Body-related New Years resolutions that don’t have to do with weight loss

Happy 2018! I’m pumped for this year and hope you are too.

As you well know, when the new year rolls around, talk of weight loss and “getting healthier” (which, in our fatphobic society, often refers to weight loss) skyrockets. For us body positive rebels, it can be hard to tune out all of that overt (and covert) weight loss New Years resolution talk and keep our focus on responding to our bodies’ own unique needs.

To complicate things, it’s also totally okay and great to have a New Years resolution that involves our physical body, while rejecting fatphobia and embracing body acceptance. What’s the secret behind having a body-related New Years resolution without getting enmeshed in diet culture?

Do not make weight loss/changing your body shape/getting thinner the goal you want to achieve.

Here are some sample New Years resolutions that involve your physical body WITHOUT making weight loss the goal:

  • Drink more water to increase hydration, improve skin, calm anxiety
  • Jog a few days a week to improve lung capacity, sweat, release stress, prepare for a race
  • Lift weights to improve strength, make it easier to lift things in daily life, increase bone density
  • Add more vegetables to your diet (ex. carrot sticks and dip as part of your lunch) to give your body more vitamins/minerals, try new foods
  • Increase the frequency of your workouts to boost confidence, release stress, strengthen muscles, sweat, etc.
  • Replace your daily coffee with a smoothie once or twice a week to increase your fruit/veggie intake, increase hydration, increase energy.
  • Stretch in the morning to wake up body and mind, increase flexibility, improve circulation, reduce aches and pains.

None of these resolutions make weight loss an outcome. Weight loss can be a byproduct of these goals, that is, if you start increasing your workouts, for example, you may or may not lose weight. But your goal for increasing your workouts is not to lose weight; your goal is to feel more confident, increase your well-being, increase your cardiovascular capacity, release stress, etc.

If you make weight loss your goal, you will get sucked quickly into diet mentality, thus feeling disconnected from your body, experiencing chaos around food, and perhaps gaining some weight…because studies have shown that’s often what weight-loss goals lead to.

If you want to create a body-related New Years resolution for yourself, I am 100% behind you (and I’ve created them for myself too!). Just don’t make weight loss your goal, and you’ll be feelin and lookin amazing!

Don’t Future Trip On Your Bod

I’m pretty sure you know what I mean when I talk about future tripping on your body. I did this all. the. time. in high school and college. Actually, I still catch myself doing it sometimes.

Future tripping on your body refers to thinking or worrying about what our body will look like at some point in the future, i.e. over the summer, for a wedding, the next time you have sex, by the time you start dating, etc. We worry about how thin we’ll be, what we’ll need to do food- and workout-wise to get there, and how others will view our bodies.

We get excited about our future “thinner” body and put a lot of pressure on ourselves to achieve that goal…which inevitably leads to dieting…which inevitably leads to food and body chaos, including binge eating, intense food and body scrutiny, feelings of hopelessness and self-loathing–you know, all that fun stuff. And then, by the time we get to that event in the future, we often feel big, gross, and uncomfortable in our body (and we may have even gained a bit of weight because that’s one effect of dieting).

So what’s the remedy to feeling and looking our best for a future event without future tripping on our body?

Respond to our bodies needs in the present moment.

Whenever you catch yourself thinking about how your body will look at a certain time in the future, STOP YOURSELF. Come back to the present and tune into what your body needs right now. Water? Sleep? Movement? Food? Laughter? Give your body whatever it needs moment-by-moment.

This will get you much farther towards the way you want to look and feel at that future time than focusing your efforts on being thin will.

Tips to having zero holiday food stress

Here are my best tips to having a holiday season with zero food stress!

1. Let yourself eat whatever you want. When you allow yourself to eat whatever you want, the desire to binge eat or go on a food rampage goes away.

2. Breathe. The breath floods your brain with oxygen, helping you to calm down, get out of your head, and hear your body’s innate wisdom–so that you can choose the foods and portion sizes that make you feel best, enjoy what you eat, and be present with your loved ones.

3. Shut down diet talk. Made this vid for you.

4. Ask yourself, What would make me feel really good right now? This will help you practice listening to yourself and what will make your body feel great instead of letting the diet industry decide for you–so that food and body craziness become a thing of the past!

If you want to REALLY heal your relationship with food and your body, while still taking care of your mental and physical health, grab my Body Confidence Workshop!

Quick And Dirty Body Confidence Tips

Here are my absolute favorite and most effective tips, mantras, and pieces of guidance that I use every day to keep my relationship with my food and my body peaceful.

1. 95% of diets fail, and 2/3 of those people actually gain MORE weight. Whenever I have a desire to eat differently or work out differently (in an attempt to lose weight), this fact stops me dead in my tracks. From Christy Harrison.

2. Misogynists created diet culture and the thin ideal to keep women small physically, emotionally, professionally, and financially–the best way to resist patriarchy, increase our sense of peace, and get back to kicking ass in life is to accept our bodies the way they are and take care of our bodies in ways that feel good.

3. Focus more on your dreams and goals than on your body. Try to go about your day without hooking into that negative body image voice that’s always in your head. Make a To Do list of all of the personal and/or work things you need to do each day and then just do them. Getting stuff done makes you feel confident and peaceful–and you can sustain that feeling way longer than you can by pursuing weight loss.

4. Say these mantras to yourself, any time you need them throughout the day: I love my food; my food loves meI love my body; my body loves meI am not a body; I am free. All from the lovely Gabrielle Bernstein.

5. STOP talking about how much you hate your body/wish it looked different. When you’re talking with friends and you feel tempted to say something disparaging about your body, take a deep breath in and out. Stay silent. Negative body comments immerse you even further into body chaos, make you look insecure, and affect the energy of the people you’re with. Try to avoid talking about your body at all. I’m still working on this.

Trying To Get Thinner Makes Your Life Worse

I’ve been talking a lot about how despite all of the work I’ve done around my relationship with food and my body, I still have times when I wish I was thinner. I don’t like that I have that desire, and I’ve accepted it, though I’m not acting on it.

On one particularly rough body image day recently, I went on Facebook at night and looked at all of my pictures–from high school all the way to today. And I wasn’t doing this to reminisce–I looked at my pictures to see how my body has changed over the years. With every click, I scrutinized my body, compared it to how my body looks today, and even said to myself, “Ug if only I was that thin now.”

I stayed up until 1am doing cyberstalking myself and scrutinizing my body in every picture. And since I was up so late, I didn’t wake up on time for work the next morning. For the rest of the day, I felt tired and unmotivated, which overrode my plans to work out and smash my work goals–all because I wanted to be thin.

If I had just felt my feelings that night and spent some quality, present time with myself, instead of stalking myself on Facebook and going deeper into body image chaos, I most likely would have gone to bed at a decent time, woken up more refreshed, and had the energy to work out and perform at a high level at work.

Do you see how a desire to be thin, which we’re told will make our lives better, actually leads us to take actions that make our lives worse? 

A desire to be thin depletes us of the time, money, and energy that we could be using to make other areas in our lives more fulfilling, like our relationships, work performance, sense of peace and contentment, etc. A desire to be thin leads us to make less healthful decisions, like sacrificing sleep (and then work and exercise the next day) to scrutinize our body.

Check yourself right now. What actions has your desire to be thin led you to? Have they lead you to an increased sense of well-being and happiness, or have they led you to anxiety and dissatisfaction?

How to experience food and body freedom

Exercise is a beautiful, useful, and necessary thing. We all need to move our bodies to be healthy (I’m using “healthy” in the holistic sense, as in, all of the physiological, biological, psychological, environmental, and spiritual factors that make up a person’s health).

Unfortunately, the diet industry has expertly warped our relationship with exercise. We’ve been brainwashed to view exercise almost exclusively as a weight loss tool, as a tool for dieting. We’re promised firmer butts, tighter abs, toned arms, zero cellulite, and better lives overall–if we just follow (and pay for) the right books, videos, classes, memberships, and more.

But here’s the thing. When we buy into the diet industry’s promise, when we work out with the goal of getting visible, external “results,” our lives, internal beliefs, self-talk, and ultimately our health (including our weight), can get chaotic…especially for those of us in eating disorder recovery/with a history of disordered eating/body image issues.

For example, a few months ago, I got sucked into the world of a really famous trainer. I found some of her free videos online, bought one of her DVDs, and even started reading “success” (ahem, weight loss) stories online. I told myself that I would just do her workouts and continue my practice of intuitive eating. Ha!

Following this trainer made me want to achieve a similar body to hers, i.e. super toned arms, flat stomach, toned legs, etc. And because I started working out with that goal, I ended up shifting into diet mentality around my food, as well. Just a few days after I started doing her videos, I began choosing food options with lighter calories or “healthier” foods–not because I wanted to feel good or because my body actually craved them, but because I wanted to be thinner. And because I began restricting my food in that way, my confidence level and sense of peace and connection to my body weakened. My hunger cues were a little off, my thoughts about my body were extra critical and full of scrutiny, and I would get self conscious about my body in social settings. If I didn’t catch myself in this spiral, I would’ve entered the world of yo-yo dieting…which actually causes weight gain in the long run.

This all happened in a matter of like two weeks, and I had to work hard (and still work) to reconnect to my body and the types of food and exercise that work best for me and make me feel great.

I encourage you to get real with yourself. Are you working out with a goal to lose weight or change your body, even if it’s an indirect goal?

What if you worked out to improve your mood, strengthen your muscles (and if you get visible results, great! but that’s just a side effect), increase flexibility, feel more confident and fit, connect to your intuition, or increase your stamina and energy? These goals will help you experience peace with food and your body–so that you stop obsessing about everything you put in your mouth, you feel more comfortable and confident in your own skin, and your weight actually stabilizes.

Get real with yourself. If you want food and body freedom, take weight loss out of the equation when you’re working out.

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.

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!