Friday, December 31, 2010

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Why be Guiltless?

We're always asking you to give yourself some love yourself and appreciate the characteristics that make you who you are. But why? Why should you work on the relationship you have with yourself? When life gets busy, it seems like the first thing that should go on the back burner is your self-image, right? But it shouldn't. Here's why:

Having a positive image of yourself leads to...

1.) Increased self-awareness: When you are more self-aware, you are better equipped to handle whatever life throws at you. Whether it's a challenging project or even simply noticing when you need to take a break, increasing your self awareness is one of the most important things you can do for yourself.

2.) Better health: Studies show that those who maintain a positive relationship with themselves are more likely to eat better, exercise more, get more sleep, and lead overall healthier lifestyles. If you love the package you come in, it will pay off both inside and out!

3.) Better relationships: When you're overwhelmed with feeling down about yourself, it's almost impossible to be sensitive to others. You risk unknowingly hurting someone's feelings, or even worse, you may isolate yourself from those who love you. When you have a good relationship with yourself, it makes it much easier to maintain good relationships with loved ones... and it makes it easier for them to show their love for you in return.

4.) Better job performance: When you have the ability to recognize the good qualities about yourself, it will show in your work. Increased confidence will allow you to shine and produce the quality of work you know you are capable of.

5.) Increased interest: When you're feeling good, the world is your oyster. You are more likely to explore, discover, and enjoy life when you're in a good place with yourself.

This is only the tip of the iceberg! There are countless benefits to feeling positive about who you are. Life will inevitably be kind when you're kind to yourself.

Hope everyone is staying warm this wintry week! Be well.

Have you noticed any positive changes in your life lately that you can attribute to your "guiltlessness?"

Monday, December 27, 2010

Resolutions? Let's Set Some Goals!

Oh January 1st—the day when everyone swears to lose 5 lbs by January 5th, when gyms across the nation become suddenly jam-packed, and your best friend is swearing off chocolate. If you've managed to save some self love through the rest of the holiday season, this becomes even more difficult when everyone around is resolving to make 2011 bigger and better than ever, through deprivation and brand new intense workout regimes. When was the last time you saw these New Years Resolutions followed through to September? Perhaps it’s because most of us do not plan well enough, and fail to set good goals. So this year, let’s shift our talk from resolution-making to goal-setting!

To make positive change this year, create small achievable goals that focus on the positive.

  • Brainstorm. What do you want? And Why? Clearly defining these two things will give you a strong start to causing change.
  • Start with a simple plan. Make it specific, and achievable. How can you realistically get from point a to point b?
  • Accentuate the positive: Avoid “I will not.” Instead use “I am”. Replace “I should”, with “I will.” Example: Instead of “I will not eat chocolate” try “I will make sure to eat 5 fruits and vegetables a day.” “Instead of “I should work out everyday” use “I will be active to stay healthy and happy, and give my body the rest it deserves.”
  • Make it visible for accountability. Share it with your best friend, your mom, on Facebook, on Twitter, or on your blog. Letting others know will help you stick to your goal.
  • Take steps. Goals aren’t all or nothing philosophies. Make small, gradual steps to reach your goal. Remember that slipping on rigid goals isn’t always a bad thing, and should be considered an opportunity to grow and learn. It is important to revaluate your goals throughout the year to see what may be preventing you from reaching them, and whether they are still helping you create the life you desire.
  • Stay Focused- Reflect and evaluate how your progress has gone. Goals can always shift. Acknowledge what you are doing well! This will foster hope and motivation to continue doing great!

I have two traditions that I would love to share with you for a positive January 1st. First my family gathers together with a calender and day-book of 2010 and relives all the positive things about the past year. We then look to the year ahead and some of the things planned to start thinking about what 2011 will hold. At the start of the new year I also like to create a Vision Board. I bring together a lot of images and words that inspire me, and create a board that outlines some of the goals I would like to accomplish in the new year. You can learn more about vision boards here and here, and here is what mine looks like this year:

on my vision board I put images of strength and flexibility both in body and in life. I reminded myself to remember that I am strong, confident and beautiful and ready to face the world.

This will hang in my room all year, as a reminder of what will make 2011 so great!

If you don’t want to commit to an entire board, write an affirmation card. Write something you would like to change in the New year, and keep it somewhere where you can look at it and be reminded for the reasons to change.

Everyone likes instant gratification, but success takes works, and planning, and long term goals make that possible!

“Remember: You have the power within you to create the life you love. Be gentle with yourself. You are worth every desire.”
-Lori Shemek

What are your goals for 2011? Do you use January 1st to reflect and set goals?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday Cheer Up!

The holidays are upon us, which means you're probably up to your ears in cooking/shopping/holiday cheer. Around this time of year, I often hear people refer to their stomachs as "bottomless pits," or to a specific time period of "endless eating." This is understandable as holiday food is by far the best! This year, let's aim to do two things:

1.) Participate in a little indulgence without overdoing it and without the guilt.
2.) Vow to ban all post-party fat talk.

Too often do we either worry ourselves into food restriction or guilt ourselves into food remorse. This holiday season, enjoy the company of your loved ones, and when you're filling your plate, do it with all of your holiday favorites. If you're feeling conisderate about your health, just make sure everything is in moderation...For example, if you have two favorites consisting of a baked brie dish and a root vegetable medley, take them both but a little less brie and a little more veggies. This type of balancing act will keep your appetite satisfied guiltlessly.

Banning all post-party fat talk (and thought!) will be a more powerful exercise than you would think. Instead of thinking/saying, "Those 5 Christmas cookies were delicious, but I think I just gained ten pounds," do/say/think this: "That Christmas cookie was delicious! Who made those? I want that recipe!" See the difference? Much more optimistic and merry!

I wish you all luck in your last minute shopping, cooking, and holiday preparation!
Enjoy yourself, be mindful, and be well.

What's your game plan for the holidays?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Bakery Guilt

Yes I am a recent Boston University Nutrition Graduate, and yes I have worked in a bakery for a year and a half. Not just any bakery, but the sweetest traditional French artisan bakery, where it sells of chocolate and butter 24/7, where everyone always has a smile on their face, and everything produced tastes like heaven. It's a place where you go to feel warm and fuzzy inside, and allow yourself a special treat.
The things customers says to us at bakery ranged from rude, to flirty, to sweet to unbelievable. It's an endless source of amusement and can be very enlightening on peoples' relationshop with the world, food, and themselves.

The day before I took my vacation I had a small family come in mid-afternoon-mom, dad and junior. Their first time to the bakery they took some time to take all the sights and smells in. The husband was a loud type and I patiently answered all his questions. After some time, he turned to his wife and said 'what do you want to get, fatty"

While I'm sure it was done in jest (the entire family was overweight) and that he really loves his wife, blah blah blah. I was dumbfounded-and simply stared at him for a bit. How could you say something like that to someone you loved?

In case you didn't realize it (I think you'd have to be living in a cave not too) America has a weight problem. With over two-thirds of the population overweight or obease, we have a little bit too much junk in the trunk.

But calling your wife a fatty is not going to fix this problem. In fact, it will probably only further exasperate the problem. Perhaps she finds love, comfort and solace in her food, and with a low self-esteem she's much more likely to turn to that.

Not that I'm advocating that you all run to your nearest bakery, but I'm sure you've heard of the French Paradox- how can the French eat so much "bad" food, and be thinner and happier than fad-diet obsessed Americans? Yes, their diet may consist of more refined carbs, sugar and saturated fat, but their RELATIONSHIP with food is leaps and bounds better than ours. They listen to their hunger cues, stop eating when they are full, and savor their meals.

By building a relationship with food that does not involve guilt, we are on our way to a healthier, happier life. Where you don't feel shame when eating a crossaint. And perhaps you should examine your relationship with those in your life as well, and request that they not sabotage your plan by calling you "fatty." Build a support network of people that believe in you and uplift you to a higher level. And enjoy your pain aux chocolat.

How can you start to heal your relationship with food?

Friday, December 17, 2010

I Love my Smile

I Love my Smile
by: Donna Greenblatt

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Wherever you go, go with all your heart. ~Confucius

by: Stephanie Horton

I've been doing a lot of thinking about neurotransmitters lately. You know, the chemicals in your brain that communicate to the rest of your body how to function, think, remember, and feel? Without all this synaptic activity and chemicals coursing through our bodies, we would not be who we are. I'm no neurologist, but I wonder if we each have self-specific electricity running through us, making us the unique people we are...different, yet the same, and all beautiful in our own way...
The way we feel when we hear a certain song or the memories certain smells will trigger - this is all different for us. These ideas were initiated in me by something my adviser said during our Dietetic Internship meeting on Monday:"If you have three dietitians in one room, how many different courses of treatment will be proposed? Answer:3." But not every answer would be wrong, and in fact, all the answers could be 100% correct! Everyone has their own process of thought - Our unique problem solving skills and mindful abilities should be celebrated.

So when I was sitting down to think of a topic for this week's post, this is what I thought: Why should we love ourselves? What about ourselves should we love? And then I answered myself: We should love the things in our body and minds that make us who we are. So, in other words, I love my brain and soul and all the people, places, and things that contributed to my own unique memory and thought process. Without these things, I wouldn't be me, and you wouldn't be you.

So this week, please show some appreciation for the ever-so complicated network inside your brain that makes you who you are!

How to do this:
  • Trust yourself: If you are taking finals this week or perhaps starting a new job or project, follow your instincts.
  • Shine on: Don't get caught up in stress or drama. Simply exist as you are, be yourself, and you will shine.
  • Be Mindful: Even if you're simply figuring out what to make for dinner, listen to your inner thoughts.
What's one thing you love about your mind?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Stress OUT: Time to get rid of Stress!

Stress. A loaded word that makes me tense up just saying it! I know I'm not alone, since almost 75% of Americans reported stress in the past 2 weeks according to the National Health Interview Survey. We all have different coping mechanisms when workloads get heavy, and social demands start to weigh us down. Some of us might turn to food, over or under eating, some may resort to exercise, going overboard or giving up, others build up tension and stress bringing drudgery to every day.
These are some of the things the tools I use when school assignments pile up, life decisions must be made, and unpleasant suprises appear:
  • Go for a walk. Something about the fresh air, no matter the time of year, helps me to clear my head, set priorities and work things out.
  • Surround myself with friends- Friends that support and uplift me, who will inspire me, and reassure me that everything will work out.
  • Get a manicure or pedicure. A moment of forced relaxation, by taking the time to treat myself to a beauty appointment
  • Warm water- can you really feel bad when surrounded by warm water and bubbles, in a hot bath, hot tub, or sauna? As Slyvia Plath said, "There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won't cure, but I don't know many of them."
  • Yoga, Mediation or Running helps to clear my mind, and make my see the silver linings.
  • Make lists: Prioritizing what I need to tackle first, and writing it down helps reduce my anxiety

  • Break Tasks down: Small steps are much easier to accomplish than giant leaps, so breaking down my to-do list into manageable parts helps to reduce the stress associated with it.

What are your proven stress reduction techniques?

Friday, December 10, 2010

I love my wet hair

Julie Davis, vibrant as ever after running a half marathon! Go Jules!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Keeping Shining

Sometimes, all you need is a reminder...

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Pearl Photoseries by Matt Demers

As someone who prefers to be behind the camera rather than in the spotlight, the thought of a photoshoot can be harrowing (unless it's with Jessica Leibowitz that is).

What to wear, how to stand, how to flip my hair. How will I be perceived?? But what if a photoshoot wasn't at all about what you were wearing, how the lighting was, but instead about expressing your soul in plain black and white?
After stumbling upon a photoshoot of the unofficial Mayor of Boston, Christine Liu I was enthralled to find out who the photographer was. Christine said I must talk to Matt Demers, about women, body image, and beauty, so I reached out to him. He was nice enough to take some time out of his busy day to meet me at Eastern Standard and talk about The Pearl Photoseries, and find out a little bit more about this man behind the lens. A man of many coats, he has been a bartender, personal trainer, social worker/therapist, food photography, and wine purveyor, allowing him to see a whole slice of the world. 4 years ago, in a state of fever he came across the Louis Brooks photo of a young flapper's sillouette holding a strand of pearls. "In a delerium I thought, 'I could do this.' Its a cool pose, striking contrast and so artisitic. I know many powerful women in my life, I want to capture them like this."
the original inspiration
While it started with just an artistic vision, he says the project has transformed into something else entirely, something greater than he could have ever imagined. The photos are breathtaking, and exude such beauty, confidence, and expression in a high contrast black and white. Christine used the word "therapeautic" to describe her session.His models have ranged from his mother, 2 year old twins, yogi friend, neighbor, LUPEC ladies,friends from highschool (captured at a 10 year reunion) strong women in his life-150 of them with still a few more to go.

There is a freedom of movement in the photos, a sort of liberation. All the women wear black against the black backdrop, so weight, body shape, fat, thin, wrinkles, spots all disappear. You don't see any imperfections, you just see expression, beauty, and a strand of 100 pearls. He insists that the creativity comes from his models, and emotions can be stripped down in these two hour sessions. It's not about you being glamorous or superficial, it's about you being part of vision.
I find people like Matt inspirational. Not only does he showcase the powerful, strong women, but he highlights the opposite of what magazines do now, embracing real beauty and real women. He is showing true beauty and strength, raw, real, and imperfectly perfect women. We hope to see a big gallery gala soon!

What is beauty to you?

Friday, December 3, 2010

It's a Long and Winding Road

You are about to read a brutally honest, incredibly courageous story written by a woman named Lana. Since she was 7 years old, Lana has struggled with anorexia nervosa. The story below takes you through her memory in an effort to provide some insight into the painful world of eating disorders and the long recovery process. Lana wanted to share her story, hoping that she could not only reveal some truth, but also hopefully inspire others to love themselves and take care of themselves. Thank you so much for sharing, Lana!

October, 2006

I am sitting in the back seat of my aunt’s car looking up at the street signs. “Hospital, straight ahead.” Frantically, I drink seven bottles of water in ten minutes, desperate to boost my weight. For the third time in three months I am being dragged to the ER, and for the third time I will be admitted.


Much contributes to me developing anorexia, but there is no one specific cause. My mother is a dieter and still today talks of little other than weight. Dance school emphasizes weight also, and I feel surrounded by this constantly. Barely after puberty, when girls often gain weight, my parents tell me my thighs “are a bit heavy.” I do not blame them for my illness, I am past that, but I need to tell the truth here. Other parents need to be warned of the dangers of yoyo dieting and food talk all the time. Children see. Children listen. They notice everything.

By the age of seven, I am exhibiting signs of an eating disorder. My best friend and I love the scale. I spend many days at her house as a child, doing endless exercises and Barbie workout video-tapes. She eventually develops Anorexia too, but later than I and never quite as seriously as I did. We jump rope not for fun, but for exercise. We weigh ourselves and scoff at the number. “I am going to lose five pounds.” “Well I am going to lose ten.” I’m comforted because she weighs more than me; she is quite a bit taller, but only the numbers matter.

Now I am in high school and purging every day. I have no idea where this will lead. In one year’s time I will start a long, tumultuous road of treatment, relapses and severe depression. I do not eat anything until 4 O’clock pm, when I eat a normal sized meal and purge. I lose weight and everyone worries. I lose more and everyone panics. I lose more still, and action is taken. This is when I am brought to the ER and admitted to Children’s Hospital’s medical floor for the first time.

October 2006

Back in the car with my aunt and mother, I finish my last bottle of water just as we arrive. Unknown to me, water loading is seriously dangerous. I am admitted to the medical floor because of the dangerous electrolyte imbalances the water had caused, in addition to my low weight. I have been told numerous times that if I am admitted three times, it is off to treatment I go. I beg not to be sent away, but my pleading falls on deaf ears. I desperately do not want to get better. I relish in my low weight, at having everyone at school whisper about my eating habits and gray color. My anorexia was my life and my religion, and by God no one was going to take it from me.

Round three goes no better than the first two. I hide all my food and am constantly threatened with the tube. I want no part of recovery, and treatment is futile unless one wants to get better. With all of the games I am playing, I start to lose weight and get sicker again. The weight loss is blamed on the re-feeding process, which can push one’s metabolism to extreme highs. It is a sick irony that people with anorexia often have to eat an incredibly large amount of food in order to gain weight. Once I was stable enough to go to the psychiatric unit at the hospital (no treatment facilities had a bed), things only got worse. Every day for sixteen hours I pace the hallways, up and down, to burn off more calories. In my room, I run and do jumping jacks. I cannot get myself to sit even when I hit the point of exhaustion. At this point, I am sicker than ever, but nobody knows the half of it. They all believe, because of my lies, that I am recovering.

After this first stay in treatment, it all becomes a blur. I never graduated tenth grade because I was in and out of the hospital and treatment facilities so much. I received so much treatment in the following three years that I can barely remember how many times I was admitted.


On my 18th birthday, my therapist of two years told me she did not think treatment was working for me and that we were not making any progress together. I was utterly devastated. This was just another name in a long line of treatment team members who have dropped me for lack of progress.

Round 27 in treatment is just like all the others. Inpatient, residential, partial, IOP, inpatient…

I drop out of college in Florida because I am too sick to be there. My weight plummets yet again and off to treatment I go. This time, something clicks. This time, I realize I have nothing left to lose but my very life itself. I have no real “life” to speak of, but I am breathing and even my breath is on the line. I begin a new job and fall in love with it. I know I need to be healthy (or as healthy as I can be) in order to keep it. I am finally trying to get well.


I relapse in May 2010 and enter a residential eating disorder facility for two weeks. . While in this treatment – the shortest one of all – I decided I was not willing to let my eating disorder take what little I had in my life. It was time to take control and start loving myself.

It is up-and-down from there. Needless to say, it has not been an easy journey. Here I am today, absolutely adoring what I do for work and preparing to start college for the third time in the Spring. I send a text message to my dietitian who I still see weekly, “There is no way any eating disorder is taking what I have right now.” It is as simple and as complicated as that.

Bodies don’t work without fuel. Brains don’t work without food and fats and nourishment. I have found a direction in my life and that direction has provided motivation- the key to getting and staying well.

I write this in the hopes that even one person gains a better understanding of how complicating and life altering eating disorders and the recovery process are. Every single day, every moment for that matter, I have to make a choice. Will I give in to my disease today, or will I stay strong and show my body the love it deserves? It sounds like an easy decision, but for someone who struggles with this disease, it’s the hardest, and most important, of all.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder of any kind, please get help. I waited far too long to reach out for help and with every passing year I stayed sick it made it all that much harder to get well. No one deserves the pain and torment of having an eating disorder. If you suffer from one, you probably don’t think you are “sick enough” or “thin enough” to get help. Remember that we all think this and that absolutely NO ONE deserves to be tormented the way an eating disorder torments its victims. Get help, trust your care-takers and loved ones, and most importantly, and take care of and love yourself.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

by: Stephanie Horton

I watched the Victoria's Secret fashion show last night, hoping it would inspire me to write something on Guiltless today. After all, Guiltless is forum about appreciating the beauty in ourselves, and Victoria's Secret is the epitome of perceived female beauty in our society. So why wouldn't some fabulous topic pop into mind while watching scantily clad super models run around on a stage with loads of glitter, pop music, and shiny things and happy people? Seems reasonable, right? Wrong.

Absolutely nothing came to mind except, "Wow these girls are gorgeous, and these outfits are fantastic, and they are having so much fun, and oh my god those shoes...I want them." This is much different than the reaction I expected myself to have, which goes something more like this: "The fact that I will never look like that is the center of all failure in life...Why me, poor me, cry." Of course, this is a little exaggerated, but you get the point.

For so many women out there, last night's fashion show initiated feelings of guilt, envy, failure, and anxiety. I wondered why, after so many years of feeling these destructive emotions, it didn't happen to me. And then I's because I have been so focused on appreciating myself lately, that *gasp* , I actually do! Week after week, we write and read these inspiring stories about giving up the guilt and letting in the light. And I don't think I realized how important this has been until I put myself through the ultimate test last night! (Guys, you may not understand, but watching a Victoria's Secret fashion show - especially next to a man - is a true test of strength for us gals.)

I attribute this exciting transformation to the community of fantastic people we have been building together in an effort to help each other love ourselves. With that being said, a big THANK YOU to all of our readers and contributors for being so amazing. And now, some tips that you may have heard before, but like proven here, can't hurt to hear again:

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

1.) Let positive in, push negative out: Every time you start to feeling those negative feelings creep up, simply tell them they are not welcome and instead encourage the positive thoughts to enter your mind. Like Sherlock Holmes said:

"I consider that [the] brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skillful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. " ;)

2.) Write yourself a love letter: Tell yourself what it is that you are proud of. Leave out all criticism and include all praise.

3.) Say goodbye to the scale: It's not necessary. Body weight changes every day depending on so many factors like how much fluid you've taken in or how much rest you had the day before...The number is not an indicator of your "body status" and should only be used in a medical setting. Get rid of that thing.

4.) Ban all fat talk: Talking about feeling fat is no longer allowed in your vocabulary or your conversations with your friends. In fact, I'm willing to buy a taser gun and come give you a little shock with it if I hear you're talking fat. That's not a threat, it's a promise. I have ears everywhere.

JK, but really, stop calling yourself fat or ugly. Notice that when you tell yourself you're unattractive, you believe it? Try telling yourself that you are beautiful (since that is the actual truth), and then you will no longer be believing a liar!

5.) Inspire: Let yourself be inspired by others and by yourself.

What kind of reactions do you have to how the popular media portrays "beauty?"
What kind of advice could you provide readers with to end the self-abuse and bring on the self-appreciation?

Thanks for reading. Be well, and enjoy the day!