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More To Love teaches plus size women how to learn body-acceptance and end dieting for good. 

Filtering by Category: Body Image

5 Ways to Super-Charge Your Body Love

Rachel Estapa

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I spent years at odds with my body, believing that if I could change how I looked, I’d become a better and happier person. That path led to disappointment, frustration, and of never being good enough. I decided to flip the script and devote my energy to appreciating the body I already had.

I created daily, yet simple, habits and mantras to boost body love and it was transformational. No matter where you are on the path to body acceptance, each of these can make the experience much more rewarding for you.

SAY “THANK YOU”

Do you acknowledge what your body is doing for you right this moment? You’re upright, breathing, able to read, to think, to be alive! Recognize that without doing anything your body is still an incredible source of power and strength.

Say thanks by reminding yourself: My body allows me to experience all the joys of my life.

TOUCH YOUR TUMMY

The stomach is a sensitive part of your body and may carry a lot of shame with it. But how often do you give yourself permission to appreciate your stomach for what it is? Lay your hands on it, feel it rise and fall as you breathe, notice the sensations and warmth as you send it love. This simple act alone is a very powerful one in body acceptance.

Get comfy with your tummy as you touch it, saying: My stomach holds wisdom and I honor it with my loving touch.

NAME BEYOND THE PAIN

Sometimes your body - physically or emotionally- will hurt and that is OK. But try to go more into the sensations of the pain. Is it tightness? Heavy? Ache?  Have a color? Temperature? Mood? When you name something, it helps you become aware of what your body is experiencing and often, can soften the hurt.

Try this the next time you’re feeling something: I have pain and I have the power to comfort it with loving kindness.

FOLLOW YOUR INTUITION

Listening to your gut takes practice, but a simple way is to start is recognizing your true thoughts about a situation and give yourself permission to express them. We often suppress our inner voice out of fear of being judged for it. So take it small, pay attention to what your intuition is telling you and give yourself some space to follow it.

When feeling conflicted, reminder yourself: I know what is best for me and I trust in my ability to follow my intuition.

BELIEVE YOU CAN TRUST YOUR BODY

Seems a little redundant, but perhaps the biggest step to learning how to trust yourself is actually believing it’s possible. Mindset when learning to love your body is 90% of it, and giving yourself permission to believe it’s not just possible, but OK to trust yourself, will help make acting that way easier.

Give yourself more credit and repeat this line: I hold an infinite capacity to love and understand my body's wisdom.

How to be Fearless and Sleeveless this Summer!

Rachel Estapa

Show off your guns!


It’s weird how we associate certain body parts with fear and loathing. I don’t know of too many people, no matter their size, who get terrified of showing their EARS in photos. 

But arms? The horror! How scandalous! We turn into a Victorian woman, covered up for modesty-sake...but maybe your idea of what's allowed to be shown in public is a little outdated. 

When I still hated my body, I used to wear long sleeves all summer. 

Dark.Heavy.Cotten.All.Summer.Loooong.

People would ask me “What’s with the sleeves?” I’d reply “I get cold easily…” If you know me, that could not be furthest from the truth! I’m a hot mess all the time. Give me winter, give me fall - in summer, lord…I used to dread it. 

 Age 16-ish on a hot and humid day...wearing my typical "summer" outfit. 

Age 16-ish on a hot and humid day...wearing my typical "summer" outfit. 

I wore long sleeves because to me, it was “slimming.” I felt uncomfortable showing my arms because they felt huge and embarrassing. Did I trick the world? Nah, I looked like a sweaty, unhappy girl. 

Baring your arms feels like being naked. People can see them and that’s intimidating. People will witness the wiggle and jiggle. They'll notice the marks, the bumps the chub. For me, showing my arms was a confession to being fat and knowing it. 

If I could hide my arms, I could hide that fact, right?

I remember the day when I decided I was going to walk down to my town square sans-sleeves. It took me 2 hours to find the RIGHT top, the RIGHT skirt to pair with it, the RIGHT hairstyle with said top. I was working myself into a ball of nerves…over what exactly? But I really wanted to knock this nonsense off because honestly, ARMS? Who cares!

As I walked down into the square, I was tense but kept repeating to myself “I’m allowed to show my arms! This is me!” but honestly, there was a part of me which kept looking out for other people’s reactions.

And those horrible reactions I thought were guaranteed? Nah. Nothing. People walked on by just like they always do. 

I kept testing my sleeveless pride and the more I did it, the less worked up I became. Showing my arms (or not) wasn't going to hide the fact that I had big arms. And so what? People judge, you and I do, so I figure better to live how I want and not be so tethered to what people think of me. 

The best tip to getting the courage to bare your arms is answering this question honestly: Who says you need to hide your body from the world?

If it's a real person in your life, read my article on how to deal with people who make negative comments about your body. 

If it's an idea you've had for a while, it's time you start working on letting go of unhelpful ideas about your body and maybe consider taking my More to Love eCourse.

Body acceptance is not about waking up one day without a shred of insecurity. You’ve got to be willing to be brave in the sake of putting yourself out there if only to say to “you did it, girl!” You’ve got to learn first hand the world will not crumble if you do something you’ve always wanted to do. Show people your right to bare arms, to be seen! Body acceptance is a daily practice of being honest with yourself, and believing that your body doesn’t have to inhibit you from living fully.

This is how I personally teach confidence building: step by step and appreciating the little victories...like wearing a tank-top to the grocery store. 

 Sleeveless and happy!

Sleeveless and happy!

I was really proud of myself the day I went sleeveless and let go of lots of summer fears around it. And my summer wardrobe now is much more fun. 


more to love course

Learn the art of incredible and life-changing body love.

More to Love Holiday Survival Guide!

Rachel Estapa

Holidays are here which means plenty of time to circle around your respective family and friend's tables and all sing happily together, without any issues at all, glowing with the joy of the season and hope for the New Year.

Rrrriiiiight.

As wonderful as this time of year can be, it’s also packed full of occasions which can really trigger some body-image related stress and heartache. The fact is, holidays are both amazing and exhausting and I thought it would be great to help you prep ahead of time for at least ONE issue to go a bit smoother this season – how you feel about your body during the holidays.

Included in this article is a special gift to help you keep your body-acceptance intact so you can enjoy the spirit of the season. Inspired by an activity in my More to Love Course, I'm providing you with a simple yet powerful exercise which I'd love for you to share to the More To Love Facebook page. The exercise is towards the end, so keep reading! 

I’ve broken down three common topics which come up around the holidays:

  • How to handle weight-related conversations
  • How to enjoy food rather than fear it
  • How to keep stress down and self-care up during this time of year

Read them all or jump to the one which speaks to you. And this is not meant to be the definitive answer but more so to serve as a touch-point for your own reflection on how these common body-image issues may show up in your life.

How to handle weight-related conversations

I know many of MTL’s readers deal with direct or not-so-direct comments and opinions about weight, health, and exercise. It’s unfortunate that it’s socially acceptable to discuss something as personal as someone’s own body in a public setting. So what can you do about it? A lot. 

A while ago, I wrote a piece about how to handle unwanted comments about your body. It’s never comfortable or easy to prepare yourself for a potential “battle” so to speak, but that’s honestly what I suggest doing. Usually, you know who is going to be around you ahead of time so use it to your advantage. 

Perhaps there is a relative or family friend who makes it their mission to pry and poke at your weight or lifestyle. For these types of people, I advise limiting as much interaction with them as possible. Don't be rude, just don't go too deep. You're not obligated to interact with people you don't want to. 

Bear this in mind: you can be the owner of your conversations meaning – be in charge of what you want to talk about. Come prepared with one or two topics and stick to them. If things start to turn, excuse yourself – you’re an adult and you don’t have to participate in conversations that are not right or OK for you.

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Another option is counting on your allies – aka, those relatives and friends around who you can call upon to support and diffuse if need be. It might also be a good idea to talk with them before hand to make a plan of action should some comments and topics start to venture into unwanted areas.  It’s really nice to have the support of your loved ones in these tougher situations.

BUT OK, worst case scenario – someone makes a direct jab about your weight. What do you do? You take a deep breath, conjure up ALL the love and strength inside your heart and say calmly to them “That is a hurtful comment and it’s not ok to talk to me like that.” The ground you stand on is your own self-respect and naturally, someone might try to back-peddle or spin it, or play the "But I'm just concerned for you!" card.  Calmly remind them again...

That is a hurtful comment and it’s NOT ok to talk to me like that.

You do not have to be held to talk about something you don’t want to with someone you don't want to. And while it’ll be uncomfortable, the person is breaking your boundary when they are not entitled to. End of story. 

How to enjoy food without fear

I am Irish-Italian, my dad is directly from Ireland and my mother is second generation Italian and her siblings all live within 2 miles of each other just north of Boston. My Italian side are fantastic cooks and the hosts of all occasions, and that being so, our holidays are abundant with food. How much food? So much that every single year since as long as I can remember each holiday meal has ended with “Ok, next year we’re going to scale it waaaaay back.” In my 30 years of celebrating, it's never happened!

So with all this food around (especially when I was in my diet days) I get these thoughts: Should I really eat that? Will I eat myself into a frenzy? Will I deprive myself of all the glory? Will I turn every day this month into a holiday feeding fest which will NEVER end??

Food is meant to be enjoyed and so is your experience around food. If you’re nervous about food triggering issues for you, you have the benefit of time now to plan for it. Perhaps re-read some articles or books that really helped you find a good balance with food. Talk with friends and family. Visit forums online. Get the gist of an intuitive eating approach and maybe it’ll lessen the fear around what you’ll do with food.

But I've found (same for the women I've coached) relief in giving myself permission to enjoy food. When you put trust back onto yourself, something amazing happens – you don't feel the need to control and you're actually more at ease because you've established faith in your ability to listen to your body. 

Every bite is an opportunity to learn something about yourself

My attitude towards food ebbs and flows; somedays I want to eat more than others, and I recognize that’ll be the case around the holidays too. My relationship to food these days is much more balanced and mindful, but it's still a practice and one I accept will change as I do. 

Every bite is an opportunity to learn something about yourself. Am I eating out of boredom? Sad? STRESS? Just 'cuz it's there? Craving protein? Fats? What does full feel like? When I get hungry, how does it affect me? 

Treat it like a science experiment and give yourself the space to be mindful and present with what you eat. Doing it this way, judgment around what you eat lessens over time. 

I also put my attention to more than just food…I try to take in the whole experience of the holidays, the sounds, scents, cold temps, decorations, family, warmth. When it becomes less about food and more about an overall experience, I find myself moving into situations with more ease.

Basically, a holiday can exaggerate underlying food issues but they shouldn't rob you of the experience of enjoying yourself. So plan now, be mindful and give yourself room to experience deliciousness. 

How to keep stress down and self-care up

Holidays also mean dealing with OTHER people and obligations. Between gifts, parties, traveling, and meeting expectations, it’s really easy to take for granted your own well-being. The more energy we place onto other people’s happiness, we deplete our own. And this is a very common issue for caregiving, heart-centered folks like yourself.

You give, give, give..but feel exhausted. Why? Maybe it’s for approval or to be loved. Maybe you feel guilty for taking time for yourself, or that your energy and investment should always be towards others. I totally understand that thinking but it’s also stressing you out. And everyone else!

So let me ask: what is your giving actually costing you?

It’s not selfish to want to be at your best – you’re allowed to find time for yourself and recharge.

Just because you take a few days here and there for yourself doesn't negate all the incredible roles you play in other people’s lives. In fact, they will respect your efforts even MORE when they see you are prioritizing your own well-being.

self care

So go ahead and carve out two hours each week this month which are JUST FOR YOU. Put them on your calendar – hell, lie and say “Oh, I’m off shopping….” but instead, go to a movie. Get a mani-pedi. Sip tea alone in a coffee shop. Draw a hot bath at home while listening to relaxing music. Do yoga. Work on a special art project or crack open that journal. Do something special which reconnects you to yourself.

Making self-care a priority allows you to show up to all the amazing events this season brings. Stress robs you of the ability to do that. It’s not selfish to want to be at your best – you’re allowed to find time for yourself and recharge. In fact, you must.

More to Love Activity: Give yourself the gift of body-love this holiday season

Now that you've read through each of these common issues you might face, you've probably said "Oh, that's SO ME!" So how do you stop feeling/acting a certain way?

Provide yourself the space, permission and expectation to behave another way. 

For this exercise, make a pledge to yourself on how you'll approach the season to ensure body-love is kept at the forefront. Journal, reflect and get quiet with yourself. Answer honestly "What is it I NEED to make this holiday body-positive time for me?"

To help you make it even more special, I've designed a template you can download and edit directly using PicMonkey.com. Once you create it, I'd love to see it! So email or post it and share with me how it's going. 

It’s really easy to let the holiday’s become a black-hole, an exception to the rest of the year’s rules, but it’s still a time in our lives that requires focus and full-hearted presence.

Because let’s be honest…this really is a wonderful time of year and you deserve to feel it.

More to Love Yoga Fall Schedule Now Available!

Rachel Estapa

While the sun is blazing now, we all know what comes quickly ... cooler temps, colorful trees, and my personal favorite: apple everything. 

OK, let's enjoy summer now. But because fall isn't far off, I want to share the More to Love Yoga fall schedule and a few very exciting announcements with you today! 

New yoga levels! This fall, there will be two levels of More to Love Yoga classes offered - I'm keeping it simple with "Level I" and "Level I/II" - easy, right? Both levels are true to MTL's core of body-acceptance but offer variations to help you progress forward on your yoga journey. Check out the schedule and freshened up page now!

There are new ways to save your hard-earned money. From now until September 1, you can purchase a MTLYoga UNLIMITED PASS which will save you 25%! Pretty sweet, right? Don't miss out on this special offer - click here for all the details.

Get excited for the upcoming MLTYoga Essentials Workshop Series. Each of these unique classes will dive into an aspect of yoga and body-acceptance in a progressive way. Each workshop will consist of a lecture, personal and group activity, yoga practice to integrate the theme, and much more. Kicking off in September, the MTLYoga Essentials Series will run monthly through the spring of 2017 - stay tuned for dates and more details coming soon.

You might be asking...Why these changes? Based on responses to the More to Love Yoga survey, overwhelmingly people wanted opportunities to deepen their yoga practice - including more advanced classes and workshops. My hope is that by giving you the fall schedule so far in advance, you'll be able to put MTLYoga onto your calendar and make it a regularly scheduled part of your week! 

Thanks for taking the time to read through the MTLYoga announcements coming for the fall of 2016. I'm so excited for you to experience everything I have in store for the new season.

More to Love is going on vacation through August so I can rest and recharge before we dive back into our practice. I'll see you in September!
 

Feel guilty about making *me* time?

Rachel Estapa


A common problem I hear a lot from many (ok, women mostly) is they find it really hard to justify spending time on themselves. 

I used to feel very guilty if I chose to do something that was totally for my own self-care. I'd get a flood of the usual "but that's money I should spend on X" or "I just don't have the time.." or worse "I'm not allowed to just do nothing, I should be more productive!"

It's a real drain on self-love to think that you're not deserving of personal space. When you don't give yourself the extra TLC, you feel stressed, tired, cranky and resentful of other commitments and obligations. 

Sound like you? Yup, thought so! So what's the solution? Create non-negotiable ME time!

I know, I know, I can hear you now "yeah right, Rachel!" But listen...I do these two things every week and it's been revolutionary - and I'm someone with a pretty hectic schedule! 

  1. Usually Sunday, I block at least two hours during the week that is 100% "me time" and in that free time, I get to do whatever I want, no guilt. Sometimes it's a mani/pedi, private yoga with myself and lately, it's just lying in my bed listening to music. This space helps me unwind and re-connect with myself - it's essential! 
  2. THIS is the most important step! I TELL those around me that I've time held just for ME - including my husband, friends, family, and yes, even my day-job employer! 

And you know what? Not once has anyone said "Ummm no, I don't think so." 

To help you make #2 easier, here is a script I literally used today when someone asked to make plans that conflicted with my already set "me time" 

"Oh, that sounds awesome! I'd totally be down but I already have some personal things planned at that time. But let me get my calendar out now and look at other times, that way, we'll set it and I love looking forward to things!" 

So I still keep my personal commitment to attend a yoga class tomorrow night AND I've now got plans made for next weekend :D

I'd LOVE for you to do #1 (nudge, take an MTLYoga class if you're in the Boston area!) and share in the comments what you're going to do with your special time. 
 

I hated my body today, but soon realized…

Rachel Estapa

I could not get out of bed this morning. Already late for the day, I felt tired from a restless sleep of tossing and turning. Struggling with my body already on a physical level, it was time to ask: OK, what am I wearing today…

Taking into account the summer time weather creeping in, I wanted to be cool because I HATE the heat…and then the ol’ mind kicked in:

Damn it, the shirt I want is in the wash
I wore that skirt yesterday!
BLACK? AGAIN? SERIOUSLY
*puts on a pale blue shirt with a high-waisted skirt*
I look like a soviet-era ballerina…

*Tears it off, heart rate higher now*
OK, these pants..simple, classic…and this longer tanktop!
UGH, I cannot deal, my bra is showing in this shirt.
AND MY ARMS, so not in the mood to wear a cover up.

*I put on the first outfit again – I’m now 30 mins late*
*I walk into the bathroom, catch a glimpse of me from the side*
UGH EW NO WAY! Noooooope.
I run back into my bedroom, put the pants back on and realize:

I’m freaking out, I’m not having a good body image morning. What do I do?And then a little voice inside popped up: “I need to take care of myself.”

So I took the path of self-care, I put on something comfortable realizing all this fuss wasn’t about my attire at all – I felt off with my body, my whole self. The clothing frustration was just amplifying how I felt inside – tired, frazzled, unsettled, worried, incongruent. Human.

I then left the house, now 45 minutes behind but I kept reminding myself “Just take care.”

As I walked through my spring time neighborhood, I soaked in the warm breeze – I felt the sun on my face, the smell of fresh trees in the air. I remembered a funny story my husband told me last night and I started to smile with a laugh. I noticed how calm and peaceful the world was at this hour. I was aware of how my body was moving through space, how the sunlight lit up my brightly colored hair.

My whole mood lifted to appreciate what’s right before me -  all because I took care of myself.

This isn’t some magical remedy, it’s real life from my real experiences trying to work on managing the stir of thoughts that have the power to knock me off course. But without them, I wouldn’t know the value of self-kindness, of enjoying sunlight or the memory of a funny story.

Next time you're hating on your body, just remember to take care however it arrives to you. 

3 Myths About Body Acceptance Busted

Rachel Estapa

Since creating More to Love, I've heard some women share concerns and fears around what the impact might be if they dare to love, not hate, their bodies.

I want to share with you a few of the most common, and downright untrue, myths around body acceptance to help you realize it's OK to end the struggle with your body-image, your weight, and start on a new path grounded in love.

Myth #1: Body acceptance means you don’t care about your health
 
This is perhaps the biggest myth about people who practice a body-positive way of life: they’ve given up on health.
 
In our culture, you’ve been taught that weight loss is the best (if not only) way to increase health. And if you’re like 95% of dieters, you’ve tried – with all your might – but it doesn’t seem to last very long.
 
Let's look at the bigger story here: many studies and reports (and personal experiences) find that people who adopt a balanced, holistic approach to their well-being experience lower levels of stress, overeating, lower blood pressure, and less shame around their body.
 
Body acceptance increase confidence, self-esteem, and personal power, which all helps you make sustainable choices on your own wellness, and in turn, boosts health long-term.
 
When you follow body acceptance, you compassionately care about the WHOLE of you – body, mind and spirit.
 
Health is a spectrum and looks and feels different on everyone, but the one thread that's true: When you love something, you take better care of it.
 
And that’s what More to Love Course teaches you, how to take care of your body in a way that feels kinder and supports you long-term. 
 
Myth #2: Body acceptance happens overnight, anything longer means you’re failing at it
 
Another idea to let go of: that loving your body needs to happen in a flash and if you struggle with it, that means you'll never get it.
 
Eeek, no way!

Body acceptance is a process, but it's one you can learn and see results from very quickly. That’s the reason I created the course, because I know what helps move you deeper and smoother into body acceptance than going it alone.
 
The secret to MTLCourse is that you embody confidence, here and now. The more you can FEEL and experience positive thoughts, habits and ways of looking at yourself, the quicker those sink in and help transform not just your relationship to your body, but your life. 
 
Myth #3: There is a “right way” to be with your body
 
There are over 7 billion people in the world, each with their own unique body, make-up, realities and experiences.

The idea that there is ONE right way to have a body is not true – you, me, your friends, family – each of us have so many different things, it’s impossible for someone else to know exactly what you should do or even know what you’ve gone through.

Some days you feel awesome, other days not-so-great, and some days you feel like a stranger in your own body. Know that this is normal, natural, but the key to living more body-positive is that you'll have the tools and deep self-awareness to help you navigate. The bumps, they come for everyone..including me.

I can help you learn how to trust yourself better because right now, you are the expert on your own body! The More to Love Course offers you a whole variety of options, ideas, and perspective on ways for you to listen better to yourself and become a friend, not enemy, to your own happiness. 

Every single one of More to Love Course's lessons and activities is designed for you to thrive through your personal expression and revelations as you grow more connected to your body. This is the secret to why More to Love Course succeeds in helping women love their body.

I hope you'll join me and other women who will put these myths in their place...history!

The 5 Stages of Body Acceptance

Rachel Estapa

Having been on a personal body acceptance path for over five years now and helping other women do the same, I have realized there are 5 stages people go through. I think stages are great reference points for us all, and while no one’s story is exactly the same, it helps to know you’re not alone in certain feelings or experiences. So, which one are you in?

Stage 1 – Total Denial

This is when you learn about other people choosing to stop hating their bodies and you judge it right away as insane. A huge part of you is still thinking in diet-culture terms, which is completely understandable given it’s literally everywhere, so any one else not part of the system you would raise a brow to. “Yeah right!” really means “I cannot accept THAT because I cannot accept that for myself.” Sadly, most people remain in this stage, never breaking out to realize that a body acceptance approach to life can be a very rewarding and happier one.

Stage 2 – Cautious Curiosity

Ok, so you’ve seen and heard that other women are loving their bodies and you wonder “How’d they do that?” This is a great stage to be in because you’re in learning mode – you’re following people who inspire you, read articles that spark some new insight, you’re exploring the possibility of what this kind of body-accepting life can mean. Your mind is literally transforming, and while you’re not ready to leap, you’re warming up to the ideas.

Stage 3 – The Leap of Faith

First step of this stage is often “I’m never dieting again!” which ushers in a HUGE sense of freedom, celebration, confidence, happiness, a new outlook on yourself. This stage means you’re unhooking from the control of a diet-approach to life and you’re loving it. It feels like a party, one that might never end. You feel amazing and you should – you’re daring to find answers and happiness based on your own experience.

Stage 4 – The Wake-Up

The party is over – time to clean up what you’ve uncovered in stage 3. You might feel a lot of guilt, resistance, maybe even sadness that while stage 3 was awesome, it couldn’t really last forever – least not THAT intensely. You’ve unhooked from dieting, but you’ve not figured out YOUR true path of body acceptance.

This stage is when you realize that what you connected to your body is deeper than appearances and food. You know you need to let-go of the ideals and myths which still linger, but you don’t know what that looks like. You feel a bit lost. This is usually when people look for help (counseling, coaching, professionals) to help them make sense of a lot of complex and overlapping issues around your body, self, past & future.

Stage 5 – The True Act of Body Acceptance

Stage 5 is the rest of your life. There is no set path for what your body acceptance will look like because it will change all the time, but you feel ready to handle that. In this stage, you know a lot about yourself, your body, and you’re open to the acceptance that you have the ability to balance your health and happiness honestly. The peace in this stage comes from deeply appreciating your body and while the bumps of course will come, you feel confident in your ability to meet them based on all the great tools and connections you’ve made up to this point.

Of course, these stages each vary and it’s not possible to put a time-frame on them. Each stage offers something vital for you to learn about yourself and your body.

What stage do you think you’re in right now? What lessons are you working through?

The battleground of our body

Rachel Estapa

The path to loving our bodies more wholly is often brushed against the reality of why this is a struggle to begin with: a black & white understanding of our selves.

On one side, we want to feel loved and whole all of the time, led by happiness and joy in a constant stream that vanishes shame and helplessness. The other side, we know pain and disappointment are very real, they burn, and we create a life in which we try our best to avoid such instances so that we can protect parts within that feel too breakable to withstand.

Our bodies then become the battleground of this war, a seemingly constant tug for one side to claim the truth: love or fear?

So much worry and stress comes from believing there is ONE answer, universally, for you and for all. That our bodies are either good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, loved or hated. We live in the swing of this wild territory, but it’s a barren space for what we desire most – the peace to just be.

I offer another way…that in one hand, you hold true the realities of your body, its limits and struggles, its honest form and your sometimes conflicted ideas about how to be with it.

And simultaneously in your other hand, you can hold a faith and love for your body, the knowing that a tender heart soothes wounds and that you have the ability to hold these pieces of you safely.

You can be both the holder of pain and the healer of it. Right now, you are imperfectly whole.

MTL Pick-me-up: Listen to your body

Rachel Estapa

For as long as I can recall, I have been fortunate to have little sayings pop into my head exactly when I need it. I like to think it's the part inside of me (inside us all, really,) that genuinely doesn't judge and is always loving. The work is in learning how to make it possible to even hear that voice inside, so perhaps in a future post I'll explore that more to help you. 

This phrase below came to me while I was feeling icky about my hormonal condition, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). In short, I was beating myself up for things that I can only control so much of. Living with PCOS is hard and there are no simple ways to make sure my body is balanced 100%. It takes a lot of trial and error to find the best balance between nutrition, physical activity, and most important, self-care.

When I needed it most, this little saying jumped out to me and I hope you might like it too. 

5 Ways To Start Trusting Your Body TODAY

Rachel Estapa

5 Ways.jpg

Over the years, I've discovered simple ways to boost body-love which don't take much time. Habits practiced daily make learning to love yourself easier. 

Below are five of my go-to's for when I need to reconnect and find deeper appreciation for my body. And I think no matter where you are on the path to body acceptance, each of these can make the experience much more rewarding for you. 

#1 — Say “Thank you” WAY more often

Honestly, do you acknowledge what your body is doing for you right this moment? You’re upright, breathing, able to read, THINK. Recognize that without doing anything your body is perhaps the most incredible functioning life form EVER. 

Say thanks by reminding yourself: My body makes it possible to experience all the joys in my life.

#2 — Touch Your Tummy

The stomach is a sensitive part of your body and may carry a lot of shame with it. But how often do you give yourself permission to feel your stomach for what it is? Lay your hands on it, feel it rise and fall as you breath, notice the sensations and warmth as you send it love. This simple act alone is a very powerful one in body acceptance. 

Get comfy with your tummy as you touch it, saying: My stomach holds wisdom and I honor it with my loving touch.

#3 — Name Beyond the Pain

Sometimes your body will hurt and that is OK. But try to go more into the sensations of the pain. Is it tightness? Heavy? Ache?  Have a color? Temperature? Mood? When you name something, it helps to feel more aware of what your body is experiencing. And often, it softens the hurt. 

Try this the next time you’re feeling something: I am not in pain, I have pain, and I have the power to comfort it with loving kindness. 

#4 — Follow Your Intuition

Listening to your gut takes practice, but a simple way is to start is recognizing your true thoughts about a situation and give yourself permission to express them. We often suppress our inner voice out of fear of being judged for it. So take it small, pay attention to what your intuition is telling you and give yourself some space to follow it. 

Hunker down and say this when needed: I know what is best for me and I trust in my ability to follow my intuition. 

#5 —Believe You Can Trust Your Body

Seems a little redundant, but perhaps the biggest step to learning how to trust yourself is actually believing it’s possible. Mindset when learning to love your body is 90% of it, and giving yourself permission to believe it’s not just possible, but OK to trust your self, will help make acting that way easier. 

Give yourself more credit and repeat this line: I hold an infinite capacity to love and understand my body's wisdom.

The Easiest Way To Give Up Dieting

Rachel Estapa

Today is International No Diet Day and to be honest, I just learned this last night. I always wonder who makes these days up, where they come from, and how they spread. 

The day is meant to give awareness around the perils of dieting. Facts, stats, comments, stories - the internet is buzzing with (mostly) women sharing that diets suck! 

And yeah, they do. 

A couple weeks ago, I shared that I recently found my old weightloss blog and it gave me a lot of feels. Mostly sour, but a few glimmers of hope in there. 

While I was at the gym tonight, I thought about my own relationship with dieting and realized something profound: the only experience I've had with dieting was when I was too young to even understand my own body. 

I saw myself through the lens of a mission to become smaller, be better, make people proud that SEE! I DID IT! 

I stopped dieting 4 years ago, so around age 26. I started dieting at age 10 (maybe even sooner). I spent over half my youth focused on trying to lose weight. And it really warped my sense of identity. 

Dieting felt exhausting and when I admitted that, it became less of a need in my life. I didn't have the answer regarding what else do (yet) but just confessing that dieting was making me miserable was enough to zap me from wanting to embark upon another diet again.

Health and happiness are individual experiences. Dieting is following the plan of someone else, who doesn't really know you, but believes they know what will "fix" you. It's a completely different approach to your own body and health - why let a stranger convince you THEY know what is best for your body? 

They don't know. And I don't know either.

But I DO know that YOU have the ability to listen to yourself more, pay attention to patterns and clues, and make small adjustments as you want which might bring a balance to your health and happiness.

Diets suck at letting your own body-smarts rise up. And when I realized this, I scratched "Start diet on Monday" off my to-do list. 

Share your diet epiphany in the comments below




I found my old weight-loss blog and I freaked out

Rachel Estapa

A walk down digital memory lane resurfaced something I didn't expect: my diet days. 

Last night I was taking a walk down digital memory lane. I found lots of old articles and links of my first business, some press around it, and I was feeling very proud of myself for daring to make my voice heard in the world.

As I scrolled deeper, clicking with enthusiasm, wondering "what will I remember next!" I found something I didn't expect: my old weight loss blog from about five years ago.

Like so many women when they diet, it's a rite of passage to document it. The title of the blog was "Soul Weight" - how fitting for I used to feel like my weight was tugging on my soul. When I peeked through the many posts, the thought of me back into my diet-driven days flooded in. I saw images with captions like "DOWN 5LBS!" with my body looking, honestly, more svelte than it does today. 

I saw how much I kept repeating "This time is it!" the battle-cry of so many weight loss attempts. I triggered myself - I pushed my old weight loss buttons. I thought "Was I better off then? Smaller? I think I look prettier. Did I just give up?" And I started to cry, zapped right back into the feelings of helplessness. 

I kept reading, looking at images, feeling an odd sinking feeling that all my work for the past few years on learning and teaching body acceptance didn't matter - that at the end of the day, I was just a fat girl trying to prove to the world "Hey, I'm doing the best I can!"

I was shocked at how simple it was to feel like that again...

But then I found something else emerge I didn't expect to see: the seeds of More To Love. In one post I wrote:


If each day I’m operating under the principal of kindness and love towards myself, does the scale's number really matter? It’s still a challenge to fully adopt that attitude, given the pressure culturally to be “thin.” But I’m a living model that HEALTHY at ANY SIZE is valuable and powerful.


When I saw this line, I wept. I had no idea that even back then, when I was still believing purposeful weight loss was my mission, that some part of me was trying to create another way. This was before I even knew about body acceptance as a practice, before Health At Every Size, before the body-love community.

Before all of you. 

Last night, I had a really hard time sleeping. I felt emotional, sad, hopeful, tired, worried, scared, resilient - all in one. I haven't felt that unsettled in honestly, years. It was weird. 

I put a lot of pressure on myself to find out the truth to things, to my body, on how to teach body-acceptance. I forgot that my own story was not some shiny victory where I woke up one day, all cured of hating body and myself for it. 

I don't have some wise ending for you - maybe that's the point. Some things don't nicely clean up, they are messy and confusing.

This is how I feel right now. 


 

Help support More To Love Yoga!

Rachel Estapa

More To Love Yoga will blend body acceptance teachings with the holistic practice of yoga, so that you can love your body even better. Please donate and support More To Love's expanding mission at http://igg.me/at/MoreToLoveYoga

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Meet More To Love Ambassador Kristina Blake

Rachel Estapa

 

I am happy to announce for the first time Spring 2015s More To Love Ambassadors! You will learn about three inspiring women, Britt MeltonShenee Howard & Kristina Blake, each of whom are changing the world through their own committed practice to body acceptance and community building. Each of these women have taken the More To Love Class and are incredible examples of how body love changes lives.

Ive asked them to share with us how the course helped their own relationship with their body and what they are up to next as they help ignite love, confidence, and happiness for women through their work. 


Kristina Blake is changing the way people see larger bodies in fitness. I first saw a photo of Kristina in a wet suit as she prepared for a triathlon. She was bold, brave, energetic, and determined to prove that any body can enjoy fitness and movement.

I am so happy to share her work through The Contrary Athlete, which, on top of promoting fitness, also shares how to deal with invisible diseases like auto-immune and digestive disorders. Kristina walks the More To Love path by sharing her personal story, struggles, and victories, and is inspiring women along her amazing way. 

Before you chose to love your body more, how did you feel towards it?

Despite my accomplishments and drive toward fitness and a better lifestyle, I still had such negative feelings toward myself and my body. I needed help understanding and accepting who I am as a person in my body now, instead of constantly degrading it because of who I think I should be.

When you first saw MTLClass, what stood out?

Rachel has such a positive outlook on life. You can tell that she believes in what she does, and what she puts out there for the world to see. I admire that, and knew if I stepped outside my box, I could learn something from her.

What are some highlights about the MTLClass? 

The MTLClass provides a wonderful and supportive environment filled with others who are going through exactly what you are. I enjoyed the way the assignments were presented and how you were allowed to work at your own pace, with encouragement along the way.

The MTLClass showed me how to deal with my negative inner-voice, and allowed me to better share my journey and become a more positive role model for those people that need it.

How do you feel about your body today? Any changes? 

There are still days when I have negative feelings, but what has changed is that, thanks to the class, I now have the tools in place to better recognize and deal with those feelings.

Tell us about your work with The Contrary Athlete—what do you help women do best?

So many people limit themselves in their health journeys because they focus on what they think they can’t do, or give in to society’s common interpretation of what a healthy person is supposed to be. I wanted to break that cycle and show people what they can do.

What would you say to someone who is considering MTLClass but still feels unsure to join? 

Step outside of your box . . . there’s a million other shapes to see.

How can people follow your progress?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheContraryAthlete 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ContraryAthlete


CHECK OUT MY MORE TO LOVE CLASS AND REGISTER BY APRIL 9, 2015.

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