body love

Explore Your Passion and Purpose and Reclaim Body Love

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Reclaiming Body Love can sometimes feel overwhelming. I get that. A listener recently asked me to share my top 3 tips/things I needed to do to reclaim body love. This was challenging, but I managed to narrow it down to three!

  1. I had to stop the comparison game – for me, this meant enacting a media ban and shying away from people and situations that I knew would trigger me for a while. I also had to replace my negative self-talk with positive self-talk.
  2. I had to focus on why I am here – big picture Life Purpose stuff – rather than on the things I didn't like about myself or my body.
  3. I had to learn to love and accept all of me for who I was.


In today's podcast, I walk you through all three of these steps. If you want help on #2, I invite you to join my 5-Day Explore Your Passion and Purpose challenge. You can join here: 

Stay tuned for more on #3 next week!


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Why Paying It Forward Can Be An Important Tool on Your Healing Journey

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Some days life is going great; and some days you feel like a fraud/feel like you've taken 20 giant steps back/wish you could crawl back in bed. I get it. I've been there.

One of the things I used to do (and still do today because I love doing it) when I was having one of those days/weeks/months was to pay it forward. Each day I would do one thing nice for another woman to help increase her Body Love. Some days I would give a compliment to every woman I saw. Some days I would leave sticky notes with Body Love messages on them in random places in my workplace. Some days I would just give a big smile to everyone. What I noticed was this: not only did I brighten other people’s days, but I felt really good about me. What a great way to reinforce your Body Love! It’s time to pay it forward!

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Dealing with the Negative Emotions Healing Can Bring Up

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Healing is a journey; a process. As much as we might wish it was a quick fix; it's not. Sometimes we feel great about where we are on our healing journey, and sometimes it feels like we just took 3 giant steps back to where we came from.

Several months after I started my healing journey with anorexia, I met a man who was recovering from bulimia. We thought we could help each other, support each other. It didn't work out that way, however. He ended up just being a trigger for me. I stopped doing all of the things that had helped me to that point in my recovery and I relapsed. I felt miserable; like a failure, a fraud. I had to end the relationship and get back on the road to healing. It wasn't easy – it certainly didn't feel good – but it was necessary for me to continue on my healing journey. 

In today's podcast, I discuss some of those pivotal healing tools that I used on my journey of healing my relationship with my body – the first time and after I relapsed. I hope they serve you.

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The Power of Body Love

By | Body Love, Goddess Wisdom, Wisdom Blog | No Comments

I've been getting a lot of questions about how to learn to love yourself and your body again. This marks the first in a series of posts on this topic. I hope they serve you.

I battled anorexia nervosa for 24 years. For most of those 24 years, I was in denial that I even had a problem. After all, at that time I had spend almost 15 years building a successful research practice in my academic career studying factors that influenced body image and disordered eating and exercise. I was the researcher, not the victim. At least that's what I told myself.

Then one day a good friend of mine confronted me about it. After a week of fighting back and forth with him, I finally realized he was right. It took a lot of courage for me to “come out of the closet,” so to speak, about my eating disorder. To admit that I studied body image and eating disorders because, at a subconscious level, I was trying to understand myself.

My research focus shifted as I began my healing journey. Instead of simply focusing on factors that made women and men at risk for developing an eating disorder, I turned my focus to prevention. I wanted to know what helped prevent disordered eating and what helped those who were currently suffering actually heal. So as I studied these factors in my research lab, I became my own guinea. As I would read about and conduct research studies on things that helped, I would try them on myself to see if it worked for me. 

Early on in my studies I discovered something called self-love and I wondered how that could apply to my body. Could I use love toward my body to help me heal? And, if so, what would that look like? I came up with an idea. I wanted to write a love letter to my body. Little did I know how powerful and transformational this activity would end up being. It was very hard to do, but it became one of the most important pieces of the puzzle in my healing journey. In today's podcast, I walk you through how to do this and why it works. If you want a copy of my body love letter, you can get yours here. I hope it serves you.

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What Does it Mean to Nourish Your Temple?

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Love and pregnancy concept.“Your cortisol is low again,” my doctor said. Given my penchant for working too hard and not taking enough time off, low cortisol levels mean one thing: adrenal fatigue. After beating myself up for a couple of minutes for letting myself get to this point again and not learning my lesson the last two times I had adrenal fatigue, I realized it was up to me. I am only borderline adrenal fatigue; that means I can turn it around. I can save this. I don't have to go down this road again. If you've ever had adrenal fatigue, you know that it takes months to heal. I don't want to go through that again.

As I shared with you a couple of weeks ago, I know what to do: I practice self-care, although apparently not enough lately. But the place I struggle with most – and this is a real moment of vulnerability for me to admit this to you – is practicing what I preach. I've learned to love my body over the years and to truly see it as a sacred Temple. However, I don't always treat it as such. 

I've been planning to do a free seven day challenge for you at the end of this month to help me celebrate my birthday. How ironic is it that, as it turns out, I'm the one who needs the challenge? I'm the one who needs to practice what she preaches: self-care and nourishing your sacred body temple.

So I invite you to join me. 7 days of learning how to love your body and nourish your sacred body temple. It's not a forever fix, I realize that. But in this 7 days, you and I will both learn – or in my case relearn – the skills you need to truly take care of you and treat yourself like the Goddess you are.

So what are we going to be doing for our 7 days together? Each day you'll get an audio and a workbook. You'll have a private Facebook group where you can share your trials and tribulations with others who are going through this challenge with you. You'll have my support as a coach and as someone who is participating right along with you. 

I realize you're busy. We all are. I promise it won't take you long. 10 to 15 minutes per day, tops. But what you come out with on the other side is a set of skills you can use time and time again to help reclaim body love and nourish your sacred body temple. You'll learn how to put you at the top of your priority list. You'll learn how to treat your body like the sacred Temple She is. And you're going to feel better, a lot better, than you do right now. Isn't it time you finally took care of you? Finally put you at the top of your priority list? Now is the time.

I hope you'll join me. We start Monday September 26th. You'll get the workbook and link to the Facebook group where you'll find each day's video delivered to you every morning for our 7 days together. Click here to sign up and change your life for the better.



What Does It Mean to Walk in Beauty?

By | Body Love, Goddess Wisdom, Walk the Path, Wisdom Blog | 4 Comments

in a field aloneLast week I invited you to take part in a retreat with me: The Goddess Talk sessions, hosted by my friend Shann Vander Leek. Shann’s goal for the summit to help women claim their feminine sovereignty and walk in beauty. As soon as I sent out the email invitation last week, I received the question: What does it mean to Walk in Beauty?

As I reflected on this question, I remembered a saying I once heard about beauty being before me, behind me, below me, and above me. When I looked it up, I realized it was a Navajo prayer. It comes from a purification ceremony for soldiers when they come home to help them restore balance and return to “normal” life.

The latter part of the prayer reads:

With beauty before me, I walk.
With beauty behind me, I walk.
With beauty below me, I walk.
With beauty above me, I walk.
With beauty all around me, I walk.
It is finished in beauty,
It is finished in beauty,
It is finished in beauty,
It is finished in beauty.

But what does it mean to walk in beauty? To me, it means to notice the beauty in everyday life: in your children's laughter, the flowers and butterflies in your garden, the resiliency of the blade of grass, the wind blowing through the trees. More importantly, it means seeing the beauty in yourself. That's really the point of this month's sticky note challenge: It's so you can see the beauty in yourself, the perfection in you.

As we get caught up in our day-to-day lives, it's so easy to forget the beauty before us. The beauty within us. 

In preparation for the Goddess Talk sessions, I invited Shann to be a guest on my podcast Reclaiming Body Love. We started talking about my own journey from body shame to body love and the role yoga played in it. In some ways, Shann and I have similar journeys in that yoga was a starting point for both of us to get reconnected with our sacred body temples.

I remember my very first yoga class. I was in my mid to late 20s, and my gym had hired a yoga teacher to teach one class a week. The class was packed full of women who hoped it would help them lose weight. As a runner, I was just hoping to stretch out my tight, tired muscles. 

But something happened to me that night that I will never forget. As I stretched, as I worked out the tension in my muscles, I began to cry. This was a point in my life where I was so disconnected from my body and my emotions, that tears were foreign to me. As I wept silently, I thought to myself, what is going on? It had been so long since I had allowed myself to cry that I immediately thought something was terribly wrong with me.

Although it scared me and it would be quite a while until I went back to yoga class, that day began an unfolding for me. Every time I went back to yoga, it hurt. Sometimes the pain was physical; sometimes it was emotional. Yet, something in me knew that yoga was going to be an important and powerful tool in my healing journey. And it has been.

In many ways, I credit my now daily yoga practice with teaching me to walk in beauty. It motivated me to start my daily gratitude practice, taught me to treat myself and others with loving kindness, and reconnected me with my sacred body temple. Through yoga, I was exposed to women of all shapes, sizes, and ages; I learned to appreciate the beauty of the human body in all its forms. Gradually I learned to appreciate the beauty of my own body and began to treat it like it actually was a sacred temple that housed my soul.

To me, that is part of what it means to walk in beauty. Yes, beauty is all around me; but beauty is also within me – it is me. This beautiful existence we share is how we walk in beauty together. Learning to see the beauty in each other – in ourselves – even on the worst days is how we walk in beauty.

How do you walk in beauty?



Sticky Note Challenge Rules!

By | Body Love, Goddess Wisdom, Wisdom Blog | No Comments

Yellow  leaf of a reminder on a white background

In honor of February, International Self-Love month, I am bringing back the Sticky Note Challenge! I am super excited about this and hope you will join me!!! Let's spread the love this month!

“What is the sticky note challenge?” you ask. Have you ever heard of Operation Beautiful? The mission of Operation Beautiful is to post anonymous notes in public places for other people to find – notes that would brighten their day. Something like, “You are Beautiful.”

I want to use this idea for us to create sticky notes for ourselves. For the next month, I challenge you to make a different sticky note each day. Ideally you would make several sticky notes that contain that phrase each day and put them places where you (and others) will see them. Places like your wallet, purse, office cubicle, stairwell, bathroom, a random aisle at Walmart, etc. As a psychologist, I know that the more we see certain messages, the more we start to believe them. So these notes will have a dual purpose: they’ll help you feel better about yourself and they will help others feel better about themselves as well.

Here are the rules:

  1. head over to my FB page to find the sticky note of the day or just look on the blog under the Category Goddess Inspirations or the September 2016 archive (feel free to create your own inspirational messages if what I posted doesn't resonate with you)
  2. write out your own sticky note and put it where you can see it during the day 
  3. write out sticky notes for others and let them be surprised when they find them, and
  4. take a picture of your sticky notes and share them on social media with the hashtag #stickynotechallenge

I love sticky note month!

Infertility and Body Shame

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Love-Letter to Body_2Three months before my wedding date, I was diagnosed with endometriosis, placed in drug-induced menopause and told I would never bear children. I was 21. My soon-to-be-husband and I were devastated at this news. We hoped for a few years that my condition would improve, but after 5 surgeries in as many years and 3 rounds of drug-induced menopause, my body entered natural menopause when I was 26.

That’s when I began to hate my body. I felt that my body was a traitor, a betrayer, that it had unfairly taken my God-given right to bear children away from me. So I began to punish it – subconsciously, but punish it the same. I became the epitome of good health by exercising regularly and eating healthily. I was on a mission to prove to my doctors – and my body – that I could be ‘normal’ and ‘healthy.’ Unfortunately, my Inner Mean Girl is a perfectionist and my “health kick” soon turned into an eating disorder; my exercise routine became a minimum two-hour-a-day obsession and my list of ‘bad foods’ became so restrictive that I was barely eating enough to keep a bird alive.

Fast forward 9 years.

When I was 35, my father was diagnosed with cancer. He quickly deteriorated and I made the decision to spend the summer helping my mother take care of him. Something happened that summer that forever changed my life. After being in menopause for 9 years, I got my period. My doctors told me it was impossible, a fluke. You can’t cure yourself of menopause, they told me. 28 days later, it happened again.

That summer my mindset began to shift. As I watched my father die, my own body came back to life. And I was grateful. Having been raised to think my menstrual cycle was “The Curse,” I never dreamed I would be so happy to have it back. I began to see my menstrual cycle for the gift it is – my body’s ability to renew itself each month, my ability to create and give birth to life.

After my father died, my husband and I decided to try to have a child. After 3 rounds of in vitro fertilization, I realized that while my menstrual cycles might have come back on line, my endometriosis was still preventing pregnancy from happening. Feeling betrayed by my body once again, I gave up, gave in, and let my eating disorder take over – punishing myself and my body for my inability to bear a child once again.

Two years later, my husband and I finalized our divorce. No longer worried about not being able to bear him a child, I allowed myself to let go of the dream of having children. I stopped punishing my body. I stopped exercising obsessively and started eating foods I hadn’t allowed myself to eat in over a decade. I allowed myself and my body time to grieve – the loss of my father, my marriage, my fertility – I allowed myself time to heal.

One day I took a long, hard look in the mirror and I realized I needed to heal my relationship with food, my body, and myself. So I took a vow and I wrote a love letter to my body, letting it know all the things I was grateful for – cellulite, muffin top, wrinkles, scars, adult-onset acne and all. I made myself read that vow and that love letter to myself every day for a month. You know what happened? It started to sink in. I began to actually be grateful for things I once loathed. I began to see myself as beautiful, my body as a work of art, a sacred temple of Divine crafting.

If you don’t have a good relationship with your body, I invite you to listen to a free call I did on 7 Sacred Steps to Body Love. You can sign up for the replay here. You’ll get a copy of my vow and love letter along with the call. Then write your own vow, your own love letter. I can’t promise you that you will heal your relationship with yourself overnight, but I can promise you that if you do this daily practice for your body for at least 30 days, you will begin to see yourself in a different light. You will heal your relationship with your body and with yourself. You too will learn to love your body and the woman you see in the mirror.


It All Comes Down to Self-Love

By | Body Love, Goddess Wisdom, Wisdom Blog | No Comments
Love and pregnancy concept.I was a guest on The Sisters Internet TV show this past Saturday.  We were all invited to talk about our own journeys with body image and weight struggles. From a man who lost over 170 pounds in the past year to a former bikini model to a mom of four, we all shared one thing in common:

I was invited to speak not only about my own body image struggles but about how I help men and women learn to love their bodies just as they are right now. The more I talked, the more everyone chimed in and it struck me as fascinating how we were basically all saying the same thing. It all comes down to self-love.

If we loved our bodies, we would take better care of ourselves. If we loved our bodies we wouldn't be so mean to ourselves. If we loved ourselves, we would love our bodies.

Aaron, the man who lost 170 pounds in the past year following a gastric bypass surgery had an interesting question: when you don't even see yourself accurately, how do you start? How do you take that first step to really learn to love and accept yourself as you are now no matter what your weight, shape or size?
Once again we all had a similar answer: The first step is awareness – really noting how you treat yourself during the day. How often do you have negative thoughts? How often do you pick apart at yourself? How often you compare yourself to somebody else and come up lacking?
The next step is to really start to counter that negative programming. Whether it's waking up to see your vision board placed across from your bed, setting alarms on your phone to remind you to stay positive and love yourself, or to surround yourself with positive sayings in your office and at home, we all agreed it's important to stay positive. You must focus on what you do you love about yourself and your life rather than what you don't. This is a necessary part of rewiring your brain. 
Finally, the first step to begin to heal your relationship with yourself and your body must come from within. There is no magic pill or potion; no one can do this healing work for you. Much like Glinda the good witch said to Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, “You had the power within you all along.” It's your job to do the work to heal, to change, to learn to love yourself again.
If you need help pointing you in the right direction, it is Self-Love month here in Dr. Mary land! To celebrate, I've got my Learn to Love Yourself Again ecourse on sale for those of you who learn best at your own pace. If you're looking for more interactive support, you could always join my sacred circle group coaching program, still at the introductory low price for the month of May.
Here's to you fully learning to love and accept yourself and your body again.

Is Food Your Coping Mechanism?

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5262932_sHave you ever had the following thought? “Food is my best friend and my worst enemy.” A recent national survey found that half of Americans report more stressed than they felt five years ago and 43% use food to cope. Emotional eating is one of the hallmarks of hormonal imbalance for women in their mid-30s through mid-50s and nearly every woman I see experiences it at some level.

Why do women emotionally eat? Many women are chronically stressed; this means they suffer from higher levels of cortisol. Thanks to all that cortisol, when we’re under stress, we tend to crave foods that are high in sugar and fat as our bodies are trying to store calories to help us prepare to fight or flee. Of course the problem is that you usually can’t fight or flee from whatever your stressor is (e.g., lost keys, waiting for the cable repairman).

So when it comes down to it, we are biologically driven to eat foods that help us ‘cope’ in ineffective ways. We don’t realize this, though. All we know is that we want chocolate and we want it now.

From a psychological perspective, emotional eating usually falls into one of two categories: avoidant or emotion-focused coping. Avoidant coping is just what the name implies – you avoid dealing with the stressor. Eating when you are stressed so you don’t have to deal with the problem is an example of avoidant coping using food. As you might imagine, avoidant coping is rarely effective as the problem is still going to be there once you’ve stopped eating.

Emotion-focused coping using food can be equally ineffective. When we engage in emotion-focused coping, we are attempting to make ourselves feel better by addressing the emotions the stressor provoked rather than the stressor itself. So if you get in a fight with your significant other and, instead of talking it out, decide to comfort your hurt feelings by consuming a chocolate cake, that would be an example of emotion-focused coping using food. Again, not super helpful in this situation. While you might feel better after eating (or not – you might feel guilty if you ate something you have labeled as “bad” or eaten too much), you still haven’t fixed your problem.

You see where I’m going with this, right? Most of the time our problems are within our control to fix – cortisol, be damned – and eating is likely not going to help. Thus, what we should be doing is focusing on how to fix our problems. That’s where problem-focused coping comes in. As the name implies, the basic premise of problem-focused coping is this: “Have a problem? Fix it.” So if you have a fight with your significant other, wait a little bit to calm down and then go back and talk it out. Don’t turn to food to comfort yourself because that’s not actually addressing the problem.

I know, I know. That sounds great, but how can you make that change? I’m going to warn you: it’s not going to happen overnight. If you’ve been turning to food as your primary coping mechanism for 40 years, you can’t expect it to go away overnight. I wish it was that simple, but for most of us, it’s not. After all, we have biologically trained ourselves to crave our comfort foods.

So what should you do?

Step one : re-evaluate your response to stress. As I said earlier, most of our problems are fixable and most of them are within our control. So very first thing you need to do is Stop. Right when you begin to feel yourself getting stressed out, Stop for just one minute. Then ask yourself, “Is this going to kill me?” The answer to that question is likely no. Then you move onto the next question:  “What can I do about it?” That brings us to…

Step two: take a deep breath. Do it again. When our bodies are all wound up, it can be very hard to focus on what to do right now to fix your problem. It works best if you can stop that stress response in its tracks by giving your body the cues it needs that the stressor has passed (no stressor, no food cravings). As deep breathing is counteractive to gearing up to fight or flee, it can be an effective way to calm down enough that you can actually deal with the problem.

Step three: decide HOW to cope. Yes, it’s up to you. While it may seem like it happens automatically, it only happens this way if you don’t give yourself any other option other than to act in a way you’ve previously dealt with that stressor. In other words, if you’ve conditioned yourself to eat chocolate cake every time you fight with your spouse, the next time you fight with your spouse, guess what? You’re going to find yourself automatically reaching for that chocolate cake. Unless you give your body, and mind, permission to do something else. In the meantime, know that you DO have a choice in the matter.