Category Archives: Self Love

A Letter to You!

Dear Readers,

I know I have been very absent from this blog over the last month or so.  I hope you will forgive me once you find out that I have two very good reasons why!

I am pregnant with TWO little babies!  Our twins are due in late September.  I love them so much already and we are so happy and excited.  I decided to put a temporary hold on blogging for the last month when my pregnancy was still under wraps but my activities were mostly limited to gagging, moaning, and record-breaking urination.

I have some pregnancy-related stuff I’d like to write about, in hopes that some of what I have learned so far might someday help a hysterical pregnant woman in a Google fit to feel calmer and like she is not alone.

My themes of self-love and great self-care will remain no matter what, so I hope that even non-babylovers will feel included and find something to relate to.

Thank you so much for reading what I write.

Love,

Marla

P.S. I promise promise promise this is not an April Fool’s joke!  My humor is mostly limited to horrible puns and doesn’t really extend into pranking territory.

Three Easy Ways to Clear Stinky Stuck Energy

Most people have abandoned their New Year’s resolutions by now.  This is not because most people are massive failures!  It’s just that making big changes on the outside requires inner work and a life set up to support them, not just the white-knuckling willpower junk that we’re all taught to believe is the key to making anything happen.  People who accomplish goals that way are cranky!  We don’t want to be cranky.

I think on some level, we all know that psychological shifts are necessary to quit our bad habits, that maybe they’re just symptoms of something that needs to be healed on the inside.  But ‘healing on the inside’ can sound so daunting and unapproachable!  I’m here to tell you, thankfully, this process is not all sobbing on a couch about your childhood, there are simple and direct actions you can take today to create the shifts you’re looking for (though I highly recommend psychotherapy if it’s an option for you and you’re interested; I love therapy and will probably be in and out of it until I die, at which point I will seek out other spirits on the other side to listen to me talk about my feelings).

Stuck energy can be a major block to accomplishing your goals, and a sneaky one too.  Without regularly keeping the energy in your life a-moving, you’ll slowly find yourself sucked dry and unmotivated to take action to meet your goals without really knowing why.  Have you ever noticed how the moment you stop obsessing over a guy, he calls you?  Years ago, after job searching for MONTHS, I finally got an offer not two hours after I broke up with an ex-boyfriend.  Those are energy shifts at work, my friends, and they can alter life situations dramatically and magically.

The great thing is that there are so many ways to clear stuck energy that are EASY!  Here are a few simple ways you can clear out the garbage and ride that energy train!

COME ON RIDE THAT TRAIN

Your email inbox

If you’re like most of us, you have a buttload of clarity suckers making a holy wreck of your inbox.  It’s so easy to let that happen, isn’t it?  Every stinking time you buy something online you wind up on some list or other!  People give away really cool stuff for joining their mailing lists!  There’s that blogger you signed up for updates from forgetting that you never read blogs in your email!  You know how it goes.

The problem is, the action of sorting through all the unnecessary e-clutter takes up brain and energy real estate.  Even if you handle your email on autopilot, your time and thoughts are precious!  That two seconds it took you to read about and delete a sale from the manufacturer of your coffee machine is two seconds SAVED next week if you just click the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email.  More than just a time-saving technique, the emotions that these small actions cause in you are a waste – especially if they annoy you or make you feel bad about yourself.

So delete or archive all that crap!  Then unsubscribe from everything that doesn’t serve your highest good, including this blog if it goes unread for more than a day or gets deleted immediately without reading. On a practical level, when you check your email each day there will be a few messages you actually want in there instead of 25 you don’t give a shit about.  On an energetic level, you are clearing the psychological space for communication you care about and sending the message to yourself that you deserve more than stuff you feel ‘meh’ about.

President Obama only wears blue or gray suits to save his decision-making energy for more important matters.  Make your inbox squeaky clean and your next stop could be the presidency!

Your phone contacts

Thanks to the cloud and that magic machine that transfers them from phone to phone, your phone contacts can turn into a ‘this is your life’ situation without some regular upkeep.  I feel this is one of the drawbacks of modern technology… we can easily stay in touch with friends with minimal effort, which is awesome.  But that means that most of us still have people hanging around the periphery who would have faded into the ‘whatever happened to her?’ land had you known them 15 years earlier.

These extraneous people in your contact list are just keeping you stuck in the past in some way – especially exes, old co-workers, and friends who you’ve grown apart from and feel awkward about.  The flash of emotion and memory as you see their name are just not worth it, nor is the extra time it takes to find the people who are actually relevant to your life today.

Go through those suckers and erase erase erase!  Enjoy the symbolic action of saying goodbye to parts of your past without having to burn things and stink up your home.  Plus, it’s kind of hilarious to uncover the erasable gems – your old building super? Don’t need him on speed dial.  Someone you waited tables with for a summer back in 2005?  Something tells me you’ve learned all you need to learn from her.  Somebody you did a group project with your junior year of college?  What, were you afraid you’d suddenly get a wild hair to contact this person and be all destroyed over the one that got away?

If you have a dire need to reach any of these people someday, you can use one of the zillion and one methods available to contact them.  It will feel sooo good when you scroll through your contacts and don’t have to think, “Pete – who is Pete?  Oh yeah, that gay guy I went on an internet date with who made me split the bill for two drinks!”  Not that I speak from experience or anything.  Because the gay guy I went out with was named Paul.

Your closet

Clothes carry energy big time.  They have so much to do with how we feel about our physical appearance, they get all kinds of memories attached to them, their quality and trendiness is all tied up with status.  If you often find yourself staring at your closet full of clothes hating everything you see and/or you haven’t done a massive wardrobe clear-out in over a year, it’s time to get crackin’!

By keeping a bunch of of clothes that you don’t feel proud to wear,  you jam up your energy gears in a number of ways.  You unnecessarily increase the amount of physical clutter in your closets and drawers, giving yourself more crap to deal with when all you want to do is put on a pair of pants.  You send yourself the message that you need to change to accept yourself every time you catch a glimpse of those jeans that give you a major muffin top that you’re keeping for your someday weight loss.  You subconsciously send yourself the message that you don’t deserve nice things and you need to be afraid that you won’t have enough when you hold onto clothes that aren’t in good condition.

Here are some good rules for keeping your closet and heart happy.  Go through your clothes and, one piece at a time, donate or toss it if:

  • You have not worn it in a year or more;
  • It does not fit you;
  • You don’t feel like it looks great on you;
  • It’s in crappy condition;
  • It has a bad memory associated with it.

The ‘does not fit you’ rule is especially important.  If you recently had a baby or were on medication or had something specific that made you gain an uncharacteristic amount of weight that you’ll be losing, sure.  But other than that, I find aspirational skinny clothing to be such bullshit!  Toss those skinny jeans and find some peace.

The same goes for clothes that have gotten too big!  It took me the longest time to throw out my too-big clothes once I lost a lot of weight.  I felt like they were my safety so I wouldn’t have to be naked if it all came rushing back.  It felt so good when I finally gave them the old heave-ho!  It really is okay to believe in yourself and your body.

Now that you’re done, moving forward,  “Only buy clothes that make you feel like doing a small dance” (that’s from Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination, by Helen Fielding).  You deserve to get that toe-tapping urge every time you look in the mirror!

These are really just the beginning – you can hit up your bookshelf, your Facebook friends, your purse, anything!  The basic principle is being very selective about what you’ll spend your time and attention on, and not being afraid to say good-bye to the rest.

If it gets too hard, just yell “When in doubt, throw it out!” at top volume.  It’s like magic clutter-clearing courage pills!

Victory for your Vagina: Awakening your Feminine Energy in 2013

Happy New Year!  How late in the year can we say that?  I hope your 2013 has started sparklingly.  Mine started with a clean slate, truly, because I had a wicked stomach flu last week so any baggage I even thought about carrying over from 2012 flew out of some orifice of my body and into the toilet.  Way to force me to live out a metaphor, body!

This year I am focusing on living my life with more feminine energy.  I’ve talked about feminine energy living before, and I do a decent job at accessing mine – in fact, it was a big part of my recovery from compulsive overeating and maintaining my 60 pound weight loss.

However, my main focus in my life and on the blog has been on the sensual, in-touch-with-my-body side of feminine energy.  I have this strong feeling in my heart that now I need to take it even further, you know? This year I’m going to chop off my wiener for good and pay real solid attention to my inner goddess all the time.

Even though my eyes are brown, I always pictured that my vagina would be blue-eyed if it had a face. GO FIGURE!

Want to join me?  Come on, let’s get lady-tastic!***

Get Primpy  

Have you done the thing that is really easy to do in winter, which is slipslide into I-don’t-care-about-my-appearance-ville?  I know I sure have.  Combine my winter lethargy with the fact that I work down the block in a very caj office and you get one makeup-free, yoga-pantsed lady who sees putting in contact lenses as getting dressed up.  Oy vey!

The beauty-craving part of my feminine energy came to the surface recently, when my parents got me this crazy curling iron wand thing for Christmas.  In searching YouTube for how to use it and the beautifying that ensued once I learned how, I discovered:

1) There are a LOT of beauty tutorials on YouTube,
2) This makes it easier than ever before to learn about how to do stuff that I thought was up to professionals like put on ‘eye primer’ (quoted because I still don’t really know what that is) and fill in my eyebrows and do my hair in ways other than down or in a ponytail, and
3) How much better I feel when I put time into looking pretty.  I know that I’m more than my appearance, and I know I’m not suddenly somehow more worthy with a well-executed smoky eye.  It just does nice, “I’m worth it” things for my self esteem to feel like I’m putting energy into making sure my outsides are a good reflection of my insides.

If your inner goddess is crying out for some primping and would like some guidance, my two favorite beauty tutorial YouTube channels I’ve found are Pixiwoo (for makeup) and LuxyHair (for hair)(duh).  I guess I really like learning about beauty from women with accents.

Let Things Happen

Who do you admire more – Person #1, who busts her ass and makes a zillion sacrifices to get what she wants; or Person #2, who takes it easy and waits for a sign that the time is right to make a move?

If you answered Person #1, then like me, you need an extra strength feminine energy infusion when it comes to just letting things happen and seeing where they go rather than struggling and striving and pushing (which is super masculine).

For me, going with the flow often feels very lazy.  Sometimes I do just let things happen and see where they go, but I have trouble accepting that that’s not a lesser path.  I recently read Anita Moorjani’s Dying to Be Me (which I LOVED!) about one woman’s Near Death Experience, all she learned in that dimension, and her miraculous healing from cancer.

After her NDE, when Anita first started talking about writing her book, people in her life told her to pound the pavement, get an agent, market herself, network, and all that other crap.  She told them she wasn’t interested in all that jazz, that she would write the book as best she could and know that it would reach everyone it needed to.  Well, wouldn’t you know, a bunch of serendipities occurred on their own and the biggest self help publisher in the world basically wound up beating down her door.

I loved her approach so much, because if that had been me, I would have assumed that everyone else was right and that I needed to suck it up and do it their way or accept failure.  With diet and exercise, I learned long ago that anything that makes me miserable never leads anywhere good – now it’s time for me to apply that in other areas of my life, too.  And stop feeling guilty about the fact that I want to hurl when I think about signing up for Pinterest or making an Instagram account.

It is so liberating to think that we can just let go!  Rather than going all masculine energy and waving our dicks around, we can accept that what doesn’t feel comfortable with is simply not the right path (even if everyone else swears its the way to success).

Make Expressing your Creativity a High Priority

Whether you are interested in having babies or not, you have within you a feminine energy that wants to give birth in some way, a very natural creative impulse that wants to move through you and out into the world as your creations.

If you don’t have the kind of job where this creativity is nurtured and expressed, and you don’t do anything else that gets that energy out of you and into the world where it belongs, you probably walk around feeling like one cranky, frustrated bitch.  Who could blame you?  You’ve got a fucking symbolic baby stuck all up in you!  Go make something and push that sucker out!

Yesterday I bought a sketchbook and a whole bunch of paint pens and I spent the morning today making stuff – I felt so peaceful and had a wonderful rest of the day because of it.  The trick for me isn’t remembering to be creative, it is allowing myself the treat it with the importance it deserves.

Are you sensing a pattern here?  So much of balancing your energy isn’t necessarily about dramatically changing what what you’re doing – instead, it’s about shifting your perspective and what you deem as important.

Where are you at with living from your divine feminine these days?  How do you express this part of yourself?  How can you use this energy to be happier and healthier and bring about more of the goodness you deserve?  Did you stop reading in disgust at my third reference to your genitals?  Tell me all about it in the comments!

*** Note that I did not say “Come on GIRL, let’s get lady-tastic!”.  This is because one of my other plans for 2013 is to unsubscribe from any blogs where the blogger calls me “Girl”.  Hey, I’m just going with what feels right.

How to Let Go of Stupid Food Guilt this Holiday Season

Our episode of the Jeff Probst Show airs today (Friday)!  To find out when it’s on in your area, click here.  Also, check out the webisode we filmed in our mega fancy green room here.  Man, I REALLY love saying things with inspirational music playing in the background! If you’re a newer reader, hello and welcome!  This is the appearance snarking post that got us on the show.

I hope you had very happy Thanksgiving with your loved ones! I sure did, I love getting together with family and my uncle cooks a mean turkey.

However, for many of us who struggle to lose weight, that turkey has a big black cloud hanging over its head (legs? thighs? you know what I mean) because it symbolizes the start of the holiday season, a time of year that is full of opportunities to eat and drink crap.

This is not a ‘back on track’ or ‘Thanksgiving detox’ post.  The internet is full of those; I’ve even written one before.  Instead, I’d like to talk about a nasty, pointless habit that tends to hang around during this time of year, that you need to understand and then kick to the curb in order to make a lifelong commitment to health where you’re not a miserable, crazy bitch.

That habit is FOOD GUILT.  I HATE food guilt.  First of all, it has led to the existence one of my least favorite things in the entire world, which is when people say “I can’t have that, I’m trying to be good” or “I ate such-and-such, I was bad” as if overeating is some kind of frigging moral issue.

Food guilt is especially ridiculous because we need food to survive, no matter what.   If you feel bad about sleeping around, you keep your pants on.  If you feel bad about drinking too much, you lay off the sauce.  But if you feel bad about your lunch, dinner is still coming a few hours later; which can put you on a vicious cycle on this cycle of repenting three times a day forever.

This is how my food guilt cycle used to go:

Step 1) I’d eat too much or eat the wrong thing.
Step 2) I’d feel really bad about it.
Step 3) I’d attempt to reverse what I had done by obsessing over how to “reverse the damage”.
Step 4) I’d stick to that for a few days, but then because I’d be starving and coming from a place of feeling like shit about myself, I’d overeat again.

Then I’d be back to Step 1 again!  Oh, how my life changed once I learned to insert Step 1a, where I’d realize it was just fucking pie and then I’d move on with my life.  It got rid of all the other steps and my extra weight, too.  I’d say that after my decision to love my body no matter what my weight, it was the most important change I’ve ever made for my health.  I wasn’t walking around feeling bad about food and trying to make up for it all the time, so creating healthy habits became no biggie.

I know that “Stop feeling guilty!” is one of those infuriatingly simple directives that is so much easier said than done, right?  I’m going to give you a few action steps to get you there, as well as some stuff to think about.  So if you’re feeling like a bloated mess and terrible about everything you ate this weekend, use those swollen fingers to pull up a chair!  We’re gonna get you food-guilt free.

First and foremost, comfort yourself.  You’ve been beating yourself up way too much.  You ate something you wish you hadn’t, and that is okay.  Seriously, give yourself a hug, get some extra sleep, do whatever you can to best express to yourself the sentiment of “I love you, self, and I always will no matter what you eat.”

Secondly, take a little time to ask yourself – really and truly, why did I eat that?  If the answer is ‘Because I absolutely love it/because I was craving it big time/because it was an important part of really enjoying the day’ then I think you can just let it go!  A life where there’s no room to savor some junk food when the time is right is a life that sucks.  You will know deep down whether your choice came from a destructive or constructive place.

If the answer is ‘Because a food monster took over my body/because no one loves me/because I don’t love me’ then you can still let it go, but consider talking to a counselor who can help you to heal from your emotional eating issues.  That might be the last thing in the world that you want to do, and it takes a some time to figure out, but it beats trying another stupid diet like that’s going to solve things.

Lastly, figure out what you can learn from it.  Listen, everybody (and every body) has different needs and sometimes the best way to figure out our limits is to go beyond them.  I’m talking about figuring out what foods and food groups work and don’t work for your health, as well as what is a trigger situation that you should just stay away from completely. I still can’t really keep dry cereal or jars of peanut butter in the house because I just eat them all in a flash and UGH have you ever had a peanut butter hangover?? Worse than booze, I swear.

I have found that with regular exercise and healthy habits in general, regular indulgences totally work and don’t lead to weight gain. Just do your best to keep guilt out of the equation, which turns food from this fun delicious thing that nourishes you to a crazy monster who is out to get you.  Move those monsters out of the way, and suddenly it becomes much easier to move on and figure out what your body really needs moving forward.  If there is absolutely no way you can attain your goal weight while taking junk food breaks for special occasions like Thanksgiving, then maybe your body just doesn’t want to be quite as skinny as you want it to be.  And is that really so bad?

No matter what, please remember – it’s just fucking pie.

One Woman’s Wedding is Another Woman’s Goat Milking Competition (or, Living According to What Really Matters to You)

I am a married woman!

Our wedding was gorgeous and special and exceeded every single hope I had for it.  I get to live my life with Jonny, which makes me feel like I have hit the jackpot.  We got to have a beautiful day dedicated to our love surrounded by all of our loved ones, which made me feel like in addition to the jackpot, now we get to have a jackpot celebration party.  THEN – people gave us gifts, which made me feel like WAIT WAIT WAIT!  You guys, we already won!  Why all the presents?! Shouldn’t we be buying YOU presents?!!

Here is a picture that my aunt took that sums up best how the day felt to me: like it was overflowing with a gazillion different kinds of love, with mine and Jonny’s bond as the big fat centerpiece.

Even wedding planning was so much fun!  Nothing like the slow drown in a swamp of stress goo that I had feared (I blame overconsumption of reality television/chick lit/rom coms).  It was totally hectic at certain points, but come on. I was creating a huge and exciting party with the love of my life to celebrate our commitment to each other.  Not exactly harrowing work.

After all the hubbub, I am in a bit of a mourning period post-wedding. No need to look at bridal magazines anymore: my hairstyle has been chosen and done, the ceremony readings have been read, the placecard holders are off in the damn trash somewhere.  THAT SHIP HAS SAILED, the weddingbee message boards whisper to me when I want to visit them.  MOVE ON, MARLA.

The little details aren’t what I miss the most, though (but man, coming up with signature cocktails was so awesome. SIGNATURE COCKTAILS!).  What my little heart is really hungering for is the widespread acceptance by everyone of the wedding as a big huge deal.

In the weeks leading up to the wedding, there were lots of, “Oh, don’t even think about this until after your wedding,” and “Of course you forgot! That’s totally understandable! You’re getting married!”s whenever I’d apologize for not having my shit together in one area or another.

Everyone let me off the hook for everything.  Even if they were silently judging me as they did it for being a bridal fanatic, they didn’t show it… being a highly wedding-focused bride who let other things slide during wedding planning seemed to be accepted by everyone as totally normal.

It’s nice when our values align with greater society and everyone respects what’s important to us.  Our wedding was tremendously important to me, and much of the society I live in deems weddings as important too; so that was easy.

This got me thinking about one of the most challenging parts of loving myself, which is having the strength live according to what matters to me even when the rest of the world sees it as ridiculous.

I mean, what about when the world doesn’t give us permission?  What if, instead of planning my wedding this year, I’d opted to plan a trip around the world or become a meditation master?  Would people have been all, “Of course you didn’t call me back! You were in the middle of two hours of silence, that’s important!”  Probably not.

I want to be the kind of woman who does the unconventional stuff with the same amount of pride and heart as the ‘normal’ (vom) stuff, no matter what anyone else says, don’t you?  Let’s talk about how we can make that happen.

Don’t apologize or overexplain.  It can take a lot of mental re-training to let it really sink in that it’s okay to live your life according to what actually matters to you.  A good, action-based place to start is to stop acting sheepish and apologetic about your values (even if still feel sheepish and apologetic on the inside).  You don’t owe anyone an explanation for why you care about the things that you do.

Get rid of your own personal pair of judgeypants. As we learn how to honor what really matters to us, let’s give out lots of permission for others to do the same, shall we? Your coworker needs to take a week off to spend quality time with her pet gecko?  Your sister has decided to dabble in mediumship?  AWESOME.  Notice where you scoff at others whose passion and joy is different from yours.  And then try really hard to quit it!

Be really really super patient as you figure it out.  Your parents, your friends, and the media have likely been sending you messages for a very long time about what will make you feel happy and complete.  It can feel like you’re wearing an outfit that doesn’t fit to let it sink in that not everyone cares about making a ton of money or having kids, you know?  All that conditioning can be powerful stuff, so don’t worry if it takes you some time to tease YOU out from all the bullshit.

Don’t give a shit if no one else gives you permission.  Listen, the truth is, there is always going to be someone who thinks that the thing that makes your heart sing is petty and ridiculous.  Fuck ‘em.  They’re not the one who has to live your life as you feel all empty and your soul rots away. It’s nice to get it from the outside world, but don’t go trying to convince anyone to see it your way.  It’s a waste of valuable time you could otherwise spend on goat milking competition practice, you know what I mean?

3 Tips to Feed Your True Hungers

I’ll be back next week for my first blog post as a wife!  For now, I’ve got a guest post from one of my favorite teachers for you – Shelley Chapman.  She’s a stellar writer and teacher who I’ve been privileged to work with and get to know this past year.  She is so passionate about helping women to improve their relationship with food and cooks the most gorgeous food I have ever seen. 

Isn’t it cool that making proper food choices in 2012 is so easy?  I mean all you have to do is turn on the television and that steaming hot Olive Garden lasagna dinner is calling your name. Not to mention it comes with unlimited salad and bread sticks! How could you pass that up? 

If unlimited carbs and roughage isn’t your speed then you can simply join Weight Watchers and they have this really cool point system for the mathematically inclined where you can eat whatever you like as long as it adds up to a five pound weight loss by the end of the week.  Who needs Calculus when weekly addition can add up to loss?

Sounds good, right?

Meh…not so much.

One of the major hurdles for women who struggle with food and body issues is that they make limited food choices.

You see, your food choices aren’t only about the tangible foods that you can digest.  Although one would think that all there is to eat is what’s readily available in the supermarket and area restaurant.  No one told us, that there’s an entire source of nutrition in the form of emotional and spiritual food too!

How often have you experienced the pendulum swing of eating “everything-that-tastes-so-good-yet-is-so-‘bad’”  to consuming green juices and big obnoxious bowls of kale salad?  And then somehow convincing yourself that this is a balanced diet?

It’s okay, you can raise your hand. No one is judging you. As a matter of fact, other women reading this are probably chuckling to themselves and nodding their heads in agreement right now.  We’ve all been there at some point in time.

Do you remember the last time you were hungry?

She was relentless wasn’t she? Hunger is a beast!  Once that hunger rears her head, she demands to be fed and nourished. Hunger will literally disrupt your day…. shit, she will disrupt your life until you deal with her! The challenge with hunger is that if you don’t have the proper nutrition on hand you’ll mistakenly feed her “false food” like indulgences or temporary diets in hopes that she will stop her insistence and settle down. 

So how do you begin to feed all your hungers?

Well that depends on how much of yourself you’re willing to bring to the table. When you only bring a part of yourself to the table, the other parts of you will surely continue to experience a deep hunger.  If you’re anything like a lot of the women I have worked with, then you’re probably busy feeding this or that. Put simply, only one part of you is being fed while the other parts are still starving.  You see, as a women of the 21st century you’re well versed in leaving parts of yourself behind.  In this masculine oriented version of society, you were taught from a young age that some of your “feminine parts” weren’t as important. These included your emotions, intuition, nurturing relationships, curves, etc. Since you weren’t taught to really deal with them, a lot of them are still hungry and they’re using food to get your attention.

 Let’s distinguish your hungers, shall we?

1.      If hunger is not the issue, then food is not the answer. No amount of kale salad nor Weight Watcher approved chocolate chip cookies can truly fill you if your spirit is not #WellFed.  If your instinct is to reach for your change purse and run to the snack machine when your day is out of whack then it’s time to do a hunger check and determine whether or not your belly needs grub or your self needs a hug.

2.      Your cravings are vital to your emotional wellness. That intense burning desire that you have to devour that chocolate cake is a really good thing! Seriously! Your cravings can teach you a lot about your underlying emotional needs.  The key here is to not resist the temptation but to explore it. Mind you this isn’t a “free for all”, the term explore is not the same as eat!

3.      Become your body’s best friend.  When you are your own best friend, you naturally make “food” choices that are nourishing and nurturing.  BFFs know how to be #WellFed and when hungers arise, they make it a point to feed themselves the loving and affectionate “food” that their body craves. 

Earlier this year, I had the honor of consulting with Marla to create The Body Food Freedom Formula.  A revolutionary digital program that I created to help women lose the weight and gain their lives by being their own best friend. Not only does the BFF Formula help you get in touch with your true hungers, it also helps you discover which foods to feed your body, your emotional wellness and your overall life. 

You know that it’s time to start living a #WellFed life, click here and try the 1st module free or buy and dive into the entire program now!

 

Shelley Chapman is the creator of The Body Food Freedom Formula and EatRelateLove, a website that helps women live #WellFed lives by featuring delicious recipes, emotional wellness articles and wellness events.  She resides in Brooklyn, NY and can be found basking in yum when she’s not cooking, writing or speaking about wellness.

Self Care and the Menstrual Cycle

While I’m staring at the Hawaiian sunset and my new husband, some of the smartest ladies on the internet have agreed to share their brilliance with you.  Today’s post comes from the amazing Jo Macdonald , a woman whose work surrounding the menstrual cycle is so going to make it so we all stop calling our periods ‘the curse’ and get our heads on straight surrounding living according to our natural rhythms and cycles.  Thank you so much, Jo!

Self-care and the menstrual cycle – I’m willing to take a small bet (nothing huge, I’m not willing to strip off naked and run through my neighbourhood for you, after all we only just met!) that the first thing that popped into your head was dealing with PMS and finding ways to make it easier to cope with that dreaded ‘time of the month’. Am I right? After all this is what most women think of when anyone mentions menstruation. And while it is hugely important to find ways to help PMS the self-care process starts way before that.

It starts with the cycle itself.

If I asked you what day of your menstrual cycle you are on today would you know? Could you take a guess? Do you know how long your cycle is and whether you are regular or not? Don’t worry, few women know the answer to all of these questions because we’ve never been told that it’s important. That knowing our menstrual cycle intimately is the ultimate self-care practice. That knowing where we are in our cycle can change our lives. And how do we know where we are in our cycles. By charting, baby. It’s the new in-thing, everyone’s at it…or at least they will be if I have my way.

Most of us only hear about charting our menstrual cycle if we are trying to get pregnant and need to know when we are at our most fertile time but there is soooo much more excitingness to it. For example, did you know that:

  • We women are cyclical beings with natural highs & lows each month, forming a repetitive rhythm. As we rediscover our own cycle, and identify our own rhythm, we build a deeper understanding of ourselves and can use this to live our best lives.
  • Once we discover when our natural high is (usually around ovulation) we can use this time to be more productive and creative, whilst during our lows (e.g. menstruation) we can slow down and nurture ourselves. By rocking our natural rhythm and not suppressing it we can live a healthier, happier, more rewarding life.
  • Charting our cycle enables us to spot when things are not working well:  excessive pain, bleeding between periods, etc. Being more aware of your own health is hugely empowering and can mean that serious illnesses are spotted more quickly enabling speedier diagnosis and treatment – all big pluses in my book. ♥
  • Charting your cycle can also bring a deep sense of peace and acceptance with yourself as a woman as you begin to understand your body’s needs and learn to reconnect your mind with your body. It can also help to lessen, and even eliminate, PMS symptoms.
  • Charting your cycle can improve your parenting, fitness regime, work life and, yes, even your sex life – WooHoo!

How cool is all that? And it’s available to every woman and comes free with your own body! All you need to do is start paying more attention to your menstrual cycle, right now, today. Are you willing to give yourself the ultimate self-care gift today?

You can grab a copy of my popular Ebook ‘Rock Your Rhythms – the easy guide to charting your menstrual cycle’ for half-price by entering the special code LOVEMYPERIOD here.

Jo Macdonald is a menstrual cycle educator, author of ‘Note to Self: The Secret to becoming your own  Best Friend’, workshop facilitator and women’s circle leader. Discover more about her and her work at www.jomacdonald.com. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Why You Need to Take it Easy

We’re MARRIED and off to Maui on our honeymoon – YES!  I want to focus all of my attention on enjoying my new husband and each and every tropical cocktail, so while I am gone I’ll keep Your Full Plate from getting.. empty with guest and greatest hits posts.  Today’s post was from last winter and seemed timely considering that my major plans for the next two weeks are napping on a beach and hugging a dolphin.  Love you, see you in November!

Last week I read a beautiful blog post by Goddess Leonie called Things I Learned After the Worst Year of my Life.  One line in particular stuck with me like crazy:

Be gentle with yourself. Make it your default centre. “How can I be more easy on myself right now? What’s the easiest route?”

Those words were such a gift to me!  Today I want to pass this gift along to you.  Especially during this crazy assed time of year, when keeping your shit even kind of together is a giant accomplishment.  I want to give you permission, busy women, to do things in the easiest, gentlest way in all areas of your life

But isn’t the Easy Way for Wusses?

The path of least resistance has an undeserved baaad reputation.  I blame our masculine-energy dominated society.  Remember, masculine energy loves crushing obstacles in its highly focused path to a goal.  That is all well and good, but if you don’t balance this with some good old fashioned feminine flow, you will wind up one cranky bitch.

Now please note!  I am not saying that hard work is bad.  Hard work is awesome!  It is incredibly satisfying to throw yourself whole hog into the things that matter to you.

Instead, I’m saying that the thought “The whole blood, sweat, and tears thing is what it takes to make my life great” is just that – a thought.  If you’re walking around feeling fried beyond belief, you are living proof that this thought is not always true.  The path of naps, hugs, and support can be admirable and productive, too, you know.

I’m also not saying that you shouldn’t challenge yourself, and strive for growth.  Human beings are naturally geared towards expansion, and always desire more.  Without that, I’d be scratching this blog on a wall in my cave.

Instead, just consider that loving yourself better, and giving yourself a frigging BREAK once in awhile is a growth experience too.

How You Might be Making Things Harder than You Need To

Below are my suggestions for how to find some currents in your life to push you along, rather than swimming upstream like mad and ending up as an exhausted shell of a personfish.

Before I give you this list, please know that I’m learning how to live this right along with you.  Two nights ago, I was totally exhausted and could not get this post out even though I was willing myself to do it.  Jonny pointed out to me the irony of forcing myself to write a blog about being easy on oneself.  Oy vey!

Let’s keep working on it, okay?  Here are some of the ways I’ve identified where you might be ignoring the big fat sign that says EASY GENTLE ROAD RIGHT THIS WAY!

Exercise your right to say no, lovingly and graciously.  Handing out resentment-filled yeses like crazy is the exact opposite of taking it easy.  Expending a load of energy to cover up that you’re doing something you don’t want to be doing is really draining. If you haven’t developed the self love to be motivated by that yet, keep this in mind:  anything given resentfully does not feel good for the receiver either.

Use sick and vacation time, if it’s available at your job.  We are a bunch of fucking sickos with this in America.  Most of us would feel more shame in telling a boss, “I took a few days to rest” than in telling them that “I dragged my dying self to work with a fever and diarrhea”.  Seriously, take a moment and think about how twisted that is.

Redefine the values you feel proud of exhibiting based on what you actually, um, value.    It is okay to hold self-loving acts in the same esteem as acts that help everyone else, to consider emotional work as important as work that you do for money.  I know that your brain will fight you on this at first, but it will get easier with practice.

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.  I know that some of you, upon asking for what you want and actually getting it, immediately start feeling guilty rather than receiving joyfully.  I am the queen of this.  I’m always all, “Oh are you SURE? Really, because you don’t have to.  Truly, just forget it if you want to, it was a dumb idea anyway.”  Cut the crap!  You deserve to get what you want.

Assess what you can do comfortably without going insane.  Label that as “enough” and then let it go!  Bonus points if you can take it one step further and label it as “perfect”.

Are you addicted to the hard stuff?  What are some ways you can make life easier for yourself, and treat yourself more gently?  If you don’t want to, why?  Comment away, I want to hear your thoughts on this!

 

Why You Can’t Stop Eating

I had my first binge my freshman year of college.  I label it as the first because it was the first time I ever found that I wanted to stop eating, and I just absolutely could not.

That day, I started a pattern that stayed with me for years:  I ate a little bit over my daily calorie allotment and then it was like a switch had been flipped in me and I ate and ate and ate until I went to bed that night.  I can’t swear to it but I’m pretty it started with Vanilla Power Bars that my parents had bought me from Costco over winter break.  Also a heavy indication that I wasn’t in my right mind, because Vanilla Power Bars taste like sweet erasers.  But I digress.  I felt ashamed, guilty, and sick.

This coincided with my first diet.  I am so convinced that diets create way more problems than they solve!  Prior to that first time, I was overweight and always a food-lover who definitely over ate and used food to cope with my emotions. Once I added dieting to the mix, I knew what I was supposed to be eating – I just couldn’t stick to it.  I quickly became one of those people who orders a salad or other ‘virtuous’ food in front of other people but then eats herself sick in private.

I struggled with this for years, a struggle that included wildly fluctuating weight… ‘I can’t wear what I bought last month’, ‘I gained eleven pounds this weekend’-type fluctuations.  I avoided the people who had been so gung ho and wide-eyed and “OH WOW YOU LOOK SO GREAT!” about my initial weight loss.  I felt too embarrassed imagining them looking at my gained-it-all-back-plus body and wondering what happened.

I tried everything I could think of to get better.  I spent several years in a twelve step program.  I went to lots of therapy. I read every single book I could find on the topic of compulsive overeating.  I cut out certain foods, I added in certain foods, I ate in only measured amounts, I intentionally ate as much as I wanted.

It all helped, in its own way.  But at the same time, none of it helped.  What I mean is, I never had that lightbulb moment of “Oh WAIT!  This is what emotional wound I needed to heal/memory I needed to stop repressing!  Now I am one of those people who can eat a few bites of dessert and stop!”

Instead, I discovered that my own personal recovery was slow.  One area at a time, I uncovered un-self-loving ways I’d been behaving and relating that, as I changed them, helped me to develop into the kind of woman who does not eat an entire cake in one sitting, and who can fit into the same pair of jeans for four years.  It was also way more complicated than the weight loss industry would have had me believe – in their brief nods to compulsive overeating in diet books, where they claimed that if I’d just call a friend or write in a journal that I’d suddenly be the kind of person who can eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full.  So simple!

There’s other stuff that helped too, like realizing that being restrictive drives me insane, that I am totally fascinated and in love with food (I mean, HELLO) and that’s really okay, and that people are way too busy thinking about their own insecurities to give a shit how thin or not thin I am.

Today, though, I want to share with you what emotional hot buttons I uncovered over time, in case you’re stuck in the same starve-binge cycle I was.  You’ve got your own unique journey and your own shit to wade through, but I’m hoping that this will give you some food for thought in exploring the whole “It’s not what you’re eating, it’s what’s eating you” thing.

You are out of touch with your body

I think that the number of American women with overeating issues is a symptom of all of us trying to make it work in our very masculine-energy society, a society that devalues the sensual, feeling power of feminine in favor of the thinking, goal-oriented masculine.

The working world in our country is especially masculine energy (even in female-dominated industries), and so many of us spend all frigging day in it.  We hide our feelings in the name of ‘professionalism’.  We trap ourselves in in sensory-deprived environments trapped inside gray walls with flourescent lighting – UGH.  We constrict our bodies in uptight, uncomfortable clothes that hide our femininity.

Compulsive overeating might be your body screaming and begging to be honored and attended to.  For so many of us, we’ve gotten so out of tune with our bodies, and out of practice with giving our bodies the pleasure they crave.

Food is one of the only sensual pleasures that you regularly allow yourself.  It makes so much sense that you would go positively apeshit on it.

As an easy start, what small thing can you do today to get out of your mind and into your body?

You are an overgiver

You take on everyone’s problems like it’s your job to fix them.  You are the first person that your people call when they need someone, but when it comes to receiving you feel awkward and guilty and like you don’t deserve it.  You say yes when what you really want to do is say no.  You call to see how people are doing when you know they’re going through a rough time, you take the time to write every asshole on your Facebook feed a personal happy birthday message.  You smile and say, “Sure, no problem!  I can do it!” whenever something extra needs doing at work.

If I’m describing you, and you also can’t seem to stop eating, really think about it – with your energy so constantly flowing out of you, it is no wonder that you can’t ever seem to get ‘full’.

I can imagine that this is a reason that so many women struggle with overeating after their children are born.  It’s one of the most extreme states of giving to another that I can think of.  It’s no wonder that it creates a feeling of endless hunger.  I’d never want mothers of babies to stop doing what they do – but this is a new lens to view ‘baby weight’ through.

In my experience, breaking away from overgiving is one of the hardest behaviors to change – I’m actually working on an e-book about it to help make the process easier.  We ‘nice girls’ have built up such an identity around always being the one who is there for everyone. It feels like stepping off a cliff into a cavern of unloveable-ness to think of how we might relate to people without being that “You’re the best!” person who can always be depended upon no matter what the degree of inconvenience caused.

I will say this, though – it is the most important change that I made, and the area that is very frequently to blame when I feel myself backsliding into binge land.

As an easy start, in what small way can you give to yourself today?  This will get your energies a bit more back in balance, even if you’re not ready to slow down on giving to others yet.

It’s easier to focus on food than life, and you’re playing small

When it comes down to it, overeating is like any other addiction.  At the core of addiction is a desire to create numbness and distraction from pain.

I bet that for you,  overeating was (at some point) a coping mechanism; a source of comfort.  The problem is that eventually the pain of such self-destructive behavior becomes worse than the pain you are trying to escape.

The binge/starve/weight obsession cycle is also a very convenient way to play it small in life, to allow yourself to be reduced down to nothing by an obsession with something that means fuck all in the long run.  I’m not going to quote that Marianne Williamson quote because everyone does about how we’re more afraid of success than we are of failure but WE SO ARE.  There’s no time or energy left to change the world when your brain is being eaten alive by calorie consumption and cookie shame, right?

Please don’t be hard on yourself about it – I think society wants women to play small.  If we allow ourselves to be defined by bullshit, we never realize the powers of our own vaginas and take over the fucking world.

As an easy start, experiment with not distracting yourself in any way when you feel pain.  Brainstorm about what you’d want to give to the world if your weight and food were a non-issue.

I hope this has inspired you to take the time to figure out where your own personal bottomless pit comes from.  I know that years of trying and failing may have made you feel differently, but I promise you, you can do this and you are so worth it.

Getting Past Thinking Everyone has it Better than You AKA Compare and Despair

Last Sunday, Jonny and I got up early to ride our bikes on one of our favorite routes, twice around Roosevelt Island.  It was warm but not sticky and breezy but not windy – a perfectly gorgeous morning.

On our ride we passed a few other people out on the Island, either fishing or sitting by the water drinking coffee.

As we rode past them, I felt envious.  I thought, Oh, look at them, they’re already up so early and enjoying their Sunday.  These people really have it together.  I never have it together!

Do you do this too?  Do you take part in the insanity of thinking that everyone else has it better than you?  A mindfuck so ridiculous that it makes you… envy people out early enjoying their Sunday that you’re only observing because you are, um, out early enjoying your Sunday?

Why We Compare

In many ways, this whole compare-and-despair behavior is just a manifestation of that totally unsatisfying-yet-keeps-us-growing part of being a human being – that we always want more.

And I mean, believing that someone else has it better than us is more palatable than coming face to face with the inevitable struggle of life.  Telling yourself that someone else has it so EASY means that you wouldn’t have to deal with pain and challenges no matter what, you’re just unlucky.

I love the internet, but man oh man is it a breeding ground for feelings of inadequacy. There is just no way it’s healthy to spend hours a day observing the deeply edited existence of others.

How could you not go into a comparison fit when you’re looking at a picture of some acquaintance of yours sitting around with a bunch of people with cool swoopy hair, and they’re all laughing hysterically, above a caption that says something nauseating like “I LOVE MY LIFE”?  And just to add insult to injury, thanks to Instagram these people are all in frigging SEPIA TONE, jacking them up at least two levels on the good looking scale.

There was significantly less focus on mental health and self help in our grandmothers’ generation.  I bet that part of the reason why is because it was just not as necessary, given their lack of access to pictures of skanks they went to high school with happily frolicking on the beach with their children.

How to Deal

Let’s get you away from this bullshit and back to appreciating your life, shall we?

Focus on the areas where you are a superstar genius.  No one ever has it together in every aspect of life at one time. Happy people just know how to keep themselves focused on where they are superstars, and not get too freaked out by the areas that challenge them.

I think that is actually a lot of what we see in the social media world – it’s not that people are lying about how good they have it, it’s that we’re only seeing one teeny tiny side to the story.  Your acquaintance with the laughing sepia-toned swoopy-haired friends… she really does have great friends.  However, a more in-depth caption for her picture would say “I LOVE MY LIFE… BUT MY BOYFRIEND HAS ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION”.

I guarantee you’ve got some areas where you are on top of the world, where other people would KILL to have the talents/luck/skills that you do.  Maybe you have no job, but a wonderful relationship.  Maybe you’re single, but you’ve got lots of close girlfriends who adore you.  Maybe you have no friends, but you smell fantastic.

Sometimes weaker areas are just weak because you’ve chosen to focus your time and energy in other areas… which is totally fine!  Keep your vision squarely focused on what is awesome about your situation.  I bet that over time you’ll find yourself energized to channel that awesomeness into other areas of your life, too.

Make the most of your jealousy.  Turn that crap into some jealousy lemonade.  Envy can be a massive energy- and soul-sucker; but there’s another side to it – it beautifully illustrates what your heart is yearning for with just enough pissiness to give you the zippity pow to get the job done.

This is not very classy, but I would not have this blog if I hadn’t been so seethingly jealous upon discovering healthy living bloggers who made a full-time living taking pictures of their breakfast.

I was so pissed off!  How the hell were these girls making money writing about their sneakers while I was slaving away at a job I hated?  I envied, I whined, I lamented the general intelligence of our culture for consuming this garbage.  And then I started by own blog.

Let your envy carry a message of “This person is showing me where I want to improve and change” rather than “This person is showing me where I am a colossal failure as a human being.”

Compare yourself to you, and that’s it!  Someone very wise once told me “You can’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides”.

With your own life, you know all the gross ins and outs, from the diarrhea you had last night to this morning when you gave your hairdresser a hug when she was just trying to remove your smock.  There is no way you can contrast that your very real human experience and complex emotions with the surface level, curated existence that someone else shows you.

And the cold, hard truth is that some people really DO have a leg up on you, and they were born into money or genius intellect or with a really nice rack.  Comparing yourself to them is useless!

I’ll tell you what’s not useless, though – comparing your current state to where you’ve been.  You’ve been there with yourself every step of the way, you know intimately what battles you’ve fought and challenges you’ve overcome.  Maybe compared to your friend who got a promotion this year, it doesn’t look like you’ve done much; but you know that because you dealt with a family member’s illness that just getting up and going to work every day was a huge victory.  See what I mean?

The Moral of the Story

Don’t you worry, everyone feels like shit about something!  Your life is messy and precious, and to comparing it to someone else’s sepia-toned constructed display wastes valuable energy you could spend on living it better.

P.S.  Also, you never know who just had diarrhea last night.
P.P.S.  I LOVE MY LIFE.

HEY YOU!
I'm Marla Hamilton, and this is my blog. I write it because I want to make it very easy for you to feel healthy and great about yourself.Read more about me here.
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