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"I am so beautiful, sometimes people weep when they see me. And it has nothing to do with what I look like really, it is just that I gave myself the power to say that I am beautiful, and if I could do that, maybe there is hope for them too. And the great divide between the beautiful and the ugly will cease to be. Because we are all what we choose."

Margaret Cho

My job as a philosopher, the power of acceptance, and how to write a book – my interview with Liz Wolfe of Balanced Bites

Posted by on Apr 8, 2014 in Blog, Podcast | 3 comments

My job as a philosopher, the power of acceptance, and how to write a book – my interview with Liz Wolfe of Balanced Bites

 

By now, you should all know who Liz Wolfe is. She’s the brilliant voice behind Cave Girl Eats (now Real Food Liz), as well as the author of Eat the Yolks.

Liz interviewed me (all on her lonesome! Usually Diane Sanfillippo accompanies) for the Balanced Bites podcast a while back, and it just went up last week.

In the podcast, we talk about:

-my life as a philosopher and what my other “career” is all about

(hint: awesome stuff)

-what I learned about myself and about the world writing Sexy by Nature 

-how writing a book is like having a baby (so I’ve heard)

-and how acceptance can salvage your relationship with your body, as well as just about everything else.

Read about it, listen, and download at the link HERE, or on the image below, at which you can also read a full transcript, which is awesome.

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(button credit: Diane Sanfilippo)

But then you don’t get to hear us laugh, which we do the whole time.

I’ve pulled some quotes, too, to give you a taste for what we sound like:

Stefani Ruper: Very thin. And these days I’m a little bit sturdier. I’m super curvier. And it really is, it feels strange to be in a differently sized body. I feel like I look a little bit more like an adult, and that isn’t to say that people who are thin look like children. {laughs} But I think I kind of did, because it wasn’t my natural shape. And I think I look healthier. And when I put myself in my skin, and when I’m at home in my body and like a partner to my body, that’s what makes me excited to be in it. That’s the very first thing I say in the book. I try to define sexy, and I’m like, sexy is excited to be in the skin you’re in. It’s a feeling. It’s owning your skin and being excited to be there. When you love your body, and you forgive it, and you accept what you need to do to make yourself healthy and you try to get there, then you can look people in the eyes, and be like, “What?”

Liz Wolfe: {laughing}

Stefani Ruper: {laughs} What? This is me, and I’m not apologizing for that fact, because this is what’s best for me. And people love that. Once you start doing that. Once you start just leaping, the final step in every single step by step list I make is always, you’ve just got to go do it. Because that’s going to give you the data you need. It’s going to give you the experience you need to learn how positively people respond to confidence. And it’s not at all; it’s so, so, so little about how you look. Just the tinniest, tinniest little bit. And all about how you present yourself. I don’t care how big you are, I don’t care what’s going on with your skin or your hair. It is entirely about how good and confident you feel.

——

Stefani Ruper: B) I said, in one swift and terrifying week, right? I accepted myself. Which is funny, because as true as that may be, that week was awesome, I was like, yeah, I’m doing this!

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Stefani Ruper: And then it was another; when was it, that was in early 2012. And it was still, it’s still happening. Right?

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Stefani Ruper: It’s still happening, and I have those weeks all the time, and I have good days and bad days, and also I said 10 pounds, and since then it’s probably been more like 20. Because again I’ve been doing this process over and over. And, even at that point, I was working on learning how to eat when I was hungry and stop when I was full. You know, I was working on accepting my body, but I really didn’t get… I want to say, I think I’m good at it now. I really didn’t get good at it for, I don’t know, another couple of years. You know, very close to this date. And I keep getting better. But I want to throw out there, this thing may have a certain starting point, but it doesn’t, so far as I can tell, have a certain ending point.

——-

Stefani Ruper: And I like both of them a lot. And so the whole time I’m working on this, I’m being torn in different directions, and sometimes I’m working on my philosophy work, and I’m feeling frustrated that I can’t be working on the book. And usually, it went vice-versa. And, the great Ron Swanson comes to mind here.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Stefani Ruper: Because he tells Leslie Knope that “You don’t half-ass two things, you whole-ass one thing.”

Liz Wolfe: Yes! {laughs} I love that quote.

Stefani Ruper: Yeah! And so, for a couple of years there, I was probably three-quarter assing two things.

 

And more!

Whoopah!

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Love is the New Skinny

Posted by on Apr 2, 2014 in Blog | 17 comments

Love is the New Skinny

 

“Strong is the new skinny,” is what everyone says these days.  No longer do you have to look like a runway model! No longer do you have to starve yourself! Wow! Everyone is ecstatic.

Except not everyone is. Who isn’t? I am not. That’s because I know that “strong” means you still have to starve yourself (or at least be restrictive). And build eight pack abs on top of that. “Strong” sets an even higher standard that’s even harder to achieve. It’s unrealistic. It calls for amount of willpower. It demands an egregious amount of your time.

See “skinny”:

m1

talentrising.wordpress.com

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fashion.info

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victoriassecret.com

(Don’t argue with me: these women are skinny, okay?)

See “strong”:

(Search results from Googling “strong is the new skinny”):

strong-is-the-new-skinny

Resultswillvary.com

strong-is-the-new-skinny2

superdietreviews.com

8tracks.com

8tracks.com

  breakingmuscle.com

breakingmuscle.com

 

Because when people say “strong is the new skinny” what most of them actually mean is “lean with lots of muscle” is the “new skinny.”

Not everyone distorts “strong” to mean “thin and muscled” like these women do. Some actually believe that physical strength — and not the physical, idealized body that comes from hardcore exercise — but actual physical power — is what is truly beautiful.

The inspiring shewolves of Wolf Pack Fitness are one group of incredible, powerful women like this. Many Crossfit women (hellooo Stacy Toth of paleo parents) are some others. Lots of women who do push ups or sling kettlebells in our own movement are others.

But that doesn’t stop the fact that the primary sentiment behind the “strong is the new skinny” movement is that beauty is all about the way that your body looks.

This is not an idea I like very much.

————–

What is beauty about?

Beauty–true beauty, the kind of beauty that stops your heart and makes the world go ’round–is about love.

It’s about compassion.

It’s about having the courage to affirm yourself and to affirm others on a daily basis.

It’s about daring to say yes to positivity and no to hate.

It’s about owning who you are and never backing down.

It’s about always apologizing when you should and never when you shouldn’t.

It’s about vulnerability.

It’s about the firm grip of your hand, the warmth of your hug, the welcoming light in your eyes, and the open laughter on your lips.

It is, as I have said, about love.

I highly recommend this speech by Lupita Nyong’o. What is beauty? she asks. It’s not the color of your skin, that’s for sure. It’s not your waistline. It’s your compassion. For yourself, your loved ones, and the world.

——-

If we are going to change our standards of beauty away from “skinny,” we may as well do it right and go all the way. Maybe a part of beauty is about muscles. Maybe some of it is health. Maybe it’s about your hair or your radiant skin. But maybe it’s about so much more than that.

Maybe it’s about a future in which the best, most admired, and most desired people are those with the biggest hearts.

I am more than okay with being attractive. I will continue to try to be so. I cannot help it – nothing will stop the human race from caring about aesthetic pleasure.  But being attractive is not what makes me beautiful. It is not what makes me desirable. It is one small component of who I am–only the surface of an entire, powerful being.

I will not try to be skinny. I will not even try all that hard to be strong.

But I will try to have a big heart, and to love myself, to love my family, and to love the world with the most open and daring compassion I can possibly muster.

compassion plant 1

Community, prepare thyselves to be bombarded by a steady stream of “love is the new skinny” memes.

Please pin and share these as widely and freely as you like. Memes are, after all, the best way to share good ideas.

In fact, if you’d like to make your own, and share them on the Paleo for Women Facebook page, tweet them to @paleoforwomen, or tag me on Pinterest or Instagram, I’ll re-post them to make your voice heard.

compassion self love hug 5

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And my favorite:

compassion hug yourself fuzzy bear 4

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Sweet Plantain Guacamole by one of the world’s best human beings and paleo chefs, George Bryant

Posted by on Apr 1, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Sweet Plantain Guacamole by one of the world’s best human beings and paleo chefs, George Bryant

 

Ladies. If you haven’t already, meet George.

George is the brilliant mastermind / chef / photographer behind Civilized Caveman Cooking Creations. He also happens to be one of my most dear friends, and one of the most open and outspoken advocates of body love in the paleo world. He struggled with body image and with bulimia for many years, and while a Marine, to boot. After Crossfitting for some time and going paleo, George found real health. He found allegiance to his body. He found radical, permanent self-love. You can listen to his story on my podcast here, or read it in his own words at his blog here.

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George makes food. But he doesn’t just make it. He creates it. He loves it. He perfects it. It’s always an enormous honor to be in his kitchen (helllooo paleo fx 2014!). He’s been blogging food and making apps and producing ebooks for years and years now, and is a pro.

And now, finally, he has joined up with the wickedly brilliant and beautiful Juli Bauer of PaleOMG to produce a hardcover, Barnes and Noble-esque cookbook called The Paleo Kitchen. 

 

the_paleo_kitchen

 

This book can be pre-ordered now, here, and I could not recommend it more highly. T’will be delivered June 10, 2014.

Also: in celebration of the book, George, Juli, and Pete Servold of Pete’s Paleo (another phenomenal paleo chef up to 1000 kinds of good in the kitchen) are teaming up to bring to you an incredible giveaway –

An all-expenses paid weekend hangout with the three of them.

George describes it like this:

A 2 night, 3 day trip to San Diego all expenses paid to hang out with us.  We will go shopping for food, cook up a storm, do some sightseeing and Crossfit if you want.  We will also be hanging out with the amazing Pete from Pete’s Paleo who will be teaching all of us how to shop at a farmers market, picking the freshest ingredients and developing a menu around them.  Pretty much, we want to make sure whoever wins has the best 3 days of their lives in San Diego and we eat lots of food with lots of laughs.  You even get to bring a friend.

All you have to do to enter is to pre-order the book from Amazon and tell George you did so @ here.

 

San-Diego-ca-downtown

 

So in celebration of the book and because George is kind enough to entertain my begging, he has shared his infamous Sweet Plantain Guacamole with me here to share with you.

 

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It’s easy. It’s amazing. It’s the perfect combination of fat and carbohydrates, both of which you need in order to be a fully nourished woman. And it is made, as such, as follows:

———–

Sweet Plantain Guacamole

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 15 Minutes

Cook Time: 10 Minutes

———–

2 tablespoons coconut oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 large brown plantain, peeled and diced

2 tablespoons water

3 large avocados, cut in half, pits removed

¼ medium white onion, finely chopped (30 grams)

handful of cilantro, roughly chopped

1 teaspoon finely chopped jalapeno

juice of ½ lime

¼ teaspoon smoked paprika

salt and pepper, to taste

———-

Place a small skillet over medium heat and add the coconut oil.

Once the coconut oil is hot, add half of the garlic to the pan along with diced plantain.

When the plantain dice begin to brown, salt them, and then flip to brown on other side.

Add the water to the pan and cover to steam the plantain. Once the plantain dice are soft, remove

from the heat and let cool.

While the plantain finishes cooking, scoop out the insides of the pitted avocados and add to a

large bowl to mash. Mash up the avocado with a fork. Add the onion, cilantro, jalapeno, lime

juice, smoked paprika, and salt and pepper. Mix well, then fold in the plantains. Chill in the

refrigerator before serving.

———-

And tada!

Brilliant. Simple.  Huzzah.

So remember, friends:

George. The Paleo Kitchen. Epic Giveaway for a weekend of learning and cooking and hanging with George, Juli, and Pete at George’s blog. Ends April 9!

 

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Body Love and Botticelli: How Ancient Art Gave Samantha (more of) the Power to Love Herself

Posted by on Mar 27, 2014 in Blog, Body Image | 1 comment

Body Love and Botticelli: How Ancient Art Gave Samantha (more of) the Power to Love Herself

 

When I was 18 years old, I lived in Beijing for six months. It was… epic. For a lot of reasons. Least of which being all the beer pong. The nudist protest I made in a Chinese bar. Hiking the Great Wall.

Okay, maybe the Great Wall goes first.

Anyway.

Beijing was also my first experience in a world class museum. The Beijing version of the MET had an entire exhibit devoted to medieval and rennaissance depictions of women…. and I fell in love.

Being slightly overweight, young, in college, and feeling badly about myself but not understanding the worlds of body image, sexism, disordered eating, and the like…. when I saw paintings that glorified bodies that looked less like American ideals… bodies that were softer, pudgier, rollier, versions of American ideals – I realized just how deeply beauty norms are conditioned by societal preferences.

I realized that my body was worthwhile.

I realized that American norms didn’t get to tell me if I was beautiful or not (neither do the Greek or Italian ones, of course.)

I fell in love with ancient art that muggy afternoon in Beijing.

One of our community members, Samantha Williams, who is a beautiful woman and poet and soul and fire – has reflected on the same experience to a remarkable degree. I asked her if she would be willing to write a short piece for our blog that discussed her transformation and relationship to the art, and this is what she delivered.

So Samantha….

—————– 

“You could be a sister of the Graces,” my friend told me as we stood examining a print taken from Botticelli’s Venus and the Three Graces Presenting Gifts to a Young Woman.

 

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Botticelli, detail from Venus and the Three Graces

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Presenting Gifts to a Young Woman (1483-1486)

 

Although I could have deflected this compliment by mentioning numerous dissimilarities (for example, my face is much too round), instead I smiled and said, “Thank you.”  In general, my friend appreciates my appearance more than I do.  It is not my job to try to make his taste conform to mine.  Arguing would diminish his enjoyment and deprive me of the chance to bask in the glow of his sincere regard.

 

Sometimes it is easier to see myself as beautiful when I look through someone else’s eyes.

 

Intrigued by the figures in the painting, I went online the next day to learn more about the Graces, minor Greco-Roman goddesses of beauty, joy, and abundance.  My search for pictures of the mythical trio soon brought me to Botticelli’s Primavera.

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Botticelli, detail from Primavera (c. 1482)

I admired the easy flow of the dancing Graces.  And I noticed their curves.

Then I moved on to other representations.  While the body types varied, it seemed obvious that in each case, the artist felt that the women he had portrayed were beautiful.

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First-century fresco

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Raphael, 1504-1505

 Italian fresco, c. 1519

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Jacques Blanchard, Venus and the Three Graces Surprised by a Mortal (1631-1633)

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Peter Paul Rubens, 1635

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Carle van Loo, 1763

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French painting, c. 1765

Jean-Baptiste Regnault, 1797-1798

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Antonio Canova, 1814-1817

My quick search for depictions of Venus, goddess of beauty and love, also began with Botticelli.

 

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Botticelli, detail from Primavera (c. 1482)

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Botticelli, The Birth of Venus (1486)

 

I was particularly drawn to Giorgione’s Sleeping Venus because the goddess’s face is similar to mine, and I have spent more time bemoaning my “fat cheeks” than complaining about any other body part.  Like many of the other portraits I found, this one illustrates that the six-pack is not the only abdominal ideal.

 

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Giorgione, Sleeping Venus (c. 1510)

 

When I imagine myself among this company of beautiful women as another finely crafted showpiece in the human gallery, I want to treat my body with the love, respect, and care worthy of a work of art.

 

I suspect that these images of Venus and the Graces exercise their power not merely through the way they look, but also through the way they make the artist and the viewer feel.  The degree of appreciation is influenced by the attitudes of both the model and the perceiver.

 

When interacting with people or viewing pictures, we can apply a propensity to objectify, criticize, and find fault, or we can bring a disposition to accept, empathize, and celebrate.  I have noticed that my impressions of how my friends look are infused by my affection for them and by my memories of the times we have spent together.  I have come to associate their physical appearances with their characteristic traits of ability, intellect, and imagination.  Since paintings and sculptures often represent composite images created over multiple sittings with the goal of eliciting particular reflections and responses, such artworks may come closer than most photographs to approximating this deeply subjective dimension of human experience.

 

For me, exploring visions of beauty from other periods and places has reinforced the lesson that a woman who exudes vitality and delight can be attractive no matter what her shape.  We can all seek the beauty in others and share our unique graces with the world.

 

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10 Signs You’re a Healthy Woman

Posted by on Mar 25, 2014 in Blog | 6 comments

10 Signs You’re a Healthy Woman

 

Much as I love empowerment, self-love, and confidence, I am going to pass out if I write another article about sex appeal this week. That stuff’s important, but only as one piece of the puzzle of what it means to be a whole, healthy woman.

What are some other signs that you are healthy – and as a woman, specifically?

What do you want to look for as signals of wellness?

Here are the most important:

——

1. If of reproductive age, you have a regular menstrual cycle.

The menstrual cycle is highly sensitive to fluctuations in health. Impaired gut health, inflammation, insulin resistance, physical stress and mental stress can all negatively impact your cycle and its regularity. If your cycle is irregular, you may want to investigate what may be causing it. An irregular cycle is a pretty clear signal that at least some thing is amiss in your body, even if the list of potential culprits is long.

2. Your period is relatively pain-free.

I will not guarantee you a painless menstrual cycle, no matter how healthy you are.

But if you are physiologically healthy, your period will never make you so sick you have to miss work or spend an entire day curled up in the foetal position with Love Actually. Common reasons for intense pain during a menstrual cycle are endometriosis – a condition of having endometrial tissue planted excessively throughout your abdominal cavity – and estrogen dominance. Endometriosis is associated with autoimmunity and immune system dysreulation, so an autoimmune protocol may be in order. Estrogen dominance is a result of being overweight, stress, inflammation, poor liver health, and birth control use.

High amounts of inflammation can also seriously impact your menstrual experience. Many women find that excessive sugar or a meal out at a restaurant leads to menstrual pain in the following days.

3. You do not go crazy once every month.

PMS is a sure sign that your neurotransmitters – the molecules that make up the bulk of your brain – are not quite working the way they should. In PMS, certain “feel good” chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine do not react well to the hormonal changes at the end of your menstrual cycle.

So both your hormones need to be balanced and your neurotransmitters need to be supported if you suffer PMS or PMDD (the more extreme form of PMS). Cooling inflammation, weight loss, focusing on omega 3s, exercise, eliminating grains, dairy, and sugar, and healthy animal protein are all great ways to do this.

4. You sleep well.

Women experience insomnia at much higher rates than men. This is largely because hormones influence everything in the body. Estrogen is necessary for moving magnesium into tissues, which helps your body shut off at night. So without proper hormone balance, you may have trouble falling and staying asleep.

Women are also highly sensitive to stress hormones. Cortisol – the primary stress hormone – is also responsible for wakefulness. So if you are under an undue amount of stress, that can show up in your sleeping patterns and wreak havoc all its own.

If you sleep well, this is a good sign that you are in decent hormone balance, have your stress within manageable ranges, produce the right amount of sleep hormones, and have healthy neurotransmitters.

5. You have regular bowel movements.

Constipation, diarrhea, and irregularity are all signs that something’s a bit off with your digestive processes. This is likely due to an impaired gut flora population (which often runs hand in hand with leaky gut). This is a crucial problem to address for many reasons. 1) Your comfort. 2) Your intestinal lining and a healthy immune system. 3) Keeping inflammation in check. And 4) Keeping estrogen levels healthy. Too little fiber and too much constipation makes your body re-absorb estrogen that it is trying to excrete, possibly making you estrogen dominant; and too much fiber and diarrhea on the other hand can do the very opposite.

6. You have clear skin.

This is a tough one for me. I have incredibly sensitive skin. Nonetheless, in the end I have nothing to be but grateful for this fact since my sensitivity makes me so attuned to small differences in my health. My cystic acne alerted me to my dairy and soy sensitivities. My keratosis pilaris (those red bumps commonly found on people’s arms) only flares up when I eat gluten, alerting me to some degree of sensitivity on that front. I break out when I am under even a small degree of stress.

And all of this is even more extreme because I had/have PCOS, one of the most common female hormone imbalances.

Your skin is littered with testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, DHEA-S, and other sex hormone receptors. Testosterone aggravates the skin and causes increased oil production, and estrogen soothes and softens your skin. If you experience cystic acne, particularly as it may fluctuate with your menstrual cycle, this is a clear sign that some sort of hormone balance is plaguing you.

7. You don’t have hair in male places, like around your mouth, and you aren’t balding where men do, like on the top of your head.

Male-pattern hair growth and hair loss is a clear sign of hormone imbalance. When your hormone profile matches a man’s — primarily via testosterone excess — you will develop hair growth patterns like a man’s.

8. You have a libido.

Libido is not just a side benefit of being a woman. It’s an important marker of health. Hormone imbalance – in both the cases when estrogen levels are too high and when male sex hormone levels like testosterone are too high – will often precipitously endanger your sex drive. Stress and poor sleep also derail libido. As does poor psychological health regarding sex.

If your libido is raging, ten stars for you. If you struggle with it, consider working on issues of hormone balance, reducing stress, and creating the safest sexual environment possible.

9 You have energy both before and after you exercise.

You shouldn’t have to force a workout. If you have the right amount of energy, (and if you are appropriately listening to your body!), exercise should feel good and fun. You also shouldn’t be so fatigued afterward. If you have energy both before and after you exercise, this is a good sign that your body is not over-taxed, that your stress hormones are in manageable levels, and that your body is on board with your current lifestyle.

9.5 You have energy. Period.

Way, way, way too many women are chronically fatigued. From stress hormone excess to poor sleep to hypothyroidism, it is incredibly easy for women’s lives to slip away into brain fog. If you are chronically fatigued, consider nutrient deficiencies, stress, inadequate sleep, too low carbohydrate or fat intake, too low calorie intake, blood sugar fluctuations and hypothyroidism as possible culprits. Hypothyroidism is particularly important for women since the vast majority of hypothyroid cases occur in women. The thyroid gland is highly sensitive to pituitary and stress hormone activity, both of which we know are crucial and highly influential aspects of women’s health.

10. Maintaining a healthy weight isn’t impossible.

Women have a harder time losing and maintaining a “healthy” weight than men. Why? Hormones, of course. For one, the female body is highly sensitive to starvation signals, so if you over-do it in terms of calorie restriction or exercise over a long period of time, your body may rebel by decreasing its fat-burning rate. For another, if you are on birth control or your estrogen levels are at all elevated (due to inflammation, being overweight, stress, and the like), your estrogen levels may be encouraging weight storage and preventing you from losing weight. If you are menopausal, you may struggle with weight maintenance because your estrogen levels are too low (counter-intuitive, I know), and you need at least a little bit of estrogen in order to store fat properly.

Also, the female body just so happens to usually really love having some fat on it, so give it a hug. Don’t try to starve it away.

——

All of which and more in the seminal guide to women’s health, Sexy by Nature, @ Amazon and in stores now!

 

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9 Steps to Invincible Partnership with Your Body

Posted by on Mar 20, 2014 in Blog, Body Image, Disordered Eating, Feminism | 0 comments

9 Steps to Invincible Partnership with Your Body

First, let me say: thank you, community. After just 24 hours on Amazon shelves, Sexy by Nature was already #1 in one of it’s listed categories, “whole foods.” I couldn’t do this without you. Your love and support is incredible, and as I drove east from Detroit to Boston yesterday all I could think about was how much I wanted to hug all of you all of the time.

If you’ve got a copy, I hope you love it, and I hope you’ll let me know what you think. I’m watching all the relevant review sites like a hawk, ready for your honest stars (I don’t even need five, I promise. Just honest ones.) (No, give me five, okay?)

Just kidding…

Seriously, though.

So it gives me even more joy to bring to you one of the best, practical, empowering, and did I say best? posts that I think I’ve ever written. It’s up at George Bryant’s (the civilized caveman of giveaway and incredible recipes and big time LOVE fame) blog.

It’s called “9 Steps to Invincible Partnership with Your Body.”

The 9 steps?

1. Surround Yourself with the Love You Deserve

2. Deconstruct Negative Thoughts About Yourself

3. Contextualize

4. Get on your Body’s Side

5. Accept!

6. Forgive!

7. Appreciate!

8. Go to the Mattresses!

and (of course – because you know me well enough by now) 9. Strut!

(except George likes to use more exclamation points, as you’ll see in the post :) )

——–

So check it out! This list is NOT in Sexy by Nature - much as I wish it were. Nor is it anywhere else, really. You might want to check out the “10 Reasons to Love Your Body” VLOG, which is similar, but that’s as close as I get anywhere on the internet to telling you how to have a good relationship with your body.

Read. Here. It’s awesome.

Then make George’s banana bread. Even more awesome.

 

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