Little M just turned 10 months, and as her 1st birthday approaches, I’ve been reflecting a lot on the past several months and my introduction to motherhood. Things are much easier now. That anxiety around doing things “right,” not irrevocably screwing up this tiny creature in my charge — stressing over her sleep and how much she’s eating, over which cup to get her that will promote development and not give her speech issues or expose her to dreaded mold — all these fears seem a distant memory. I finally feel like I know what I’m doing, like I’ve got this motherhood thing down. I know full well that this feeling is temporary; that as we barrel towards toddlerhood, we’ll be met with a whole new set of anxieties and uncertainties. But for now, I’m enjoying this calm and confidence. I am so in love with this creature and with being a mom, and can honestly say that this past 10 months have been among the most fun and fulfilling times of my life.
“When I accept myself, I am freed from the burden of needing you to accept me.” – Dr. Steve Maraboli
As the 4th of July approaches, I’ve been thinking a lot about independence and freedom. Though I am no less a patriot than the next gal, my thinking has been more personal, as opposed to civic. Namely, that of emotional independence. In my own life, and in my work with my beloved clients, emotional dependency (on food, on a relationship, on a way of being or thinking) is a big recurring theme, and is often times a huge barrier to feeling joy and living the life we crave.
So I ask you this: where in your life do you feel dependent, and how does that dependency make you feel?
What would happen if you let go of it? Of the need to be perfect. Of the fear of standing out. Of the plan. Of the self-criticism. Of that crappy relationship or unfulfilling job.
A lot of my clients and readers who struggle with weight or their health are holding on to negative thought patterns, past experiences, or current habits that are holding them back.
When we’re in a place of “holding on,” our bodies and minds get a clear signal that we’re not safe. It’s not safe to lose the weight. It’s not safe to get out of emergency mode and feel calm. It’s not safe to put yourself out there. It’s not safe to be happy.
Valentine’s Day can be such an upsetting holiday for single people. Especially, those of us who scour online dating sites, swiping left and then right hoping we may find true love, eventually. Some days (maybe even most days) it can feel fun and exciting; there are so many options! But then sometimes—like the week before, day before, even day of Valentine’s Day—online dating can feel exhausting, demoralizing, isolating and impersonal. Ironically, so, because traditionally, dating is meant to find romantic love where the end goal results in a sense of belonging and attachment. We all want that, right?
I want that too and believe that we are all deserving of such things. Regardless of where you are at in your journey to finding love and companionship, I have a suggestion that will reap the same neurobiological benefits.
Daily acts of self-love aren’t just fuzzy, feel-good luxuries. They are what is standing in between you and the body, life, and love that you are so desperately seeking. They are a necessity, and their lack leaves a huge gaping hole in your life that you then fill with ice cream, TV, wine, unfulfilling sex, and potato chips.
I know all your excuses, I’ve heard them all before. “But Natasha, I can’t afford massages!” or “I don’t have time for picnics in the park!” That may or may not be true, but each and every one of us has some time and some money to dedicate to the fundamental cause of our own happiness. So I’m doing the work for you! I’ve compiled a list of daily acts of self-love that fit any budget, any schedule. Make it a priority to pick one every day.. start small, and before you know it, daily acts of self-love, mindfulness, and joy will be a habit as natural to you as brushing your teeth.
It is very difficult to make healthy choices for your body, take care of your body, and treat it well when you hate it. Loving your body does not have to mean that you love everything about it, or that you do not want to change things about it. But loving it, right now, just the way it is, is a crucial step toward getting healthy, happy, and losing weight! When you love something, you want to take care of it, protect it, and make it feel good. When you hate something, you abuse it, neglect it, and criticize it. Which way sounds more conducive to healthy eating, lifestyle, relationships, and thoughts? Here’s how to start loving your body right now:
1. Determine where your body hatred comes from.
We live in a society that deems openly loving your body taboo. We have trouble accepting compliments; we feel the need to make self-deprecating comments; we bond with other women over hating our bodies instead of loving them. Find the source of this habit for you. Is it an attitude you inherited from your mother or a sibling? Is it a product of your social scene? Find the root, and vow to step outside it, be bigger than it. Make a conscious CHOICE to start loving your body, right now.
2. Loving your body does not mean giving in to what it looks like right now.
The biggest reason most women give for why they don’t love their bodies is that they fear losing the motivation for change and weight loss if they accept and love themselves as they are. But know this: if you hate your body now, you aren’t going to magically be full of self-love when you finally reach your ideal weight. In fact, you may even miss out on feeling amazing for reaching your goals because you are so mired with that self-criticism you’re so used to feeling. Regardless of what shape they’re in now, our bodies allow us to live, walk this earth and experience all the pleasures in it. That is a lot to love! Having gratitude toward your body for all the amazing things it allows you to do and experience, and loving your body for that does not mean that you don’t want to be stronger, leaner, more flexible and sexier. We can always be working on improving ourselves in some way, but when that comes from a place of LOVE, we will be so much more successful, and enjoy ourselves along the way!
3. Prioritize feeling good.
When you love something you want to make it feel good. When you hate something, you deprive it of joy, affection, and pleasure. Which way do you think leads to weight loss, happiness and fulfillment? When you love your body, you can shower it with things that feel amazing. Massages, yummy smelling natural beauty products, delicious and healthy food, dancing, sex, trips to the beach, beautiful clothes – all these things show love to yourself, make you feel SO much happier and taken care of, and yes, make weight loss a breeze! But when you hate your body, you feed it junk food, cover it in frumpy clothing to hide it, keep it inside on the couch, living a small life, and abuse it with alcohol, sugar, drugs, cigarettes, soda, and other horrible things. I’ll tell you what, achieving a healthy weight and a happy, healthy body is impossible in that state of self-abuse. Making your body feel amazing and taken care of should be your TOP priority in your health journey. See what a huge difference it makes!
Loving your body is just a more fun, healthy, and pleasurable place from which to approach the work of transforming your diet and your life!
In the comments below, share how you are going to show your body more love, more care, more pleasurable experiences!
By Callie McBride
I had the most enlightening encounter the other day at the check-out counter of Whole Foods that I want to share. I approached the one of many counters at the Union Square location and set my Suja green juice, Avocado Kale Slaw, and my Women’s Health Magazine down to pay for. The man working behind the counter couldn’t have been over 25. He had a bright personality, which I could tell right away when he picked up the magazine, read the cover, and started to laugh. He looked up at me with a smile and said,
“Man, these magazines are funny.”
I smiled back as he continued, “You know, Men’s Health magazine don’t have none of these headlines on them. They are straight to the point. ‘Get Strong Abs’; ‘Eat To Stay Fit’. None of this stuff.”
He was referring to the July/August issue of Women’s Health, bearing in thick letters, “GREAT SEX-EVERY TIME!’ and “A FLAT TUMMY NOW!”
I sheepishly laughed with him and explained that it was simply a guilty pleasure. He replied with an interesting thought: “I guess it gives me an idea of what is really going on in a woman’s head.”
Woah. I smiled and nodded to the man, thanked him, and was on my way; internally, however, I was contemplating his last statement. I asked myself whether I agreed if the countless magazine headlines are what consume the female mind all day long. Great sex? A tighter bod? Cute summer dresses under $50? It seems a bit shallow, and is definitely a generalization…but is there any truth to it? I continued to think this over by asking myself why I purchase these fitness or style magazines. A list formed in my head: clothing ideas, recipes, exercise tips, the occasional horoscope. When I see a bright red headline promising me that I can lose up to 5 inches in a week, it’s not the real reason I pick it up off the rack. Then it dawned on me-am I sure? Do I pretend to appreciate such magazines for their helpful information or celebrity on the cover, but actually just browse through them to seek out the outrageous body claims? It’s hard to tell. But, it does conjure up deeper contemplation, that is, what the media wants for us versus what we want for ourselves.
It seems that these days the media wants women to “crave washboard abs” and to “fit into your skinny jeans by friday!” That is, they want us to focus all of our time, money, and attention on our outward appearance by flashing highly edited photos of sweaty, tan women and listing gyms to belong to or DVDs to buy. That’s not to say that certain online and print resources aren’t helpful in steering women toward fun and accessible methods of health and fitness. I own plenty of at-home workout DVDS! The point I’m making is that the media seems to utilize a brainwashing technique of some sort to convince consumers that they want the same things that the magazines promise.
I beg to differ. On any given morning commute on the subway, I find myself planning out the rest of my week, which turns into planning the month, the next sixth months, and the next year. Naturally this leads me to consider my “master plan”-what I hope to be ultimately accomplishing in the future. You can trust me when I say that washboard abs and amazing sex aren’t my first thoughts. My career, my family, and my overall happiness fill those spots. I think that there are millions of women around the world who envision themselves in the same manner. They may enjoy learning the latest moves for a perkier butt and which superfoods are fore-fronting the health craze at the moment, but they have much deeper, emotional desires and dreams, and they certainly don’t need to be shouted at in thick letters on a magazine cover to go attain them.
So, what do we want for ourselves?
Part of what makes each woman entirely unique is the learning process through which she comes to know herself, what she wants, and how she plans to get it. There is something off-putting about magazines, television shows, commercial products, etc. that bombard consumers with a hidden message, “Do this quick! The faster the better! Spend your money in this way to be happy! We know what you want!” Obviously the people behind such brands aren’t red-eyed, fire-breathing monsters out to corrupt the female population. But their message can still come across as overbearing or cruelly persuasive, simply to make money or get something to “trend”. A woman who truly comes to know her goals in life has taken the time to discover what it is she is passionate about, and how her achievements will change the world in some grand or minuscule way. She has cried, screamed, pondered, and doubted her way to where she is today, all for the sake of her ultimate goal. No silly or empty-promise headline revealed a truth to her. She knows that these things take time, and dedication, and patience.
You may be thinking, so then why did you buy the magazine!? Like I explained to the Whole Foods employee, it’s a guilty pleasure. I do, in fact, love reading about which celebrity does what exercise program, and what the month of July will bring for the Cancer. It’s entertaining for me, and a way to keep up with the health and fitness world, which is a passion of mine. However, I am fully confident that “Be Crazy Sexy Cool This Summer” isn’t triggering me to drop everything and conform to what a couple of editors are convincing me of I want to be. There is a fine line between consuming media, and being consumed by it. I say this because it is my hope that all women read such magazines with caution, keep their true goals in mind, and don’t become a slave to a society that expects all female bodies to resemble that of Gisele.
So, friendly check-out man at Whole Foods, let me kindly correct you: women don’t think about flat abs and awesome sex all the time, though those topics certainly find their ways onto our minds. What we do think about is how to better ourselves and improve our way of living; for some, a strong core is what will satisfy that goal. For others, a deserved promotion or a family of 4 hits the bullseye. Whatever it may be, women of my generation are conscious of their actions and strive to turn them into success and fulfillment. A little article on the prime time to workout never hurt anyone, though.
By: Stephanie Heino
Did you know that approximately 121 million people across the globe have some form of depression? It doesn’t necessarily have to be a long-term, clinical ailment…We’ve all experienced some form of depression, and it’s never any fun. When asking people what they want to achieve in life, the most common answer is happiness. We all want to be genuinely happy. We all want to have that feeling of happiness that is independent of loss or gain. What stands in the way is our negative beliefs, thought patterns and our way of believing in and acting on the negative.
Here are some ideas to help you achieve genuine happiness and strengthen you inner faith:
1. Live in the present moment
Don’t waste time worrying about things you can’t control. You can’t control the past, and there are only some aspects of the future that you have any influence over. Make an effort to focus instead on the present moment, and what you can control! We all go through ups and downs in our lives, and by being adaptable and more present right now you will also feel more comfortable. Worrying is almost like praying for what you don’t want, since you focus so much on the bad things. And according to the law of attraction, you will attract all kinds of negativity by focusing on it!
When you overthink things you begin to listen to your fear and believing it is real which will keep you from reaching your full potential in life. We are all experts on listening to what other people thing instead of asking ourselves how we feel about a certain situation in life. When I feel with my heart rather than with my brain, then I truly act on my intuition, which helps me tap into this amazing unlimited source of happiness that I know I can feel.
3. Stop numbing yourself.
I have written before about the danger of numbing your true feelings with different addictions. It is an endless, destructive cycle wherein we use food, shopping, drugs, alcohol and over-analyzing to keep ourselves from feeling anything negative. Often times the act is triggered by a negative emotion we want to suppress (loneliness, boredom, anger, stress, etc.). In order for us to be truly happy, we need to learn how to deal with our emotions, and not just cover them up.
4. Delete other people’s opinions
We all have different opinions about pretty much everything and that is what makes us all unique. But, what we have to remember is not to take what other people say as our truth because this can harm our confidence, self-esteem, and lead to all kinds of unhappiness. What has helped me a lot is to understand that what other people say is a reflection of them, and not you.
How you treat your body will make a huge difference on your happiness and well-being. If we do not take care of ourselves and our bodies, nothing else will matter either, so it is very important to make changes in order to eat better, exercise regularly and make your body the best version it can be.
While you’re at it, take a look at these tips too:
- Recognize your unique self.
- Let go of what no longer serves you.
- Love yourself and get comfortable in your own skin.
- Be open-minded.
- Feel your feelings.
- Focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want.
- Release attachments.
- Practice forgiveness.
- Follow your heart.
- Stop engaging in drama.