What to do when you feel crappy about your body.

What to do when you feel crappy about your body.

Spring time is rampant with all sorts of "detoxes" and "cleanses" encouraging you to stress out about how your body looks. And, even though I like to think I'm immune to this nonsense, I'm not. Today, I found myself thinking WAAAAAY too much about my belly. 

I'm a child of the 90s and during key developmental parts of my life, "midriff tops" were a super big deal. Can you say Hit me baby one more time? I've always been REALLY insecure about my belly. 

I wanted to share what really works for me to get out of the body shaming funk so you, too, can stop the cycle:

Forget love at first sight

I've been dating someone for almost 7 years. We are deeply in love. 

We met at a party when, let's just say, I did not exactly have my A game running for "traditional sex appeal."

 I was recovering from some of the worst acne in my life.  It was a toga party (please don't judge me).  I lamely only had a top part toga (AKA american apparel scarf that also turned into a shirt). I wore pants and a tank top underneath. For a party that was all about showing off skin, I was kind of covering it all up. 

If you know me, this nerdular style is pretty classic. I dress pretty functionally at parties because dancing is a priority. Looking cool is not. 

And that night, I met the love of my life. It wasn't exactly love at first sight. He didn't see my face and fall suddenly in love. It took getting to know me.  For me, I think it was love at first joke. 

Here's the nitty gritty: 

I'm going to call bullshit on this whole, "I just want to lose weight to be healthy" crap especially if you're single. 

I've said it once before and I'll say it again: If you eat fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly, get good sleep, don't smoke, and limit alcohol intake to 1-2 drinks/day, weight is not a factor for increased risk of death.

I will believe you when you say that being less "traditionally attractive" means that you might not get laid that often. However, certain evidence suggests otherwise. Ergo, less sex=less healthy but that's all relative.  I haven't heard of a study that shows how more sex with strangers who judge you based on appearance is good for you. 

And, I'll give it to you. The media SUCKS.  We're not exposed to enough images of diverse bodies.

But REALLY. We need to stop forcing ourselves to be a part of this weird cult of skinny-only worship.  Most importantly, we need to stop caring about the opinions of the people who continue to buy into it. 

Here's how: 

1. Having sex with someone you care about and who cares about you tends to be better than someone who just sees your body as an object.

Source I'm going to cite here is Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the film Don Jon. I think it's on Netflix right now.  

Also, as I've pointed out before.  Self-objectification is not great for your self-esteem, happiness, or sex drive. 

2. If you're looking to fall in love, physical attraction should not really be the ONLY factor. 

Here's a fact: You are going to get old. Whoever you fall in love with is also going to get old unless they're a robot. They may be attractive now but, if you want to hang out with them for the rest of your life, you're going to need them to be more than just a pretty face.

Notably, many heterosexual women are attracted to men who are not "conventionally attractive." We know this because dad bod is a thing.  If physical appearance were the only important thing in a healthy sexual relationship, I just don't believe humans would still be on the planet. We evolved because of our brains not because of our plumage so maybe let's stop the sexist "evolutionary psychology" arguments for why being good looking is so important. 

3. Sex involves more than 1 of the 5 senses. 

We see. We hear. We taste. We smell. We touch. Maybe this is an overshare but it's those sensations and how people take care of you in that space that make for the most pleasurable experience.  Don Jon also taught me (spoiler alert) that you don't have to be a "dime" to be good in bed.

 4. As a human being, you deserve to experience whatever you want. 

We talked about this in my post about bikini bodies. We really shouldn't stop fully participating in our lives because we're worried about what people think. My home girl, Isabel Foxen Duke, has talked about this: You can have sex with the lights off and your t-shirt on. OR, you know, you can just do what you want.  

I want to invite you to be part of the bold and brave women of the world who are no longer the objects but the subjects of their sexual and romantic lives. 

Let's start a coup d'etat on the tyranny of love at first sight. 


Nicki Minaj is kind of my hero

I know this summer is going to be different. In fact, the whole world is going to be different. 

And, I think it's all due to Nicki Minaj. 

Fortunately, every single dance I've attended from birth has featured the musical stylings of Sir Mix-A-Lot. Nicki Minaj not only sampled these fine melodious beats but also took the booty back for women.

Thanks to her and Meghan Trainor during the summer of 2014, women everywhere are celebrating booties.  So instead of encouraging my clients to get their bikini body ready, I'm encouraging them to shake their bodies to a little Nicki. 

Here's why I kind of think she's the coolest:

1. She's sex positive.

Nicki Minaj steps into her sexuality in an empowered way. She takes the driver's seat of her own sexuality. Her rap echoes many other male emcees by bragging about sexual exploits.

I've mentioned before how enjoying pleasure in life is an important step in becoming an intuitive eater. Being proud and positive about your sexuality is an awesome way to just take care of your own needs. 

But more than that, she's choosing to be the subject instead of the object. And that's some cool beans. 

2. She thinks her fat ass is sexy and she thinks other women should like theirs too. 

Anaconda is explicitly a song for women who identify with having a "big butt." Minaj has taken some heat for calling out skinny bitches but I'll let Melissa Fabello explain why "skinny-shaming" is not exactly the same as fat-shaming here. 

When popular culture shows and praises more diverse bodies, we all get a little more comfortable with diverse bodies, which makes a lot of people's lives easier. After all, a fat ass shouldn't stop you from getting down in the club. 

3. She's a female rapper totally redefining the scene. 

Nicki Minaj does not self-identify as a feminist. In an interview with Vogue, she mentioned she can't quite make anybody happy. 

It's cool that Nicki Minaj is just proud to be herself and to be creating something totally new and different. 

And that's something I'm willing to dance about. 

Are you satisfied?

 I'm really happy that next week is Valentine's Day and that 50 Shades of Grey is coming out because........ 

The 6th principle of Intuitive Eating is "Discover Your Satisfaction Factor."

One of the most radical concepts of eating intuitively is learning to embrace how your body feels about food. This includes pleasure. 

No offense to puritans, but American puritanical beliefs around sexuality also extend to our overall experience of pleasure, including food. Many of my clients express a fear of overeating should they indulge in the food that they actually enjoy. They fear that they'll eat like some kind of voracious, wild animal that can't seem to stop when it's appropriate (ironically, many wild animals show wonderful control around their appetites). 

In Caroline Knapp's book, Appetite, she opens the book discussing the depiction of women in a Renoir paintingShe writes,

"This is an image of bounty, a view of female physicality in which a woman's hungers are both celebrated and undifferentiated, as though all her appetites are of a piece, the physical and the emotional entwined and given equal weight. Food is love on this landscape, and love is sex, and sex is connection, and connection is food; appetites exist in a full circle, or in a sonata where eating and touching and making love and feeling close are all distinct chords that nonetheless meld with and complement one another." 

I could write a 10 page paper on this quote, but the essence of what Knapp is getting at is this: 

For Caroline Knapp, this an ideal.  Male or female (Knapp finds the female body especially relevant), our physical beings should be sanctified. One's connection to one's body interplays with one's relationship to food, to sex and other people. She emphasizes that by honoring our bodies,  we find more love and connection. That connection exposes a harmony in our lives. This idea is not that different from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition's philosophy on primary food (I will definitely have another blog post about this topic). My coaching practice aspires to bring people who have fought with their bodies and their desires for a long time to become connected again, to take care of their bodies again, and to listen to their bodies. 

Sexual appetite provides a mirror into understanding how we interact with our bodies with regard to food.

For some, sex is only a means to the end of making children but even the most devoutly religious often find pleasure in the process. Likewise, for chronic dieters, food is a means to an end: sustenance or weight loss. For most people, even chronic dieters, sex is mostly a means to the end of pleasure. When we give in to our desire for pleasure and reallllly enjoy it, we feel satisfied (unless we're not. That happens.) Sometimes that satisfaction is enough to keep us for a while - days, weeks, months. 

Married lovers tell us a tale about pleasure and satisfaction. When you first start to have sex with someone whom you find desirable, you might enjoy them in "excess."  Over time, the desire becomes less overwhelming and we either form a romantic connection with that person or we move on.

We can see this pattern, too, in food that we eat. The first time you eat cheesecake, it might be divine but have it every night for a week, and you'll likely get sick of it. If not, you might still love it so much that you don't want to get sick of it so you save it for special occasions or to make a Wednesday night a little more exciting.  Maybe you marry cheesecake but you want to make sure cheesecake has a life outside of you and you have a life outside of cheesecake so you also pick up racquetball. 

It's something I've mentioned before; habituation is programmed into your body. It's the reason that drug users need to up their dose to get the same high. 

If you're listening to your body and taking care of your body, I promise you will not die of an oreo overdose. 

Pleasure is not an enemy to be avoided. It is something to be fully experienced. It is something we need to pay attention to, especially when it comes to food. 

So, for now, I just want all of you to make plans to really enjoy Valentine's Day.

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