Category Archives: Self Care

Wrap Yourself in Body Love!

Hello, friends and Happy Valentine’s Day! For many years, I’ve either celebrated V-Day alone or with good friends and been made to feel as if that was something horrible. V-Day is one of these overblown made up holidays that forces us to feel as if we are less than because we do not fit into the stereotype that is pushed upon us.

Today, let’s do it differently: let’s start something new!

My wish for you is that you use today as a way to celebrate YOURSELF:

  • Take a hot, luxurious bath.
  • Say no to an unpleasant obligation.
  • Stay in bed.
  • Watch that movie you’ve been meaning to see.

Do something indulgent for yourself, however that takes form.

And if you need some backup or want to meet a few folks like yourself, learning to commit to body love, then you can take part in the Brave Body Love Summit. My buddy, Michelle Hess, along with 35 other body love experts will be rocking your world with messages of body love and radical self-acceptance.

You’ll get to hear from body love warriors like Ragen Chastain of Dances with Fat, Anna Guest-Jelley of Curvy Yoga, and many, many more!

Join me for the Brave Body Love Summit and wrap yourself in body love! Click here to sign up and I’ll see you there!


Suffer, the Caretakers of the World

(Disclaimer: I am neither a psychologist, nor a mental health professional. The following is solely my personal opinion.)

Are you a caretaker?

No? Doesn’t sound familiar?

What if I asked if you were a people-pleaser? Sound a bit closer to home? No?

Maybe this one might be closer to the mark: nice. Are you nice?

Yes! Yes, of course you are!

You’re nice. Super squishy, sugary, goody-good nice.

You’re nice to everyone, everyone, even when it hurts you to be so. Maybe you patch all that pain over with the idea that being that nice is being a good person. Sacrifice is a sign of goodness. You’re partially right. But, truthfully, being nice should never hurt.

I am a recovering nicey-nice caretaking people-pleaser. Well, honestly, I thought I was a recovering caretaker, but this past week I have been reminded that the road to recovery is long, hard, and covered in pitfalls and backslides.

You see, my in-laws are here for Christmas. Naturally, I want to show them a good time while they are under my care and make sure that we all eat well (because I’m super good at that). I am not trying to impress anyone… Husby and I have been married long enough where I’m no longer worried about that anymore.

So I’m in the kitchen everyday since they’ve been here. Going out of my way to prepare health-filled goodness for us to enjoy together. Veggies are everywhere. Stuff is being made from scratch. I’ve pulled out all the stops and even dug into my recipe trove for ideas.

This could simply be a result of the fact that my kitchen has been über clean since I broke down and got some household help, which makes it easier to get into the kitchen and want to do something because cleaning doesn’t have to happen first. It could also be because going out to eat at 4 people is a bit demanding and expensive (ignoring the fact that lots of restaurants close for the holidays here). Maybe I’m just really prepared this week.

But if I’m really and truly honest with myself, what I know is that this behavior is simply me exercising my caretaking side. Because I never cook like this for myself. Never.

Left to my own devices, I can easily dress up a pack of instant noodles with some frozen (or dried) veggies and a low-sodium bouillon cube instead of the MSG-filled salt-bomb they usually include in the package. Done and done. Even with Husby, meals can be just as simple.

Yet, throw in another couple of folks from wherever, I go full-on Julia Child. It’s been this way as long as I can remember. Even as I’m typing this, I’ve got turkey legs and wings roasting in my oven nested within a mountain of fresh, chopped veggies (loosely following this recipe from Simple Bites here).

Modified sheet pan turkey dinner. I promise the turkey is in there underneath the veggie mountain.

Modified sheet pan turkey dinner. I promise the turkey is in there underneath the veggie mountain.

Sure, it’s natural for me to want to care for those around me that I have affection for by preparing a tasty meal. I believe that this is healthy, loving behavior. But what I’m really talking about here is more than that. What I’m talking about is when being nice and a people-pleaser goes too far. When it becomes a compulsion. This thing can even go as far as becoming something referred to as “caretaker personality disorder.” A great definition of the disorder can be found in this article which I’ve reposted here:

According to [Les] Barbanell, [author of “Removing the Mask of Kindness”] these ‘nice’ people feel unhappy, empty, guilt-ridden, shameful, angry, anxious, afraid of rejection and abandonment and are emotionally and physically exhausted because they are brought up to put the needs of other people ahead of their own. [emphasis mine]

This. This is what I’m talking about. When your need to care for others trumps any need of your own. Being so kind that it hurts you.

According to an article in Psychology Today,

As a caretaker, […] it is your job to please and take care of the [borderline or narcissistic person in your life (usually a family member)] first and foremost. To do this you will have learned to ignore your own needs, adapted to a highly emotional tense and chaotic environment, and become hyper-vigilant to the BP/NP’s emotional reactions. Your job is to do everything that the BP/NP is not willing or able to do, give in to whatever the BP/NP wants, and carefully monitor the family’s image in the community. [emphasis mine]

No, my in-laws qualify neither as borderline nor narcissistic personalities, so this is not about them. They’re lovely people. I’m quite fortunate.

But I believe that through certain, unfortunate circumstances, most anyone can be forced into a narcissistic state where everything they do is focused purely on them, with no regard for those around them. I also believe that if you are subject to this influence by a family member or other guardian figure while in a vulnerable state, such as during adolescence or childhood, you can develop caretaking habits. But I also believe that you do not need to be exposed to such a person in order to develop this habit.

Because caretaking can be a way for you to get people to like you.

And that’s it, that’s the thing there. When you’re fat you’re concerned about getting people to like you.

Because society says that fat people are not worth liking. There’s something wrong with us. Stay away or get fat too. It’s the worst.

But none of that is true. We are awesome people. We are perfect, just as we are today, worthy of love and trust and friendship and care. We are wonderful folk, just like the rest of them.

So when I catch myself defaulting to the caretaking habit I’ve cultivated through my years of learned self-hatred, I remember this: I like me and the feelings that others have about me do not affect that.

Giving every last piece of myself to everyone else is a way to guarantee that there is nothing left for me. And when there’s nothing left for me, there’s nothing more to give, and everyone suffers. Remembering to love myself and take care of myself reminds me that I do not need external validation to be valid or valuable. If someone can care for me by seeing past the veil that is my fat, that person is worth spending my valuable time on. These people are the ones worth getting into the kitchen and whipping up something fantastic for. They like me for me.

So on that note, let me get back to my stove, I’ve got a lemon meringue pie to throw together. Happy holidays!

Like what you read and want more? Join in the conversation by clicking here and start your own journey toward self-love today.

The Perceived Absence of a Sign IS a Sign

It’s been a long time since I’ve heard my stomach growling.

And that could be for many reasons such as I am often drinking plenty of water and that I tend to graze instead of having meals on days I’m working from home. Yet, it might actually be that I’ve been distant from my body.

I got to thinking about this in a dream while dozing. Some years ago, I took a second job at Target to supplement my income and fill plenty of hours I usually spent alone, lonely at home. While there, folding clothes and rearranging hanging racks, I became acquainted with several young women who were deeply interested in fashion. These young ladies were taking alternative routes to education, for whatever life reasons got in their way, and working at Target was a stepping stone to have some pocket money as well as gain experience in retail.But the biggest thing I remember about these girls is that I would often hear them saying things like, “I skipped lunch because I’m getting too fat. Sorry if you can hear my stomach growling.” And that always impressed me. I was never one to be able to deal with a growling tummy for long. I found it uncomfortable and upsetting. I had to put something in it, no matter how small, because it really disturbed me. Maybe that’s a result of my working-poor background, but I just couldn’t endure long periods of empty stomach rumbling.As I think about it now, I feel that this fear was most likely a fear of scarcity. That grumbly noise was the very clear sign that there was not enough food, and that was something, through choices I was hoping would lead to a more abundant life, that I could leave in my past.

But remembering these girls makes me think of two things. On one hand, it’s impressive how much discomfort one can bear in the effort of avoiding the big bad fear of being fat. And on the other hand, how I have recently not been in touch with my body.

If I’m honest with myself, and with you, dear reader, I can say that I have been really afraid of exercise since my surgery back in September. The recovery has gone pretty well and it seems that all systems are go, but there are still days where I feel certain movements that require usage of my lower abdominal muscles are difficult. I’m not talking about Roman chair sit-ups or anything, I’m talking about movements you have probably done ten times today already.

Sure, it dances through my mind that I should renew my yoga practice when I feel the weakness, but immediately on the heels of that thought, I experience the flash of an abstract, yet graphic picture of torn, ripping abdominal muscles. And when I feel this way, I tend to panic just a little bit. Maybe more than a little bit. And then I brush it off, vow to take it easy, and recommence ignoring the signals given by the body I’ve been saying I need to listen to in order to have a healthy recovery.

And that’s the problem.

Noticing that I haven’t heard my stomach growl is simply a sign that I have not been in my body. My body has been sending signals that it is ready for movement, and even missing it, that I have been too in my head to heed. It’s time for me to unroll my mat and get back to my body. We can ease ourselves into it, no need to jump in head first. Just getting onto the mat might be enough of a first step if I truly listen to my body and let her lead.

Movement isn’t just about fitness, it is a communion you make with the body that you are apart of. It is the way you stay connected. Take some time out to reacquaint yourself with your body today. I guarantee you’ll discover something new.

What about you? What’s your body saying that your mind may be ignoring?

Do More Than Just Survive Your Holidays: Thrive!

I love the holidays and actually want to be sure that I enjoy them. Here’s my take on how to enjoy as well as be healthy(er) during the holidays. No dieting nor deprivation necessary!

When Failure is Actually a Win

There’s a slew of clichés about how when one door closes another opens, essentially propping up a disappointed you or I by promising hope. But I do (even if reluctantly) have to say there is sometimes a kernel of truth in every cliché.

A few years ago, I was working on a project that lost its funding for the inability to maintain cost and schedule in spite of the many chances we’d had to make up for it. Failure. This failure led to an opportunity for me to travel to Europe and work for a year on a similar project where I not only had some fantastic life experiences, but also met the man that was to be my husband. Win. My life had completely changed simply because one door closed and another opened.

Yet, being with my husband required that I left everything that I had known and loved behind. It meant increased difficulties for visits and phone calls with loved ones, culture challenges, and language barriers. It also meant that I had to leave my career behind and become, however temporarily, a housewife.

I had always enjoyed the domestic side of things, you know, on weekends when I could take a break from being a career woman. I felt pride when looking at the newly scrubbed and gleaming tiles in my shower. A big, warm meal brought me satisfaction. I thought being a housewife would be enjoyable.

I was wrong.

So wrong that I bur(y)ied myself in projects: a DIY wedding, knitting, language learning, becoming an entrepreneur. But as I became more immersed in turning my new hobby into a business (because as Husby says, the only difference between a business and a hobby is that one brings in money) I realized that my housewife-ly duties were being neglected. The accrual of dust on every dry surface and lime scale on every wet one was proof of how badly I was doing.

Unadulterated feedback.

So I asked for, and got, a dishwasher (for Christmas, no less). It bought me time but nothing else.

Refrigerator Reminder

The “gift certificate” for my very own dishwasher for Christmas, forever on display on the refrigerator.

So, at the suggestion of a few older lady friends, a single workaholic guy, and my business coach, I finally decided to get off the fence and accept the help I desperately needed.

We got a housekeeper.

At first I felt completely spoiled and silly and incapable. Failure. Why am I unable to keep up all my involvements and still keep my house clean? I mean, hey, we’re not even going to talk about cooking here… Failure.

But she came today for the first time after a look-see visit last week where we discussed our cleaning needs (my needs, really) and the terms of our agreement. And as she scrubbed places in my kitchen and bathroom I just couldn’t fathom, I worked. And felt unencumbered. Free. Win.

Having someone else doing the cleaning enables me to spend more time doing the stuff that fuels my livelihood. It’s an investment in myself and my future. Even in my marital happiness. I failed at being a domestic goddess, only to help me win at being a fat health coach.

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