Q: I very much enjoy your blog, podcast, cds, and new book. I was hoping you could give me some tips on an important issue I haven't yet seen you cover: Weight and Body image. Specifically, how should a Hip Tranquil Chick best deal with one of those awful "fat days"-- those days when you wake up and "feel fat," you feel dissatisfied with your body, ashamed of yourself, uncomfortable in your own skin... I have definitely struggled my whole life with "feeling fat" (though, like so many young women I am not overweight, but am ever mindful of how I could be fitter, leaner, "thinner") and though I do my best to take excellent care of myself with whole foods and mindful eating and regular yoga practice, those "fat days" still happen every once in a while, and I would love some tips, or maybe a yoga sequence that would help reconnect to my body and disrupt the cycle of feeling bad about myself and my body's appearance. For me, like many women, "feeling fat" leads to feeling sad and ashamed, which often leads to reaching for food to soothe the negative feelings... It would mean so much if you could design a yoga sequence or offer some tips to help during those "feeling fat" moments, so that instead of turning to a bag of m&ms and ultimately feeling even worse, hip tranquil chicks who are struggling can turn to their mats or use other tips to get out of the negative head space and feel better about themselves and their bodies, rather than sabotaging their bodies by going on a binge. Thank you so much for any help, tips, guidance, or words of wisdom you can provide.
A: Wow, what a raw and real question. Thank you for writing. So many of us have those "fat days" or "yuck days" or "don't wanna get out of bed days" and it is absolutely normal. If you didn't experience these moments, then I would begin to wonder. The key to dealing with these days is to bathe yourself in self-care versus indulging in the downward spiral of peanut m&ms. I recall gaining weight my final semester of college, then backpacking in Europe, and moving to Colorado all within six months. At that point I was up from my usual 110/115 to 130. My period stopped due to the shock to by body and I was obsessed with losing weight. I turned to food for comfort during all these transitions and the more I focused on it, the more it consumed me. It was especially challenging while traveling throughout Europe and being surrounded by stick thin women when I had added unwelcomed curves. Now, ten years later, I joke that I have trouble finding time to eat due to an incredibly picky palatte and a crazy schedule. I'm at my ideal weight thanks to tons of yoga, although I definitely fluctuate at the drop of a hat five to ten pounds due to my passion for sugar. And, as a collegue pointed out yesterday, I have a bit of a belly. I share this with you as a reminder that we're all a work in progress and all experience these ups and downs. Belly and all.
A few tips to help you deal with these normal, yucky days:
1. Recognize that your feelings are normal.
2. Recognize your inherent worth - belly fat and all.
3. Do something good for yourself - get moving, choose herbal tea over a high calorie drink, have fruit nearby to snack on over cheetos, make an appointment for a massage, pedi, or facial.
4. Explore what brings these feelings on - a comment by someone, looking in the mirror, self-talk, a challenging experience.
5. Decide to handle these situations differently - engage in positive and affirming self-talk, be prepared with healthy snacks when going into those challenging experiences.
6. Practice some restorative or yin yoga - restore, rejuvenate, go deep, and nurture your body.
The body is a very delicate machine and it is crucial that we treat it gingerly while also challenging it to constantly grow. Girls, additional words of wisdom? Body image is a critical piece of being female and worthy of discussion. Thank you for opening the dialogue.