Hot Tips for Holiday Body Love

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The holidays are getting into full swing!

For many of us the parties have already started. And, as I mentioned before, this time of year can be really wonderful, but it can also be really stressful. And in terms of feeling good about your body there are many triggering situations that can come up.

So I wanted to offer some more strategies to get us through this holiday season loving your body as best you can.

Book Self-Care into your Schedule

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I think one of the biggest gifts we can give ourselves at this time of year is actually making some time in our schedule for self-care. With the change in routine, the demands of the season, the darkness, if you are in the northern hemisphere, and the cold, if you are in chillier climates, we really need to take time to recharge. I highly recommend booking your self-care into your schedule. If you know there is a form of self-care that really works for you like, restorative yoga, meditation, running, dance, naps, etc actually book those into your schedule. Or if you know you would like to be more spontaneous, you could create a list of self-care ideas and then when the time comes up in your schedule pick the one that is calling to you.

Use Affirmations

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To help me stay in a body positive headspace, I will write out or say my body positive affirmations every morning to get ahead of the game. Affirmations like, “I love my body. I love every cell in my body.”, “I give myself full permission to eat whatever my body desires.”, and “I listen to my body’s needs and lovingly respond.”.

Plan Ahead

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For many of us the coming together of family can be very triggering. Family members may like to comment on our bodies or any changes in our weight since the last time they saw us. Or they may pass judgement on what we are eating. And if not that, then they are making food-shaming and size-shaming comments about themselves. It can be so tricky to stay grounded in loving yourself as you are. And it can be challenging to still listen to your own body through all that noise. What I like to do for this one is to plan ahead.

I will prepare little responses to different situations that might present themselves, like when my friend says she needs to lose 5 lbs so that she can look fabulous in her new dress on New Year’s Eve, I may redirect the conversation with “I am feeling pretty fabulous about rocking these boots with this skirt today!”

If I am feeling bold and so over shaming comments about my body, instead of the redirect I might go for the direct, “Actually, I’m not inviting comments on my body today. Thanks.” I am even thinking of creating some t-shirts that say “My Body – The Comments Section is Closed.”

Plant the Seeds of Body Positivity

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Another thing I like to do is arm myself with anti-body-shaming thoughts to help plant the seeds body positivity for my family. Like, “Food is just food. It is not good or bad. You are not a good or bad person because of what you eat. You are not a more or less valuable person based on how much you weigh.”

These concepts might be new or unfamiliar to our friends and family. Our friends and family are a part of our body-shaming society too. So the holidays can be an opportunity to educate your family by speaking openly about body-shaming. And if you are feeling keen you could have at the ready data from the Healthy at Every Size website.

What are your tips you use to stay in a body loving frame of mind over the holidays? Tell me all about them or share them in the comments.

I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season so far!

Krystal

P.S. If you are looking for some great self-care for the holidays, try my Daily Luscious ReTreats – 21 Days of Meditations to take you from beginner to relaxed meditator. Only $42CAD!

RADICAL INTENTIONS FOR SELF-LOVE

Happy New Year everybody!

with RADICAL INTENTIONS FOR SELF-LOVE

In my blog this week I am revisiting a post from 2 years ago, “Radical Intentions for Self-Love”. It was one of the first blog posts I ever wrote and I still believe in the message.

With the New Year comes reflection and projection. We look back on our year and assess how we did, how we felt and what did we achieve and we use this information to dream and scheme about what we want for our lives in the coming year.

I love this process. I am a big fan of learning as much as I possibly can from my experiences. And I am kinda addicted to planning. Seriously. It’s one of my favourite procrastination and stalling techniques for when I am about to launch into something scary and that my heart is attached to. From all of this reviewing and planning we start to develop goals for the next year. And goals can be very healthy and helpful guideposts for how we want to live our lives.

In the loving your body to wellness world, the New Year and the New Year’s resolutions that come with it are dangerous territory. It can seem like everyone around us is setting food restriction and exercise regimen resolutions. It’s tempting to jump on board.

But most of these New Year’s resolutions have been “broken” by January 15. Setting you up to feel like a failure and that’s definitely not my wish for the start of my 2016.

Instead of New Year resolutions, I would like to offer the concept of New Year intentions.

Resolutions are hard. Immutable. Breakable. There isn’t much room to listen to your body’s wisdom. There isn’t much room to respond to the inevitable unplanned and unforeseen events in our lives. There isn’t room to change our minds. There isn’t much room to learn and grow into a different way of being.

Intentions are open. Responsive. Present. They create space for possibility. Intentions are grounded in listening and being present with what is. They grow as we grow. This is not to say that we cannot bring discipline to our intentions. My favourite definition of discipline is practicing what is possible with consistency. And what a beautiful way that is to think of our intentions, practicing what is possible with consistency!

The Power of Self-Love

Taking this one step further, I’d love to suggest that the intentions be grounded in self-love. We may have a desired change that will come from this intention, but does it pass the self-love and self-compassion test?

  • Will you be able to listen and respond to your body’s needs?
  • Will you experience pleasure as you practice your intention?
  • Will you be living in the present moment?
  • Will your intention help you find greater contentment and gratitude?

Here’s an example of a Resolution versus an Intention:

Resolution – Stop eating sugar to be healthier

The morning of January 4th it’s a big rush to get the kids to school and yourself back to work after all that time off over the holidays and you begin to feel your holiday bliss slipping away. When you get to the office, your co-worker has brought in some delicious looking treats and after the morning you had you just can’t resist. You feel horrible. You feel like a failure. You ate the “bad” sugary food and now you feel bad.

Result = Resolution broken

Intention – Be more present in the moment so that you are eating intuitively and listening to your body’s needs.

The morning of January 4th it’s a big rush to get the kids to school and yourself back to work after all that time off over the holidays and you begin to feel your holiday bliss slipping away. But on the drive to school and work you remember your New Year’s Intention to be more present in the moment and so you take a deep, slow breath and begin to notice the beauty around you. Your kids. The scenery. The anticipation of getting back to work. And once at the office, still living in the present moment, you are offered a delicious looking treat. Rather than feeling like it is the distraction you have to have after that stressful morning, you get to choose whether you want to eat it. You are not good or bad if you eat it. You just eat it or you don’t.

Result = You immediately feel the benefit of this intention and feel empowered to keep up the PRACTICE.

So take the pressure off with a smaller number of New Year’s Intentions that can be reasonably achieved and still make profound changes in your life. Here are a few suggestions of Radical Intentions for Self-Love!

Radical Intentions for Self-Love

  • Let go of worrying about what others think.

Not everyone will like you or always like the choices you make. Stay true to your values and know that you are doing the right thing.

  • Don’t “Should” all over yourself.

As in, “I should go to the gym today”. “Should” represents some externally imposed expectation and comparing ourselves to a perceived cultural ideal and can make us resentful of our own imposed requirements to be a “better” person. Instead of “should” statements ask yourself, “What would be most loving to myself right now?”.

  • Accept what is.

When we accept what is we allow ourselves to be in the flow with life rather than resisting what is. There are things that we can change about our lives, but often it takes time to make those changes and we have to be patient with ourselves. And then there are the things we can’t change. For both the things we can and the things we can’t change, accepting what is releases us from wasting all that time and energy getting frustrated and annoyed.

  • Be in the present moment.

Probably one of the most powerful intentions you could practice. Being in the present moment lowers stress levels, opens you up to more joy, allows you to make better choices, and let’s you see the beauty around you.

What are your Radical New Year Intentions? How will you be practicing great self-love in 2016?

xox

Krystal

How to Love Your Body Through the Holidays

The Reverse Bucket List (1)

The holidays are a peak time for finding yourself in situations that trigger feelings of body shame:

  • all of the chaos and busyness;
  • seeing family you haven’t seen in awhile who think they can freely offer up their opinions on your body;
  • large group meals;
  • food focused events; and
  • New Year, New You pressures.  

I know some of you might even be feeling anxiety about the holidays and your body before we even get there. And I too am starting to get anxious. So for me and for you, here are some posts we can put in our Body Love Toolbox to get through the holidays loving our bodies as best we can and hopefully nip any body loathing feelings in the bud.

  1. From Adios Barbie: How to Stay Body Positive Through the Holidays

I particularly liked the idea of the redirect – when someone inevitably brings up weight loss or their great new diet, try to redirect the conversation back to less body-shaming territory. Like when your friend says she needs to lose 5 lbs so that she can look fabulous in her new dress on New Year’s Eve, try “I am feeling pretty fabulous about rocking these boots with this skirt today!

If you are feeling bold, or just over any shame-y comments friends or loved ones might send your way, instead of the redirect, go for the the directActually, I’m not inviting comments on my body today. Thanks.

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  1. From A Healthy Paradigm: A Body Positive Guide to the Holidays

Being mindful is a great strategy for staying sane and shame-free for the holidays: Mindful of your body’s needs; mindful of how you are feeling; mindful of what you are eating; mindful of your thoughts; mindful of how you are moving your body; and mindful of your environment and any changes you might need to make. Check out the article for more great tips.

  1. From Huffington Post: 4 Tips to Stop Holiday Body Shaming

Food is just food. It is not good or bad. You are not a good or bad person because of what you eat. You are not a more or less valuable person based on how much you weigh. These concepts might be new or unfamiliar to our friends and family. For our friends and family are a part of our body-shaming society too. So I love the tip of openly talking about body-shaming if you are feeling up to pushing against societal norms. And if you are feeling keen you could arm yourself with some data from the Healthy at Every Size website.

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  1. From Persephone Magazine: 5 Body Positive Gift Ideas

This fun list of body positive gift ideas includes some great books and I would add to that list, Dietland, by Sarai Walker, which is an interesting take on flipping the script of our patriarchal society. But I gotta say the Yay! Scale is my fav. After smashing my actual scale a while ago, I’m ready for a more accurate scale that let’s you know how you’re doing this morning from “Lookin’ fine!” to “Hey sexy!”

  1. From Psych Central: Create Your Own Body Positive Traditions

This article offers up some great ideas for creating our own body positive traditions around the holidays to help keep the body-shame at bay. I think I will try the idea of writing a love letter to my body extending gratitude to my body for everything it did for me in 2015 and dreaming about everything I hope we can experience in 2016. Anyone want to join me on this one?

What is in your Body Love Holiday Toolbox? What ideas will you try?

Wishing you all lots of body love this holiday season,
Krystal

The Reverse Bucket List (Inspired by Rebecca Tracey)

The Reverse Bucket List

Recently, the stellar Rebecca Tracey, one of my business mentors over at The Uncaged Life, posted an inspired blog piece for what to do when you are feeling like crap. We can all get wrapped up into comparing our lives to others and feeling like we are not doing enough or that we are not enough in general. In fact, I have written about my own struggles with that before here. I love learning new ways to give myself a little boost when I’m down and her Reverse Bucket List idea is a pretty quick and easy way to get your brain thinking more positively and focusing on all you have to be grateful for. Instead of a list of all the things you hope to achieve, The Reverse Bucket List, is a list of all of the things you have achieved.

 

To help you get your mind in a space of gratitude, consider the all experiences you’ve had- all of the wonderful experiences, like travel, falling in love, or learning something new. All of the wonderful experiences and even all of the challenging experiences. The ones you may have overcome. Even other challenges and experiences that you have learned from and that you have grown from.

 

Gratitude is an incredibly powerful skill for creating healing in the body and relieving stress. It can help improve relationships and increase our sense of joy! When we cultivate a sense of gratitude we tend to live more in the present moment rather than dwelling on the past or striving for some future achievement. Instead we become content with the present. Honouring and acknowledging the gift of the present.

 

Don’t just take my word for it, neuroscience says practicing gratitude helps to boost dopamine and serotonin, “feel-good” chemicals in your brain.

 

So with all of that in mind, I offer you my Reverse Bucket List of all of the experiences I am ever so grateful to have had.

 

  1. Take my yoga teacher training
  2. Start to love my body 
  3. See the ruins of where Caesar was killed
  4. Swim in the Mediterranean
  5. Swim naked in the ocean
  6. Swim with sea turtles
  7. Wear a bikini and rock it!
  8. Heal from past trauma (at least partially)
  9. Fall in love
  10. Feel proud of how I communicate in relationships
  11. Become a treeplanter in Northern Ontario
  12. WWOOF for a summer in B.C.
  13. Visit every Canadian province and territory (ok, I haven’t gotten to PEI yet, but I’m comin’ for you PEI)
  14. Improve my second language. “Parlez vous francais?”
  15. Experience the loss of someone who was like a sister
  16. Go train-hopping from White River to Thunder Bay, Ontario
  17. Attend rocket science camp
  18. Have a career as an Environmental Scientist
  19. Work in a Natural History Museum as an artist
  20. Work in an Evolutionary Biology laboratory on a project that was published in Nature
  21. Dance all night under the northern lights
  22. Perform in a castle made of snow on a frozen lake
  23. Finish my B.Sc. at McGill University
  24. Land a lead role in my high school musical
  25. Ride a bike in Paris with a baguette sticking out of my basket
  26. Help underserved youth
  27. See bioluminescence. So cool! Check it out!
  28. Facilitate people feeling great in their bodies and about their bodies every day!
  29. Pay off one of my student loans (and that last one is not far off)
  30. Heal from an eating disorder
  31. Start my own business
  32. Help make the world a better place every day doing what I love
  33. Film videos of me moving my body and put them online
  34. Bake a pie
  35. Produce my own zine
  36. Snowmobile on the tundra
  37. Be the best damn daughter and sister I know how
  38. Learn that I’m “Internet Famous”
  39. See the desert
  40. Create a Yoga-Based Self-Regulation Program to be taught in schools
  41. Produce my own Yoga Nidra CDs and Yoga Therapy DVDs
  42. Go off to a cabin to write music for a month
  43. Sing Italian arias in front of judges
  44. Devote 7 months of my life to taking ALL THE DANCE CLASSES
  45. Survive depression
  46. Cultivate a regular yoga and meditation practice
  47. Run my first Body Love Retreat – The Feelin’ Good Retreat
  48. Become a certified Yoga Therapist
  49. Teach yoga classes where I am the biggest body in the room
  50. Be in love with myself

Whew! So often I feel unworthy about my lack of productivity. Looking at this list reminds me, it’s ok to take a break. Next I hope to add to this list that I have developed such a strong practice of self-care that my self-care is preventative, rather than necessary because I have extended myself too far. #goals

 

What about you? Does this list inspire you to create your own Reverse Bucket List? Post it here in the comments and tell me how looking at your Reverse Bucket List makes you feel?

 

Thanks for reading!
Krystal

My 5 Top Tricks to Turn a Body-Loathing Day into a Body-Loving Day

We are always learning, always growing, always changing. Or at least life is always providing the opportunities for these things. In the beginning of my body love journey I thought, maybe one day I won’t have to think about this so much. Maybe one day I could fix this problem. Maybe one day all the mental, emotional and physical energy I put into loathing and punishing my body will be mine again. I used to wonder what people who didn’t have to work on their body (i.e. thin people) did with all the extra mental, emotional and physical energy that I was dedicating to the process of trying to comply with beauty and health standards. I know better now and I know that this struggle is definitely not one that “thin” people are immune to.  

I also know that loving your body is a lifelong journey.

That magical moment of never having body loathing or shame ever again will possibly, and probably, never come. Because if the world around me is forever changing, and my body continues to age and change, and my LIFE JOURNEY continues to follow its winding, bumpy and beautiful path, how could my relationship with my body remain unchanged? So that means there will be times when I might feel body-shame and body-loathing. Even as I work as a body positive advocate, there will still be these days. Yes, I put WAY less energy into hating, fixing and changing my body, and when I get the bad-body-feels they don’t last too long, but my relationship with my body will always be an ever-changing journey.

So I thought I would offer you my 5 top tricks to turn a body-loathing day into a body-loving day.

1 – Be a REBEL

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When I have thoughts of hating my body or that I am not good enough as I am to show up in the world, I like to use my rebellious nature to my advantage. I really don’t like being told what to do and I don’t do well with feeling like my choices are limited. Sometimes this part of my personality can be a challenge, but when it’s me and my self-limiting beliefs restricting me from living the life I want, I can take my inner-rebel and unleash her wrath on all that shame. ‘Take that negative self-talk! You can’t tell me what to do! I’m the boss of me!’

2 – Body Love Outfits

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I LOVE clothes and costume and make-up. I love using my body and face as a canvas for expressing my creativity. It is an important part of feeling free and authentic in my day to day life. However, big events that I get really excited about and create grandiose outfit visions for are often a trigger for my body-loathing. And the more excited I am, the more triggering they can be. Lately though, I have started doing this thing that’s changing it all. I’ll put on my ensemble of choice for the event, usually an ensemble that pushes me out of my comfort zone, and then I will stand in front of the mirror assessing the situation like I normally would. And the usual boring negative thoughts about my body may come up. If they do though, I say to myself and my body, “I am going to love you. I do love you. And I am going to keep loving you so hard that you will rock this outfit. I will love it so hard that everyone else will just have to get on board. This is a body love outfit.” And then I rock that outfit HARD!

3 – Move it and Lose it (the Loathing that is)

When I move my body in ways that feel nurturing, empowering, and delicious, I forget about all that body loathing and start enjoying my body here, exactly as it is, in the present moment. I forget about what I look like. I don’t care about how my body appears. I care only about how good it feels to exist in my body. Yoga asana is absolutely a practice that brings me back to loving and appreciating my body. But I also could truly dance forever. Dancing fills my soul and I feel most free when my body and mind are lost in moving to the music. When I move my body I feel free, I feel strong and I feel powerful.

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4 – Through My Eyes

When I am hating on my body, sometimes it is good for me to remember how I see the world. Where do I see beauty in the world? It shows up in a smile. In the warmth of a breeze on my skin. In feeling seen and heard and supported by my loved ones. It has nothing to do with conventional and commercial concepts of beauty. I fall in love with people for their humour, their incredible mind, and their heart. These things have nothing to do with the way they look. So maybe the way I look isn’t really that important in being able to show up in the world and be loved.

Anahata Mudra

5 – Flawed and Imperfect and That’s Okay

On that note, there are days where the positivity can’t drown out the negative thoughts. Days where I feel like I am not enough. Where I feel like I am not good enough to show up in the world. On those days, I let go. I accept that maybe, just maybe, I can still show up in the world as my flawed and imperfect self and maybe I can let people love me anyway. Maybe I can even let people love me because of those flaws and imperfections. And I turn to this quote from the wise Brene Brown, “We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known.”

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So that is my wish for you – to allow people (even yourself) to love you “flaws”, “imperfections” and all!

Krystal

Yoga is not just asana!

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First of all I just want to say thank you from the very bottom of my heart

for all the lovely responses I got to my last post. It was truly overwhelming and uplifting in the best way possible. Hearing that my message that you are enough touched so many of you gives me the boost I need to keep going. Because along with the feeling of not being enough, I often question whether I am making the difference in the world that I wish for or if there is a better way for me to make a difference. So your feedback is everything to me. Basically, I really need you guys!

So with the idea of promoting mental health and the hope of making yoga seem more accessible (Yoga is not just asana!), I wanted to share three benefits I feel from my meditation practice. And if it inspires you to meditate today, then I have attached a link to one of my online meditations. 🙂

 

Only Love and Compassion

Sometimes it can feel like any action I take may have a negative effect in the world, even if my intention is positive. So my meditation practice can feel like this huge sigh of relief. I feel that as I sit in meditation I am only bringing good into the world. All I feel is love and compassion for myself and others, and I like to start my daily action in this way.

 

Connection

It has been said before about meditation and I will say it again here: I feel connected to everyone and everything during and sometimes even after my meditation. One of the teachings of yoga is that suffering and disease come from feeling separate. When we feel isolated, alone and unsupported in our world we tend to be on constant alert for threats and our stress levels rise. Feeling connected helps us see others’ pain as our pain. It builds compassion. It builds community. We are not alone.

 

Present with What Is

When we sit in meditation we are forced to be present with what is – what is happening in our mind, what kind of thoughts are we thinking (or trying not to think), what kind of sensations are we feeling in our body today, how easily our breath is flowing or not flowing. This can be scary sh*t. As the men of Dhamma Brothers expressed, Vipassana meditation was harder than being on death row. But being in the present is where we have power. The past has already happened and the future has not happened yet. The place where we can effect change in in the present and my meditation practice brings me there.

If you would like to give a meditation a try here is my 10 minute meditation on Loving Kindness.

Please share any thoughts you have on this post with me. The make me the happiest!

Love,
Krystal

You are enough!

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Sometimes I struggle with feeling like I am not enough. Let’s be real, I often struggle with feeling like I’m not enough. And one of the ways that I like to prove to myself that I am not enough is to say “You didn’t even practice yoga today”. I mean, come on, I’m a full time yoga instructor and a big time yoga lover – how can I be enough if I skip my yoga practice?

There are many core beliefs underlying this cycle of thinking that I would like to examine and challenge for myself.  One of the beliefs that I am definitely not willing to accept, and for sure I do not want to perpetuate in the yoga community, is that we are a “good yogi” (enough) only on days where we do a 60 minute primarily asana-based yoga practice.

This is not the intention of yoga. Yoga is union. Yoga is a system of tools for your life. Yoga is in the moment. Yoga is one conscious breath away. Yoga is not just another thing on our to do list that we get to check off for a sense of worthiness and approval of ourselves.

So with this in mind I want to share with you that today my yoga practice looked like one minute of conscious breathing meditation and I am still enough. In fact, that one minute of conscious breathing reminded me that I am always enough.

And, whatever you did today, you are enough.

Love,

Krystal