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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

My Pledge

I am thankful for my body.

I am thankful for my birthmarks and moles, for they make me unique.

I am thankful for my scars, for they remind me of my ability to heal.

I am thankful for my genetically predisposed shape, for it pays homage to the parents who created me.

My body is a temple, a sacred temple, that houses my soul.

I will treat it with love and care.

I will give it food when it hungers and drink when it thirsts.

I will rest when it's tired and move around when it's vibrantly awake.

I will celebrate all of the things that it can do. I will make good use of my two arms and two legs, 
remembering that I am blessed to have all moving parts in working order.

I will recommit myself to this every single day, because it's important.

I will not give up on myself.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Balance and Normalcy

Hello, Tuesday.  Welcome back to normalcy.

Not only was this a holiday weekend, but, for me, it was also our wedding anniversary yesterday.

We had a GREAT day.

My husband and I went to a wonderful restaurant in Newburyport, MA with a great view of the water. I sipped wine while we dined on calamari for an appetizer followed by lobster pie for me and a lobster roll for him. 

After lunch, we walked around the downtown area (which is so quaint) to check out the sights. There was a lot to see, both people, and vendors, since it was a holiday.

We got home around 4 pm and opened a bottle of champagne to toast each other to 14 years of marriage. Our day was topped off by frozen yogurt sundaes for dinner.

I will say it again: it was a GREAT day!

So, now it's back to "normalcy". What does that mean for me these days? Well, it no longer means "atoning for the sins of the weekend" by restricting my food intake and doubling up on exercise. It means listening to my body and honoring my hunger and fullness cues as best I can. You see, nothing is off limits for me anymore. Nothing is forbidden, so I choose what I want, enjoy some or most of it (I rarely finish a full portion of anything since making peace with food), and I move the hell on.

Think about Christmas for a second. There is such a huge build up to this holiday every year, isn't there? For about a month before, there are holiday songs on the radio, decorations, parties, holiday themed beverages and rich foods to enjoy with friends and family. There is a huge build up that culminates into a fun and festive day.

Now, imagine if every day was Christmas. Yeah, that's right, you heard me -- pretend every day was a holiday. Do you think it would hold the same magic and meaning if it was the norm instead of the exception?
The point of that analogy is simply this: all food can be good food and all food can be enjoyed no matter what day it is. If nothing is ever demonized, deliberately withheld or off limits, then you can choose more intuitively based on what your body is asking you for. I'll tell you this much: mine doesn't ask me for champagne in the afternoon or frozen yogurt sundaes for dinner every day. I used to worry it would back then because I had such an "all or nothing mindset". I bounced between the extremes of restriction and binging. Once I let go of the food rules and the diet mentality, I found my balance.

Learn how to eat with your heart and not your head. Decide your body can be trusted. Stop fighting your appetite and let everything be on the table. Be flexible with yourself. It's a practice. We don't need to make it a "perfect".

Friday, May 22, 2015

How to "Be the Change"

The legendary Mahatma Gandhi has been famously quoted as saying, "Be the change you wish to see in the world." This means you must embody the characteristics and principles that matter most to you.
How does this apply to spreading the message of body love, neutrality with food and self-acceptance? It means choosing to be part of the solution instead of continuing to contribute to the problem.

Here are a few ways to do that:

** Consider the cessation of commenting on people's appearance COMPLETELY. This can be done innocently enough; you see someone out and about and notice a significant change in their size. We have been taught to revere thinness in this culture, so your first reaction is to praise this person for reducing their weight. Remember, you do not know how healthy someone is by looking at them. A noticeably smaller person could be healthy. They could also be in the throes of an eating disorder. Or undergoing chemotherapy. These may sound like extreme examples, but the fact is, it can happen.

** As a follow up to the first, ask yourself if you are unknowingly participating in body shaming. Saying things like, "oh, you are so skinny. Why don't you eat a sandwich?" or "Must be nice to eat whatever you want and be rail thin" or even "Gee, I wish I had your discipline. I'm too busy having fun and living life to the fullest to have the abs you do." These kinds of comments are just as damaging as criticizing someone who may be considered overweight. I have known people who are genetically predisposed to be thin. Sometimes these very same people don't like being that thin or wish they could have more curves, build muscle, etc. I have also known some people who are excessively exercising and obsessively trying to construct the perfect body...and it's slowly KILLING them. Think before you speak. And remember: ALL BODIES ARE GOOD BODIES. We all don't have to look the same

** Eat for enjoyment and nourishment. Feed yourself well and take pleasure in your meals. This also means respecting the eating habits and food choices of others. We are not supposed to be the food police, here. I don't know where the idea that commenting on what is on people's plates is socially acceptable, but guess what? It's not. And it's rude. Don't do it. And, if someone does it to you, feel free to tell them politely that you appreciate their concern, but you don't need any help figuring out what to eat.

When in doubt, always be part of the solution. Always.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

You Are Where You Need To Be

Sometimes, we tend to forget what it was like to be where we were when we dieted, purged, restricted and self-loathed.

More importantly, sometimes, we have contempt for our former selves...not wanting to accept that we could have been that lost, that confused, or that sick.

It's not so much that we's that we DON'T WANT TO REMEMBER.

Maybe we haven't forgiven that part of ourselves. Maybe it's something else entirely.

I think what I have been learning to do is to bless my journey instead of curse it. 

I never want to forget where I came from or what my impetus for change was. 

A wise person once told me we teach what we most need to learn. 

By staying connected to who I was at the height of my disordered thinking, I can be more compassionate and understanding to those who are at the height of theirs right now. 

I can remember that lots of people tried to talk me down at various points and I didn't have the ears to hear.

So, wherever you may be right now, know that it's exactly where you are meant to be.

Be proud of where you came from, who you are at this moment and joyfully anticipate the insights and wisdom that's waiting for you when you are ready.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Just Say No to Guilt

We have learned how to mistrust our bodies because so many experts saw fit to give us advice, as if they knew what was better for us than we did.

We rejected our body wisdom for the latest New York Times Bestseller on how to be thin.

There is nothing sexy about tuning into your hunger and satiety cues.

I know it's scary for people to grasp, particularly in the beginning. The thought is, 'if I let go of all my food rules, I'll be out of control. I'll eat junk food all day, every day.' 

This is why it's CRUCIAL to legalize ALL foods, putting them on a level playing field. 

Food is neither good nor bad. 

It's all FOOD.

Ultimately, I believe we are meant to eat what feels good in our bodies.

We are meant to innately know what those foods are when we pay attention.

But, in order to do this, we MUST let go of the guilt.

How does guilt make you feel? Has anyone ever ENJOYED feeling guilty???

If you never let go of the guilt surrounding food, HOW WILL YOU KNOW WHAT FOODS FEEL GOOD TO YOUR BODY????

Make the peace.
Eat the food.
Ditch the guilt.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Get Angry!

Do you want to stop feeling powerless around body, food and weight?

Here's a tip: GET ANGRY

Get angry at the diet industry who insists on telling you that you can't trust yourself.

Get angry that you bought into the lie that you need an external source to tell you when, what and how much to eat.

Get angry that the media doctors up pictures of women and then uses this as an insinuation that all of us should conform to it.

Get angry at the lies you've been told.

Get angry that our beloved sisters pick themselves apart over a few pounds.

Get angry that the number on a clothing tag holds so much significance.

Get angry that we care more about back fat and muffintops than we do about the depth of our soul and character.

Get angry that you are slaving away in a gym for two hours instead of going for a walk in nature with a dear friend, having a heart to heart talk.

Get angry. I did. In fact, I was FURIOUS!!!

So, yes, be angry. You deserve to feel that righteous indignation.

And then, get over it. Move forward in love and peace. Life is too short to be in bondage.

Monday, May 18, 2015


Numbers used to rule my life. Whether it was the number on the scale, the number on the tag in my jeans or the amount of miles I ran each week, I lived by them. I relentlessly pursued perfection by using numbers as milestones. If I could weigh a certain amount, wear a certain size or boast a certain 5K time, I was bound to be happy.



It was an empty pursuit. I didn't find perfection when I hit the milestones I set. Numbers didn't make me love myself. In fact, quite the opposite happened on many occasions. If the dreaded weigh ins did not reflect the desired result, I plunged deeper into self-loathing. If I didn't PR (personal record in running lingo) at every race I ran, I was a complete and utter FAILURE. If I DID hit my goal of weight, size or speed, my happiness was fleeting. In that split second, I felt the excitement of achieving something I had worked so hard for, but it never lasted. Like an addict with their drug of choice, I was on to the next weight goal, the next size down, the next fastest time.

After hitting rock bottom, I realized I had to let the numbers GO. They weren't serving me. They only served to LIMIT me. I finally understood that that it didn't matter how much I weighed, what size I wore, or how fast I ran. The only metric that I could possibly rely on was how much love I could give my body and my soul. I had to stop DOING and start BEING.

Maybe you are like I was back then. Maybe you have all of your hopes hung on a number. Maybe you are obsessively measuring calories burned or calories consumed. Maybe you have put your life on hold until your "number" comes up.

But the thing is, when it does, you'll find something else to criticize, something else to blame, something else that you find unacceptable. We strive for the holy grail of impeccability and are so busy trying to achieve that we forget to enjoy the journey. We can't celebrate who we are, because we are too consumed with TRYING TO GET SOMEWHERE.

Let it go. Just stop striving and trying so damn hard. Decide that today is the day you will choose differently. Today can be the day that you celebrate where you are.

And you are so much more than a number.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

You Can Have It ALL!!!

I see lots of women who are just overloaded. They have a full-time job, children to raise, a marriage to maintain, other family members to deal with, social obligations and Lord knows what else. Growing up, the message for some women was, "you can have it all!" And so, we thought that was the ideal to pursue: having it ALL.

These same women desperately try to make it all work as perfectly as they can. And they are so HARD on themselves because they aren't Superwoman. You see, they have ALL OF THAT responsibility that I listed above and then wonder why they can't muster up more energy to work out five days a week and look like a fitness model.

"But, look at Susie over there! She has just as much on her plate and can do it! She can go to Zumba five times a week!! And she wears a size 4!"

"I commute an hour each way, am responsible for feeding my family, have to help my kids with their homework, and, well, I know I'm just making excuses, but...I'm just too tired to go to the gym. I wish I weren't so lazy."


Well, what if I don't WANT IT ALL?? What if I can't HANDLE it all???

Sometimes, the idea that we have to "have it all" hurts us more than it helps us. It causes us to put unrealistic expectations on ourselves. It makes it easy to fall into the comparison trap. We look at others who "seem to have it all and make it look easy" and we wonder what the hell is wrong with us.

Stop. Stop thinking you have to "have it all". You don't. We all have our own individual threshold for what we can and cannot handle and that's okay. It doesn't matter what Susie over there is doing. That's her business. Besides, you can't judge a book by its cover. Appearances aren't always what they seem. Public lives and private lives don't always match. You don't know what is happening behind closed doors.

Instead of keeping up with the Joneses, ask yourself: What are YOU doing? What do you want YOUR life to look like? That is where the focus needs to be.

And, for heaven's sake, be a little kinder to yourself. Yes, an exercise routine can be part of a healthy lifestyle, but not when it's a "should" or a "have to", not to mention it is more stress on the body which, if the body is already stressed, will hurt more than it will help. It's not healthy when we are already burning the candle at both ends and then try to add something else to the mix.

Take a deep breath and let yourself off the hook. Figure out what part of "having it all" makes sense to you and then just let the rest of that crap go. You don't have to be Superwoman.

Sometimes, having it all is realizing that you don't. And that's just fine.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Monday, Monday...Can't Trust That Day...Or Can You???

Hello, Monday, my old friend. Long time no see.

When I was dieting, Mondays were always THE day. That was when I would "start" my new regime, whatever it happened to be at the time (hint: it was a diet cleverly disguised as a "lifestyle change"). I was filled with hope and resolve, because this would be the beginning of my new life! This is where I would shed the body fat that was the cause of all my misery and I would FINALLY have the life that I always dreamed of!

How many of you read that passage, shaking your head up and down saying, "uh huh" or "you did that too???". I bet there are a lot of you. And here we were all thinking that we were such special snowflakes. (wink, wink)

This honeymoon period with the diet du jour could get you through a few days or even a few weeks, but it could never last, could it? It was all sizzle and no steak (throwback to the days of high carb...remember when pretzels and fat free everything was considered health food?? But, I digress). You had the excitement and the novelty of something new which would quickly be replaced by the realization that you couldn't stick with this new plan either. You were too weak willed, too lazy or, even worse, too hungry.

What if a Monday could be like any other day?
What if there were no extremes to bounce between?
What if we could just learn to eat when we were hungry and stop when we were satisfied?
What if we figured out the types of exercise we genuinely enjoyed and just did that because we wanted to???
What if you made peace with the body you have right now and decided to just stop saying mean things about it?

Oh, is it you Monday? Back again? I hadn't noticed. It's just like every other day.

Say yes to normalcy. Say yes to balance. Say yes to Monday.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Eyes On Your Own...

In the course of my daily life, I often hear people talk negatively about food or their bodies It may be statements such as:

"I really have to drop about 10 lbs. My thighs are getting HUGE."

"Oh, I could never eat pasta. I couldn't be THAT bad."

"Can you believe what she's eating? No wonder she has a weight problem!"

Considering my history of body dysmorphia, chronic dieting, disordered eating and excessive exercising, you can imagine how I feel when I hear women (or sometimes even men) say these kind of things. It takes a little mindfulness and a whole lot of restraint, but the best response to comments like these is: nothing.

See, these are things I "overhear". They are not said directly TO ME. None of these people have asked for my advice or opinion. So, I do my best to stay silent. Yes, it's hard. But, I really believe it's the best thing to do.

There can be nothing more obnoxious than a reformed "something or other". This person had the habit, the weight problem, the "whatever" and was able to overcome it. Good for them. No, seriously, good for them. But, they have such CONTEMPT for the behavior, body or habit that they left behind. They never accepted themselves for having been the way they were, which is why they regard other people with that same contempt. It's easy to put on an air of moral superiority when you can't possibly understand why they can't just "get over it" -- how someone can possibly respect themselves for being "less than" when you couldn't.

But, hear this: IT IS NOT HELPFUL.

The world would be a much better place if we tended to our own gardens instead of hopping the fence and plucking our neighbor's weeds.

Think about it.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Shifting the Focus

I remember having conversations with friends back in my dieting days. Sometimes, we would get together for lunch or dinner, and decide to share a dessert, because a) we had worked out for a few hours that day and "earned" it or b) we would run double digit mileage the next day to "work it off". Sometimes, we would bond over self-deprecating comments. I would insult my thighs, my friend might complain about her belly, or vice versa. We would plan and plot for our next big weight loss campaign, trying this new meal plan or that new workout routine.

Once I started healing my relationship with food, this was something I let go of. Don't get me wrong, I still love to bond with friends over food. It's a beautiful, celebratory way to share time with someone you love. Dining out is one of my favorite things. But, I no longer have to "do this" (workout a ton, not eat all day, etc.) in order to "get that" (delicious, nourishing food). And the self-deprecating comments had to go. That's never helpful, period.

Wouldn't it be nice if women could bond over how smart, successful, and talented they are instead of exchanging negative comments about their bodies? What if we cared more about what we did with our lives than how we looked in a bathing suit? What if we realized that there is more to us than our appearance?

Something to think about.