Pack These Essentials for a Peaceful Road Trip

Recently, I (with my amazing parents and a U-Haul in tow) drove six hours to my new-ish place of residence. Leading up to my move, I’ve been pretty anxious about whether I’m making the right decision, what others will think, and all of those questions that our brain comes up with!

So to make my car ride down to my new place a little more peaceful and not so anxiety-ridden, I packed a few essential things:

1. Lots of water. Water moves excess cortisol (the stress hormone) through our bodies. The more you drink, the more you get rid of the cortisol that’s making you anxious and experience symptoms like increased heart rate and short breathing.

2. Calming podcasts and audio books. During my drive, I listened to The Universe Has Your Back and a few episodes of the Kate and Mike Podcast. They kept my thoughts focused on positive, self-development things and gave me some great tools to practice in my life when I reached my destination.

3. Deep breathing. It’s so easy to forget to breathe! And when we’re anxious and thinking about the past or future, our breath gets really shallow…which just makes the anxiety worse. Every 30 mins or so, I made a point to take 10 deep breaths through my nose and out my mouth. This returned me to the present moment (where true peace lies) and helped my body calm down. Set a timer on your phone to take breathing breaks, or make a point to take deep breaths when a podcast ends or you finish one chapter of your audio book.

The best part of my peaceful road trip packing list? All of these things are cheap and/or free!

Did You Just Binge Eat? Do This Next!

Once upon a time, I had a blog called College Kid Yoga, and I wrote a lot about yoga (der) and body image. Since body image is a topic that’s so close to my heart, I want to share a post I wrote about binge eating. I’m pretty sure I’ve shared this post before, but binge eating was a huge, chaotic, and destructive part of my life throughout my college and post-college years, and if you can relate, then I want you to read this post closely!

Here it is!

Today, I’m writing about what to do immediately after a binge, as in the few minutes after we put the food down and the reality that we’ve just binged sets in. In those moments, we often recoil in horror as we assess the empty food cartons, half-empty bags of chips or gallons of ice cream, and the half-eaten loaf of banana-chocolate chip bread. Unfortunately, the post-binge horror, shame, and embarrassment that we inflect upon ourselves is counterproductive. If we wallow in those feelings, we hit the food again, and often harder than before.

To avoid a second binge and to restore our minds and bodies to a peaceful state, here’s what you do:

You just move on. You binged. Acknowledge that. Then go on with your day (or night).

What does it mean to “just move on” look like? Specifically, it looks like taking a small, simple action to get yourself out of binge mode and into mental and physical calmness.

Here’s a list of small, simple actions that you can take to shift your entire day or night after a binge (I did all of these myself today):

1. BREATHE. Amidst all of the food wrappers and crumbs. Take 3-5 deep breaths.

2. Sip on a glass of water. No, I’m not talking about warm lemon water with cayenne so that you can detox immediately in a desperate and ill-advised attempt to lose weight fast. Just fill a glass with cool or room-temp water. Sit down and drink it. Hydrate your body.

3. Research something cool/interesting/productive on the internet. Watch a TED talk. Plan your dream vacation; look up all of the cool places to visit. Today, I opened my laptop and did some job research. I found a couple of jobs that I want to apply to. This stuff takes your mind off of your binge, giving your body freedom to digest and your mind a break from post-binge anxiety.

4. Shave your legs. I know the last thing you want to do after a binge is see yourself naked. But I took a shower and made a point to shave my legs really well. Afterwards, I felt clean and a little sexy and summery. Not in a bingeing mood, that’s for sure.

5. Say really sweet things to yourself. Today I said (in my mind and out loud), “I love you. You’re doing great. You’re okay. I’m so proud of you. Everything will be okay. You’re doing the best you can, Sarah ol’ girl (a la Helga Pataki).” Say that stuff to yourself. It really does make you feel better.

6. Promise yourself that you will keep going and fighting. It’s so easy to wallow in self-hatred and hopelessness after a binge. But that mindset just sets you up to binge again. Make a promise to yourself that you WILL overcome bingeing, that you will never give up on yourself, and that you WILL live binge-free.

7. Do something with people. Post-binge feelings are smothered by positive social interaction. I went to the pool with a friend today and am going out with more friends tonight. Make a date with one or more people who make you feel happy and relaxed. This not only gets you out of the house (isolation increases the likelihood that we’ll binge), but it also takes your mind off of your body and food. My friends, and most of them don’t realize this, have pulled me out of my darkest post-binge feelings.

Take this list seriously. If none of this resonates with you, generate your own list of small, manageable actions that you can take SECONDS after a binge so that you avoid another binge and feel peaceful.

There you have it. My three-year-old blog post that still resonates for me (and hopefully you!) today.

Let’s Create Our Bucket List for 2017

Summer has officially begun, and my fave blogger recently posted her Summer Bucket List, i.e. a list of the stuff you want to do, experience, and/or accomplish over the summer.

I looove the concept of the Summer Bucket List because it encourages us to get out of our comfort zone and take action on our goals. And as you know, when we’re out of our comfort zone, we realize that we’re actually stronger and more capable than we thought…which gives us confidence to continue experiencing and accomplishing new things…which helps us create a life of our dreams! Plus, the Summer Bucket List encourages us to explore many of our interests and dreams, rather than focusing on the stuff we typically obsess about (weight loss, food, our bodies, etc., for example).

I’m still crafting my 2017 Summer Bucket List, but here’s what I got so far:

  • Read three fiction books.
  • Do an FB live for my Facebook group once a week. I did one all about summer bucket lists a couple weeks ago!
  • Do some volunteering.
  • Think before speaking (oy, this is an ongoing goal for me. I’m using this to help).

I wanna know what’s on YOUR Summer Bucket List for 2017! Email me at sarah@thehappycollegegirl.com!

How to Handle and Release Sadness

For the record, it’s totally okay to feel sad…or any emotion, for that matter. But we don’t want to dwell in sadness forever, because that can lead to us missing out on life or making certain changes in our lives that would make us feel better.

Here are some tips (that I use too!) to help you move through sadness, feel better, and make positive changes in your life:

1. Know that it’s okay to feel sad. We live in a society that tends to shame us for feeling anything but happy and “okay” so that we can be productive members of the world. We tend not to talk about deep, “dark” emotions…which doesn’t exactly help us move through them; silencing those emotions can actually make them fester. So, tell yourself, “I’m sad right now and that’s okay.” Or, “I feel sad right now and that’s the right way to feel.” I learned this from the amazing Alison Leipzig.

2. Be gentle with yourself. You’re already sad, so don’t make it worse by being mad at yourself for feeling that way. Instead, treat and speak to yourself with gentleness. Treat yourself like you’re caring for a very sweet child (or an adorable pet!). Take a shower. Go to bed early. Tell yourself that you love yourself (“I know you’re sad, and I love you so much”). Drink some water or tea. Listen to music that relaxes you (y’all know how much I love Malibu). Have a phone date with a friend.

3. Feel your feelings. Releasing sadness–truly releasing it and not just putting a band-aid on it–requires you to actually feel your sadness. Let yourself cry or mope around for a little while. Journal about how you feel. Talk to one of your friends. Meditate for 5 minutes. Hang out with your sadness. Don’t push it away or think/talk/eat/shop/work over it. When you do that, the sadness never actually goes away, and in fact, it gets worse. Don’t be afraid of it. Just feel sad.

4. Do small, productive things. It’s crucial to feel your sadness, and it’s also crucial to not dwell in it forever. Doing small, productive things can help you take positive action in your life without sadness taking over and debilitating you (though it is okay to let the sadness take over for a little while). When I’m sad, I clean my bedroom so that it’s more peaceful and sanctuary-like. I make my bed, organize my clothes, and light a candle. Sometimes I make a smoothie to have for breakfast the next morning. Other small, productive things include returning emails, paying a bill, putting gas in your car, or doing the dishes.

Bottom line? It’s okay to feel sad, and it’s crucial that you know sadness is temporary. There are things you can do to help release your sadness, and you also have to trust that your sadness will pass, and life will go on.

Body Acceptance and Feminism

As you know, I talk a lot about the political side of body image–the ways that our society and diet culture convince us that manipulating our bodies so that they meet the “ideal” body type will give us love, acceptance, and amazing lives. Man this stuff gets me going!

Men certainly feel pressure to make their bodies look a certain way, and they do experience the mental and physical turmoil that often accompanies that pressure.

But…things are a little different, a little darker, when that societal pressure targets women.

First of all, much more of the diet industry is targeted toward female consumers. What does that say? It says that our society believes that a women’s worth comes mainly from her beauty and her ability to live up to the societal “ideal” of beauty, which absolutely includes thinness. Men are socialized to believe that their worth mostly comes from professional achievement and success, intelligence, and stuff like that. It’s not great that men are boxed in either, but their box is at least a little bigger and more flexible than the box that women are in. We’re supposed to look a very specific way–THIN.

Second of all, achieving that societal ideal of female beauty takes a lot of time, money, energy, and even sanity. For centuries, women have been ordered or encouraged to “stay small” financially, professionally, and spiritually. And today, in 2017, we’re STILL socialized to be small in all types of ways. Some women feel like they need to lose weight in order to get a promotion (and studies have shown that thinner women advance further in their careers than larger women). Thinness is even lauded in some religions as some form of willpower or fortitude. It’s cray.

By refusing to support the diet industry, accepting our bodies the way they are now, and fueling our bodies with the food, exercise, and pursuits that make us feel amazing and powerful, we’re participating in a form of political resistance. We’re saying, “Here I am, world, a woman who accepts and takes care of the body I have, and lives the life of my dreams no matter what size I am!”

Are you fired up about body acceptance and feminism? If you are, then I want you to do two things:

1. Join my Facebook group, Body Positive Rebels, where you get regular body image tips from me, and where we talk a lot about the political side of body image, food, etc.

2. Grab my Body Confidence Workshop, an audio that guides you to feel great in the body you have now, take care of your health, and refocus your time and energy on accomplishing your personal, academic, and professional goals! Here’s the link again: http://thehappycollegegirl.com/downloads/the-body-confidence-workshop-and-bonus/.

You got this body confidence stuff!

Weight Loss Does NOT Have To Be Your Goal This Summer

When I was in high school and college, I would always freak out at the start of summer because I felt too big and disgusting to wear summer clothes and bathing suits. My goal for the season would be to work out as much as possible and go on some “diet,” whether that was cutting out sugar, going vegan, eating like a Parisian or Mediterranean woman, or some other type of food manipulation. I wouldn’t work out or alter my food to increase my sense of well-being or overall health. I did it to get thinner.

After only a few days or weeks, I would feel so deprived that I would hide in my house, binge eat like crazy, feel even more disgusting, and usher in an entire summer of food and body chaos. Sound familiar?

If you tend to freak out at the thought of getting into your summer clothes or if you set weight loss goals for the summer, then I want you to know that there’s a different way to feel good in your body and take care of your health. Aaand fun fact–I created it here!

Real talk. Setting weight loss goals for the summer probably hasn’t worked for you…because you keep setting them every year. Also, you’re reading this blog post, so you’re probably looking for another way to live a fulfilling life without having to deal with body and food chaos! That’s why I created The Body Confidence Workshop.

You can TOTALLY live a kick-ass, happy life where you feel peaceful and confident in your own body, and maintain your health at the same time.

End your body and food chaos once and for all. Grab my workshop (and free gift!) right here.

How to Stop Hating Your Body

I’m crazy excited because my Body Confidence workshop is now FOR SALE! 

If you’re tired of hating your body and going to crazytown around food then this workshop will help you, babe.

I’ll teach you everything you need to know about getting confident in the body you have NOW, taking care of your health, and creating a kick-ass life for yourself!

Aaaand when you buy the workshop, you’ll get an extra gift to help you clear out those negative body image thoughts that circulate in your head all day long, make you feel like crap, and drive you to binge eat, overeat, and restrict.

It IS possible to feel great in your own skin WHILE taking care of your health. I’mma show you how. To get the workshop and free gift, click here!

How To Have Authentic Relationships

At a conference I attended a few weeks ago, I learned about the concept of self-monitoring, a personality trait characterized by being able to adapt your words and actions to a particular situation or person. We all possess this trait in varying degrees. Someone with a high-degree of self-monitoring typically asks themselves (consciously or unconsciously), “What does this situation/person want me to be and how can I be that person?” or “How should I behave in this situation?” while someone with a low-degree of self-monitoring typically asks themselves, “Who am I and how can I be me in this situation?” Neither is good or bad.

While learning about this concept, I realized that I have a high degree of self-monitoring, which helps me make friends easily, network, and feel comfortable in a variety of social situations.

BUT I’ve also realized that being so concerned with the needs of another situation or person hinders me from really being myself in relationships. Sometimes I’m more concerned about being liked or making other people feel comfortable that I don’t act or speak authentically and honestly–I just become who I think the other person wants me to be.

This has led me to create some relationships wherein I’m not 100% honest about my own feelings and needs…which has cultivated resentment inside of me. I think, “Why can that person just say and do whatever they want and I can’t?”

Know what I mean?

It’s totally great and beneficial to adapt your words and actions to the needs of a situation or person to an extent. But when you stop listening and acting on your own needs and desires, that’s when you begin to create unfulfilling relationships and feel resentful that the other person can be themselves and you can’t be yourself.

If you’re getting tired of not being yourself because you’re worried that someone won’t like or accept you, use these tips to create more authenticity in your relationships:

1. Be present when you speak to someone. The next time you’re speaking to someone and you catch yourself thinking about the future, past, or something random, take a few deep breaths, and come back to the person in front of you/on the other end of the phone. Focus on what they are saying. Authenticity lives in the present moment, so once you’re present and focused on someone, it’ll be much easier for you to be yourself…and you’ll get a fresh perspective on them, too.

2. Try the 3-second rule. Remember this? The 3-second rule asks you to pause briefly before saying something. These few moments help you be more present and intentional when you speak–so that you can make what comes out of your mouth really matter.

3. Ask yourself this question. If you feel yourself shifting into fake or inauthentic mode in a conversation, take a deep breath and ask yourself, “How am I showing up right now?” This question helps you step out of yourself for a moment, take stock of what you’re saying/doing, and make a shift to something more authentic.

4. Get to know the REAL you. We’re bombarded with messages about how someone of our age/looks/gender/job/etc. should act or live. But all of that’s bullsh*t if you’re not happy or don’t have fulfilling relationships. Get to know who you actually are instead of looking to other people or forms of media to tell you. Spend a few quiet moments in the morning and at night just with yourself. Journal. Stretch. Meditate. Have a dance party. Connecting with your true self will help you be that person in your relationships.

Remember, adapting yourself to the needs of a situation or person, or self-monitoring, isn’t an inherently bad thing. In fact, it’s needed and good for us to do that. But when you stifle your own needs, and worry that someone won’t like who you really are, that’s when relationships begin to lose their authenticity and level of fulfillment. These tips can help!

Why Forgive?

As you know, forgiveness has been on my mind a lot lately. I’m still taking the forgiveness process one day at a time because part of me wants to hold onto resentment and hurt from past situations with friends, coworkers, bosses, boyfriends, and relatives. And honestly, part of me wants to hang onto that resentment and hurt because I don’t want to let those people off the hook for what they did or said to me. Can you relate to that feeling?

But here’s the thing. Forgiveness isn’t about the people who we may feel wronged or hurt by. Forgiveness is for us. As Deepak Chopra says, “Forgiveness is a gift we give to ourselves.” We don’t forgive because we condone someone else’s behavior or words. We don’t forgive because we want to remove responsibility from that person and make them feel better.

We forgive because we want to feel better. We forgive because we want our lives to be happier and more peaceful.

We don’t have to worry about that other person at all. All that forgiveness asks of us is to let go of our anger, resentment, and hurt…because it drains our energy, makes it harder for us to be vulnerable and authentic with others, and doesn’t change what happened anyway.

Forgiveness offers us a beautiful opportunity to clear out that stale resentment, anger, and hurt, and welcome happiness, peace, and ease. And when we’re in that happy, peaceful place, we attract more good things into our lives. We can let those people we’re resenting be on their own path; we don’t have to worry about how they feel or what they’re doing. We can relax and just worry about creating a peaceful, happy life for ourselves.

I think if we view forgiveness as a gift we give to ourselves, as something that will make our own lives better, then we’ll be motivated to forgive, and then experience all of the amazing things forgiveness has to offer us!

Forgiveness is tricky, and I’m still figuring it out a day at a time. If you’re in the same boat, hopefully this post helps you out!

Why It’s Okay To Eat Your Feelings

Writing to you from the west coast! Dude, the west coast is so pretty and cool. AND YOU GET 3 HOURS OF EXTRA TIME. Amazing.

This body positive and food post is inspired by Isabel Foxen Duke (the master of overcoming binge eating and food obsession) and my amazing nutritionist.

A few days ago I was talking with a friend who was feeling upset and a little ashamed that she’s been eating a larger amount of “unhealthy” food lately because she’s been stressed out. That’s a totally normal thing to feel…but it’s problematic and dangerous.

When we judge ourselves for eating a certain way, i.e. the way my friend was judging herself about her temporary larger intake of “unhealthy” food, we make ourselves wrong, shameful, and unworthy in some way. And when we’re in that unworthy, ashamed place, we tend to do one of two things: we keep overeating because we just feel bad about ourselves, or we launch into a diet or food restriction/manipulation of some kind…which ultimately backfires and can lead us to binge eating or more and more periods of overeating. Either way, feeling ashamed about our behavior around food promotes food and body chaos.

If you get down on yourself for overeating or even just eating something “unhealthy,” I want you to take a different approach—so that you really deal with your emotions instead of dealing with them exclusively by eating.

The next time you start to judge yourself for whatever you just ate (or are currently eating), I want you to take a big inhale and exhale (conscious breath gets you out of your head) and say to yourself, “It’s totally okay that I’m eating this/ate this.” Or, “It’s totally okay that I’m emotionally eating or binge eating right now.” When you make your behavior “okay” or acceptable, you remove the shame that you (and society) usually put on yourself…which makes that food or behavior around food less charged and therefore less appealing or satisfying in some way. When you remove the shame around it, you have the mental space to also deal with the emotion that’s causing you to eat.

From a moral standpoint, binge eating or overeating is neither good nor bad. Food is neither good nor bad—even when you’re eating it for emotional reasons. When you start viewing food and your behavior around food as more neutral, you’ll find that food becomes just one of the many ways you can deal with your emotions, and that you can face and work through your emotions, too.

This is a heady topic. I’m asking you to flip the way you’ve been taught to think about food, your body, and emotions. But if you want to stop eating over your emotions and actually deal with them, you have to start with believing that eating over your emotions isn’t wrong in the first place.