Burnout and Stress, Food, Personal Wisdom

Thoughts on the Habit, Addiction, Diets and the Books – Essentialism, Bright Line Eating, the Power of Habit  

Thoughts on the Habit, Addiction, Diets and the Books – Essentialism, Bright Line Eating, the Power of Habit  

My husband and I were having a conversation tying together our current research into habits and addiction, our life experience, our previous Shadow Work, and the books and resources discussed below.  Specifically, we were talking about how these apply to addiction.

While often presented with information that there are 2 parts to addiction and recovery, we believe that there are 3 parts.

1) The physical dependence – which can often be broken in days or weeks.  He deals with this every shift, as an ER/ICU nurse; patients come in and have to detox from their particular physical dependence. It’s usually a harsh detox by fire, i.e. a cold turkey kind of thing, done in the hospital. It doesn’t take long to end the physical dependence.  It’s the other parts of the dependence that stay active.

2) The habit – this is complex and has a multitude of factors and parts. I am not qualified to speak on it, having not been educated in this area, but I can speak from an experiential way, as I have had ‘small’ addictions (cigarettes as a teen, running, and ….cookies, to name a few).

The habit is the dickens to resolve!  Why – because they are habits! Unconscious patterns that take over. That is what they are designed to do – to keep us doing the same things. This is where Bright Line Eating, by Susan Peirce Thompson, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown, and The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg, excel.  The authors give a thorough grounding in the background of why habits work – and how to start to think about undoing them.

The third part is often not mentioned:

3) The Shadow behind the behaviour – i.e. the underlying cause, or in yogic terms, the Samskara.  My discussion below of the author of Bright Line Eating is hinting at this. There are many ways to describe this, but simply put, until the underlying cause, the deep issue is addressed, the addiction is only a behavior away.

There are several resources to look into Shadow Work®.  The originators are Cliff and Alyce Barry.  There are related work, such as Integrated Family Systems, by Richard C Schwartz and Parts Work, by Tom Holmes.  The Mankind Project, serves as a great place for men to practice similar work, in a safe supportive group. There are chapters across the country and overseas.  For women, there are unfortunately fewer resources. There is Women in Power, a women’s retreat lead by ALisa Starkweather, and there are certified Shadow Work® facilitators and workshops.


We both like the sound psychology in these books. They dovetail well, with lots of information regarding making new habits (and breaking old ones.)  It also fits well with Chad Hinkle’s Program on Resilients, and building resiliency, in which he specializes.

We have ongoing conversations about addiction and recovery, habits, and shadows.  The subjects come up around gardening, mental patterns, eating cookies or having a ½ beer when the day has been upsetting.  It comes up around bad relationships, good sex, and marriage.  It comes up around our studies in sex coaching, and the concepts of compulsion vs. addiction.  Mostly it comes up around alcohol; his quitting all alcohol, my struggle with wine-and-cookies. i.e. I rarely drink, but if I have red wine, it’s hard to drink 1 glass, not 2, and then I consistently end up hitting the cookies!  No these aren’t life decimating addictions. They are touch points to look at all our compulsions, inspect our minds, and how our minds work. THAT is the stuff we love.


I first saw a video promotion on Bright Line Eating. I am not sure why I stopped to listen to it – however – the science got me.  I love knowing not just that something works, but why it works.  What I heard, dovetailed the science I already knew.  What fascinated me however, was its relevance to addiction and recovery.  The psychology is the more interesting part of the book. This is where it dovetails well with other resources. I like Bright Line Eating as a text book on changing habits – of any type – because it is clearly and simply written.  Again – I have lived these processes in my own life and body. The psychology make sense, the research supports it, and it works.

The author; she has quite a story – a dramatic fall, a long struggle, followed by a tremendous recovery.  However, what I noticed was that she is still intensely caught up with food.  This is at odds with her statements that this diet allowed her to live without constantly thinking of food. She is clearly constantly thinking of food – in a way that is very helpful to others, in a way that is not clearly damaging. However, after there are clues that not everything is resolved on a deeper level.

I stopped following her vlog about ‘slowing down,’ where tells a story, of which the details are now thankfully fuzzy, where her daughter asks if the mom will stop working to come visit the girl in the hospital.  Wait – this is a vlog about slowing down, right?  My heart bled, and I couldn’t watch anymore vlogs.  I did get the book Essentialism…..And the book Bright Line Eating.

I read Essentialism. I put Bright Line Eating on the bookshelf.

However, I got it back out.  The physiology is backed up by research. I like that.  (We all like to be correct.)  Physiology that makes sense, and is even backed by research. It’s clearly not the whole answer, however.  Look at my previous foray into Lectin-free Diets.  Bright Line eating, however, it also correlates with my experience – I like that even better. I was willing to start thinking it – but not ready to do a diet.


by Tama Cathers  – self- explorer and introspective woman, full of personal opinion and thought.

Disclaimer: We totally do not have the training to advise, direct or otherwise speak anything other than our own opinions on the topics above.  Thus – the information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images and information, contained on or available through this web site is for general information purposes only.

Tama Cathers, David Sink, The Empowerment Center or any associated members makes no representation and assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of information contained on or available through this web site, and such information is subject to change without notice. You are encouraged to confirm any information obtained from or through this web site with other sources, and review all information regarding any medical condition or treatment with your physician. NEVER DISREGARD PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE OR DELAY SEEKING MEDICAL TREATMENT BECAUSE OF SOMETHING YOU HAVE READ ON OR ACCESSED THROUGH THIS WEB SITE.  Tama Cathers, David Sink, The Empowerment Center or any associated members do not recommend, endorse or make any representation about the efficacy, appropriateness or suitability of any specific tests, products, procedures, treatments, services, opinions, health care providers or other information that may be contained on or available through this web site. TAMA CATHERS, DAVID SINK, THE EMPOWERMENT CENTER OR ANY ASSOCIATED MEMBERSIS NOT RESPONSIBLE NOR LIABLE FOR ANY ADVICE, COURSE OF TREATMENT, DIAGNOSIS OR ANY OTHER INFORMATION, SERVICES OR PRODUCTS THAT YOU OBTAIN THROUGH THIS WEB SITE.



Health, Personal Wisdom, Self Image

Distorted Body Images

Distorted Body Images

I think about body image on occasion.  Sometimes that is brought quite close to home. This is a story about one such occasion, that happened quite recently.

I am a woman, in good shape, holding just at or above the upper end of my body mass index (BMI) score. Sometimes I am more muscled, sometimes I am more curvy. Sometimes I have abs, sometimes I have a little belly. I grew up thin-normal, so having any belly is foreign to me, only occurring since having children. Still, I know that I am more lean than most women in my age group, and that I will never be dramatically overweight, nor obese.  That being said; I can’t get over my belly.

I know this is a complaint of many, if not most women. I also know that we often have a distorted image of how we look. Of course, I generally think of this as a teenaged problem.

It is not.


We travel to another city, stay downtown in a nice hotel, go out for dinner, go dancing, socialize. It is all fun, and I look forward to it every year.

I usually struggle with what I look like at the pool, hot tub or …..after our evening out.  I want to look fit and strong. However, usually I look – usual.  It’s not bad – but it does not meet my expectations.  This year was not different. It was only different by degrees and by one hot tub.

I had been working out prior to our trip, and was feeling that it was starting to show. How nice, I’d be comfortable and confident.  Three weeks prior to leaving, I got a cold with a fever, a cough, and was sick for weeks. All exercise stopped for weeks prior.  Then – I got my period; my curves got curvier.


Joy.  I was not pleased.  I would look in the mirror and feel all the progress I’d made was gone.  I can’t say this struggle was at all new or different.  The thing that was different was that we had plans to meet friends and hot tub with them. I was not really worried about that, so was surprised that the results of the evening were – so revealing.

Our plans were dinner with a set of couples, a walk to drinks, then wrap up with hot tubbing.  I enjoyed the evening.  The woman of the couple we went out with was younger than I, and she looked …. fine, okay, normal.  When we got ready for the hot tub, I looked over and saw her in her swimsuit. What I realized in that moment, was that she was built like me, and her body profile looked – well, just like mine.  However, she did not look overweight or disgusting or like she was too round. She looked just fine in her swim suit, as she had in her going-out outfit.

Wait. She, her body, looks just like me. And she looks fine.

I blinked, trying to understand it.


I could logically understand it, as well as draw the logical conclusion – that I looked fine too.

But I couldn’t, really, make the connection.

I sat staring into the distance, trying to make the connection, and noticing how blocked that was.


I could see myself in the mirror and judge myself one way.

I could look at someone else and see that we had the same body profile, and know that she looked okay.

But I could not, was not able to then say “Ah, that means I also look okay.”

It was…really interesting.


When we got back to our hotel, I got ready for bed, stopping by the mirror, and looking at my profile again.  I stood at a distance, squinted my eyes, lowered the lights. Still – I could see that I was unable to see an accurate view of myself.

I think it is really fascinating.

I know that I have this distorted body image at times, while at other times, I have a pretty accurate body image.  Rarely, have I had the privilege of knowing when I have an accurate or an inaccurate view.  Right now, I clearly knew. Still, despite knowing, I could not change my perspective.


This is a common problem for all of us. Adults and teens. Women and Men.

My husband has been having a similar effect, though opposite.  He has always thought of himself as slender, and has told me several times that he would never be well muscled – he did not have the frame. He did not have the ability to add muscle like that.  However, he recently started working out consistently.  He has added muscle, strength, and weight. He looks, well – awesome! However, he can’t see it! He says, yes, I notice the arms of my sleeves are tighter, but I LOOK that same. Meantime, I am smiling a toothy grin at him, looking like a juicy rabbit is in front of me, and I’m the wolf.  He totally looks different – but he can’t see it. It doesn’t fit his preconceived image of his body, or even his lifelong expectations of what he is able to achieve.


How is this any different.

It is not.

Next time you judge yourself, maybe take a moment to notice, and realize that we rarely see ourselves accurately. Hopefully someone loves you any way, just the ay you are. Hopefully that person can be you!


by Tama Cathers – image analyst, conformation self-judger, lusting-after-my-own-husband and his new muscles, talking about what we don’t talk about friend, and dog owner (I just threw that in for fun).





Here is the many pedaled lotus

Reaching the light,

Beginning to blossom.

He opens up slowly to the beauty of himself.

Arising from the blank space of time,

through dark murk and watery onslaughts,

steadily rising,

finding himself.

Here is the many pedaled lotus

reaching the light.



For David 

by Tama Cathers


Burnout and Stress, Health, Personal Wisdom, Writing, Yoga

This Month’s Challenge: Yoga Practice & Writing, Day 60

This Month’s Challenge: Yoga Practice & Writing, Day 60

I woke up last Saturday with a full list full of things to do.  Yoga and Writing were not on that list.

They called me powerfully, however.  The house was quiet, no one else was home or awake. It was morning. All these have become my Cues. They tell me that it is definitely time for yoga and writing. The next thing that is supposed to happen is a behaviour loop – I do my yoga and writing, and the Reward is that I feel much better.

That is how habits are formed. That is what I was looking to do! Cue, Behaviour, Reward. Do it often enough and TaDa! – a habit is formed. I have been delving into the book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business is a book by Charles Duhigg. It is a powerful book that I am thoroughly enjoying.  It explains many of the essentials of why we have habits, how they are formed, and how we can change them.  The sections on organizations and cultures are even more interesting than those on individuals!

In The Art of Joyful Living, Swami Rama says that we do not teach people how to Un-Learn things – and we should!  I would agree with him. While we are told to break our bad habits, and told to make new habits, no one is teaching us how, or explaining why it is so darned hard. There is actually science behind it; from modern western science, and way back to ancient yogic traditions, among others. This stuff is teachable. Since it is also learn-able – I am trying to learn it. It was part of the point of this challenge. Can I make didactic learning work for me in real life?

I would say my reactions to a day that I was not ‘supposed to do yoga,’  indicates the Challenge has been a success!  I can hardly stand to have a ‘free’ day, without Yoga and Writing.

I have been so grateful for this challenge!

by Tama Cathers, sometimes yogi, sometimes writer, always an investigator.


photo credit – shutter stock









Car Shopping Made Easy

Car Shopping Made Easy – What I have learned about car shopping

My beloved minivan died 2 days before our trip to Springer Mountain Georgia for the start of a week-long section hike on the Appalachian Trail.  It was clear that I needed to buy a new car.  Quickly.  I learned a lot of simple things that are helpful to know. I hope you find this helpful.


1) When to buy a different car.  A different car is needed when the yearly repairs on the old car are more than the yearly payments on a new car. I know that may seem elementary, but it really helped me decide on not repairing my old car.

I started the year knowing my car needed $3000 of repairs. As this happened just after tax season, I knew I had spend $2000-3000 on repairs the year before. It was only when I did the math that I realized I should have replaced the car last year.

A different car would cost $3600 over the year.  This car needed $3000 of work before it died on the side of the road in March. It had the rest of the year to accumulate other new repair needs, over and above the $3000 we started the year needing.


2) Whether to send to salvage, sell or trade in. I have long been a fan of selling my old cars. You it’s a little hassle, but you generally get much more money from selling.  However,  I couldn’t even drive this vehicle.   I could get $1000 =/- $500 on trade-in (if I could drive it), and $400–$1200 to send it to salvage.  Since repairing the first problem, the radiator at $1600, would only allow me to see if the second and new problem, the transmission at >$3000 was bad, I decided that my old car was going to salvage.

It’s well worth pricing out salvage.  I called several local salvage yards, and two 1-800 salvage options.  I was quoted $400 by all but one: Peddle, one of the 1-800 yards offered me over $1000!


3) How to choose a vehicle:

Choose 3 to 5 most important features.  The science is that the more expensive the purchase, the fewer features we should consider. Our minds work best this way.  For an explanation, Read Blink by Malcolm Gladstone. (This is one of the best read I have ever had, entertaining too.)

I had these features on my list:

  1. Minivan.  I had selected good gas mileage as a primary feature previously, and ended up with a car.  I found I was quite unhappy without a minivan. This time I only included minivans in my selection.
  2. Mechanically Sound,
  3. Comfortable Seats. I drive a lot and get sciatica from long distances in many car seats.
  4. Lowest cost per miles. I drive – a lot!
  5. Heated seats – we live in the north.


4) Next, I found an equation to help me select between the myriad of choices in mileage and cost.  This is the Big Equalizerfor me.  It made everything else simple!

Cost/ Miles Ratio:

Take the expected remaining miles you think you can get out of the car and divide the cost by that number. For example, I said I expected all minivans to give a total of 200,000 miles.  I subtracted the miles on any candidate vehicle from 200,000 to get miles left in the candidate car.  Next, divide the cost of the candidate vehicle by the miles left. Compare cars – Lowest number wins!

a) Miles Expected –  Odometer Miles = Miles Remaining.                                                       b) Cost divided by Miles Remaining


Ex: Car 1 – 45,000 mile car for $16,000.

200,000- 45,000 = 155,000.   16,000 divided by 155,000 = 1.032


Car 2  – 73,000 mile car for 11,000

200,000 – 73,000 = 127,000.  11,000 divided by 127,000 = 0.866


Car number 2 is a better deal.

This ratio gave me a number to really compare which deal was the best one, based on mileage.  I felt supremely confident erasing all the vehicles that fell over 0.108


5)  I selected the make and model by driving 2 cars. They were a type of car I had previously had, but I wanted to compare their comfort to my most recent car. They had so many more bells and whistles, I really wanted one of them to work. Plus their Cost/ Miles Ratio was fantastic!


6) After test driving these two brands, it was easy to simplify my search – these two were not nearly as comfortable. Out the window they went!  I was now down to one make/model!

I just had to find the one car I would buy.


7)  I went to 2 dealers and felt no pressure, in fact I had fun.I moved through the buying process with ease, having the 5 parameters and 1 calculation in my pocket. It really made life simple.  I had lots of good options, knew what I wanted, and was calm and confident.

I admit to one mistake. I did not thoroughly peruse my number one feature – mechanical soundness.  I was in such a hurry to get to Georgia, I skipped the step of taking your potential vehicle to an independent dealer. Unfortunately, my new car had a bad fluid leak. Fortunately, it was covered under the drive train warranty, and the company fixed it.  However, it is a lesson to not skip steps.

I hope this article was helpful!


by Tama Cathers – Confident Car Shopper, brought to you by MATH!

Photo Credit – Pixabay – CC0 Creative Commons

Parenting, Writing

A Soup of Falls

 A soup of falls


Oh, the beauty of a simple clean life.

All tidy and clean…


Instead, I generate a chaotic mess

a soup of falls – from grace, and into grace.

Bicycle wheels litter the ground of my life’s front doors,

spilled there, no doubt, when the sun fell last night,

shattering the horizon with a burst of stars.

In the peeking dawn, some strange cosmic peacocks must weave the mess of bikes and toys into wind chimes and whirly gigs,

unfathomable tangles of hurry and nonchalance.


The tangle melts by noon

into sticky pools of candy juice,  tears of joy, and puppy dog goop.

At 3 pm, colorful jungle chickens must sweep in,

a panoply of full color, cleaning all the debris up….

I step out to pick up children from school, ready to step

from sane spot to sane spot,

but it all looks fine – by then.


I rush off in a chariot, driving like fire, a phoenix ignited,

late,  then return

in a swirl of notes, paper and pencils, apple cores,

and daytime stories.

Bags are dropped, shoes fly off,

grass and leaves walk in and out,

filling the house with traffic, all afternoon.

Temperatures soar inside – food is cooked, spilled, and cleaned,

eaten or licked off the floor, dependent on your species and age.


Cooing like doves,

a calm ocean washes through from 7 to 8.

Homework – my life preserver – who knew!?

Dusk is running feet, bicycle races, skinned knees, bedtime stories,

followed by lovers kisses, if the stars align,

if the bed can be dug out from the clothing,

if the engine still has some fuel,

if she can tolerate the explosions,

of forming new universes,

of sparks shooting out of her head,

rocking the universe, body dissolving.


Finally, under the stars, I tuck myself away saying

Tomorrow will be a new day

I won’t be tired, I wont

spill Malt’o’meal on my business top

nor have dog’s try to lick it off while pretending

the seriousness of adulthood.

I won’t forget,

I won’t be late…


The mockingbirds sing, knowing that is a lie –

tomorrow it will be another

amazing grace.



by Tama Cathers  4/23/18

Burnout and Stress, Health, Personal Wisdom, Writing, Yoga

This Month’s Challenge: Yoga Practice & Writing, Day 28

This Month’s Challenge: Yoga Practice & Writing, Day 28

 Here we are at the end of the first of two months of yoga and writing. I can tell you first off, that I am ever so grateful that I set the challenge up for 2 months. One month is clearly not enough.

A challenge is definitely a correct term. Every day, I have had to corral myself to do the most important things first – yoga and writing. I’ve witnessed in myself the tendency to go off track, over and over again. Gently and compassionately, I bring myself back on track saying, “Nope, you have to do your work first.” Because of this attitude, I have been much more efficient throughout my days. By forcing myself to do the things I have to do first, my attitude remains one that is focused on getting the essentials done.

We all likely know the adage ‘Do the Important Things First,’ but like me, we slide off that path. Bringing ourselves back takes work, but it pays off.  I feel proud each day about what I have done. I feel trust in myself, that I can fulfill my promises to myself.

Many times, we fail ourselves over and over. That results in losing that belief in ourselves. It is easy to come to not trust yourself. Choosing a difficult, but doable, task, and then succeed, helps renew that faith in ourselves.

I engage this challenge only on the days I don’t work outside the home. That means the days available are sometimes quite limited. However, I have only missed two days; one – for tax preparation, and one this week due to being in a work funk:

I missed yesterday. I decided that preparing a budget, and shopping for hiking gear for our Appalachian trial hike next week, took precedent over writing and yoga.  I spent most of the day at my computer. I felt restless. I was poorly attentive. Sometimes I was anxious and uncomfortable in my body. All day I plugged away at crunching numbers, then later, presenting them poorly. All day I was feeling – not great

I now know that these tasks did not deserve precedent. Clearly skipping my commitment was a mistake. It was not a devastating mistake, but regardless, it made it clear that nothing takes precedent over the thing that has precedent.


Today, I got up and went down to do my practice. The week had been full of work, so it was my first day on the mat all week. I found that today was the first day that I was disappointed my time was up, and I had to leave the mat. Like a cool science experiment, I wasn’t ready for ‘my lab’ to end.

It felt GREAT! I had missed it so much!

This is what I have been looking for; the day I feel something is out of alignment when I don’t do my practice. That is how you know you are starting to form a habit.  I recently read that it takes 28 – 256 days to form a habit, I only need to go another 3 to 230 days for it to be set. Yay!

What have been the other challenges and benefits? First, I have found resources within me. Without a teacher leading me, I have found my own practices. This has been particularly rich.

One day, I decided to do all the sun salutations I had easy access to. There are about 5-6 in my folder. For each one, the first time I looked at it and did it, I thought “well – this is stupid!” the next time, I wobbled through the salutation, while realizing there was some point or value to this particular exercise. The next several times, I let go and dove into the lesson in the practice. Not only did I have a great work out, but I got to see the pattern of my own resistance. I could note how it played out every time – even when I was aware of it!!! Fascinating. Really!

Next, I was left to form my own yogic rest and meditation. I had a very old memory of being lead through a meditation where I felt my brain.  In my shivasana/yoga rest, I felt through the parts of my brain, finishing with sending energy through my crown chakra. Afterwards, I walked around for two days feeling like I had a crown of light radiating from my skull. It was slightly weird, and a little embarrassing, but fortunately no one else could see me glowing!  I ended up making a new guided meditation, which I have used several times since then.

Additionally, I found I can acknowledge that I am too tired to lead myself, and can elect to use videos to substitute for an outside teacher. They are also helpful to review the finer points of techniques, or wording. Altogether, I am able to follow my curiousity and learn so much more.

As far as writing -I have written 8 blog articles, 4 meditations, 3 stories, 2 poems, in addition to journaling, and -hey! -getting our taxes done!

I have been studying how we form habits, how we break old ones, and this challenge has supported my studies, and vice versa. We are our own laboratories, just waiting for our curiosity! It’s well worth going inside to play!


by Tama Cathers

Photo Credit: Myriams-Fotos Pixabay