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    The Founder of Megababe Will Transform the Way You Think of Your Body—Here Are Her Tips

    Welcome to The Everygirl Podcast. Whether you’re looking for insider secrets from successful women that have your dream job, are interested in expert advice to transform your health and feel your best, or just want to be entertained and laugh along with us on your commute, we’ve got you covered.

    Growing up in the early 2000s was not for the faint of heart: low-rise jeans were trending, most celebs walking the red carpet had the same (unrealistic) body type, and Regina George berating herself in the mirror in Mean Girls burned itself into your brain. These are the things that shaped many of our perceptions about ourselves and our bodies. Luckily, the 2020s have brought us body acceptance advocates like Megababe founder and “Body Talk” author Katie Sturino, this week’s guest on The Everygirl Podcast. If you’re looking to get rid of toxic body negativity or just love yourself more, Katie has a ton of advice for you. Read on for some of her best advice for achieving body acceptance, and check out this week’s episode of The Everygirl Podcast for more.

    Find a community of support
    Katie struggled with her body image for most of her adult life. She didn’t fully accept and love her body until she was 34 years old and realized that she was not alone in her experience of negative body image. “It was like I was standing alone, holding my breath my whole life, and then the lights came on and there were so many women in the room who were like, ‘We look like you too, and that’s OK!’” Katie said. A crucial moment for her was creating an online community of women who had struggled with body image their whole lives and were reclaiming the narrative around their bodies. To build your community, reach out to family and friends for support and fill your social media feed with accounts that make you feel good about yourself instead of bad. 

    Notice negative self-talk
    Before you transform the way you think about yourself and your body, you have to get a sense of where you’re at emotionally: how are you speaking to yourself every day? What do you say to yourself when you look in the mirror, or walk into a room full of people you’ve never met before? According to Katie, the most powerful step is to notice negative self-talk. Once you notice that you are being extra hard on yourself (especially regarding your appearance), you can work on changing those thoughts.

    Set clear boundaries
    For many women, negative body image and physical insecurities have been passed down through generations. Different age groups set different expectations for their appearances, but all of these expectations stem from the idea that our bodies are somehow not good enough. Katie discusses some of the conversations she has had with family members, and how she has set boundaries and entered those conversations with empathy. According to her, the most effective approach when a family member or close friend comments on your appearance is to empathize with the insecurities that the person must be feeling before drawing the line and letting them know that those comments don’t have a place in your relationship. As Katie said, “It’s about taking someone else’s insecurities off of you.”

    Know the true definition of body acceptance
    When it comes to your relationship with your body, thinking in extremes is rarely helpful. Katie explained that people often assume that loving your body means you don’t want to change anything. “People will be like, ‘You can’t lose weight because that would mean that you’re not accepting of your body.’ That’s not true. What I am saying is that my value is not connected to my body.” If you feel like cutting your hair, losing weight, getting Botox, treating yourself to a mani pedi, etc., and that feeling is coming from a place of confidence and positivity, then go for it. Body acceptance doesn’t mean you never care to change your appearance, but that you know your appearance does not determine your worth. More

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    The Diet Culture Myths We Still Believe That Dietitians Say To Ditch ASAP

    Editor’s Note: This essay discusses disordered eating and diet culture. Please take care of yourself if those topics could be triggering.
    Many of us feel like we want to change our bodies instead of love them. We may want to be smaller, taller, leaner, or more toned—anything deemed worthy or acceptable in the eyes of a culture obsessed with appearance. And while changing your body is a personal decision (as it should be), there are often underlying factors at play. Enter: diet culture. But we can each work to actively step away from diet culture and embrace a kinder, gentler way to be in our bodies and take up space in the world.
    To pull away the curtain from some of the subtler ways diet culture shows up in our lives, I tapped a few dietitians with plenty of insights to share. Read on for the diet culture myths they say to drop ASAP and the healthier habits to pick up instead.

    What is diet culture?
    Diet culture promotes a world view where looking a certain way affords you a certain level of acceptance. It’s the social expectations that say we have to fit into the right boxes to deserve X, Y, and Z (and in a world where anti-fat bias runs rampant, that tends to mean healthcare, employment, and respect). More troubling news: In a recent article, The Cut cited evidence via renewed interest in celebrities’ smaller bodies and clothing brands’ inability to deliver on promises of inclusive sizing as concerning proof that thin could be, as the writer puts it, “in again.”
    Diet culture–and thinness as an ideal–has infiltrated much of our world, and it’s a challenge to step away from it completely. Even if you haven’t experienced disordered eating, you’re probably familiar with phrases like “clean eating” or doing a detox after the holidays. While on the surface, these might fall into the category of what we’ve been sold as wellness, these myths are meant to keep us focused on appearance. If that makes you angry and ready to take action, you’re in good company. So let’s separate the fact from fiction, and start ditching diet culture today.

    Myth #1: Food is either good or bad
    Vegetables, good. Sugar, bad. Smoothies, good. Ice cream, bad. Fruit, good or bad? We’ve learned to categorize food in this way—dividing what we eat into buckets of judgment. Erin Reeves, a registered dietitian at Equip, called this “an incredibly harmful mindset.” She explained that because this habit is so deeply ingrained, it can create a sense of shame, anxiety, and guilt around food, as well as lead to other eating disorder behaviors. 
    “What we need to understand is that our self-worth is not dependent on the food we eat,” said Reeves. She offered a key reminder that health is relative, and we all have different needs that make us feel our best. Rather than thinking of food as black or white, it’s important to understand that different foods nourish us in different ways, nutritional value aside. Reeves encouraged us to release the shame, and embrace the fuel, connection, and pleasure that food provides.

    Myth #2: Detox diets cause weight loss
    Alyssa Wilson, a registered and licensed dietitian and metabolic success coach for Signos Health, wants us to ditch the dangerous pattern of detox diets and cleanses. The reality? They may lead to weight loss, but only in the short term. In fact, “Detox diets can actually do more harm than good.” Instead of going all in on a detox or following a restrictive cleanse, Wilson suggested just filling your diet with whole grains, fruits and veggies, lean proteins, and healthy fats (which will help support your body and its natural ability to detox, all on its own).

    Myth #3: Avoid or limit carbs
    I remember just about every rom-com from the mid-aughts contained a protagonist who swore off carbs. It was always with a desire to fit into a smaller dress or prep for a high school reunion—a belief driven by the myth that carbs lead to weight gain. Reeves explained that our bodies need at least 50% of daily calorie intake to come from carbs. “So if someone is cutting carbs from their diet, they might lose weight only since they are excluding their body’s basic needs,” she said. But that can be dangerous water to tread. Reeves noted that this may lead to weight “gain” as the body rehydrates and replenishes its carbohydrate stores.
    What’s more–and this applies to any food group we might cut out–this all-or-nothing behavior leads to a binge-restrict cycle where we may begin to fear some foods and feel out of control around them. Reeves’ short answer? “Carbs are awesome and every single person on this earth should be incorporating them daily.”

    Myth #4: Fast food is bad
    Though convenient, tasty, and capable of satisfying your late-night cravings, fast food has been demonized in our culture for years. Wendy Lord, a registered dietitian and medical content author at Health Reporter, admitted that while fast food doesn’t contain as much nutritional value as other foods, eating it on occasion won’t ruin your health or make you gain weight. Similar to the food-is-good-or-bad divide, if we try to restrict fast food, we can cause intense cravings. Instead, by learning to adopt a more accepting view of fast food (the All Foods Fit model is great inspiration), we can see fast food—and all its deliciousness—in an entirely different light.

    Myth #5: Intuitive eating is easy and everyone should practice it
    While I once believed intuitive eating was the solution to saying goodbye to diet culture once and for all, I’ve since learned that it’s not that simple. We may have been told plain and simple that we can learn to eat when we’re hungry and stop when we’re full, but Reeves cited many other factors, such as beliefs, culture, habits, and medical histories, that add complexity to the mix. Reeves noted that intuitive eating isn’t something we can develop overnight. In fact, it’s a process that can take years for people to develop. 
    Reeves encouraged getting to the truth of why you’re turning to intuitive eating. For example, if you want to try intuitive eating to move away from diet culture, reduce anxiety and shame around food, or improve your relationship with food, go ahead and practice eating intuitively. But Reeves cautioned that intuitive eating can be disguised as a weight loss plan. Even if you have the best intentions, intuitive eating can take years to achieve. You may need to work with a specialized nutritionist, therapist, or doctor to help you get back to a place of trusting your hunger cues, needs, and body. Bottom line: There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to diet.

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    We All Have a Little Witch In Us—These Wellness Rituals Will Help Bring Out Yours

    No doubt about it–fall is magical. The leaves change into all sorts of vibrant hues, the scent of cinnamon is everywhere you go, and the chill in the air bites in a way that almost feels personal. It’s a season that feels so alive, so it’s no wonder that fall is directly tied to mysticism. So much so that one of the key images of the season is a witch (Hocus Pocus, anyone?). Of course, with that title also comes dated stereotypes of what it means to be a witch: flying broomsticks, evil cauldrons, and a desire to eat children. But the true definition of a witch isn’t so easy to nail down.
    Historically, witches, or people accused of being witches, have come in many different forms, but most of them were women, and they were far from monstrous. Rather, they were masters of wellness, specializing in herbalism, midwifery, and other healing practices. Modern women are turning these rituals more mainstream, finding deep connection to the earth and nature, and leaning into practices that enhance their quality of life. So if you really think about it, embodying your inner witch is in itself a wellness practice. Read on for some wellness rituals that witches throughout the ages have used and loved that will help amplify your health for fall and beyond.

    1. Be more intentional with essential oils
    Scent is known to trigger both emotion and memory, so you can use scent to enhance your sense of self and impact the way you relate to the world around you. Instead of just the typical diffusing lavender oil to relax or sniffing peppermint oil for energy, DIY your own potions (see what I did there?) so you can tap into the kind of energy and emotion you associate with that scent at any time. Sniff or diffuse a wide range of essential oils (eucalyptus, lemon, etc.) and either see how the scent makes you feel or you can associate an affirmation to the smell.
    To take it a step further, blend your own concoction by starting with a base like jojoba or extra virgin olive oil, and pour into a small vial with a roller ball for easier application. Add a few drops of the essential oil of your choice to the base (essential oil alone might be irritating for the skin, which is why you combine with another oil to dilute) to rub onto temples, wrists, or other pressure points when needed. Top off the vial with some flower petals or fresh herbs to enhance the smell while beautifying the blend. As with all rituals, remember that setting an intention for the practice will amplify its effects. Assign a word (like bravery, compassion, or confidence) to your potion and apply the oil to your skin whenever you need to be reminded of that intention. 

    2. Update your bath routine
    Baths have been important for both hygiene and ritual for centuries. Water has often been used not only to cleanse the body, but also your mind and energy. And when you’re intentional about supplementing your bath water with herbs, flowers, or crystals, you can amplify its healing properties. Forget boring bubble bath–there are countless combinations you can create when devising your bath ritual. I like basil or eucalyptus plants to relax muscles, lavender or chamomile to relax the mind, rose petals and basil for skin glow, or crystals like Rose quartz and Amethyst to clear out anxious energy and invite peace into your space. 
    I believe that if you’re drawn to a particular plant or crystal, your intuition is guiding you to use it for your benefit. But if you’re a researcher like me, feel free to hit the books (like here or here) for all the healing properties that plants and stones have to offer. Go wild and apply whatever calls to you. Once again, bath rituals are sealed by the intentions you set for them, so think about what you’re cleansing, renewing, healing, or inviting in.

    3. Light some incense to reset energy in your space
    Many different cultures throughout history have burned herbs and incense as a way to clear stale energy from a space to make it feel vibrant and fresh. With the rise in palo santo and sage becoming more mainstream, it’s important to honor and remember where they come from, so do your research and honor the ritual. For incense, Frankincense and Myrrh are two options that have withstood the test of time and are still known for their healing properties. When it comes to lighting herbs and incense, do your research and find a type that calls to you to clear out space in. your home. 
    And remember, intention has to be at the core of any ritual. If it’s not, the practice is just fluff. Set the intention to clear stuck energy and invite fresh, loving vibes into your home. As the scent lingers, visualize the space being utilized in a way that feels good to you. This is a great ritual to do consistently, especially when you’re using your space as a work-from-home set-up. This ritual can help you meet specific goals at work, or ease out of work mode into relaxation. 

    4. Future journal to become the person you want to be
    You didn’t think I’d write a witchy post without at least one nod to spell-casting, did you? Journaling is a powerful way to cast daily “spells” because you are quite literally alchemizing your thoughts into tangible words on a page. Journaling in itself is a little bit magical. When you journal your intentions for how you want to feel, what you want to be doing, or how you want to be acting in the future, you’re better able to visualize yourself in that future role. This makes it easier to embody yourself in that role now, which is one of the fastest ways to manifest the life you want.
    So go ahead and write about the higher version of yourself. Then focus on all the elements I just laid out: how you want to feel, how you want to act, and what you’d like to be doing in the future. Take a few moments to embody who it is you’ve just written about, and notice how your energy shifts. If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is.

    5. Choose a single-word affirmation for each day
    If journaling feels like too lengthy an endeavor, another quick alchemizing trick is to choose a word or phrase that you want to embody on any given day. For example, if you have a big meeting you’re a little nervous about, “capable” might be your word of choice. Visualize yourself completely personifying this word and feel free to write it down somewhere that will be visible to you all day long, like on a post-it note by your desk. It can be just as powerful to embody a single word as it is to envision an entire future for yourself, so long as you set the intention to make it stick.

    6. Connect with nature on a regular basis
    Science has proven that electrons on the earth’s surface can transfer energy from the ground to our bodies, calming our nervous systems. We know that nature is healing. But guess what? Cultures, tribes, and world religions have known that for thousands of years (including witches). Anyone with a keen sensitivity to shifting energy will argue that the effects of this particular ritual are undeniable. Try earthing or grounding, which involves walking barefoot outside, or forest bathing, which means being in nature (a trail, forest, park, etc.) to reap more benefits.
    Take a moment to feel your bare feet on the ground in whatever way feels comfortable. Visualize any energy that does not serve you being pulled into the ground, feel gratitude for the oxygen that trees and plants supply, and check in with yourself if there are any insights that come up for you. You might be surprised what comes through. This is an especially good ritual for those of us with busy minds because it encourages us to slow down and reconnect to our inner voice of wisdom. Trust me when I say, your nervous system will thank you.

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    How I Finally Achieved Radical Self-Love, and You Can Too

    Apologies in advance, but I’m going to start things off on a cynical note. I’ve always been suspicious of self-love as a concept—not just because it’s felt elusive for most of my life, but more so as a result of the role it’s taken on in our wellness-obsessed culture. With guided journals, aestheticized card decks, and beauty bundles marketed as tools for self-love, we’ve reached an oversaturation of self-love monetization.
    I’m not surprised. It’s the fate for just about every wellness buzzword out there. For me, to actually experience the confidence, acceptance, and self-actualization that self-love promises, it took stepping away from the glitz and glam of the internet’s interpretation. I had to actually understand what self-love looked like and meant for me. 
    I believe self-love ebbs and flows. It’s a deeply personal exploration of learning to appreciate all that you bring into the world. I’m sharing the steps I took to go from a woman prone to self-critique to a woman who leans into radical self-love every day. This is how I made my new reality. And it’s a reminder that you have the ability, strength, and power to do exactly the same.

    Remember that self-love isn’t a destination
    Spoiler: Self-love isn’t miraculously waking up one day to discover that all the conflicts and struggles in your life have magically sorted themselves out. Experiencing self-love doesn’t take the right workout, the perfect relationship, a rigid diet, or devoted meditation practice. For me to experience self-love, I had to embrace the epiphany that I can practice right now. Self-love isn’t conditional. Everything in our lives doesn’t have to be perfectly sorted out to get there. (Newsflash: Life is, and will forever be, messy.)
    As someone in recovery from an eating disorder, I’m familiar with the culture-driven belief that my body had to look a certain way before I could love it. But in treatment, I was challenged to change my language from critical to accepting. Suddenly, the arms I had thought were too big became the strong, loving vehicles that allowed me to wrap my nearest and dearest in a hug. And the weight I had gained around my tummy transformed into a protective, comforting shelter. Radical self-love takes a shift in perspective and choosing to show up each day with this curiosity, appreciation, and commitment to your whole self.

    Identify and stand up for your needs
    Radical self-love stems from concrete, intentional actions that support all areas of your well-being, happiness, and growth. Self-love requires a certain level of self-respect. And to achieve self-respect, we have to be mindful of the boundaries we set with others. Last week, I was chatting with my therapist about a relationship that was troubling me. I loved and cared for this person, but the effort and energy I put in left me feeling drained. She shared a revelatory phrase that I’ve since posted on my desk: “I can’t help them if it’s hurting me.”
    As women, we’ve been conditioned to believe that we have to put others’ needs first—always. But a crucial part of self-love is believing that your needs matter just as much as anyone else’s. Trust in your inherent worth and never sacrifice your well-being. While the nuances of our personal definitions of self-respect vary, this framework is important for shaping our relationship with ourselves. Spend time reflecting on what needs and boundaries look like for you. What practices, rituals, and routines will help you experience self-love each day? Write those down and take action to follow through.

    Bring more of your qualities into the world
    I was at dinner a few nights ago, and toward the end of the evening, we broke out a conversation card deck. It asked us to name a quality we want to bring more of into the world. I thought for a moment and realized that I’d been hiding my penchant for silliness and humor for too long. It took asking myself that question to truly realize that I’d been letting this part of myself lie dormant. I love to laugh, and there’s little else that brings me more joy than to see someone crack a smile because of something I said. 
    Unfortunately, up until this point, I had been harboring a long-held belief that I was supposed to be quiet, serious, and reserved to be taken seriously. But self-love told me to meet myself exactly where I was, exactly as I am. So ask yourself: Is there a truth about yourself that you’re keeping hidden to please others? Reflect on the ease and freedom you would feel to experience every day as your most authentic self. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

    Be open to the new realizations that come with self-love
    Stepping into self-love comes with a healthy dose of vulnerability and the courage to be wholly, authentically you. That will likely bring a lot of changes into your life. While we might default to resisting the discomfort of change, let it flow through you. It can be hard to shift the way you’ve always done things, but allowing these new rhythms into your life can help you experience more self-love each day.
    I track these changes in my journal and take note of when I’m tempted to resist this growth. Also, my partner is my accountability buddy when I’m tempted to choose critique if self-love feels like a challenge. It can be hard to slip into my workout gear when I’m having a bad body image day. But sharing how aligned and connected my body and mind feel post-workout helps me keep this habit. And when I’m not hungry but know that I need a nutrient-dense dinner, journaling about this conflict has helped me view cooking as a nourishing, loving act.

    Commit to the practice of self-love
    Self-love doesn’t happen overnight. It isn’t something that we can wait to start practicing when our lives are perfect. The best time to begin your self-love journey is today. Right now. So let these tips guide your way. Some days may be easier than others, but know that you’re always on the path of growing into a more loving and forgiving version of yourself. Self-love is a commitment. It’s something you can return to anytime you feel you’ve forgotten these tips. So start today, and embrace the inevitable twists and turns toward a kinder, gentler state of inner peace.

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    The Best Books, Podcasts, and Social Media Accounts for a More Inclusive Wellness Journey

    Wellness has come a long way. While the industry has been criticized for being largely consumption-led (gadgets and wellness apparel, while fun to stockpile our virtual shopping carts with, market an aspirational image of “health”), we’ve thankfully begun to shift our idea of what wellness really means—and, in turn, what it looks like.
    While wellness is our individual physical, mental, and emotional health, it’s also community health. A holistic, inclusive view of wellness requires that we acknowledge the social, economic, and environmental disparities that allow some people access while keeping others out. And while one of the best ways to transform an industry and create a more inclusive world is action, alongside that is the role education plays in informing our worldview. Thankfully, in this era of seemingly-infinite content mediums available at our fingertips, ending body shaming, illuminating wealth’s role in the shaping of green spaces, and amplifying the voices of WOC throughout the wellness community and beyond has become all the more accessible.
    In celebration of the many folks doing the work of investigating these issues and educating all of us Everygirls out there, I rounded up my favorite podcasts, social media accounts, and books that not only inform and entertain but also are sure to fuel your fight for a more inclusive and equitable wellness world.

    In this article

    Podcasts to listen to

    Maintenance Phase
    If you ever come to me for a podcast rec (please do), this will, without fail, be the first one I enthusiastically share. I’ve gotten my friends, coworkers, family members, and even my partner to listen, and they can all attest: The addiction is real. Hosted by writer Aubrey Gordon (the once-anonymous author behind the SELF Magazine column “Your Fat Friend”) and journalist Michael Hobbes, the pair breaks down and exposes the “junk” science behind the dominating wellness trends (re: fads) of our day.
    A few seconds into your first episode and you’ll quickly discover that this is one of the most hilarious and well-researched podcasts available for download. Gordon and Hobbes take a discerning look at topics such as BMI, the keto diet, and plenty of diet book deep-dives. Each episode is conducted through the lens of wellness inclusivity, revealing telling looks at how marginalized groups are kept from these privileged approaches to health.

    Balanced Black Girl
    It was a year or so ago that I officially considered myself done with the misleading idea of balance. Everywhere I turned, social media told me that “balance” meant religiously keeping up with your 10-step skincare routine, waking up at 6 a.m. every day for a workout, and swearing off caffeine for life. Thankfully, folks like Les, the founder and host of the Balanced Black Girl, have spoken up and introduced a new understanding of balance—one that aligns with whatever the word means to you.
    Les has experience as a personal trainer and nutrition coach and can speak to the transformative impact of a sustainable approach to wellness. Trust me: This is more than a podcast. It’s an inclusive community and safe space that’s accepting of anyone who wants to ignite their wellness journey.

    I Weigh
    While social media often comes with a host of negative connotations and critiques, it can’t be denied that when a powerful, game-changing idea enters the chat, social media can amplify it in an instant. That’s exactly the case for Jameela Jamil, whose first post on the account @i_weigh went viral thanks to its radical valuation of women’s worth (hint: it’s not the number on the scale).
    Jamil promotes a critical look at the wellness industry and encourages us to adopt a gentler, more inclusive approach. Episodes discuss everything from sexism to navigating the acting world in the face of rampant ableism to the current abortion crisis. The conversations are vulnerable and enlightening. If you’re looking for a healthy dose of empowerment, subscribe now.

    She’s All Fat
    Described as “The podcast for fat activism, radical self-love, and chill vibes ONLY,” She’s All Fat was created to fill the need for a show that spoke to the intersections of fat visibility and the female, queer, and people of color experience. I’m always inspired by projects and initiatives that arise from a lack of representation, and She’s All Fat is definitely it. Even if you don’t exist in a larger body, it’s important that all shapes, sizes, colors, and backgrounds educate ourselves on how fatness has historically been treated in our culture, so that we can shift the script on the anti-fat bias.

    How to Love Your Body
    As someone a ways into her journey of eating disorder recovery, I know very well how an “interest” in wellness can quickly devolve into a full-on obsession. And though I’m doing the work to unwind the diet culture-influenced ideas of what health should look like, I’m always grateful for people who make me feel less alone in this process of unlearning. Enter: How to Love Your Body. The hosts break down key topics in the realm of self-love and acceptance, and they also provide actionable steps for how to adopt a “Health At Every Size” mindset. If you’re ready to dismantle the diet industry and gain a sense of belonging in an appearance-centric world, you’ll find your community here.

    Inspired by the belief that “humanizing people who are different from us is the beginning of connection and empathy,” Lola Ayodele created Explorations to reveal and shed light on the unique narratives that guide our lives. Each episode includes elements of relatability, while also illuminating the stories we couldn’t possibly know the details of ourselves. Start with the third episode, “Being Yourself,” for a roadmap on owning your authenticity and honoring that of others.

    Body Stuff with Jen Gunter
    As a self-described life-long learner, I’m always diving deep into the depths of TED’s many varied opportunities to explore new ideas. Dr. Jen Gunter recorded this podcast with the team from TED Audio Collective, so you already know you’re in for a treat. Similar to Maintenance Phase, this podcast jumps into the science behind some of the world’s biggest wellness trends. If you’re looking for a way to sift through the TikTok trends and get to the evidence and research-backed truths, press play. 

    Social media accounts to follow

    Like many of us on the ‘gram, I first caught wind of Shana Minei Spence’s work when it went viral at the beginning of the pandemic. And I’ll admit, when I came across her posts, I had no idea that some dietitians take a non-diet approach to their work (oh, how the times have changed). Her mostly text-based posts and Reels not only educate her 222K+ followers, but her work also aims to make nutrition less restrictive and more realistic. She often speaks to the emotions tied to what we eat, and how by developing a healthier relationship with the foods on our plate–we can experience true, whole-body health once and for all.

    It wouldn’t be a hyperbole to write that I am truly, passionately OBSESSED with everything Olivia Noceda posts. She’s the sort of influencer whose gentle approach to wellness inspires how I want to spend each and every day. While the motivational “that girl” videos have, IMO, run their course, Olivia’s accessible recipes and easy-to-adopt routines inspire me to create opportunities for more joy and authenticity in my day. Her work is a reminder that while wellness can look like buying into the buzzy brands and trying each and every trend, it can also simply be about finding what works for you and letting that guide your way.

    The handle says it all. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way to understanding self-care as not an indulgence but as a necessary practice for existing in an increasingly stressful world. Their posts offer relatable reminders that your productivity doesn’t define you, change is inevitable, and taking breaks is essential to thriving. If you want an account that tells you exactly what you need to hear, this is it.

    I’m here for any and all accounts that remind me that my worth has nothing to do with my physical appearance and that the time we put into our mental health is the most important work we’ll ever do. This account is a kaleidoscopic array of motivational and joy-inducing affirmations and is also the source of many of my wellness epiphanies. While the advice still stands to take regular breaks from your phone, you have my permission to scroll this page for hours.

    I only recently discovered this account, but my feed is all the better because of it. Twins Lexie and Lindsay (who both boast a Ph.D.) promote a critical look at how our appearance-obsessed culture has led to women seeing their bodies as the primary determinant of happiness and value. And while the body positivity movement has done a lot to rewrite this narrative, Lexie and Lindsay are adamant about getting to the root of the problem. My feelings, frustrations, and concerns about how women and girls are perceived in the world are validated and transformed with every post that comes across my screen. Lexie and Lindsay offer an important reminder that women are not—and have never been—the problem. 

    Books to read

    Aubrey Gordon
    What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat
    I can’t write about “Maintenance Phase” without highlighting Aubrey Gordon’s brilliant debut book. This book is the first that I’ve come across that not only illustrates the emotional and physical harm our cultural values of thinness have put on people in larger bodies, but it also reveals actionable ways we can shift our collective mindset and actively work toward supporting fat justice. Gordon’s writing brings awareness to how anti-fatness shows up in our everyday lives and points readers’ attention to the many ways our social systems fail fat people. 

    Alice Wong
    Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century
    When it comes to understanding the experience of individuals living with a disability, first-person reflections offer the most authentic accounts. This collection of original pieces ranges from blog posts to congressional testimonies (and every medium in between). While the stories reveal the bias and prejudice disabled folks often face, it’s adamant about celebrating the triumphs and multi-dimensional complexities of the disabled experience. Disability Visibility is a testament to the innovation, hope, and joy that comes with honoring our differences.

    Bessel van der Kolk M.D
    The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
    This is the book that literally everyone recommended before I finally got my hands on a copy. Though it was first published almost a decade ago, the wisdom, science, and revelations offered on each page endures. Trauma exists in many diverse ways, but regardless of the experience, its impact takes root in both the body and the mind, having an effect on everything from our ability to experience pleasure to our willingness to trust others. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, an expert on trauma, dives into the scientific developments and treatments that support recovery and healing. Personally, this book offered me a new way to process trauma and encouraged empathy for others’ stories. 

    Blair Imani
    Read This to Get Smarter: about Race, Class, Gender, Disability & More
    What does it mean to be socially conscious? In the pages of Read This to Get Smarter, historian, educator, and author, Blair Imani, dives deep into this question, all the while revealing the role that education, awareness, and understanding all play in shaping a more equitable world. As I was reading the book, I appreciated how accessible the content is—the book makes no assumptions about how much you do or don’t know. It takes the intimidation out of diving into topics like intersectionality, gender, disability, and more, supporting you with the language to have the challenging but culture-shifting conversations we need to be a part of.

    Meghan O’Rourke
    The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness
    Esquire said it best when it called The Invisible Kingdom, “a rigorous work of scholarship and a radical act of empathy.” The best books do exactly that: educate while also engaging you in an emotional experience. And often, that’s the root of our ability to connect with others. Chronic illness and autoimmune disease have gained more visibility with the rise of social media, but still, little is understood about the nuances and specifics of the countless diseases that often go undiagnosed. And because many of these conditions present few symptoms, their obscurity is only perpetuated. Meghan O’Rourke’s research sheds new light on this health crisis, giving a voice to the populations and groups whose experiences are often underreported and underrepresented. 

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    Forget #HotGirlSummer–Here Are Lizzo’s Best Tips for Self-Love Summer

    If there’s one thing I know to be true, it’s that you simply cannot feel anything but empowered when listening to Lizzo’s music. A confident queen herself, Lizzo is known for many talents: singing, songwriting, rapping, dancing, and even playing the flute. To top it off, she absolutely exudes self-love (on and off the stage). Needless to say, I think we could all learn a thing or two from her. 
    After scouring the internet for Lizzo’s top tips, I learned that her journey towards self-love and body positivity hasn’t been an easy one. In an interview with People, Lizzo explained that after being “body negative” for a long time, she needed to find ways to love herself in order to survive. Lizzo explained that she shows up and chooses to love herself every day. Over the years, her advice and quotes on body positivity, confidence, and self-love have been the subject of many interviews. Here, I’ve rounded up six of Lizzo’s best tips that will have you feeling good as hell this summer. 

    Accept yourself
    According to Lizzo’s op-ed with NBC, the first step to self-love is acceptance. “Acceptance is hard. I’m still accepting myself every day; I’m still working on it.” Self-acceptance can be a challenge when we are bombarded with images and products we are told we need in order to be our best selves or look a certain way. Accepting yourself doesn’t have to be anything extreme. It can simply mean accepting yourself where you are at while knowing that there is always room to heal and grow. 

    Be honest (with yourself and others)
    Sometimes the truth hurts. In her op-ed, Lizzo explained that self-love is rooted in honesty. “We have to start being more honest with what we need, what we deserve, and start serving that to ourselves.” If you find yourself putting your own needs on the back burner to fulfill the standards or needs of others, it may be time to take a step back and reflect on what you deserve. Try journaling to tap into your highest self and start putting it into practice. Learning to be honest with yourself not only strengthens your relationship with yourself but also with others.  

    Practice positive self-talk
    As Lizzo told People, “Most people are taught that body negativity is normal, right? Then I became body positive, which is the opposite of that. It’s disruptive.” How often do you find yourself making a negative comment about yourself in your head? Probably often, right? According to Lizzo, the narrative around negative self-talk needs to change. Although you don’t have to love your body every single day, you can still be kind and grateful for all that it does for you. And if you need a little reminder, the opening lyrics of Lizzo’s Juice have got you covered. 

    Follow people who represent you
    I remember the days when #fitspo abound. And although I’ve seen a positive shift on social media, there are still countless ways to edit and enhance photos at our fingertips that our insecurities pay the price for. Lizzo credits a shift in her mindset toward body positivity to following people that look like her. Take Lizzo’s lead and do a quick check of who you’re following. Are they representative of you, do they bring positivity, and do they align with your values? If not, it might be time to hit that unfollow button. 

    Work out for yourself, not for beauty standards
    Like most celebs in the limelight, Lizzo has faced criticism for her body–but she isn’t afraid to clap back. In a TikTok video from 2020 (which now has 17.6 million views, I might add) her voiceover states, “So I’ve been working out consistently for the last five years, and it may come as a surprise to some of y’all that I’m not working out to have your ideal body type. I’m working out to have my ideal body type.” We love an unapologetic queen. Although we’ve been taught to exercise for aesthetic purposes, exercise has many other benefits, such as reducing the risk of disease, boosting your mood (endorphins make you happy, duh), and improving sleep. Find workouts that you enjoy and think about why you want to work out, whether it’s to feel strong and confident or for your long-term health.

    Re-define beauty
    While it’s unrealistic to love every part of your body all of the time, you can reframe your thinking. Lizzo told CBS Sunday Morning, “I had to address every layer of insecurity because I can’t just be like, ‘Alright, my arm’s not jiggly and lumpy anymore.’ That’s delusional. You have to be like, ‘That’s not ugly to me anymore and it’s not wrong to me. It’s beautiful to me.’” We all have body parts we’ve picked apart, but it doesn’t mean we have to feel shame moving forward. Reframing how we think about our bodies and focusing on what they do for us rather than how they look brings us one step closer to self-love and acceptance.

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    Don’t Let Swimsuit Anxiety Ruin Your Summer—Here are 5 Ways to Love Your Body More

    When you get that first taste of 70-degree days at the end of spring, the excitement of summer begins to build. But it’s also the time of year when I start to become more aware of my body. Through fall and winter, I live blissfully free of the anxious feelings surrounding what my body looks like. But like clockwork, as soon as the warm weather hits, bathing suit anxiety sinks in. Quite frankly, I am over it.
    Bathing suit anxiety is bigger than just not feeling confident in a bikini. The truth is that the way we view our bodies can have a serious impact on how we live our lives, and developing a positive relationship with our bodies is important for our well-being. According to the Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report, women and girls are more likely to opt out of important life activities when they don’t feel good about the way they look, and 17% of women claim they won’t even go to a job interview when they’re not feeling good about their appearance.
    We’ve grown up in an era where talk of having a “summer body” is common jargon, but every body is a summer body. Despite what we may have been told, doing workouts you don’t enjoy or trying trendy diet plans isn’t the path to loving your body more. To have an anxiety-free summer, we have to learn to love our bodies by going inward, and these are the steps to take that will help you get there. 

    1. Connect to your body
    Like most things in life, it’s hard to connect with something we don’t fully understand, and your body is one of them. Our bodies do amazing things for us every single day: They allow us to move, breathe, nourish, and pleasure ourselves, yet we often don’t notice it. There are a lot of different ways to connect to our bodies and appreciate them more. One way is through the breath: Breathing is something we do subconsciously (thank you, body!), but taking time every day to scan the body and notice how breath moves through the body can be so powerful. This practice allows you to further understand your emotions, lets you notice where you feel things in the body, and helps you develop a stronger connection to it.
    Another fun way is through self-pleasure. Masturbating means you value yourself enough to give yourself pleasure and reminds you that you deserve pleasure. It can be one of the most powerful ways to show your mind that your body is beautiful and worthy of love. If you don’t already, start incorporating masturbation into your routine. The best way to develop self-love is by practicing it.

    2. Find a workout you love
    If you dread waking up every morning to go to your workout class, why are you going? Exercise does not have to be (and should not be) something you dread doing. There are so many forms of workouts available to us today, from online classes in the comfort of your home, running groups, spin, pilates, yoga, boxing—the list goes on and on. Similar to food or taste in clothes, not everyone will like the same things and it takes time to find what you enjoy. Moving your body and breaking a sweat should be fun; after all, exercise releases endorphins. Our bodies feel good after we exercise (while maybe a little sore), and changing our mindset around working out to be viewed as something we look forward to will help us love and appreciate our bodies even more.

    3. Change the narrative
    For a long time now, women have been told that they have to look a certain way to be happy, find love, and be successful. So it’s no wonder we have anxiety around what our body looks like. We have to unlearn everything we were taught early on and relearn what body positivity is; we have to change the narrative. Sometimes, this can involve real inner work with a therapist to look at why we don’t love our body or internally replacing critiques with compliments, but no matter where you are on your self-love journey, there are some simple steps you can take to create a healthier narrative around your body. 
    The moment you have those negative thoughts about what your body looks like, push them out. Give yourself a list of affirmations to resort to whenever you are not feeling great about the way your body looks. Some examples are, “I am worthy of love in this body,” “I am beautiful,” or “I deserve to be happy in this body.” Tell yourself over and over again how much you love this body until you start to believe it.

    4. Wear clothes that make you feel good
    Fashion is a great way to boost your confidence, but there are also times when clothes can make us feel less than great about ourselves. Get rid of any item in your closet that doesn’t make you feel good when you wear it, whether it’s because it is uncomfortable, no longer fits right, or doesn’t make you confident. Every time you get dressed this summer, choose clothes that make you look in the mirror and say, “I love my body.” It’s the same when shopping for swimsuits or dresses: Choose items that make you feel good and will not have you worrying about the way you look. Fun fact: I only buy high-cut swimsuits now, after years of being miserable in low-cut ones. Fashion should only ever make you feel better about your body, and if it’s doing the opposite, it’s not doing its job. 

    5. Cleanse your social feed
    Your social feed is yours and no one else’s. It should be a place you go to feel inspired, laugh, and be entertained. If you feel worse every time you close an app, it’s time to cleanse your feed. It’s time to say goodbye to those workout videos that make you feel like you’re not “toned” enough or the supermodels and celebrities who have you thinking twice about how you look. If these posts are making you feel worse, it’s not worth it.
    Instead, build your feed with accounts that inspire you, motivate you, and make you laugh. Find one account you love and build from there. You can even make it a habit to cleanse your feed once a month, so if anything negative makes its way in, you can quickly remove it. If the apps altogether are too much, try taking a break for a little while. Social media has a strong impact on our mental health and the way we view our bodies—make sure it is a positive tool for self-love and not the opposite.

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    Want To Be As Confident as Rihanna? Here Are Her Best Tips

    She’s broken down barriers in beauty, fashion, music, and now maternity style—Rihanna isn’t afraid to make a name for herself in everything she does, with a confidence that is hard to match. But confidence isn’t something that happens overnight, and everyone, even Rihanna, has bad self-esteem days, especially as a woman in industries that aren’t historically welcoming. Confidence is not something you’re born with; it’s a muscle that needs to be continually worked.
    If you feel like a lack of confidence gets in the way of opportunities, you are not alone. But as women such as Rihanna continue to break down these barriers, we get closer and closer to breaking the confidence gap. If you still need a little help reaching Rihanna-level confidence, Riri’s got you covered. She’s shared some game-changing confidence secrets over the years, and we’re breaking it all down below. 

    Do everything for you, not for others.
    It may sound cliché to say “love yourself” and you may have seen it in every self-help book or cheesy wooden sign from Home Goods, but Rihanna knows that loving yourself isn’t as simple as a book or quote. In an article with Emirates Woman, she explained that loving yourself is actually about doing everything for yourself, not for others. For example, she said that makeup and fashion can be big influences in helping you feel confident, but you have to “make sure you are doing it to make you feel good and aren’t trying to impress anybody else.” 
    Start living your life for you and not for others. Repeat an affirmation every morning so you wake up for yourself instead of for that morning meeting or even to let your dog out. When you pick out the clothes you wear or decide to post that picture on Instagram, don’t do it for anyone other than you: Maybe those boots make you feel sexy or that photo was taken during a moment when you were having fun. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of trying to impress someone with what you think they’ll like or following a trend you don’t fully love (been there), but those things never end up making you feel better in the long run. We’re all uniquely beautiful, and the sooner we realize it, the faster we can become more confident versions of ourselves. 

    Fake it ’til you make it.
    Rihanna has some pretty iconic red carpet moments, but one of my personal favorites is not her outfit but an interview (although the outfit is fierce too). When asked what she does on days where she doesn’t feel as confident, she responded, “I pretend. It’s either that or cry myself to sleep, and I mean, who wants to do that? You wake up with puffy eyes the next day—it’s a waste of tears.” It’s so true. As the founder of multiple successful companies and a huge public figure, Rihanna probably has had to pretend once or twice. While sometimes it is nice to have a good cry session, other times, we have to pretend we know what we’re doing and power through.
    As women, we often feel we have to be fully qualified to apply for the dream job or know all the answers to be successful, but we’ll never reach our dreams or achieve new things if we’re not putting ourselves out there. Maybe it’s easier to be confident when we know we’re 100% qualified, but the truth is, we rarely will feel totally ready for anything new (especially when we’re challenging ourselves). Perhaps pretending to be confident is the stepping stone we all need to embrace confidence fully. 

    Choose your role models.
    Rihanna might be one of the best role models, but she has great role models of her own. In an interview with Emirates Woman, she opened up about the women in her life who taught her about the power of self-love. “Both my grandmother and my mum were strong independent women—they had to be,” she said. “They were both independent women who made things happen for themselves, and I am so thankful I grew up around women like that.”
    They say the people you spend the most time with are reflections of you. Spending time with confident people who can help guide you can help you become more confident too. Rihanna was able to identify her role models early on and look to them for guidance to become the confident person she is today. Maybe for you, it’s a coworker or your boss. Maybe it’s a mentor or your best friend, or perhaps you have yet to meet your confidence clan, but you can work to do so. Having someone you look up to and to help guide you is a great step to embodying confidence. 

    Stop comparing yourself to others.
    In the age of the internet, it’s no wonder comparison is a major confidence buster. As a woman who grew up in the spotlight, Rihanna was constantly compared to other women. Whether it was her body, music, or opinions, she was unfairly pitted against others when she should have been admired for being uniquely herself. Today, she is shining a light on the importance of not comparing yourself to other women. “The biggest mistake you can make is to compare yourself with someone else,” she told InStyle.
    Social media can sometimes feel so overwhelming that it’s hard not to compare yourself with an influencer, celebrity, or even a friend. But behind the photoshopped images are real people who have good and bad days too. Rihanna knows that the most confident women stay true to themselves and don’t fall down the hole of comparison (it’s the thief of joy, after all). She said that she wants to “encourage girls and women to respect their uniqueness.” Well, if Rihanna says so.

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