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Can you diet on your body love journey?

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TW: Diet talk

Can you diet on your body love journey? The truth is I don’t really know. I think everyone has to answer that question for themselves. Your body, your rules. But if you are wondering about this, here is my story of going on a special diet, every thing that I did and everything that happened.

I have been suffering with digestive issues for quite a while but at the end of 2016 they got much worse. And I won’t go too deep into the specifics, but it seemed like the best course of action was for me to go on a special diet recommended by my medical team.

This was SUPER triggering for me. I knew it would provoke my disordered eating, my body dysmorphia, and depression. I knew it was going to be hard, like so fucking hard.

I’ve been on a body love journey for years and for years I have worked to dismantle diet and weight-loss culture from my psyche. Since the winter of 2014 I have been practicing intuitive eating to help to rebuild and heal my relationship with food.

Because of all of this I knew I would have to tread carefully into this health choice.

So instead of calling this special diet a diet, I came up with some alternative less triggering terms. I called it a healing journey through food or food selection healing and even a healing journey opportunity so that it didn’t even mentioning food.

I used the intuitive eating approach as much as possible within the confines of the diet. I have this great magnet on my fridge courtesy of the awesome people at Be Nourished.

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And I would use it to assess my hunger, and what kind of food I desired from the selection of food available to me. So even though I was restricted I could still listen to my intuition and listen to my body.

I also said affirmations to myself while I did the food prep: This is an opportunity for healing. This is an opportunity to put myself first. I make this food with love. This is what loving myself looks like.

I even went for an aromatherapy session to create a special essential oil blend that would be my power scent to help me get through the rough times that were coming.

All of the work I did to prepare and supports I gave myself really helped…

 

The only thing was, this diet was actually making me sicker.

 

Like really sick.

 

Even though it was making me sicker, on some level I felt this sense of accomplishment for having conquered my fear of food restriction to point that I didn’t want to let the diet go, and I also didn’t want to let it go because I really believed it would be the thing to help heal me.

But the choice was being made for me. This diet that I was trying to use to heal me was just making me sicker. So under the supervision of medical professionals I stopped.

And this was when a new journey began. I began to think about my digestive issues from a different perspective, from a more energetic perspective.

I don’t doubt that my digestive issues have come from years of trauma and abuse being stored in my belly. Through many very hard years when I was young I would feel sick to my stomach all of the time. It would feel like I just couldn’t digest food. If I put food into my belly it felt like it would just sit in my stomach undigested. And any time something horrible happened, I felt it in my stomach.

Through the guidance of my amazing friend and body positive Naturopathic Doctor, Kyla Wright, I now I know more about digestion. And I know that what my body was telling me was true. We cannot digest our food properly while in our stress response or the “fright, flight, freeze” response. If we need to be in immediate survival mode (stress response), our body just doesn’t have time or energy for longer term survival processes like digestion.

This was very helpful and adaptive for humans at one time. But now, today, in our world we can tend to feel threats all around us throughout our day in the form of emails, social media, traffic, and constant messages that we aren’t good enough and that we need to fix ourselves. And all of these “threats” put us in a stress state for most of our day, which can seriously affect our digestion.

This has been a HUGE aha for me.

I just had never really thought about it before. So I began to implement a softer approach to my digestive issues. I started getting better rest. I did more restorative yoga as my personal yoga practice. I wrote myself a yoga nidra for digestive health. I used mudras (hand positions) to help my digestive processes. I talked to my belly telling it loving thoughts before I put food in it. I filled my belly up with healing light to continue the process of mending from my traumatic past.

And today, I am happy to say I am back on my intuitive eating journey and also on a new intuitive healing journey. And my digestive issues have been steadily improving.

This is what I would like to offer to you. If you are struggling with digestive issues or would like to work on your relationship with food and digestion, my Yoga Therapy for Digestion Workshop is for you! In this workshop we will explore how yoga therapy can help improve our digestion through poses, mudra (hand gestures), and yoga nidra (guided relaxation).

The early bird price for this workshop is ending this Thursday January 12 so register today for only $31.50 with GST by sending an e-transfer to krystal@thelusciouslife.ca with a note about which workshop you are registering for and your email address so I can send you a welcome email.

If you aren’t able to make the workshop, I also made you this Yoga Nidra for Digestive Health that you can download and use any time to help you on your own healing journey.

I hope to see you this Sunday!

Happy digesting,

Krystal

Body Love True Stories: Part 1

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All this week I am going to be sharing Body Love True Stories with you. Inspirational stories of people’s body love journeys and where that journey has taken them. These stories are from people I have worked with and they are my inspiration. Their stories are so powerful and I want the world to know what is possible when we begin on our body love journey.

Our first story comes from a woman who had been practicing yoga for a while, but found group classes intimidating because she worried about being judged for ger lack of abilities and coordination. And because when she started practicing yoga with me she had recently given birth so her body was heavier than she was used to.

Sound familiar?

 

Now after practicing body positive yoga and building her body love journey this is how she feels.

Where to even begin?? I really enjoy the sense of calm I feel when I arrive at class and the culture of supportive women that attend. It’s instantly soothing. I also love the way it physically feels to move my body, it makes me feel energized and cleansed of nervous energy buildup all at the same time. I also feel a sense of accomplishment each time I practice and notice an increase in my flexibility and strength. I’m in awe at the things my body can do now that just a few weeks ago it couldn’t. I could go on, but these are the main reason I love yoga!

I am still my toughest critic, but I definitely feel more confident and comfortable in my body since starting a yoga practice. I have always loved to challenge myself to grow, but doing that physically was intimidating to me for a long time. Now physical challenges are fun and exciting to me and I can’t ever see myself going back.

Body Positive Yoga makes me feel 100% better about myself physically, mentally and emotionally. To illustrate this point, I want to emphasize that I used to avoid and cringe at any type of formalized, scheduled group exercise class. It was so intimidating to me and I could never commit to it. Now I CRAVE yoga classes and I can’t wait to go. I’m even inspired and not afraid anymore to try other types of classes that I would have shied away from previously.

Every person deserves to feel good about their body. Yoga, especially Krystal’s body positive yoga, is a super approachable and fun way to become more present and aware of the amazing things your body can do, which results in a sense of pride and confidence that for me has been truly life changing.”

Amazing! I love all the freedom her body love journey has opened up in her life! All the new experiences that feel possible for her!

And I want this for you too! The Luscious Life Program starts next Monday October 24 and I would LOVE for you to join us. The program is 6 weeks of diving deep into your body love journey with weekly yoga practices, meditations and lifestyle tips, plus a private Facebook group where we will all cheer each other on! I am so pumped!

Find out more by clicking this link to The Luscious Life Program and let me know if you have any questions. I am always here to help! Oh yeah, did I mention that as a subscriber I am offering you the program at 50% off?!

How could you say no? 😉

Lots of love,

Krystal

All of the Inspirational Moments from my Body Love Yoga Tour

All of the Inspirational Moments

 

As many of you know, I was very fortunate to get to travel this summer on a Body Love Yoga Tour with my partner as they toured with their awesome band Quantum Tangle. (You should definitely check them out.) There were so many amazing Body Love moments on the tour and I have come home filled up with so much inspiration that my hope is to pour some of that inspiration your way.

 

Our first stop, TORONTO – delicious food & family dynamics on our body love journey

Now usually I dread going to Toronto in the summer, with it’s thick soup-like heat and humidity, but I gotta say when you are embracing your body in tank tops and skirts it’s a lot easier to deal with. The chub rub struggle is real though. My picks for dealing with chub rub are to use Lush’s Silky Underwear on days without a tonne of walking, but if it is more of a serious movement day, I turn to a pair of spanx-like shorts in a size or two bigger than usual so that they prevent the rub without being restrictive. These are the ones I picked up from Pennington’s in Toronto.

In Toronto I also got to eat all of the delicious food; like fresh juices, gluten-free vegan cinnamon buns and gluten-free vegan ice cream sandwiches.

A rainbow of fresh juices!

A rainbow of fresh juices!

 

Tiffany Ayalik enjoying the gluten-free vegan cinnamon buns.

Tiffany Ayalik enjoying the gluten-free vegan cinnamon buns.

 

My delicious ice cream sandwich melting all too quickly in the Toronto heat.

My delicious ice cream sandwich melting all too quickly in the Toronto heat.

 

On Saturday July 9 there was a break in the rain just long enough for my outdoor Body Love Yoga Workshop in High Park. We had a beautiful intimate practice and the theme for our workshop revolved around our family members’ own internalized fatphobia and how this can make going home to see your family so triggering and challenging for your body love journey. I wrote about this in my blog post “How to Love your Body through the Holidays”. I know some of you will identify with the challenge of balancing enjoying spending time with aging family members versus speaking out against their body-shaming comments. It’s a tough one and one that I don’t think there is any one right answer for. Everyone’s family dynamics are different. In our discussion we talked about often using the “redirect” (which I discuss in my blog post) and then directly addressing specific shaming situations when you know that it is safe and it feels right for you.

 

Next we headed to SUDBURY – nakedness & our relationships with our bodies

I think one of the best tools I have found on my own body love journey is spending time with my naked body. Before I started this journey I don’t think I even knew what my thighs looked like. I just knew there was a lot of cellulite, which meant they weren’t fit for public consumption and that meant I didn’t want to see them either. Back in 2014, I started wearing booty shorts around the house whenever possible. Slowly my relationship with my thighs changed. They might be jiggly, but my thighs are strong! I can hold a warrior pose or squat like nobody’s business.

I'm a warrior in the water.

I’m a warrior in the water.

Well on this trip we all got to embrace our naked or nearly naked bodies. Part of this was due to the freedom we felt be in a place where we experienced a degree of anonymity. We are from a fairly small city where sometimes it can feel constraining to fit into the identity you feel like people expect from you. So with this anonymity I think we all felt free to try out new sides of ourselves.

We had nude photoshoots in canola fields.

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Swamp goddess photoshoots.

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And when there was a spontaneous opportunity to go swimming in Lake Nipissing under an almost full moon, I wasn’t going to say no just because I didn’t have a swimsuit. I just whipped off my clothes and walked in like it was no big deal.

 

 

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Found on a wall in Nipissing.

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At my Sudbury Body Love Yoga Workshop, our conversations were about how we define our relationship with our body. For example, today I would say that my body and I are falling in love. Since I have been on this body love journey, my body and I have been discovering all kinds of new ways that we can have fun together, like wearing short puffy dresses to weddings

 

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and unapologetically spending ALL my time in my bikini.

 

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I mean, I even walked around a music festival for a day in my bikini! I never would have thought I could get to that level. And as my partner and I walked around the festival holding hands, them without their shirt on and me in my bikini, all I could feel from the crowd was that

 Not that it’s ours to give of course, but something happens when I make eye contact with the larger woman who is wearing the “approved swimwear” for plus-sized women, a maximum coverage bathing suit with built in skirt, like I used to wear. (Not that there is anything wrong with these swimsuits, if you are freely and shamelessly rocking them.) I see a twinkle of possibility in her eye. The twinkle of “if she can rock that bikini, maybe I can too?” and I know this because I have been there!

At my workshop other women reported that their relationships with their bodies are like that of an older sister who sometimes torments them, but ultimately loves them, or that they are best friends and supporting each other in health with compassion and love. And one woman shared that it feels like her and her body have been divorced for a very long time, but she is ready for the relationship to change.

If you were to define your relationship with your body, how would you describe it? I would love to hear! Just hit reply on this email or comment below. 🙂

 

And finally, HALIFAX – handstands and even more permission

During this tour I also got to travel to Halifax to attend the Yoga in the Schools Conference. It was incredible the number of women who brought up struggling with body shame in their personal introductions. I was so impressed with the general awareness at the conference of body positivity including: fatphobia, intuitive eating and skinny-shaming. There are still some things I would tweak, but I was pleasantly surprised. And I got to practice some beautifully deep asanas, going so deep that I removed my shirt to practice in my bralette at one point. (This was inspired by Jessamyn Stanley who seems to always be practicing in her bra. So thank you to Jessamyn for giving me permission!) My favourite moment of the conference was when we were practicing handstands and the woman I was partnered up with was convinced she wouldn’t be able to do one. So I showed her how I go up into a handstand and then right away she was up there too! It brought me to tears to see how lit up she was afterwards!

This idea of giving permission just seems to be showing up a lot lately. I feel that I am being given permission to be myself by watching all these inspirational people around me and I see others taking permission as they watch me growing and sharing more and more of my true self. And this is what I heard at the Halifax Body Love Yoga Workshop: You gave me permission to love my body as it is.”, “You gave me permission to buy a two-piece for the first time in my life.”, and “You gave me permission to rock a bikini post-babies!

But the comment that got me the most was from a woman who just seemed so ready for body love during the workshop. I could see the tears in her eyes when I was talking about how we can move towards loving our bodies right here and now without doing a single thing to change our bodies. And then next day she shared, Today is the first day that I have woken up and not thought bad thoughts in I can’t remember how long.

This is why I do what I do. This is why I love what I do.

Helping you on your body love journey means the world to me and I am ever so grateful that you let me be a part of it.

If you are outside of Yellowknife, I am hoping to offer online yoga workshops this month and you can answer a survey here to help me design the best workshop for YOU!

Plus, my Body Love Yoga Cards program is up and running and it is a great way for you to begin your body love yoga journey with just a few minutes of commitment each day.

And, soon, soon, soon, I will be launching my online body love yoga program, The Luscious Life Program. If you are interested in being the first to know when that happens to can reply to this email and I will add you to my special list. *hint, hint, there might be a bonus freebie in it for you!!!

Sending you so much love,

Krystal

 

 

5 Body Love Lessons I Learned on Vacation

Way back in the fall of 2015 my bestie and I were chatting and we made a plan. We knew the cold dark winter of the Subarctic would be a challenge to get through without an extra dose of sun and warmth. So we did the thing and got some points tickets to a visit a tropical island over the 2015-16 holidays. It was good self-care. I was thrilled and I was also a little worried that a beach vacation could trigger my feelings of body shame. Instead, I can happily say I feel like I learned some new and valuable Body Love Lessons.

 

  1. You can upsize your body love journey.

I had some trepidation about traveling to a hot place knowing that I would be in a bikini and that I would be exposing more skin than I usually do in winter. Still, I couldn’t NOT wear a bikini. It had become my new favourite thing. Back in the summer of 2014 I was inspired by Sonya Renee Taylor and gave myself the challenge to wear a bikini for a month. I called it The Bikini Body Project. I can proudly say that by day six of the challenge I was rocking my bikini everywhere and doing whatever I wanted sporting my bikini body.

My day of awesome body love.

Although I had gotten pretty comfortable with wearing a bikini over the past two years, I have *upsized this past winter, so this body was a different and bigger body than the one I had shared before. This did not deter me. I just upsized my love, upsized my self-acceptance and upsized my body love journey. I just remembered that I am a badass bitch and applied all of those feelings of not giving a fuck about what people thought about my body to my bigger body.

*Note on the word upsizing. Isn’t it great? It’s my friend Jen Knowlan’s word, and ever since she said it to me I no longer use the words “gained weight”. Upsizing makes it feel like you are doing something positive. Like you are upgrading. And it helps to take away some of the negativity that we can feel about how our body is changing, even if we are on a body love journey.

 

  1. You might find freedom from negative thoughts that you weren’t even aware of

The first body love benefit I noticed upon arriving at our destination was the acceptance of all the sweating I was doing as we waited on the tarmac to enter the airport. The sweating, and the fact that I have curly, chemically treated hair so it really likes to go wild with frizz in the humidity of a tropical environment. In the past I might have suffered. I can recall feeling great mental anguish when the soupy humidity of the summer heat meant my hair was full on out of control. Adding to that summer mental anguish was my discomfort with any makeup I had on slowly melting off my face. And (some of you might identify with this) since my body didn’t meet society’s standards, even though I was doing all of the dieting and exercising I could to change it, I was left with focusing on being pretty and having good hair, which, most of the time, I had much more control over than my weight. Is this ringing true for anyone else out there?

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  1. You will have wonderful new experiences

On day one I bicycled through the downtown. I let my body show up and be observed… moving… in public! This is one of the great ironies of being fat: we’re supposed to exercise to lose weight, but also not to let anyone see our bodies as we do it! On this day I went on to jump in the ocean right along the main road in full view of all of the packed streets to cool off in the incredible midday heat. NEVER would I have done this two years ago. And it felt wonderful. It was wonderful to finally get in the ocean. It was wonderful to feel free. And I wouldn’t have been able to have this experience back when I hurt, and still cared too much about what other people thought of my body.

  1. No one will care to judge your body (and if they do, you won’t care)

I lounged by the pool in my bikini. No one cared.

I lay out on the beach. No one cared.

I went to a packed beach club and snorkeled in my bikini and no one cared.

I went back to that same beach club the next day and… it felt like people cared. A little. There was no direct comments or actions per se, but there were looks and stares as I made my way from my beach chair to the water. You know how you can sort of tell when people are assessing and judging you? Like for real?

The thing about it was, I could feel it, but I’ll be damned if I was going to let it stop me from enjoying my break from winter. We have 7-8 months of winter where I live so just seeing the sun and getting some vitamin D is part of my strategy for good mental health. I may have even pranced a little extra in front of those judging eyes, all the while knowing that if they were judging me and my body, that they were the ones suffering and that I don’t have to suffer along with them. It’s very interesting to think that just showing up at the beach in my bikini is an act of defiance. Just because I love the sun and swimming and feel best doing it in minimal clothes, I am a rebel.

  1. You will connect with your tribe

On that same day, there was this wonderful moment when I was climbing down the stairs to enter the water and a group of women was preparing to exit the water and our eyes met. They were in bigger bodies and were wearing similar swimsuits that I used to wear to cover up my body. The kind of thing that didn’t allow me to feel free. The kind of thing that restricted my movements in the water and what I used to call my “modest skirt”. And now I can’t know exactly what they were thinking, but when our eyes met, the look I saw said,  “Look at that! I want that! I want my body to feel the sun. I want to feel like I don’t have to hide my body. I want my body to feel free. I want that! Maybe I could do that too?” I really have no idea. But the looks we exchanged and the silent connection said, “Hey! We’re in the same club. We get it. And we support each other in whatever choices we make, be it the full swimsuit with skirt, or the skimpy bikini.”

Do you have any vacations coming up? How are you feeling about them? Any body love lessons you learned on vacation that you would like to share?

xoxo

Krystal

 

 

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

Uplifting Yoga for Winter Days [VIDEO]

uplifting yoga for winter days

 

If you are in the Northern Hemisphere, you probably can feel the shorter days affecting you? I know I can. Up here in the Northwest Territories it’s dark when I wake up and dark again by 4pm. Winter can sometimes have negative effects leading us to fear its arrival. However, winter can also be an opportunity to slow down, embrace being creative and connect with yin and kapha energies.

This short (10 min) winter yoga flow is for people for whom the darkness is scary and an unwelcome season in their life. For people who want to know how to channel or harness the winter energy. For people who want to let go of the past and move into the new year and the new light with new energy and new vision for their life.

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Hope you enjoy!

xoxo

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

P.S. Give the gift of a Personalized Yoga Nidra this holiday 2018! Orders must be place by December 18, 2018 to receive your gift before December 25, 2018.

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