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A warrior. A poet. An encourager. A light. A woman. Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, was she.

I don’t think I’m alone in saying I am grateful for the words and work of Dr. Maya Angelou. Few words have touched me the way hers have and I’ve shared them here often. Searching for the “best” quote to post to honor her memory proved an enriching, but impossible task (how DOES one pick a favorite? Truthbombs galore). These are just a few of my favs.

But one particular poem has always held a special place in my heart. Even now it’s hard to deny how powerful it feels to read it aloud. If you’ve read it before, you know what I mean. If not, try it now.

A life phenomenally lived and such beautiful, inspiring lessons left for us all. Rest in peace.

*** Phenomenal Woman ***
(by Maya Angelou)

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size.
But when I start to tell them, they think I’m telling lies.

I say…

It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman. Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman, that’s me.

I walk into a room just as cool as you please,
And to a man, the fellows stand or fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me, a hive of honey bees.

I say…

It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman. Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman, that’s me.

Men themselves have wondered what they see in me.
They try so much but they can’t touch my inner mystery.
When I try to show them, they say they still can’t see.

I say…

It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman. Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman, That’s me.

Now you understand just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing, it ought to make you proud.

I say…

It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
The palm of my hand,
The need for my care.

’Cause I’m a woman. Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.

A metaphor I’ve always liked when it comes to being yourself, not caring what others think and putting yourself first is to compare it to having a massive wedgie and being too afraid to fix it in public.

Two options…

1. Fix it. You can risk someone seeing you do it, and yeah, there might be an asshole or two who may secretly judge. But if you laugh it off and remember that everyone knows what a wedgie feels like, you might be able to find some peace. Within a minute, those who happened to notice will have moved on and forgotten… and so will you. Off you go to live and be part of an awesome day. Winner. That’s you.

2. Don’t fix it. Stay uncomfortable, desperately searching for a bathroom, alley or opportunity to do whatcha gotta do (no guarantees you’ll find one). You spend more energy trying to hide your wedgie than dealing with it, and it gets harder to think of anything else. No one notices (because you’re amazing at hiding it), but you’re unable to enjoy your life because you’re preoccupied. Everyone else moves on with their day because whether or not you have a wedgie doesn’t affect them at all. But you’ve missed out. Not exactly winning.

The only person truly affected by ignoring your own needs is you. People move on either way, but you live with the consequences. When faced with the decision to be yourself or hide away, remember that hiding always takes more energy, energy stolen from YOUR life. No one will remember the girl who picked her wedgie, fell during a workout class, dared to bare her cellulite, farted in the library or had a pimple: generally people have better things to do. Being afraid or preoccupied with their opinions only affects you and your ability to enjoy this ONE life you’ve got going on.

So, in short, just pick the wedgie. And walk away like a boss.




We have enough pressures to deal with when it comes to cultivating self-love—the picture perfect images in the media, the advertisements urging us to change how we look, and the sometimes negative words from those around us—and the last thing we should be doing is adding to that by talking to ourselves negatively. One way to focus on the more positive aspects of you is to choose a (positive!) word of the day.

Sometimes it’s hard to come up with good things to say about yourself, so I’ve created a list you can print out and place on your mirror. Every morning, if you can, choose a word that embodies how you feel (or want to feel) that day and try to keep in mind the whole day through. After choosing your word, you might even want to look up the definition to get an even more precise idea of what it means (and maybe even some additional insight on how to embrace it).  

Bonus idea: Print out and frame the list of words. Place it somewhere you’ll see it every morning (in the bathroom or by the front door). Each day, use a dry erase marker to circle your word of the day. If there are multiple people in your house that want to participate, choose different color markers for each person. 


Love this!

Which word(s), describe you today?

So, so sad. But at least it’s blatant and obvious. Not all thinspiration comes in as clear of forms. 

Found the excerpt below compelling and wanted to expand on one point: the fact that many instructors (and trainers) often use body shaming language as motivation during class as motivation for their students. 

“Bye bye saddlebags!”

“No more muffin top!”

“This will target those gross, flabby arms”

“You can FEEL the fat melting away”

Granted, many women sign up for fitness classes with EXACTLY those intentions. But I can’t help but feel that there have to be better ways to motivate than to point out flaws that may (or may not) be an issue. What if someone’s just fine with the way their arms look? What if they didn’t think about saddlebags until you brought it up? 

Saying ‘target your glutes’ & ‘make you stronger’ are both good. So’s ‘get our guns ready for action’ and ‘boost our heart rates’ and ‘YOU GOT THIS’. There are LOTS of ways to stay motivating, get results and keep your participants sweating hard… without body shaming language. 

The takeaway: while it may seem that your students are there to target certain body parts, what they really want is to feel better about themselves. And pointing out flaws may not be the best way to motivate them to reach the next level. 

Excerpt via Intent Blog

Of all the ways to motivate me to do anything, calling me fat isn’t one of them.  Showing me photos of underweight underwear models is more likely to make me hungry than inspire me to hit the gym.  And while thousands of people over the years have sought my advice on how to become more fit, lose the baby weight, or sculpt a certain body part as if it were a fashion accessory (this is one part of my job, and I happily oblige), I have told people they should lose weight precisely this many times in my career: never.  

Why would I bother when there are so many other voices telling women and men that they need to whittle more of their bodies away in order to feel worthy of living inside them?  I wouldn’t, and it’s a shame.

But people find inspiration in different places, and, while disconcerting, thinspiration is a thing—a style of motivation that ranges from cheeky mantras like “Sweat is your fat crying,” to downright dangerous behaviors in support of eating disorders. 

I remember attending a fitness class taught by a popular teacher a few years ago at a swanky Boston health club.  It was a strong class, and I liked the teacher’s sense of humor.  But when she encouraged us to eek out one more rep of an upper body exercise to incinerate the “disgusting flab on the backs of our arms,” it didn’t make me work harder.  I wilted.  I worried about all the ears hearing those words of disgust about their hardworking bodies in the room (some of whom were also my yoga students), and I wondered how they would be internalized.

Read more.

Today’s Mantra: Kick Negative Thinking Ass

It’s tough to stop negative thoughts from happening, even for the best of us. But how we choose to deal with those thoughts goes a long way in how happy we allow ourselves to be. Negative thinking saps precious energy from us and keeps us from being as awesome as we really are.

You might not be able to stop them completely, but start by recognizing them and freezing them in their tracks. Pause. Breathe. Reframe. Tell yourself what you need to hear.

The easiest way to judge if it’s a thought that serves you: ask yourself if you’d let someone speak that way about your best friend or someone you love. If they don’t deserve it? Neither do you.


When it comes to fitness and body image, I’ve taken a pretty firm stance. All bodies are good bodies. You can’t hate yourself healthy. You can’t determine someone’s health by looking at them. Comparison is the thief of joy (and pointless). What your body can do is more important than what it looks like. And the needs of our bodies trump the needs of our egos, when it comes to keeping them healthy. (Ego needs are important too, but they cannot be solved with diet and exercise. That’s about attitude and changing how you think and feel about your body).

Along those lines, I don’t post ‘fitspo’ images here. I don’t believe it’s necessary or helpful to compare ourselves to others, and I also recognize that much like the images of very thin models we’re used to seeing in magazines, many fitness models are also photoshopped and represent unrealistic ideals to aspire to. And in my body positive space, there’s simply no room for any of that. 

Don’t get me wrong: I think some of these women are bad ass fitness rockstars. I’m at a place now where I can admire their bodies without feeling negative about my own. But I’m acutely aware that even they don’t look like that in real life. I know that the kind of life I’d have to live to even come close to their bodies is NOT one I want. I train hard. I eat healthy. I like my body. But i have a life outside of the gym. And it includes cake, wine, pizza and sometimes bacon. I need my body in order to live my life, but my body doesn’t rule my life. 


The shift from very thin, emaciated looking role models to the ‘fitspo’ girls seems like a slightly better alternative at first glance. But it’s INCREDIBLY important that we not swap one unhealthy ideal for another. (honestly, we shouldn’t have any ideals). The truth is that many fitness models employ incredibly unhealthy techniques in order to get as lean as they are in pics and in competition. They also don’t look like that all year round.

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Please. Take 5 minutes to read, nod & fist pump along with this post. WORTH EVERY SECOND.

Bam. Ashley Judd, you are my hero.

Read more.

Women are constantly being looked at. Even when we’re not, we’re so hyperaware of the possibility of being looked at that it can rule even our most private lives. Including in front of our mirrors, alone.
Excerpt via Beauty Redefined ”To BE or to be LOOKED at?”

It’s Body Bash Friday, celebrating bodies everywhere & giving you tips on how to love yours a little better.

In the fitness community, there’s a dangerous trend emphasizing looks as a determinant of health. The words ‘healthy’, ‘slim’, ‘thin’ & ‘happy’ are often linked together, as though they are synonymous with each other. To achieve happiness, according to women’s magazines, all you need to do is remove your flaws, lose the weight and do it all ‘the healthy’ way.

MYTH: Healthy does NOT have a size. You can be overweight (and even obese) and perfectly healthy. The same way you can be thin & slim and UNHEALTHY.

It’s true that obesity may raise your risk of certain diseases: but obesity in and of itself is NOT a disease. While I encourage people to move, eat healthier & make significant changes in their lives, I know that in order to be ‘healthy’, their bodies need to function efficiently: even without weight loss, people who engage in healthy practices can improve their health immensely. Regardless of their size. 

Don’t let anyone tell you that healthy has a certain ‘look’. It doesn’t.

Excerpt from Cosmo Magazine: The Best Seller That Sells Women Short

Appearance is Everything.

In Cosmo‘s regular workout and health sections, readers are once again sent the message that weight loss = fitness = sex appeal. The emphasis on appearance rather than health or abilities is reinforced in every issue by the “You, Even Better” section and regular fitness and health features. For example:

  • “The Ultimate Sexy A** Workout” (“to kick your booty into shape in time for skinny jean season!”)
  • “45 ways to instantly feel sexy and healthy” (with a young woman in a short, flipped-up dress, exposing her legs and breasts)
  • “Diet Dangers,” featuring “The Dumbest Thing You Can Do to Your Boobs,” on how yo-yo dieting “will make your twins less perky” instead of “gorgeous and firm” (with an extremely thin and almost completely nude young woman covering her breasts with her hands and posing in the mirror)
  • “Can Getting Fit Get You a Date?”

Each of these (and sooo many more) are examples of how Cosmo combines health-oriented terms with oppressive, objectified terms that forfeit real fitness in favor of a sexualized male gaze. When the most popular magazine for women 18-49 marginalizes actual health and fitness by focusing exclusively on what they claim will increase sex appeal, there’s a problem. Counteract this messed-up fitness perspective in your own life by joining us for a NEW kind of New Year’s resolutions (no matter when in 2012 you start) in our Body Hate Apocalypse!

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Dove ad: The Evolution of Beauty (Time-lapse)

If you ever wanted to know why the ads & models you see look so ‘flawless’, THIS is why. If you’ve ever compared yourself to them, STOP. If you’ve ever felt bad because you weren’t perfect, know that perfect doesn’t exist. Even for models.

Be YOU. Do YOU. Love YOU.

Thanks crossfit1440 for sending me the link! It’s a body love MUST watch.


Physically Photoshopping Ourselves Out of Reality - A MUST Read.

This article is so full of WIN, it hurts. Excerpts…

Henry Farid, a Dartmouth Professor who specializes in digital forensics, put it quite succinctly: The more and more we use this editing, the higher and higher the bar goes. They’re creating things that are physically impossible. We’re seeing really radical digital plastic surgery…big breasts, tiny waist, ridiculously long legs, elongated neck. All the body fat is removed, all the wrinkles are removed, the skin is smoothed out.” But you don’t have to be a professor to see this impossibly high bar being raised higher by the minute.


We are in the midst of a beautiful reality that is ours once we recognize it and grasp hold of it.And studies show that when we can learn to love ourselves – despite the beauty ideals we are surrounded by and cannot obtain – it shows! Recent studies show us that girls who don’t like their bodies or appreciate them – regardless of their actual appearance – become more sedentary over time and pay less attention to having a healthy diet. And that makes sense. If you think you’re gross and worthless, why would you take care of yourself?

On the flipside of that study, research has found that girls who feel good about themselves and respect their bodies – regardless of what they look like - are more likely to be physically active and eat healthy. They are less likely to gain unnecessary weight and they make healthy lifestyle choices far into the future. How we think about our bodies and our beauty has everything to do with how we treat ourselves. When we can learn to love and respect ourselves, regardless of how our bodies appear, it shows! We must learn this now and we must begin to teach the little girls in our lives how beautiful their realities are and can always be.


Here’s an outrageous idea: What would happen if confident, happy, beautiful women decided to forego painful and expensive anti-aging procedures, breast lifts and enhancements, liposuction, all over hair removal or tanning regimens? How could that change the way their daughters, students, friends, nieces and coworkers perceived themselves and their own “flawed,” lined, real faces? Their own varied-looking and perfectly functional breasts, behinds, thighs, arms and abs? How could simply owning and (treating kindly and speaking nicely about) our so-called “imperfect” bodies affect not only our own lives, but those over whom we have influence? Is it possible to slowly but deliberately change the perception of these “flaws” as something to shame, hide and fix at any cost to something acceptable and embraceable in all their human, womanly real-ness?

We say yes.

Read more. And more. And MORE.

Today’s Mantra: It’s not a competition. It’s not a race. It’s not the end of the world.

When you’re still working up to the basics, it can be frustrating to not be a superstar right out of the gate. While some people are naturally talented in some areas, others need to work harder to get there: and it takes time. Where you start is where you start: the only way to get better at something is to work with what YOU have.

When it comes to fitness (and life), there’s no need to compare. You are your own person, on your own journey, and enjoying your own unique experience. When you feel ‘less than’ remember that energy spent comparing yourself to others is energy taken away from being the best bad ass you can be. :)

When your focus shifts to other people and their own lives, look in the mirror and re-focus. Your only priority and only obligation it to yourself. Investing in you is the best way to get the best out of YOUR life.


Body love & body peace for all. With A vengeance.

Honest. Refreshing. Must read.

"I grew up hard and am still hard and I don’t care. I did not choose this face or this body and I have learned to live with it and love it and celebrate it and adorn it with tremendous drawings from the greatest artists in the world and I feel good and powerful like a nation that has never been free and now after many hard won victories is finally fucking free. I am beautiful and I am finally fucking free."

"I fly my flag of self-esteem for all those who have been told they were ugly and fat and hurt and shamed and violated and abused for the way they look and told time and time again that they were "different" and therefore unlovable. Come to me and I will tell you and show you how beautiful and loved you are and you will see it and feel it and know it and then look in the mirror and truly believe it. If you are offended by my anger and my might at defending my borders and my people you do not deserve entry into my beloved and magnificent country."

"I want to defend the children that we still are inside, the fragile sensitive souls who no matter how much we tried were still told we were not good enough. I want to make the world safe and better and happy for us. We deserve beauty, love, respect, admiration, kindness and compassion. If we don’t get it, there will be hell to pay. I am no saint, but I am here for you and me. I am here for us, and I am doing the best I can."

This post originally appeared on Margaret Cho’s website.

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