Category Archives: Motivation

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!

 

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Change How You Talk To Yourself, Change Your Story (and Your Outcome)

Try changing how you talk to yourself when something is too hard. Can it change your story? Can it change your outcome?

On the rail trail, my feet hit the gravel covered ground one after the other.

I’m out for a run with John (who is training for his 1st 5K).

The first few minutes of a run are so hard for me. Every time. Without fail.

Doesn’t matter how much or how little I’ve been running lately.

It doesn’t matter if I’ve been eating well or living it up.

It does not matter what kind of shape I’m in or what kind of night’s sleep I’ve had, for me, the first 10 minutes or so always feel like my feet are encased in cement blocks.

But if I can just get through those first few minutes, I come out on the other side and start to feel like I’m gliding easily. One step falls in front of the other, over and over. I find the natural rhythm that comes from my body, a pace that I set. I start to feel like I could keep going like this forever (barring any foot or knee pain surfacing as it sometimes does!).

During those first 10 minutes where I just want to stop, there are countless thoughts that appear in my head and most of them have to do with “Just stop running.” “You can stop now.” “You should walk instead, this sucks.” “Why are you doing this. Let’s walk!”

Years ago, I went around saying I wasn’t a runner, because when I felt the difficulty of those first few minutes and heard those thoughts over and over again, I did stop. I took those things to mean that this wasn’t for me. The story I was telling myself about my abilities and it being hard added up to giving up.

There is massive power in the stories we tell ourselves.

If I tell myself, I’m not a runner, then I become someone who doesn’t run because I believe the story I’ve made up.

Doing something differently though brings me different results and allows a new story to form.

On some runs, as my feet hit the trail, one after the other, those first 10 minutes are still hard. And I still have thoughts about how I should stop and how it would be easier if I just started walking. But on some runs, I add some of my own thoughts. I say to myself:

You can do this.

You are amazing.

Look at how far you have come.

How incredible is it that your body can do this?!

I love that you are doing this.

I can’t wait to see how far I can go today.

This feels good.

You really are amazing.

And guess what happens? Those 10 minutes pass faster and the entire run feels better. I feel better. The story I create changes from my mind telling me “this is so hard, I shouldn’t do it”, to “this is hard but I’m totally capable of doing it and it’s going to be great”.

And the result is that it is great.

(Just to be clear, I am not advocating for ignoring your body when it warns you that something is dangerous. Sometimes our bodies tell us we should stop because we’re going to injure ourselves or that we’re not at that level of fitness yet. But you know the difference between that and the habitual negative self talk that we sometimes get into. I always recommend listening to your body (and that is not the same as ignoring the bullshit we like to tell ourselves). The mean and demoralizing chatter that comes from our brain is not the same as the warning signals our body sends. Always use your best judgement!)

The words we use to talk to ourselves are so incredibly powerful.

Most of us try to motivate ourselves with shame. It doesn’t matter if it’s to stick to some sort of goal, to make habit change or push ourselves out of our comfort zone. If there’s something we want to do but it’s really hard, shame is our go to.

You’re not good enough. You’re not smart enough. You don’t have what it takes. You just can’t do it.

Sound familiar?

These thoughts are not just something that happens with challenging physical endeavors. It’s something that will happen when we apply for a new job, when we go out on a date, when we try something new or anytime we’re doing something unfamiliar.

Shame “speak” protects us emotionally. We know that if we feel bad enough about something we might have the motivation to change it. If we feel bad about ourselves, we’ll stay small, we won’t take risks and we are less likely to get hurt. As far as our brain is concerned, that is always the goal (to stay SAFE) so it really thinks by putting these thoughts through your head when you’re trying to do something difficult, it’s helping. It’s trying to be a buddy! This is something we subconsciously do – and there’s no way to stop those thoughts from appearing. But that doesn’t mean we have to let them be the star of the show or in control.

When these thoughts show up, if we take a minute to step in and use the part of our conscious mind that we have access to, we can add our own spin to motivate, to encourage, to inspire.

You are not your thoughts. And just because you think something doesn’t make it true.

If you have a date with a new person coming up, your go to thought might be something like: “Ug, he’s not going to be interested in me. I should cancel before he rejects me. This is going to be awful.”  When that shows up, so what? Add to it by telling yourself something like this instead: “I can’t wait to meet this person. I hope we have lots to talk about. I’m excited to see if we have chemistry. I’m a good catch and this will be fun!”

If you have a job interview, your go to thought might be something like: “I don’t know what I’m talking about. I answer every question so badly. I can’t sell my best qualities. This is a nightmare and I’m not going to get the job.” Well, when that shows up, so what? These thoughts aren’t you. Add to it by telling yourself something like this instead: “I am going to be relaxed and be myself. I know my field and I have a ton of great stuff to say about it. I am going to blow them away and if I want the job, it’ll be offered to me.”

You can even try this with the negative thoughts you have about your body, or about the food you eat. Add your own positive or neutral spin on those thoughts.

This isn’t magic. You can’t make things happen that weren’t going to happen otherwise, but you can change how you show up in life, how you interact with your world and how people perceive you. The most important thing is be more proactive with your self-talk will change how you perceive yourself and over time that will add up to a little less of the bullshit self- talk and more confidence and surety in every area of your life.

Because you ARE amazing, valuable, talented and worth it, even if sometimes you don’t believe it.

Some stuff to get your journal out for:

Where do you keep giving up on yourself when you hear negative self-talk thoughts?

What stories are you telling about yourself based on intrusive negative thoughts?

During those times, what are some more motivating things you could tell yourself?

What do you need to hear from yourself?

Just try it. I promise it will change everything for you.


Do you want to learn more about feeling confident in your relationship with food? Are you just in the beginning phases of trusting yourself? If so, click the image below and grab my copy of “You Have What it Takes“, a guide full of questions to help you improve your relationship to food.

What Does Being “Fit” Mean to You?

What does being fit mean to you? Try to remember that fit doesn’t always look like what we think it should look like. Try focusing on function and the joy you get from activity.

If you were an alien visiting this planet for the first time and taking in all the different sources of information we have available to us (TV, internet, magazines/newspapers, books etc) to learn about your new planet and it’s people, you’d quickly form opinions and ideas about our society.

Some of these would be absolutely and hysterically incorrect but others would be very accurate.

For example, an alien might come to believe that “Twitter” is a God who doles out important edicts in 140 characters or less, all day long.

They may determine that our primary food source is french fries and burgers from McDonald’s (and don’t forget the Coke!).

They may wonder why some people on this planet are starving and yet other parts of the world have grocery stores that are so overflowing with food that some of it gets tossed in the trash every day. They may come to believe that every American swallows a small white circle called a “pill” that has a funny name that gives them a dog, a spacious back yard with luscious green grass and a smiling husband and kids but also has to watch out for side effects like diarrhea, skin rashes, leukemia and even death.

This would look like a really strange place to someone who’s never seen any of it before.

Let’s say this alien’s job was to understand what being “fit” meant to humans, in particular, people in America.

I know you know where I’m going here, but just for a minute try to view this stuff through the lens of totally fresh eyes.

What would you see?

What would you learn?

Using the same sources of readily available information, much of it coming from heavily available advertisements and articles, this alien would soon create an idea in their head that being FIT equals:

  • being tan skinned
  • having no visible body fat other than in female breasts and booties (which may or may not be enhanced by implants or injectables)
  • being tall
  • usually being caucasian
  • having well developed and very visible muscles
  • wearing very little clothing but whatever clothing fit people do have is tight fitting
  • spending hours upon hours in an enclosed space called a “gym”
  • eating lots of fruits and vegetables, low fat foods and also powdery substances called “protein shakes”
  • working so hard that your body cries visible tears (sweat)
  • demonstrating amazing feats of strength and endurance by completing competitions like marathons, powerlifting, triathlons etc.
  • moving fast

I’m sure you can think of a few other things that would seem to be typical of a “fit person” in America if viewed through the eyes of an alien. That list is a little tongue in cheek but how much of it do you agree with?

What is being fit? What does it mean to you?

In our real “human” lives we take this same information and internalize it, some of it consciously, and some not so consciously and we kind of develop a similar impression of what it means to be fit.

I have spent many years being frustrated that my body physically didn’t look the way it was “supposed to” despite all the things I did to be “fit”.

I wasn’t the right size, body type or height. My body has and had plenty of visible body fat.

To someone just looking at my outside at most points in my life, and possibly even today, I may not appear fit . . .to them. I know I’m fit regardless of what I may look like to someone else.

Fitness and “being fit” is not a one size fits all definition and it certainly doesn’t have one single look or body type. Being fit doesn’t always look like what we think it looks like.

Here is what being fit means to me.

It is feeling and being strong and capable. Having the energy to do all the things I need to do and not be completely spent afterwards. Or being spent afterwards (sometimes that’s the goal!) but recovering quickly enough to be excited to do it again.

Being fit is being able to carry my snow tires on their rims from my basement to the back of my car without needing to ask anyone for help.

Being fit to me is being able to bike 30 miles on one day and still have the energy to meet up with friends afterwards.

Being fit to me is being able to help a friend move without being totally sore the next day or being sore but not having it destroy me.

Being fit to me is being able to climb several flights of stairs and not be out of breath for very long.

For me, being fit is so much about function than aesthetics.

It’s about feeling powerful, experiencing joy, having good health (something else with more than one definition), pushing oneself and pulling back as needed, and being able to adjust to a change in course.

I’m not planning to ever be a marathon runner or a powerlifter (but props to those who are).

I’m not fast. I’m also not that flexible. And I have some foot injuries that pop up occasionally that slow me down a little and even cause me to modify some things.

However, I also have a lot of strength and endurance that doesn’t quit at the end of a long day.

I know when to rest my body, when to give her the time and care she needs. I know when to push myself and when to back off. I know what I’m capable of, what I’m not and when it’s possible that I might entirely be wrong about myself.

My hard workouts are still hard. Even though I’m physically fit, I get out of breath, muscles cramp, and aches and pains sometimes make me stop before I want to. I sweat. I pant. I get rosy cheeks.

But I’m willing to adapt, modify and change my view if it means being able to continue moving forward, making progress and smashing my own goals. Being fit is accepting where you’re at right now, but also being interested in doing at least one of the following: maintaining, growing, challenging or changing. You decide what, how and how much. You decide what’s enough.

I urge you to question what you believe “being fit” means. If your beliefs about what “fit” looks like don’t match up with what you look like, despite your effort, energy and capabilities, throw it out the window and build your own definition from scratch.

What are you capable of?

What incredible stuff does your body do?

What sort of activity makes you feel incredible? What brings you joy?

What do you wish you were even better at?


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!

Getting from Point A to Point Z. (You can’t skip over the points in between).

Think of changing your habits like purchasing a train ticket to go across the country. Trains get us to and from our destination usually with a lot of stops in between. You may be able to buy an upgrade for a fancier seat or wifi but there's nothing you can do to get there any faster. Settle in for the ride.

Think of changing your habits like purchasing a train ticket to go across the country. Trains get us to and from our destination usually with a lot of stops in between. You may be able to buy an upgrade for a fancier seat or wifi but there’s nothing you can do to get there any faster. Settle in for the ride.

One day you wake up and decide that this is it – you are TIRED of being overweight, of overeating, of making food choices that make you feel awful and you’re going to fix it NOW.

You are rolling with enthusiasm. You want to get started immediately and you want results yesterday. You decide that the only way for you to keep momentum is to go ALL in. You will eat as cleanly as possible, as strictly as possible and work out as hard and as often as you can.

Sounds like a recipe for success, right?

All goes well for a bit. The first couple of days are hard but you know it will get easier as soon as you see results! The scale goes down a bit, but you’re so hungry you can’t stop thinking about food and you don’t really have enough energy to do the workouts that you planned to do.

Pretty soon you are so frustrated that you find yourself ordering a pizza and eating almost the whole thing by yourself. And too bloated the next morning to workout. And too ashamed to eat the light breakfast you planned so you hit a drive-thru on your way to work. And it goes downhill from there.

What started off strong and ambitious, screeched to a halt when the progress you made didn’t match up with your expectations. The effort you were putting in didn’t feel equal to the results you were getting back.

You feel like a failure but you are not a failure, it’s just that the way you went about it failed. There are 1000 ways to do everything and the surefire way to fail at weight loss, changing your relationship with food or any habit change is to go at it with extremes.

When we attack life changes with gusto, a part of us feels like we can get from A to Z faster that way. If we go at it hard, fast and ferociously – totally committed, we’ll have faster results. We think we can skip over B, C, D etc and still make it to Z.

But we can’t do that.

If it took you 10 years to gain 50 lbs, it won’t come off in two weeks. If you are a decade in to an overeating or bingeing struggle, you won’t be able to reverse it in a month. If you’ve been running away from your feelings your entire life, you can’t expect it to be easy after trying it once or twice.

If we want to reach point Z, the end goal . . .we have to be willing to tackle all the steps in between. We have to do the work, all of it. There is no skipping over any of it.

We want to, but we can’t.

Every time we try to go at these changes hard, we’re attempting to skip over some of the hard parts. We know this is true, because our intention is to use whatever momentum and enthusiasm we have in the beginning to propel us forward as fast as possible. Otherwise, there would be no rush. But we know (from past experiences) that our enthusiasm will fizzle when stuff gets hard – and so we think we are doing ourselves a favor by moving quickly in the beginning.

You’ll get no judgement from me on this. I know exactly what that feels like. I can’t tell you how many times I got pumped up researching and planning how I’d lose the weight finally “this time” and how urgent I had to get started. That urge to fix stuff RIGHT NOW. That feeling of disgust that we feel when an item of clothing doesn’t fit the way it should. The way you wish you could snap your fingers and be the person you want to be. It feels overwhelming – like there is a massive, crushing weight holding us back from experiencing life the way we want to.

The reason we feel a crushing weight holding us back is because of our own resistance to feeling things as they unfold. The more we push away and resist, the heavier it feels.

Just like we’re uncomfortable with feeling our uncomfortable feelings in our day to day life, we’re also uncomfortable with change, with being present and with not being in control.

Change is hard. Being present is hard. Not being in control can feel hard if you’re used to holding tightly to it. But if it was all easy, would the reward be as great? Probably not.

If you seriously want to make it from A to Z, take your time. Be patient. Experience each step along the way fully. Resist the urge to rush it.

Habit change takes time and the body takes time to adapt and change. No one goes to the gym once and comes out with a fit body. It takes a long time, a lot of commitment and showing up daily. Why not settle in and make changes in a way that you can sustain long term? Not only are you more likely to make it to your goal (there is nothing to fizzle out when you’re not running on momentum alone) it will also be less painful getting there.

As a side note, something awesome that happens when you submit fully to each step in the process of changing your eating habits is that over time, your daily thoughts become less about your weight, food, and your relationship with it and more about living your life. You start to find yourself choosing food and enjoying it with less drama, less stress. Your weight becomes more stable. Periods of overeating become less frequent and less severe. You judge yourself less. It really does become less of a big deal. So yeah, it takes more time and it’s not sexy going slow, but it’s so much more worth it!

Listen to your intuition. You already know what to eat and that you should get some physical activity regularly. You have the knowledge. You do not need another quick fix or another 21 day weight loss program. What you do need is to learn the lifelong skills and habits you will need to eat the way your body needs you to and practice them. Daily.

I know you can reach your goals. You can lose the weight you’ve put on. You can stop overeating so often. You can have a healthier relationship with food. It doesn’t have to be such a rush.

Will you do all the work it takes day by day?

Can you settle in and not skip over steps along the way?

What can you do today that will gently push you closer to your goal?

What will you do tomorrow to continue moving toward it kindly and sustainably?

Who in your life can support you in making these changes slowly?


Could you use some support in this area? Schedule a free consult with me here.

You can also download a free copy of Healthy Eating Shouldnt Be a Workout:  Real Life Strategies to Take the Confusion Out of Healthy Living (includes recipes, snack and meal ideas, ways to save money and more!). It’s my starter tool pack for those who want to begin changing their relationship with food. One of the recipes you’ll get in that download is my Mango Mandarin Green Smoothie (below) which is full of Vitamins A & C, potassium and iron. And it’s delicious!img_2162

 

Things That’ll Happen when You Stop Obsessing Over What and How Much to Eat

This croissant is not "bad" and you are not "bad" if you eat it. It's just food and eating one of them is not going to alter your body in a significant way. You can enjoy it freely.

This croissant is not “bad” and you are not “bad” if you eat it. It’s just food and eating one of them is not going to alter your body in a significant way. You can enjoy it freely.

Improving your relationship with food is a little bit like cleaning your house. You think you’re making awesome progress and you’ve worked really hard, but every time you turn around there is another pile of junk to deal with! Who put this here? When did I acquire this?? How did this get here?

All joking aside, it might be helpful to think about our food relationships getting “better” as something like a long hike! You may spend some time in valleys and on several peaks. It’s not a straight line from A to B. There might be detours onto a different trail, occasionally it might feel like you are back pedaling (why is this trail going down again, when we’ve been going up for so long!?), there will be some gorgeous views if you’re lucky, but sometimes it’s cloudy out and there won’t be any view – you’ll just have to trust that it’s there. Sometimes it’s all you can do to just keep your eyes on your feet and pray that they keep lifting up off the ground to take another step in front of you. At the end of the day, you’re exhausted, sore and filthy and yet you feel proud of your tenacity and maybe even look forward the next hike.

Improving your relationship with food is a little like hiking - tiring, long and sometimes frustrating but totally worth it.

(Summit of Mt Tecumseh this past weekend) Improving your relationship with food is a little like hiking – tiring, long and sometimes frustrating but totally worth it.

I’ve stumbled a lot along the way. The women I work with have too. Sometimes it feels like you are still at square one. But other times, if we look back at where we were a year ago, 2 years ago, 10 years ago, we can see how much progress we really have made.

One thing I’ve been noticing lately is how different my thoughts around food have gotten. For so very long, it was almost impossible for me to enjoy a meal without first having calculated the calories in it. I’d look at menus before arriving at a restaurant, so that I could factor in what meal would fit in calorically with the other meals that day. Everything had to add up correctly and I would plan and adjust constantly so that it did. It felt like a game that I could never win. When I stopped religiously calorie counting, it was incredibly hard not to do the mental math automatically. I had memorized the calorie count and nutritional details of almost every possible food out there. It’s really hard to “unlearn” that but I’ve made a huge effort to put my mind on the quality of the food I’m eating and learning how to read my hunger and fullness signals. Sometimes I’ve had to essentially “hush” that part of my brain that wants to add up the numbers. A lot at first. But I do that less and less now.

My point is that the less I focus on how much to eat and whether or not I “should” or “shouldn’t” eat something, the more “normal” eating makes sense. By holding on a little less tightly to controlling it all, the hold food has had on me has loosened up too. I let go of what I thought I couldn’t let go of and by doing that, it’s letting go of me too. I’ve been finding myself making choices lately, that may not be the “healthiest” of foods but being able to enjoy them in a reasonable amount – without it turning into a binge, or beating myself up. Enjoying without making it mean anything more.

I’ve been compiling a list of surprising things that have happened along the way as my relationship with food has become easier. Things I wasn’t expecting or I thought wasn’t a big deal until I looked back at where I was originally and could see what a huge deal it really is.

For someone who doesn’t eat emotionally, hasn’t spent their life dieting or bingeing or overeating every night of their lives, this stuff must sound so stupid! But for those of us for whom, food has taken on a larger than life personality, this kind of progress is invaluable.

I feel like I have so much more life, so much more to give and so much more ability to connect with others now since my mind isn’t completely consumed by thoughts about food or my body. That doesn’t mean I don’t have work to do still, but holy crap, I have come so far.

I’m sharing my list with you, in case you want to know how different your life could be if you work on some of these things too. (Check out my Pay What You Can Coaching offer this fall if you’re looking to make some big strides in your own relationship with food).

Things That’ll Happen when You Stop Obsessing Over What and How Much to Eat:

  1. I can fill up my plate at a bbq or other social gathering without spending even 1 second worrying about what everyone else is thinking about what I’m eating. And I can watch others eat without wondering how the heck they can eat what they do and be as thin as they are. Really, I can eat and be present with the people I’m with instead of interacting with both our plates of food.
  2. If I want ice cream, I can eat a big serving of real full fat ice cream and be both satisfied and not have it turn into a downward spiral into binge-land. I don’t have to satisfy my craving with a fat free, fake sugar filled pretend version of the real thing (which only makes me want to eat more and more of it). I want it, I eat it.
  3. That being said, eating what I want and when I want it, now means I want less of the things I thought I always wanted. I thought that if I had certain foods at my fingertips all the time, then I would eat them all the time – but that was only the case when I was telling myself that I couldn’t/shouldn’t eat them. Telling myself it’s ok to eat these things if I really want them strangely enough means I usually don’t even want them or if I do, I can eat a serving or two and be done with it.
  4. Going out to eat I can order whatever I really feel like eating – which might be a salad or baked fish or it might be something really decadent. It used to be about ordering whatever the most indulgent thing on the menu was – since I viewed going out to eat as a time to “cheat” and I usually went overboard.
  5. Not going to bed really full is nice. I am less likely to binge or eat too much because I’m not spending half my week eating as little as I possibly can. I’m able to listen to and eat what my body needs.
  6.  A chip is just a chip. A cookie is just a cookie. It’s not the doorway to weighing 400 lbs. A glass of wine does not equal gaining 3 lbs. An extra handful of nuts doesn’t mean I won’t fit into my jeans. It’s not a big deal.
  7. Eating too much is just something that happens occasionally. It is not the end of the world and it no longer ruins my day (or week). I move on instead of wallowing in it.
  8. Eating too little is no longer a badge of honor. I know I need more food to get through the day successfully so I feed my body appropriately – especially as I’ve started to lift heavier weights and go on longer hikes and bike rides. I just can’t do that stuff (and I enjoy it) if I’m not well fueled.
  9. Feeling strong and powerful in my workouts has become the goal and is now way more important than looking skinny or feeling thin. Do I look better because I exercise? Sure. But my size is no longer my focus. It’s barely even in the lens anymore.
  10. I regularly go into my closet and get rid of clothes that no longer fit. I no longer hold onto too tight clothes for the day when I finally fit into it again or onto too big stuff in case I gain weight again. I can live in my present body and not live in hope or fear of the future.
  11. Foods that I used to think tasted amazing actually don’t taste very good upon further inspection. This surprised me a lot! The texture of store bought frosting leaves a disgusting greasy residue in my mouth. Foods with artificial sweeteners taste too sweet and generally “off”. Cheez-its don’t really taste cheesy to me anymore.
  12. My weight is more stable. I go up and down a few pounds normally. No massive ups and massive downs. I know if I end up on the scale my weight will be somewhere in an 8 lb range (constipation, PMS, normal body fluctuations are much of that). As long as I don’t see anything way over or under that, I know I’m eating the right amount for my body.  Having this data, while triggering for some, actually helps reinforce that what I’m doing is working for me right now. I know I can trust my body, because things are balancing out on their own.

What do you think? Can you relate to any of these? What has been the most surprising benefit for you as you’ve made progress on your own eating concerns? What habits and changes have been the most helpful?

Two Tips to Building Body Confidence

Body confidence doesn't come from what you look like. It's how we use our bodies and what we do with our thoughts that make the biggest difference.

Body confidence doesn’t come from what you look like. It’s how we use our bodies and what we do with our thoughts that make the biggest difference.

There was a time when I thought my lack of body confidence came from being overweight. I remember thinking (on every diet) that things were going to be so much better when I was thin. I thought I’d suddenly have the confidence to do things I’d never tried before, I thought I wouldn’t self-conscious or awkward anymore. Every piece of clothing I’d put on would look amazing and I’d never have a zit again.

Haha.

It wasn’t realistic at all, but if you’ve ever spent a good chunk of your life moderately overweight you may have had similar delusions!

I made it to “thin” around 2006 and let me tell you, all the body image issues I had when I was a size 16 were still there when I was wearing a size 4. In some ways, they felt magnified. I still saw myself as a large person. I’d look in the mirror and see so much more that needed to be worked on. (See the poor quality black & white photos below.) My skin was now “loose” and appeared “flabbier”. My stretch marks, while faded, were almost more visible. It was so hard to appreciate what I had because it looked different than the perfect image I had created in my head. I picked and tore apart my body on a daily basis – always finding something wrong with it.

My weight has gone up and down drastically several times since 2006 and I’ve learned a few things each time but probably the most glaringly obvious thing is that body confidence has nothing to do with your size or shape. It has nothing to do with your weight.

Attempting to take body "progress" pictures back in 2007. I weighed about 139 lbs here but still felt bad about my body.

Attempting to take body “progress” pictures back in 2007. I weighed about 139 lbs here but still felt bad about my body.

You can be heavy and have confidence in your body. You can be thin and have confidence in your body. Your body can still be a work in progress and you can still feel confident in it. You can also accept your body as it is right now and feel confident. It’s not dependent on what the scale says.

There are 2 things I do now that have made the biggest difference in my body confidence – regardless of the current size of my body. One of those things is moving my body in ways that I love and the other is to stop paying attention to negative thoughts about my body. I’ll go into more detail about each of those below. I hope you’ll try these in your own life!

 

Move your body in ways that you love.

I remember spending hours and hours on the elliptical at the gym, bored out of my mind and barely working hard enough to raise my heart rate. It was hard to keep myself going when I didn’t enjoy what I was doing and also I wasn’t really seeing any changes in my body. Exercise is so much easier to do when you find things that you love doing! Take a dance class, try CrossFit, barre classes, start a walking group in your neighborhood, join a hiking group on meetup.com. If you have an internet connection, all it takes is a quick search to find free exercise videos you can try from the comfort of your living room. You don’t have to go to a gym if that doesn’t excite or motivate you. When you find movement, exercise or activity (we can call it whatever you want) that is fun and challenging, you’ll want to do it.

I’ve found that I love barre classes for how graceful they make me feel and because they strengthen my core without having to spend hours on my back doing crunches. I love riding my bike because it’s a little bit like flying and I enjoy the wind on my face (perhaps I was a dog in a past life). I love seeing how far I can travel in a short amount of time and love knowing that it’s all powered by my strong legs. I love strength training with heavy weight because it makes me feel strong, powerful and like I could kick anyone’s ass.

Lately, John and I have been spending some of our free time hiking and while it’s challenging, I’m always amazed how much better my body handles it at 38 years old and 158 lbs than it did when I was 23 and 220 lbs. Yesterday I tackled a hill on a bike ride that used to kill me – even a few years ago I dreaded it every time – so much so that I sometimes thought about doing a different route so I could avoid the hill (hills are not my favorite) but I blew up this hill yesterday like it was nothing!! I couldn’t believe how easy it was for my body now and it felt great.

John and I moving our bodies in ways we love (despite what the look on his face says).

John and I moving our bodies in ways we love (despite what the look on his face says).

I get my body confidence now from what my body can DO. It is no longer dependent on what it looks like. Yes, doing all these activities definitely changes how my body looks (I thank barre for my smoother inner thighs and weight lifting for my shoulder/bicep definition) but it’s not the sole reason I do them. It’s not even the most important reason. I get a major thrill in being able to do things physically that might have previously been out of reach for me.

I can do a chin up from a hanging position. YES! Just a few months ago I was excited that I could do most of one as long as I jumped up the first 1/3 of the way. Now I can do one without that boost! Holy crap, I never thought that would happen. This is MY amazing body and it’s strong.

I can carry a ton of grocery bags from the car through my garage and basement and up the stairs into the house and not be winded and do it again and again.

I’m thankful that my body can do these things (and aware that my health allows the possibility). I get excited to challenge it in new ways. How can I not be confident in this vehicle which allows me to travel everywhere I want to be and do everything I want to do? How can I not feel good in it? Why would allow myself to feel anything other than awe, appreciation and love towards it? When I do physical stuff that I love doing, it makes it far easier to love my body. Seriously, it’s the BEST.

There’s a great side effect that comes from focusing on what my body is capable of and not what it looks like. I couldn’t do the things I do if I wasn’t eating properly. If I don’t eat enough, I won’t be able to complete my strength workout. If I don’t eat a good balance of protein and carbs, I won’t be able to bike 20 or 30 miles. If I eat crappy today, I won’t feel so hot on our hike tomorrow. Focusing on the amazing things my body can do and what I want it to be able to do makes eating well so much easier. And eating well means I have less bloating, less insane cravings and my clothes fit better.

 

Notice how much you think about what your body looks like and then stop doing that.

How many times a day do you mentally criticize it?

How long does it take you to find something to wear each day that doesn’t make you think terrible thoughts about yourself?

How much are negative words directed towards your body a regular part of your routine?

When I say “stop doing that”, I know some of you are rolling your eyes at me. “It’s not that easy Andrea!”. I know it’s not. It’s not easy to stop doing it if you think there is nothing you can do about it. This is just the way you are, right?

I’ve said it 1000 times and I’m going to keep saying it until we all feel empowered with this idea:  We don’t have control over the thoughts that pop into our heads but we DO have control over what we do with those thoughts. If a thought about our thighs, our belly, our stretch marks appears, we can either go look for evidence that the thought is true or we can choose to ignore that thought and move about our day.

Yes, you CAN ignore these negative thoughts about yourself. Think of these thoughts as a heckler in a crowd you are performing in front of (as a comedian, an actor, whatever). You can choose to listen to the heckler and let him affect your performance, you can choose to engage with the heckler and give him the attention he’s after and again distract and affect your performance OR you can ignore the guy and do your thing. You could even ask him to leave! Have him escorted out – it’s your show!

We don’t have to indulge or engage with the heckler. Those negative thoughts you have about your body are hecklers. Don’t give them extra attention. The less you pay attention to those kinds of thoughts, the less loud they will get and soon you’ll find yourself “performing” at your very best. Totally focused, prepared and unable to be flustered by any thought that shows up.

Not engaging with these thoughts does take practice. It’s a matter of noticing when they happen and then paying attention to what you do with the thought. At first you’ll think that you aren’t doing anything with those negative thoughts – the engagement and indulging of them has become an automatic habit and just like any other habit, it takes effort to break. When a thought appears, like “Ug, my stomach looks so disgusting in this shirt!” pretend it’s one of those choose your own adventure books you had as a kid (those were the best!!!). Which path are you going to choose? And where do you think you might end up?

I’ll give you another analogy (since I love them). The obnoxious political posts on social media. You’re scrolling through and read a post from one of your relatives spouting insanely ignorant and divisive rhetoric. It infuriates you. In fact, you feel anger bubbling up in you as soon as you  read it. You can A) Start typing furiously away, blasting their post with counting facts one by one or B) You can continue scrolling by without responding (or even “hide” the person and their posts so you don’t have to see it again).  The first time you choose B and don’t respond, you might feel bad. You might keep thinking about it and wanting to go back and say something. You may even find yourself venting to someone in your real life about the post or the person. But if you ignore this kind of stuff again and again and stop responding to it, you’ll find that it becomes easier to do with time. My facebook is a whole mess of obnoxious posts from people with different beliefs that me and I just don’t engage anymore (because it’s healthier for me). I used to get into lots of arguments with people online – I felt like I couldn’t NOT say something. Now it’s easy to just move on.  You can do the same thing with negative thoughts about your body.

The cool thing that happens when you stop getting down and dirty with those negative thoughts about your body is that you realize you don’t even need to replace the negative thought with positive thoughts. You don’t have to do affirmations if those don’t speak to you. You don’t have to write love letters to your hated parts (though it won’t hurt!). By ignoring the negative stuff, neutral becomes the norm. Your body becomes your body, a vehicle to use to live your life and not something that warrants consideration for how it looks. Aren’t you just glad your car starts in the morning and gets you safely where you need to be? It doesn’t matter if there is a little rust on it or some bug guts squished on the window – it’s purpose in life isn’t to be shiny and pretty and perfect. It’s purpose is to take you from A to B safely.

That’s it for today. Two ways I’ve built up my body confidence that have nothing to do with dieting, losing weight or being thin. What makes you feel confident in your body? What is your favorite thing about what your body can do?


Like this? For more, download your free copy of Healthy Eating Shouldnt Be a Workout:  Real Life Strategies to Take the Confusion Out of Healthy Living (includes recipes, snack and meal ideas, ways to save money and more!).

You Have To Do The Work (Or Why You Don’t Need to Read Another Book, Take Another Course or Do More Research).

You already know what you need to know to get started. Don't fall into the trap of believing there must be easier or better answers out there. Start taking action on what you already know now.

You already know what you need to know to get started. Don’t fall into the trap of believing there must be easier or better answers out there. Start taking action on what you already know now.

When I was first training to be a coach, I had this overwhelming feeling that I didn’t know enough. No matter how many lectures I listened to, worksheets completed, books read and coaching demos watched, this feeling kept coming back. How can I be ready to do this work? There’s no way I know what I’m doing. I’ve got to learn more before I begin. Maybe this book or course has the answer. Maybe I need to read a few more blogs on the subject.

What my coaching school told us over and over (it was a common complaint and fear of students), and what I learned to be true afterwards, is that the only way you get good at this work (or anything) is by doing it.  The only way you “know” enough is by going out and doing it.

Knowing something intellectually is not the same as knowing something spiritually or in your core. You can consume all the information available in the world. You can read every book, buy every online course and you’ll still feel just as unprepared as you did on day 1 if you don’t actually go out and do the real-life work.

I had to take everything I learned in school, from books and lectures and apply it in actual coaching conversations before any of it made sense – before I felt confidence in what I had set out to do. In order to become a skilled coach (and to feel like a coach), I had to actually coach!

The same can be said for repairing your relationship with food, with losing weight or getting fit. Really, it can be said about anything new we want to do or create in our lives. You can spend hours upon hours of your time learning about what diet to try, what exercises to do, what mental habits you need to learn and none of it will get you where you want to be unless you actually go out, buy the food, prepare it, eat it, go out and do the exercises in your workout plan several days a week and practice all the mental tools to change your thinking. The key to reaching any goal (as I have preached on and on about before) is taking the physical steps and actions to get there.

One of the biggest complaints I hear from people is that x, y, and z isn’t working for them and so they ask me to give them something else that will work. “What else can I try?” they ask. Let’s say X is mindful or intuitive eating. Y is eating whole foods most of the time. Z is feeling their feelings instead of eating them. When someone tells me any of these things, my first instinct is to play sleuth before handing them more information. I have to find out what “not working” means. I don’t doubt that whatever they are doing isn’t working (if it was, this complaint wouldn’t be so prevalent) but I have to question what mindful eating, whole foods or feeling their feelings looks like in their reality.

How are they applying it in their daily life?

What does each meal look like?

How many times did they feel an uncomfortable feeling today and what did they do?

How long did it last? 

In reality, most people who learn about mindful eating think that just being 50% mindful three meals a week is enough to say they tried mindful eating and it didn’t work for them. People who say eating whole foods didn’t work for them think that eating a salad one day and steamed broccoli on another cancels out the 3 trips to McDonald’s and the 3 pints of ice cream they ate this week. People who are supposed to be focusing on feeling their feelings instead of eating them, feel an uncomfortable feeling once or twice and run for the hills (and usually into the pantry).

Trying something once, twice or partially 10 times is not enough.

It’s half-assed and it’s not doing it.

Feeling your feelings regularly is something that takes a lot of time and effort. We have to continuously bring our minds back to our discomfort and be able to sit with it until the feeling dissipates. The same goes with mindful eating. If you want that to work for you, you really have to make mindful eating something you do at every meal, with every bite.

We think that just by knowing something, it will be enough to help us make changes. Knowing the why’s and the hows is a big part of making changes but it’s just a blueprint. You’re the architect. You still have to oversee the actual building of the building. You have to go out and buy supplies like wood and power tools. You have to hire a team to help you build it. You have to get permits and deal with bureaucratic BS. You may even have to physically pick up a hammer and nail a lot of boards together. Not just once. Over and over until what you build looks like the blueprint. You don’t give up on day 1 because the hardware store didn’t have the brand of nails you like. You don’t give up on day 2 because a contractor was late. You might need to adjust your schedule or change your plan of attack but you do what you have to do to complete the project. Just knowing how something can and should be built isn’t the same as actually getting it built. It’s the same with repairing your relationship with food.

You do not need another book. You don’t need another course. You don’t need to go to another workshop. You have to settle in with what you already know and use it.

If you do this, try to learn everything you can, but don’t actually put it into action, don’t feel badly. You’re not alone. We all do this. We all have a lot on our plates and we try to just skip over the parts of our healing process that we find difficult or confusing or uncomfortable.

Instead of hunkering down and immersing ourselves in the physical process of change (like letting uncomfortable feelings be, prepping healthy food for every meal, returning our focus to our meals each time our brain wants to go somewhere else etc) we attempt spiritual bypass. We learn all we can and then think that means we can skip over the meaty parts because we have the intellectual knowledge.

The problem with this is that we end up really still being in the same place. We just think we’ve moved past something when really all we’ve done is checked out in the part of our journey where it gets hard. Stop checking out. Check “in” instead and apply what you already know.

If you see yourself doing this, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • What is it that you want?
  • What actions are you taking towards that goal?
  • What have you tried that has not worked?
  • How much effort did you put into the things that you feel did not work?
  • How much of your time and energy do you spend reading, learning, consuming new or more material on the subject you want to change? (Are you always buying another book on the same subject? Always following a new guru on social media? Do you buy courses online but then look to buy another before completing the work they ask of you?
  • What is something you know you must do to reach your goal but are having difficulty taking the first step on?
  • Why do you think you haven’t taken that step?
  • What would make taking that step easier? Who could support you? How can you support yourself?
  • If you already knew everything there was to know about your subject or goal, what 3 things do you think you could start doing today that would move you closer to reaching that goal?

If you are struggling in translating your knowledge into action with emotional eating, chronic dieting or overeating, let’s talk. Coaching is an amazing tool for exactly that kind of transformation and I’d love to be of service to you.


Like this? For more, download your free copy of Healthy Eating Shouldnt Be a Workout:  Real Life Strategies to Take the Confusion Out of Healthy Living (includes recipes, snack and meal ideas, ways to save money and more!).