Gratitude:The Small Tool for BIG Changes

Gratitude:The Small Tool for BIG Changes

When I was in high school, I went out for the track team. I wasn’t particularly fast, but I found that I could endure pain well enough to be a middle distance runner. And I was crazy enough to love it! The workouts were not easy. Often, we would run repeats of a certain distance, maybe 300s, or 600s, and we had a goal pace we were trying to hit each time. These workouts were great for increasing our speed and endurance, but most days I dreaded them. Now, years later, I don’t remember specific workouts very well, but I do remember one day so clearly. We had just finished several rounds of a tough workout, and I was trying to catch my breath. My legs were on fire, and I said something like, “Gosh! This hurts so bad!” My younger sister, who was also on the team, and probably had just beat me (she typically did), said back to me, “Ya. But aren’t you so glad you can feel it?” In the moment, I wasn’t impressed. I wanted validation, and she had come back with….gratitude??  But this phrase became our new mantra. After each workout, we would say to each other, “Aren’t you glad you can feel it?” And I started to really believe it. I WAS grateful that I could feel it–that I had legs that could run and muscles that could push beyond comfort, and a spinal cord that could relay messages to and from my brain, and the ability to FEEL it.

I have never forgotten my sister’s lesson that day, and I think now that gratitude is one of the key tools in loving our bodies.  I believe gratitude is an emotion. When I feel gratitude, I feel a change take place in my perspective, and I feel it in my whole being. So it’s more than just a thought. But, like all feelings, it is triggered by my thoughts. When I recognize things and appreciate them (choose the thought), I create the feeling of gratitude.

The human body is amazing! I recently asked a group of friends to think about things that they find amazing about their bodies. Here are a few of their responses:

“I am amazed at my hands. As I braided my daugher’s hair for church, I noticed how detailed and precise we are able to use our fingers. What a great tool!”

“My eyes. Whenever I learn about eyes I am amazed by the complex process of taking in light, refracting it, sending it to the brain and turning it into all the things we see around us. I am so grateful for my eyes and the chance I have to take in the beauty that exists all around me!”

“I’m so grateful for my legs! They get me where I want to go and are essential for most of my hobbies—hiking, skiing, sports, even sewing! How else would I push that pedal?!”

“My arms! With so many little ones at home I am grateful that I can hold and carry them to where we need to go! I can hug, wash, and feed my little ones. What a blessing!”

“I’m grateful for the gift of procreation! How amazing it is that we can create some of our best friends on this earth and they call us “Mom.” Truly a miracle, our bodies are amazing!”

“I am grateful for the God-given ability of the body to recover from sickness and injuries. A few years ago I had a very bad fall and broke several bones and sustained nerve damage. I do have a few residuals, but by and large, I totally recovered with the help of therapy, exercise, and prayer.”

“I am thankful for my senses to be able to see, hear, smell, feel, and taste. What a miracle it is to be blessed with these bodies and to be able to use these senses without even thinking about it.”

Aren’t those great? I have great friends. And really, guys, the body is incredible! I know that when I take time to appreciate it, I feel gratitude. And gratitude is a positive feeling that inspires action. When I am grateful for my body, I want to care for it better. It propels me into that “loving my body cycle” that I love to live in. I feel more love for my body, so I want to treat it with love. I take care of it, and I love it even more. And on and on.

So if you don’t have the tool of gratitude in your toolbox yet, start today. List ten things you appreciate about your body. Better yet, post one in the comments below! These could be things about what it can do, how it looks, how it feels, how it makes your life better, or just what it is. It can even be its imperfections, if you are at a place where you can appreciate them. Maybe you want to start a little notebook and notice one thing each day. Choose thoughts of appreciation, start feeling gratitude, and begin to love your amazing body!

Love your body, and your body will love you. 

How to Overcome FOOD Confusion

How to Overcome FOOD Confusion

“Simple, clear principles give rise to complex and intelligent behavior. Complex rules and regulations give rise to simple and stupid behavior.” –Dee Hock-VISA International


Early in my volleyball coaching career, I attended a clinic to help me become a better coach. One of the first questions they asked all of us coaches is “Where do you get your methods?” The responses were things like: from a class I took, from something I read, or from other coaches. For me, I had learned everything I knew about coaching volleyball from other coaches who I saw as successful. Seemed like a good place to look, right? But then they taught us something that changed the way I thought about my coaching from that point forward. A great volleyball program must be built on correct, consistent, strong, and enduring principles.

WHAT on earth does this have to do with the way I eat?? Well, my understanding of using principles to guide my methods has affected many other areas of my life, including the decisions I make in regards to food.

So, what are principles? From the dictionary, a principle is “a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning .” In other words, principles are truths that we can rely on to make good decisions. Included are underlying laws that guide behavior (like gravity, for example) as well as statements of what should or should not be done based on scientific facts and statistical trends.

Wow! A little wordy there!  Let’s add a little simplicity from Sean Covey here: “Principles aren’t religious. They aren’t American or Chinese. They aren’t mine or yours. They aren’t up for discussion. They apply equally to everyone, rich or poor, king or peasant, male or female. They can’t be bought or sold. If you live by them, you will excel. If you break them, you will fail.” There you go. PRINCIPLES.

For me, understanding a few principles keeps me from falling for every new diet craze on the market. Understanding principles helps me to not eat a certain way just because somebody else is. (You know, that “your own version of healthy” I talked about .) Understanding principles helps me have flexibility, rather than rigidity, in my diet. And understanding principles helps me have “complex and intelligent behavior” rather than “simple and stupid behavior” in regards to what I consume.

So here they are—four PRINCIPLES that I use as my cornerstones to a foundation of sustainable, healthy eating.

PRINCIPLE #1: The body requires a constant supply of energy to move and maintain all its functions. This source of energy is calories. When more energy is consumed than is used, there is a caloric surplus. When less energy is consumed than is used, there is a caloric deficit.  And when the amount consumed matches the amount used, there is balance.

While this may sound overly simplistic, it is true. There are many factors that affect how many calories are used, or burned, by the body, such as muscle mass, activity level, hormone levels, and more. Thus, the number of calories needed for weight management will be different for each person. But this principle is an important one to know if you want to give your body the right amount of fuel.

I weigh between 110-115 pounds and am pretty active, and for me to maintain my weight, I have found about 1800 calories per day (plus the amount burned during exercise) to be the right amount. I could never have learned that without keeping track and experimenting a bit, however. So rather than eating a prescribed amount of calories that doesn’t take into account your specific goals or your specific needs, use this principle to help you learn for yourself how much you should be eating.

PRINCIPLE #2: Calories come in three forms: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. All three are essential for maintaining health.

If you pay attention at all to diet information and marketing, you know that the proper balance of these three macronutrients is a HOT topic! Low carb, no carb, high protein, high fat—how on earth do we know which one is right?? For highly debated topics like this one, I like to consult two sources: one that is scientifically-based (rather than based on people’s claims) and MY GUT.

The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine (which, by the way, is not trying to get me to buy anything from them) recommends the following balance for macronutrients for the general population:

Carbohydrates—45-65% total daily calories

Proteins—10-35% total daily calories

Fats—20-35% total daily calories

I had never kept track or paid attention to my macronutrient balance before last year, but my GUT told me that in order to be healthy, there needs to be a balanced approach to macronutrients. Something about eliminating all carbs when that was popular, or eating mostly fats, pretty popular right now, just doesn’t sit well with me. (My second source—my gut—is typically a pretty good one. Pay attention to yours!)

Once I did start keeping track of macronutrients, and trying to keep them in a healthy balance, within the recommended ranges above, I saw big improvements in my body’s ability to function well, and a change in my body composition, as I started burning more fat and increasing lean muscle mass. My macro goals for when I am focusing more on strength gains are 50% carbs, 20% proteins, 30% fats. However, when I am doing more endurance training my body needs more carbohydrates, so I shift my goals to 60% carbs, 15% proteins, 25% fats. As I get closer to my marathon, and I am running for hours each week, I will increase my carb intake even more and adjust the other macros accordingly. Tracking macronutrients can sound overwhelming, but there are many tools out there that can help if you are interested in trying. I use myfitnesspal, an app on my phone that is easy to use and has helped me learn a lot about this principle. And if tracking isn’t for you, just try to pay attention, keep a healthy balance between the three macronutrients, and avoid diet crazes that offer an unbalanced approach as the “cure all!”

PRINCIPLE #3: To maintain health, the body needs micronutrients, or vitamins and minerals. These are found in foods, and some foods provide more vitamins and minerals than others.

I like to think of this principle as “getting a lot of bang for my buck.” Basically, if I’m going to eat something, I want to get a lot of nutrients from my calories. I think this is where the fear of carbs has come from. Many foods that are high in carbohydrates are low in nutrients, commonly referred to as “empty calories.” However, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, which are mainly carbohydrates, are loaded with vitamins and minerals that our bodies need! So I try to fill most of my carbohydrate goal (as well as my other macro goals) with nutrient-dense foods that keep my body thriving.

Now, when I say “most,” I really mean MOST, not ALL. As long as I am meeting my needs for vitamins and minerals pretty consistently, trying to achieve balance between my macros, and staying within my calorie goal, I believe there is a little wiggle room for some empty calories here and there. (That’s just my gut talking on that one.) Restricting foods often leaves me feeling a sense of deprivation that can lead to unhealthy choices. However, if I am eating a healthy diet, and then choose to have a cookie once in a while, I don’t have to feel guilty and then use that guilt to throw myself into a three-day binge.

PRINCIPLE #4: The final principle I use to direct my diet choices is unique to my LDS faith. We have a section of scripture referred to as the “word of wisdom,” or what we believe is God’s advice about healthy living. It is found in Doctrine and Covenants 89, and says that it is a “principle with promise.”

Basically, the word of wisdom tells us things we should refrain from as well as things we should eat to take care of our bodies. And who better than Heavenly Father, the creator of our bodies, to give this advice? The word of wisdom instructs us to eat “wholesome herbs” and “fruit in the season thereof.” It tells us to eat meat sparingly. It says that “all grain is ordained for the use of man and beasts, to be the staff of life.” Finally, it tells us to eat “that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground.”

And what is the promise that goes with this principle? “Health in their navel and marrow to their bones…wisdom and great treasures of knowledge…and shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint” (v. 18-20). I have found this principle to be true, and have felt the promised blessings from following it.

I like to think of these four principles as the cornerstones of my nutritional foundation. And if they are the four corners, the walls would be four other considerations which aren’t principles, but I believe are important when creating a sustainable way to eat. Those four walls are: budget, simplicity, personal taste, and family values.

Budget—Sometimes I like to imagine how I would eat if money just simply wasn’t an issue. There would definitely be more salmon!! But the reality is, I need to try to stick to a budget when I do my grocery shopping. So certain foods, although healthy, aren’t really something I buy frequently. And yes, I eat rice and potatoes. They get a bad rap, I think. But they are really good sources of complex carbohydrates, which our bodies need, especially if you are doing any endurance training like I am.

Simplicity—Show me a recipe with 20 ingredients, and my eyes will glaze over. Especially if half of those ingredients are things I do not have in my pantry, and I don’t even know which specialty store I would have to go to to find them. I enjoy cooking, but I enjoy LOTS of things, so cooking for hours every day just isn’t in the plan for me right now. So until I am rich enough to hire a personal chef, simplicity is definitely a consideration in my diet.

Personal Taste—I love food! It just tastes so good! There are so many healthy and delicious choices out there that I don’t waste any calories on foods that don’t taste good to me. If there is a particularly healthy food that I just don’t like, I will look for another that will give me similar nutrient content, and enjoy it instead.

Family Values—Eating together as a family is important to me. Now, my kids go to school, so we don’t eat all meals together, but we do eat breakfast and dinner together. And remember that simplicity consideration? I don’t cook separate meals for me (except once in awhile for breakfast when I serve my kids something horrible that I don’t know how to modify, like donuts of something!) So whatever I fix for my family for dinner is what I eat. This is good motivation to put something nutritious on the table every night. And whatever needs I don’t meet with breakfast and dinner, I can definitely make up for with my lunch and snacks during the day. I also believe in celebrating birthdays and holidays with my family, and that wiggle room in my diet is perfect for accommodating these kinds of celebrations that typically involve food with high calories and little nutritional value.

These four “walls” of my foundation are important, but you have to be careful not to make them your cornerstones. If you do, you may end up eating Fruit Loops for breakfast, Ramen noodles for lunch, and doing something simple for dinner, like a Big Mac and a McFlurry.

So decide what your guiding principles will be (your cornerstones), think about other considerations you have (your walls), and construct a foundation that you can build your health on long-term. You can use the principles I use, or find some of your own. You don’t have to follow a bunch of rules and regulations. In fact, the opposite is true. With basic principles as my guide, I eat a wide variety of delicious foods and feel a lot of freedom, not to mention all the health benefits of a principle-based approach to eating.

What are your guiding principles? What other things do you consider when deciding what to eat? What would you like to know more about? Leave a comment below, and let’s discuss this some more. I love sharing, but I also love learning. I hope that principle-based eating will become a tool we all learn to use as we keep working at this amazing project of loving our bodies. You guys are worth it!

Love your body, and your body will love you. 

The Illusion of Perfection

The Illusion of Perfection

If somebody told you they were going to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, you would laugh at them (at least inwardly.) But yet, when we tell ourselves that we can, and even should be perfect, we take ourselves seriously.

As a recovering perfectionist, let me tell you something:

Perfect is an illusion. And Perfectionism is the ultimate con artist.

The line Perfectionism sells sounds something like this: “If you just try hard enough, you can be perfect.” And then she sells it to us by adding a whole bunch of promises to the deal. She tells us that when we attain perfection, we will feel, have, and be everything we have always wanted.

When we are perfect, we will feel loved. We will feel peace. We will feel happy.

When we are perfect, we will have friends. We will have the body we have always wanted. We will have the life we dreamed for ourselves.

When we are perfect, we will be acceptable. We will be valuable. We will be worthy.

Sounds amazing, right? No wonder so many of us buy it!

But that Perfectionism, she’s good at what she does. She lures us in with her promises, she sells us her line, and then she robs us blind.

She robs us of the satisfaction of a job well done. When we get to the end of the day, regardless of the good we have done, she is there to point out everywhere we were lacking.

She robs us of the accomplishment of finishing. When something has to be perfect, we are never finished.  Never.

She robs us of the excitement of beginning. When we are so worried about having to do it perfectly, we often decide that not even starting is the better option. Just think of all the things you might do if you didn’t have to do them perfectly!

If you have bought from Perfectionism, you may be digging in your heels. You may be saying, “Wait! Are you saying I should just settle for mediocrity, then?” No. That’s not at all what I am saying. What I suggest is simple, effective, and real. Let go of the illusion of “perfect” and JUST DO YOUR BEST.

Do your best, and then look at it through the lenses of reality, acceptance, and love, rather than through the shades of illusion, scrutiny, and criticism—you know, those flashy ones you bought from Perfectionism on that “3 for the price of 1!” deal a while back?

No matter how long ago you bought it, how long you have been believing it, or how badly she has been robbing you, you can free yourself from Perfectionism and all her lies. Start today. You are worth it.

Love your body, and your body will love you. 

Goal Setting and Living Life on Purpose

Goal Setting and Living Life on Purpose

Today marks SIX MONTHS until I go for it! This is something I have wanted to try for a long time, but through the last 14 years of pregnancies and babies, I just never felt the time was right. But now it is. And so six months from today, I will be running in the Huntsville Marathon, attempting to qualify for the Boston Marathon!

Fifteen years ago, I was training for my first ever marathon. I had never run any race longer than eight miles before, but I heard a lady talking about her experience running a marathon, and with my sister for support, we decided we could do it too! Our goal was just to finish, and hopefully run the whole thing. We trained at a leisurely ten-minute-mile pace, which at the time, I thought was great. And it was. We were newbies, and just putting in that many miles gave us awesome feelings of accomplishment and amazement at what our bodies were capable of doing. We ran the Ogden Marathon, and I finished in 4:10. And I just KNEW it would not be my last marathon.

But so far, it has been my only marathon. As a mom, I have found training for half marathons to work well for me, and over the past several years, I have gotten faster each time I run one. Last summer, I really went for it, wanting to run the half in 1:30. I just missed my mark, finishing in 1:31. But then I knew it was time. I’m ready to go for the bucket list item—qualify for and run in the Boston Marathon. I am super excited, and nervous, and motivated, and NERVOUS (did I already mention that?!?)

Thinking about this today has got me wanting to talk about GOALS and how important they can be in our lives, and in our health.

Remember in Alice in Wonderland, when Alice asks the Cheshire cat which way she should go? He replies, “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.” Alice then says, “I don’t much care where—“, to which the cat, with wisdom, answers, “Then it doesn’t matter which way to walk.” Sadly, I think this is the way many people live their lives; they just wander aimlessly, and let life happen to them, rather than deciding where they want to go, and then taking the path to get there. This is why goals are so important. I want to live my life on purpose.

There are three main types of goals I want us to think about: Mission, Biggies, and Lifestyle. They are all a little different, but each important if we want to live a life on purpose.

MISSION GOALS—These goals are like the arch over top of all our other goals. They define our purpose and give us a structure under which to build everything else we want to achieve. I think it’s important to have a MISSION for your life, as well as for any other large task you are undertaking. Here are a couple examples. Several years ago, I wanted to create a mission statement for my life, and since then it has guided me so many times, both in small, daily choices as well as the bigger decisions in my life. My MISSION goal is “Anxiously engaged in a good cause.” I often ask myself, “Is this a good cause?” If it is, it has a place in my life. If not, I need to evaluate whether it gets to stay. This MISSION goal has helped me be involved in many good things, and I really don’t watch much Netflix (no offense, Netflix watchers. 😉 ) It has also made me ask myself, “Am I being engaged? Anxiously?? I don’t just want to float through my life. I want to engage in it. Anxiously.

I also knew when I started this blog that to stay focused and motivated, to know where it is I want to go, I would need a MISSION goal as well. And so the MISSION of Project Love Your Body is to help women learn to love their bodies and create healthier versions of themselves.  Knowing what my mission is helps me make decisions as I move forward with this project.

BIGGIE GOALS—These are big goals with distinct finishes. You make it or you don’t. These kinds of goals should scare you just a little, like qualifying for the Boston Marathon. These are the goals that truly test our character, our ability to deal with adversity, our commitment. We learn and grow and change. These goals cannot be achieved from within the safety of our comfort zones. The greatest thing about these goals is that even if we don’t achieve them, we still win. We want them. We strive for them. But in the pursuit of them, we become a better version of ourselves.

I coached volleyball for ten years, eight of those as a high school assistant coach. I loved it and had so many great experiences.  Goal setting was very important to our staff, and we taught this practice to our teams.  We had several seasons where our team set the goal to be state champions. Definitely a BIGGIE. That goal was the driving force behind every practice, every game, every decision we made, every effort the girls made. But for us, as coaches, it wasn’t our mission. Our mission was much bigger than state championships. We never did win a state title (2nd place four times!) But by working toward a BIGGIE  goal, with our MISSION in mind, our teams were able to achieve so many other successes along the way. As long as your BIGGIES fit within your MISSION, you always succeed.

LIFESTYLE GOALS—Lifestyle goals are different from BIGGIE or MISSION goals in that they feel smaller. However, their power for growth and change can be just as big. Lifestyle goals are the goals that help us break old habits, create new habits, or help us work toward improvement in an aspect of our life. They typically don’t have a specific end, like a BIGGIE does. These are things like pray daily, be a better friend, drink 64 oz. of water a day, go on a date with my husband once a month, and work on thinking positive thoughts about my body. I love to set a couple of LIFESTYLE  goals as New Year’s resolutions every year, not with the thought of just doing it for the year, but with the idea that these goals will become a part of my regular routine. Not all of them stick, but many have, and they have enriched my life.

I LOVE a good self-help book. And one of my favorites, probably because I worked with teenagers for so many years as a coach, is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey. Or maybe I’m just kind of a simple-minded person, so this version of the habits just speaks to me so well. Either way, one of the Habits is “Begin With The End in Mind.” Within that topic, Covey gives five fabulous keys for setting goals.

  1. Count the Cost. Before setting a goal, think through it. What will it take? Are you willing? Is it worth it to you? If the answer to these questions is “Ummmm….”, you may want to re-think things. Don’t forget to think through all the benefits as well. Weigh things out. Maybe it will be hard, but the potential for personal growth makes you say YES!
  2. Put It To Pen. “A goal not written is only a wish.” Write it down. And put it in a place where you will see it often. Studies show that writing something down helps our subconscious brain to embrace it. And man, if we could get our subconscious on board, wouldn’t that be great?!
  3. Just Do It! This is the hardest part. Our brain wants to protect us from negative emotion, and one of those is disappointment. It tells us, “What if you fail? Better to just not try. Or go ahead and try. But commit?? No. Too dangerous.” I LOVE this quote by W.H. Murray: “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. There is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans, that the moment one definitely commits oneself then providence moves too. All sorts of things begin to occur which would never otherwise have occurred, and a whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and material assistance which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.” It’s TRUE! So tell your brain to calm down, and JUST DO IT!
  4. Use Momentous Moments. I mentioned that I like to set New Year’s Resolutions. But this is only one of these moments in life that lend themselves to momentum, power, and motivation for change. Take advantage of these moments and set a goal. Some of these moments include: a new job, a move, a birth, a death, an anniversary, a setback, a marriage, a divorce, a new home, a new look, or simply a new day.
  5. Rope Up. I LOVE this one! It refers to mountain climbers roping themselves together when ascending a challenging mountain. Roping up to achieve our goals helps us to keep going, to not back down; the ropes catch us when we lose our balance and stabilize us until we can regain our footing and move forward once again. Use friends, family, mentors, or anybody you think will help you achieve your goals—you can use ME if you want! By roping up, we can strengthen each other as we set our goals and live our lives on purpose.

What are your goals? Write them down—one MISSION, one BIGGIE, and one LIFESTYLE goal. And let’s Rope Up! Share at least one of your goals in the comments. I would love to know you better, and one of the best ways to know a person is by knowing who they want to be.

Love your body, and your body will love you. 

Two Weeks! Let’s Build Our Work Crew

Two Weeks! Let’s Build Our Work Crew

Hey everybody! The blog is two weeks old! Still a baby, yes, but it has been such a fun and exciting two weeks! 1800 of you have visited already, and I am so excited to keep getting this message out to everybody: Love your body, and your body will love you! Thanks to all who have commented, shared, and helped spread the word about this project. I feel like in the first two weeks, we have mostly been acquiring some tools we need. Maybe some of you have started doing some work. But the other aspect of this project–and a super important one–is building a good work crew!

Helen Keller had it right. Alone, each one of us can do a little. We can work on our own positive thinking, we can exercise, eat healthy, and learn to love and respect our bodies. But have you ever felt the motivation of working on a project WITH somebody else?? I believe that our work will become better, more focused, and that we will achieve so much more if we work together.

I read an article recently that identified having a community as the #1 habit you should have to create a healthy lifestyle. I loved this: “Permanent lifestyle changes happen in relationships. Whether they take place with peers, a coach, family, friends, coworkers, the other anonymous people at the meetings or the other new recruits who joined the Marine Corps with you, new habits happen when people get together and help each other out. Finding your own triggers are hard. Seeing other people’s is easy. Remembering to tell yourself, “Great job!” is hard. Remembering to tell other people is easy. Figuring out how to work new foods, new activities, and new steps into your own life is hard. Watching and learning from a whole bunch of other people like you who are trying to get to the same place you are is just so much easier!” (For the entire article, click HERE.)

YES! Let’s help each other. But first, we need to get to know each other. And we need to build our community. Let’s involve our friends! I want every woman to start loving her body! And for a little motivation to do that……………..let’s do a GIVEAWAY!!!

Who loves Athleta? I have been drooling over their active wear and swim wear for years now. My absolutel favorite swimsuits have been from Athleta, and if you love a comfy pair of Sunday afternoon lounge pants that you never want to take off, they have the yoga pants for you! And in a week from today, I will be giving away a $50 gift card to one lucky winner. And if you aren’t typically lucky, you can increase your odds of winning by putting your name in the drawing as many times as you can! Go ahead, head to Athleta’s website and start dreaming of what you will buy.

Here’s how the contest works: For each of the tasks listed below, you will receive one entry into the drawing.

  1. LIKE our Facebook Page: Project Love Your Body. If you have already done this, BOOM! You have an entry already. If not, what are you waiting for? If you want to keep up with things, this is a great way! Just click here to go to the page, then LIKE it. Easy peasy!
  2. LIKE posts by Project Love Your Body. There will either be a link to the blog, or another post each day. Watch for it, and simply click “Like” for another entry in the drawing.
  3. COMMENT here on the blog. I would love to hear from you and start getting to know my readers! So if you have a thought after reading a post, share it! Any comment on any post here on the blog, is an entry! (And I mean ANY post–so you can go comment on previous posts if you’d like.)
  4. COMMENT on any post on the Project Love Your Body Facebook page. Something as simple as “I love this!” or “I hate this!” will get you an entry. (But the first of those two comments will feel better for us all, right??)
  5. SHARE a blog post. Now, I do not always know when somebody shares a post as I cannot see them all due to privacy, etc. So when you SHARE a blog post, just send me a quick message on the Facebook Page, where it says “Send Message”. Just say “Shared” and you will add an entry.

So those are the basic ways to participate in the giveaway. BUT keep your eye on the posts each day on the page. There will be 2-3 additional ways to earn entries in the next week. You could be the lucky winner of some sweet new threads to clothe that body you are beginning to love so much!

Let’s build this work crew!

Love your body, and your body will love you

The REAL Reasons I Choose to Love My Body

The REAL Reasons I Choose to Love My Body

There are so many reasons I decided to start Project Love Your Body. I love fitness, nutrition, and living a healthy lifestyle. I love writing, and I love sharing things that I learn. I am also so saddened by the negative body obsession I see in so many women today, and I want to start a movement of women who love their bodies—love them enough to truly respect and care for them.

But it’s even bigger than that. I believe some things about the body—about OUR bodies—that make this project a mission for me, almost like I’ve been called to it. As a member of the LDS church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints), I have learned and have come to believe some things about the body that I want to shout to the world! Things that I think are often misunderstood, dismissed, or taken for granted by many who have also been taught them. And so today I want to share some of my most important beliefs about the body, and how those beliefs motivate me to LOVE my body.

For those not of my faith, you may or may not believe all of what I share here. That’s okay! I love you regardless of whether we agree. But figure out what you DO believe about the body and how it relates to your spiritual journey. Then examine how those basic beliefs can move you toward a beautiful, healthy, more loving relationship with your body.

I believe that our bodies are a gift from God. In 1 Cor. 3:16-17, perhaps the most famous scripture about the body, we learn that the body is a temple, and that it is a holy place where the Spirit of God may dwell. A temple!! Imagine giving someone a temple. This is no small thing! And God gave every one of us a unique one, created in His image, but completely unlike anybody else’s.  We “shouted for joy” (Job. 38:7) in response to the plan for us come to earth and gain a body. Our Heavenly Father knew that we needed to experience mortality in order to learn, progress, and ultimately be prepared to once again enter His presence.  We did too. And we knew that “mortality” meant pain, illness, and even disability in our bodies. But we knew that this “mortality” was the only way we could also learn to have joy. Without struggle, there is no growth. And without sadness, there is no joy. We needed the wonderful gift of a mortal body to experience it all.

I believe that our bodies are ours for the long haul. I think this is one that we all can agree on. Because whether you believe that death is the end, or whether you believe in a resurrection, other than a short separation between death and the resurrection, you will live in your body for your entire existence. You won’t receive somebody else’s body after the resurrection; you will get your own. And you will be thrilled to have it back! In Doctrine and Covenants 138 it talks about what happens to our spirits during that separation from the body that happens at death. And while we often think of that separation from our body as a relief (as it may well be for those who have suffered horrible sickness and pain), I find it interesting that “the dead had looked upon the long absence of their spirits from their bodies as a bondage” (v. 50). Bondage! Apparently, there are things about being embodied that make us free. Good thing we will have them for the long haul.

I believe that at the time of the resurrection, our spirits and bodies will be reunited permanently, and our bodies will be perfected. It is only in this resurrected state that we can “receive a fullness of joy” (D&C 93:33). If you are LDS, you will be familiar with this scripture—Alma 40:23—which states that after the Resurrection, made possible by our Savior, Jesus Christ, “the soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame.” We love this promise, right? We look forward to the day that our bodies will be perfected. Now, let me be clear—I’m going to put my own interpretation on this. So, from the gospel of Taffy, I don’t think this scripture means that when we are resurrected, we will all have a body that looks just like Angelina Jolie’s or (insert body idol here). No. Heavenly Father did not create just one perfect body, and mess up on all the rest of ours. I believe that the “perfect body” we will have will be our own body, with its own unique size, shape, eye color, skin color, and everything else that makes it only ours. However, it will have all the body parts—and yes, all the hair—and it will function perfectly. Because it will now be immortal, it will not be subject to illness, injury, or aging, which will be amazing! But if I am looking forward to trading my body in for somebody else’s, I think I will be disappointed. So love the body you have, and look forward to the day that it becomes your body, perfected.

I believe that our spirits are eternal, and that the spirit/body relationship we have here on earth will continue with us. We learn in Alma 34:34 that “that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.” The scripture is talking about being unrepentant when we die, and then suddenly wanting to repent afterward, and that that isn’t how it works. But I believe that it also means that if I am greedy when I die, I will still be greedy. If I am charitable, I will carry that trait with me. If I am negative and sulky, I won’t suddenly be a cheerful spirit when I get to the other side. Our spiritual self is developed throughout this life, and then we continue to develop it afterward. It doesn’t change in an instant. And so guess what? Whatever attitudes we develop about our bodies will not suddenly be changed once we are rid of them, or even after we are reunited with them.  If we are waiting, just enduring this horrible body we have, and then are shocked in the resurrection that we didn’t get Angelina’s perfect body, maybe the resurrection won’t be as joyous as it was intended to be.

These beliefs are so incredibly motivating to me! I want to embrace this gift God has given to me. It is unique, it is mine, and it will be for eternity. I want to celebrate its uniqueness.  I want to do all I can to learn to love it, to care for it, to respect it. I want my spirit and my body to be intimate friends—the kind that will miss each other greatly when we are separated, and then be ecstatic to be reunited eternally. I want to truly love my body, no matter how big the project. And I want you all to want to, too.

Love your body, and your body will love you. 

Beauty: It’s Not a Contest, Is It?

Beauty: It’s Not a Contest, Is It?

Several years ago, when my oldest daughter was about five, I had been busy working in the garden and then realized that I needed something from the store. She and I hopped into the van and headed out. Before we got to the end of our lane, she asked me, “Mom, are you going to wear that to the store??” I was still in my gardening clothes–work boots, holes in my jeans and some dirt on my shirt. This isn’t any big thing for me–I look like this most of the summer. I replied, “Sure. Why not?” She then came back with, “Well, if you were in a beauty contest with other moms, especially McKendyll’s mom….you would NOT win.” After a moment of silence (to process my shock and the hilarity of what she had just said to me), I said something that may be one of the truest things I have ever said to her: “Lucky for me, I’m not in a beauty contest with any other mom.”

Why do we think we are? Why do we as women always consider our own beauty in relation to someone else’s? Consciously, we all know it’s not a contest, right? But it’s that sneaky subconscious that keeps us wondering if somehow my worth is connected to my beauty, or worse yet, someone else’s.

I think this is why the magazine stand at the store is such a problem for so many women. We see a beautiful model, our subconscious whispers the question, “Are you worthy?” and the comparison begins. Look at her legs. They are so long. Mine are short and have cellulite. Look at her hair. So long and shiny. Look at her belly, her boobs, her lips, her perfection …..  And look at mine. I am less than. I am not beautiful because I am not her.

Or maybe we don’t like feeling less-than, so we put her down. We think things like, She really should eat something. No healthy person looks like that! Or Wow! What a tramp, flaunting herself like that. No self-dignity. What was her designer thinking with that outfit? She looks so awful with her makeup done like that. All the while, our subconscious fear of unworthiness is running wild.

But a few years ago, I read an article that was the solution for all of us women! Guess what?? There is this thing called airbrushing, where they take the photo of the model and then make it look even better. Isn’t this the best revelation? So now when we look at her, we can try to level the playing field rather than idolize or criticize. We can say, “No way are her legs really that thin! No way do her lips look that full! Wow! What a fake!” Now we are simply stating the facts. But somehow it doesn’t feel that way to me. It feels like if we need to level the playing field, it must still be a competition. And we are still being led by that little subconscious voice: Are you worthy? By picking her apart and critiquing her beauty and deciding that it all must be fake, we become closer to her, and now maybe, just maybe, we are worthy.

But what if our own worthiness had nothing to do with her beauty? What then? Maybe then we could look at her and think, Wow! She is beautiful. She has the perfect body for a model! And then we can look at ourselves and say Wow! I am beautiful. I have the perfect body for a mom! Maybe we could recognize that she works hard at what she does and is really good at it. And that we also work hard at what we do, and we are really good at it too. Maybe, if our worthiness had nothing to do with her beauty, it wouldn’t be a contest.

I have good news: IT DOESN’T and, lucky for us, IT ISN’T.

So let’s start seeing the beauty–in ourselves and in the other women we see each day. We don’t need to idolize, criticize, or level the playing field, because it isn’t a contest. We are ALL beautiful. We are ALL worthy.

Love your body, and your body will love you

Why Exercise?

Why Exercise?

Welcome back crew! I am so excited that you are here again, acquiring the tools you need to learn to love that amazing body of yours. You know you are worth it, right?

Recently I wrote about creating your own healthy lifestyle. Not mine. Not your neighbor’s. Not Jillian’s or Kayla’s or Sean T’s or even Tony Horton’s (although I LOVE him!) YOURS. But I really, really hope that your healthy lifestyle plan includes some kind of exercise.

Why? Why exercise? I recently heard someone answer the question of why they exercise with, “Because I like to eat.”  And I think that, sadly, a lot of people see exercise as just that—a way to try to not get fat. To offset what we eat. Or even more extreme, as a punishment for what we ate.

But I exercise for a whole different set of reasons that can all be summed up in one: My body loves it.

Exercise strengthens my bones and muscles and improves joint function. Exercise lowers my risk of diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. It strengthens my heart and increases my lung capacity. It improves my posture, increases my energy and even helps prevent colds, which run rampant this time of year. And while I do it for all those reasons NOW, it will even help me age more gracefully, as it helps prevent osteoporosis, improves my balance, prevents muscle loss, and even fights dementia.  I could list dozens more physical benefits of exercise, but let me just say this—investing in my body by way of exercise pays back BIG TIME!!

And my body isn’t the only part of me that loves exercise. My spirit loves it too. Remember how we can create feelings by the thoughts we choose? I totally love knowing that, and I try to think thoughts that will bring me all sorts of good feelings. But sometimes it just feels so hard, right? Thinking about my thinking all the time, and constantly trying out new thoughts. Trying to make new thoughts become habit while my brain desperately wants to go back to my default thoughts. Well, here’s a little science for you. Those good feelings are caused by hormones, or chemicals being released when triggered by our thoughts. And exercising releases those same chemicals—AUTOMATICALLY!! It’s like having happiness in my life without even having to think about it! Oh, how my spirit loves that!!

Now some of you may be thinking, MY body doesn’t love exercise. My muscles scream, I can’t breathe, and I am punished for it for days afterward.  I hear ya!! I have had plenty of days where it is HARD. But I know that quitting and starting again is much harder than continuing on. Remind yourself of all the benefits you will experience.  I like to actually think about my heart becoming more efficient, my lungs taking in more air, and my muscles growing stronger. I think about my future self—the 75-year-old me who just completed another half marathon. SHE is so grateful that I stuck with it all these years.

Move your body. Celebrate your body. Love your body, and your body will love you. 

Love and Improvement

Love and Improvement

I once had someone ask me, “Why aren’t you having dessert? Don’t you know you look great?”

I think there are some very misguided beliefs when it comes to making healthy choices. There is the belief that if someone exercises, it is because of some dissatisfaction with their body as it is…If I don’t eat sugar, it must be because I think I’m fat…Making healthy choices is really all about trying to look a certain way… If we truly loved our bodies, we wouldn’t need to do anything to change them. You hear this kind of thinking going on, right? Maybe you have even fallen for some of these beliefs.

I believe we should love our bodies exactly as they are.  I also believe that improving our health is an important goal. And to me, there is nothing conflicting about these two beliefs.

Let’s look at an example from the ranch. My husband, Tony, LOVES ranching. He loves working outside, having time with our family, working with the animals, working with the land, and finding ways to improve our operation. In the fall, we hold our annual bull sale, where we auction off the bulls he works with tirelessly all year. This sale has been going on for thirty years now, and he loves it. But just because he loves it doesn’t mean that he has become complacent about it. He wants it to be the best it can be, and so he is always looking for ways to improve it.

Each year on sale day, right before the bulls go into the sale barn for auction, Tony and his crew are behind the scenes, preparing them to look as good as possible. This means running them into a chute where they can blow off any dirt and poop (yes—poop is a common word when you live on a ranch!), brush their hair, and do some last-minute primping.

For years, they have used a manual chute, meaning that right when the bull runs into the chute, Tony would have to pull a lever down hard to close the head catch. This was hard work, and sometimes even resulted in accidents when not done at the precise moment needed. But it worked fine and got the job done. Last year, however, the ranch invested in a new chute—a hydraulic one. This chute is easy to use, safer, and more efficient. Tony couldn’t believe how much easier the job of working bulls became with this new improvement!

My son working bulls with the new chute

He didn’t get the new chute because he hated working with the old one. He got it because he loved the work and wanted to make it even better and more efficient. The best improvements are always inspired by love.

I have loved my body for most of my life. I have tried to care for it with exercise and healthy habits for the most part. A little over a year ago, I had fallen into a slump and started neglecting my body. It started working less efficiently. I felt tired, had a harder time with my exercise, and was constantly craving foods that could never really satisfy. I still loved my body, and because I did, I felt a desire to take care of it and improve it. Six months later, because of this love, I had created a new version of my body that I had never had before! It had more energy, could complete tasks more easily, was less prone to sickness and injury, and was working more efficiently than ever! Now, while my improvement took a lot more effort than simply buying a new chute, both improvements had the same effect.  And both were inspired by love.

Are your desires for improvement motivated by love, or by some gnawing sense of inadequacy? Are they coming from a place of acceptance, or feelings of unworthiness? Sarah Maria, author of Love Your Body, Love Your Life, teaches, “When your desires come from (a) place of inadequacy, your attempts to fulfill them are often thwarted or require tremendous effort. When you learn to fully befriend, accept, and love yourself, on the other hand, improvement can happen with patience, ease, and grace.”

Becoming a healthier version of YOU is all about small improvements. Improvement is a natural result of truly loving our bodies. And improvement is addictive. More improvement, more love. More love, more improvement. Or, as I like to say, Love your body, and your body will love you.

Feelings Drive Actions

Feelings Drive Actions

What’s the big deal about positive thinking? Why is it so important? Sara Maria, author of Love Your Body, Love Your Life, states, “Thoughts are energy and have the ability to influence our psychology and biology in profound ways, either for good or for ill. Thoughts play an integral role in the development of our lives and in the development of our health and well-being, or the lack thereof.” Psychology, biology, development of our lives, health, and well-being?? Sounds like important stuff to me.

Brooke Castillo, author, master life coach, and CEO of The Life Coach School, has created a model that shows us just how important our thoughts really are. Her model says this: Circumstances exists in our lives, but are neutral, meaning they cannot make us feel any certain way. We choose the thoughts we have about our circumstances. Our thoughts create our feelings. Our feelings drive our actions. And our actions produce the results we have in our lives. Ok, what? That was just a lot. Here’s a visual that simplifies the whole process:

My interpretation of this model says that every result we have in our life, starts initially as a thought.  So that’s the big deal!

The piece of Brooke Castillo’s model that I want to focus more on today is that our feelings drive our actions. Feelings, or emotions, are a part of the human experience, and we experience a huge variety of emotions, sometimes even in the course of a day. We can categorize these feelings into two basic categories—positive and negative. Positive feelings are the ones that feel good. We like them and usually want to feel them more. Negative feelings are the ones that don’t feel good to us. We all respond differently to negative emotion, but some common responses are to resist it, to hide from or try to escape it, or to compound it by adding more negative emotion to it.  Now, I believe that both positive and negative emotions are necessary and that we should experience both in life. I believe that there is “opposition in all things,” and that without negative emotion, positive emotion wouldn’t feel good. So it’s okay to feel bad!

But here’s what I have noticed: Negative feelings don’t motivate me to the kind of action that gets me the results I want in my life. Positive feelings do. So I want to create those feelings as much as I can. And remember—WE CREATE OUR FEELINGS. Our kids don’t. Our husbands don’t. Our jobs don’t. Our houses don’t. And our bodies don’t. We do, through our thoughts.

When I think about loving my body in the action sense, I think about things like exercise, eating nutritious food, getting enough sleep, and drinking lots of water. And these loving actions are done best and most consistently when fueled by positive emotion.

When I think positive thoughts about my body, I feel positive emotions, such as worthiness, self-acceptance, contentment, peace, and love. All those feelings are far more motivating than disgust, shame, unworthiness, hopelessness, and hatred.

Think about a time that you felt extremely motivated. Motivated enough to truly make changes–not just for a day or a week, but real life changes. I can tell you that that motivation was fueled by love, or other positive feelings. Not by hatred. But yet we continue to think we can hate our bodies into a version we will love better. If I am disgusted enough by my belly, maybe someday I will do something to change it. If I tell myself how embarrassing it is to wear a bathing suit, I will find the motivation to stop overeating. If I compare my body to hers enough times, I will feel all sorts of drive to become her. Guess what? This simply will not work.

If we want to truly take care of our bodies and take actions to become a healthier version of ourselves, it must come from a place of love, and all the positive feelings that are associated with that superlative positive emotion. Are you practicing the thoughts that will get you there? I hope so. You are worth it!

Love your body, and your body will love you.