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Jena la Flamme, pleasurable weight loss expert, helps women around the world lose weight, heal emotional eating and look and feel fabulous and feminine, in natural, sustainable and of course pleasurable ways—without dieting, deprivation, or giving up chocolate. She is leader of the pleasurable weight loss movement, and has been featured in Glamour, Elle, ABC, NBC, FOX and the Discovery Health Channel.
Having experienced the healing powers of pleasure first hand, Jena has committed herself to helping other women find peace with food and attain the body of their dreams, in pleasurable ways, through coaching, online programs, workshops and live Pleasure Camps and Pleasure Immersion programs. Enjoy her exclusive Business Heroine interview…
BH: Let’s start with the basics. What exactly IS pleasure, and what does it look like in real life?
Jena: Pleasure has a lot of stigma in our culture. We tend to think of it as decadence and indulgence and as something we should feel guilty about. We’re fed to think it’s sort of frivolous and a waste of time.
But actually, pleasure can be the simplest thing. In its simplest definition, pleasure is an expansion or opening, rather than a contraction or a NO. If you’re outside and you see a bird as the spring leaves are coming back, and you’re struck by it – that’s being open and allowing pleasure.
Designing your life to openly pay attention to those things – as opposed to focusing on what’s stressful and punishing – creates a life or business or relationship that is beneficial for you as a woman. It’s very in sync with who we are.
BH: What’s the difference between pleasure and instant gratification?
Jena: I make the distinction between what I call true pleasure and counterfeit pleasure, and they’re often confused in our culture. True pleasure can be a physical pleasure, an emotional or spiritual pleasure, or a mental pleasure. It’s a satisfying and lasting pleasure where you can look back a day or a week or a month later and think ‘that was great.’
Counterfeit pleasure can give you that instant gratification, but an hour later you’ve got a bellyache because you’ve eaten a whole pizza that’s designed for four people. It doesn’t feel good.
Pleasure ceases to be pleasure when it doesn’t truly feel good anymore. Addiction is people kidding themselves that they’re having pleasure but what they’re actually feeling is punishment. If you really check in with yourself and what you’re doing – then you’ll know and realize that overdoing it (with anything) doesn’t actually feel good.
BH: Before we go more into how to achieve pleasure, tell us more about you and how you discovered pleasure. What’s your story?
Jena: From about the age of fourteen, I became a compulsive eater and bulimic. Up until my mid-twenties, I continued binging, eating emotionally, and hating my body. I felt so much shame in this isolated, out-of-control place of despair. While I wanted to be a powerful woman in the world, my brain was being hijacked by bad body image and obsession with food.
So, I really wanted to get to the bottom of it. I studied yoga for two years, but my compulsive eating was still there. Then I studied nutrition, but I would just binge on healthy foods. I was that woman that had all the answers but couldn’t get it together.
What turned it around for me was when a teacher said to me, “I know why you’re struggling with food and weight. It’s because you’re not listening to her.”
He said, “Jena, there are two of you. There’s your mind, and there’s your body. Your body is an animal. The good news here is that all animals in nature know what to eat, naturally, and your body knows too. The problem is you haven’t been listening to her. You haven’t been respecting her.”
The truth is our bodies are access to life itself. Pleasurable weight loss is about coming home to the wisdom of HER. That’s one of the tools I want to share today – refer to your body, not as “IT,” but as “SHE” or “HER.”
BH: Say more about this distinction between our minds and our bodies…
Jena: Whether for weight loss or workplace or marriage, the premise is that there are two of you – your mind and your body. And they operate differently.
If your mind attends to your body’s biological need to escape pain and pursue pleasure, then you’ll experience pleasure as a part of this evolutionary compass.
When your mind doesn’t attend to your body’s pleasure, your body is going to say, “Well, I’ll get it anyway.” And it will show up as some form of excess – maybe it’s shopping or eating. If you neglect the animal, she’ll eventually retaliate, and it won’t be pretty.
BH: As entrepreneurs, how can we incorporate pleasure into the workday?
Jena: Know that if you don’t prioritize your pleasure, it’s going to come around and get you somehow, so build it into your workflow. It’s an old mentality that if we take a pleasure break, it’s going to RUIN the workday. Business leaders know that working yourself to the bone is NOT the best way to do it. We need to wake up to that.
Having respect and reverence for your body allows you to be human in the workplace. Don’t live up to some sterile, antiseptic ideal that you’re a robot – because you’re not.
BH: What are some ideas for “Pleasure Breaks?”
Jena: I think the best one is the dance break. It’s my belief that every woman loves to dance even if she doesn’t know it yet! It is in her body. We’ve danced all throughout time.
I personally love belly dancing. I started learning belly dancing with DVDs in the privacy of my own home, and eventually started taking live classes. It’s not only a great get a workout, but just as importantly, it’s a wonderful to learn to feel feminine and to feel graceful, powerful and sensual in your body, all at the same time.
Belly dancing has become such a great passion of mine that it is now an avenue for creative expression for me I perform publicly. I also teach belly dancing in my live Pleasure Camps and adore sharing this art with women. If you want to lose weight pleasurably, belly dancing is a form of movement and exercise that I can’t recommend enough.
Other pleasure break ideas… I’m a big fan of the ritual of herbal tea. I love the yoga teas with an actual teapot where I can brew the tea and have it seep for a few minutes. I like to call a friend when I have time. Sharing meals with people when possible is also a lovely way to break.
BH: What about long-term pleasure?
Jena: One of my favorite quotes from my teacher is, “Pleasure is the highest form of responsibility.” This creates a shift where you are guaranteeing yourself a good time. You’re not requiring the outside world to give you pleasure, but committing to finding your own.
One of the biggest obstacles for the mind is falling into the victim role. “Poor me, I have to, because of such and such.” Ultimately, the best way is to live with the mantra, “I’m creating this.” If there’s something you don’t like in your life – it takes real integrity to recognize that and move forward.
BH: What challenges do women face when taking on the pleasure movement?
Jena: It’s important for us to be aware that feelings of suffering and of guilt are in the air. Our culture tells us that it’s good to be suffering. Often it’s implied that there’s a real moral value and obligation to go through suffering, in order to get to your highest level. Where as pleasure… We’re taught you should be ashamed of that. That “shame rule” freezes you, so you have no chance to even give pleasure a try.
I’m here to say that it’s NOT true. True pleasure is conscious, it’s aware, it’s healing, it’s energizing, it’s refreshing, it’s bonding. True pleasure is going to give you everything that’s good. Having an allegiance with suffering is not going to do it for you, sister!
BH: What are three simple tips the Business Heroine readers can do to start introducing more pleasure to our lives starting today?
Jena: Here are three tips…
1) Ask, “How can I make this pleasurable?” Whether that’s ‘my workday,’ ‘this project,’ ‘washing the dishes,’ fill in the blank for yourself. Asking this not only focuses you on pleasure, but also engages your imagination, which always stimulates positive creativity.
2) Refer to your body as SHE. This will allow the connection between your mind and animal body to become a conscious whole.
3) Have pleasure in adorning yourself. Start dressing your body as the exquisite, Heroine-like creature she is. When you feel good about yourself in this small way, it will transcend into your work and attitude and confidence.
View all posts by Jena la Flamme here.