Monday, April 25, 2011

Be There, Done That. Looking at life with 40:20 Vision

As a 20-something who is constantly looking to women older and wiser than I for mentorship, support and guidance I was struck by the utter brilliance of Christina Vuleta's website 40:20 vision. 40:20 Vision is "an experiment in sharing the wisdom of 40-something women with 20-something women." With everything from advice on relationships, careers and body image, the site is a godsend for those of us looking for a little bit of guidance. She agreed to answer some questions for Guiltless and her responses and advice were so detailed and wonderful I just HAD to split it into two segments. Read on for part I:
Q. What changes take place in the mind of a women who is looking in the mirror as she grows from 20 something to 40 something? How do our perceptions of our bodies change?

20s; Wow…there are some bones under that freshman 15.

30s: Hello under eye circles. Let’s call them bedroom eyes.

40s: Hello lines….is that me?

There’s definitely a moment when you see the first line and it seems like the Grand Canyon has appeared on your forehead with a big sign pointing to it that says….hello, I’m getting older! You think it’s huge. No one else even notices it. You might not even notice it until you have to start wearing glasses (another thing that kicks in at 40 even if you had 20/20 vision) and then…OMG you see a road map on your face. It’s a moment of awakening.

The thing is we don’t feel any different on the inside...and these little wrinkles are wake up call to the aging process…something you can’t control. So you go through a little bit of a freak out… and then you can turn left or right.

Left: You don’t worry about it and realize that it’s part of life and just a part of you. You take care of yourself, eat well moisturize, exfoliate and use a little retin A, and no more “maybe a little sun is okay” moments.

Right: You do everything you can to fight it. You go through a whole new stage of experimenting with skincare trying to find the magic answer. Perhaps engaging in a little help from botox or looking into all the new options out there. Let’s just say moderation is key. You notice it way more than other people do. Does your partner love you any less? Do your friends like you any better? It’s really only about what makes you feel better. So whatever you do, do it for yourself not someone else!

On the whole we become a little more accepting and embracing of who we are as we get older. We’re more forgiving of our flaws. We learn to live with what when we loathed when we were younger. Mostly it’s about confidence.

What gives you confidence is taking charge of your body. So many of the women I talk to feel stronger, more beautiful and sexier than they did at 20. It’s about the whole package and your mindset. Fitness knows no age. Inner beauty is not a number. When you’re strong and fit you do feel empowered and as cliché as it sounds, it shows. There’s a transition in your early 30s for some, and early 40s for others where you realize you just can’t eat the way you used to anymore. It’s harder to eat anything in sight and not see the effects. You can either get depressed by that and hate yourself and start a negative cycle of over-eating, feeling bad about yourself, getting depressed, and over-eating. Or you can work hard (work on yourself) and develop a healthy body and mind that will sustain you through your 30s and 40s and beyond. That’s a whole different cycle. Eat better, feel better, workout better, feel better. And with that comes the confidence. When you’re confident you don’t care so much about that flaw that rendered you self conscious and insecure 10 years ago. You develop a different kind of beauty that’s more powerful.

This 40-something woman has a great take on how it goes:

“You realize as you get older the people you enjoy hanging around with. whether they be your spouse or your girl friends, whoever they are… you didn't choose them because of how they looked or because the size of their waist. I truly believe people should not let themselves get outside of some range of what is healthy and you have these extremes on either end. Then once you're in that range, you're going to have like bigger legs and so and so is going to have beautiful hands. This one is going to have hair that grays early. That’s just the way it’s going to be. So once you’re in the range of you keeping healthy, try to let go a little bit.”

Some women also the fear of the loss of desire or attraction to partners or potential mate as they show signs of aging. Is it really a natural drive for men to be drawn to pursue a more youthful (see child-bearing) ideal. But that’s not always the case. Look at Susan Sarandon for example. The confidence gained also means being comfortable in your sexuality. At 40, you are also more at peace with yourself…so that fear of not having a man may become less important as well. If you want to be with someone you probably will. It will all be okay.

Q. What do you love about your body as a 40 something that you didn't love so much as a 20 something?

The most confident women I know “own it”. They have come to terms with their body and have learned to know what works and what doesn’t and then get on with it. The parts may become less important. Personally, I can finally say I like my bum after a lifelong battle against it. When my mom was born the nurse said, “My what a big butt this baby has”. Suffice it to say I inherited this. Perhaps my eyes were bigger than my rear…I was very self-conscious about it. No amount of squats changed it. Although I think Pilates helped! Then one day I realized it wasn’t that big of a deal. Now I love it and it’s just a part of me. I guess it’s my own version of love handles! And in truth being in good physical shape overall made it less of an issue. Thanks to working out by doing things I like to do, I became more aware of my body’s power. It’s not just going through the motions…it’s doing it because you like the way it feels. Just like eating, experiment with working out to find something you like doing if you can. You don’t have to be a marathon runner. It’s just about getting your body moving and feeling alive. I think that’s where the forgiveness comes in. Love yourself and I believe more love will come your way no matter your shape, size or body foil. When you love yourself, you take better care of yourself and you’re more comfortable in your skin no matter what. This woman offers some wonderful insight on her journey to loving your body.

“I’m not sure I loved anything about myself when I was 20. I was so wrapped up in trying to look like other women (which in most cases was unattainable) and what other people (mainly men) thought of me. There was so much wasted energy worrying about things no one really noticed. When you are older, you realize that men, too, are going through the same issues and really don’t notice that you got your eyebrows waxed or (gasp!) gained 2 lbs!

When you start feeling more self-confident about your looks after many mistakes and some success, you start liking the way you look and feeling more comfortable in your own skin. You start recognizing your potential and you are happy (happier?). Then you become more appealing to others. Nothing is less appealing than low self-confidence and a negative self- image!

I like my body now way more than when I was 20 but it was a long road of self-exploration, exercise, experimentation and loads of mistakes! I now have come to grips with the fact that in order to stay fit, i must exercise, eat well and make healthy choices. It sounds so simple, but it has taken me years to embrace.”

Come back next Monday for part II!!! In the meantime check out 40:20 vision and follow Christina on Twitter!

What is 1 thing you wish you could tell yourself 5 years ago?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

When enough is good enough...

If you hear a voice within you say "you cannot paint," then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced. ~Vincent Van Gogh

1st grade: My teacher liked when we colored our pictures dark with bright colors. I'd spend hours going over and over the picture with the crayons, making sure no white would show. It was never dark enough.

2nd grade: I learned that flossing is good for your health. I'd floss every day, but I couldn't floss enough. At PTA, my teacher told my parents that she was worried that I was too hard on myself. Ha, understatement.

3rd grade: I got a "good" in conduct as opposed to "outstanding", because I was a bit chatty. Threw a tantrum, maybe even called the cops (long story), definitely created a ridiculous scene. "Good" was Not.Good.Enough.

4th grade: I could spell at the level of an 8th grader. But I felt I should be at the 12th grade level. Stared at my dictionary for hours on end until my eyes hurt. I couldn't spell enough words.

5th grade: I read a book a week, but one of the other kids in the class read two. I tried and tried to read more than one, but I just couldn't read fast enough.

6th, 7th, and 8th grade: Became aware of my body and my appearance and my clothes. Started to read fashion magazines. You know how the story goes. And so continues the pattern that was just not good enough.

Even as a grown woman in my late twenties, I still struggle with this problem! Do I exercise enough? Do I work hard enough? Do I see my friends and family enough? And then there's also the "too much" problem. Do I spend too much? Do I talk too much? Do I spend too much time on on my laptop and not enough outside enjoying life? Do I think and self-analyze too much? (ha..ironic for this post, wouldn't you say?) When is enough good enough?! What is the perfect amount of anything?
In order to progress and succeed, I believe we need a certain level of self-encouragement. We need to strive for our goals and push ourselves outside of our comfort zones. But when do we cross the line between productive and obsessive? And if we do cross that line, how do we know? With the "good enough" and "too much" mindset, you're bound to drive yourself insane. Believe me, I know. Here are some of my strategies to keep me from crossing the line from "self-encouraging" to "self-insulting." I call it, "The Bonus System":

1.) Set specific, realistic exercise goals. For example, every Sunday, I pick three workouts that I know I will absolutely enjoy for that week (Monday-Friday). I commit to these workouts, and I hope that I will get to the gym on the other days. But if I don't, it's ok, because those were going to be bonus days anyway. If I make the three classes that I decided on, then that is good enough. And I usually make it to at least one bonus day, and that always feels so good!

2.) Be kind to your calendar. I love to spend time with my friends, but I often feel like I don't see them enough. But I also realize that I lead a pretty busy life as do they, so it's not realistic to think I will get to spend time with them every week. So I, and they, schedule strategically. We pick one day every couple of weeks and we stick to that plan. If we see each other in between, that's just a wonderful bonus. But if we don't, there's nothing to feel bad about, because we have established a pattern that works for us! Don't overbook yourself. Remember that if you need to schedule some me-time, you can always write that in your calendar to make it official!

3.) Plan your meals but leave room for variety. Each week, I will go grocery shopping, and I will buy pretty much the same things. Almost every day, I'll have my oatmeal and fruit, my green tea and coffee, my salad at lunch, Larabar before the gym, and then some kind of dinner with protein, whole grains, and veggies. This is usually my goal, because I think this daily menu includes a perfect balance of fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. BUT, I leave holes in the week for variety. For example, I buy dinner ingredients for Monday-Friday night, but I tell myself that one night is variable. If I feel like spending on take-out pizza or Chinese food, or if I feel like going out for BBQ or Sushi one night, then that is perfectly acceptable. The money and indulgences that go along with the decision to dine out become fun instead of going against the plan! If I decide to cook every night that week (Monday-Friday I mean...Saturdays and Sundays are always variable!), then I see it as a health bonus. But if I decide to use the variable day, I see it as a fun bonus. It's a win-win!

4.) Prioritize your to-do list. For example, the top of my to-do list will be tasks that are due that upcoming week. Then the next section are tasks due in the near future that I really hope to get done, but I don't necessarily have to. Finally, I have a "bonus" section where I list things that would be really awesome to do, but are only extras. If I make it to the second section, I feel good. If I make it to the bonus section, I feel great. If I don't make it to either but I do finish the first section, then that is enough.

5.) Acknowledge your accomplishments. Don't compare yourselves to others. Be content and happy with what you do and with what you have, because that will always be more than enough.

I hope that by sharing these thoughts and ideas, I was able to provide even just one strategy to help you feel less overwhelmed with your daily, weekly, maybe even yearly goals!

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

Care to Share? Any tips on how to avoid the "not good enough" blues?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Are you satisfied in bed?

I had a very interesting conversation this past weekend about the importance of being satisfied in bed. No, not sexually. Get your minds out of the gutter! I'm talking sheets, pillows, down comforters, shams, thread counts, etc, etc. "Why in the world is she talking about bedding on a blog about self-love, positive body image, and self-appreciation," you may be wondering. Read on and you will understand.

For a very long time, I neglected my bed. I was going through a rather hard time in my life, so the comfort of my bed was literally the last thing on my mind. My sheets didn't really fit the mattress, my single pillow was pretty old, my comforter cover had missing buttons, and making the bed consisted of pulling the comforter up far enough so the messy sheets underneath were hidden. I would often fall asleep on the couch, but if I happened to make it to the bedroom, I'd often wake up in the morning on the actual mattress because the sheets had popped off at some point during the night. It was no way to sleep, but at the time I didn't notice, or at least, I didn't care. What I didn't realize was that maybe it wasn't so much that I didn't care about the bed, but maybe it was a symbol of my own self-neglect.

This weekend, I was driving in the car with Richie as we discussed the importance of a comfortable bed. We talked about how he once was in the same boat as I was bed-wise: neglectful, somewhat careless about the appearance and tidiness of the bed, treating the bed as a place to just pass out at night, but not conscious of the comfort-level. It just so happens that he was also going through a rough spot in life. And then one day when he was actively trying to improve himself and his life, he realized that it was time for a bed upgrade. He saw this as a form of self-love - investing in extremely comfortable bedding was a way to make his alone time and sleep time at night special - a treat for himself - a practice of self love. I never thought of it like this before! But it makes perfect sense! To Richie, upgrading his bed was just one step toward making himself a happier person, but it was an incredibly important step.

I've known Richie my whole life, but when we reconnected as adults, he noticed the disarray and discomfort of my bed. Of course, being a perfect gentlemen, he did not mention anything about it. But he did take action and soon became my bed fixer-upper. He covered it in white Egyptian cotton with down comforters, plush pillows and sheets that fit the feather-bed covered mattress. It's clean and made every morning, and it is the most comfortable bed I've ever had. Once my bed had its makeover, I started to realize how long I neglected it. I felt, and still feel, so much gratitude for Richie for coming into my life and fixing that bed - or maybe, more symbolically, encouraging me to fix other things in my own life in order to make me happier.

Rich and I knew each other as kids, and it really hit me when he said to me in that car, "I was surprised that your bed was like that when we reconnected, because as a kid, your bed was always so awesome." He was right. I was due for a bed-makeover just as I was long overdue for a little self appreciation. And again, it was only one step in that direction, but it was a step that opened my eyes to how important it is to create your own peaceful atmosphere when ending or beginning the day.

Your bed is a place where you seek rest, peace, and rejuvenation. It's the place where you do a lot of intense thinking and soul searching. It's where you will start each day and end each night. When you think about it this way, the bed seems like the most important location in your life! And as I learned over the weekend, it's a great place to start when it comes to self appreciation. Saving up and investing in your favorite bedding is truly investing in yourself. Call me crazy, but this is the first time I've ever made this connection. It marks the beginning of a very comfortable future with many restful nights, happy mornings, and self-love.

What is your bed like? Do you see this as a symbol of how you treat yourself? Is it time for an upgrade? Your thoughts are always appreciated!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Interview with The Intuitive Dietitian

I reached out to Alice Covey- THE Intuitive Dietitian because I found her career path very interesting-as a future intuitive eating dietitian. I hope you enjoy the interview I conducted with her:
What is your professional career? I am a nutrition therapist. I use counseling as a way to help individuals to improve their relationship with food and their bodies. The philosophies of intuitive eating and mindful eating are what I use to help people in their journey.
How did you decide that you wanted to focus on intuitive/mindful eating? When I did my dietetic internship, one of my rotations was at an eating disorder treatment facility, Center for Change in Orem, Utah. They introduced me to intuitive eating by having me read the book, Intuitive Eating by Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole, when I started as an intern there. When I read the book, I felt like that I found the missing piece in my nutrition education. In school, I was not taught the importance of tuning into the body, mostly I was taught very science-based information that was full of holes and controversies. The information in Intuitive Eating rang true to my own personal life and experiences as well; it just made sense and clicked with me.
What sort of training did you have to go through to become an expert in this field? I first received a bachelor of science in dietetics at Montana State University, taking various science classes. I remember saying to my mom after my first year of college, "I am majoring in science." It hadn't occurred to me that when I studied about food I was mainly going to learn about science. Of courses, I had other course like psychology, anthropology, statistics, business, on and on. But mainly I was getting lessons in science. I felt something was missing in my schooling, and I think I was right... I wanted to learn about psychology and food, anthropology and food, not just receive a weak overview. To officially become a registered dietitian, the next steps were do an internship, which I did through Utah State University, and then pass an exam. am a certified intuitive eating counselor and have completed a workshop for professionals with Elyse Resch, coauthor of Intuitive Eating. I also use Elyse as a mentor, working with her under group supervision. But really the most training I received was working intensely in an eating disorder treatment facility. I worked with people who were taking the opposite approach to intuitive eating and to the very extreme. I learned a lot more about psychology and how to tie it into into healing individuals' relationship with food.
What is your top tip that you give clients on how to eat intuitively? Go inward. We have more knowledge about our individual body than science can tell us. Strive for a peaceful, balanced, and harmonious relationship with food. Don't miss out on the wonder and pleasure of food. The body needs to also be respected, cared for, and communicated with. People often forget that. It's like in our puritan need to pursue perfection and health we forget the basics. Return to the knowledge you are born with. Reconnecting with the innate is a path you can pursue.
Why is eating intuitively so important? From my perspective and for the work I do, it is a very important tool to heal troublesome relationships with food and body. It can also serve to shift an apathetic or rebellious attitudes about food and body. We seem to live in a society that is bombarded with messages, many of them mixed, telling us how to eat, and we are abound with messages about what the "perfect" body is from health to appearance. A lot of people get lost in the external messages and forget to just respect and work with their own blueprint. Reconnecting with our inner knowledge regrading eating and respecting the body we are inhabiting is transformational.
How do you suggest that we end feelings of guilt towards our body and food? Guilt serves no purpose in propelling us forward or in our growth. If we want to improve our relationship to food and our body, we need to practice acceptance and forgiveness. We also need to recognize the destructive thoughts we have regarding food and our body. Those thoughts need to be let go of. We can even shift those thoughts and replace them by connecting to our intuitive voice

Thank you Alice for speaking to us about Guilt and Food! Check out her website and private practice.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Let's keep the conversation rolling...

On Monday, Elizabeth wrote about a common misconception that guilt can lead as a motivator to eat well and exercise. As we discussed, there are countless other reasons to treat your body well: increased energy, long term health benefits, short term benefits like feeling more confident and put-together, and let's not forget, exercise and eating well have been shown to have sexual benefits as well. So in order to keep us on track with the right reasons to treat ourselves with respect and appreciation, I've created a little vow for us all to fill out and keep as a reminder to ourselves when stress and guilt start to creep into our lives:

I _______, vow to ban guilt from my exercise schedule and daily meals. I promise to myself that I will be proud of my accomplishments, and I will base my goals on things that make me feel energetic and beautiful rather than on reasons why I will be less-than-perfect if I don't achieve them. These are my three goals for my own well-being when it comes to exercise and eating well:


Mine are as follows:
1. I will run outside in the beautiful weather and challenge myself both mentally and physically by pushing myself a little further than I did the week before.
2. I will exercise my creativity in cooking with new fresh, healthy, easy-to-cook recipes that make me feel connected to the food I'm eating.
3. I will allow myself to take breaks when I am mentally or physically drained, because this will allow my body to heal and my mind to clear. I will not feel bad about it.

We'd love to hear your goals if you'd care to share!

Thank you. Be well, and enjoy the day!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Guilt as a Motivator?

There's a new gym in my neck of the woods. Huge billboards and ads adorn the windows proclaiming that YOU need to "earn your mac n cheese tonight"
Their gimmick to get you inside their doors, clamoring for a membership is to guilt you into working out.

Because the only reason we work out is to burn calories right? Not because it protects our hearts, guards against hypertension, increases endorphins, makes you better in bed, boosts self-confidence and makes us stronger? Nope-the only reason you'll ever see me in the gym is because I just ate, and goddamn it-I feel guilty.

A study that has been getting a lot of press lately claims that guilt is a great motivator for diet change and exercise. But let me ask you-does the end justify the means? Yes guilt may get you to the gym, but it also starts you down a path of self-hatred and distance from your intuition.

Steph & I started Guiltless because we say those around us sabotaging their own health with guilt. Yes, we love healthy food and work out regularly, but we also know the dangers of swearing of dessert forever, classifying foods as good or bad, obsessive exercising and extreme dieting. Compensating for what you eat by working out is a disordered behavior. And not one any one or any gym should be promoting.

So go to the gym. But don't go because you feel guilty about what you just ate. Go because it makes you feel alive, healthy, strong and beautiful! Eliminate all guilt from your diet and fitness regime.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about guilt as a motivator! Leave them in the comment section below!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Monday, April 4, 2011

What is sexy?

The sexiest people are sexy because of their attitude, not because of they way they look. They come in all shapes and sizes, all hair and eye colors, all races, all ages. Sexy is laughter. Sexy is joy. Sexy is attitude. Sexy is smiling, smart, self assured. Sexy is a state of mind and is reflected in the way we speak, carry ourselves, and interact with others. It doesn't mean being "easy," just as much as it doesn't mean "playing hard to get." In fact, being sexy isn't necessarily about sex at all. Not that I'm an expert. These are simply my own opinions, but I have a feeling that others will agree. Picture this: A man and a woman sitting at table at an outdoor cafe. You stroll by and think to yourself, "Wow, those two are" Is it because of their body types? Probably not, because you're only passing by and really, it's rude to stare. Is it their clothing? Or their hairstyles? Most likely this isn't the case. It's probably the energy you feel radiating from them or maybe between them...the tangible comfort they feel in their own skin. This comfort is the key. It's the thing we strive to feel each and every day, and it's the reason we work to make ourselves healthier and happier. And that's the goal: Comfort in the skin you call your own. Confidence in the brain that supports your conversation. Appreciation for the body that carries you, contains you. These are the attributes which create sexiness. It's not your pants size, the size of your bank account, or the amount of time you spent getting ready. It's the energy you give off and it's the way you inspire others to feel good about themselves. The more we enjoy being with ourselves, the sexier our energy becomes. At least, this is what sexy is to me.
"We are all of us stars, and we deserve to twinkle."
-Marilyn Monroe
Here's your sexy challenge of the week: Remove all judgment from your mind and do something that scares you. Whether that's dancing in public or wearing that tight shirt that you tend to avoid or speaking up at work with an opinion or telling your crush how you feel (finally!). Do it and feel good about it. Remember that we don't have to apologize for who we are, only be who we are. Now, that's sexy. What does "sexy" mean to you?

Being Free: Libero Networkd & ExposED

I had the wonderful opportunity of interviewing an amazing Eating Disorder Awareness champion Lauren Bersaglio. I first got to know Lauren on Twitter, and found the work she was doing amazing! She Authors ExposED Blog and founded the Libero Free network-dedicated to eating disorder recovery. Read on as she explains why loving yourself is so important and swears that recovery from disordered eating is possible!
Tell me a little bit about yourself. How did you become a recovery warrior?
When I was 17 I developed an eating disorder that took on various forms for the next four years. I dealt with anorexia, anorexia athletics, binge eating, bulimia, and long periods of disordered eating. The turning point for me was at the beginning of 2010 when my Bulimia had driven me to fear food entirely and so I went several days without eating - at this point I was frightened for my own health and so I went to one of my professors who is also one of my mentors. I asked him how long I could survive like this - without eating - to which he replied that without food I could live thirty days. It was in this moment that I realized I was not ready to die. I wanted to live! And so I staged my own intervention; I called together friends and family and sat in front of them and said "I do not want to stop, but I want to want to stop." And then I asked them to please not make me stop, but help me get to the place where I wanted to stop. It took a few hours, but I got to that point where I wanted to stop and that is when I entered into recovery. After this intervention, the same professor, knowing that I am a writer, suggested that I write something for the school paper, and so I sat down and wrote out my story and it got published and for the first time I was free from the secret. It was in that moment that I realized I wanted to not only recover, but I wanted to use my life as an example that recovery is possible and there is hope - there is ALWAYS hope. I graduated from Recovery at the beginning of this year - it was a long process and there were slips and trips along the way, but you know what they say, slow and steady wins the race, and I won!

-What is the message or mission that you are working to spread
I want to spread the word that there is hope for recovery from an eating disorder (and any other addiction) - I am living proof. And I want to be a living example that you can learn to love yourself the way you are today and I want to show the world that true beauty is found only on the inside and that self-worth cannot be measured by any scale, tape measure, or cultural “ideal”.

What is the Libero free network? what inspired you to create it?
The Libero Network is a network of bloggers who blog about their journeys through and recovery from issues such as eating disorders, addictions, and depression. It is a pretty unbelievable story how it all began. I was lying in bed, just about to fall asleep (I think it was about 1 am) and then I got a feeling, I felt that I was supposed to start a Facebook Page. So I got out of bed and created the libero page on facebook ( - at the time I didn't know what the direction was for this page, I just knew I was meant to create it. I came up with the name Libero because that is what I entitled my first article that was published in the school newspaper. I am Italian, and Libero is the Italian word for free. Our slogan is the Anne Lamott quote: "Only freedom from fears, freedom from lies, can make us beautiful, and keep us safe." Libero grew far quicker than I though it would, it went from a single facebook page promoting healthy body image to a page with far more followers than I'd ever imagined, and my blog Expos(ED) as well as my YouTube channel. At the beginning of 2011 I began planning where I wanted Libero to go in the future and that's when I came up with the idea of the Libero Network - I wanted to expand beyond me (because Libero was never meant to be about me) and the topic of eating disorders into other issues that people deal with such as depression and addictions. I started accepting guest blogger posts and then in the last month I signed on the first Libero Network Blogger (who isn't me) Christian Sawka - he writes on his journey through depression. Our mission is to promote self-love and acceptance by sharing our stories of recovery from eating disorders, depression, and addictions and our vision is that all people will see themselves as beautiful.

In your opinion why have eating disorders become such a huge problem in our society?
I hate to blame the media; however, I feel they cannot be left out in the answer to this question. One important thing I always like to stress is the concept of who the media really is. The media is not Angelina Jolie or any of the models we see on these magazines (I feel they are simply victim to the same unrealistic pressures that we are), it is difficult to pinpoint exactly who 'The Media' is - the photo editors? but they are just doing their jobs, the magazine editors? well they are just looking for what sells...The origin of this monster I do not know, all I know is that societal pressure is a major contributor to negative body image. However, I also feel that one's upbringing, life experiences, and coping mechanisms all play a role as well.

What is one thing each of us can do to start putting an end to eating disorders and disordered eating?
I think the best thing we all can do is say no - say NO to the "ideal" image being forced on us, say NO to buying the magazines that promote this unrealistic concept that all women should look a certain way, and, most importantly, say NO to the multi-billion dollar diet industry that tells us that the answer to all our problems with ourselves is weight loss, which can only be achieved through restriction, food rules, and As Seen On TV exercise equipment. The key to healthy living is exactly what your blog stands for: living guiltless, which results in what Libero stands for: being free.

Why is guilt towards food and our bodies such a bad thing?
Food is meant to nourish us to keep us alive. Full stop. We were never meant to feel guilty about it. There are no 'food' rules. The minute you start placing rules on what you can and cannot eat, you begin to imprison yourself. And what happens is, over time, you become completely enslaved by all these 'rules' that hold no real meaning and then, heaven forbid, if you break any of these rules, you then are filled with guilt. The problem with the guilt factor is, it makes you feel terrible about yourself and, in turn, you typically then feel you need to be punished, which is done by either excessive restriction, over-exercise, or over-consumption. When it comes to our body, I feel the problem is that we separate ourselves from it, and in doing so it makes us feel OK about punishing, hating, and even abusing it. However, when you enter into a war against your body (which is like going into battle against yourself) you cannot win. What we need to do is accept our bodies as part of us, and see that our body is part of our team and we need to work together with it not against it. A great resource on learning how to remove guilt from food and love your body is Geneen Roth's book Women, Food, and God.

What is one thing we can do right now to increase our self compassion?
I will answer this with one of my favourite quotes, it's by Alan Cohen: "To love yourself right now, just as you are, is to give yourself heaven. Don't wait until you die. If you wait, you die now. If you love, you live now."

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