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.

Having a Fat Day? Here's what to do.

Let’s talk about Fat Days.

On one hand, fat is not a feeling. Fat is a physical substance which all of us have more or less of. So having a Fat Day isn’t a rational thing because in a literal sense, you are not appreciably more or less fat today than yesterday.

And yet, you knew what I was talking about when you read the title of this post, didn’t you?

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If I dig deep enough, when I am having a “Fat Day,” what I am really having is a “bloated and disconnected day.” Blame it on the fact that I’ve eaten more Boursin cheese and Thai food recently. Blame it on an upcoming menstrual cycle. Whatever the reason, none of my clothes seem to fit right, my whole body feels a little bloated, and I feel a bit more disconnected and numb in my body than usual.

When I’m in the middle of a Fat Day, it’s like I don’t know the dimensions of my body anymore. My body feels less like “mine.”

I could have called this essay “advice for a bloated and disconnected day,” because that would be more accurate. But, for purposes of this post, I’m going to call it a Fat Day. Not because fatness is bad (it isn’t), but because in talking with a lot of people about their bodies, I know that’s how many people refer to these types of days. I want us to all be on the same page.

People have different experiences of what a Fat Day is, and what is helpful. But I wanted to share with you a couple of things that really help me during these times:

 

  1. Stall.

    On a Fat Day, it is very, very tempting to extrapolate — either in the direction of restriction and dieting (I need to nip this fatness in the bud! No carbs for me today!) or in the direction of indulgence that doesn’t ultimately make us feel good (I am so frustrated with my body and so exhausted from trying so hard…I give up. I’m going to binge for the next four days.)

    The most important thing you can do on a Fat Day is stall. Don’t make decisions about your future. I promise you that you will feel differently in 24 hours. Not that you won’t have any problems or dissatisfaction in 24 hours — but you will feel differently.

     
  2. Chill.

    What if the Fat Day was a sign that you and your body needed a bit of extra loving and kindness?

    That’s a rhetorical question. You and your body definitely need some extra love and kindness on a Fat Day. In fact, a Fat Day is basically an invitation from the universe to slow down and connect with what’s going on for you. So don’t just stuff down a couple extra cookies in frustration and push through your to-do list today. Instead, I urge you to feed your kids frozen pizza, tell your boss that you’re going to get her the presentation tomorrow, and take an extra hour or two to slow the heck down and chill out in a way that sounds nice to you.

    If you are a busy person, it’s easy to skim over this piece of advice. But please don’t.

     
  3. Use kindness to decide on movement.

    For most people, one of the causes of a Fat Day is feeling disconnected and maybe kinda weird in our bodies. So one of the most powerful things you can do is move in some way that helps you reconnect.

    I’ll be honest, though. When I am in the throes of a pretty intense Fat Day (or even a Fat Hour), the last thing I want to do is exercise. So, for me, some form of purposeful rest can be a very kind first step.

    But please know that eventually it will be helpful to physically connect to yourself in some way. Stretching or a gentle walk around the block is a great way to start. For some reason, doing a hilariously small number of push-ups (like, three) often helps me start the process of reconnection without overdoing it.

    The key here is to listen to yourself and to be gentle, while also keeping in mind that movement is a great way to reconnect.

     
  4. Eat lightly and deliciously.

    I’ve found that if I eat a lot of food, it is harder to feel my body. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing — sometimes I want to eat a lot because that slight numbness feels nice or heck, because I just feel like eating a lot.

    But, again, one of the biggest symptoms of a Fat Day, for me, is that I’m cut off from my body. So it’s not a time, for me, to eat a TON of food — I’ll choose to eat a little more lightly instead. I won’t go hungry, but I’ll probably more consciously choose to be “lightly full” than I might on a different day, because I want to let the sensation in my body back in.

    But I also believe eating delicious food that genuinely makes you happy is important on a Fat Day. It’s easy to get angry with yourself and pledge to basically go on a mini-diet or restrictive series of days (see above). I hope you know by now that a restrictive path usually makes things worse. So focus on making yourself feel happy and good, whatever that means for food selection.

     
  5. Gently attend to your appearance.

    The crazy thing about this whole Fat Day thing is that in reality, we don't look particularly different than we did the day before. And yet, we feel completely different. If you looked inside my brain on a Fat Day, for example, there would be a lot of negative thoughts about my appearance. On a Fat Day, I do not feel cute.

    One thing that works really well for me on a Fat Day is to gently attend to my appearance. I don’t mean that you need to adhere to any particular set of beauty standards, but I do mean that it can be helpful to put in a bit of effort to look nice in a way that pleases you.

    For me, Fat Days tend to be correlated with days when I’ve been wearing my pajamas all day, my hair is in a strange bun on top of my head, and I haven’t showered since Tuesday. (I know, it’s shocking that I might not feel great in my body on those days). So just taking a shower or dealing with my hair or putting on my nice leggings or even a dress (!!!) can make a world of difference.

     
  6. Be more indulgent with yourself.

    This is very similar to #2 above, but it is so important that I want to say it again. If you are having a Fat Day, or a Bloated and Disconnected Day, you might be feeling frustrated, sad, stressed, confused, or anxious. This is a day to be extra kind, rather than extra critical.


If I were to give you a one-sentence prescription for these days, it would be: Cut yourself waaaay more slack, do some gentle things you enjoy, and check back in with yourself in 24 hours.  

I’d love to hear: How do you usually treat yourself on a Fat Day? What helps, and what makes the whole thing worse? Leave a comment below!

How can I love my body more?  

Would you like to “love your body” more? Most people I talk to would.

And with good reason! Hating your body causes or exacerbates eating issues. Plus, wouldn’t it be awesome to wake up every morning feeling like you are the living embodiment of a Meghan Trainor song?

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I want to answer the question of “how can I love my body more?” — but to do that, I have to ask another question:

What does it mean to “love” your body?
Does it mean that you spend every second of every day thinking that your body is 100% awesome?

I know a lot of people who seem to think that this is how they should feel about their bodies.

And, well, they don’t. Not even close.

But I think that there is a fundamental misunderstanding when it comes to Body Love. In fact, I think that most people confuse Body Love and Body Infatuation.

Body Infatuation is like romantic infatuation — that head-over-heels, Tom-Cruise-on-the-couch, everything-is-so-wonderful feeling that you sometimes feel about another person, in the very early stages of love.

If you feel infatuated with your body, that’s awesome. But most of us probably won’t feel that way all the time, forever. Some of us will never feel that way, and that’s okay, too. 

On the other hand, true Body Love is something that most people can cultivate.

To better understand true Body Love, it’s helpful to think of any other folks in your life who you truly love, in a long-term way: a partner, a family member, a friend, even a pet.

There are likely many things that you appreciate and adore about that person or animal. There are likely also many things that you don’t prefer, or that even drive you crazy.

You can tell the other person that you’d like to change something about them, and you’ll probably get a clear signal, pretty quickly, about whether you’re going to have any success with them making that change.

I know that’s true for my relationship with my wonderful fiancé. There are certain changes that he is more than willing to make out of love for me. And there are certain changes that…well, I just need to let be. I need to accept that he is his own person who is going to do his own thing.

Isn’t it true for your body, too? Your body is pretty willing to make some changes — like, if you get terrible heartburn after eating tomato products, your body might be mostly willing to tone it down on the marinara sauce.

And then there are other things that your body is just NOT GOING TO DO. Even if some other part of you thinks it’s a really good idea. If some part of you wants to try to lose weight, for example, your body might be willing to try eating less for a certain period of time…but then it might give you a pretty clear signal that THIS IS TERRIBLE AND IT DOESN’T LIKE DOING THIS. Most people I work with have gotten this signal many times over.

The key is that once you’ve gotten that clear signal, you need to let it go, or your relationship will suffer.

I think that true love in a long-term relationship requires the following:

  • Appreciating what you genuinely appreciate
  • Noticing what you’d like to change, and seeing if it is possible to change those things
  • Accepting what you will fundamentally never change about the other person

And that last one is key. Because if you’ve gotten a clear “no” from the person you love about making a certain change, and yet you continue to remind them 18 times a day how much you wish they’d change — it might seriously harm your relationship. They will probably get hurt, angry, or resentful. It might even start to impact other parts of your relationship because they will stop feeling safe or appreciated by you.

And how many of us are guilty of that whole tell-the-other-person-18-times-a-day thing with our bodies? How many of us think, every time we put on a pair of pants or look in the mirror, I would love my body more if I just lost five pounds?

Let’s face it: You are definitely in a long-term relationship with your body. Sure, it might be one of those arranged-marriage situations — and not even the good kind of arranged marriage where your parents take your interests into account and you thought the guy was cool anyway.

You might not have chosen this particular body if you were given the option between yours and Jenna Dewan Tatum’s, for example. But it’s what you’ve got, divorce isn’t an option, and you’re going to have to make the best of it.

And if you want to be in a successful long-term relationship, you need to appreciate what it is possible for you to appreciate (and every body has many things worth appreciating), while laying off trying to change the things that you can’t change.

This philosophy — that you don’t necessarily need to be over-the-moon with Body Infatuation every second, but you DO have to lay off trying to change your body if you want to have a pleasant relationship with it, has many different names:

Body Peace
Body Neutrality
Body Acceptance
Or even Body Positivity or Body Love — though these two terms can sometimes point toward a form of “body infatuation” that isn’t super realistic, in my opinion.

You can call it any of those things. I particularly like “body neutrality,” myself. But I think the most helpful thing is to remember the following:

1. Love is not the same as infatuation, and
2. Love requires some level of letting go, even if some other part of you would prefer to lose those 3.5 pounds.

I’d love to hear from you: What would be an appropriate metaphor for your current relationship with your body? What would you like the metaphor to be? 

 

What if you were more rational than you think?

Do you ever feel like there are two different parts within you, fighting it out?

One part of you knows what’s rational and reasonable. This part of you says things like: “Okay, you can have one cookie, but that’s it,” or “We need to eat a salad for lunch because that’s what reasonable people do.”

Then there’s another part of you — the part that likes to go a little crazy. The Crazy Part caused you to eat half a gallon of Rocky Road ice cream while you were watching Game of Thrones the other night, when you weren’t even hungry and the ice cream made your body feel bloated and weird afterwards.

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Many people deal with this feeling of having two parts by trying to shut down the Crazy Part. “I just need to get my act together and stop eating so much candy!” is something I hear a lot.

But here’s another — far more useful — approach I want to offer:

Assume that all parts of you are fundamentally rational.

If you assume that all parts of you are fundamentally rational, then that Crazy Part isn’t crazy after all. It’s actually just rationally responding to a series of issues that you are not yet consciously aware of.

If all parts of you are rational, there’s no need to “shut down” the crazy-seeming part. Actually, just the opposite approach is needed — you need to listen to what that part is telling you. If it is having such a strong reaction, there is probably something really important that you need to know but aren’t yet aware of.

At this point, maybe you’re thinking to yourself, I’m a pretty self-aware person. I wouldn’t be missing out on something so big happening.

But here’s the thing. Most people I work with, both in my individual coaching practice and in the Dessert Club, are pretty self-aware people. I love self-aware people. And yet, every single person I’ve ever worked with — without a single exception — had more going on internally than they initially realized.

Maybe this is frustrating. If it were as simple as “I just need more willpower around sugar,” you could throw away all the sugar in your house and make one of those calendars where you cross out every day on which you don’t eat it.

But this “all parts of me are rational” approach requires you to undertake a complex and potentially messy process of self-reflection and self-discovery. What is actually motivating me that I’m not currently aware of?

To be honest, though, I actually think that I’ve given you the best news ever. You aren’t crazy! You don’t need more willpower! There isn’t a binge-loving gremlin living in your brain!

You are fundamentally rational.

And if you are fundamentally rational, but behaving in a way that seems irrational…well, I guess you’re going to have to do some sleuthing, my friend. 

Q&A Sunday: Is it ever a good idea to weigh myself?

This week, I wanted to share a question from a fellow reader. She’s someone smart and thoughtful. Someone like you. Here’s what she says:

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Is it ever a decent idea to weigh myself on a scale? By decent I suppose I mean, constructive/ healing/ helpful.

Several months ago, when I discovered your blog/intuitive eating, I began trying to feel my feelings and eat food when I was hungry, etc. I determined I would weigh myself once a month-ish to check in, and that I'd (try my best to) cultivate an attitude of equanimity, regardless of what the scale said.

I noticed it dropping, the number on the scale, quite slowly but steadily. I felt unsurprised, as I knew I'd spent much of the past year eating for reasons other than hunger. I felt pleased about it at times, I won't deny it; but also, pretty equanimeous. Sometimes I'd forget I'd even weighed myself until a week later (a far cry from the days of seemingly having that number branded onto the inside of my skull).

Then a day came, a month, where my weight had jumped up. Not so slightly. Whereas the decreases had been subtle (½ lb or maaaaybe 1 lb/month), this was a 4 lb increase in a month. And my equanimity ran off.

The number rang in my head all day. All week. All month. I decided never to step on the scale again.

Then I had a doctor's appointment. Another 4 lbs increase. I didn't remove my boots though, so I could tell myself it's not fully real.

I am realizing that whenever I weigh myself, I am, in a sense, looking for external assurance that "I'm okay." When the answer is "yes", it's usually because the number has dropped or stayed the same, though. When the answer is "no", it's usually because the number has increased. And it is often only then, in scenario two, where I'm "not okay," that in my upset I can see the inanity of putting my sense of wellness into something as sterile and plastic as a scale.

The (semi) trouble with not weighing myself, is I've no objective perspective (which I assume the scale does offer) to help mitigate or ameliorate my body dysphoria, which sometimes feels truly out of control.  [note from Katie: body dysmorphia means that a person is excessively concerned with an imagined or exaggerated flaw in their appearance. Sometimes this can escalate to the level of a disorder, but I think that this reader is using the phrase in a sub-clinical sense.] And in which instances, a scale can tell me, "calm down. Not much has changed here." This can be a helpful anxiety-dampener.

But of course, the opposite is contained within this external arbiter of comfort & reassurance-- it has the power to take it away, too-- and it's all unknown until it isn't and then it's too late, to un-know. I would've already stepped on the scale; I would've already asked the question and handed my power over.

On one hand, I want to continue the work of not associating less weight with “Okay” and more weight with “Not Okay” (an ongoing endeavor of the past decade).

But I still wonder. Is it ever a decent idea to step on a scale?

— Lisa


Lisa, thank you so much for this. Even in how your phrase the question, you show how thoughtful and caring and smart you are. 

And you share such a powerful case study for how scales can seriously mess with all of us, even if we are thoughtful and caring and smart. 

In my opinion, the short answer to your question of: “is it ever constructive/healing/helpful to step on a scale?” is, to put it bluntly: is no. 

No, I do not think that it is ever constructive or healing or helpful to step on a scale. 

I’ve written about how harmful scales can be before.

Part of the reason I wanted to respond to your question, though, is that it’s clear to me that you already know this. You wrote so beautifully about how stepping on a scale is really just “looking for external assurance that I'm okay. 

So I know that you know:  A scale cannot tell you if you are okay. It can only tell you the mass of your body. 
The mass of your body is not the same as whether you are worthy or “okay.”

And, even more problematically, a scale can make you not-okay, emotionally or psychologically, by encouraging an unhealthy obsession with being a very precise weight. Because, inevitably, we will get on the scale and at least sometimes not like what we see.

So in that sense, I don’t think it is ever constructive or healing or helpful to step on a scale. It is not even really necessary to have such a precise measure of your body mass. If you’ve lost a substantial amount of weight, you will know without a scale. If you’ve gained a substantial amount of weight, you will know without a scale. You will know based on how your clothes fit and how your body feels. 

If you have lost or gained a small amount of weight, yes, perhaps you might need a scale to tell you that. But does it really, truly matter if you’ve gained or lost, say, 2.5 pounds?

But again, I know that you know this.

Part of why I wanted to answer this question was because I think you are not alone, in this icky, frustrating cycle of “I know that I shouldn’t care so much about my weight” and “I really, really care so much about my weight.”

I also think you are not alone in feeling rudderless at times, detached from the anchor that tells you that you are valuable, you are enough, you are worthwhile just as you are.

And indeed, part of the pain of your situation is that you are self-aware and thoughtful enough to see yourself in this cycle.

So if you remember one thing about this letter that I am writing to you, I hope it is this: your desire to get on a scale is a warning signal.

It is a warning signal that you have lost yourself.
It is a warning signal that you feel you are not enough.
It is a warning signal that you feel scared or nervous or excited or some other thing that is a bit (or a lot) too much for you to handle right now.

If we can accept that food issues are not really about food, we also must accept that weight issues are not really about weight.

Just as your desire to eat fourteen 14 cookies after walking in the door from work tells you something about yourself, your desire to weigh yourself also tells you something.

The good news is that if you’re already introspective enough to have done a lot of this personal work with your eating, I think you’re also going to be able to deeply ask yourself, “what does my desire to weigh myself tell me about how I’m doing?”

Because — and again, you probably already know this — only by really sitting in the question of what your intense concern about weight tells you about the rest of your fears, loves, desires, and dreams…can you actually hope to resolve this issue.

I think that this weight thing is telling you that there is some deep, personal work and growth with your name on it.

I think that this weight thing is telling you that there is a world in which you could feel a much deeper, surer knowing that you are on the right path, that you are enough, that you deserve love, right here and now. 

Of course, this is a big journey that I’m inviting you oninto. This Q&A Sunday didn’t fix your problem with a magic wand, even though I wish that it could.

But I want to give you at least one actionable place to start. So it is, Lisa (and everyone else out there):

When you find yourself about to weigh yourself, step away from the scale, go to a different room, set a timer for at least 5 minutes, and answer one or more of following questions. Answer them while writing longhand:

  • What am I afraid will happen — in all of my life — if I have gained weight?
  • What do I hope will happen — in all of my life — if I lose weight?
  • What generally happens after I weigh myself? Do I want that for me, today?
  • Why is it scary to think about not weighing myself?
  • Why do I need to weigh myself at this exact moment?
  • What am I resisting right now?

After that, you make a decision about whether or not to weigh yourself. But if you write each time, at least you will be getting to know yourself and your deeper motivations in the process. And in knowing your deeper motivations, you can question whether your fears are true and what you want to do about them.

Thanks for your question, Lisa. I hope you know that I’m rooting for you, with all of this.

How to eat food and feel like you never ate anything

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There are many ways to eat food without feeling like you’ve eaten it. Any of these sound familiar?

1. Buy a chocolate bar at the supermarket. Eat it when you get in the car, as you listen to the radio and navigate the traffic-filled streets home. You’re talking to your kids in the backseat, who have a lot to say, and the chocolate bar is gone before you get out of the car to carry in your groceries. Did the chocolate bar even happen?

2. Take a late-night trip to your kitchen. Open the cabinet and unwrap a bag of your favorite chips. Put several chips in your mouth, and then several more. Look both ways to make sure no one is coming into the kitchen, then grab a few more salty morsels as you close the cabinet. By the time you make it to your bedroom, there are no chips to be found. Did the chips even happen?

3. Leave a meeting and head to the office kitchen. Donuts were left on the breakroom table, so you eat half of a donut as you make yourself some tea and check your phone. You grab the other half as you respond to a quick email — you want to make sure your colleague knows you’re on top of this new issue. You take your tea and rush off to the next meeting. Did the donut even happen?

4. Meet three good friends for drinks and dinner. You order a couple of drinks and so many different dishes to share. It feels so good to catch up with everyone about their lives, you find yourself reaching for a bite every couple of sentences. At the end of the night, all of the plates are empty, but you can’t remember much of what you ate except that you feel a little weird in your body. Did the dinner even happen?

Of course, there’s nothing inherently “wrong” with eating when you aren’t hungry, eating while distracted, or sneaking foods so others don’t see you eating.

There’s not even anything inherently “wrong” in eating in a way that makes your body feel bloated or numb or weird afterwards.

You are allowed to eat however you like.

But that’s the question, isn’t it: How do you want to eat?

And, as a reminder — if you want help shifting your relationship to food so that you actually CAN eat the way you want to eat…my small group classes, called “Dessert Clubs,” start in just a couple of days! I won't run them again until 2018, so this is your last chance for a while.

There’s just a couple of spots in each group if you’d like to grab ‘em! Learn more here.  

If you're considering giving up sugar or starting a Whole30 tomorrow, watch this first.

In the past six months — or let's face it, in the past week — have you contemplated or attempted to:

  • Completely stop eating sugar
  • Start an intense exercise regimen that you only kind-of enjoy
  • Conform to a pre-existing eating “plan” (e.g., Paleo, Whole30, low-carb, Weight Watchers, etc.)
  • Take on a new habit in a super demanding way (e.g., “I’ll work on my novel for two hours every day, including weekends!”)

If so, there’s something I want you to now. And I want you to hear it from me, so I recorded a video. 

After you watch, I'd love to hear: In what areas of your life do you tend to make "big" or "extreme" plans? 

11 things to do if you suddenly realize you’re standing at your kitchen cabinet, eating pita chips out of the bag

Have you ever had that moment when you suddenly realize you’re standing at your kitchen cabinet, eating Stacy’s Cinnamon Sugar Pita Chips straight out of the bag, and you don’t even know how you got there?

Oh, just me?

If you want the pita chips, please have the pita chips. But there are other times when you don’t want to leave the pita chips because A) you don’t know what to do with yourself instead or B) you don’t want to face your feelings/work/to-do list/children waiting on the other side of the pita chips.

In these moments, it’s a smart idea to have something else to do that doesn’t involve going back to responsibilities or work or contemplating your existence. That’s what this list is — 11 things that I think are silly or fun or moving.

Here’s a suggestion: don’t even click on all the links now! Instead, save this article somewhere easily accessible, and pull it out next time you feel yourself inexplicably drawn to the pita chips that you don’t really want.

Think of it like an emergency care package from me to you.

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11 things that you can do instead of eating pita chips:
 

  1. Watch an SNL sketch on YouTube. If you like The Bachelorette, this one made me cry from laughter. Or you might like this or this or this one here.
     
  2. Play Ballz. To get it, search “ballz” in the app store + download.
    Just trust me on this one.
     
  3. Make a Pinterest board of how you would decorate your hypothetical home if you had an enormous budget. Here’s mine.
     
  4. Do a Google image search for “teacup kittens” or watch this.
     
  5. Watch an Inside Amy Schumer sketch. Okay, I get that this is very similar to #1, but I love Amy Schumer’s work so, so much and it often has such hilarious social critiques of beauty, weight, and women’s roles in general. Check out this or this or this.
     
  6. Read the beginning of a romance novel. I think that romance novels are to the brain what sugar is to the body: delicious, and — if well written/baked — totally worth it. Amazon lets you read the beginning of a book for free, so you might try this or this.
     
  7. Pick out a hypothetical wardrobe of clothes that are mostly made of silk. Well, yours doesn’t have to be mostly silk. This site is fun for out-there daydreaming.
     
  8. Think about what names you would give to your hypothetical children or characters in a novel you’d like to write. You could start here.
     
  9. Read a fun blog. I like this and this and this. Oh, and this is kind of a guilty pleasure…
     
  10. Listen to pop songs that are guaranteed to improve your mood. This and this are basically foolproof for me, and this really takes me back. We also can’t forget THIS ONE. Dancing is optional but encouraged.  
     
  11. Totally random, but this cracks me up every time. And this is so lovely.

 

What is the goal of this list? To get you away from the pita chips for a couple of minutes. Once we have even a couple of minutes of brain space, we can usually make a better decision about how to act in a way that best serves us. 

Finally, there are going to be some times when you know that eating those cinnamon morsels isn’t really serving you, but you can’t quite put them down. It’s best not to beat yourself up too much about that. Kindness tends to be a much more effective long-term strategy. Plus, here’s what you can do the next day.

I know that we have our own list of things that we do in those weird moments when we feel like wewant to do something we don’t truly want to do and have to wait it out. Your ideas might be useful to someone else — will you share them and pay it forward? Leave them below!

 

 

Why eating at social events is so hard

It’s always been 10x harder for me to care for myself with food when I’m in a social setting. 

I’ll think that everything is going great, and then I’ll realize: oh man I just ate seventeen handfuls of tortilla chips and I don’t even like tortilla chips that much, or I wasn’t even hungry but somehow I just half of a large pizza.

I know I’m not the only one. Every Dessert Club, and with nearly every coaching client, we talk about how to eat in social situations in a way that allows you to feel good in your body and connected to yourself and your true needs.

Particularly since we’re heading into a Labor Day weekend here in the US (which often involved plenty of socializing!), I wanted to share with you why I think that social eating is so hard, and the most helpful technique I know for navigating it:

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Why social eating is so hard

Eating in a way that serves all parts of you requires that you listen to internal signals from all parts of you. You need to be able to hear the parts of you saying things like, I’m full!I like cookies but not too many cookies!, and Hearing this person talk about her job is making me feel insecure! — and more.

In other words, eating in a way that serves all parts of you requires turning up the volume on your internal experience, so that these diverse voices are loud enough for you to hear them.

That’s where the tricky part comes in. When we’re in social settings, it’s really, really hard to listen to the voice of your internal experience because there’s so freaking much happening in our external experience — things like:

  • Music in the restaurant
  • A companion — or many companions — to talk to, who may provoke intense feelings within us (love, resentment, attraction, connection, stress, anxiety, boredom)
  • Delicious foods that we don’t get to eat every day
  • A new setting, like a restaurant, with unique lighting, furniture, etc.

 

The best technique I know for dealing with social eating

Do you want to know my #1 tip for social eating? It’s pretty wild. Get ready for it.

Take a break + check in with yourself.

I mean that in a literal sense. Leave the social situation, go somewhere quiet where you can be alone, and check in with how you are doing. It can be too hard to know what you need when you are in the middle of stimulating situation — I’m a pretty self-aware person, and I still find it really hard. Once you reduce the stimulation, though, it’s much easier.

Of course, sometimes in a social situation it can be difficult to find a place to be alone and quiet. But there’s always at least one place….the bathroom!

Maybe this is a slightly weird piece of advice, but I think that bathrooms are awesome for personal check-ins. They are private, they are everywhere, and it’s not socially weird to excuse yourself to go to the bathroom. You might have to go to the bathroom anyway!

Once you’re in that private, quiet place — and let’s be honest, there’s a 90% chance that it will be the bathroom — ask yourself about two things:

  1. How am I doing, with food?
  2. How am I doing, in general?

Maybe that’s all you need, just those two questions. But in case you’d like even more ideas about how to check in with yourself, here are some more specific questions that I sometimes ask myself, when I’m having my personal check-in in the ladies’ room:  

1. How am I doing, with food?

  • Am I hungry? Am I full?
    And how do you know? Where are you feeling those hunger/fullness sensations?
     
  • If I want to eat, what do I want to eat? And how much?
     
  • How is the information I am getting now different from what I thought when I was near the food?
    For example, you might have been planning to eat your entire entrée when you were sitting at the table, but now that you are checking in, you realize that you’re full and don’t want the rest.
     
  • If I was _______, would I want to keep eating?
    You could fill in that blank with “alone,” “at home, reading,” “spending time with people who made me feel comfortable and safe,” or whatever is true for you.


2. How am I doing, in general?

  • How is my physical body doing? What sensations am I feeling?
    This could be a good time to notice if you have stress, excitement, tension, or any other sensation in any part of your body.
     
  • How am I doing, emotionally?
    Are you feeling happy, angry, sad, scared, frustrated, bored, lost, stimulated, interested? 
     
  • What is true for me, right now, that I am resisting acknowledging?
    Maybe you don’t want to be where you are. Maybe you are tired. Maybe you are so overwhelmingly happy to be with the people that you are with, that it’s hard to even notice your body and its needs.

For some people, it can be hard to check-in in their minds alone. If that’s true for you, you could try writing down your responses to some of these questions, either on a scrap of paper or in the Notes app on your phone.

If you are particularly nervous about a social eating event coming up and want to be super prepared, you could even write down some of these questions on paper or in your phone and bring them with you. That way, you’ll have some prompts in the moment to get started.

Of course, you don’t need to ask yourself all these questions every time! But they can be a good jumping off point.

That’s it!

To summarize:

1. Social eating is hard because you lose touch with yourself.

2. To reconnect, go to a quiet, private place (bathroom) and check in with yourself, food-wise and non-food-wise.

 

I’d love to know: what do you find helpful, for eating in social situations? Leave a comment below + let me know!

Frustrated with your eating? Here’s why you shouldn’t beat yourself up.

Do you ever feel completely, at-the-end-of-you-rope frustrated with your eating? I have been worrying about this for too freaking long and why haven’t I conquered it already?!

I have something that you need to hear. I wanted you to hear it directly from me, so I recorded you a video.

What do you think? Does it give you hope? Can you feel the hug that I'm giving you from across the internet?

Good luck for the week ahead, my friend.