7 Other Ways To Get Your Best Body Ever.

7 Other Ways To Get Your Best Body Ever.

Body Most Popular Posts Tips + Tools

Let this serve as your reminder that #wellness and #weightloss have nothing to do with each other. You can want (or in some doctor-advised cases, need) to lose weight, but weight is not an indication of overall WELLNESS.


Good news!
  Talking about diets is going out of style.

Not-good news!  Dieting is being repackaged in empowering words and being called “wellness.”

It’s a classic wolf-in-sheeps’-clothing situation. Up until the early 2000s, being “on a diet” was a status symbol and a sign of virtuosity. Look at the willpower I have! Look how serious I am about losing weight! Dieting was the road to a healthier You, and a healthier You was a smaller You. A diet wasn’t just a way of eating – it was a specific thing you did, for a specific amount of time, to lose a specific amount of weight. Which, of course, became less and less specific the more you did it. If I could just lose 10 lbs, I’d be happier. If I’d just lose 5 lbs, I’d be happier. I’m not happier, I must need to lose more weight.

But now, talking about all-caps “A DIET” and all-caps “WEIGHT LOSS” like that isn’t cool anymore. It’s not a status symbol like it once was – it’s a sign of not being with-the-times or awake to cultural shifts.

So what words are being used instead?

 

Lifestyle. Wellness. Self-care.

 

Beware of diet culture in self-care clothing. Beware of weight loss in wellness language. If you’ve been told by a product, a person, or a brand you NEED said product, a person, or a brand in order to “be your best self,” it’s worth questioning. And while you’re at it, take a look at how that person or brand talks about weight loss, or if they even do at all. Do they glorify a thin ideal (which usually also includes privileged and white, which is a WHOLE other thing to unpack and I encourage all of us to mull over why this is)? Even if they try and convince you otherwise…does their language and their actions speak otherwise, over and over?

No, not every brand that talks about lifestyle, wellness, or “your best self” is just word-swapping for “diet” and “weight loss.” But enough are that it’s making a difference in the way diet culture functions.

Beware of diet culture in self-care clothing. Beware of weight loss in wellness language. Click To Tweet

Best Body Ever language isn’t dead. Heck, why do you think I titled this post the way I did? SEO analysis is real. People are searching. And so I wanted to sneak attack them. If you’re reading this because you were searching for the secrets to your Best Body…well, I am so glad you’re here.

What if each trick to achieving your most awesome self was simple, accessible, and realistic for the life you’re living at this very moment? What if the decisions you made, the ones that had nothing to do with calories or reps, were the decisions that actually helped you get that figure you covet? What if – just go with me on this one – your best body ever was actually the one you’re in now?

You’ve read about all the fitness trends and diet tricks. Here are seven other ways to get your best body ever:

GO ON AN UNFOLLOWING SPREE.

A wise anonymous person once said “Unfollow any account on Instagram that makes you feel like you need to be someone else.” Take a browse through your “Follow” list. Go to each individual account. Sit with it, and, Kondo-style, ask yourself: does this account spark JOY for me? Or is it so aspirational that it’s making me feel like who and where and how and what I am isn’t enough? When this account comes across my feed, is my first instinct to celebrate it, or criticize it? And then – yep – unfollow.

If it’s someone you can’t bear to Unfollow for whatever reason – say, they’re a friend of yours IRL or a family member – Mute their account (they won’t know, and you can always un-Mute them later). It’s okay. It’s an unhealthy relationship. Maybe even a toxic one. And just because it exists behind a screen doesn’t mean it’s less so.

How does this relate to anything physical? Our bodies carry the load of all our doubts and insecurities. And because those feelings are so heavy, we’ll look for a scapegoat to displace some of the weight. Our body is an easy target: We’re walking around with it, it’s tangible, it’s something concrete we can bash. But after unfollowing the accounts that make you question yourself – your beauty, your talents, your success, your worth – you might just realize your body is “Best” just the way it is.

And yes, that anonymous person said it on Instagram.


BE IMPERFECT.


What is just as unhealthy as an unrelenting drive-thru habit? A person who is so consumed with nutritional perfection that it affects every single aspect of her life – personal, professional, spiritual. This is disorder territory, and it’s dangerous.

Even if you don’t go down the path of anorexia, orthorexia, exercise compulsion or the like, we tend to freak out if we make a “bad” food choice and use it as a way to berate ourselves. Un-perfecting yourself makes it a whole lot easier to get right back to your usual routine when you slip up and to avoid binging on what you’ve deemed “bad” when you’re stressed out, lonely – because it was never about perfection in the first place. You are not living in extreme black-and-whites, therefore the bigger picture is clear. And it’s positive. When you’re nice to your body, it relaxes and realizes it doesn’t need to be on the defense, armed for your next attack. And a relaxed body is a happy, healthy body.


DO IT FOR YOUR SKIN. OR NAILS. OR HAIR.


Fun fact: What helps one part of you helps all of you. Skin acting up? It might be time to cut back on processed sugar (my personal skin saboteur). Nails spotty? Ask your doctor if it could be a mineral deficiency or allergy. Turns out, damaged dermis, brittle nails, or less-than-luscious locks are usually the outward, obvious manifestations of an internal imbalance. Maybe you’re not taking in enough calcium, or maybe your excessive soy habit has gotten your hormones out of whack. Whatever it is, once you make a change, you’re likely to see results once you make changes. This can be a welcome confidence boost and help you stick with whatever healthy habit you’ve adopted – whether it’s a supplement routine or using more natural, hypoallergenic products. You get the picture.

 

SLEEP ON IT.

It’s a common health tip, getting your eight nightly hours. It keeps your metabolism in check, aids digestion, etc. But what’s more important is that eight (or seven, or nine, or whatever you personally need) hours keeps you sane, confident, and ready to conquer the world. When you feel good about the energy you’re putting forth daily, that confidence starts to radiate from the inside out.

GET PUMPED.
Think about your workplace: If you have cool projects to work on, an inspiring culture and the role of your dreams, are you more likely to stick with your job or look elsewhere? No matter how hot the newest craze is, no matter how many friends you have at Pure Barre, no matter how many free passes or Groupons you’ve racked up, if you don’t like the type of workout you’re doing, you won’t see lasting results physically, mentally, or emotionally.

Why? Two things: stress and investment. Exercise gets your heart rate up, triggers your fight-or-flight reflexes, and is physically stressful enough as is. When you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, your mind actually adds to and sustains the stress by equating it with a chore. With no positivity to combat this pressure, your cortisol levels stay high and your body resists change. Moreover, when you’re not invested in what you’re doing, it’s a sure-fire recipe for burnout and you’re way less likely to stick with it, much less make it a part of your lifestyle.

 

THE RUB DOWN.

So often we don’t bat a lash at being mean to ourselves – not because we’re inadequate, but because we’re removed. Just like we’ve forgotten what food tastes like, we’ve forgotten what our bodies actually feel like. Take the time to practice self-massage (Massagetherapy.com offers some wonderful starting tips), or simply develop a habit of applying lotion or body oil to your skin before bed each night. 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 creatures to admire instead of objects to critique.

via @peopleiveloved

COMPLIMENT OTHERS.

When it comes to self-talk, have you ever heard the advice, “If you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say it to yourself”? Turns out, this advice works in the positive direction as well. When we compliment others, whether it be on a new dress or on their killer smile, we are training our brains to speak kindly. And as with anything else, practice makes permanence.

When your mind practices the art of reassurance and positive reinforcement, its wires get untangled and positivity starts to become your own vernacular. Your “best body” becomes the one you are in now, because you realize that even on the gloomiest days there is something wonderful about it that keeps you shining. Maybe it’s your strong legs that can take a brisk walk down the block, or your skin that no matter how stressed you get always seems to bounce back to its radiant self after a little extra TLC. Maybe you’re feeling run-down today, but how about that time yesterday you felt like you could conquer the world (and then Mars to boot)? When you’re nice to others, you’re nice to yourself, and you will start making decisions from a place of self love instead of loathing.

~

Let these words serve as your reminder that #wellness and #weightloss have nothing to do with each other. You can want (or in some doctor-advised cases, need) to lose weight, but weight is not an indication of overall WELLNESS.

What is?

Your mindset.
Your energy.
Your stress levels.
How you respond to challenges.
Your self-image.
Your community.
Your relationship with adversity.
Whether you’re proactive or reactive.

Your blood tests and BMI (an archaic + flawed way to determine health) can check out perfectly, but if your mind ain’t right, your wellness levels are on a downward spiral. Your weight could be your “ideal” weight (whatever that is) but if you’re treating yourself like crap to get there and chalking it up to “self-care” you’ve been sold, you’re not set up for long-term success.

To live well, REALLY live well, we need to look at all the wonderful information that’s at our fingertips right now, and take this opportunity to educate ourselves. Never before have we had this kind of information at our fingertips.. Let’s use it to our advantage. And then we need to listen to our bodies, open up our eyes, and take what works for us to fit our lifestyle.

Just because your meal is not food blogger material or the nutritional value of your one snack isn’t as “clean” as the trends say it “should” be or you missed a workout today or whatever it is that’s making you wonder if you’re “doing it right”…I promise, as long as you are making an informed decision based on who YOU are, not who the world is trying to convince you to be, you are doing more than okay.

 

ice cream pics by patricia peña
Back On The Wagon: An Ode To Resolution Season.

Back On The Wagon: An Ode To Resolution Season.

Body Community Love Motivation + Inspiration Shift Of Power Work

It’s January 12th, 2014. Four years ago almost to the day. I’m sitting at the doctor’s office and I’m terrified to go in.

On a routine visit to a brand-new health practitioner who’s highly recommended by a friend, I find myself sitting in his eggshell-white waiting room filling out my paperwork and trying to keep from fidgeting. The receptionist is as sweet as can be, the vibe calm and friendly, and the multicolored bowl of lollipops sitting on the counter remind me of my childhood – back when I loved going to the doctor and I was self-aware in the best way possible.

The fidgety anxiety is not about a condition, not about a vibe – heck, it’s not even about the needles or the fact I haven’t seen a doctor in way too long. Even though I’m loving how I feel in my own skin, even though I am healthy and happy as can be, the reason my stomach won’t stop flip-flopping is because…for the first time in a very long time, I’m going to have to step on the scale.

~

It’s officially the end of what I like to call Resolution Season: that time of year people start to slowly forget their workouts, loosen their wallets, leave their closets in disarray – the time of year we generally start to “slip up.”

While most people simply assume this is due to lack of interest or motivation, I argue that what sends us spiraling is not the act itself – it’s the idea of what it SHOULD be.

Our ties to the Safe and Solid Endpoint are what really get us. The idea that there is some omnipresent rightest right, some all-powerful magic number, some goal that could be gone in the blink of an eye or glance at a figure…

And so the very second we veer from the path – well, it’s almost like those long-standing family arguments that never end up getting resolved. Both parties have been betrayed by their definitions of what love SHOULD be, what relationships SHOULD be like. God forbid they’re nuanced. God forbid sometimes we just don’t get along. Who even cares about the actual person anymore; we have our own fabricated notions of who they are to keep us up at night.

We wind up tightly and twist into knots, again and again, until one day we don’t even know where the untangling would begin.

I used to be double-knot-tied to my weight and that fluctuation on the scale, a memory that was triggered when I stepped into the doctor’s office that day and started to get upset at the fact that I remembered what it was like to get upset at a number. I used to be diligent about counting my calories, logging my workouts, making sure that I stayed within that self-defined coveted range between too much and not enough.

And then when the counting and logging got too out of hand, I landed on another tactic: avoid your body altogether, because if you don’t focus on it, it cannot betray you.

Thank goodness for that self-awareness I cultivated as a kid, because one day, all of a sudden, I just got…tired. I got TIRED of it ALL. It got exhausting, and I realized that by trying to avoid getting stuck in that place where my body dictated my happiness – by working so hard to cling so tight to the idea of freedom, the definition of what it would look like to love myself – I was holding myself captive and completely missing how happy the body I was in could actually make me feel, right in that very second.

We do the same thing with money, with exercise, with kindness even. Holding ourselves to a standard of perfection – even if it’s a standard we’ve defined by ourselves for ourselves. Isn’t that all resolutions are, really? Attempts to alter the definitions we’ve fallen into in the past? We define our resolutions at the beginning of the year, sometimes merely settling on a endpoint, sometimes going so far as to meticulously plan every step of the way for seemingly less-than-friendly navigation. We hang onto ideas of what things should be, so if and when they start to look different, we automatically associate them with failure.

Different is never failure. It’s just…different. Resolving to eat clean and then “cheating” on veggies with your main men Ben & Jerry one night is not a failure. Snapping at your coworker or best friend or child when you promised to be nicer this year is not a failure. Missing a day or two or even three (gasp!) of the gym, or logging a lackluster workout, or “accidentally” spending more than you should on those shoes (and shirt, and jeans, and trendy ear climber thingies) is not anywhere near a failure.

It’s become our default reaction to say we’ll get back on the wagon…
…but what if we got rid of the wagon altogether?

What if we realized that what truly makes us happy is fluid and constantly in flux?


As you move out of Resolution Season and into the rest of your life this year, I encourage you to remind yourself what it is about whatever you are doing that makes you feel fulfilled and happy. If your current definition and strategy is not accomplishing those things, then maybe it’s time to give yourself a break.

There will always be moments of the unexpected. Every thought is information. Every moment is a learning experience. Every decision is a building block. Sometimes we just don’t utilize them as such.

When we stop defining what happiness, success, health, or virtue must LOOK like, we actually allow ourselves room to experience things and figure out what is true to who we are, not who we THINK we should be.

There is no wagon to get back onto – because we never got on in the first place.

We say we’ll get back on the wagon - but what if we got rid of the wagon altogether? Click To Tweet

….oh, and as for the doctor’s office? Cue flashback music…

The nurse practitioner calls me in – a woman close to my age, with beached-blonde hair and an energy that was equivalent to a walking giggle. We chat about her day, where she’s from, bond over our love for cycling classes – and just like that, I’m on that platform.

And I realize, man do I feel fantastic.

I was scared those old definitions and feelings would magically reappear, those ones that told me that trying a stupid new cleanse or stupid new supplement or cutting out a food group for stupid amounts of forever was the road to the weight that was what happy must look like. They didn’t. How could they? I threw away definitions long ago, when I realized that the body and soul I admired most coincided with numbers that fluctuated daily and decisions that didn’t always exist in the rulebook, but sure made me the person I’d always hoped I would become.

The number pops up: far from what my “safe” zone was years and years ago, but right where I know I need and should be in that very moment.

And then, as if to challenge me in a moment of comedic brilliance, a mathematically intended yet emotionally-loaded word pops up next to the number.

Gross.

I smile at the nurse and the irony.

“I think your scale needs to watch its mouth.”

All we can do is laugh. I happily grab a lollipop on my way out.

resolution resolutions

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And Who Would’ve Thought, It Figures: What We Mean When We Say We’re “Fat”

And Who Would’ve Thought, It Figures: What We Mean When We Say We’re “Fat”

Body Tips + Tools

The way we use the word “fat” in our society is pretty lazy.

Kind of like the word “literally.”

Just like “literally” has Alanis-Morisette-ized into a word that usually has nothing to do with the “literal” incarnation of anything, “fat” has morphed into a word that has very little to do with actual body composition. 

There are tons of reasons we say we’re fat that have nothing to do with fatness at all. And this is doing ourselves such a disservice, because it insinuates that “fatness” is at the root of all our problems, and “fatness” is something to be solved. Basically, it insinuates that if we solve our “fatness,” our lives will fall into place. It’s the message media campaigns and entertainment sources want us to believe in order to walk their walk – and here we are talking their talk.

Sometimes fat is a filler word when we don’t know what else to say about something that conjurs up a certain feeling. And sometimes that feeling IS, in fact, physical.

But I’d like to argue that it’s not “fat” we’re feeling.

not ironic.
not ironic. (source)

Today, I’m addressing the flippant use of the F-word, used by people who simply feel a certain way on the inside no matter the exterior. Because no matter what your outsides look like, we can all relate to feeling any of the following: inadequate, uncomfortable, and sometimes – inflammed.

Inflammation is a buzzword right now in the wellness world but its true meaning is still convoluted for the other 99% of the population – meaning the mainstream vocabulary hasn’t yet caught on. Think of it this way: inflammation in your body is like a black-and-blue bruise, a sign something’s taken a beating and is desperately trying to repair.

Bruises aren’t flesh wounds, and can’t be treated topically (at least to my knowledge). Bruises heal from the inside. It’s the same thing with inflammation.

Based on what I’ve learned in my X years in the wellness industry – coupled with my X years on planet earth – there are a few key points when it comes to what causes your run-of-the-mill, non-medical-condition-related inflammation:

  • Food sensitivities
  • Artificial crap
  • Too little sleep
  • Poor or incomplete digestion
  • And, most importantly, life weight: stress, sadness, grief, anxiety.
not ironic (free ride, already paid)
not ironic. (free, paid)

After realizing that we use FAT as a filler word when we don’t know how to describe the mess that we feel, I started to use another phrase when I was talking to myself: poofy-bodied. It just seemed kinder – and less permanent. And more accurately described the inflammation my body was experiencing.

You wouldn’t poke at a bruise over and over and expect it to heal, would you? You wouldn’t put a band-aid and Neosporin on and look for results, would you? So why would you try to reduce inflammation in your body by addressing what’s on the outside? Just like a bruise, inflammation is fixable, but it’s a process. Unless you take active steps to calm your body down, it stays in a state of heightened panic.

I know poofy-bodiness very well: I was constantly inflamed for years. And I’m talking after the Orthorexia. I would complain to others (because complaining is a bonding tactic), and the same advice was always given to me, the advice anyone gets when they say they feel “fat:” eat less, exercise more. I had an intense-but-healthy exercise regimen and a diet that was by no means extreme in either direction. I was doing everything I was told I should be doing with no results. I was so physically and emotionally uncomfortable, and I couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong..

The reality, I learned once I straightened up and took a good look at things (the holistic health pro friends and weekly yoga practice helped too), was that too many years of artificial ingredients, “healthy” foods I ate simply for health’s sake, nights of little sleep, and a cherry-on-top of gut bacteria that were depleted due to an erratic diet and a flirtation with diuretics/laxatives in my early twenties – all coupled with the stresses of love, loss, and pushing of my own internal “panic” button too many times to count – had led me to a place in which I always felt I had an extra layer or three under my skin. My stomach always hurt and I was constantly tired.

So of course, I was “fat.”

 

not ironic.
not ironic. (source)

When you’re tempted to land on “fat” as your adjective of choice, hold your horses for a minute. Dig deeper. Fat isn’t a feeling. And labeling it as such just breeds fat-phobia. What is actually going on here?? Maybe your body composition has changed, and maybe your lifestyle habits do need a fresh look. But maybe, just maybe, your body is just trying to cope after a disaster. Maybe your body is just, you know, bruised.

And just like after a disaster, it’s not going to be able to regroup unless it gets a little First Aid relief:

Pay close attention to how you feel when you eat certain foods – and then cut them out. It sounds like a “duh” moment – but find out what’s making you inflammed and then stop eating or drinking it. Maybe your body doesn’t respond well to animal products, or maybe just dairy. Maybe you’ve got a non-Celiac gluten sensitivity (it’s a thing). Maybe every time you eat nuts, or even a certain type of vegetable – you end up feeling sluggish, and yes, poofy. Alcohol’s inflammatory, so maybe cutting back is what will do the trick. Certain foods and spices are proven anti-inflammatory foods: things like berries, dark leafy greens, wild-caught salmon, coconut oil, and turmeric. See what happens when you incorporate these in not as a quick fix, but as a substitute for the things that were causing you duress. As always, just try it and see what happens – there is no harm in trying. You might be so used to feeling crummy that you don’t even realize what it means to really feel good.

Choose sleep over late nights and early mornings. I always tell my spin students that if they have other chances during the week to exercise and have a choice between attending my early morning class or sleeping an extra hour – sleep the extra hour. It’s that important. Sleep is like taking your body in for a tune-up each night – and you wouldn’t tell the technicians working on your car or computer to cut their work short, right? If you have early mornings, set a non-bedroom time limit. In my house, if we’re sitting on the couch past 9:30pm, we make ourselves start to prepare for bed. For some people that’s too early. But we have an alarm set for 5:30am – so this guarantees we’ll get at least 7 hours of sleep, which is my personal bare minimum for being able to function healthfully. Pay attention to how much sleep you actually need, not just what you can “get by on,” and adjust accordingly.

Replenish your gut bacteria. Someone once told me that the gut is like the body’s second brain – so when the healthy flora in there is off-kilter, it sends your whole body out of whack and into a permanent state of fight-or-flight mode. When I was trying to calm my body down from poofiness, I took a strong probiotic twice a day and ate fermented foods such as kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, coconut kefir, and unpasteurized miso. I had to be diligent about it, and it seemed futile since I couldn’t see or feel results immediately, but after a few months my digestion was finally back on track. And it didn’t feel like my organs were working overtime just to keep me functioning. My skin got brighter, my sick days fewer, and my clothes felt comfortable again. Even now, when I don’t take my probiotics, I can feel a difference.

Evaluate your life weight. What’s going on in your life? Anxiety, sadness, fear, grief, loneliness, confusion, and/or lack of purpose can create a sense of heaviness in our spirit, weighing down on us pretty intensely. That feeling of heaviness can not only become apparent on the outside, but it can make us focus on the outside whether it’s actually changed or not. And that’s when it can get convoluted and really hard to let go of – because it’s a lot easier to address something you can see as opposed to something you can’t.

Most of us – myself included – equate the feeling of LIFE weight to BODY weight, and we kill ourselves over banging out the toughest, most brutal workout we can in order to feel good again. Or we regiment our food, “punishing” ourselves for getting so “off-track.” But all this does is stress ourselves out more, and just like with the bruise analogy, it doesn’t even address the inside.

Just the act of separating your life weight from your body weight is a step in the right direction. But if that’s not enough and you want actual, visual proof that what you’re feeling is on the INSIDE, I’d suggest taking a picture.

Most of us – myself included – equate the feeling of LIFE weight as BODY weight, and we kill ourselves over banging out the toughest, most brutal workout we can in order to feel good again. I’m still trying to recalibrate after a couple months of unexpected stress and hustle and heavy gloominess. I’ve been wearing looser shirts and layers to cover up what I *think* shows on the outside, because I feel it so heavily on the inside after little sleep and shallow breaths. And that’s BS. So today, I’m back to my good ol’ uniform, even though I’m not particularly comfortable (like AT ALL), took a quick pic, and guess what?! The exterior looks the SAME as usual. I’m taking it as little reminder to not be afraid of myself and hide – seeing myself just as regular old me reminds me that I’ve got my own back. Life weight, you ain’t the boss of me. #selfieempowerment 💪🙏✨💃

A photo posted by Katie Joy Horwitch || WANT (@katiehorwitch) on

NOT FAT.

If you’re feeling heavy on the inside, go do something nice for yourself that makes you feel holistically strong, inside and out. Take a fitness class. Take a hike. Put on your favorite wacky leggings. Take a picture of yourself and smile, because only you can really reassure yourself that things will get better.

For me, it’s like magic: when I patiently address the inflammation in my body by cutting out irritating foods, getting sleep, keeping my gut healthy, and separating my physical self from my emotional self, I always start to feel better. I’m less self-conscious. Less achy. And go figure, I don’t use the f-word as an insult.

When your body is inflamed, you can literally (see what I did there) feel your place in the world. You feel uncomfortable, you feel awkward, you feel obtrusive and stuffed in. The inflammation realization – I’m just feeling poofy-bodied – has changed my life and the way I look at myself when I’m feeling low. Both internally and externally: because I now see the way I feel not as something that’s happening OUTSIDE me and beyond my control, but something happening INSIDE me that I can get a handle on. When I’ve got my inflammation under control, my body calms down physically and emotionally. It settles. I just feel human. Which is all any of us ever want to feel, anyway.

WANT YOURSELF:
Which one of the 4 tips above will you work on to help you feel good from the inside out? How?
(ex. I’m going to take a power nap today instead of powering through my lunch break…since that 9:30pm thing didn’t really happen last night.)

photo credit: kenishi higashi