My next interview is with Mickey (IG: plantsandplanks). I met Mickey about a year ago and I instantly just thought she was the cutest thing. I also always wondered “how does she workout with glasses on – I can barely keep mine on straight while walking! What’s her secret!?” Mickey I’m patiently waiting….
She’s such a sweetheart and I’ve been lucky enough to experience some death by Mickey workouts with my other Bay Area girls. She’s also been amazing in supporting me with my Pilates training so I’ve been able to pay her the favor back with some death by Molly workouts! Check out Mickey’s full interview below!
Hey there! My name is Mickaela, but please call me Mickey for short. I live and work around the San Francisco Bay Area, working as a full-time graphic designer and freelance hand letterer. While I have many other hobbies like drawing, singing, binge-watching movies, and plant-based cooking, my absolute favorite hobby is being active! I love all forms of active living and do my best to try out all forms; from running obstacle races and half marathons, to intense weighted workouts in the gym.
Tell us the tale of Mickey. How has your relationship with yourself changed since before you started the plantsandplanks account. What’s your current relationship with yourself and your body like?
To be honest, @plantsandplanks was started to encourage the dark side of Mickey. In early 2014, I developed body dysmorphia and bulimia. I used a secret Instagram account that I titled @plantsandplanks to follow pro-anorexia accounts, and to track my weight loss daily. I used my account as a journal to log my daily caloric intake, which at is lowest was 600 calories a day, and to also log my declining measurements. It served this purpose for most of 2014. In my efforts to overcome and recover from bulimia, I decided to delete my negative posts, turn my profile to public, and follow positive fitness leaders instead. Since then, I still struggle with the relationship I have with my body, but I fight to be more positive everyday. Some days, I am impressed by my strength. Some days, I’m happy with my body. Today, I am content. I may not be super stoked with my body, but even when I’m at my lowest, I will aim for contentment, because I know I should love my body no matter what.
All women have an inner critic – what do you do when she comes out full force? How do you pick yourself up when you’re not feeling good about yourself?
When my inner critic comes out full force all I can do is resort to sitting still. I close my eyes, I breathe. Those moments sneak up on me so randomly throughout the day; from even glancing at my reflection walking down the street or something simple like that. My thoughts to fight my inner critic aren’t so much like: “OMG, no, don’t think that way, you’re beautiful, etc” it’s actually more me talking to myself saying: “Shh, it’s okay. Those thoughts don’t define you. Those thoughts are blinding you from seeing your own value. Breathe in deep, bring your better self back in control, and keep walking forward.”
To me, personally, overly-positive reinforcement just goes over my head; I sometimes find it insincere. Having as strong of an inner-critic as I have, which is attacking my particular personality type, I thrive in being a realist: I do my best to acknowledge the critical thoughts, then do what I can to address it and ultimately prevent it from happening again. For much larger critical attacks, I just cry, hahah, because I understand that, if something were to happen that hit me so hard, it must have a deep connection to me. I will let myself cry it out until my thoughts have time to speak, in which they usually come through to bring me back to my senses. Then I repeat the process of sitting still, closing my eyes, and breathing.
How do you navigate your way through external negative messages we receive from the media and diet culture?
My strategy to not let media/diet culture infiltrate my world is to remind myself of my own tangible differences that make my world unique to me. I remind myself that we’re all unique, built in different ways to thrive in different ways. Sure, I’m not built like a model, but I am my own unique set of shapes and traits. I look at my hands and see hands that are able to draw, design, and write, in a way only I can. I look at my legs and remember seeing miles of pavement pass underneath it as I ran over it. I wouldn’t trade the experiences my body has gone through, and will go through, to look like anything that the media or diet culture praises as beautiful, not even to be a little taller. And we all know that I’d really love to be like, just a little bit taller, hahahah.
And, regarding diet culture, I learned my lesson the hard way, which is unfortunately what happens to so many people. It’s so easy to get caught up in fad diets, jumping back and forth between diets, being so strict on yourself and all that… that can very easily develop into an eating disorder, as it did for me. It’s important to keep perspective when starting a new diet, and also approaching diets with full-term goals instead of short-term goals. If you think too much in the short-term, you tend to develop impractical eating behaviors for yourself, or set yourself up for disappointment after your “goal” time passes. If you keep your mindset thinking about long-term goals, or the bigger picture overall, it’ll help you develop and maintain healthy behaviors that are the most practical to your own lifestyle, and it’ll be more easy to sustain. It also protects your mental health.
What’s the biggest struggle you face with the Instagram fitness community? Is there anything that causes negative talk that stems from the community?
Regarding the Instagram fitness community, a part of me genuinely misses the feeling I had, waking up in the morning, scrolling through my feed at those who inspired me, seeing what workouts they did today and what they ate, and then that’s it. Close IG for the rest of the day, and check back tomorrow. I miss simpler times like that. To be honest, my biggest struggle being involved in this online fitness community is basically because the platform itself is visual-based, so naturally, it’s easier to compare your own progress with someone else’s, only to feel like you’ve made none. It’s a shame… and many people have talked to me about not feeling happy about their progress, or feeling lost because “nothing’s working for them”, based only on the fact that they see things working for others. Even though we create these IG accounts to be inspiring or to be inspired, it also tends to demoralize us way more. I constantly remind myself and others that we’re all on our own individual journeys; we just so happen to be sharing our journeys together in one space. Just because we’re all here, together, collected into one scrolling feed, it shouldn’t mean that you compare one photo to the photo directly below it, because it’s a whole new different person.
As for the negative talk… hahaha, well, man. Before IG, I never spent too much time on the internet to read public forums or anything, so seeing some of the remarks that happen on IG posts appalls me. People are so quick to be experts on form, or recipes, or to be so harsh with opinions on how someone looks, or something like that. This basically goes back to my point that, while fitness accounts on social media are made with the intention of guiding, inspiring, and documenting your fitness progress, it can also help bring out a lot of the negative sides of doing so, right to your face. Which sucks. But that’s why it’s so important to stay true to yourself and focus on your own journey.
What’s your favorite way to show yourself some self-love?
My favorite way of showing myself some self-love sounds kinda funny… it’s sleeping! Hahahaha. Not even like, taking a nap. It’s at the end of the day, after I woke up early to go to the gym, went to work, did a bunch of stuff for other people, hustled hard; getting into bed is the sweetest thing I can do for myself. Giving myself a time to curl up, get cozy, and fall asleep with contentment and confidence for the day ahead, is what love feels like to me, from me. It’s the ultimate relaxation: your mind at rest from turbulent thoughts, your body at ease after exerting so much energy throughout the day. I regard sleep as so important because, in the past, I used falling sleep in a negative way. Basically, after a long day of running and eating barely anything, I’d rely on myself passing out at night so I wouldn’t have feel hunger pains anymore, and I’d wake up with a little more energy the next day, knowing that I should’ve lost more weight. Back then, I would fall asleep, but dread waking up. Nowadays, it’s different. Now, both sleeping and waking up is a very precious act of love to myself.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about how you feel about your body that you want to share with others?
Theeeee most important thing I’ve learned about how I feel about my body is: I am able to accomplish incredible things with my body. YOU are able to accomplish incredible things with your body. I mean that BOTH in a negative way and a positive way. I learned that, when I set my mind to it, I was able to achieve the most negative outcomes, stemming from hateful intentions. I used to literally say, “You have to hate yourself enough.” But from that situation, I came to realize that I just proved to myself that I CAN achieve something. WHAT IF: I used that same, incredible brain power to do something positive for myself, and flip the narrative to “You have to LOVE yourself enough” instead. That’s what made a world of difference. No matter what, our bodies and more importantly our minds have endless capability. LOVE YOURSELF enough to thrive. Love the body you’re in enough to live a fruitful, happy, healthy life for yourself and for your loved ones. Love your body enough to understand everything it’s going through; to appreciate every step along the way of the incredible journey.
What’s something you want to tell your followers?
To anyone who follows me: if you also have or have had an eating disorder, I’d love to hear your story. To anyone who thinks they might be developing an unhealthy relationship with food, please, I implore you to reach out. In the beginning, I kept silent; I told no one, and I kept it secret from everyone closest to me. That’s when my eating disorder began to thrive. Do not hesitate to reach out at all. I’m here for you.
Thanks so much for your support on this project Mickey!! Go follow Mickey at plantsandplanks.
I’ve been working on a project for the past few months on body positivity. We all follow influential people on Instagram, whether it be a fitness instagrammer, a model, athlete, photographer, you name it. I’ve been reaching out some these influential people to take part in my body positivity blog series. I thought it would be a great way to hear their point of view. These people may have thousands of followers but they are still human. They have all experienced body issues at one point and they may still even have their tough days. It’s helpful to see that these people we admire on Instagram are just like the rest of us. Human.
Today, I’m posting an interview with Megan (positively.megan). I’ve been following Megan for quite some time, her Instagram feed is yes – positive! There is something endearing about her and you can feel that when you scroll through her feed. I was so happy when she was up for doing this interview. She’s a great person to start off the series because she is absolutely positive!
Megan is a wife, a special education teacher, a goofball and a woman who loves to promote healthy living from the inside out.
How has your relationship with your body and with yourself evolved? Can you talk us through your story of where you were a few years ago to where you are now?
Let me take you back to frizzy hair, cheap makeup, and ill-fitting clothes. That’s right… my high school years! Throughout high school I was always the girl who friends would consider “average”. I was neither “skinny” nor “fat”. I was perfectly “in the middle”. In high school, I was blessed to have amazing friends, but body image was simply not spoken of. I know everyone was thinking it and that we all had our insecurities, but no one said much. I WISH body image wasn’t so taboo back then. Perhaps going through all those bodily changes wouldn’t have been so hard. My average body and I got along just fine although I always wished I was as “skinny” as the cheerleaders or that I could fit into the pants at that one “popular” store where the sizes made you feel like crap.
Post high school, I gained a lot of weight. I was away from home and on my own for the first time ever. I ate foods that I wouldn’t have normally eaten at home and was not as active as I was a handful of months prior. Yes, the freshman fifteen happened to me. (Or was it the freshman twenty-five? Hmm.)
This is where things got a little “bumpy” for me. None of my clothes were fitting anymore and since I was out on my own and paying bills, I couldn’t afford a new wardrobe. The only solution I had been to lose weight, but I didn’t have time between school, work, and a boyfriend to workout… gosh no! I could, however, eat differently. I downloaded a calorie counting app for the first time in my life when I was 18 years old. When I entered how much weight I wanted to lose, and at the rate I wanted to potentially lose it per week, the app told me I should be eating 1200 calories a day. With no education in health or nutrition at all, I listened mindlessly to that recommendation and was EXCITED to finally get “skinny!” There was just one problem… 1200 calories a day was starving me. No, I couldn’t eat MORE because then I wouldn’t lose the weight the app told me I would. Since I was already drinking meal replacement shakes every day and eating all the processed fat-free and reduced calorie foods, I only had one more option. Diet pills. You see… my favorite radio channel and favorite radio host always talked about this diet pill that would help you get “high school skinny”. It worked for him and all the co-hosts of the show and why shouldn’t I trust them? (My naive self didn’t think that money endorsements could shape people’s opinions and experience with products just yet.) After subscribing to an auto-renewing monthly shipment of these magic pills, I anxiously awaited their arrival in the mail! The day they came, you would have thought it was Christmas! I read the label. “Take 1-2 pills daily to suppress appetite and LOSE FAT!” With the option being 1-2 pills to suppress my appetite and realizing that my body was always hungry with my new lower calorie intake, I took two and didn’t think twice. Within an hour I had uncontrollable shakes (from caffeine), a killer headache (from some poisonous ingredient I didn’t care about), nausea…essentially an overall feeling of illness. No wonder I wasn’t hungry! But you guys. I wasn’t hungry! Eventually there would be days where I would forget my pills and feel savage hunger, therefor leading me to binge. It was a rollercoaster of destruction for my metabolism, but it should start working eventually, right?
That went on for about two years. The pills, the shakes, the binging… all in secret. Not even my boyfriend at the time (husband now) knew I was doing that. But why? Well, I know a part of me, the educated, bright, caring part of me knew that what I was doing was wrong all along. So why did I keep going? To be honest, the weight wasn’t falling off; it was packing on and that was devastating to accept. One day I got sick. Really sick. Doctor after doctor after doctor couldn’t tell me what was wrong. Talks of MS, lupus, an autoimmune disease, etc. went on and no answers we found. Finally a doctor told me that I might have to start a form of chemotherapy and immunosuppressant drugs to stop my body from being ill the way it was. That would be added onto the 13 prescription pills and steroids I was already taking daily. I was 20.
That doctor changed my life forever. I cried so hard on the way home that I had to pull over on the side of the road. When I got home, defeated, I grabbed a pint of ice cream and turned on Netflix. A recommended movie was “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead”- a documentary. Ironic. I was “fat” (so I thought), sick, and nearly dead on the inside after that doctor’s appointment, so I thought “why the heck not?” Upon watching the documentary, I learned that the main character had almost the exact same medical mystery I had! Woah! In the movie, he cured himself of his illness by juicing daily for a month or so. Since a juice only diet wouldn’t work for me… at all… I turned to more documentaries about the power of a plant-based lifestyle. I was blown away and forever changed. That day, I decided to become a vegetarian. Call it a placebo effect or real science, I don’t care, but within a month of a vegetarian diet… my symptoms were going away! As the months went on, my symptoms vanished completely and so did the pills!
Four years later, I was still vegetarian, educating myself slightly more on the power of food, but still only eating 1200 calories a day. I knew WHAT to eat, but not the importance of quantity. I was now married and somehow larger than ever before. I remember the day I learned about Kayla Itsines and her Bikini Body Guide Program. I was in the break room at work eating my lunch and complaining to a coworker that all I wanted for Christmas was gift cards so I could by myself new, BIGGER clothes. She then showed me this girl on Instagram who helped women achieve their dream bodies. That night I stalked way more women than I am willing to admit. I wasn’t just satisfied looking at their before and after photos. I needed to know their stories. Their struggles. I needed to relate to these “unbelievable” women. I got the guides (BBG 1 and the HELP Nutrition Guide) the next day. I sat on those guides for a few more weeks until one Sunday I decided enough was enough. I was going to start the workouts the very next day; and I did! It was hard. My body ached worse than it ever had before, but I instantly fell in love with the program! I felt, happy? Successful? Worthy? Things were going great for the first few weeks, until one-day driving home from work I almost fainted in my car. Somehow I knew, but I didn’t want to admit it. I was STILL eating only 1200 calories a day AND working out intensely for the first time in my life. My body needed more. The next day I upped my calories to 1600, a week later I was at 1800. It was miraculous the difference in energy that I felt! But wait… did this mean I wasn’t going to lose all of my amazing results? I was nervous, but knew it was worth a try. That was the first time I TRUSTED my body. That was a turning point in my life. As the weeks went on I realized that I wasn’t losing my progress. No, I was making FASTER progress and eating 2000-sh calories a day. (Sometimes less, often times more.) This lead me to finally start doing home research on food and nutrition. Shortly thereafter I deleted that prison of an app from my phone and stopped counting calories all together. I was going to eat intuitively. I was going to listen to my body’s needs.
Today, I would like to say that I am truly one with my body. I know what makes it happy. I know what hurts it. I know how to push it safely towards new boundaries. I know how to respect it. I know how to love it. Learning your body is hard and it takes a lot of trial and error. For years I neglected my body depriving it of what it needed. Those years are hard to reflect on, but I know now that those years were needed in order for me to become who I am today. I do not share that so anyone reading this can justify many more years of abuse. No. I say it so someone can read my words and stop what they are doing instantly! So that they can know that health is far different from what health magazines filled with skinny teas have to say and what “that” celebrity endorses to get the perfect curves. Health is about nutrition, movement, self-discovery, and LOVE. It’s about building up your body from the INSIDE OUT!
So to answer your question in the longest way possible… (whoops!) My relationship with my body has changed colossally. My past self-lived in fear of her body. She hated her body and was afraid that because of it, people around her would judge her. It didn’t matter that she was compassionate, intelligent, fun-loving, humorous, and generous… She was never enough. Who I am now wants to hug my past self and tell her that she IS enough. That her body never equated her worthiness and should never impact her happiness, her love, or her quality of life. Today, I don’t strive to be skinny. I strive to be strong inside and out. I strive to have inner peace and accept my body in all its ever-changing forms. I make it my mission to help others find themselves, to fall in unconditional love with who they are as a whole. I love my body, I love my mind, I love everything about myself. It is not conceited or narcissistic. It is happiness. It is bravery. It is strength. It is how I am able to love others deeper than I ever have before. It is how I intend on spending the rest of my life.
We all have negative self-talk. How do you combat that now? How does it compare to when you used to speak negatively?
One day I realized that I loved everyone around me so deeply and with such passion, yet I truly disliked myself. I spoke so poorly about myself- to myself- and spoke so highly of others. It was a sad realization, yet it was one that needed to be made. I have a loving family that will never stop loving me and a terrific husband who thinks the world of me, yet here I was hardly able to find one thing that I loved, yet alone LIKED, about myself. The things that others told me they loved about me were always thought of as “jokes” in my own mind. I warped their truths into something that was more fathomable to me. It was a very dark place to live looking back now.
I watched a documentary that shared the story of a women who every day in the mirror would tell herself “I love you exactly how you are TODAY.” At the time, I thought it was crazy, even NARCISSISTIC. (Sad how society tells us that’s what self-love it…) A few weeks passed and I couldn’t stop thinking of that woman, so I stepped out of a comfort zone and said those words to myself while staring back at my reflection. I laughed. I rolled my eyes. I walked away… Until the next day. I did this over, and over, and OVER again until one day without realizing it, the eye rolling stopped. It had become routine and it actually wasn’t weird anymore. WOAH- I know. The next step was taking in the words, truly believing them. This actually came rather quickly for me. I started finding at least one physical thing I enjoyed about myself each day along with one internal thing as well. I would say out loud “I love myself for exactly who I am today with my bright blue eyes and my generosity at tonight’s dinner.” The things I would tell myself changed daily which allowed me to explore all sides of myself. Eventually I started saying the “negative” less desirable things about myself out loud and proclaimed love for them… like my tummy rolls, hairy legs, or acne on my chin. “Hey new pimple, thanks for joining me this week! Glad you’re here!, and so on. I am a BIG believer that our thoughts become our actions! Once you change your thoughts, you truly change your entire world! Once I proclaim acceptance to something that I am told to dislike, the negative thoughts have no power over me. To love unconditionally means to accept flaws and imperfections without judgement. I love my body no matter what. No. It didn’t happen overnight. But it DID happen with determination and an open mind. For that, I am forever blessed.
In life, we are surrounded by messages from the media and diet culture that we are not good enough. How do you navigate your way through those negative messages as someone who is influential in the fitness community?
I choose to stand for body positivity and the idea of embracing ourselves for who we are each and every day. One of my favorite things to talk about on social media is our “human qualities”- the things that make us perfectly imperfect. The tummy rolls, the acne, the cellulite, the stretch marks. I encourage women (and men) to embrace what makes them uniquely THEM! Society tries to tell us that being human is wrong. Having human quality equates to not being “enough.” I express that those same attributes are what make each individual MORE than enough! If we were all these perfectly photoshopped people with no wrinkles, no blemishes, absolute even completions, and manicured nails, where would beauty lie?
As someone who puts herself out there on social media in a candid manner, I have gotten some backlash from people. Instead of feeding into the negativity, I simply delete the comment. Negativity has no place on my feed. No, it’s not because my feelings are hurt. It’s because I want my page to always be a safe place where people can feel free from judgements. I want them to feel empowered by the comments and messages around them. One negative comment can poison the entire garden, so I pull the weed. Positivity, kindness, and love always win in the end.
What’s the biggest struggle you face with the Instagram fitness community? Is there anything that causes negative talk that stems from the community?
Many “large” accounts live behind a highlight reel. They post only the best of the best when it comes to photos that show off their beautifully posed food, morning abs, and round bottoms. I think that some people view fitness accounts as an unobtainable, unrealistic thing. I wouldn’t say it’s a struggle, but I strive to always show people just how HUMAN I am. I want women and men to feel safe and welcome on my feed. I want them to find things they can relate to and celebrate imperfections right there with me. I never want to be viewed as a fitness account robot. I want to be viewed as a wife, a special education teacher, a goofball, a friend… a woman who loves to promote healthy living from the inside out! However, accounts with permanent perceived perfection are still getting larger and larger. I think that as a society, most people have a problem with seeing human qualities in the media. They don’t want to see rolls, blemishes, cellulite. They don’t want to see what they can see in the mirror. They want to see #goals and day-dream about being perfect. They don’t want to accept that the photos are as real as Santa. I am not judging. I was there, too. BUT, my hope is that human bodies will be less taboo and less “uncomfortable” to see as body positive movements flood social media. My hope is that people who shine a light on the beauty of imperfections will gain enough momentum to help change the world for the future generations to come. Social media is a powerful platform. It’s time it had a powerful shift.
What things do you do if you want to show yourself some self-love?
Light candles and blast my favorite acoustic music under a blanket accompanied by a good book. (Seriously, I am the candle industries biggest buyer!) Aside from that, I allow myself to buy clothes that “aren’t for me” because in reality, all clothes are for me (and YOU), it’s just our attitudes that aren’t right for that clothes! I TREAT myself (not cheat) to deserts daily. I compliment myself multiple times a day, I love myself as deeply as I can that way I can love others more deeply. Finally, I workout and respect my body. It works SO hard for me to keep my alive, to shelter me, to support me from birth till death… The least I can do is help it along the way. I take time to be “selfish” and take time for myself. I sweat. I stretch. I do yoga. I give my body what it needs and I LISTEN to it always.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about how you feel about your body that you want to share with others?
As humans, we are imperfect. We get acne. We have cellulite, wrinkles, stretch marks, and freckles. We get bloated. We sometimes even smell funny. We don’t look like the women, or men, in magazines and we NEVER will. Our bodies are real. Our bodies are living, breathing organisms that work so hard to keep us alive. What we see in the media is an edited projection of what society considers perfect. Do not mistake a photo for what being human really is. Embrace your beautifully constructed human body and never feel inadequate to a photo. You are the real deal! Flaunt that shit!
What’s something you want to tell your followers?
Simply that no matter what society tell you, you ARE ENOUGH. You have ALWAYS been enough. No matter your form. No matter your history. No matter your struggle… You ARE enough. BUT, until YOU believe it, the world won’t believe it. Believing starts when you stop comparing yourself to others. The only person you should ever compare yourself to is the person you were yesterday. Choose to be happier than she was. Choose to accept more of yourself than she did. Choose to believe in your strength a little more, too. Amazing things happen when you focus on building yourself up. You start respecting other women rather than judge them. You start to radiate light and positivity. You start to change the world! Be a world changer. Be you!
Thanks so much Megan for your amazing support on this project! Make sure to go check her out on Instagram – postively.megan.
Everything in life is an opportunity, even when it doesn’t seem like it. I learned this phrase the other week and it really made my ears perk up. What an unusual concept right? How can everything be an opportunity? Especially when shitty things happen in life? How on earth can that be an opportunity?
Shockingly it can, it’s just all about how you reframe your thoughts.
Reframing is concept that I absolutely love. We can reframe our thoughts to look at situations in a different light. Let’s say someone stole my purse. I would instantly have a negative thought on this situation because my purse is gone which was maybe carrying my phone and wallet. Now I have to cancel all of my cards and buy a new phone – there goes a couple hundred dollars! Now let’s try reframing that. Yea I got mugged and that’s shitty, but at least I’m safe and alive! All of those things that got stolen are replaceable. You can buy a new purse, you can order new credit cards and you can buy a new phone. After this reframe, I can turn this crappy situation into an opportunity in many ways. I can use this experience as an opportunity to enroll myself in self-defense classes. Or maybe I can use it to get more involved and talk to high school and colleges about how women can protect themselves. Or maybe I can think of a way to volunteer my time to make myself feel more empowered after this shitty situation. Be creative!
Or let’s say you can’t stand your boss. Take that thought and reframe it. Yea my boss may drive me crazy, but this is an opportunity for me to test my patience and how I handle difficult situations. How’s that for an opportunity huh!?
Reframing situations can turn almost anything into an opportunity. So when crappy things happen to you, remember that everything is an opportunity. It may be hard to see in that moment, but it’s important that we don’t let crappy things beat us down. Go ahead and take your time to be upset about something shitty when it happens. That’s 100% normal and it’s something that we all need to do. But don’t let things fester. Whether it’s something small and simple, to huge and drastic, dwelling on stuff is not good. Those negative thoughts will just fester in your head. Have you every noticed when one shitty thing happens that a lot of negative stuff happens at the same time? Negativity attracts to us when we have a negative outlook. But if we can reframe our train of thought, we can get past shitty situations and move forward.
I want to be clear, I’m not saying that we can’t be upset about things that happen – that is NOT the point I’m trying to make. We should always feel the emotions we need to feel. Do you ever feel like you just need a good cry? I do. Instead of holding in my tears I go ahead and just cry. And after that cry, I feel 10 times better. I needed to feel that emotion in that moment. After that moment passes, that’s where I usually reframe my thoughts. It can be as simple as, today was crappy and I didn’t feel good, but tomorrow is a new day for me. That reframe helps me get out of my head and into a better place.
So next time something crappy happens, try reframing your thought and turn that situation into an opportunity.
Self-acceptance is a common battle many men and women face today. Unfortunately we live in a society that has a very narrow definition of beauty. We have numerous industries (diet,beauty, high fashion) and the media constantly telling us we aren’t good enough. They are constantly telling us we are unacceptable and we should look to change something about ourselves to make us better.
In this blog, I want to explore this topic a little deeper.
When we think of media it’s usually very tabloidy and all about the celebrities in our world. More often than not, we see negative comments from the media, like this celeb has gained so much weight, or look at her awful outfit. Celebrities are shamed for gaining any weight or not looking perfect. Even if we do see something “positive” it’s usually based on someone’s size. Something like, “How I lost 15 pounds and kept it off” with a photo of a celebrity in a bikini on the cover. They receive praise for getting thinner and losing weight. The media is obsessed with the size and weight of celebrities and it makes us focus on our own size and weight. No wonder we are all so obsessed with how our bodies look – because that’s what we are taught!
Magazine and advertisements aren’t any better. Think about those men and women you see on the covers of a magazines, they look perfect don’t they? Those women have no stretch marks and their skin is perfectly clear. Those men have perfectly chiseled abs and bronze skin. But do they? No they don’t – it’s unrealistic! It’s even unrealistic for those models and celebrities who are picked apart in these photos, being “perfected” by someone sitting behind a computer. (Take a look at these celebrity women who spoke out about certain images that they were photoshopped in.) These women, who are supposed to be the “ideal” image of beauty, aren’t even enough. Photoshop has become the norm in what we see every day. They are portraying this image of perfection and they only share pictures that depict what THEY think is beautiful. Because we see this on a daily basis, we are tricked into believing that the women and men we see on magazines actually look that way. We begin to tell ourselves that in order to be beautiful we need to buy diet and beauty products, and become a certain size to make us more beautiful.
The issue with the media portraying beauty in this way is that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, skin tones and the list goes on. Beauty shouldn’t be represented in one physical appearance, but unfortunately that’s what the media is doing. And, because we all have this distorted image of beauty engrained in our heads, we start making unrealistic goals to try and look like these people we see on advertisements. When we can’t reach these unrealistic goals, we get upset, and often try to make drastic changes to get that “perfect body”. We feel pressured to fit in with what’s considered normal in our culture. Enter our diet culture – which has basically been telling us we’re too fat for years.
We’ve been made to believe by our diet culture that success can only be achieved if you become thin, and if you become thin you will finally be happy. Or, if we buy a certain product we will suddenly feel beautiful. A bit ridiculous isn’t it? Basically these industries exploit our insecurities and we feel pressured to purchase their products. And you know what – it works. We often buy these products because we feel that our identity is based on how attractive we are. This why dieting is a multibillion dollar industry. We start to believe that if we can just take a pill or do a strict diet for a month that we will easily be able to keep the weight off. But, it never works does it? Those pills or those strict diets are temporary, and aren’t long term. Not only are they not long term, they are unhealthy! Diet pills should be a no no, putting those drugs into your body is NOT good for you. As for jumping around between strict diets, yo-yo dieting is unhealthy too! When you lose weight that quickly, you will put it back on just as quickly. Constantly losing and gaining weight is not good for your health.
So, I’ve talked about the beauty industry, the diet industry and the media and we’ve learned that they all suck. Well now what? First off, it helps to be aware of these external messages we receive and what they stand for. This can help you navigate your way through these poisonous messages. But what we really need to do is stop listening to these external messages we receive and start embracing who WE are. We all look different for a reason, you’re unique and are the only you out there, so embrace it!
You too are perfect just the way you are. Be grateful for who you are, the body you have and what you can do and start to show yourself some self-love. The relationship we have with ourselves is vital because we will always have ourselves. So try to be nicer to yourself starting today. You deserve it.
I briefly discussed intuitive eating in my past blog, Intuitive Self-Care, but today I want to take a closer look and address common questions and concerns people have about eating intuitively.
What is intuitive eating?
Intuitive eating is the practice of listening to your body and letting it guide you in choosing what, when and how much to eat. It’s about learning to listen to your body’s signals to tell you what your body needs and trusting yourself to make the right decisions that will nourish your body. When you intuitively eat, you get rid of external messages that tell you that certain foods are “good” or “bad” and instead you ask yourself what your body needs in that moment. You then do your best to feed your body what it’s asking for, regardless of what it’s labeled by others. When you eat intuitively, it enhances your eating experience; you appreciate the smell, texture, and taste of your food rather than focusing on if it’s healthy or unhealthy. Noticing how you feel after you eat certain foods it’s also a great way to connect with your body. You start to develop a more balanced and healthy relationship with food, where you learn to eat food in moderation and let go of bingeing and deprivation.
How will I know if I’m hungry or full?
It’s also important to remember that everyone is different; you have to learn your own body’s cues for hunger and fullness. For some, hunger can mean your stomach may grumble. Some people get headaches or feel weak or dizzy. Sometimes you may even get hangry (hungry + angry). Fullness can mean you have a heaviness in your stomach. The food you are eating may start to lose its flavor. It’s possible you may have a hard time recognizing these signs and that’s 100% normal! We’ve gotten into the habit of suppressing our body’s signals. To help fight this, it may be a good idea to eat on a regular schedule, about every three to four hours until your hunger is recovered.
What if I overeat or don’t eat enough?
No one said intuitive eating is easy. In fact, it’s not easy at all! It’s a continual learning experience and isn’t something that just happens overnight. Every day is a learning experience for me, sometimes I overeat but instead of beating myself up about it, I learn from that experience and move on. You can use those learning times to become more aware of what your body needs. How do you want to feel when you’re done eating? How do certain types of foods in different amounts make you feel? When we understand how we feel about these important questions, we develop the ability to make more balanced food choices more easily in the future. Beating yourself up for making a mistake will hurt you, not help you. That guilt doesn’t allow you to learn from the experience and it will be easier to repeat that perceived “mistake” in the future. This may sound impossible but it does get easier. Over time you will start to discover what foods make you feel good and which ones make you feel bad. You’ll learn how much food leaves you feeling nourish and satisfied. It’s important to note these states won’t always be the same – every day is different!
Am I even hungry for food?
Are you really hungry for food? It’s important to take a moment and ask yourself if it’s really food you’re hungry for, or is it something else? Are you bored? Stressed? Lonely? Anxious? Is eating really going to satisfy what you’re really hungry for? We won’t always be perfect but there will be times when you eat even if you aren’t physically hungry. But it’s important to be aware of how you’re feeling when you turn to food. Asking yourself, am I really hungry right now? or am I really hungry for this?
Will I lose or gain weight if I eat intuitively?
This is probably the most common concern people have with intuitive eating. Listening to your body and eating intuitively may cause you to lose weight, gain weight or not change weight at all. But regardless of what happens to your weight, eating intuitively will lead to sustainable self-care. Did you know we all have a set point weight? It’s a weight that your body likes to be and stay at with very little effort. Practicing intuitive eating helps you get to a stable set point weight. This will reduce your diet cycle of constantly losing or gaining weight. Your set point weight is based on a few things including: your particular body, your genetics and your past history with weight loss or gain cycling. You know you hit your set point weight when your clothes fit basically the same every day. Some days we will fluctuate more than others depending on your menstrual cycle, stress, or even the seasons.
If you do lose weight, don’t look at intuitive eating as a “good” diet. This will keep you in that diet mentality and you will focus on your weight rather than self-care. Weight doesn’t define your worth and success isn’t determined by the number on the scale. intuitive eating allows you to nourish your body and be well and happy. Remember it’s a process; be patient and kind to yourself.
When trying to become healthier and more fit, self-sabotage is a common theme that appears along the way. Whether we recognize it or not, it’s a common issue many people face when they are trying to achieve their goals. So how can we fix this? Well, we can’t FIX it per se, but if we are aware of the sabotage, it makes it easier for us to get back on track.
Self-sabotage can come from two places: the behavior of your family, friends and colleagues, or from your own inner rebellion. First let’s talk about sabotage from people in your life. When others watch us venture into this healthy lifestyle, some make negative comments about it. You may notice that people can feel threatened that you are embarking on this change and they may try to tempt you with food or activities that might not be in aligned with your goals. This type of sabotage can be very difficult because we desire to be accepted. We can feel guilty and threatened so we end up sabotaging ourselves in order to fit in. Many of us have a fear of not being loved. If we choose to be different from the crowd, we stand out. For the most part, people don’t like to stand out. Especially if it’s in a “negative” way.
When we take that step to better ourselves, relationships often are forced to shift. It’s important that you surround yourself with people who encourage you during your journey. Check out my most recent blog, Surround Yourself Around People Who Lift You Up for more on this topic. Like I discuss in that blog, it’s something I’ve really learned this past year. It’s SO important to make sure you surround yourself around positive people who support you. If you want to progress at all, I would even say it’s vital. So try and reflect on your current relationships, remember energies are contagious.
Now let’s talk about self-sabotage. When we take our lives into our own hands we tend to fear the unknown. We fear the change; we fear what might happen in 2 months time. What if you don’t lose those the weight you’ve been trying to lose for years? What if you fail? When we fail, we often make excuses for why we failed. That’s another form of self-sabotage. Because when you make excuses, you’re not taking responsibility for your actions.
Remember, make this about YOU, your health and how you want your life to turn out. Focus on feeling better and getting healthier. Try not to focus on a specific number. Don’t let the number on your scale define your worth and instead base success off of how you feel. Do you feel better? Do you have more energy? Are you happier? Those are the important things!
If you find yourself sabotaging yourself or letting other peoples opinions sabotage you, don’t get discouraged! It’s 100% normal and it happens to just about everybody. Take a step back and remember you are doing this for you. This is your life, your body and your mind. Make yourself a priority; I promise you will thank yourself later.
In life, it’s important to surround yourself around people who support and understand you. We should be surrounding ourselves with people who lift us up, not bring us down.
I’ve talked on this topic a bit before with my blog Energies are Contagious, but I want to dive in a bit deeper and emphasize its importance. Over this past year, I’ve really started to understand how important it is to surround yourself with people who support you. This means family and friends. Hopefully you already have that relationship with your family; family is family and there is no replacing that. Friends are a bit different; friends can come and go whenever. You can always make new friends and you can always part ways with friends that are not supportive.
The best kinds of friends are ones that you consider family. Ones that if you were in trouble you know you could call on immediately to come help you. Even if that meant they had to take a plane ride to get there. This is something I’ve experienced myself. When I was in my car accident, I had the support of some amazing friends, friends that I consider family at this point in my life. The amount of love and support I got from these friends, during one of the hardest moments of my life is something I will never forget. These friends understand me. They encourage me to keep working towards my goals. They understand my life decisions and my change in careers. They are girls I would call family.
Now not everything has been perfect for me in friendships. I’ve had friends come and go over the years. The friendships that don’t last end for certain reasons. And you know what? It’s FINE! Sure it sucks when you realize a friend may not be someone you keep in your life forever, but it’s important to accept it and move on. Relationships should never be one sided; friendships are a two way street. It’s important that if you are invested in your friends life, that they should be invested in yours. Not a game of you constantly asking how they are doing, or asking if they want to hang out and you don’t get the same respect in return. Friends we want to keep around are friends that stand by us when we are having a hard time, or support us if we have a goal we want to achieve. We need friends who encourage us when we need them the most, better yet when we don’t need them at all. Friends should ALWAYS be encouraging. Even if they don’t fully understand where we are coming from, a good friend will always be there to listen.
And not every friend needs to be someone you consider family. It’s also important to have friends that have similar interests as you. Friends that understand your day-to-day decisions. For me, I’ve learned that the people I connect with the most are people that enjoy being healthy (at least somewhat) or enjoy being active. These are two things I’m very passionate about. I find that I connect with these friends the most because they have similar interests. I feel the most comfortable with these friends because I can talk about these things and I feel understood.
I thought this topic was important to touch on because I’ve had numerous conversations about friendship this past month. Be open to change, even if that means in your friendship circle. Make sure you are surrounding yourself around people who love, care and support you. Those positive relationships will benefit you greatly and get you much further in life.
This past weekend, Iattended Wanderlust in Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe. It was an amazing weekend that left me reflecting on a lot of different aspects about life.
Self-love and self-care were two things that came up multiple times over the weekend. Whether it was a conversation with a friend or one of the instructors mentioning the importance of both, it seemed to be the biggest theme that resonated with me this weekend.
I thought this would be a great topic to discuss because I think self-care and self-love can get a bad rep, and people don’t focus on it as much as they should.
I want to start off by saying showing up for ourselves should be our first priority. Often, people think that self-love and self-care are “selfish” terms and that showing up for yourself would be a “radical” thing to do. But I want to throw out an idea, just take a minute and let it sink in. If you don’t take care of yourself and show yourself self-love, you are doing the people you care about a disservice. It may sound crazy, but it’s true. You aren’t doing anyone any favors by putting others before yourself all the time; you’re actually doing the opposite.
Let me give you an example so you can try and understand what I mean. Let’s look at mothers. Mothers tend to have a hard time practicing self-care and self-love because they are always so worried about taking care of everyone else. What does that end up doing to mothers? More often then not, moms find themselves feeling stressed out and overwhelmed with how much they have to do. This can lead to grumpiness, unhappiness or even being a bit short tempered.
These feelings can be prevented or even dialed down. How? By putting yourself first and showing up for yourself. I’m here to tell you that practicing self-love and self-care is NOT selfish. It is essential. It is something we have never been taught, but something that is vital to our well-being.
Don’t you want to be the best version of yourself? Don’t you want your friends and loved ones to experience the best version of you? The happiest, healthiest you? Without practicing self-love and self-care, you’re letting people experience a different version of you.
So what can we do to change this? Start putting yourself first. Try to be mindful about how often you put others before yourself. Recognize how often it happens on a daily basis. It can even be simple things. For example, if someone asks me to attend an event, and I already have a lot on my plate, I should decline. That’s practicing self-care. If I say yes because I don’t want to disappoint my friend, I’m putting their feelings first. But what I really should be doing is declining, and spend that time instead to take care of everything that’s already on my plate. That is practicing self-care. So simple, but these things happen to us on a daily basis. Some bigger than others but it’s all about finding that balance.
So take a minute and ask yourself, do you want to be the best version of yourself?
Stress is something we all experience often. Some of us experience stress more often than others, but regardless it can be damaging to your body. Most of us don’t realize how stress affects our body, but it’s important to be aware of it. Who knows, maybe this blog will motivate you to find good ways to de-stress when you are feeling like things are becoming too much.
I just want to start off by saying that our body CANNOT differentiate between real and imagined stress. So for example, a person is chasing you, you are stressed and adrenaline and cortisol push through your blood. Let’s say someone isn’t chasing you but you’re imagining it. Your body will have the SAME exact response as it would if you were actually being chased. Your body can’t distinguish the difference! Pretty crazy right?
It’s also important to know that we experience stress in four different ways.
Increased cortisol production
It may seem overwhelming but we have the ability to control our stress. How do we start? My advice is first finding the core stressor in your life. Is it work? Finances? Body image? Finding the core root of the problem and admitting it is the only way you can move forward.
Stay tuned for a blog about ways you can de-stress.
Why do we not treat ourselves with the same respect and love we give others?
Generally speaking, we tend to be very hard on ourselves. Letting our critical voice come out on a daily basis, putting ourselves down for how we look, what we say or what we do.
Is that the way you treat your friends and family? Probably not! But hey, it’s totally normal and we all do it! I’m guilty of it too from time to time, but it’s something I’ve been working on these past few months. I’ve found that the kinder I am to myself, the happier I am overall.
Self-loathing more often than not is based on physical appearance. As I mentioned in my previous blog, We Can All Use a Bit of Self-Love, we live in a world with a distorted image of beauty. We’re constantly being fed images of celebrity women, giving us an unrealistic image of what beauty is. Immediately we start to judge ourselves if we don’t fit that profile of beauty. But as I’ve said, beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, and the comparison becomes detrimental to our self-confidence.
First things first, we need to stop the self-judgment. Judgment keeps you stuck. Let me give you an example. If you really want to lose weight, but you can’t accept the current weight you’re holding onto, you will continue to judge yourself. Then if you do lose weight, you still won’t be happy. Why? Because, you didn’t stop the judgment to begin with. If you lose a few pounds that’s great, but that critical voice will still be there in your head, ready to knock down any progress you have made. Try working on stopping the self-judgment, it won’t get you anywhere!
It’s also important to work on being mindful. Mindful of your thoughts and when that critical voice comes out. A lot of times we don’t even notice we are putting ourselves down. It has become a habit to pick ourselves apart when we look at a mirror. So try and be mindful of your thoughts. If you start critiquing yourself, stop it! Take a breathe and tell yourself to stop putting yourself down. Try giving yourself a compliment for once!A good habit to start is every morning when you wake up is to say three positive things about yourself. They don’t have to be physical, they can be personality traits as well.
Here’s an example: (note these are ones I did for myself so they may not apply to everyone)
Lastly, we need to stop comparing ourselves to others. This one is super difficult, but it’s something we are ALL guilty of doing. We compare ourselves to an unrealistic expectation of what beauty is, as defined by the media. But bottom line is, if you don’t have the strength to accept yourself, you don’t have the strength to change. The comparisons are just destroying your self-esteem. Stop comparing and start embracing yourself for who you are. We are all unique in our own way, so embody who you are.
Just a girl writing down her thoughts on life post-trauma and body acceptance.