Your body & soul

How to Find a Church by Yourself

There are some things in life that once you find them, you hold on to them and don’t let go: a great hairdresser, an honest mechanic, or a doctor who really listens to you.

Another staple of many peoples’ lives is a good church. But if you are single and unsure of how to find one, how do you even know where to begin? I want to give you some practical tips on how to find a church that suits you and will support you on your spiritual walk.

One thing to consider is what denomination of services you would like to attend. Some people prefer to go to the church of the religion they were raised in, which is fine. However, if that doesn’t meet your spiritual needs, consider taking this quiz to see where your leanings are. This BeliefNet quiz is for entertainment purposes, but it can give you insight if you prefer a more liberal, conservative, or middle-of-the-road church. For example, I scored highest as a Liberal Quaker, ranking far above the Catholic faith I was raised in.

However, being a Quaker isn’t terribly practical in my city of 300,000 people. They meet in a private residence once a week, and I’m not comfortable sticking out like a sore thumb for their meetings.

Another way to find a church is to ask your like-minded friends, relatives, or co-workers if they can recommend any churches. Ask them why they would recommend it, and if they think you would enjoy it. I think you will find their answers to be very telling. Ask if you can go to a service with them – there’s nothing like going to church with someone who can make introductions!

When I visit a new church, I have a list of what is most important to me:

  • Was I welcomed? I like a warm greeting. I don’t want to be a nameless face in the pew.
  • Music – Personally, I like more contemporary music.
  • Sermon – What was the central message of the sermon? Was it hellfire and brimstone, or did it teach an inspirational, gentle, and hopeful lesson?
  • Congregation– Is there diversity in the congregation? Is it all families or all older folks? Do you see unattached adults? If there is a good age spread, I take that as a good sign that the church reaches out to everyone.
  • Ministries – Many of these are highlighted in the church bulletin, which I highly recommend reading. Does the church offer anything of interest to you, like singles’ ministry, bible study, classes, or volunteer opportunities? Opportunities to get you involved will make you feel quickly at home.
  • Service time – I’m squirming after 45 minutes. If it goes past an hour, they’ve lost me.
  • Miscellaneous – Is there anything else that stands out about the church? Things I’ve noticed are coffee before or after services for fellowship, wonky parking lots, use of multimedia in the church, and the general overall church vibe. 

Of course selecting the right church for you is an intensely personal process, and you will unfortunately go to a few churches that just don’t resonate with you. But if you are brave enough to explore churches, keep in mind what is important to you in a church family, and visit the “maybe” churches more than once, I think you are well on your way to finding a worship community that’s just right for you.

If you attend church, how did you find the place you currently attend? Comment below!

Quick and Easy Meditation for Beginners

Cell phones. Car alarms. Noisy neighbors. TVs and radios blaring. Dogs barking. Kids screaming. Fire alarms when all you want to do is boil water.

No matter what your kryptonite is, I think all of us suffer from a world of excess noise and distraction. If you’re anything like me, you probably bombarded with cacophony from the minute you wake up till the moment your head hits the pillow.

Is it possible to hit the restart button and refocus your thoughts? How do you find your calm in the middle of a busy, loud day? Is it even worth taking a couple minutes to shut your brain up?

In a word…yes.

Now, I’m not going to lie: I came to hate the words meditation and silence when I was in training to be a nun. I had to go through several silent 48-hour retreats. We weren’t permitted to say a single word and were supposed to be in prayer and silence. I’ll be the first to admit I failed miserably. All I did was sleep a ton and sneak in books in order to have something to do. Because in my 20-something-year-old mind, I demanded stimulation and I didn’t want to take time away to pray.

And honestly, structured prayer isn’t my jam. But as I’ve gotten older, I see the wisdom and power of meditating. It has been proven to reduce stress, improve concentration, as well as increase happiness and self-awareness.

So how can you snatch a few minutes to calm your brain down and re-center yourself? I have to admit, as single women, we actually get more silence built into our day than wives and mothers. So why don’t we take advantage of it?

Below are a few quick ideas you can try today. Try doing any one of these for two or three minutes every day. It doesn’t require any fancy equipment. All you need is the intention of wanting to meditate.

In the Morning

  • Hold a hot cup of coffee or tea in your hands. Savoring the aroma, breathe deeply and focus on what you are grateful for in the day to come.
  • Practice three yoga sun salutations. There are many YouTube videos to get your started.
  • Sit comfortably in a chair. Concentrate on your breath. Each time you inhale, focus on a mantra or an intention you have for yourself. Suggestions for a mantra could be love, peace, joy, serenity, or a similar notion.

In the Middle of the Day

This will require you to disappear for a few minutes. If you can’t shut people out in your office or cubicle, go to your car, bathroom, break room, or even a storage closet if you won’t come across as a total weirdo.

  • Sit comfortably and focus on one good thing that has happened so far today. Replay it in your mind and thank the universe for it.
  • Close your eyes. Concentrate on your heartbeat and your breath. Be really present in the moment and think about how strong your body is, how alive you are, and how amazing it is to simply be today.

At Night

  • Lie down in corpse pose (arms away from body, hands up, feet shoulder-width apart). Breathing slowly, focus on your one-word mantra. Reflect on how it played a role in your life today.
  • Look up a quote on a site like dailyzen.com or http://www.beliefnet.com/faiths/buddhism/daily-buddhist-quote.aspx. Sit in your favorite chair. Soak in that quote and let it flow over you.

What do you do to hit the “restart” button in your mind during a busy day? Comment below!

Blood Be Gone: Why I LOVE Mirena

Let’s talk periods for a blog entry. And no, I’m not talking punctuation marks.

What I am talking about is Aunt Flo. The Curse. Your monthly.

Whatever you call it, periods are something all women from teens to well into their 50s have to endure, and I’m no exception. We shell out hundreds of dollars a year on tampons, pads, cups, pantyliners, and other things to stop us from being the vampire victim every 28 days or so.

CSI: Constantly Soiled Items

Speaking for myself, my periods have always been a horrid curse. I was diagnosed with menorrhagia (abnormally heavy periods) in my early 30s. As early as my late teens, I could sleep with a tampon, two pads, and be on a towel, and I would still wake up on a bed that looked like a crime scene. I ruined countless items of clothing and bed linens. “Ultra heavy” pads and tampons were utterly laughable. As a teacher with one 20-minute break in a nine-hour day, I had to wear yoga pants so I could drag through the day. And it was gross. Just gross.

Sick and tired of the blood and anemia, I drew a line in the sand at the age of 31. I went to my OB/GYN, begging for something, anything, to relieve my symptoms.

That was when the miracle of Mirena was introduced into my life.

What Is Mirena?

Mirena is one of four hormonal IUDs available in the United States (the others being Skyla, Liletta, and Kyleena). It is a small, plastic, T-shaped device about 1.25” long and just as wide. Prescribed and inserted by a medical practitioner into your uterus, it shells out a low dose of the hormone levonorgestrel. There are strings that are trimmed after insertion you can still feel, but it shouldn’t interfere with your normal activities.

Advantages of Mirena

  • Up to 20% of women reported periods stopped altogether after their first year
  • Has a five-year success rate of 99.3% in preventing pregnancies
  • Effective for five years (although some women get a new one after 3 years)
  • Thanks to the ACA (Obamacare), many health plans cover Mirena
  • On the market in the US since 2001 with an extensive body of literature supporting its effectiveness
  • Nothing needs to be done prior to sex – it really is a “set it and forget it” form of birth control
  • If you change your mind and want to start a family, 90% of users who wish to become pregnant do so within 2 years of removal

Disadvantages of Mirena

  • Mild to moderate discomfort when it is inserted (from my own experience, I won’t lie – it hurts like a bitch)
  • Irregular periods and spotting after insertion
  • Side effects include: lowered sex drive, nausea, acne, weight change, change in glucose tolerance, lower back/abdominal pain, and mood swings

Of course, check with your physician to see if you are a candidate for Mirena. But in my personal experience, I saved my pennies to get it and gave my OB/GYN the green light to insert it. And the day I got my Mirena was the last day I had to worry about periods. Other than a couple days of light spotting, I haven’t had a single problem with my periods.

And it has been liberating. I can travel without worrying about my period. I can swim whenever I want. Stained clothing is but a distant memory, and I can even wear white pants without fear. My quality of life has gone up dramatically since Mirena came into my life. And yes, I do suffer from some side effects, but that is nothing in comparison to the joy and freedom to live my life on my terms without suffering from menorrhagia and anemia every month.

So what do you have to lose? Discuss Mirena or another hormonal IUD the next time you go to your GYN. You may just change your life, and for the better.

What has been your experience with birth control? Has it enhanced your quality of life? Comment below!

Easy Breakfast for Dinner Recipes for One

What’s not to love about having breakfast for dinner? You get to eat the foods you love when it’s dark outside, you can wear your jammies, and binge-watch the latest season of BoJack Horseman while you eat, so you got the cartoon aspect covered, too!

There are lots of good casserole recipes, or you can make pancakes, waffles, bacon, sausage, or even just cold cereal. But I have two quick egg recipes that require about six ingredients apiece and are perfectly portioned for one person!

  1. Savory Egg Bake (modified from a Weight Watchers recipe)

Ingredients:

  • No-stick cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon marinara or pizza sauce
  • 1 tablespoon feta (or similarly crumbly cheese)
  • 1 large egg
  • Spices of your choice (the original recipe called for fresh thyme; I used garlic powder, herbes de Provence, and crushed red pepper flakes)
  • 2 pieces bread for toast

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Spray ramekin with the cooking spray (be sure your ramekin can resist temperatures of 400!)
  • Add all the ingredients into the ramekin (I like to poke my egg so it comes out runny)
  • Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees

After it cools just a bit, enjoy with toast and fruit. Plenty of protein, filling, and super easy!

 

  1. Easiest Quiche EVER (modified from a Food.com recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 1 premade frozen pie crust
  • 5 large eggs
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 2 cups filling – cheese, leftover veggies, meat, or any combination (for this one I use ½ cup cheese and 1½ cups from a bag of frozen onions, celery, and peppers, which I thawed and drained)
  • Season to taste (I like crushed red pepper, garlic powder, and black pepper)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Beat eggs in a large mixing bowl
  • Add the filling and milk, then mix all together
  • Pour the egg mixture into the pie shell
  • PLACE THE PIE ON A COOKIE SHEET (I have had more than one quiche drip onto my entire oven)
  • Bake for about 50 minutes, until the top is browned, and a knife inserted in center comes out clean

This is so easy and so good. Enjoy with a green or fruit salad, and maybe a piece of toast. It refrigerates very easily for breakfast or lunch the next day.

There are so many ways to make this: Tex-Mex with peppers and steak, Italian with garlic, onions and spicy sausage, or the classic quiche Lorraine with bacon and Swiss cheese. 

I am definitely not a huge egg fan, but these recipes are so simple that I can have them whipped up in very little time with minimal effort. And let the brenner party begin!

What is your favorite breakfast food to eat for dinner? Comment below and try one of these recipes this week!

Yoga and the Plus-Size Woman

“Ohm…shanti…ohm…shanti…”

You probably think those of use who practice yoga sitting around in our yoga pants, watch incense waft heavenward, and pray to weird Eastern deities.

Yeah, no. That’s not how yoga works. (Although, as a sad/funny side note, my local ultra right-wing Catholic bishop tried to tell women practicing yoga was a grave sin.)

I took my first yoga class in my twenties, and I was hooked right away. I loved being able to shut my loud brain off for 75 minutes at a time. I was amazed I could actually do some of the poses as well as or better than my classmates, like the bridge pose and sitting in a butterfly pose with my knees flat on the floor. And when I could do things I had never done before, such as a handstand, I knew yoga would always be a part of my life.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro, an intermediate yogi like me, or a total newbie, I hope you will consider doing yoga. Even though we are curvier women, yoga offers so many benefits, they simply cannot be denied:

  1. Improved respiration. A lot of yoga centers on breathing. You focus on different parts of your body receiving oxygen. The deeper you breathe and the more you focus on it, the more it improves your overall breathing.
  1. Increased flexibility. I am amazed at how much more flexible I was after a few months of yoga class. Postures I had to skip in the first few classes were ones I could actually do! And it was fun to try to recreate those movements at home.
  1. Perfects your posture. While Pilates are better for core work, yoga also focuses a lot on your core and tucking your belly button into your spine. Yoga stretches make you longer, leaner, and your posture will naturally follow suit.
  1. Increases blood flow. Believe me, when your head is below your heart – like in downward dog – the blood flows to your head. And you start to feel arteries, veins, and capillaries you don’t even know you had!
  1. Inspires a healthy lifestyle. I don’t know about you, but I am less likely to grab fast food on the way home from yoga class. Somehow my body craves better food, and I make better choices. I drink more water, less alcohol, and I actually want to eat stuff that’s good for me.
  1. Fights depression. Not only does yoga center you and help you focus on your breathing, but your endorphins kick in. I seem to feel particularly happier after a round of hot yoga.
  1. Improves your balance. Yeah, I wobble and fall when I’m trying to balance on one leg. So what? Over the weeks, my balance improves. So not only can I stand on one leg, but I can stand on one bent leg!
  1. Fosters deeper sleep. It is connected to the focus on breathing and being centered, but I always slept like a rock after yoga practice. The calming breathing and soothing feeling of well-being lend themselves so well to a good night’s sleep!
  1. Yoga is a sport you definitely see improvement in. As I mentioned, literally everyone improves after a few weeks in yoga class. I dare you to try it out for a month. Tell me you don’t see marked improvement.
  1. Centers you. After a long, tiring session, it feels so good to lay there in corpse pose, breathing, and connecting with the universe. That is a sense of peace and tranquility I have never found in any church. Ever.

So if you want to practice yoga for increased flexibility, as a way to ease symptoms of depression, or you are looking to take up a new sport, yoga is simply amazing. Give it a try at your local adult education classes or see if a local yoga studio offers free introductory classes. You might get hooked!

Have you ever done yoga? What were the results?

How the Convent Trained Me for Life as a Single Woman

How the ConvvLife as a Single Woman

Maria von Trapp. The Flying Nun. Sister Mary Clarence (Sister Act). Me.

Yes, yours truly was a nun for a year before I was booted out. Even though I wrote a book about it, I really don’t talk much about my time in the convent.

But the longer I blog about life as a curvy single woman, the more I realize that my time in the convent was excellent preparation for living as a single woman in my 30s.

I was 27 when I entered the convent. I came fresh out of grad school and I had never lived really, truly on my own before. The lessons learned during that short year stay with me to this day:

  1. I learned how to do things for myself. I had to learn how to change a tire, cook for six hungry people in 30 minutes, basic household repairs, and how to make $100 (our monthly allowance) last for an entire month for entertainment, clothes, and toiletries.
  1. You will not get along with everyone you meet. Contrary to what movies or TV might show, some nuns are actually notoriously difficult to get along with. They can be crabby, long-winded, or just plain unpleasant to be around. But in the spirit of community, you do your best to put on a cheerful face, act like an adult, and tolerate their company as best you can.
  1. Treasure your own company. I hated the retreats where we to be silent for 48 hours. But in the everyday hustle and bustle, I came to appreciate the hour of quiet I had in daily prayer. That was me time, and that allowed me to recharge my batteries after taking care of others for so many hours.
  1. Everything changes, yet everything stays the same. It seemed the nuns were moving all the time, changing jobs, or starting new ventures. But the older nuns were calm, serene, a little sassy, and were always just there. They had seen and lived through so much, that nothing ever seemed to faze them. I envy their serenity, and I hope as the years pass, less will bother me and change will not weird me out as much.
  1. Giving up control is not a bad thing. I can be a control freak. I hate getting lost, not having an itinerary, or being at a social event where I don’t know anyone. But I had to live in the convent without Google maps and I was often at events where I didn’t know a soul. But I learned to rely on my sense of direction and I actually started trusting myself things would be OK if I got helplessly lost or if I had to make awkward small talk. And I was actually fine!
  1. The deepest joys do not require a lot of money. I didn’t care if I didn’t have the latest fashions or gadgets. I was happier playing cards at home or going for walks out in the neighborhood.
  1. An open spirit can lead to unimaginable blessings. I got thrown into so many situations I did not sign up for (volunteering at a women’s shelter, rebuilding blighted houses, renovating the motherhouse), but those were some of the biggest joys I experienced in my time with the sisters.
  1. I am stronger than I think I am. I am braver than I give myself credit for. I thought my life was over after I left was kicked out of the convent. I really thought that was what God wanted me to do, but it wasn’t. Contrary to what I thought, my life wasn’t over. I had a broken heart for a while, but I learned to heal and get on with my life. I really did have everything I needed in me, and while I may have bent, I didn’t break.

I sometimes still get asked if I would ever consider entering the convent again. The answer is a resounding N-O. I tried that life, and it is not a good fit for me.

But the passing of years has brought wisdom and grace. I have grown a lot since I was 27, and the lessons I learned with the nuns were wonderful training for the woman I am today. I followed my heart, and even though my convent experience blew up in my face, I am stronger and wiser for the time I spent with the nuns. I am that much more able to handle life as a strong, single woman.

What life experience has had the biggest effect on you? Comment below!

My Journey with PCOS

My Journey with PCOS

Surprise! You have ovaries full of cysts!

That is definitely not what I wanted to learn from my OB/GYN after an ultrasound, but she confirmed my suspicions.

Between 5-10% of woman of childbearing age have PCOS, or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. I want to share with you what PCOS is, and what I have done to help manage my symptoms.

Basically, PCOS is a hormone imbalance that causes small cysts to develop in a woman’s ovaries. They usually come and go, although sometimes the cysts do need to be popped.

While PCOS is not fatal, it is a pain in the ass to live with. It also predisposes women to heart disease and diabetes if it goes untreated. It sucks that no one knows what causes it, and there is no cure.

Here is a list of common PCOS symptoms:

  • Elevated risk for diabetes. Many women with PCOS take Metformin to help regulate this.
  • Depression or anxiety.
  • Acne, oily skin, dandruff.
  • Excess hair growth, known as hirsutism. It can be on the chin, neck, chest, stomach, or back.
  • Fertility issues. Many, though not all, women with PCOS have difficulty conceiving.
  • Irregular periods. They can be to frequent, too infrequent, or extremely heavy.
  • Thinning or balding hair. It can be in small patches or full-on pattern baldness.
  • Difficulty losing weight. Because of those icky, stubborn hormones, women in our condition are most always overweight and losing weight is harder than for most people.
  • Sleep apnea.
  • Skin tags.

After I was diagnosed at age 31 – and I suffer from every single symptom mentioned above – I wasn’t about to live with PCOS without a fight. I got an IUD to help ease the suffering with my extremely heavy periods. It was a lifesaver because my Mirena made my periods stop altogether. Gone were the cramps, bizarre food cravings, and wild mood swings.

However, my OB/GYN referred me to an endocrinologist to help with the prediabetes and the stubborn weight I could not lose no matter how hard I tried. But the less-than-compassionate endocrinologist said all she could do was refer me for bariatric surgery.

Have my stomach stapled? She couldn’t even refer me to a dietician?! Screw that!

That experience left a bitter taste in my mouth, but I took up jogging and did lose some weight. Because of that and taking Metformin, I am no longer prediabetic. I also take anti-depressants, which I am not ashamed to say.

I can’t deny that living with PCOS sucks. Because it does suck – a lot. I can live with the bald spots and the nasty hirsutism, but barely being able to lose weight and the depression due to hormones make me furious. I don’t like the thought of my own body betraying me.

You do not have to suffer in silence. There are some great Facebook groups for women with PCOS – the biggest being “Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).” Just type that in the search bar. It has over 16,000 members, but so many of them are trying to conceive that the drama is too much for me. I like “PCOS not TTC (trying to conceive”. At over 1,000 members, it is still a big group, but we are all just trying to live with our symptoms and not baby-crazy.

It’s strange to think tiny little cysts in my ovaries have caused so many issues with my health. But I do not let my PCOS define who I am. I got birth control that works for me, I eat healthy (most of the time), and I exercise to manage my symptoms. Menopause is a long ways away, but I will manage this disease as best I can.

Do you know anyone who suffers from PCOS? Comment below!

 

10 Ways to Grieve When You Have to Do It Alone

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Grief is the price we pay for love.—Queen Elizabeth II

You get a phone call or open an email and you finally get the news you’ve been dreading.

Someone you love has passed away.

There are few things in life that are as profoundly sad or difficult as losing a loved one, be it a friend or family member. Whether it was after a lengthy illness or completely unexpected, it can be enough to knock the wind out of you. You can literally feel your heart break. You wonder whether you’ll ever be happy again.

Facing grief is difficult even if you have people to lean on. But living alone, single women have a difficult time of it. Here are some things to remember when facing the death of a loved one. They won’t make the heartache go away, but they will help anchor your emotions and permit you to grieve at your own pace:

  1. Allow yourself to lean in to your emotions. You might be like me and cry at the drop of the hat. Or you may be stoic when you first hear the news. Whatever you are feeling, the most important thing to remember is that you are entitled to your emotions.
  1. Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel. Western culture has a warped, awkward view of death. We think people should “snap out of it” after a week or two and then carry on with a stiff upper lip. That is quite possibly the worst advice you can give anyone who’s mourning. Tune out all that noise.
  1. Be gentle with yourself. As I mentioned, I’ve been known to cry anywhere and everywhere. Bus stops, grocery shopping, at my desk, coffee shops—I can’t help it. That’s how I deal with it. And that’s OK. Anger, depression, tears…don’t apologize for how you feel and don’t beat yourself up for having those feelings. It shows you are vibrant, caring, and human because you can express what that person meant to you. Even if it means slobbery, messy tears and tons of wadded-up tissues.
  1. Remember grief has no timetable. Every person is irreplaceable and there will never be anyone like the one you lost. You may not feel your loss until days, weeks, or even months after the funeral. And that’s fine. There is no schedule to grieving, and that should never be forgotten.
  1. Reach out to your support network—even if they don’t know who passed away. People who truly love you will let you cry on the phone, over Skype, or in person. Be it your mom, your best friend, your counselor, or a pastor—let yourself be vulnerable and talk about your grief.
  1. Find solace in nature. I am about as far from an outdoorsy person as you can get. But going for walks or even sitting on the porch, watching a sunset help me center me and allow my thoughts to wander. I can pause and remember the beauty in the world, even if it’s just for a couple minutes.
  1. Be there for others who mourn the loss. I absolutely hate wakes and funerals. There, I said it. But I know it’s not all about me. I draw a lot of comfort in seeing friends and family at these services. It is also a sign of respect to the person’s family that you are enough to come. Don’t run away from wakes/funerals, even if you hate them as much as I do.
  1. Think about what your loved one wants for you. The timing of this is probably more after the funeral. But if you have a special connection with the deceased, you know they want you to be happy. Remember this when you reach for your eighth box of tissue or feel like you will never smile again. They would want you to smile. And eventually laugh. It may take time, but you know they want the very best for you.
  1. Do something to honor your loved one’s memory. Develop a good habit or ditch an old one. Do something you’ve always wanted to but never had the courage to. Just do something different to remember. And honor your loved one when you actually do it.
  1. Remember the ties that bind. I see lots of Facebook messages of “Praying for you…let us know if you need anything,” after someone passes away. Follow through when you say those words, and not just with a casserole or a card. If you are in a position to do so, call, visit, or email the family of the person who died. They will be in great need of comfort in the weeks, months, and years afterwards. Loneliness is a crippling emotion, and if you can do something to alleviate it, you are honoring the departed.

Death is never easy to talk about. But by allowing yourself the time and space to grieve, honoring your loved one’s memory, and by being there for others, you are giving yourself the tools you need to cope with your grief. And in your sadness and heartache, you will find comfort and strength in yourself and in others.

What has brought you the most comfort when you’ve grieved? Comment below!

How to Defeat Limiting Beliefs Once and for All: Find Your True Voice

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“I feel fat.”

“I need to be a size 8.”

“I’m a failure as a girlfriend/daughter/niece/worker/student.”

“I just suck.”

Have you ever said anything like that to yourself? I know I have, and it reached its peak in 2011. I thought I was a failure as a friend, a teacher, and as a human being in general. I was surrounded by limiting beliefs, and they haunted every conversation I had with myself.

What are limiting beliefs? They are statements that corner us and prevent us from flourishing. They are statements that you heard so often growing up, that eventually you start to believe them. Statements like:

“I can’t look good at a size 20.”

“I will never find the man of my dreams.”

“It’s easier to be seen than be heard.”

“This job pays the bills. Even if I don’t love it, it’s security.”

But believe it or not, you don’t have to let limiting beliefs ruin your life like they did mine. In fact, you can actually reverse your limiting beliefs and use your inner dialogue as a source of strength and courage.

A couple weeks ago, I finished reading the excellent book Finding Your Voice: Sort Through the Clutter and Discover Clarity, Confidence, and Direction by longtime life coach Joel Boggess. I’ve known Joel for a few years and even though this book was written in 2013, I’ve only gotten around to purchasing and working through it just now.

The book brings up a lot of great points on how to tap into your passions and find how to make it work for you, but my favorite chapter was how to work through your limiting beliefs. Boggess does a fantastic job in the book of identifying, analyzing, and breaking yourself free of limiting beliefs.

Step One: Identify your beliefs. The first thing you have to do is realize your limiting beliefs pop up in the first place. This is kinda hard, but once I realized I was doing it, I was shocked how often I was saying them.

“I look bad as a size 20/22. I have never been this heavy in my life before. I just look gross.” That is one I have been struggling with lately.

Step Two: Challenge your beliefs. Play devil’s advocate. Where is that belief coming from? In my case, it is the echo of my high school bully and the constant media messages we are bombarded with daily to be prettier, thinner, sexier, and just all-round better. Do I really feel gross every day? Is it 100% true I would be happier if I was better perfect? Hell to the N-O, for both questions.

Step Three: Find the antidote. I know my antidote is in my closet. I may be the biggest size I have ever been, but I have assembled a beautiful wardrobe of clothes I know I look good in and am very proud to wear. Also, I know my body still allows me to walk and do yoga, even if running isn’t in the cards right now. It’s up to you to dig deep and find the antidote to your own limiting beliefs.

Step Four: What antidote will you choose to believe in? This is where you begin to plug in more useful, uplifting messages instead of all the negativity.

Ex-belief: “I feel fat and gross at this size 20/22.”

New belief: “I choose now to believe that no matter what my size, I know how to dress in a way that celebrates my body and makes me feel damn good.”

Step Five: Speak the truth. This is probably the hardest part. But you say things over and over to yourself so that the new belief takes root and banishes the old belief. I say it when I look in the mirror, rifle through my closet, and after I exercise. The repetition takes a time and practice, but your brain will get the message.

Let me say that again: Your brain will get the message.

Even though this book didn’t exist when I was at my ultra-low point in 2011, I started learning when I was smack-talking myself. I started cramming my head so full of positive podcasts that in less than a year, I had automatic answers to every single limiting belief that popped into my head. I was my own antidote.

I gained enough strength to rewrite my inner monologue and that is when I was able to blossom. I found a new job, moved, and meaningfully reconnect with my friends and family.

You don’t have to live with your limiting beliefs. Take this five-step formula and try it for one of your most persistent negative beliefs today. It takes training, but the results can only set you up for success!

What are limiting beliefs you’ve run into in the course of your life? Comment below!