Amy Freinberg-Trufas: “Meditation”

Meditation. I meditate every day. I struggled with this for years as I thought I had to completely turn off my thoughts. Then I learned that thoughts will come — my job is to identify each as a thought and just keep breathing. I’ve learned to focus on the way the air feels entering and exiting my […]

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Meditation. I meditate every day. I struggled with this for years as I thought I had to completely turn off my thoughts. Then I learned that thoughts will come — my job is to identify each as a thought and just keep breathing. I’ve learned to focus on the way the air feels entering and exiting my lips and nostrils. This laser-focus allows me to really settle in. Don’t give up! Meditation is a great way to commune with your most inner self.

As a part of my series about “How To Learn To Finally Love Yourself” I had the pleasure to interview Amy Freinberg-Trufas. Amy is a Life Strategist who lost 145 pounds “if you count each pound only once.” Since figuring out her “why,” she has been able to create a new relationship with food and feels called to help others create ease in places where they struggle in their lives. She can be reached via email at [email protected]

Thank you so much for joining us! I’d love to begin by asking you to give us the backstory as to what brought you to this specific career path.

I was overweight my entire life; “morbidly obese,” according to the doctor. Since I was a child, I was the tallest and heaviest kid in class. By the time I was 10, I was close to 200 pounds. In trying to help me, my parents sent me to Fat Camp — a place where I would spend an entire summer away from my family and friends, dieting, doing calisthenics, and trying to lose weight. I was miserable and felt shame about my body that even my family couldn’t love the way it was. I lost 24 pounds the first summer, gained back 50, and was sent to a different Fat Camp the next summer only to repeat the same pattern.

I would spend the next forty years struggling with food and trying to make sense of my relationship with it. I would lose a little weight, get frustrated, give up, gain that weight back plus more, and start all over. When I stepped on the scale one day and saw 311 pounds, I stopped weighing myself.

A few more years passed, and I managed to lose about forty pounds on my own. I met and married my husband and had a son. I hovered around 275 pounds for decades. Every so often, I’d try to diet, fail, gain back the weight, berate myself for yet another weight loss failure, and give up.

My father was one of these people with huge life-force energy. He was kind, charismatic, extremely intelligent and was well-loved by everyone who knew him. When he was 91, he fell and underwent hip surgery. He survived the surgery but wasn’t healing the way he wanted. His last week of life, he called each of us to his bedside to tell us gently what he thought our greatest personal challenge was in life, and how we might overcome it. He asked me to bring my 13-year-old son to him.

My son entered his hospital room, and my 91-year-old father gave him “the secret handshake.” They smiled and shared a little about my son’s day at school. My dad said “You know something? You are going to grow up to be someone really special. I’m not sure I’ll be here to see it, but I know it’s going to happen.” They made eye contact. It was very quiet. Then my father said, “I’ve learned that it all comes down to this: Make the life you want. Be happy.” And in that moment, my world exploded inside my head. He was exactly right; it’s as easy and as hard as that. “Make the life you want. Be happy.” It was my spiritual lightning bolt and I realized that it was all up to me! I could make the life I wanted and finally be happy. This became my “why” and ultimately guided me to create my new healthier life, from the inside out.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you hope that they might help people along their path to self-understanding or a better sense of wellbeing in their relationships?

I’m currently thinking about writing a book about my weight loss story and how it might help others. My hope is that sharing how I found my “why” and how I learned to apply it in my daily life to find happiness would help others do the same in their own lives if they felt called to do so.

Do you have a personal story that you can share with our readers about your struggles or successes along your journey of self-understanding and self-love? Was there ever a tipping point that triggered a change regarding your feelings of self-acceptance?

I recently spoke to someone who had lost 190 pounds. She mentioned that she’s still trying to lose the fat person inside of her. That really struck me as I remember how it feels to be inside an extremely overweight body. I remember the longing to want to change and I remember the emotional and physical burden of that extra weight. I also remember that inside I was still the same person I am today. Worthy of love. Loving. Sensitive. Kind. The problem was that I didn’t practice self-love and therefore didn’t feel worthy. The takeaway is don’t lose the fat person inside. Love her. She needs lots of love.

According to a recent study cited in Cosmopolitan, in the US, only about 28 percent of men and 26 percent of women are “very satisfied with their appearance.” Could you talk about what some of the causes might be, as well as the consequences?

The media constantly portrays unattainable beauty. Nearly every photo is altered so that we are all aspiring to be a sort of beautiful that doesn’t exist in real life. The consequences of this comparison are devastating to our self-esteem and view of ourselves. It also creates a shallowness in that instead of going inside of ourselves to express who we are, we rely on what’s on the outside. That’s a true shame.

As cheesy as it might sound to truly understand and “love yourself,” can you share with our readers a few reasons why it’s so important?

In my opinion, we aren’t bodies with souls. We are souls with bodies. Whatever that little spark of life inside of us is that animates the clay of our bodies — that’s the piece that truly matters. That’s the piece that falls in love with. That’s the piece that dreams. That’s the piece that grieves when we lose loved ones. That’s the magical piece that makes us human and connects us to one another. The more we love this piece, the more complete we are, the more love we have to give, and the deeper our connections grow.

Self-love also helps us get through hard times. I like to think of self-love as a corset for the soul. When things happen that bring difficult emotions, self-love helps hold us together so we can get through the difficulties. We can also model this behavior for others and share our strength when it’s needed most. We can teach our children how they can love and honor themselves so they can show up more fully in their own worlds as well.

Why do you think people stay in mediocre relationships? What advice would you give to our readers regarding this?

People stay in mediocre relationships for a variety of reasons. Some people are numb and out of touch with their own needs and desires. Some find that their partnership works to reach or sustain common goals and they don’t want to upset things. Some stay to raise the kids. Some don’t have the financial means to leave. Others stay out of fear of being alone. It always boils down to some kind of fear or lack. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this dilemma. A good start would be for the couple to seek a third-party to help them determine the next right step for them. I will say this, though: Make the life you want. Be happy. (See?! It works every time!)

When I talk about self-love and understanding I don’t necessarily mean blindly loving and accepting ourselves the way we are. Many times, self-understanding requires us to reflect and ask ourselves the tough questions, to realize perhaps where we need to make changes in ourselves to be better not only for ourselves but our relationships. What are some of those tough questions that will cut through the safe space of comfort we like to maintain, that our readers might want to ask themselves? Can you share an example of a time that you had to reflect and realize how you needed to make changes?

Am I speaking to myself in harmful language?

Am I acting out of habit rather than authenticity?

Am I happy? If not, is there anything I can do to move the dial toward more happiness?

Do I need help figuring this problem out?

Will future me be in a better situation if I do (or don’t do) this?

Is doing nothing acceptable right now?

Do I feel stuck?

Am I fully present in this relationship right now?

I often fall into the negative self-talk trap. I find myself saying things to myself that I wouldn’t even think about someone else, let alone say. When this happens, it’s always because I’ve neglected to love myself and I need to do things that reestablish my internal balance: Create a beautiful, healthy meal; go for a nice, long walk; meditate; talk with a dear friend; rest; read a great book; listen to an inspiring storyteller; or spend time with my family.

So many don’t really know how to be alone, or are afraid of it. How important is it for us to have, and practice, that capacity to truly be with ourselves and be alone (literally or metaphorically)?

I love my alone time. I require it. I need to meditate and often use audio-guided meditations to help me relax and escape my active brain. I find that if I don’t do these things that tighten-up the self-love corset that supports my soul, I’m not much use to anyone, most importantly myself. For someone who wants to start the practice of being alone, I would suggest creating a great playlist and going for an hour walk. Alternatively, there are lots of free guided meditations available. We are all different! Find what makes your soul feel alive and happy and do lots of that!

How does achieving a certain level of self-understanding and self-love then affect your ability to connect with and deepen your relationships with others?

I’m most connected when I’m feeling well and whole on the inside. Let’s take my relationship with my adult son: When I am understanding and approaching him from a place of love, I not only demonstrate that behavior to him so that he can adopt it in his own life, but I meet him in the present moment, with love, kindness, understanding, and grace that allows him to be exactly who he is. It’s love, easy.

In your experience, what should a) individuals and b) society, do to help people better understand themselves and accept themselves?

Individuals are more aware of self-love and living a life based on experiences now more than ever. The COVID-19 shutdown has shown us that experiences and human interaction are much more meaningful than owning stuff. For those of us walking the self-love path who are working every day to understand ourselves in a way that brings about our ability to identify areas we’d like to change, it’s important to share our message supportively with others who may want to do this for themselves. We need to lovingly “walk the walk” and join others to come along.

We live in a society that’s constantly in comparison mode. Media and marketing encourage a life built on consumerism. They want us to think that we need lots of things, and when we buy them we’ll be happy. HA! It doesn’t work this way. In fact, it sets up a superficial experience around life. What I mean by this is that buying the new handbag might make you feel great in that moment, but that type of happiness is fleeting and fades away quickly. Practicing self-love is what feeds your happiness bank in a lasting and meaningful way.

What are 5 strategies that you implement to maintain your connection with and love for yourself, that our readers might learn from? Could you please give a story or example for each?

Pilates. Pilates a mind-body workout that keeps me limber, grows lean muscle, and gets me in touch with my inner-self. I feel proud every time I complete a class because I know I’m caring for my body.

Walking. Walking is a free workout that gets my heart going. It’s also great “me” time. I put on my favorite music and hit the road! It’s energizing and helps me sleep well, too!

Eating. I love to eat! I had to learn to make healthy foods that were delicious and exciting. Eating right is not about missing out on good food. To honor this, I recreate favorite foods into healthy, delicious versions. For example, I just devoured a bowl of healthy gingerbread cookie oatmeal. When I eat well and enjoy food, my mind, body, and soul are happy!

Meditation. I meditate every day. I struggled with this for years as I thought I had to completely turn off my thoughts. Then I learned that thoughts will come — my job is to identify each as a thought and just keep breathing. I’ve learned to focus on the way the air feels entering and exiting my lips and nostrils. This laser-focus allows me to really settle in. Don’t give up! Meditation is a great way to commune with your most inner self.

Learning. I am constantly reading and researching about new things that bring me joy. This is when I’m most alive.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources for self-psychology, intimacy, or relationships? What do you love about each one and how does it resonate with you?

I really enjoy “Stories from the Stage” from PBS. It’s fascinating for me to hear what people have been through and their stories always astonish me. I’m currently reading “The Master Key System,” by Charles F. Haanel. It’s about mindset, which is everything!

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? Maybe we’ll inspire our readers to start it…

I would start a movement of self-love. I hope that one day when we are more evolved as a society, we teach this to our children. Could you imagine? Instead of fear, hatred, bigotry, social injustice, racism, and so on, there would just be love.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that you use to guide yourself? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life and how our readers might learn to live by it in theirs?

“Make the life you want. Be happy.” This is my mantra and it’s never let me down.

Thank you so much for your time and for your inspiring insights!

My pleasure!

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