{“Let’s Talk About Love — Body Love”} Client: WorldLifestyle

Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 3.10.18 PM
Body-Love_LEAD

Love is in the air this time of year — carefully chosen gifts, fancy dinner reservations, and single-girls’ celebrations out on the town. We put so much kindness and effort into our relationships with other people, but what about how we love ourselves?

For most of us, our internal self-talk is just horrific, on a daily basis. We put ourselves down — “Ugh, I look so fat in these pants,” “I’m such a lazy bum for skipping my workout,” “Why did I eat that cookie? I’m disgusting …” — in words we wouldn’t use to address our most hated enemies.

In fact, stats show that only 2 percent (TWO percent!) of women say they would call themselves beautiful. That doesn’t seem to add up, considering the millions of selfies posted on Instagram daily — which gave me an idea for an experiment in loving myself better.

Where does this hatefulness come from, I wondered? Are self-proclaimed “fat days” or bad hair days founded in reality? Do we feel ugly because we actually look awful — or might we be projecting something else onto the experience?

Here’s what I did: For a week, I decided I would take a photo of myself at least once a day as I left for work or went to meet friends. At the same time, I’d write down how I was feeling about my weight, mood, and appearance at that moment.

Here’s a sampling of what my week looked like:

Monday:

body acceptance
Feeling very frumpy and lumpy. Woke up at 4:30 a.m. to catch a flight. Ate a breakfast burrito at the airport.

Tuesday:

raising self esteem
Having a fat day (flat shoes are not my friend). My face looks puffy — from the sushi I ate for dinner? Too tired to work out today.

Wednesday:

learning self-acceptance
Walked by the beach this morning. Feeling good and having a good hair day! Plus, this skirt and heels combo makes me feel cute! Breakfast at the hotel — Greek yogurt and berries — was awesome.

Thursday:

gaining confidence
Went for a run this morning. Am feeling pretty lazy that I haven’t cut my hair since moving in September. Yikes. Looking forward to dinner with a friend tonight!

Friday:

cute outfits
I like the color of this shirtdress, but don’t feel the style is the most flattering. Frumpy, again?

At the end of this experiment, I reexamined my photos and my notes, and made a very interesting, very illuminating discovery. My physical weight and appearance did not change day to day. The photo snapshots didn’t lie — I did not actually gain 5 pounds on Tuesday, but perhaps I was projecting the fact that I ate sushi and a red velvet bundt cake on Monday night (it was a Valentine’s Day present!)? While a sodium-packed dinner could contribute to a feeling of bloat, my face didn’t actually appear different.

And is it any surprise someone would feel “frumpy and lumpy” when she woke up at the crack of dawn, flew all morning, and ate a burrito? Odds are, if I’d had a healthier breakfast on Monday, I would have felt better throughout the long workday ahead of me. And, while it wouldn’t have changed my physical weight in the slightest, it could’ve helped my self-love if I hadn’t skipped the gym the next day.

When I thought about it later, my frumpiness on Friday truly had nothing to do with the dress or my weight, and everything to do with the fact that my hair was in serious need of a cut and color. But again, did it help to call myself lazy? It didn’t. It made me feel worse all day about something I couldn’t control right at that moment. Better to take action — throw it in a bun and make a hair appointment right then — than to put myself down, right?

Wednesday was the day I felt the brightest and best about myself — a good hair day, despite it all!

By examining my notes, it’s easy to understand that a little sunshine, a little exercise, and a healthy breakfast set me up for a day that I felt I looked great (a cute skirt didn’t hurt either).

And that was the biggest takeaway for me — the old adage, work to change what you can, and accept what you can’t change, with kindness. Here’s how:

♦  Wear what makes you feel good about yourself, regardless of trend, or your shape or size.

♦  Listen — flats make everyone, even runway models, feel a little stumpy. But you did not gain 10 pounds just because you traded your heels in for a bit of comfort.

♦  Eat what makes you feel good. Don’t eat what makes you feel bad.

♦  However, if you indulge in something that’s not the healthiest, let yourself off the hook. No one became overweight from a single meal or dessert.

♦  If you’re going out for a salty meal — such as sushi or Mexican — drink lots of extra water. Eating clean, green vegetables and fruits the next day can help flush your system.

♦  Exercise makes you feel good about your day. Bottom line. Any amount of exercise, from a short walk to a full-blown bootcamp, is worthwhile. Nothing is insignificant.

♦  A bit of vitamin D goes a long way. Drink your morning smoothie outside in the sunshine. Get out of your cubicle for a 10-minute nature break.

  Travel already dries out skin and saps energy — pack healthy snacks so you don’t squash your confidence further with icky airport food.

♦  Be kind to yourself, in spite of your failures, in spite of any shortcomings.

Here’s the truth — if a friend belittled you the way you do yourself, you would walk away from the toxic relationship and never look back. But as writer John Steinbeck said, “And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” Time to work as hard on loving myself better as I do on perfecting the details.

{Sexy Abs Diet} Client: WS Publishing Group

Check out this excerpt from Sexy Abs Diet, my latest health and fitness title. Sexy Abs combines the top weight-loss secrets in the industry; 60 belly-flattening meals to mix and match, created by a top nutritionist; a calorie-blasting workout program targeting the core; and a nutrition and fitness journal to help the reader stay accountable and on track.

Check out this chapter on maintaining your success!
ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

{“6 Health Foods That Kind of Look Like Illegal Drugs”} Client: WorldLifestyle

ImageKale Chips Cup Cheese

Your body is a temple, and you fuel it with potent greens, colorful juices, and energizing superfoods. Just don’t mistake these healthy foods for their illegal substance twins.

Image

On the Left: Kale Chips

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that the popularity of kale has exploded in the last five years, including kale chips— a crunchy, healthy alternative to chips you can buy or bake in the oven yourself. Kale’s super-high concentration of phytonutrients and vitamins A, C, and K, make it one of the healthiest veggies on the planet.

Not to be confused with …

On the Right: Marijuana

Marijuana has long been the most popular drug in America. Nearly 19 million people use marijuana — 7.3% of the population — according to RAND Corp. studies. When smoked or ingested in food or drink, marijuana produces an assortment of symptoms, ranging from calm feelings of wellbeing and euphoria, to paranoia, dry mouth, and an increased desire to eat cookie dough straight from the package.

Image

On the Left: Feta

A crumbly white cheese traditionally used in Mediterranean cuisine, feta offers tons of tangy, salty flavor, but less fat and calories than almost any other cheese out there. We like to sprinkle it across salads, in soups, and on top of burgers.

Not to be confused with …

On the Right: Cocaine

The National Institutes of Health pretty much sums of cocaine use in a nutshell: “Cocaine speeds up your whole body. You may feel full of energy, happy, and excited. But then your mood can change. You can become angry, nervous, and afraid that someone’s out to get you. You might do things that make no sense.”

Image

On the Left: Raw Cacao

Praised as an even healthier version of dark chocolate, and more versatile for cooking, raw cacao is sugar free, contains 9 grams of fiber per ounce, and is packed with iron, magnesium, and antioxidants. Raw food enthusiasts use it for raw desserts, and it’s lovely blended into smoothies.

Not to be confused with …

On the Right: Hash

Like marijuana, hash, or hashish, is a form of cannabis, although the THC content in hash is typically much higher than in marijuana. Hash has been used for recreational and religious purposes for thousands of years — traces of hash have been found in ancient tombs dating back to 300 BC, and the Sufis (a branch of Islam) are said to have used hash for spiritual exploration in early Persia.

Image

Pink Himalayan Salt

Mined from deep within the Himalayas, this pink sea salt is said to be the purest on earth. With more than 80 natural minerals and less sodium per serving than regular table salt, it’s become a favorite of fancy-schmancy gourmet cooks everywhere.

Not to be confused with …

Bath Salts

First investigated by Dateline and 20/20 in 2011, bath salts didn’t become known in the mainstream until a 31-year-old Miami man chewed off another man’s actual face while high on the drug. While bath salts contain synthetic chemicals similar to illegal amphetamines, they also contain legal properties, which have allowed the drug to be sold legitimately at smoke shops and some independent gas stations in the past. In the U.S., 45 states have already banned some or all of the chemicals found in bath salts.

Image

On the Left: Beet Juice

Brightly hued beet juice has a long history as a liver-cleanser and digestion aid, and has been found to lower blood pressure and fight anemia. Raw beets’ benefits are powerful, especially when juiced with other fruits and vegetables.

Not to be confused with …

On the Right: Sizzurp

Also known as “Purple Drank,” this mixture of prescription codeine cough syrup, Sprite or Mountain Dew, and “optionally, a Jolly Rancher candy thrown in for extra sweetness,” according to Wikipedia, causes a mellow but euphoric state — and sometimes violent seizures.

Image

On the Left: Spinach

A classic health superfood, the flavonoid compounds in spinach — more than a dozen — fight cancer, inflammation and intestinal issues. Spinach also contains more than a full daily dose of vitamin K, important for bone health. We like it as a salad base, sautéed with heaps of garlic, and blended into green smoothies.

Not to be confused with …

On the Right: Ahayuasca

The newest member of the recreational drug crowd, ahayuasca is a psychedelic drink made from the Banisteriopsis caapi vine. In South America, shamans have been overseeing ahayuasca rituals for thousands of years, said to create intense periods of clarity, introspection, and self-healing or purging, often called “the work.” Also, purging, literally — ahayuasca-drinkers typically experience long periods of intense shaking, vomiting and diarrhea. Still, ahayuasca has grown increasingly popular stateside in recent years, from Silverlake to Brooklyn.