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).

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








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

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

This Month’s Challenge: Yoga Practice & Writing, Day 5

This Month’s Challenge: Yoga Practice & Writing, Day 5

Since starting this program, I have felt incredibly productive.

I have also struggled with the challenge, and worked to sabotage my own efforts. I will call any sabotaging of my efforts to form these new habits “My Saboteur.”

I felt so productive the first day, that I stayed up – late. I was up until 2:30 a.m. working on a must-do project, then several add-on projects.

I woke up after 5.5 hours sleep, and wondering how I was going to get through the day? I don’t work well on less than 7 hours of sleep. I am usually functional for as long as I slept. I should have had only 5.5 hours of productivity.

During this second day, I focused on doing what I promised to do, and then what needed to be done. At the end of the day, I hadn’t run out of energy. That was quite odd. So…. I stayed up until 12 a.m.! Gar!

The third night, my husband stepped in, reminding me to go to bed, at about 10 pm. However, I kept chatting, saying I really did not feel tired. I was amazed at the energy I had! When I did hit the sack, it was difficult to sleep.

The next morning, the fourth day, I could barely drag myself out of bed. I got my duties done, including my yoga and writing, but then I fell apart, including a long nap.

Today is the fifth day. I am still logy, but not as bad as yesterday.  I am able to move through my morning, with focused concentration.

What interesting stuff is going on! I can clearly see the work of the My Saboteur here.  It tries every avenue to divert me from these two simple tasks!

I realized that if I were truly treating this challenge as important, say as important as a job, then I would have behaved very differently. As I pondered this choice, and pointed my finger at My Saboteur, I found it interesting that the goal to stop this life change (yoga and writing) showed up so quickly, and so hugely.

Now, my tactics have to change, in response to the situation.  This will be quite an interesting challenge!

by Tama Cathers


Photo Credit: 412d5bfeac8b2dd17343fa56c9762ed0–dark-magic-fantasy-magic-dark.jpg





Burnout and Stress, Health, Personal Wisdom, Yoga

This Month’s Challenge: Yoga Practice & Writing, Day 2

This Month’s Challenge: Yoga Practice & Writing, Day 2

Today, while I was doing my yoga practice, I was writing yoga lessons as well. It’s not a bad way to write lessons.  However, it is not a good way to practice yoga.

In our busy fast-paced world, I am used to multi-tasking. All the time. Everywhere. This type of yoga practice suits that model; getting two things done at a time. However, it is my deep belief that we all need real down time. Not only that, but the purpose of yoga is to slow and still the mind and body. How can I really do that while jotting down notes, thinking of cues to say, or ‘breathing slowly-really quickly,’ so I can move on to the next pose? I can’t!

What I really want and need are those times of bygone days, where I had the slack time to do nothing, even stop thinking. Just sit on the porch and hear the wind, birds, or watch the steam rise from the cup. These are the breaks we need. Yoga is a way of feeling like we are actively doing something, yet giving ourselves that important time to ‘do nothing.’ We give ourselves permission to ‘do nothing’ by doing ‘something.’


In my reading yesterday, I was reminded of how willpower works. We have about 15 minutes of decision making before needing substantial recharging; that is all decision, they all tax our willpower store. Delete the email, respond now, save it for later. Eat the donut now, or get an apple. Finish typing or take a break and go to the water cooler and bathroom. You can see how checking 30 emails might use up or whole store in one sitting. Then you go to the water cooler AND eat the donut.

I was also reminded about how having firm plans help us conserve our willpower. I am struggling to make that plan to accommodate my goals of writing 1 hours and yoga / exercise 2 hours. I know I can’t do it without a frame work. This is how decisions and habits can help and guide us. This is why we make clear agreements. This is why we schedule. This is why we do the important things first.

Without some framework, this is also why we fail to put the most important things first. Why we are exhausted, taxed, and have just enough poor self control to eat those donuts. God! I don’t even like donuts! But after a day full – i.e. full of decision – I might eat one any way.

by Tama Cathers

Personal Wisdom, Writing, Yoga

This Month’s Challenge: Yoga Practice & Writing 

This Month’s Challenge: Yoga Practice & Writing 

Every month seems to present itself with a new topic or challenge. We had the Travel All over The World Month, the Marriage and Family Month, the Marriage Crisis Month, and recently, the Gender Role Switching Month.

This month the challenge proposed to me by my husband was to “do as I say – put the first things first.” I have been talking about how staying fit and flexible is a priority in my life. When I look at it critically, I don’t make it a priority. I also was reviewing my endeavors for new work options, and how much I enjoy writing. In the face of that, he challenged me to do 2 hours of yoga practice and/or exercise and 1 hour of writing – a day, at least 5 days a week, or every day I don’t do paid non-yoga/meditation work. That seemed reasonable, so I agreed.

My first day, however, I faced the challenge of the practicality of actually doing such things. 3 Hours! THREE HOURS! Where the heck was I supposed to find these three hours? It’s not like I sit around – EVER! I am moving non-stop all day, doing some sort of work. Heck, the only free time I get is while driving, so I use that to make business and family phone calls, and do my reading by audio book. I was in a crisis!

I know about the Jar Of Life, the concept of putting the important things first. I love the videos that show just how this works. I am a believer in the concepts. This is the philosophy I teach my daughter, when counseling her on homework vs. pleasure decisions. Do what has to be done first. Do the most important things first. (Sometimes this has to be followed by the lesson: sometimes it’s just time to stop, even if you aren’t done!)

The practice, however, that is quite a bit more difficult. (My fingers accidentally typed important, and I don’t disagree with that either.)

So, here I am, trying to do as I say. I will let you know how that goes.


by Tama Cathers


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_N_uvq41Pg – elegant 8 minutes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmV0gXpXwDU – short 3 minutes