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Good Body Image

Good Body Image

Having good body image…means letting go.

For most people, especially female-identified people, we want good body image, by having a “good” body.

This “good” body has all the “right” numbers (weight/size/height).

This “good” body has the “right” hair, eyes, skin, nails, feet, chest, and even genitals.

This “good” body is strong, flexible, abled, healthy, and perfect.

We wake up each day, clinging to the dream of having this “good” body.

Why wouldn’t we?

“Good” bodies get all the social goodies, right?

“Good” bodies get social, economic, and reproductive power.

“Good” bodies are revered.

“Good” bodies slip, sinewingly (yes, it’s a made up word), past rejection, ridicule, discrimination, and even violence without a thought.

“Good” bodies are loved, not abandoned.

“Good” bodies don’t get revenge, they are revenge.

“Good” bodies can go anywhere, wear anything, and talk to anyone.

“Good” bodies make the person good enough.

“Good” bodies never scar, never stretch, never stink, never wrinkle, never get hairy (here or there), never age, never get sick…do “good” bodies never die?

“Good” bodies are never sad, mad, or scared.

“Good” bodies are madly in love and have the best sex.

“Good” bodies are never down.

For “good” bodies, everything is wonderful.

Who wouldn’t want a “good” body?

Most people do.

Many people spend their whole lives dedicated to acquiring a “good” body in every way that money can buy.

Many people are so fiercely devoted to this pursuit that to suggest otherwise is inconceivable.

What if, despite what every diet program, workout regimen, fitness influencer, commercial, or “healthy lifestyle” coach tells us,…

You and I and everyone will never, ever have a “good” body.

With a lot of money, time, attention, and obsession, can we fly higher into that sun?

Of course.

But, at what cost?

Is it ever good enough?

Do we ever arrive?

If, after all of that effort, we touch the sun, what does it take to stay there?

Is it a life a body wants to live?

That’s the thing about bodies, they don’t care about being “good.”

Bodies care about being alive.

Bodies care about getting enough to eat.

Bodies care about getting enough rest.

Bodies care about touch and other bodies.

Bodies care about joy and laughter and the richness of life.

Bodies work hard to carry us through life and they just want to be loved by their inhabitants. 

Afterall, when we judge, criticize, ridicule, and hold with disdain this and that about our bodies…who is it we’re talking to?

Who receives these harsh, unrelenting words?

It’s our own vulnerable selves, sister.

Deep in the quiet of our bodies lives our own, perfect self, just wanting to be loved exactly as she is without the slightest concern for her body…

And it isn’t the love of others that she seeks.

No, it is the warm, kind, gentle affection of ourselves that we long for most.

You see, good body image isn’t about believing you have a “good” body.

Good body image is about letting go of the dream of all that we imagine a “good” body will give us.

It is a tall order.

Having stared into the sun for so long, we are blind to all that we have been missing.

We have not been able to see that the love we seek is already ours to give.

We have not been able to see that what we truly, deeply long for is acceptance, connection, meaning, and purpose.

The pursuit of a “good” body can look an awful lot like each of those things.

It is not.

Good body image is about letting go.

Good body image is about knowing that the body holds your precious self and it is not your self.

Good body image is about living in connection through your body not because of your body.

Good body image is about a definition of health that includes many ways of practicing well-being, not simply the pursuit of a “good” body.

Good body image is being willing to turn away from that sun and believe that when our eyes adjust, there will be a whole universe of life and love to discover.

All bodies are good bodies. Right now.

We Need Many Different Forms of Love in Our Lives

We Need Many Different Forms of Love in Our Lives

Love is both a feeling and an action.

Many people describe love as a feeling of warmth in their heart, chest, or stomach.

We often feel a sense of affection for the object of our love. We reach out to touch, caress, hug, hold, pat, kiss, and otherwise be near this person or pet. Healthy attachment is regulating to our nervous system.

Those warm feelings feel like safety and yumminess.

We need, and can have, many different forms of love in our lives.

Love for a partner.

Love for a child.

Love for a friend.

Love for a sister/brother/parent/cousin/grandparent/etc.

Love for a pet.

Love for a person or people we serve.

Love for someone we’ve lost.

Love for someone we’ve found.

Love for time we share with someone who shares an interest.

Love for our colleagues.

Love for a hobby or passion.

Love for a time that once was.

Love for the hope of what will be.

Love for who we were.

Love for who we are.

Love for whom we may become.

Many of us learned we were unlovable.

Many of us decided then to un-love ourselves first before we could be taken by surprise by those who would reject us. This un-love, this fear, this strategy became True and we were divided.

When seeking to return to love of ourselves, acceptance feels frightening and we rebel against it.

But wait.

Slow down.

Start by accepting THAT you don’t accept. Accept fear. Accept pain. Accept sinking doubt, searing shame, the desperate desire to hide. Accept that you don’t know how to accept.

Ah, yes. This is what’s here right now.

You may find that with this little drizzle of acceptance for non-acceptance, there is a little softening and a little relief and the tiniest possibility of acceptance of more of who you are.

Love, acceptance and pleasure for someone for who they are right now, is the rain, sun, and soil in which each of us blossoms.

May you reach and stretch for a little of your own sunlight.

May you drink from the well of your own affection.

May you eat from the table of your own acceptance.

May you feel yourself blossom right where you are, no matter how imperfect the conditions.

With Love and Yumminess,

Karen

5 Ways to Cope with the Anniversary of the Death of a Loved One

5 Ways to Cope with the Anniversary of the Death of a Loved One

(Guest post by Avalon Healer, Alyson Mullie, LMSW)

Death. It’s a difficult topic to talk about. But, we will all be impacted by death and dying at some point in our lives. Death is a natural part of life and thus, so is grief. Yet, we live in a culture with the expectation that we attend the funeral or memorial service for our loved one, and then return to work after our 3.5 bereavement days have expired. It can be hard to know how to cope with death experiences. We feel a need to rush a grief experience so that we can “process” it and “get back to normal.” 

We may even believe we have gotten back to “normal,” but then the anniversary of our loved one’s death approaches, and we get smacked with all the feels once again. It can seem like an unending cycle. 

Here are some ways to cope and manage the emotions that emerge as death anniversaries approach.

Allow space to remember your loved one.

Positive memories are the best way to keep the spirit of your loved one alive after they’ve passed. Even though they have died, they still occupy space in your life and memories. It’s important to recognize that and allow space to experience those memories. It can be as simple as looking at photos, listening to a favorite record, or visiting a favorite place of your loved one. 

Ask for support.

Processing grief can be challenging, but it’s important to remember that you don’t have to do it alone. Ask for support from friends and family members as you grieve. This can be especially important in the early years (1st, 2nd, maybe even 3rd death anniversaries). Grief emotions can be complex and sometimes, having an understanding friend or family member there with you can help create a safe space to experience our loss. Know that there are no “right feelings to have. It is common to have a variety of feelings from sadness to anger to relief.

Do something in honor of your loved one.

My grandmother died in 2017, 1 year later, I launched my first grief and loss support group in honor of her and my grief experience. Honoring our loved ones allows us, as survivors, to pay tribute to those that we’ve lost. As a therapist, I chose to use the skills I have to give back to others experiencing grief, but there are so many other ways you can honor a loved one. You can visit their grave or resting place and leave flowers, plant a tree in their memory, volunteer for an organization that was special to them, have a gathering of friends and family to reminisce, or light a candle in honor of your loved one. All these things are small ways to simply remind yourself and the world that your loved one existed and that they are remembered.

Be kind to yourself.

Experiencing grief brings dozens of different and often unexpected emotions. This can be magnified even more on a death anniversary. It’s important to remember, that this is a normal part of the grief process and that it is ok to be sad, angry, happy, or whatever it is you’re feeling. It is important to take the time to grieve by slowing down, doing less, and taking quiet space. You have not let anyone down, you are not crazy. You are just being human. The grief process can be difficult and long, but it is important to take care of yourself along the way.

Talk to a therapist.

Sometimes it can be difficult to find a friend or family member who understands. Maybe they are overwhelmed with their own grief, or process grief in a way that is incompatible with your way. Maybe they have not (yet) experienced this type of loss and find it difficult to provide the empathy and compassion you need (and deserve). This is when talking to a therapist can help. With a safe, judgement-free space, you really can say whatever you need to say in order to feel your feelings and continue on your healing journey.

Alyson Mullie, LMSW

 

Resolve to Love Yourself Better

Resolve to Love Yourself Better

Today, and every day, resolve to love yourself better.

Loving ourselves does not mean we “think we’re so great,” or that we recite empty affirmations about our vague worth or likableness.

True, radical self-love is the practice of slowly and gently changing the way we talk to ourselves, the story we believe about ourselves, the expectations we have of ourselves. We do not have to live with self-aggression to be motivated to change. We do not have to become less of who and what we are in order to be worthy.

True, radical self-love means getting up each day and deciding to see ourselves as the vulnerable, needy, child that we are longing for acceptance, longing for approval, begging for permission. To. Just. Be.

There are many cultural traditions around self-denigration. We confuse humility with low self-worth. We confuse self-sacrificing giving to others with love.

We are not at our best when we don’t feel safe in our inner world. Self-criticism might feel comfortably familiar, but it is not safe. We’ve simply internalized the self-aggression of others and made it our own.

Yet, our young inner selves, now hidden deep in the being of a performative adult, longs for that adult to turn inward, to see her. Really SEE her. Acknowledge her vulnerability. Speak to his fear and his need. Slow down and give space for the truth of their very reasonable longing for compassion, comfort, and protection.

This type of love looks simply like stopping in the middle of the day, placing a hand on your chest, closing your eyes, and saying, “Yes. This work/parenting/event IS scary. Yes. Of course I feel this way. And I can slow down and breathe. I can let you know that you are not bad, no matter what happens. It is ok that the house is a mess. There isn’t enough time to do it all. We are just one doing the best we can.”

By doing this kind of in-the-moment, spot-check, radical self-love, we can, stitch-by-stitch, repair our relationship with ourselves and create the happiness and contentment we have so longed for.

We find that as we trust ourselves more and fear less, we no longer need many of the strategies we tried so hard to beat out of ourselves. We become more of the best of who we are and find that the best of who we are is truly all of who we are.

Today, and every day, resolve to love yourself better.

With love,

Karen

How to Cope With Weight Gain When You Stop Restricting

How to Cope With Weight Gain When You Stop Restricting

When you finally decide to reject diet culture and begin nourishing your body, weight gain becomes a very real possibility, especially if you’ve been maintaining an artificially lower weight.

 

And, if you are living in a culture that highly values a photo-shopped, excessively thin aesthetic, it is likely that weight gain doesn’t sound like cause for celebration. I get it.

 

Just know that any weight gain associated with nourishing your body is totally okay and not cause for concern. But what about health, you ask? The truth is that many health concerns that are often attributed to weight, are in fact, not weight related. True story.

 

You are not doing anything wrong when you honor your body’s cues for food and rest.

 

Regardless of these truths, you may need some support and strategies to get you through the process. Afterall, when you’ve spent (maybe) years chasing an ideal that seemed to make sense, you’ve invested A LOT if yourself in the process and the dream of an artificially thin body and all of the acceptance and privilege we are promised if we just get thin enough.Most people need support if they experience body changes due to no longer dieting.

 

Here are some tips to make the journey a little easier.  

 

  1. Don’t weigh yourself, obviously. And not only that, but just get rid of the scale for
    good. And when you go to the doc, you have the right to refuse the scale. Weigh-ins are not mandatory; your body, your choice. Check out fat activist Ragan  Chastain’s blog post on tips for surviving this encounter at your next doctor’s visit.
  2. Fat positive your feedsClean it up, people. There is way too much thin ideal imagery out there. Follow body positive accounts such as Ragan Chastain, BeNourished,Taylor’s The Body Is Not An Apology, Tess Holliday, Virgie Tovar, and others for some real body examples. We can change our ideals and vision of
    beauty when we give ourselves a variety of different images of beautiful bodies.
  3. Buy new clothes (if you have the resources) that fit or that are at least stretchy. Wearing clothes that you are growing out of is just plain uncomfortable, and a constant reminder that your body is changing. Also important: get rid of those
    items that are too small so there are no reminders of your unhealthier restrictive self. Try Poshmark or other second hand shops for deals on styles you love. You are not alone. As mentioned above, increasing body size as a result of intuitive eating is to be expected. There is no right or wrong way for your weight
    to go. Your body is going to do what it does, which for many means weight gain. Be kind to yourself; cut yourself some slack. Now is the time for deep self-compassion. Get a therapist; seek a weight-inclusive dietitian, and join a body positive facebook group to connect with others going
    through similar experiences.
  4. Lastly, think of what else you have gained. Freedom with food? Brain power for more important thoughts? More time to do fun things? Christy Harrison, anti-diet dietitian and author, proclaims that dieting and diet culture is The Life Thief that
    steals our joy and purpose in the world and how we must take back our right to do what we were meant to do in this world and live or lives full of pleasure, vitality, and peace.

Remember, being happy and fabulous on your terms is it’s own kind of powerful.

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Katrina Seidman, RDN LDN

Are you interested in learning more or working with me?

I can be reached here – I’d love to support you on your healing journey!

 

10 Steps to Ditch Your Diet (For Real)

10 Steps to Ditch Your Diet (For Real)

Diets don’t work; if they did, we would all be our perfect ideal weight/size/shape.  We wouldn’t be jumping on the next fad diet come January 1, and we wouldn’t be spending $60 billion per year on trying to shrink our bodies.
We believe that our diets don’t work, or don’t work forever, because we don’t have enough will-power, or character, or we’re too addicted, have too many emotions, or our bodies just won’t stop being hungry.
But, what if it’s not us?
What if, it’s that dieting doesn’t work?
What if our bodies don’t understand dieting as “dieting” and instead respond to “famine” and “food scarcity?”
What if our bodies actually work by trying to keep weight on us if they get the message (through dieting) that there isn’t enought food, so they send us MORE hunger signals, slow our metabolism, and otherwise do whatever they can to ensure that we EAT?
The weight loss industry has a vested interest in keeping us believing that weight loss is the holy grail of all things worth living for. What if there is a name for this and it’s “diet culture?”
But what if so much of what we are taught is just…wrong?
What if diets are actually the problem and not the solution?
But how do we actually stop dieting? What does eating and living even look like when we decide to toss aside food rules and leave diet culture behind? Is that even possible?
Yes, it’s possible. And some may say it even sounds simple. But, it’s likely not an easy or quick process, especially if you have been dieting or trying to control your eating for many years. In fact, it’s possible that the longer you have been dieting, and the younger you were when you started your first diet (yes, WW is and always has been a diet), the longer, slower, and messier the the process may be. But, the good news is, you will probably start to feel better as soon as you take even one small step. Here are 10 ways that you can start to ditch your diet and experience food freedom and better health for the long term.
  1. Smash that scale! Or, just put it in the back of your closet and see how your day or week is not dictated by such meaningless numbers.
  2. Delete the fitness and food tracker apps! Think about how these apps actually help you. How do you feel and what do you do when you go over your crudely calculated “calorie budget?” And how does this app know what you should Unsurprisingly, Research shows that the use of these tools can lead to restrictive, unbalanced eating and also increase risk of developing an eating disorder. Just get rid of them!
  3. Unfollow those accounts that make you feel like your body is wrong. Take control of your own feed and selectively choose which accounts make you feel good and get rid of those that don’t. Ain’t got no time for that!
  4. Wear clothes you like, that fit, and that make you feel good. How do you feel when you try to squeeze into too tight jeans? Be kind to yourself and get rid of any items that don’t fit or that you are saving for “when you lose weight.”
  5. Move your body in ways that are pleasurable, whatever that is for you. Gone are the days of “no pain, no gain.” If it hurts and you don’t like it, do something else that doesn’t. This includes sex, too!
  6. Listen to your body. Like, really listen. What is it saying? Is it hungry? Is it full? Is it tired? Then, act on what you need whether it’s a sandwich, a cookie, a nap, or maybe all three.
  7. Break all the food rules. Or just one to start. For example, did someone once tell you that eating late at night causes weight gain? Or to eat your carbs in the morning but not at night? Sadly, many of the food rules we follow are simply unfounded. I challenge you to see what it’s like when you go against these bogus beliefs about food and body.
  8. Give yourself unconditional permission to eat, enjoy, and get your fill of your favorite foods whenever you want them. When we lift the restrictions and relinquish our control over food, we are then able to begin the process of making peace with food.
  9. Give up fighting against your body. Trust it! Use all of that energy and space for something truly special.
  10. Get support-for many, ending dieting means ending a whole way of life and way of being in relationship with food, body, self, and life. Professional support is critical. An Intuitive Eating and Health At Every Size focused nutritionist and therapist can help you work through the complex emotions and challenges that arise from letting go of dieting.

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Katrina Seidman, MS RDN LDN

Click here to learn more about how to work with Katrina!

Avalon Psychotherapy Associates, LLC