My past behind me like a ponytail (and other mantras that get me through the hard times)

The subject line of this post is from my absolute favorite Drake song. I love this line because it reminds me to take life a little less seriously and to stop beating myself up for choices I made in the past–so that I can focus on my goals in the present. Also it makes me want to whip my ponytail around in a sassy way. Oh Drake, you get me.

Aside from the above Drake lyric, I use lots of mantras and sayings to help me move through moments of discomfort.

Mantras help stop our thoughts in their tracks–so that we create new neural pathways in our brain that help us create more peace and happiness in our lives. Essentially, the negative thoughts we have on repeat in our brains are like bad habits, and mantras help us break them. Here are some of my favorite mantras. Use these and feel better!

  • The person next to me isn’t attainable; only my best possible self is attainable. (my yoga teacher said that once)
  • I accept the things I cannot change. (from the Serenity Prayer)
  • I love myself more than obsessing about this past/future situation/person.
  • What if we decided to never wonder about what could have happened? We’re missing what’s happening when we do. (from Grace Smith)
  • I can see peace instead of this (from Gabrielle Bernstein)
  • I am safe.

These mantras/sayings give me so much comfort throughout the day.

Stop worrying about what everyone else is doing

We’ve talked about FOMO here before. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I’m one of those people who tend to measure the worth of what they’re doing based on what their friends/family/people on social media are doing.

Decisions tend to be tortuous for me because I’m always wondering what other people have decided so that I can make up my mind. Even simple things, like deciding how to spend a weeknight, can turn into a mental back-and-forth of what my friends/acquaintances are doing and how what I’m doing measures up. For example, if I choose to take a long walk in the evening, I might wonder if I should be taking a kickboxing class, going out for drinks, working on my business, joining a club sports team, going on a date, or putting in extra time at work instead. I tend to assume that everyone else’s choices are better than mine.

I often find myself thinking: Why is it so easy for my friends to just be cool with and focused on what they’re doing, and I’m always wondering whether I’m keeping up, fitting in, and not getting left behind? Why can’t I just do my own thing and be cool with that?

Sometimes I wonder if I’m living for my friends/family/social media acquaintances…or me.

Can you relate to this? Do you constantly question your choices, or make choices based on what other people are doing? It’s exhausting! And I’ve discovered that making decisions based on other people leads to the following things:

  • Living in the past (harboring resentment, keeping old, uncomfortable situations alive when they should’ve been dead years ago) while everyone else is moving forward, accomplishing goals, having new experiences
  • Disconnecting from your true self, desires, and beliefs, leading to confusion and doubt about what goals you should really focus on
  • Feeling disappointed when your friends seemingly forget about you to live their own lives. (they haven’t forgotten about you–they just don’t factor you in to the significant degree that you factor them in…because they’re doing what they want!)
  • Constant worry and anxiety, no lasting peace and ease.

Whew, that’s a pretty tiring way to live. And the hard truth is…in our quest to keep up, live the best life ever, and make decisions based on what our friends are doing, we actually end up living a rather empty, boring life that keeps us small. We don’t take risks or go for our dreams because we’re too busy worrying about other people’s goals and dreams, and making sure that we’re not getting left behind.

What’s the answer to living a full, exciting life that’s true to ourselves?

You must reconnect to you.

I’m still working on this, but expect more tips on how to stop worrying about what other people are doing, and start focusing on you.

How to surrender your desires and take guided action

As a hardworking, ambitious, and amazing college or post-college girl, you have a lot of goals and desires. And sometimes, it’s super confusing to know how exactly to get what we want, or achieve what we want to achieve. For example, if you want to have a more fulfilling romantic life, where do you start? Do you sign up for a dating app? Which one? Do you break up with your current partner? Or work to create what you want within the relationship? Similar questions come up when we think about our career. If you want a more fulfilling professional life, do you quit your current job and start a blog? Do you switch your major? Do you go for internship in your desired industry? Do you do a bunch of informational interviews?

Regardless of the area of your life that’s confusing you right now, questions, confusion, and mental back-and-forth always come up.

But what if there was an easier way to achieve your goals and get what you want? What if you could relax a bit, take guided, peaceful action, and have a little more fun, too? Good news–that’s totally possible!

I’ve been reading Gabby Bernstein’s The Universe Has Your Back and it is rocking my world. In my life, I’m working on surrendering money and love, and so far, I feel more peaceful and hopeful. Good things are on their way.

Surrendering our goals doesn’t mean we relinquish our power or stop working hard. Surrender simply gives us space from all of that mental chaos that drains our energy and makes decision-making hard and ineffective. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental chaos in a certain area(s) of your life, I invite you to surrender it and clear the path for a peaceful, guided way to achieve your goals. Use my tips below!

1. Connect with God/The Universe/your intuition more often. Surrender requires us to get quiet and connected with ourselves so that we can hear the higher guidance that’s waiting for us. Instead of waking up, rolling over, and checking Snapchat (um, me), sit up in bed, close your eyes, and take ten deep breaths through your nose and out your mouth. Do the same thing in the middle of the day. Try to go to a private place (like a bathroom stall), and just breathe deeply. Before you go to sleep at night, take those deep breaths again. Breathing floods our brains with oxygen and connects us with our bodies and inner voice–all things that make our intuition louder. Plus, connecting with a higher presence makes us feel more protected, which helps us open up to new ideas that our “logical” brains may deem stupid, scary, or impossible.

2. Get clear on how you want to feel in your desire/goal. How do you want to feel when you’re in that new romantic relationship? Connected? Loved? Excited? Passionate? How do you want to feel in that new job? Focused? Relaxed? Stimulated? We get so caught up in how we’ll actually get that new boyfriend or professional achievement, but that just creates mental chaos and actually drives away those things. Instead, try embodying how you want to feel when you reach your desire or goal. Experiencing connection and passion, for example, in your life NOW actually draws more of those things to you. Like attracts like! Plus, focusing on how you want to feel is often easier than worrying about how you’re actually going to get that thing.

3. Pray/say a mantra throughout the day. Whenever you freak out about that goal, desire, or area of your life, ask your intuition/God for help. Try saying: Where would you have me go? What would you have me do? What would you have me say, and to whom?  Just say this whenever you get a pang of worry, fear, or anxiety throughout the day, and experience the calm that sets in. And if calm doesn’t set in, trust that you’re moving towards a sense of calm, along with your desires.

Just give surrender a try. It makes life easier, richer, and more fun.

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.

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!