Friday, January 10, 2020

Break Up With Body Shame

Hello, friends - happy 2020!!!!

This time of year always has me reflecting on what I've learned and how I want to approach a new year. Historically it's been a time when I'm making a list of everything wrong with me that I need to fix. I'm happy to say that's not the case this year. If there's one gift I could encourage you to give yourself this holiday season, it's this - BREAK UP WITH SHAMING YOURSELF.

How many years have you approached December and January thinking about whether or not you're going to eat or starve your way through it? How many years have the holidays been a source of contention about your body, your eating habits, or vowing to become a totally different person in the new year, based solely on how you look?

Been there, done that, got the t-shirt in a size that probably no longer fits because I don't starve myself anymore. 

I've lost track of how many times I struggled through a season of life worrying about food, worrying about how I look, and swearing I will embark on a total body transformation effective January 1st. And you know what? No amount of criticizing myself ever did me any good. I have been every size imaginable on December 25th and January 1st and February 14th and every day in between. I have eaten with reckless abandon and I have kept track of everything I put in my mouth. I have abstained from food served at holiday parties and I've eaten it mindlessly. What have I learned from the years of ups and downs?

Well, a lot actually. And you can bet I learned it the hard way.

If you're ready to put an end to the vicious cycle of self-loathing, here are my top tips to get started. 

Love yourself first. 
I don't think I can over-state how important this is. It's the foundation for everything else. If you are constantly saying negative things to and about yourself, you have to stop it. I'll say it again. YOU HAVE TO STOP IT. I know that's hard when your inner dialogue has always been a running list of reasons why you're not good enough. It takes work to stop being mean to yourself. While anyone can have a sudden epiphany, it often doesn't happen overnight. That doesn't mean it isn't possible. I promise, from the bottom of my heart, it makes the biggest difference. If I could go back and do it differently for myself, I would. It was only at one of the lowest points of my adult life that I realized it was too exhausting to go on treating myself like garbage. I hope you can find a million reasons to fall in love with yourself, but if it just feels too hard, then simply find one. Write it down. Read it everyday. 

Then, let people love you. 
I have talked about this in another post (click here to read) but I used to struggle with believing my husband when he told me he loved me no matter what I looked like. I grew up believing men don't want to be with anyone who looks like me. As an adult, I got more attention from men when I was thinner, which only reinforced that belief. My husband knew me at various sizes, but when we started dating I was a much smaller size. When my looks changed, it was hard to believe he could still feel the same way about me. I didn't give him enough credit. It took the heartbreak of miscarriage to understand something so simple - he loves me like crazy. I just needed to let him do it, and accept what he was offering, which was unconditional love. I wish it hadn't taken such a painful situation to fully grasp this, but once I did, it changed everything. Accept the gift of love. Believe you deserve it. You do. 

Check your own judgments. 
I had a really bad habit of holding people at arm's length because I thought if they were being nice, they just felt sorry for me. I always had my guard up. I was skeptical of people, waiting to be the punch line of a joke. Some of that was justified. I had been on the receiving end of hurtful things. But lumping everyone into one category isn't fair. Judging anyone based on how they look isn't cool - and it goes both ways. Some of my biggest advocates and cheerleaders look nothing like me. Before you roll your eyes at a girl who is thin, you have to ask yourself how you'd feel if she rolled her eyes because you aren't. If you've ever been the victim of body shame, self-inflicted or otherwise, you know how much it hurts. Stop doing it to yourself, and stop doing it to others. 

Feel the fear and do it anyway.
Letting go of shame and getting to a place of confidence means knowing it's okay to be afraid. Confidence is the thing that allows us to stand tall, even while our knees are shaking. Confidence is how we know no matter the outcome, we're still okay. It's easy to tell ourselves we can't do something because we haven't lost weight yet. We promise ourselves we'll lose weight, and then we will live the life we deserve. Did you know you deserve a good life RIGHT NOW? I was afraid to post a full length picture in an outfit. There was a time when you saw way more of my shoes on Instagram than anything else. But eventually I decided to stop avoiding it and post everything I was wearing from head to toe. IT WAS LIFE CHANGING. My blog, Instagram, Pinterest - all of it started to grow and thrive when I leaned into fear and did the thing I was scared to do. Today, my posts have been shared by national brands. My pictures have been seen by thousands of people. The number of negative things said are minuscule compared to the good. You know what's awesome about that? I'm no different than you. If I can do it, anyone can. 

Feelings and perceptions about our bodies and self-worth are so personal. Some days it's easy to find love and acceptance. Other days are filled with struggle and frustration from decades of hurt and shame. It's on those hard days you have to remember you are valuable. You matter in this world. You deserve happiness. You deserve to see every one of your dreams come true. And that has nothing to do with the way you look

This year, I want to encourage you to put aside your fears or feeling like you don't deserve good things unless you change. Try something new. Do something that challenges you. Run in the direction of your dreams as though your life depends on it. It does. And without question, demand the very best for your life. Put yourself out there and share what's on your heart. I bet instead of falling, you'll soar. 

As always, I'll be here cheering for you. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Walmart Gift Guide

Welcome to my Walmart Gift Guide for 2019!

If you have been with me for a while, you've seen my gift guides before. If you just found me, then welcome to one of my favorite kinds of content to create! I'm not even going to pretend like I don't love getting gifts. It's one of my love languages for sure. But I love giving gifts, too. I love finding the perfect thing and putting care into every detail, down to cards and wrapping. 

I know gift giving isn't everyone's fave, though. And that's where gift guides come in! I take a deep dive into every website and sale email to find fabulous gifts at great prices so you don't have to and it literally brings joy to my heart to create these little photo collage masterpieces. Haha!

The absolute easiest way to shop these gift guides is by clicking on the "Shop My Looks" section at the top of the blog. Once you click on the picture, every single item will be there for you! Please note all links are affiliate links which means I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

I love Walmart and I think most people who have been following me on Instagram or reading my blog for any length of time know how deeply that love runs! So it only makes sense that my first gift guide of the season is a round up of all the best #walmartfinds for the gals. There's everything from comfy, cozy to sleek and chic and even items for the beauty junkie in your life. 

One of the most important things to note is that any clothing item featured comes in a full range of sizes from S-3X, including the robe! And nothing here is over $25 which means you can get something really cute and stay on budget. The awesome thing about shopping online with Walmart is that you can have it shipped for free to a store, but any order over $35 is eligible for free two day shipping - watch out, Amazon!

If you'd like to see each item individually here are the links:
Pajama Pants -
Ugg Dupes -
Robe -
Yeti Dupe -
Makeup Brushes -
Fuzzy Cardi -
Sherpa Throw -
Lip Kit -
12 Days of Masks -
Planner -
Makeup Mirror -
Leopard Purse -
Snakeskin Purse -
Poncho -
Bow Gloves -

So here's to kicking off the holiday season and giving cute, affordable gifts! Be sure to click on the Shop My Looks tab to access all the goods in one place, follow me on Instagram for more holiday ideas and inspiration, and come back here for more gift guides over the next few weeks.

What's the best gift you've ever gotten? Let me know!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

STOP Doing These 5 Things

Hello, friends! 

Let's talk about some things. When was the last time you did something really scary? Something really vulnerable? I'm talking hands shaking, butterflies in your stomach, sweaty palms scary.

For me, it was just a few weeks ago. An active wear company reached out to me about working on their campaign for new, extended sizing within the line. Your girl is all about any strides towards size inclusion, so naturally I said yes! When I was originally reviewing the email, I thought the outfit they were sending me included a full length tank top. I conquered the fear of showing my arms long ago so I thought eh, no big deal.

Fast forward to opening my shipment. The items inside were beautiful. There was a complete, matching ensemble that was so gorgeous. It included leggings, a sherpa pullover, and.....something they called a "demi bra." It's basically just a sports bra, folks. Just a sports bra. I'm certain the color drained from my face when I realized I was going to have to wear just the leggings and the sports bra in my Instagram stories to hold up to my end of the bargain on the campaign. I am ALL ABOUT women of every size wearing what makes them feel good and showing it off. But I definitely have a comfort zone, and this look was not it.

I had to have a serious talk with myself. The entire reason I do what I do is because I want women to show up for their lives, no matter what they look like. I've come a long way on a personal level, but I am very aware that I get the privilege of curating how I show up in social spaces. I started to wonder how I could continue telling women to stop being afraid to live their best lives if in this moment, I was hiding, too. 

So I sucked it up. I did the thing I didn't want to. I got on my Instagram stories and I showed myself in the leggings and demi bra. And you know what? I didn't die. In fact, I got so much love and positive feedback, it was overwhelming. It was truly a moment of growth, and a reminder to walk the walk and talk the talk.

It was also a reminder of how far I've come, and what I had to do to get there. So today, I thought I would share 5 things you can STOP doing right now to live an empowered, beautiful life. And, in the spirit of transparency, these are things I need to be reminded of, too. Let's tackle them together, friends!

1. STOP doubting your own greatness. Your whole life, you're going to find people who enjoy placing their own fears and limitations on your life. Sometimes it's because they want to protect you. Sometimes it's because they're afraid of what's going to happen if you rise. Just know this - you are filled with greatness. Don't believe me? That's okay. But do me a favor. Even if you don't believe it, write it down and read it everyday. Say it out loud when you're getting ready in the morning. Keep it at the front of your mind as you close your eyes each night. Our thoughts become our reality. I truly believe that. Keep believing you are the smartest, most beautiful, funny as hell, sh*t completely together babe on the planet - because it is already so. 

2. STOP assuming you know what others think of you. I have been so guilty of this. I grew up with so many ideas about what people thought of me based on how I looked, and I always assumed the worst. I often let those assumptions get in the way of building relationships, giving people a chance, or letting my guard down. There will always be people who don't like you, and that's okay. Everyone doesn't have to like you. But if you don't give people a chance to know you because you've made an assumption about them, that's on you. And you'll continue to miss out on opportunities to meet people who will change your life! 

3. STOP killing yourself to meet imaginary expectations. It goes without saying that social media has made this worse. Like, so much worse. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to live in a house with an all-white marble kitchen. You don't have to go on beach vacations once a quarter. You don't have to be doing the freaking most all.the.time. And listen, sometimes I suck at this. Sometimes I'll go on an Instagram bender looking at pictures and rather than feeling inspired, I feel like I need a new house, new car, new life, new everything. At the end of the day, all anyone can really expect from anyone else is some kindness, empathy, and respect. Don't get caught up in trying to achieve things no one asked you to do. It's not worth the time and worry and frustration. Every now and then, give yourself permission to do the least. Trust me, it feels amazing.

4. STOP waiting for perfection before taking action. How many times have you had an amazing idea or a spark of creativity and then you freeze because you don't know how it's going to look start to finish? You don't know every single detail of the execution? You don't have all the answers up front? Friends, we are given that spark for a reason. The moments God fills your heart with a dream are not accidents. It took me far too long to start this blog because I was reading all the things and trying to do everything perfectly and check every item off the list and become an overnight expert in things I didn't understand. Then I got some really good advice from someone who has been doing this a lot longer than me and essentially she told me to go with what I could manage and don't worry about the rest. That's what I did, and that's why I'm writing this today, and it changed everything for me.

5. STOP thinking there's not a place at the table for you. I was talking to a friend about this recently and how the scarcity mindset is such a lie. There's more than enough of everything to go around - readers, followers, customers, whatever it is. Something I also heard that stuck with me is that if you choose not to share your story, you're robbing someone else of a potential breakthrough. No one can share your story like you can. Whatever you've been through, whatever perspective you've gained, whatever experiences you've lived - someone needs to hear what you have to say. Don't ever think you're not qualified, not relevant, or not needed. Another favorite thing I heard - "God doesn't call the qualified. He qualifies the called."  How powerful is that?

You may be reading this and remembering a time when you felt rejected, scared, defeated, overwhelmed. We all have those moments. Even the most beautiful life will come with disappointment at times. But what's worse - trying something and missing the mark? Or never trying at all and living with regret? 

Dreams can be really, really big and scary or they can be small and sweet. You don't have to aspire to an empire. But maybe you've been avoiding having your picture taken. Maybe you've been afraid to start that blog or Instagram account. Maybe you have an idea for a business but you're afraid no one will take you seriously. Whatever is in your heart is there for a divine purpose, no matter how big or small. 

STOP the doubt. Embrace the fear and tell it to shut up. You've already got what it takes. I'm here cheering for you, friends.