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.
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. TheResult? 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. TheResult? You risk losing the delicate give-take balance of relationship, where momentsshould 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.
We all need a purpose — something that fulfills us from the inside out, motivates us to get out of bed in the morning, lets us stand on our own two feet throughout the day and fall asleep wrapped in the warm hug of contentment.
But here’s the kicker: your purpose, or at least part of it, must resonate only for you. Your PERSONAL purpose is different from your role as a mother, wife or daughter, and it’s different from your profession. Because, while worthy, if the entirety of your fulfillment is intricately linked to the needs of another, you’re leaving yourself open to the risk of one day waking up, purposeless.
I’ve known many women who have lost their sense of purpose once their children had grown or they left their careers. I’ve experienced it too, and it’s an aimless (and suffocating) feeling that, in the words of Bart Simpson, “both sucks and blows”.
We women, nurturers at heart,tend to be chameleons — in our desire to make other people happy, we arrange our days (perhaps our lives) to support THEIR likes, needs and hobbies, often at the expense of our own.
But to be our best selves, and live our best lives, we also need to achieve something that is just for us. This personal purpose is what keeps our lives meaningful on the individual level, but also gives us more to contribute to the world at large.
So it begs to ask, what does your personal purpose look like?
Read on for my simple four-step framework that will help you reconnect with your purpose this week.
Step One: choose your purposeful adjective
Before setting a specific goal or making a to-do list, I want you to first describe how you will feel at the end of a purposeful day. This will help you separate the tasks that are meaningful to you — those that will move the needle forward on your purpose-driven life — from the one’s that you think you SHOULD do (such as folding the laundry or wiping the top of the refrigerator).
Here are some words to get you started: healthy, content, feminine, thoughtful, grateful, courageous, organized, kind, relaxed, energized, satisfied…
Step Two: pick a goal of purpose
What is one thing that you would like to learn, do or achieve, that would give you the feeling that you described in Step One? What goal would make you excited to jump out of bed in the morning (or at least feel keen to give it a go once the coffee has kicked in)?!
This might be something completely new to your lifestyle, such as planning a trip, learning a new skill or volunteering; or it might be following through on tasks and hobbies that you had once started but never got around to finishing, such as completing a photo album or scrapbook, donating clothes to charity, or landscaping the garden.
Choose just ONE personal purpose goal for the week, and make sure that it’s something that will add meaning, satisfaction and joy to your life.
Step Three: decide your daily tasks
Now that you’ve narrowed down a weekly goal, you’ll choose one or two daily tasks that will help you achieve that goal, and give you the essential satisfaction of success.
Research has shown that consistent progress — achieving small bits every day — is more satisfying than completing everything in one big surge of effort. The daily progress makes us feel more fulfilled and motivated to follow through on our promises, and ultimately sows the seeds for a purposeful life.
After all, a purposeful life is nothing other than thousands purposeful days, quietly and consistently stacked one on top of the other.
Let me give you an example of the three-step process thus far:
I want to feel organized and artistic.
My weekly goal is to complete the family scrapbook from our trip to Italy. This is something that I’ve wanted to complete for months; it will spark my creativity and remind me of the joy that we had on that trip (that makes me feel grateful for the life that I live, and the memories that I’ve created).
Monday: print trip photos
Tuesday: decide on color theme and layout of scrapbook
Wednesday: buy materials and set up my working space
Thursday: set aside two hours to complete scrapbook
Friday: make any final adjustments and pack away crafts
Saturday: share it with the family and reminisce about the trip (Step Four)
Step Four: reflect and validate
Reflecting on a job well done is what separates a successful day with a busy day.
Many of us have a tendency to focus on what we need to do, or on what we didn’t get to, which makes contentment hard to come by; it’s very hard to feel satisfied and fulfilled when you always feel weighed down with expectation of what comes next.
Instead, start acknowledging what you HAVE achieved by giving credit to your successes. In doing this you are creating a record of everything that you have accomplished, and staying connected to the meaningful life that you are creating, bit-by-bit, every single day.
I’ll leave you with the stirring words of Eleanor Roosevelt: The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.
So please, go out today and live your purpose. And then as always, let me know how it goes.
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…
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
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).
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!
Athleticism has never been in my blood. If you throw a ball at me I’ll close my eyes and my running style has been likened to some form of interpretive dance.
So you can imagine my surprise when, in 2008, I was asked to start teaching fitness classes at some of Sydney’s top gyms and health clubs.
(Me! The girl who spent school lunches hanging out in the library!)
At the time I was studying journalism at the University Of Technology, Sydney, and had joined a gym in Bondi Junction.
Even though I enjoyed taking classes I never imagined that I could be the one on stage. Yet there I was, mic’d up and ready to roll. I guess the fitness gods finally decided to cut me some slack.
My first gig was teaching a program called BodyBalance™. Visualize a dimly lit studio, a pre-choreographed flow of tai-chi, yoga and pilates, and a playlist that rotated between Seal, Sting and Sade. Oh how I loved it!
Teaching BodyBalance™ was the first time I realized that I was actually quite good at this whole physical activity thing (as long as you didn’t throw a ball at me or ask me to run).
In fact, by the time I left for America, I had gathered quite a following in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs and Lower North Shore, with my classes regularly holding 90-100 people.
I’m telling you this because yesterday, seven years hence, I decided to put on one of my old BodyBalance™ workout DVDs. It was going to be great!
15 minutes in and I was giggling so hard that I had to I hit the pause button. As it turns out, BodyBalance™ was extremely easy (and I may not have been the total badass trainer that I thought I was)!
One quarter-way into the workout and all we had done was some deep breathing, a basic yoga salutation and the modified Pilates Hundred.
Its simplicity allowed the hour to be spent in a state of movement meditation and, as previously crowed, it made me feel like I was good at something physical, which counts for a lot.
I wanted to share that story to remind you of one of my healthy living truths: you should exercise to feel good, not to prove a point.
A lot of women I know think that exercise has to be grueling to be effective. This is absolutely not the case. Your motivation to exercise comes from doing something that makes you feel great, in body, mind and spirit.
Exercise shouldn’t feel like just another chore, and daily joyous movement can become something that you crave.
Plus willpower is finite, which means that you need to find a form of fitness that inspires you to do it on a regular basis.
With that in mind, I give you permission to do the following:
Stop any form of exercise that doesn’t make you feel good
Ignore the latest fitness advice from glossy magazines
In just a little while I’ll be celebrating with the handsome Nathaniel, a glass of Moet and some very good cheese. But before I kick off my shoes and pop open that bottle of bubbly, I’m taking some time to reflect on the last (almost three) decades.
I sometimes look around at my life and think: huh, who would have ever thought that’d happen. Every year brings with it new surprises and adventures, and we never really know what will transpire next.
Growing up as girl in a beautiful yet small Australian country town, I never would have expected that I would find myself living in Los Angeles, married to a Southern boy, and teaching women how to feel fit, feminine and fabulous through healthy living and self care.
In fact, this life that I’m living never really crossed my mind…it just sort of happened!
At various times throughout my childhood I wanted to be: a gas station attendant (I loved washing windshields with a squeegee); a bank teller (I got a real kick out of counting coins and shuffling notes); and for a few years my aspiration to become a lawyer (which would justify the owning of a briefcase) butted heads with my desire to be a marine biologist (and swim with the dolphins every day).
What actually happened was that I got a degree in journalism and started teaching fitness.
Since then, a series of unforeseen events, saying yes to new opportunities and rolling with the flow of life has brought me to where I am today…sitting in the Miracle Mile, thinking that pre-breakfast mimosas sounds like a very civilized idea.
The road that takes us to where we need to go is rarely clear and often tricky to navigate. But what we discover with every step will shape us in ways that we could never have realized, had we not dared to step off the beaten path.
With that in mind, and in honor of turning 29, I wanted to share 29 things that I’ve learnt about healthy living and loving the skin you’re in.
And then I’d love to hear from you.
What one nugget of knowledge would you tell your younger self? Like a rising tide lifts all boats, sharing our words of wisdom with one another makes us all stronger. So please, leave a comment below!
29 Things That I’ve Learnt About Healthy Living (And Loving The Skin You’re In)
Once-upon-a-time being healthy was as simple as feeling well, getting good results at your annual check-up, and being able to do the things you want to do — physically, mentally and emotionally.
Today? Not so much…
It seems that being healthy in 2017 is no longer just about how you feel, but is also defined by your ability to complete a long list of the latest *cough arbitrary cough* healthy rules.
So while it was once simple to gauge the old health barometer, these days it’s much harder to know if you’re in good shape or need to shape up.
I mean heck, what does healthy even mean anymore?
If you had asked me that question at different stages of my life I would have given you very different answers.
During my childhood and early teens I defined being healthy as having a clear mind, an active body, and no runny nose or belly ache. Add to that sleeping well and eating my vegetables, and I figured I was doing just fine.
It wasn’t until my late teens that things like body-shaming and dieting really came to my attention, but boy did I catch on fast. At this time I would have described being healthy by my pant size, weight and rapidly receding reflection.
In my mid-twenties I worked hard on redefining what healthy meant for myself, yet the little voice inside my head — the one that then drove most of my decision-making — still came straight from the pages of a women’s health and fitness magazine.
At this time I also confused the need to be healthier with the need to be the healthiest, a mistake that you might also be making and one which is preventing you from loving your body and life.
Yet now, as I peer over the edge towards my 29th year, I’ve made a discovery that will make you smile.
Can you guess what I’ve decided, after more than a decade of wading through contradictory advice on what it means to be a healthy woman?
Being healthy is having a clear mind, an active body, and no runny nose or belly ache!
(Don’t you love when things in life come full circle?! I know I do!)
Is that a simplistic statement? Sure.
Am Iactually more healthy now than I was as a teenager? Undoubtedly.
Do I think we all need to be more proactive about our health, and feel encouraged to make gentle changes every day that make us that little bit healthier? I do.
But the truth is that we can do that without making healthy feel harder. We can define this term for ourselves and recognize that there is no one-size-fits all when it comes to creating a healthy life.
So if you’ve been feeling behind the eight-ball in trying to figure out what healthy means for you, here’s what I recommend you do:
Close the magazine or shut down that social media app that is trying to define YOUR health on their terms.
Take a breath.
Then, think about what your 12-year-old self would have told you, had you asked what healthy meant to them.
I’ve always been something of an introvert; I enjoy spending time doing my own thing and tend to feel nervous in big social gatherings. But when I first moved to America in 2011 I told myself that I would become more outgoing, accept more invitations and basically just be more confident being me. If only the power of thought was enough.
As it turns out, I felt even more like a fish out of water. Stripped from the ease of living in Australia — where I understood the culture, the landscape, the ebb and flow of daily life — I found myself struggling just to fit in, much less be my most gregarious self.
My feelings of being disconnected to the people around me was not due to anything that they were doing, rather it came from my own negative self talk(you’re not as interesting; you’re not as pretty; you’re not as smart). Instead of spending energy building new relationships, much of my attention was focused inward, comparing how I felt about myself to what I perceived about others.
The more I played this game of “comparisonitis,” the less beautiful I felt. If only I could have understood that the power of knowing yourself and being comfortable in your own skin is far more attractive (to yourself and others) than any external physical feature.
This brings me to today’s topic: rejoicing in the beauty of being you.
The other day I was listening to an interview with Tera Warner, a body-image-detox coach. Like me, Tera believes that when women place too much emphasis on how they look, they take the joy away from how they live.
Tera discussed how passive intake of body-obsessed media images (social media, advertising, entertainment and the like) is making women feel less at ease in their own skin. She went on to say that if women don’t stand in their own shoes and put their own mark on the world, then they’ll never escape the hamster wheel of negative body image.
And boy, do I agree with that.
Even after all the work that I’ve done on my own “body enlightenment” I can still catch myself scrolling through Instagram or watching other people’s YouTube videos and feeling less-than.
Such is the power of image and social perception.
I believe that you too play the game of comparisonitis (perhaps with other people you know, those you see online, or even with past versions of yourself) — so what are you going to do about it? Because you have to do something.
Doing nothing fuels the fire of self-doubt and keeps you focused on the fabricated media obsessions around body image.
Doing nothing keeps you small and means that you will never truly fall in love with your body and life (morbid reminder: you only get one of each).
Doing nothing diminishes a woman’s worth to believing that she is only as good as her appearance.
Obviously, you can’t do nothing.
In her interview, Tera shared a quote that I absolutely love: “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the first two syllables in beautiful are BE U.”
With that in mind, here are 10 things that you can do to not only love the skin you’re in, but to put your mark on the world in a way that shows other women that we, as a gender, are so much more than our bodies.
How To Be Beautiful You
Live with compassion for yourself and others; be loving to those around you
Be intentional about how you spend your time
Achieve something every day that makes you feel proud
Know your purpose in YOUR life…this doesn’t have to be exotic, it just has to be real
Know what lights you up and brings you down; do more of the former and less of the latter
Don’t spend too much time alone — real connections matters, social ones don’t
Get offline as much as possible (your world won’t end if you delete some of those apps)
Highlight your weird, unique differences — being the same as everyone else is boring
Live in the now and appreciate who you are today, don’t try to be the person you once were or spend too much time wondering about the person you could become
Spend more time and energy on creating things that you can put out into the world and less time on absorbing information and messages; be the curator of your own life’s photo album
Now I’d Love To Hear From You
What did you think about today’s topic? If you find yourself feeling deflated after spending too much time on social media, or comparing yourself to other people on a regular basis, what are you going to do about it? Which of these 10 suggestions, if any, feels like an area that you need to address? Let me know by leaving a comment below.