“I am not struggling, I’m surviving.”

Welcome back loves!

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know that one of my missions in life is to spread body positivity, self-love, and the importance of a healthy mindset. You’ve read about my body image mindset shift after competing, and the ways that I personally soothe my body insecurities. You’ve been so receptive to these that I thought, what better way to expand these ideas than to invite in a new voice on the topic?

This week we are trying something new for BuildingBri.com! Our very first guest blogger, Kelly U, has written a piece for us about breaking the mental health stigma.

So, I wanted to offer you this piece that is very unique and near & dear to my heart from Kelly U because I believe that this girl is changing the world for the better every day.

Her bravery, honesty, and courage inspire me.

Kelly U, eating disorder overcomer and body positivity/self-love encourager shares her inspiring and honest story of developing mental health skills and breaking the stigma.

A Bit About Kelly U

Kelly U is an eating disorder conqueror who spreads her message of self-love and body positivity (see why I think she’s the best?) on YouTube as well as various other social medias. Her videos range from tips on how to end your fear of weight gain to overcoming binge eating.

This article is Kelly’s way of breaking the mental health stigma. At the end, she offers us some tips on what to do on bad body image days, what to do when you have food anxieties and fears, and why compassion and love for yourself in those moments are so important.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Kelly or simply just bringing her light into your life, follow her on Instagram and Twitter, and be sure to check out her channel.

Now, without further ado, please enjoy this raw and beautiful piece by Kelly: “I am not struggling, I’m surviving.” Please be sure to comment your thoughts at the end.

xoxo, Stay Great-Full.


I am not struggling, I’m surviving.

Kelly U

I truly thought I would die feeling the way I always felt: addicted to food, hating my body, and truly thinking it was all my fault. It made perfect sense in my struggling. self-hating mind. I was the one binge eating. I was the one unable to maintain a “good weight.” I was failing to meet any of my expectations.

I developed a deep sense of self-loathing at a young age. I never felt like I was enough, and this deep sense of emptiness needed to be filled by food. I obviously had no idea of how empty I felt at the time, but now having pursued recovery and a path to greater mental health, I can see it so clearly.

The patterns I created and the relationship I built with food were so obviously a result of everything I was missing and desperately needed.

I’ve made it my life’s mission to break the stigma on mental health.

I sought help and therapy changed my life. My old self (before opening my mind to the idea that working on my mental health was truly the answer) was terrified of the idea of therapy. It’s extremely difficult to come to terms with the fact that you’re struggling. Then, it’s intimidating to think of trying to “fix” yourself. But I needed to remind myself that I am not a failure and I am not broken. I deserve a better life and I have to put in some work to actually get it.

Anxieties and fears with food and my body did not just manifest on their own. I had family issues, I did not feel very loved or wanted in my home growing up. I found it nearly impossible to find anyone who understood me. I felt excluded from all the cool girls in grade school, high school, even college. I turned to food to make me feel better.

I would eat until I couldn’t breathe and immediately hated myself. The food was not able to serve the purpose I was hoping it was. Every single night for basically my entire life. It was a cycle that did nothing but make me hate myself even more. I didn’t realize that

I needed to love myself and gift myself compassion for this deep struggle.

Therapy opened my eyes to the idea of self-love, self-worth and patience and compassion for myself. Most of us are never taught these things growing up. It is actually far more difficult for me to be nice to myself. My automatic mind is to ridicule myself until I get it “right.” But, my past with anorexia, binge eating disorder, body dysmorphia and bulimia have resulted in the complete opposite.

Understand that I will have ups and downs, I will fall hard, but I will never shame myself for doing so.

I have been going to therapy at least once a week for over two years now. And I have finally completed over two full months of eating disorder recovery. Successfully working on my mental health does not mean that I no longer struggle. It does not mean I am completely cured of my disorder. Mostly because these are not even close to my actual goals. All I want is to continuously work with myself. Understand that I will have ups and downs, I will fall hard, but I will never shame myself for doing so. I have now developed ways to love myself through even my darkest moments. Thanks to therapy. Thanks to feeling my feelings. Thanks to finally opening my mind and transforming it into a self-loving one.

Recovery means ultimate compassion and love for yourself through each moment.

I hope you rest easy tonight knowing how wonderful and worthy you are.

A post shared by Kelly U (@_kellyu) on

Tips from Kelly U to encourage self-love and body positivity

What I do on a bad body image day:
I encourage (not “force”) myself to look in the mirror and touch my body. Squeeze my arms, legs, stomach.. the places that make me most insecure. I try to make piece with those body parts. Show it love.

When I have fears and anxieties about food:
I identify them and show myself compassion for the fact that I still struggle. By acknowledging, I am able to overcome what used to cause me to restrict, binge, purge, etc. Now, I can navigate my way through the struggle and feed my mind AND soul.
The importance of compassion
Struggles are valid and important to address but do not judge yourself for still having disordered thoughts or feelings. Recovery means ultimate compassion and love for yourself through each moment.
Kelly U, eating disorder overcomer and body positivity/self-love encourager shares her inspiring and honest story of developing mental health skills and breaking the stigma.

There you have it! If you enjoyed this piece, please be sure to let me know in the comments. I love to hear your feedback! If you like having guest bloggers, and want more of them, please let me know that too. I want to give you the content that you value.
And now, I hope you have the best day and Stay Great-Full!

P.S. Want a FREE Printable Guide to Making Eating Out Healthier? Enter your email below and have it sent straight to your inbox!

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Why your imperfect body is perfectly okay

This article will not be a bunch of self love tips and techniques. It will, however, help you cultivate self love by way of shifting your perspective a bit.

If I had one wish for everyone reading this article, it would be that they could all be just a little easier on themselves. Criticize a little less, breath a little more.

You’re not the only person to be reading this, you know. In fact, more than a dozen other people already have by now.

If you’re wondering why that’s significant, I’ll tell you: you are not alone. The very fact that you clicked on this headline and decided to read these words is because you can relate to it. You feel this way. You feel imperfect and are working towards accepting that.

Every single other person who has read and will read this feels the same way. Not one person here feels like they’ve got it all together.

The truth of the matter is, we’re all striving to be better. To look better. To accept ourselves more without trying to change a thing about us.  We all dream of beautifully sculpted legs, chiseled abs, and strong ‘Michelle Obama arms’… and yet we’re all still here, reading this article about accepting our flawed and totally human selves.

If nothing else, take solace in the fact that every single person on the planet occasionally feels insecure.

The difference between those who are happy and those who are constantly dissatisfied is whether or not they stay there.

Do you sink into yourself, wallow in the self-criticism, emphasize and nit-pick every flaw on every inch of your body, and let that feeling carry you throughout the day?

I sure hope not. Because the way you feel about yourself largely impacts the way you treat other people.

When you’re feeling down and discouraged, you are not a light to the world like you normally are. Your energy moves with you, shining through all of your daily interactions. Harboring negative self-beliefs is detrimental to not only your mental health but to your relationships with others.

As my favorite author Brene Brown says “…cultivating self-love is not optional. If I want to practice love with my family and friends, I have to start with me.”

The difference between those who are happy and those who are constantly dissatisfied is that happy people do not stay in those feelings.

Happier people still feel insecure, nervous, even vulnerable at times about their appearance. It’s the thoughts that counter those emotions that make the difference.

For me, it’s simply a reminder that sounds like this:

I am human. I am not perfect. No one is expecting me to be.

Remind yourself that even Beyonce has days when she looks in the mirror and feels dissatisfied.  Body image is much more about the perceptions you have around the way your body looks and much less about how your body actually looks.

It’s all relative. You will always compare yourself to the best shape that you have had. For me, that means dreaming of days when I was in season and much leaner – days shortly before and after competition. You’re not alone in reminiscing on the body shape you once had, I’m right there with you.

Even in my most perfect form, I still have flaws.

When my mind drifts back to days of 8% body fat and size 2 jeans (the only time in my life I’ve fit in that size!) I can appreciate it now – even get excited about my next season.

But if I’m being 100% with you all, I still found flaws then. I remember looking the mirror at the cellulite that still hung around on my thighs, and the way my limbs were starting to feel “too skinny.” It’s irrational, I know, to criticize myself when I was in such an elite state.  And yet, I did it anyway.

Even in my best shape, I still found things to improve upon. I was already making a mental list on the improvements I wanted to make in my off-season. When off-season came, I was making a mental list of all the definition I wanted to see in my body during my next competition season. Crazy, huh?

The take home point here is again the same: Body image is much more about the perceptions you have around the way your body looks and much less about how your body actually looks.

So why waste the beautiful body you have now dreaming about a better one, when you’ll still find flaws in it anyways? That would be silly, and a waste of precious time here living in that body. Accept yourself, flaws and all.

I can’t change anything in this very moment, I can only take steps towards my goals.

It’s so easy to go down the rabbit hole of ‘I need to change something now’ and start buying detox teas, fat burners, and hitting 60 minutes of fasted cardio.

Those actions will not serve you in the long run. No matter how hard you try, there is nothing you can do right this very moment to change the way you look once and for all.

What you can do, however, is take a step toward the body you want.

Given, this ‘new’ body will still be imperfect, as I mentioned above. But, if you want to make a change because you believe it will improve your quality of life, then I encourage you to do so.

Let the first change be around altering your self-perception into one of love, acceptance, and ease. From there, all your actions to improve your body will stem from a place of ‘I’m doing this because I love my body’ not ‘I’m doing this because I need to be different.’ See the difference? Love yourself now, and do all things from that place. You can’t go wrong.

The real way to impress others is through kindness, not the way my body looks.

The only person you need to impress is yourself. No one is expecting perfection out of you.

However, if it’s the judgment of others that concerns you, think about this: how many times has someone been incredibly nice to you, warm, friendly, maybe even given you a gift or provided you a service, and you 100% wrote them off because they didn’t have the ideal body?

I hope never. You probably have never done such a thing because it didn’t matter to you what they looked like. What mattered was the kindness they showed you.

The people around you are expecting kindness, generosity, intelligence, grace. Compared to those attributes, the perfect body is irrelevant.

Appreciate, appreciate, appreciate

Acknowledge your body for the way it keeps you alive. Your heart is beating, blood is pumping into your limbs. You have two eyes to see the beauty of the world around you and two arms to hug the people you love. You have legs that can climb mountains and hands that can paint works of art.

There is so much about your body that is more than how it looks.

Do not forget the amazing, beautiful person you are in the pursuit of ‘the perfect body’. Better yet, forget about the perfect body, and just be you. Be flawed. Be imperfect. By thick or thin, be tall or short, be petite or curvaceous. Be whatever and whoever you want so long as you accept yourself, be kind to your imperfect self, and be kind to those imperfect people around you. It’s all that really matters anyway.

Be kind. Be GreatFull.

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Feeling Totally Confused About Nutrition & What to Eat?

My BIG Project for 2017 is on the way!

If you’re wondering if I’ve fallen off the face of the Earth, don’t worry, I’m still here.

The truth is, I’ve been devoting a ton of my time to something very near and dear to my heart. Something many of you have asked me about in emails or messages but I never seem to have enough time to give you a complete answer.

Let me ask you this: how many of you struggle with what to nutrition and what to eat? You wonder “should I be eating this?” or “will this make me gain weight?”

How many times have you boughten a food just because it looked “healthy”? (AKA all those low-calorie popcorns and chia seed trail mixes.)

How many times have you restricted yourself on dessert or treats because you believed it would make you gain weight?

How many of you are trying to lose weight but just can’t seem to find the right way that works for you?

Do you feel guilty eating carbs or fat? Have you ever beaten yourself up over cheating on a diet?

If you answered yes to any of those, please continue reading.

I myself have been in the same exact situation. I recall the days of guessing what to eat. I thought that lower calories foods were always better, desserts should always be avoided, and fast food – don’t get me started! I worked my butt off in the gym only to fail to nourish my body afterward, for fear of gaining weight.

After a few years of getting serious about my health and truly dedicating myself to finding out what works for me, I’ve learned so much more than I ever could have imagined. Mainly, I learned that nutrition is not this elusive, mystical subject that only the elite among us understand.

Nutrition is extremely simple – yet we make it so hard.

Every day there is a new headline striking fear into our hearts & bellies:

“Bananas create a layer of fat over the stomach!”

“Avoid anything that a caveman wouldn’t eat!”

“Stay away from XYZ foods and never ever eat this because blah blah blah!”

It’s unfair that the media swipes headlines of studies and alters what the researchers truly meant.

Here’s the good news:

You do not have to sift and sort through that confusing mess ever again!

I want to share with you all just how got myself from how I looked here:

buildingbri.com

To stepping on stage like this:

buildingbri.com

And to seeing myself in a shape that I never have:

buildingbri.com

Now, there is a lot of sweat, sweat, and more sweat that went into this. However, proper nutrition is the basis for creating any physical change in body composition.

Without proper nutrition, your efforts will go completely to waste. Always.

Prepping with my amazing coach introduced me to a whole new way of eating, one that allows me to eat the foods I love, reinvent recipes to be healthy, go out to eat and even have a few drinks now and then. This was a concept I had already known about, but he very much helped me to implement it into my life (shout out to my awesome coach!)

Now, this has become my way of life in and outside of competing. This is something that bodybuilders have known for a long time, but for the most part has yet to reach the general population.

This way of eating will:

  • create an understanding what food is made up of
  • allow you to eat all the foods that you love and not restrict you from any
  • go out to eat whenever you’d like
  • be social and go out with friends without the hassle of stressing about meals
  • incorporate desserts every day, if you’d like
  • allow you to create a healthy relationship with food
  • create a balance in what you’re eating

The big news: I want to share this with you!

It seriously shocks me sometimes that most people don’t know about this. Changing your body is not difficult – it just takes a bit of dedication and a willingness to change.

In fact, I’m so moved by this that I’ve begun writing an eBook on what no one told you about nutrition, and how simple it really is.

So many of you have asked me countless questions about nutrition, and now the answers will all be in one place.

My hope is that this book will shed some light on the murky subject of nutrition so that you too can create a positive change in your body.

You’ll have access to the exact way that I’ve learned to eat which has completely positively changed my body, how I incorporate all the foods I love (pizza and donuts included), and how to start THAT EXACT DAY you read the book for yourself!

What do you think? If there is anything in particular that you’re hoping makes it into the book please comment and tell me! This book is designed entirely for you – yes, you! – the reader. Whatever it is that you’ve wondered about nutritionally, now is the time to comment, message, or email me so that I can make sure the answer is in the book.

Happy New Year!

 

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If You’re Going to Compare Yourself to Others, Do it This Way

I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t get intimidated by other women. It doesn’t matter how great I look, how good I feel, or how hard I try. It seems that there is always someone who is ‘beating me’ in some way – whether it’s with grades, number of friends, abilities, appearance – anything. After a copious amount of trial and error, I’ve finally found the root cause of why I do this to myself over and over – why I hold myself up against everyone else.

I say ‘do this to myself’ because I think it’s of the utmost importance to acknowledge that when I compare myself to others, I am the one in control. I choose to compare myself. Though sometimes it seems I’ve committed the sin before I’m even aware that I’m doing it.

How many times have you done this: you’re scrolling through Instagram and stop on a picture of a perfectly sculpted body. Chiseled abs, defined arms, developed legs, and a flawless smile. Before you’re even consciously aware of it, your mind is racing with comparisons.

“Wow, they look so good. I wish my stomach were that flat. They must work so hard in the gym. I wonder what they’re eating. Maybe I should eat that too. Probably some of it is genetics. What if it’s not? I work really hard – shouldn’t I look like that? I’ll never look like that. That is so far out of my reach.”

Sound familiar? Sometimes I can’t even catch my breath before I’ve complained about a hundred imperfections on my own body and come up with twice as many reasons why  I won’t ever look like that girl.

PSA:

People on Instagram, even me, edit their pictures. I’d venture to say that they take dozens of photos at even more angles to find the best one before they download it into an editing app, turn up the shadows and increase the structure. Some people go so far as to smooth out their skin and add on mascara, eyeliner, and blush into their pictures (I didn’t even know this was possible!) I’m not criticizing these people at all – they look flawless! I’m just letting y’all know that what you see online is not what you get. You know, you try it too, I’m sure. We all do it.

Why we compare

The cause of comparison is rooted in uncertainty… and it’s 100% natural.

Comparison serves as a way to see how we stack up to others. It’s a means of finding out our rank. We want to know if we are average or brilliant. Are we ahead or behind?  Unattractive or stunning?  Smart or brilliant? Do we have as many friends as most people do? Do we take care of our kids as well as others do?

Comparisons are a way of examining the ladder. For instance, when you think of Bill Gates, you might see that at the top of the wealth ladder. You’d probably place several other celebrities near the top as well.

Then you might think of individuals in your community who are more well-off than you.  They’re near the top, though closer to the middle.

Now your mind travels downward.  You consider the middle and working class. Then, you think of people close to or on the poverty line. These folks rank further down. You’ve conjured up the idea of someone who doesn’t quite have enough.

Even further, you think of those who are homeless or struggling to find a meal. They are nearing the bottom of the ladder. As you go further down the line, you think of the poorest people you can imagine in third world countries. These people sit at the first step of the ladder.

All of these individuals serve as a mark to see how you’re doing. Are you at the Bill Gates level? Then you know you’re at the top. (P.S. if you are at that level, I’m accepting donations for college tuition! Justkiddingkindof.) Are you between well off and middle class? You’re somewhere near the middle. Are you below that? You probably think many or most people are wealthier than you.

Wherever it is that you rank, that’s how you’ve determined how you measure up.

We do this with all things – money, friends, intelligence, attractiveness. You see best and worse case scenario and put yourself somewhere on that long ladder as a way of seeing how you’re doing compared to others – to find out how you stack up. It’s rooted in uncertainty because you’re not sure how great (or not so great) you are until you place yourself next to someone else doing better or worse than you.

Why it can feel shitty to compare yourself to others

There are two types of social comparisons:

  1. Upward Comparisons
  2. Downward Comparisons

We tend to compare ourselves to people in fields that are important to use. Let’s take, for example, appearance, since most people value the way that they look at least to some extent.

When you compare yourself to someone who looks much better than you, it’s an upward comparison. When you compare to someone who does not look as good as you, it’s a downward comparison.

One of these makes you feel good, and one of these makes you feel shitty. I think you know which is which.

When you compare yourself to someone who is not as good looking as you are, it provides you with a little ego boost. “I’m not doing so bad,” you think, “I look much better than them. I must be pretty attractive.” In turn, you may even surround yourself with people who rank slightly lower than you on the appearance ladder because that enables you to maintain your positive evaluation of yourself.

When you compare yourself to someone who is much more beautiful than you are, it can make you feel bad because it threatens your positive self-image. They are so much further up the ladder than you that you don’t feel motivated or inspired by them, but intimidated and overwhelmed. Setting a goal to look like that person seems like biting off more than you can chew. You don’t believe you’re capable of achieving their level of attractiveness. So, in turn, you start to doubt yourself, feel hopeless and stuck in one place. You think, “I’ll never look like that – no matter how much I diet and workout.”

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Who do we compare ourselves to?

We tend to compare ourselves to others in domains that matter to us. Skills and abilities, grades, work performance, appearance, family life, etc. Coming up short in areas that are important to us can be quite a devasting blow to the ego because they matter so much. This can be especially painful if the domain we are making a comparison in is something we see as part of our identity – for instance, level of beauty or intelligence, being a great player, or talented at something.

If you’ve been told your entire life that you are an amazing writer, and then you compare yourself to someone who is clearly better than you, you begin to question just how great you truly are. It challenges your self-concept and identity, a difficult discord to soothe.

So how do we avoid feeling inadequate in comparison to others?

There are 3 strategies to avoid feeling badly, or worse, feeling contempt toward that person, after an upward comparison:

1.Find a way to identify with that person as part of your in-group.

Is it a female that you’re comparing yourself to? Think of her success as success for all the females in the world. She’s on your team! When she performs better than you at work, think of that as a win for all the females at your company. She’s representing your gender so well. You are not competition for each other but on the same side, working on the same goals for women everywhere.

2. Make the right kind of comparison.

Are you comparing yourself to someone who’s better at a sport than you? Try not to compare yourself to a professional athlete if you’re just starting out. You can’t expect yourself to play like Micheal Jordan if you just picked up a ball a few years ago. Do you know how much struggle and strife he has gone through to be the incredible player that he is? Hours and hours of practice, games, and working with some of the best coaches one could imagine. That comparison is too big of a leap from where you are at this moment. Naturally, that kind of comparison will evoke feelings of inadequacy and defeat.

You can’t expect yourself to play like Micheal Jordan if you just picked up a ball a few years ago. Do you know how much struggle and strife he has gone through to be the incredible player that he is? Hours and hours of practice, games, and working with some of the best coaches one could imagine. That comparison is too big of a leap from where you are at this moment. Naturally, that kind of comparison will evoke feelings of inadequacy and defeat.

On the other hand, if you’re a college ball player, you might compare yourself to the number one drafted player in your sport at a college level. This is a much more attainable goal. You’ve had similar years of experience, and have similar resources. This kind of comparison can motivate you and remind you how close, or better, how possible your goals are.

Seeing someone who is slightly ahead of you on the ladder can actually motivate you, studies show. The right comparison can actually make you feel encouraged, capable, and eager to improve.

3. See that person as proof that it can be done.

When you look at Micheal Jordan, let that serve as a motivator for you because he was once where you are. Whatever you’re struggling with, whatever is challenging you relative to basketball, he’s most likely gone through that too… and come out of it better.

When I see a Pro Bikini Athlete that looks unbelievable, I think about how far she come. She was where I am now. And you know what? She did it. Having achieved an immense amount of success in the fitness industry, she is inspiring, not competition.

Recognize when you’re making a healthy comparison and when you’re holding yourself to too high of a standard.

The hidden benefit to comparisons

Most of us succumb to a little thing called the Above Average Effect. We may not think that we are the best at what we do, but we certainly think that we are better than most people doing it.

It sounds something like this:

“I’m not the most beautiful women ever, but I’m more attractive than most women around here.”

“I’m not the wealthiest person, but I am more well off than most people I know.”

“Sure, I don’t have the highest GPA possible, but it’s the highest in my sorority.”

“I’m no Bill Gates but I do have a higher level of success than most of the people I graduated with.”

Sounds familiar, right? I’d venture to say that most people engage in this kind of internal dialogue. Why? Because it feels good! As long as we are better than the average person by our owns standards than we feel okay, maybe even pretty good.

It may seem like you’re lying to yourself a bit. Surely, not everyone can be better than average. There has to be a spectrum. But you know what? I’m a fan of this optimism. And the research agrees with me.

This kind of internal conversation breeds self-esteem and a positive self-image. Those words, when repeated day in and day out will lead to beliefs. Eventually, those beliefs will become significant and strong influencers in our life. They allow us to believe in our capabilities. They remind us that we can do whatever it is that we are trying to do.

Private mental dialogue like that builds us up and makes us feel good about who we are. It assures us that even if we aren’t the best, we are enough. Beliefs like that, about being enough, transform how we view ourselves and what we believe we are capable of.

Our self-efficacy increases with thoughts and beliefs like these. Those with higher levels of self-efficacy tend to get more done and have higher levels of self-esteem, research shows.

It’s a matter of creating a loving, positive, healthy view of ourselves even if we have flaws and aren’t the absolute best we can be just yet.

What if we could love ourselves in spite of our flaws… maybe even more so because of them?

Use social comparisons to motivate and inspire you

It turns out that comparisons may not be such a bad thing after all, huh? View those who rank below you as a little ego boost (it’s okay, it’s human nature!) and those above you as motivators, inspirations, and proof that it can be done can be advantageous.

When you change the mental framework around your social comparisons, you change the outcome and internal dialogue to a beneficial and useful one. Use comparisons as a tool for creating an overly positive self-image, which in turn leads to  higher self-esteem and self-efficacy.

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An Open Letter to All the Women Who Have Forgotten Their Worth

To all the women who need to be reminded of their value,

I see you.

I see you trying to do it all. It’s enough to deal with pressures put on women by society, let alone by the pressure you put on yourself.

It’s not enough to be beautiful, to be smart, to be funny.

It’s not enough to hear someone tell you that you’re beautiful, smart or funny.

One thousand people could tell you all of those things and more, and you still wouldn’t believe them.

The moment those compliments dance inside your mind, thirty-five refutes come back swinging.

“I’m not really that beautiful. There are women that are much smarter than me.  I got lucky, I don’t always make great jokes. Maybe it’s my makeup, surely not just me. I just happened to get a good grade, but it’s not like I always do. They only laughed at my joke because they felt bad.”

This letter is for you.

For all the women who are reading this thinking, “that sounds familiar.”

For all the women who wake up forty-five minutes early to do their hair and put on makeup just to feel attractive because you’re not quite sure you’d measure up to other women if you didn’t,

For all the women who stay up late to workout and skip dessert to stay thin, because you don’t look like the model on the cover of Cosmopolitan,

For all the women who get themselves, their kids, and even their husbands ready for the day all before their first cup of coffee, because their family always comes first,

This is for you.

It’s time that someone paid you a compliment. No, not a half-hearted “Honey, you look good with or without makeup” compliment from your hubby. Not a back handed “you spend a lot of time at the gym, I couldn’t do that, or I wouldn’t have time for the family” comment from a jealous coworker. You deserve a true, well-meaning compliment.

It’s not easy doing it all. Even more so, you expect yourself to do it all without letting anyone see you struggle.

Even though more often than not, you do get every meticulous item on your to-do list checked off, you still refuse to allow yourself to feel finished. You think that there is still more. You could start tomorrow’s work assignments early. You could pack the kid’s lunches. You could fix the sink and change the sheets and put away all the laundry.

Why is it that we won’t ever let ourselves be finished?

This phenomenon baffles me. Every single woman reading this is deserving and worthy of a well-earned break. A pat on the back. A chance to put her feet up and drink hot tea all cozy in bed.

Every woman reading this deserves to feel the love that she so freely shows to others all day long.

When someone is upset, you’re the first to reach out and offer a shoulder to cry on. When they need a favor, you better believe you’re going to go out of your way to get it done. You’ll bite your tongue and put others first, always, even if it means that you put yourself last.

There is no order too tall or task too long that you will neglect someone who needs you. You’re there for the people in your life more than you’re there for yourself. There is something very noble and honorary about all that you do, without the expectation of praise. You’re the rock in most people’s world’s, whether they acknowledge it or not.

It’s time that you thought about yourself a bit more. Why? Because you absolutely deserve it.

You are a beautiful, wonderful, extraordinary creature. The very fact that you’re alive, with a beating heart and blood pulsing through your body makes you worthy beyond words can describe. You have so much value in just who are. Every time you choose to be yourself, you share your amazing gift with the world.

There is nothing more that you need to be.

You don’t need to be leaner or stronger, more intelligent or more outgoing, more beautiful or more clever, more athletic or more talented. You don’t need to be a more dedicated or a more involved mother. You don’t need to think about others wants & needs any more than you do.

You don’t need to hold yourself in comparison against a rockstar super-mom with a bangin’ body and girl boss brain. You don’t need to look like the photoshopped models on the cover of Cosmo, or act like the fun-loving but boundary-orientated parent that all the authors of the best-selling parenting books are. You don’t need to be the flawless leader at work who lays down the law but also stays in the good graces of all her employees. You don’t need to be more like a man in the business world just to soften your edges when work is over.

Who you are is enough.

Let me rephrase that. Who you are is more than enough. Beyond enough. Light-years past enough. You are infinitely enough exactly as you are, sitting in bed, reading this letter in your grungy pajamas.

To be a daughter, a granddaughter, a mother, a sister, an aunt, or even a friend… that is a blessing. To that other person who defines you as such, you make their world brighter and warmer with every moment that you’re in it.

Holding yourself away from worthiness because you’re not “perfect” is a catch twenty-two. You’ll never be perfect. You’ll never have it all done. And I mean that in the most optimistic sense because half the fun of being alive is working on yourself, growing, and developing as a human being.

Most of the fun of living stems from being perfectly imperfect.

The moment you begin to accept yourself, even just a little bit more than you do now, as you are at this moment, the world will begin to accept you too.

Now, you only have one obligation today.

Here it is – put this as your number one not-to-be-compromised, priority at the top of your to-do list today:

No matter what does or does not get done today, remember that I am, I have, and I have done enough.

Because you are human. You are imperfect. You are overflowing with quirks and idiosyncrasies that make you, you. Expressing who you are is a gift to the world, and that is shared the moment you take care of yourself and your needs first.

As you go about your day, do little things that make you happy and remind you of your worth. Write down the things you love about who you are, and really let them sink in.

Okay, you have two obligations.

Seeing as you feel this way, it wouldn’t be far off to assume that other women might also feel this way.

Your second obligation to appreciate another woman like you’re appreciating yourself. We are all in this together. We have a duty to each other to build one another up as high as we possibly can. Reach out and make someone’s day.

I’ll go first.

Mom, if I become just half of the mother, sister, and friend that you are… I’ll be overjoyed. Thank you for giving me such big shoes to fill someday. You are forever my truest friend.

Now it’s your turn, readers. Tell someone how incredible they are today.

And above all else, remember: you are, you have, and you have done enough.

With lots of love and light,

Bri

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peanut butter

Top 10 Best Peanut Butter Spreads

Save your time, money, and macros for the best peanut butters

Look no further than right here for the peanut butters worth paying for, both in dollars and calories.

If there is one thing I’ve spent too much money on, it’s definitely peanut butter. If I had to guesstimate, over just the past year, I’ve easily spent $250-$300 dollars trying all the newest, novelty peanut butters.

If you’re out of the loop on this one, there is big wide world full of delicious, creative nut butters being made. Quite literally any dessert you’ve ever tried has been turned into some kind of nut butter.

Cinnamon rolls, fudge lava cake, salted caramel, s’mores, pumpkin spice… no, these are not just indulgent treats (but YES they are delish alone!) All of these are names of peanut butters. Peanut butters, guys. That means you can add a little dessert to your english muffin, your oatmeal, your carrots – whatever you want.

FULL DISCLOSURE

I’m rolling all nut butters into the peanut butter category (though some are made with almonds, sunflower seeds, cashews, infused with chia seeds.. I’ve seen it all) Most people are most familiar with the term peanut butter — though some of these products are considered nut butters — so that is the term I’m using.

It’s worth noting that there are no affiliate sales or companies endorsing me. This list is an honest review of my trials and errors int the PB world. Consider it a gift from me to you, because I don’t make a penny if you do or don’t try them – but I hope you do!

This ain’t no Jif and Skippy world anymore, folks.

I wish I was kidding about how much I’ve spent on peanut butters. Your basic what-ya-momma-bought 12oz. peanut butters are as cheap as $1.79. I myself have dropped as much as $14 on a jar (or several… opps) However, I don’t regret it one bit! PB brings me more food-happiness (thats a made up term but it works) than almost anything else. Ice cream might be the only competitor.

Having invested so much time, money, and calories into my research (NOT complaining!) I’ve complied a list of my Top 10 Favorite Peanut Butter Spreads that I have ever tried.

They’re rated in 4 categories:

  1. Taste – do I want to eat this everyday or nah?
  2. Flavor Accuracy – some of these taste great, but they choose ambitious names. Does it live up to it’s flavor claim?
  3. Texture – this includes mixability and thickness.
  4. Macros – higher protein and lower fat is ideal, generally.

I’ve added a couple other categories, just for your consideration.

  • Quality – what level quality ingredients are in this butter?
  • Price per jar – varies in size (10oz. – 16oz.) I will always list the lowest price that I can find, so keep that in mind for comparison’s sake.
  • Price per serving

The biggest influence on my rank is definitely the taste.

And now, without further adue, here are your best peanut butter investments.

10

 Raspberry Lava Cake Peanut Fluffbutter

Clocking in at the beginning of my list is this Raspberry Lava Cake Peanut Butter from Fluffbutter. I’m a huge fan of this company’s products because they nearly always deliver.

fluff-butter-raspTaste: 7/10. There is an apparent chocolate flavor, and fruity sweetness from the raspberry. It tastes decadent – like you’re cheating on your diet, even though you’re not!

Flavor Accuracy: 6.5/10 Lava Cake? Not so much. I don’t know where the cake aspect is hidden. The chocolate and raspberry flavor is great, but to call it a lava cake would be an overstatement. I bet it would taste amazing on one though!

Texture: 7/10. Gooey, goopy, and a little runny. This does require some mixing since separation occurs. I love how I can drizzle this on ice cream or throw it into a protein shake.

Macros: 6.5/10. 15g fat, 11g carbs, 7g protein.

Quality: Another thing I really appreciate about this brand is the quality of their products. It’s made with rice and pea protein, no sugar (though it is sweetened with xylitol sweetener) dairy free, soy free, and gluten free.

Price per jar: $10.99

Price per serving: $1.37

9

Legendary Foods Blueberry Cinnamon Roll

While fairly new to the peanut butter game, Legendary Foods has caught up to speed quickly. They sent me some free samples this summer, and this flavor was by far the best one. I’ve already ordered more.

screenshot_2016-10-19-14-51-37

Taste: 7/10. This has a sweet undertone, decent cinnamon flavor, hint of blueberry… tastes like dessert.

Flavor Accuracy: 8/10. I wouldn’t call this a cinnamon roll – there is no ‘roll’ or doughy element. It tastes mostly of cinnamon with slight blueberry flavor.

Texture: 7/10Requires a little mixing. I like the gritty texture from the sugar, and I really enjoy the little bits of actual blueberry mixed on.

Macros: 6/10. 14g fat, 10g carbs, 5g protein.

Quality: Cashews, Erythritol, Dried Blueberries, Natural Flavors, Coconut Oil, Sea Salt, Vanilla Extract, Steviol Glycosides (Stevia).

That’s it. That’s all the ingredients. I appreciate how natural they have kept their product. There is no sugar but Erythritol instead.

Price per jar: $10.99

Price per serving: $1.57

8

PBCrave Cookie Nookie Peanut Butter

This combo though… unreal. It’s practically peanut butter flavored cookie dough.

pbcrave

Taste: 7/10. Similar to cookie dough, with a hint of honey and dominate PB flavor. This one tastes the most like traditional peanut butter, compared to all the others.

Flavor Accuracy: 8/10. Like I said, this baby tastes like cookie dough. It even has a similar texture to cookie dough.

Texture: 9/10. Smooth, creamy, and has little bits of soft chocolate chips swirled in. It is much thicker than most PBs, and comes out in gobs, not so much a spread. It does melt welt though when warmed up.

Macros: 6.5/10. 14g fat, 8 carbs, 7g protein

Quality: 2g fiber. 5g sugar. Made with organic honey and without artificial flavors. Kosher Certified.

Price per jar: $5 – when bought in a pack of 4.

Price per serving: $.43

7

Peanut Butter & Co. Cinnamon Raisin

Can I just give a quick little shout out to PB & Co.? Those guys rock. I am addicted to all of their flavors. They dominate my peanut butter bag (yes, I keep all of my peanut butters in a bag… who has room to store 21 jars of peanut butter in the cupboard?)

cinnraisinpbco

Taste: 8/10. I love this on toast in the AM… it tastes almost like an oatmeal cookie. It is pretty sweet, but I prefer sweetness. If you’re a fan of oatmeal raisin cookies, you’ll be hooked on this one.

Flavor Accuracy: 9.5/10. The little chunks of raisin and swirls of cinnamon make this flavor on point.

Texture: 10/10 – Smooth, yet slightly gritty. It tends to chunk up a bit into clusters with the raisins. I love the textured crunchy bits that are sugary and sweet!

Macros: 7/10. 11g fat, 13g carbs, 6g protein.

Quality: Non GMO, gluten free, vegan, and Kosher.

Peanuts, cane sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla, palm fruit oil, lecithin (from sunflowers), salt.

That’s the complete list of ingredients, folks. Nice & simple!

Price per jar: $6.00, though I have seen it at the Christmas Tree Shoppe for $3.49.

Price per serving: $.43

 

6

P28 Cashew Caramel Turtle High Protein Spread

P28 makes a large array of protein infused products, many of which I love! This cashew butter though… wow.

p28

 

Taste: 9/10. This might be as addictive as drugs (so I’m told) because I can’t get enough of it. It is not too sweet, just right. The chocolate flavor reminds me of the chocolate in Easter candy, but somehow it works. The caramel flavor is smooth and pronounced. Nearly an indulgent combo.

Flavor Accuracy: 10/10. This definetly lives up to it’s name, it tastes just like a melty, crushed up caramel turtle.

Texture: 7/10Requires the most mixing of them all, but eventually smooths out to be creamy and thick.

Macros: 7.5/10. 18g fat, 11g carbs, 14g protein (note that 44g is a serving – much more mass than typically)

Quality: Highest protein content. Cashew butter. Only 3g sugar, 1g fiber, and gluten free.

Price per jar: $13.99

Price per serving: $1.27

 

5

Nuts ‘N More Salted Caramel

The amount of times I have recommended Nuts ‘N More to my friends and family is innumerable. It’s safe to say that I am obsessed!

nutsnmoretoffee

Taste: 8/10. Very sweet, with a hint of saltiness. This is killer when paired with a salted caramel flavored food, like a salted caramel english muffin. If you thought the first 5 PBs were addictive… this one is even more so! I have literally licked the jar clean in the past.

Flavor Accuracy: 8/10. I definitely taste the caramel, and there is a decent saltiness. They managed to keep a slight peanut butter flavor as well.

Texture: 8/10. Requires lots of mixing since there seems to be a lot of separation. It turns out gooey and a little runny, but I love how it spreads and drizzles easily.

Macros: 9/10. 12g fat, 8g carbs, 12g protein.

Quality: 3g fiber, 1g sugar. Gluten free, non GMO, all natural.

Peanuts, Whey Protein Isolate, Organic Flax, Natural Sweetener (Birch Xylitol), Natural Extract, Sunflower Lecithin, Sea Salt.

Sweet & simple.

Price per jar: $11.99

Price per serving: $.86

 

4

Peanut Butter & Co. White Chocolate Wonderful

To be honest, I have about 1 tablespoon of this left in my jar and I’m dreading finishing it because I’m not ready for it to be gone! This. Stuff. Is. Amazing. Shout out to PB & Co. You the real MVP, taking two slots in the top ten.

white-chocolate

Taste: 9/10. Out of this world flavor. Very sweet, just a slight PB undertone. It does taste like white chocolate was swirled into it (and if  there actually was white chocolate swirled in… this would be unbelievable.)

Flavor Accuracy:  8/10. It  could have more of a white chocolate flavor – but still tastes amazing. Many other brands have tried to create this flavor… but they all fall short compared to this one.

Texture: 8/10. Smooth, just like traditional peanut butter in texture and mixability. It does not separate – so you can dig in the moment you get it!

Macros: 7/10. 14g fat, 11g carbs, 6g protein.

Quality: Non GMO, gluten free, vegan, Kosher.

Peanuts, cane sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla, palm fruit oil, lecithin (from sunflowers), salt.

Price per jar: $6.00, though I have seen it at Christmas Tree shop for $3.49

Price per serving: $.43

3

Fluffbutter Salted Caramel Sundae Peanut Butter

This company makes great flavors. I’ve tried nearly every flavor they have, and each one is delicious. However, Salted Caramel Sundae is unbelievable.

https://www.luckyvitamin.com/p-1399773-d-s-naturals-fluffbutter-protein-infused-peanut-spread-salted-caramel-sundae-10-oz

Taste: 10/10. Tastes just like it sounds, has a hint of salt and a prominent caramel flavor. I can and do eat this by the spoonful.

Flavor Accuracy: 8/10. The sweet and salty combo is unbeatable. I wouldn’t call it a Sundae, necessarily, but I could see it as a great topping for a sundae. It definitely has a salty element, and the caramel flavor comes through strongly.

Texture: 7/10. Gooey, goopy, and a little runny. It requires lots of mixing since it separates quite a bit.

Macros: 8/10. 15g fat, 7g carbs, 11g protein.

Quality: Made with rice and pea protein. No sugar (though it is sweetened with xylitol sweetener) dairy free, soy free, gluten free, and has 2g fiber.

Price per jar: $10.99

Price per serving: $1.37

2

Trader Joe’s Speculoos Crunchy Cookie Butter

I fully recognize that this is not a peanut butter… but the world deserves to enjoy all the glory that is this spread. Multiple occasions I have scooped gobs of this delicious creation out by the finger. I did have a whole jar stashed away so that I would never have to be without it… but someone *cough* my boyfriend *cough* decided to try some without asking… and once you try, you can’t stop.

Have you ever tried those cookies that they give you on airplanes, the ones that taste like cinnamon and gingerbread? Biscoff cookies? It’s like those… on steroids.

http://traderjoes.com/fearless-flyer/article/966

Taste: 10/10. This is indulgent to-the-max. Creamy, smooth, and sweet with gingerbread flavor, cinnamon tones, and dominate sweetness.

Flavor Accuracy: 9/10. A more accurate name would be Gingerbread/Biscoff Cookie Butter. Other than that, it does taste like ground up cookies made into a butter.

Texture: 9/10. Smooth, infused with crunchy bits of cookie. Great spreadability. No mixing required.

Macros: 3/10. 12g fat, 18g carbs, .5g protein.

Quality: 10g sugar. Low sodium. This butter is way less about being healthy, and way more about enjoying a decadent cookie butter.

Price per jar: $10.65

Price per serving: per 2 TBSP (even  though a serving is listed as 1) $0.78

1

Nuts ‘N More Toffee Crunch

NUMBER ONE SPOT is the one and only Toffee Crunch. If you haven’t tried this peanut butter, then drop what you’re doing, drive to the store and buy some right now. This will change everything you think you know about peanut butter. It will make your world 10x better.

toffee-crunchTaste: 10/10. Can somebody get me an IV of this stuff? My favorite thing about this flavor is that it isn’t overwhelming with sweetness. Perfect level of sweetness, balanced with the peanut butter flavor.

Flavor Accuracy: 9/10. There is a Toffee flavor, and it does have the perfect crunch to it, but the only improvement to this PB would be a tad bit more of that Toffee essence.

Texture: 10/10. Not as thick as traditional peanut butter. Requires quite a bit of mixing to blend after separating. It is great to drizzle on ice cream, or spread on rice cakes to give them a lot more flavor. I love the gritty crunch that defines the texture. I can’t get enough of this stuff.

Macros: 9/10. 10g fat, 11g carbs, 12g protein.

Quality: Just 1g sugar and 3g fiber. It’s made with whey protein, and  and without sugar alcohols which can upset some people’s stomaches.

Price per jar: $11.99

Price per serving: $0.86

There you have it!

After trying nearly every peanut butter on the market, these are the ten best I’ve ever had.

I’m not kidding you – you could call me a peanut butter hoarder. I love trying the new flavors, and they are worth the extra money to me!

However, I realize that most of you all aren’t interested in trial and error when it comes to spending $10+ on a jar of peanut butter, or wasting your precious macros! Now you don’t have to. Just choose the one that appeals the most to you on this list because all of these are amazing.

Feel free to leave me comments and questions if you’re wondering about one of these flavors, or one that you have been wanting to try.

What are your favorite flavors? Let me know below!

And if you liked the piece, be sure to SUBSCRIBE get recipes & articles sent right to your inbox!

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When someone asked me if I gained weight…

It was one of those feel-my-face-getting-redder-by-the-moment moments.

He stared intently, leaving me hanging in the balance of his simple, nonchalant words that felt anything but simple and nonchalant.

Unaware of the impact he’d had, he waited for what felt like centuries, but in reality was just a few seconds. I struggled to compose myself. I felt the tears build up behind my eyes and I felt them push back down under my effort. My face flushed, my lips pursued open, my whole body tensed.

Play by play, here’s the internal conversation I had with myself over the next few moments:

  1. I can’t believe he just asked me that.
  2. It’s true though, I have gained weight, obviously.
  3. But I know I could have stayed leaner. I should be learner. I should be much more muscular by this point and much leaner.
  4. And he probably noticed the fried, fat-filled entree that I’d worked so hard to plan my macros for and convince myself was okay sitting in front of me and thought ‘she shouldn’t be eating that’
  5. I know my face is getting red. Why do I feel like I want to cry? I don’t want to cry. Why is this getting to me?
  6.  Take a breath. It’s fine. You’re fine. Smile. Get through this moment.

All in a matter of about 5 seconds.

And what did I say?

The only broken sentences that I could scramble for and force out were “uh, yeah, um I did after competition. I had to gain some back to be healthy but, uh, yeah, I did.” I couldn’t look up. I couldn’t keep eye contact.

I felt so rawly and utterly vulnerable.

Because it was true.

I knew that. My close family and friends knew that. This was the first time an acquaintance had bluntly asked (in actuality, stated) that I had gained weight.

Honestly, I had planned to gain a little back after competition initially because it’s not healthy for the body to stay at such a low body fat percentage. Not to mention, I didn’t particularly love the look of extreme leanness.

I remember longing for my thicker, more built legs back, and having a little cushion on my booty.

I remember dreaming about that day, this particular day, when I could go out to eat with a friend and order whatever I wanted because my macros allowed for it.

When I could have whatever I wanted, and enjoy it, knowing fully that I didn’t have any competition coming up which I had to look my best for.

I remember so vividly swearing to myself…

that I would appreciate all that extra body fat when I could have it back.

I told myself time and time again that I would reverse diet and have such a better attitude about being lean, because I knew all the sacrifices, hard work, and compromises I had to make to get to that extreme leanness. I remember thinking, early in my prep, that if this was the look and the body I had always dreamed of my entire life, that I wish someone had told me what a b*tch it would be to attain. For the average person, it was not a realistic was to live life. For any other reason than that I absolutely love competing and bodybuilding as a sport, it was not worth it.

It wasn’t worth missing moments like this, catching up with a great friend, enjoying her company, and indulging in one of my absolute favorite treat meals.

And here I was, sinking into a puddle of a self doubt.

Melting into my own insecurities in just a brief five seconds. Enduring the agonizing demons of negativity. In a word, I felt completely exposed.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re either:

  1. relating to me because you, too, have been in this scary spot.
  2. or you’re thinking ‘this girl is nuts – it’s just a simple question. And you did gain weight, obviously. You’re not supposed to stay at competition lean. What’s the big deal?’

Either way, you’re totally right. I know, because I had the same inner monologue with myself. In one moment I felt like crawling under a rock of self-hate and shame. In the next, I searched for relief, thinking maybe he was just stating the obvious. Or maybe he was just a jerk. Or  maybe he meant that I had gained muscle and looked better now.

Whatever he meant was irrelevant to me. At that moment, I was frozen and the damage had been done.

I scrambled for composure first.

He stated, “I know, you look so different now.”

Was this a backhanded insult? I have no idea. I am now in a place where I’m starting to adore my body for both the way it looks and it’s function & strength. I know I look different now. Doesn’t everyone look different after dropping to 8% boy fat and coming back up? Shouldn’t I look different? Why was that a necessary comment?

The rest of the conversation was a blur to me. Frankly, it doesn’t matter. It’s inconsequential to me the concluding remarks we shared.

What matters to me about this exchange is how insecure, vulnerable, angry, and ashamed I felt.

Insecure because I didn’t feel good enough. Vulnerable because the words evoked such emotion in me. Angry that he called me out. And ashamed that I had gained weight.

If you read my blog or my Instagram posts at all, you’re probably familiar with my message: love your body in all stages on the game, lean or not.

So why did my ivory tower crash down in one fowl swipe of carefully crafted words?

Well, as easily as it bumbled down, I picked myself back up.

The next day I had an entirely new outlook.

I even read some of my own words from posts I had written to remind myself of my core values. Here is how I’ve made sense of the situation:

  1. I love my body whether it’s lean or cushioned! Seeing the definition in my muscles, having a little thickness in my lower body, and gaining muscle are all things I desire.
  2. I refuse to let one person, one comment, have control over me. I am worthy of my own admiration. Self acceptance, self love, self appreciation – these are all strong values to me.
  3. The only opinion that matters to me is my own. Period. If I love my body, then I love my body. The only way for others to love it as much as I do is if I focus all my energy on loving myself. At that point, others will have no choice but to accept it too.
  4. Anyone who has the audacity to purposefully attempt to make me feel bad about myself is not someone I want to surround myself with. Whether that was his intention or not, it’s a statement I stand by.
  5. There’s a higher reason that he said that. Now, here I am sharing it with all of you. I know that at least some of you can relate to this. Putting it all on paper creates an avenue for connection. Shame can never survive in the presence of compassion and connection – and now we can end shame once and for all by being willingly vulnerable with each other.

On that note, I invite you to comment below (even if it’s anonymous) if you’ve been in a similar situation.

Share your story, own your story, and grow from it. Why not be open about our struggles? We are 99% the same genetically – all  of us feel many of the same feelings. We live in the same world, and we share the same struggles.

If you’re willing, comment below and let me know how you overcame an experience like this one.

Reading your stories will help me continue to make peace, too, and arm myself for the future.

And if you’ve felt this way before, please try to remember that you are only human and you’re doing the best you can. The more you show yourself love, the more love others will show you – guaranteed.

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19 Mood Boosting Self Care Techniques that you can do right now

There is nothing worse than a bad attitude that you just can’t shake.

Have you ever had that mood of being out of sync, or feeling of being ‘off’ somehow? You can’t quite put your finger on it, but you just aren’t yourself. Maybe you’re snapping at people around you out of the blue, or just have a short tolerance for anything at the moment.

I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve been there.

It’s taken me a long time to be able to differential when that emotion is cause for concern or simply being human. I now can recognize when those feelings have emerged out of suppressed emotion finally bubbling up. I also can tell quite quickly if I’m just in a funny mood that I took on because I became lazy in my effort to manage my thoughts and neglected to choose the best feeling ones.

In those times where I’ve sunken into a funk, and I can’t get out of my own head, I turn to some feel-good resources.

I’ve complied all of my favorite mood-boosting activities right here, for you, in one convenient place.

So, the next time you need a breather, and are searching for some instant relief, remember me! Come back to this link. Use these tactics as a lifeboat and pull yourself out of the gloomy state you’re in.

Managing your mood on a daily basis is essential  for long term happiness. Now, that’s not to say that I’m a happiness expert or anything – because like I said, I have my moments! But, I have become very in tune with my thoughts. I’ve increased my ability to maintain a positive attitude and cultivate an optimistic outlook.

I’d say I’m the happiest person that I know.

And absolutely nothing makes me happier than laughing.

So, number 1 rule – find reasons to laugh whenever you can. You’ll notice I’ve added some of my favorite YouTube videos for you which never fail to make me smile.

Feel free to turn to any of these methods though when needed. Think of it as your Happiness Reserve.

Hey, I like that.

I now present you with…

Your Personal Happiness Reserve.

1) Watch & Laugh: this video will renew your faith in romance.

2) Sit down with a cup of tea, and a good book or movie.

Add in a fuzzy blanket and a comfy pillow and you’re set. Sometimes all you need is space to relax and collect yourself. Make time for you & you alone.

Pro-tip: a snuggy. A snuggy is the answer.

3) Write down 10 things that you’re grateful for.

I do this everyday – and I can’t tell you how much it’s shifted my mindset. The more you notice reasons to be grateful, the more things to be grateful about appear.

4) Watch & Laugh: Take a moment to appreciate all the coy grandmothers of the world, who accept us even if we want to be strippers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SlGMLMgyvcg

5) Take a walk outside.

Pro-tip bring good company with you. I so look forward to undivided time with my sister because we have so much fun together, and most of the time just getting outside together is enough. Fresh air and laughter is the perfect combination for a mood boost.

6) Watch & Laugh: In case you’ve forgotten your self-worth…

7) Do something nice for yourself to look nice for yourself.

In a recent post, I covered many of the ways that we all feel pressure to be perfect and how that effects our self esteem. I also covered many ways to love yourself, despite being imperfect.

My favorite way to combat negative feelings of self worth is to get out & get my hair or nails done, or buy a new outfit for myself. Another great way to boost your mood is having a good stretch, yoga session (as I’ll mention again) or even a massage.

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When I start to feel good for even just a moment by doing that, it’s much easier to feel good the next moment. Find the momentum in loving yourself –  use treating yourself as the first push!

8) Do something nice for someone else

The last time I bought a gift for someone, it was a children’s book I stumbled upon in a store. The books as simplistic and the meaning was pure – follow your passion and act on your ideas.

I’m not sure why I felt so compelled to purchase it, but I did. When I gave this inspirational book to my dad, the look on his face was priceless. I could see in his eyes how truly he felt like I understood him, how deeply he appreciated the thoughtfulness of it.

Caring for and understanding someone else gives a whole new meaning to happiness.

Giving out of thoughtfulness is one of the most rewarding feelings.

9) Watch & Laugh: When you feel like giving up… Watch Lola persevere.

 

10) Look through pictures of happy memories.

Think of some of your favorite moments thus far. Recall the times that made you smile. What about moments of accomplishment, pride, success?

Can you recall moments of great love, great friendship?

Try to remember moments of intense, belly-giggling laughter. What were you doing? Why were you laughing?

Take yourself back there and relive those happy moments, knowing that you have all the power to make today equally, if not more, wonderful.

11) Meditate.

No, I’m not saying you need to try and force yourself to think ZERO thoughts, while sitting cross-legged on the floor, surrounded by candles, humming OM.

Mediation is not just for New-Agey folks. Its actually one of the most effective ways to change your mood.

Unlike most mood boosters, this one require no thought from you. The idea here is that somethings it’s easier to have a completely blank mind than to try and coerce yourself into being positive.

Sometimes being positive is just too damn hard and you’re not even close to being in a place where “you can do anything you set your mind to!” sounds good, or true. Sometimes you feel just plan lousy.

Meditation is great tool when you feel that way. The goal is to quiet your mind and let go of resistance. Try it first thing in the morning, right before bed, or in moments of stress.

12) Play the right music.

In a lousy mood? Play a song about hope, peace, and renewal.

What about the in-between, where you’re not really enthusiastic, not really happy? I got one for you.

How about when you could use a self-esteem boost? Off season gets me like that on occasion – even though I love the gains, it definitely can mess with my mind to not be as lean as I used to be. Here’s a few songs that will help you to embrace yourself.

When you’re feelin’ yourself...

The queen Bee is the answer.

Having a great day? Make it even better and listen to this.

Your mood is sure to increase with this dose of musical medicine.

13) Get Active

My favorite type of active in regards to self-care is yoga. It requires you to slow down your mind and connect with your body, which is exactly what you need when a bad mood hits.

Even just stretching out in the morning or before bed helps me slow down.

Other activities, like hitting the gym and killing a few minutes of cardio can help as well (intimidated by the gym? Read this!)

I love to try activities that I haven’t before. Things like paddle boarding, rock climbing, kayaking… these all take me out of my head. Why? Because I’m thinking more about what I’m doing than the reality that I’m active. I’m more focused on the activity than myself, which clears my mind. Give any of these a go to boost your mood when needed!

14) Call your Mamma.

The most empathetic, kind, selfless person I know is my mom. Whenever something has gone wrong, she is the first to tell that she understands, and totally validates how I feel. Compassion is the catalyst to connection – something my MVP Mom knows all too well.

She has the most sincere motherly wisdom each time I find myself in a place of hopelessness, and the most excited, infectious joy when I’m in a place of happiness & feeling good.

My Mum is the one I call when everything is going wrong and when everything is going right.

Maybe this person to you isn’t your mom. It could be your Dad, your sister, your best friend, your professor. My boyfriend is a close second to my Mumma, too. When you’re feeling down, turn to someone you trust. Tell them how your feeling. Sometimes just sharing the weight with another person and having your feelings acknowledged can lift tons off your shoulders.

We’ve all felt down, we’re only human. Let someone else bring you back up.

15) If you’re stressed, make a plan.

Are you feeling bogged down by your obligations this week? Take out your planner, write down all the things that you have to do, then prioritize them. Follow that link for a more in-depth description of effective ways of prioritizing, or read this for just the gist:

  1. List out all priorities that you have to get done and want to get done.
  2. Go through your list and mark all of the things you must get done today with a big ‘A’.
  3. Go through the list again, this time looking for things you need to get done by tomorrow, but would like to get done today. They don’t have huge consequences if they aren’t done today, but you’d like to have them off your plate. These are ‘B’ priorities.
  4. Finally, mark everything thats left with a ‘C’. These items are things that would be nice to get done, things that are fun to you, things that are okay to put off.

Now, get to work on your A’s. I usually highlight all the A priorities so that I know, no excuses, these have to get done. I typically aim for all A’s to be completed, a couple B’s, and a few C’s for myself.

If you’re the type of person that needs to do more than that, then get all the B’s finished as well. Or, if you’re too busy with A’s, deal with B’s tomorrow, and they’ll be converted to A’s at that time.

This is a tool that can aid you in wrapping your brain around everything you need to get done. Generally, once all your obligations are written on paper, the stress tends to fade away.

Once you know what you expect of yourself, your aniexty will fade.

16) Journal.

Nagging thoughts that I don’t want to deal with but keep surfacing my mind.. I journal them. Then I delete it/rip it up/shred it. Done. For me, it’s that easy.

You might try this next time you’re upset, angry, over-emotional, feel irrational, or overwhelmed.

This works exceptionally well when what you’re feeling would not be well-received when vented to someone else (AKA when you’re really f*cking pissed and can’t talk yourself down).

Get it all out on paper and then be done with it.

Don’t save it, don’t lament over it. Just acknowledge it & honor how you feel by journaling, then get rid of it and move on to another technique that could shift you into a better feeling place.

17) Cook something delicious.

I don’t mean to toot my own horn or anything but I do have some guilt-free recipes right here for you. Just sayin’!

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The taste, the benefit to your body, the smell of your home after cooking.. all of these elements contribute to a mood boost.

(PS if you understood that GIF reference then please comment and tell me because I thought it was funny as hell).

18) Watch a feel-good show.

My number 1 recommendation:  The Ellen Show. You will laugh until you cry and then cry some more because she donates 10,000 to someone who needs it. Watch for the humor or watch for the feel-goods. Either way, watch this quick video of a future comedian who Ellen featured on her show.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrIrbeoDkT0

And if you liked that, you’ll be happy to know there is a sequel. Watch, watch, watch!

19) Remember that you’re only human.

We all have bad days. It’s alright to fall off your game a bit. Sometimes all you need is a nap & a bowl of ice cream.

Above all, remember that it’s okay, necessary even, to take time for yourself. The more self-care techniques you incorporate into your life, the less of those bad days you’ll have.

Give yourself a break, relax, and enjoy one of these little things. Brighten your day by choosing to do something for yourself.

After all, how can you expect to help anyone else if you yourself aren’t being helped?

How can you pour into anyone else’s cup if yours isn’t full? Fill yourself up first.

Put on your own oxygen mask before helping others with there’s.

When you’re exhausted, you can’t energize, motivate, or inspire anyone else.

That was too many analogies, but you get the point. Start with yourself, focus on what you can control, then reach out to others. Happiness comes from within, so right now, decide what you’re going to do to help boost your own mood.

And then just be happy, because you are so worthy of everything good life has to offer.

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