self-love renegade brigade project: a solid start to your year

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ren·e·gade ˈrenəˌɡād/

1. a person who deserts and betrays an organization, country, or set of principles. 2. having treacherously changed allegiance.

Every January, I kind of go into a self-imposed hibernation to protect myself and my recovery from the resolution mayhem. I see it coming all the way back in November, and I dread it every second until it hits full force. I've been doing this since 2006--the January where I checked into a facility for in-patient treatment. I've learned to get scrappy about it to protect my boundaries. You'd think after 9 years, this whole January thing would get easier, but it doesn't. That's nobody's fault but my own--everyone has every right in the world to commit to new goals for health and fitness. More power to them! But for me, it's dangerous territory. Trigger central.

So, I do what I do to stay my kind of healthy. I re-read my two self-love bibles: Intuitive Eating and The Beauty Myth. These books have both COMPLETELY changed my worldview several times over, and I find something new in them every time I reread.

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I've read Intuitive Eating probably well over 10 times. I turn to it when I have a bad day or week, skimming a couple of chapters that feel relevant. It helps every time, without fail, and I highly, highly recommend it to anyone looking to make peace with food.

**Trigger warning--there are parts that may be triggering for anyone sensitive to ED issues. A couple mentions here and there of destructive behaviors with numbers attached. Look at for those and skip as necessary.**

Of particular interest to me during this year's reading is the difference between what the authors call the "Nutrition Informant" and the "Nutrition Ally." My biggest concern for women right now is disordered eating disguised by nutrition and health. The authors explain the difference beautifully:

"The nutrition informant provides nutrition evidence to keep you in line with dieting. While this may seem innocuous or even healthy, it's a facade. It's not unusual for someone to say, 'I've rejected dieting. I truly believe I can eat what I want--and I want to start eating healthfully.' It's therefore possible to consciously reject dieting, but instead unknowingly continue to diet by embracing nutrition as a politically correct regimen for keeping your weight down."

Take particular note of the "embracing nutrition as a politically correct regimen for keeping your weight down."

Now the nutrition ally:

"The nutrition informant becomes the nutrition ally when the Food Police are exiled. The nutrition ally is interested in healthy eating with no hidden agenda. One distinguishing factor between the two is how you feel when you respond. If you make, or reject, a food choice in the name of health but feel acquiescent or guilty, then you know the Food Police still have a stronghold on your nutrition informant who's guiding your decision."

One last little excerpt I found particularly apropos amidst today's health trends:

"Our beliefs about food resemble dietary laws of a false religion--we pay homage to dieting and its rules, but it doesn't work."

These, like so many sections of this book, are my constant mantra. The Beauty Myth is equally if not more amazing as far as quoteables go. A quick favorite:

"Magazines, consciously or half-consciously, must project the attitude that looking one's age is bad because $650 million of their ad revenue comes from people who would go out of business if visible age looked good. They need, consciously or not, to promote women's hating their bodies enough to go profitably hungry, since the advertising budget for one third of the nations's food bill depends on their doing so by dieting. The advertisers who make women's mass culture possible depend on making women feel bad enough about their faces and bodies to spend more money on worthless or pain-inducing products than they would if they felt innately beautiful."

I could go on and on and on with this book. Talk about a revolution. The facts in this book are so incendiary, it's impossible not to get riled up and start shouting self love from the mountain tops.

If you are at all questioning your worth, weight, diet right now, I promise you these books will empower you, inspire you, and leave you feeling stoked to start your own self-love revolution. Please, please, please consider reading one ore both in 2015. Even if you're already in a good space with body image or diet, The Beauty Myth is still an incredible read for any woman.

So, that's my January Self-Love Renegade Brigade project. It's my way of protecting my boundaries and doing what's best for me, but I hope they might be helpful for you as well.

Read on, renegades! If you actually do pick one up, let me know! I would die and go to heaven to discuss it with you.