Embracing the Gray (and aging with grace!)

My first gray hair appeared when I was only 15 years old.

 I remember feeling a bit shocked as I was looking in the mirror combing my  hair like normal when I spotted a tiny flicker of gray.  Much to my dismay, it was in fact gray and not my imagination.  I told my mom I was going to pull it out but decided against that when I heard that plucking one strand of hair could cause two to grow in it’s place.  Thankfully, the gray did not grow very quickly, which was a relief.  I did not want to become a gray haired teenager!  By the time I was in my 20’s it started to grow at a faster pace so I began to get my hair highlighted at the age of 24.  I really enjoyed how it looked and coloring it became a bit of an obsession.  I dutifully spent way too much money every few months to make sure every strand of gray was colored.  Plus, I just enjoyed changing my hair color.  By the time I was 30, I decided to go blonde. That was a mistake, but hey– we were living in CA at the time, and I wanted to blend in!  I came to my senses soon after and went brown again trying out almost every shade of brown imaginable.  The trouble was, I really couldn’t afford it, so a couple of years ago, I decided to dye my own hair at  home.  Yes it saved money but the end result was a bit of a disaster.

After about a year of getting black hair dye on the counter and floor in my bathroom, I had had enough.  “That’s it!” I decided,  “I am going to take a break from dying my hair.”  Besides that, I knew I was sensitive to the chemicals in the dye, even though I tried to go as “natural” possible.

Well, that “break” started in April of 2014  and turned into more than a year of not dying my hair– as a result it became a lifestyle choice.  It’s now about 70%  gray and  guess what— I kinda like it!  I almost feel like a rebel.  I know that at age 37, having gray hair and not conforming to society’s expectations can come across as a bit radical. Maybe even a bit hippy-ish.

Photo on 7-13-15 at 4.59 PM

                                                        (most of the gray is underneath and on top)

 

However, I did notice that purposefully going gray has now become a bit of a trend. Just look at this Facebook page or  this one and the beautiful women with gray hair!   I did not even set out to be part of a new trend but I don’t mind.  Honestly though– why does it even have to be a cool trend for us to accept the gray?

I have been thinking lately about trends and why we follow them– for good or for bad.

There are damaging trends we fall prey to such as juice fasts or that whole low fat phase from the 90’s (ugh).   Then, there are positive trends that are empowering for women, such as the radical notion that we can be fat AND healthy, or that we can enjoy life without diets or actually wear a bikini at the beach….. in short… the body positive movement.  (I truly feel that this is not just a trend but the start of a global change!)   I absolutely LOVE being a part of this movement!!

But what we don’t talk a lot about is the trend of desperately trying to reverse aging– in some cases spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars.  And why?  Because we are conditioned by society to feel ugly if we have wrinkles or gray hair, or stretch marks or cellulite.   Wrinkles?  Try this cream.  Cellulite? Here is a magic potion for you.  Stomach sagging?  Try this miracle cure.  Gray hair?  Just dye it.

Now I am NOT knocking people who use any of these products.  I am most certainly not judging those who are not ready to stop dying their hair.  I actually love and appreciate all different colors of hair, including purple and pink streaks, or even rainbow hair! :)

What I want to challenge our thinking on is this:  WHY do we follow these trends? Is it because we want to fit in? To look cool?  To look sexy?   Do we fall prey because we do not feel worthy or that we can not measure up?   Are we honestly afraid of aging?

As I say all the time, we are ALL beautiful.  It does not matter how old we are.  (or what size, race, gender, etc.)  Instead of fearing the aging process and looking down on getting older, let’s embrace it!

Body shaming is not just about what size we are, or how we look in a swimsuit.  Body shaming can include judging people for how old they look as well.  It’s time to put an end to this, and that change starts with YOU.

You may already be gray, or maybe you aren’t ready to dye your hair— and that’s okay.  What is another area where you feel  critical of the aging process? Is there something you are interested in saying “Eff Society” too but are afraid to express?

Again– please don’t get me wrong– I am NOT saying that everyone should go gray, or stop using any kind of creams, or products that help you to feel good in your skin. What I AM asking us all to do is to stop and remind ourselves that aging is an inevitable part of life and we cannot truly keep it from happening.  We are still JUST AS BEAUTIFUL with wrinkles and smile lines and cellulite….. and yes… even gray hair if we choose to go that route.

And the most important reminder is this:  Our appearance is not our identity.  Taryn Brumfitt of Body Image Movement says this, “Our body is not an ornament.  It is the vehicle to our dreams.”

Instead of spending our days  worrying about how old we look, what about spending it figuring out how to live with passion and make a difference?   How can we use our beautiful bodies to inspire others?  Every day truly is a gift– let’s make the most of our awesome selves with the time that we have left.

 

*Please comment and SHARE!*

 

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I have two pieces of GREAT NEWS!!!  First:  I have updated the book cover on both my paperback AND the Kindle book…… and the Kindle version is now only $4.99!  That is the cost of one latte.  Will you join the revolution and learn all about how you can love yourself and live a passionate life?

 

kelliesnewcover       IMG_1047

 

Click Here To Purchase!

 

Next:  I am now officially part of BIMGAP!!!  What the heck is that you ask?  Well, I am now a Global Ambassador and it stands for Body Image Movement Global Ambassador Program!  (see link I shared in my post).  I know I have already used my passion to inspire people to learn to love their bodies, but I am even more excited to join forces with Taryn to promote the cause using an even greater platform.  We are all in this together and we can all inspire change, whether it be with just one person or hundreds!  P.S—If you resonate with this message,  you will be happy to know that Taryn is still looking for more Ambassadors.  Click here to fill out an application!

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Nothing is the New Skinny

Health Coach Kellie:

How do you feel about the phrases “strong is the new skinny” or “healthy is the new skinny”? I totally agree with the author here and wanted to share her post!

Kellie

Originally posted on Dances With Fat:

WTFI got an e-mail from blog reader asking me what I think about “strong is the new skinny” and  “healthy is the new skinny” campaigns.  I’ve seen these phrases on everything from t-shirts to websites.  I think it’s total crap.

Strong, healthy, and skinny have different meanings and priorities for different people and none of them are entirely within our control.

I’ve seen at a lot of so-called “fitspiration” sites that claim “strong is the new skinny” and what I’ve seen is a whole lot of bodies that all look the same.  Cheryl Haworth is almost 300 pounds and is an Olympic medalist who was once the third strongest woman in the world, but I’ve never seen her, or anyone who looks like her, on a “strong is the new skinny” website, the sentiment seems to be much more “skinny with muscles” is the new “skinny.” It’s not that there’s…

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When “feeling fat” is a red flag

As most of us know by now, Facebook has removed the “feeling fat” Emoji, as of March 11, 2015. At least 16,000 protestors signed an online petition asserting that “fat is not a feeling” and Facebook responded with this message:

“We’ve heard from our community that listing “feeling fat” as an option for status updates could reinforce negative body image, particularly for people struggling with eating disorders. So we’re going to remove “feeling fat” from the list of options. We’ll continue to listen to feedback as we think about ways to help people express themselves on Facebook,” a spokesperson for the social network said in an email. 

 

Since the petition started, there has understandably been mixed reactions; many say that fat really IS a feeling. Some people claim that they feel fat because they literally ARE fat. Many others share they “feel fat” when they are bloated or stuffed.

 

The majority of those who supported the petition seem to have shared my journey of having eating disorders or body image struggles. We have been taught by psychologists that “fat is not a feeling” and there is a reason it’s been hounded into us so much.  I can only speak for myself  as someone who would be labeled as “thin privileged” that for me “feeling fat” was never about being fat. I used to think being fat was something to be feared and I am not the only one. According to this article, fat prejudice can start at a very early age. A 2010 study found that 3- to 5-year-old girls were more likely to choose a thin or average-sized Candyland piece than a fat one, making disparaging statements about the rejected piece like, “She is fat. I don’t want to be that one.

Fat was a bad word for me. Therefore, when I was feeling horrible about myself but didn’t quite know how to express it, I used the word “fat” in place of true feelings such as “lonely, sad or angry”.  I was emaciated yet when I felt out of control, I said I was feeling fat.

It may appear so far that I am writing this blog post to convince you that fat is not a feeling.  I am not going to do that. Honestly, I am tired of the conversation and in the end, it does not matter who “wins”.  I know that many of us, HAVE felt fat because that was the perception in our mind. Even if our mind is playing tricks on us, our feeling still need to be validated.  Besides, a friend of mine could try to convince me all day that she is feeling fat but if all I do is argue with her, how does that really change anything for the better?

I am much more interested in how this phrase is affecting someone’s life. It may be harmless, or it may be a red flag.

I think what we need to do at this point is first of all, check ourselves to notice if we have any fat prejudices. Is fat a bad word for us?   Secondly, if we are Moms, how do we talk about our body in front of our children? Are we inadvertently encouraging negative body image?

And finally, what are some red flags we can be on the look out for, when others say they are “feeling fat”?   

 

What concerns me as a Mom, is making sure we watch our own language around our children; this means observing for ourselves how we use the word “fat.”   If we say we “feel fat” and our young children are around, how will they perceive what we are saying?  If we are just feeling full from dinner and then say  “I am feeling fat”,  with a scowl on our face, will they read between the lines and assume that “fat” is bad?  Do we also talk about how we don’t like our bodies or share with our children that we are going on a diet?  Before long, they may connect the dots and assume this: 1. Fat is bad. I never want to be fat. 2. Overeating is bad because then I will feel fat.  3. Maybe I should go on a diet too so I won’t be or feel fat. Again– we can’t always keep ourselves from feeling this way. But we can watch what we say in front of our children.

 

I know that sometimes we are just having a bad day. We may feel bloated because we are on our period.  Or maybe Thanksgiving is the only time that we ever say (or just think to ourselves) that we feel fat, because we just stuffed ourselves with delicious food.

 

However, sometimes the seemingly harmless phrase could actually be a cry for help.

 

feeling fat blog post

 

Here are some red flags to look out for when people who are close to us, say they are “feeling fat”.

 

1. Do they say they feel fat on a daily basis?  Or at least most days of the week?

2. Do they tend to restrict their food?  It does no matter weather they are thin, average size or fat. If anyone says they feel fat but then decides to go on a diet or fast to make up for feeling that way, that is a red flag. Remember, eating disorders happen to people of all sizes.

3. Do they seem to exercise out of punishment, not enjoyment?

4. Do they have an obsession with weighing themselves?

5. Do they seem to be overly concerned about having a flat stomach?

6.  Do they avoid social situations because they are feeling fat? Do they seem to withdraw from people in general?

7. Do they follow “thinspo” or “fitspo” pages on social media?

8. Are they a perfectionist?

 

If you can say “yes” to many of the questions on this list (not just one question, although #1 by itself is something to look out for), I would say that “feeling fat”, for this person may be a lot deeper than a simple Facebook status.   Many of these could be signs of an eating disorder, or at the very least a preoccupation with body image and dieting.

In this case, please don’t take this controversial phrase lightly, as counseling or some other type of support may be needed.

However, I am guessing that many of my readers are here not because of eating disorder concerns, but they do truly dislike their body. Perhaps YOU are reading this and you know you don’t have an eating disorder, but you are tired of “feeling fat.”  Maybe you are a new mom who just had a baby, and like me, you noticed your stomach resembles a 5 month pregnancy when you feel bloated, so you find yourself thinking you “feel fat”. Maybe because of feeling this way, you are so caught up in the dieting world that you forgot to just simply live and enjoy your body and what it can do for you.

As a Body Image Coach, I work with women to put out the fire of negative thoughts that keep us from enjoying our life. I support women to learn to love and accept their body, as well as know how to practice gentle self-care.  I coach them on how to approach their food so that guilt is not brought to the table and they can practice Mindful (Intuitive) Eating and enjoy their food (even if we feel stuffed at times).

We can’t just snap our fingers and make ourselves stop “feeling fat”– whether fat really is a feeling or not. But we can learn to challenge our thinking to see if we are really struggling with something deeper.  We can talk with our children about fat-shaming and how fat is just a normal part of our bodies.  And we can find support for when “I’m feeling fat” is actually a desperate cry for help.

 

Talk with me if you would like to learn more about my services.  www.mcgarrywellness.org

Kellie McGarry

Nourished and New

Body Image Coach

 

 

Disclaimer:  My blog and coaching services are not to replace professional, medical advice.  If you feel you have a serious eating disorder, please talk with your Doctor.

 

the HAES files: is the body mass index a good measure of health?

Health Coach Kellie:

Hey everyone,

Recently, my husband and children started playing WiiFit on our new, WiiU.  It’s a great exercise program, but what makes me uncomfortable is the focus on BMI.  Now, my husband is overweight, but he is very healthy.  Moreover, the game assumed my husband had a weight loss goal.  He doesn’t.  Yes, he wouldn’t mind losing some weight but his main goal is increasing strength and health.  

So I was going to blog about the fallacies of the BMI (body mass index) but in doing my research, I came across this article (below) and I feel like it shares all the information we need to know! I love the research that is put into this. Bottom line: BMI is bogus and we need to stop using it as a measure of health. Please click on the link to read the full post. Then, please let me know YOUR thoughts in the comments below! 

Originally posted on Health At Every Size® Blog:

by Jon Robison, PhD, MS

The BMI is a measure of height and weight – specifically weight divided by height squared. It is the predominate measure by which health professionals and governments determine what is and is not a “healthy weight” for a particular individual, thereby informing them if they are “at risk” for morbidity and premature mortality. In reality, however, BMI is not only not a good measure of health, it is actually not a measure of health at all.

The formula itself was created around 1850 by the brilliant Belgian mathematician, astronomer and statistician Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet – and appropriately named The Quetelet Index. Dr. Quetelet was not a health professional and he was not interested in fat or health risk. He was fascinated by the idea of using statistics to draw conclusions about societies – and the “average man.” Some of us will remember…

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Why healthy eating is not a mental illness

Imagine you are out to dinner with a friend and you are really craving a nice, big salad–Greek salad to be exact (my favorite).  You can’t wait to dive in because  you are starving but before you take your first bite, your friend looks right at you in dismay and says, “Oh my gosh!  you chose a salad?! I can’t believe it.  You are always eating healthy.  Are you sure you aren’t mentally ill?”

Okay, so odds are about 99.999% that a friend will NOT say this (at least not to your face).  But according to  this article, some doctors say eating healthy IS a mental illness.   The title alone really bugged me- “Officials Declare ‘Eating Healthy A Mental Disorder'”, and it’s what triggered this post. (keep in mind that what follows is purely my opinion on the topic of this article).

To clarify, there IS a condition called Orthoexia, which is not officially in the DSM, but here is the definition:

  • an obsession with eating foods that one considers healthy.
  • a medical condition in which the sufferer systematically avoids specific foods in the belief that they are harmful.
    *Please note that orthoexia is an OBSESSION.  Not everyone who eats healthy is obsessed with it. For a good article on Orthoexia, please check out THIS ONE on the National Eating Disorders Awareness website.

I don’t dispute the (original) article on the fact that some people CAN take healthy eating to the extreme.  Now, whether or not Orthoexia should even be considered a mental illness is debatable (if it is due to OCD, I can totally understand).  As the article suggests, doctors could take this term and run with it.  Think Big Pharma.  They will prescribe drugs to anyone, just to make a buck.  What these people need is NOT more drugs, but counseling.

There was a time, that someone could have pegged me in this category.  As an overzealous health coach in training, I was learning about the 100 different dietary theories.  Interspersed with some great inspirational speakers, such as Deepak Chopra, and Geneen Roth, we also heard from some doctors and health experts who promoted all kinds of diets from the Raw Food diet, to the South Beach Diet.  Now, keep in mind, I was already super health conscious to begin with.  And in the past, I did struggle with disordered eating, which had eventually paved the way to a full blown eating disorder.  So I was vulnerable to an obsession with food and eating healthy.   I must have researched almost every healthy food out there.   I was judgmental of those who didn’t eat to my standards.  And I thought certain foods would solve all my problems and make me happy.

spinach loving girl

my daughter, the spinach loving girl :)

Newsflash:   the obsession with healthy eating was not making me a better person or a better health coach.  It was making me paranoid.

Would I say I was “mentally ill”?  I wouldn’t go that far.  But, if I wasn’t strong enough in my recovery, I could have definitely teetered off into relapse of my eating disorder.

Now, I DO STILL eat healthy…. but not to the extreme as I mentioned.  I have never been happier. I feel so much better, but also allow myself a dessert on occasion (which is also healthy).

The article I shared seems to be based on opinion.  However, it does make me realize just how stigmatized healthy eating can be. Frankly, many doctors are not trained in nutrition so how would they even recognize if we have crossed the line? I also don’t want people to worry that just because they are eating healthy, that they are going crazy. So reading this article makes me wonder:  will there really come a time when doctors do think that ALL  healthy eating is a mental illness?  If so, it would be a convenient way to push drugs. I sometimes feel like they are intimidated by this new wave of people who are becoming enlightened about how to better take care of their body.  Healthy eating = decreased sickness and disease which equals LESS MONEY FOR THE DOCTORS!!

I think what we really need to do here is to define WHAT HEALTHY EATING IS and WHAT HEALTHY EATING IS NOT. Now, I could ask ten different people and get ten different answers, but here is my opinion:

HEALTHY EATING IS…

1.  choosing fresh whole foods, as much as possible… but not feeling guilty if we don’t.

2.  listening to our body and giving into our cravings. If we are craving chocolate, we eat it. But we also know when to stop.

3.  knowing which foods make us feel bad.  I cannot eat gluten or most dairy.  This is NOT a fad for me. It’s a way to actually function in life.  If I didn’t know that gluten was causing me issues, I would still be suffering from chronic pain.

4.  eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, but not forcing ourselves to eat salad if we absolutely hate it.

5.  coming to our meal with pleasure and gratitude.

6.  putting love into every meal that we make and every bite that we take.

7.  eating to fuel our body, not to fill an emotional void. along this line, knowing when we are hungry and in need of food. Not pushing food away because we are “too busy.”

8.  knowing that there is no one way of eating that works for everyone.  We are all “bioindividual” and require different dietary needs.  Some people thrive as vegans and some thrive as meat eaters. (note: this does NOT mean to go on a diet)

9.   choosing organic foods when we can but we do not feel like it’s the end of the world if we just can’t.

10.  showing ourselves COMPASSION with our eating.  If we eat too much, it’s okay.

Briana I Love Lucy

my daughter after her “Vitameatavegimin Skit” (it’s so tasty too!) :)

Why do I CHOOSE to eat healthy?  Because my body thanks me for it and I feel so much better than I have in the past.  Plain and simple.  I also eat healthy because heart disease runs in my family and I want to avoid it as much as possible.  I DON’T eat healthy out of an obsession to be “clean” or a better person.

Now, someone may “think” they are eating healthy, but they really aren’t.  Ironically, they may start to purge foods from their diet in order to maintain a sense of control, but in reality, they are feeling very much out of control.  So here is what healthy eating is NOT:

HEALTHY EATING IS NOT:

1. Meticulously counting calories at every single meal and if we eat too much, we beat ourselves up.

2. Starving ourselves just because a diet expert says it is “healthy” to consume 1,000 calories or less.

3. Eliminating whole food groups just because we are afraid to eat them.

4.  Avoiding our fears by overeating or binging.

5. Being paranoid about fat grams, carbohydrates and sugar.

6. Avoiding parties because we are afraid we might eat something we deem to be on our “bad” list. (along those lines, having a “bad and good” list of foods).

7. Being so obsessed with nutrition that find we find ourselves spending hours on the computer doing research.

8. Feeling better than  those people who do not eat according to our high standards.

9.  Avoiding restaurants because they might not have all Non-GMO, 100% organic, sustainable food. We panic just thinking about it.

10. Feeling guilty and beating ourselves up after eating instead of feeling pleasure and enjoying the taste of our food. We may go on constant diets just because we don’t know how to eat mindfully.

By the way, these are not comprehensive lists, by any means.  WHAT WOULD YOU ADD TO THIS LIST? COMMENT BELOW.

In a nutshell, what I am describing when I talk about what Healthy Eating Is…. is Mindful Eating! This is one area that I help my clients with.  Many of them have reported feeling much better about themselves when they learn to take themselves off of the eat-starve-binge diet mentality. Thus, when we are not eating healthfully, we are not being mindful and showing ourselves compassion.

Can you see  why HEALTHY EATING is NOT A MENTAL ILLNESS?

However, if you do find yourself resonating with my list of what Healthy Eating IS NOT… don’t fear.  Chances are,  you don’t have a mental illness either.  Do you have Orthoexia?  Maybe… maybe not.  But don’t run to your doctor thinking you are crazy because chances are, you will be taking home a prescription for something  that will make you feel worse than you already are.   If you DO feel like you have an obsession with healthy eating, know that you are not alone, but please talk to someone, because life is not meant for us to feel fear or guilt every time we eat!   Please, show yourself some compassion.  And the next time you see a B.S. article like this one… in your mind, tell yourself the doctors mentioned here are the ones who are “mentally ill”.

Kellie McGarry

Body Image Coach

www.mcgarrywellness.org

 

 

 

Disclaimer: What I write is purely my opinion and not to be taken as medical advice, as I am a Health Coach, not a Doctor or Therapist. If you feel you have an eating disorder or any health condition, please contact your provider. 

Forget Resolutions: 5 tips on loving ourselves instead

So, it’s 2015 and I have mixed feelings about that. I’m sure you have noticed that this is the time of  year when everyone shares their wishes, goals, hopes and dreams; most notably on social media sites.  January is perceived as a new beginning.  A time to wipe the slate clean from the past and start fresh.  A time to forget about all of the crap that may have happened…the missed goals, the weight that wasn’t lost… or that was gained. The relationships that were severed, the new job to get used to, the missed opportunities, the rejections and losses.

We may not have experienced everything that I just listed.  Maybe we had a great year.

Never -the -less, there is always…ALWAYS something that we failed at that we would love to forget.  So we long for a second chance.

However, sometimes life gets in the way and we find ourselves trudging through mud… not really going anywhere. Just stuck. And we blame ourselves. We ask ourselves, “Why can’t I be motivated like everyone else?” My Dad died August 8, 2014.  So of course, I did not have a “great year”.  It was an extremely challenging year for my family.

Now, it’s a new year, but I cannot just wipe the slate clean. I can’t just forget about the loss of my Dad. And that is normal.

What I CAN do is work on myself.  I declare this year to be my year to work on  SELF-LOVE. No, it’s not a resolution.  I don’t care about resolutions. In my mind, they do not work. However, if I were to work on ONE thing, it would be to relax into my being, and show myself, grace, compassion and LOVE.

 

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freedigistalphotos.net/source:IdeaGo

Let me digress a bit: the reason why I say resolutions don’t work is because they usually go like this:

  • I will lose 20 pounds.
  • I will go to the gym 6 days a week, even when I am tired and/or sick.
  • I will work full time, plus make 7 gourmet meals a week, sew all of my kids clothes AND….volunteer 50 hours a week for the P.T.A.  (okay…. maaaybe that was an exaggeration, :))

And then what happens when we DON’T lose the 20 pounds at the end of the year?  What if we ONLY lose 5 pounds but gain muscle? (read between the lines: gaining strength is a GOOD thing)

Or we “ONLY” cook one delicious meal a week versus 5?  (isn’t that better than nothing?)

Can you see my point?  We beat ourselves up and feel like a failure, all the while forgetting to celebrate what we did accomplish because we wrap our identity up in meeting very specific resolutions.

Now, what about goals instead of resolutions, you may ask? Well, it depends.  Are you being duped by certain experts who say, “Don’t call them resolutions, call them goals!”?  Some are repackaging the wording so as not to scare us off. If we are scared into thinking we have to lose a certain amount of weight by a specific time or eat a certain amount of calories a day to be successful, that to me sounds like just another resolution (and most diets don’t work anyway but that is another blog post).  Healthy goals are realistic, flexible and enjoyable. They can be accomplished in small (weekly is good) baby steps. Ideally, weather or not we meet our goal is not going to make or break us.

Let me clarify:  I do have maybe one or two main goals (not resolutions).  I know what I need to work on, health-wise.  I can  get to bed earlier.  I can add more greens to my diet. I can practice more relaxation techniques.  I can actually use my dehydrator to eat kale chips instead of potato chips,  make interesting chia seed concoctions, religiously drink my greens and twist myself into insane yoga poses.

But my goals are not going to define my year. My goals also do not define how I feel about myself. I am not my goals. We are not the sum of our goals.

We are not ONLY a success if we meet our goals.  

We are not a failure if we DON’T meet our goals.

So… back  to SELF-LOVE.    What if make it to December 2015 and we think, “oh crap, I only exercised twice a week  but my goal was 5?”  So???

Are you happier?   More peaceful?  Do you LOVE yourself more?

We cannot fully be content with our accomplishments until we love ourselves in the HERE AND NOW.

Likewise, we cannot fully be content with our FAILURES until we love ourselves in the HERE AND NOW.

SELF-LOVE is like the foundation of a house.   We can build it up by eliminating junk food and increasing our exercise.  But if we become so consumed with meeting resolutions… or even goals… the “house” will crumble because the foundation wasn’t strong.

You know what?  Last year I didn’t eat as many greens as I “should” have.  I didn’t get enough sleep. I STILL haven’t lost the baby weight in my stomach.  But that is a-okay with me.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t care about my health or about what I look like.

 I am happy with who I am.  I am at peace with the fact that I am doing my best.  And the stomach thing…. well, I am at peace with the fact that I could do all sorts of exercises and it may never be flat.

As long as I desire to FEEL my best… emotionally, physically and spiritually….I will work on taking care of my health and body out of a foundation of self-love.  Meaning, I will not beat myself up if I don’t always meet my goals.

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freedigitalphotos.net/source:Ambro

So what are some tips on increasing our self-love this year?

1.  Find an exercise that you truly love and ENJOY… not because it may help you lose weight, but because it helps you to FEEL good.  As I have alluded to, I love, love, love yoga.  It’s okay if you don’t care for a lot of the popular trends such as Zumba or Cross-Fit…. bottom line is try out different things and then stick with the one that you like the best.  Don’t care to exercise at all?  Walking up and down stairs counts! Or dancing around the house with your kids!  All that matters is that we feel more confident in our body and that when we move , we feel loved instead of punished.

2.  Avoid triggers.  By triggers, I mean know what causes you to start to compare your body or beat yourself up. Does a certain person on Facebook really bug you?   Does he/she post a lot about crazy diets?   Maybe it’s time to “hide” or unfriend. Maybe it’s time to “unlike” certain Facebook pages that tend to fat-shame or body-shame in general.  Do certain commercials make you hate your body? Avert your eyes or fast forward, if possible.  The same goes with magazines (Do we REALLY need that fashion magazine that features women in skimpy outfits? Even some yoga magazines can be triggering with half naked ,skinny ladies doing downward dog at the beach).  Take some time to reflect on what your triggers are.

3.  Discover your “happy place”… or your “Zen Den”.   I wish I was at the beach right now.  That to me, is true bliss.  But it doesn’t have to be our ideal location.  How can we find time to be by ourselves and find that inner bliss?  Maybe it’s meditating in our bedroom. Maybe it’s taking a hike in the Phoenix desert mountains, or taking a walk in the woods, or wherever it is that you live, and reflecting on the nature surrounding you.  Maybe Starbucks is your place of peace.  Right now, I am sitting alone in Starbucks as I write this.  Since I started homeschooling this year, this NEVER happens.  And honestly, it is probably the only reason I am  writing this blog post. (one true goal is to get back into writing more) When we find that place of peace and stillness, we feel more content in our body, can take deep, centering breaths, and we can think about what we are grateful for without distraction. This helps us to feel more love in general… love for others and love for ourselves.

4.  Learn to say “no.”  I know this phrase is soooo over used, but it’s true: “No is a complete sentence.”  It really is okay to say “no”!  Nobody has ever keeled over from letting others down.  And the fact is, we may disappoint people. But that is their problem, not ours.  Stay true to yourself and you will find that you can only truly take care of you.  Eventually, when you put yourself first priority, you will feel greater self-love.

5.  “Know thyself”.  Ultimately, we cannot love what we do not know.  Are you afraid to know who you truly are?  Maybe you were  taught to be someone different. Maybe you were conditioned to behave a certain way so you feel like a robot. Society certainly expects women to act, think and look like clones of each other.  But we are all unique.  Maybe you need to embrace your introverted side.  Or your sensitivity.  I discovered I am a “Hyper-Sensitive Person” and I am sooo relieved to know that I am not alone in how I feel.  I also enjoy taking personality tests.  Myers-Briggs is a good one (I am INFJ) as well as the Enneagram (Type 4’s unite!).   Once you do dig deeper into your personality traits… what bugs you, what lights you up… what motivates you and what discourages you… you can work from there on showing yourself love and compassion for your perceived “weaknesses”.   You will find out that many times what we see as a weakness can actually teach us a lot and help us to live a more authentic and vulnerable life.

Bonus Tip: Along with knowing ourselves… become comfortable with your imperfections.

 Brene Brown wrote an excellent book on this subject called “The Gifts Of Imperfection”.  It’s about really embracing your whole, authentic self. I admit that I am a perfectionist.  I beat myself up for stupid mistakes. I have a fear of what others think so I tend to hold back on truly sharing myself.  My grief has caused me to hold back even more than usual and that I why it has been awhile since I have published a blog post. But trying to be perfect tends to get boring after awhile. Since I know myself and am comfortable with my perceived weaknesses, I can’t keep hiding my passion.  Once we begin to accept the mistakes in life, we learn to love ourselves more.

 So, what do you think?  Which one of these tips can you begin to work on? (remember, baby steps!)

Life truly is a dance.  Two steps forward, three steps back. I have taken about 20 steps back, emotionally.  I am grieving, so I am not beating myself up for that.  Maybe you also have had a stressful year and you feel stuck and discouraged.  Maybe the thought of making a ton of healthy lifestyle changes truly overwhelms or even frightens you.  Maybe when it all boils down to it, you just aren’t ready to eat more greens or exercise.

That is okay.  Repeat after me:

“I am not my goals.  I am love.  I am a unique human being.  And I love myself. ”

This year, even if  I accomplish ONE thing… it will be to show myself greater SELF-LOVE.

 

What about you?  Do you also desire to love yourself more this year?  If so, sound off in the comments!

 

Kellie McGarry

Body Image Coach

(new website! www.mcgarrywellness.org)

Check out my book on Amazon! Beautiful Freedom: a 4 week journey toward radical body-love and passionate living

Finding beauty in the brokeness- an interview with Shannon Hogan

This past week, I had the honor of interviewing a great friend and fellow eating disorder/body image activist, Shannon Hogan.  We have both walked the road of eating disorders and have found hope and healing on the other side.   I  was blessed to have found Shannon on Facebook after I “liked” her page, Beautifully Broken.  Right away, I was intrigued.  She started her organization  last November and since then it has grown by leaps and bounds.  In fact, I was so impressed with the group that I decided to become a sponsor at the beginning of 2014.  Shannon seems to have a special gift of sharing her story, being real with people and encouraging others to think positive and believe in themselves.  Since the group started, Shannon has seen many transformations take place with the women (and men) whom she (and the volunteers) has been blessed to come to know.

Kellie: Tell us a bit about yourself.

 Shannon: My name is Shannon Hogan and I am the founder of Beautifully Broken an organization for those that suffer from eating disorders, trauma, addiction, and other issues. I am also a wife, a mother, stepmother, and a psychology student working hard towards graduate school. My dream is to go to graduate school at a University in California, for my children to attend private schools there, I want to conduct research there, and eventually get my PhD. I have seen repeated tragedy and trauma turn into beauty and blessings before my eyes, and am proof that a beautiful life can come from a broken one.

 

Kellie:  What was your biggest inspiration to start Beautifully Broken? Did you just wake up one day and decide to start this organization or was the idea in the back of your mind for awhile?

Shannon: I never thought of starting an organization. However, ironically enough I found a journal from rehab the other day, and in it I had written “Beautifully Broken.” I remember thinking that one day I would take all of the brokenness that was shattered pieces of my life, and look back and use it as motivation and hopefully inspiration to help others, showing them that anything is possible. When I began Beautifully Broken I was pregnant and I had just been warned that if I didn’t slow down from work and stress I would lose my baby. So, I stayed home, and I do not like sitting at home; thus, with the struggle of gaining weight through pregnancy, the shame of saying it was challenging because I felt I would be seen as ungrateful or a sick mother, and sitting with my thoughts trying to prepare to become a mother, Beautifully Broken was born.

Kellie:  Tell me a bit about how your support groups work and how others can get involved.

Shannon: The support groups are more like teaching groups. We try to focus on coping skills, motivate others to continue down the path of recovery, and to fight for a life. Many support groups and websites online can be very negative, even if they have good intentions. We are not a substitute for counseling. We do our best to advocate for people to get counseling and treatment that need it. We have found that support group locations are sometimes far and few between, and people do not always have access to them. We wanted to provide a safe place for them to gain skills, and to see that they are not alone. They can access our group schedules on our website. We do have various categories, and are working on getting more volunteers as we are vastly growing. The group program is locked with a password to ensure privacy, protection, and anonymity. One may message us through our email or Facebook page, and we can provide you with the password. After that, one signs in which they may do so as a private guest and enter the group. However, there are rules to avoid triggers, inappropriate language, and a negative atmosphere and we do have the ability to ban someone from the groups if needed, so we are very careful to make sure they are safe and positive!

Kellie:  What would you say is your greatest mission as you seek to inspire others?

Shannon: If I had to nail it down to one particular aspect at this moment I would say to inspire every woman that they have a voice, and they are worth using it.

 

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freedigitialphotos.net/source: stuart miles

 

Kellie:  How do you feel about talking with kids about body image? At what age (if any) do you feel is the most appropriate to start asking them how they feel about their body?

Shannon: This subject makes me so uncomfortable because I am totally lost! I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer. Every child is different psychologically, biologically, and socially. I think it’s important to not act extreme one way or another, to be accepting, and to not be judgmental. Also, I believe it is very important to practice what you are trying to teach them. If you are trying to teach your children about positive body image, and you are cursing your own body in the mirror which do you think they will listen to? My husband and I did start something new with our 16 month old. She knows that when she listens to us tell her no ( like not to touch an outlet ) we clap our hands and she’ll get praised. She also began to learn the word “pretty.” When a necklace was put on her, a shirt, her hair was done; she would smile contently. It really hit me when she was pitching a fit not to wear a bib, and my husband put it on her and said, “so pretty,” and she stopped and smiled leaving the bib on that she really knows what it means. So now, when she listens, does something sweet, etc. we say “say pretty, beautiful!” We want her to learn that actions and character are what’s beautiful and important …not the exterior.

Kellie:  How do you feel about the diet industry in general and in what way do you feel it makes an impact on how women feel about their bodies?

Shannon: I was always trying to perfect different diet fads as a teenager, however; I was not capable of finding that line of balancing what a diet was. It would send me full throttle into my eating disorder. I was not capable of perfecting them, they really seemed to mess with my head. I understand there is a major obesity problem in America, however; there seems to be an even bigger problem with acceptance of oneself and others. If we as humans were not constantly trying to compete with each other then maybe certain issues would not be such a problem. I am overall not a fan of the diet industry whose products for the most are unhealthy, not FDA approved, and narcisistically based.

 

Kellie: What does good health mean to you?

Shannon: I would say good health to me means mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and socially stable. I believe health is much more than just numbers or physically appearances. To truly be healthy we must be healthy on the inside, as well as the outside. We must love ourselves, and be capable of doing so.

 

Shannon and Nevaeh       McKenzie and Shannon

Shannon and daughter, Nevaeh (left)  Shannon and step-daughter, McKenzie (right)

Kellie:  I know you have been in recovery for an eating disorder. What piece of advice would you give to others who have walked this road but who feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel?

Shannon: I would say that it is important to focus on the future, and not the darkness and negativity you see around you. I rarely talk about this place at my very worst with my eating disorder, but I do remember the vicious night terrors, sweats, and fears. The almost dark aura that seemed to follow me, and weigh me down so much that I was so exhausted from not doing anything. If you can get your mindset away from that, even for a little while, try to keep practicing it. What would life be like without your eating disorder? This was a scary question for me at first, because I thought I had no identity. But, I found that in one of the sessions we were asked this question and I drew myself at a university sitting in class working on my psychology degree. I really did not feel it then, but I was focusing on the light in that moment, and that’s where I am today..at a university, working on my psychology degree. You may not see the light, but if you can just think, what if….eventually you will get to the I can…then the I will….

Kellie:  Anything else you would like to share with our readers?

I just want to say thank you so much for reading this and I hope you will check out our website and Facebook page for inspiration and motivation no matter where you are in life…you are important, your feelings are valid, you have a voice, and you deserve to use it. Thank you.
www.beautifully-broken.org
www.facebook.com/beautifullybroken777

me n daniel professional

Shannon Hogan with husband, Daniel

 

Thank you, Shannon!! If you want to get involved or just receive daily inspiration, please “like” their Facebook page.  And if you are struggling with an eating disorder, I highly encourage you to check out the support groups that Beautifully Broken provides at their website, www.beautifully-broken.org.  Shannon is right…. you ARE  worth it!!

 

**Please consider sharing this post as well, to spread the word to those who need to know there is hope and support!**

 

To finding your beauty within,

 

Kellie McGarry

Body Image Coach

Nourished and New

 

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p.s.– this blog is now linked up to my NEW Website!!! Please visit www.mcgarrywellness.org and find me under the “Nourished and New” tab to learn more about how I can help YOU to find a peaceful relationship with food and with your body.

 

Also, don’t forget to purchase my book, Beautiful Freedom: a 4 week journey toward radical body-love and passionate living.  Find it on Amazon– either paperback or Kindle!