Thursday, September 26, 2019

Does Loving Yourself Mean Not Caring about Your Health

I've written a lot of posts about body positivity lately. And I got to thinking: What if you thought I didn't care about health? So, I thought I'd do a little post about how to focus on health and still love yourself as you are. The two aren't mutually exclusive; in fact, they go quite well together. Because our mental / emotional health affects our body too.

Health and morality do not meet. You are not a bad person if you are struggling with something in your body, or how to balance things in your physical life. But, hey, don't we all want to have that energy to pursue the things we love? If we can do a few things to make ourselves feel healthier, why not?

Anyway, these are my little health tips. I'm not a pro at this, but these are little, happy, casual, balanced ways I look after my health:

1. Take time to prepare a healthy meal every mealtime. Yes, it's an effort, and with a busy life, it can sometimes be hard, but you'll find that if you fill yourself up with healthy foods, you're less likely to fill up on fast foods or unhealthy snacks. You can still have the snacks, because oftentimes, it's the prohibition that makes us binge more, but you'll crave them less (or less of them) when you are already full and nourished. I still snack, but the snacks don't make the bulk of my nutrition. And healthy foods don't have to be boring foods. Spend that little extra on those gorgeous berries for your breakfast cereal. Colour your plate. You're worth it. (I struggle with quite a few food intolerances and allergies. At times it annoys me as I can't eat sweets and chocolates or many processed foods anymore. My doctor said it's a good thing, and I've been thinking, really, maybe it is. 😊)

2. Keep moving. This one is so hard if you're spending your whole day at the office behind a screen. That's why I like to go for a walk on the beach most weekends. If you don't get to move as often as you want or at all in a week, don't give up. Try your next free moment. The most important thing is to find a form of exercise you enjoy. It's when we do things we hate or just endure, just in the name of health, or to look good, we can't sustain them long-term. Find something you love doing where it doesn't even feel like you're exercising, like dancing, or walking in a favourite nature spot. Have a break or two in the middle of your work day - do some stretches or walk around a bit. I like to go to the garden, look or tend to my plants, and sit in the sun. (See point 5)

3. Don't let pursuing your health become your main focus in life unless that's what you do for a living or you're on a mission to nyx chronic illness. As soon as it takes up too much of your time, you are getting out of balance and your mental, emotional, and relationship health will suffer. If you need to focus on it for a while to get things back on track, great, but don't let it become an obsession. This is something you have to be careful with food. I know I've had a tendency to get orthorexia (becoming obsessed with healthy foods) in the past. It never helped me and it made me more sick. Food should be a pleasure and a joy. We affect our nutrition oftentimes more with the thoughts we have about the food we are eating than the actual food. Studies have shown that if we feel guilty about eating something, we don't get the full nutritional benefit of the food. All food has some nutrition in it. Let's be grateful for every morsel we get.

4. Sleep. Yes, I know, it's so hard to get enough of this bugger. I'm a night owl; I relate. But even if you take a nap as soon as you get home from work, or in a quiet spot in your lunch hour, why not? Best thing is to try to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night. If you can't, try to catch up a bit on the weekend. I know they say that doesn't work, but I think it certainly helps. Try not to overcommit yourself on weekends and week nights. Another thing I did was download this app on my computer called Flux and on my phone called Twilight - they take the blue light off my screens. The blue light keeps us awake at night. If you get out into real sunshine during the day, you'll also sleep better at night. I think one of the surest ways to mess up your sleep cycle is to not get enough calories in your diet and to overexercise. If you find yourself getting up in the middle of the night to pee, you most likely are not eating enough or resting your body enough from movement (unless you're pregnant, of course). It's a sign that your metabolism is slow. A good way to check whether your metabolism is fast enough is to take your temperature first thing in the morning. I think it should be above 98.6F (37C).

5. Get outside in the sun and fresh air. We miss out on so much in our modern lifestyles. We need sunshine. We spend too much time indoors. Find something you enjoy doing outdoors and make a plan to do it at least once a week, if you can. If you're like me and can't drink dairy milk, watch your Vitamin D levels. I have to take supplements.

6. Try to avoid eating lots of processed meats. As nice as they are, they should be a treat every now and then, not the main meat that you eat. Eating less meat helps our planet and our bodies, and even more so cutting out those ones that have been processed. There are so many interesting meals you can make with just veggies or with healthier, lean meats. (But don't feel guilty if you have that ham pizza; the guilt is worse for you than that bit of ham.)

7. Watch the fats that you eat. Good fats are things like olive oil, coconut oil, butter, avocado. Try to avoid processed vegetable oils, especially fried at a high temp.

Anyway, I'm guessing you know all this already, but I hope I gave you the feeling that working toward or maintaining our health can be a self-loving thing that is not weighed down with self-loathing and shame. That is my intention. It should be fun.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Self-Love When It's Hard

So, I write a lot about loving yourself, even when it's hard, in my second book, that should be coming out in a few months. It's not always easy to love yourself, but the key is to love yourself even when you aren't being very loving toward yourself. Sounds like a contradiction, but it isn't. Let me give you an example of my own story.

I'm in the middle of perimenopause - that trying time when the body is transitioning into menopause. It's not an easy thing to go through. The symptoms it's causing make me feel really low about myself at that time of the month. I literally feel ugly and hate my looks. It doesn't help when I have a tendency already to compare my weight to others. It's something I've learned from our culture. It's sad really.

I saw a nude painting of Helen of Troy in a movie I watched a couple of weeks ago. She was supposed to be the most beautiful woman in the world at that time, and she looked a lot like me nude - full hips, rolls in the tummy area, tree-trunk thighs - you get the picture. It's really, really sad that nowadays you're pretty much unpopular and regarded as unworthy, lazy, and unhealthy if you're not slim. I could go into the health behind it, but I'm not going to now. That's a whole other post.

Hans Baldung 1545 (Not Helen of Troy)

Anyway, because being slim is regarded as beautiful and worthy, especially for women, when you're the fattest woman in the room, you feel kind of horrible, no matter how much you love yourself when you're at home, doing your thing. It's harder to love yourself when the culture screams at you at the top of its lungs continually.

So, I went to my dance group social on Monday. I shouldn't have gone because on the first day of my period, I really don't feel well physically. But I had FOMO (fear of missing out). Anyway, it was such an odd day with a lot going on and not feeling well, and I don't have a full-length mirror, so the outfit I chose wasn't a good pick. I only figured that out after the fact. I went there and danced to some of my favourite songs. It's something I love doing. But I began to feel sick and had to leave early. I pushed myself a bit hard, despite feeling sick, just to prove to people in the room that the fat girl could also dance. Not a good reason to push yourself. The next day, the first thing I saw in the morning was a video of us dancing. I looked like a blob / rock amongst elegant trees. Everyone else looked graceful and lovely and I was this round ball on the screen with spindly legs and arms sticking out. I was horrified. I was so embarrassed. I wished I had worn something slim-fitting, to make me look less huge. I began to go through scenarios in my mind - judging myself and hating on myself. It was NOT AT ALL EASY to love myself. And the hormones were pulling me down into the pit.

Image by
Just as animals come in all shapes and sizes, so do we.
Should we shoot the hippo and the seal because they are fat? Just saying.

What did I do? Not much except go watch some videos from my favourite fat-positive nutritionists and tell myself that this will pass. That I will soon feel better about myself, that next time I will wear something more flattering. But then I judged myself for not loving myself enough to have to wear something that was culturally more acceptable. This morning I thought - no, I can still work hard to wear something that makes me look thinner - there's nothing un-self-loving about that. We live in a culture that rejects us for being fat. What's wrong with working as hard as I can to make it easier on myself? (I'm not talking about dieting here. Yes, you are welcome to diet, but I'm no longer dieting as that is what made me go up three dress sizes after feeling sick as anything.)

Once my hormones were no longer persecuting me the next day, I felt better about myself. I felt tender toward myself. I concentrated on self-love in my morning meditation. I felt at peace again.

Now, having written a self-love book makes me feel all the more that I should be an example of self-love and not have these wobbles. But they happen. Often. And the key here is to love myself through it - to be gentle with myself as I grow in self-love. Will I ever feel okay about living in a bigger body? I don't know. I doubt I will. I have read so much material by fat-positive activists and coaches - they all struggle. Yes, they've made strides, but they still have bad days. It's so hard when society works against you - when you get looks, when you get rejected. Yes, I believe things are starting to change. As the health-at-every-size science research makes inroads into mainline medicine, things will start to change. But there is a tide that we are working against. And maybe in this lifetime, we won't get there, but things will get better - I believe it.

Another way that I slipped in my self-love this last week was overworking and not taking time out. So many things were happening around me, and they took over. It's so hard to put yourself first and nurture yourself when life throws you one challenge after another. You feel exhausted, depleted, and you've lost touch with that inner connection of love and peace. But it's never too late to find it again. As we grow in self-love, we learn how to make that connection again and again. We learn how to spring back sooner. We become more and more aware when we fall away. We begin to develop this self-love barometer inside our souls that speaks to us when we're going the non-loving route. Yes, it doesn't happen straight away. And I doubt we'll ever have it down to mastery. That's why we need to be gentle with ourselves. Accept that sometimes we neglect ourselves in the pursuit of money, helping others, putting out fires. It's part of life. The key is to say to yourself, "This too shall pass. Well done, you are doing so well despite it all. You're getting there."

I had the most glorious weekend where I let myself drink in the things that feed my soul - reading a good book, resting, walking at the beach, watching a favourite show. When you do get that chance to unwind and put yourself first, you'll come back to that sanctuary that you've made for yourself. It will now be a familiar spot; you will crave it and know how much it helps you. You'll be renewed and things will fall into place again. You'll be more mindful of when you do get out of balance.

You are a self-loving being. You can do it. Even if you fail, pick yourself up, and get onto the love-train again.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

I've Been Getting Crafty

Okay, it was quite a while ago, but I got crafty. I enjoy water painting. It's a relaxing pastime for me. I'm not particularly talented. Or let's say I'm not aiming to sell my paintings as they're practice and experimentation. It's more like a meditation for me. I paint to relax my mind. And my arty daughter usually loves to join me any time I bring out the paints.

Being a lover of tarot and oracle cards, I decided to make a little oracle deck to go with my self-love book. So I cut out oracle-card shaped pieces of watercolour paper and painted patterns or backgrounds on them. Then I used a calligraphy pen to write the messages. The messages come from my book - I've used the affirmations at the end of each day.

I did a video showing off my cards for the first book. I have put it on Facebook as it's too large for Blogger. Here is the link to my author Facebook:

And here are some pics of a few of the cards.

You can find my book on preorder here: