#LoveYourself: Intro to Self-Care

Self-care is key in staying sane, empowered, and ready to face the challenges each new day brings. Self-care  is also incredibly individual and depends on your own personal experiences and needs.

For me, self care is about expression. When I hear people say they can’t remember the last time they cried, I just can’t believe living like that. Mostly because the last time I cried was when a particularly sad song from Next to Normal played on the drive to work this morning and subsequently ripped my heart out. But, I digress. The point is that I find expression to be incredibly cathartic, and that feeling strongly is not a reason to feel silly or ashamed. Self care is about listening to yourself, trusting yourself, and protecting yourself. 

If you need to take a shower and cry before you think you can handle anything else, do it. If you need to write down the reasons why a particular action made you so angry, do it. If you want to drive with the windows wide open and sing to your favorite playlist because you’re feeling amazing, DO IT! 

My other favorite self-care lifestyle tip is to learn prioritization. Preparing a fresh dinner, meditating, and journaling before bed each night is unrealistic for many of us, but you can prioritize yourself in other ways. Make lists so you don’t forget an errand midday and have to create more stress for tomorrow. Cook some extra foods on the nights you eat at home so you can save time making lunch the next morning. Get some fresh air, even if it just means cracking the bedroom window. Take a walk. Read a book. Write a journal entry. Do something for yourself. You’re worth it. 

Body Positivity: 101

Learning to love yourself, and your body, is a journey. It takes time, energy, and patience.

It’s not easy.

I think the best way to learn how to love your body is to take a look at your idea of the body you think would love to have. What shapes your vision? Is it a celebrity on a magazine cover? A friend’s Instagram selfie? Comments from your mom? The beauty standards that you have been taught over your lifetime are effected by so many different influences. You can’t just forget about them, and they cannot be ignored when they constantly fall within your line of vision. They must be acknowledged before they can be dismantled. When did you decide that those ideals would shape the way you see your own reflection? That your own reflection is constantly either too much or not enough? Why did you decide that someone else knows your beauty better than you?

Once you reflect upon what shapes your idea of body image, look at your own body. Don’t scrutinize it, but truly see it. Accept the pockets of fat that protect your bones, and the organs that sustain your life. Accept the lines that appear when you smile back at the face in your mirror. Accept the cellulite that is constantly blurred in photos. Accept your tummy, and your “ugly” feet, and your knotty hair. Stop apologizing. Stop missing out on the clothes you long to wear. Stop chasing impossible standards.

Start small. You don’t have to immediately start posting bikini selfies to prove you love the body you live in. You can start wherever you feel comfortable. That might be by treating yourself to a cupcake even if you don’t think you”deserve” it. It might be by wearing the dress that’s been hidden in the back of your closet because you think it won’t look as good as you had hoped. It might be by freely complementing others. It doesn’t matter where your journey begins, as long as you keep moving forward.

What the scale can’t tell you

Weight. Noun. Definition: the force with which a body is attracted toward the earth…by gravitation and which is equal to the product of the mass and the local gravitational acceleration. (Merriam-Webster)

During a casual Pinterest scroll, an article title caught my eye. “How to Tell if You’re Healthy without Weighing Yourself.” I didn’t read it. Not only because I’m a body positive feminist, but also because  WHY WOULD YOU THINK THE ONLY WAY TO TELL IF YOU’RE HEALTHY IS BY STEPPING ON A SCALE?

The numbers that flash on the scale don’t…

Reflect that your hair is thick and shiny,

Or that your skin is radiant with confidence.

They won’t tell you how many people love you,

Or how you positively impact the world with your work, or art, or kind spirit.

They won’t tell you if you can run a mile,

Or climb a flight of stairs without getting winded.

That you are allowed to eat,

no matter how much you ate yesterday,

and how much you didn’t exercise today.

That your body is worthy of respect and admiration.

The scale can’t tell you if you feel good.

If you are rested, strong, and nourished.

Your body will let you know when you need food, sleep, and love.

Just listen.

“Oh honey, boys don’t wear that.”

Story time. So as I was browsing through the drug store yesterday, I see a young woman with two little kids. One was an infant, comfortably tucked into a carrier. The other was a boy about my nephew’s age, no more than 3, toddling around chattering about something I couldn’t quite understand. Then mom clarified what he was talking about by responding to him out loud: “Oh no honey, boys don’t wear lip gloss!” This adorable, animated, curly haired child has NO IDEA about the social implications of gender. Lip gloss is literally meaningless in his little world, other than it’s something interesting that makes his mom’s lips look hella sparkly. Let’s be real, sparkly lips are pretty cool.

Anyway, this happened the day after International Women’s Day. (Happy belated IWD to all my ladies out there – ilu) I feel like that makes it extra ironic. After celebrating the women who have fought and died for our ability to choose, who have raised us, and who have shaped the society in which we live in so many ways, I hear a woman shove her son into a tiny little gender box where “girl things” are learned to be inferior. Well, to you I say “Bye, Felicia.” To the son I say that lip gloss isn’t reserved for little girls and grown women, and that things typically associated with little girls, and grown women, are not in any way less than other things. When you grow up, I hope you support the women in your life, who shaped the person you will become. Also that you allow your toddler who has no concept of gender roles to live outside the binary boxes.

Let’s Raise Awareness

Eating disorders don’t look like pretty girls watching the rain fall as they picturesquely sip Diet Coke. 

They don’t look like delicate collar bones clothed in pale skin.

They don’t look like the thigh gaps or #bodygoals you’ll find on Tumblr and Instagram as you compulsively search for thinspo.

They look like splotchy purple bruises covering your malnourished skin.

They look like notebooks filled with scrawls of calorie counts and hours of exercise.

They look like the clumps of hair that block the shower drain.

And the thick sweaters you wear to stay warm when you start to constantly shiver.

They feel like constant inadequacy, anxiety, and stress.

Despite popular opinion, they can’t be cured by eating a slice of pizza.

They are deadly mental illnesses that can find themselves trapped in your mind.

The journey to body positivity and self love is long and difficult but recovery is possible. You are worthy and powerful and you don’t have to go through it alone. 

How to Eat…Intuitively.

There’s a bit of a blizzard on the east coast this weekend, in case you haven’t heard. That means bundling up with lots of books, coffee, and comfort food, as going outside is basically useless. So, I thought I would type up a post on intuitive eating because eating is everyone’s fave way to spend a snow day.

Intuitive eating means truly listening to your body’s cues for hunger and fullness. You should eat when you feel hungry, and put down the fork when you feel satisfied. Sounds easy enough right? Well, it is, but the main challenge lies in eating mindfully. Mindful eating requires you to eat without distraction. To enjoy the flavors, textures, and experience of your meal. To not have Netflix on in the background, or be scrolling through your Instagram feed, or  eat while working at your desk. To eat slowly so your body can process the rate at which your stomach fills. To understand the difference between hunger and thirst cues, because dehydration can make you think you’re hungry when you really need a glass of water.

The other key to intuitive eating is moderation. You cannot live on only kale and brown rice. If you want ice cream, have a little. Eat your main course to satisfy your hunger and take in your nutrients, but don’t make anything off limits. There are no “bad” foods, but there are bad eating habits. Depriving yourself of everything rich is a set up for failure, because when you cave, you’ll feel guilty and can begin to view food as a punishment or a reward. Food is neither. Food is essential to your survival. It is also essential to your well being. Food is to be enjoyed, not eaten as quickly as possible to get back to the other more “important” tasks of your day.

Listen to your body. Treat yourself in moderation. Enjoy your meals. Enjoy your life.

How to be Body Positive in 7 Steps or Less

  1. Listen to your body. Eat when you’re hungry. Sleep when you’re exhausted. Take the time to breath when you feel overwhelmed. Respecting your body is key to feeling good about the vessel in which you live this life.
  2. Wear what you want. Don’t miss the opportunity to wear something that makes you smile because you’re feeling self-conscious. Fake it until you make it, and pretend you’re fabulously confident until you really are.
  3. Stop the judgement. Do you and let everyone else do them. We can’t help but have opinions on what other people are wearing, or how their make-up is done, or how their hair is cut or styled, but we can stop our opinions from creating negativity.
  4. Treat. Yo. Self. I’m a huge believer in treating yourself. You work hard, you’re a good friend/kid/significant other/co-worker/whatever and you deserve nice things. Get a fancy cup of coffee, go to the movies, or start a new book. Feeling good mentally is just as important as feeling good physically when learning to love your whole self.
  5. Don’t be afraid of doing things alone. Just get up and do what you want, don’t wait for a friend to answer the phone, or sit around waiting for someone to reach out to you first. Take your time browsing through the art exhibit, or the farmer’s market, or whatever you feel calling your name in the morning. The more time you spend with yourself, the more comfortable you become in your own skin.
  6. If you don’t feel like wearing make-up or shaving, don’t do it. No pressure (ya know, other than social norms). If you love wearing make-up and having smooth hairless skin, do it! You’re wonderful and powerful and unstoppable either way.
  7. Appreciate your body for what it can do, not just how it looks. The human body is incredible. Your body just fixes itself over and over again even though we may constantly abuse it by not sleeping enough, or not eating enough nourishing foods, or not hydrating enough, or not exercising enough.  You are capable of amazing things, because your body was built for amazing things.