How to Love Your Body in 2019

A woman stands outside, holding a mug. Text: How to love your body in 2019
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It’s a new year, and that brings New Year’s resolutions. Losing weight is always a popular resolution; it’s the first or second most common resolution year after year. But what if, for 2019, you resolved NOT to try to lose weight? What if, instead, you resolve to love and honor your body at whatever size it is? To stop hating your body, stop thinking that you’re not good enough?

You can do this! I’m not saying it’s easy. It’s a journey that usually takes years and hard work, but it will be so worth it. You will be so much happier, more self-confident, and more satisfied with your life.

I’m not a health professional or any kind of expert, but I can tell you what has worked for me and what continues to work for me as I unlearn fatphobia, self-hate, and the assumptions that society has taught me about size, beauty, and health.

 

Several frosted chocolate cupcakes on a plate.
Image from Pixabay

Don’t Diet

At all. Obviously if you have dietary restrictions because of allergies, sensitivities, religion, or personal ethics, keep those. And if you have a medical condition requiring a supervised diet, don’t do anything without advice from your doctor and/or nutritionist. But don’t diet to lose weight. No Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig (is that still a thing?), keto, Atkins, low-carb, low-fat, Zone, Whole 30, blah blah blah. No counting calories or fat grams or carbs. And remember, even if you call it a “lifestyle change,” if you are restricting your eating with the goal of losing weight, it is a diet.

A view over a woman's shoulder, showing her hair, as she reads a fashion magazine
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Stop reading “women’s” magazines

Do not read any magazine that mentions weight loss on the cover. Do not read any magazine that promises the secret to slimming down in X weeks, getting the perfect abs or butt or beach body, or losing a certain number of pounds (stone, kilos, etc). Don’t read about celebrity diets or workout routines. Don’t read about “bad” or “good” foods. Just stop. That also goes for TV shows, websites, YouTube videos, and the like. This is honestly the most important step (in my experience, at least). You will be amazed when you realize just how pervasive anti-fat messaging is in our daily lives.

If you still want to keep up on fashion and beauty tips, there are plenty of media outlets where you can avoid the fat hate. Try magazines such as Bustle, HelloGiggles, The Every Girl, and Bust; and blogs such as Jamie Je T’aime, In My Joi, and Musings Of a Curvy Lady. Explore tags such as #fatshion or #plussizefashion on Instagram. Even if you’re not big on fashion, go ahead and look at fat women wearing stylish clothes and flawless makeup. It’s inspiring to see bodies of diverse sizes and realize that weight and beauty are completely unconnected.

Two feet stand on a scale.
Image from Pixabay

Throw out your scale

If you can’t bear to throw it out because that seems wasteful or extreme, pack it away and put it in your attic or basement or somewhere you can’t easily get to it. Your scale does not tell you anything about your health, your beauty, your character, or anything that matters. You do not need to know the number on the scale. It doesn’t help you in any way. All it does is make you feel bad about yourself and encourage you to be obsessed with getting that number lower. There’s no reason for that. I know that for many people a bathroom scale seems like a basic household item that everyone should own, but it really isn’t. I haven’t owned one in years.

Learn about intuitive eating

This is a mindful practice based on noticing and honoring your hunger and fullness cues, respecting your body the way it is, and eating what you want, whether that’s a salad or an ice cream sundae. There’s more to it than that, of course, and I encourage you to explore books, websites, videos, podcasts…. whichever is your preferred way of learning. Here is a good introduction.

Focus on your health, not your size

Let me be clear: you do not owe anyone health. You don’t need to prove that you are a “good” fat person because you’re doing the “right” things. Having perfect cholesterol and glucose levels is not what makes it okay to be fat. A fat person who starts every day with a kale smoothie and an hour at the gym is no more deserving of respect and love than a fat person who is sedentary and eats a fast food burger and a milkshake for lunch every day. No matter your health or your habits, you deserve to be respected and treated well.

But, if you’re thinking “this is all well and good, but I need to lose weight for my health!” or if you just want to make some changes to be healthier, there is plenty you can do with a focus on healthy habits and not on your weight. Contrary to what you’ll read in most mainstream media, weight and health are only loosely correlated. There is a lot of evidence showing the validity of the Health At Every Size philosophy.

Find some form of movement that you enjoy. You don’t have to go to the gym, and you don’t have to be in pain to get health benefits from exercise. Walk the dog. Walk in the park. Dance. Ride a bike. Do yoga. Just make sure it’s something you enjoy, and move your body.

blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries
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Eat fruits and vegetables. This might sound dangerously close to diet territory. I’m not advocating that you eat broccoli when what you really want is cake. I’m saying eat the cake, and also eat whatever fruits and veggies you enjoy. Go ahead and eat your veggies with butter and cheese if that’s how you like them. Explore new fruits and vegetables. Try different colors and textures. Enjoy yourself. Enjoy your food.

Drink when you’re thirsty and maybe a little more, but you don’t actually need to drink eight glasses a day. That’s just a myth. Try to get enough sleep.

A woman lies in a bathtub of white water, holding a book near her face.
Image from Pixabay

Take care of your mental health as well, whatever that looks like for you. That might mean seeing a mental health professional, or meditating, or enjoying a hobby or regular time with friends. One thing that is definitely bad for your mental health is berating yourself over your size, your food, or your exercise habits, so try not to do that.

Three smiling women in swimsuits take a selfie.
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Stop postponing your life

Are there things you want to do but have been putting off until you lose weight? Do those things now! Buy that cute outfit, take that vacation, pursue that new job… whatever it is, you deserve to live a full and happy life now. Happiness is not something you earn with your size.

Let me reiterate, I’m not a health professional of any sort. And I’m not a spokesperson for all fat people. All I am is a fat woman who has spent some years on this journey of loving myself at the size I am. I stumble often. I have days when I’m not thrilled with my body. There are still parts I am learning to love. I’m still coming to terms with middle age and the changes it’s brought. All I can talk about is my own experience. I sincerely hope it helps you and that 2019 is a year of happiness and self-love!

 

A woman ooks over her shoulder outdoors. Text: How to love your body in 2019
Original photo by Eye For Ebony on Unsplash

9 Ways I’ll Be Using Less Plastic in 2019

A dumpter overflows with trash, mostly in plastic bags, some loose. Trash is on the ground around the dumpster. Text says:
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I’m not big on New Year resolutions, but one of my intentions for 2019 is to continue making small changes in my daily life to walk more gently on the earth, and especially to reduce my use of single-use plastic.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you buy something through one of these links, I earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you. You can read more about my advertising policy here.

Reusable grocery bags

After literally years of leaving my reusable shopping bags either at home or in my car, I am finally remembering to bring them into stores with me almost all the time. I use the kind grocery stores usually sell for a dollar or sometimes give away, and I find they work well for me. Not only are they green, but they’re stronger than plastic grocery bags, so I don’t have to worry about a bag being sliced open by the sharp edge of some cellophane packaging or splitting from too much weight. They also sit in my trunk without flopping all over and spilling their contents. If you’d prefer another type, though, there are many bags available for purchase, such as foldable bags in cute designs, or bags that are actually collapsible boxes.

   

Packing lunches

An open plastic container holds wrap sandwiches and grape tomatoes
Image by Pixabay

Along with plastic grocery bags, I’ve ditched plastic ziplock bags for the most part. I still use them for frozen foods, but when packing lunches or snacks I use either Sistema boxes (yes, they’re plastic, but they last for years. Much better than plastic bags or disposable plastic containers) or Lunchskins paper sandwich bags. These bags seal with a peel-and-stick strip and are perfect for sandwiches and dry snacks. I’ve noticed that Reynolds has started making paper sandwich bags, too, but I’m a sucker for the cute pictures on the Lunchskins ones.

       

I also use reusable water bottles. After trying a bunch of different brands over the years, I found that I really love Sip by S’well stainless steel bottles. They don’t have straws or any other fiddly parts that get lost or are hard to clean. Just a bottle and a cap. They come in cute prints, they last for years, and they are double-walled, so they keep your cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot. They can be a bit pricey, but I usually buy them on sale. I’ve also gotten some knock-offs from Aldi, so keep your eyes peeled at back-to-school season!

   

Making Laundry Cleaner and Greener

I’m planning to ditch plastic jugs of laundry detergent in 2019. Homemade laundry soap is really easy to make, and the recipe is even easy to remember. It’s just one bar of soap, one cup of borax, and one cup of washing soda. You can probably find borax and washing soda in the laundry aisle of your local supermarket, Walmart, or Target. Or you can order it from Amazon. Grate the soap with a box grater, and then stir the grated soap, the borax, and the washing soda together. If you want, you can add a few drops of essential oil for fragrance. Store the mixture in an airtight container, and use 2-4 TBS  (1/8 – 1/4 cup) per load. I’ve never had a problem with it dissolving in cold water, but if you do, you can just dissolve it in a cup or two of hot water and toss that mixture into the washing machine before filling it up with cold. (Or pour it into the liquid detergent dispenser if your machine has one of those). It’s safe for HE machines, too.

   

Shower solutions

stacked bars of soap
image by Pixabay

I’ve started using bar soap in the shower to avoid using plastic bottles of shower gel. This also solves the problem of having an inch of soap left in the bottom of the bottle that you can’t get to with the pump. Don’t you hate that? I suspect that manufacturers purposely make the pump tubes too short so we’ll buy a new bottle sooner.

Did you know that shampoo and conditioner also come in bars? I just bought a handmade conditioner bar on Etsy, and there are also a ton on Amazon. Once I finish my current bottle of shampoo, I’ll replace that with a bar, too.

You know what else is plastic and in my bathroom? My toothbrush. I just ordered a pack of bamboo toothbrushes, and I’m going to try to convince my whole family to switch.

I’m not perfect, and I know there’s plenty more I can do to help the environment. But using less plastic, especially single-use disposable plastic, is one step, and it’s not hard to do. If you have other suggestions for using less disposable plastic around the house, please let me know in the comments!

Try online arts & crafts classes absolutely free

watercolors, brushes, and a sketchbook open to a blank page, on a wooden surface.
image by Pixabay

Note: This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you buy something through one of these links, I earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you. You can read more about my advertising policy here.

This is not something I usually do, but today I’m writing a quick post to tell my readers about a great freebie from Bluprint. They’re currently running their Get Started event, and it ends Oct. 12. What this means is that ALL their classes and shows are free. Yes, I said all, and yes, I said FREE. Bluprint wants to build their membership, but they wisely realized that many people won’t want to join a service, even for a month, without first checking it out.

Between now and Oct. 12, go to their website (linked below) and register for one or more of their classes. You don’t need a coupon, and you don’t need a credit card. This isn’t one of those “free” deals where they charge your credit card if you forget to cancel within a certain time (don’t you hate those?).

Bluprint has thousands of classes on all kinds of art, craft, and DIY topics, such as sewing, baking, cake decorating, knitting, crocheting, drawing, painting, jewelry making… the list goes on. I registered for a class on metalsmithing, and I cannot wait to get started.

I did join Bluprint, because I know I’ll want to take classes and have access to their resources in the future, and I think their pricing is completely reasonable. But you totally don’t have to. You can just watch as many classes as you can manage before Oct. 12, and not join at all.

Here’s the link! Please let me know what classes you watch, and what you think of them.

Bluprint Get Started Event: Watch All Classes + Shows For Free at myBluprint.com 10/5-10/12/18. No coupon code needed.

Two personality typing books you have to read

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Note: This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you buy something through one of these links, I earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you. You can read more about my advertising policy here.

If, like me, you’re a teeeensy bit obsessed with personality types and quizzes, you have to read Anne Bogel’s Reading People. In this book Bogel goes through the basics of seven different philosophies of personality typing, from simple two-option paradigms such as introvert/extrovert and Highly Sensitive Person, to what is probably the best-known school of personality typing, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which comprises 16 different types. For each paradigm, she introduces readers to a brief history of the typing method, the characteristics of the different types, and how to determine which type you are. Bogel illustrates the types with stores of events in her life and her own personal traits. One caveat: it is obvious that Bogel is coming from a Christian background. She mentions church a lot, and there are Christian books in the bibliography. She is not at all preachy, though, and I would absolutely suggest this book to type geeks of any (or no) religion.

As Bogel notes, the best use of personality typing is not simply to determine your type and leave it at that, but to use this knowledge for personal development. You cannot change your type, and no type is better or worse than any other type. But knowing your type and how it impacts your strengths and weaknesses can help you become the best version of yourself.

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Image by Pixabay

This is the basis of Personality Hacker, by Joel Mark Witt and Antonia Dodge. Witt and Dodge are a married couple who host the Personality Hacker podcast. I listen to their podcast regularly, and was excited to read their book as soon as it came out. While Reading People is a broad view of many typing methods, Personality Hacker is a deep dive into the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and how to use the MBTI for self-improvement.

Not only do Witt and Dodge devote an entire chapter to each of the sixteen MBTI types, they provide a detailed explanation of cognitive functions and how they work. Their “car model” will help you understand how cognitive function stacks operate for each type, which is really the nuts and bolts of the MBTI, and their FIRM model will help you understand why you might fixate on a certain need and get caught in a problematic cognitive function loop. This knowledge is vital in using typology as a tool for self-development.

Throughout the book, there are review questions for you to answer, if you so choose, to make sure you understand the material. That’s not my kind of thing, but I’m sure it’s helpful for many readers.

You can buy these books from Amazon (links below) or from your local independent bookshop, and I’m also adding both books to my Recommended Reading page.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Support Independent Bookstores – Visit IndieBound.org

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Support Independent Bookstores – Visit IndieBound.org

Why Crafting is Good For Your Health

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Note: This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you buy something through one of these links, I earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you. You can read more about my advertising policy here.

If you knit, scrapbook, or do any kind of craft, you know that crafting is a lot of fun and a great way to spend time (and maybe a little too much money). But did you know that crafting also has health benefits? It’s true!

Photo by Kristina Balić on Unsplash

In fact, knitting, basketweaving, and other crafts have been used for their therapeutic effects for at least a century. They were part of the occupational therapy given during and after World War I to servicemen suffering from PTSD, or “shell shock,” as it was called then. In a more contemporary example, craft stores in the US noted an uptick in sales during the weeks after September 11, 2001. What is it about crafting that makes people turn to it in times of stress?

Famed psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, who studies creativity and happiness, and invented the concept of flow
, believes that crafts enable people to enter a state of total absorption, which he states is the secret to happiness. Proponents of mindfulness also praise the repetitive, almost meditative nature of many crafts, which quiets the mind and helps to relieve anxiety. I’ve definitely felt this sensation when involved in knitting or sewing, and I know that engaging in creative work noticeably lessens my anxiety and depression. When I go too long without this form of self-care, my mental health suffers.

Crafting is something we can do both alone and with other people. We can cozy up and crochet in front of the TV with a cup of cocoa at our side when we need that perfect introvert evening. But if we want to get some tips, learn new skills, or show off our work to people who “get it,” hanging out with other crafters is a must. This provides meaningful social interaction, especially if you want something other than a noisy club or party.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

In addition to the relaxation and mood-boosting effects of the crafting process, there is the satisfaction of the product. There’s nothing like eating a home-baked dessert, putting on a home-sewn skirt or hand-knit hat, or looking at a piece of art on the wall, and being able to say “I made that!” Making something beautiful and/or usable is an accomplishment to be proud of, and psychologists say that a feeling of self-efficacy is important to mental health.

You might have heard that crossword puzzles and brain-teasers can slow cognitive decline as people age. Neuroscientists are now studying whether crafting has a similar effect, and the results so far look promising.

Of course, you don’t need to know or care about the health benefits of crafting to enjoy it. So go ahead and learn a new craft, or spend some time on an old favorite, and have fun!

 

Makers’ Black Friday - Shop Our Biggest Sale Of The Year & Save Up To 70% On Supplies at Craftsy.com 8/3-8/6/18. No coupon code needed.

Crafting a Calling

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How do you know who you are, what you’re all about, what your talents are, your passions, your purpose? Some people can answer these questions easily, with barely a moment’s thought. Others, like myself, have a harder time. Over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about these questions a lot. I don’t think we have one single grand Life Purpose, but we do have smaller purposes or callings. Things we feel we are meant to do. Things that just feel right. They don’t have to be huge, world-changing things. They just have to be meaningful to us. They also don’t have to be a lifelong endeavor. We can have multiple callings, multiple passions, throughout our lives.

Maybe your calling is to be a doula, or a school teacher. Maybe it’s to open a coffee bar. If we’re lucky, we can turn our passion into a career, but that’s not the case for many of us. We need to pay the rent, and often that means that we follow our passions outside of working hours. Maybe you volunteer at a non-profit on the weekends, helping a cause you believe in. Maybe you get up early to write fiction, or do yoga, or go for a run before hitting the office. Me, I don’t know what my passion is. I’m finding that after almost eighteen years as a stay-at-home-mom, I’m not even sure what my talents or interests are outside of parenting. I’ve heard the advice to ask myself questions such as “What do people ask me for advice on?” and “What could I give a 30-minute talk on without preparation?” My answers to those questions are all parenting-related. For years, people have asked me about breastfeeding and homeschooling. I could talk about either of those at length. I’m the friend that people tag on Facebook when they post an article about breastfeeding or homeschooling. I’m also often asked about babywearing, discipline, and other things relating to being a mom. For a while, I even ran an online forum for local, non-mainstream parents. That was rewarding and fun at the time, but now I’m trying to get back to who I am as an individual, as myself, not as someone’s mom. I love to read, do crosswords, and drink coffee, but I wouldn’t call any of those a passion for me. They’re definitely not something I want to blog about or turn into a job or career.

I do love to do crafts and DIY projects. I don’t have a whole lot of talent in this area, but I have heaps of interest. I just need to learn, to try new things, to practice. I love being creative. It’s fulfilling and a fantastic stress reliever. Maybe, if I try enough things, I’ll find an area that captivates me, and I’ll want to pursue it more deeply. Maybe I’ll be able to turn it into a career. In any case, I’ll have fun, I’ll learn new skills, I’ll make stuff. And maybe I’ll learn something about myself.

Follow along on the blog as I try new things. Right now I’m in the middle of knitting a dishcloth. I’ve been knitting for years, but sporadically, and I’m somewhere between a beginner and an intermediate. I’m committing right now to knitting much more often. I’m also currently taking an online course from Sketchbook Skool called Drawing Without Talent. It’s taught by Danny Gregory, who is disarming and encouraging and makes me believe I can actually become an artist. I’ve also started listening to his new podcast, Art For All, and I’m going to check out some of his books. I have been voraciously consuming books, websites, and podcasts that discuss creativity, especially in terms of how to find and nurture the creativity within you, how to make time for creativity, and how to stop listening to and believing those voices that say “You’re no good! Who the hell do you think you are, calling yourself creative?” So these books seem right up my alley.

I’ve been wanting to learn cross-stitch or embroidery for a while, so I think that will be my next endeavor. There are several Etsy shops that sell kits for beginners. I’m going to buy one of those and get started.