Body Love is a Fairy Tale, or Why I Don’t Want Happily Ever After

Body Love is a Fairy Tale, or Why I Don’t Want Happily Ever After

Have you ever said a word so many times that it seems to have lost all meaning? You know—when all of the sudden, the sounds made by that particular combination of letters seems alien and unreal? I’m beginning to feel that way about the word “love.” I see it written in the body positive community so much—self-love, body-love, love, love, love—that this very loaded word seems to have deflated a bit in my estimation. Love is loaded, because it’s a word exalted by poets. It suggest something enduring, unbreakable, and whole. Love is a word that suggests that something has finished, completed. Achievement unlocked: I’m in love. I think some of this comes from the oft-repeated story “told by” Aristophanes in Plato’s Symposium: human beings were once creatures with two heads, four arms, and four legs, attached at the center. They were powerful enough to challenge the gods, and when they tried, the gods punished them by splitting them in two. That’s why we desire sexual union so badly—because it is only in the moment when we embrace that we complete the circle and feel powerful enough to challenge the gods again. So love is a loaded word. When we apply it to body positivity, it’s the same thing. Body love is all about this magical actualization, a never-ending orgasm of perfect happiness. The other day, I read an article posted by the fabulous Melissa A. Fabello on Ravishly regarding this topic—the potential impossibility of lasting, constant body love. Because the thing is, love is supposed to be this constant force. It’s the end goal and the ideal state....
Want to Stop Dieting? Put Down the Nutrition Facts

Want to Stop Dieting? Put Down the Nutrition Facts

I read a blog post the other day in which the writer said something along the lines of: don’t ever, ever stop learning about nutrition, and if anyone tells you to stop, run the other way. Now, as someone who’s basically dedicating her life to trying to convince you to put down the health blogs and unsubscribe from health podcasts, I was a little saddened to read that. Here’s the thing: I don’t think you should ever stop learning about what feels good for you. But that kind of learning comes from listening to your body daily. From the trial and error of trying new foods, experimenting with different recipes, being open to different eating times, sussing out the difference between feeling slightly uncomfortable and feeling actually bad. That kind of learning is important. And you should be open to learning things you don’t want to believe. Like the fact that carbs aren’t killing most of the population. That grains are probably more tolerable than you think. That weight loss isn’t the same thing as health. Etc. But I do think you need to stop being taught about nutrition. I think we all need to stop seeking nutrition gurus. We need to stop reading “nutrition facts” online. Because that’s not learning: it’s mostly confirmation bias with a touch of neurosis and anxiety thrown in. Look, I get it: there are a lot of people on the internet who can show you how to lose weight and live your “best” life, if your best life is defined by how you look in photos. But these teachers aren’t teaching you how...
On Perfectionism: Dealing with the Fear of Fucking Up

On Perfectionism: Dealing with the Fear of Fucking Up

Perfectionism isn’t about being perfect. In fact, if perfectionism were about being perfect, it would be simple: you’d just be perfect and that would be that. But perfectionism isn’t about being perfect. It’s about being afraid of not being perfect. It’s about the fear of fucking up. And it’s being so stuck in the fear that you fuck up anyway. All of my life, I’ve been afraid of fucking up. I’ve been afraid to speak my truth—to tell people that I had a problem with my food and my body. I nearly killed myself 3 times before I realized that not telling people was fucking up. I’ve been afraid to get my nose pierced, afraid of having scars, afraid of making the wrong decision. I felt judged and stupid, even when I followed my heart and got my nose pierced in February, even though feeling judged was fucking up—not that nose piercing itself. I’ve been afraid of not being a perfect student. I’ve been afraid of not achieving perfectly at my job. I’ve been afraid of not having the right job, living in the right place, dating the right person. I’ve been afraid of not having the perfect body. I’ve been afraid of fucking up.  The thing about perfectionism is that it’s all about certainty and significance. Certainty in your outcomes and significance in the recognition by others of your perfection. That’s why I was afraid to stop being #fitfluential, to stop taking progress pictures, to stop talking about Paleo even—because those things were things I thought defined me, made me significant, and kept me safe. That’s why I...
Food for Thought: Good Days and Bad Days

Food for Thought: Good Days and Bad Days

Let me tell you about yesterday: I woke up at 1:15, with Frida (my dog) doing circles by my bedroom door—a sure sign that her sensitive stomach was upset, and she needed to take care of business. We stumbled outside and stood around for a while. Nothing happened. I tried to go back to sleep, but the college kids in my neighborhood were partying at the bar near my house, and the noise was unbearable. Around 2, Frida decided that she needed to go out again. This time, I had the pleasure of picking up her diarrhea in a flimsy doggie waste bag. I woke up late and answered emails instead of doing anything productive. Around 8:50, I thought about heading over to my yoga class that started at 9:30…until I realized that my yoga class started at 9. I drove perhaps a bit* faster than the speed limit to get there and made it at 9:07, which was 2 minutes too late to be admitted. I had to take the 9:30 class, which meant that my whole day was going to be thrown off by half an hour. I realized that the pants I brought with me were the ones that were a size too small, so I had to buy a new pair of overpriced pants to wear for the rest of the day. I quickly showered, but didn’t have time to do my hair. I got on the road and made it to the Center for Sex and Culture a few minutes late, but fortunately my burlesque class hadn’t started yet. As I was leaving class,...
Why I’m Not Calling Myself a Health Coach Anymore

Why I’m Not Calling Myself a Health Coach Anymore

Well. I’ve had it with “health.” The more I’m around “health” on the internet, the more I realize that: Health is making everyone crazy No one has any idea what health actually means anyway Most of the people peddling “health” are actually really selling you a life that’s, ironically, unhealthy. Have you ever stopped to consider that an obsessive fixation on perfecting your diet is just as bad as never fixing your diet at all, at least from a mental and emotional point of view? Sure, you may live forever (but probably you won’t), but what kind of life will it be if you’re obsessing about your calories, about your food quality, about your next workout, about the size of your thighs? We live in a very unhealthy world of health. Our airwaves and podcasts and news feeds are cluttered with advertisements for diets and detoxes, with press releases about the latest science discoveries (that, of course, contradict last week’s press releases), with glowing reviews of affiliate products and multi-level marketing starvation products. You have to choose whom to trust, and often, your ability to discern the trust-worthy is influenced by numbers of Twitter followers or doctored photos or fake reviews. I’m so sick of being associated with that nonsense. And I’m sick of people expecting that from me. I went to the Institute of Integrative Nutrition not to become a nutritionist, but to learn how to coach people to a place of wellness and contentment. I loved the lectures on “Primary Food” (healthy relationships, physical activity, satisfying career, sense of spirituality/connectedness), but despised the myopic and often agenda-filled...
UNpodcast 095: There’s No Cure (for Disordered Eating) Like Travel

UNpodcast 095: There’s No Cure (for Disordered Eating) Like Travel

TL;DR: Go listen to this week’s podcast with Jana Schuberth!  I find that the more I travel, the less I find myself planning. Twice this year already I have booked tickets on a whim, figured out where I was staying last minute, looked up my flight details the night before to remind myself exactly when I needed to be at which airport. Cole Porter wrote, “There’s no cure like travel to help you unravel the troubles of living today,” and I think he was right, although if you had asked me about how I felt about travel when I was in my sickness, I would have given you a completely different answer. The thing is: I used to hate travel. Even when I was looking forward to a vacation, the very fact of having my schedule thrown off, my meal timing uncertain, and my ability to get to a gym hampered was enough to trigger panic on a grand and untenable scale. Travel was not just inconvenient; it was unsafe. However. Over the past year, one of the biggest shifts to which I credit my recovery Discovery was learning how to turn travel from “unsafe” into just “uncomfortable.” Because “uncomfortable,” in the right setting, can actually be a good thing. In December of 2013, my sister came to visit us in San Jose (in the San Francisco Bay Area, for those of you not in the know), and we decided to take a weekend trip to Los Angeles (a 5-8 hour drive, depending on route and traffic, again for those of you who are under the impression that LA...