HAES And Its Impact On Body Positivity

There are plenty of posts out there criticizing the Health At Every Size (HAES) movement. My problem with most of them is they miss the point of the idea of HAES.

What is HAES?

You can get the full idea of HAES at https://haescommunity.com, however the basic ideas are

  • The movement celebrates body diversity in an intersectional way by honoring differences in size, age, race, ethnicity, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, class, etc.
  • HAES challenges scientific and cultural assumptions and values body knowledge and people’s experiences.
  • HAES encourages compassionate self-care by finding the joy in moving one’s body and being physically active, and also eating in a flexible manner that values pleasure and honors your body’s signs of hunger and satiety.

Why do I like it?

These basic ideas are what I love about HAES. It has helped many people realize that just because they aren’t losing weight, it doesn’t mean they can’t be healthy. I want to emphasize that, as someone with chronic illness, I understand that “healthy” is not a universal goalpost. Each of us do have our own personal health goals, even if being generally healthy isn’t in the card for all of us. Knowing there is no failure just because an arbitrary number isn’t reached on the scale is a relief to many.

Health At Every Size is not an “excuse to give up” any more than body positivity is one. Do you recall the part where “joy in moving one’s body” and honoring “your body’s signs of hunger and satiety” was mentioned? Yeah, that isn’t giving up; it’s finding what works best for you.

I Stand against the practice of presuming health and fitness based on appearance. HAES

Embracing the HAES basics has helped me to love my body and care for it in the way that is best for me personally. It allowed me to see that while some bodies react to stress and food shortage by losing weight, mine holds on to it. I appreciate that my body is doing its best to care for me, and I love that previously this body would be the preferred type. After all, being able to hold on to weight would help in a famine. It’s isn’t my body’s fault that isn’t the current conditions. Dieting and chronic illness are different stressors with the same results for me as a famine.

So, Health At Every Size has been a wonderful thing for me and many other people. People misunderstanding the movement doesn’t change that fact, or the reality of what its purpose is.

The author's name, Leigh, in red script, to the left with a coffee cup to the right.

Celebrate Your Strengths To Boost Your Self-Esteem

It is easy to be critical of yourself when you are struggling with self-worth. If asked, you likely can list your shortcomings effortlessly, but I bet if I asked you to name your strengths you would have a tougher time. Being able to not only name, but also celebrate your strengths is a very important step for improving your self-acceptance and self-esteem.

Focusing on the positive can help to literally retrain your brain. It becomes easier to bring the positives to mind, and replace the criticisms that usually are the focus. You can genuinely increase your overall happiness (happiness set point) with gratitude, optimism and self-compassion.

When I was asked to make a list of 50 of my strengths, I couldn’t even think of five. If you have the same problem, maybe the steps I followed can help you too.

My process for finding my strengths

First, I wrote down any strengths that came easily to mind, and then I listed the compliments I remembered receiving. When I couldn’t think of anymore myself, I looked up lists of strengths and read through them for ideas. Anything you are good at – talents, hobbies, etc. – may give you more ideas of your strengths.

Here is a peek at my list:

A partial list of my strengths I wrote out as part of an exercise.
This is a small section of the 50 strengths I was asked to create. Please excuse any spelling errors. Spelling is *not* a strength of mine.

I also saw a tip suggesting that you might find strengths in perceived “weaknesses”. For example: people who are messy tend to be creative, and if others find you boring, perhaps it’s because you are more realistic. Do you consider yourself a doormat? A positive spin makes you generous/giving. Try this with traits you find to be your weaknesses, and challenge yourself to turn as many as you can into strengths. “How to Turn Your Weaknesses Into Strengths” has more examples if you get stumped.

Celebrate your strengths

Using these ideas to help you, try to make your own list of strengths. You don’t have to start with 50, but give 10-20 a try. Keep at it until you meet your goal. Follow up by keeping an ongoing list. Some people do this by dedicating a few pages in their journal. Another great idea I saw on Pinterest was to write compliments about yourself on bits of paper, and put them into a jar. You can either read them periodically, or save them up to read in a year. Even keeping an notebook next to your bed is a good idea.  Whatever method works for you is the right one.

Spending time each day to focus on and celebrate your strengths will slowly help you to change your perspective and increase your self-esteem. Your list will be there to remind you of your positive traits on days you are struggling. It is also a good reminder of all you have going for you even while you may have a few things you still want to improve.

Coming up with a list of 50 strengths was a daunting task, but I was so incredibly proud of myself when I finished. Make up your own list, and feel free to share your accomplishment with me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, or join us at Growing in Self-Acceptance and share there!

The author's name, Leigh, in red script, to the left with a coffee cup to the right.

Are You Worthy Of Love?

The Quote

You are worthy of love

You are worthy of love.

Someone recently asked me what this quote means to me. Why do I believe these words are true? Although the question surprised me, I thought it was a really good one. I gave them an answer after some consideration, but I really wanted to expand on those thoughts further here.

The Question

Why are we worthy of love? What makes me agree that love isn’t something we should need to earn? To me, when a child is born, they deserve love. We would never think to withhold love from them until they earned it. So, why do we think there is some arbitrary age that we suddenly do need to earn love?

flawed, & (still) worthy

The Science

Studies prove that love is as much a necessity as food, water, and oxygen. While we can all agree that it is wrong to withhold these life essentials, we tend to think that we don’t deserve love unless we prove ourselves. Love really is essential to our lives though. Of course it starts in infant-hood, and can make a big difference in how the child thrives or doesn’t. The idea is further pointed out in this blog:

As infants and small children, our first task is to get at least one of our parents to love us enough to meet our needs for sustenance, but also touch. With rare exception, the love and safety hormone, oxytocin, is released into our mother’s body, concentrating the focus of her attention on us … and this loving attention releases the same hormone in our body, ensuring we survive. As critical as food, shelter, sustenance are to our survival, they do not suffice in the early months and first years. Babies do not physically survive without love.

As studies of attachment show, infants and small children actively seek a love bonding with their caregivers. To live, newborns must form some type of bond, regardless whether it feels relatively secure or insecure, with their mother or a “mothering” person, at least one.

Later on, love is still very important. This article points out how our brains actually prioritize it over sex.

While many women may be convinced men’s brains are wired more powerfully for sex, Fisher says there’s evidence men are also powerfully wired for romance.

“Men fall in love faster than women do, because men are so visual,” she notes. “And three out of four people who kill themselves over love are men, not women.”

Fisher adds: “You know, this is a powerful drive, and an essential part of humanity. … It would be very unadaptive if men didn’t fall in love just as powerfully as women.”

You are worthy of love.

This quote puts the responsibility of you on you. It does not say you are responsible for proving love to others. Instead, you are responsible for searching out love for yourself and surrounding yourself with people who are able to provide it.

In other words, while all people do deserve love, this quote is not saying you have to provide it. If someone is a toxic presence in your life, it is okay to love them from a distance. It is their responsibility to find someone who can give them the love they deserve, and there is nothing wrong with that person not being you.

Self-Love

This is where self-love comes in to play. Knowing that you are lovable and worth taking care of will allow you to regulate who you have in your life. It is much easier to release negative people, who you may still love, from your life when you know that it is ok to take care of yourself first. Re-evaluate people in your life who do not add positivity and support. Give serious thought to either cutting them out, or at least scaling way back on how much they are allowed to have influence in your life. I’ve written more on self-love here and here.

Humans are social animals, and can not thrive without outside interaction. In fact, studies have been done showing how damaging solitary confinement is to humans.  We are also wired to need to belong as mentioned in this post of mine. How can anyone think that love is not also wired in as a need and therefore something we do not need to earn or deserve? No, I’m sure you are worthy of love.

If you have any additional thoughts on this subject, please feel free to leave a comment or send an email. I’d love to hear from you!

The author's name, Leigh, in red script, to the left with a coffee cup to the right.

6 Ways to Show Love to Yourself During Recovery

6 Ways to Show Love to Yourself During Recovery

Note: I want to thank the writers from the Westwind Recovery blog for guest posting today. I hope you enjoy their informative post on self-love during recovery.

Learning to love yourself after dealing with addiction is a slow but critical process that allows you to grow as a person. During treatment, you worked through difficult issues that led to your substance abuse, and you have conquered many painful events from your past. Now, it is time to show yourself a little love for all that hard work, and these six ideas will jump-start your efforts at self-improvement.

Spend Time with Your Pet

There is nothing like an animal for teaching you how to love unconditionally. Whether you own a dog, cat or fish, they do not care about the things you might have done in your past. All that they care about is enjoying your love in the present. Make sure that your new sober living arrangements allow pets so that you can bring your pooch or kitten along with you. Spending time stroking your pet’s fur helps to alleviate stress, and you will learn valuable lessons about what it means to have a companion who is willing to stick by your side.

Surround Yourself with Understanding Friends

Letting go of your friends from the past might have been necessary as part of your recovery. While it might be tempting to just live life alone, you should remember that loneliness can be a trigger for relapse. Find people who understand what it means to live with an addiction, and begin putting together a support network that includes a variety of types of people. Whether you meet with a mental health counselor once a week or enjoy chatting with your sober housemate, giving yourself people to open up to is a wonderful way to show yourself that you are valued by others.

Challenge Yourself Physically

Learning how to manage stress is one of the biggest gifts that you can give yourself. Make sure to treat your body with the respect that it deserves by making exercise a regular part of your routine. You can also turn your exercise routines into a mental boost by incorporating challenges into your workouts. For instance, you may choose to master surfboarding for the summer, or you could set reaching a new distance for your hikes as a goal. Hitting your goals will give you more confidence, and your body will quickly respond to your self-love by getting stronger and healthier.

Nurture Your Body with Healthy Food

Recovery is hard on your body, and you might have ignored your nutritional needs while you were dealing with addiction. Start exploring new ways to prepare healthy ingredients that are as delicious as they are nutritious. Consider pairing up with a housemate who loves gourmet cooking, or you could take a class from a nearby chef. Providing your body with the fuel that it needs to function at peak capacity is an important part of loving yourself, and enjoying a tasty meal is just a great way to start and end each day.

Learn Your Favorite Ways to Relax

Indulging in a few pampering sessions is warranted when you have gone so long fighting to get sober. While you can do your best to minimize stress, the truth is that life still goes on. Make sure to have a few tools in your plans for handling times when it feels impossible to relax. Jump in the hot tub, soak up the sun at the beach or just gather around the fire pit for some laughs with your friends. Your mental outlook will change once you discover that it’s possible to relax while you are living a sober life! Once you have a few favorite tricks up your sleeve, make sure to indulge in a pampering session at least once a week. You can even plan five-minute relaxation breaks such as rubbing lotion on your hands or inhaling an essential oil such as lavender so that you can fit little mini-breaks throughout your day.

Keep a Journal of Your Progress

During times of discouragement, remember that you can be your own best friend. Start a journal now that documents your progress, and don’t be shy about listing your achievements. From jotting down a quick note about that random act of kindness you performed at the store to creating a list of the times you made it through a craving, reading back through your shining moments gives you a light to use during times of darkness.

At first, it may seem selfish to show yourself love. Yet, you must nurture your body and spirit if you want to be a better person who can also help others. Use these six ideas as a guide to get started, but keep adding to it as you find out more about what makes you feel best. Then, be sure to share your strategies with others who may need a little boost along the way to a strong recovery.

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7 Ways to Overcome Low Self-Esteem

Low self-esteem is not something that can be fixed in “10 Easy Steps” or after reading one life changing article. It is a process, but a process you can approach with fairly simple activities. In my previous post on self-esteem, I covered three activities. For today, I’ve collected seven more ideas on what you can do to overcome low self-esteem.

Unsure if you have low self-esteem? This post may be able to answer that question.

Self-Esteem Boosting Activities

Journal

Take time each day to write down any negative thoughts you have. Getting them down on paper, and out of your head is a good first step to getting past them. Many times, once I write those thoughts down, I can see that either my mind has exaggerated the situation, or it is something easily fixed.

A journal is also a great place to write those compliments that you are working on accepting gracefully. Each night, write down any you received from people, or come up with one for yourself.

Refine your support system

Work on surrounding yourself with people who celebrate your strengths instead of pointing out your weaknesses. You do not have to keep anyone around who tears at your self-worth. Get rid of as many of those people as possible, even if they are family.

I’m not saying you should surround yourself with “yes people”. Constructive criticism is very important, but constant criticism is not something you should have to deal with. If you walk away from an encounter with someone feeling worse about yourself, instead of encouraged or motivated, that is the type of relationship you should feel free to end.

People inspire you, or they drain you - pick them wisely.

Start the day on a positive note

Whether you like to laugh or prefer something inspiring or uplifting, find something that makes you smile in the morning. Start the day smiling, and it will be easier to have a positive outlook with all you do.

You can leave positive quotes around the house on post-it notes, check out funny videos on YouTube, or sign up to have uplifting stories delivered to your email, among other ideas. The options for this are just about unlimited, you just have to search a bit.

Discover and pursue your passions

Write down all of your positive qualities and your interests. Take a look at your lists, and see what stands out. Do you see any patterns or traits that stick out or really fit together?

My enjoyment of writing, desire to help people, and gift of empathy directed me toward blogging, but it took me until I was 37 to discover. Since she was two my daughter has adored baking. She has a real drive for it and always has. My oldest spawn has a talent for drawing. It has been a joy to watch their skill develop over the years. Drawing is something they do for enjoyment, and strive to improve their skills at.

Your passions might jump out at you, or it might take some contemplation. Don’t worry if it takes trying a bunch of new things before you find what you really love. Have fun with the process!

Sooth yourself

Nurture yourself. Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself as you would a child. Be sure you get enough sleep, food, etc. Provide comfort for yourself any time you can.

Do the hard stuff too, and spend time adulting so you provide yourself the security you deserve. You may think this sounds like the opposite of “soothing”. I do too, but having all the hard stuff dealt with removes a lot of stress.  Pay the bills, make the doctor appts, etc.

Provide visual cues

Pick some quotes you like, or phrases that click with you, and tape them up where you will see them through the day. These can provide perspective and hopefully curb any negative self-talk you may have.

Your self-esteem is ingrained and it is going to take repetition to change. Don’t just choose what ever positive cliché you run across first. Make sure you choose something that really resonates with you and you agree with.

Redefine failure

Lack of success does not equal failure. You only truly fail if you quit trying. Instead, “failure” can be viewed as learning opportunities, chances to grow, and steps along the way to your goal. None of those things are negative! You don’t need to fear trying something and not being successful right away, if you look at it with this perspective. Many very successful people describe “failure” the same way.

 

"We are all failures - at least the best of us are." J.M. Barrie
Sir James Matthew Barrie, 1st Baronet, OM was a Scottish novelist and playwright, best remembered today as the creator of Peter Pan.
"Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success." Robert T. Kiyosaki
Robert T. Kiyosaki is best known as the author of Rich Dad Poor Dad. This is the #1 personal finance book of all time.
"Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time. It is the ability to resist failure or use failure that often leads to greater success. I've met people who don't want to try for fear of failing." J.K. Rowling
Joanne Rowling, pen names J. K. Rowling and Robert Galbraith, is a British novelist, screenwriter and film producer best known as the author of the Harry Potter fantasy series.

Again, these aren’t magic steps or anything. Choosing a few to practice daily can help you start building yourself up though, and that will develop your self-worth. Gradually, you will see yourself overcome low self-esteem.

If you find any of these ideas helpful, please share on your favorite social media site. Thank you for stopping by the blog!

The author's name, Leigh, in red script, to the left with a coffee cup to the right.

 

12 Signs You Have Low Self-Esteem

I was all set to write about self-confidence. Then I got into the definitions, and realized self-esteem was actually what I had in mind.

Self-confidence: a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities, and judgment.

Self-esteem: confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self-respect.

See, I want to talk about self-esteem. I want you to know deep down that you are worthy of love and respect. Since self-esteem develops over time, it isn’t something you can just read a multi-step list or “one mega secret” article about and fix. Self-esteem is a long-term goal. Still, I included a few things at the end of the post that you can do to start building yours up.

So, how can you tell if you have low self-esteem? Here are a few possible signs.

12 Signs of Low Self-Esteem

Indicators of low self-esteem

Inability to accept compliments: Do you find it hard to just say, “thank you” when someone offers you a compliment? Are you suspicious of their intentions? Is the idea of deserving praise foreign to you?

Accentuating the negative: When asked about yourself, can you list your strengths, or is it only your weaknesses that jump to mind? If you think of how life is right now, do you think of positives and wins or only struggles?

Being overly concerned about the opinions of others: Do you make choices based on what other people might like? Does the idea of other people judging you cause daily stress?

Self neglect: Are you good at self-care, or do you let it slide? Do you make sure you get the sleep, food, etc you need? Do you see the doctor?

Reluctance to take on challenges: Do you try new things? Are you challenging yourself at work or in your personal life? Would your friends and family say you play it safe?

Backing down during a disagreement to appease others: If you quit an argument, is it to keep the peace, or because you have changed your mind. Do you ever win an argument? Can you stand firm in your thoughts on a subject?

Reluctance to put yourself first: Are your needs ever first priority? Someone with low self-esteem doesn’t think they are important enough, and so is always taking care of everyone else before themselves.

You give up too soon:  Do you work for what you want or give in without a fight? This can apply to arguments, fights, or goals in life among other things. If something you want is hard do you keep trying?

Being indecisive over simple decisions: If you can’t decide what to wear each morning, and lunch seems like a life or death choice, you may be suffering from low self-esteem. It shouldn’t be so hard to make uncomplicated decisions. Do you worry any choice you make is wrong?

You compare yourself with others: Is your focus on yourself and your path in life, or do you always focus on how you compare to other people? Can you see your successes on their own, or is it always in measure to how someone else did?

Taking constructive criticism too personally: If someone suggests a way you can improve at your job (or in some other way), does it trigger tears or anger? Can you listen to criticism and see it as something helpful?

Reluctance to trust your own opinion or contribute it in conversation: Do you speak up, or hang back not sure your thoughts are worth sharing? Is it common for you to second guess yourself?

Do you recognize more than one or two of these? If so, it’s a good indication you have low self-esteem. Don’t worry, you aren’t alone. (I recognize more than a couple of them myself.) The good news is that, knowing this, you can start working toward improving how you see yourself! You may not believe it right now, but you are seeing yourself through a distorted lens.

It took me a long time not to judge myself through someone else's eyes. -by Sally Field

Simple Activities That Help Raise Self-Esteem

Accept Compliments: Trust people are being sincere when they offer you a compliment. Take this a step further, and write these compliments down! Keep them in a notebook to review on days you are being extra hard on yourself, at the end of the week, or even go over them daily!

Find what you are good at and do it: Having confidence in your abilities, and allowing yourself pride in those skills, will contribute to your self-esteem over time. If you don’t already have a hobby or something that you enjoy, explore your options until you find one. Then, keep at it, and watch those skills improve.

Stop comparing yourself to others: I said simple, not easy. *wink* This may take time, but it is very important to start working on. The only person you should ever compare yourself to is you, and there are exceptions even to that.

I hope this gives you a good idea where you stand with your self-esteem, and a start on improving if needed. Everyone deserves to know, and feel, they are enough in this world and worthy of love and respect.

Be sure to share this on your favorite social media. We all know someone who can use a self-esteem boost.

The author's name, Leigh, in red script, to the left with a coffee cup to the right.

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15 Great Body Positive Quotes To Share

I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for some great stuff to share online. Just for you, here are some great body positive quotes all ready for you to share on Pinterest, Twitter, etc.

I am allowed to look sexy, feel sexy, and be in love. I am worthy of all of those things, and so are you. -Mary Lambert

Why should I change something as beautiful and complex as my body, when you won't change somethinga simple as your mind?

You don't encourage people to take care of their body by telling them to hate it. -Laci Green

Self hate isn't okay at any size.

There's nothing body positive about tearing down anyone's body.

Admire someone else's beauty without questioning your own.

Girls of all kinds can be beautiful-from the thing, plus-sized, short, very tall, ebony to porcelain-skinned; the quirky, clumsy, shy, outgoing, and all in between. - Tyra Banks

Want to get a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body.

To me, beauty is about being comfortable in your own skin. It's about knowing and accepting who you are. -Ellen Degeneres

Sexy isn't about what you wear. It's about how you feel. The more passion you feel, for yourself and your life, the more passion others will feel for you.

Never compare yourself to others and celebrate what makes you, you. -Tess Holliday

All bodies are summer bodies.

You were born an original. Don't die a copy. -John Mason

Your worth is not measured by the size of your waist.

I hope you enjoy these. There are a lot more on my Body Love | Body Positivity board over on Pinterest if you are interested.

I’ve also compiled a great list of body positive accounts to follow on social media. If you’d like some more sources for great body positive stuff to share, just sign up and I’ll send it to you.

 

The author's name, Leigh, in red script, to the left with a coffee cup to the right.

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