It’s easy to talk about how we should always push to reach out goals. The messaging is made to seem simple, and also to imply those that aren’t currently training for a race or competition are lazy and unworthy.
Society’s messaging is always pushing us to be more- at home, at work, in our relationships, our health- always asking for more of us. Until we have nothing left to give. The fitness industry is no exception.
With quotes like the above, it makes sense why people feel so much guilt for missing one workout, for becoming injured, for making a “bad” food choice.
Can we stop dressing up shame and calling it motivation? We’re only causing more harm when we do so.
Studies have shown that when individuals exercise as a form of punishment, they are more likely to become injured and overall their workouts aren’t as effective as those who exercise intuitively- those who exercise because their body is asking for movement, and they provide their body with the movement that makes them happy.
Spouting 100% happiness is unattainable and unreal. We can’t be expected to live in a world of “good vibes only”, and frankly who would want to? I honor my joy because I’ve experienced sorrow. I appreciate my body now because I spent so many years hating it.
I also don’t beat myself up for missing a workout. If my body is asking for rest, I will honor that request.
Building a relationship with our body is just like any other relationship- we may assume we understand it’s communication only to discover later that was wrong. So we try again. We close our eyes, we breathe, we tune into our body’s signals. And we make our next choice accordingly. The more we practice listening to our body, the stronger this relationship will become.
What type of movement is your body asking you for? If it’s a run, go for it. If it’s a dance class, get your groove on. If it’s a nice long nap or a movie on the couch, honor and enjoy! Your body will thank you!
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m the co-founder and co-facilitator of Good Vibes Tribe Cincinnati, an organization committed to healing negative body image through the power of yoga and community.
We offer free monthly meet-ups throughout the Cincinnati/Dayton/Northern Kentucky area in addition to offering specialized workshops and series.
Our February meet-up is on one of my favorite topics- managing expectations! How do we maintain our focus on bettering ourselves (whatever that looks like to you), vibrating on a higher frequency, doing our inner healing work when we have constant messages telling us what we “should” be doing.
All of us can relate to this- whether you’re single, in a relationship- have children, have no desire to have children, or are struggling with infertility- work outside of the home, work at home, stay home full-time, stay home part-time. At times it seems that we just can’t win.
Join us for our February meet-up where we’ll be led in discussion by body-positive dancer, Danielle Begley. Let’s talk about how we maintain balance in our mental & physical health in a world of “should’s”.
More details of the event can be found here. Feel free to send me any questions you have about the event! See you there!
I am thrilled to have my first guest post on the blog! Amanda’s post below is so relevant to some realizations I’ve been experiencing lately so it is such a gift to have her offer her words to all of you!
I am an avid reader of anything and everything I can get my hands on, but in the last year or so – pretty much since I decided to quit my “normal” job and become an entrepreneur – I’ve landed in the world of self-improvement books. As I surrounded myself with successful people that were living a lifestyle comparable to my goals, I was inundated with motivational and inspirational suggestions, including reading empowering, knowledge-inducing books.
I’ll be honest. I’m an intellectual, hands-on
evidence-backed person. I had a hard time buying into the “woo woo” positive
thinking, the Universe sends you what you put out, Law of Attraction stuff they
were dishing out. But the more I immersed myself in those who were successful,
the more I started to wonder if there was something to what they were saying,
so I started trying to live that way myself.
Amazingly, I quickly realized that yes, there
was something to this motivational mumbo jumbo. Whether it was seriously the
Universe, attraction laws, or whatever, the fact was the more I tried to plan
ahead, be optimistic, get up and show up, and look for the good in the world,
the better I felt. There really is something to be said for working towards a
goal in life rather than just existing day to day.
Along this journey, I ran into a book that
truly helped me understand and put a lot of my daily life into perspective. A
good friend of mine twisted my arm and made me read “Big Magic” by Elizabeth
Gilbert. Actually, she made me download the audio book and LISTEN to it.
Listening, rather than reading, was very important, she said. And, as she had
never been wrong in giving me advice so far, even when I didn’t want to hear
it, I did as she instructed.
The book was really interesting to me, as a
writer, and I totally understood why she said listen, and I suggest if you go
buy the book you get the audio version, too. However, between all of her
wonderful stories and advice, the part that stands out the most was when she
talked about your ego versus your soul. I needed to hear it and I needed her to
shout it, so I listened to it over and over, louder and louder each time.
You see, I’ve got a mighty big ego that I
didn’t know I had. I thought I was humble and all that, but it turns out I’ve
got a lot of work to do.
Apparently, it’s your ego that causes all of
the stresses in your life. Who knew? Before you shake your head and disagree
with me, hear me out.
You post on social media and no
one, or just a few people, respond. You’re bummed, sad, depressed, thinking you
are no good at what you’re doing. You start to wonder if you should just give
up and go do something else. Because your ego was hurt. Check. That’s me.
Someone disagrees with you, on
whatever topic and for whatever reason, and you want to lash out and tell them
they are wrong and you are right. It’s imperative that they understand why they
are so wrong – it could even change the world! But that’s just your ego talking
– your ego saying that what you have to say might make a difference, and when
they don’t listen, it’s your ego feeling the strain, and when they do listen,
it’s your ego that feels the buzz and blows up like a balloon. Check. Totally
Your boss, spouse, relative,
friend, or anyone gives you constructive criticism and you defend your reason
for why you did what you did instead of listening to their critique, absorbing
it, thanking them for their thoughts, and then reflecting yourself later. Your
ego was hurt because someone criticized you. Check. How can they criticize me
when I work so hard to be the best version of me in the first place?
Do any of these situations sound familiar?
They did to me, too.
Now put them in another perspective. Did they
hurt your soul?
Your soul doesn’t care about what other people
think about you. Your soul isn’t going to be injured if someone criticizes you
or disagrees with you. Your soul doesn’t care if you get likes and follows on
social media. Your soul simply focuses on right and wrong – more specifically,
what YOU are doing that is right or wrong.
And when you focus on what your SOUL wants,
you can block out all of the ego-draining things in life. There’s a reason that
the good things are “soul deep,” “soul-pleasing,” and “happy to the soul.” When
your soul is content, things are right in your world. All of those ego-damaging
words and actions from other people simply roll off of your shoulder.
Bruised egos result in so much friction in the
world. Wars have been started because of damaged egos. I’m not talking about
abusive situations. Those are soul-damaging and you have to work hard to get
past them. I’m talking about a perfect stranger’s cutting words causing you
sleepless nights. I’m talking about your neighbor’s fancy new car that you
wanted stressing you out because you can’t pay your bills right now. I’m
talking about that someone who wanted to help you improve but offered you
constructive criticism and the way you reacted to them.
Yet, peaceful souls have been responsible for
so much good. Ghandi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., all were troubled
about the state of the world, but they used their peaceful souls to help make a
difference, putting aside their egos for the good of others. The difference is
huge: they responded to criticism,
negativity, hurt and hate, instead of reacting.
Get the difference? Your ego reacts, your soul responds. You take time to internalize what was said and the best
course of action that will be for the best with the least negative
consequences, and you respond in kind.
In the end, only kindness matters.
So think about this when you go out into your
interactions today, tomorrow, forever. Is your stress, hurt feelings, anger, or
other negative emotion due to damage to your soul or your ego? The only one
that matters is the damage to your soul, and only you can really do that or let
Let your ego go, and watch your stress go out
the window with it. Respond instead
of reacting. Give it a try, like I
did with the self-help woo woo stuff I didn’t believe in for so long. You just
don’t know if there may actually be something to it until you do it.
Drop me a line at www.beautifullymadelife.net and let me know when you differentiated between your ego and your soul and if it made a difference in the outcome. You may just inspire me, too!
About Amanda: Amanda lives with her family, two dogs, and three cats in the middle of Florida in a town where you have to drive two hours to do anything fun. Instead of daily excitement, she writes creatively for enjoyment and non-fiction to pay the bills. To make up for living in the middle of nowhere, she travels a lot. You can find out about her travels through her inspirational, motivational, and empowering blog, Beautifully Made Life, and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Empty calories don’t exist. All calories exist to provide us with energy, to give us life.
The only thing that’s empty when we label foods in this manner is our relationship with our body. We end up feeling empty and depleted when we label foods as “good” and “bad”, resulting in us continuing to reach for more food as comfort.
By relaxing into all food options, by surrendering to our body’s infinite wisdom and honoring our cravings, we can begin to feel whole again.
Relax. Take some deep belly breaths. What is your body asking for? How can you honor your body right now?
Own the body you have right now, just as it is. Without
relaxing into the body you currently occupy, life is filled with
dissatisfaction and unhappiness. Why? Because if we can’t truly love and accept
ourselves for who we are, then attempting to find external happiness, or
chasing a happiness that will occur once we have a “goal body”, is futile.
Occupying your body means living embodied. Living in your
body. So often we find that we’ve just existed, that we’ve filled our life with
distractions of diets or exercise regimens. When is the last time you just sat
with your body? When is the last time you looked in the mirror and spoke words
of kindness to yourself? Making the choice to occupy your body tells your body
that you are here, you are present. Choosing to occupy the body is a massive
step in healing your relationship with food and your body.
Acceptance is a celebration of living life in this very
moment, with the body that has gotten you this far! Acceptance is honoring your
past bodily incarnations, loving your current body, and sending gratitude to
your future self for all of the adventures you will take with that body.
Accept that you were put on this Earth to be more than a body. Accept life free from diets and restriction and shame. Accept it because you deserve it.
As we head into a new year, we may begin to think of new habits we’d like to begin or put into practice. It seems this time of year motivates me to look at my current habits and examine what I may want to cut down on, and what I may want to invest more time doing. I’ve reflected and realized that I’d like to cut down on my social media time and invest more time reading.
Years ago I began intentionally journaling more frequently in an attempt to help process thoughts and emotions. This eventually became a habit that I truly enjoy and I use journaling as a regular practice as well as a tool I utilize when I’m struggling with something in particular. I find that once I put pen to paper, my inner wisdom is able to come out and guide me in the direction I am supposed to go.
If you’re interested in starting a regular journaling practice it may seem overwhelming at first. Journaling does not have to be a taunting task- many times I simply start writing anything and everything that’s in my head. No judgments on what I’m writing is allowed- I simply write until I feel the desire to stop. However, if you would prefer some direction, here are some prompts to assist in starting some of your very own journaling entries!
I am grateful for…
I admire the following 3 people because…
My body taught me today….
I wish someone would tell me….
Lessons I’ve learned recently have been…
What I would like to say “no” to more…
What I would like to say “yes” to more…
If I could tell my younger self something, I would tell him/her….
Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels
Do you have a regular journaling practice? I’d love to hear what strategies have worked for you!
I’m excited to announce that Good Vibes Tribe Cincinnati, a community outreach program designed to heal negative body image through the power of yoga and community, will be hosting a mindful eating series in January at Haven yoga studio in Middletown, OH. You can check out more details of the series here or here.
I’m the co-founder and co-facilitator of Good Vibes Tribe Cincinnati, and have seen firsthand the power of a group of individuals coming together to heal their relationship with food and their body.
In 2019, let’s chose intention over resolution. Join our Tribe for a four week series designed to empower each participant with a greater understanding of their own unique body, how it communicates, & how it is asking to be nourished.
Through the practice of mindfulness, we will explore the body’s innate wisdom, using intuition, cravings, emotions, & physical sensation as our guides to restoring relationships with food & body image.
This year, ditch the diets & let your body be your guide. We will be meeting Wednesday evenings 7-8:30pm, January 2-January 23.
Sleep can be elusive for some. At various seasons of life sleep may be more difficult to come by, and for some of us (myself included), difficulty falling and staying asleep can become a chronic issue. With the holiday season in full swing, staying healthy is of utmost importance. The seasonal ickiness has officially descended, and when you combine that with all of our holiday celebrations and obligations, it’s all the more important to focus on rest.
Sleep is imperative to functioning to the best of our abilities during the day. Beyond affecting our daily grinds, lack of sleep can also have detrimental affects on our health. Chronic sleep deprivation increases the prevalence of heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and depression. Here are a few ways in which we can increase the quality and quantity of sleep.
Turning off or setting aside the electronics at least two hours before bedtime will impact your ability to fall asleep as well as the quality of your sleep. Blue wavelengths benefit us greatly during the day by increasing our attention, reaction times, and brightening our mood. However, these are not qualities we want when we’re trying to settle in for a great night’s sleep. Try slowly shutting down earlier and earlier in the evening and observe how your sleep is impacted.
Establishing a nighttime routine will signal to your mind and body that it’s time to wind down. This could include a routine as simple as reading a few pages in a book or perhaps enjoying a warm beverage like a decaffeinated tea or my favorite Cinnamon Pumpkin Warm Milk.
If you’re having difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep, there are a few all natural resources to utilize. Some of these include CBD oil (my favorite can be found here), Melatonin, Lavender essential oil (can find this here), and listening to recorded meditations.
I use CBD oil almost every night to keep my anxiety from creeping up and keeping me alert when I want to rest. Ensure you do your homework and find a high quality CBD oil to take advantage of it’s many benefits. I also love to rub some lavender essential oil on my pillow or temples, and you could also diffuse it, put some drops of it in a bath, or create a bedtime room spray. Taking some deep breaths of this soothing scent tells my nervous system it’s time for bed.
I pull out the Melatonin when I just can’t sleep and nothing else has worked. There are different dosages of Melatonin so keep that in mind when selecting this supplement. I recommend starting at a low dose, or even taking half a pill and then working up from there as needed.
Moving your body regularly, whether it’s vigorous exercise or a walk in nature will help utilize energy during the day so your body can completely let go when it’s time to hit the hay.
I find when my body has been stagnant during the day it’s more difficult for my body to relax, as it has energy to burn. The key is to listen to your body and honor what it is telling you. Also keep in mind that body movement does not mean working up a sweat. Many times an extended stretching session on my living room floor is enough to give my body what it needs for the day.
Finding what works can be a fun experiment, and will also change depending upon life events, time of year, and more. By ensuring we are getting enough sleep, we are taking a major step in improving our overall health. Sweet dreams!
With Thanksgiving a week away and the holidays in full swing, this is also prime time for diet talk, juice cleanses, low carb diets, and fasting to dominate social media feeds, television and radio commercials, and our general discussion amongst friends and family.
This time of year and it’s diet-obsessed energy always kicks my messaging into high gear, because I know what it’s like. I know what it’s like to be terrified of the food that will be before me that day, and the day before, and the day after. I know what it’s like to feel weak, like a failure because my willpower failed me once again. If you are feeling anxious about being around family and friends this holiday season, if you’re feeling anxious about this body you inhabit, and the food you may or may not be consuming- I see you and I hear you.
I also know that you deserve so much more than the experiences described above. You deserve to feel empowered in your body and around food. You deserve to be able to be around food- any type of food- and be relaxed. And you deserve to set healthy boundaries.
I’ve listed a few simple tips below that may be helpful to keep in mind over the next couple of months.
1. Identify & Acknowledge Triggers
If we don’t identify and acknowledge what is triggering our feelings of depression, anxiety, or perhaps body shaming during this time of year (or any time of year!), we won’t be able to heal it.
This is a difficult journey because we have to come face to face with the deeper reasoning behind these feelings. However, once we get to this place, the healing can begin. You may know right away what may trigger emotions this time of year. If you do- excellent! If you aren’t aware of underlying emotions or triggers, journaling is a great way to identify and acknowledge. Simply put pen to paper and write about feelings or thoughts that have been arising for you lately. Don’t stop to analyze what you’re writing, just keep writing for 3-5 minutes. You could also ask trusted friends or family and they may be able to provide you with some insight.
Identifying and acknowledging is an amazing first step. Once we identify and acknowledge, we can start to pay attention to our feelings and emotions as they arise. At first we may only recognize them after the fact. This is fine- still acknowledge and sit with that feeling. Identify it- give it a name. Then perhaps you will be able to identify these feelings in the midst of the trigger, and maybe you’ll then be able to notice when they may occur before the trigger happens. Also keep in mind, you may never reach this point and that is ok! The power lies in identifying and acknowledging, not preventing the feeling from occurring.
As the incredible Brene Brown says “Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others.” Wow, how powerful is that?!
If you find yourself at a place where you’ve had or attempted to have healthy discussions about your feelings and the environment remains toxic, it may be time to set some boundaries.
Setting boundaries is choice we make to no longer expose ourselves to an environment that is harmful or toxic. They exist to give us permission to establish or maintain our mental health.
The concept of boundaries often comes up around the holidays because much of the anxiety that is felt this time of year is related to being around family members that we may only be exposed to during this season. Further, many of us are taught to suck it up, to tolerate it in the moment, only to walk away feeling shame, pain, resentment for the remainder of the year until it happens all over again. Yes, there may be some anger or pain in response to boundaries being set, but this time the energy of this response will be different- because you will be different. When healthy boundaries are set, you will be treated differently because you have established your value.
Even if this means no longer participating in the family’s traditional holiday celebrations, you have freed yourself of a toxic environment and can move forward in your new boundary-setting journey!
Yes, most of us are surrounded by and consume more food than we normally do on holidays like Thanksgiving. Sometimes we also have parties to attend with friends, events at work in which food is catered or provided by your fellow co-workers. Simply being around food and consuming food does not mean anything about you as a person. Not eating some food does not inherently make you better than others, and eating large quantities of food does not inherently make you less than anyone else.
Diet culture kicks into high gear around the holidays. I’m always amazed with the advertising of the average number of calories that are consumed on Thanksgiving. Just think about that- what is the purpose of this discussion? Does it change what you chose to consume that day, or does it only serve to make you feel worthless while doing so? On a day that is meant to stir feelings of gratitude for all that we have in this life, many of us expend that precious time and energy berating ourselves for what we’re putting in our bodies on one day. I also discuss how dangerous it is to label foods as “good” and “bad” here, and this is very apparent around the holidays.
Maybe this year instead of focusing on the food, take some deep breaths and look around. Look at the faces of your loved ones around the space. Feel your body and send gratitude towards it for keeping you here one more year. List some things you are grateful for, in that moment. And then eat.
The concept of nourishment has been on my mind and heart lately. Perhaps it’s related to the changing seasons, and looking towards the holiday season in which food is such a centerpiece.
As you may be able to relate, the holidays can be times of so much joy and love, while also being times of stress and anxiety. The holiday season and large gatherings involving food still increases my anxiety and brings back memories of the eating disorder and all that those years of my life entailed. During those years, the concept of nourishment was foreign to me. However, as my relationship with food and my body has healed, I am seeking more nourishment in my food, my relationships, my life in general.
The concept of nourishment is a complex one, but one worth exploring. I love the word itself- it’s so complex and there are so many layers to it. Nourishment includes not only food and water, but also the quality of our relationships with friends, family, nature, and more. To be nourished means being fully present. If we’re rushing through meals, conversations, and life in general, can we say our life has a nourishing quality?
Utilizing the following prompts may also help in examining the amount of nourishment in your life:
What makes you feel good? How often do you engage in this?
When do you feel nourished by food? What circumstances would make your meal a more nourishing experience overall?
Perform a nourishment inventory.Examine the following parts of your life and how nourishing they are. These can include the following:
The concept of nourishment has challenged me to take a look at areas of my life that lack nourishment, and what actions I can take to improve the quality of these experiences. For me this often includes slowing down and being present during meals, and being more mindful of actively listening when I’m with friends.
What do you think of when you think of nourishment? I’d love to hear how this concept resonates with you!