Stop Bashing & Start Loving Your Bodies: A Beginner’s Guide to Feeling Good

It boggles my mind to hear women put themselves down in public. Worse, putting themselves down in front of their teenage daughters. What has our world come to that a perfectly beautiful woman, in her forties, likely a size 6, in athletic garb, repeats over and over “I’m on a diet. I’m so fat.” In truth, it made me want to hurl and I am certain that I rolled my eyes with each muttering of the phrase. When I overcame my nausea, I began to wonder how many negative observations I have made of my own body, features, and character over the years. Was I just as annoying to others as that woman sounded to me?

I set out on a mission. Every time I had a negative thought about how much I weighed, a feature I didn’t agree with, or the way I acted, I would aim to take notice and see how much I resorted to self-bashing. The result didn’t surprise me. Every thought I had when looking in the mirror was astoundingly judgmental and negative. Whether large or small, obvious or not, wedged in my subconscious or front and center, I observed what I saw and wasn’t happy. Why? What on Earth would possess me to do that? And then it dawned on me: ME.

Society’s fascination with super skinny celebrities doesn’t help, but society didn’t tell me to compare myself to those women. I just started doing that on my own at some point during puberty, or perhaps in high school, when I thought I needed to be someone else for people to like me. Even now, at 31, I still catch myself thinking that way. Until very recently, I realized that I became the idea of someone that others want me to be instead of who I actually am. How many of you out there, both men and women, have fallen into the trap that so many others are in? Better yet, how can I, or any of us, think others are crazy for verbalizing their disappointments in themselves, when even I have some of my own.

This body is the only one we have to enjoy this one life in. Whether we are 600 pounds or 105, 6 foot 3 or 4’11” with thinning hair or overly abundant locks we can’t seem to manage, or light, fair skin or deep, rich, dark skin. Whatever our features, whether we like what we see or not, these are our bodies. Our BEAUTIFUL bodies that are loved by our family and friends and significant others. All of these people love us, so why don’t we love us?  I don’t believe in plastic surgery but I do believe in giving your body what it needs to run like a brand new machine. The more we give our bodies what they truly need (not what you think it wants), the more we will become happier with how we look.

For me, running has been an incredible asset to be happy with myself. Just 30 minutes every other day has completely turned around my mindset, not to mention my desire to eat more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Not everyone likes to run, so find a regimen that you enjoy and stick with it. Don’t think about the looming future of constant exercise. Work hard to stay present, in the moment and think about what you are doing today. If nothing else, walk. Move at a brisk pace and take the time to focus, empower yourself, and get back on the track of being happy and healthy. I can’t think of one diet that will get you the results you are looking for. I guarantee if you start moving regularly, the rest will fall into place. And if you don’t know where to start when it comes to making healthy food at home, leave me a comment below and we’ll come up with a few recipes to get you started.

If you are unhappy about your weight, then as difficult as it may be, it is still an easy fix. If you are unhappy about your character, meditate that nasty trait out of you. If you don’t like a particular feature, well, learn to love it: Surgery is NOT the answer. It may be the hardest thing you’ll ever do, but for the sake of teaching your children to love themselves as they are, start practicing what you preach. If you show them confidence no matter how many a blemish you uncover, then others will see it too. It is your ONE body to live your life in. Start loving it.

The Miracle of Food

Recently, I have heard the phrase “sharing the miracle of food.”  I had no clue that I have had this exact phrase circling over my head for years now. My sole purpose for sharing with the world my humble love of food is not for the health benefits or the fact that it seems to taste delicious (most of the time), but to share with everyone the absolutely wonderful experience that comes with a meal, no matter what time of day.

Its the immense laughter, the social conversation, the complete moment of relaxation, and fact of sharing it with the people closest to you, that the miracle ensues. You don’t even know its happening to you, but it does.

Are you the family that grabs food from the fridge whenever you’re hungry, rarely enjoying a family meal time? Or do you insist on being around the table, every night, at a designated time, to simply eat together? In my house, unless you had a very special circumstance, sitting around the table at 7pm was a requirement, no questions asked. Looking back, I am so thankful of that family rule (at the time I dragged my feet and dreaded the “how’s school” conversation). Those nights were only the introduction to my realizing the miracle that food creates.

Please don’t be confused. By “miracle,” I don’t mean the heavens have opened up and threw down a feast of turkey thighs and an abundance of vegetables. The miracle of food is simply the joy it brings us, whether or not you realize it actually does.

A few Christmases ago, my Mom and I spent about 16 hours in the kitchen for 3 straight days preparing a midnight buffet and tableful of 13 desserts (explanation of what that is in a later piece) for 9 of us around the table. We were sweaty, exhausted, swollen, and very promptly sucked down that first glass of champagne at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve, but ultimately, we were so incredibly happy. The family loved every bite, and so did we. The hours in the kitchen, the failed sauces, the delicious results, and the smiles around the table are all part of the miracle. This is what I want to share with all of you.

Even if it means grabbing your favorite fast food combo and sit in your car to enjoy a greasy lunch, its happening (not that I encourage you to eat fast food!!). Even if you have no idea how to cook, and you break out a new recipe to try because you feel like trying, its happening. Immerse yourself in the few moments you take to eat every day. You would be surprised that, with the right food choices, you could even lose a little weight in the process!

If you have the ability to eat an array of foods, try your palate at something new. If you must be restricted by allergies and sensitivities, go for items that you can garnish with what you like, such as tofu or vegetables that are roasted with oil or a butter substitute. There are so many ways to tailor your diet to your needs and enjoy it all in the process. I am certainly lucky enough to be able to enjoy many kinds of food, but no matter what your limitation, I bet you can too.

So here is to embarking on the wild ride I know I have coming. I am excited to share this “miracle” with everyone and hear about the ones you make for yourselves at home. Holidays are perfect little opportunities to give the miracle making a shot, so start with Labor Day! Squeeze in that last barbecue of the glorious summer season and notice just how good life can be with a little good food, and a lot of great company (even if its just your own).