Want to know how to make 2018 great?

Happy New Year! No doubt your inbox is already overflowing with advice on how to make 2018 great. Full disclosure: this is NOT one of those emails.

I learned years ago that any resolution made through the effervescent lens of a bottle of bubbly is fairly unlikely to come to fruition

Plus, when you consider that 92% of resolution-makers quit long before they reach their goals, it begs the question — should we make them at all?

In my opinion, we should not.

Rather than planning out the next 12 months, what if we just focused on the next 12 hours instead? After all, 365 pretty good days will turn into a damn good year before you know it.

That’s my plan for this year. Instead of spending time thinking about how I can improve myself and my life, I’m choosing to take it day-by-day and week-by-week, with the intention of being rather than becoming.

I have to admit, the idea of taking each day as it comes makes me feel a little untethered. The little Negative Nellie voice inside my head is already berating me for not doing more and being more. But I’m going to practice what I preach…and tell her to zip it!

Being rather becoming doesn’t mean you won’t make progress. In fact, I have a hunch that in doing rather than deliberating you will move ahead in leaps and bounds.

When we take life one day at a time we will quickly realize that we’re actually good at it.

It’s easy to forget how simple it is to be healthy, how easy it is to “choose happy”, and how valuable we already are, sans resolutions to lose weight, be better people, make more money or improve our relationships.

Instead of worrying about the rest of the year, start living for today. Today you can make a change for better health. Today you can choose to laugh instead of cry. Today you can be great!

In the words of our old mate, Albert Einstein:

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.”

 

 

Until next week,

holiday stress

Seven Strategies For Soothing The Holiday Stress

The turkey has been gobbled, which means it’s on to the next big celebration…yep, it’s Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa time folks! If that sentence awakens your inner Grinch, then this post — How To Let Go Of Holiday Stress and Find Those Festive Feels — is right for you.

So far in this four-part holiday series we have talked about:

How To Navigate Holiday Social Gatherings If You’re An Introvert

and

10 Tips To Avoid Overeating (Even Though Baked Treats Are Just Lying Around The House)

Today I’m hoping to help you find some more inner peace, with seven easy tips for staying relaxed, in control, and dare I say merry, all December long. Let’s jump to it!

Personally I love this time of year. I sew stockings, paint cards, go to bed ridiculously early and play Celine Dion’s rendition of O Holy Night until even the neighbors start banging on the walls — for the love of carols, skip to the next track! Of course I’m also not immune to the stress of the season: last minute gift shopping, navigating safe conversation in a minefield of relatives, and getting out of my normal life routine can all make me a little tetchy.

But if your tendency to get tense at this time of year feels all-encompassing, you may be affected by excessive seasonal stress. AKA the holiday blues.

Numerous studies have highlighted that women in particular will experience overwhelming feelings of stress and anxiety during the holiday season. This is often caused by a combination of factors: end-of-year fatigue, financial worries, the over-commercialization of what should be a time of gratitude (this one gets me), unrealistic expectations of what can/should be achieved, the demands of social events and hosting relatives, or not being surrounded by loved ones. Additional stress comes from not getting enough sleep, excessive eating and drinking, and the post-holiday let down.

So what’s a gal to do? Can December really be merry and bright? It can. These seven proven strategies will allow you to thrive, not just survive, right through the final New Year’s toast.

Make This Season Significant For You

Keeping up with The Jones’ is never a good idea, and the holidays are no different. From Pinspiration to direct marketing, people have a lot of opinions about what you need to do to make your holidays special. Instead of listening to them, focus on what makes this time of year special for you: Spending time with family, observing religious traditions, volunteering, or simply taking time to slow down and reflect on the year that has been.

Find your focus and keep it at the forefront of your mind. Any time you’re faced with a decision to do more, buy more or be more, you can ask whether or not it enhances your interpretation of the season.

Take To Your List With A Big Red Pen

Reality check: completing everything on your December To-Do list is a recipe for major stress. Reduce your list to your top priorities — what are the things only you can do or that you love doing? Keep these tasks and ditch or delegate the rest. If this strategy (of not being in control) makes you feel little uncomfortable, its time to learn than other people really can do things as well as you, or at least well enough. Still struggling? I recommend reading “Drop The Ball” by Tiffany Dufu…Perhaps ask for it in your Santa Stocking.

Lower Your Expectations

Perfect is the enemy of the good. So you burnt the bread rolls, who cares?! When you strive to make everything look like a Martha Stewart magazine you will find yourself very anxious or very disappointed. Do your best, but remember what really matters: the conversation, the awkwardness of the family photo, and your gratitude for being given another year here on earth.

Start The Day In A Healthy Way

Skipping your movement routine because you feel short on time is a big mistake. Exercise improves your mood and helps you manage stress, not to mention aiding digestion after heavy meals. Commit to 10 – 15 minutes a day at a minimum. Similarly, eat a nourishing breakfast every single morning. This ensures that you have started with a healthy choice, despite what might transpire later on.  Next week I’ll be back with some tasty holiday breakfast recipes for you to try.

Be Thoughtful Not Flashy

This need not be an expensive time of year. Do you really need more stuff to clutter up your home? Not likely. Nor do the people you’re buying for. It really is the thought that counts, and in particular, the acknowledgement that someone in your life matters to you. This year think of spending time rather than money: gift a small homemade something with a hand-written note saying how much that person means to you, or organize a catch-up or phone call with a relative that you haven’t seen for some time. 

You Are Responsible For You

You’re not responsible for the joy and contentment of your family and friends (especially when they arrive at your home in hordes). You can do your bit to make everyone comfortable, perhaps preschedule some activities or have games on hand to play, but at the end of the day everyone needs to take ownership of their own good time. That said, it’s essential that you set aside some personal time to do the things that will keep YOU sane and sociable.

Breathe

Easy, no? Not always. Stress makes us forget to breathe properly, which limits oxygen to the brain and increases that blood-boiling feeling. Whenever anxiety creeps in, stop for 30 seconds to inhale and exhale through your nose, fully and deeply.

It’s never too early to start practicing these seven tips to reduce holiday stress. Put them into play at the office, at social events and especially in your own home. And as always, let me know how you go. 

With love,

Socializing For Introverts: How To Navigate The Silly Season With Aplomb

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

When Andy Williams sang those lyrics I have to assume that he wasn’t in charge of preparing Christmas dinner, buying presents, hosting far-flung relatives, or sending “Happy Holidays!” cards by the final delivery date.

Of course the holidays CAN be magical, but for many of us (most of us over the age of 25?), they also bring waves of anxiety, hair-frizzing stress, and the tendency to give in to food cravings with reckless abandon.

Sound familiar? Don’t worry, this year I’ve got your back!

To help you navigate the Navidad season, I’m wrapping up a four-part blog series with strategies to make this November & December one that feels both welcome and well-balanced.

Here’s what we’ll cover over the next four posts:

  1. Holiday socializing for introverts
  2. How to stop over-indulging on holiday treats (even if they’re lying around the house)
  3. A guide to letting go of stress and finding those festive-feels
  4. A tantalizingly tasty, anti-inflammatory breakfast recipe for mornings that require a reset

In each post I’ll also link you to one of my simple, at-home workouts that you can easily squeeze in to your busy schedule.

If you’d like more support and accountability over the coming weeks, please come and join us in my free private Facebook group. I’m in there every week answering questions, doing live videos, and chatting with our 500+ lovely members.

Moving on to today’s post.

Holiday Socializing For Introverts : Tips For Navigating The Silly Season With Aplomb.

I can appreciate that this is an odd way to start this wellbeing guide, but there’s a method to my madness. For those of us who:

  • Struggle with small talk
  • Prefer to wear slippers over stilletos
  • Get sleepy after a single glass of mulled wine…

…attending Christmas parties can be seriously draining.

When we’re drained, and cortisol levels have spiked, we tend to turn to unhealthy habits as a means for comfort. Think: eating sweets or salty snacks, staying up late watching TV shows (“to wind down”), engaging in negative self talk, and over-analyzing every action that we took at the party.

Of course, next Thursday, Friday and Saturday it starts all over again.

As appealing as it sounds to hang up your anti-social shingle, getting out there and sharing real life moments with other people is essential for your long term health. Connecting with friends may boost brain health (1), lower your risk of dementia (2) and even help you live longer (3).

With that in mind, here are five foolproof strategies that will help you work the room like the belle of the ball.

Strategy #1: Ask questions.

Most people love talking about themselves, and they love it even more when they have a captivated audience nodding along and asking thoughtful questions every now and again.

I started playing with this strategy a few years ago and quickly learnt how happily a new acquaintance will gab on about themselves without so much as a “what about you?”

On the one hand it’s frustrating, on the other it makes conversation really easy!

The key here is to listen to their answers. Not only will this get you out of your head — you can’t think about yourself and pay attention to them at the same time — but it makes it easy to respond.

Example:

Them: “I live in Wisconsin but I was born in Argentina.”

Jenn: “Oh really! I’ve heard the steak and wine in Argentina are second to none. Mind you, the cheese coming out of Wisconsin is pretty good too!” (*toothpaste ad smile*) “Do you ever go back to visit Argentina? I guess that’s a good 10 hour flight from here?”

The Breakdown: you confirm that you heard what they said, you make a comment and you ask another question.

Strategy #2: Be enthusiastic.

When it is your turn to talk (I know, shudder), try and put a little theatrics into it. If you sound excited about what you’re talking about, other people will be excited to listen.

Example:

Jenn being terrified of holding the conversation: I’m from Australia but I live in Los Angeles. (Cross arms and button lips.)

Jenn being confident: I’m actually from a small town in rural Australia…there’s about 25,000 people and three times as many sheep…hahaha! But I’ve been in the States for the past 7 years, I first lived in North Carolina and now we’re in Los Angeles. What an amazing country this is! Where are you from?

The Breakdown: I added a little bit of flair to my response, gave them enough information that they can ask more questions if they wish, but then redirected the conversation back in their direction.

Strategy #3: Hold a drink, but stay away from the snack table.

Small talk and having my photo taken are two things that make me feel really awkward. They make me very aware of my mouth and I have no clue what to do with my hands.

I’m yet to figure out my photo-fix, but in social situations I’ll hold a glass in one hand and use the other to gesture about my small town sheep population.

Yet while a drink is good, standing near the snack table is not. When you’re nervous — or bored — it’s easy to mindlessly make a dent in the chip bowl, which isn’t going to make you feel better about this situation. If you want to eat, make a plate and then remove yourself from grazing distance.

Strategy #4: Remember that most people feel the same way.

If you’re worried about how you look, what you’re wearing, or if you have enough fascinating talking points since the last Christmas party, just stop. Chances are very likely that most people in that room are feeling the same way and having the same thoughts. You can make it your mission to help others feel more comfortable, and by default you’ll get there too.

Strategy #5: Set yourself a time to leave, but don’t make an excuse to do so.

Knowing that you only need to stay for an hour or two will make any situation more bearable. You can walk in, grab a glass, ask some questions, nod thoughtfully and be out of there before you realize that the whole experience could have been a little awkward.

The only caveat here is to not make an excuse when you leave — that reeks of insecurity. Don’t say that you have to feed the cat or get up early, just say goodbye. If anyone questions why you’re departing, feel free to use my line:

“I turn into a pumpkin after 9pm! But it’s been a blast, enjoy the rest of your night!”

You might think that these tips are simple, but as with all healthy habits the simple ones are usually the best. I hope that you’ll try them in your next social setting, and do let me know how they go!

Your workout for today is a series of Feel Good Hip Openers. Get it here.

With love,

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,

Why it’s essential to make your own decisions (or how not to be a fickle wife)

Remember a while back that I told you that I struggled with healthy decision making? Well, I’ve been working on it and wanted to report back.

To quickly recap, I used to outsource certain lifestyle decisions (usually those that may be seen as “less healthy”), so that I could have the experience without being responsible for the outcome.

Whether the question was to get takeout for dinner, skip a workout, watch a movie instead of doing housework, or have a glass of wine on Tuesday night, while I may have wanted to do the activity, I didn’t want to be the one who suggested it.

So instead of using my voice, as an independent thinker and 21st century woman, I relied on my sneaky wifely ways to make my husband choose — this was basically an insurance policy that said it was his fault if I felt crappy later on.

I mean, how crummy is that? I shouldn’t even be admitting it publicly, but I decided to fess up incase you’re doing it too.

Every week I speak with women who blame their situation on circumstances outside their control:

  • “My co-worker brought donuts to the office…”
  • “My husband wanted to get popcorn at the movies…”
  • “The weather wasn’t nice enough to go for a walk…”

Sure, these external challenges may impact your decision making, but at the end of the day it is still your choice to eat the donut, share the popcorn or skip the walk.

And you know what? Making that decision is fine as long as it’s YOU who makes it.

Since I wrote about this concept earlier in the year I’ve been very intentional about making decisions that will benefit my long term health goals while also nourishing my short term lifestyle desires.

What I’ve found is that I feel more in control of my actions and outcomes by simply being the one to choose.

I feel confident saying NO to certain things without feeling deprived, and I can experience great satisfaction from saying YES, without the situation then spiraling out of control and leaving me worse-for-wear.

Because by making the first decision, to say yes or no, I then give myself permission to make all the following decisions. For example: how much I eat, how long I participate in an activity, and when I want to do something different…that’s all up to me.

As it turns out, decision making is liberating!

This new habit is definitely one that I’m sticking with, so now I want to throw the gauntlet to you.

  • Have you been “going with the flow” a little too regularly in your own life?
  • Are you outsourcing your decisions (and then feeling regretful and perhaps even resentful)?
  • Are you willing to do something about it?

This week I challenge you to pay attention to both the decisions that you’re making AND those that you’re avoiding.

What choices do you shy away from, and why?

Finally, commit to making a new decision, just one to start, and put yourself back in the driver’s seat of your own health and happiness.

Of course, as always, let me know how you go by leaving a comment below.

 

 

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,

cellulite jennifer dene wellness

Let’s Talk About Cellulite (Dare to Bare this Summer)

Cellulite. Now there’s a topic that nobody likes to discuss.

Unlike concerns about hair, pimples, or even weight, talking about cellulite feels really personal. But while we may not be talking about it, being saddled with cellulite is something that many women think about, and even obsess over.

So today we ARE going to have a chat about cellulite and why you should shake off your sarong this summer…dimples and all.

Let’s dive in.

So you have cellulite. Welcome to the club.

Here’s a reality check for you: 90% of women have cellulite. I’m one of them, you’re probably one of them, and you’d better believe that most magazine cover models and A-list actresses aren’t immune from a bump or two either.

Yet despite that reality, cellulite is something that makes most of us feel insecure and — let’s be honest — even a little ugly.

I get it.

I first discovered that I had cellulite when I was just 24 years old, and let me tell you, I was taken by complete surprise. It was as if I went to bed one night, skin as smooth as a supple leopard, and woke the next morning to find the little buggers broken out over my backside.

My first reaction was one of slight horror and embarrassment. Did my friends have cellulite? Would other women judge me? Was I destined to spend the next 80 years wearing long pants?

At that time I was living in hot and humid North Carolina where baring one’s legs is unavoidable during the long summer. I looked at my social calendar and, to my dismay, I noticed that the coming weekends were filled with pool parties, lake parties and shorts-appropriate cookouts. I felt a little devastated.

Admittedly, my initial response was rather dramatic (as was the hasty decision to invest in multiple pairs of linen trousers), but I can understand why it happened. Every day mainstream media makes women think that cellulite is ugly, unhealthy and not at all sexy.

Apparently, being beautiful is being dimple free.

Of course the magazines can’t say those exact words — what a PR nightmare that would be! —but the message they’re sending is loud and clear, and it’s delivered by airbrushing all the lumps and bumps off their already gorgeous models.

Why I Dare You to Bare

Having cellulite does not mean that you’re an unhealthy, unfit, or undesirable woman…it doesn’t even mean that you have too much body fat.

Cellulite occurs when the top layer of fat cells (those which are responsible for padding your body and supplying energy) push up into the outermost layer of skin, creating dimples at the surface.  Your susceptibility has to do with the strength and elasticity of your skin, which declines with age, and how well it cushions and compacts your subcutaneous fat.

While it may not always feel desirable, having cellulite is actually quite normal.

So don’t hesitate to reach for that pair of shorts or your bikini bottoms this summer.  “Perfect” is an Instagram filter that you don’t need, and life’s more fun when you love the skin you’re in.  So go ahead and flaunt it!

With love,

Jennifer Dene