“I am bent, but not broken. I am scarred, but not disfigured. I am sad, but not hopeless. I am tired, but not powerless. I am angry, but not bitter. I am depressed, but not giving up.” ~Unknown
Depression and anxiety. Two words we hear often, but unless we have actually lived with them, we cannot come close to understanding the tremendous impact they can have on one’s quality of life.
Depression and anxiety can make people feel as if they are worthless and better off dead. What a horrible plague. But it is 100 percent possible to tame these …
“The most difficult times for many of us are the ones we give ourselves.” ~Pema Chodron
I’m on my phone, posting a photo of myself on Instagram. It’s a vulnerable shot—I’m holding my bare belly.
I type in the caption “Accepting my body isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.”
I mean this, but I also have voices in my head telling me to delete the picture because I’m gross, not good enough, and a phony.
I get half a dozen comments supporting me, mostly emoji hearts. One comment reads, “I wish I had your confidence.” I feel weird …
“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
We try to give our bodies value with numbers. We’re obsessed with the number on the scale and the circumference of our waist.
We also think our value lies in labels. Words like “obese,” “fat,” and “overweight” are triggers for many, and we abhor them like coffee breath, because we’ve been immersed in pocrescophobia (the fear of getting fat) from before we can remember.
But we are more than a category on a pie chart. We are …
“Resistance keeps you stuck. Surrender immediately opens you to the greater intelligence that is vaster than the human mind, and it can then express itself through you. So through surrender often you find circumstances changing.” ~Eckhart Tolle
I took a deep breath, feeling the recent change in my belly. I pinched at my belly rolls. They were familiar, I’d had them before, but recently I had gone through a period of over a year where I was in a smaller body. Now I was gaining weight again.
I refuse to step on the scale, so I don’t actually know …
“I don’t run to add days to my life, I run to add life to my days.” ~Ronald Rook
Growing up, I was always a bit on the tubby side, or, as my mum would say, “stocky.”
Old and grainy camcorder footage from the early nineties shows me at four years old, waddling sassily around the garden naked on a summer’s day. Watching the nostalgic home footage recently, I thought to myself, “Wow, I had a beer belly long before I began drinking beer.”
Apart from a couple of years playing football in my teens, competitive sports and exercise were …
“And I said to my body softly, ‘I want to be your friend.’ It took a long breath and replied, ‘I’ve been waiting my whole life for this.’” ~Nayyirah Waheed
For more than half my life, I took care of my body “by the numbers.” Every day, I walked a certain number of steps, no matter how sore, sick, or tired I was. I worked a certain number of hours, often going without sleep in order to finish my work and check off all the numbered items on my to-do list, no matter how my body begged for rest.
“Loving yourself is the greatest revolution.” ~Unknown
I’ve spent most of my life struggling with my weight and trying desperately to fit the idealistic image of beauty that our culture celebrates.
As a young teen, I was obsessed with magazines and all their secrets to be prettier and have a better butt and get your crush to notice you. I see now how desperate I was at such a young age to feel beautiful. Nothing seemed to work, though, as years passed and my need to fit the ideal beauty image only increased.
In high school I learned to skip …
“Each day is a little life: every waking and rising a little birth, every fresh morning a little youth, every going to rest and sleep a little death.” ~Arthur Schopenhauer
About a month ago I came back to my daily meditation practice after realizing I’d been pushing myself too hard, and I was amazed at how easy it was to sit, get into that groove, and just be. I expected to sit for ten minutes, but on this day, my body didn’t want to move. I was completely content in the stillness, in silence.
I have been meditating and practicing …
“Clear your mind. Your heart is trying to tell you something.” ~Unknown
I recently lost thirty-plus pounds without trying or intending to. I remember excitedly sharing this news on social media one day, after stepping on a scale in my hotel room and being shocked. I don’t own a scale, so between the time when I had last weighed myself and this day, I’d lost over thirty pounds without being conscious of it.
After my public announcement, people from all directions contacted me asking me questions. Everyone wanted to know how I did it and what could they do to …
“Don’t change your body to get respect from society. Instead let’s change society to respect our bodies.” ~Golda Poretsky
Age thirteen—that was when my eating disorder kicked into full gear because our diet culture had its tentacles wrapped around me tightly. All I thought about all day was how I was going to control and restrict my food, then how I was going to burn it off.
I sought to burn off every calorie I ate. I couldn’t go to sleep at night unless I’d burned off most of what I’d consumed. I was obsessed with exercise and trying to …
“The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before.” ~Neil Gaiman
A few years ago I wrote an article about my personal experience with bulimia. The piece was published by several different media channels, and some time afterward I was interviewed by CNN.
It was the first time I had publicly, and explicitly, spoken about that particular part of my journey. But the desire to acknowledge and address the emotional effects of my experience had been present for some time.
Prior to writing the article, I hadn’t felt ready to lay myself bare in …
“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.” ~Brené Brown
Do you have the courage to love yourself and set the boundaries you need?
For years I didn’t, and wondered why my life didn’t work. I didn’t really understand what boundaries were or why I needed them.
My severe lack of boundaries allowed me to give away my energy, time, power, and love to others, leaving virtually nothing for myself.
For years I lived in a perpetual state of lack, feeling like I wasn’t enough. Looking back, it makes sense …
“Setting boundaries is a way of caring for myself. It doesn’t make me mean, selfish, or uncaring just because I don’t do things your way. I care about me, too.” ~Christine Morgan
In my early twenties, I could shout into a megaphone at a political rally of thousands, but I couldn’t decline drinks from strangers at the bar. I could perform original music for an attentive audience, but I couldn’t tell my friends when I felt hurt by something they’d said. I could start a business, advocate for new laws at City Hall, and share deeply personal poetry on Facebook, …
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” ~William Arthur Ward
Ahh, my heart skips a beat at just the sound of his name.
In 2018, a tiny human being arrived on the planet, one who would change my life. In the short nine months my nephew Oliver has been in my life, I’ve learned a lot. I’m not talking about changing nappies and bottle-feeding, although I’m getting to grips with these essentials too. No, Oliver has taught me valuable lessons about life itself. Here are nine of the biggest.
“Good habits are worth being fanatical about.” ~John Irving
Your habits are directly related to the quality of your life. Good habits lead to joy and fulfillment in your life, while not-so-good habits leave you yearning for your life to be different.
I think I always knew that, I just wished I took it to heart sooner. Better late than never, right?
Gretchen Rubin, author of Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits, says that “Habits are the invisible architecture of our daily life. We repeat about 40 percent of our behavior almost daily, so …
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~Buddha
I struggled to maintain a healthy weight for a large part of my life.
Had I known these five things before my weight-loss journey, I would have had a much easier time shedding the pounds and would have realized that weight loss isn’t a magic fix-all solution to my issues.
If you’re trying to lose weight, perhaps some of my lessons will be helpful to you.
Here we go…
1. This has to be for you, not someone else.
Growing up as a closeted …
“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” ~Nietzsche
A recent study by the National Academy of Sciences found that a ninety-minute walk in nature slows our worried, troublesome thoughts about ourselves and our lives. Even better, it reduces the neural activity in parts of the brain linked to mental illness.
On the other hand, if you spend your time walking down city sidewalks, don’t expect much. The science says you’ll have no change whatsoever in your neural activity. Or even in your thoughts about yourself.
This means that if you’re inclined to be anxious, depressed, grieving, or …
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” ~Melody Beattie
A few years ago I had an ulcer and I would get dizzy after almost every meal. There was a point when I was afraid to eat. I lost twenty pounds when I didn’t need to lose weight.
I wasn’t sleeping well.
I was a complete wreck inside.
It took me two and half …
“You are not a mistake. You are not a problem to be solved. But you won’t discover this until you are willing to stop banging your head against the wall of shaming and caging and fearing yourself.” ~Geneen Roth
I’ve spent so much time on the dieting hamster wheel that I am almost too ashamed to admit it. Throughout my teen years I went from one crash diet to the next. When this proved more than unfruitful and disappointing, I changed strategies.
The next twelve years I spent searching for the “right lifestyle” for me, which would allow me …