Love Your Body

MeandTim

{Here’s a picture of me and my boyfriend Tim, taken a little over a week ago <3}

In a time when, “thin is in” it can be easy to justify going to extreme measures to make your body match an ideal that society has created. I don’t know about you, but I’ve certainly felt bombarded with images of women who are far thinner than I am – thinner than I’ll ever be. I don’t wish I looked like them, but there was a time when I’d stare at those images; I’d dissect every part of a woman’s body and wonder why mine didn’t look the same. I wondered why my thighs weren’t as thin; why my cheekbones weren’t as prominent; why my stomach wasn’t as flat. It didn’t take very long before I started to cut back on the amount of food I was eating.

It wasn’t until I was a senior in high school that I slowly began accepting myself. When I went to college, the acceptance and love for my body grew. I became a Healthy Eating and Living Intern at the Student Center. For “Love Your Body Day” my fellow interns and I ordered shirts that said, “I <3 My Body.” We wore them around campus and observed people’s reactions (most were positive :)). I was happy to be wearing one, because it was true. I wanted to inspire others to love their bodies, too. If you’d given me a shirt like that to wear when I was younger, I don’t know that I would have, because I wouldn’t want people to look at me and think that I actually loved my body. How could I? I was no model. But in college, I did love my body. I truly learned to care for myself. I didn’t diet. I shopped for healthy food. I walked for miles every day. I ran by the lagoon. I danced. I filled myself with love, laughter, and happiness. I was fulfilled.

I cringe when I hear how much women torture themselves to look a certain way. I feel saddened by the amount of pressure many people feel to be thinner, prettier, taller, etc. I wish that we could appreciate our bodies for everything that they do for us – that’s part of how I healed. I thanked my body for taking care of me. Instead of wanting to look a certain way, I just wanted to be healthy. I still feel this way.

I wish that we could spread more love; instead of calling ourselves or others fat, my hope is that we will look at ourselves and others for who we really are; the numbers on the scale, the size of our skirts, the fact that we don’t look like a small percentage of women who are incredibly tall and thin doesn’t define us. There was a time when being thin was everything to me. Now, I think it shocks people that being skinny isn’t my ultimate goal. It’s not even on my list of things that I want. I don’t know if it’s because I’m older, or because I love and accept my body, but I genuinely don’t want to stretch myself out to be a few inches taller and a few pounds lighter. I love my curves. I am passionate about helping women be healthy and learn to truly love their bodies, too.

Instead of focusing on being a certain weight, I would rather we all strive to be our healthiest, happiest, most radiant selves. When we learn to love ourselves and enjoy life, if we have weight to lose, it will come off because we are feeding ourselves healthy food, and are taking time to be active, as well as to relax, and connect with nature, ourselves, and people who lift us up. To me, that’s what life is about. If you’re on your wellness journey and are struggling to love yourself, accept your body, and heal, I’d love to help. If you have an eating disorder, I can refer you to a specialist who can help. Wherever you are on your health journey, know that there are people who can help. The fact that you’re beautiful won’t change as your weight changes. And, you can learn the tools to take care of yourself, too. You’re worth it. <3

What’s Your Story?

Writing

Before I was a Health Coach, I worked at Memoirs Ink where I helped people write their memoirs. At Memoirs Ink we also ran two personal essay contests a year. Since it was my job to encourage others to write and share their stories with others, I did the same. Amidst all the things that I had going on, writing stories about my life and sharing them with others was a grounding, healing, and all-around amazing experience.

I’ve always loved writing. When I was younger, I kept a journal. I wrote frequently. When I was in the 4th grade, I remember sitting at my desk and writing; we had a visitor one day and as my teacher, Mrs. Cohen, passed by my desk, she turned to the visitor and said, “she’s going to be a writer you know.” I don’t take these words lightly. It would be a dream come true for me to be able to write and share my work with others. No matter what else I have going on in my life, I still write.

When I was in college, I had originally planned on attending medical school, but ultimately decided that there were other paths I wanted to take instead. I missed writing. I took an English class and fell in love. I continued with my science studies, and even though I enjoyed my biology and chemistry classes, I couldn’t fool myself: my happiness rested in Shakespearean sonnets; in Christina Rossetti’s poetry; in Chaucer’s Canterbury tales; in the smell of the old novels and memoirs in the library. Without these great works and my brilliant professors, my life was missing colors, spark, and a passion for writing and reading that I’ve had inside of me for as long as I can remember. I needed to pursue all that I loved – not just the courses that my parents thought were valuable. And sure enough, when I came home and said I wanted to be an English major, my dad threatened to stop paying for my tuition. I became an English major anyway.

When I graduated from college, my parents told me that if I pursued a career in writing, I’d never make any money. But I kept writing anyway. Eventually, I became an editor, but I wasn’t doing the sort of work I wanted to. By that time, I had changed my diet and lifestyle and wanted to share all that I learned about the healing power of food with everyone I knew. I went to nutrition school at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition where Marilena Minucci was one of my teachers. One day she asked, “Did you know that one of the most powerful drivers of human behavior is a person’s story?” She continued, “as humans, we are natural storytellers – just go to the movies, or read a book, or watch TV. We love to express ourselves through our stories.” At the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I learned that it’s not just the food on our plates that feeds us. It’s also our relationships, careers, exercise, and spirituality. It may seem odd that one of my teachers decided to speak about the power of sharing our stories, but it made sense to me. And for someone who loves to read, write, and learn about nutrition, it was perfect for me.

And I couldn’t agree with her more. I often feel like if I don’t write, something in my life is missing. If I feel cranky, it’s usually because I have so much to share, but I haven’t taken the time to write it down. When we are trying to be healthier, we have to dig deep and find what’s missing in our lives. There are many things we have to ask ourselves, in order to truly heal. Are we expressing ourselves creatively? Do we have an emotional support system? When was the last time we laughed? Do we forgive easily? Are we exercising? Do we love our career? When it comes to our health and well-being, everything is connected. If we’re stressed out at work, we might break out. If our romantic relationship is not fulfilling, we might binge on sweets. When we learn that everything in our lives affects our health, we can find outlets that serve us in beautiful, positive ways. For me, writing is as soothing as meditating, but not everyone values his/her story.

Through working at Memoirs Ink, I learned that many people think that no one will read their stories. Or they believe that no one can relate to their experiences. Or that they’ve got nothing valuable to say. But I say to you, write anyway. Share your story anyway. Ask yourself: where would we be if all the great authors, poets, musicians, and screenwriters kept their talents bundled up inside of themselves? How would we unwind with amazing television and movies if no actor believed enough in himself/herself to pursue an acting career? What concerts would we attend if every musician crawled in a ball because the odds were stacked so high against him/her? Don’t let your inner critic stop you from doing what it is you are meant to do in this lifetime.

So, grab a pen and paper, and write. Let your story unfold, page by page, and share it with the world. You have a duty to share your precious gifts with the world, because the world is a better place when we share our talents. If you have a story burning inside of you, write it. If you love to make people laugh, do it. I support you. Even if you don’t believe in yourself, I believe in you. I see the value in your work. Heal yourself from the inside out, one word at a time.

My Quest for Self-Care

meandjessboat

I don’t know about you, but life has been pretty busy for me lately. Throughout all of the commitments, studying, and work that I’ve had, I’ve also tried to keep my promise to myself that I will make time to take care of myself. I’ve learned that I have trouble putting myself first and that it’s not helping me to stay healthy. In fact, I was taught to put others first – which is great – and I’m sure you have all been taught the same thing, but to constantly put everyone’s needs before our own can take a serious toll on our health and well-being. Recently, I’ve been reminded of the importance of “me time” – more specifically, carving out time to rest and relax. I’ve promised myself that I will get more massages, stop working earlier in the night, and take at least one day off a week so that I can enjoy myself and my loved ones. While I haven’t gotten around to that massage just yet, I have been doing other simple things to help me keep my promise to myself.

I also decided that in my quest to take better care of myself, I would spend quality time with people who lift me up, support me, and share my goals, passions, and desires. So when my amazing friend Jess (pictured with me above) asked me to attend  an event with her on a yacht in Marina del Rey, I said, “yes!” It was a beautiful event hosted by Yelp, and we had fun talking and admiring the gorgeous ocean, sky, and the rest of our surroundings. There won’t always be events on yachts to attend, but the beach is close to my house and I’ve made it a point to invite others to go with me for a little while after work so we can enjoy the sunset and a relaxing walk.

SantaMonicaBeach

I took this picture last week when I went to the beach in Santa Monica with my boyfriend. We were there for a short while, but we got to see a beautiful sunset and we enjoyed a short walk while we were there. The weather is cooling down fast these days, so I’m trying to soak up as much of the beach as I can (although something tells me I will bundle up and convince my love to keep coming with me even when it’s much cooler – he is from New York, so I know he can handle the colder weather, but I might need to take a blanket or two!).

I feel incredibly lucky to be surrounded by such beauty; I believe this is one of the ways that I create time and space to enjoy myself and nature. After my time on the yacht in the Marina with my friend Jess, I went home, made some tea, and got ready for bed. I’m learning how to set boundaries with others and explain that I need time, both to myself, and to enjoy nature. My hope is that by sharing my experience, I will help you to take care of yourself more – to put yourself first for a change so that your mind and body can heal, relax, and take care of you.

Are you tired of putting yourself last? Do you want to work with a Health Coach who understands how taxing it can be to put everyone’s needs before your own? Start creating ways for you to rest and heal by contacting me for your free initial consultation! Tell me about your days: Are you tired? Overworked? Stressed out? Is it time to take care of you? Work with an experienced Health Coach who will share tips and tools for taking care of your mind, body, and soul. I look forward to speaking with you soon and being a part of  your wellness journey. Namaste.