What’s your if-only-I-were-thin fantasy?

Let’s do something fun together.

We all know that being thinner wouldn’t actually improve our lives in the ways that matter most. I mean, you’re probably a smart, feminist person, right? And yet…is there a sneaky little part of you that would really, really like to lose a couple of pounds?

Rather than trying to shame that part away (stop giving into society’s beauty standards, self!), why don’t we just spend some time with that voice, and really listen to what it has to say.

I want to get really, really literal about it. So: take five minutes, grab a piece of paper, and answer these prompts at least 3x each:

  • If I were thinner, I would…
  • If I were thinner, I wouldn’t…
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I’ll play!

I’ve done enough personal work to know that my life wouldn’t particularly change if I were thinner.

And yet, I’m a woman who lives in the 21st century — there’s still a part of my brain that can get seduced by that “oh, wouldn’t it be nice to lose X pounds” thought train. I don’t take those thoughts too seriously anymore, and I absolutely don’t change how I eat because of them. But I also think — as I said above — that it can be more useful to investigate them than to push them away because we “shouldn’t” have them.

So in that spirit, here’s my “how my life would change if I were thinner” list as of Friday at 12:13 p.m.:

  • I’d dress better. I’d wear cute but comfortable clothes every day, have just-the-right casual yet pretty clothes to wear for going out to dinner or to a friend’s backyard party, and a small but very well-curated couple of dresses and maybe a jumpsuit to wear when I’ve got something fancy on deck (a wedding, a bridal shower, a night at the opera). 
     
  • My hair would look fantastic, all the time. It would be smooth, yet curly. I would know how to do a bunch of great hairstyles with it.
     
  • I would feel more “pampered.” (note from rational Katie: Wait, what the heck does being more “pampered” mean?) Well, I seem to be extremely well moisturized in this fantasy, and I’m not wearing month-old nail polish that’s 60% cracked off. I seem to go to yoga somewhat regularly, and I have somewhat-frequent massages. 
     
  • I would be more productive. Interestingly, it’s not like I work a million hours, but I seem to just be more diligent about getting everything done.
     
  • I would be glamorously social. Somehow in this fantasy, I am laughing with a flute of prosecco at a hip bar with a bunch of lady friends. I’m wearing a great going out top and skinny jeans. We’re all so funny and fabulous. 

...

I realized two things, reading this list. Maybe you’re already noticed them, too:

1. NONE of these things require losing weight.

I can do my hair, moisturize my hands, drink prosecco at a bar, wear cute clothes or just freaking get work done without losing an ounce.

Some people feel that because they have a larger body, they can’t wear cute clothes. I would ask if you’ve ever seen Tess Holliday? Or Kellie Brown? I’ve also been told by some past clients that their bodies are too large to find a good romantic relationship, but I’ve met people of all body sizes in very happy and fulfilling relationships (and I bet you have too).

2. There are a lot of good reasons why I have chosen to not strive for many things on this list.

For example:

  • Really good hair is high maintenance. I like to sweat while I exercise and walk outside without worrying about my hair frizzing.
  • Massages and a lot of new clothes sound really nice, but my financial situation will probably be the same regardless of my weight, and I feel good about how I allocate money to clothes and indulgences right now. I can enjoy these things in smaller ways, over time.
  • When I hang out with my friends, we do occasionally drink prosecco in bars, but more frequently we eat cookies on couches in their apartments. And I like it that way.
  • Also, I’m a huge introvert, and the idea of being “glamorously social” kind of exhausts me. It’s one of those things that sounds nicer in the theoretical novel of my life than in reality.

...

Is it possible that our “if I were thin” fantasies are:

(1)    available to us, right now, and/or

(2)    things we have chosen not to pursue?

Wouldn’t that be kind of crazy and amazing?

 

I’d love to hear from all you! What are your “if I were thin” fantasies? And do you really have to lose weight to achieve them? Share with all of us in the comments — I think it’d be fun to see what everyone gets up to! 

Here's a photo I think about a lot.

What do you think, when you see this photo?

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For me, this photo evokes beauty and lushness and spaciousness. Those rich colors, that empty water and sky.

When I think about being there, I assume that all of that sun and ocean and majestic natural beauty would make me feel calm and joyful and juicy.

And yet, I was there when this photo was taken, and I wasn’t feeling any of those things. Here’s what I actually felt:

  • Exhausted. This was our last day of vacation and I was pooped. And I felt guilty about feeling so exhausted. Why do you get tired so easily, Katie? Why can’t you just have FUN?
  • Dirty. My body felt salty and sandy and grimy because we’d spent a lot of days at the beach, and even though I showered each day, some sand always seemed to remain. (I think this was definitely influenced by being tired, too).
  • Anxious. We were on a small boat, and my very sweet husband (then boyfriend) kept leaning over the edge with my phone, to get the best angles for photos. I was afraid he’d drop my phone overboard!

At our AirBnb that evening, I looked at the incredible photos Gil had taken and could see what beauty and majesty and juiciness the photos evoke. And I definitely wanted that!

But did I want to be back on that boat, feeling the things I had felt? Nope.

It made me realize: We don’t always want to be where those photos are. We want to feel what those photos evoke.

 

When we’re in a self-aware mood, most of us know that comparing ourselves to other people’s social media pictures isn’t fair. We’re seeing their peak moments, and everyone has anxious or sad or not-cute days that they don’t post on Instagram.

But for me, this realization about the vacation picture took it a step further. It forced me to really ask the question:

Do I really want what this picture is showing? E.g., a gorgeous beach or a fabulous breakfast or a romantic photoshoot?

or

Do I want what this photo evokes in me? E.g., adventure or freedom or pleasure or love or beauty?

I love vacations and delicious meals and spending time with my husband as much as the next girl. But, honestly, those things don’t always give me that peak feeling that a picture can evoke.

We can spend time with our significant other and feel grumpy or unattractive.
We can have a delicious meal and be worrying about a work deadline.
And, as I mentioned, we can be on vacation and feel tired and grimy and anxious.

On the other hand, totally mundane and un-sexy things can sometimes evoke those feelings that those pictures represent.

Remember how I said that I didn’t feel beauty and spaciousness and joy when that photo of the beach was taken? Well, you know when I did feel that way? Last Friday, when I took the afternoon off, bought myself sushi at Whole Foods, and read a romance novel for two hours.

Heck, I felt so downright joyful that day, I literally skipped in the parking lot of Whole Foods. (And an older man gave me a strange look.)

There’s no glamorous photo to capture that day. I’m pretty sure it was overcast and I was wearing old leggings and my hair wasn’t cute. There was nothing good to capture. But I felt far more of the feelings the picture evokes for me than I felt on the actual day it was taken.

 

Here’s a fun question for your Sunday: What’s a photo that captures how you want to feel today? Do you need to do that thing (e.g., go on vacation, have a photoshoot in the park while wearing full makeup), or is there something else that would be just as effective? 

A reminder

A reminder: it’s going to take the time it takes.

You can’t rush your own process. Even if your brain thinks you “should” have had enough rest, hugs, love, tears, chocolate, or french fries by now….

…it doesn’t matter. You need what you need. Denying it will only get you stuck in a cycle of frustration.

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As always, I’m sending you strength + support for the week ahead. You’ve got this.

How to have less exhausting arguments

You’re the most selfish person I’ve ever met.

...

...

How did you feel when you read that? How would you feel if someone you cared about said that to you?

Would you feel a clenching in your stomach?
Would you think, Oh god, what did I do? I’m so sorry!
Or, she has no right to say that!

Marshall Rosenberg, in his classic (and really fabulous) book Non-Violent Communication, points out that we have four potential responses whenever someone says something negative to us. We can:

  1. Blame ourselves
  2. Blame others
  3. Sense into our own feelings and needs
  4. Sense into other person’s feelings and needs

Which of these four we choose have a big effect on how messy and painful our arguments get. But many of us default to one or two of these responses — and not always the good ones.

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Let’s say that someone you cared about made a painful accusation about you, something like “You’re an extremely selfish person.” You could respond in one of four ways:

1. Blame yourself: Oh man, I am such a selfish person! I am the worst! I immediately need to apologize for absolutely everything I did to this person!

I don’t know about you, but for much of my life, this was one of my go-to responses. Apologize, apologize, apologize. And there’s a certain good intention there — we want others to feel better, so we accept blame and responsibility.

But, as Rosenberg points out, in doing so we accept the other person’s (negative) judgements of ourselves – which may not always be true. And down the line, this can really mess up our self esteem, and lead us to feeling chronically guilty, ashamed, and depressed.

 

2.  Blame others: She has absolutely no business telling me that I’m self-centered! If anything, she’s the self-centered one!

This is also something that I’ve done. I mean, haven’t we all? The problem is that this response just generates anger, rather than helping to necessarily resolve the conflict.

If we just say that the other person “shouldn’t” feel that way, rather than having any empathy for how they are feeling, it’s hard to connect and truly resolve conflict.

 

3. Sense into your own feelings and needs: Wow, I feel really triggered right now. That accusation brought up all the self-judgement that I already have when I try to take care of myself instead of automatically doing what other people want.  

Instead of assuming that the other person is right or getting mad at them, with this approach you simply notice what’s happening for you.

You notice how this one accusation brought up other negative thoughts and self-judgements that already existed in your head. You notice how this particular statement triggered all kinds of other, deeper fears.

When you start from this place you’re not blaming anyone — either the other person or yourself. You’re just giving yourself the chance to notice all these feelings that are already happening, so you don’t get overwhelmed by them and react inappropriately.

 

4.  Sense into the other person's feelings and needs: I guess that she was really wanting to feel supported by me, and because I attended to my own needs instead, she wasn’t able to get what she wanted. It seems like this was really painful for her.

With this approach, you try to assess what the other person was feeling or needing. Again, there’s not any judgement here — she’s not a “bad person” for wanting or needing something, or for having a particular reaction to not having her wants or needs met.

At the same time, you’re not blaming yourself. It’s not that you’re a bad person because you didn’t meet her needs, or because she had a particular emotional reaction .

You’re just noticing what seems to be happening for her.

Rosenberg points out that when our main reactions are #1 or #2, we tend to have more painful or messy conflict with others. We either feel guilty and take on blame that we may not wholly deserve, or we get angry and blame the other person. Either way, we’re throwing a lot of blame around — and that tends to make things worse.

On the other hand, either #3 or #4 are awesome starting places. When we can have empathy and understanding for both ourselves or another person — again, just understanding how both of us are feeling without judgement — we can begin the conversation with kindness and are more likely to be able to diffuse the situation.

Even more powerfully, we all respond more positively when we feel heard and seen with empathy. For example, maybe you couldn’t have behaved differently. But when the other person knows that you hear their pain, and you would like to help them resolve their pain, they tend to relax.

On a personal note, it’s hard to overemphasize how much more kind, relaxed, and safe my arguments with loved ones feel when I can remember to start with #3 or #4. I can’t recommend them enough.

Over to you! Think of a recent conflict you’ve had: which of the four reactions did you have? Which of the four did you completely forget about? 

On Fitbits and fitness trackers

Recently, someone in a Dessert Club asked me about fitness trackers. I know you don’t believe in weighing yourself, they said, but what do you make of fitness trackers?

Frankly, I have no inherent objections to fitness trackers. Counting the number of steps you take in a day seems...fine. If that's what you're into, have at it.

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However, I do think that if you are considering using one, you need to ask yourself two questions:

  1. Why are you considering using a fitness tracker? 

    Are you hoping the fitness tracker will help you improve your mood? Manage anxiety? Feel good in your body? Lose weight? Get stronger? Get healthier?

    Are you able to be real with yourself about whether those motivations are useful for you? For example, the desire to use a fitness tracker might come from the mean voice in your head that is always saying life would be much better if you lost five pounds. Is that a voice you want to encourage?
     
  2. What is the result of using this device?

    You might start using a fitness tracker with the best of intentions. I just want to help myself walk 8,000 steps a day because I feel so much better when I do! 

    But, over time, how does using a fitness tracker affect how you relate to movement and your body? Do you still feel a natural appetite to move? Do you feel like you're allowed to rest?

A couple of additional notes about “tracking”:

1. I have no inherent objection to “tracking” movement or setting movement goals.

I don’t use a fitness tracker, but I have a personal movement intention: I try to get in ~45 minutes of movement per day. Usually this means a long walk, but sometimes I go to a yoga or a dance class. Movement is an extremely effective stress reliever for me, and knowing approximately what I need to do every day simplifies my life.

But some days, I don’t exercise. Maybe I’m tired or I’m busy, and forcing myself to “get it done” would make me more stressed. And I’m fine with that, too.

The key here is that your intentions or goals should help you take care of yourself, rather than impede your ability to do so. You need to be honest (and it's hard to be that honest!) with yourself about whether these goals are actually helping you.

However, please remember…

2. Depending on your past relationship to movement and exercise, any kind of goal-setting may not be a good idea for you right now.

Maybe you’ve spent so long “forcing” yourself to exercise, that you’ve lost all natural appetite for movement. Maybe setting any kind of goal sparks a competitive part of you that tends to compare yourself to others and become too fixated on a particular body type.

Maybe you need to just spend a long time resting, and waiting until your body truly wants to move.

Just because any kind of goal-setting isn’t healthy for you right now, doesn’t mean it couldn’t work for you months or years into the future. But please honor what you are needing now.

 

3. Notice if you have a tendency to outsource your self-care.

I think Fitbits are part of a larger trend towards outsourcing our ability to care for ourselves. We don’t trust our internal signals, or we’ve completely forgotten how to tune into them. So instead of looking within, we look for guidance from fitness trackers and food plans and diets and articles online.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with expert or technological advice. But it troubles me that many of us have come to privilege external, often technological, insight above our own.

On one hand, buying a fitbit or otherwise outsourcing our self-care is sometimes easier than the alternative. The alternative means actually checking in with our bodies and ourselves. Intellectually, it doesn’t sound that hard to “check in,” but in our world of busy-ness and buzzing and having a million things to do, it can be hard to actually check in with how our bodies are doing. Doing so requires feeling things, and we doing always want to feel things. 

And yet, what is the cost?

Oh, and one final reminder: when in doubt, err on the side of gentleness.

On negative feelings.

Have you felt anxious or sad lately? Or maybe some other feeling that you can’t-quite-name, but it feels big and a little scary? 

If so, I made this video for you.

Or maybe you aren’t feeling too bad right now, but there’s something lurking beneath the surface that you're really hoping won’t pop up.

You might like this video, too. 

(And if you aren’t feeling any kind of negative feelings right now, awesome! Yay! You might enjoy the video anyway. Or just go out and enjoy the sunshine)

As always, I’m sending you so much caring + strength + support for the week ahead. You’ve got this.

 

p.s. Have you ever thought about working with a life coach? Or maybe you’ve mostly just thought What the heck is a life coach?  

As it so happens, I’m a life coach! You can find out more about my work here, and if you’d like to see if coaching would be a good fit for you (or figure out what the heck coaches do!), feel free to reach out :)

This is totally true, even if it sounds cheesy.

How we eat is how we live. And how we live is how we eat.

It sounds too cheesy to be true. But it is.

(I can’t take credit for it. The fairy godmother of compulsive eating recovery, the great Geneen Roth, taught me).

The significance of “How we eat is how we live. And how we live is how we eat.” goes both ways, a million times around.

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Are you…

…Afraid that if you let yourself eat as much chocolate (or sweet potato fries, or peanut butter cookies), that you’ll never stop eating? That soon you’ll become as big as a house?

That same story, the “I couldn’t possibly do X; I'd ruin everything,” can show up in so many other ways.

Personally, I had this fear about food, but also about career and relationships: “if I leave this career path, I’ll never make enough money or be okay in life” or “If I do what I want socially, everyone I know will hate me.” And even though those fears weren’t completely delusional (sure, these things are technically possible), they were far less likely than other, more positive outcomes. 

 

…Convinced that once you lose 10 pounds, or fit into those jeans again, your life will really start? That then you’ll be happy?

Have you also thought that you don’t have what you truly want in life (love, confidence, connection to others, fulfillment, a feeling of safety) because you don’t have the job, level of success, relationship, bank account balance, perfect dress?

This isn't to say that those things couldn't make you happier (sure they could!) — but do you sometimes get fixated on a particular happiness "button," and forget that there are many other things that you could also do to boost your wellbeing? 

 

….Resentful of other people who seem to “not have to worry about their eating or weight so much.”  

Do you feel jealous that other people have their relationships or work or family or productivity or just general comfort-in-the-world figured out…while you sometimes seem to be flailing?

Do you sometimes forget that other people’s outsides are never going to look as messy and chaotic and weird as your inside?

 

…Likely to ignore your hunger? Do you think “gotta power through this now I’ll deal with eating later” ?

If so, are you also someone who tends to ignore other aspects of self-care? Like, making sure that your body moves enough or that you get enough sleep or that your mind rests and gets to do fun things enough?

The reason why “How we eat is how we live, and how we live is how we eat” is so magical is because it means that if you face your roadblocks in any area of your life, it will help you in all of the other ones!

Once I realized, for example, that I could eat as much chocolate as I wanted without obtaining the body mass of an adult elephant (because I had a natural feedback mechanism that told me when I’d had too much chocolate), I realized that it might be possible to trust myself when making decisions about my career or relationships, too. In that way, dealing with my eating issues helped me change the rest of my life in some overwhelmingly positive ways.

But also, doing personal work on non-eating parts of my life helped me have an even better relationship with food, too.

At the end of the day, our relationship with food is deeply intertwined with our relationship with all other elements of our lives. That’s why an we need an integral approach to eating — one that emphasizes that all elements of our lives impact our eating, and that all elements of our eating impact our lives!

What common patterns do you see in how you eat and how you live?   

 

On authentic people

Can I admit something?

Sometimes I can be a bit embarrassed about myself. Sometimes I think that I should change and be more social, more productive, more generous, less emotional. Sometimes I think my body should look different than it does.

But when I run into authentic people, it’s like I can sign a breath of relief.

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I don’t even know how to describe what it is to meet an authentic person — it’s more of the feeling they give off, that vibrant, alive energy. It’s like they are emitting a special frequency, a “ding” that happens when you inner self is in alignment with your outer self …

Do you know what I mean? Whether they are happy or sad or anxious or jazzed up or quiet…when I am with them, their “rightness” is in the air.

It relaxes me.
It reminds me that it’s okay for me to be me, too.
It’s such a gift.
And so, when I find myself wondering if I “should be different,” I remember the best thing I can do is embrace my own authenticity and integrity — as my own gift to the world. So maybe someone else who runs into me will take in a big breath of my energy, and maybe it will help them feel better.

Do you know any people who remind you that it’s okay to be you?

 

On being someone who can throw away an ice cream cone without finishing it.

Sometimes I think about an interview with Julianne Moore that I read some time ago. She was talking about feeding her kids dessert:

My kids have always been allowed to have dessert. My husband thinks I'm too free and easy about that kind of stuff, but my kids will throw out a half-eaten ice cream cone if they've had enough, which I've never in my life been able to do.

I keep thinking about that, because of another (refreshingly honest) thing she said, in a different interview:

I'm hungry all the time. I think I'm a slender person, but the industry apparently doesn't. All actresses are hungry all the time, I think.

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I can’t help but wonder: is there a connection between having to be hungry all the time, and feeling that half an ice cream cone is never enough?*

Is there a connection between a focus on weight, and a pre-occupation with ice cream?

I can’t know for Julianne, but for me, there definitely was.

What about you?

* For the record, many of us can choose to only eat half the ice cream cone — or eat no ice cream at all! — while still being preoccupied with it. I know that I was, for a long time! 

How I Got Myself out of a Body Insecurity Meltdown

I recently moved back to my hometown of LA, and one Saturday I decided it would be a good idea to go shopping at the big, swanky department stores in Beverly Hills (and when I say “shopping” I mostly mean “touch the silky fabrics and check out the sale rack and dream”).

But as soon as I stepped inside one of those Swanky Department Stores, some odd things started to happen:

Browsing the very expensive shoes, I suddenly had the crystal-clear knowledge that my outfit — which had seemed so cute at my apartment an hour ago — was completely NOT RIGHT.

And my hair! My hair was in a completely stupid bun on my head. Granted, an hour ago I had thought my hair was “casual and cute in a not-trying-too-hard” way, but, Oh! Past Self! How you lived in woeful ignorance!

Most troublingly of all, I became suddenly convinced that my body was larger than every single other body in this store. And obviously, it was NOT OKAY to have a large body, standing there among the athleisure-clad, toned, blonde LA women who were consulting their also-toned gay male friends about the pros and cons of rhinestone-studded heels. 

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Reading this, I’m sure it’s clear to you that I was having a mini insecurity meltdown. Maybe if you were standing nearby and I had told you my feelings, you would have reassured me that my appearance was just fine.

And yet, when we are in the throes of those moments, 1) we don’t like to tell other people how we feel, and 2) we think those negative voices are right.

So I wanted to share how I got myself out of it, in the hopes that it might be helpful for you someday, when you need it most:
 

  1. I started by acknowledging that there could be some truth in what those insecure voices in my head were saying. I know that the ideal thing would be to discount these ideas as completely false — but I find that can be hard to do in the middle of a mini insecurity meltdown. So instead I said:

    Fine, maybe it’s true that my hair or my clothes or my body are not as “good” as those other women. Maybe it’s even true that if I really had my way, I’d like to have hair or clothes or a body that’s just like those other women. I don’t like that I have these negative thoughts, but fine, I do.
     
  2. Then I acknowledged what else I know for sure about my body.

    BUT I know from past experience that if I try to be as thin as some of the women I’m seeing, I will make myself miserable, and it probably won’t even work in the long term. On the other hand, I really like how I eat now. I really enjoy not being hungry all the time and being able to eat cookies when I feel like it and not having to obsess all the time about what I’m going to eat or not eat.
     
  3. I got really honest with myself about the tradeoffs.

    Maybe the result of eating in a way that I really, really like is that my body isn’t “perfect.” And you know what, even if my body isn’t “perfect,” it’s at least 80% of what I could ever want. And hey — 80% there is pretty darn good.


And that last move — that “I’m okay with a body that is 80%” — that really turned it around for me.

Because it reminded me that we never get to have 100% of what we want, 100% of the time. Not with happiness, or confidence, or energy.
Not with relationships or careers.
And, of course, not with our bodies.

And — on the flip side — I find that most of us are 80% of the way there, most of the time. There is a lot that I appreciate about my body, for example, even if my brain is able to think of ways that it could be even more “perfect.” Ditto for relationships or career or hair or even the contents of my wardrobe.

I know, in an ideal world, I would’ve been able to say in that moment, “hey, my body is fabulous! It’s totally sexy and amazing and wonderful.” Heck, in an ideal world I wouldn’t have had those insecure body thoughts. I would be so completely indoctrinated with body positivity, it wouldn’t even occur to me.

And sometimes I do think my body is freaking awesome! But sometimes I don’t. I’m okay with living in this imperfect world, with this imperfect mind. I’m okay with the fact that I don’t feel body infatuation every single second of the day.

My personal body neutrality philosophy means that it’s okay if I have negative body thoughts sometimes — I just have to remind myself that I am choosing to not actively try to change my body because I prioritize other things. 

And as for the rest of my shopping trip? I enjoyed viewing all of the beautiful, silky dresses, thank-you-very-much.

I’d love to know: What do you say to yourself in the middle of a body insecurity moment? Leave a comment to share the wealth!

On somatic awareness and living your best life

In my early twenties, in the middle of a quarter-life crisis, my brother suggested I work with a coach.

I guess it could be useful, I thought to myself. Maybe she’ll help me figure out what I should do for my next job.

Oh, I was in for a treat.

I learned many, many things from working with my coach (and that experience is one of the reasons I’m now a coach myself), but one of the most powerful was the power of somatic — or body-based — awareness. Up till then, I’d been a pretty smart, intellectual person, making most decisions using some kind of detailed pro-con list.

Somatic awareness totally changed my decision-making process — and is a huge part of how I now work with clients myself.

I wanted to share more about what somatic awareness is, why it’s so incredibly useful, and how you can cultivate it, so I made you a video.

Whether you’ve heard of “somatic awareness" before, or it sounds kind of hippy-dippy and weird, I think you’ll enjoy the video :)

A Dessert Club Manifesto

Every week, I try to share things that will be helpful or encouraging. But I think that an overarching Manifesto (yes, I just used the M-word) is far overdue, from me to you. Manifestos are powerful — they tell us what really matters, and what doesn’t.

So here it is: the Dessert Club Manifesto.

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I, Katie Seaver, hereby declare:
 

1. It’s possible to live a less stressful and more satisfying life.

Worrying, thinking or feeling guilty about our eating or weight takes a lot of energy and can prevent us from truly thriving. Eating in a way that makes us feel sick, sluggish, or unhappy also zaps important life resources. Developing a happier and more pleasurable relationship with food, and a more respectful and kind relationship with our bodies, has far-reaching benefits and is possible.

 

2. Stop worrying about what you’re eating. Consider why you’re eating.

Give yourself more credit. You’re a smart and capable person. You know that eating half a jar of Nutella isn’t the healthiest thing in the world. But you did it anyway, and you’ll probably do it again if you don’t get to the bottom of why you keep acting this way.

 

3. Whenever you eat in a way that feels odd or out-of-control, you’re likely reacting to some deep issues that you may not even be aware of.

The good news is you’re not crazy. The good news is a binge-loving gremlin isn’t living in your head. The bad news is that it’s time for you to do some personal exploration. Every person I’ve ever worked with — without a single exception — had more going on internally than they initially realized.

 

4. Given the complexity of our motivations around food, an integral approach to eating is the only thing that makes sense.

An integral approach to eating means that we consider you as a whole person, leaving nothing out. Your relationships, environment, feelings, somatic awareness, spirituality, social world, ambitions and dreams, and fears and anxieties all deeply impact your eating and relationship to your body. Let’s talk about all of them.

 

5. You’re in a lifelong relationship, so you might as well make the best of it.

You’re in a lifelong relationship with your body and yourself. It might not have been a relationship that you would have chosen, but you’re stuck with it. Divorce isn’t an option. Spending a lot of time telling yourself that you’re “bad,” or trying to change something about yourself for the 10,534th time is exhausting and not that useful. It’s far more helpful to focus on making the relationship pleasant for everyone involved, for the long term.

 

6. Eating and weight are social justice issues. 

You can do all the personal work that you want, but if we still live in a world that says your body has to be a certain size to be worthy of love and respect, it will likely affect your eating and attitude toward your body. This work does not exist in a vacuum.

 

7. There’s no “there” there.

You’re never going to be a 100% “perfect” eater or have a 100% “perfect” body, whatever that means. You’re not going to be 100% happy, confident, or safe all the time, either. Who told you it was possible to stop being a messy, imperfect human, anyway? I think that’s good news, though — there’s no way to fail at this work, because you’re not going to get it 1,000% right, ever. So you might as well start!

I’d love to know: Are you in? Which of these seven points resonates with you the most? Shoot me an email or leave me a comment below…or if you’re shy, just think it and send it my way. I’ll get it :)

Some great beauty advice.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was one of the original bossladies of the American women’s rights movement.  She not only fought for a woman’s right to vote, but also divorce rights, property rights, and employment rights. In the mid-1800s, she was advocating that every woman be educated and trained to support herself financially — a big deal at the time.

I was reading an 1880 speech recently, and was struck by Stanton’s beauty advice:

I will give you a recipe, dear girls, for nothing that will prove far more serviceable in preserving your beauty than Hagan’s Magnolia Balm at 75 cts a bottle.

For the hair, complexion, and clear bright expression of the eye, there is nothing you can do like preserving your health by exercising regularly, breathing pure air in all your sleeping and waking hours, eating nutritious food, and bathing every day in cold water… Eat rare roast beef and vegetable, good bread and fruits, do not munch chalk, clay, cloves, india rubber, pea-nuts, gum, and slate pencils, always chewing, chewing, chewing, like a cow with her cud.

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I’ve got to say, a beauty philosophy that is focused on fresh air, long walks, and bread and roast beef is something I can really get behind.

Her entire critique of beauty products is a great read. For example: “a few ideas on any subject, dear girls, will make your eyes brighter and clearer, than a dozen bottles of Balm.

But mostly, she was a passionate believer that women need to be in charge of their own destinies. And to do that, they need intelligent minds and healthy bodies. Not necessarily thin bodies, but bodies that are nourished enough to do challenging work in the world.

Isn't that true now, as well? Don't we need to be nourished properly, to do the work that we're here to do?

And anyway: who isn’t more attractive after eating good bread, taking a walk, and focusing on ideas that make their eyes bright and clear?

p.s. Thanks to Joan Jacobs Brumberg’s The Body Project, for first bringing this speech to my attention.

p.p.s. I can’t promise that I’ll take more cold showers, but I am willing to eat more roast beef in the name of beauty.  

The best advice I know for weathering the holidays without stuffing your face with cookies

We’re in the middle of Hanukkah, Christmas is a’coming, and even if you don’t celebrate either, I bet you have some lovely, generic “holiday” parties at work or with friends coming up.

I wanted to share with you the one piece of holiday advice that I live by:

Stay sensitive.

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For most of us, the holidays can trigger a lot of thoughts and feelings. We might show up to a party and think:

Oh my god I am so overwhelmed by seeing all of these cookies! I want to eat them all!

or

Oh my god what if my aunt/dad/second cousin asks me about my job/romantic prospects/recent weight gain? 

or

Oh my god what if my aunt/dad/second cousin looks at me askance and I can tell that they are THINKING judgmentally about my job/romantic prospects/recent weight gain?

 

All those thoughts and feelings can feel like too much. We can’t be expected to have big feelings and also make nice conversation over the eggnog table or the latke buffet, right? We may be tempted to push these feelings down.

But don’t. Please.

When we push down these sensitivities, we also push down our connection to our inner selves. You know, the kind of connection that would let you know if you were hungry or full. The kind of connection that would tell you if you actually wanted a sugar cookie or if you wanted to be home in your pajamas watching Girls instead.

And when we combine:

(a) a bunch of feelings and thoughts that we don’t usually feel/think,
(b) a loss of connection to our inner guidance about hunger, fullness, and what kind of nourishment our body is actually needing, and
(c) a tendency to eat when we feel stuff (hey, it happens to the best of us)

…the end result is that we might not take the best care of ourselves.

The only solution that I know is to stay sensitive. Yes, you may have to feel a little more than is comfortable, but you’ll also take far better care of yourself. And you may even find yourself connecting more deeply with others, because you are showing up more authentically.

Of course, staying sensitive isn’t always easy. Here are some things that help me:

  • Journaling before, after, or heck, during social events (I have been known to journal in the bathroom, on the Notes app on my phone).
     
  • Having an inner dialogue with yourself about how you are actually feeling, even when you are out at social events. My belly feels tight and I have zinging in my chest and I feel impatient. Interesting. I’ll check back in again later.
     
  • Setting boundaries, like, I know it might hurt ___’s feelings, but I’m only going to stay at the holiday party for an hour, because if I stay longer, I will explode with feelings or have to shut them down by eating/numbing out. Setting boundaries means that it feels safe to be sensitive, because you know that life won’t completely overwhelm you.

 

And above all, please know that I’m rooting for you, with all of this.

 

What the "Crazy Person Feeling" is and why it matters.

On the first day of Dessert Club, I tell all the participants that they may find themselves having the “Crazy Person Feeling” more than once during this group.

The “Crazy Person Feeling” means that you feel a little, well, crazy. Your body feels like it might explode out of your skin, you feel jumpy, and screaming suddenly sounds quite nice.

It is my strong opinion that if we want to radically improve how we relate to food, feeling more like a crazy person is a very good thing

I know you might not believe me. Who wants to feel like a crazy person, anyway? I think this is best explained in person, so I made you a video.

Or maybe you don’t even know what I mean. Maybe you don’t feel anything at all when you eat. Maybe eating is a bit like sleepwalking — you might be a thinking, feeling person, but while you’re eating the tortilla chips…you don’t seem to feel or think much at all.

In that case, you definitely need to watch this video.        

After you watch the video, I’d love to know: when have you felt the Crazy Person Feeling recently? What was going on? How did you deal with it? 

Something I’ve been reminding myself recently

I was recently rereading Tara Mohr’s 10 Rules, and was so struck by her first point that I wrote it down on a piece of paper and now I keep it where I can see it every day. I want to share it with you, in case it is what you need to see today:

Make a pact. 

No one else is going to build the life you want for you. No one else will even be able to completely understand it. The most amazing souls will show up to cheer you on along the way, but this is your game. Make a pact to be in it with yourself for the long haul, as your own supportive friend at every step along the way.

 

 

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Even rereading it, I get this feeling of YES in my chest and my belly. It feels like excitement but also a bit like fear.

So let me remind you, paraphrasing Tara and using a lot more line breaks:

Only you can build the life you want.
No one else may even be able to totally understand it.
That’s okay.
You’ll find help along the way.
But this is ultimately your game, and no one else’s.
So make a pact with yourself — because you are the one who will see this through.

Oh man, it gives me chills.
Make. A. Pact.

On free food (or: How to resist the candy bowl at work)

There is something about free food that is irresistible.

Even if you have plenty of money to buy food for yourself,
even if you know that it won’t be that good,
even if you aren’t hungry or don’t really want the feeling of those foods in your body…

…seeing free pizza or cookies or a big ol’ bowl of fun size candy bars makes you want to grab a couple.

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There is one — and only one — antidote to the irresistibility of free food:

You have to create a life in which you frequently eat food you love.

And not just “healthy” or “responsible” food that you love. If you love cookies, you need to eat them frequently and in a way that allows you to truly appreciate and enjoy them (i.e., sneaking or stuffing them down while you are driving/cooking your kids' dinner/walking to your next meeting doesn’t count).

This strategy works — and it is the only thing that I know that works, long-term — because it eliminates scarcity. If I know I have an amazing brownie from my local bakery in my cabinet, I don’t need to eat the slightly dry ones at that meeting.

Of course, if the free food is delicious and you want to eat it, please go ahead and eat it.
Of course, if the food is right in front of you, you may still feel some compulsion to eat it even if you don’t want it — in which case a break might be in order.
Of course, not everyone does have the money available to buy themselves as much food as they need, so this is a problem of privilege (but it’s okay to have problems, even if you are privileged).

But overall, the magical key to our compulsion to eat free food we don’t truly want is this: You need to eliminate scarcity.

And the only way to eliminate scarcity is to frequently eat foods you love.

So, please, go obtain some foods that you love. And eat them. Without hiding. 

What to say when a friend says she’s feeling fat

Have you ever spent time with a friend or a loved one (or even an acquaintance) and heard them say, “I feel fat”?

If you are woman living in the 21st century, you’ve probably found yourself in this situation. I know I have. And the typical, well-meaning response is something like, “oh my god, you’re totally not fat!”

Here’s the thing, though: despite its good intentions, I don’t think “you’re totally not fat!” is the best response.

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First of all, it perpetuates the idea that fat is something that you definitely don’t want to be, and what if they are fat? There’s no official definition of fatness anyway, so somebody could be fat by their own or someone else’s standards, regardless of your interpretation. Or what if they become fat later?

But more deeply, I don’t think “you’re totally not fat!” is the best response because it shuts down the conversation. And in the process, you miss the opportunity to figure out what triggered this sudden fear of fatness.

 

Here’s my suggestion  

Here’s my suggestion instead: when a friend says, “I feel fat,” act like your friend just told you that they are having some other big emotion. Like they just said, “I feel sad,” or “I feel depressed.”

When we feel some big emotion, it’s nice when other people ask us to hear more. You might say something to your friend like: It seems like you’re feeling upset. Tell me more about that.

There are many things that could be causing her (or him!) to feel upset, and you’ll have to ask questions and listen carefully to know more. But here are some common things that might be coming up for her. I’ve also included some “ways you might be helpful” — though please hold these lightly. Sometimes the most important thing you can do is just listen and empathize.

Some things that might be bothering her, and some ways you might be helpful:

  • She might not feel beautiful or attractive.
    How you might be helpful: You might remind her that there are many ways to feel beautiful that have nothing to do with weight. Our clothing, our hygiene, our hair, our make-up, our posture, or even whether we’ve moved our bodies recently can all significantly impact our feelings of attractiveness.

    You also might gently inquire how she feels toward beauty — does she want to feel more beautiful because it pleases her, or does she feel like she has to be beautiful in order to get what she wants in life?
     
  • She might not feel good in her body.
    How you might be helpful: Remind her that are many ways to feel better in our bodies without changing our body mass — for example, gentle or vigorous exercise, taking a nap, or eating a meal that makes us feel good. Stretching or drinking some cold water often helps me.
     
  • She might be feeling anxious, insecure, or depressed.
    How you might be helpful: You could see if there is anything in particular causing her to feel that way. Is there a relationship or opportunity that she thinks would be improved if she lost weight (e.g., “I’ll finally get a boyfriend if I lose 15 pounds”)? If so, is that actually true? Weight stuff is often a sign of much deeper concerns.
     
  • She might be or feel unhealthy.
    How you might be helpful: You might remind her that that there are many ways to significantly improve your health without ever losing a pound. Things like eating more fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly, drinking or smoking less, for example, radically improve health outcomes even if they are not accompanied by weight loss (read the research here). And many of us are more likely to be consistent with new healthful behaviors if we don’t put the added pressure on ourselves to lose weight.

Of course, the person you need to have this conversation with might not be a friend or loved one at all — it might be yourself.

Either way, I hope you can have the discussion with kindness and gentleness. When we are feeling upset with our bodies, that is what we need most.

Join the conversation: What do you like to say when someone else says that they’re “feeling fat”? I’m sure we can all benefit from this group’s collective wisdom!   Leave a comment below!

I just ate emotionally.

I just ate emotionally. Just now. Well, by the time I post this it will be a Sunday and I’m writing on a Tuesday night, but you get the point.

I’d been feeling emotional and sad and frustrated and insecure all day. Nothing is majorly wrong in my life, but I just couldn’t seem to shake the feelings. I’d talked to my fiancé about it, journaled about it, walked, done yoga, and “let it be” — moving onto other life stuff.

And then I found myself eating emotionally.

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I hadn’t planned to do it. Because of all the feelings, I hadn’t had much of an appetite all day. I even skipped dinner because I just didn’t seem to be hungry. Then, late at night while Gil was playing guitar, I found myself wanting some chocolate.

So I had some chocolate truffles. And then some chips. Then some more chips.

By this point, I knew I wasn’t feeling so good (chocolate + chips does not a feel-good dinner make). I thought about eating something with actual nutrition. I considered just leaving the kitchen.

But in the end, I decided to keep eating. As I was sitting at the table, digging a big spoonful from a chocolaty, cookie dough-y, Ben and Jerry’s pint (The Tonight Dough, if you’re curious), I was very aware that I wasn’t hungry.

And yet, I thought to myself, Wow, eating emotionally feels really good right now.

Several hours later, as I write this to you, I don’t regret it. Even though I feel a little uncomfortable and overly full, I don’t feel like it was a terrible thing — it did help me feel a bit better in the moment. I don’t want to do that every single time I feel a negative emotion, but I don't do it every time I feel a negative emotion. And by acknowledging it and not fighting it, I didn’t continue to eat emotionally out of panic and denial.

It happened. Now it’s over. It’s not a huge deal.

The goal isn’t to be “perfect.” The goal is to be a real, messy human being with a range of coping mechanisms.

In fact, we can sometimes choose to eat emotionally. We aren’t killing anyone by eating ice cream to feel better — we’re exercising our right as adults to take care of ourselves in whatever way we choose.

I wanted you to know this, in case you ever feel badly about eating emotionally or to numb out a little: it’s cool, I do it too sometimes.