This Is For Any Woman Who Thinks She's Not Good Enough

I’ve been working on revamping my website lately. When I first started personal training I didn’t realize that I would find a specialty and want to focus on women who have self-esteem issues. I knew I wanted to work with women, but didn’t realize that I had a real purpose in life to focus on. So, when I put out my website it was simply aimed at women in general without any real insight into who I was and what my type of personal training was all about. Years later I’ve come to a point in my career where I’ve realized that I have a true calling and a need to help women who are suffering with feelings of imperfection, body image issues, and simply, but not really so simply, feeling like they’re not good enough.

Seems pretty clear, right? Well, not really, because every time I get to writing down my bio or what my philosophy about personal training is I become completely tongue-tied. I’ve written and rewritten so many drafts, but how do you really put into words something that’s so complex? How do I put my very long and complicated bio into something that doesn’t read like the Sunday edition of the New York Times? So, I rephrased my thoughts and asked myself, “how has fitness changed me and what do I want to teach others?” This is what I came up with…

I’ve dieted, starved, binged, and purged. You name it, I’ve done it. After years of abusing my body like this my metabolism came to such a screeching halt that no matter what I did I just kept getting rounder, softer, and more and more unhappy with myself. I spent an entire summer in my bedroom not wanting to leave, because I felt ugly, ashamed, and angry. I was angry at myself for getting to this place and I was ashamed and frustrated because now I couldn’t dig myself out of the hole I put myself in. I couldn’t believe that after losing so much weight I’d gained it all back again, but now couldn’t take it off. It became my world. I hated that I didn’t love myself. I was never good enough. I hated that I’d spent my senior year of high school obsessing about my weight, food, and how I looked. I didn’t know how to be happy anymore. I couldn’t remember it.

You know those “aha” moments people speak about? Those pivotal moments in their lives were everything just seems to make sense? Like they’ve figured out Newton’s theory of gravity or something? Well, I had one of those moments in my bedroom that summer. After spending the entire summer feeling tormented and my entire senior year (and most of my junior too) hating myself a thought popped into my head. “I would rather die than go on feeling this way.” After feeling so weak and defeated for so long something within me took over and I knew that I was going to work up the courage to take back control of my life.

A funny thing happens when you’re trying to be so in control of your emotions, actions, thoughts, and feeling. You become out of control. As hard as pushing yourself to overcome your fears and challenges is it’s not nearly as bad as living your life a prisoner in your own head.

At first, I’ll admit, I began exercising as yet another way to lose and control my weight, but then it became something so much more, and I had another “aha” moment. My trainer gave me a pretty difficult exercise – it was a single-handed pike on a stability ball. Face down, with only my legs on the ball and my hands supporting me, I was supposed to lift one hand up in the air and simultaneously use my feet to roll the ball and bring my body up into an inverted V-shape. – It was excruciatingly hard, but I didn’t give up. I kept trying and trying until I finally got it. Then he asked me, “how do you feel?” And I said “GREAT!” With a smirk on his face, he said that I’m the only client he has that would actually say that after something so difficult. And that’s when I realized that fitness became so much more to me than just losing weight. It was something that I could be good at, and I felt extremely empowered by being able to do things that I thought I’d never be able to do. Normally my perfectionism would cripple me, because I would just give up rather than fail, but instead I learned to push even harder. I relished the fact that people would stare at the short little girl walking down the street with 10 grocery bags all up and down her arms. I was actually quite strong and powerful on the inside.

This became a metaphor for my life. I could do whatever I thought was impossible. I could push past fear, failure, and pain, and become so much more than I ever thought possible. I could take control of my life. I realized that my body and the way it looked wasn’t the problem, my mind was. Our minds are our only limitations.

Very Personal Training is empowerment based fitness. It is for any woman who thinks she’s not good enough. Fitness is so much more than simply losing weight and toning your body so that you look like Jessica Biel. When you push yourself past pain and the seemingly impossible you realize that you are so much more than a dress size. You conquer yourself and you take that with you everywhere you go. Any time you face something that you think you can’t do, you remember, oh yes I can!

(And P.S., once I stopped obsessing about my weight it all came off.)

This Is For Any Woman Who Thinks She’s Not Good Enough

I’ve been working on revamping my website lately. When I first started personal training I didn’t realize that I would find a specialty and want to focus on women who have self-esteem issues. I knew I wanted to work with women, but didn’t realize that I had a real purpose in life to focus on. So, when I put out my website it was simply aimed at women in general without any real insight into who I was and what my type of personal training was all about. Years later I’ve come to a point in my career where I’ve realized that I have a true calling and a need to help women who are suffering with feelings of imperfection, body image issues, and simply, but not really so simply, feeling like they’re not good enough.

Seems pretty clear, right? Well, not really, because every time I get to writing down my bio or what my philosophy about personal training is I become completely tongue-tied. I’ve written and rewritten so many drafts, but how do you really put into words something that’s so complex? How do I put my very long and complicated bio into something that doesn’t read like the Sunday edition of the New York Times? So, I rephrased my thoughts and asked myself, “how has fitness changed me and what do I want to teach others?” This is what I came up with…

I’ve dieted, starved, binged, and purged. You name it, I’ve done it. After years of abusing my body like this my metabolism came to such a screeching halt that no matter what I did I just kept getting rounder, softer, and more and more unhappy with myself. I spent an entire summer in my bedroom not wanting to leave, because I felt ugly, ashamed, and angry. I was angry at myself for getting to this place and I was ashamed and frustrated because now I couldn’t dig myself out of the hole I put myself in. I couldn’t believe that after losing so much weight I’d gained it all back again, but now couldn’t take it off. It became my world. I hated that I didn’t love myself. I was never good enough. I hated that I’d spent my senior year of high school obsessing about my weight, food, and how I looked. I didn’t know how to be happy anymore. I couldn’t remember it.

You know those “aha” moments people speak about? Those pivotal moments in their lives were everything just seems to make sense? Like they’ve figured out Newton’s theory of gravity or something? Well, I had one of those moments in my bedroom that summer. After spending the entire summer feeling tormented and my entire senior year (and most of my junior too) hating myself a thought popped into my head. “I would rather die than go on feeling this way.” After feeling so weak and defeated for so long something within me took over and I knew that I was going to work up the courage to take back control of my life.

A funny thing happens when you’re trying to be so in control of your emotions, actions, thoughts, and feeling. You become out of control. As hard as pushing yourself to overcome your fears and challenges is it’s not nearly as bad as living your life a prisoner in your own head.

At first, I’ll admit, I began exercising as yet another way to lose and control my weight, but then it became something so much more, and I had another “aha” moment. My trainer gave me a pretty difficult exercise – it was a single-handed pike on a stability ball. Face down, with only my legs on the ball and my hands supporting me, I was supposed to lift one hand up in the air and simultaneously use my feet to roll the ball and bring my body up into an inverted V-shape. – It was excruciatingly hard, but I didn’t give up. I kept trying and trying until I finally got it. Then he asked me, “how do you feel?” And I said “GREAT!” With a smirk on his face, he said that I’m the only client he has that would actually say that after something so difficult. And that’s when I realized that fitness became so much more to me than just losing weight. It was something that I could be good at, and I felt extremely empowered by being able to do things that I thought I’d never be able to do. Normally my perfectionism would cripple me, because I would just give up rather than fail, but instead I learned to push even harder. I relished the fact that people would stare at the short little girl walking down the street with 10 grocery bags all up and down her arms. I was actually quite strong and powerful on the inside.

This became a metaphor for my life. I could do whatever I thought was impossible. I could push past fear, failure, and pain, and become so much more than I ever thought possible. I could take control of my life. I realized that my body and the way it looked wasn’t the problem, my mind was. Our minds are our only limitations.

Very Personal Training is empowerment based fitness. It is for any woman who thinks she’s not good enough. Fitness is so much more than simply losing weight and toning your body so that you look like Jessica Biel. When you push yourself past pain and the seemingly impossible you realize that you are so much more than a dress size. You conquer yourself and you take that with you everywhere you go. Any time you face something that you think you can’t do, you remember, oh yes I can!

(And P.S., once I stopped obsessing about my weight it all came off.)

Emotional Eating Survival Strategies

Emotional eating isn’t something that only overweight people do. People of all shapes and sizes use food to comfort themselves, because they’re bored, sad, lonely, or angry. At first you think that you’re hungry, so you go for a pint of ice cream in the freezer, but then before you know it, you’ve eaten almost the entire pint and you’ve gone from hungry to disgusted in a matter of minutes. Where those minutes have gone you have no idea, because it seems like you were almost in a trance through the whole thing. Even if you did notice what you were doing you probably rationalized all the thoughts that were telling you to stop, because “you deserve it”, or “you’ve been really good lately”, or “it’s only today, I won’t do it tomorrow, so let me just enjoy it.” But, what ends up happening is that today becomes tomorrow and then tomorrow becomes the next day and the next, and before long you’ve created a habit of comforting your anxiety with food, thinking that it’s going to help. All it does though is make your problems worse, because now on top of your boredom, loneliness, sadness, or anger is guilt. And what you’re left with is a vicious cycle that won’t end unless you make a conscious decision and effort to end it yourself.

Here are a 10 tips to use the next time you feel like masking your feelings with food:

1. Dig deep – The first thing you absolutely must do is figure out why and when you eat. What feelings are you trying to avoid dealing with? Did something happen at work, do you feel sad or angry? Figure out your patterns, so you can watch out for them next time.

2. Make a List - Make a list of things you can do instead of eating the next time you feel the urge to raid your refrigerator. You can include all the tips listed here plus some others that you think might help you specifically, such as calling a friend for help or occupying yourself with something else.

3. Wait 10 Minutes – If you feel the need to eat make sure to wait 10 minutes before indulging. Most of the time you’ll be able to talk yourself out of it and see that you don’t really want to eat.

4. Ask Yourself This Question – “What purpose is this serving me?” If the purpose of eating is to console yourself maybe you need to find another strategy. Think back to all the other times you ate out of discomfort and think about how you felt. Probably the only purpose it served was to make you feel good in the moment, but pretty badly for hours after and maybe even into the next day. You don’t need to feel that way. You’ll feel much better if you fight the urge.

5. Brush Your Teeth – – Ever have orange juice after brushing your teeth? Not so good, huh! Walk away from the temptations and instead go for your toothbrush. You’ll be less likely to eat after you brushed your teeth.

6. Use a Reminder Designate an object as your reminder and put it in a place where you can see it, such as the kitchen, so that the next time you go towards food for comfort you’ll see it and be reminded that you don’t really want to eat right now.

7. Repeat – Tell yourself, “this is my pattern, this is what I do.” When you understand what’s really going on with yourself and you recognize it as a series of habits and behaviors it’s easier to get a handle on things and steer it in a different direction. Keep telling yourself this mantra when you feel like eating, so that you drive home the point that this is just your pattern. You can change that pattern!

8. Journal – Writing down what you’re thinking and feeling can really help you work things out. The process of writing can help you get to the bottom of your thoughts and can help make sense of things. Remember that no one is reading it, so let it all out there and don’t worry about judgements.

9. Have a Support System – Choose someone you trust who you know will support you in your fight against this. Call them when you need to (kind of like a sponsor at an AA meeting).

10. Don’t Beat Yourself Up - If you do have an emotional eating episode do not be mad at yourself. What’s done is done, so feeling guilty is pointless. It will only feed into the cycle and force you to continue this pattern. All you can do is learn from the experience and strategize on how you’re going to deal with it next time. Instead, give yourself some major praise for actually thinking about these things and trying to do something about it. You can’t be perfect, you can only try your best.

Ask Dani – Diet Dilemma (South Beach Diet)

This is an old-time diet. They thought that would work too.

Dear Dani,

I’ve been thinking about doing the South Beach Diet, but I’m not sure. There’s so much information on diets and I don’t know how to figure out what would be the best one for me. What diet do you recommend and how would you choose which one to go on?

Thanks, Dieting Dilemma

Dear Dieting Dilemma,

Dieting is such a dirty word. When I think of a diet I think of agonizing weeks of being hungry and wishing I could eat everything else, but what I’m allowed to eat. I can’t stop thinking about food and my whole day revolves around thinking about what I’m going to eat at the next meal. Most of the time I’m also counting how many days until it’s over, which means that all the hard work I’ve done over the past few weeks will be completely undone by a mega binge on some Coldstone Creamery, as soon as I can get my hungry little paws on it. So, as you can see I don’t like diets. They are only short-term solutions to long-term issues. It’s like putting a band-aid over a gun shot wound.

What you need is to learn how to maintain healthy eating for a lifetime, which doesn’t include cutting out whole food groups or restricting your calories so much that you’re constantly hungry. You can’t keep up that kind of thing for long and it will only backfire and make your problem worse. All of that being said, I don’t condemn the South Beach Diet. I think that it does a good job at teaching you balance, but that’s only true if you really follow their guidelines and treat it as a learning process and not a quick fix. The fact that they focus on whole-grains and fiber is a good sign, because so many bad diets will cut carbs out completely or tell you to restrict way more than you need to. Normally I would say that the fact that they cut out fruit for the first 2 weeks is bad, but I can understand them doing it in order to regulate your blood sugar levels and to kind give you a reset button. My advice though is that if you want some fruit in those first 2 weeks then have the fruit. But, if you want to really maintain your weight loss you need to do some homework, which may include keeping a food diary to track your patterns, keeping a journal to track your emotions, relearning your hunger cues and patterns, and trying to get past emotional triggers. A good diet will never dip below 1200 calories per day and will have a balanced mix of all the major food groups. Every meal should consist of a carb and a protein (so that means grapefruit diets and cabbage soup diets are a major no-no), and will never cut out fats entirely (you actually need good fats in order to lose weight, as well as for healthy akin and hair). You should never feel deprived and the emphasis should be on teaching you how to make better food choices and portion control.

If you have any questions on some of the things I mentioned, such as relearning your hunger cues or getting past emotional triggers, please don’t hesitate to ask me for help!

**Have a question that needs answering? Send em in! Every Thursday I ll be answering a new question, and it might just be yours!

The Only Way Out Of A Tunnel Is Through It

you might even find some amazing things along the way

“By referring to previous struggles and using them as reasons for not getting on with your life today, your assigning responsibility to the past for why you can’t be successful or happy in the present. The more you see yourself as what you’d like to become, and act as if what you want is already there, the more you’ll activate those dormant forces that will collaborate to transform your dream into reality.”

– Dr. Wayne Dyer

I’ve heard from some of my clients in the past that they are afraid to even try to lose weight, because they’ve tried before and failed. They’re afraid of judgement from their friends, because what if they try and don’t succeed, then everyone will look at them as weak, lazy, and having failed. The thing is though, you’re letting the past and everyone else dictate what you can and cannot do. And the only purpose that’s serving is to keep you where you are today, which is overweight, unhappy, and self-conscious. You’re avoiding the pain of failure and replacing it with failure to try. And so you’re still in the same place that you’ve always been and it’s getting you no where near happy.

Don’t let past failure in losing weight have so much control over you and be the reason that you don’t try. Everyone will fail at least once, if not multiple times, on their way towards success. It’s the only way you learn. I’ve “failed” so many times on my way to regaining control over food and eating and I often wanted to just forget the whole thing and not even try, but I realized that I was even more miserable without trying, so suffering the possibility of failure and judgement from others wasn’t as bad. It was the choice between taking the “easy” road of staying sick and depressed, in order to avoid all the painful feelings that would come up, or doing the work to feel comfortable in my body again. The trick for me was to look at these failures as “flops”, rather than something so finite (flop has a softer and friendlier ring to it, don’t you think?). And to come up with my Victory Vision.

I often talk about writing a Victory Vision. This is an honest and heartfelt statement that you write to yourself about the things that frustrate and piss you off about where you are today. Seriously, I want you to get mad when you write this and think about all the things that you feel helpless over and what that’s doing to you. How does it make you feel and how unhappy are you feeling that way? Do you hate how you keep saying that you’re going to stop overeating, but then don’t, or are you upset that food has such a hold over you that it’s the first thing that you run for when you’re lonely or need comforting? Are you sick of living a life of yo-yo dieting and staring at the numbers on the scale or your imperfections in the mirror? What does it feel like to put on a dress and hate the way you look in it? What’s it like going into a dressing room and not being able to find anything that you feel good in? What makes you cry? Do you want to get rid of these things and feel better about yourself and have more confidence? What are these things doing to you mentally, emotionally, and physically? Write it all down and get it out there. Then, using the present tense, as if it were true already, I want you to describe what your life is like after you’ve gotten rid of all these problems. Write about your happiness, your confidence, your strength, and anything else that reaching your goal means to you. Make it as real as possible, so that you’ll want more than anything to get there.

You’re the only one that can change your life, so stop letting the past have such a hold over you. Stop avoiding failure and pain and start tackling these problems, because the only way out of a tunnel is through it.

An Exhausted Yo-Yo

Dear Dani,
I’ve been a dieter my whole life. I’m 36 and have gained and lost the same weight for as long as I can remember, and every time I lose weight and regain it, it seems like a little more creeps on. I don’t know what to do anymore. I want to take this weight off and keep it off for good, but it seems like that’s never going to happen. I’m always having to watch what I eat and it’s exhausting. Any advice?
Thanks, An Exhausted Yo-Yo

Dear Exhausted Yo-Yo,
I want to let you know that you are not alone. So many people out there are just like you struggling to keep their weight off. Dieting seems like the logical thing to do when you want the scale to go down, because it would make sense that if you’re eating less then their won’t be anything inside of you to gain. Now, I’m not sure if you’re a regular reader or not, but I often talk about how dieting will slow your metabolism down. When you’re cutting out food groups or drastically reducing your calorie intake your body will hold on to whatever you feed it, because it doesn’t know when it’s going to get more (which is sort of how dieters usually are when they finally give into their craving – one cookie turns into 10, right?).
I don’t have any specifics on exactly what kind of dieter you are, but first I want to tell you that if you have a scale I want you to throw it out. It’s only going to make you obsess more about taking the weight off, which will sabotage your efforts (you know how they say that you find love when you’re not looking for it? Losing weight is sort of the same thing. If you think about it too much it most likely won’t happen, because you’re not being intuitive about it). Instead, focus on the waist of your clothes. If they feel looser on you than you know you’re doing the right thing!
Secondly, I want you to write your Victory Vision. Be completely honest with yourself and write down why you want to lose weight. If you’re doing it for other people then it’s going to be hard to keep the weight off, you have to do it for yourself.
Lastly, make a list of your negative behaviors that keep you on the yo-yo diet roller coaster and then write down ways to overcome those behaviors the next time you’re faced with them.

Just know that you’ve lived a lifetime like this, so you’re not going to be able to undo it overnight. Give yourself time and be kind to yourself when you slip-up – nobody and no body is perfect. You can do this!

Have a question that needs answering? Send ‘em in! Every Thursday I’ll be answering a new question, and it might just be yours!

Facts About Snacks

It’s Good For You
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey studies 5,000 people and found that people who ate snacks in addition to three meals a day had higher levels of nutrients in their diets.

Don’t Deprive Yourself
Belgian researchers told 68 women to either enjoy or refuse their favorite snack and found that the refusers ate more of the “forbidden” snack once they were given the permission to a day later. Depriving yourself leads to bingeing later, so indulge once in a while, but keep it under 200 calories.

Portion Control
Research shows that snackers will eat more if given more, so don’t drop yourself on the couch at the end of a long day with a bag of pretzels telling yourself that you’ll “have only a few”. Measure out a serving into a bowl and put the rest away.

Protein Is Key
Having just carbs will make you hungrier sooner and the calories will pile on quicker. Adding a protein to your snack will help fend off hunger later. A good choice would be something like a yummy VitaTop and a small fat-free yogurt.

Drinking Your Snack Isn’t The Way
Researchers from Purdue gave 20 people an apple, applesauce, or apple juice and found that those who drank their snack were the quickest to report being hungry.

Beware Of Low-Fat Claims
Low-fat doesn’t always mean low-calorie. Make sure to check the label and eat like any other snack – in moderation.

Here are some good snack options:
* handful of nuts (about 9 almonds)
* an apple with a tablespoon of peanut butter
* 1 cup low-fat plain yogurt with berries (add Splenda if it’s too sour for you)
* 180 calorie Kashi bar (peanut butter chocolate is a favorite of mine)
* whole grain toast with 1 tablespoon peanut butter
* a few whole grain crackers with a low-fat string cheese
* 1/2 cup 1% cottage cheese with a whole grain cereal

Happy Snacking!

Back On The Horse

The next time you hear yourself saying something like, “I’ve done so well with my eating and exercise, but I’m so mad at myself because I slipped up this weekend and ate too much and now I gained all the weight back”, I want you to first slap yourself upside the head and then give me 15 push-ups.

We can’t be perfect all the time, so you have to expect that you will have the occasional hiccup along the way. Some of you beat yourselves up because of it, and either let it get the better of you by burying your head under the covers and putting yourself down, and some of you might just throw the whole thing away. It’s not permission to just throw it all out the window because you made a mistake, as some people might say to themselves, “well, I had this cookie, so now the whole day is ruined, so I might as well have that muffin too”.

When you have a craving you must recognize that your body is telling you something. It’s either that it’s lacking a nutrient or that you’re being too rigid. If your sugar is low, for instance, a signal is sent to your brain and you might find yourself craving sweets or simple carbs. As I mentioned though, it could also mean that you’re being too rigid and have way too high expectations of what your body and mind are capable of. It’s like if someone told you that you could only wear navy blue clothes for the rest of your life – at first it would be great, you’d play around with options, and wouldn’t mind, but eventually you’re going to go shopping and see a gorgeous red dress in the window and resent the fact that you have to wear navy blue for the rest of your life. Ok, I know that’s a bit off the wall, but you get the idea. Part of eating a healthy diet means that you must balance the good-for-you foods and bad-for-you foods. Remember my 80/20 rule? 80% of the time you should be eating good whole foods and the other 20% should be left for the inevitable yummy treat.

Indulging once in a while isn’t the problem, it’s the thought behind it that is. If you feel out of control when doing it then most likely you’re just acting on old habits, but if you’ve given yourself permission because it’s something that you really want then it’s absolutely fine. So, what’s the solution? Give yourself permission to indulge once in a while and then you won’t feel so bad about it later.

Perfectionism

It’s fantastically magical here in New York City, with 16” of snow! For people upstate and in New England I’m sure this is nothing, but for a city girl like me it’s so exciting. I don’t know what it is about waking up to a snowy morning, and I think most adults want to just stay in, but I want to plow through it like a kid. I just want to put on my warmest clothes and dive right in. I’m not even in school, but I’m watching the news to see all the school closings. And my dogs, Billiam and Ozzie are prancing around in my backyard, with their legs buried deep, having the times of their lives. I’m going to go make me some snow angels later!

Ok, I want to talk about perfection. If you’re a yo-yo dieter or have body image issues, chances are you re a perfectionist. You have a need to be flawless. You take personally any mistake you make as a strike against you. Your self-worth is wrapped up in it and you think, I m not good enough, I need to be better, I should be better . What s even worse is that somewhere down below you think you ll NEVER be good enough.

When I was 4, I remember being in school and being so nervous to talk to my teacher. I didn t say a word to her all year, because I didn t want to make a mistake and be embarrassed. You re probably thinking, what mistake could I possibly have made, and the crazy thing is that I knew that! I knew that speaking to her wasn t a big deal, but I had a tremendous fear nonetheless, because I didn t even want to take the chance of possibly messing up. I eventually grew out of that in 6th grade, by deciding that I just wasn t going to care anymore. At first I was afraid to take the leap to be more outgoing, but the more and more I did it the more friends I had and the more I realized it was really no big deal.

In high school, even though I got over a few of the things that were holding me back, the perfectionism manifested itself in different ways. I became obsessed with dieting and looking a certain way. I compared myself to other girls and always thought I didn t match up. I though that if I just exercised, if I just dieted, if I just changed the way I dressed, or if I just wore my make-up a specific way I d be better.

I didn t realize how my needing to be a certain way was keeping me from really living life. How checking myself in the mirror 15 times wasn t going to make anything better, how still comparing myself to other girls wasn t going to make me stronger, and how doing and redoing something over and over again wasn t going to make it or me perfect. I would obsess about 1 single strand of hair being out of place. If I made something and it didn t come out how I planned I would just throw it in the garbage. I once made a pie crust 5 times, because it wasn t how I expected it to be. What if someone saw it and thought it wasn t good enough? And the dieting actually got so bad that I couldn t even eat an extra carrot without feeling guilty about it. I had so many destructive thoughts, which eventually landed me in the hospital with an eating disorder (which just shows you how potentially devastating thoughts like that can be).

The problem with trying to be perfect is that it s impossible. Failure and mistakes are inevitable, but we don t rationalize that. Instead we feed the cycle by beating ourselves up and constantly striving harder and crazier towards an ideal that is never going to happen. Have you ever finally reached a goal and thought, “I ran 3 miles, but it wasn’t a good run” or, “I lost 15 pounds, but I should have lost 20″, or even “I threw a great party, but it wasn’t as good as it could have been”? Take the word “but” out of your vocabulary! Even if on some magical planet you did achieve perfection you d be miserable trying to sustain it. It would suck the life out of you and any pleasure you had would be gone, because you re always living to please an ideal that doesn t exist. We should be trying to please ourselves!

I ve realized over the years that not being perfect is important. It keeps us sane. If you re trying to eat healthier, part of that is allowing yourself to indulge in a cookie once in a while. That doesn t mean you messed up or that you re weak. It means that you love yourself enough to give yourself that present. Even if you find yourself eating too many cookies, it s not the end of the world. Brush the crumbs off and begin again.

I talk a lot about being healthy for our own sakes. I m not going to deny that looks aren t important, but we can t be so black and white about it. We could all wear the same outfit, dye our hair blond, be a size 6, be the best mother that never loses her cool and can hold down a job and household with ease, and be the best wife that knows exactly what her husband wants all the time, but that would make for a boring world and a boring us. Laugh at your mistakes and others will laugh along with you.

My husband told me recently that the first thing he noticed about me was my crooked front tooth. He loves it! All my life I ve toyed with the idea of fixing it, because now I don t have Chicklet-like teeth like so many beautiful people out there, but I ve come to like it too. It s what makes me different. What s even more though, it s taught me that imperfections are amazing

We have to agree to let go of some of our hang-ups, because it s those imperfections that make us who we are. And to deny that would be to hate ourselves. And if you hate yourself how could you possibly ever live a happy life, free of obsessions? How could you ever like your body?

Right now, I want you to go over to a mirror and point out something that isn t perfect. Something that you re critical of. Resolve to look at it a different way. Find the thing that makes you unique and flaunt it!

For this week s challenge give yourself permission to mess up. Challenge yourself to not fix it and see what happens. Stop feeling guilty and stop holding yourself back from enjoying life! You ll see that the world didn t end. People are going to judge you no matter what, but sometimes we re our harshest critics and you have to just let go of that.

Now, I’m off to make some snow angels…