Monday, December 04, 2006

dear hip tranquil chick . . .

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.

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Terri said...

Thank you for the Tips. Everybody does have those "yuck -Blah-days" but I think with it being holiday season, some might feel them more often than usual. So thanks for the timely post.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post, Kimberly. I've noticed that when I start obsessing about my weight and diet, I overindulge a lot more. When my mind is on other things (school, life), I tend to enjoy everything in moderation.

Looking forward to seeing you in Charlotte in January! :)

Zoe said...

This post got me thinking and I think a lot of it for me is due to the time of year. Dark mornings and dark evenings make me feel like hiding away and eating lots of chocolate snacks until it's light again. Wouldnt it be nice if we could hibernate throughout winter.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the honesty, girls

i definitely deal with constant weight issues and it's so nice to hear other's thoughts and experiences

Anonymous said...

Kimberly, it made me so mad that someone would tell you you have "a bit of a belly" that I had to leave a comment. First of all, you are minute. If you have a belly, then I am a fat-ass. Second of all, why would anyone feel the need to make an observation like that? -unless it was playful between friends and you have a relationship like that with this person, in which case I'm completely over-reacting.

More generally, I tend to think we all focus on our weight when our lives are feeling otherwise out of control. We can control what we eat, and we trick ourselves into thinking that will make life itself feel more in control. It doesn't.

I like that yoga can make us more mindful of our bodies, so we can listen to honest cravings, whether it be for chocolate, some aerobic exercise, a soothing yoga practice, hot bath, etc. I think that's the path to health.

Zoe said...

My boyfriend says curvy tummys are 'a girly thing' we are supposed to have and that they are nice - I try to believe he's right ;)

Anonymous said...

thanks for addressing this topic, kimberly! like many people, i defintiely gained weight in college (more than the freshman 15) as a result of stress, staying up late, eating unhealthy foods at weird times of the day, and a general lack of exercise. throughout my life, i've struggled with body image and used to be obsessed at losing weight. criticism from my family members didn't help, either. i have to testify and say that the only solution i've found to work in my entire life is our favorite pastime of all: YOGA!!!

since i started yoga almost a year ago, my body has reacted differently to the foods i used to enjoy and with a regular yoga practice, i've become more mindful of what i eat, how i handle these weight issues and without even trying, the extra weight has magically disappeared (little by little, but gradually too). yoga also taught and is still teaching me to be non-judgmental, to love my body and myself for who i was created to be and to do everything in moderation. i did not expect the changes in eating and self-acceptance to stick, but they have and i am very pleased.

thank God for yoga and its healing powers... which is trully a full mind/body/spirit combination for the better!

Becca said...

I have another "fat day" tip to add! On "fat days," I always feel like I have no nice clothes... even though my closet is bursting! So, I have a couple of "go-to" outfits that always make me feel cute, even on days when I'm feeling a bit mangy. I keep a few different sizes of things... i.e. jeans in different waist sizes... so that if I'm particularly bloated one day, I don't have to squeeze into a skin-tight pair of pants, making me feel even worse. Definitely, having some go-to outfits helps ease those "fat days." A lot. And if you can't afford a bunch of new clothes... just invest in a flattering cardigan. It's amazing what one nice cardigan can do for an outfit!