self care

How to Exercise Smarter & Not Harder

There is a way of exercising that I KNOW will improve the way your body feels & functions. It doesn’t involve a bunch of repetitions, heavy weights, or intense cardio — you don’t have to break a sweat at all, if you don’t want to.

What it does require is a lot of presence, curiosity, & patience. I often refer to this way of moving as Mindful Movement or Intuitive Movement because it’s all about the relationship between body+mind.

The ‘old way’ of exercising says that more is more — more weight, more reps, more speed, more intensity = healthier body & less pain. But it doesn’t always work like that. Yes, movement is medicine; but some of the most active people I’ve met have terrible chronic pain.

It’s because our bodies are complex, alive & intelligent. And if we want our bodies to feel more vital & healthy, we need to tap into this innate intelligence. We don’t do that through rote repetition. We don’t do that when we’re moving so fast or pushing ourselves so hard that we’re completely checked out, just counting reps & waiting for it to be over with. We do it by:

  • sloooowwing down,

  • paying attention to what we feel,

  • getting curious about our sensations, and

  • mixing up / refining our movements

I’m a big believer in using mindful movement to cultivate greater mastery over our bodies! I teach this to my clients to help them overcome pain & discomfort and improve their overall energy. If this is something you’re interested in exploring, click here to see what it might look like to work together.

How to Counteract Body Shame

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Growing up, my body was always up for discussion — how much I weighed, whether or not I shaved my body hair, whether or not I had blemishes, how I dressed my body, how ‘athletic’ I was, how I moved & carried myself... I learned, implicitly & explicitly, that it’s important to have a ‘good’ body, and that my worth depends on appearing attractive to others.

But this ‘good’ body I was ‘supposed to’ have always seemed elusive — impossible to achieve and ever-changing. And, as a result, I was constantly looking to others for validation & fulfillment, and always felt not-quite-good-enough. I’ve spent years undoing this tangled web of body shame, and I’ll likely be picking away at it for years to come. Here’s what I’ve found that helps:

  • Radical Acceptance • I spent years thinking that, if my body were different, then I could be happy. But nothing has brought more-immediate & true happiness than accepting myself exactly as I am — giving myself permission to be however I am right now, without believing it negatively affects my value as a human being.

  • Kind Words • I used to say all sorts of disparaging things about my body. But part of radical acceptance is finding better ways to talk about bodies, so I’m constantly finding new ways of describing my body that express love & admiration. Rather than shaming myself for having ‘rolls’ or ‘flab’, I exalt my softness & my juiciness

  • Context • Being surrounded by people & media that express a narrow view of beauty or assess people’s worth based on appearances makes radical acceptance & kindness really difficult. We can remove this hurdle by surrounding ourselves with people who are open & accepting & loving & kind, and with media that represents all bodies as ‘good’ bodies

  • Self-Care • Loving my body is harder when my body feels like doodoo! So I try to take good care of myself with sleep, food & water, movement, breath, time outdoors, etc.

Stress x Money

In the world humans have created, money is intrinsically linked to our sense of safety. Everything we’ve learned about how to survive & thrive involves money. So, when we think we don’t have enough money, our body reacts as though our life is at stake.

The past few months, I’ve run into some circumstances that have spread me thin financially, and I’ve been going into full-blown survival mode. For me, that’s been manifesting as a giant brain tornado — thinking TOO MUCH about “what do I doooo?!”, trying to control everything, complaining, feeling exhausted, beating myself up for not ‘getting enough done’, bingeing on screens, and feeling out-of-touch with my old friends Ease & Enjoyment.

Here’s what’s been helping me:

  • Coming up with a plan that I feel okay with (including a worst-case-scenario contingency), and then choosing to trust that plan every time I start freaking out.

  • Acknowledging my ‘wins’, even (especially!) the little things, every damn day.

  • Recognizing my humanness — I’m a person, not a money-making machine, and I have needs & limits!

  • Making time to reconnect with & care for myself physically & emotionally by meditating, moving my body, & spending time in nature

Self Love x Listening

We all have a deep need to feel heard and understood. But, often, when we have a feeling we don’t like, our impulse is to cover it up, distract ourselves from it, or try to rid ourselves of it (read: ‘cure’ or ‘fix’)

Imagine telling your partner or best friend that you‘re feeling bad, or that you need support. And they respond the same way — not listening, changing the subject, telling you “it’ll be fine”, or giving unsolicited advice to ‘fix’ your feelings.

I think most of us wouldn’t like that. And I don’t think our bodies like it when we do it to ourselves.

All the time, our body+mind ‘hides’ information from our consciousness that isn’t relevant. So, when we have a feeling, whether physical or emotional, our body is communicating something that it thinks is important.

Since I’ve practiced listening to my body’s messages, I’ve found that most uncomfortable feelings are resolved just from being felt & noticed. And for the rest, I get a better understanding of how to support my wellbeing — whether that’s to slow down & take a rest, or move my body, or write in my journal, or play outside... The medicine tends to reveal itself when I pause to listen to what my body+mind needs

Listening to our body’s cries and supporting it in the way it asks us to is a radical act of self-love.

Burnout x The Stress Cycle

A lot of us have grown to view stress as this Big, Bad Monster. All the time, we hear about the havoc it wreaks on our bodies & brains

But that’s only part of the story. In fact, stress is actually really healthy & helpful! If it doesn’t seem like it, it’s because we’re not doing stress ‘right’

You see, stress belongs as part of a complete cycle. Our bodies have intelligently evolved to (1) Activate our Resources & (2) Take Action when danger is present, then to (3) Release & (4) Rest when we are safe

Until you take action, move your body, and allow yourself time to release the tension in your body and truly relax, you’re going to stay Activated. If you feel like you’re always stressed or exhausted, you’re probably missing one of these steps. And you’re not alone!

Many of us weren’t taught how to take effective action. Plus, ‘effective action’ has a different meaning now than it did long ago — often it doesn’t include moving your body, which is crucial for releasing the energy that was generated when you became Activated.

And, perhaps worst of all, we’re not relaxing & resting properly. This is a process that takes more time than most people allow for. And, when we do sit down at the end of our day, we’re more likely to numb out or distract ourselves than to mindfully relax.

Staying in that Activated state for too long is what hurts us, not the existence of stress itself. So the next time you’re feeling burnt out, remember:

  • Don’t Stress Over Stress • Stress isn’t bad — it’s a natural process that you are inherently equipped to handle.

  • Complete the Cycle • The more stressed you are, the more time & attention your body needs to release, relax, & rest. Put away the distractions. Stretch, wiggle, run, dance. Relax your muscles. Breathe.

  • Stay Present • Our bodies naturally know how to process stress. But, in order for it to happen, we need to pay attention to our bodies messages — a.k.a. the sensations & urges that arise when we pause to notice.

How to Connect with your True Desires

What do you really want?

There are so many messages floating around about what it means to be a good person, or to be ‘likeable’ or ‘respectable’. And we’re hardwired to care [a lot] about what people think about us; for us mammals, acceptance = survival.

But, in our concern for meeting the expectations of others, it’s easy to lose track of our own desires. We can get so caught up in ‘being a good ____’ or ‘doing ____ right’ that we don’t even know what we truly want anymore.

I’ve spent years repairing my relationship with my needs & desires. And here’s how I did it:

  • Free Yo’self • For me, being single was a huge catalyst for this healing. But, more importantly, I had to end or amend any relationship in which I didn’t feel completely free to be myself. Now, when I form new relationships, I prioritize intellectual & emotional freedom

  • Live Like Nobody Is Watching • When I started this journey, I realized that I had no idea how to spend my time when I wasn’t trying to please the people around me. So I had to ask myself often, “If you don’t consider anyone’s needs but your own, what would you want right now?”

  • Stop Judging • As I began to connect with my own needs & desires, I realized that I didn’t like some of them. Even after ending & amending my relationships, I hadn’t escaped those voices about being ‘good’ & ‘likeable’ & ‘respectable’ — they were in my head now. So I had to give myself permission to want whatever I want, to be however I am, and to accept myself no matter what

  • Give (& Ask) Thoughtfully • I no longer give when I don’t truly want to. And, when I do want to, I give freely. I’m not afraid to ask for what I want because I know that the other person is responsible for their own desires & behavior. And I’m not butthurt if they say “no” — in fact, I respect their ability to know their feelings and own them. Cementing these basic boundaries in my mind has made all my relationships better (especially my relationship with my Self)

How to Love Your Body (In A World That Tells Us Not To)

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Society has a weird vendetta against our bodies.

There’s the Medical Message, which we hear from a lot of doctors & media, telling us that we’re sick & broken, and that we need to be “fixed”. And with it comes Diet Culture — this idea that we need to be skinny and mold to a particular health ideal (and if we don’t, we obviously don’t care about ourselves).

Even more widespread are these Social Rules we have that prevent us from expressing ourselves fully — the messages that we need to be perceived as calm, cool, & collected (and definitely never be weird, awkward, or ‘too much’).

All of these cultural messages encourage us to dislike our bodies, or to be embarrassed or ashamed of them. So, if we want to dismantle the body shame we’ve absorbed from our culture, we have to learn how to have a better relationship with our bodies — to learn to enjoy & love our bodies! You can do this by:

  • Finding ways to enjoy all of your senses; expanding your capacity for pleasure

  • Moving your body; allowing it to express its entire range of possibilities

  • Making a daily practice of feeling & releasing your emotions; process them in-the-moment whenever possible

  • Allowing yourself to be curious & playful & silly; take time alone or with loved ones to be free from social expectations

  • Learning what you like & dislike, and honoring yourself with thoughtful boundaries

How to (Lovingly) Deal With your Inner Perfectionist

A note to my fellow perfectionists-in-recovery: You don’t have to struggle with your inner-perfectionist! You just need to give her a better job. The urge to plan & perfect is not ‘bad’ or wrong. It’s natural to want to predict & control — it’s hardwired into us to keep us safe.

My inner-perfectionist is always scanning for things that could go wrong, and trying to formulate the perfect plan that will protect me from any & all bullshit. But we do not have ultimate control over our circumstances, and sometimes life throws a big pile o’ shit at our perfect plan.

And I don’t know about you, but I don’t really find comfort in ‘just letting go of the reigns’ or telling myself “whatever happens happens”. I find it much more helpful to give my inner-perfectionist a job that suits her skills — I have her plan for when everything goes to shit.

I think about practical needs, like housing & food & rest. But I also think about how I’ll take care of myself emotionally, and make a list of who I can rely on for help. I do this for anything that I might be worried about, big or small. It reminds me that I can get through anything, which gives me peace. And it makes my inner-perfectionist a valuable part of the team, rather than something to be reigned in or repressed.

Planners x Mental Health

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New year, new planner! 😍

Using a planner has been sooo helpful for managing my mental health and manifesting my dreams.

Before I started using a planner, my brain was constantly like, ‘don’t forget to _______’ and ‘I really need to _______’ and ‘I don’t _______ enough’ and ‘I feel like I’ll never _______’

And when I wasn’t stressing about what I should or shouldn’t be doing, I was escaping my feelings at the bar or vegging in front of the TV (which, as you might’ve guessed, were not the activities I wanted to be doing more of)

Now, every Monday, I look at all the notes and to-do’s I’ve jotted down throughout the week, divide them into baby steps, prioritize them, and schedule them out — all of them! I try to balance my time for work, self-care, and relationships in a way that feels right each week.

Then, when those thoughts come up, I can put them to rest knowing that it will all be done. And I take comfort in knowing that my time is dedicated to the things that matter to me.