Three Ways to Have a Summer of Self-love
If your Facebook feed is full of ads and messages about getting "bikini ready" that have you standing in front of a mirror criticizing your body, this is for you. I have done it. All the women I know have done it. We hear a litany of relentless negative self-talk… "I hate my thighs, if only I could lose some weight, my skin is awful, I wish my belly was flatter," etc. I am tired of watching my sisters go through this daily anguish, and I know there is another way.
As summer begins to lurk in the not so distant future, I see advertisements highlighting the importance of getting ready for bikini season.
In a recent study it was discovered that among the 31 issues of the five US-based women’s magazines examined, there were 39 articles related to weight loss with 14 identified weight loss topics.
The most prevalent article topics covered were exercising and workouts followed by dieting. The most common products advertised were weight loss pills and fat burners. Hunger reduction strategies also were frequently advertised.
Americans spend over 40 billion dollars on weight loss per year, and this obsession with skinny is making women sick.
One in five women will struggle with an eating disorder. Our children are being impacted as well. Bullying about body size is the most common form of bullying and 42% of 1st – 3rd graders want to be thinner. We can only turn this around if we find a way to model for our children a different way of valuing our bodies.
Many women who come to my office struggle with weight and their appearance. While I do not want to dismiss their concerns, I also want them to see what I see. I want each of them to see the strong, powerful, lovely woman sitting in front of me. I want to shift their attention away from how they look so they can focus on feeling strong and healthy instead.
We must stop letting the number on a scale determine our self worth. Our pants size is not a measure of our value as women. Instead, let's start focusing on how we feel. We must change how we feel if we want real, deep and lasting transformation.
The path to self-love can be rocky, but here are some steps you can take to get there:
1. Focus on health and feeling healthy Forget about the perfect body and stop obsessing over cellulite or rolls. Instead, focus on the way you feel when doing activities you love. If you focus on the way being healthy feels you’ll find a deeper sense of motivation to stay on track as well as lose tolerance for the way unhealthy choices make you feel.
You also can reframe the way you approach diet and exercise as something you do to take care of yourself rather than as a way to punish yourself for unhealthy choices. Exercise for stress management or because you love to dance, swim, or be outdoors. Feed your body with nourishing food so you feel good and have energy to do the activities that you love to do.
2. Treat yourself with kindness.
Talk to yourself the way you would talk to your best friend. Compliment your image in the mirror. For example, “These jeans make my butt look amazing!” –or – “My hair looks so shiny today!” Be your own cheerleader.
Celebrate your achievements and do not judge yourself for what you can’t do yet. You’re the boss. Be a kind, supportive leader for yourself rather then a demeaning, condescending jerk. Do not join in with your friends when they trash talk their bodies, instead compliment them and compliment yourself, change the direction of the conversation or walk away.
3. Be grateful and be positive.
No matter what it looks like, THIS is the body that allows you to experience life. This is the vehicle with which you get to witness incredible views, beautiful sunsets, side splitting laughter, exhilarating moments and all that life has to offer. Be thankful for its ability to bring you to all of these moments.
Do not look at pictures of perfect bodies wishing to be one of them; if you need inspiration find pictures of you at your best and use that as motivation. Work on releasing negative thoughts and emotions and instead make lists of your achievements.
Focusing on what is working creates more of that; do not waste your energy on the negative talk. Be grateful for all of the small steps together they allow us to move great distances.
If you have negative self-talk that will not let up despite your best efforts, flower essences can be a powerful tool to help change thought patterns and stuck energy. Contact one of our providers if you are interested in utilizing this kind of support.
If you still want to feel healthier, stronger and more capable of experiencing all that life has to offer once you are committed to coming from a place of self-love and positive thinking, consider these tips:
1. Avoid foods that destroy metabolism.
Refined sugar, carbohydrates and refined oils all change the way your body processes calories and move energy from your diet directly in to storage. They can increase inflammation and pain in the body and lead to blood sugar crashes and fatigue. Refined sugars can be hidden in names like corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, juice concentrate, maltodextrin and dehydrated cane juice. Look for it in salad dressings, granola bars, and other health products as well. If you need something sweet try stevia, coconut sugar, raw honey or maple syrup. Even still, these should be used sparingly.
Refined flours in bread and pasta turn instantly into sugar in your digestive tract so you can re-read the issues in the bullet point above. Instead use sprouted whole grains that are high in fiber and less inflammatory.
Vegetable oils such as canola, soy or corn oil can slow down fat loss and increase inflammation that causes you to hold on to excess pounds. Coconut oil and grass-fed butter are high quality fats that can be used for energy and speed fat loss.
2. Calorie counting is time consuming and cumbersome and studies have shown that it doesn’t actually aid in weight loss. Therefore, what to do?
Eat smaller portion sizes. Most American’s portions are way too large. Eat 1/3 to 2/3 of what you would normally eat at a meal.
Eat a high protein, high fiber snack and three reasonably-sized meals, or two small snacks and two larger meals.
3. Include more high fiber foods. Shoot for at least 30 grams a day.
Soluble fiber will make you feel fuller longer. It also keeps your blood sugar more stable, helps your body eliminate toxins, and feeds a healthy microbiome. Soluble fiber is commonly found in pears, apples, sweet potatoes, oats, barley, and legumes.
4. Chew your food! The slower and more mindful you eat, the sooner you realize when you’re full.
Don’t eat in front of the television or on the go, which is a recipe for over-eating.
5. Drink more water.
The brain doesn’t differentiate well between hunger and thirst. Drink enough water until your urine is clear or at least straw yellow.
6. Don’t eat after 7 pm.
If you’re still hungry at bedtime, try these smart snacks: celery with almond butter, turkey breast with cheese, a handful of pumpkin seeds. These foods are high in tryptophan an amino acid that can help us feel sleepy.
Taking a longer break between meals to rest your digestion can facilitate weight loss. It’s helpful to have your last meal several hours before you go to bed. In some cases waiting until late morning to eat breakfast is helpful as well.
7. Drink green tea.
Studies have shown that this increases metabolism, which makes it easier to burn more calories. If the tea interrupts your sleep, drink decaf.
8. Include more fruits and vegetables, preferably organic.
Studies show that consuming 7 to 9 cups of vegetables a day decreases all causes of mortality and lowers your risk of diabetes, obesity and cancer.
These super foods are high in antioxidants, fiber and nutrients, so your body will not only burn more calories, but you’ll consume less in a 24 hour period since they’ll make you feel full.
Have a vegetable with each meal.
9. Consider food allergies and/or intolerances.
These cause inflammation, which begets the body to store more calories as fat as a protective mechanism.
11. Try one half to one teaspoon of organic apple cider vinegar before meals.
A 2005 study in the European Journal of Nutrition showed that subjects who consumed apple cider vinegar with food had greater rates of satiety (aka “fullness”), as well as improved glucose and insulin levels.
12. Exercise! Move your body at least three times a week.
Many studies show that adding exercise alone will improve your health more than any other diet or lifestyle change.
Interval or burst training is the most effective at promoting fat loss. One study comparing steady cardio on a stationary bicycle for 45 min versus 15 minutes of interval training on the same bikes showed that those participants doing intervals lost 3x to 9x as much weight in one-third of the time.
Resistance training or weight lifting also improves weight loss. Increasing muscle mass raises the basal metabolic rate so that you burn more calories when you aren’t exercising. It also improves insulin sensitivity and thyroid function, both of which are essential for decreasing fat storage and improving metabolism.
If you are doing all of these things and still struggling there may be a hormonal imbalance in your way. Adrenal fatigue, poor thyroid function, low testosterone, excess estrogen and inflammation can all interfere with your ability to burn fat. Talk to you doctor about hormone testing to check your levels.
Remember: you deserve to feel wonderful in your body!
Work With Dr. Hillary Roland, ND
As a naturopathic doctor I address every possible hormone imbalance issue with comprehensive testing, and then work with you and your individual body and its specific needs to produce the appropriate hormone ratios. Schedule a new patient consult and we'll discuss your specific concerns.
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