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On Finding Your Purpose

Danika Brysha

MY FEBRUARY WRITING CHALLENGE: DAY 4 of 28

I'm not sure how I ended up there, but I stumbled upon this video today about "Oprah's Top 10 Rules for Success" and it spoke so deeply to me. The thing I found myself thinking about most was the value she put on finding your purpose. She stressed it as being the most important thing that we do in this world and it was the first time that I've really taken this often abstract statement and understood the depth of its importance. I really agree and I think I've been downplaying its value.

I found mine by asking a few questions that I think are really helpful for anyone looking for more meaning in their life. More direction. More fulfillment. More everything. 

A few questions to ask yourself are...

What did I do as a child that made time fly by?

What do I do with my time when my time is my own?

What sort of books do I choose to read? What social media accounts do I follow?

If I had to write a book right now on any topic, what could I qualify as an expert in?

What do I have an insatiable desire to constantly learn more about?

What am I really good at?

On a separate note, I'm going to stop leaving these posts until the last hour before I go to bed. My mind is foggy and tired and I'm forcing this. That is not my intention and I don't think that it is the best way for me to be of service to you through this writing. Morning is my clear creative time and I will strive to make this a part of that practice. I like how vague this feels when I hit publish and nothing happens. The lack of instant gratification is a practice in discipline. A much needed one for me. 

Thank you. 

Where I Hide All My Answers

Danika Brysha

MY FEBRUARY WRITING CHALLENGE: DAY 3 OF 28

 

My eyes are burning and my body is depleted but I am committed to this challenge even if it means posting nothing but the statement I AM ENOUGH.

It's funny how when you start expecting miracles you see them everywhere. They start showing up at every turn. I look back on today and realize that what are now my daily doings were once things of my dreams. The places I spent my time, the people I engaged with, the meetings I participated in. I'm tempted to elaborate but I stop myself, realizing that the details would serve nothing but my ego and that is not the space I want to live from. The power of manifestation is so real. I'm left speechless when I'm wise enough to leave the space to take it all in. Constant doing can distract from how good being is. 

I can't wait for the days when we don't glorify "busy". When we look at self-care and leisure as the ultimate mark of being enough rather than constant doing and accomplishing and producing. The moments in between seem to carry the most power of all. They are where I hide all my answers.

I AM ENOUGH. 

A Note From the Present

Danika Brysha

My February Writing Challenge: Day 2 of 28

I’ve come to learn that self-care is one of the most generous things we can do for the people in our lives. To invest in ourselves so that we can show up for them as the best possible version you can give them. I have a few practices that I do daily and part of my daily self-care routine is writing a note from my future as if I was living it in the present moment. I often type this with my eyes closed so I can really feel the experience of this perfect day and all that it involves. I look around at where I am, what the environment is like, what I’m doing, who is there, what my plans are for the day, how I feel, the color of my sheets, the details. I take myself there in my mind and I do my best to truly FEEL everything that that moment and experience evokes in me. But this morning as I dove into this part of my morning routine and prepared to visualize, I was overwhelmed with how good this present moment already was. And so this came out of me instead...

 

(How can I write a note from my future when my RIGHT NOW is so blissful.) Today I choose to write about my now. My gratitude.) Today I woke up early. 3:35am to be exact. I made my bulletproof coffee and I walked Kingsley in the park. I headed to the gym and I got there a little bit early. That time between here and there when I sit in my car and just be is some of my favorite time. Those minutes of peace. I took the 10 minutes in my car to write my affirmations for the day and the biography that I wish to fulfill. I worked out at the 12 in a class taught by Matt.  I absolutely love this gym and these people. I see how much  my body has transformed from the lifestyle changes I’ve made and I can’t help but be proud. I very quickly forget that it’s 5am as soon as we get moving. Leaving class at 6am is one of my favorite parts, not because I’m leaving but because without failure, I am always surprised by the fact that it’s still dark out. I rush home with the goal of showering, putting Kingsley on the leash, and making it to my favorite lifeguard tower so I can see the sunrise while I finish my bulletproof coffee and dive deeply into my morning self-care routine. I arrived just after 6:30am and the sky was already bright but that’s ok. I say good morning to people I pass because I’m practicing “going first”. Initiating kindness. Saying hello first. Introducing myself first. Leading with love. No one is on my lifeguard stand and I am happy. I get a little protective over this routine but fortunately there is almost always an empty one a couple streets over. But today 15th street is MINE.  I did an experiment to see if Kingsley could carry my Mexican beach blanket on his back like the charming little mule he is. It lasted about 30 seconds before it almost fell into the territory marking flow, and so I carried it. I laid it out on my lifeguard stand, tied Kingsley to the second stair, and climbed up. My Uggs and sweatpants are super BASIC but I’m warm, so fuck it. I open my laptop and I do my morning gratitude.  I write...

And here I am, writing my “note from the future” which is, for the first time in this practice, a note from my present because I’m working on seeing the miracles in the now. There sure are plenty of them. 

A Month Without Social Media, Sweaty Thank Yous, and the G-Word

Danika Brysha

My February Writing Challenge: Day 1 of 28

As I sweatily peddled through spin class this morning I found myself saying thank you. But not in a vague thank you to God or the universe but very specific thank yous. Thank yous to every client we delivered meals to last night. Thank you to every team member on our squad and to anyone who ever remotely played a part in our growing this business. With each pedal it was a new name. Thank you Carrie Hoefer.  Thank you Paige Payne, Thank you Chef Cathy...

I started with our client’s names from yesterday’s delivery and it quickly turned into a thank you fest of every single person who has touched this passion project. The very first clients who believed in me when I was cooking out of my tiny NYC apartment and delivering meals by foot. Thank you Megan Bradley. My landlord in the West Village who found me a free second refrigerator that he then installed in my tiny studio apartment so that I could continue growing my little business. Thank you Raul. My friend who lived down he hall who would let me and my 200-lb dog Kingsley stay in her apartment with her every so often when I’d need to rent mine on AirBNB to scrape up my monthly rent. Thank you Lisa Sherwood. My ex-boyfriend who built me my very first business model spreadsheet that I never figured out how to use but that inspired me to actually go forward and start this crazy thing in the first place. Thank you Brandon Simins. 

This process could go on and on and on. And it did as I pedaled and pedaled and pulsed. I’ve never had two songs fly by in a workout class so effortlessly. I left feeling glowey and grateful. (Many thanks to Alli Sutter and her 8:30am Monday class at Studio Cycle CDM which is SO much more than a physical workout - if you’re local to Orange County, CA, I HIGHLY recommend it).

As you may or may not have noticed, I took the full month of January away from my personal social media. I will reflect on this experience in more depth at another time, but what I will say is that I missed you and I missed sharing. I learned so much about myself and I was more present than I’ve been in a long time. I also learned the harsh truth of how dependent I’d become on external validation and encouragement, and worked on new ways of finding it within myself (even though I thought I’d been doing that all along). 

I like to give myself a new challenge each month. I went into January feeling cocky with about 5 monthly challenges for myself (see last blog post) and I was successful with just one. I was humbled once again and am learning to be ok with just BEING instead of constantly DOING. I learned a lot about surrender and perfectionism. Two very different ways of existing. 

So in spin class this morning on this first day of February it became clear to me that for this month I’d pick just ONE self-challenge. Something that would encourage me to do the opposite of what January’s challenge had been about- and that is to share more. But to share things of value. To share from my heart. And what better place for me to access that than in my writing? My daily journals. The place where my truth tends to pour out in ink and where I ask questions of God and try to make sense of this human experience. It is the most fun work I’ve ever done - tuning-in instead of numbing out. Writing has been the gateway to myself and it is how I most effectively communicate.

As I was writing in my journal the other day I found myself asking God when I’d finally start sharing? When I’d have that platform to really reach people. How I could use my life experiences and lessons to help in the healing and betterment of this world. As if there were some place I had to get to where it would all start. Where life starts. Where you’re thin enough or famous enough or rich enough or find that perfect person or blah blah blah. 

 

I wrote...

Monday, January 25th, 2016

13th Street Lifeguard Tower - Newport Beach

 

Me: So God, when will it all start? When is that big moment, the exposure, platform, audience?

God: You already have it. It’s now. You just have to do the self work to uncover it. The more you tune in, the more you will hear it and the more you can live your truth. You must find enough-ness in this space now. Perfection and love and acceptance of yourself and your life at this very  moment comes first, and everything else that you think you need to get there will actually follow. 

 

Me: Why do I have blocks towards sharing my writing? Why am I not finishing what I start?

God: Because there is fear. You don’t want to believe it but you’re scared. And the writing will come when it’s meant to. I will provoke it when it is meant to be. You will spend your entire life writing. Enjoy this time now when you are so free. Do the work on you. When it is time to share, I promise you will. You will change the world and many lives but you can’t do it until you do the inside job. Fill up now. You’re exactly where you need to be. You’re doing everything perfectly. We’re co-creating, don’t forget that. I am here. Always, always, always. You’re right on time. You will read these notes later in your life. They will be of great use to generations but right now they are for you. You’ve found me but you forget sometimes and that’s ok. This serves as a little reminder. Contrast. One day we will be fully together. You will live fully from me - heart space - love. You are young and adventuring and you will smile back at your curiosity for life. At the questions you asked and the body you wanted and the “things” you thought you needed. You will love the childish curiosity you once had and you will embrace it. Not as ignorance but as miraculousness. You’ll laugh with yourself at how you thought it was your job to control everything. You’ll smile at your anxiousness and your worry about everything. That’s love you’re feeling now. That overwhelming emotion. It’s still stuck inside but it won’t always be. Those bells are me too. And those waves and sun and seagulls. I can’t wait tor you to see how great you’re going to be and to acknowledge exactly how perfect you’ve been all along. Stop worrying so much. You’re right about yourself. You are spot on. I’m glad you’re letting me in right now. You’ve known it was through this pen but this format works for us. Just ask. Ask as often as possible and I will answer. 

 

Me: I’m scared about using the “God” word (no offense). I know how it used to scare me away so I hesitate to use it in my writing. I feel spiritual but far from religious and I know that word has so many stigmas attached to it.

God: You have to let go of that. You cannot speak everyone’s language but I promise that if you speak your own, it will reach exactly who it’s meant to. God is different to everyone. I know that “God" has been used in a lot of cruelty but that’s not what “God” is to you, and that is what matters. If I am love and acceptance and kindness to you then that is how I will play out in your writing. It matters much less than you think.

 

And so after this conversation - yes, I’m very much referring to the conversation above that I had in my head - I asked my idea of God that he help me in sharing my writing more-  and right there in this morning's spin class and my rambling of thank yous, he placed in my mind, on this 1st day of February, my newest monthly self-challenge, and that was to share my writing daily for 28 days. He gave me the shortest month of the year to do so, as if to say “I got you”. 

And so here I am sharing for the first of 28 days, and hopefully much longer. I am thankful to you and for these technology platforms that, though often criticized for inauthentic connection, truly give us the opportunity to connect with so many new souls that we may not have otherwise had the chance to cross paths with. I expected to come back from a month away from social media telling you how freeing it was and how much better my life was without it, but instead I’m here telling you otherwise. It did have so many benefits and lessons (I promise I'll share more when I'm ready), but it also left me grateful for the platform we’ve been given to connect. To heal and share and support each other. To remind us that we’re all made of the same stuff and that we’re in this together. So thank YOU for being part of this platform. For being here in this very moment reading these words. I can’t wait to send you so many sweaty thank yous. I hope you feel them.

2016: Personal Goals and Creating Your Own Self-Serving Habits

Danika Brysha

I have organized a group of women where I live, who are committed to improving themselves and their experience, and as I was sending out an email to them this morning, I felt like these words may be something that are beneficial to many more than just the several women in my inner circle who were brave enough to come to a very vague event I hosted entitled "Goal Setting Party". 

Below is a version of the email I sent them (edited to remove useless information and elaborate on some things) with tips for setting their own goals, some of the habits I have developed through my own journey of wellness that may inspire you as well, and my personal list of goals I am aiming to achieve in 2016. 


Hello ladies,

On this last day of 2015, I wanted to reach out and begin our conversation about what we're all committing to for this upcoming year.  As I have mentioned, we will plan to hold a quarterly meeting to regroup, share, and just open the conversation up and help each other stay accountable or talk through challenges. 

For me I've found that speaking my goals out loud and putting them on paper has been a great tool. I wanted to share some of mine with you below. In bold are the specific goals I am committing to for the full month of January. I like to pick 1-3 goals that will be my primary focus that I give my 100% commitment to- and then each month I add in 1-3 new ones once the first month's goals become habits (meaning that after a full month of experimentation and deciding if the new habit serves me, it is now essentially operating on auto-pilot, freeing up the energy and space to move on to my next challenges).

My main tip is to make sure that the goals you are committing to for the month are nearly fail-proof. For example, if you want to start meditating, commit to 3 minutes daily, not 20. You can always do 20 if you choose to, but it leaves very little space for failure. Lasting change comes from love, not fear. The moment that a challenge becomes unrealistic and we skip a day, we are left feeling frustrated and defeated and stuck in the same place we've been in all along. Set yourself up for success no matter what and be realistic with what you commit to!  If a Whole30 Challenge is on your radar but feels completely overwhelming, start with one piece of it like "eliminating dairy" or making a commitment to not eat any ingredients you wouldn't be able to explain to a friend. 

I also highly suggest tracking these challenges in some sort of daily tracking note that you can checkbox at the end of each day. I swear by the app Evernote- I have a daily tracking template note (see below) that I copy paste each morning into a new note. Making your goals measurable is a key to success so that they don't stay vague and so that you can have the satisfaction of daily progress and accomplishment. This also gives me a place to write my daily gratitude, core belief statements (more below), and things I'd like to manifest, allowing me to come back to it years down the road and see how my dreams turned into my reality. Hint: they usually do unless something even better comes along.

My checklist is constantly changing but below is an example of what it will look like beginning January 1st, 2016. Some of the listed things are habits but it still feels good checking them off each day so I keep them there. Little victories my friends!

Before I share my 2016 goals, I wanted to share a few of my daily habits that have become a part of my life as a result of this habit-tracking practice. These have been incredibly transformational for me and may give you some ideas on things you'd like to focus on for yourself: 

MY DAILY SELF-CARE HABITS: getting enough sleep, eating clean, sobriety (abstaining from alcohol, drugs, prescription pills, and any unnatural medicine), journaling, not watching TV (I watch something on Netflix once or twice a month if I want to relax or shutoff), meditation, prayer, writing 3 things I'm grateful for in the morning and at night, writing daily affirmations that challenge the core beliefs I'm trying to work through ex. If I feel like I don't have any money, I write a few sentences about how I am abundant and there is always enough money, or if I'm struggling with my body, I write about how strong and vibrant and healthy and inspiring it is etc., sleeping with my phone in the other room, keeping my phone on "do not disturb" mode regularly, using essential oils, doing something daily that educates me like a podcast or book, visualizing- I view and add to my private pinterest board every single day, writing a biography from my future as if someone was writing about me 1, 3, 5 years down the road, writing a journal entry from my future describing all the amazing things in my life in detail, eating mindfully with no distractions whatsoever, describing and feeling my feelings with depth and detail (this has been pivotal in releasing my emotional eating behaviors and not using food to comfort)

*Am I perfect with these? Absolutely Not! But most of these things, though extremely challenging to commit to at one point, are on total autopilot now. All that matters is that we do our best.

Below is a list of some of my personal goals for 2016 (in no particular order).  Also, you'll see that I have 7 January focuses rather than my suggested "1-3". About half of these 7 things are practices I've already been doing every day for a few weeks or months so they are not entirely new, just things that are bordering on habits but not fully on auto-pilot yet so they are still being measured.  Also, I've been following the habit formation and tracking process for two years now and am very familiar with what commitments are realistically manageable for myself. I definitely still encourage sticking to 1-3 new things monthly. If the goal is a big one like "not drinking alcohol for a month", I suggest sticking to just that one. It doesn't mean you can't work on others, it just means that anything else in addition to it will be mega bonus points. Remember, lasting change comes from positive reinforcement. The idea with the self-care checklist is that it eventually gets empty, meaning that I've made all of my wellness practices naturally occurring parts of my life and a part of my "being" rather than my "doing". For example, I no longer have "eat clean" on my checklist, because it has become a non-negotiable and no longer requires measuring. It is on auto-pilot. I have set separate ones for my businesses but I know that unless I am functioning at my highest personally, I cannot give myself to my business or others. Self-care is the greatest gift you can give to the people you love. They likely deserve the best version of you available, so make that your priority so that you fill yourself up with so much positivity and light that the only option is that it spills out onto the people who surround you. 

 

January Focus: these are the things I will do every day in January and will be tracking daily on my self-care checklist

One full month of no personal social media

365 days of A Course in Miracles (unless I begin the material and recognize that I'm not ready for it just yet) 

Work on Book 10 minutes daily

3 things daily that serve or empower others

No cell phone in the bedroom

11-minute smile challenge

Evening Meditation

 

2016 YEARLY GOALS:

  • Fully SURRENDER: to God/the universe/something much greater than me - trust that I don’t need to control or manage and that when I try to do so, I often get in my own way - allow myself to be of service to others in whatever way that looks
  • Be more happy, joyful, playful, and childlike: Have more fun but make sure that it truly evokes joy in me and I’m not just doing something that is “supposed to be fun” based on society’s expectations - find the authentic joy in what I truly love by tuning into my feelings in the present
  • Release myself from my ego and live humbly and presently from my heart
  • Create more leaders - lead silently from behind
  • Surfing - every day for a month
  • Early morning workouts: get in a routine of 6am workouts daily
  • Begin freeing myself from the constraints of “time” and “space": less attention to clock time and more intuitive “being"
  • Make presence my predominant space - release past and future (note: manifestation and visualization practices may appear to be future-driven practices, but they are actually activities in the present because the aim is to experience fully the feelings you would like to feel, and by doing so, you are creating them in your present space) 
  • Engage actively in nature more: hikes, surfing, paddle boarding, etc.
  • Share my writing (when it feels right and natural): blogging, writing my book; Write and publish my book - Work on Book 10 minutes daily; Publish one article monthly in an external publication- MBG, entrepreneur.com, etc
  • Do at least 3 things daily that serve or empower others: In sharing anything, always ask “what does this give to others?"
  • Be a better dog mom to Kingsley: walks, play, brushing, bathing, love
  • Be more responsible with money things: get taxes done on time, organize debts, create financial strategy
  • Read more: schedule in reading time - maybe 1 hour each night; A Course in Miracles, The Bible, Tao Te Ching, and all the many books I already have on my shelf that I am eager to read
  • No cell phone in the bedroom
  • Be a more prompt “Do-er”: do things immediately when possible
  • Manage my availability: formally schedule myself the time to read and practice self-care DAILY. Create more structured “work hours"; Only do things that evoke a “fuck yes” response
  • Cut out distractions: focus on one task until completion; keep phone on “do not disturb” and email closed so that it is only updated when I choose to
  • Be a person of my word: Follow up on things I say I will do; ex. Sending someone my book list I said I would send, etc
  • Don't talk badly about anyone
  • Always be 5 minutes early - commit to being on time
  • Get TSA precheck
  • BE the romantic partner I want to meet: list all of his qualities and make sure that I embody all of those things myself
  • Make Sleep a priority: Wake up EARLY - 5AM; structure my sleep so that I am waking up with no alarm clock for the majority of mornings- learn the natural pattern of my body’s needs; get to bed early and rise early
  • Be more prompt and organized with tasks/responses: with presents, and notes and gifts; only read an email or text or message when I have the time to respond to it so that it doesn’t take up space in my mind; deal with things and move on so that my energy is free and open; always create SPACE
  • Release what others think: remember that anyone’s opinion of me is strictly a reflection of themselves - nothing is personal
  • Take a solo vacation: silent meditation retreat, active camping in nature, week away to write my book, etc
  • Less words, more feelings, more being: be quietly influential
  • Quality over quantity in everything! 
  • Get childhood VHS tapes transferred to digital professionally 
  • Surround myself in greatness - be great; surround myself with people who are living their greatness and passion out loud; Spend time with people I am truly inspired and excited by - mentors and people I’d say “fuck yes” to hanging out with and really really mean it
  • Go First: introduce yourself first, smile first, say it first, go first; don’t wait for others to start, be the leader
  • Happen to the world, don’t let it happen to me: choose what I want and go after it. Don’t let others choose for me; learn to ASK for what I need and want
  • Deeper Meditation Practice: adding Evening meditation in addition to my morning practice
  • Be less compulsive: with posting photos or to social media, with food, with decisions; pause and take the time to tune in and ask my inner self what I need and what’s best, rather than reacting in whatever way I think I "should" react - TUNE IN
  • 11 minute smile challenge: spend 11 minutes straight every day for a month smiling; maybe progress to 1 hr daily later in the year
  • Take more workshops from authors and thought leaders that I love: Marianne Williamson, Gabrielle Bernstein, Mike Dooley, Geneen Roth, Tony Robbins, Oprah, Tim Ferris, Dave Asprey, Brian Weiss; this will also surround me in like-minded people

WISHING YOU A HAPPY AND HEALTHY 2016!

WITH DEEP LOVE,

DANIKA

{Also, if you need some motivational quotes in your life, here's a LINK to my "Quotes to Live By" page on Pinterest. That shit gets me going. Big Time.}

Painting a Picture of Food Addiction

Danika Brysha

My relationship with food has been challenging. For those who don’t know, I am a recovered bulimic of 9 years, and a recovering binge eater and food addict. There is more and more evidence these days that food addiction is a very real thing, and though it can be hard to understand if you haven’t been in the depths of an 8,000 calorie binge, there is a VERY big difference between someone who overeats emotionally on occasion and someone who is consumed and controlled by food thoughts. I feel like it is my duty to draw awareness to this disease and paint a picture for those who may be trying to support loved ones, or struggling themselves.

The reason I choose to eat very clean is because foods like meat, vegetables, and healthy fats keep me sane. The reason I no longer drink alcohol is because it makes my food struggles harder to manage. And when my food is chaotic, my life is chaotic. When things like flour, sugar, and fried foods are in front of me (my “alcoholic” foods), and on the rare occasion that I choose to eat them, I cannot stop. One bite for me turns into 4 cupcakes, a pint of ice cream, a large bag of chips, 3 chocolate bars and a numb excursion to Taco Bell. I could spend $100 on a binge easily. Like an alcoholic or drug addict, there’s no “balance”.

The problem with food addiction is that you can’t just eliminate your drug. You HAVE to eat. And for me, eating clean allows me to participate in life. To be present and engaged in conversations and experiences, rather than focusing all of my energy on bread baskets and endless tortilla chips and the candy dish that is thoughtful for guests but inner hell for food addicts. My motto is to keep it SIMPLE. Will I likely spend my entire life skipping "treats and sweets"? Yes. Is it worth it so that I can participate fully in that life? Absolutely!

There are a lot of resources out there but if you ever have questions or need some guidance, please feel free to email me or reach out on behalf of loved ones. 

Dear Danika: The "Typical" Overeater

Danika Brysha

 

"Dear Danika" is a series of blog posts containing real email/message conversations that I've had with people who've reached out to me for support. They are completely anonymous, and all names and identifying details have been changed. I share these not because my advice is necessarily life-changing but because I think it is important to see that we're not alone in our struggles.

 

Dear Danika...

I'm a big fan and follower of your Instagram account. My husband is Paleo and I love your recipes almost as much as your sardonic wit!! 
I am embarassed to be writing you... like some kind of fan-boy. But ever since you posted about Overeaters Anonymous (OA), I've been listening to the podcasts and am feeling something. I spent some time in Al-Anon rooms, and even a brief stint in Alcoholics Anonymous although neither really felt like home. I never felt like they were talking about me. Even in my early 20s and I was partying, my drinking never was the real problem. OA sounds like it may be. My fear, though is that I may not look like a typical overeater. And I'm afraid that I'm not enough of an overeater. Its probably the first time in my Los Angeles life that I've been worried I'm not big enough. If that makes sense. Does this make any sense? Are there compulsive eaters who don't struggle with their weight as much as others? Is there any street cred in my shameful habits of secretly bingeing? Hiding food? And all the diet pills, laxatives, and everything else I use after a few days of bingeing? I don't know. I probably sound foolish but I don't know what to do anymore. Everyone thinks I"m so healthy, cooking all these homemade meals and babyfood for my family... and here I am, hitting up two separate McDonalds at night because the food didn't last the entire commute. That can't be healthy, no matter my jeans size. 
xoxo

The "Typical" Overeater.


Dear The "Typical" Overeater,

Thank you so much for the kind words and for reaching out. I'm running out the door but wanted to quickly reply if I could.  First of all, you are not alone. One of the biggest things for me when I walked into the OA rooms for the first time was the shock I felt at the fact that everybody looked like everyone on the streets.  Lots of incredibly thin people, lots of fit, toned athletes, some with a little weight to lose and some with a lot. Everybody's struggle is different and you will be accepted there no matter what.  If food and weight is affecting your day to day life in a significant way, it is worth checking it out.  I know the feeling of hiding the food and putting on a front that everything is together and happy and perfect.  I lived that for so many years.  I'd stop at taco bell then Jack in the Box then get chips and ice cream.  It never ended.  And then I used alcohol to give myself a "break".  So anytime I drank, I gave myself permission to binge because I didn't have to really face what was happening.  I very rarely drink now because I know it is a gateway to losing control with food.

I'm so sorry that you are going through this but what I can tell you is that there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel.  And finding support and others that are sharing the struggle is incredibly valuable when it comes to recovery.  Let me know how I can help or if you have specific questions.  Just know that you are not alone.  Everybody has a different relationship with food and the nice thing about OA is that it is relevant to any sort of food struggle across the board.

I'm sending you so much love and support.  Let me know however I can help :)

xoxo

Danika

VIDEO: My Holiday Gift Guide: Clean Living Edition

Danika Brysha

It's the holidays ya'll! This year has been one of massive change, introspection, and growth for me, and I attribute it to many healthy lifestyle changes and A LOT of self-love. Below, in poem form (naturally) is a holiday gift guide filled with things that can make your 2015 even fuller- body, mind, and soul.

Video by Sleeves Up

VIDEO: A 6000-Calorie Binge and My "A-Ha" Moment

Danika Brysha

After 15 years of dieting and trying to control my food in order to lose weight, I finally found out that the answer was much deeper. As a woman who struggles with food addiction and compulsive eating, and has a past with bulimia and other disordered eating behaviors, I'm getting real in this video on how a recent binge lead me to some very important answers.

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A Reflection on Bikini Beach Photos with Supermodels

Danika Brysha

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I recently got back from a trip to Miami with two friends.  Did I say friends?  I meant supermodels...

I spent so many years of my life trying to lose weight.  I wanted to be a model.  I wanted to be those pictures of my friends above.  I wanted to be recognized as the beautiful one- the one that society takes and puts a big skinny stamp on saying "you're special".  I wanted to be anything but the chubby, class clown with tons of friends and no boyfriends.  And so I spent 15 years dieting, bingeing, throwing up my meals, taking appetite suppressing drugs, and starving- and then beating myself up over the fact that my willpower wasn't strong enough to get me to where I needed to be.  The place where I thought happiness lived. Somewhere in the gap between my thighs.

It took me a long time but I finally got burnt out and decided I was ok with the hand I'd been dealt.  I started focusing on my strengths rather than shortcomings.  I was tall and felt beautiful most days, and years of having to work to get people to like me landed me one kick-ass personality and some impressive bantering skills. And then one day while at Bank of America, I was scouted and signed with a modeling agency.  At a size 14.  I would be what the industry calls a "plus size" model.  I'd been called a lot of names in my life from "whale" to "fat girl" to a "liability"- but this certainly had a more positive ring to it.  I got to live my dream without trying to be someone I wasn't. And three years later I'm living in New York City as a full-time, plus-size model with my face plastered up on Wilhelmina New York's website. A dream come true- and one that came to fruition when I finally stopped trying to be somebody I wasn't.

But with finding extreme love for yourself comes a new desire to really take care of yourself.  I finally realized my value and decided I wanted to be the best possible version of me.  Through nutrition, exercise, meditation, and a lot of self-reflection- I managed to reinvent myself in the last 9 months that I've been a Manhattan resident. I've lost 30lbs and various jobs but I've chosen my health as a priority. My mind is functioning at a level I couldn't even imagine and I feel more joy, energy, and clarity than ever before.  I am beginning to live my passion and purpose and it has come along with a new found sense of confidence.

Which is important when you take a vacation to Miami with supermodels.  Because honestly, three years ago, you could have paid me $10,000 and given me a free trip to the Greek Islands and I still wouldn't have dreamed about putting on a bikini and posing for a picture in the Aegean Sea. But when my friend Holly suggested a primarily free weekend trip to Miami, the new Danika said HELL YES!

And it ended up being the perfect weekend getaway.  We relaxed on the beach, cooked healthy dinners at home, spent time meditating and journaling, and managed to soberly out-twerk everybody at club LIV.  But throughout the entire weekend, I still found myself feeling different.  Identifying myself as the "big friend". Feeling like the third wheel to two bombshells and having to make up for my shortcomings with my exuberant personality and ability to ask strangers questions for an hour straight without being bothered that they haven't even asked how to pronounce my weird Croatian hybrid of a name.  Dan-uh-kuh. Thanks for asking.

And so on the last day, when our tans were the darkest they'd be getting, Holly and Alexis suggested a group bikini photo by the ocean.  I quickly responded "I'm good, I'm just really comfortable" which really meant "I'm not good and I'm really uncomfortable posing next to you freak shows".  But because I am quite possibly the biggest pushover in all of the land, I finally obliged and struck my pose for the 75-year old Italian men that were one Instagram filter away from a heart attack- and for the one picture ever that I hoped for a finger over the lens, they managed to snap with pure precision.

We returned to our chairs and I requested full approval before posting rights.  And then it happened. I really looked at the photo.  Rather than seeing some version of negative thoughts and assumptions of my differences, I had no option but to admit that I looked GOD DAMN AMAZING! And I also looked just like my friends. Did I say friends? I meant supermodels.

The supermodels who had spent the weekend equally concerned with their own bodies. All of us too busy tearing ourselves down inside to notice that we were all in this together.  Feeling "bloated" or "saggy" or "too pale" or "not toned".  The ones who asked if they looked good in their outfits and the ones that borrowed MY makeup and wanted to know how I ate and what I was cooking and what kind of workout I did at the gym.

And something really struck me.  Even the girls that the media prints in the pages of your magazines- in store windows and taped to teenager's (and murderer's) walls have the same insecurities that we all do.  They wake up having days when they feel amazing but they also wake up feeling less than their best quite often.  They're looking for the latest beauty tips, the best workouts, and the healthiest dinners. They're feeling insecure in their skin because not even THEY feel like the photoshopped version of themselves that's glued to your fridge in an effort to empower you to stop eating.  Empowerment comes from love by the way, not hate or fear.

And so here I am, sharing my Supermodel Bikini Beach photo with the world.  Because someone out there is looking up to me and wanting what I have. And to be honest I don't blame them.  Cause I look good.

And so do the supermodels.  I mean, my friends.

VIDEO: The Trick to Creating Permanent Change: Losing the Weight for the Last Time

Danika Brysha

There's a certain high that comes along with a great weight loss and feeling better about ourselves... and a very clear low when our diet eventually fails us and we gain the weight back. By this point, most health-conscious individuals recognize that diets don't work.  The key is making realistic lifestyle changes that have no end date in sight.  So if diets don't work, what can we do in order to create lasting change? I've got your back!  Check out my latest video on creating permanent changes and the trick to losing the weight for the final time.  And a bonus, this tip helps in all areas of life whether it's addiction, a job we don't like, a bad relationship, or just an overall desire to step yourself UP in the game of life.