6 Signs Your “Lifestyle Plan” Is a Risky Diet in Disguise

The number of people who say they are dieting is at an all-time low, according to research released in 2013. To anyone who realizes how risky dieting is, fueling everything from nutrient deficiencies to obesity, this could seem like spectacular news. But here’s the thing:

Many people are now dieting without realizing it.

The weight loss industry is extremely smart from a financial standpoint. (They must be, to profit over $60 billion per year.) As dieting’s risks and almost zero percent success rate became widespread knowledge, many diet makers have responded by changing their packaging. “It’s not a diet,” many claim. “It’s a lifestyle plan!”

While this may be true in some cases, I’ve come across loads of “lifestyle plans” that are merely risky diets in disguise. If you’ve developed one or more of the below problems since adopting a dietary plan, it’s time to make some changes.

An unhealthy diet can take many different forms.

6 Signs Your “Lifestyle Plan” is a Risky Diet in Disguise

1. You have wretched breath. Halitosis is a common side effect of ultra-low carbohydrate, aka ketogenic, diets. Without enough carbs, the body releases chemicals that stink up your breath—and that’s only one of many known risks. When I was working as a consulting nutritionist, I could almost always tell if someone was “low-carbing” with one whiff.

2. You’re lethargic and grumpy. There’s a reason psychologists coined the term “Atkins Blues.” Carbohydrates are your body’s main fuel source—and the cells in your brain need twice as much as the rest of your body’s cells to function normally, stay energized and produce the feel-good chemical serotonin. (Ideally, most of your carbs will derive from nutritious sources.)

3. You’re anxious and stressed. Stress and anxiety are two of the most common downsides of dieting, and derive from physical and emotional factors. Without enough carbs, your body can’t efficiently produce calming brain chemicals. The highly restrictive nature of many diets also brings a sense of deprivation, which is stressful. You can’t dine out with ease or end up fighting perpetual hunger—which is another red flag.

4. Sleep is a problem. The same chemicals that promote positive moods make way for restful sleep. Consuming too few carbs or calories can make it really difficult to snooze restfully. Stress and anxiety from dieting (aka “lifestyle planning”) can also fuel insomnia. You could also end up exhausted over all, feeling as though all you want to do is stay in bed.

5. You’re prone to diarrhea, constipation or kidney stones. High-protein diets commonly contribute hugely to constipation and kidney stones, especially if you skimp of fiber-rich carb sources, such as legumes. If you can’t stick to a diet plan without taking laxatives (including herbal forms, such as senna or “detox tea”), it’s not a sound plan. Juice fasts that promise detoxification often also cause digestive upset, along with a slew of other complications.

6. Your sex life is suffering. Risky diet plans lack balance. They’re often way too high in protein or far too low in calories, carbs and sometimes fat. All of this can tinker with blood flow, which is crucial for arousal and sexual function, and brain chemicals linked with turn-on and orgasm. Low moods and bad breath from dieting can also make the naked tango less appealing.

So what’s the answer? Listen to your body. Respect it, rather than starve it. Aim for a diet based on whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Eat when you’re slightly hungry, stop when you’re comfortably full. Avoid diets that make grandiose promises, while, of course, avoiding any foods you’d don’t tolerate. Incorporate enjoyable activity into your lifestyle, cultivate a healthy sleep routine and pursue your passions. (Stress and unhappiness play a huge role in physical health.) Allow some wiggle room for foods you eat purely for enjoyment, keeping in mind that no one eats perfectly. The good news is, you don’t need to.

*If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms and they don’t seem diet or lifestyle related, or if they’re severe or long-lasting, seek guidance from your doctor. 

Related articles:

Can you relate to this post? What have dietary plans taught you? What steps do you take to gain wellness without losing your self? I love hearing from you! ♥

“Hot Girls Wanted” and Problems with Porn

Young women clicking through Craigslist ads, lured by notions of free trips to Miami, quick cash and escape from their small town lives. Here opens Hot Girls Wanted, a documentary produced by Rashida Jones, that follows a group of 18 to 25-year-old women as they navigate the paid amateur porn world as performers.


Seconds into the film available on Netflix, they’re flashing their blurred breasts for the camera, going for joy rides and discussing newfound opportunities they’d never have in their hometowns. But as their Twitter and bank accounts flourish, their well-being gradually suffers. One woman acquires an STD. Numerous feel pressured to participate in violent scenes known as facial abuse.

As the film progresses, Tressa, aka “Stella May,” a 19-year-old from Texas, grapples with whether she’s made the right decision in pursuing porn, particularly after she’s told to (unnecessarily) slim down, to practice fitting an unfathomably large dildo into her vagina and offered big pay to perform BDSM, a style she doesn’t seem comfortable with.

Tressa’s story is important, as are many of the issues brought featured—but the film doesn’t offer solutions for the problems it raises, clarity about these problems or highlight the more positive side of the adult industry.

Directors Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus originally planned to cover male consumption of porn on college campuses, according to the Telegraph. When they discovered that girls fresh out of high school appeared in these films, they shifted focus.

People are watching and appearing in adult films at strikingly young ages.

People are watching and appearing in adult films at strikingly young ages.

Why young women enter the adult industry through sketchy online ads would have been a fascinating exploration, yet the film seems to tell another story: The porn industry is bad and the ultra young women entering it are misled, abused and exploited.

When the adult industry is vilified, sex workers suffer. They are “slut” shamed, seen as low-class citizens and, in some cases, threatened. All of this seems hypocritical, seeing as porn remains one of the largest industries in the world, watched readily by Americans of virtually all ages, including women.

Viewers suffer, too, but not because of porn. Without comprehensive sex education, a lack that remains throughout the U.S., kids turn to porn for sexuality answers at continually younger ages. Porn depicts sex as entertainment, which is far different from physical intimacy in our lives. Extremely few are taught the difference, and that takes a tole.

This is the message most kids learn about sex, which causes more damage than good.

This is the message most kids learn about sex, which causes more damage than good.

No film should be expected to solve the complex problems involving porn—but any responsible documentary should at least mention potential answers and alternatives. Feminist porn, for example, depicts performers of all ages, races and orientations in healthier acts. (Think erotic sensuality versus hard-core violence.) The only alternative Hot Girls Wanted seems to present for performers is quitting, and none are offered for viewers.

Comedian and former porn star Alia Janine relates to the film.

“Although, I found the film to be edited and presented in a way that will want to make people look down on the adult film industry (as every other documentary done on the industry from people with no background in it), I found this film to be fairly accurate,” she said on her podcast. “I only say this because it is basically how I got into the industry, from Craigslist’s ads in Florida. It’s how most of the girls get into the industry.”

Industry executive Jack Spade agrees with Janine. After working as a porn actor, he launched his own agency and now runs two professional representation firms.

“Unfortunately, [Hot Girls Wanted] does show a real part of the industry, but I was upset that they didn’t show other aspects, a more professional side,” he said. “I wish it acknowledged that there are people that try to do it a better way.”

Spade, whose agency prizes professionalism first, pointed out that Reynolds, the agent featured in the film, lacked licensure at the time of filming.

“If you’re going to do a documentary on a mainstream agency,” he said, “would you go out and find an unlicensed one, and let that be seen as the norm?”

Yes, even the porn world has credible agencies and other firms looking out for its talent.

Many viewers of Hot Girls Wanted are concerned about the young age at which females are entering the business. Janine says that’s a social and economical issue—not an industry one.

“If people don’t like seeing 18-year-old girls being ‘taking advantage’ of, they should ask their government to raise the legal age of an adult to an age where the human brain is more developed,” she said, “or simply raise the age to be able to shoot adult content.”

“If the general public is bothered by women using their bodies to make a living wage in America; they may want to talk to their government and ask them why a middle class family can barely support their family, and can’t pay for college,” she added. “The sex work industries are only going to get bigger, and pay rates are going to get lower if the bigger picture isn’t looked at. But blaming the adult industry seems so much easier than trying to figure out why so many people are having to turn to it, instead of wanting to.”

Most of the problems within or related to the porn industry are cultural, yet the industry itself consistently takes the heat.

Reviewers have called Hot Girls Wanted “a damning portrayal of an industry in crisis.” I don’t think that’s accurate. In a society where kids learn virtually nothing about sexuality in early education and violence is celebrated in the very films nipples are banned from, the real culprit seems obvious; it’s our culture, not porn.

hot girls wanted

How a woman expresses her sexuality is her choice, made complex by our society’s harmful attitudes and mixed messaging. The idea that women are “sluts” or “prudes” depending on how we dress and behave is an antiquated and unjust mentality that needs to stop.

I’m grateful for the conversations Hot Girls Wanted has spurred, but wish they did more to offer solutions to the risks many women (and men) in the adult industry face rather than shun them or the entire industry. If the film had gone beyond seedy side of porn, it would have provided more sound and helpful messaging.

Rather than discuss whether porn is good or evil, let’s talk about ways to empower females to embrace their bodies and sexuality from early childhood up and men to respect women and their sexuality—no matter how they choose to express it.

Regardless of your career path, one message from the film rings markedly true: Never trust a shady Craigslist ad at face value. When it comes to sex as entertainment, remember that every performer is a human being with thoughts and feelings like the rest of us.

To hear or watch my Girl Boner® Radio episode on Hot Girls Wanted, visit this link

Healing From Abuse and How to Stop “Slut” Shaming

I was so honored to spend time chatting with Sophie Ullett on Girl Boner Radio last week, the show’s second time being filmed! We need more voices like Sophie’s and countless conversations on stopping the epidemic of sexual abuse and “slut”-shaming. (And yes, they are sadly linked.)


The episode also features a teaser for a not-to-be-missed documentary and tips from Girl Boner’s current sex-pert, Kait of Passion By Kait. (She’s fantastic!)

Stream the episode on iTunes, Stitcher Radio or my homepage, or scroll down to watch the video. If you’re short on time, feel free to jump to the portions you’re most interested in, using the following time line.

*Please note that the episode contains brief descriptions of sexual abuse for educational purposes.

0:30: I introduce the show.

1:10: See a teaser for UnSlut: A Documentary Film, directed by Emily Linden!

2:20: I introduce featured guest, actress and singer Sophie Ullett! We chat about her background and when she started acting.

*6:20: Sophie discusses the sexual abuse she endured as a child, including her mixed emotions at the time and how she eventually spoke up about what happened.

15:15: Sophie shares how she healed from the trauma and related alcohol abuse. Did she see a therapist? What helped most?

19:15: How did Sophie feel about herself while acting out sexually? Then we talk about growing and healing through sex, and some of the double standards involved with “slut” shaming—such as women being “promiscuous”versus “guys will be guys.”

22:30: More on slut-shaming—including bullying fellow women online, “slutty” Halloween costumes and Define Slut—the groovy t-shirt campaign led by Emily Linden’s UnSlut Project.

26:00: I read a question from a listener whose love of sexting her boyfriend has spurred tension in their relationship. Then our resident Sex-Pert of this month Kait Scalisi, MPH shares awesome advice!

32:00: Sophie and I discuss Kait’s suggestions, then I remind listeners about Kait’s fabulous Sexual Clarity Quickie Package—which is only $98 and includes a huge bonus for Girl Boner fans. (Woot!)

36:00: What is Sophie’s life like now? Learn about her biggest passion and ways we can all put an end to sexual bullying and the message she most wants anyone struggling with the effects of trauma to hear.

42:00: Outro – I share ways you can support Girl Boner® and wish everyone a beautiful week!

What did you think of our chat? How have you been “slut” shamed? What’s your take on sexting? I love hearing your thoughts! ♥

4 Things You Need To Know About Your (Beautiful) Vulva

Don’t play with her heart. Play with her vulva. It feels better. 

I couldn’t find a single happy vulva quote archived online. Can you believe that? Considering the mighty wonder of the area, it’s remarkable that vaginas get most of the attention. Don’t get me wrong—vaginas rock!  But what do you say we take some time to celebrate its pleasure-centric, splendiferous sister, Ms. Vulva?

vulva quote

4 Things You Need to Know About Your Vulva

1. It’s not your vagina. 

If your first thought when spotting this post was, “My vulva… I know it’s somewhere down there, but…what is it again?” you’re far from alone. Many folks confuse vaginas with vulvas. Your vagina is the passageway into your body. Your vulva is everything outside of it—including your labia (lips), the mounded area over your pubic bone, your clitoris. To see medical drawings via the Cleveland Clinic, click here.

2. You shouldn’t scrub it.

The vulva secretes oils that protect its delicate skin from friction we all experience regularly. Scrub away those oils with cleansers or douche, and you’re likely to experience irritation. Keep it clean by washing it gently with warm water when you shower and letting it be. For added health and safety, avoid thongs, girdles, feminine sprays, scented tampons and rough toilet paper.

3. It’s super capable of pleasure. 

Women experience intense amounts of pleasure outside the vagina—which is one reason intercourse alone doesn’t bring most women to climax. The combo of both, however, inner and outer “down there” play paves the way for mind-blowing, intoxicating pleasure.

4. It’s beautiful as it is.

Your vulva isn’t ugly, stinky, oversized or wrongly hairy. Far too many women feel pressured to futz with their genitals in order to feel beautiful or merely okay. Do what makes you feel most comfortable, keeping safety and well-being your top priorities. When you feel pressured to alter your gorgeous girl parts, ask yourself why. Chances are it’s societal messages that need changing—not you. ♥

For more on this topic, check out my DAME Magazine article: Stop Futzing With Your Vagina!

My Latest Product Fave!

Speaking of vulvas, I have to tell you all about my latest product crush. *drum roll* …VULVA BALM! Did you know it was a thing? Sensuous Beauty makes it, and it’s fabulous.

Vulva balm

Dab it on your gorgeous vulva to prevent chafing or manage dryness. Vulva Balm is formulated for menopausal women, but as a younger woman, I found it luscious and fun. (Even when we’re wet inside, some added gliding power outside is nice, IYKWIM!) You can also use it as a gentle lube. The body and eco-friendly deliciously scented balm has a smooth, decadent texture you’ll wanna slather on (think Carmex, only natural + sexy. ;))—but you won’t need to. A small amount goes far.

Disclosure: This is an honest review for a product sold by Good Vibrations, a company I’m affiliated with. If you purchase Sensuous Beauty Vulva Balm for $12.99 – $18.50 through this link, a portion will support all-things-Girl Boner.

You can also support GB by purchasing other products. Simply click the Good Vibrations image in the sidebar (or below, if you’re reading on your phone) to shop away! The company is women-friendly, discreet and all around AWESOME.

What do you love about your vulva? Did any of these facts surprise you? Think you might try Vulva Balm? Remember, there’s no shame or judgment here—just gratitude, love and respect. 

Girl Boner: The Sex Ed Story That Started it All

Eighty weeks and episodes ago, I sat down before the mic at Global Voice Broadcasting and nearly peed my pants from giddy excitement. Seconds later, I was hooked. Girl Boner® Radio has been, and continues to be, a wild and gratifying ride.

Now that much of that ride is being filmed, I decided to share the story that started it all on YouTube. The video below isn’t Hollywood-“perfect” visually (not that that’s ever my aim), but it’s chock-full of heart and was a blast to make.

Stream below to hear a shortened version of my premiere episode set to a slideshow featuring fabulous guests, Charlie Brown as you’ve never seen him, my dynamic dog’s radio debut and more. I hope you enjoy it!

GB quote

What did you think of the video? What was your sex ed experience like? Wishing you a beautiful, Girl Boner-embracing week! ♥

8 Surprising Facts About Female Orgasm

Happy National Orgasm Day! Nope, I didn’t make that up. Today folks across the country are celebrating the big and luscious O. Fabulous, right?

I thought I’d celebrate by sharing some tantalizing facts about Girl Boner-gasms. Check them out, then let me know what you think! I LOVE hearing from you. ♥


1. You could have one without realizing it. Don’t believe me? Listen to my episode on brain-gasms and my orgasm MRI. In short, some women mistake the feel-good sensations of climax with simply feeling good or, sadly, experience so much shame around sexuality that they don’t allow themselves to recognize or embrace what’s happening.

2. They’re POWERFUL! Unlike guys’ orgasms, which are also groovy, she-gasms send shimmery pleasure and elation throughout the whole body—from our heads to the tips of our toes. No wonder they help everything from pain and tension to low moods.

3. And contagious. Now there is something worth catching—yum. Our partners may literally get-off on our getting off. This is one reason men delight in facilitating orgasm meditation—the slow stimulation of a woman’s clit with the fingers alone.

4. Self-stimulation rocks! Did you know that self-sexy-TLC is the easiest way for most women to climax? It’s also a beautiful way to learn more about your body and connect more deeply with your partner, if you have one. I’m also a big fan of couple masturbation. Sharing in each other’s pleasure side-by-side or face-to-face without going pelvis-to-pelvis can be hot on multiple levels.

5. Some women climax through breath or thoughts alone. If a sexy dream has ever sent you over the edge physically, you’ve done so. You can also experience breath-gasms through tantric exercises, as I explored with Dawn Beck on Girl Boner® Radio this week.

6. Our attitudes count. Women who embrace their bodies and sexuality tend to have more frequent and stronger orgasms. This is one reason so many of us experiences greater intensity and fulfillment in the bedroom as we age. (Yes, that we peak in our 30s is a myth.)

7. It’s okay to desire or experience them more than your guy. As Dr. Megan said on my show recently, guys shouldn’t be expected to be superheroes in the bedroom. Similarly, we gals shouldn’t criticize ourselves if we desire sex more than our partner.

To learn more about females having higher sex drive, check out my latest column for The Good Men Project: When You Want Sex More Than He Does – What’s a Girl to Do?

8. There’s no right or best way to have one. Whether you climax frequently or some of the time, namely on the outside of your gorgeous body or deeper within, engage your G-spot or not or reach orgasm quickly or over time, you’re a-okay in that department. Our orgasms are as unique as we are, and 1000% embraceable.

**Another fab way to celebrate! Click the Good Vibrations ad in my sidebar and purchase a sexy product or two. A portion of your purchase will go to all-things-Girl Boner. Thanks so much for any support.

Which fact struck you most? What’s your favorite thing about she-gasms? How will you celebrate this glorious day?

A Middle-Age Sex Chat and Intimacy After Illness (Special Offer!)

Hi, all!

I hope you’re having a splendiferous week. This is a quickie post, as I’m on my way to #BlogHer15. (So stoked!)

You know what else I’m stoked about? Yesterday’s Girl Boner® Radio episode, featuring spectacular guests, mega-fun girl talk and a phenomenal offer for listeners from a sex educator.

I chatted with friend and fellow blogger, Chloe Jeffreys, who’s also an experienced labor and delivery nurse, about estrogen decline, libido boosters and intimacy during middle-age. She’s equal parts know-how, zest and candor—you’ll love her!


Chloe Jeffries

Resident expert Dr. Megan Fleming weighed in on a reader’s concerns about dealing with her guy’s lower-than-hers libido, and Natalie Hatches invites listeners to take her awesome Intimacy After Illness e-course. She’s offering it at a huge discount for Girl Boner® fans, and offering some groovy extras! (Learn more below.)

To stream the episode, click one of these links:

iTunes   Stitcher Radio   AugustMcLaughlin.com

To register for Love Chat with Nat’s 8 Week Transformational E-Course on Intimacy After Illness: A Holistic Approach, go to: www.lovechatwithnat.com/go/8weekcourse and use the code girlboner for $200 off the usual price ($497) until Monday 7/20. After Monday, use the code to save $5o.

You’ll also receive:
A gift bag from Ana Ono Intimates
3 – One hour educational sessions with Love Chat with Nat – $525 value
One year complimentary membership to Love Chat with Nat’s Love Goddess Program – $228 value
Weekly check-in during the E-Course to answer questions
Unlimited Email Support for 30 days after E-Course

This is such an awesome deal! I hope it finds the folks who most need it. ♥ If you’ve listened to the episode, I’d love to hear what you think! Could you relate to any of the topics? Which suggestion seemed most helpful?

Nicole’s Story: Healing From Depression and PTSD

“It’s normal for survivors of sexual violence to experience feelings of anxiety, stress, or fear. If these feelings become severe, last more than a few weeks, or interrupt your day-to-day life, it might be a condition known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network

One of my favorite things about Girl Boner® is interacting with women whose stories and insight offer so much inspiration. While prepping for my latest episode, on depression, PTSD and empowerment, I polled folks on Facebook: If they’d struggled with these issues, what has most helped them cope or thrive? How has the experience influenced their intimate relationships?

One woman’s responses were so poignant, I wrote back and decided to feature her thoughts in the episode and here on my blog. Thank you, Nicole, for your openness and bravery! Read on to learn how this survivor of sexual trauma is finding her way from intense darkness to light.

To listen to the full episode, which also features an interview with award-winning filmmaker Jill Morley, expert tips from Dr. Megan Fleming and a bit about my own experience with depression, use the links down below. I hadn’t realized it until today, but this marks my 75th segment. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than to explore these vital topics with truly awesome women. ♥

August: How long have you been dealing with depression and PTSD?

Nicole: I’ve been dealing with depression off and on for a big chunk of my life, and PTSD related to sexual and relationship trauma for the last seven years.

August: I’m so sorry. I know how challenging that all can be. Have you sought therapy?

Nicole: Off and on for about a decade dealing mostly with depression, and immediately after three traumatic events that all occurred in the span of a year.

August: Has it helped?

Nicole: Talk therapy helped me label what I went through as rape. It was, and still is, difficult for me to use that term, “rape,” because there was no fighting involved.

Instead of fighting, I froze. I knew each of the guys really well. One boyfriend, and two friends. I said, “no,” and, “stop,” and, “I won’t unless you use a condom,” but they kept going disregarding what I said, and I immediately froze. If it were not for therapy, I’d still be talking about them as my “worst sex ever” stories.

rape quote

My new therapist is helping me deal with my PTSD and anxiety that bubbles up in ways I only realize a couple days later what triggered it and why. Sometimes I don’t know why I feel anxious at all. I get so angry at my anxiety.

August: A recent guest, Rachel Thompson, talked about that—not realizing PTSD was triggering symptoms for awhile. What would you say has helped the most?

Nicole: I went to group therapy for abused women, and that, more than anything, helped right away. Hearing the stories of women who went through what seemed like a hell I’ve never experienced, then saying that the psychological abuse was far worse for them than any physical abuse, because only the physical was acknowledged/validated by others. So we validated each others experiences. It was powerful.

August: Sounds like it, and it’s inspiring. What about in your daily life? What habits or tools have you found helpful?

Nicole: A few things:

1) Meditation/Mindfulness. At least 10-20 minutes a day of meditating, which I also call upon when I realize my feelings are overwhelming me. At this point, it’s usually long after I’m in the middle of being upset.

2) Telling myself, “Of course I feel ____________ !”

“It’s natural for me to feel ____________.”

“It’s Ok for me to feel ____________.”

And when I think … “It’s not ‘OK’ to feel this way. I don’t want to feel this way, so how can it be OK?” I then repeat the three statements above about not feeling it’s OK. “Of course I feel like it’s not OK,” etc.

Sky breathing quote 2

3) When it’s nice outside during my therapy session, we go for a walk during that hour.  Movement while talking about my anxiety and PTSD, and about anything that triggers me, has helped me tremendously. Walking while talking about things helped my body process my emotions faster, often leaving me feeling good about myself just for doing some exercise that day.

August: How has this all influenced your intimate life?

Nicole: My husband is so sensitive to my past experiences, and I’ve told him about all of them. When they’re brought up directly he’s there to hold me, or just listen.

In the bedroom, he’s sometimes a little too quick to just stop whatever he’s doing (which is a thin line for both of us to walk, and I feel bad about it being so confusing).

My husband also has his own issues—also about control; I’ve learned that sexual trauma often creates or increases control issues. Our separate issues tend to leave us triggering one another pretty often.

We both want to work on ourselves to be better people for ourselves and each other…and now for our little one on the way. We’re both working very hard at resolving our issues, and we’re seeing a lot of progress six months into counseling, but we still have a long way to go.

I feel so fortunate to have a partner who is willing look honestly at himself, and to work through our problems and do what we need to, in order to be healthy as individuals and as a family.

August: Beautiful. How is your pregnancy going?

Nicole: Being pregnant with my entire body changing is not a helpful piece to this puzzle, but it’s important for me to work on myself now more than ever. I’m hoping to teach my baby boy to grow up a strong feminist, and believing in and fighting for equal rights for everyone.


How beautifully brave and amazing is this woman? Yes, that was rhetorical—but please do join me in cheering Nicole on and sending the best possible thoughts.

**For more on this topic, listen to the latest on Girl Boner® Radio: Depression, PTSD & Empowerment on my homepage, iTunes and Stitcher Radio.

If you need help and aren’t sure where to turn, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE(4673) or chat online at online.rainn.org, or contact the Nationwide 24-Hour Crisis Hotline: 1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Can you relate to Nicole’s experiences? If you’ve struggled with depression or PTSD, what’s most helped you cope and heal? I love hearing from you! ♥

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.


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! ♥