Positive Body Image Quiz: 35 Signs and Rewards to Aim For

Most folks analyze, or at least consider, their appearance and lifestyle habits regularly. But what about your body image? Have you ever taken inventory?

As I explained on Rick Gabrielly’s fabulous new podcast The Marriage BOSS poor body image is seldom rooted in vanity. Women are taught in countless ways that certain physical traits pave the way for happiness and success, and if we lack them, we may as well succumb to misery. Luckily, that’s not true. We will suffer, however, if we make them our truths. Make sense? How we feel about our bodies and looks becomes self-fulfilling. A little self-awareness can go a long way in shifting your ways toward the positive.

I compiled the following list of healthy body image signs based on decades of personal and professional experience. To use it as a quiz, jot 1 – 35 on a sheet of paper. Then beside each corresponding item that applies to you, draw a star or smiley face. If you’d like, circle item numbers you plan to work toward.

Super important note:

Please don’t shun yourself if you find yourself shaking your head as you read. Very few women identify with all, or even most, of them. My hope is that you’ll notice areas in which you could improve and areas you’re ROCKING. You can also use the list as inspiration—rewards you can look forward for cultivating positive body image. (It’s so worth the effort!) It’s not an all-inclusive or universal list. Once you’ve perused it, I’d love to any important items you feel I’ve missed! Body Image QUIZ

Words and Lingo

1. You don’t speak negatively about your body shape, size or appearance.

2. You don’t comment on others’ body shape or size, even to say, “Wow, you’ve lost weight!”

3. Terms like “bikini body,” “beach body” and “dream body” aren’t in your vocabulary, unless you’re pointing out what’s sad or harmful about them.

4. You don’t share or laugh at demeaning “humor,” such as racist, blonde or fat jokes.

5. You never semi-brag about eating too little. (i.e., saying, “I haven’t eaten all day!” with a bit of pride).

6. For you, “carb” is not a cuss word—and dieting nearly is.

Food and Nutrition

7. You eat for fuel and nourishment most of the time.

8. When choosing foods, you consider the ingredients and enjoyment, versus calories, fat or carb grams.

9. While you may eat for emotional reasons, such as having cake at a party, you aren’t an emotional eater.

10. You aren’t afraid to eat potatoes, carrots, pineapple, legumes, bananas, low-nutrient treats or other diet-prohibited foods.

11. You don’t cut certain foods from your diet, unless you have an ethical or health reason for doing so.

12. You respect and respond to you body’s hungry and full signals. 13. You seldom, if ever, eat until you’re uncomfortably stuffed.

Health and Numbers

14. You prioritize medical and dental checkups, and don’t simply see either for aesthetic reasons.

15. Unless you’ve recently had a physical, you don’t know your body weight or BMI.

16. You’d rather wear sunblock or protective clothing than aim for a perpetual tan.

17. You don’t take risky, unnecessary dietary supplements or drugs with hopes of changing your body weight, appetite or muscle mass.

Sex and Sexuality

18. You have healthy, shame-free attitudes about your sexuality.

19. You prioritize a gratifying sex life, however you define it (unless you’re asexual).

20. You can make love and strip down comfortably around a partner with the lights on.

21. You prioritize sexual health checkups.

22. You practice safe, consensual sex.

Aging and Aesthetics

23. You don’t run for cover when someone pulls out a camera—but you also don’t feel the need to take, over-analyze or post photos of yourself perpetually.

24. While unflattering photos of you may not thrill you, they don’t horrify you either.

25. Whether you enjoy expressing your personal style through wardrobe and makeup or not, but you don’t fixate on any of it.

26. You prioritize wearing comfortable clothes that fit.

27. You aren’t ashamed of your age.

28. You see inner and outer beauty in aging.

29. Most of your close friends have positive body image.

Exercise and Fitness

30. You exercise namely for health and because it feels good, not to look a certain way.

31. You don’t feel guilty for skipping a workout.

32. You seek out activity you enjoy, and avoid those you hate or push your body too far.

33. You don’t exercise at a high-intensity for more than an hour a day, unless you’re a training athlete.

34. You never exercise as a form of self-punishment.

35. To you, getting enough rest is at least as important as getting enough exercise.

What areas are you strong in? In which could you improve? Any items you’d add to my list? I LOVE hearing from you! I’ll also happily answer any questions you have about items on the list. ♥

To hear more about cultivating positive body image, and other means of empowerment, you can also hear my chat with Rick Gabrielly (aka, The Marriage BOSS) on iTunes.

#NotSorry: 5 Things I No Longer Apologize For

You may have noticed that women apologize a lot. A whole lot. While it’s appropriate to say, “Sorry!” when we’ve, say, stepped on another’s toe, apologizing for being ourselves hurts us and, by way of example, others.

A few years ago, the ever-sparkly Natalie Hartford published a blog post called 5 Things I’ll Never Apologize For, which basically says, “This is who I am. Deal with it!” (Woot!)

I’ve thought of her post many times since, particularly upon realizing I’m no longer apologetic for aspects of myself that once left me guilt-ridden.

Here are five of those things:

1. For not being a night owl.

I think I’m genetically predisposed to turn into a mushy-headed pumpkin by 9pm. (I don’t even know what that is. Anyway…) I used to feel dorky for wanting to eat dinner at 5pm or donning PJs when “hipper” friends were taking pre-going out naps. Not anymore.

Proof that turning in early can be sweeter.

Proof that turning in early can be sweeter.

If I stay out late, I know I’ll pay the price the next day; feeling groggy and not on top of my game. My work and relationships are too important to do so regularly.

Nurturing what makes us feel healthiest and most alive—especially when it isn’t the norm—shows strength and self-respect.

2. For being passionate and outspoken.

I sometimes think I was born an activist. As a kid, I campaigned for endangered animals, protested for planet-friendlier school lunch dishes and co-organized events to raise awareness about child abuse. Then there was my first walk-out. (How dare my piano teacher deny me M&Ms for neglecting my homework expressing my artistry through improvisation?)

By my early 20s, I’d lost some of that confidence and occasionally felt I was on an annoying “high horse.” Does everything have to be a world-altering mission? No. But it’s important to me to feel that I’m contributing to positive change, or at least trying.

Writing and speaking have helped me see that using my voice and passion for greater good is my happy place, and washed away concerns over what others might think. (And, wouldn’t you know? Most folks don’t shun me anyway.) Now, rather than feel crushed by injustices I see, I find peace in knowing I can do something. And I’m not afraid to speak up.

You know you're in your happy place when someone walks in on you taking blog-prep-selfies and you keep on shooting. ;)

You know you’re in your happy place when someone walks in on you taking blog-prep-selfies and you keep on shooting. ;)

Meeting my awesome husband also helped. Early on in our relationship, he caught me apologizing for babbling on and on enthusiastically sharing. “It’s the best part of my day,” he said. *swoon* (Yep, I married right.)

We all deserve to nurture our passions, and what makes us feel obscure or alone at times could actually be what makes our lives extraordinary. People who truly care about us will embrace them.

3. For not having perfectly groomed appendages.

Does anyone else fight the urge to yelp, “Hurry up! I’m bored!” when having your nails done? Ugh. Now that I meditate, I could probably handle it. Regardless, nail treatments feel like a waste of precious time and money I could be investing elsewhere.

When I first moved to LA, I often had gels added to my nails, fearing that others would judge my “imperfections.” Now, I embrace my imperfect, guitar-playing, typing-fanatical hands.

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Dear Nails: Thank you for showing the world how much I value typing and strumming over aesthetics, and for putting up with my bashing. I promise not to have you ground down and covered up again. Sincerely, Me

What we see as “flaws” are often quirks that reflect who we are. Not sweating over them is a huge relief.

4. For not caring much about fashion —at least not enough to appear totally put together very often.

Looking back on my life, I see a direct correlation between how much time and energy I put into my appearance and insecurity. That’s not to say these are linked for all women, of course.

One sign you're not putting much thought into your wardrobe… #whoops

One sign you’re not putting much thought into your wardrobe… #whoops

I admire women who consistently look like they’ve just stepped out of a style mag, but I’m so not one of them. While I enjoy dressing up for special occasions, I prefer spending my time and energy elsewhere. As long as I’m clean and comfy, I’m a-okay.

When we fixate on our looks, what we need to change almost surely lies deeper than our hairstyle or wardrobe.

**If you’re a low-maintanence gal, too, this Elite Daily article is a must-read: The Science of Simplicity: Why Successful People Wear The Same Thing Every Day

5. For taking up space.

Last year my friend Sheri, I and another friend were standing and chatting in an open hotel lobby. When a group of people walked our direction, I apologized and stepped aside, giving them ample (if not necessary) room to pass.

“You don’t need to apologize for taking up space,” Sheri said without hesitation. “We have a right to be here.”

Woah. (See why I adore her?) In the following weeks, I noticed that I had a tendency to offer up my space to others in this way; it was a dangling thread of insecurity I hadn’t yet clipped.

Owning the space we stand in is empowering, and it’s never too late to grow.  

Why stay small?

Because why not?

Whether we say the words or not, feeling regretful for who we authentically are can hold us back in all sorts of ways.

As Natalie shared in her post, she dresses provocatively, cusses regularly and speaks her mind–without regret. Is she judged for these traits on occasion? Probably. But they’re also three of the reasons I, and many others, love her. It would break our hearts if she held back. We should have that same compassion for ourselves. Don’t you think?

What have you stopped apologizing for? Do you relate to any on my list? I’d love to hear from you! ♥

Help My Brilliant Friend Elle Beat Cancer

Two years ago on a sweltering April afternoon, I lugged copies of my novel to the LA Times Festival of Books, hoping I’d sell a few—okay, all of them. Little did I know then that the biggest reward would be the start of a lasting friendship.

As soon as I met my table-mate Elle, I was smitten. Her palpable warmth and ebullience made it impossible not to smile, and we seemed to have much in common, from past theatrical careers and body image wars to the valiant blonde women gracing our book covers. (We both had to have the images specially created, after observing the lack of stock photos of kickass gals with blonde tresses.) And unlike many of our fantastic introverted writer pals, we’re both, shall we say, outspoken.

We chattered away, luring passersby to our table and (let’s be honest) frightening others with our OVER-THE-TOP-ENTHUSIASM, ahem, slightly overt cheerfulness.

Elle the Author August McLaughlin SCWC

Those who dared approach seemed surprised that these chipper chicas wrote dark thrillers. I caught us both describing our books with phrases like, “…gritty and psychological…violence, yes, but no animals are harmed…eating disorders and sexual trauma…but inspiring! It could change the world!”

And here’s the thing:

We both sincerely believe that. Out of darkness derives the most powerful light, and nothing in life happens from which we can’t learn from or use as a platform to inspire or support others.

If you have any doubts about that, seeing how Elle is dealing with her latest fight, breast cancer, would erase them. Seemingly from the moment she was diagnosed, she’s been handling it with uncommon grace, will and humor—and already has plans to transform any bitterness into sweet lemonade.

Elizabeth Posten

Elle has also been brave enough to ask for necessary support:

Wish list intro

Tell me you don’t love her already. ♥

Elle and August

I hope you’ll consider supporting her however you can. Cancer doesn’t merely affect those who have the disease, but all of us—and Elle happens to be one of the most magnificent.

Visit her registry to make a donation, 10% of which goes to LetsFCancer, or gift her an item from her wish list. 

To learn more about Elle and order her poignant book, The Fall, visit ElletheAuthor.com. Listen to our Girl Boner Radio chat on overcoming dating abuse through this link or download the podcast here, via iTunes.

Much love,

August

Stopping Anorexia: An Open Letter to the President of France @fhollande

Dear President Francois Hollande,

I want to start by thanking you for caring enough about women’s wellbeing to make changes in France’s policies. Banishing pro-anorexia websites and not allowing anorexic models to walk your nation’s runways could help minimize the epidemic of body-hate and responsive self-harm that runs so rampant. I’m also grateful for the conversations your campaign to stop anorexia has spurred, and feel compelled to offer my own thoughts.

I realize I’m one voice amid countless, and it’s likely this won’t even reach you. For this reason, I’m sharing this letter publicly, with hopes its message might make a positive difference—if not for a country or industry, then for someone.

These issues are dear to my heart. I modeled for years, and nearly died of anorexia while working in Paris. I’ve since fully recovered, and spent over 8 years as a nutritionist, offering dietary therapy for people struggling with eating disorders and related issues. Now, as an experienced health writer, radio host and public speaker, I routinely interview experts in psychology and medicine, as well as women who’ve overcome severe self- and body- shame. As someone who can speak from multiple sides of the body-shaming epidemic, I thought my insight might prove helpful.

Real beauty quote

On BMI as the Determining Factor

Others have expressed concerns about your new law, prohibiting anyone from hiring a model with a below healthy BMI. I share those concerns. (For those who aren’t familiar, Body Mass Index is a tool used to determine body fat content based on weight and height.) BMI is sadly inaccurate as a measure of health for many people, and I imagine many models will find ways to falsify their results.

Secondly, I’ve known models who were tall and lanky naturally, to the point of being bullied in their youth. Modeling gave them a sense of empowerment; finally, they weren’t being ridiculed for their atypical thinness, but celebrated. These women would undoubtedly fail the “healthy” BMI test. Ostracizing naturally thin women isn’t right.

Many women with eating disorders, including models, partake in dangerous tactics to maintain a slimmer physique—yet aren’t underweight by BMI standards.

In some ways, focusing on “the numbers” perpetuates the damaging notion that they matter most.

It’s understandable why you and your associates have taken this route, given the fact that anorexia diagnostics are based on such numbers. (They shouldn’t be, in my opinion.) But I side with others who’ve suggested alternate means of determining models’ wellness, such as thorough health exams. While helpful, however, I don’t think such measures would suffice.

More Effective Steps Toward Positive Change

Attempting to regulate the health of models, but still allowing the standards of thinness over all to carry on, won’t solve this epidemic. The standards need to change. While this is a huge task, it’s doable, in my opinion. Here are some powerful steps that would help:

♦ Require fashion shows and magazines to depict a broad range of body shapes and sizes, as well as ages.

♦ Encourage fashion designers to create clothing for those shapes, sizes and ages.

♦ Don’t merely show women seducing cameras in editorial shoots. Show them working, creating art, raising kids, being human.

♦ Require medics and other health/safety measures at fashion shows and photo shoots. (Show models that their safety and wellness matters as much as that of Hollywood actors.)

♦ Prohibit modeling agents from making harsh comments about models’ weight.

Placing the pressure on those who hire models actually puts more pressure on the models themselves. If someone had landed in jail for hiring me when I was anorexic, I’m not sure I would have forgiven myself—and most women with anorexia are already crippled with shame.

One of the most important ways we can all contribute to a world that empowers, rather than shuns, women is by embracing ourselves.

I’ve personally boycotted fashion shows, publications and work I find de-powering. (The narrow definitions of “beauty” were a major reason I quit modeling, even though I had an ongoing career after healing.) I’ve stopped saying anything negative about my body, which has cultivated more positive thoughts. I’ve embraced my sexuality—a lack of which is another issue underlying many women’s body hate. And I’ve learned to pursue my passions, to stop living up to anyone else’s standards, knowing that in doing so, I can live a happier and more meaningful, impactful life.

Here’s hoping that no matter what efforts you and your administration prioritize moving forward, more women will start questioning whether those “extra” pounds are worth the time, tumult and energy making ourselves smaller requires—and that living largely means recognizing the existing real-beauty inherent in ourselves.

Sincerely,

August McLaughlin

A note to other readers: I’ve included President Hollande’s Twitter handle in the title, in case you’d like to use the share button to help alert him of this post. Regardless, thanks for reading!

3 Reasons to Support Female-Driven Action Films (and @Artemis_FF)

“Until we can look at women and see them as physical equals to men, we’re going to keep being seen as less.” — Melanie Wise

How different do you think the world would be if all girls grew up believing in their strength? What if each time we went to the movies, we left feeling empowered? What if there was a film fest that encouraged both?

Guess what: THERE IS! (Don’t worry – this post isn’t an advertisement, but a natural derivative of being thoroughly inspired by this fest!)

artemis-film

Last month, I had the privilege of interviewing Melanie Wise, founder of the Artemis Film Festival—the first film fest ever to celebrate female-driven action films. Man, is she groovy! I learned so much.

The groundbreaking event will take place April 24 – 25 here in Los Angeles, featuring screenings of films large and lesser known and honoring iconic leading ladies, including Linda Hamilton, Angela Meryl and Maja Aro.

FUN NEWS!

I was recently asked to emcee a Red Carpet awards ceremony at the fest on Friday, April 24—I couldn’t be more stoked or honored! I hope if you can, you’ll join us.

This opportunity makes my inner Riveter PROUD!

This opportunity makes my inner Riveter PROUD!

Regardless, here are just a few of the important reasons why supporting female-driven action films is, IMO, vital.

1. They’re freaking awesome! Aliens. Terminator 2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Kill Bill. My Super-Ex Girlfriend. Action films featuring kick-ass women characters are some of the most awesome films out there. Yet, when I looked up “top action films,” many of my favorites didn’t appear. WTH?

“For a lot of years, women in action films was considered box office poison,” Melanie told me. (Ah…) As a result, many female-led action films are marketed as romantic comedies, sci-fi or horror. Those available are making mega-bucks, however, and for good reason.

2. They empower women to embrace their strength. If the only women we saw on the big screen were women playing distressed damsels and princesses awaiting rescue dudes, we’d all be less likely to envision more for ourselves. For many years, that’s all we could see.

Here’s just one example of what happens when we celebrate empowering alternatives:

When Terminator 2 came out, Melanie explained, workout gym memberships soared, largely from women wanting to work out and increase their physical strength. (Makes sense! Uma did have me considering karate classes after watching Super-Ex.)

3. Doing so can better the world. Stories really do shape, and have the potential to change, the world.

“As the film industry, especially in the U.S., we have a very large voice that is heard the world over,” Melanie said. “We have an amazing responsibility and opportunity to make really nice messages. This is something we can easily do, if we choose.”

***

I couldn’t agree more! If you can’t attend the Artemis Film Festival in person, you can still support its mission by making a donation and/or sharing links with your friends. For tickets and specifics, visit ArtemisFilmFestival.com. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter (@Artemis_FF)

To learn more about women in action films, listen to my Girl Boner Radio chat with Melanie Wise on iTunes or here, on my homepage.

What’s your favorite female-driven action film? Will you be attending the fest? I love hearing from you! ♥

The Question Too Many Women Ask

I’m just returning from a fabulous trip to my old stomping grounds—the Twin Cities, in Minnesota—where I gave a talk on blogging at the Bloomington Writers Festival. Afterwards, an attendee emailed me (let’s call her Kat), thanking me for giving her permission to explore whatever topic she wishes on her blog. She often holds herself back, she explained, for fear of what others will think.

“So here’s what I’m thinking of covering,” she wrote, then listed incredibly unique and insightful topics. “You honestly don’t think people will think I’m weird or crazy for these? Sorry to ask again, but I’m nervous and could use some reassurance!”

What a kick-ass woman, right? I love that she’s planning to step out of her comfort zone and reached out for support. She didn’t need to apologize, of course, but I imagine most of us can relate to what she’s experiencing—that apology included.

On the plane ride back to LA, I spent some time daydreaming preparing for upcoming radio segments (okay, same thing). Tomorrow, I’ll interview Stephanie Berman, creator of an intimacy product that helps lesbian couples get pregnant.

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Who wouldn’t daydream to this? View of the Grand Canyon, from my plane window

Amid controversy and criticism, Stephanie has succeeded, and continues to better the lives of many. I plan to ask her how she’s managed to deal with naysayers, answers to which I think will apply to the most brutal type: those that rise up within ourselves.

I’ll also answer a few questions from listeners,’ which happen to tie into this theme. Nearly every email I receive from listeners features similar lingo, and while the specifics vary, they ask virtually the same question. Women want to know, “Am I normal?” I think they’re really asking, “Am I okay?”

We want to be extraordinary and unique, but without ruffling anyone’s feathers; to feel beautiful just the way we are, but without others judging us harshly against their standards; to live full, authentic lives, but without letting others down by not living up to their expectations.

If we truly want extraordinary, authentic lives in which our dreams not only come true, but better the lives of others (which is exactly what authentic lives and dream-work do), we’ve got to kick those BUTs and ‘their’ worries out the window. It’s not often easy, but learning to shift the focus from self-doubt to self- awareness and embracement may be the closest thing to magic I know of.

Ask questions and seek support, particularly when it comes to important yet wrongfully taboo topics like sexuality. When you find yourself asking questions that have more to do with doubting yourself than a particular thought or behavior, though, dig deeper: Why are you doubting? What’s the worst that could happen? Does what others think of you matter more to you than leading a happy, healthy life?

My Minnesota trip ended with a visit with my first modeling agent, Teqen, who I hadn’t seen in years. He was one of the first to offer support when I was diagnosed with anorexia, regardless of the fact that my hiatus to focus on healing meant that I wouldn’t be bringing any cash or esteem to their company.

“What you do isn’t important to us,” he said back then. “What matters is who you are.”

I’ve held those words close to my heart ever since. More than a decade later, Teqen and the Vision crew continue to embrace me as family. I feel the same way about them.

The reunion was another illustration to me just how powerful self-embracement is. Gone are the days when I let insecurity cloud my days, keeping me from living, except from a distance. Back then, I’d have worried that he was judging me, that I’d say the wrong thing or simply would not have shown up. I certainly couldn’t have written authentically then.

Instead, I reconnected with a friend of the truest variety, the kind who cares more about your soul and well-being than your details.

We’ll always doubt ourselves on occasion; it’s part of being human. What’s important is not letting it stifle us. Doing away with a self-doubt mindset allows us to be more present and grateful in our lives and for others, rather than caught up in, “Am I okay?” Because, quirks and all, there’s never a doubt that we are. The only permission needed to get there is our own.

August and Teqen

Reunion with Teqen

“…and the day came when the risk to remain tight, in a bud, became more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”Elizabeth Appell

3 Powerful Ways to Spice Up Your Bedroom Life

One of the biggest myths about sexuality is that all-things-sexy inevitably lose luster over time. “Beauty” is lost on youth, people say, and sexiness fades—but fear not, because what really counts doesn’t! Why not embrace a future of cardigans, crossword puzzles and knitting?

Um, no thanks.

Our sexuality counts. And like other vital areas of our lives, it’s a journey worth exploring and growing our way through for as long as possible. Research shows that women tend to enjoy sex and experience stronger orgasms over time if they value sex and don’t shame themselves. Other studies show that married couples have improved sex in the golden years. So unless you’re asexual or turned on by knitting and Mr. Rogers’ threads, I suggest the following.

balls knitting

3 Powerful Ways to Spice Up Your Sex Life

Keep doing it on your to-do list. Yeah, I don’t keep do-to lists either, and haven’t called sex “doing it” since about the 10th grade, but YKWIM. Prioritize sensual connectedness with yourself and, if applicable, your partner—not out of obligation to anyone, but yourself. Simply recognize your sexuality as a valuable part of your life and well-being, one worthy of treasuring. It’s amazing what a little perception shift can do.

Consider foreplay a lifestyle. In her fabulous TED Talk, relationship therapist Esther Perel described traits of erotic couples. “They understand that foreplay is not something you do five minutes before the real thing,” she said. “Foreplay pretty much starts at the end of the previous orgasm.” I so love that. Foreplay is a state of mind, in my opinion. It’s fantasizing about a partner when he or she is away, and being sensual together whether you’re soon to make love or far from it.

Arouse your life! I’m pretty obsessed with this idea, as you may have noticed. When we cultivate passion in our lives, we make way for passion in the bedroom—or where ever you choose for sexy play. If you feel stuck sexually, ask yourself where you’re stuck elsewhere in your life. Takes steps toward positive change. Sex can cheer us up temporarily, but it won’t fix deeper (no pun intended) problems.

You really are as sexy as you feel. 

Woman self-perception

So focus on feeling sexier and more alive. Engage in work and hobbies that make your heart happy. Surround yourself with folks who make you feel more like you, not less. If you aren’t sure what you’re passionate about, make it a goal to find out. The rest will more than likely fall into place.

You guys know I love you, right? Good. Because I do.

This week on Girl Boner Radio, I’ll be interviewing Dr. Megan Fleming, a therapist and relationship expert, on ways to put the sexy back in your relationship. I can’t wait to hear her thoughts on spicing things up! Any questions you’d like answered? Post it in a comment below, or comment me privately.

A Podcast Threesome! Sort of.

Threesomes are great for colds. I woke up with a nasty one yesterday, and my two Girl Boner Radio guests warmed me right up. I can’t promise a lack of cold-brain in this episode, but I certainly forgot about the sniffles.

Award-winning adult film star Jenna Ivory joined me in-studio to discuss her spicy career, top sex tip for gals and more. Then esteemed radio/podcast host Ralph Sutton Skyped in for a fun 3-way chat on his dating life in NYC. I’m pretty sure we had about as much fun as three people can have with clothes on. You don’t want to miss the dates-gone-wrong stories!

To listen to the episode visit this link on iTunes or stream it on my NEW RADIO PAGE. You’ll notice some of my older episodes on the page as well. Much more coming soon, I promise!

Jenna Ivory_SDR show

What did you think of the show? What’s YOUR worst dating experience? What keeps you smiling through colds? I love hearing from you. ♥

The Sexy Vegetarian: 7 Bedroom Perks of a Plant-Based Diet

Ah, vegetables… They aren’t the first thing to pop to mind when we think of sex, unless we’re, well, you know. Playing with them. (Whaaat? I was talking about food fights. Obviously.)

Seriously, eating is sexy. And little is sexier diet-wise, IMO, than eating more plants and fewer animal products. A healthy, whole foods-rich, plant-based diet is one of the healthiest lifestyle shifts we can make. One of my favorite, lesser known perks? Girl Boner Gusto.

carrot-sex

Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian or simply vegetarian-inclined, you’re doing more to promote sexual health and function than most folks—unless your diet consists of plant-based chips and cookies. If your diet is anything but plant-based, you may want to consider some changes.

Here are just some of the ways a plant-based diet can bring more pleasure, fun and vitality to your sex life:

1. Conscientiousness. People generally don’t shift to plant-based diets for superficial reasons. We may be drawn by animal rights, environmental reasons or because we wish to live longer and with greater health. Regardless, it’s the most thoughtful, caring dietary path. And thoughtfulness is dang sexy. We all want lovers who consider others’ needs and take care of themselves. Hopefully we also strive to be them.

2. Natural lube. I’m not talking about mashed avocados. (Wow, the visual…) I mean the lubricant your body naturally produces, given proper circulation and hydration. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is also rich in valuable fluid. In fact, much of our daily water needs can, and arguably should, be met through diet. That’s tough to do if you’re eating rich amounts of animal products.

3. Better scent and flavor! Research published in Chemical Senses in 2006 showed that red meat consumption has a negative impact on perceived body oder and physical attractiveness. Non-meat-eaters, on the other hand, seem to have a more pleasant, attractive scent and flavor.

4. Reduced inflammation. While the typical Western diet, rich in meat, dairy products and processed foods, increases inflammation, a healthy plant-based diet reduces it. This is important because inflammation interferes with normal circulation. If blood doesn’t flow freely to your genitals, they can’t reach or maintain arousal.

5. Fewer menopausal symptoms. Numerous staples of a healthy vegetarian diet, such as flaxseeds and soybeans, are rich in phytoestrogens—natural substances that may help minimize vaginal dryness, hot flashes and mood swings associated with menopause. Other fruits and vegetables, such as apples, dates, cherries, garlic, plums, yams and squash contain moderate amounts of these healthy compounds.

6. Increased energy and stamina. A diet rich in whole, plant-based foods is rich in nutrients and easy on digestion. Foods such as nuts, seeds, quinoa and fiber-rich fruits and veggies promote blood sugar control, staving off those annoying crashes that can make anything but sleep unappealing.

7. Happier moods. Emotions play a huge role in sexual desire, particularly for women. A study published in the Nutrition Journal in 2012 showed that folks who avoid meat tend to feel happier and less stressed than their carnivorous counterparts. One reason, according to researchers, is the inflammatory fat type found in animal products. Plant-based diets can also boost levels of the feel-good hormone serotonin, making way for arousal and orgasm.

Tips for reaping plant-based diet perks with success:

  • Focus on eating more plant foods, versus on avoidance or restriction of others.
  • Emphasize whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes.
  • Listen to and respect your body: Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full.
  • Eat mindfully—with awareness, gratitude and minimized distraction.
  • Make it FUN! One way to do so? Check out The Good Life with VeegMama on YouTube.

Stephanie Dreyer, aka VeegMama, is a fabulous chef and all-around spectacular woman who makes vegan cooking easy-peasy! I had the pleasure of appearing as a guest recently, and get this: Stephanie concocted a Girl Boner Recipe! *SWOON* To learn how to make Spicy #GirlBoner Linguini (and hear our chat about Girl Boner), check out this video:

Lastly, I have to give a shout out to a couple of writer friends—KM Huber, who recently had a poignant blog post of hers published by the Washington Post, and Jess Witkins, who shared a hilarious followup to a Twitter chat she, Jenny Hansen and I had about condom sleeping bags. Check out these fab posts:

How My Blind Beagle Taught Me Zen by KM Huber

And There’s a Side Pocket for Snacks by Jess Witkins

To hear my Girl Boner Radio chat on veganism and more with actress and activist Alexandra Paul, visit this link.

Do you eat a plant-based diet? How has your diet influenced your sex life? I love hearing your thoughts!

Asexuality and a Naked Conversation on #GirlBoner Radio

“It’s so important that there’s support for asexuals. There are people who are scared, like I was, and think they can’t be feminist and asexual, or an artist and be asexual, or that they need to perform sexually to have intimacy with another person, and that’s just not the way it is. You can be asexual, human, and do whatever you want.” — Lauren Jankowski

I’m so grateful for every chance to explore important topics with bold, insightful guests each week on Girl Boner Radio. Yesterday was a prime example.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Lauren Jankowski, a novelist and activist, on what it’s like to be asexual, related myths and what she wishes the world knew about the orientation—such as being asexual doesn’t mean you can’t have a life rich with love and creativity. If you have any doubts about that, a few minutes with Lauren would douse them.

I also shared touching highlights from a 20/20 episode about an asexual couple who met online, and one of the most offensive quips I’ve heard about asexuality, which aired on a popular news network. *quivers* (We can’t work to change misconceptions we aren’t aware of, right?)

Then the wonderful Shan Jeniah chimed in with a reading of her prizewinning Beauty of a Woman BlogFest IV contribution. Her post about embracing her naked body, and how her body image has changed over the years, is unforgettable. She shared her motivation for writing the piece, what she works to instill in her kids regarding their bodies and more.

To listen to the episode, visit this link on iTunes: Asexuality and A Naked Conversation

August McLaughlin_Girl Boner Radio

To learn more about Lauren Jankowski, visit her website, follow her on Facebook & Twitter. Her debut novel Sere from the Green, the first volume in The Shape Shifter Chronicles, is available on AmazonCreateSpaceSmashwords and Square Marketplace.  To stay tuned to Shan Janiah’s happenings, subscribe to her blog.

What did you think of Lauren’s insight? Did she debunk myths you’ve believed about asexuality? Could you relate to Shan’s story? I love hearing from you! ♥

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