Four Easy Ways to Feel More Confident in Your Body

Healing from bad body image is never easy — and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight. Sadly, there’s no one step you can take to banish negative body image from your sight.

Instead, healing from poor body image is a constant uphill battle. Some people are fighting for a lifetime; others, for months or years. But what’s important is that you continue to fight, not only for yourself, but also for the legions of young women who will come after you.

Even if you don’t have kids (or don’t want them), it’s important to model positive body image for the next generation of girls and women who look up to us. Whether it’s our nieces, our Girl Scout troop, our daughters or our little sisters, showing young girls that we love ourselves gives them permission to say “screw it” to patriarchy and “heck yes” to body confidence instead!

Still, as a fellow ED-recovered person, I know that developing body confidence is easier said than done. It can feel challenging, or even impossible, to figure out where to start.

If you want to learn how to love yourself, both for other women and for your own sake, these simple (though not easy) body image exercises will help you grow your self-confidence and start loving and accepting your body — instead of simply putting up with putting yourself down!

1. Start with acceptance over unconditional love.

Ever heard of setting a SMART goal? The A in SMART stands for “attainable” for a reason: your goals need to be realistic (which just happens to be the R in SMART, too) in order for them to be achievable.

In my opinion, the best way to set an achievable goal is to start small — and the first step toward body love is always body acceptance. If you can’t ever see yourself loving your flaws, then this is the perfect first place to start if you want to develop better body image.

Rather than striving to love your body, then, try accepting your body first. Even if you can’t love everything you see in the mirror, you can at least accept that this is your body, right here and now, and decide to honor that. Even if you still have parts of yourself you want to change, you can still acknowledge that this is the body you have right now, and that you need to make peace with it.

Physical activity — not strenuous exercise, but rather mindful movement — can help you in this endeavor. I especially like slow-flow yoga for its emphasis on connecting body and breath. Yoga helps me feel more present in my body, which allows me to accept the body I’m in and acknowledge it for everything it can do.

2. Track and challenge your negative thoughts.

If you’ve ever tried Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, then you’ve probably kept a thought record before — or at least tried challenging some of your cognitive distortions with the help of your therapist. If not, here’s how it works: CBT believes that our thoughts influence our feelings and behaviors, keeping us stuck in negative situations (like an eating disorder mindset).

To develop better body image, then, CBT suggests we should change our thoughts in order to change the way we feel about our body. Before we can change our thoughts, however, we need to be aware of what our thoughts are.

First, try keeping track of your thoughts for a day and using a thought record to log any negative thoughts you experience about your body. A printable thought record like this one can help if you’re stuck on where to begin! Using a thought record, you can write down your negative thought, what you felt and what you did as a result, then replace your negative thought with a more positive one — more on that in the next paragraph.

Afterwards, determine where the errors in your thinking lie and challenge your negative thought’s validity. For example, if your negative thought is “I’m fat,” you might try to argue that your BMI is in the “normal” category, so you’re definitely not overweight. Or, you might say to yourself something like “even if I am fat, I am still worthy of love and happiness.”

Over time, challenging your thoughts will become easier and easier. The more you practice, the less your negative thoughts will be automatic — and the more you may find yourself thinking positive thoughts about yourself and your body. At the very least, however, strive for body neutrality: if you can’t think positive thoughts about your body, at least turn your thought into something neutral!

3. Distract yourself from negative emotions.

Does your negative body image seem to be triggered by negative emotions like sadness, anger or guilt? These emotions can drive us to engage in behaviors that aren’t good for us — like binge eating, restricting calories or over-exercising — because they’re the only coping strategies we’ve learned how to use.

In Dialectical Behavior Therapy, a type of therapy often used in the treatment of eating disorders and other mental illnesses, one of the major ways we’re taught to interrupt negative behaviors (what we call “urges”) is through the Distraction skill. Distraction, in this case, is not avoiding your negative emotions: it’s purposefully choosing to do something else instead of the negative behaviors your emotions are telling you to engage in, according to Bay Area DBT.

The key to successfully distracting yourself is learning to engage your five senses with your distracting activities. Below, I list some of my personal favorite distractions for Touch, Taste, Smell, Hear and Sight. Try printing out my list and checking next to any skills you could potentially see yourself using to distract from negative body thoughts.

Additionally, for more ideas, check out The Big List of Pleasurable Activities from The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook by clicking here!

Touch

__ Whack a Dammit Doll or pillow against a wall

__ Play with play dough or silly putty

__ Try a fidget cube like this one

__ Pet a dog or cat; if you don’t have one, volunteer at a shelter

__ Write down your feelings in a journal, focusing on the feeling of the pen in your hands

Taste

__ Savor a delicious chocolate truffle

__ Suck on a piece of hard candy

__ Chew gum

__ Grab a coffee or tea from your favorite shop

__ Chug a glass of water (this is my favorite for distracting from panic attacks)

Smell

__ Light a scented candle (I like this one from Bath and Body Works)

__ Soak in the tub with bubble bath

__ Buy yourself flowers

__ Visit your favorite beauty store to smell the perfumes

__ Bake your favorite dessert; enjoy the scent as it wafts through your kitchen

Hear

__ Blast your favorite song; sing along at the top of your lungs

__ Bury your head in a pillow and just scream

__ Listen to a guided meditation app

__ Repeat positive affirmations out loud

__ Say 10 things you love about your body while looking in the mirror

Sight

__ Watch Saturday Night Live skits on YouTube (I recommend Guy Who Just Bought a Boat)

__ Re-read your favorite book

__ Try some adult coloring pages

__ Play your favorite phone game (I play Choices and Episode Interactive)

__ Go for a walk (by yourself or with your dog) and notice the beauty of nature

4. Give your physical appearance a pick-me-up.

You might think that focusing on how you look on the outside is vain — but, as Rachel Hollis writes in her latest book Girl, Stop Apologizing, things like fashion, makeup and even plastic surgery can lend confidence.

Sometimes, looking the part gives you the little nudge you need to fake it until you make it! That’s how the concept of a “power outfit” came about: everyone loves to roll into a big meeting or important presentation wearing the clothes that make them feel most confident.

While I wouldn’t recommend blowing your entire monthly budget at Sephora, I agree with Rachel that splurging on your personal appearance from time to time is worth the money. Still, only you can decide what elements of your physical appearance worth spending on, based on your values and salary.

Personally, the little “extras” I pay for that make me feel confident in my appearance include a nice haircut and highlights once or twice a year (Ohioans: I highly recommend Moxie Salon in Westlake!), Drunk Elephant skincare products and clothes from Madewell. But for you, that might mean something completely different!

The one thing I promise you definitely DON’T need to pay for? Diet books and systems, gym memberships and classes and expensive weight loss supplements that don’t do what they promise. Because investing in your physical appearance doesn’t mean investing in diet culture — no matter how it feels, your body isn’t the problem.

Diet culture can ruin your confidence. But wearing clothes you love, makeup you love and a hairstyle you love? Those things can help you feel MORE confident.

Gut Health Update: All About Endometriosis

You may have noticed that I’ve been quiet on the topic of my gut health recently. That’s because, well, my doctor and I aren’t quite sure if my gut’s actually the problem!

If you’ve heard of endometriosis, then you know how painful and debilitating this condition can be. (If not, I highly recommend reading The Doctor Will See You Now by Dr. Tamir Seckin, with a foreward by Padma Lakshmi — they co-founded the Endometriosis Foundation of America, or Endofound.)

As it turns out, as many as 90% of patients with endometriosis experience gut involvement: for 1/3, this takes the form of constipation and for 2/3, diarrhea. For other patients, like me, endometriosis leads to alternating constipation and diarrhea — which is also common in IBS, making it an easy disorder to confuse with endo.

While my diagnosis of endometriosis hasn’t been confirmed by my doctor yet (an exploratory laparoscopy is required for an “official” diagnosis, which I haven’t decided if I want to do just yet), the diagnosis makes more sense than IBS given my history of gynecological problems, including extraordinarily painful periods and ovarian cysts. And given that 60% of endometriosis patients were told at one point that “nothing was wrong,” I think it’s fair to say that endometriosis is the most likely explanation for my symptoms, even without formal diagnosis.

Here’s how we came to the conclusion that endometriosis, and not IBS, was the main cause of my gastrointestinal symptoms.

My OB-Gyn Appointment

I didn’t know endometriosis could cause gastrointestinal symptoms until, one day, I read about it by chance. After that, I did all the research I could about endo, and took the SpeakEndo Symptom Quiz to see what the odds were that I actually had it. My results raised a red flag — and the more I learned about endometriosis, the more I identified with its symptoms and disease progression. So, I took SpeakEndo’s advice and made an appointment with a local gynecologist.

The gynecologist told me, flat-out, that she can’t diagnose me with endometriosis without doing an exploratory laparoscopy. Because my period pain is well-controlled with my Liletta IUD, that doesn’t seem like a necessary action right now. However, I’m still having pelvic pain between periods, in the middle of my cycle, which isn’t normal. I believe this pain is due to a history of ovarian cysts, and Monday, I will have an ultrasound to confirm.

A friend from my mental health IOP who also has endo told me that ultrasounds can often pick up on signs of endometriosis, too. My hope is that, in addition to spotting cysts, the ultrasound shows some sign of endo that makes my OB-Gyn take my symptoms more seriously. This could lead to me having the laparoscopy, or to her diagnosing endometriosis as the most likely option. However, as of right now, it’s seeming like my GI problems are a result of endo, rather than of IBS.

If I have cysts on Monday, the doctor also plans to add a progesterone-only birth control to my medication regimen to help stop the development of the cysts. This will help mainly if the cysts are simple cysts that develop from a dominant follicle during my menstrual cycle, so I guess this medication will also help the doctors sort out whether the pain is due to endometriosis or to simple ovarian cysts. Either way, endometriosis makes it much more likely to have cysts — but more on that in the next section, where I talk about the symptoms I experienced that made me suspect endometriosis.

How I Suspected Endometriosis

When I was 10 years old, I got my period — and I didn’t get my period the way other girls do. Most girls I knew were getting periods every 30-60+ days when they first started. But me? I was getting mine every two weeks.

As I got older, my periods became heavier. By the time I was 12, I was having such painful periods that I had to take NSAIDs for them. Still, it always took them more than half an hour to work — and even then, they only dulled the ache in my belly and back, never completely getting rid of it.

When I turned 14, I started keeping Aleve at the nurse’s office at my high school. I had to visit her anytime I got period cramps. More than once, I got cramps that debilitated me, utterly and completely. One time, in English class, I got such bad cramps that I had to run out of class to throw up. I threw up several more times in the nurse’s office while waiting for my mom to come. Another time, I was taking a state-mandated standardized test when I had to excuse myself to take some pills. My teacher at the time told me I looked like I was going to pass out.

Finally, I’d had enough. So, when I turned 15, I decided to ask my doctor about the pill. I started oral contraceptives as a way to manage the period pain — and it worked, at first. Then, at 17, I lost my virginity and began to experience painful sex (another symptom of endometriosis). Switching from the pill to the IUD helped manage the pain, but didn’t completely get rid of it.

Now, even with hormonal contraception, I still have deep pain in my belly sometimes while having sex and cramps that require the use of NSAIDs, which is another sign I might have endometriosis. On top of it, my worsening GI symptoms and intermittent pain due to cysts also suggest endo might be the true cause I’ve been searching for all this time. But if not for the internet, I never would have suspected it — meaning there’s a clear need for GI doctors to brush up on their knowledge of endometriosis, and of gynecological issues in general!

So, What’s Next on Lovely & Lazy?

Obviously, as a chronic illness blogger, I’ve talked a lot about my gut health and IBS in addition to my experience with mental health. Now that I’ve discovered I probably don’t have IBS, I won’t continue to blog about it — however, I do plan to keep Lovely & Lazy (both the blog and the Instagram account) going. I will simply be talking more about menstrual health and endometriosis than about IBS, and may increase the number of lifestyle blog posts I do to make up some of the difference.

Endometriosis Resources

After reading this blog post, if you suspect you may have endometriosis (or know you have it already), there are many resources you can seek out for help. If your period pain doesn’t disappear with NSAIDs or causes you to miss work or school, or you’re experiencing any pain at all during sexual intercourse, you may want to see your doctor and/or consult these resources on endometriosis.

Prepare for Your Appointment | SpeakEndo

Find an Event Near You | EndoMarch 2020

Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Endometriosis | St. Louis University School of Medicine, OB-Gyn

Endometriosis Pain Management for Adult Women | Brigham & Women’s Hospital

Endometriosis Fertility & Pregnancy | Jean Hailes for Women’s Health

The Ultimate Gift Guide for Chronic Illness Warriors

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I receive a percentage of any purchases you make from my site. Links like these help keep Lovely & Lazy alive!

As much as I love Thanksgiving, I look forward to December every year because of my annual holiday gift guide posts.

On my old blog, I’ve written gift guides for guys, gals, eating disorder patients and more. This year, however, I decided to do something a little bit different, and hone in on gifts chosen especially for chronic illness warriors.

More than 40 percent of the U.S. population suffers from some type of chronic illness — meaning you’re likely to be shopping for at least one chronic illness warrior this holiday season!

A chronic illness warrior is what I like to call those of us suffering from a chronic health condition. IMHO, it’s a much better word than “patient” or “sufferer” because instead of victimizing us, it recognizes us for the bad-ass motherf**kers we are, and the daily fight we wage in the war on our bodies.

When someone is suffering from a devastating health condition, it’s difficult to know what you can do to support them. This year, take the simple action of supporting your favorite chronic illness warrior with a holiday gift designed to help in their journey toward better health.

Here are some of my favorites:

Sephora Favorites Wellness Kit

As someone with chronic illness, it’s easy to spend hundreds of dollars on supplements that might work — or that might not. This Wellness Kit from Sephora allows your loved one to sample seven top supplements for boosting immunity, digestion and inner beauty, all for just $39.

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BKR Warm & Cozy Trio

Nothing is more important than hydration, especially when it comes to controlling chronic illness symptoms. This trio of warm and cozy water bottles from BKR — my favorite brand of high-quality glass water bottles — even arrives in a branded gift box, ready to give to your loved one, for $114.

ban.do Strength Necklace

Give two gifts in one with this mantra necklace: ban.do’s new Good Intentions Jewelry Collection supports Girls, Inc., a nonprofit helping girls grow up healthy and educated. Suffering from a chronic illness takes strength, and this $38 necklace will only serve to remind them of that every time they wear it.

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Smoko Toasty Heatable Plushie

Because who doesn’t want to cuddle with a Corgi — especially when that Corgi is warm and comforting for cramps, belly aches and all the symptoms of chronic illness? Throw this $30 Corgi in the microwave and your loved one will be on their way to feeling better in no time.

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Anthropologie Mindfulness Cards

Give the gift of calm, awareness and meditative bliss with these Mindfulness Cards from Anthropologie. This $17 card deck promotes mindfulness, a skill useful for managing pain associated with chronic illness.

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Five Reasons to Keep a Journal in Eating Disorder Recovery (+ 30 Prompts to Get You Started!)

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links, meaning I may receive payment from a purchase you make through my blog. Affiliate links like these help keep Lovely & Lazy alive!

Confession: I have kept a diary since I was seven years old. My aunt got her first diary at this age, and bought me one when I went through my parents’ divorce. Throughout that time, my diary kept me company — in fact, it’s how I became addicted to writing — and soon became a refuge for all my deepest secrets.

Flash forward nearly 15 years, and I am still keeping a diary (though now, I prefer to call it a journal). My journal continues to be my faithful companion amid anxiety, depression and an eating disorder. In fact, journaling is one of the many helpful habits that I credit with my recovery from orthorexia.

In eating disorder recovery, one of the most difficult things to learn how to do is to sit with your emotions, even when they’re uncomfortable. Distress tolerance is a skill taught in dialectical-behavioral therapy that helps manage these uncomfortable feelings. For me, writing in a journal has taught me how to cope with my emotions at a time when I’d rather stuff them back. And that’s not all….

The benefits of journaling in eating disorder recovery have been so numerous for me that I decided to write an entire blog post dedicated to them. Read them all and be rewarded with a freebie: a list of journal prompts to print and keep to inspire your journal-writing! Plus, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite journals from around the web to get those creative juices flowing.

Let’s get started!

Journaling for eating disorder recovery

Journaling has mental health benefits for anyone, but especially in my recovery from my eating disorder, I’ve found it a helpful way to tease out my true feelings about a situation. Write for long enough, and even the deepest emotions will come out eventually! But that isn’t the only reason why I love keeping a journal as a coping strategy for recovery: check out these other reasons to start a journal, too, such as….

  1. Holding yourself accountable. In recovery, you’re liable for all your relapses, slip-ups and mistakes. While I would never recommend beating yourself up, I do think it’s worth examining relapses to see if there is anything you can do differently in the future to support your recovery. Let writing about them be a learning experience, rather than a punishment.
  2. Uncovering uncomfortable emotions. Whenever we use negative self-talk in eating disorder recovery — for example, I often tell myself “I’m fat” when I’m down — it’s usually a cover up for something else that’s got us down. For example, when I feel “fat,” I know fat is not a feeling, so I must be feeling discomfort for some other reason instead. By writing down how I feel, I can eventually tease out the root cause of my discomfort, no matter how deeply seated it may be, so that I can address the real problem — and stop my negative self-talk.
  3. Push yourself deeper. It’s most comfortable to ignore the source of our discomfort and turn to a well-known coping strategy — like an eating disorder behavior. But by writing in a journal and accepting your most difficult feelings, you can push yourself harder to really get to the bottom of your personal challenges. It can be difficult to acknowledge these sources of discomfort, but when you figure out the root cause of your beliefs, this is where the difficult work of recovering happens.
  4. Experience catharsis. Much like you sometimes need a good cry just to get it all out, I find that I often need to write down my feelings to get whatever’s on my mind, well, off my mind. When I write down my worries, especially before bedtime, I no longer allow them to torment me. Instead of ruminating on the source of my challenges, I write down my feelings in my journal and close the book until morning, signaling to my brain and body that I’m the one in charge of my emotions. To someone whose eating disorder provided her with control, I find journaling a much healthier substitute for those ED behaviors.
  5. Solve your own problems. We all worry that we are a burden to others with our problems. Everyone with an eating disorder has that one friend who thinks you always make it all about yourself. But while it’s healthy to lean on others from time to time, writing in a journal helps you discover the tough solutions for yourself, without drawing others into your life’s problems. Because even though it’s healthy to share your problems, over-relying on others runs the risk of morphing into codependency, which is just as unhealthy as an eating disorder mindset for your mental health.

My favorite journals for eating disorder recovery

Guided Journals

Eating Disorder Recovery Journal

Sophia Side’s Eating Disorder Recovery Journal is available on Amazon for just $9, and provides patients with plenty of worksheets in gratitude, meal planning and all aspects of ED recovery.

Trauma Healing Journal

The Trauma Healing Journal by Mystic Tortoise costs $10 on Amazon and is a mindful adventure into journaling that includes guided prompts, quotes and dotted grids for sketching notes or doodles.

Blank Pages

Essential Journal in Navy with White Dot

Sugar Paper’s $24 essential journal comes with the $15 option for personalization: add your initials in silver or gold thread to this fabric-covered journal to mark your thoughts as your own.

Take Note Leatherette Initial Notebook

Kate Spade offers the $22 Take Note notebook customized with your first initial — plus, it’s lightweight and portable, making it perfect for jotting down your triggers, emotions and self-talk on the go.

Download 30 free journal prompts for recovery

Thank you so much for sticking around with this article long enough to get to your FREE journal prompts! There are 30 prompts in a handy printable worksheet, so you can fold them up, tuck them into your journal and carry them on the go for whenever inspiration strikes.

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Thanks! Check your email for your free journal prompts.

The Cutest Apps for Self-Care

Confession time: I’m a sucker for anything kawaii. In case you haven’t heard the term before, “kawaii” translates to “cute” — but that’s an over-simplification.

Kawaii is not just an adjective; it’s also a subset of Japanese culture that includes ultra-cute characters like Hello Kitty, Cinnamoroll and Pusheen. When you put it that way, how could you not love all things kawaii?

As an American, I get my kawaii fix from two main sources: stationery and apps. Blippo and Mochithings have got me covered when it comes to stationery — but how can you make your boring smartphone a little more kawaii?

These kawaii self-care apps will add a little bit of light back into your day, making them perfect for a stress-free break from your day — or for cheering up anyone who suffers from depression. Best of all, they take minimal effort to use, meaning they’re accessible to everyone, regardless of ability or mood.

But before we get into the definitively cutest apps for self-care, here are a couple other Japanese terms to brush up on for a better understanding of kawaii culture:

Manga refers to a style of Japanese comic books aimed at either adults or children, but also to the style of artwork used to draw these characters. Manga characters (and the characters in their television equivalent, anime) tend to have large eyes, stereotypical thin figures and wide faces.

Chibi is a Japanese word for describing something short and cute. Chibis are manga characters drawn to have exaggeratedly short and chubby features, making them infinitely more adorable!

Neko is Japanese for “cat.” It can refer to literal cats or cat-like characters in anime or manga.

Now that you’re fluent in kawaii vocabulary, here are the world’s cutest self-care apps to help you unwind!

Aloe Bud

Sometimes, we need a reminder to care for ourselves and to treat ourselves with compassion — and that’s where Aloe Bud comes in. Aloe Bud is a self-care app that provides gentle reminders on your schedule, pinging you with short messages that remind you to take a deep breath, drink some water and relax. You can choose which activities you want to be reminded of, ranging from gentle stretching to snacking on something yummy, how often and at what times. It’s both cute and customizeable, which is what makes it one of my favorite apps!

Plant Nanny 2

Are you drinking enough water? The average woman needs about 9 cups per day. I don’t know about you — but I definitely wouldn’t drink that much on my own! That’s why I use Plant Nanny 2, the most kawaii app designed to get you to drink more water. In this app, you can grow your very own sunflower, dandelion or desert cactus. To keep it alive, you must log enough water per day to keep your body hydrated. Over time, you can earn seeds to unlock new species, swap for a stylish new flowerpot and even discover cute critters.

#SelfCare

#SelfCare is a game with no score, no pressure and no goals, outside of making the world look a little brighter. Your sunshine levels increase as you take part in the different mini games for self-care, like journaling or breathing deeply. You can choose how long you want to play each game for, then return to the bedroom at any time. Plus, the entire room is customizeable, from your skin tone to your cat to your bedspread. You’ve gotta love a kawaii app that encourages you to self-reflect — and one that you can truly make your own.

Neko Atsume

As a small business owner, I depend on my own productivity. Still, sometimes you need to sit back and take a break from the hustle and bustle of it all — which is why I’m addicted to checking my Neko Atsume app throughout the day. Neko Atsume is an idle cat collector game. Decorate your yard with items purchased from the shop, including food, cat towers, toys and more, to attract cats. Then, wait while the cats flock to your yard. Once you collect a cat, you can snap screenshots to keep in their album as a memento of your time spent together. When a cat leaves, they also leave behind silver and gold fish, which you can use to buy new items — and start the cycle all over again! It’s mindless, but it’s kawaii AF, and if it brings a smile to your face, I think it’s worth it.

Girlboss Products to Help You Get Organized

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links, meaning I may receive payment from a purchase you make through my blog. Affiliate links like these help keep Lovely & Lazy alive!

For me, getting organized has never been the issue. My greatest challenge has always been STAYING organized once I get there!

Thanks to a lifelong love of stationery (we’re talking gel pens, planner stickers and everything in-between), I’ve never lacked the equipment I needed to get organized. Usually, it’s a slow descent into madness, always preceded by stress — whether that’s stress at work, at home or in my relationships with others.

However, now that I’m a small business owner, it’s more important than ever for me to keep my shit together. After all, I don’t want to miss a client meeting because I forgot to put it in my calendar — or lose a big dollar contract because I misplaced it on my messy-ass desk! (Thankfully, none of these things have ever happened to me….though they have come painfully close.)

Like many of you, there’s one thing that never fails to get me excited about getting organized again — and that’s, you guessed it, my obsession with stationery! Planners, pens, post-it notes….I’m in love with it all.

So, today, I’m sharing some of my favorite picks with you, plus my tips for how to use them to your maximum advantage while getting organized. #Let’sDoThis

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Feel Your Best Workbook

ban.do is getting into the mental health and wellness space, and I am HERE. FOR. IT. I have always loved ban.do for its quirky, cute stickers and desk accessories — especially since many of them come in my signature shade of pink. Click here to shop ban.do, its stationery and the Feel Your Best wellness workbook. | $18, ban.do

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Everyday Writing Pads

I love a good legal pad for jotting down notes during a client call or making one of my infamous, bottomless to-do lists. Better yet, these ones from Rifle Paper Co. come with pale pink accents and perforated sheets, blending functionality with #aesthetics. They also fit perfectly into the brand’s clipfolios, which are great for looking classy during in-person meetings — or making a good first impression at that job interview! | $12, Rifle Paper Co.

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Monogrammed Stationery

Nothing says “class act” like monogrammed stationery — especially when it’s as cute as this set from Sugar Paper! I first discovered Sugar Paper through its collaboration with Target (or as the classy folk say, “Tar-jay”), but quickly discovered that the rest of its line was just as cute, if not quite as affordable. Still, I firmly believe that a handwritten thank you note can make the difference between landing that job/client/you name it and losing it to someone else — so, it never hurts to have all-purpose stationery on hand for scribbling out a quick message to a friend, colleague or mentor. | $32, Sugar Paper

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Rainbow Sticker Collection

If you aren’t onto Mochithings yet, then girl, are you about to become addicted! These rainbow stickers come in versatile pastels that are perfect for color-coding. Personally, I like to color code events in my planner, like an old-fashioned version of Google Calendar: assign one color to work events, one color to doctor’s appointments, one color to friend dates and so on…. until you run out of colors or stickers — whichever comes first! (Though, with this sticker set on hand, it will likely be colors.) | $5, Mochithings

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Blush Super Stacked

Poppin makes simple, modern desk accessories perfect for girlbosses. Plus, they sell wholesale to employers — meaning you can force all your employees to decorate their desks in pink if you feel like it. (I mean, that’s why people start their own businesses isn’t it? It’s why I did!) I kid, of course — but not about how cute this desk organization set is. You’ve got a cup for your pens, a two-tier letter tray for important incoming documents and a desk drawer organizer for putting order to the chaos that is your top drawer. What more could a girlboss possibly ask for? (Besides more coffee, of course.) | $70, Poppin

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How to Make Your Blog More Inclusive

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links, meaning I may receive payment from a purchase you make through my blog. Affiliate links like these help keep Lovely & Lazy alive!

Inclusive (n.) — not excluding any section of society or any party involved in something.

A.k.a., the opposite of most blogs, Instagram influencers and Pinterest accounts, which tend to showcase the same things over and over again: thin, blonde, stay-at-home-moms living a natural lifestyle, eating an impossibly healthy diet and raising their kids like perfect angels…. not to mention, having time and money left over for getting their hair and nails done!

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a thin, white, young female — and while I am bisexual, I have a boyfriend and can pass as straight — with all the privilege that comes along with appearing to be cisgendered, white and heterosexual. Yet it’s still important to me to crush the stereotype that all bloggers are perpetuating the image of perfection!

Why, you ask? Because the more bloggers are honest about what their life looks like from day-to-day, the more inclusive the world becomes for those of us who are fat, or people of color (POCs), or LGBTQIA. Everyone should feel welcome in the blogging community, because we need diverse voices from every corner of the world to speak out about what’s important to them.

Not to mention, more inclusivity just makes the world a better place! I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a world where no one’s dress size is above an eight, no one’s gender is non-binary or no one’s identities differed from mine. How boring would that be? Our differences are what make us interesting! If you were exactly like me, and I were exactly like you, I honestly don’t know what we’d have to talk about (other than arguing about which Taylor Swift song off Lover will take home a Grammy).

And, from a purely selfish standpoint, inclusivity benefits you, benefits your blog and benefits business. Think of it this way: more inclusivity = more potential followers = more potential customers. Right now, you could be missing out on the business of thousands of fat people, people of color, disabled people or non-binary folx because you’re failing to use inclusive language, posting photos of only skinny white women or not captioning your social media pics or videos for the disabled!

All of these reasons summarize why it’s important to me to foster an inclusive blogging community, and why it should be important to you, too. When everyone feels welcome to be themselves, independent of shame, it paves the way for you to be your true self, without judgment, as well. Still, the Internet is not as welcoming a place these days as it was when I was a teen….hence, today’s blog post. These are my thoughts on making your little corner of the Internet more welcoming to everyone.

Language

The language you use matters. Many people have told me I’m being “too politically correct” when I ask them not to use a certain phrase (such as the r-word), but there’s a reason why language matters so much to me: our words have power. And where there is tremendous power, there is also a tremendous ability to hurt the people around you — if you aren’t careful, that is.

It would be impossible for me to go through all the things you should and shouldn’t say online. But one thing I’m trying to be more conscious of, especially as a person in eating disorder recovery, is how I use the word “fat.” As a thin person, I often “feel fat” when I’m having a bad body image day, but I try not to let myself use those exact words anymore — because it’s insinuating that being fat is a bad thing.

What’s more, it takes power away from actual fat people. After all, if I weigh 115 lbs and call myself fat, what does that say about people who weigh two or three times that much? What does that make them? This is just one example why considering the language you use (before you type it!) is so important. In general, use your best judgment — and when in doubt, I say, leave it out.

Also, a brief word about gender pronouns: I admit that they can be confusing at times! But you’re always better off using inclusive language (like “folx” or “womxn” instead of “men” and “women”), or simply asking someone you know who identifies as non-binary or trans, than not trying at all. And if you accidentally mis-gender someone? Apologize, correct yourself and move on. Don’t turn it into an awkward rant or start making excuses for yourself. The more you attract attention to your mistake, the more uncomfortable you could be making the person you just mis-gendered.

Stock Photos

Can we please get #StockPhotosSoWhite trending? Because stock photos on lifestyle blogs might be the only thing whiter than the Oscars. Not to mention, blonde-haired, blue-eyed and rail-thin…. which definitely isn’t what 90% of the women around you look like.

The fact is that most of us don’t see ourselves — or our BFFs, or our sisters, or our mothers — represented in the media. Bloggers are NOT immune to that. We count as “media,” too! Which means we have all the pitfalls and responsibilities that come with that.

Unfortunately, that also means we’re susceptible to the same race, class, body and gender biases as the rest of the media world. To be fair, it’s difficult to be inclusive when most of the free stock images you’ll find are of women who look less-than-real. (Cue the “women laughing into their bowls of salad” meme.) But inclusive stock photos are out there, as long as you know where to look.

Here are a couple of the sites I trust to always have incredible FREE stock photos that are inclusive of all genders, races, sizes and abilities:

  • The Gender Spectrum Collection by Broadly. Vice’s Broadly division created a gender-inclusive collection of photos featuring non-binary folx. Scroll through categories ranging from lifestyle to career to relationships to see queer, trans and non-binary people killing it.
  • nappy. nappy is a stock photo site dedicated to showcasing only pics of black and brown people. All its photos are free, and they’re sorted into categories like Food, People, Places and Things.
  • The Stockpile by CreateHER Stock. The Stockpile is CreateHER Stock’s free collection. CreateHER Stock is content creators’ one-stop destination for high-res photos of women of color.
  • Plus Size Stock Photos by AllGo. AllGo, an app catering to plus-size folx, was looking for photos of plus-size people to feature. They found the selection lacking, so they decided to create their own collection — and offer it for free to all of us!

Captions

Do you consider the hearing or vision impaired when you type your social media captions? Me, either. I admit that making my social media disability-friendly isn’t one of my strong suits at the moment, but one of my major goals for 2020 is to start captioning my Instagram post for the vision-impaired.

Occasionally, you might see an Instagram influencer you love writing photo descriptions in brackets [like this] below their main post captions. (@bodyposipanda does an amazing job at this!) You may not understand just how much the visual experience of Instagram contributes to the use of your platform until it’s taken away. But the sight-impaired aren’t able to see that inspirational quote or well-lit photo you’ve taken. The only way they have to find out about these parts of your post are through the caption text you’ve written. Including so-called “descriptive text” of the image helps enhance the experience for followers who may be visually impaired!

Meanwhile, if you happen to be a YouTuber or someone who posts frequent video content to their blog or social media, you may be facing the opposite problem: alienating the hearing-impaired. The hearing-impaired rely on captions to be uploaded along with your videos (especially if your video content tends to consist of you sitting and talking to a camera, with no illustrated examples of what you’re talking about). So, whenever you can, caption your own videos by uploading a SRT file (click here for a tutorial) along with your raw footage, or crowdsource your able-bodied audience for transcribing videos into captions for the hearing-impaired.

Feeling ambitious? You can also crowdsource your audience for translations, to make your content more accessible outside your home country! Here’s what YouTube has to say about translating your video content on their site.

Featured Products

Most lifestyle bloggers who fit into sizes 0-14 don’t think about what sizes a brand carries before posting a link to an article of clothing on that brand’s site. But in doing so, what you may not realize is that you could be alienating your fat followers. (I use the word “fat” non-pejoratively, but in accordance with the fat acceptance movement.)

In case you haven’t heard of fat acceptance, it’s a lot like body positivity and Health at Every Size (HAES) — but with a social justice-oriented twist. Basically, fat acceptance encourages us to accept that people in larger bodies exist, and to embrace them the same way we embrace people in smaller ones.

Yet when we post products that fat folx can’t purchase, well, that’s pretty much the opposite of fat acceptance. A lot of bloggers, including myself, are guilty of this — and it’s easy to be, when so few fashion brands carry sizes larger than 14 or 16.

So, what’s a girl to do when she loves fashion, but doesn’t want to alienate her fat followers? Here are some fat-friendly brands you can check out that offer inclusive sizing for people in all bodies:

Switching to Natural Beauty Products

Let’s talk about beauty products: you think about the food you put into your body, the thoughts you put into your brain…. but how often do you pause to consider the impact of the products you put onto your skin?

The same rules apply when it comes to climate change. We recycle our papers and plastics diligently. We consume less meat and more almond milk in an attempt to save our planet from deforestation. But many of us don’t stop and think about how our skincare and makeup products also affect the environment.

If climate change wasn’t urgent before, it certainly is now. In October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a warning to the world that climate change of 1.5 degrees above preindustrial levels could have catastrophic effects. As of right now, we’ve reached 1 degree — with 0.5 to go before we feel the consequences of our ways.

And the beauty industry plays a large role in climate change, particularly in the release of toxic greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. Everything from the packaging of cosmetics to the chemicals used to produce them can have adverse effects on our environment. As a reader of Lovely & Lazy, you may have noticed that this blog is participating in the Global Climate Strike from September 20-27, 2019 — and the urgency of climate change is just one reason why!

Thankfully, the beauty industry is on board with ending climate change…. mostly. There are still so many brands out there using plastic packaging and toxic chemicals in their products — yet more and more eco-friendly, non-toxic alternatives crop up every day.

If you want to start leading a more eco-conscious lifestyle, here’s how to purge your cabinets of environmentally harmful products — and start switching to healthier, happier alternatives for our planet. I’ll also mention some of my favorite brands and resources for hunting down the best possible eco-friendly beauty products!

Toxic Ingredients to Avoid

As much as I hate the fear-mongering implicit in the word “toxic,” there’s simply no other way to put it: some ingredients are just plain bad for the planet. They leech into our oceans, kill our ecosystems and are produced at the hands of deforestation.

We know exactly where to find some of these ingredients — for example, at our local gas station. Sadly, some of these ingredients also appear in our beauty products. Here are the ones you should watch out for if you’re trying to become more climate-conscious — and why they’re important to avoid.

  • Microbeads. Polyethylene microbeads make up those little plastic balls in your exfoliating face wash. One tube of cleanser can contain up to 350,000 of these little guys — which often wind up in our oceans, and in animals’ digestive tracts.
  • BHA and BHT. And speaking of our oceans, BHA and BHT are listed as chemicals of potential concern for its toxicity to aquatic organisms. BHA may even lead to genetic mutations in amphibians.
  • Synthetic fragrance. Synthetic fragrance is, frankly, scary: under trade laws, manufacturers aren’t required to reveal what ingredients go into making them. What’s more, these ingredients can’t be broken down by wastewater plants, making them toxic to rivers, oceans and aquatic life.
  • Chemical sunscreens. Ever heard the phrase ‘reef-safe sunscreen?’ This refers to the fact that mainstream chemical sunscreens — particularly oxybenzone — are toxic to coral, killing reefs in the Caribbean, Hawaii and around the world.
  • Silicones. While silicone is derived from a natural ingredient, silica, it undergoes extensive chemical processing before becoming part of the formula of your favorite beauty product.
  • Petroleum derivatives. Petroleum is a byproduct of the oil industry, which negatively impacts the environment via leaks, spills and other harmful manufacturing activities. This ingredient appears in beauty products as paraffin wax, mineral oil, PEG, DEA and a number of other pseudonyms.

Natural Beauty Swaps to Try

While working with Organic Spa Magazine, I’ve learned a lot about what mainstream beauty brands are doing wrong — but also what natural beauty brands are doing right! These days, there are so many eco-friendly alternatives out there performing just as well as (if not better than) conventional beauty products.

Natural beauty has become so sophisticated that there’s no excuse to keep supporting brands that are bad for the planet! Here are some of my favorite natural and organic brands fighting climate change, one beauty product at a time.

Tarte Cosmetics

Mainstream beauty bloggers and natural beauty enthusiasts alike love Tarte for its long-wear formulas and high pigmentation. (I especially love that all of its products are gluten-free, cruelty-free and vegan!) The brand shuns environmentally unfriendly ingredients like mineral oil, parabens and sodium lauryl sulfate in all of its products.

Try: BB Tinted Treatment Primer ($37), for light coverage and broad-spectrum UV protection with reef-safe mineral sunscreen.

Image result for tarte bb tinted treatment primer

Josie Maran

Fans of Josie Maran know the brand for its obsession with all-natural argan oil, the superpower beauty ingredient that lies behind most, if not all, of Josie Maran’s products. What you may not know, however, is that the brand boasts a robust social conscience. All of its products support farmers who value eco-friendly, sustainable practices, as well as fair trade ingredients.

Try: Argan Color Stick in Pink Picnic ($22), for lip and cheek color free of mineral oil, synthetic fragrances, PEG and more toxic ingredients.

Image result for josie maran cheek stick

Coola

Coola knows that leading an eco-friendly lifestyle should never mean compromising on suncare. It’s important to protect your skin from cancer-causing UV rays wherever you go — which is why the brand offers organic, reef-safe mineral sunscreen products for a flawless complexion.

Try: Mineral Liplux Organic Tinted Lip Balm Sunscreen in Coral Reef ($18), for a gorgeous lip color with SPF 30, courtesy of reef-safe mineral sunscreen. Apparently, it’s Chrissy Teigen’s favorite — and mine too!

Image result for coola lip balm coral reef

Mad Hippie

When it comes to skincare, everyone from Padma Lakshmi to Brooke Shields is loving Mad Hippie for its powerful ingredients and non-toxic formulas. As if its commitment to eco-friendly ingredients wasn’t enough already, Mad Hippie donates $1 of every online sale to conservation efforts worldwide!

Try: Vitamin C Serum ($34), for an affordable antioxidant solution that brightens skin without harming the environment.

Image result for mad hippie vitamin c serum

Good Chemistry

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with scents — which is how I discovered Good Chemistry, Target’s own line of non-toxic, all-natural fragrances. The formulas are made with essential oils and are 100% vegan and paraben-free. Most importantly, they still smell incredible!

Try: Bluebell by Good Chemistry Body Mist ($10), the light, floral, eco-chic body spray you never knew you needed — until now.

Image result for good chemistry bluebell

Self-Care for Your Star Sign

Cancer season’s long gone, yet as we enter Virgo, I can’t help but think about how aptly my star sign fits my personality. As a homebody, the mom friend and a sensitive soul, I’m your classic Cancer. And as a Cancer, one of my favorite things to do is snuggle up and indulge in a little bit of self-care!

No matter your opinion on astrology, we can all agree that self-care looks different for different people and personalities. Our star signs are just one way to describe (not define) those little differences that make us unique! Astrology highlights what makes us different, turning our little quirks into our greatest strengths.

Naturally, every star sign rests and recharges in its own special way. Whether you’re a creative Pisces or a competitive Aries, these self-care tips play to your horoscope’s unique strengths — so you can return to the things you love feeling refreshed and ready to take on the universe in true astrological fashion.

Virgo

Virgo’s exacting, ambitious nature makes them the perfect candidate to take on bullet journaling. Their attention to detail will help them thrive off logging every meal and hour slept in a meticulous bujo spread.

Libra

Symbolized by balance, Libra thrives best when in spiritual harmony with their physical environment. That’s why cleaning helps Libra reset the scales and connect to the material realm around them.

Scorpio

Scorpio’s psychic, intuitive nature draws it to explore the occult. Drawing an oracle card each morning may help Scorpio center themself before kicking off a busy day.

Sagittarius

If you’re a Sag, you’re probably on an endless quest for answers. In your search for knowledge, pick up a crossword puzzle to unwind at the end of a stressful evening.

Capricorn

Represented by a water goat (which is, yes, exactly what it sounds like), Capricorn thrives on hard work. Return to your aquatic roots by swimming laps at your local pool. That classic Capricorn determination will see you through!

Aquarius

Considered the humanitarian sign of the zodiac, Aquarius loves to give back. Volunteering helps Aquarius get grounded and put their life back into perspective.

Pisces

Pisces finds joy in their creative endeavors — and especially in playing music. Whether you’re a singer, guitarist or music aficionado, reconnecting with your sense of sound will give you the TLC you clearly deserve.

Aries

Competitive Aries loves to win. An independent sport like running gives Aries an outlet for their competitive drive, so it doesn’t become a force for negativity in their life.

Taurus

As a tactile sign, Taurus derives pleasure from its sense of touch. Taking a bubble bath with luscious soaps and lotions will ignite your fifth sense. Fill up the tub, lean back and enjoy the good life, Taurus!

Gemini

The social butterfly of the zodiac, Gemini thrives off the energy of a crowd. Hanging out with a friend and talking their ear off might seem trivial, but it’s what keeps Gemini’s head attached on hectic days!

Cancer

Highly-sensitive Cancer loves to stay at home and enjoy all things cozy. Curling up with a good book — perhaps with a fuzzy blanket and mug of piping hot coffee or tea — inspires Cancer to keep going.

Leo

As the diva of the zodiac, Leo thrives on the finer things in life — especially haute couture. Upgrading their physical appearance is the perfect act of self-care for Leo, who needs the spotlight to live.

A Cozy Fall Night In

We’re reaching that point in every summer where I, admittedly, start to miss winter a little bit. As much as I prefer sunshine to snow, there’s something simply magical about curling up under a blanket with a cup of hot cocoa and a good book — something that’s difficult to recreate in the summer without racking up zeroes on my electricity bill.

Thankfully, with fall weather creeping up on us, I’ll be back to enjoying cozy nights in before I know it. Of course, then, I’m sure I’ll be complaining about how I miss the warm days and brisk nights of summer — but at least I’ll be doing it from beneath my blanket, with my fuzzy socks on, curled up with a good book and a mug of low-FODMAP hot cocoa.

So, before autumn draws too near, let’s daydream about the perfect fall night in, and all the essentials you’ll need to enjoy it — while it still feels like a dream come true!

Wear Me

Boyfriend Button-Front Cardigan

$59, Urban Outfitters

Because there’s no better feeling than wearing a cardigan with sleeves that are too long, and wrapping them over your fingers so you can bunch up the end in your wrist….or is it just me?

Rolled Hem Sweatpants

$58, Abercrombie & Fitch

The softest sweatpants you’ll ever own come from Abercrombie & Fitch. If you heard the tea about their discriminatory policies, you’ll be pleased to know that they’re working on size diversification in their new ad campaign.

Pom Pom Fleece Lined Crew Socks

$50, Ugg

Wiggle your little piggies into these fuzzy socks from Ugg — because yes, they do sell more than your favorite middle school boots there!

Cuddle Up With Me

Harrietstown Cable-Knit Throw Pillow

$35, Three Posts

If your pillow doesn’t look like a sweater, you’re not doing it right. The coziest fall night in should leave you drowning in cable-knit fabric!

Stonewashed Cable Knit Throw Blanket

$99, Pottery Barn

Don’t believe my obsession with cable-knit cuteness? Here’s the proof: warm, cozy and oh so cable-knit!

Porcelain The Snuggle Is Real Mug

$6, Threshold

Cute enough to Instagram — and, more importantly, tall enough to hold all the hot cocoa in your kitchen.

Read Me

Breathe Magazine

$6, Pocketmags

Breathe is my favorite magazine to pick up at my local Barnes & Noble (don’t tell my day job!) — their mindfulness and mental health content is unparalleled in the modern media scape. Plus, every issue comes with self-care activities, such as crosswords and coloring pages, to encourage you to slow down and smell the roses.

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

$20, Amazon

And speaking of mental health, this book is one of the best I’ve ever read! Its account of OCD, and the devastating toll it can take on children, families and relationships, will leave you in tears. (The good kind, of course.)

The Empowered Woman’s Coloring Book

$13, Amazon

The only thing better than adult coloring is empowering feminist coloring! This book comes with 60 pages to encourage you to be the most bad-ass version of yourself every day of the week.