Shorts, My Old Nemesis: We Meet Again (with My Read-Aloud!)

There’s a video at the end of me reading this post out loud! I thought it would be a fun new challenge for me. (It was!)


I love summer.

I hate shorts.

There is not a single style of shorts that I feel comfortable in. (Which is maybe not surprising, considering there is all of ONE style of pants I feel comfortable in, plus one style of workout legging.)

But shorts.

Shorts are ACTIVELY unpleasant.

And then you have tank tops. And t-shirts. And bathing suits.

And I’m all for body positivity, body neutrality, body acceptance, and generally tearing down the whole diet culture institution.

But my own body image issues are not as progressive or empowered when it comes to MY body.

Long story short, I’m really happy that the weather is turning warmer, but I’m also dealing with a major flare-up of body anxiety.

That inner voice, somewhat subdued during the winter, is trying to tempt me back to the restrictive and obsessive tactics of summers past.

And I’m not going to succumb.

Because I know acceptance and confidence will not be found down that well-worn path.

But the alternative path is unfamiliar, and I’m not really sure how to make progress in that direction.

And that is why I am directing all my anxiety and frustration at shorts.

All shorts.

(I was tempted to end with, “DOWN WITH SHORTS!” but then I realized that pulling down shorts would leave me in my undies, and I’m not much more fond of how I look in those. So the shorts remain up and on, but only because of what they conceal.)

P.S. Capris, you’re just almost as bad.

I did a reading of the post!

I did a reading of the post!

You (Yes, You) Are Beautiful

Have you heard of the Best Friend Technique for challenging and re-framing toxic thoughts? It’s a way of shutting down your inner bully by asking you to imagine what you would say if you were talking to your best friend instead of yourself.

Many of us are so much more loving and compassionate to our friends—even to strangers—than we are to ourselves.

I try to remember the best friend technique when I’m thinking about my body in an anxious or negative way.

What would I say to you, the person taking time out of your day to read this post? If I heard you tearing yourself down because of how you look, what would I want you to hear?

I would tell you that you are beautiful, and that the word beautiful is a lot bigger than the narrow definition we often give it. That your imperfect body is okay. Good enough.

I would tell you that, no, it’s not necessarily “bad” to want to lose a few pounds or many, or to make dietary changes or other healthy lifestyle tweaks. But your measurements do not determine your worth as a person.

And whatever “weird” thing your body does that you think makes you unattractive somehow? I’m SURE your body isn’t the only one that does that thing.

We’re all a lot less weird and alone than we think. The parts you dislike are not actually all that dislikeable from the outside. Stretch marks and cellulite. Acne and scars. Frizzy hair. Flat hair. Big nose. Small nose. Short toes. “Thin.” “Curvy.” Short. Tall. Old. Young.

These words… they are just words. They are not synonyms for who you are.

Other people do not see you the way you see yourself.

You are so much more than the individual parts you dislike. And if the sum of those parts translates in your mind to a number on the scale, then you are worth MORE than that number, not less.

If we’re waiting for the “perfect” body to accept ourselves… we’ll be waiting forever.

What would you say to your best friend, if they were cutting themselves down about their appearance? Can you say those things to yourself?

Don’t worry. I’m still working on getting there, too.

10 Body Acceptance and Anti-Diet New Year's Resolutions for 2020

10 Body Acceptance and Anti-Diet New Year’s Resolutions for 2020

2019 was the year I became aware of terms like body positivity, body neutrality, body acceptance, and intuitive eating. I became an avid follower of accounts on Instagram and YouTube that push back against diet culture and crazy beauty standards.

And it’s time for me to move from follower to doer. I don’t know if the resolutions below will help me finally love my body and make peace with food, but what I *do* know is that the weight-loss/”toning up” resolutions I’ve made in the past have NOT made me happier in my own skin.

Over the past year, I’ve slowly given up on believing the “high” I used to get from the restriction phase. And I finally understood that whenever I restricted, the pendulum would always, eventually swing back the other way, to the free-for-all/bingeing part of the cycle.

Now that I’ve finally broken free from the restrict-binge cycle (YAY!), I’m ready to take on some new goals. So here are my 10 body acceptance and anti-diet New Year’s resolutions for 2020. I hope you find some inspiration for your own body acceptance journey!

In 2020…

  1. I will not track or restrict calories.
  2. I will not eliminate food groups.
  3. I will not fast or follow rigid feed/fast schedules.
  4. I will not track or hack macros. (I can think about roughly how much protein I’d like to get in a day, because powerlifting, but I will not obsess over it, because in the long run that always backfires.)
  5. I will not have “cheat days” or “cheat meals” because I don’t want to feel like it’s “now or never” with certain foods.
  6. I will not weigh myself. (One area this might become challenging in is if I decide to try a powerlifting meet. There are weight classes in meets. I don’t know how I would navigate that one yet.)
  7. I will not measure myself. I don’t do this often, and when I do it’s usually in my low moments. And does measuring improve those low moments? NO. Never. So why?
  8. I will not take “before” shots or “progress” photos, or think of my body as a “before” body or “work in progress” body. I will just think of my body as “alive.” And “human.” (Radical, I know.)
  9. I will stop waiting to feel like my body is good enough. Whose permission am I waiting for, anyway?
  10. I will stop believing the bad things I think about my body.

Above all, I will not be cruel to myself if I struggle or stumble with these resolutions. Perfection is not the goal. Aiming for 100% adherence and then berating myself when I have a hard day or week goes completely against the point of these resolutions, which is to feel BETTER about myself, not worse.

If I can get to body neutral, I will count that as a big success. If I can get to body acceptance, even better. Every step forward is one step closer to body love.

Do you have any anti-diet or body acceptance New Year’s resolutions for 2020

I’d love to hear them!

Subscribe to follow along! 🙂

Powerlifting Helps Me Focus on Lifting Weight, NOT Losing Weight

Around February 2019, I realized I was completely and utterly BURNT OUT on trying to motivate myself to keep going to the gym with the goal of getting smaller.

Burning calories.

Making less of me.

My weight-loss breaking point

I had finally reached my breaking point, and I was ready to quit the gym (and exercise in general) because I felt like continuing what I was doing was just making me feel worse about myself.

I was so done with calorie counting, and FitBit tracking, and weekly weigh-ins. The harder I worked to “control” my calories in and calories out, to hack my macros, to measure my inches and photograph my “before” shots… the more I became a prisoner to disordered eating habits and distorted thinking. And I had nothing left.

So I told my trainer, “I’m tired of trying to lose weight. Can we just lift REALLY heavy stuff instead?” And that’s when I discovered powerlifting. Bench pressing, deadlifting, and squatting.

All of a sudden, I was working out to get STRONG, not get SMALL.

Powerlifting to the rescue!

Powerlifting is about strength, not looks. I can focus on trying to LIFT more weight instead of LOSE more weight.

Powerlifting has been the most liberating type of exercise I’ve ever done. I don’t do it as often as I’d like these days, but that has less to do with gym reluctance and more to do with being a human who is prone to December busy-ness, kids with winter colds, and the primal urge to hibernate. (Okay, so a little gym reluctance.)

How I deal with gym anxiety

One of the biggest reasons I’ve been able to powerlift consistently for the past 9-10 months is that I am lucky enough to have an amazing trainer (the one I mentioned above) who understands anxiety and depression, and whose coaching style is goofy and playful instead of “SUCK IT UP PRINCESS” (which would make me cry and quit).

On weeks where my gym anxiety is flaring up really bad, my training session is often the only time I make it into the gym that week. And my trainer gets what’s going on, and finds ways to give me a kick in the butt without making me feel like a lazy piece of garbage for struggling.

I have two other great sources of support:

  • My husband, Jesse, who joins me for my non-trainer lifting sessions whenever he can. Having my “safe person” with me makes the gym anxiety practically vanish.
  • Our gym’s fitness manager (@jesszakk) who strikes a good balance between tough love encouragement and being her clients’ biggest cheerleader.

I don’t always need help getting into the gym. I can be feeling confident on my own for weeks. But for those times when the anxiety is really holding me back, these three people help me get back on track.

So that would be my advice to anyone struggling with gym anxiety — as much as you can, find friends, partners, or gym people who can make working out a little less lonely and intimidating.

More affordable alternatives

I know it’s not in everyone’s means to have a trainer. We find a way to make it work because of how much it helps my mental, emotional, and physical health. But I know not everyone can do that.

I’ve seen a very cool powerlifting program online called Stronger By The Day that’s only US$8/month. If we ever stop being able to afford personal training, then that program is where I would look first. It helps that the program creator is Megsquats, on whom I might have a sliiiight girl crush.

I haven’t tried the program other than the free sample, so I’m mostly just sharing where I would look first based on how much I enjoy Meg’s YouTube channel and Instagram accounts.

Where my body image is at now

I’m not completely “cured” of my body image issues. I still have moments where I dwell on my “c-section shelf” and how it seems to always be visible (to me) no matter how I dress.

But changing my focus to building muscle has helped me stop weighing myself obsessively and tracking my calories to the point of neurotic, perfectionistic burnout.

I want my baby girl to have a strong, healthy-minded role model mama.

That said, I do find it really hard to find balance in one area, and that’s this: How do I make sure I’m getting as much protein as I “need” to build muscle, but do it without triggering obsessive calorie counting and restriction?

I haven’t figured that out yet, but a bad-ass weightlifting friend of mine (see her amazing lifting pin-up girl tattoos below) did share her approach, which we summarized as basically “intuitive eating plus a daily protein shake.” And I think that does make a lot of sense for people who have a history of disordered eating, or being on the restrict-binge pendulum (both of which are true for me).

Okay but seriously, aren’t Sydney’s tattoos GORGEOUS?

Conclusion: Barbells for everyone!

Long story short, I’m a super big fan of powerlifting. Clearly. It feels SO GOOD to feel strong. And it powers me up for everything else I do in life, like carry my cupcake-covered 3-year-old to the sink before she turns my friend’s house green.

Have you ever tried powerlifting?

Has another sport helped your body image or self-esteem?

Let me know in the comments!

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6 Things I’d Tell My Shy Younger Self (About Mental Health and Self-Acceptance)

How many times have you wished you could go back and give your younger self a hug, or maybe a good shake, to spare them (you) from all the tough stuff that’s still to come?

On the one hand, I know that there is huge value in learning the lessons and doing the work. I don’t know if I would *actually* go back and tell myself the things below. But on the other hand, it’s cathartic and therapeutic to imagine what you would say, you know?

So here are 6 things I would tell a younger me about shyness, mental health, and accepting myself (including my body):

#1 You don’t have to please everyone all the time

I’m not saying you can’t please people ever. I’m just saying you don’t have to do it at the expense of your own needs. (I say, as someone who still does it. But this is a time travel letter so I can change the past which then changes the future, right, so do as I say and not as I have done thus far in my/our life.)

If you spend your life as a chronic people pleaser, it will lead to:

  • thinking of yourself as a social chameleon
  • censoring and filtering yourself to match the energy and personalities of the people around you because you’re afraid of how people will react if they know the “real” you
  • feeling like your preferences (and often just your existence ) are an imposition on others

The more time you spend grooming yourself to be as inoffensive as possible to the world, the more you will be tormented by the question, “Who am I, then?”

Don’t live your life apologetically.

#2 It’s okay to make mistakes

Perfection is a toxic mind mirage, and pursuing it will shatter your self-confidence and productivity. You will become desperate to just reach perfection so that you can finally relax.

Perfectionism in the clinical sense is not healthy. It goes beyond just being driven, or “Type A,” or having high personal standards. It is disordered thinking.

Here is the ridiculous list of things you will strive to make perfect:

You’ll want to be:

  • the PERFECT mother
  • the PERFECT wife
  • the PERFECT entrepreneur

You’ll be obsessed with nailing down:

  • the PERFECT daily routines
  • the PERFECT home organization system
  • the PERFECT wardrobes for you and your children
  • the PERFECT meal plans
  • the PERFECT workout routines
  • the PERFECT defensive driving techniques (not even kidding)
  • the PERFECT path that PERFECTLY balances your PERFECT career choice and PERFECTLY PURSUED passions

What, was that annoying to read? Was there clearly an excessive emphasis on the word PERFECT?

YES, YOUNGER SELF. TRY LIVING WITH THAT TRACK ON REPEAT IN YOUR BRAIN FOR 20 YEARS.

Actually no, DON’T TRY THAT. I forgot the goal of this letter for a sec.

Listen. You will NEVER, EVER get “there.” Because “there” will keep moving even if you get closer to it.

Good enough is good enough and you’re good enough so stop it. (But also seek help because you don’t need to get over this alone.)

#3 Your body is okay

I’m not going to say “your body is perfect and flawless and you make sunsets cry” or any other platitudes that do no one any good.

No one has the perfect body. (If they did, they probably wouldn’t think it was perfect anyway and also everyone poops so next time you’re putting other people up on a pedestal just remember it’s not the only kind of pedestal they sit on.)

Someday, you’ll look back at photos of yourself over the years and realize how totally okay you’ve been all along.

But at the time, you were worried about things like:

  • Cellulite
  • Stretch marks
  • The scar from where the doctors saved you and your son’s lives with an emergency c-section (your tummy now hangs over the scar, creating what you consider a “shelf of shame“)
  • The fact that you think your face looks “weird” and “like a naked mole-rat” without glasses on. (You really need to work on your self-talk.)
  • The angle of your teeth (“underachieving on the bottom and overachieving on top”)
  • The slope of your nose (“it gets way too proud of itself halfway down and then wallows in its own shame at the bottom”)
  • Your cuticles (“who gave them permission to just keep GROWING all the time?”)
  • Your hair (“too ginger / not ginger enough / not the right kind of ginger / too curly / bad curly / too mom / too cocker spaniel / too unkempt / mutates when I sleep on it”)

And so on. You fixate on various things and then move on until you come back to them and realize they’re still there.

And in case you’re wondering, you will seek help for this and be screened for body dysmorphia. You will be told you don’t meet the diagnostic criteria, which will floor you, because if this level of body-criticism isn’t clinically significant, does that mean there are countless other women walking around thinking the same things about their perfectly imperfect bodies?

Look. It’s okay to care about your appearance and about looking/feeling pretty and dolling yourself up and exercising and all that stuff.

But don’t believe for a second that how you look is the most interesting thing about you.

#4 You are worthy of self-care

Many of us have a brain bully who whispers things like:

  • “The real you does not take care of herself.”
  • “You’re just faking it right now, going through a phase where you’re trying on self-care for size, but it won’t last because you never stick with anything.”
  • “You don’t really deserve this.”

The advice is simple here and comes from a future friend: “Fuck you, brain bully.”

It’s okay to take care of yourself. Act like you love yourself and slowly it’ll start to rub off on you. (It’s not that easy but it’s a start.)

#5 You deserve to heal

Eventually, when you burn out and hit your emotional rock bottom, you will see a psychiatrist and she will give you the permission you didn’t know you needed to start taking care of your mental health.

You’ll find out that over the past 20 years, you’ve developed severe social anxiety as well as perfectionism, generalized anxiety, and, eventually, depression.

And you will be RELIEVED to hear this… because you always thought you just “sucked at being a human.”

You will finally understand that this is more than just “sadness” or “shyness” or “being kind of hard on yourself.”

If you had been trying to walk around with a broken leg, you would have noticed it, addressed it, and let it heal.

Take your mental health as seriously as your physical health. Treat your mental and emotional wounds like a broken bone. Because broken bones can heal.

#6 You. Are. Good. Enough.

You have been seeing yourself through a cloudy, cracked, warped filter.

It’s the FILTER that needs to change. Not who YOU are inside.

Take a step back sometimes. Get out of your own head and take an honest look at other people’s imperfections.

Think about the people you care about and love. Do you see their imperfections and love them anyway? Of course you do, because you see the whole person. Start doing that with yourself. Start seeing your whole good messy self. (Yes, even when you have cocker-spaniel hair days.)

Give yourself permission to be a work in progress. Forever.

Life is not a fairy tale with a happily ever after. Not every day will go in the win column.

I don’t have it all figured out and I’m not writing to you from a place of “perfection.”

But that is exactly the point.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Let me know in the comments. 🙂

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