Jodi Baretz, author of the new ‘Mindful is the New Skinny,’ shared her personal growth experiences at the Chappaqua Library
By Amanda Kraus
Earlier this summer, I sat among an excited, eager crowd in the Chappaqua Library’s auditorium to listen to Jodi Baretz, psychotherapist, health coach, and author, speak about her new book, Mindful is the New Skinny: 10 Transformational Steps to a Lighter You Inside and Out. Baretz discussed the book itself as well as her personal experiences that compelled her to write it, in which she transformed “Junkfood Jodi” to “Baretz for carrots.”
Baretz began her talk with silence; she had the audience try a short meditation so that we could understand how she started her own transformational journey with mindfulness, except the first time she meditated at the Omega Institute five years ago, it was for forty-five minutes.
For Baretz, this was a torturous experience, and she wasn’t afraid to vocalize this–in fact, about half of the group felt the same way. However, over the following five days, the meditations became easier the more she practiced. Baretz explained that meditation isn’t effortless and that it requires focus. Meditation is a brain exercise by which one must acknowledge the thoughts that clutter one’s mind, and let them drift away, focusing purely on the breath.
Much like meditation, mindfulness is being able to feel and process one’s emotions in order to let them go, rather than immediately pushing them away. Baretz explained that we need to be able to deal with being uncomfortable rather than avoiding it altogether.
As a child, Baretz was a terrible eater, leading her to acquire the nickname “Junkfood Jodi.” Her diagnosis of celiac disease in 2003 triggered her transformational journey with food and nutrition, as well as mindfulness and well-being. In 2003, Baretz explained, people didn’t really know what celiac disease was, and gluten-free diets weren’t very common.
As a social worker, Baretz tried to help others with their own gluten-free eating, but soon realized that she knew nothing about nutrition. In 2010 she attended the Institute for Integrative Nutrition where she learned about the mind-body connection, and was exposed to spirituality. For Baretz, being spiritual is a holistic approach to healthy living and being while keeping up with our fast-paced lifestyles and society.
In order to portray this philosophy to others, she decided to write her book, Mindful is the New Skinny: 10 Transformational Steps to a Lighter You Inside and Out. Although Baretz discusses healthy eating and nutrition in her book, she uses the word skinny as a metaphor for perfection — external, unsustainable, and never good enough. Instead of striving for skinny, Baretz encourages being mindful, which entails accepting imperfections and the present moment. Even though the manuscript only took three months for her to write, Baretz hit a mental roadblock, dwelling in the very anxiety, stress, and frustration that she was writing about. She took a short break, acknowledged this, and started writing again with a new mindset.
Much like her book-writing process, Baretz helps women on their nutritional journeys by redirecting their focus from losing weight by dieting to mindful eating and living, which is sustainable and effective. In today’s society, social medias omnipresent and overwhelming influence fosters perfection, stress, and anxiety, mindfulness is more important than ever. “Mindfulness,” said Baretz “is the antidote.” And she’s right. Meditation is being extensively studied medically, and has been proven to affect the brain. Meditation and mindfulness make us more productive, as they allow our minds to reboot and recover from our daily stresses and tribulations. In a sentence, Baretz’s book is all about “Nourishing the inside so you can change the outside.”
Jodi is also a psychotherapist at The Center for Health and Healing in Mt. Kisco. Her book is available on Amazon and at Scattered Books in Chapapqua. Visit http://www.jodibaretz.com for more information about her various programs and events, including her mindfulness bootcamp, her meditation sessions, and speaking engagements.
Inside Press summer intern Amanda Kraus is a rising senior at Tulane University.