Stopping the Shame Game.

Each of us is awesome. Body shaming and comparing ourselves to one another is not necessary.

I got very stirred up while listening to E! News yesterday.

In discussing a recent Instagram post by Paris Jackson in which she was pictured almost nude and, as a result, subsequently received body-shaming comments online, Catt Sadler (one of the hosts) mused that she could not understand how people could body shame Ms. Paris because she has a beautiful body.

It was at this point that I had to change the channel lest I start arguing with the TV while on the elliptical machine and be removed from the gym. (The irony that I was at the gym while hearing this was not lost on me.)

By no means do I believe that Ms. Sadler was intimating that body shaming of anyone is acceptable; however it got me thinking about how easily we criticize one another, particularly around our outward appearances.

Body shaming, or any shaming of any sort, directed at any human being, is a counterproductive, negative practice that only ensures the race to the bottom of civilized society as we know it. Regardless of the body shape, size or style of the recipient, is it not, by now, an outdated practice that we would all like to see discontinued?

Shame is a scare tactic, not a technique for lasting, positive change.  Click to tweet.

To stop these unhealthy, harmful practices, we can do a few things, but first, we must let go of the belief that our outward appearance – and the exhausting practice of ensuring ageless perfection at all times – is our primary source of worth, value or beauty.

Once we acknowledge that we are more than the skin we’re in, we can begin speaking to ourselves with more kindness and grace and encouraging our daughters, friends and yes, even the men in our families and communities to, instead, see and elevate the true beauty within us all. Regardless of age, shape, gender or race, each of us is a gift to our families, communities and organizations, and to truly lift up these institutions to reach a fuller potential, we must start by building each other up as individuals, and that means stopping with the shame game.

If you have a friend, colleague or family member who could use a dose of positive feedback, take a moment and send them a quick note or share this post. Both of you will be better for it! 

We’d love to hear what’s working in your world that helps stop the shame game and gets the conversation going in a different – and more positive – direction! 

Five Healthy Holiday Tips

Collage of table scapes for Chinese New Year Feast, Hanukkah Feast, Christmas Feast and Kwanzaa Feast

 

We are officially in the swing of the Holiday Season!! This magical time of year brings so many opportunities for us to reconnect with ourselves, our friends, our families, and our traditions. (All of which are rich with complexity and emotion…and usually also desserts 🙂 )

Here are a few tips to help you not only survive the holidays, but also thrive during this time of year, so you can both take care of yourself and enjoy the wonder and whimsy of the season.

Stick to the Basics.
Throughout the Holidays, these year-round basics will be your best allies:

  • Pack in the greens and unprocessed, whole foods as much as you can, for instance:
    • When you’re invited to a party, bring a veggie (or even raw veggies with dip) as your dish to pass to ensure that you’ll have healthy options at your finger tips
    • Plan ahead and stock up on healthy snacks at home, so you’re not reliant on cookies and leftover pie for snacks when you get hungry
    • Fun fact: the best way to guarantee you’ll crave something tomorrow is by eating it today; if you eat less sugar and more veggies today, you’ll work with your natural wiring to prevent off-the-rails sugar cravings the next day and the next…
  • Drink plenty of water, i.e. one glass every hour if not more; when attending a party, alternate a glass of water with every sugary or alcoholic beverage, which will give you the added benefit of something to occupy your hands while also preventing a hangover
  • Exercise 20-30 minutes each day; even a 15 minute walk a few times throughout the day makes a difference for your mental and physical well-being
  • Get enough rest; when we’re rested, our willpower, patience and energy levels are significantly higher, which means better decisions and more equilibrium and energy to navigate the jam-packed social calendar!
  • Meditate or practice positive visualizations and/or affirmations five minutes a day

Be Mindful.
Very important is to be aware of what you’re eating, how full you are and why you’re reaching for seconds. Often times, we choose to feed our feelings instead of to satisfy our physical hunger. Being mindful of our choices and the reasons behind them will help us outsmart the autopilot eating that is easy to slip into when we’re having fun (or not) and surrounded by food and friends!
Quick tip: If you find yourself on emotional overload, try 4-7-8 breathing. Breathe in for a count of four, hold for seven, and exhale for a count of eight. Do this about five times whenever you feel the stress or anxiety (or any emotional trigger) overwhelming you.

Make time for yourself.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of the Holiday – the planning, the parties, the presents – and the allure of saying yes to it all! Families, friends, work, and school activities are abundant, and whether out of obligation or delight, we will say yes… and yes, and yes.  In doing so, we get thrown out of whack and worn out. Make sure you keep your overall well-being in mind as you schedule your fun and festivities.

Here are a few ideas to help you maintain your equilibrium:

  • Schedule your workouts on your calendar, so you can blow off steam and get those natural endorphins to keep you energized
  • Say no to social engagements if it’s too much (or simply leave early, so you can get enough rest)
  • Schedule time with friends who lift you up and nourish your soul (you know the ones)
  • Put quiet time on the calendar, such as reserving a few nights for doing absolutely nothing
  • Take a nap on a Saturday afternoon
  • Have a “wrapping party” to allow you and friends to catch up as you wrap gifts or a cookie swap where the cookies baked can be given as goodies for co-workers or teachers (time with friends AND gifts for folks on your list sounds like a win-win!)
  • Give yourself permission to ask for help and/or delegate; for instance, if you’re having a party, prioritize your to-do list and enlist family to help or hire someone to help clean before or after, ask friends to bring a dish to share or help clean-up afterwards, etc.

Whatever helps you maintain your sense of self and balance this time of year is a MUST.
Spoiler alert: it may vary day-to-day, and it may not look the same as what your friend, sister, mom or significant other needs, and that’s OK. Taking the time to make time for yourself and your mental, emotional and spiritual health this time of year will reap enormous benefits!

Eat the pie. Then let it go.
It’s OK to indulge, especially if you’re keeping the other 80% of your food and drinks on the lighter side. One powerful trick to minimizing the impact on your overall health (and waistline) is letting go of any guilt your carry for indulging in a slice of pie (or two), and then resetting to “normal” eating habits. Remember that there are hidden calories and sugar in holiday libations and dishes. Swap in water or herbal tea where possible, and if you do indulge at that office party, overindex on clean eating for your other meals that day and a few days after.

Enjoy!
Most important of all… Enjoy the moments, the meals, the memories of this Season! Savor each bite and every experience because this year’s Holiday season is different than all those that have come before and all those to come. Soak it in. Even if you eat too much, have an emotional breakdown, or don’t get it all done before your family or guests show up, it’s OK. It truly is OK. Breathe. Speak kindly to yourself, and give yourself grace. ‘Tis the season after all. Take advantage of the joy and generosity of this time of year. Live in the moment. Say yes when you feel it, and say no when you feel called to. Take care of yourself and those you love and enjoy!

Peace, Love, and Happy Holidays!

 

Backsliding to Benadryl: Coping with a Surprise Reaction

Benadryl, anaphylactic, allergies, food allergies, kids with food allergies

Just when you think you have it all under control, life throws you a curve ball.

My recent zinger really threw me for a loop. On a recent trip to Connecticut, I was just delighted to belatedly celebrate  my birthday with a soul sister at an exquisite local farm-to-table restaurant; however, my enthusiasm overshadowed my good judgment when I either A) disregarded my instinct to have the crushed pumpkin seeds left off of the mouth-watering sea trout dish I could hardly wait to try, or B) took a bite of chocolate garnishing the chocolate peanut butter gelato. Ugh, just when I thought I was done having reactions, this mysterious menace left my face a hot, inflamed tomato. Why this oh-so-delightful new face pigment couldn’t have found a home in only my legs, so that I could have easily concealed it with pants or a cute maxi is beyond me!

allergic reaction, nuts, sensitivities, food allergy, kids with food allergies, what it feels like to have an allergic reaction
Did these seemingly innocent, yet suspicious seeds leave me looking like an open pomegranate?

 

chocolate peanut butter, Community Table, farm to table, connecticut, south kent, gluten free on the go, nut allergy
…Or was this decadence to blame?

Sigh.

After all these years of learning the in’s and outs, of formally studying coping and avoidance techniques in a slew of various situations, of  finally feeling like I had a grasp on this nonsense, I thought I had my reactions all figured out! Oof, how much I am still learning!

It was a truly humbling experience to not only been knocked off my safe buoy in the sea of anaphylactic up’s and down’s, but in such a visibly & unattractive manner. I truly felt like the Hunchback of Notre Dame! (So much so that I insisted we not take any pictures to document the flare-up… sorry, guys, but no visuals of the “incident.”)

Backsliding to Benadryl is bound to happen. Almost like a metaphor for life, we will inevitably be caught off guard. From time to time, we will find ourselves physically compromised and feel vulnerable as a result.

A few important things to remember:

    • ALWAYS be prepared
      Carry Benadryl, an epipen, a snack bar, whatever you need to carry to keep your personal anti-allergy arsenal fully stocked. Think ahead, plan ahead, and pack your purse.

      Cope, benadryl, anaphylactic, nuts, allergies, food allergies
      Sisterly support definitely helped me cope!
    • Make sure those around you know your triggers and will support you
      Thankfully, my dinner date has known me my whole life and has been there for previous reactions. She recognized the symptoms and was sensitive to how I needed to handle. She kept an eye on me and asked me throughout the evening if I was doing ok and if I needed anything. That kind of support helped me stay calm and feel comforted – a HUGE help in the throes of backsliding.
    • Don’t beat yourself up
      It was hard for me to quiet the gut response, “I should have known better.” Eh, shoulda, coulda, woulda as they say. I did the best I could with the situation, thinking all was safe on the plate, and yes, I made a mistake, but I handled the unfortunate consequence effectively because I had packed my trusty antihistamines. Next time, I’ll know. Speak kindly to yourself as you care for yourself in the recovery of any reaction. The chemicals and adrenaline are pumping to help you survive, and the last thing your physical body needs is introducing the stress hormones that result when we beat ourselves up.
    • Give yourself time to bounce back
      Again, the chemical response that ensues after your body combats the histamine response has physical and emotional effects that last beyond that 2-20 minute reaction time. Take it easy the next couple of hours or days. Listen to what your body needs and honor those messages. If we don’t take care of our bodies, where will we live? Check in with yourself and take care of you.

Here’s to fewer Benadryl-Epinephrine aperitifs!