Monthly Archives: June 2017

3 Things to Stop Doing Right Now if You Want Body Acceptance

3 Things You Have to Stop doing if you want Body Acceptance (body checking in the mirror is one of them).

If you’re like most women, you want to feel good in your body more than anything else.

In fact, your desire to feel comfortable in your skin is so strong that you have spent hours upon hours (in all honesty, years!) trying to get your body to cooperate. Countless hours at the gym, endless meal planning and too many grumbles of hunger in your belly to count. The amount of effort you’ve put in to get your dream body should have been enough to get you what you wanted, but it’s not.

Even if you’ve met and hit your body “goals”, you still seem to find it all too easy to find something else that is wrong with your body. Nothing is good enough. You are not alone in this.

Ultimately we all want body acceptance. We want to wake up in the morning and not have a total meltdown over what we see in the mirror. We don’t want one decadent meal to turn into a shame spiral where we overeat and beat yourself up over it for weeks at a time. But that’s what happens when we spend hours working towards a goal and still not loving what we see in the mirror.

We feel deprived, exhausted and defeated. And then the cycle starts again.

The only way to get out of this crap is to stop working towards an impossible to reach body state. The way to body acceptance (and self acceptance) isn’t through manipulating your body to impossible standards. Body acceptance comes through working on your thoughts and feelings about your body. 

There are few things you have to stop doing if you want to have a chance at getting there, and as long as we go about our day doing these things, we are actively increasing the dissatisfaction we feel about our bodies.

If you really do want body acceptance STOP doing these 3 things:

Comparing yourself to other people

Every body is different. We have different genes, body compositions, health conditions, hormone levels and personal history that contribute to what our body looks like. Even something like the position and length of our bones contributes to our bodies visual features (hence why it’s impossible for many people to ever achieve a thigh gap) or have long legs. Spending even a minute of your day comparing how your body measures up to the bodies of other women will not help you either a) get closer to looking like them or b) make you feel like your body is worthy.

If you want to accept your body, you can’t compare it to anything other than where it is today.

 

Checking out how you look in mirrors and windows at every chance you get.

If you’re looking at yourself in mirrors, windows and other reflections only to see what’s wrong, stop doing it. You will always see something you don’t like if you are looking for it. If you look in the mirror and like what you see, by all means, keep at it (I’m no stranger to the mirror myself!) – but if it’s making you feel shitty . . .then stop doing it. It’s certainly not going to ever help you like what you see. If you have to, cover the mirrors in your house for a period of time.

No amount of shaming or telling yourself something is ugly or needs to be fixed is going to bring you to happiness and acceptance.

If you can’t resist look in the mirror or window, challenge yourself to find something you like or love instead of doing the same old tear down. This is hard at first, but will get easier with practice (just like anything else).

 

Following people on social media who want to sell you a “better” body

If you follow people on social media who are selling weight loss “teas”, waist trainers, plastic wrap you slap on your abdomen or vitamin patches to make you thin . . .unfollow, unlike, click them goodbye as fast as you can. Gross. None of it works and these people know that but they’re making money off of it. They’re getting paid to promote this junk. Don’t be fooled by the way they look. It’s not the product they’re selling that got them that body – They look the way they do due to genetics, intense exercise, plastic surgery, implants, fillers and by taking dozens of photos while contouring their body into strange angles. Oh and let’s not forget the use of PHOTOSHOP and FILTERS. IT’s not real life. And even they don’t actually look the way they do in those photos in person. By following people like this you’re just going to have feelings of not being enough, not looking good enough and wanting what they have (instead of appreciating and accepting what you’ve already got!). For your sanity and happiness, stop following these folks and add people instead who don’t make you feel like something is wrong with you.

There is a huge world of great people out there who are sharing cool things, beautiful words and images of variable bodies, diverse ages, backgrounds, ethnicities etc. When you SEE more images of people who don’t fit in to the cultural standards of beauty (think white, young, thin) a really neat thing happens where you not only start to see beauty in places you hadn’t noticed it before (You had the power all along Dorothy!) but you also start to feel more comfortable and appreciative in your own skin.  And when that happens, lady –  you will be unstoppable!

One great way to find people to follow is to find one body positive person on social media who you respect and like (someone who shares images and articles that make you feel good!) and then check out who they follow – you’ll be bound to find some gems in there! I personally like folks like Jessamyn Stanley , Christy Harrison, Kelsey Miller, Alysse Dalessandro, Melissa Toler, and Summer Innanen for starters (I’m linking to facebook or twitter because that’s where I still spend a lot of my SM time – but you can find most of these folks and more on Instagram too.). Fill your feeds with good quality folks and watch how you feel changes!


Even if right now, accepting your body seems totally impossible, please know that you can get there! I know body acceptance is possible because it’s something you were born with. We are all born accepting our bodies the way the are. We don’t question if we measure up – we don’t have any concept of not feeling enough. That junk is taught to us. Just like you can relearn how to eat according to your hunger and fullness signals, you can also relearn how to accept your incredible body but to make that possible you’re going to have to take an active role in changing how you decide to interact with the world and with yourself.

When you’re ready to start working on this stuff in more depth, let’s talk. I’d love to be of support to you as you move away from diets and shame and instead towards listening to your true hungers and desires.

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Feed Your Emotional Hunger with Purpose, Not Food

Food is never going to fill you up. What will then? That’s for you to figure out. family? travel? volunteering ? cooking? playing music?

The different feelings we have in our body aren’t arbitrary and don’t come from nowhere, and that includes all of the kinds of hunger we experience.

No hunger, whether it be emotional hunger or true physical hunger, comes along without a valid reason. You’re not physically hungry because you’re lazy, or don’t have enough willpower. You’re hungry because it’s time to eat!

You’re not emotionally hungry because you’re pathetic. You’re emotionally hungry because something is missing or not being tended to.

We need to feed both kinds of hunger, but to satisfy each type, we need to know exactly what to feed ourselves with.

Physical hunger is easy (despite how determined our society is to make it complicated). When we eat food in an appropriate quantity for our body, physical hunger goes away. When we eat enough, we are comfortable for a few hours at a time, sometimes many hours. Physical hunger comes back when we’ve digested our last meal and our body begins to let us know with tummy grumbles and other signals that it is time to eat food again.

One way to know if you’re experiencing physical hunger is that many different types of food will be appealing to you. You would be willing to eat a burger, but you’d also be willing to eat pizza, a stir fry or a salad if that is what was available. This doesn’t mean that some things aren’t more appealing than others, but if you only had one food option (barring any health conditions that require avoidance of a specific food) and were physically hungry, you would shut up and chew!

Emotional hunger is different. If we try to feed emotional hunger with food (and often many of us do), we will still ache, we still feel “hungry” (despite possibly being physically full). Hungry. Restless. Bored. Irritated. Confused. Angry. Apathetic. We will feel something that we can’t quite put our finger on. We will keep feeling a gnawing desire for something. We might go to the pantry or look in the fridge a dozen times, only to sit back down because we don’t know what we want or we only want one thing in particular.

One clue that you are experiencing emotional hunger is that you would actually choose to forgo eating if you can’t get your hands on whatever you’ve decided you wanted. Emotional hunger is sometimes picky. We may not know exactly what we want but we know we don’t want x, y and z.

Just like pain is our body’s way of alerting us that something is physically wrong, emotional hunger is a sign from our brains and hearts that what we are doing isn’t working. It’s one of our many alert systems and it won’t stop unless we address it.

There is no amount of physical food in the world that we can consume that will take care of an emotional need. With emotional hunger, you have to look inside a bit to discover what it might be satisfied by.

 

If you want to satisfy Emotional Hunger properly, here’s what you need to do:

Ask yourself:

  • Where might you not be listening to your own needs?
  • What message could your body be trying to convey that you are not hearing?
  • Where are you not being honest with yourself?
  • What’s missing from your life right now?
  • What are you craving more than anything?
  • Do you have outlets for creativity? Spirituality? Physical activity? Love/affection?
  • Do you regularly experience meaning, purpose or value in your life? If not, what experiences give you (personally) those things? How can your get more of them?

To soothe emotional hunger, we have to:

  1. Figure out what it is we are missing or craving (love, companionship, creativity, spirituality, meaning, etc).
  2. Be willing to feel the discomfort once we’ve identified it (just let it be there). Recognize that you’ll survive – feeling it won’t kill us and running away from the feeling isn’t going to “fix” it.
  3. Construct a plan to get that need met.  Feed yourself emotionally in a way that will actually satisfy that hunger.

Figuring out what it is exactly we’re missing is sometimes the hardest part. If that’s you, be willing to try lots of different things. For some that part is easy, it’s just that they have a difficult time taking action on it. If that’s you, it sometimes helps to tell someone what it is you want to change and ask them to hold you accountable to taking action on it. Sometimes having someone check in with you is enough of a “fire” to motivate you to move forward.

 

A note about feeding Emotional Hunger with food

If you are dealing with emotional hunger, and you feed yourself physical food instead of emotional “food”, you’ll never feel satisfied. You’ll never feel full enough, you’ll always feel deprived and you’ll continue to reach for food when you feel the things you don’t want to feel – because those feelings come back afterwards (often stronger).

Emotional eaters frequently eat to distract ourselves from feeling a certain way, believing that the feelings we are feeling are too awful to confront. To avoid feeling crappy, we overeat to make ourselves feel good or comforted, but the irony is that by doing this we end up feeling far WORSE than those bad feelings made us feel to begin with.

Read that again. The exact thing you are using for comfort is causing you more pain than whatever you are running from.

I did this for so long. Up and down cycles of eating and avoiding, eating too much food and avoiding my real feelings, feeding my true hungers. I conflated my discomfort with not knowing what it was that I wanted (emotional hunger) with physical hunger.

I royally screwed up my digestive system, felt physically ill much of the time from overeating,  kept people at an arm’s distance and I stayed in situations that were stifling me emotionally and creatively. Why?? Because eating was so much easier than dealing with any of it. Eating felt like a solution, even if it was just for a short amount of time. It required less effort on my part, less confronting myself and my fears, less risk taking, less responsibility, less vulnerability. I could hide in my kitchen and build up a wall around me with a bag of chips.

Well anyone who has ever tried to build any type of fortress with food knows full well that it’s not lasting armor. It needs constant replenishment. Any “strength” garnered from the activity of eating is gone as soon as you swallow that last bite (sometimes before!!!).

Battling life this way makes it a war you can’t win, because in a war with yourself, the loser is always going to be you.

If you are tired of going through the motions, and ready to confront something that clearly isn’t working for you, you can change it. I’m not going to lie – it is work and it takes a sincere willingness to call yourself out on your own bullshit story (repeatedly!). It means not putting our heads in the sand, not running away from uncomfortable feelings. It means looking at and addressing the things in your life that aren’t providing the value, meaning and purpose you are after (and that is scary stuff, isn’t it?).

Learning how to differentiate and respond to both physical and emotional hunger appropriately is a game changer! It’s so very worth it. If you decide to start paying attention to your hungers, you will grow and you’ll change in ways that some won’t recognize you afterwards – but that’s okay, because in a way you’ve been hiding who you were this whole time!

As scary as it can be to try to understand and tackle the source of your emotional hunger, you’ll find that once you start getting underway with it that you have less anxiety, less irritation, less anger and less confusion. You’ll feel more secure and confident. And you’ll have less of the physical discomfort that comes from eating when we don’t really want food!

Don’t ignore the signs from your body (brain and heart) that something isn’t right. If you have a “hunger” that you can’t satisfy no matter what you eat (and something isn’t physically wrong health-wise), it’s not physical hunger and it’s time to explore where that emotional hunger is stemming from. And if you want help looking at that, let’s talk!


Hey I know it’s tough to change your relationship to food on your own. That’s why I created You Have What it Takes“, a guide full of questions to help you improve your relationship to food using different qualities you already have. Download your copy at the link here.

A Few Things That Are Better than Dieting

Consciously restricting what we eat, for weeks and months (and in some of our cases, years) at a time, sucks.

It sucks so hard but so many of us do it anyways because of the immense pressure in our society to be thin.

If you’ve never dieted, you might wonder what the big deal is, so for those of you in that camp, let me illustrate to you what being on a diet is like.

We go hungry. All the time. Constantly having to remind ourselves of our “goal” so that we don’t eat. We spend hours looking for ways to suppress normal biological hunger with “skinny” versions of our favorite foods, lots of lettuce, water and food that is reminiscent of cardboard filled air. We dream about getting to eat real food and actually satisfy our appetites. Even when we’re eating, we’re counting down the minutes until we can eat again because we know that whatever we are eating isn’t going to cut it.

We beat ourselves up when we eat more calories than we “should” even if we’re eating because we’re are so hungry we can’t think. We have a massive list of shoulds that we expect ourselves to conform to and we can never meet all of them on the same day. So we shame, berate and use sheer will to get ourselves in line.

We put what little energy we have left into punishing exercise (have to burn off what we eat!) and anything that’s left gets put into wishing we had more willpower and creating pinterest pins of impossible to achieve body standards in the hope that they will help motivate us to ignore our growling stomach for just a few more hours, every day, every week. All of this helps us end the day feeling completely spent with not much to show for it, only to have to get up the next day and go through these same motions again. And again and again until we meet our goal (which is often a moving target).

You don’t have to diet. You might think you have to do it and that it will make you happy but the truth is that you don’t and it won’t. You don’t have to purposely prevent yourself from responding to hunger. If someone prevented a child from eating what their body needed, we would call it abuse, neglect, and go on and on about having basic needs met (because that would be totally messed up). But we don’t think twice about not meeting our own basic needs. We’re different, right? Our needs aren’t as important because we’re bad, we’re out of control and we need to be smaller.

There is so much more to life than size.

I’ve never heard anyone say that they love to diet. I’ve never heard anyone say that they feel amazing being hungry all the time. I’ve never heard someone say that they get more accomplished as a dieter. But I have heard plenty of women talk about the things they were missing out on in their lives because they were too caught up in the details of a food issue. I’ve had plenty of women tell me about all the things they couldn’t be present enough to enjoy because of their obsession with their weight.

It sucks so much.

If you decide that you are done dieting and want to feed your body the way it needs to be fed, once and for all. If you decide that you are worth more than an arbitrary number then you will find that a huge world of amazingness starts to open up for you.

Here are just a few things that are way better than dieting:

  • warm summer sun on your skin
  • a cat purring on your lap
  • a cup of coffee brewed to the exact strength and temperature you like
  • an afternoon (and evening!) spent reading your favorite kind of book
  • a leisurely bike ride through gorgeous countryside
  • clothes you like that fit your actual body
  • having a good hair day
  • hearing someone you love laugh
  • falling asleep in someone’s arms
  • being snowed in with nowhere to go, nothing you have to do and good food and company
  • a big bowl of real ice cream from a farm stand
  • helping someone else (feels even better if they appreciate the help!)
  • getting complimented on something other than for what you look like
  • swimming in warm and clear water somewhere beautiful
  • not having to set an alarm for the next morning
  • watching someone you love graduate, become a parent, get married or start their first job
  • doing those things yourself
  • finally doing something you’ve always wanted to do
  • sharing a meal with people whose company you enjoy
  • looking at old family photos and remembering those days just as vividly
  • eating your fill of your favorite food
  • getting a 90 minute massage (that someone else paid for!)
  • having more than one day off in a row
  • having a little kid reach up to hold your hand
  • hearing a song you love that you haven’t heard in years
  • surprising yourself by being good at something you never thought you would be
  • getting a job or promotion that you really wanted
  • getting asked out by someone who you really dig (or asking them out and having them say yes!)
  • having a belly that is comfortably full of food on the regular
  • having sex with someone you like and respect (and vice versa)
  • having a warm, safe and comfortable place to live
  • feeling like you have everything you need
  • planting something yourself and watching it grow
  • climbing into bed with fresh sheets
  • teaching someone else something that you know
  • falling asleep because someone is playing with your hair
  • watching butterflies dance near you
  • falling in love for the first time
  • falling in love with yourself for the first time
  • mastering a skill or learning something totally new
  • opening a bottle of good wine that you saved for a “special occasion”, just because
  • discovering that there are sports and activities that you actually enjoy
  • being able to pay all your bills paid and still have a little wiggle room for fun
  • visiting a new city and envisioning what it might be like to live there
  • the smell of fresh lemons and limes when you first slice into them
  • witnessing good deeds that have nothing to do with you
  • the feel of freshly washed skin and the smell of freshly washed hair
  • having a well stocked pantry and fridge
  • waking up to a sunny day despite a forecast that called for all day rain
  • having your health
  • a good night’s sleep (no insomnia, no bad dreams, no restlessness!)
  • that first bite of homemade cheesecake. The last bite is pretty good too
  • challenging the beliefs you have about yourself
  • letting some things go
  • loving the body that you have as it is right now

There are a zillion more things that are better than dieting but that’s just a small list to get us started. What are some things that you think are way better than dieting?


Have you gotten my newest free guide You Have What it Takes? If you’re an emotional eater, overeater or longtime dieter who wonders if she has what it takes to change her relationship with food, then this for you. And it’s free. Click on the image below, then enter your name and email and it’s yours!