Feelin’ Myself: The Easiest Trick Ever To Make Peace With Your Bod

Feelin’ Myself: The Easiest Trick Ever To Make Peace With Your Bod

Body Tips + Tools

SO OFTEN we don’t bat a lash at being mean to ourselves – not because we’re inadequate, but because we’re removed.

Distraction is a fun tactic we use when we feel things we don’t want to be feeling. Scared? Procrastinate the day away. Uncomfortable? Check every app on your phone (twice). Anxious? Eat your feelings. And when we distract, we dissociate.

But the thing is, when we dissociate from whatever’s happening – the nervous jitters, the awkward moments, the anxiety – we don’t learn how to deal.

And since emotions aren’t inherently good or bad – we just name them that way – we start to shut down OTHER sensations, too.

We don’t just become removed from the things we don’t like, we start to numb out to the things we DO, too.

The way we treat our body is exactly the same. None of our parts are good or bad, we just name them that way. And way too often, we lump them into the “bad” category instead of the good. Seeing a reflection you’d prefer looked different, or noticing your clothes fit a little tighter than usual, morph from neutral sensations to negatively charged emotions.

And what do we do when those emotions bubble up? We distract ourselves. It must be the body. It must be the problem. We detach, place blame, and dissociate.

None of our parts are good or bad, we just name them that way. Click To Tweet

Just like our Ghost Worries hijack our rational minds – just like salt and sugar cover up what our food actually tastes like – negative self-talk has made us forget what our bodies actually feel like.

The pattern is simple and is just like any other relationship on the rocks. See the thing. Notice the fault. Blame the Other. Withdraw attachment. Withdraw touch. But instead of the Other being a husband or girlfriend or romantic partner, the Other is our body.

The second we dissociate from the actual feel of our body, the second we start to dissociate from our body itself. And when we dissociate from our body for too long, we become afraid of it. Afraid  – or at least resentful – of this container we’re in. This thing that seems entirely out of our control. Our skin becomes something to pick at and prod. Our muscles become “bulk” and our fat becomes forbidden. The only time we touch our body is when we’re zeroing in to fix something.

Some relationship.

The solution is simple but daunting: like Beyoncé, we must literally be feeling ourselves.

 

I don’t mean in the sexual sense – but hey, if you’d like to discuss that, we can talk here or hereI mean actually TOUCH ourselves. Our arms. Our legs. Our stomach. Our hips. Feel what our body feels like.

Sound awkward? It might be at first. But it’s a weird yet effective trick I always come back to when I’m really feeling low about my bod. And I find the longer I go without putting TOUCH into practice, the quicker I slip into old body-loathing tendencies and self-talk.

I know, I know…”easiest trick ever” like sounds like super obnoxious clickbait. But seriously. It takes a matter of minutes, doesn’t involve spending money, and doesn’t require you to recite a mantra or do anything too hippie-dippie. There is NOTHING fancy about this practice, but it’s powerful beyond belief.

It’s as easy as applying lotion after you get out of the shower or giving yourself a mini massage. Take the time to actually feel what your skin feels like in your hands, the way your muscles curve and your thighs dimple (yes, everyone’s do). Notice the micro-dips in your collarbone as you press in, or the soft area under your armpits that is so often shilded from the sun. Get curious about your lines and shapes. How does this thing I call My Body fit together? How does it work? How does the weight I put on my feet each day affect their sensitivity, or the constant texting-typing-responding-reacting my arms do affect them from the inside out?

When we can notice the way our skin feels, relieve a tight muscle, feel the way each part of our body miraculously fits together, we become a creature to admire instead of an object to critique.

When we notice how our skin feels, we become a creature to admire instead of an object to critique Click To Tweet

photo credit: ericathurman.com


 

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The WANTcast 035: The Recovery Myth, Part 2 – Lynn Chen, Actress + Activist

The WANTcast 035: The Recovery Myth, Part 2 – Lynn Chen, Actress + Activist

Body the WANTcast

I am so proud to bring you THE RECOVERY MYTH: a new four-part miniseries by WANT sharing real-life stories, smashing open misconceptions, and shining a light on what recovery from an eating/body-related disorder or addiction REALLY looks like.

I’ll be talking to experts, healers, and real-life recoverees answering some of the top recurring questions I’ve gotten from you over the last few years. Not just questions about recovery itself, but about the befores, the durings, the afters, and all the in-betweens that can sometimes seem like you imagined them.

To be clear: the point of The Recovery Myth is NOT to prescribe a roadmap or provide a neat-and-tidy picture of what recovery looks like. The point is to dispel myths surrounding recovery and gain multiple perspectives to provide a more inclusive, holistic, and ultimately helpful view of what it looks like to go from the darkness into the light.

In Part One, we debunked the seven biggest myths and misunderstandings surrounding recovery (read + listen here). Today on The Recovery Myth, I’m talking to Lynn Chen, actor, host, blogger, and activist. (If you’ve been following along for a while you probably remember her from episode 4, where we talked about learning how to accept what is, and then moving forward from there.)

Today’s episode with Lynn exceeded all my hopes for this series. Super raw. Somewhat controversial. Intensely personal. Whether you’re in recovery, know someone who is in recovery, or in the midst of your own two-steps-forward-three-steps-back personal journey, I encourage you to not only listen to the episode but SHARE it and TALK about it. And let me know what it brings up for you…because the conversation cannot and should not end once the outro music starts to play.

WANT LYNN:

Listen in iTunes | Play in new window | Download |Support the pod by shopping on Amazon via this link

Show notes:
Lynn Chen
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
Youtube

Lynn’s WANT Woman spotlight
NEDA
The GOOD Fest (use WANT10 for $10 off)
The 7 biggest recovery myths


Like this episode? Shoot me a comment below, leave a review on iTunes, share it on Facebook, tweet it out on Twitter, or post it on Instagram. Be sure to use the hashtags #WANTcast, #womenagainstnegativetalk, and/or #WANTyourself!

Know someone who might need this miniseries? Forward it along and let them know you care.

Know someone who might be able to contribute something unique to the conversation? I’d LOVE to meet them. IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW HAS GONE THROUGH AN ED/ADDICTION/SUBSTANCE ABUSE (**AND HAVE SUCCESSFULLY RECOVERED), OR ARE AN EXPERT IN THE FIELD, shoot me an email at katie@womenagainstnegativetalk.com and we can get to talking.


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On Sameness + Perfection.

On Sameness + Perfection.

Body Love Motivation + Inspiration

WHEN I WAS 12, I read the book The Giver by Lois Lowry. A sort of Brave New World for the tween set, it’s about a confined society in which everything is Just So all the time. It’s a society that’s been converted to “sameness” – a plan that has eradicated pain and strife. Everyone is identical. No one feels. No one judges. No one’s flawed. No experience, no emotion, no hunger for life. Just…predictability.

I think that most of my classmates empathized with the times the main character, Jonas, felt weird for being different (how much more tweeny can you get?). I, however, empathized with how angry Jonah felt when he started to see – really see – how phoney Sameness really was.

~

Perfection is a hoax. The allure of being perfect is the greatest con, the greatest scheme ever devised. Forget about the Photoshop, the glossy pages, the television even. Perfection is a stagnant ideal and a consummation of all we find unsatisfactory. It’s an artifice to fool ourselves into believing that there’s an excuse or that we’re failing. That is perfect, They are perfect is internalized and morphs into This is not perfect. I am not perfect.
Perfection is conditional love. It’s an invisible benchmark and a thick glass ceiling. It’s the expectation and the idealization of the absolutely monotonous. It’s a lonely, one-dimensional load of crap we think we need in order to feel special.

Perfection is a pile of you-know-what from both ends of the spectrum; doesn’t matter how you look at it. We live in a world where the sweetest apples are discarded for a touch of brown, where we inject plastic into the lines we’ve earned from reading novels late into the night, where we over-sterilize and under-appreciate.

And then there are the people who seem to be constantly extolled for their beauty, their wisdom, or their achievements. Their existence is idolized, their lives an exercise in perfection maintenance. And that…that is a huge burden to carry, too. It’s immense, unreasonable pressure to stay at a certain age, look, job and caliber indefinitely. Because what if – no, when – we don’t? What happens when we falter – or maybe just aren’t astonishingly mind-blowing every single second?


Will we still be loved?

 

The word “perfect” has haunted me my entire life. When I was in middle school, I would be called perfect as a taunt. I didn’t have braces. I liked to color-coordinate. I got good grades. My awkward stage was mild. Sounds great, huh? Yeah. Not really. I felt detached and alone. I felt I could not be myself; God forbid I spoke out of turn or mismatched a sock. Just like Jonas in The Giver, I saw how fabricated the idea of perfection was, but didn’t know how to convince people otherwise. There was an immense discomfort in knowing I was looked at as someone who had everything together, and that that was both desired AND detested. Trying to convince people I wasn’t always backfired, since perfection was so ingrained in my identity to others. It was weird for me to be perfect but wrong for me to be flawed.

But the most uncomfortable thing for me was that my biggest taunts were also my highest praise. I was told I was pretty, I was told I was smart, I was told I was sweet, and I was told I was talented. I wasn’t ever forced to be those things – no stage parents in my household – but it was obvious the value they had. Plus, the alternative was scary. When you grow up in a culture that puts people down for fun and thrives off of casual negativity to get through the day, how does anything but perfect seem like a viable option? There was currency in perfection…as well as immunity. I felt that.

Balance was virtually impossible.

 

How was it that the very thing I equated with love and worth from my family and mentors was the thing I equated with loneliness and weirdness when it came to my friends and peers?

 

Some would have rebelled. But no – I didn’t want to rebel. I just wanted to relate. So I downplayed my assets and kept them locked away. At the root of it, I feared loss. I wanted to guarantee love, but at the same time wanted to be the full range of myself – which included the dark and messy parts. Please let me be normal, I’d silently beg. Do not love me for my light, because it sometimes gets dark in here and I can’t bear the loss when you realize that.

What was the most interesting is when I started to focus on feeling special instead of focusing on the whether or not others THOUGHT I was special. I let my guard down in front of people. I took myself very seriously but took the world a whole lot less so. I cried over boys and told people who hurt me the way that I felt. I opened up about being melancholy for what seemed like no reason and realized there were way more people like me than there were not. My dark and messy wasn’t all so dark and messy after all. I was just, as Glennon Doyle says, “a feely person in a messy world.” I began to realize that only I could determine my value, and only I could know what was my rightest right. I stopped using the word “perfect” to describe people and things and started to call them “perfect-for-me.” I stopped feeding off “perfect” and living on purpose.

You are not a mess. You are a feely person in a messy world. - @glennondoyle Click To Tweet

I am wary of perfection. The ones who make it their life’s mission to be perfect, I’m onto them. There is something deeper there, there is something hiding and some voice inside that once told them that the only way to be is to be flawless. Because big voices and unique souls and feely people are risky to a messy world that likes to put things in cramped little boxes that are easy to define and file away. Nothing is intriguing when you fit into Sameness.

Whenever I see these people, I want to take them aside and hug them and tell them just to Be. Just BE. Be on purpose. Be a contradiction. Be extreme! Whatever you are and whoever you are, be extremely YOU. At the end of the day, what else is there left? The people who know how to live are absolutely flawless in their quirks and extremes. They’re certainly not afraid to mismatch their socks or disagree with the world.

The idea that perfection gets you a prize is a big fat lie, and the thing is that we ALL KNOW IT deep down. Because those beautiful on-purpose souls, who are extremely and unquestionably themselves, those are the people we’re all ultimately drawn to in the long run. Not the ones who homogenize their lives to be Just So. Because this is not sameness. This is life. In all its extremities and nuances.

What makes you special isn’t someone else’s declaration that you’re special. What makes you special are the exact things that end up making you feel as if you’re living with the entirety of yourself. Find those tiny details and idiosyncrasies that make you you, and use them to support and enhance the extreme You-ness of the way you Be. It isn’t about “perfection” or “flawed” or whatever’s the opposite. It’s about being unquestionably yourself.

Forget about the Sameness, forget about utopia. There is no better person to be, no better place to live, than Oh-So-On-Purpose.


 

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The Recovery Myth: 7 Common Misconceptions About The New Normal

The Recovery Myth: 7 Common Misconceptions About The New Normal

Body Community Tips + Tools

So many of you have asked me questions about eating disorder “recovery.” How to get there. How to stay there. How to exist there.

I’ve avoided writing about recovery – like, really writing about it – for a while. Not because I haven’t wanted to, but because I’ve seen others do it and either face scathing criticism from experts or get unwanted attention and get pinned AS an expert. That’s what being hyper-aware of the internet will do: make you worry yourself into inaction.

I feared that some doctor would read or hear my words and rip me a new one. I feared someone would view my words on recovery as this panacea for basically any and every eating/body issue they’ve ever experienced. I feared WANT would become a recovery-specific movement and was wary of diving in as our community was still finding its legs. Because I am no expert.

But now? Now we’ve got our legs, and now they’re damn. strong. We’ve gotten to the point where I feel it would be irresponsible to NOT address the dark, extreme turn negative self-talk can take, head-on. Especially because I’ve been there.

~

When you’re coming out of a dark place, any solution can seem like THE solution. Nixing the one trigger from your life or following the one pearl of wisdom can feel like you’re finally on the right track. But it’s never the case. Contrary to what most people who haven’t experienced addiction or body/eating-related disorders (which are, many times, just another form of addiction) think, the most vulnerable time isn’t always when you’re IN the darkness. The most vulnerble time can be actually when you’re actively trying to move toward the light.

Recovery is a three-steps-forward, two-steps-back kind of deal. One moment you forget how you could have ever given so much energy to your disorder, the next you’re sideswiped by an inauspicious trigger and you’re suddenly in shackles again. And the main thing I’ve realized in talking to you all about this…is that recovery is still a hazy concept until you’ve gone through and past it.

For all these reasons and more, I am so proud to bring you The Recovery Myth: a miniseries by WANT sharing real-life stories, smashing open misconceptions, and shining a light on what recovery really looks like.

I’ll be talking to experts, healers, and real-life recoverees answering some of the top recurring questions I’ve gotten from you over the last few years. Not just questions about recovery itself, but about the befores, the durings, the afters, and all the in-betweens that can sometimes seem like you imagined them.

To be clear: the point of The Recovery Myth is NOT to prescribe a roadmap or provide a neat-and-tidy picture of what recovery looks like. The point is to dispel myths surrounding recovery and gain multiple perspectives to provide a more inclusive, holistic, and ultimately helpful view of what it looks like to go from the darkness into the light.

A few disclaimers:

– The Recovery Myth is a four-part series. Once a month, we’ll dive into The Recovery Myth on the site and the WANTcast, culminating in the first week of October for Mental Health Awareness Week.

– I’ll be focuing primarily on eating/body-related disorders, but will also be touching on substance abuse, as they often stem from the same place mentally and emotionally.

– I know that I’m not the authority on recovery, and I think you know that, too. But like I said above, I am incredibly sensitive to the fact that darkness can drive us to latch onto any answer as THE answer and can create codependent relationships. I am not here to provide anyone with definitive answers, nor am I here to be anyone’s crutch. I AM here, however, to maybe spark a conversation, maybe open some eyes, and ask the hard questions that someone maybe might not feel brave enough asking. And I’m hoping, it can maybe help someone feel powerful enough to seek the change they wish to be. Although, spoiler alert: you’re already powerful enough.

Spoiler alert: you're already powerful enough. Click To Tweet

So, where do we go? Where do we start? The myths themselves. Totally not an exhaustive list (because the whole never-ending exhaustive list is…exhausting), but let’s kick this off by talking the most ::facepalm:: inducing ones of all.

Here are 7 common myths surrounding the concept of “recovery:”

Myth #1: Recovery means getting “back to normal.”

Ever heard the phrase “you can’t unsee it?” You “can’t unsee” your experiences with an eating disorder or addiction. That doesn’t mean an ED or addiction is a life sentence. Kind of like a relationship gone sour, you can either let that relationship dictate your narrative or you can view it as something that led you to become the person you are today. Recovery isn’t so much about getting back to normal as it is about the process of creating a new normal. In this new normal, the disorder or addiction is still a part of your story – it just is not the defining chapter.

Myth #2: Recovery is a set of definitive answers and a straight path to success.

Recovery is like taking three steps forward and two steps back. Then five steps forward and one step back. Then eight steps forward and four steps back. Over and over and over again. Until those steps back become smaller and smaller and smaller and eventually non-existent. No one formula works for everyone, and no one path is linear.

Myth #3: Recovery is all about changing what you DO.

Yes, your relationship with food, exercise, and your body desperately need to be healed – but you can’t To-Do-List away a paradigm shift.

For a good long while (think years), I did just enough to convince other people I was trying to get better. That I was trying to be the person I once was. It backfired really badly. I would eat in secret. I would not eat for an entire day – yes, even if I was hungry – in order to consume a large dinner and “show” people I was back to normal. I created rules, regulations, strategies, and stipulations that no one could see from the outside.

In reality, an eating disorder is NOT about the food. It’s never about the food. It’s about the mindset, the control, and a larger problem desperately trying to be fixed. The food, the substance, the exercise, WHATEVER it is, is symptomatic, not causative. Which is why saying things like Just Eat, Stop Eating, Don’t Exercise, or Don’t Drink aren’t just ineffective, they’re insensitive. It’s also why, as the person trying to recover, you can’t simply address the surface-level stuff and call it a day. The real healing happens in parts of your head and heart that no one can see.

Myth #4: After you recover from an eating disorder, you’ll never think a negative thought about your body again (but if you do, you’ve relapsed).

There is a difference between relapsing and being human. We all have up and down days when it comes to the way we feel about ourselves or what we see in the mirror. The difference between negative thoughts and a mental disorder is that with the latter, those negative thoughts dictate your every move and start to steal your voice, your space, and your life away. Like I’ve said before, you can have moments of not liking your body but still loving your body. That’s normal. What’s not normal is when eating disorders steal the love away. Learning to create a new normal in life also means creating a new normal when it comes to how you deal with discomfort.

Myth #5: If you don’t look like you have a disorder, you don’t really have a problem.

LOLz to this ignorance. It’s not just young women – young, white, heterosexual, and middle/upper-class women, to be trope-specific – who develop eating disorders. It’s not just underweight people who are in danger. It’s not just those who have broken homes or relationship friction. Men, women, and non-binary folks of all ages, races, socioeconomic statuses, backgrounds, and body types can and DO develop eating disorders. All the time. To generalize is to deny a huge chunk of the population a chance at being seen. According to NEDA, “In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men will suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or EDNOS (eating disorders not otherwise specified).” It’s not about what you or your life look like, it’s about what’s going on underneath. No one is immune to developing an eating disorder.

Myth #6: The hardest part of recovery is abstinence.

The hardest part of recovery isn’t necessarily when you’re first learning how to stay away from or replace the behaviors you once had. The hardest part of recovery can be when you think you’re on the right path and then get sneak-attacked by something you didn’t realize was a trigger. That’s why it’s called a trigger. You don’t see it coming and it hits. FAST. The recovery dance can feel like a risky one. Triggers everywhere. And not a lot to trust. But then again, building trust often times feels like the riskiest feeling of all. And just like building trust in a friendship or romance, the biggest risks reap the biggest rewards.

The biggest risks reap the biggest rewards. Click To Tweet

Myth #7: You need to be at your lowest low in order to seek out recovery 

I read an eye-opening fact today on The Endometrisis Coalitions Instagram account stating that the “Stage” of endometriosis doesn’t dictate the amount of pain the stage causes. Someone with Stage 2 endo can have more severe pain than someone with Stage 4 endo. I immediately thought of eating disorders and how, often times, people think they or their loved ones are not “bad enough” to need recovery. But just like with a chronic illness or a feeling of grief, no one person’s experience is more or less valid than anyone else’s. What’s going on underneath the surface is what counts – and if it’s affecting your life for the worse, it warrants intervention.

~

To be completely transparent, even though I technically fit the bill, I have a very hard time identifying with the word “recovered” and calling it a day. Because it barely scratches the surface. My “recovery” looks like way more than a Before And After photo (which is why you won’t be seeing any of those on WANT). It’s not that think the word, or concept rather, has gotten a bad rap…it’s just gotten the wrong rap.

To be “recovered,” by society’s standards, insinuates being saved by something or someone. And let me be clear: YOU NEED TO ASK FOR HELP. Call. Text. Reach out. Book the appointment. Have someone book it for you. Just involve others. Humans are community-driven creatures. We need each other, in our highest highs and lowest lows.

But no matter how much therapy you go to, treatment you have, or self-help books you read, the only person who can truly save you…is you. It’s a choice that comes about with a lot of support, but is spurred into action when you finally say no to your crutches and YES to your capabilities.

Let’s let go of the old ideas that we can get back to who we once were once upon a time. Let’s start to think of RECOVERY as it really is. Something better than once upon a time: becoming the you YOU know you’re meant to be.

 

Know someone who might need this miniseries? Forward it along and let them know you care.

Know someone who might be able to contribute something unique to the conversation? I’d LOVE to meet them. IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW HAS GONE THROUGH AN ED/ADDICTION/SUBSTANCE ABUSE (**AND HAVE SUCCESSFULLY RECOVERED), OR ARE AN EXPERT IN THE FIELD, shoot me an email at katie@womenagainstnegativetalk.com and we can get to talking.


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Snacking In Motion (Or, How I Quit Judging And Ate The Damn Fries)

Snacking In Motion (Or, How I Quit Judging And Ate The Damn Fries)

Body Motivation + Inspiration Shift Of Power

You know how on Sex and the City, the women NEVER seem to stop eating (and drinking)? One minute it’s soft-serve, the next second it’s cupcakes. These women stay lithe, luminous, and lively…and yet they don’t take particularly great care of themselves. Well, Charlotte and Miranda run, and Carrie has a bout with a spin class, but aside from that. No, sex swings don’t count.

When I moved here, I heard the SATC-esque eating habits of New Yorkers were actually true. People did really grab-and-go, and it wasn’t uncommon to see everyone from the stroller set to suit-and-ties chowing down on a random park bench. It was a refreshing change from the uber-conscious foodie set of Los Angeles, where a calorie isn’t a calorie but a torture device.

Still, I never thought I’d be one of them. My body doesn’t work like that, I thought. I can’t just eat whatever I want and not feel it. Snacking In Motion might be the city’s MO, but unfortunately, it can’t be mine.

Or so I thought. I knew the part of me that was highly in tune with her body, the one that didn’t make food rules for herself and ate based on how she wanted to feel, the one that didn’t view food as good or bad but definitely knew the things that made her physically feel bad. The part of me that has taught herself to be totally fine with a “bad body day” and the compromise of wanting a taste and being okay with the aftermath that would follow.

But there was also a part of me that I thought those practices had silenced, and apparently still lived loud and proud in the crevices of my psyche. It was the part of me that was told she ate too big of portions, the part of her that viewed certain foods as “treats” or “indulgences” rather than just things. Soft-serve and doughnuts were Sometimes Foods, ones that only made an appearance when an unignorable craving would hit. I knew I could have them whenever I wanted to, I just didn’t want to. I think it was half that I knew the way they made me feel (#froyobelly), and half that I’d done a fantastic job at convincing myself that they weren’t worth my time.

And then there were french fries. A little history with me and the fry: I have never been a starch lover. Fun fact, I used to ask my mom to order my school cafeteria-made sandwiches on rye bread because I liked picking the toasted caraway seeds off the crust. Bread-y things have just never interested me. But french fries? I knew the gloriousness a well-done, well-salted french fry could bring. Oh, I knew. But because this usually wasn’t the case at most restaurants, I had no use for them. I didn’t not like them…I just didn’t care about them enough to make them my choice.

There was also the sociocultural factor. Maure Adult Women in my immediate circle never ordered french fries. Or at least never ordered their own. They’d pick one off of their child’s plate, or pawn one off their significant other, and then they’d make a big stink about forcing everyone else to try one and do the same because they were sooooooo goooooood. This was always so obnoxious to me, and as I grew older, I realized why:

The french fry had been deemed a taboo, so if they got someone else to eat one, it would normalize their sin.

Because of this, I developed a kind of apathy toward french fries. One woman’s sin was THIS woman’s nothing. I didn’t eat them not because I was scared. I didn’t eat them because they annoyed me. I hated the way other women gave a singular french fry such power, and I hated the judgement pinned on women who did eat them. It was such a spectacle – one I had no interest in being a part of. So I opted out.

And then I moved here. I don’t remember when it was, but it must have been within the first month. I was at a restaurant in the neighborhood, and I saw them: a white ceramic ramekin filled with the most beautiful french fries I had ever seen. They were mahogany. They were sliced to perfection.

They were sweet potato fries.

photo cred: half-baked harvest

Real talk, sweet potato fries were another thing I had a chip on my shoulder about. They were like low-tar cigarettes to me: what french fry transgressors ate to show the world they weren’t doing anything wrong, even though they’re just a variation on the same. Like, if you’re gonna do it, just do it. I thought sweet potato fries were a sham to ease guilty minds.

In that moment in the restaurant, I started to question my fry aversion – my restaurant, if you will. Why did fries annoy me so much? And if I got really, truly honest with myself, did I have that Mature Adult Woman in the back of my mind telling me that fries were empty, or bad, or would make me feel awful?

I didn’t even know anymore. I had to find out.

I felt the words falling off my lips as the waitress took my order – “And A Side Order Of Sweet Potato Fries” – and they felt so weighted to me. Would she judge me? Would she make a big deal about “how lucky” I am that I can eat “anything I want” or how she could “never eat fries” or something like that? Would she think I was one of those “basic” women who justified her fries by saying “but they’re sweet potato!”? Ordering my first order of sweet potato fries felt slightly rebellious. But, I was also convinced of the fact that they probably wouldn’t be that great and I probably wouldn’t think they were that great and I probably would have proved to myself that the whole fry frenzy was uncalled for.

The fries came to my table. Some well-done. Most  limp and disappointing. But I had ordered them, and I didn’t care enough to send them back, so I just said whatever and picked up the most structurally decent one and bit into the stupid thing.

It.

Was.

GREAT.

No, not restaurant…but definitely great. Definitely a step up from “alright” or “good.” I enjoyed sweet potato fries – who knew?!

And so then I had the next challenge ahead of me, which was the even harder one. Can I eat as many as I want and not feel bad about myself? I wasn’t gonna find out by just staring at them.

The evening came and went and we walked back home. I felt normal, but was preparing myself for that hungover or heavy feeling I’d been taught happens the next day when you eat something taboo. I went to sleep. I woke up. Nothing happened.

~

I come from the world of wellness, which thank goodness is starting to morph and preach a bit more balance than it used to. I’ve always had problems with the term “clean eating” because it insinuates anything that does not fit into this bracket is dirty. Under the guise of “clean eating” you could healthify anything. Cauliflower pizza crust, zucchini noodles, carrot fries.

Not trying to put on a front: I LOVE those things (really). But telling yourself you can ONLY have pizza if the crust isn’t dough, noodles if they’re spiralized, or fries if they’re veggie sticks dipped in ketchup sets isn’t the solution.

This isn’t for the people who have severe food allergies – this is for the rest of us who keep wondering when the hell we’re gonna make peace with our plate and what a healthy relationship with our body even feels like. I have some inklings, but I can assure you it doesn’t involve scare tactics or ultimatums.

Sure, if I eat a little “too much” sugar (ie beyond when my own unique individual body says “k i’m good”) I feel crappy. Yeah, if I have fries every day I start to feel like I’m becoming one. But by wiping the chip off my shoulder about french fries, trying that cupcake place my friend raves about, or ordering a Salty Pimp from the place next door, I’ve taken the judgement out of the equation. I’ve realized that food affects me for SURE, but so does sitting sedentary in a chair all day. So does staring at a computer screen letting its rays zap me of my B vitamins. So does scrolling through Instagram, flipping over to Facebook, checking in on Twitter, then switching back to Instagram to see if “anything’s happened” since I checked it all of four minutes ago. So does jealousy, anger, or complacency. Food isn’t responsible for when I feel bad about my body. Being out of touch with my body is.

Food isn't responsible for when I feel bad about my body. Being out of touch with it is. Click To Tweet

I contemplated – and celebrated – my fryaversary today with my fiance as we sat at brunch eating a batch of fries baked to perfection. Not sweet potato, either; good old fashioned fried white potato fries. They were flaked with rosemary and sea salt. They taste like Disneyland, I noted. Or a hotel from my childhood.

Did I eat the whole plate? It doesn’t matter. Because they’re not a medal of honor OR a confessional I need to make. They were just fries.

Just. Fries.

I find myself Snacking In Motion here like Carrie or Miranda, and when people come to visit I sometimes wonder what they think of me. I wonder if I’m being judged or I wonder if they’re secretly snarking that I won’t be able to keep up these habits for long. But mostly, I wonder if they’re scared. I wonder if they’re looking at me thinking “I could never do that.”

I wish I could tell them that I don’t have a magical metabolism and I don’t work out like a crazy woman. I wish I could convince them that they totally “could do that,” too.

So go ahead, eat the snacks. Order the soft-serve. Let the doughnuts into your life. You’re allowed. Check in and note if they make you feel less-than-average, but also do that in the rest of your life. There are so many factors that contribute to feeling the way we want to feel, food only being one slice of the metaphorical pie (see what I did there). Being a Mature Adult Woman isn’t about willpower or the food you avoid. It’s not even about all the things you say yes and no to. It’s about why you choose one over the other.

Now, pass the sweet potato fries. Well-done, please.

 



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WANTcast 031: On Body Memories, Gut Feelings, and The Taboo Therapy You’re Not Supposed To Talk About w/ Somatic Healer Pamela Samuelson

WANTcast 031: On Body Memories, Gut Feelings, and The Taboo Therapy You’re Not Supposed To Talk About w/ Somatic Healer Pamela Samuelson

Body the WANTcast

The nervous system is like a dragon you can ride...if you get slow enough. Click To Tweet

One day back in early January, I saw a post from today’s guest that said something unnerving: that every single woman she’d worked on (she’s a bodyworker) since November had experienced some sort of trauma related to the election.

…Obviously I knew I needed to have her on the WANTcast.

 

This got me thinking about not only the political climate, but trauma in general. How we deal with it, how it lives in the body, and maybe the very most mind-boggling, how many times we don’t even know it’s there.

Trauma isn’t always a car accident or violence. Trauma can take on many forms.

So how does that impact us on a daily basis?

And do we even realize it?

In this season of the WANTcast, I am determined to be a little bit bolder and expose you to different stories, ideas, techniques, tricks, methods, and practices that are helping others move forward fearlessly in their lives and can maybe do the same for you – or at the very least, which is not something to take lightly, get you thinking outside the box.

Some of them might be sort of familiar. Some of them might blow your mind. Some might be toeing the line of what is “acceptable” to talk about and what isn’t.

Today’s episode with bodyworker Pamela Samuelson details ALL of the above. From how trauma lives in the body to what YOU can do to let go of negative energy to the taboo form of therapy that even I was a little nervous to talk about when Pam brought it up to me….we really go there.

WANT Pamela:

Listen on iTunes | Play in new window | Download | Support the pod by shopping on Amazon via this link

Show Notes:
Embodywork.LA website
Facebook
The Institute for Core Energetics
Dr. Vincent Medici
Hugh Milne and Visionary Craniosacral Work
Carol Downer and The Federation for Feminist Women’s Healthcare
The Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy

Like this episode? Shoot me a comment below, leave a review on iTunes (the more reviews, the more Pamela’s message is spread), share it on Facebook, tweet it out on Twitter, or post it on Instagram. Be sure to use the hashtags #WANTcast, #womenagainstnegativetalk, and/or #WANTyourself!