Your Happy Healthy "Ideal Beach Body"

Who wants an ideal beach body?! 

My guess is that probably everyone reading this answered "ME, ME!" 

Well, I am going to help you get that ideal beach body. However, we need to FIRST re-evaluate what your ideal beach body may be. You may be surprised that it may be different than what you think.

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When you imagine your ideal beach body, what do you image? 

Take a minute and reflect.

Can I safely say that all of you imagined a body that gives you confidence?

With this practice, you probably imagined one of two things. 

  1. You imagined a certain body type or look. 
  2. You imagined yourself strutting worry-free down the beach, playfully laughing, exuding confidence, comfortable in your body.

Now….let me ask you a question. Have you every thought about separating the two  ideas above- separating that desired body type and that desired confidence? Do you think it may be possible to have that ideal beach body in the body you currently have? Do you think that it may be possible that what we actually need to work on to gain that ideal beach body has nothing to do with changing our bodies at all?

This may be a TOTALLY new concept to you. You may have never even considered this idea before. You may believe that there is only one way to achieve that ideal beach body. I know this idea is new and therefore probably hard to even consider so I put together an exercise to help you to start thinking about this concept.

The Exercise:

  1. Imagine those people throughout your life (past or present) that exuberated confidence while in their bathing suits. This could be a friend, family member, someone on TV, or even someone you just happened to notice on the beach. 
  2. Imagine that person as you saw them on the beach or at the pool. Imagine the attitude, mood, confidence, traits, vibe, how you thought they felt, and how they may have made you feel.
  3. Think about their physical characteristics. What did they look like? Did they have a larger body or smaller body? Were they short or tall? Did they have brown hair or red? Etc.
  4. Reflect:
  • Do these people you imagined all have the same body?
  • Do all of these people have the body you may believe is the only way to have a beach body?

My guess is that they probably don’t. My guess is that the physical body type you picture for yourself is not the body that these real women have. My guess is that many of these confident women you look up to have all types of different body shapes and sizes. My guess is that you probably look up to them because they appear happy, content, and comfortable in their bodies and THAT is what you want. 

Growing up, what I thought I needed and what I really wanted were two different things. It wasn’t until I really challenged these ideas and analyzed what I truly wanted, along side my values, that I started to really achieve that ideal beach body “aka confidence.” Although I tried to manipulate my body into what I thought would give me confidence, I would look up to beautiful women of all shapes and sizes throwing their head back in laughter at the beach, not covering up ashamed of their body, enjoying themselves. This didn't match up. Looking at a type of body that was not mine and that seemed so out of reach if I wasn't practicing totally unhealthy habits only left me defeated. So what did I really want? Confidence. It was never a different body I needed. 

What do you really want? Do your values and true desires match up with what you believe is your ideal beach body? Do you want an "ideal beach body" or "your happy healthy beach body?"

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What if we can skip the body manipulation... 

and go right to the confidence piece? 

 

Addition steps for confidence in your bathing suit this summer:

  1. Pick out the bathing suit that makes you feel comfortable, not one that you think you need to wear. For me, that is a one-piece that hugs me in all the right places.
  2. Continue to imagine that person/people you imagined in the exercise above. 
  3. Surround yourself with those confident people of all sizes whether it is in real life or social media. Give yourself constant reminders.
  4. Remember that you don’t have to love your body right now or even like it. However, as you move toward liking/loving your body, try first respecting it. Try to focus on the parts you love rather than the parts you don’t love so much. It could be your eyes, your hair, your bum, your waist, your toes, anything!
  5. Enjoy your summer. Try to be present with family, friends, and the adventures you have rather than putting all your energy into thoughts about your body.
  6. Be patient and show yourself compassion.

Self-Care/Whole-Self Health Practices

As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Intern, I believe that food is medicine and is a very powerful tool when it comes to living a healthy life. However, nutrition is only one piece of a much larger puzzle. The actions and conditions of the mind, body, and spirit are strongly inter-dependent. When one of these parts suffers, the others suffer as well. I believe negative health symptoms do not arise suddenly or from one source, but rather that our bodies leave a state of balance to a state of imbalance due to a multitude of factors and life-style changes related to food, exercise, toxins, stress, and more. The key to living a healthy life is not as simple as focusing on one factor. By understanding the whole person with unique needs, optimal health and happiness can be achieved.

Holistic Health is an all encompassing approach to health. It is the harmony and balance of all aspects of health coming together, emphasizing the connection of mind, body, and spirit.

True health considers the person as a whole as well as the person as an individual, with individual needs. Holistic health addresses all aspects of life (physical, social, cultural, spiritual, etc.) as an integrated whole, with the goal to achieve maximum well-being, with everything functioning the very best that is possible. It teaches that we all have responsibility over our own level of well-being, through the maintenance of personal health and the collection of everyday choices and lifestyle.

With 10+ years of personal trial and error searching for the answer to health, I finally am the happiest and healthiest I have ever been. My experience combined with my education and research has given me the confidence and expertise to educate and empower others on their own health journey. My life changed after implementing holistic health techniques, ditching diets, and learning that that there is no one size fits all to health. I can not wait to help others to do the same by teaching them how to be their own best nutritionist.

 

 

Holistic Health Practices to Start Today!

Physical Health:

Stop eating for weight loss (start eating for health),  Regular medical Care, Proper Nutrition, Exercise and movement, Find joyful ways to move, Sexual Life, Getting enough sleep, Taking vacations or time off, Massages, Bubble baths, Ask for nurture, Take a walk, Turning off your cell phone, Getting in some “me” time, Listen to your very wise body

Psychological Health:

Self-Reflection, Therapy, Celebrate everyday successes, Journal, Self-Awareness, Aromatherapy, Drawing, Painting, Being creative, Relaxation, Stop criticizing yourself, Read a self-help book, Join support groups, Think about your positive qualities, Positive Self-Talk, Practice asking and receiving help, Practice gratitudeand actively appreciate your life

Emotional Health:

Affirmation, Self-love, Self-compassion, Cry, Laugh, Say “I love you”, Watch a funny movie, Find a hobby, Flirt, Buy yourself a present, Cuddle with your pet, Tell yourself you are gorgeous, Practice forgiveness,Honor your emotions, Surround yourself with positive people

Spiritual Health:

Self-Reflection, Go out into nature, Self-cherish, Meditate, Sing, Dance, Play, Be inspired, Practice Yoga, Pray, Watch Sunsets, Volunteer, Foster self-forgiveness

Personal Health

Make peace with where you are, Learn who you are, Figure out what you want in life, Plan short and long term goals, Be mindful, Make a vision board, Foster friendships, Foster good relationships, Get out of debt, Just Relax, Write, Spent time with those you love, Learn a new skill, Prioritize self-care and fun

Professional Health

Be true to yourself, Take time for lunch, Set boundaries, Do not work overtime, Leave work at work, Do not work during your time off, Get support of colleagues, Take mental health days, Learn to say NO, Plan your next career move, Take a class, Take all of your sick and vacation days

Intuitive Eating Myth #4 Busted

First of all, let me start off by saying a few things here before I go in and bust the myth. Number one: Intuitive eating was created by dietitians. 2. Intuitive eating is adopted and coached by dietitians everywhere. If you are unfamiliar with what a dietitian is, let me tell you one thing about them. They all have a very similar passion…yup, you guessed it, nutrition! So yup, if nutrition isn't a factor, then why is it that these professionals believe in it so much? The bottom line is that intuitive eating was created with nutrition as one of the most important components.

However, the goal with nutrition in intuitive eating is to learn to stop thinking about nutrition in such a restrictive, dogmatic, anxiety-ridden, restrictive, fad-based, be-all end- all way.

Diets take the concept of nutrition and makes it so unnatural and so unenjoyable. Nutrition becomes this responsibility and with all of the other practices that come with dieting, nutrition becomes punishment!

Now, listen, our bodies have biologically needs. It craves nutrients! Intuitive eating just helps you to pay attention to those signals that your body is sending saying “hey, gimme some of those nutrients.” Intuitive eating helps us listen to all that it is saying, rather than ignoring it like we do when we are dieting.

With intuitive eating, it's not about "eat this, not that,” and “good food, bad food.” Instead you are thinking about what makes your body feel good. Intuitive eating allows you to honor your hunger, tastes, and cravings, but it also helps you to honor the fact that a balanced plate makes our bodies feel fueled, full, and satisfied. With intuitive eating, we notice these feelings, whether we notice that filling up on veggies help our digestion which makes us feel great, or that although that pizza looks delicious, eating too much of it always gives us a stomach ache. That doesn't mean we don't eat it, it just means we take that into account.

So, yes, nutrition is a factor, a big one. However, it is a much more fun form of nutrition…a form that has been warped through years of dieting. With intuitive eating, you can have your cake, and eat it too.

Continue to Intuitive Eating Myth #5.

Intuitive Eating Myth #3 Busted

No, no, a million times no. Although the diet industry is trying to jump on the bandwagon and steal it away to turn it into yet another way to make money off of our insecurities through lies, true intuitive eating is not a diet!! A diet is a special course of food to which one restricts oneself to lose weight. Intuitive eating is neither restriction or to be used with the purpose of weight loss. Although weight loss can happen a side effect of intuitive eating, many do not lose weight, and some gain in the process. Intuitive eating brings us to our set point, the weight that our individual bodies feel healthiest at. It is never the focus or the purpose. If you see intuitive eating and weight loss in the same sentence, RUN!

Intuitive eating is a way to learn to eat outside of the diet mentality. It is used to create a new, healthy relationship with food, forever. It is used to help you become your own best nutritionist, to free you from the chains of diet culture and body ideals, and lead you to food freedom.

Intuitive eating is how you learn to disconnect food from all of those diet-based rules to help you to start looking at food in terms of satisfaction.

On a diet, you might look at a bowl of cereal and ask yourself: How many carbs or calories are in it? Should I eat this now or would it be better to eat it later? Will eating this mean I am being good today or bad? If this is bad for me, I might as well eat two bowls and put some ice-cream on top as well. On the other hand, with intuitive eating, it becomes simple. You simply look at the bowl of cereal and ask yourself: Do I want it? That is the simple question we start with. (Then naturally you will learn to consider other factors are well, but we can get into those at another time.) So all in all, with intuitive eating, a bowl of cereal is just that…a bowl of cereal. In dieting, it can be a million and one things from a bad food, an off limits food, an eat only sometimes food, an eat sparingly food, a high-carb food, and so much more…depending on the diet you chose to plague yourself with.

So no, no…it is everything a diet is not.

Continue to Intuitive Eating Myth #4.

 

Intuitive Eating Myth #2 Busted

Mhmm, this is the number one misunderstood idea that I hear about intuitive eating. “If we are eating intuitively, we are going to want all of the “bad” foods all of the time. If we have a choice, we will want to eat brownies and fries all day long!”

Okay, first of all, yes, there may be a phase like this where we allow ourselves all of the foods that we have restricted for so long! However, that is all it is, a phase. When we think about letting go of restriction, we can imagine a child who has forever been forbidden to eat candy, who is set loose for the first time in a candy shop. We can imagine that it is like letting our pet out to play after we have kept them cooped up in the house all day. This phase is a normal reaction for many and may be what our bodies need at that time.

When we first free ourselves from the shackles of dieting we may overeat all of these foods and that is okay! There is no “failing” in intuitive eating. When we are on this cycle of dieting, falling of the bandwagon, and  dieting again, we tend to have these binge cycles. When we "fail our diet" we tend to stock up on all the forbidden foods before we feel we have to start our next diet and start restricting these foods again, saying "I will start tomorrow." When dieting, we don't know when that piece of cake is going to be gone and forbidden again. This idea of a forbidden food only makes it all that more crave-worthy. So yes, we may go through that initial phase of eating more of these types of foods and that is normal. Although it may be scary, it is normal and it is temporary. Soon, we start to realize that these foods aren't going anywhere and that we can have them whenever we crave. Our bodies start to eventually understand, “hey, so you aren't going to deny me this food anymore? I can have this food anytime I want? Okay good, because I can not take another bite of this. Can I get a peace of broccoli in me already?” During this initial phase, our bodies just want to make sure we won’t restrict these foods from them like we have in the past. Remember, our bodies crave to feel nice and healthy.

Why Acceptance Needs to be the First Step to Making a Change.

We have all experienced and seen the powerful affects of change, whether it has been intentional or unintentional change. When it comes to pursuing better health, change can be a very good thing. Sometimes it can even be necessary.

You may have thought about a health behavior in the past. Perhaps you are craving it right at this very moment. Well, if that is the case and you are looking to make a change to become a healthier and happier you, I am here to cheer you on! You go girl! BUT....before you move on, I want to give you a piece of advice...one that is very important to your journey you are about to set out on.

We all contemplate what change could mean for us and how much happiness it can bring. However, how often do we contemplate the importance of the how? Have you ever thought about howto go about that change? The howthat I want to talk about is how we feel at the beginning of our journey as well as how we feel along our journey...which ultimately leads to how we feel at the end of our journey.

Our desire for change is one that should come from a place of self-compassion and self-acceptance. Now let's be honest, change can often times be a long, difficult, bumpy road, full of surprises, seemingly failed attempts, and many moments where we must pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off. So what is it that best allows us to make a change and to approach the finish line with no regrets and with the least amount of scrapes and bruises that will still require healing even after our journey has come to an end?

Self-acceptance. 

Self acceptanceis exactly what we need in our journey to change. Self-acceptance gives us patience, helps us maneuver the inevitable ups and downs, and allows us to persist thought the difficulties we will experience. It is acceptance of where we may be now, acceptance that there will be failure, acceptance of what we can not control, and acceptance of the imperfections that grant us that grace we need to reach the finish line without looking back.

Let's imagine a time when we attempted to make a change.  Think about what we told ourselves at the beginning of our journey. What kind of self-talk did we have when we made three steps forward and two steps back. Did we accept these stages? Did we accept ourselves in all of these stages? The answer for most of us is "probably not." We probably beat ourselves up a bit, had some negative self-talk, and found that this lack of acceptance made it harder to move forward. Now, let's think of how we felt even further into our journey. How many of us still felt unsatisfied at the end of our journey? How many of us still feel not good enough? When we choose to allow ourselves to be happy only when we reach our goal, we are unable to enjoy the process, unable to appreciate what we gain along the way, and fail to do a lot of necessary self-work along the journey. The reason we still feel unsatisfied is because we haven't yet began to do the most necessary step- accept ourselves. We only choose to accept ourselves for the version that we thought was acceptable.

Many of us believe that is we accept ourselves now, we won't make that change we desire.  However, in actuality, not accepting ourselves is the very thing that will create many of our problems we have along our journey.

Whatever change you may want to make, whether you strive to build some muscle, eat more balanced, manage a chronic illness, conquer a yoga pose, reduce stress, or find food freedom, the first step should always be the same....choose to accept.

[Stay tuned for more to come in my guide to self-compassion e-book.]

Self Awareness: The First Step to Improving Our Health

 

What does it mean to be self-aware?

Self-awareness is the process of understanding one’s own beliefs, thoughts, motivations, and actions. It is the practice of consciously recognizing and reflecting on what we think, how we feel, what we believe, and how we behave at any specific moment in time.

Why is self-awareness important so important?

As humans, we are imperfect and it is impossible for use to be satisfied with everything in our lives. We desire to learn, to change, to grow, and to improve in order to elevate our lives in different ways. We strive to adopt new practices that bring us joy and inspiration. Self-awareness can guide and assist us in this process. Self-awareness is the foundation of change.Understanding the effects of our beliefs, thoughts, motivations, interpretations, and actions allow us to get a better understanding of ourselves and our lives. This attention and focus gives us knowledge that empowers us to shape and determine our world.

An example:

Let's say we have a dream job in mind and have a positive outlook about obtaining this dream job. We picture our dream job and everyday, we imagine it manifesting in our lives. What happens? We believe that we can get that dream job, which gives us hope, determination, and confidence. This makes us happy and maybe even causes us to work even harder. Eventually it allows us to actually have that dream job.

In the end, we got the dream job! Do you see how that worked? Lets consider how we did this. We didn't do it because our thoughts somehow magically manifested themselves into our lives. However, because of how our thoughts and beliefs made us feel, this affected all of the little action steps that landed us our dream job.

Okay, now lets look at it from another perspective. Say we are thinking negatively. We have that picture of our dream job and everyday we envision how it is not a possibility for us. What happens? We start to believe that we will never get that dream job, so we lose hope, determination, and confidence. This makes us sad and we stop trying, believing it is not possible. So, we never do get that dream job.

See how that worked? In the end we never got the job. We didn’t get it because our thoughts and feelings made us believe that it wasn’t possible and this caused us to not take action preventing us from getting our dream job. What a bummer.

 

Having self awareness allows us to see where our thoughts and emotions are taking us. It also allows us to take control of them and to then make the changes we want to make. Until we are aware of these emotions, thoughts, behaviors, etc, it is hard to make changes accordingly. How do we change what we don’t know?Well, the answer is…we can’t.

How can we become more self-aware?

With patience, time, and practice, we can learn to become more self aware. Below are 4 self-awareness practicesthat you can start incorporating into your life today!

 

1. Recognize.

Recognize your emotions.

Recognizing our emotions helps us to understand why we are having them and in turn, how to regulate them. When we are feeling a certain emotion, we should be asking ourselves:

  • Where is this feeling coming from?
  • What happened?
  • How did it make me feel emotionally, physically, mentally?
  • How does this feeling make me feel like reacting?
  • What did I do or say or do following this emotion?
  • How will this affect me and others later?

An example:

We are enjoying the day with a loved one. We say something and our partner reacts. We find that they don't react in the way you were hoping and so you become sad. The sadness carries into the rest of your day, causing you to not enjoy your time with that person. How could this have gone differently if we were aware of how our emotions and how our reactions to these emotions affect us…and in turn affect our lives?

Recognize your self-talk.

Self- talk is the dialogue we have with ourselves on a daily basis. The key to this is to simply start listening to what we say to ourself. Self-talk is forever occurring, even when we are not paying attention to what it is saying. There are many kinds of self talk from self-limiting self-talk, jumping to conclusions, habits of speech, and others’ thoughts becoming our own. Paying attention to these help us to understand the dialogues we have with ourselves and the affect it takes.

Paying attention to self-talk allows us to change that negative self-talk, we all have as humans, to positive self-talk. Changing self-talk helps to transform our physical, mental, and emotional health.

(Self-talk is a topic near and dear to my heart and it definably deserves it’s own blog post. Stay tuned for when I will be addressing self-talk further in in my ebook coming soon to the website. Woohoo!)

2. Practice Self-Evaluation/Self Analysis.

We can gain a lot of insight through analyzing ourselves, without judgement. Recognizing and becoming aware of our weaknesses, strengths, habits, practices, relationships, goals, plans, values, and priorities helps guide us in the right direction.

An example:

Every morning we get up, start the coffee, and turn on the morning news. We become upset as we leave for work. Through evaluation of our habits, we find that we start our day by filling our mind with negative thoughts of the sad current events that were shown on the news. This allows us to recognize that we may benefit from a new habit. So the next day, we wake up, grab our coffee, turn on our favorite music, and stretch it out. We leave for work happier and excited for the day.

3. Reflect.

 

Reflection allows us to notice patterns and understand our inner sate.After adopting the first practice of recognizing, we can then start to reflect on what we recognized. Reflection can be practiced in many ways. One way to reflect is through journaling. Writing helps us process our thoughts and can also create more headspace as we put our thoughts onto paper.

Personally, I do not gravitate to journaling. However, that doesn't mean that I don't practice reflection quite often. Other ways in which you can practice reflection are by simply being still and finding a quiet space where you can be alone with your thoughts, thorough meditation, through yoga, and so much more. My favorite way to reflect is by taking a nice long walk. When I come back from my walk, I feel clear headed and much more aware. As of lately, I also have been finding that I like to practice self-awareness in a creative way, in a way that is fun for me, like blogging, creating a fun video, or expressing myself through an Instagram post. Find a reflection practice that works best for you and encourages you to keep practicing.

Create that space for yourself. Leave yourself some time every day to connect with yourself, wether it is journaling with your morning coffee or during a planned yoga session.

4. Practice Mindfulness

 

The practice of paying attention to the present moment that is being experienced, on purpose and without judgement is called mindfulness.It is the practice of being where we are to observe what’s going on inside and around us. Mindfulness can be done anytime, anywhere, and in a variety of ways. It may come in the form of noticing our footsteps we take, to savoring each bite of our meal, to an intentional guided meditation session.

Now we understand the definition of self-awareness as well as the practices that can be used to improve our own self-awareness. However, earlier I said that self-awareness can help us to actually change different aspects of our life, but why should you take my word for it? How do we know this to be true?

The Evidence:

Neuroplasticity is the process in which your brain's neural synapses and pathways are altered as an effect of environmental, behavioral, and neural changes. New research in the latter half of 20th century, showed that many aspects of the brain can be altered into adulthood. Your brain makeup changes as you experience new thoughts and new behaviors. The brain actually reorganizes synaptic connections, changing your brain! I don’t want to get into all of the specifics here, but I think you get the idea…self-awareness is powerful!

I leave you with this.

“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

-unknown