Tag Archives: Positive Psychology

Your Healthy Holiday Reading Guide

A good book can make things a whole lot cozier while you’re relaxing by the fire with a warm cup of cocoa. Enjoyable reading can also help pass the time as you travel back and forth between family and friends over the holidays. The 12 books on this list cover a range of health and wellness topics (Healing, Lifestyle Choices, Spiritual Reflection, Relationships, Attitude, and Workplace Satisfaction), and they have all been vetted by yours truly. Each of these books has impacted my life in a profound way. I believe that whichever one speaks to you is worth investing a little time in. Give yourself the gift of some soul-searching and/or nuturing this season. These books are sure to do the trick. Healthy Holiday Reading



Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can

“Both visionary and practical, Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can presents a bold new account of the development of human consciousness and spirituality over the ages, and examines the dynamic global transformation of attitudes about healing. To help you get and stay on the path to wellness, Dr. Myss provides rituals and prayers for gaining a symbolic perspective on your life issues; for bolstering your personal power; and for connecting with a universal divine energy. Dr. Myss’s breakthrough views on energy medicine and her active approach to healing life issues and physical illness will help you overcome the mental blocks that keep you from becoming well.”

The Language of Letting Go

“Melody Beattie integrates her own life experiences and fundamental recovery reflections in this unique daily meditation book written especially for those of us who struggle with the issue of codependency.

Problems are made to be solved, Melody reminds us, and the best thing we can do is take responsibility for our own pain and self-care. In this daily inspirational book, Melody provides us with a thought to guide us through the day and she encourages us to remember that each day is an opportunity for growth and renewal.”


*Lifestyle Choices*

The Power of Habit

“In The Power of Habit, Pulitzer Prize–winning business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. Distilling vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives that take us from the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to sidelines of the NFL to the front lines of the civil rights movement, Duhigg presents a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential. At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, being more productive, and achieving success is understanding how habits work. As Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.”

Ultrametabolism: The Simple Plan for Automatic Weight Loss

“For many, losing weight is a never-ending struggle, especially since our bodies are designed to keep weight on at all costs; it’s a matter of survival. But a medical revolution is under way, showing us how to work with our bodies instead of against them to improve nutrition and ignite the natural fat-burning furnaces that lie dormant within us.

Drawing on cutting-edge research about nutrigenomics—the science of how food talks to our genes—Dr. Hyman, author of bestsellers including The Blood Sugar Solution, The Ultra-Mind Solution, UltraPrevention, and The UltraSimple Diet has created a method for losing weight by eating the right foods to detox and manage food allergies.”


*Spiritual Reflection*

Proof of Heaven

“Dr. Alexander’s brain was attacked by a rare illness. The part of the brain that controls thought and emotion—and in essence makes us human—shut down completely. For seven days he lay in a coma. Then, as his doctors considered stopping treatment, Alexander’s eyes popped open. He had come back. Alexander’s recovery is a medical miracle.

Alexander’s story is not a fantasy. Before he underwent his journey, he could not reconcile his knowledge of neuroscience with any belief in heaven, God, or the soul. Today Alexander is a doctor who believes that true health can be achieved only when we realize that God and the soul are real and that death is not the end of personal existence but only a transition.”

The God-First Life; Uncomplicate Your Life, God’s Way

“There are thousands of how-to books for improving various areas of life―self, relationships, finances, fitness, business, marriage, family. And there are nearly as many books written for believers offering a framework for the “right” approach to a new life in God.

In The God-First Life, Weems shows that true success in our walk with God and in life in general is not an issue of need, but an issue of order. Brilliantly unpacking the simple Scripture in Matthew 6:33, Weems gives a fresh and practical perspective on what Christian “discipleship” is about. Bringing clarity, depth, and simplicity, Pastor Weems makes clear core truths that have been misunderstood by many Christians and non-Christians alike.”



The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts

“Falling in love is easy. Staying in love—that’s the challenge! How can you keep your relationship fresh and growing amid the demands, conflicts, and just plain boredom of everyday life?

In the #1 New York Times bestseller The 5 Love Languages, you’ll discover the secret that has transformed millions of relationships worldwide. Whether your relationship is flourishing or failing, Dr. Gary Chapman’s proven approach to showing and receiving love will help you experience deeper and richer levels of intimacy with your partner—starting today.”

The 4 Seasons of Marriage

“Spring, summer, winter, fall. Marriages are perpetually in a state of transition, continually moving from one season to another―perhaps not annually, as in nature, but just as certainly and consistently. Sometimes we find ourselves in winter―discouraged, detached, and dissatisfied; other times, we experience springtime with its openness, hope, and anticipation. On other occasions, we bask in the warmth of summer―comfortable, relaxed, enjoying life. And then comes fall with its uncertainty, negligence, and apprehension. The cycle repeats itself many times throughout the life of a marriage, just as the seasons repeat themselves in nature.
The seasons of marriage come and go. Each one holds the potential for emotional health and happiness, and each one has its challenges. The purpose of this book is to describe these recurring seasons of marriage, help you and your spouse identify which season your marriage is in, and show you how to enhance your marriage in all four seasons.”



Choose Your Attitude, Change Your Life

“You’ve heard the expression, “Attitude is everything.” But can a positive mental attitude make all that much difference in your personal and professional life? Deborah Smith Pegues, author of the bestselling 30 Days to Taming Your Tongue, believes strongly that it can.

In Choose Your Attitude, Change Your Life, Deborah explores the root causes of 30 negative attitudes, their impact on your life and relationships, and how you can learn to think positively instead. As a result, she helps you recognize and conquer counterproductive behaviors, such as criticizing the choices others make, being inflexible, and being indifferent to the needs of others.”

Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change

“Is it possible to live well when the very ground we stand on is shaky? Yes, says everyone’s favorite Buddhist nun, it’s even possible to live beautifully, compassionately, and happily on shaky ground–the secret being that the ground is always shaky beneath us, and everyone who has ever learned to be happy has done so with that understanding. Pema Chödrön presents a simple Buddhist practice that we can use to commit ourselves to a life of profound sanity, even when it seems like there’s only nonsanity all around us. Using this practice, called the Three Commitments, can really change things.”


*Workplace Inspiration*

Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead

“Thirty years after women became 50 percent of the college graduates in the United States, men still hold the vast majority of leadership positions in government and industry. This means that women’s voices are still not heard equally in the decisions that most affect our lives. In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg examines why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled, explains the root causes, and offers compelling, commonsense solutions that can empower women to achieve their full potential.

Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook and is ranked on Fortune’s list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business and as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. In 2010, she gave an electrifying TEDTalk in which she described how women unintentionally hold themselves back in their careers. Her talk, which became a phenomenon and has been viewed more than two million times, encouraged women to “sit at the table,” seek challenges, take risks, and pursue their goals with gusto.”

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

“Mark Twain once observed, ‘A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can even get its boots on.’ His observation rings true: Urban legends, conspiracy theories, and bogus public-health scares circulate effortlessly. Meanwhile, people with important ideas–business people, teachers, politicians, journalists, and others– struggle to make their ideas ‘stick.’

Made to Stick is a book that will transform the way you communicate ideas. It’s a fast-paced tour of success stories (and failures)– the Nobel Prize-winning scientist who drank a glass of bacteria to prove a point about stomach ulcers; the charities who make use of ‘the Mother Teresa Effect’; the elementary-school teacher whose simulation actually prevented racial prejudice. Provocative, eye-opening, and often surprisingly funny, Made to Stick shows us the vital principles of winning ideas–and tells us how we can apply these rules to making our own messages stick.”

Wishing you a physically, mentally and spirutually healthy season! Happy reading!

Yours in health and wellness,


wellnesswinz blue sea

Boudoir Lessons for Bikini Season

Beach Body

So, I have a confession to make. Back in March, I decided to embark on a mission to discover how Victoria’s Secret models feel when they’re in a photo shoot wearing…not much. It started as a little oh-la-la present for my husband, who travels four days out of the week, but it turned into a full-fledged, top-priority operation [on behalf of my readers]. I sought to discover how on earth someone could feel comfortable in little more than a bikini’s worth of material, and learned way more than I bargained for. No, I’m not sharing pictures, those are for my hubby’s eyes only, but I will share the lessons learned along the way, and the ladies I encountered who are changing the world, one bikini-fearing, underwear-shopping-adverse woman at a time…

When I signed up for a photoshoot with Three Boudoir, I knew I would have to restrain myself from going crazy over the next few months. I’m the type of person who likes to have event specific goals to train for (weddings, bikini season, road races). It’s easy to be motivated by external pressures that have tangible deadlines attached. It gets us tying up our gym shoes a little faster, and choosing salmon and broccoli more often than steak and fries. But, I wanted to challenge myself to refrain from ramping up my exercise and trimming out a few hundred calories every day, in preparation for the photoshoot. I actually wanted to just feel like myself for once. I knew that if I could step into that intimidating environment, cameras flashing, feeling…normal…that I would really put myself to the test.

I have to tell you; I’m SO glad that I did. Upon signing up for the photoshoot, I anticipated that I would be plagued by major stomach cramps from pent-up anxiety and a ten-fold increase in nervous butterflies on the day of. Surpisingly, my tummy only did a small flip-flop or two.

Body Confidence Bobbi Brown

I was grateful to the Three Boudoir girls for the encouraging emails they sent me prior to the photoshoot. I was initially worried that I may have put myself into a queue to be objectified, but when I got their first email, I understood that they were all about empowerment, and that thrilled me. They incrementally boosted my confidence and made me feel reassured about just being my natural self. Here’s a little sample of their enthusiasm: “Give yourself a huge pat on the back. You are brave and fearless. You are about to take on a super fun boudoir shoot that is going to leave you feeling sexy and ready to take on the world.”

Every single email that the company sent me was full of positive language. I’m pretty sure they used “hot,” “sexy,” “gorgeoous,” “amazing,” “brave,” and “beautiful” dozens of times each. Even though I giggled and let the comments slide off of me at first, over time, I started to feel better about myself, and was more excited than nervous. I started to believe in my bravery and beauty. What an even grander benefit than having pretty pictures!

On the day of the shoot, I was overwhelmed by the warmth of the women who helped me pose and look my best. I give myself ZERO credit for being able to strike those poses on my own; it’s hard work! They were encouraging, natural and fun. The time actually flew by. I felt my long-standing intimidation of models, and the unnatural poses they’re photographed in, begin to melt away. I might not look exactly like a lot of models, but I’m me – and that’s pretty awesome. Likewise, for you! 

What made the biggest impression on me though, is that apparently lots of women are more accepting of themselves than I knew. Apparently, plenty of women prefer to leave their simple “imperfections” front and center rather than edited out of photos. The boudoir ladies told me that lots of women prefer to let birth marks and scars show in their pictures. For example, without naming names, they told me that even women who have undergone surgery following breast cancer may prefer to let their scars show, because it’s part of their identity. This fits exactly within a message, on Three Boudoir’s website, that all women can take to heart: “Every single person that comes through our studio has unique qualities that we know exactly how to draw out and capture in photos.” Oh man, I might as well be their spokeswoman with all this good PR! Haha. No, they did not ask me to write this. I prayed for the confidence to share this all on my own.

Done with Guilt, On with Life

Unfortunately, positive affirmations and mood-lifting information isn’t internalized very well by women. Glamour magazine polled 1,000 women, ages 18-40, and found that body image today is actually worse than 30 years ago.  Even though women have been dominating in many professional fields, proving to the world that we should have been taken more seriously long, long, long ago, we’re suffering from a lack of self-esteem more than ever. Why?!? Someone tell us why!!!

According to Glamour, modern women compare themselves more to the girl next door than celebrities. Instead of flipping through magazines a few times a month, as may have been the case 30 years ago, we’re now inundated by at least 1.8 billion, yes BILLION, new pictures posted to social media every day! Since we’re seeing a lot more normal people, we curiously scan the endless images until we find someone that looks like our “ideal body,” and then believe we should and can look like that too.

Nowadays, the thinking is a little like this:

“Oh, I know I can’t achieve a Cameron Diaz or Madonna body. It’s unrealistic because I’d have to be super rich and paying a personal chef and world-class trainer to sculpt that kind of bod. But, my friend Michelle’s recent pictures on Facebook and Instagram make her look super amazing and she’s not a celebrity. She has a child and a full-time job! If she can get a ripped stomach then I can do it. If I can’t look like her, there must be something wrong with me. I have to prove that I can be just as on-top-of-it and slim. Why not, right?”

I’m all for women feeling empowered because of other people’s successes, but comparing ourselves to others is apparently at the core of what makes us dissatisfied. Geesh. What to do?

Here are few simple steps towards feeling your best:

1) Quit comparing yourself to others. Easier said than done, I know. But, you should try anyways.

2) If looking at other people’s pictures makes you feel bad, then place a limit on yourself by monitoring your media browsing.

3) Reinforce positive language about your body whenever the urge to shame it creeps up – aka, fake it until you make it. Positive affirmations breed positive thinking.

4) Exercise – it’s a natural self-esteem, feel-good boost.

5) Give yourself some love. Think about what healthy actions make you happy and do more of them, instead of repeating negative habits or actions that lead to frustration and anxiety.

Bikini Joy

Another fun thing you can do to feel invigorated and ready for bikini season, is treat yourself to some new underwear that will make you feel great and build up your confidence! I recently met a fellow UVA alum, Katie Fritts, who started a company called UnderClub. Katie discovered that many women often don’t toss out their older pairs of underwear and are so pressed for time that they don’t have the mental energy to make a one-off trip to the mall for minor but necessary basics like underwear. Underclub offers women a way to turn this chore into a fun subscription-based service, delivering customized high-quality undies straight to their doorsteps. To accompany the cute packaging with every order, Underclub includes a personalized note for customers; a simple reminder of their beauty or a little something to make them feel good. Love it. 

Whether or not you’re planning to buy chic new undies or a fun seasonal bikini, I encourage you to remember what you love most about your body, mind and soul this summer. You don’t need to be in skimpy stuff to feel worthy or attractive, and you certainly don’t need to be objectified, but you can put on a sleek, sexy, feminine, bold, fun, or classy attitude that makes you outshine the sun. YOU make any little piece of fabric look good. Don’t forget it.  

Yours in health and wellness,


wellnesswinz logo 2







My Diary. Air France. A Happy Ending.

Starting in early 2015, the same week as the Charlie Hebdo shooting, several French citizens working for Air France made it their mission to embark on a two-month long, Sherlock Holmes style investigation to reunite a lost diary and its owner (me). This is the story of how the kindness of these strangers has impacted my life and how the power of positive thinking may have impacted theirs.

My Diary. Air France. A Happy Ending. Pic

January 10, 2015

It’s a full week after returning from vacation in Paris when I reach for my diary in the nightstand drawer and find that it’s missing. At first I stay calm and get out of bed to check the empty luggage, stowed away in the guest bedroom closet. It’s not there. Did I ask my husband to carry the diary in his briefcase on the way home from France? I check the brown leather briefcase that I proudly bought him two Christmases ago.  It’s not there either.

A tinge of panic sets in and I begin to investigate all sorts of places in my home where I never keep my diary, just in case. It has to be in this house. I have to find it. Please God, let me find it!

I desperately sort through all of the bookcases, check the storage ottoman in the den, and ravage all of the closets. But the diary isn’t anywhere.

I thunder up the stairs and into the master bedroom where my husband is lying peacefully. He always falls asleep first. I envy that of him. With complete disregard for his slumber, I say in a breathless voice, “Hun! I’ve lost my diary! It’s actually gone! I can’t believe it.”

My husband opens his eyes into half slits and peers at me. He knows my tone. He knows that this high octave is soon followed by tears. He waves me into the bed.

I lie down beside him with my heart racing, knowing that somewhere between DC and Paris my secrets and musings are vulnerable, available for any stranger to snatch up like hot cakes off a griddle. The thought of this is just too much to bear. I start to sniffle. My husband tries to console me and says that he will help me call the hotel we stayed at in France, near the Luxembourg Gardens. He says he will also call the airports that we traveled through, to check about lost and found items.

I appreciate his help and his attempts to console me, but I start to sob. I feel sorrow for losing nearly two years’ worth of recorded memories. I also feel fearful that whoever finds my diary will cast it aside like a day-old newspaper. Or worse, whoever finds it may actually read it! 

I try to rest but sleep stays just one step ahead of me for the next few hours…

This is the first diary I’ve lost out of dozens that I’ve kept over the years. Foolishly, I don’t have my contact information written in it. I never fathomed that I could ever misplace something so important. There is no hope in finding it.

Losing the diary feels more personal and upsetting than losing a wallet or expensive jewelry. Those possessions are not more valuable in my eyes. Plus, when you lose something of clear value, you feel like there’s 50/50 chance it will be found and turned in (or stolen). The precedence for returning a diary that doesn’t possess any contact information and is in a foreign language (given that I lost it in France)?! Well…I’ve never heard of it happening.

My Diary 8

January 28, 2015

Over the next few weeks after losing the diary, I wonder if I should start re-recording things. Every time I reach for the extra unmarked diary, that I happen to have on hand, I get a sense of unease. Something doesn’t feel right. I can’t come to closure over the loss. Instead, my mind runs over the countless memories I want to preserve, as though mentally rehearsing them feels more manageable than writing them down.

I wonder if my diary is at the bottom of a dumpster behind Charles De Galle airport or perhaps, has made its way into the trash in Amsterdam, where we had a layover. I wonder if someone picked it up, riffled through its pages, and tossed it aside, or if some curious stranger decided to read it, entertained by my ardent attempts to put even simple things into the silver lining of life. Will he or she think that I’m pathetic? Will there be laughter? Will it get passed around, for amusement’s sake, in the break room at work?

The diary that I lost in France has “Daily Positives” written plain and clear across the top of the first page. Albeit the rest of my handwriting is sloppy and atrocious by many standards…I’ve been told by more than one person that I don’t have a girl’s penmanship. My contact information should probably be written on the first page but nope, just Daily Positives, followed by hundreds of my daily activities.

So what are “Daily Positives?” They are simple notes that I write about the day’s happenings, both the “good” and “bad,” but each is given a positive spin. The practice is not to be unrealistic about life but rather, to find new energy in positive thinking and to move forward from each day choosing to look on the brighter side of things. It’s not always easy, as you can imagine.

I started this practice when I was in need of a little perspective shift. It was 2009, shortly after the American economy spiraled downward, when I was hit by a car. I was riding my bike to work and boom. It happened. My life was changed with no warning whatsoever, while birds chirped happily away in the early spring air. The pain I endured for the next few years was both physical and mental. I became an insomniac. I started to feel hopeless as each therapy and treatment I tried seemed to fail me. At long last, I decided that I would find a little something positive every single day, to write down in my diary at night. It helped me fall asleep a little faster. It began to improve my emotional stability. It started to heal me.

My Diary 12

February 6, 2015

I continue to wonder about the lost contents of my diary. Has someone read about my many attempts and failures at entrepreneurship? The shocking news my OBGYN dished out in August 2014? The young, doll-faced girl on the metro who hesitated and then said to me: “I promise, I usually never do this…and it might sound weird, but…err…okay, the thing is, I really feel like God wants me to tell you that everything is going to be okay.”?

Does the reader of my diary think I’m crazy for trying to put a silver lining to my encounters with people like the homeless woman I met in Chinatown, who was wailing, “Help me! Somebody, please help me! My God! Is everybody too busy? Everyone’s always so busy. Too busy to help me. Oh, please. Just somebody help!” Or my cab driver one night, whose young niece and nephew had been killed just hours earlier in a mid-December school attack in Pakistan?

There are so many memories that flash through my mind’s eye. As I remember each one, I feel raw anxiety…there’s no chance I can recapture these moments in all of their detail…

My Diary 4

February 25, 2015

I receive a message via WellnessWinz’s blog contact form. It’s from a man with Air France Customer Support who writes:

“Hello. Please contact me by mail about your “Daily Positives” which was found at Charles de Gaulle airport. Thank you.”

In that second, my mind starts running wild – someone actually FOUND my diary?! Should I be over-the-moon or terrified? How did someone figure out that the diary is mine? Then the obvious hits me: the blog!

Yes, of course! I wrote about starting the blog in the diary. But this means that someone must have read at least part of the diary in order to get it back to me! Who would take the time to do that? Who would scan the pages until finding the single incident in the diary where I mention the name of the blog?

I hesitate before deciding to swallow my pride. I embrace humility and gratitude.

My Diary 9

Feb 26 – Feb 28, 2015

Over the next few days, I learn that a female supervisor at Charles de Gaulle airport is the one who found my diary. She wrote to me via email that she held onto it because “it was so personal that it was just not possible to drop it.”

My new French friends at the airport apologized for the “necessary indiscretion” that enabled them to take on this “Sherlock Holmes investigation.Easily forgiven, of course.

These employees at Air France took it upon themselves to spend their valuable time trying to find me. They swallowed potential feelings of embarrassment for having to disclose that they perused the contents of my diary in order to find clues about its owner. When they finally found the only solid clue in the diary’s pages, they immediately searched online for WellnessWinz and contacted me.

Air France safely returned my diary to me, saying via email, “Air France is pleased to pay for this happy end story…a new positive item for your diary.”

This happy ending is indicative of the fine customer care at Air France, and also of the beauty of the human spirit. We feel less alone when we acknowledge the struggles and joys of others, akin to our own. In our own way, we all strive to discover the daily positives.

Kindness of Strangers

March 16, 2015

Part of this blog’s mission is to focus on various dimensions of wellness. Emotional wellness is definitely a piece of this journey.

So, my final words of gratitude: Air France…you just filled my emotional “love tank”…big time. Thank you.


Yours in health and wellness,


wellnesswinz logo 2

This Girl CAN

Sport England, a UK government agency, found that 75% of women want to participate in sport and exercise but are afraid to get involved. Widespread hesitation stems from “fear of judgement” and “worries about being judged for being the wrong size, not fit enough and not skilled enough.”

This is really upsetting news because the Women’s Sport Foundation has suggested that sport and exercise has a significant and positive impact on women’s physical and mental health. Women who have participated in sports are less likely to experience an early pregnancy and to be victims of domestic abuse. They also tend to have higher levels of self-esteem and confidence. Not to mention the plethora of other benefits.  

It’s imperative that as mature women, we decide to cast aside feelings of insecurity in order to live life to the fullest. We must rise to the occasion and start believing we can. Once we embrace movement and our bodies, future generations of women will feel the liberty and empowerment to do the same.

A lot of what helps us get involved in sports and exercise is finding something that’s fun. I have recently been honored with the opportunity to write a guest post for Fit Mommy Diaries, a blog that has roughly 2 million sets of mommy eyes on it every month. Whoa, mama – literally! My guest post implores women to find what sport or exercise works best for them:

“Keep trying out classes until you find one that you love! Also, try not to doubt your ability to get into the shape you want just because you found out that training for a half marathon isn’t your mojo. Try something else! There are plenty of exercises, classes, races, groups, and more to get involved with. Think of it like dating – you don’t have to settle for the guy who asked you out on your first date. Unless it’s life-long love, why would you?! First dates can be uncomfortable, stressful, and awkward. *Or am I the only one who experienced this?* Trying out new exercise routines can feel the same.”

To discover more about how to find a routine that is fun and how to balance it out with what your body needs, feel free to check out: http://bit.ly/1y8oODm. Sia, the fit mommy behind the blog, is a shining example of a woman who is brave and willing to be up close and personal in order to inspire other women. Now, we’re not all going to have Sia’s impressive toned abs, nor do we all need to share what we might prefer to keep personal, but we must, must, must believe we can.

Check out this 90 second video by Sport England that is rapidly spreading across the web…ironically, it’s titled “This Girl Can.” How fitting. It will make you feel like getting up from your desk or chair to do a victory dance. This is what real women look like when they work out. It’s awesome. 

Yours in health and wellness,


wellnesswinz logo 2








Are You Dissatisfied?

A woman vocalizes her physical insecurities to her best friend, “I just hate wearing strapless dresses to formal functions. Everyone can see my arms jiggle when I dance. Ugh, I feel so gross. I need to lose weight.”

Her friend responds, “Are you kidding me? You’re gorgeous. I would kill for your arms. At least you don’t have a gross belly pooch like me. I’m disgusting. I look like I’m still pregnant.”

Does this interaction sound familiar? We would never say the belittling things about our friend’s body that she is saying about her own but we are quick to slander ourselves. Is this a healthy pattern that uplifts both women? I would argue, emphatically, NO.

80% of American women, obese and non-obese, are dissatisfied with their bodies. That’s a significant percentage. Do you fall into this category?

Perhaps one of the reasons so many women are unhappy with their physiques is because American society emphasizes models that are 23% thinner than the average woman. If we see this as the prototype for beauty then we will put unnatural pressure on ourselves to conform to it. This saddens me because I see more and more women feeling like failures unless they get down to a model-thin dress size. Do you still use your athletic prowess from high school as your benchmark for fitness? Do you think of your wedding weight, that you spent months working hard to achieve, as your ideal weight? Do you compare your thighs, arms, or abs to women featured by Sports Illustrated, Vogue or Victoria’s Secret? While it’s always important to have goals to aspire to, we must be careful not to sacrifice our mental health in the process.

Self Magazine partnered with UNC at Chapel Hill and found that 65% of women between the ages of 25-45 have disordered eating behaviors and 10% have a diagnosable eating disorder. The staggering 75% of women, who mentally struggle with food, are not differentiated by racial or ethnic lines.

Glamour Magazine conducted a study to assess women’s mental health and found that their readers had, on average, 13 negative body thoughts a day. This means that women are thinking negatively about their body once almost every waking hour of the day! Whoa! Scary stuff? It certainly scares me.

Please don’t start thinking that you’re a bad person or a failure because you have negative thoughts. They are natural to have sometimes, just like occasional emotional eating is a part of a healthy, normal eating pattern (yes, it’s true!). The problem comes when we begin to fixate on these negative patterns. Thoughts can become habitual just like biting your nails, overeating, cigarette smoking, and procrastination. I like to explain positive versus negative thinking to clients by talking about hiking trails. Odd, I know, but just wait…

WW Image, Two Hiking Trails

Pretend you’re hiking in the woods and the path splits into two new routes. One route has a wide dirt path that is free of branches and overhanging foliage. The other path is barely visible underneath weeds, fallen branches and rocks. The choice of which path to take is obvious, right? Well, this is kind of how your brain looks at positive versus negative thinking. If you think negatively all the time, negative thinking actually gets reinforced and easier. It becomes the wide open, friendly path that your brain prefers to take. The same is true for positive thinking. The old phrase “smile until you mean it” has some merit because you are reinforcing your brain to comply with the way you want to feel. To summarize, if you constantly remind yourself of the things you don’t like about your body, you will feel worse and worse with one negative thought followed by the next.

So, how do we change?

Positive thinking starts with knowing that positivity is not a state of mind that just happens, it’s a choice. Henry Ford’s famous quote; “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right,” is on point. This is exactly why Wellnesswinz’s tagline is “Start believing you can.” This lesson was drilled into me when I was en route to an ashram in India for yoga teacher training. The cab driver was asking me whether or not I was going to become an excellent yoga instructor and I responded “I hope so.” He scolded me like a young schoolgirl: “No. You know so.” I was humbled.

A positive and vibrant life, full of self-confidence, is what you deserve. Whether you’re trying to accomplish a healthy fitness goal, take the mental burden of negative body thoughts off your shoulders, or tackle the impossible, start believing you can and then suddenly, you will.

Yours in health & wellness,