Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Be You (tiful)!

By: Stephanie Horton

We go to sleep each night with goals for tomorrow in mind, and we wake up every morning with expectations of ourselves, both new and familiar. Every day we hope that one thing about our lives will be a little bit better tomorrow. This can be a really healthy thing as long as we are kind to ourselves while creating these goals and expectations.

Last night, I sat across the table from an absolutely beautiful woman who was talking about how she needed to lose 10-15 pounds before a wedding she is attending in 20 days. I asked her, "Why do you feel you need to lose that much weight?" She replied, "Well, it's more so that I haven't been eating well lately. I just don't feel good right now because of it."

This got me thinking...I pointed out "Maybe it's not really that you want the number on the scale to be 10-15 lbs less, but maybe you just want your body to feel like it's in better shape as a result of eating well and exercise."

"Exactly," she said.

"Losing 15 lbs is much different than treating yourself well!" I tried to explain.

"How so?" she asked.


I wish I could just show her herself through my eyes! Then I realized, wow, I wish I could see myself through her eyes too. The path to self love is no well-traveled road with signs and lane dividers. No. It can be dark and spooky at times, bright and scenic at others, but one thing is always true: it's very, very easy to lose your way.

This conversation reminded me of a scene in the popular television show GLEE when Mercedes, the gorgeous, full-bodied, insanely amazing singer is trying to lose weight to be part of the Cheerios Cheerleading team. Things get out of hand for her, and with a little help from an unexpected friend, she comes to the realization that she loves herself for who she is. Check out the clip here.

After a few minutes of conversation with my friend, I finally asked her to try to love herself enough to treat her body with care. Eat well, sleep enough, exercise, but don't demand that your body get rid of 10-15 pounds of itself. Instead of assuming the position of abusive, authoritative dictator over our bodies, we should become loving, understanding partners with our bodies.

It takes courage to love yourself, and it's so much harder than it sounds. Everyone needs to take their own path, and we all hit road bumps during the ride, but the destination remains the same: The point at which we love ourselves enough to treat ourselves with respect and gratitude.

Here are a few tips for the journey:

1. Write yourself a love letter. Write it at night before bed and leave it for yourself to find in the morning. What a great way to wake up!
2. Make a list of 5 things that you will do today that will make you smile.
3. When you look in the mirror for the first time today, find something you love about yourself first before any other thoughts come into mind.
4. Take your time when preparing your meals for the day. Really look at the ingredients you're putting into your body and be thankful for the components of the food that make you strong and alive.
5. Do one thing that takes physical exertion, and surprise yourself with your own strength.

Do you have any tips you'd like to share?

Do you struggle with self-expectation from time to time?

What will you do today to bring you one step closer to self love?

Monday, August 30, 2010


"Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing."
~Harriet Braiker

It can be an exhausting world out there. We strive for the perfect life, the perfect relationship, the perfect body, the perfect smile/hair/nails, perfect grades, the perfect job. We feel like everyone expects so much from us, yet we expect even more from ourselves. More often than not, we feel demoralized as we fail to live up to our own standards. It's time that we change our mindset. Instead of striving for perfection, let's strive for positive change, for growth.

Change doesn't have to be huge. In fact, I'll argue that small change is better than big change much of the time. Being healthy, loving yourself, and improving your life doesn't happen in one day. But there's never a better time to start than NOW. Make one small change, one swap and you won't even notice until you start to see a big difference in your life. Maybe today you'll try a new vegetable. Maybe you'll run a little farther or faster than you did yesterday. Remember, the goal is not perfection, but rather a step in a positive direction. Appreciate what you have right here, right now, and then take the steps to make that a little bit better.
I love what Ashley of Nourishing the Soul what has to say about Acceptance and Change (hint-they are not mutually exclusive)

Change and growth begin when you step outside of your comfort zone.
Eleanor was one smart lady.

Today I challenge you:
  • To compliment yourself
  • To compliment a stranger
  • To tell a friend how much they mean to you
  • Write your body a love letter
  • To do one thing better than you did yesterday
  • Try something new!
  • Do something that scares you
Let's be that change we wish to see in the world, and shake things up. Instead of striving for perfection it's time to appreciate what we have right now, and take steps towards positive change.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Weighing the options

"Sweet disposition. Never too soon. Oh, reckless abandon. Like no one's watching you. A moment, a love. A dream aloud. A laugh, a cry. Our rights, our wrongs." - Temper Trap

By: Stephanie Horton

I'm usually reluctant to write anything too personal, because after all, this is the internet and although an audience is desired, it's also extremely scary. But lately, I've been going through a lot of changes, and these changes are almost forcing me to really feel the connection between body, mind, and spirit. So, I'm gonna take the plunge... and get a little personal now, because I want to share some thoughts with you.

I've never been so aware of how change in life can influence the mind and the body. Maybe this is because I've never gone through so much change as I have in the past year, or maybe it's just because I'm getting older. But either way, I'm realizing that change is a challenge to maintain the core of your identity, all while allowing change to influence you for the better.

This week, we decided to write about our views on weight. It was tough for me to think about something to write, because my weight is currently not on the forefront on my mind as I've been dealing more with staying centered while everything around me changes, pushes, and pulls. So maybe this is the reason why I thought of "change" when I thought about weight...After all, the mind and body are quite closely connected. But as I thought more about it, I realized that "change" is exactly what "weight" is to so many of us...

We step on the scale, often hoping for the change to be in the direction of "less." Fewer pounds, less body mass, step on the scale completely bare and naked, early in the morning before you've had anything to eat or drink, squinting your eyes because you're a bit afraid to see the results. Sometimes I live my life this way; my brain naked and open, a little frail, a little afraid to open my eyes, because I know it's reality that stands before me. Others hop on the scale at night, after the day has had it's way with them, hoping to see a change in the direction of "more." Flexing the muscles, hoping gravity's pull is stronger than ever, keeping socks on for that extra sixteenth of a pound, making excuses before the number even pops up. I live my life this way sometimes as well; my brain cloaked and closed; trying my best to look my strongest; repeating the line, "nothing's gonna change my world," trying to attract more and more into my life in an attempt to be fulfilled. But lately, I realize none of these things work. Maybe our battle with the changes in the number on the scale is simply a reflection of our battle with the changes that occur in our lives. Maybe not. Who really has ever taken the time to think about this connection anyway?

When I'm unhappy with how I've eaten or how often I exercised over the week and therefore, probably the number on the scale, I often seek happiness in other places: friends and social events, dancing til dawn, exhaustion by travel, basically anything to keep me busy and distracted with loud, mind numbing things. When I'm unhappy with how things are going in my life (other than nutrition and exercise), I seek happiness in the same loud things. But I've realized, just THIS week, that by filling my life with "more" while giving "less" attention to change, I'm doing myself a large disservice. Just like when we step on the scale, that number consumes us before we even see it. Oh my dear god, we need to give ourselves a break!!! (Yes, that deserved three exclamation points.)

So I re-traced the heart on my scale that Elizabeth drew. And I opened a good book. I allowed my mind to be quiet, and I decided to stay in for a few nights in a row (something I have barely done all summer). And wow. I'm starting to see things a little clearer, and I'm starting to embrace the change in my life without losing myself. I stepped on the scale last night with all of my clothes on (AND an apron!), and I decided to smile no matter what the result. This morning, while thinking about life (but not blogging about weight), I decided to just go for a run in the rain without music and listen to myself with my ears wide open. I'm weighing the options, and I'm not opting for less, and I'm not striving for more. I'm simply going to be still and allow myself to face the reality of my body and my mind, and instead of ignoring change and instead of beating myself up over a lack thereof, I'm going to just BE...thankful, realistic, connected, excited, and therefore, happy. Want to be still with me?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Guest Post: A weight-y issue

The Theme for Guiltless. this week is WEIGHT, something that is (literally) a weight-y issue for almost all people. My friend Thais wrote this guest post for us, and so we're reversing the post schedule for this week, by starting with her take on weight.

Hello everyone, my name is Thais and I write a blog titled Living in the k(N)ow. Elizabeth asked me to write a special post for this blog and I was more than happy to oblige. I think this blog is doing powerful things and I am happy to be a member of the movement.

This morning I went to the doctor’s office for a normal check up and first thing they asked was for me to step on a scale. I immediately felt repulsed and asked if they could please not state the weight out loud. I cringed for the duration of the process and kept my eyes squeezed shut. Next they asked for me to step up against the wall to check my height. I attitude was noticeably different and I was filled with curiosity to know how much I have grown.

Why is it that our society has programmed us girls to be embarrassed about our weight? Yet finding out how tall we are can be an exciting adventure. When people state I have small wrists or a small feet I don’t consider that a compliment- just a fact. But if someone were to tell me I look skinny or how good those jeans fit, I feel like a million bucks. Does this make sense? If you are a size 6 or a size 16, does it ultimately matter? If you are eating healthy, exercising, and overall treating your body the way it deserves to be treated- why is there such a heavy conscience when it comes to weight?

The bottom line is that the obsession we place on food and weight is simply unhealthy. There is more to life than just a few numbers on a scale. And to think- just a few hundred years ago the fatter you were the more you were considered regal and well enough endowed to not have to work for your wealth. Our media has placed a huge burden on us and technology has not helped.

A great way to change our focus back to the important things in life is to breathe. The general response I receive when I say that is “but I breathe everyday!” This type of breathing is a bit more specialized. It involves attuning ourselves back to our bodies. Feeling ourselves and being in the present moment. Only through this attunement will we discover what we truly desire- whether it be that chocolate cake or an extra mile in our morning run. Breathing and focusing our attention on the now will slowly shift the mentality towards our friends, our families, our studies, and away from society’s obsession with pounds. It also truly helps feeling lighter and guiltless. We deserve the very best of this world!

If you’re interested in reading up more about spirituality and how it connects to our daily lives check out my blog! And remember- you are beautiful.

Love, Thais

Thank you Thais! Do you let the number on the scale define YOU? how does checking your weight affect your self-esteem? check back later this week for Stephanie and Elizabeth's take!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Working on My Night Cheese

By: Michael

Mike is the champion of Guiltless eating. We didn't have a guest post for today on food and sex, so last night, in a bind, I called him up and asked him to write something for us quickly. I told him, "just write whatever comes to mind about food and sex!" Not an hour later, Mike expressed himself in a beautiful guest post. Check out his blog at: http://dancearmstrong.tumblr.com/, and read his take on sexy guiltless eating below:

Things I have gotten hot and heavy with this week:

  • A Burrito
  • Mozzarella Sticks
  • Jameson
  • Pizza (3 times)
  • Bagel (+ Glacier Freeze Gatorade = Jesus' Hangover Miracle!)
  • Hot Dogs (One was not enough)
  • French Fries (does Papaya Dog qualify as French?)
  • Garlic Mashed Potatoes (A little thing I learned back in NOM!)
  • Jack
  • Blonde/Brown/Pale Ale
  • Häagen-Dazs

Things I have NOT gotten hot and heavy with this week:

  • A woman.

Inspired by: Tina Fey and her snuggie and her cheese.

Thank you, Michael. We adore you.

What have YOU gotten hot and heavy with this week?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Food: It does the body good

So if you haven't noticed, we decided to get a little wild this week and write about two of our most basic needs/favorite things: food and sex. Come on, you know you love it. Don't be shy. Keep reading...

The erotic power of food is no secret as it's been celebrated for centuries. Roman cultures engaged in a prelude of ripe fruits and exotic meals before getting it on, and it's been reported that Casanova shared oysters with his lovers to get them in the mood. And we've all heard it before: a romantic meal is the quickest way into someone's heart (pants?)

Some foods are simply sexy: juicy fruits, dark chocolate, mead, oysters, saffron, whipped cream, candy necklaces...But the connection between food and sex isn't always about seduction - it's also about health. Good nutrition plays a vital role in both love and lovemaking. The quality of our diet greatly influences the quality of our happiness and, therefore, our sex lives. Certain foods can stir libido, revive sexual function and enhance overall health.

It's actually quite simple: A good, balanced diet gives you more energy. The more energy you have, the more active you are, which contributes to increased lean muscle mass. Increased lean muscle mass leads to an increased metabolism, which drives hunger and digestion. You keep eating good foods, being active, and Wham! You're all of a sudden feeling confident, sexy, and you're hair looks good, your skin is smooth, wow, you've got serious sex appeal. Could this really be because of the healthy choices you made lately. Certainly could!

Good nerve function, healthy hormone levels, and an unobstructed blood flow to the pelvic area are essential to sexual performance. To keep these systems working they way your want them to, a diet should be based on legumes, grain products, and other complex carbohydrates, with plenty of fruits and vegetables and the right levels of lean protein (typically 0.8g per kg of body weight per day). I guess you could say good behavior equals bed behavior. Particularly important are vitamin C to strengthen blood vessel walls, and low-fat dairy products, whole grains, and green vegetables for riboflavin to maintain the mucous membranes that line the reproductive tract.
So where's the Guiltless connection between food and sex? It's all about confidence. Food, body image, and sex are intertwined. Healthy choices not only increase health benefits, but also your confidence. If you feel good about your food decisions, you're more likely to allow yourself to love your body. Let's face it, not many people enjoy stripping after a Big Mac and a Budweiser. But how about a dinner of spring greens, berries, fresh seafood, and a little wine? The goal is to feel good, and to love your body enough to really enjoy letting someone else love it too.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Food is sexy


Food and sex are two of the most basic sources of pleasure. It was necesary for our predescors to both eat and reproduce so it's not suprising that we are hardwired to enjoy both immensely. In fact, have you ever noticed how we use similar words to describe both? Appetite, hunger, pleasure, temptation can either describe stomach rumblings or sexual lust. Just as we can fawn upon our loved ones with phrases like "my sweet", & "honey", a brioche can be coy, an chocolate can seduce even the most cold-hearted.

But in today's world, the roles of food and sex are more intertwined than ever. As we all search for the perfect body, we feel like we won't be sexy until we reach that perfect size 2. USA Today conducted a poll of 1000 people and found that half of women would rather go without sex for the summer than gain 10 pounds. A fourth of men feel the same way. About 66% of people say they need to lose weight to feel sexier than they currently do. It would take a loss of an average 23 pounds to feel hotter.

Well, my friends, I strongly believe that the Time is NOW. We need to reshape our relationship with ourselves and our bodies, and feel sexier Today. If we do not start to take care of ourselves, and feel sexy at the point we are at now, even when the weight is shed we will still struggle with self esteem.

Here are three Turn-ons:

Eating healthy is sexy What's good for your heart is good for your "parts". Make sure you include sources of Omega 3 Fatty acids (fish, flax, walnuts), and zinc (leafy greens) everyday, and stay away from saturated fat. A balanced diet, full of whole foods, with limited processed food will give you the most energy to pursue all sorts of adventures

Movement is Sexy Find a type of exercise that you love and stick to it! It doesn't have to be running or cycling, just find something that gets you off the couch and in the gym. Belly Dancing, Zumba, salsa, yoga, all are wonderful ways to reconnect with your body. and, ahem, we all know what a great workout you can get underneath the sheets.

Confidence is Sexy: Being confident and knowing your body is sexy. Confidence is incredibly powerful and alluring. When you are fine with who you are, right here, right now, and trust yourself, people are attracted to you.

There are also some things that will always be a turn-off:

  • Sneaking to your fridge is not sexy.
  • Moaning over how “fat” you are is not sexy
  • Critizing your thighs or hips is definitely not sexy
  • Processed foods loaded with transfat, added salt and sugar, and lists of ingredients with more words than a short novel are like the pornography of the food world. Treat yourself right and develop a relationship with real whole foods. Eating a strawberry is a lot sexier than consuming a artificially flavored strawberry go-gurt.

While an amazing foodgasm is something to be appreciated and longed for, food can not replace love, relationships and of course, sex. But the combination of great food, great self-esteem, and positive body image will lead you to feeling your sexiest!

Great food is like great sex. The more you have the more you want. ~Gael Greene

When you do you feel sexiest? What do you see in the relationship between food and sex?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Ending the Self Esteem Diet: Guest Post

Ending the Self-Esteem Diet

By Joanna, MPH student and blogger at LandAnimal

I have struggled with my weight my whole life. I remember sitting on the playground as child and feeling ashamed of my stomach and thighs. After years of miserable yo-yo dieting, I

succumbed to the idea of being overweight. I told myself that I was going to have to accept myself as I was or spend the rest of my life on a crash diet. It was after I had resolved to learn to live in my size 14 jeans that I became interested in my health and how the foods I ate related to it. I read “The End of Overeating” by Dr. David Kessler and “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan. I learned that much of the health and diet foods that I was eating were actually processed and severely lacking in any real nutritional value. I began eating clean and plant-based. I started drinking a green smoothie every morning. Within three months I lost 30lbs. I was astounded by how energized I felt and how big of a difference changing the foods that I ate had made--but I soon began realizing that my physical transformation was not accompanied by a mental one.

I had dropped about 1/5 of my body weight and compliments were being flooded at me by friends, acquaintances and strangers in passing, but I was still carrying around all the self-criticism of the little girl that was ashamed of her “shortcomings” while at the swing set. I found myself crying in frustration over the fact that had found health and was in the best shape of my life, but I couldn’t stop putting myself down. The old body insecurities and self-loathing were still welling up inside of me. Then a very wise someone in the health blog-o-sphere instructed me to give myself a compliment every time I looked in the mirror. Novel! Instead of zeroing in on my problem areas in the mirror and griping

over, I started focusing on my strengths. I also began to see that my self-esteem did not come from simply getting the physical results in your body that you want.

There are many reasons that I—and many other women-- wrongly think to look to the scale for self-acceptance. Take the women’s magazines for instance, and their ever present message that your best body is your thinnest body. Women’s magazines are filled with articles that falsely equate body-acceptance with body modification. Self.com currently features the article “4 Body Parts That Make Us Self-Conscious – And How to Love Them.” The first body part they identify, with aptly pejorative terminology, is your boobs. After a few lines about how lop-sidedness is normal and an uncited assurance that studies show men prefer real over fake, they offer you exercises to lift your bust naturally and instruct you to perform them while chanting, “We must, we must, we must increase our bust...” If you glance over the rest of the article, you will see that the formula of how to fix your body so you can love it is followed throughout. Articles like this encourage you to do more than just physically diet, they encourage you to put your self-esteem on a diet.

I now know that I spent years on a self-esteem diet. I was cutting calories, carbs, and starving my self-worth. Too much of what we are told is a healthy outlook is just like a fad diet: devoid of nutrients, unlikely to produce lasting results, and probably more detrimental than beneficial. The message that to love our body we must work until it becomes ideal is gravely wrong. This is not a prescription for health or for self-worth. If you truly want to learn to love yourself, you have to realize that you are already beautiful. Not only that, but your body is pretty amazing and already deserves appreciation. Did you know that your bones are 4x stronger than concrete (1)? Or that every 30 minutes your body gives off enough heat to boil a half gallon of water (2)? If those facts aren’t something to be marveled at, I am not sure what is. Next time you look in the mirror, please stop looking at what you have been told are flaws and give yourself a compliment. You and your body deserve it.

Thank you for that beautiful post Joanna! We adore your blog and appreciate you sharing your wisdom so eloquently!

Have you ever lost a significant amount of weight, but still not gained self-esteem or self-worth? How can we create positive body image while losing weight?

Have an excellent weekend beautifuls!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The New Guilt

by: Stephanie Horton

"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?" "What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?" "I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" Pooh nodded thoughtfully. "It's the same thing," he said. -A.A. Milne, Winne-the-Pooh

I love this quote, because it reminds me that eating is exciting, not a game to be won, not a goal to be set...just simply enjoying and being alive. Food these days has Issues (with a capital I). Not so long ago, say about a year or two, guilt over eating was paired with junk food: Oops, I ate too much ice cream, and I feel a bit remorseful, but it was totally worth it b/c ice cream is delicious. Today, the guilt can kick in over almost anything! Is the salmon farm raised or wild? Are these vegetables in season? The fruits locally grown? The beef grass-fed or feed-fed? Does this milk come from happy cows or sad cows? Sad cows?! It's hard to bare the thought. Through these questions, we're finding new ways to make healthy eating even healthier, which also means we need to take caution that we're not giving ourselves new ways to feel guilty about food.
(Happy Cow)

Buying locally and purchasing animal products raised under humane farming practices are eco-friendly, animal-loving choices that I try to stick to. There's something to be said about making an effort to support these kinds of farming practices. Not only do the foods taste better in my opinion, but they also seem more peaceful and planet-friendly. But what if you don't have access to a farmer's market on a regular basis or no time to seek one out? Yes, you go to the grocery store and maybe you buy organic, but still, there's a twinge of guilt over those tomatoes or cucumbers you purchase, because even though they're organic and full of vitamins and antioxidants, they're from California, not from the farm right outside the city. How healthy can your healthy get? This is the new guilt over food.

Somewhere along the line, buying locally and eating healthfully became chic. The higher the "locally grown" percentage of your refrigerator, the more committed to health, peace, and Earth you are. The more fruits and vegetables in your lunch box, the more proud you are to open it in front of coworkers and friends. If you buy local produce, grass fed beef, wild salmon, and happy chickens, you are considered a thoughtful, considerate person. But could this be the start of a whole new restriction problem? Could the guilt over not having the time or food knowledge to practice these shopping habits eventually turn into a psychological issue? These questions lead me to tell you about a new kind of eating disorder out there that many people are not aware of: Orthorexia.

"Orthorexia" is defined as an obsession with healthy or righteous eating. Those with Orthorexia create severely limited diets in the name of healthy foods. It often begins with someone's simple and genuine desire to live a healthy lifestyle, but it can quickly spiral out of control. The person may choose to stop eating red meat, but eventually cuts out all meat; then all processed foods; then they may only eat locally grown, organic fruits and vegetables and nothing else, and will eventually eat only specific foods that are prepared in very specific ways.

Orthorexia wasn't always recognized as an eating disorder, and there's still some conflict over whether or not it should be. There's some discussion over classifying Orthorexia as a form obsessive-compulsive disorder, but someone with Orthorexia will expend the same amount of energy thinking about food as someone with bulimia or anorexia nervosa. They may not be calorie-counting, but they become fixated on the overall health benefits of the food and on how the food was processed, prepared, and where it came from. The harmful effects of Orthorexia itself are not as severe as other eating disorders, but the fear is that it can morph into anorexia, which is a life threatening condition.

Being kind to your body and to your mind simultaneously is a balancing act. Once we know what's healthy for us and for the planet, it's easy to become fixated on restricting ourselves to only those practices that will benefit our bodies and our environment most. And it's possible that if we become fixated on these things, we may lead ourselves into a food trap. We must allow ourselves to live freely, without getting down on ourselves if we eat a conventionally grown apple purchased at a 7/11. After all, it's still an apple. It's about treating yourself and others right, but not at the expense of your or someone elses' mental health. If we all put in a little effort into being healthier and happier and we strive to take care of our planet without putting unnecessary pressure or stress on ourselves over these things, we will avoid the new guilt, and instead, we'll encounter the new guiltless.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Perfect Diet

This is the post you've been waiting for. The one that whispers to you from the supermarket checkout aisle, on the cover of Shape and Self- "Lose 10 lbs for the beach this weekend" "How Kim Stays Fit". The one that tells you "eat what you love and still lose weight." The one that shouts that the siren song of perfection, in the form of a perfect diet, is true and attainable.
PSssst I'm about to tell you a secret. There is no one perfect diet for everyone. Nutrition professionals and fitness gurus may like to disagree, but a glance around the world shows us how varied lifestyles can be. There are people who run ultra-marathons, eating only bananas. There are people who sustain on the foods of our ancestors (raw meat and berries my friends) and look great. The Eskimos eat a diet all fat and protein with not a veggie in sight yet have lived long lives throughout the centuries. And don't even get me started on the French, with their butter-laden pastries, and skinny skinny bodies.

There is however, a perfect diet for YOU. It's not the easiest thing to discover, and requires much experimentation and the willingness to be adventurous in your food choices. The perfect diet is perfect in its imperfections. It full of foods that make you feel GOOD, and never leave you feeling bad or guilty or wanting to purge. It's the diet that gives you the energy you need without having to obsess over calories or fat grams. It's ok to cheat on the perfect diet and not have to restrict afterward to make up for it. This diet will look different for everyone. this diet is about listening to your hunger cues, about eating intuitively, about giving yourself permission to savor and enjoy food. To release yourself from the emotional ties which bind you to food.

For me, the perfect diet is plant-based. By listening to what my body is really craving and judging by my energy levels, this is the perfect diet for me, right now. Almost everyday people ask me if i feel restricted-if i “miss” dairy, eggs, meat, etc. For me, this switch has been the complete opposite of restriction. It is actually through veganism that I was able to reject the diet mentality. By turning away from the staples of my previous “diet” ( slow-churned, sugar-free, ice-cream, coolwhip free, microwaved egg-whites, whey protein up the wahzoo, and spenda-rific lite yogurt, and lots of hungry girl) I have embraced a beautiful new food world that includes exotic, wholesome, exciting, delicious, fresh, REAL food! I swapped Hungry Girl for the Veggie Queen and never looked back. Being Vegan has opened my eyes to the abundance of our earth. Instead of being stuck into food ruts I am constantly trying new fruits and vegetables,grains and beans. I feel more compassion for self, environment and other creatures. Being vegan is much more about health for me, rather than the endless pursuit of being skinny or perfect. Food is now a source of enjoyment. I'm not a militant vegan, and always opted for honey instead of high-fructose corn syrup, and I will let myself enjoy a special-occasion non-vegan treat (i have a serious sweet tooth). I am not about to let myself feel guilty, beat myself up, or restrict to compensate. Everyday is a new day, and one dessert isn't going to kill me. Gena of Choosing Raw wrote a beautiful post on Reconciling Veganism with Intuitive Eating

There are optimal diets, but who am I to tell you that eating a little bit of fish every week is the worst thing in the world? As a future RD I know what my body wants and needs, but my goal is not to impose that diet and lifestyle onto YOU. I want to help you find out what YOUR body wants and needs. Where you don't have to feel caged by good and bad foods, and the grocery store aisle isn't something that you have to treat with caution. The lifestyle that gives you the energy to run the marathon called life, and come out on top. Food is much more than calories in and calories out, and with a better relationship with food and our bodies we can truly discover our perfect diet.

Have you struggled with Restriction? Do you think it is possible to be an intuitive vegan eater? What does your perfect diet look like? How is the siren song of perfection calling out to you today?

Friday, August 6, 2010

We All Have Our Moments

We All Have Our Moments
By Teresa Miller

Unflattering ones. I open my mouth only to wish seconds later that I’d kept it shut to avoid feeling like an idiot, or I find myself nursing a pouty adolescent resentment of my parents. On a physical level, hardly an hour goes by that I don’t have a nagging thought like How did I let my thighs get this big? Or Ugh, my hips are soo wide. . . Moments like these are definitely not few or far between in my life, and I know I’m no anomaly.

Because the barrage of negative moments sometimes seems to overshadow the day-to-day, it’s easy to overlook the positive moments that color our lives and make them worth living. I experienced some of these uplifting moments on my recent trip to Boston.

One of my first evenings there, Elizabeth and I were dressed up and walking to get cocktails. Just like in a movie, a group of young shirtless men paused their running to hand my friend and me a black-eyed Susan each. They just said, “This is for you,” and took off again. We had huge, goofy grins on our faces the rest of the evening. If that doesn’t make you feel beautiful, I don’t know what does!

Another equally surprising boost came to me in the most unlikely of places: a dressing room. I was trying on some Lululemon running gear, minding my own business and bracing myself for the usual apparition in the mirror: chunky thighs, disproportionate hips made appallingly obvious in tights. I almost couldn’t believe it—when I raised my eyes to my reflection, my gut reaction was something like, Wow, I actually really like how I look. Even surveying my butt in the 360-degrees of mirror, my thoughts were along those same lines. When I showed Elizabeth the outfit, hearing her reaction (“That looks soo cute on you”) helped to solidify my newfound confidence in my body.

Besides the emotional high of getting to hang out with my best friend from childhood for two whole weeks (!), little moments like these have helped me awaken to the fact that positivity is always there: we just have to take notice of it and learn to pay more attention to it than to the moments we’d rather forget.

I’ve noticed some benefits of this focus in my own life—although I still have body image issues, now I have that dressing room experience in the back of my head, reminding me that my flaws aren’t half as bad as I imagine. Whenever I need a little boost, I remember that movie-worthy moment with the runners.

Our negative moments and flaws don’t tell us the whole story of our Selves, or even the half of it. I believe that “you are what you eat:” if we dwell on our strengths, our good, flattering, positive moments, we’ll be taking is a huge step toward truly believing in and becoming the Selves we want to be.
Teresa Miller is a psychology/spanish major at Gonzago University. She's a amazing runner, aunt, and friend. Thank you so much for sharing your story today!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Models are People Too

by: Stephanie Horton

I think models are beautiful. But lately, I've been trying to figure out why that is. Are they beautiful because of their flawless make-up? their professionally styled hair? their body type? the fashion & couture? the artistic perspective of the photographer? What about these people intrigues me so much? Is it that they look so "put-together," which elicits some sort of assumption that they are accomplished? Is it the picture perfect scenery, even in the grittiest of ads? The mystery? Maybe it's my own desire to one day have "the fabulous life..."

I'm looking at this month's Self Magazine right now, and on the cover, I'm reading "105 new sexy-body secrets - A Flatter Tummy! A Faster Metabolism! Way More Energy!" and "Lose 4 Pounds in Just 2 weeks" and "3 Minute Makeovers for shiny hair, glowy skin, sparkley eyes, pretty nails and more!" (wait, there's MORE?!) and then at the very bottom of the front page, in a smaller font, I'm reading "Be your kind of beautiful." Well, ok...now I'm wondering what "my kind of beautiful" is... and I think it's having flat abs, feeling energetic, being 4 pounds lighter, having shiny hair, glowy skin, sparkley eyes, pretty nails, and oh, I'm sure there's more.

This picture of perfection is typically what we see in magazine models, and we're used to that. We rarely question it, and when others dare to discuss it, they are either seen as jovenistic (those who enjoy a skinny model here and there) or extreme feminist (those who throw mainstrain magazines into a white hot burning flame). But earlier this year, V Magazine caused a stir when it published a series of photographs of "full figured" models. The buzz around these photos is what you would expect: some against it, some for it, blah blah boring everyone has an opinion stuff. But wait! Why do we even have to have an opinion on it? So what if these ladies wear pants a few sizes up from the mainstream model? Most of us do! These women are models, they have been photographed for a magazine, and they look great! Kudos to anyone who dares to pose bare back or side or front for a widely read publication! How about we applaud the ambition and drive and self confidence behind these models (of all types) rather than agonize over their waist lines?

Other companies and magazines are jumping on the same bandwagon: Dove, Hungry Magazine, Models.com. There has also been some uproar about the scarcity of couture available for larger women, which will hopefully be reversed w/these "plus size campaigns." It would be nice if we all had the option to buy over-priced, yet oh-so-beautiful and therefore worth it shoes, handbags, and clothing!
The fashion industry is what it is, whether it's using size 1 body or a size 14 body as its model. As we saw in last week's post on the 1939 Cosmo, the ideal body type changes with time. It's about style, not skinny. It's about wit, not waist. I'm not jovenisitc and I'm not an extremist. I simply think we can all be beautiful, no matter what people would say about us if we posed for a fashion magazine.

What's your opinion?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Operation Beautiful

Can a revolution be started with a post-it note?
Caitlin would say yes. Founder of the website Operation Beautiful, blogger, and author, is on a mission to stop fat talk and increase body confidence and self-esteem to all women.
One of my biggest personal crusades is ending Fat Talk. I began the Operation Beautiful website to help women and girls realize how truly toxic fat talk is — it hurts you emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

Operation Beautiful is simple: all you need is a pen and a piece of paper.

Women all over the world leave Operation Beautiful notes in public places — at work, at the gym, at the grocery store. We scribble down whatever comes to mind — “You are beautiful!” or “You are amazing just the way you are!” Maybe some people read them and just smile, but I bet some people are truly touched by the effort of a random stranger. To learn more, visit Operation Beautiful.

If you want to join the mission, send me an e-mail at seebriderun@gmail.com with a photograph of your Operation Beautiful note or a description of your experience, and it'll be posted onOperation Beautiful!

The Operation Beautiful book will be released on August 3, 2010! It’s an empowering book with photos, notes, and true stories about an underground campaign to recognize the true beauty within every woman. You can buy the book NOW at Amazon, Barnes and Noble,Borders, and Indie Bound. You know we'll be picking up several copies, and sending them to other guiltless gals!

Today: Tell someone they are beautiful or leave a anonymous note. You'll make someone's day, I swear!