Do you get upset if you miss a work out? Here 3 ways to help!

During the summer before my senior year of college, I was obsessed with going to a particular yoga class several times per week. This class was taught by one of my favorite instructors, and I loved the way the class made my mind and my body feel. But I became “attached to” and obsessed with this class because I used it to lose weight and dictate my self worth.

One day I was set to go to class (and very anal about leaving exactly on time, 11:20) when my mom called and asked for my help with something. She was in a bind and I begrudgingly agreed to help, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to make it to yoga. I was pissed. Later that day, I went to my bff’s birthday party and I felt so gross and uncomfortable in my clothes. I kept replaying thoughts in the back of my head that told me if I had just gone to that yoga class, I would look and feel thin and attractive. It was such an exhausting way to spend my summer, to make how I look and felt contingent upon whether I made it to my yoga class. If I made it to class, I felt confident, healthy, and thin. If I missed a day, I felt disgusting, fat, and lazy.

If your sense of well-being, self worth, and confidence is contingent upon whether you do your work out for the day/week, then I want you to know that all that kind of thinking does is make you exhausted, anxious, and less able to take care of your body long-term.

Below are my 3 tips for helping you RELAX about working out/moving your body so that your sense of self-worth, well-being and confidence stays in tact and doesn’t rest on whether you’ve worked out for the day.

  1. View your self-worth, well-being, and confidence as untouchable. If you view these things as contingent upon how you look or whether you worked out for the day, you will always lose. Looks change, bodies change, and schedules change. If you let these things dictate how good you feel about yourself, then you’ll drive yourself crazy. Begin to see yourself as inherently worthy and confident—regardless of how your body looks and whether you worked out today. This is the truth—you are inherently worthy no matter what.
  2. Do what you can, when you can. This mantra comes from my #girlboss hero Bethenny Frankel. If you couldn’t make it to your noon yoga class, then find a few mins in your day to take a walk, jump on a trampoline, do some planks during work breaks. On days when you’re a little out of your normal workout routine, make your goal to do what you can when you can. This really takes the pressure off.
  3. Trust that your body knows what its doing. Your body wants to move, work out, and be physical. But that can come in many different forms. If you miss a yoga class or can’t make time for your regular run, trust that your body will tell you what it needs next. Maybe your body doesn’t need an intense workout that day. Maybe your body wants to go to that night yoga class instead of your usual day class. Trust in the wisdom of your body and trust that your body will figure out what it needs and tell you.

When you use one (or all!) of these tips, you’ll begin to relax about working out, and thus able to relax and move your body in a way that only adds to your well being, self-worth, and confidence.

Comforting words from Eleanor Roosevelt and what I was doing this time last year…

It’s funny how my Memorial Day weekend 2016 was so peaceful and fun, when that time last year—Memorial Day weekend of 2015, I could barely get out of bed.

I had lost my full-time job, was just beginning The Happy College Girl, and was the most anxious and confused I’ve ever been in my life. I was faced with many decisions about what job to get next, whether I should focus on The Happy College Girl full time, and when/where/if I should move to another city. I was mulling over all of the pros, cons, and what-ifs 24/7. I would commit to a decision one day, only to reconsider and go with the complete opposite decision a few hours later. It was so tortuous because I never knew what was guiding my decisions—my intuition or anxiety.

During that exact weekend, I was sleeping in the basement (it was much cooler than my bedroom), bawling, and watching reality tv that wasn’t even entertaining. My dad had to coax me out of my cocoon of sleeping bags, promising me that getting out of bed would make me feel a little better. Whew, it was such a dark time.

This year is much different. Thanks to a serious commitment to mental health, a new job, being courageous with The Happy College Girl, and some personal-life details hammered out, I feel much more peaceful and confident. And over Memorial Day weekend this year, I’ve been happy to wake up, get out of bed, and be in the world.

I’m sharing this with you because if you’re going through a dark time, I want you to know that there is hope. I know this to be true because Eleanor Roosevelt said so:

With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.

This is my favorite Eleanor Roosevelt quote (I have many of her quotes plastered all over my desk). She reminds us to just keep going because things really do get better. No matter how down, dark, anxious, and depressed we feel, there is hope. You really do get closer to finding clarity and calm, and accomplishing your goals with every passing day—even if all you’ve managed to do that day is get out of bed (like me last year). You get a little stronger and smarter every day. Just trust that, okay? The new day is fresh, even if it doesn’t feel like it.

Even if thoughts and decisions and deadlines loom over you and torture you all day, please trust that you are moving in the right direction and things will get better soon. Just hang on to those words.

So, if you are in the thick of something dark and all-consuming, or if a part of your life is just nagging you and giving you a bit of grief, lean on Eleanor:

With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.

You can lean on me too.

How to accomplish your summer goals/To Do list with peace and ease

I’m just got back from a trip to Spain and oh how I miss it! My flight home was weepy, as I deeply missed my friends and the magic of Spain, but I had an empty seat next to me, so I got to stretch out and watch lots of Audrey Hepburn movies. Not too shabs.

Coming home from Spain

Now that we’re entering the end of May, I think that most of us are thinking about summer. While summer is filled with wonderful things, it also makes us a little anxious because we tend to set a lot of goals and create a big list of things to get done. But we often don’t know where to start and get overwhelmed by everything we want to do. Our goals/To Do list gets so big and scary that we don’t take action on anything…which just makes us feel worse.

When I was in college (and after college), I stressed out a lot during the summer. I was usually trying to do well in a job or internship while figuring out what job/internship I should get next, establish a meditation and workout routine and actually stick to it, plan my birthday amidst a ton of family events, set goals for the fall semester, find ways to make extra cash, and more. Sometimes I would get so overwhelmed by everything I had and wanted to do that it was really hard to even START doing any of these things. And by the end of the summer, I felt lazy, stupid, and like a baby, which of course didn’t make me want to take action on any of my fall goals/To Do list items.

But this summer,  I want you to do and experience everything you want. And here’s how you’re going to do it:

When the time is on you, start and the pressure will be off. 

This is a sutra (an ancient rule/guideline) from a really cool yogi named Yogi Bhajan, who created the 5 Sutras of the Aquarian Age.

I love this sutra because it’s such a gentle reminder that all we have to do to relieve the overwhelm of our summer To Do list/goals is to just START doing stuff. As soon as we get into action, even just a little, we will feel better. We’ll feel calmer because we’re actually being productive and doing work. We’ll also realize that once we take action on something, it’s not as scary as we thought, which gives us confidence to keep going. Plus, as we start on our goals/tasks, we’ll get clarity about which ones are really important and necessary right now, and which ones aren’t. As Marie Forleo says, clarity comes from engagement, not thought.

Here’s how to put this sutra into action in your life:
1. Write out everything you have to/want to do this summer.
2. Pick a task.
3. Set a timer for 20 mins and do it. Also try the Pomodoro technique for extra productivity.
4. Trust that when you START, you will be guided and protected. You don’t need to worry about how things will turn out or what will happen in the future. You’ve STARTED, which is all you have to do. You’ll be guided from there.
4. Repeat all summer!

When the time is on you, start and the pressure will be off. 

Want to meditate this summer? Do a little research on meditation, set a timer, and do it. Then do it again. Need to find an internship for the fall? START by revising your resume, researching opportunities, and conducting informational interviews. Want to start dating? START by setting up an online profile, having a friend set you up, etc. Ready to clean out your room? START by doing a little at a time. These are all just examples of how you can START on your goals/To Do list, feel calm, and get a boost of confidence to keep you going!

Need a break from your whirring thoughts? Use my quick tip!

A few weeks ago, I attended a work conference in New Orleans, one of my FAVORITE cities. The trip was filled with delicious food, lots o’ work, and tons of sunshine.

NOLA Work trip

Over the course of my work trip, I talked to a lot of new people—at this conference I’m working and in restaurants where I ducked in for a quick meal by myself. And I love it. Know why? Because getting to know new people gets me out of my head. I get to talk to someone I’ve never met before and don’t know anything about. They have a whole separate life from me and when I talk to them, I get to take a little vacation from all of the thoughts swirling around in my brain.

It’s so easy to get caught up in our own thoughts and get super worried and stressed about the things going on in our lives (especially if you’re a college student in the thick of finals). But being in our head all of the time—thinking about all the things we have to do, what we’ve done wrong in the past, how we should be better in the future—just worsens our stress and anxiety, AND doesn’t actually help us move forward and be more productive.

So when you meet someone new, or someone you know but just don’t know much about, talk to them a little! This can be anxiety-producing, but I’ve found that all I have to do is ask one question, and the other person takes over and does most of the talking.

Ask stuff like:

  • What was your recent trip to India like? (totally asked that question to a colleague at dinner one night and it was fascinating)
  • How do you like living here?
  • What does your tattoo mean?

People loooove talking about themselves. So it’s a win-win. They get to talk about themselves, and you get to know someone a little better and get out of your own head a bit.

Give this a whirl!

10 easy ways to take care of your mind and body during finals (and other times of extreme stress)

How was your week? Some of what I did this week included: VOTING, watching Lemonade with my friend May (we are changed forever), putting my legs up a wall, making a honey/yogurt/lemon/salt face mask, and rebounding like a queen. And I had a great conversation with the amazing girl behind As We Stumble Along!

Lemonade and legs

I know that many of you are knee-deep in (or about to be) in final exams, final papers, and final projects. Whew, I know how stressful that is. During my final semester of undergrad, I would wake up in the mornings in panic-mode and had to call my Mom to help calm me down. And I would often hit the food hard (i.e. binge eating) just to deal with the stress. By the end of finals, I was relieved, but so exhausted, sick, and disoriented that it took me days to recover, enjoy post-finals life, and take action on other goals (i.e. rocking my summer internship, job hunting, etc.)

And for you post-college folks, I know that y’all experience times of extreme stress at work, in relationships, with your health/body, and trying to balance everything you have to do be an adult. I get it.

It’s easy to let your mental and physical health take a backseat to all of the work you have to do/worry about during stressful times. But I want to give you lots of easy things you can do to support your body and mind while you do all of your work… so that you can be as productive as possible and have the energy to have fun in your life and focus on other goals you want to accomplish.

Here are 10 easy ways to take care of your mind and body during finals/times of extreme stress:

1. Fall asleep to a meditation/hypnosis recording. This is an easy way to relax your brain while you sleep, even if you’re just getting a few hours of sleep per night. Put in your earbuds and just let the words and sounds of these recordings work on you.

2. Eat full meals. Most of us don’t eat enough food, even if we’re not trying to manipulate our body. Our culture just doesn’t support taking time for meals. But when you eat full meals, your anxiety level goes down and your body can work hard for you. You’ll have more energy to do work and feel calm while doing it. So for every meal, try to get in 4-5 foods per meal (ex. breakfast: scrambled egg with cheese, toast, yogurt, fruit–that’s five foods).

3. Do face masks. I could evangelize about these. Face masks (homemade orstore-bought) keep your skin happy and calm while you do other things, like study, do laundry, send emails, or just chill out. P.S. doing them with friends and taking pics is very fun. These are some of my fave homemade masks.

4. Use the Pomodoro technique when doing work. This is a productivity method that involves setting a timer for 25 mins to do work, taking a 5 min break, then doing work for another 25 mins, followed by another 5-min break, and doing this four times total. This WORKS. I’ve been using it all week and have really stayed on task. There are a ton of free online Pomodoro timers out there. I’ve been using this one.

5. Rebound/dance and jump around. Rebounding refers to jumping on a mini trampoline (pic above). It’s a form of exercise that gets the lymphatic system moving. The lymphatic system carries nutrients to the cells while carrying away waste. If you don’t move the body, the lymph nodes get stuck and tension and waste just sit in your body. So if you have one, take a short study/work break and jump on a mini trampoline while listening to music. Or have a quick dance party that involves a bit of jumping. This movement will refresh your body, rid it of waste, and make you feel more creative.

6. Take a walk with a friend. In grad school, one of my friends and I would work separately at our desks for a period of time, then take a walk outside. Then we’d go back to work for a while, and take another walk together. This was so nice because it motivated us to be hyper-focused on our work, then lighten things up by laughing and being outside, which refreshed us when we got back to our desks. Try this with one of your friends!

7. Drink lots of water. Our bodies pee out cortisol, the stress hormone. We need cortisol to be alert and do things, but when we have an excess of cortisol, our anxiety level really goes up. So when we drink water, we release stress from our bodies and calm down. I carried a Klean Kanteen with me all through college. I also drink a glass of water when I wake up in the morning, as our cortisol level is high in the mornings.

8. Use a mantra. Y’all know how much I love mantras. Here’s the one I used ALL THE TIME in college: Everything always gets done. It always brought me comfort.

9. Put your legs against the wall. This is a fun and gentle stretch for the hamstrings. Lie on your back with your butt touching a wall. Extend your legs vertically and prop them against the wall. Lie there and just chill out for 3-4 mins. Pic above.

10. Hide in the bathroom and meditate. I did this all the time in grad school. Before going into class or when I felt overwhelmed, I would go into a bathroom stall, sit on the toilet (or just stand), close my eyes and breath deeply for 2-4 mins. This helped me get space from my whirring thoughts so I could think clearly. It made me feel calm, strong, and protected. Definitely do this between classes, before taking an exam, before going into a meeting, etc.

Whew, there you go! These tips will keep you calm and healthy so that you can do your best work possible and have energy to enjoy your life AND keep accomplishing goals that are important to you.

How to stop being crazy around food, Part 2 (fyi, this is a little radical)

Just got back from a super fun weekend with my bff in D.C.! As expected, we consumed fancy beverages, yummy food, and beautiful scenery. Also we went to the Congressional cemetery, where I was weirdly obsessive about finding John Philip Sousa’s grave. And I started the weekend with a sweaty, post-yoga hair pic.

DC with Ame

Last week, I revealed my philosophy on food (and a vulnerable excerpt from one of my college journals). Here’s my food philosophy again:

Eat exactly what you want, whenever you want, without judgment.

Here’s how to begin to put this practice into place in your life:

  • Make sure that you’re actually eating enough food. I JUST learned this from my nutritionist this week. In order to get clear cues from your body about what you want to eat, you have to make sure you’re giving your body enough food in the first place. Our work-work-work-work-work (ha, Rihanna) doesn’t always support the time we need to have full meals and snacks, but this is an important step in listening to your body. PLUS, when you’re not eating enough food (even if it’s not weight-loss driven), thoughts about food and your body, and your anxiety level, really ramp up. Try to eat 4-5 foods per meal.
  • View all food as equal. Stop viewing some foods as good/healthy and some foods as bad/unhealthy. When deciding what to eat, eat what you want to eat, and acknowledge the nutrients that your chosen foods actually give you. For example, for my evening snack, sometimes I want an apple with almond butter. Sometimes I want ice cream. Instead of choosing the apple and almond butter because our culture deems it “healthier” than ice cream, I think about all of the nutrients in BOTH options. Ex. The apple/almond butter has protein, fiber, and Vitamin C. The ice cream has calcium, phosphorous, Vitamin B-12, and protein. Both options offer nutrients. Keep foods neutral; not good or bad. Then choose the one you want. When you view food as neutral and not good/bad, the compulsion to overeat or binge really drops off, and you’ll just feel more relaxed around food in general.
  • Trust that your body knows what it’s doing. Our bodies are way smarter than our brains when it comes to telling us what they need. It’s easy to think that if you let yourself eat anything you want, you’ll inhale junk food all the time. No. Our bodies crave whole foods and a lot of different kinds. If you did inhale junk food all the time, eventually your body wouldn’t crave it; it would tell you it’s ready for something else. Also, if you binged or overate and feel uncomfortable, trust that your body will reset itself. If you stress out and hook in to those feelings of shame/self-loathing that often accompany binge eating/overeating, you’re just setting yourself up for another binge. But when you just acknowledge that you binged/overate and trust that your body knows what to do with that food, your body will actually relax and get you back to feeling good and normal. Our bodies are crazy smart. Believe that.

These tips will get you started on your path to feeling much more peaceful around food and your body! And email me at sarah@thehappycollegegirl.com if you want customized help around this topic.

How to stop being crazy around food, Part I (and an excerpt from one of my college journals)

Time for another blog post from yours truly! Here’s a bit of what yours truly did this week: took a sick day while dogsitting, ate the best pizza outside on a bench, attended a work conference in my hometown, went to a big ol’ cousins party, and looked at beautiful flowers.

Flower dogsitting collage

As you know, binge eating was a big part of my life as a college student. I wanted to lose weight so badly that I would restrict my food intake during the day and then at night or on the weekends RIP into all the food I could get my hands on.

One time in college I went on a “sugar cleanse” (dear God). I was not allowed to eat any processed sugar. A lot of natural sugars, like bread and most fruits, were off limits, too. The cleanse was supposed to support brain function and hormone health, but we all know why I really did it: to lose weight!

One weekend during the cleanse my body was starving for sugar. I couldn’t take another minute depriving myself of sugar (um, I just wanted a f*cking sandwich on normal bread)…so I binged like crazy. I went so crazy that on Sunday night, I was eating spoonfuls of powdered sugar from a gingerbread house kit that my mom sent me for the holidays. When I finally put the spoon down and realized what I had done, dread and self-loathing set in.

Here’s what I wrote in my journal that night:
I want to hide, to sleep, to be alone and cry. I feel stupid and weak. Failure keeps coming up. Everyone seems to have it together. Why can’t I stop myself from eating and eating and eating? F*CK! I totally relapsed and feel horrible. I do NOT want to go to class tomorrow.

I wish I could say that after that night, I decided to find a more peaceful way to relate to food. But it took many similar binge eating moments to do that. And I STILL struggle with my relationship to food, though things are much, much better.

All of this chaos I’ve experienced around food has helped me form my personal food philosophy, which I’m going to share with you tonight:

Eat exactly what you want, whenever you want, without judgment.

Let that marinate with you for a bit. Let the words work on you. Imagine what life would be like if you lived by that philosophy. What thoughts and emotions come up for you when you read those words?

I’ll be back next week with a full explanation of what my food philosophy means, and how I practice it in my life.

7 ways to return to peace after a food binge (and get back to getting things done)

Just got back from an awesome yoga class. Here’s my post-yoga look:

Binge eating is a sensitive topic for me. It was MAJOR part of my college years. It’s how I relieved stress and overwhelm, and what I did after restricting my food intake in the name of weight loss. I would eat a ton of food to the point of feeling so sick and bloated that I couldn’t focus on my schoolwork, which just stressed me out even more.

If you binge eat, know that you’re okay and nothing is wrong with you. And you can reach out to me here.

Alright, what exactly is binge eating?

Health coach and emotional eating expert Isabel Foxen Duke defines binge eating like this: Eating we do in reaction to deprivation around food (or a perceived threat of future deprivation). 

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…and spend even more time away from our work, goals, etc.

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

1. ACCEPT and be okay with the fact that you just binged. Say to yourself, “Okay, I just binged. It is okay. I am still safe. I just binged and now I feel hopeless, fat, in pain, etc. That is how I feel.” Just accept that those feelings are with you. Let them hang out for a bit.

2. Breathe. Amidst all of the food wrappers and crumbs. Take 3-5 deep breaths. Try this technique.

3. 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 water. Sit down and drink it. Hydrate your body.

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

5. Say really sweet things to yourself. I say (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 have a peaceful relationship with food and your body.

7. Do something with people. Post-binge feelings are smothered by positive social interaction. After binges, I’ve gone to the pool with a friend, gone shopping, met for coffee, ran errands, etc. Make a date with one or more people who make you feel happy and relaxed. Study together. 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, feel peaceful, and get back to being productive!

How to make progress on projects and goals even when you’re really scared and confused

First of all, I can’t get enough of this song–probs because it was on an excellent episode of Broad City.

Second of all, how was your weekend? My brother was in town from Atlanta and it was great. We spent time with our cousins, watched basketball, and ate Easter candy. He also tolerated being put into many-a-headlock by me. That’s just what little sisters do.

Easter Candy
Third of all, I want to teach you how to make progress, take action, and be productive on your projects and goals even when you’re scared and confused.

When I finished grad school, I freaked out. I woke up every morning sick to my stomach. So many questions raced through my brain. What job should I get? Should I move? If so, where? Should I get a quick job now to make money? Or should I focus on getting a “real” job? Do I even want a “real” job? What do I really want? But is there even time to think about what I really want? Should I freelance for a while? But will that even pay enough for me to live on? Do my family and friends think I’m stupid, lazy, and spoiled?

These questions haunted me all day, every day. I was anxious all the time and never knew what to do with myself or how to structure my days. All I wanted to do was watch Gilmore Girls in bed.

But, as we all know, ignoring work for too long just makes us more anxious. So one morning, I decided to make a list of super simple things I could do to have a productive day and feel calm and strong. This is what my list looked like (no joke, I pulled out my journal from that time):

Things to do to keep me moving forward (literally what I called this list)
1. Make bed
2. Make breakfast and eat in dining room
3. Take walk
4. Figure out and test drive directions to restaurant when my family visits
5. Schedule meeting about x,y,z with Professor X
6. Clean bathroom
7. Email that woman I freelanced for last semester. Ask if she needs help.
8. Spend 20 mins updating LinkedIn account
9. Read email thread with cousins about Europe itinerary
10. Look at how much I have in bank accounts
11. Make cookies for party

See how simple and finite these things are? I had no idea what kind of job to get, whether I should move, etc., and I was so scared all the time. But instead of just staying in that place of indecision and confusion, I took very small actions forward. I put myself in forward motion, even though I was unsure of what I wanted the end result to be.

Notice that my list doesn’t just include job-related actions. It includes other things I needed to get done and responsibilities I had to fulfill at the time (cleaning, getting directions, finalizing travel plans). Doing those things made me feel productive in the moment and took my mind off of my anxiety. And my list includes things that helped my body and mind feel relaxed and strong. All of these things helped me feel more empowered and confident, which gave me more momentum to keep taking action instead of getting paralyzed by fear.

If you’re grappling with big projects and questions–maybe a big research paper, grad school applications, a job or internship search, figuring out where and if to move–I want you to take out a piece of paper and write a list of 5-10 small things you can do to move forward. What are small actions you can take to be productive and calm down? Maybe you can make a list of potential companies to work/intern for. Maybe you can freewrite about your research topic for 10 mins. Maybe you can make an appointment with your professor to get your questions addressed. Maybe you can take a walk with a friend today.

Doing small things every day to move you forward really will help you accomplish and get clarity on your goals. Keep them simple. Cross them off as you do them. Be very proud of yourself. Trust that as you take action, you’re getting closer and closer to finding answers to all of your questions and uncertainties.

Comment below and tell me 3 simple things you’re going to do TODAY to move forward!

How to make peace with your body (we gonna get naked)

Last week was Easter. I got a little festive by dyeing eggs, running a 5K Bunny Hop with my fam, and making an angel food cake for Easter dessert. Oh and my bff got into law school…whaaatttt!

Happy Easter

Remember that post I wrote on how to handle those days when you hate the way you look in your clothes? I’m still working on that stuff–feeling happy and peaceful about my body the way it is right now. This week has been particularly hard because I tried on an old summer dress that is now too tight…which really ramped up my body image fears. If you feel me on this, you are not alone.

Recently, my bomb-ass therapist recommended that I do this really cool body image exercise. I’ve been doing it for the past week and a half and have gotten RESULTS.

Here’s what you do:
1. Take off all or most of your clothes.
2. Stand in front of a full-length mirror (a shorter mirror is totally fine)
3. Focus on each of your body parts, one at a time, starting with your face, then your neck, shoulders, etc. Touch your body as you go.
4. Say one thing OUT LOUD that you’re grateful for about each of your body parts. Ex. When you touch your stomach, you might say (again, do this out loud), “I am grateful for my stomach because it always digests my food and resets itself.” Or when you touch your hips, you might say, “I am grateful for my hips because they are a mark of my womanhood. They make me feel truly womanly.”
5. When you’ve gone through all of your body parts–face, neck, shoulders, arms, breasts, stomach, hips, legs, feet, butt–you’re done!
P.S. If you can’t find the alone time/space to do this exercise, do it in the shower. Whisper what you’re grateful for to yourself.

Why this exercise works:

  • It makes you focus on the present moment. Remember, all of your peace and safety lie in the present moment–not the past or future. This exercise makes you be present for a few solid minutes. I always feel quieter and calmer after I do this.
  • It shifts your attention from how your body looks and how well it holds up to society’s beauty standards (which are fake and impossible anyway) to everything that your body does for you right now. Ex. “I am grateful for my arms because they allow me to hug and touch my loved ones.” When you do this enough times, you begin to feel confident and proud about your body.
  • It reminds you of what really matters to you and what you really want in your life. When I do this exercise, most of the things I’m grateful for include my family, the ability to move and do yoga, experience pleasure, and connect with my intuition. Well, those are things I try to experience in my life every day. So of course I’m grateful for my body because it helps me make those things part of my life. When you focus on what your body helps you do/experience, you get insight into your own values and priorities. When you know more about what’s important to you, you’ll be able to make decisions with more ease and power.

Yes, it can be super confronting and uncomfortable to look at yourself naked in a mirror. But I want you to try this exercise. It will begin to turn down the volume of your obsessive body image thoughts. You’ll feel calmer about your body and just want to treat it well instead of hating on it all of the time. Feel me?