Let 2017 be the year you celebrate you and what makes you unique. Let this be the year you embrace your body for all of the amazing things it allows you to do. And the year you stop chasing after the “perfect” body.
I posted this quote to Facebook in 2010. I’d spent most of my life punishing my body for not being perfect. Yoga allowed me to (finally) celebrate my body. Celebrate, not only the way I look, but more importantly, celebrate what my body can do and the way I feel about my body.
This is my story of how I overcame shame about my body. Maybe you can relate. If you’re struggling with acceptance for any aspect of yourself, join us for our Love Yourself Retreat. Begin the journey of love, acceptance and compassion for your body and every aspect of yourself.
I started hating my body when I was eight. My dad and brother called me fat and constantly made fun of me. I look back at photos from that time, and while I had baby fat, an 8 year old should NEVER be called fat. Over the next couple of years, I grew taller and slimmed down. But I STILL felt fat. I started hunching over as I grew taller – so nobody would notice me. My dad admonished me, “Stop slouching. Stand up straight. What’s wrong with you?”
Ha. I felt like so much was wrong with me. Not just with my body, but me. It’s interesting how the two are related.
In fifth grade, my best friend “unfriended me”. This was way before social media, so of course that happened in person, right before class. The reason? My boobs weren’t big enough! Who even has boobs in fifth grade you might wonder. My former best friend and her new best friend, that’s who. I heard a lot about my non boobs for the next several years.
It was especially challenging through middle school and high school. I didn’t want anyone to notice that I was fat (I wasn’t) or that I didn’t have any boobs (I did). But I thought I was fat and boobless, so that made it true. I hunched over even more. I wanted to disappear. I felt too ugly and too fat to be out in public. I was 15 years old.
As a teenager, I found the more I obsessed about what not to eat, the more I ate EVERYTHING. That continued through college. Except instead of just eating, I was eating AND drinking. In my early 20s, my “exercise” was to take the stairs instead of the elevator and park my car far away. I experimented with running…once or twice…and then realized it was pure torture and gave that up. Looking back at the photos during those times, I was more curvy than fat. But I still felt fat, so that made it true.
Isn’t it interesting how our perceptions shape our reality?
If you were ever teased or made fun of or called names about your body, you know exactly what I’m talking about. And you know how difficult it is to shake the voice in your head, even as an adult. At that point, your actual body size and capabilities don’t matter, because you’ve been conditioned to think of yourself in a certain way.
When I finally found love and appreciation for my body I was 43. That’s a long time to be uncomfortable in your own skin. Now I appreciate my body for what it allows me to do. And I appreciate my body’s limitations – I’ll never run a five minute mile (or even a nine minute mile), I’ll never put my foot behind my head in yoga (why would I – that just looks weird!) and in order to feel good and do what I do on a daily basis, I need to eat right, get enough sleep and not drink too much.
The following (plus my regular practice of yoga) allowed me to celebrate and accept every aspect of my body. It’s been a journey (and a struggle), but I honestly feel like I have overcome the shame that used to be a constant part of my life.
How to Love Your Body
Let Go of Your Idea of a “Perfect” Body
- Maybe there was a time when you felt like you had the perfect body. Just the right size, you looked great in all of your outfits and you felt good.
- Maybe there’s a celebrity or a friend who you envy their “perfect” body.
- Release the unrealistic expectations you have for yourself.
- Let yourself grieve.
- Find freedom when you realize you don’t need to have a perfect body in order to be happy.
Redefine Your Perfect Body
- Define what a perfect body means to you. Don’t use any size or superficial characteristics.
- Focus on what your body does for you. From walking to running to yoga to just getting out of bed in the morning. And don’t forget about the physical pleasures you enjoy.
- Take another look at your “perfect” body. Were you punishing yourself to get that body – running or exercising excessively? Denying yourself simple pleasures? Taking a “diet” pill or any kind of drug that was more than likely causing heart damage? Focusing more on exercise or diet than your loved ones?
- Consider if it’s really worth having a “perfect” body if you are actually doing harm to yourself – physically, mentally or emotionally? Is ANYTHING worth that?
Journal the Hate Away
- Write down everything you’ve ever heard or thought about your body. The good, the bad, the ugly.
- Then evaluate each one and determine if the statement is true about your body (how it is today).
- Write down everything your body can do – walking to yoga class, picking up your child, riding a bike, dancing (in the bathroom mirror where no one can see you or out on a dance floor where everyone can see you) or just getting out of bed in the morning!
Find gratitude for your body
- Gratitude for the things your body does (sometimes without you even asking) – every breath, every step, every move.
- Gratitude for your health and wellness.
- Gratitude for your digestive system and your immune system.
- Gratitude for your strength, flexibility and endurance.
- Gratitude for your sense of touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing.
- Gratitude for the features that make you unique – your smile, your eyes, your strong legs.
Take care of you
- Listen to your body and you are in the present moment.
- Notice when you’re hungry, thirsty, tired, feeling depleted or anxious. Only when you notice these things can you respond and act accordingly to take care of yourself.
- Get active. Exercise is the most important thing you can do, not only for your body, but for your brain. You NEED to do something that gets your heart rate up and makes you sweat. Start small. Don’t schedule your first marathon or cross country bike ride just yet. Take a yoga class, join the Y, walk – fast, pull your bike out of the garage.
- Remember, if you sit and do nothing you will only feel worse, physically, mentally and emotionally.
- Indulge and eat what you enjoy. In moderation. Yes to dessert, why not? Yes, thank you, to a delicious roll with real butter. Yes to a glass of wine. Then add fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats. Enjoy hot tea, coffee or a water. Our ginger detox tea is perfect for keeping your digestive system healthy. Cooking at home is one of the best ways to eat healthy, day in and day out.
- Notice are you eating because you’re hungry or are you eating because you’re stressed or bored?
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Take quiet and alone time when you need it.
Acknowledge that a “perfect body” won’t bring you happiness
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking…”Life will be perfect when I…” lose weight, start running, meet the perfect man, get another job, and win the lottery.
But will you be happier? Really? You’ll still be you. Your body may be a different size and you may have more money, a different job, a husband, but at the end of the day, you’ll still be you. Complete with your talents, ideas, habits and faults that you currently have. It’s like the saying, “Wherever you go, there you are.”
Allow yourself to experience joy, pleasure, contentment, all of the beauty of life – today. Just as you are. Celebrate your uniqueness. Don’t let anybody shame you about your body, because you are perfect just exactly as you are. Here’s to you!
One of my favorite creations from Kaycee, homemade applesauce, it’s delicious, yet simple. A great way to start your morning, by itself, or on top of our Ayurvedic Crockpot Oatmeal. Or for a snack, with a little more decadence, with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. Or still creamy, yet not as decadent, a dollop of Greek Yogurt. And of course I add extra cinnamon on top of mine for extra deliciousness.
- 5 lb of apples (peeled and cut into chunks)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5 whole cloves
Maybe you know someone in your life (maybe it’s you!) who would benefit from a weekend away. It has been quite a year!
Give the gift that will keep on giving, long after you or your someone special returns home. A retreat is an excellent way to press pause on life and take a breath. It’s an opportunity to slow down and find stillness in the mind, relaxation in the body and possibility in the heart.
Our community of women support and encourage each other – at the retreat and in the days that follow – through social media or in-person connection. Some guests make instant connections with each other and return to a retreat together.
Retreat guests are able to –
- Consider the direction that life is taking.
- Find a fresh perspective.
- Discover gratitude for the little things.
- Truly relax and unwind – no chores to do, no meals to prepare, no errands to run.
- Savor delicious home cooked meals without chopping, cooking or cleaning a thing.
- Enjoy quiet time in contemplation – walking, journaling or simply sitting in nature.
- Engage in conversation with inspirational women, sharing stories and laughter.
- Reconnect to self.
Choose the retreat you think is perfect, or let your recipient choose her perfect retreat. Gift Certificates are available for either option.
Choose the ideal retreat here.
Email for your Personalized Gift Certificate.
“There are all different kinds of women at a retreat and you’d think we have nothing in common. But we really have everything in common,” Diondra, a frequent retreat guest, sharing with her sister what makes our women’s yoga and wellness retreats so special.
I have found that’s so true. Even though our guests travel from across the country, have different backgrounds and experiences, we are ALL women. And because of that, we have so much in common.
Our mission is to support and empower EVERY woman. Yoga and meditation are a crucial part of our retreats, but women gathered together, sharing laughter and stories and supporting each other in community is where the real magic happens. Just ask our guests. Our yoga classes suit all levels, perfect for women of all ages and body types, with absolutely no yoga experience required. Yoga is breath-based movement. I tell guests at the beginning of every retreat, “If you can breathe, you can do yoga.”
Take that much needed break and join us for a retreat, discover exactly what you need here. We offer a Retreat Assistance Program and strive to keep our retreats affordable, so we can really serve as many women as possible.
Over the years, we’ve had guests who were originally from other countries including Norway, Mexico, Ukraine and Russia. Overwhelmingly, these guests have expressed gratitude for the freedoms our country offers women. A guest who moved here from Russia 12 years ago, shared this with us: in Russia, the simple act of women gathering together in a group (as we do every weekend at our retreat center), would be STRONGLY discouraged. How terrifying!
Every retreat closes with our Gratitude Brunch, where guests share gratitude for their health, their yoga practice, their families, and so much more. I’m always humbled by stories of triumph over struggle and perseverance through challenges, as women deal with health, family, financial or career setbacks. I believe women are stronger than we know and during challenging times, we truly discover our inner strength. For me personally, the struggles in my life have allowed me to grow. Sometimes it takes a shift in perspective (a yoga retreat!) to realize we are capable of so much more than we think.
I have a peace sign tattooed on my right shoulder (designed and tattooed by the talented Star – one of our amazing guest instructors.) This tattoo is so meaningful to me because it includes the words peace, love and hope. I chose to get the tattoo after my divorce seven years ago during which peace, love and hope seemed like a distant memory. After my divorce, I went through many struggles. I lost friends, my home, material things and my way. I watched helplessly as my children faced challenges and I couldn’t save them. I struggled for years to grow my small business to a place where I could support myself and my family without being forced to work two other jobs. Life changes, yes. You either choose to stand still and mope or you choose to move forward with hope. I won’t lie – it was incredibly difficult to take that first step to move forward. But I did. One step at a time. Sometimes I took three steps forward and four steps back. But I kept moving, and I arrived here.
Today I choose to live by the words tattooed on my shoulder. When I begin to get overwhelmed and I lose my way, my yoga and meditation practice reminds me to breathe. When I reconnect to my breath, I embrace peace, love and hope. I witness this same challenge and transformation over and over again with our retreat guests. We really do have EVERYTHING in common.
Let’s move forward and continue to support and empower each other as women. Let’s be grateful that we can gather, recognize all that we can share and fill the world with peace, love and hope. Will you join me?
Sweet potatoes are abundant in East Texas in the Fall. Join us for a retreat the fourth weekend in October and you can check out the Golden Sweet Potato Festival. So much fun…even Oprah made a visit a few years ago.
We absolutely love sweet potatoes, not only for their great taste, but also for the nutritional value. They are high in fiber, yet low in sugar, plus a great source of Vitamin A (366% of the necessary daily requirement).
We serve mashed sweet potatoes and mini sweet potato pies (as a birthday treat) in the Winter. We add sweet potatoes to our Chicken & Vegetable Curry and we have a to-die-for sweet potato hash on Sunday mornings during our Fall and Winter retreats. But this recipe is my absolute favorite. A little bit of spice makes it interesting. This is especially good for you, based on Ayurveda principles, to warm you up in cooler weather and keep your digestive system happy and functioning properly. Plus, you can make a double batch and freeze what you don’t use. Enjoy!
Do you ever find yourself driving with no recollection of how you arrived at your destination? Or going through the motions of listening – while not paying attention at all? Or watching TV, while checking Facebook on your phone? I’m definitely guilty.
Practice mindfulness and find peace, joy and so much more when you join us for one of our Mindfulness and Meditation retreats. Learn more.
I admit, I have struggled with being mindful. I keep thinking to myself (instead of being mindful) “I’m busy! I don’t have time to be mindful.”
But I’ve realized just the opposite, I don’t have time to be mindless – to let the moments of my life pass me by. I don’t want to miss a single thing – interesting conversations with friends, a beautiful sunset, the relaxation of moving my body in yoga, the deliciousness of my first cup of coffee, laughter, tears, hugs.
Thank you to each of you who participated in our 12th Anniversary Celebration & Giveaway. We are so grateful for our Retreat in the Pines community! We loved seeing your comments and we appreciate you sharing your stories, inspiration, memories, and love with us. We are grateful for each one of you. Thank you for supporting and loving each other on our journey of yoga, wellness and healing.
Maybe you’re thinking, “How can I choose gratitude?” Then again, how can you not? Gratitude, like many things, really is a choice. Some choices are challenging, while others come naturally – if you let them.
A yoga retreat puts everything in perspective, and allows you to choose gratitude. We finish every retreat with a gratitude meditation and a gratitude brunch. Book your retreat here.
Benefits of Gratitude
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.” Melody Beatty.
Gratitude improves physical and psychological health. Gratitude allows more restful sleep. Gratitude is good for self-esteem and improves relationship. Studies have shown that gratitude leads to happiness. Gratitude really is a game changer. Read More
Oh the excitement when I first posted this photo a few weeks ago on my personal Facebook page. First of all, any photo with Zoe in it, always gets extra attention. If you’ve attended a retreat, you may already know Zoe. And to know Zoe is to love Zoe. If you haven’t met her yet, it’s not too late. Book here.
But then there’s the Watermelon Mojitos! Until this summer, I had never enjoyed the refreshing pleasure of a Mojito, watermelon or otherwise. At first taste I was sold. It was like a taste of tropical paradise…with a kick.
Now’s the perfect time to savor the flavors of summer before it’s too late. The end of summer is always bittersweet for me – the promise of cooler weather, yet the end of the season for my favorite fruits and veggies. There’s nothing better than a juicy peach from Ham Orchards or a handful of plump East Texas Blueberries to make my heart sing.
If you have yet to savor our freshly prepared, Farm to Table dishes, you’re in for a treat. Our guests rave about our healthy and delicious meals, prepared with lots of love – from locally sourced produce and meat to homemade rosemary and garlic breads. Best of all, you don’t have to lift a finger. No chopping, no cooking, no cleaning up – just relaxing, chatting and enjoying the flavors. Hungry for homemade meals alongside yoga, laughter and wine? Book here.