes open.

With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child.

And you learn to build all your roads on today

because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain,

and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much.

So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul instead of waiting for someone else to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure.

That you really are strong.

And you really do have worth.

And you learn and learn.

With every goodbye you learn.