#health

Pesky Pounds? I Call Them Prosperity Pounds.

How often have you enjoyed a delicious meal with family, festive drink with friends or decadent dessert with yourself—only to feel immediate shame over indulging?

I personally feel less and less guilt around enjoying myself, at the table or elsewhere. But our society’s obsession with weight loss, perfection and generally making us feel less than is very real.

Whether it’s “Keep off those holiday pounds!” “Lose baby weight fast!” or “Burn off the belly bloat!” it’s as if we’re constantly told: “You aren’t skinny, attractive, fit, healthy, or good enough.”

No wonder so many of us feel anxious not just around the holidays, but around any breakfast, lunch or dinner table year-round. Add in beautifully-curated social media accounts bombarding us with #fitspo and #cleaneating posts, and it’s a miracle any of us feel up-to-snuff at all.

Lately, I’ve been embracing a more radical approach to eating. Instead of agonizing over any “pesky pounds” that may result from choosing to be in the present moment and celebrate life, I affectionately call these extra inches “prosperity pounds.”

That’s right: While consciously choosing to increase my intake of vitamin P (for pleasure, of course), my pants can become a little bit tighter.

And rather than beating myself up for indulging while traveling (pizza, pasta and gelato in Italy) or catching up with old friends (who bake irresistible cupcakes), I reframe my slightly curvier figure as a sign of success, abundance, luxury, well-being … you know, the good life.

This isn’t about “letting myself go,” and I have no desire to be overweight. This is simply an act of love for myself. I’m committed to enjoying each moment and giving up the guilt.

Some days that commitment looks like slow walks in nature, instead of a high-intensity sweat fest at the gym. I may not burn as many calories or feel quite as fit, but my body appreciates the rest, and my mind and soul feel nourished. Other days, I can hit the gym all the harder, at ease with myself.

When I’m traveling, I tend to indulge more, eager to experience the culture. I balance that with protein shakes and more fresh fruits and veggies when I return home.

Nutritional psychologist Marc David, MA, says the level of enjoyment we experience in eating our food has very real biochemical consequences that directly affect our metabolism and digestion. “Half of nutrition is what you eat, but the other half is how you eat,” says David, founder of The Institute for the Psychology of Eating and author of The Slow Down Diet: Eating for Pleasure, Energy and Weight Loss (Healing Arts Press, 2005).

David notes that feeling guilty for eating our favorite foods takes away from the pleasure. We all know it’s not healthy to eat ice cream every day, but he believes conscious doses of pleasure put us in a state to honor our desires while nourishing our bodies in a thoughtful way.

I could choose to feel terrible about myself for eating pasta at almost every meal in Italy. Or I can lean into gratitude for the experience of working and traveling in such a magical country. There is so much freedom in enjoying exactly where we are—both geographically in the world and physically in our bodies.

I’m not suggesting anyone make choices that feel unhealthy for them. I’m just asking that we each consider that food and life are meant to be savored and enjoyed—and that the idea of having to choose between pleasure and wellness is wrong. There is a wealth of evidence that focusing on food’s sensual pleasure actually can help you find a healthful balance.

To get the most pleasure from food, I recommend slowing down while you eat, rather than shoveling it in. Remove distractions like the phone and television, so you can eat mindfully.

Be sure to use all your senses to fully experience your food. Appreciate colors, textures, aromas and presentation. Notice every flavor you are tasting, while chewing thoroughly. Studies show that when people eat more slowly, they tend to take in fewer calories and feel just as satisfied. You’ll also digest your food better and absorb more nutrients.

Instead of trying to avoid foods I enjoy, I find it more effective to stop labeling certain foods (and myself) as “bad.” I’m relabeling “forbidden” foods as “fun” foods instead.

Changing our mindset and viewing foods as neutral allows us to make choices based on both health and pleasure. Since I’ve stop labeling pizza as “bad,” I crave it less—and when I do go for it, I eat a lot less.

I’m finding that eating a balance of nutrient-rich health foods, coupled with some fun foods, is the ultimate healthy diet for me.

And healthy pleasure is something we can all agree on for dinner. Cheers!

What It Truly Means To Be Confident. (Psst, it’s not what you think.)

Through my work in front of the camera as a TV personality and model, I learned what it truly means to be confident. (It’s not what you think). The truth is, you already have what it takes. You were born with it. You just need to remember what that feels like.

As a confidence coach, I hold space for my clients to awaken their inner wisdom and guide them back to their fiercest self. I don’t believe it serves any of us to coddle our weaknesses or neuroses when we can choose to honor our greatness instead.

It is our birthright to be unstoppable. We just have to rediscover what it means to be free—of judgment, fear, doubt—of anything that weighs us down.

I know it can feel scary and overwhelming to put ourselves out there in a big way and actually do what our hearts are urging us to do. We think, “Who am I to start this business?” “What will people say?” “Am I smart, talented, good enough?” and so on.

But whatever pain we may experience from another’s judgement of us is nothing in comparison to the pain we will undoubtedly feel by playing small.

What does it mean to play small? It means shrinking so others won’t feel insecure around us. But when we dare to write our book, leave the unhealthy relationship, quit a job to start our dream business or whatever it is, we inspire others to do the same.

The real question then becomes: Who are you not to start your own business (or anything else you feel called to do) and show up fully for yourself and others? Who are you not to be gorgeous, brilliant, wildly successful and joyful?!

Expressing our full potential is not just our right, it’s our responsibility. And it starts with confidence. To have confidence, we first must define what it means for us. So take a moment to write down what confidence means for you.

*I believe confidence is remembering who we truly are (love) and owning that—each and every day. Confidence is honoring who we are—perceived “flaws” and all—and presenting our highest self to everyone we meet, with a smile.

*Confidence is making our own rules, and refusing to settle for societal standards we don’t believe in. It is forgiveness, kindness, grace, and the ability to laugh at ourselves. It is taking our lives seriously, so we don’t have to take ourselves so seriously.

*Confidence is more than just knowing we deserve the best; it’s making choices that reflect that. It is saying “no” when we want to say “no,” and not feeling bad about it. It’s staying in bed when we need to rest without feeling guilty, and listening to and caring for our bodies.

*Confidence is choosing to be the victor, not victim. It is admitting when we are wrong and sincerely apologizing. It is following our heart’s desires, and asking for help.

*Confidence is knowing we were created by the same loving force that created the sun, moon and stars, and living from that magnificent space. It is not needing anyone’s approval, validation or applause.

*Confidence is looking within and asking, “Who do I need to be, to transform this relationship/situation/society/world?” It is the recognition that the peace, love, freedom, and abundance we wish to experience starts with us. It’s the willingness to show up fully, speak up passionately, and stand up straight.

*Confidence is the spark that lights up any room. It doesn’t label, judge, shame, blame, condemn or attack.

If you struggle with feeling confident on a consistent basis, don’t fret! You’re normal! Thanks to the power of meditation and regular self-compassion practices, I’ve discovered a few perspective shifts that have transformed my self-confidence:

1. When I base my self-worth on who I am and on my inherent value as a human being, rather than on what others think or how much I achieve, my confidence soars and my inner critic quiets.

Mantra: I am willing to see myself through a lens of love.

By looking at ourselves through a lens of love (rather than fear), we are able to weather difficult situations, be confident in our true worth, and see ourselves as lovable. When we take full responsibility for our lives, we are able to change them.

2. Whatever I want from others (love, attention, validation), I give to myself.

Mantra: Instead of feeling offended when people fail to acknowledge me, I see it as an opportunity to expand and grow.

As long as we are doing our best, honoring ourselves and our purpose, we will feel less and less inclined to seek the approval of others.

The less we depend on people to validate us, the stronger our emotional muscles become, and in turn, the stronger our sense of self-worth. Focusing on the special characteristics that make me ME is much easier and more rewarding than waiting for someone to say or do something that makes me feel good … for a matter of minutes until I need my next “fix.”

Our lives truly become fuller when we turn our attention inward to the miracle that we are, release expectations, and stay detached from outcomes and other people’s opinions.

3. The answer to any question can be found within.

Mantra: I give myself the space and time to grow still, present, quiet—and then listen to my inner wisdom and guidance.

Any outer limitations (like stress, anger, unhappiness, feelings of lack or unworthiness) are just reminding us to get steady inside. Our strong urge to take ourselves overly seriously can be tempered by giving our inner child some attention.

Start by giving yourself a hug! I think I’ll do the same.

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