If You Don’t Have “Big Dreams” or Aren’t Sure of your Purpose, it’s Totally Ok. And You’re Ok.

Clear vision? Big Dreams? Found your purpose? Or do you have no clue and are tired of feeling like there’s something wrong with you.

Warning:  This post DEFINITELY comes from a very personal place that a more cautious person would probably not post online so stop reading if you get secondhand embarrassment easily.

If you’ve ever felt like you were going to barf when someone talks about their purpose, their big dreams or their vision in life because you can’t even decide on what to have for dinner this week, then this post is for you.

I know how heavy it weighs on your heart if you feel like everyone you know has had a detailed life plan and purpose since they were 8 and you just don’t (like, not even at all).

This is something I have felt like a big old weirdo about from as far back as I can remember because I felt like I was the only person on the planet who was battling with this but over the last year or so I’ve talked to quite a few other people who admitted they had a similar struggle going on in their heads too and they felt really ashamed about it. While I hate to see people in pain, it always feels better to know that you’re not alone (especially when you feel alone). It also made me realize that this is a great topic for a blog post – since doing google searches on the subject only pull up lots of stuff that will make you feel worse.

Anyhow, let’s get into this hairy mess.


The only kind of BIG DREAMS I have are the ones where I wake up and Matthew McConaughey is not in my bed.

 

Dream Big! Play Big! Stop playing small! Find your purpose!

Your calling will find you! Get clear on your vision!

All you need to do is _______ to find your purpose!

Everywhere you look, there’s a message telling us how we need to push ourselves harder in order to grow, take bigger actions, play bigger and to dream bigger. That if we’re not already chasing after our lofty dreams and taking action on them every single day, then we are missing out, giving up and playing small. And if you don’t feel connected on a soul level to your dreams and purpose you haven’t been meditating or praying hard or long enough or it’s just not your time yet.

I’m sorry, but . . .

BARF. BARF.

BARF.

The message is that if you aren’t humming along feeling sure of what it is you want or are here for that you are doing it wrong (and that it’s actually soooo easy to do).

As someone who has been coaching for over 3 years now, I’m heavily immersed in the self-help world and surrounded by lots of people who 100% believe it’s essential and possible to to figure out and follow your dreams and purpose with a sparkling clear kale and yoga covered vision. In coaching, we’re all taught that the hard part is the action aspect – taking action on those dreams and visions. It’s really all about getting clear on your goal and then moving towards it no matter what.

But what if you are one of those people who aren’t dreaming big or don’t have a clear goal? Or if you’re one of those people who do want more and would dream big and play big but you don’t have the first clue as to what you even WANT? It’s hard to have huge ambitious goals to work towards if you don’t know what they are. It’s impossible to know what steps you need to take for your life, your business, your family or your future if you don’t have a vision and purpose. A freaking goal!

How can one take actions towards their purpose, their vision, their calling, their BIG DREAMS if they don’t know what the BLEEP they are? And why do those of us who are in this boat feel like the only person in the world who feels this way?

I know there are several of you reading this who DO feel this way and hopefully feel slightly relieved that someone else finally brought it up.

In all honesty, I don’t really dream big. I’m not playing big. I don’t have lofty goals and ambitions. I waver on what my purpose is day to day, year to year. I don’t believe we all just have one calling. I don’t have a plan for the next chapters of my life. I kind of wing things as I go and it totally freaks me out.

Thoughts about “Where am I headed?”, “What’s next?”, and “What am I supposed to be doing with my life?” plague me constantly. Always have. It’s really annoying because since I work in the self- help kind of world, I’m supposed to have all of this stuff totally worked out, right?? HAHAHA! (Thankfully coaching people doesn’t require that you have all the answers.)

It’s such a strange thing to talk about in this realm, that anytime I admit these thoughts to someone in my field they look at me like I just told them I have a dead body in the trunk of my car. They think I’m totally crazy and they just want to get as far away from me as possible.

(Calm down. I don’t even have a trunk on my car!)

If you’ve read this far, it’s probably because you’re like me and feel like you’re a creepy defective anomaly among a world full of mom’s who know their purpose is to be a mom, entrepreneurs who have a clear vision of taking their brand to the international stage, and peers who knew from 7th grade that they wanted to be an engineer and then went for it, never questioning it for a second.

No, you don’t feel like a weirdo or that something is wrong with you? Good for you, but why are you wasting your time reading this? Go act on that vision you are so sure of!

As I said at the outset of this post, this is for folks who are feeling alone for not being clear on their dreams and purpose in life but I also want to share some of the reasons I’ve uncovered why this has been a struggle for me and a few things I’m doing to change it and / or accept it so that I can live my life without worrying about not doing it right.

 

The only VISION I have is the kind that allows me to take in all the gloriousness that is RHONY and GOT.

 

I’ve spent a huge chunk of my life worrying about this and feeling like something was wrong with me because I don’t have the clarity and drive that so many others around me have.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a hard worker, detail oriented, reliable and creative and there are a lot of things I’m really good at. But ask me to choose one direction to head in, and I suddenly feel like my chest is being crushed by a ton of bricks or that I’m going to puke. I can’t. I won’t. Don’t lock me in.

The purpose, vision and dreaming big stuff all boils down to not really knowing what I want. And if I don’t know what I want or where I want to go, then how the heck am I supposed to go there? If I don’t know where I’m going, I could end up anywhere, so every choice I have to commit to feels wrong. (You too?)

I remember being a kid and people asking me what I wanted to do when I grew up or what I was thinking about majoring when I went to college. I never had an answer that felt even remotely right. I couldn’t visualize my life beyond a certain point – I remember feeling superstitious that because I couldn’t see my life at 20, living in the real world, working a “real” job etc that it must mean I was going to die before I was 20 (geez, I’ve always been morbid, huh?). I can’t tell you how many times I repeated that to friends (but somehow I hit 20 and have kept going, visionless and all!). And since everyone around me felt entirely different and had these big ideas and plans and goals, it reinforced the confusion I felt.

I only started to understand some of the real reasons I don’t have big dreams and I don’t have a clear vision / goal very recently. They are (in no particular order):

I’m turned off by the play big / dream big message out there. My life is more than a 6 figure salary, a fancy car etc. Play big / dream big seems to be messaged in a way that conjures up images of material things that prove success. I love me some nice things, but to me playing big / dreaming big is dreaming of being happy and that is more abstract. And when I get turned “off” by something, it’s like a massive wall goes up around me and there’s no obvious way out.

At least that’s the story I’ve been telling myself for decades. It’s kind of like when I don’t like someone. There aren’t a lot of people I don’t like, but the small handful that I don’t – oh man, my dislike is so palpable when I’m in the same room as them and there is nothing they can say or do to change my feelings about them once I get there. I am as hard and cold as ice. Probably harder, because I don’t melt. Wall up, no way in or out. Walk away!

What my solution to this is:  I’m trying to remember that being so closed up isn’t benefiting me. Trying to stay more open. I’m an adult, I can create and make meaning the way I want to.

Somewhere along the way I stopped dreaming or allowing myself to dream. I can’t pinpoint what it was or where it was (it doesn’t really matter) but I internalized the idea that things that were really hard and not “fun” were rarely worth doing, that I’m not as smart as I think I am, that I’m fickle and get bored too easily to stay on one path. I need instant (or at least pretty soon) gratification. Work without reward leads me to burnout and boredom. I also fear getting too involved in something and wanting to back out.

Even the decision about having kids has always felt out of my reach – my answer wavered from yes, to no, to I just don’t know. Even as the clock is ticking and time is running out on that, that feeling of “should we or shouldn’t we?” is still kind of there and I’m not compelled towards either direction. If someone asks what my long term visions are for my business, I say I don’t know and I’ve been saying that since I started. Tell me to create a vision board and I will roll my eyes and say no. If you ask me where I want to be in 5 years, 10 years, what I want to be doing and what my life will look like, I don’t know. I’ve been telling myself “I don’t know” for so long that I’m not sure there was ever a time where I did know. There might have been, but it’s been silenced for so long that even hearing a glimmer of that voice is a challenge.

What my solution to this is: When my instinct is to think or say “I don’t know” in response to some of these big questions, I’m turning it around and asking “If I did know, what might my answer be?” This isn’t giving me some loud and clear cut answers that I wanted to have decades ago but I’m asking it because I know that we have to put the brain to work in order to get it to help us. If I say I don’t know, I’m not giving it anything to work with, but if I ask a question, I give my brain some work to do and it can go uncover answers for me while I’m living my life.

I react quickly rather than sitting with an idea for a bit. I may seem really wishy washy by all my “I don’t know” to life’s biggest questions, but ask the people closest to me to describe me and some of the words you’d hear are “opinionated” and “stubborn”. I may know not what I want but I am clear and vocal on what I don’t want. If I express frustration or unhappiness with an aspect of my life or business and you give me a solution, I’ll have at least 2 or 3 reasons why that isn’t for me before you even stop speaking, haha! It’s not my best quality, that’s for sure but I hold tight to it because knowing what I don’t want feels like I’m at least crossing stuff off the list in the hopes that what is left will be the “right” stuff.

What my solution to this is: I’m working on not reacting and saying no so quickly. I used to be really bad at saying no (I think we all are) but I’ve gotten so GOOD at it over the years that I spit it out sometimes before I’ve really had time to digest the possibilities. This means I’m shutting things down when really I’m in a place where I need to be opening up instead. Pausing. I need to pause and let the words and thoughts enter my brain for a bit. Instead of saying no automatically, I’m trying “I’ll think about it”. Being open to leaving things open ended.

 

The only PURPOSE I have is to find and create happiness where I can.

 

If you worry about not having purpose, a calling or big dream, one thing to realize is that this is not a horrible problem to have. It’s actually a luxury to be able to worry about this kind of stuff.

Let me explain that before you give me the middle finger.

To struggle with worries about purpose, vision, calling, dreaming big etc. means that all your basic needs are met. If I was out having to hunt for food and haul water for drinking, cleaning and cooking and keep a fire going all day just to have my basic essential needs met, I would not have a single thought about what my vision for my life’s work is.  If I lived in a war torn country and had to flee for safety, I would not give a shit about playing big or what I was going to do in 5 years. Worries about purpose come along because we are fulfilled, secure, and satisfied in other areas and we have the freedom to look for “what’s next? What else is there?”

I am incredibly grateful, humbled and thankful for all that I have. My bills are paid, I’m healthy, my husband is healthy, we have a warm and safe home, we have heat, food on the table (so much food!) and we even have lots of extras that we don’t need – good wine, free time, vacations, hobbies, toys etc.

We even have the luxury of paying someone to plow our driveway when it snows, mow our lawn and pick up our trash – normal day to day stuff we used to do ourselves that kept us too busy during our free time to think about this purpose crap . Life is good, we’re safe and I recognize that blessing every day.

Know that if you are out there struggling and worrying about your own lack of vision, big dreams and soul consuming purpose, you are not alone.

I feel it too. And I have clients and friends who struggle with it as well. It’s just that most people don’t talk about it or they are dealing with much bigger problems that threaten their daily wellbeing, safety and security.

It may not be much of a consolation but if you don’t have a plan, a clear vision, big dream or know what purpose you’re on this planet for just know that it’s really ok and that there is nothing wrong with you.

If this is a subject that weighs heavily on your heart, here are a few last reminders and takeaways to keep in your back pocket:

  1. It’s ok if you’re not dreaming big. Remind yourself that if you are worried about this stuff it’s partially because shit is good and you have the luxury to worry about it.
  2. If you’re not dreaming big, but want to and feel like “I don’t know” is your go to whenever questions about what you want come up, try asking “If I did know, what would it be?” Put your brain to work. As a reminder of this, I made a new desktop wallpaper for my laptop that I would see everyday.  It says “What is the story that I’d love to see unfold in front of me?” and “If I did know my purpose, what could it be?”. Just seeing this every day reminds me to stay open and more kind to myself.
  3. Go easy on yourself. At the end of our lives, no one is going to come to your wake and talk about how big your bucket list was or how early in life you figured everything out. Instead they’re going to talk about your heart, your soul and how you made people feel.
  4. Try not to react so quickly with “no” and try not to wall up around people or ideas that don’t sit well with you initially. Try to remain open. And if you’re closed off already, take baby steps towards opening back up. You never know what opportunity, hobby or person you might come across that could help you see things differently!
  5. Spend as much time as you can doing things, spending time with people and taking in experiences that provide meaning for you. You decide what that even means.
  6. Please remember that you are not alone. Lots of other folks are struggling with the same feelings you are but they just don’t talk about it! I’m sending you love and a big hug if you are going through this.

Lastly, does this resonate with you? Does all the vision, goals, dreams purpose talk make you want to barf too? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you!

What to Expect When You Stop Dieting

When nothing is off limits to your diet anymore, sometimes you don’t have a clue what you want to eat anymore!

What can I expect when I stop dieting once and for all? How is life different when you don’t diet?

Humans love to collect evidence and data to help influence their decisions, it helps us to feel confident that we’re making the right decision. We read reviews before making a big purchase, we research a company before accepting a new job offer from them, we ask friends for recommendations when planning a vacation somewhere we’ve never been. Sure, some of us like to jump off willy nilly and be spontaneous when trying new things, but for sure, more of us, like to have as much info a possible! So, for you, my friend, who is currently googling how to stop dieting or what to expect when you go off a diet, this post is for you.

There are a lot of things that happen when you stop dieting and these are just a few of the things you can expect:

  • Expect people to ask you lots of questions about what you are eating or not eating.

    When you’ve been dieting for years or eating a certain “way” (i.e. dairy free, vegan, paleo, “clean” etc) people come to expect certain behaviors of you. Especially if you were someone who was very vocal about what you were or weren’t eating, or even if you weren’t vocal,  if you were someone who ate very differently from everyone around you, people noticed. People are going to notice changes from what you do normally, even if you don’t want them to. A lot of folks think when they make an eating change it’s something that they will do forever and is permanent, but people change their minds and what foods work best for our bodies change over time too. It’s okay to do things differently. Be prepared for lots of questions and decide ahead of time if you are interested in sharing about your journey.  If you aren’t comfortable discussing the reasons you are eating the way that you are (there are many reasons people don’t want to discuss their eating habits), all you have to do is say “I don’t feel like discussing my eating choices. Thanks for respecting that.” or something like it!  You are not obligated to talk about this stuff to anyone you don’t want to, but just know that if you were chatty about it before, people may not “get” that it’s not something you want to discuss now and you may have to repeat yourself a couple of times before people “hear” you.

  • Know that these questions aren’t usually a judgement about you or your choices,

    people are just very curious about how others eat. They’re often looking to understand the reasons behind a change. Frequently we think that other people must have more information or knowledge about something than we do, especially in this day and age of health information overload so to see someone who others assume is very knowledgeable about food and health eat foods that may have been off limits for years is a big surprise and they’re just trying to make sense of it.

  • Know that you might gain weight. Or you might lose weight. Or your weight may stay the exact same.

    I think this is the thing that freaks people out the most when they stop counting calories or start eating foods that they haven’t allowed themselves to have for a decade. If they had to do x, y and z to maintain or lose weight before, won’t not doing those things automatically lead to weight gain? That’s not something anyone can have the answer for ahead of time. Everyone is different. Most often I see people gain weight initially as they start allowing themselves to explore foods they haven’t had in years and as they try to understand their own hunger and fullness signals. Some of those folks do lose that weight naturally over time, but there is no guarantee and it’s not helpful for us to hold onto that goal as we try to get back to eating the way our bodies would prefer us to eat. The best thing you can do when you decide to stop dieting is to allow your body to do what it needs to do as you start to experience food in a more intuitive way (letting go of the desire to lose weight or control your weight is too big a topic for me to cover in this post). Listen to your body and see what you can learn from it (and try not to judge the changes that may happen during this time period).

  • You may realize you don’t even like some of the foods you thought you liked.

    How many of us convince ourselves that we like rice cakes instead of bread or crackers? How many of us still buy rice cakes after we stop dieting? A lot! Rice cakes are such a common “diet” food that entire generations of women buy them even when they’re not dieting just because we’re so used to that kind of food. But when no food is off limits and there aren’t strict rules to follow around food, you start to notice some of the weird diet habits you have and will have to decide if that’s something you want to keep. Rice cakes are just one example but there are tons of other foods that we start eating because of a belief that they are “healthier” or because they are low calorie, but when it comes down to it, we really don’t enjoy eating them and they’re not adding anything nutritionally to our diet. On the other end of the spectrum, last weekend, I ordered a jelly donut for the first time in years while grabbing a coffee at a drive thru. I was really excited to eat that donut as I thought about what it was going to taste like but in reality, the texture was denser than I was expecting and the filling and dough itself tasted almost salty to me. It was not good and I didn’t even finish it. I make a lot of food from scratch and have for many years (including my desserts) so when I eat something heavily and cheaply processed (like from a donut chain) my taste buds say “NO F-ing WAY”. Not dieting means every food will feel and taste differently than you remember it!

  • You’re going to unfollow and unfriend lots of people on social media.

    The “hide” button on facebook has become my favorite thing these days. The amount of people trying to sell weight loss as the cure for all your problems seems enormous when you stop dieting. And suddenly your whole social media newsfeed is full of smoothie bowls, juice cleanses and powdered shake before and after photos and ug, I just don’t care anymore – it’s all so stupid.  You start to notice how often people say terrible things about their bodies (I’ve been no stranger to this myself – always working on it), how often they say terrible things about other people’s bodies and how much energy, effort and money goes into attempting to achieve a particular body type. It’s all you can see sometimes. Use that unfollow or hide button and start clicking away more on the profiles and people who post the things that matter to you more. Cultivate a social media feed that is more of what you want to see.

  • You may feel like you have a never ending hunger and want to eat all the things.

    Relax! This usually goes away as your brain starts to get the message that there isn’t a famine going on anymore. Allow yourself to eat as much as you need and want. I know that feels terrifying after coming off of a diet but it’s also what your body has been programmed to do. It wants to make sure you get what you need so it will increase the hormone ghrelin so that you feel hungry. Eat. Let your body know that you will satisfy your hunger. Don’t restrict. Don’t try to go hungry (you’ll just keep your body in a bit of panic about getting enough food). Trust your body, fuel it, feed it and listen to what it tells you.

  • You may experience some digestive discomfort (like bloating and gas)

    as you introduce foods you haven’t had in years or eat a larger quantity than you are used to. Drink extra water, make sure you get some physical activity (walking is great for digestion) and chew well. Some of this is just your body trying to break down different or a higher quantity of food which can be a little taxing on your system (taking a digestive enzyme at mealtimes can help temporarily). It’s no big deal. If it keeps up over time, pay it a little more attention. Is it a particular food or food group that is causing you trouble? Is it when you eat it a certain way (for example, raw vs cooked vegetables or fried vs. baked chicken)? Note what might be causing it and decide if the discomfort you feel is worth the enjoyment and experience of eating the food. For some of us, if we feel terrible after eating something it’s enough to say, ug, I don’t want that anymore. For others it’s not enough, and it’s up to you to decide what you are willing to deal with. Here’s an example from my own life:  Eating dairy daily triggers my asthma really badly. I no longer eat it daily . . .but eating ice cream once in awhile is totally ok . . .I have weighed the repercussions of eating it and I’m willing to live with the discomfort that comes with occasional enjoyment because butter crunch and black raspberry are worth it.

  • You’ll start to feel like you don’t know what you want to eat.

    Previously, in a lifetime of dieting, there were always foods that you wished you could have or were waiting for a “cheat meal” to enjoy your favorite foods. But now that you will allow yourself whatever you truly want, when you want, after you’ve satisfied that for a while, you’ll find that meal time comes and you often have no clue what you feel like eating. Haha! Nothing will really appeal and ordering off a menu or making a meal plan for home will feel extra arduous. Just go with it, it will pass, like everything else!

  • You may feel a little bit alone.

    When you aren’t dieting, you start to notice that every woman around you at any given time is doing at least one of the following:  A) Dieting, B) Doing a LIfestyle Change (like Whole30), C) On a Cleanse/Detox, D) is eating “Clean” or E) Doing some sort of 30 day fitness challenge. No judgements from me on what other people decide to do (I’ve been everywhere in my eating journey over the years), but when you’ve decide to try to find freedom with food and for you that means no more diets or rules, then all of a sudden having lunch with your coworkers who want to spend the whole time discussing what they AREN’T eating anymore can feel a bit distressing. When you get together with your girlfriends, it can feel like they’re bonding over something they all have in common while you sit there in silence, no longer willing to participate in that kind of conversation. It’s challenging. You’ll feel like you’re sticking out like a sore thumb, because everyone else is doing it but you. But that’s ok! Find a way to change the conversation to something more helpful, interesting and positive if you can. Ask people about their families, about the music they like to listen to, if they’ve got any fun upcoming travel plans, or if they believe in past lives. Ask questions that have nothing to do with health, food or fitness (even though we all currently LOVE to talk about that stuff). A year from now no one will remember what diet details someone shared at lunch but they will remember the engaging and interesting person who asked them lots of questions about their life. You’ll make new relationships and find people who also are on the same path with you this way.

Okay, there are certainly way more things that will happen when you stop dieting than just these but for the sake of brevity I’m going to stop it there today! Some of these things may sound like negatives at first, but I think if you stay firm in your desire not to diet anymore and really tune in to trusting yourself and your body to lead you, you will find that it’s actually a much better place to be. You’ll start to see that not focusing on how food affects your weight so much actually allows you to experience and enjoy life more fully, and isn’t that what it’s really about anyhow?? I think so!

I’d love to hear from you. Is there anything on this list that you’ve experienced since you stopped dieting? And is there anything about quitting dieting that I haven’t mentioned here that was surprising for you? Share below or contact me directly!

If I Don’t Congratulate You When You Tell Me You’ve Lost Weight Here’s Why

This cat doesn’t have anything to do with this post but it’s cute face got me thinking: do you think cats congratulate each other about their changing body sizes? Do they notice when one of their litter mates has put on a few ounces? I doubt it.

A Reputation for Knowing all things Weight Loss

 

Long before I became a health coach I had a reputation for being knowledgeable about weight loss, for being well versed in healthy or lower calorie eating, and for knowing all the ins and outs of dieting and lifestyle change.

I had lost large amounts of weight several times in my life and people who knew me “before” and saw me now, began to seek me out for help with their challenges in losing weight. I had a food blog that was dedicated to turning my favorite comfort foods into lighter and “healthier” versions as I learned how to cook for the first time. I made internet friends on diet tracking sites who turned into real life friends. I lived, breathed, read and consumed all things health and fitness.

And even when I gained a lot of weight back (again, several times), people still asked how I had done it, the weight loss that is. What did I eat? How much did I exercise? How did I stay on track? I had all the answers, or at least I thought my answers were helpful, and I was more than willing to share them. I became obsessed with the subject.

I was always interested in talking about bodies. What I didn’t like about mine, what was ok about mine, what I wish was different, how bummed I was that I had gained weight back, or how I still felt fat despite being the smallest I had ever been in my adult life. I felt closer to friends and family when we commiserated about our shared body, weight or food struggles. My interest and the ability to bond with others on the same journey is certainly a big reason why I ended up taking steps to become a health coach.

The majority of conversations I’ve had during my life have had at least one or two references to diets, unhappiness with our bodies, gaining weight, weight loss etc. sprinkled in, regardless of the subject. I was a super willing participant and often I was the one leading these kind of conversations! And it wasn’t all that long ago that there was still a part of me who thought that reaching and maintaining a certain number on the scale was going to bring me the happiness, acceptance and health security that I was after.

 

How Confusing it is to Navigate an Appropriate Response When You are OVER Weight Loss

 

I am so over it. Weight loss isn’t necessary for a happy life or a healthy one for that matter.

I’ve been “over it” for a while but have been trying to gracefully navigate my current feelings about it and my super ingrained normal response to this stuff.

It’s not going as gracefully as I’d like.

So if you tell me about you weight loss and you don’t get a “Wow! Congrats!” from me, I want to share where that’s coming from.

My current feelings are that I’m no longer interested in discussing or living a weight loss motivated lifestyle. I’m no longer taking on clients who are specifically looking for weight loss (which reminds me, I have a lot of old blog posts that I need to edit that say otherwise!). And I believe that keeping so much of our conversations on weight loss and dieting is harmful, especially the way we treat it like the cure for all health concerns.

If health is important to us, we should focus on eating a well varied diet, getting regular activity, managing stress in effective ways, strengthening social relationships that are important to us, developing a spiritual or creative practices that renews us and finding meaningful work or hobbies that bring us life satisfaction. In this way, you can be any size and be healthy (if that is your goal).

My normal (“super ingrained” as I said earlier) response when people talk about weight and dieting has been one that feels almost automatic because of my long history of being immersed in this stuff.  In social situations I might join in or laugh at jokes about weight that I don’t actually think are funny anymore, nodding my head in agreement when someone makes a comment about wanting pizza but they can’t because they’re on a diet, or congratulating people when they share their weight loss success. It’s easier to participate in the way I’ve always known how and go through the motions, even when I am cringing inside at my own response.

I know better! Why can’t I just not laugh when someone makes a self-deprecating joke about their body? Why can’t I walk away from the conversation when it turns to weight loss? Why can’t I just tell people how I feel and why talking about this stuff all the time is a problem?

It’s not that easy. For starters, in our culture, it’s the NORM to be participating and living a lifestyle of always wanting to be in a smaller body. I’ve been living in that culture (and full on participating) for over 35 years. Some responses are learned over time. Another reason is that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that disrupting people’s beliefs in most social situations does not go over well. It either causes an argument, makes someone feel badly, or will make you seem totally out of touch with the group. And since connection is an important part of human needs, I’m interested in fostering connection, not preventing it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been one to speak up when it comes to doing the right thing or when something is important (and I don’t intend to stop that) but when it comes to something as personal as body image, weight and food beliefs, I prefer to handle that on a one by one, case by case basis. I’m not going to launch into a diatribe in a group about how diet culture has brainwashed you into thinking your body isn’t already bikini-worthy. You have to know your audience. Everyone is on a different journey and people know what I do for work now – when they’re ready to walk away from that stuff, they know where to find me. I don’t need to preach about it in socially.

One area I have gotten much better in is in not making jokes about my own body. If you’ve read my stuff over the years, you may remember this post. It’s taken a lot of self awareness (some might say I’m overly self-aware, but it comes with this territory) but I feel I’ve reduced the jokes at my own body’s expense by at least 75% of where they used to be. That is no small feat and feels really good. But changes to conversation like that, and in working to be more true to my current feelings about weight and body image mean that I find myself more silent in social situations than I used to.

For awhile I was chalking it up to working from home (a major blessing that I’m thankful for but also one that has taken any social awkwardness I had and multiplied it by 5) but I think a lot of it is just that so much of conversations with women seem to be about hating our bodies or wanting to reduce our size and I just don’t want to take part in it.

I think there’s so much more to us than our size or shape and I’m working to break down my own biases about weight and fat bodies (that I have carried my whole life). I personally care about living an active lifestyle and eat a variety of types of food but I don’t think I’m a better person for doing that. And I don’t value you less or more based on your interest, willingness or success in doing that too. I want other women (and men and children too) to feel that they matter for who they are, not for what they look like. I want the conversation to be about all the other interesting things we have going on in our lives, all the things we are challenged by, looking forward to or geeking out on. I want body fat to go back to being a part of our bodies that protect and insulates us, not something that we need to feel ashamed about.

So it’s for all these reasons that I’ve gotten a little more quiet when it comes to congratulations and participation in normal diet and weight related stuff and I guess I’ve been feeling the need to explain myself (blogs are great for working through that!).

 

I Swear I’m not Trying to Be a Rude, Disinterested B*tch (and what I’m working on right now)

 

If you tell me about your weight loss success, your newest diet and the new size you are fitting into and I don’t say anything about it, please know I’m not trying to be rude, it’s just that I want you to know that your weight doesn’t matter to me. You matter to me. By saying “Congrats” I would be reinforcing the idea that weight loss is something worth congratulating and I no longer believe it is. It might be the right thing for you and I know there were too many times in my life when I felt it was the right thing for me. I don’t want to praise weight loss anymore. It is not the life-fixer we think it is and it’s not indicative of our health or value.

That’s all. That’s where I’m at. My response has nothing to do with my feeling about you or my desire to see you happy.

So just to share, here are a few things I’m personally working on as I continue to navigate this new (and somewhat lonely) place:

  • When giving compliments, I’m trying to come up with something that doesn’t have anything to do with weight loss or physical looks. This is harder than you think when all the compliments you’ve received or given your whole life have been in those categories!
  • Remembering to just say “Oh” or “How do you feel?” when people look for praise or feedback about their weight loss or diets. It’s not the response they are looking for but it’s one I can give without feeling like I’m encouraging a focus on weight.
  • Being forgiving to myself when I do fall back into old ways of responding and interacting because of a situation that is familiar (i.e. conversations about diets or weight loss). I’m human and it’s taken me this long to get here, it’s going to take a bit longer before I iron out these conditioned bumps!

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading and trying to understand my perspective as it continues to change! I’m still coaching women whose goals are not weight loss. Instead it’s better health through lifestyle changes (that may or may not affect their weight ever) and focusing on taking radically good self care of ourselves. My coaching programs teach women how to step away from dieting, understand and manage emotional eating and treat their bodies with the respect it deserves (and weight loss doesn’t need to be a part of that).

How do you feel about this subject? Do you feel weight loss is something we should applaud in our society? Do you think a lower weight automatically means a healthier person? Are you fed up with diet and body talk and food fears in your own social circles? What do you think makes a person healthy? And do you believe that we can see if someone is healthy by what they look like?

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.

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!

How to Have a Good Body Day, Every Day

To wear makeup or not wear makeup? Unrealistic and confusing beauty and body messages can make us feel like crap about our bodies. Here are some great ways to have a good body day every day!

One of the things people get completely obsessed with in our culture is the idea of having a “good” body, a “perfect” body or just meeting generic body “goals” criteria. A “good” body for women seems to be defined as one with lower body fat, at least lower body fat everywhere except for our breasts and butt (those need to be plump and round), moderate muscle (but not too much, if you have too much, you’re too “manly”), no stretch marks, stray hairs, dimples or any other imperfections. You can’t have any belly fat and certainly no skin rolls when you sit down.

A “good” body should possess tank top arms, daisy duke worthy thighs, and is synonymous with a “bikini body”. Other physical traits of a person with a “good” body should include a pretty face (but not so pretty that you look like you had work done – that’s too much!), no wrinkles, perfect skin (ew, who do you think you are with those visible pores?!) and they have to be a natural beauty (if it’s obvious that you’re wearing makeup you’re trying too hard and you’re deceiving people). Being ghostly pale is no good but you better not be too tan either. You should look like the girl next door, but also be mysterious and exotic. You need to be all of these things at the same time and you should look as good when you get up in the morning as you do when you go out to the clubs . . .but you better not have to put any effort in to look that way or you are fake AF!

I’m kidding if you can’t tell.

This is the kind of ridiculous stuff that is flung at us day by day.

The way we talk about women’s bodies and beauty ideals is completely unobtainable and trying to achieve it would drive even the most sane person to total insanity. There’s no fucking way any real human can meet all of these criteria (and anyone who can, can’t do so for more than a moment in their whole life). There’s no way you can be subjected to this stuff and not feel completely horrible about your body.

The result of living in a culture that sends out these kind of messages and values this kind of impossible beauty more than almost anything else is that women all over and of all ages wake up every morning and go to bed each night worrying about if they ate too much, if they ate the right things, if they’re working their bodies hard enough, if they should think about starting botox and fillers, if they are using the right skin care products, if they need to think about getting a breast lift or butt implants, if they really do need a nose job and when they’re going to finally achieve that thigh gap. They fear aging more than anything else, because aging takes away what little physical beauty nature gave them in the first place. That shit is cruel.

You need to know that you already have a GOOD body. In fact you have a GREAT body, an incredible, amazing body. We don’t have to go around feeling like our bodies are less than but we need to take a more active role and a different approach to feel this way.

How to Have a Good Body Day, Every Day

If you’re tired of feeling like crap about your body, read on. Here are a few ways that you can actively work to have a good body day every day

 

Clean Up Media Sources that Suck (both social and otherwise)

Check your media sources and scrub them of people and ideologies that aren’t helping. Unfollow people on social media that make you feel like terrible about yourself. This can be people you know who are negative or over sharing details about their diets that you don’t need forced in your face all the time or nonstop unattainable #bodygoals #bodyinspo type of posts – bloggers, recipe mavens, people doing fitness competitions or those promoting detox teas and stuff – if it’s making you feel terrible about your body, you don’t need it in your life.

On the reverse, start adding people who make you feel amazing and who share a message that aligns with the things you believe and the things you WANT to believe about yourself. Add people on social media of all shapes and sizes and backgrounds who live lives you want to emulate and who you also respect.

Toss out and cancel magazine subscriptions to women’s and health magazines that write nonstop articles about how you can drop two dress sizes in 14 days or who only share “skinny recipes”. If you finish reading a magazine and feel like there is something wrong with your body because of the content inside, it’s not helping. Same with TV shows, news stations, podcasts, radio, the websites you’ve been visiting for a decade – try looking at them with new eyes and ask yourself if they are filling your brain with messages that hurt or help you?

The media we consume daily has a huge effect on us and most of us don’t realize it until we start changing the way we interact with it. This will change how you feel about your body in a big way!

 

Dress Your Current Body to Feel Fabulous

The delicious meat of life doesn’t come from how we look or how the people we spend time with look. Even though that’s true, there is no denying that when you feel like you look fabulous, you act and think differently. And when we act and think well of ourselves we take more actions that affect a positive outcome on our lives. That’s why I advocate for dressing yourself and styling yourself in a way that makes you feel amazing, in your current body. Not your future body, not a past body. The body your spirit is inside of right now, at this very moment.

Have at least a few outfits in your closet that you feel fantastic in – and don’t necessarily stick to one size. A lot of women’s bodies fluctuate between a size or two or three and what happens when we get dressed and our clothes don’t fit? We feel like crap and you don’t have to feel that way. I know I tend to be a good 5-10 pounds heavier at the end of winter than I am at the end of summer so my closet (finally!!) reflects that reality and I’m a lot happier now.

High quality clothing can be expensive and we’re all tight on money, that’s for sure, but that’s no excuse to not making this happen. Chic pieces can be found at consignment stores everywhere on the cheap and if you have zero funds to spend, there is always the option of throwing a closet cleaning party with friends (like this Naked Lady Party). The real struggle with dressing the way you want to in the body you are currently in is less about money and more about the time and effort it takes to find stuff that flatters your particular shape and style. That’s where the media cleanse above can come in helpful (add fashion bloggers who have your body shape and style for inspiration) and online shopping can be a godsend of a time saver (compare your current body measurements to each retailer’s size charts ahead of time and order the size that you know will fit your now body, not just because it’s a size you usually wear. And return it if it doesn’t fit or you don’t love it.

And don’t you dare buy clothes for your future body. That body may never be a reality and those clothes will just make you feel terrible each time you check to see if they fit. Buy clothes for your now body and make them good ones!

 

Choose to Talk About Something Else

When we get together with our girlfriends, we talk about everything under the sun, but one subject that always seems to come up is what’s wrong with our bodies or what new thing we’re going to try to change our body this time. Diet talk is huge and even if you’re not on a diet, women want to talk to you about why you’re not on one or how you’re so “lucky” to be able to eat “that way”. It’s so normal we don’t even notice how much of our conversations are around this stuff! I can’t tell you how many women I “bonded” with over the years (before I was in coaching) based on weight loss tips, lighter recipes and fitness challenges and it feels kind of scary to stop talking about that stuff, because suddenly you feel like you don’t fit in. As scary and uncomfortable as it can be to not participate in this kind of talk, it’s absolutely worth doing.

You don’t have to be aggressive and confrontational. You don’t have to make a big deal about it or even say anything if you don’t want to. But if you make the effort to change the conversation or at least not participate, you will have an impact, not just on yourself, but on others too. Eventually people notice that you aren’t talking about your own diet or body unhappiness and they’ll specifically ask your thoughts and you can share your feelings then. If you feel more comfortable talking about this stuff, it’s helpful and usually goes over ok to just say “Hey, do you guys mind if we talk about something else? Diet talk is so boring, isn’t it?” or “Negative body talk just makes me feel worse, how about you? Let’s talk about what we do like about our bodies.”

It is hard to change the conversation but so worth doing.

Remind Yourself of All the Reasons You Have a Good Body Every day

I can list at least a dozen reasons why I have a good body. My body isn’t better than yours or more special than yours, but I take the time to recognize and acknowledge all the ways it does me right on a regular basis. Doing this makes me feel appreciation, love and generosity towards it. It makes me see less of what I don’t like and more of what I do. I have a good body because: I have legs that carry me everywhere I want to go. I have eyes that allow me to read juicy fiction and study old genealogical records. I have lungs that take in breaths while I sleep peacefully and also when I’m running outside. I have a good body that recovers from colds pretty quickly (also one that rarely gets sick). My good body takes the food I eat and digests it so that I have energy to do lots of fun things. My good body is equipped with strong muscles that make me feel like wonder woman every time I bring home groceries and have to lug them up the basement stairs. My body is a good body because it’s mine and it does so much for me.

Can you come up a with a few reasons why your body is a good body right now? It might be hard at first (especially if you’re not used to thinking nice stuff about your body) but with practice it gets much easier.

 

Move Your Body only in Ways That Feel Good

Physical fitness is really important to me. I LOVE feeling strong and capable and regular physical activity helps me do that. I like not getting too tuckered out from regular daily stuff that I have to do. I don’t want to feel winded doing basic tasks. That motivates me to do things that challenge me physically, but it doesn’t mean that I ignore what my body needs and wants. If I hate an activity, I’m not going to be able to do it for long. If an activity causes me regular pain or is total torture to get through, it’s not sustainable. If I dread an exercise, I’m not going to keep doing it. Dread, hate, pain and torture are fast tracks to both permanently avoiding exercise but also feeling bad about your body.

There is an infinite amount of ways we can move our bodies and get the activity we need. Bodies crave movement (even the most sedentary person sometimes gets a feeling of restlessness in their body) and there’s no reason why we have to put our attention on activity that isn’t enjoyable. If you don’t like going to the gym, don’t go to the gym! If you don’t like running, don’t run. If you don’t like zumba, don’t zumba! Try something else! What did you like doing as a child? I spend hours biking around town, rollerskating in my driveway and exploring the swamp in my back yard. As an adult, some of the activities I do include wheels (biking) and being out in nature (hiking, running). I can find some of the “fun” I used to find in movement as a child in the activities I choose as an adult. Don’t settle for what you are doing if you don’t dig it.

A body that enjoys moving is a body that you will appreciate and enjoy more. A body that gets it’s fill of fun activity feels good. Find activities that make you feel good about your body that you will want to continue to do and you’ll find more “good” in your body daily.

So there you go – 5 easy ways to have a good body day every day! This isn’t to make light of the challenges of feeling good in your skin. I know that stuff can be all consuming, but if we don’t feel like we have any power in changing it, where does that leave us? Miserable in the only body we have. My goal is to give you tools and ideas you can use in your own life to feel good about your body and the way you engage with food. Does this help do that? Let me know!


Have you ever wondered if you have what it takes to repair your relationship with food? Download “You Have What it Takes“, my coaching and journaling guide for beginners who want to change their relationship with food. Just click below and enter you email!