Motherhood

Shhh! Let's not talk about our body image issues....

shh.jpeg

“I just have to lose another x pounds and then I’ll be at my “goal weight”. “I’m not eating carbs right now.” “That has way too many calories” “I was so bad today having x” “I can’t wear that because it show my .... cellulite/stretch marks/“mom tum etc.” “I don’t want that person to see me because I don’t look good enough” “I can’t go to that event because I’ve gained too much weight” “I don’t want to look at myself in the mirror so I can’t go shopping”

Does any of this sound familiar?

Learning to LOVE your pregnant/post-partum body can be difficult, especially in a society that capitalizes off of shaming women’s bodies. If you feel like you focus a lot on your appearance, weight, or size, read on!

The majority of people talk about body image discomfort and goals for weight loss in a way that normalizes having a dysfunctional relationship with your body and/or food. People DON’T often talk about body image issues in a way that offers support or promotes healthy change.

Have you felt uncomfortable with your body since becoming pregnant or giving birth? Or perhaps carried longer term body image issues into pregnancy and motherhood with you?

Focusing on body appearance and food is an extremely common coping strategy of mothers, sometimes conscious and sometimes not. SO much of pregnancy and motherhood is unpredictable, causing women to feel powerless and out of control. Our bodies can become a very easy target. Controlling food and weight seems TANGIBLE, unlike parenting! But this distraction can quickly become and unhealthy and dysfunctional way of coping with the stresses of life.

What are the underlying causes that contribute to your body dissatisfaction? Where do your beliefs about yourself and your body come from? What are the links between your body image and your self esteem? And…. what does shame have to do with it?

If this post speaks to you, talk to me about my upcoming workshop “Loving your body” which will be followed by an optional 5-part series helping you to break down what’s driving your body dissatisfaction and help you to make LONG LASTING positive changes to the way you view your body and yourself.

Jen has almost 10 years experience supporting women with building healthy and positive relationships with their bodies and she is passionate about supporting women on this topic! Jen’s work with women struggling with body image issues and eating disorders over the course of her career is an asset to this workshop!

What do you want to change about your RELATIONSHIP with your body and food in a healthy way? Comment below.

But it’s normal, right? Part 1: Post-partum Bodies

But it’s normal, right? Part 1: Post-partum Bodies:

but its normal right post partum body.jpg

Is it common to have body dissatisfaction post-partum? YES. But is it normal? ...... Often when we claim that something is “normal”, it can trigger feelings of powerlessness... or make us feel defeated or like we won’t be able to change. It can also create acceptance, which is positive in many situations (normalizing, decreasing shame,etc!) , but you don’t have to just accept that you will be uncomfortable and dissatisfied with your body because you’re a mama now. You can dig a little deeper and find ways to connect to yourself to unearth what is really causing your body dissatisfaction in the first place... and I guarantee it’s not all about the way you LOOK. Continue reading more on what’s “normal” vs not on your changing body in the peri-natal period.


Come to my next workshop on “Loving Your Body” for an opportunity to truly connect to yourself and make lasting changes in how you view your body. Offered as an interactive online workshop & In-person in Calgary area.

Register online here:

“I’m keeping my calm, and then I EXPLODE.”

“I’m keeping my calm, and then I EXPLODE.”

Does this sound like you?

Recently I did an interview with my sister Jessica from Birth Takes a Village on Post-Partum Rage. We talked about common presenting symptoms, and not-so-common strategies to make long lasting changes on the way you experience anger and rage in Motherhood. 

In this interview, I talked about how lingering feelings about your pregnancy, birth & breastfeeding experiences can impact your transition into motherhood & your early relationship with your baby, triggering feelings of anger & rage much faster……Oddly, something I didn’t mention in this interview is how common it is to have feelings of anger & rage when you don’t have enough support, when you’re feeling alone, and when your baby consistently cries for what seems like no apparent reason. 

FullSizeRender.jpg

If you find yourself going from 0-100 in an instant and then feel guilt or shame, please know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE! In my counselling practice (The Essence of You), where I primarily work with people in pre-natal, post-partum, & motherhood, one of the most common issues people come to me with are around anger & rage. 

Register for this workshop by clicking on photo!

Register for this workshop by clicking on photo!

For an opportunity to shift how your view your anger and how you see yourself to make lasting changes, come to my next anger and rage workshop next month (BEING OFFERED ONLINE & IN-PERSON IN CALGARY). In this workshop, you will be invited to learn more about what triggers your anger, how to start recognizing warning signs and learn coping strategies to deal with these feelings and the behaviours that come with it. This workshop will also provide opportunity for connecting with other women who have similar struggles in their journey through motherhood.

This workshop is one of my favourites to facilitate. I created this workshop on this specific topic last year when I noticed this theme arising in many of my individual sessions with clients who felt so much isolation and shame in their anger. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

JEN IS A COUNSELLOR AND PSYCHOTHERAPIST IN CALGARY, ALBERTA. JEN OFFERS WORKSHOPS AS WELL AS INDIVIDUAL COUNSELLING ONLINE & IN PERSON IN CALGARY, ALBERTA. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN BOOKING A SESSION WITH HER OR ATTENDING ONE OF HER GROUPS OR WORKSHOPS, VISIT THE ESSENCE OF YOU WEBSITE OR CONTACT JEN DIRECTLY.

Book into Jen’s Anger & Rage Workshop below:

What’s So Great About Workshops?

IMG_5220.PNG

Why do I love facilitating workshops? I was asked this recently in an interview I did with Jessica from Birth Takes a Village on post-partum rage (video being posted soon!)

What I love about facilitating workshops is: bringing people together with what might be an otherwise unknown commonality, and creating a space for safe and empowering discussion and self-exploration.

I am always so excited when I create workshops to be able to share information about topics I am passionate about, and helping others to foster self-awareness and take steps towards their goals.

Workshops are a perfect place to start exploring a topic or area that you are interested in. It can be a gateway to starting therapy or an addition or any work you are already doing on yourself (with or without a professional).

Check out my website for more info on my upcoming workshops: www.theessenceofyou.ca/events

^ Private workshops and Individual Counselling sessions are also available by appointment if you’d rather explore these topics 1-1.

JEN IS A COUNSELLOR AND PSYCHOTHERAPIST IN CALGARY, ALBERTA. JEN OFFERS WORKSHOPS AS WELL AS INDIVIDUAL COUNSELLING ONLINE & IN PERSON IN CALGARY, ALBERTA. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN BOOKING A SESSION WITH HER OR ATTENDING ONE OF HER GROUPS OR WORKSHOPS, VISIT THE ESSENCE OF YOU WEBSITE OR CONTACT JEN DIRECTLY.

Book into Jen’s Workshops below:

But Isn't it Normal to Have Body Image Issues When My Body is Changing?

Have you found yourself wondering if you'll ever get your old body back?

scale photo.jpg

Many would argue that body image issues in the peri-natal period are "normal" and that there is nothing else going on; but if there was truly nothing else going on, then a woman would be able to notice and accept the changes to her body instead of becoming concerned or pre-occupied with the changes. 

Pregnancy, birth, and the transition into motherhood are all-consuming experiences that impact you physically and emotionally. Our bodies can quickly become a target when other things in our lives are becoming overwhelming or when uncomfortable emotions are being stirred up - which is inevitable during pregnancy, post-partum, or when you are ttc or experiencing pregnancy loss.

It's definitely normal to go through a period of grieving when you or your body goes through any transition, but when you find yourself becoming obsessive or preoccupied with these changes, it is important to ask yourself why you are finding yourself focusing so much on your body image during this time. If you want to get to a place where you feel true acceptance of your body, you have to be willing to look inside and see what else is triggering these feelings of dissatisfaction in the first place.

What is going on beneath the surface?

Come to our next body image workshop to explore this topic further! www.theessenceofyou.ca/events

Jen is a counsellor and psychotherapist in Calgary, Alberta with over 7 years experience working with women with body image issues and eating disorders. Visit The Essence of You website or Contact Jen directly to find out about upcoming workshops.

 

 

Mom-Guilt: Where does it come from and what can you do about it?

Mom-Guilt.jpg

Something that comes up often with my clients in my Counselling Practice is "mom guilt" - a term and a feeling that I'm sure you are familiar with! Have you thought about where this comes from? The cause of this guilt is usually mixed - sometimes it's a lack of perfection, other times it's a result of being triggered and parenting in a way that doesn't align with your values.

A lot of women struggle with self-esteem and identity issues when they become mothers and for years afterwards. If we are continually acting in ways that don't align with our values, we will continue feeling guilt and shame and we will continue having self-esteem and identity issues.

So what's the answer here?!

Love yourself Irvin Yalom.jpg

I always encourage my clients to assess what is causing the guilt or shame. Have you done something imperfect and do you need to practice more self-forgiveness and compassion? Or was it more than that - have you behaved in a way that doesn't align with you values?

If the latter is so, I encourage you to STILL practice self-forgiveness and compassion, but also look a little deeper. Explore what has triggered you into behaving this way, explore what you need to do to make amends and to fill yourself up more so that you can handle your triggers in a way that feels better for you.

You matter, you are important, and if you forget this, then you can't be everything you want to be for your family!

JEN IS A COUNSELLOR AND PSYCHOTHERAPIST IN CALGARY, ALBERTA. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN BOOKING A SESSION WITH HER OR ATTENDING ONE OF HER GROUPS OR WORKSHOPS, VISIT THE ESSENCE OF YOU WEBSITE OR CONTACT JEN DIRECTLY.

 

Feeling O V E R W H E L M E D? 4 Tips to Survive This Holiday Season!

Feeling O V E R W H E L M E D?

4 Tips to Survive This Holiday Season!

christmas photo.jpg

This time of year can bring many mixed emotions. It is often full of frequent gatherings of family, friends & colleagues, which can come with ups and downs. Making time for seeing everyone and attending or hosting events, and financial stressors alongside preparing for Christmas itself (if you celebrate Christmas), thrown in with all of your usual daily responsibilities can become extremely overwhelming for families. Below I've listed 4 tips to help you cope with what is overwhelming you this holiday season: Setting limits, asserting yourself, respecting your boundaries and prioritizing self-care. 

Setting Limits

What limits do you need to set, and with whom? All of the extra family time might come with consequences - it is not unusual for people to have longstanding issues within their family of origin or in-laws. Do you find yourself getting triggered over and over again by certain members of your family (or in-laws)? It might be time to consider setting some limits with them to help maintain your own sanity and to preserve the relationship.

Limit-setting can also include looking at the bigger picture, prioritizing and setting limits internally. What will you choose to react to over this intense time of year? What supports do you need to put in place for yourself to help yourself with setting your internal limits and sticking to them? Is food or alcohol a trigger for you? Do you need to be conscious of the amount of physical time you spend around specific people or places? Do you need to let go of some perfectionist ideals and give yourself permission to do less? Do you need to discuss expectations of gift-giving with others? Becoming aware of unhealthy coping strategies that might amplify a bad situation and replacing these with supportive and healthy coping skills has a big impact on how you feel. 

Asserting Yourself

Once you decide what limits you need to set with people, you need to communicate these boundaries clearly to the people you are setting them with. Do you need to decline some invitations or say no to hosting houseguests? Do you need to ask for help? Do you need to support yourself by standing up for yourself when you are criticized again by that same family member for the same thing they talk about every year? This might not seem like the right time to face big issues head-on, but you might be able to start taking small steps to support yourself. If you dread the holidays because you don't get treated respectfully by others, then how can you assert yourself in these situations to co-create a different outcome? In our families, we all have roles that we play. When we keep responding in the same ways, we stay in these roles, even if it is unhealthy. The only way to make change in our family dynamics is to change ourselves from within and change how we engage in these relationships. 

Respecting Your Own Boundaries

This is the hardest part! Once you decide to set limits and start asserting yourself, the most important part is following through with the boundaries that you have set. This might seem like it could ADD to the overwhelm instead of reducing it, but once you start doing this consistently, it is a surefire way to stop yourself from getting overwhelmed in the first place. Think about it - if you have realized that hosting Christmas as well as housing out-of-town guests is too overwhelming for you - and you assert yourself by communicating your boundaries, then you are giving yourself an opportunity to create an entirely different experience for yourself where YOUR needs are being met, preventing the overwhelm. Respecting the boundaries that you have set will enable you to see the outcome of these changes. If you don't follow through - then you will find yourself back in the same overwhelming cycle you were in before. 

Making Self-Care a Priority

During this time of year when your focus is usually on giving to everyone else, it is so important to do things that make you feel good. Take the extra time in the shower, make time to connect with people that make you feel heard and supported, make sure you are eating nourishing foods that are good for your body, go for that walk that you don't feel like you have time for. Doing anything that helps to "fill you up" is going to help you manage feelings of overwhelm when they come up. I always describe meeting your own needs by speaking up for yourself and setting boundaries as "deeper" self care; but to be able to do this work you need to feel strong and supported. Identifying your triggers and find grounding strategies that help you to reduce anxiety and feel more centred is a great starting point, alongside doing the little things that make you feel good about yourself and within yourself - physically, emotionally and spiritually. What supports can you put in place to help you with setting limits and reducing your overwhelm during this time of year? Leave a comment!

Do you need support to learn how to set and maintain boundaries with others? Come to my workshop in January that is focused on setting boundaries and communicating effectively with others: Navigating Relationships in Motherhood

JEN IS A COUNSELLOR AND PSYCHOTHERAPIST IN CALGARY, ALBERTA. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN BOOKING A SESSION WITH HER OR ATTENDING ONE OF HER GROUPS OR WORKSHOPS, VISIT THE ESSENCE OF YOU WEBSITE OR CONTACT JEN DIRECTLY.

 

How Did I Get Here? (A Tribute to My Birth Doula)

Jessica, myself and my son a few hours after his birth. 

Jessica, myself and my son a few hours after his birth. 

In less than one week, my first born will be TWO! I've been reflecting on my journey of motherhood a lot lately, and my attention keeps going to the pregnancy and birth of my son, which was the mark of many significant changes for me in my life. 

The process of trying to conceive, being pregnant, birthing, and mothering have all been life changing for me. Not only have all of these monumental life events shifted me personally, but also professionally. These events are what ultimately led me to my current role supporting women in these life stages in my counselling practice.

Almost exactly 2 years ago, my sister Jessica (who is a birth doula/childbirth educator/doula trainer from Birth Takes a Village in Vancouver) flew to Calgary to support my husband and I during the birth of our son; and she also hosted an amazing blessingway/mothers blessing for me a few weeks before my birth to help me get prepared.

Jessica is knows everything there is to know about creating empowering birth experiences for women and their families! I have learned so much from her about birth and supporting women over the years, and I continually get support from her in my own mothering journey and also I consult with her on a regular basis to help me in providing the best support for the clients I see in my counselling practice (I also often quote her on social media and in my blogs 😉).

Jessica and my son this summer (2017)

Jessica and my son this summer (2017)

Jessica's support during my pregnancy and labour helped my husband and I to create an incredible birth experience for ourselves, and along the way, she also inspired me to start my own counselling practice focusing on supporting women leading up to their births and in the post partum period.

I had worked as a counsellor for almost 6 years prior to this, and grew a new passion for pregnancy, birth & motherhood as I went through these stages myself. So with a lot of support and encouragement from my sister, I focused my learning and education into this specific area and launched my Counselling practice almost a year ago now!

I don't know where I would be without her, and I'm sure that many other women who have had her support for their births feel the same way! Thanks Jessica for everything that you do!

Did you have a doula support you for your birth and/or post-partum period? Share in the comments! 

JEN IS A COUNSELLOR AND PSYCHOTHERAPIST IN CALGARY, ALBERTA. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN BOOKING A SESSION WITH HER OR ATTENDING ONE OF HER GROUPS OR WORKSHOPS, VISIT THE ESSENCE OF YOU WEBSITE OR CONTACT JEN DIRECTLY.

Post-Partum RAGE

post partum rage photo.jpg

Do you ever feel so angry that you just can't control it?

What do you think is underneath your anger, frustration or rage? What is it trying to tell you? 

If you are reading this, you have probably felt rage, intense anger or frustration since becoming a mother.  Post-partum rage can be unexpected, out of context, uncharacteristic and uncontrollable (Robin Farr, Post-Partum Progress). While anger and rage are both symptoms of post-partum depression and post-partum anxiety, it is also a common experience for women who don't relate to the other symptoms of PPD/A. Feeling rage is a common, but rarely spoken about experience of women in the post-partum period; and it often leaves women feeling afraid and ashamed of their experience. 

What's this about? In my counselling practice, I frequently hear mothers share that they feel shame for any unpleasant or negative feelings/reactions that they have - and this shame stops these women from speaking up and getting the connection and support that they need. Is this you? 

Women go through so many changes in the days, weeks, months, and YEARS after they birth their babies! It can be easy to get lost in this and find yourself feeling angry and rage-y and not understanding why. 

"Anger is an emotion of self-protection. It may involve an effort to prevent injury or specify a boundary. It is a common response to having been threatened, hurt, or scared... Anger can escalate to rage when the threat is extreme..." - Babette Rothschild on unresolved trauma in her book The Body Remembers.

Getting to know your anger/rage, spending time with it and figuring out the root of it is a necessary step towards moving towards making positive, long term changes. When your primary goal is to push the anger away and make it stop, it will just keep coming back again and again. Anger is a SECONDARY EMOTION. What does this mean? It means that there is always another emotion lurking beneath the anger. Getting to these underlying emotions is an essential part of the process if you want to see shifts in how you experience anger.

"When we embrace anger and take good care of
our anger, we obtain relief. We can look deeply into
it and gain many insights." - Thich Nhat Hanh

There are many strategies you can use to help you manage your triggers and become less reactive, and I encourage all of my clients to do this part! And although it might seem scary and maybe even counter-intuitive, I also encourage deeper exploration of the anger itself, and the most important part - allowing it to be there without resistance. 

JEN IS A COUNSELLOR AND PSYCHOTHERAPIST IN CALGARY, ALBERTA. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN BOOKING A SESSION WITH HER OR ATTENDING ONE OF HER GROUPS OR WORKSHOPS, VISIT THE ESSENCE OF YOU WEBSITE OR CONTACT JEN DIRECTLY.

 

Getting Your Body Back After Baby - Not What You Might Think

This is one of two guest blog posts that I recently did for Dr Gillian Sawyer for her #yourbodyafterbabyproject she is doing to support women transitioning into motherhood. It is an amazing program worth checking out. ;) I also did a video interview for her project, talking about body image & mental health in the transition into motherhood. Contact Dr Gillian to sign up for her program!

In our society, there is a lot of pressure put onto women to return to their pre-baby bodies, and this can make it difficult to accept the changes that your body has gone through. Is this something that you have encountered?

Your body goes through many changes in the post-partum period as you are healing from your birth: Changes in your body’s appearance, uses (breastfeeding/nurturing baby), energy levels, ability to function, sexuality, and more.

Women are often expected to get straight back to their pre-baby self which makes it difficult to settle into the changes that your body has experienced and impossible to give your body the time that it needs to adjust and heal.

The truth is, your body will never be the same as it was before you got pregnant. Your body has grown and birthed a human being, and your body is now caring for that human being! Your body will go through many changes as it adjusts through these monumental stages of life. Will you fit back into your old jeans? Maybe. Maybe not. But your body will definitely not be the same as it was before. This could be perceived negatively, but is it a negative thing? It is important to ask yourself why you are finding yourself focusing so much on your body image after giving birth.

What is going on beneath the surface? In my work as a counsellor, I always encourage my clients to dig deeper to identify the root causes of their presenting issues.

When body image issues are triggered for women during pregnancy and the post-partum period, it is often linked to body image issues or self-esteem issues from your past. When you become a mother, it is common for a lot of the issues from the past to come to the surface.

Pregnancy, birth, and the transition into motherhood are all-consuming experiences that impact you physically and emotionally. It can be overwhelming dealing with all of the changes and emotions that come with these life-altering experiences, and when you are overwhelmed, your body can become an easy target.

If you want to get to a place where you feel true acceptance of your body, you have to be willing to look inside and see what else is triggering these feelings of dissatisfaction in the first place.

Not the answer you were hoping for? In my work I support my clients to explore the underlying issues to their presenting problems. When you go behind-the-scenes to do the deeper work, you give yourself an opportunity for creating healthy, supportive, long-lasting changes in your life. I facilitate Body Image Group Sessions, Workshops & Individual Therapy. Learn more about my counselling style here.

Jen is a counsellor and psychotherapist in Calgary, Alberta. If you are interested in booking a session with her or attending one of her groups or workshops, visit The Essence of You website or Contact Jen directly.