We burnt the bras. Let’s sell the scales.

Do you have a love-hate relationship with your bathroom scales? You love them when they reaffirm that you’re the right weight — it literally puts a spring in your step for the rest of the day — and you hate them when they reveal a number that you don’t want to see.

For many women, the wrong number can negatively impact the rest of the day. Unexpected weight can make a woman doubt her beauty and intelligence. It also leads her to assume that maxi dresses are back in style*, and that it’s ok to order a double-bacon-cheeseburger for lunch “because the damage is already done”.

(*Are maxi dresses back in style? My mum asked me this the other day and all I could do was shrug. My dreams of being a fashionista went out the window yesterday when I tried on a pair of leggings and had to be told by the sales clerk that I had put them on back-to-front! Woops!)

Muumuu’s and greasy lunches aside, what really concerns me is that our mood can be ruined by the uptick of a number. I know the feeling of standing on the scale (shoes off, of course), waiting for the screen to settle, so that I could confirm whether I would have a good day or a bad day…a day filled with confidence or shame.

Not exactly a pleasant morning ritual, is it?

Somehow the digital scale has become a tool of both satisfaction and suffering. But it shouldn’t be that way. Some cheap and nasty electronic device should NOT hold sway over your emotions, nor should it impact your sense of self worth.

If it does, well that’s on you.

>>> It is YOU who gives the scale such power.

>>> YOU are allowing your happiness be hijacked by a couple of pounds.

>>> YOU are insisting on bringing the scale into your home and engaging in the agonizing debate: to weigh or not to weigh.

My use of the Uncle Sam “YOU” isn’t accusatory, it’s just a gentle reminder that we all have a choice. You actually don’t have to weigh yourself. You can indeed extricate yourself from the obsession of knowing your body weight.

I believe there are better methods of tracking body shape and health. Start by asking how your clothes fit, how much energy you have, and how you generally feel in body, mind and spirit.

You know if you need to lose weight, gain weight or maintain weight. You don’t need a numerical reminder.

My Dad has worn the same size Levi’s for as long as I’ve been alive. When they feel a little tight he cuts back on his Sunday croissants for a couple of weeks, and when they feel a little loose he adds a bit more food to his dinner plate. It’s a pretty simple method of tracking, and it’s a lot less mentally manipulative.

Dad made that choice and you can too. If your relationship with your bathroom scales is an unhealthy one, then it’s time for a break up. We women are far stronger and more intelligent that we often give ourselves credit for…we burnt the bras, we CAN sell the scales.

This week, ask yourself HOW a regular weigh-in actually benefits you. What would happen if you could stop weighing yourself? Then consider what else you could do track your healthy body weight.

As always, let me know how it goes!

With love,

Jennifer Dene xo

There is no joy without gratitude

There is no joy without gratitude. 

These words are Post-It-noted to my vanity mirror, and act as my daily reminder to be thankful.

The quote – spoken by one of my favorite authors and the renowned research professor, Dr Brené Brown — was borne from the realization that many people can’t experience joy without fear. 

The fear is that something will go wrong, because at the present moment it all feels so right. Furthermore, in experiencing the joy we will only experience a greater level of loss. 

A sad idea, but one that makes sense to me nonetheless.

It’s human nature to protect ourselves from vulnerability…

And I can think of few things more vulnerable than allowing ourselves to fall head-over-heels into joy, while being keenly aware that the feeling could disappear.

Yet shielding ourselves from hurt doesn’t make the suffering any less. In fact, the opposite may be true — pain is compounded when we’re left feeling the ache of loss, and also living with the regret of not choosing that moment of deep, unbridled satisfaction.

So how does gratitude help?

In the words of Brené Brown it lets us “soften into joy”. Gratitude is a practice of vulnerability…we are appreciating moments of contentment without waiting for the other shoe to drop. And while it can’t protect us from loss and sadness, it does help us lean more deeply into the present moment, and allow us to feel the happy without needing to protect ourselves from the sad.

Most importantly for me, gratitude brings with it clarity. Acknowledging the gift of the present moment, coupled with the awareness that it won’t be this way forever, allows me to fully participate in joy without pessimism or fear. Gratitude has shown me how to feel more deeply, engage more mindfully, and be truly thankful that I get to experience the moment and keep the memory.

Gratitude takes a magnifying glass to every moment of contentment and elevates it to one of unbridled joy.

And that’s why there’s no joy without gratitude.

So I’d like to offer up a suggestion for your week…

Look for those small moments of pleasure in your day-to-day life and then really live them: breathe them, engage with them, create them and remember them. Most of all, be grateful for them.

As always, let me know how you go.

 

With love,

Negative self talk

Negative self talk is negative narcissism

Negative self talk is negative narcissism. 

This idea recently popped into my earbuds as I listened to a podcast interview with Jennifer Rudolph Walsh — literary agent to radical female thinkers such as Oprah Winfrey, Arianna Huffington and Brené Brown. It’s an interesting take on a topic that I often talk about; you can find me wailing against negative self talk here and here, and I offer healthy ways to break the habit in my Soulful Self Love Challenge.

But negative narcissism? Well, I hadn’t really ever thought about it that way.

On the one hand, negative self talk — the inner dialogue that harshly narrates your life — could be seen as self indulgent. Is it not egotistical to analyze and criticize every one of your thoughts and actions, or obsess over every physical flaw and personal failure?

I would argue that it is a little selfish to live our lives through the lens of self doubt. Here’s why:

  • You decline an invitation because you think you’re not good in social situations. The Result? You leave a friend with one less guest at their party.
  • You don’t ask for a promotion because you doubt you’ll get it. The Result? Your company suffers from missing the opportunity to have you in a leadership position.
  • You can’t appreciate how a gorgeous designer dress floats over your body because all you see are your (too wide, too narrow) hips. The Result? You steal appreciation from the designer…and from the fact that you have a beautiful body and access to beautiful clothes.
  • You constantly turn to your partner for reassurance that you look / act / ARE ok. The Result? You risk losing the delicate give-take balance of relationship, where moments should be experienced together, and are not, in fact, about either of you as individuals.

Food for thought, eh?

Of course, you don’t have to agree.

If you are one of the millions of women who battle the daily rhetoric of negative self talk you probably think that narcissism is NOT a trait in your personality toolbox. You almost laugh as you imagine Narcissus peering at his perfect reflection in the water…you try to avoid mirrored surfaces at all costs!

As a recovering negative self talker I initially took Walsh’s statement as a personal affront. I spent half a life thinking that I wasn’t as good as everyone else, how on earth is that narcissistic? But as I thought about it some more I realized that (perhaps) the idea could hold a nugget of truth.

The most kind and generous people I know don’t strive to be like everyone else or sacrifice themselves for others. They are content in who they are and with what they have. This contentment is both a resource they can share and a quality that attracts others to them. Do they struggle with their own insecurities and have their own vices? Undoubtedly. But what they don’t do is shape their lives around their personal doubts, limit themselves with their own beliefs, or compare themselves to other people.

Ultimately I won’t equate negative self talk with negative narcissism, but I will acknowledge that it’s both a selfish and self-restricting practice. Negative self talk is a crutch for women who aren’t willing to look inward with self compassion and step outward with intention.

We can all make the decision to be a little kinder and more encouraging to ourselves every day. The question is: will you?

I hope you’ll weigh in on this week’s discussion by leaving a comment below.

 

With love,

self love language | jennifer dene wellness

The Language Of Self Love: A Practical Approach To Body Positivity

Today we’re going to figure out your self love language, which actually starts with your family tree.

If you think about spending five straight days with your favorite family members, what comes up?

Probably thoughts of cheer, sitting around a table sharing food, drink and laughter…

Perhaps a slight feeling of frustration or annoyance — ruffled feathers are bound to happen when you put relatives in a room together for days at a time…

And also indescribable love.

Now, if I ask you to think about your body (specifically your physical appearance), what comes up then?

What are the first three words that come to mind when I say, tell me what you think about your body?

Say them out loud…

I’ll wait…

Hopefully you just heard yourself say something along the lines of: beautiful, healthy, fit, appreciated, strong, unique, consistent, feminine, comfortable, pretty good or bloody brilliant! 

If not, I’d like to offer up an idea:

Try viewing your relationship with your body in a similar way to your relationship with your favorite family members. Some days you love its comfort and reliability, some days it annoys the heck out of you, and some days you adore and admire it so much that you can’t believe its actually yours.

Being body positive doesn’t mean unquestionably adoring yourself at every waking moment. If that’s what you’re working towards, you’re going to be disappointed.

Even those people you love the most can still get on your last nerve from time to time. (And just sometimes, on rare occasions, you might even feel tempted to trade them in for a newer model!) But that doesn’t mean you would go around berating them every day, nor would you constantly compare them to others.

If I asked you to describe your most cherished friends in three words, it’s unlikely that those words would be cruel or critical.

So why do it to yourself?

The average woman has 13 negative thoughts about her own body every day — that’s one for almost every waking hour. Many have upwards of 100.

If you spoke so venomously towards another person chances are you’d be in therapy (or have a restraining order taken out against you). Unfortunately, no one is policing what we say to ourselves. So it’s up to you to take a stand and change your self love language. 

It’s important to realize that the language of self love needn’t be hippy dippy or woo-woo. You don’t need to self-identify as a “goddess” to love yourself (despite what social media influencers might tell you). In fact, I believe that using these labels is just another shield to hide behind…it’s easier to throw your hands up and yell “I am a goddess” than it is to look in the mirror and say, “you know what, I’m pretty ok”.

You can be body positive and:

  • Complain about your creaky knees
  • Desire to lose or gain weight
  • Feel a little frustrated that you over-plucked your right eyebrow
  • Even think that in an ideal world you wouldn’t have cellulite

Body positivity comes from loving yourself despite your imperfections (or perhaps, because of them).

Being proud of who you are means being real about who you are… 

So its time to use real language, speak real words, and have real thoughts and opinions about yourself — just like you do with Uncle Fred.

When you can love yourself unconditionally — even if somedays there are certain things you don’t like — then you have won the body positivity battle.

I thought this was an important point to make as I see more and more women desire to improve their self love practice and fall in love with their body and life. I know this journey takes courage and persistence (I’ve walked its path too), but I also know that once you find the right footing, your life really does change.

So my suggestion for you as you enter a new day: treat your body the way you’d treat a favorite family member, with the self love language of respect, kindness, adoration, frustration (and even the occasional whinge).

 

Let me know how you go.

 

With love,