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Ashley Solomon, Psy.D is a psychologist who specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, body image, trauma, and serious mental illness.

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03 Jul

Learning to Enjoy Your Own Company

Guest Post 1 Comment by Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul

It’s so easy to become stuck in the belief that someone else is the source of your comfort and happiness. Anne-Sophie Reinhardt. body image expert and author, believes you can be your own partner. Read on to find out how.

Warmer weather is here for most of us– a time that screams “couples,” “togetherness,” “dating,” and pretty much anything but enjoying your very own company.

Yet, whether you’re single or in a satisfying relationship, it’s crucial to feel comfortable when you’re on your own, spending time with just yourself.

The truth is nobody can and will make you happy if you’re not at peace being on your own.

I’m speaking from painful experience. When I got married at the age of 22 after, get ready for it, six short weeks of knowing my husband, I was miserable. I hated my life, the world and, most of all, myself.

Yet, I believed that now that I had that special someone in my life, everything would change. It had to, right? After all, I was not alone anymore. So, I’d surely be living in a blissful state of sunshine, self-love and butterflies.

Three years later, I’m going through a divorce and I’ve learned my lesson. Before you can have a deep and lasting relationship with anybody, you have to accept, appreciate and love yourself first.

So, let’s take this season as an opportunity to give ourselves the gift of learning to appreciate our own company.

Have a date night with yourself. Most people think that going out to dinner alone or going to the movies by yourself is a sign of living a sad life. I strongly disagree. Taking yourself out for a date can be a very special time if you realize that you’re not alone but you’re with yourself. Remember, you’re an actual person too. So, get dressed up, choose a fancy restaurant, a fun rom-com and treat yourself as you would a date.

Sit in silence, even if it hurts.  Do you have a hard time sitting in stillness because your inner voice is tormenting you? Try to do it anyway. Sit in silence for 10 minutes and then journal about your feelings if you like. The more often you choose to sit in silence and focus on your breathing or meditate, whatever you want to call it, the more comfortable you’ll feel. You’ll realize that your thoughts are just ramblings, little lies going through your mind. They can’t hurt you if you won’t let them. Place your attention on your breath over and over again and see how your entire being relaxes.

Take a trip by yourself. I love to travel on my own. It never fails to uplift me, challenge me and increase my self-efficacy. I learn something new about myself every single time, whether I travel across the pond or just around the corner from my hometown. Traveling on your own may be scary at first and you probably think that you can’t ever do it, but yes, you can. Give it a try. Jump into it with both feet and you’ll see how much fun you can have with yourself. You’ll actually get to do what you want to do, see what you want to see and pause when you want to pause. Pretty awesome, right?

Get down to the nitty gritty of being yourself. What is it you actually like? Do have any idea or have you just always done what other people told you to do? If you’re up for it, light a candle and incense and do some self-reflection. Start with easy questions like what your favorite color really is and then go into the harder ones like what you want your life to be about.

Face your reflection. Look in the mirror and tell yourself that you love yourself. Say this out loud as often as you need to. This can bring up a lot of uncomfortable feelings. You may even want to have some tissues ready. This is a powerful exercise and will deepen your level of self-love and self-acceptance. Try to do it every morning and look yourself in the eyes. One day, you will end up meaning the words you’re saying.

Enjoying your company, loving the time you spend with yourself gives your life and your relationships a whole new level of intimacy and depth. The more you practice it, the deeper your relationship with yourself gets.

So, starting today, pay attention to your needs and desires by spending time with yourself.

anne-sophie

Anne-Sophie Reinhardt is a body image expert, self-love advocate and the author of Love Your Body The Way It Is. Join her newsletter and receive your free 3-part video series helping you to break free from your obsession with food and your body.

30 Jan

You Should Know :: Food to Eat

You Should Know 5 Comments by Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul

food_to_eat-cover-newest

If someone has ever told you that there’s no simple recipe for eating disorder recovery, well… they’re right. But fortunately there is now a set of easy (and delicious!) recipes that can aide in recovery from destructive eating habits. It’s called Food to Eat and it’s the new book by Registered Dietitian, Lori Lieberman, and eating disorder survivor, Cate Sangster.

It would be easy to call this a recipe book for eating disorders, but that would be grossly over-simplifying what it offers. Rather than a cookbook,  Lori and Cate have created a fabulous resource for individuals working their way towards recovery. They put they heads together to develop a book that teaches readers not only great-tasting recipes, but how, and even why, to approach food.

Creating a food-focused book for a food-fearful set of readers is no easy task, and Cate and Lori are able to do it with sensitivity, skill, and even humor. The book shifts back and forth between the two authors’ perspectives, so readers get a chance to hear from both an experience nutrition expert and someone who’s been in the trenches of an eating disorder for many years. The book makes it clear that the two didn’t always agree on the approach to take, and I appreciated the candor and richness that resulted.

What others might appreciate is the focus on developing an awareness of one’s own stage of readiness in tackling cooking and food preparation. The authors are cognizant that individuals are at various places in recovery and that even making something simple can be a major hurdle. They respond both firmly and with compassion about the importance of making small steps towards a healthier tomorrow.

At the heart of the book are several chapters worth of recipes. They are divided by the preparation time required, from less than 20 minutes to greater than 40. They include helpful symbols indicating useful information such as whether the recipe is vegetarian-friendly or requires some per-prepared ingredients. It’s obvious that the recipes were selected carefully, with a diverse set of a readers in mind. None require intensive kitchen skills and they are rich in flavors and nutrients. Each is accompanied by beautiful photography of the prepared dish. What’s great too is that those following an exchange system of meal planning can find this information in the appendix.

Developed for those in recovery, this is really a book both for individuals in the trenches of disordered eating, those on the other side, and people who care about them. It’s a fun, helpful guide to eating well, and a book that could have a place in every kitchen. (And now it’s even available for the iPad!)

What are your favorite things to make?

24 Sep

Kickstarting :: If You Really Knew Me Series

Current Events, If You Really Knew Me 6 Comments by Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul

{image via pinterest}

There’s so much amazing stuff going on around here at NTS, sometimes it’s hard for me to wrap my head around it all! I’ve been feeling so blessed to be launching some great, and hopefully inspiring, new things like the Start Write Now Series and (hint! hint!) soon the 2012 Nourishing Body Image Awards.

My mind hasn’t stopped though, and I want to introduce you to another new series that is kicking off right now. It’s called If You Really Knew Me.

Here’s what it’s all about: It’s a series of guest posts in which contributors share a personal story or aspect of their lives with NTS readers. It’s a double opportunity; a chance for the writer to share something true and real about themselves that perhaps they don’t find themselves talking about openly and a chance for us as readers to bear witness to another’s narrative and expand our own sense of understanding and empathy.

What it really comes down to is sharing our truths, and giving readers a forum to do so. There’s nothing that I love more than being honored with the opportunity to hear someone else’s journey (hence the whole therapist thing, I guess), and I think many of you can and will relate. We can learn so much from connecting with one another in this way.

If You Really Knew Me is about stepping out of the shadows and reclaiming your voice through narrative. Should you choose to participate, you can write your post in any way that you choose. You can write a list, a story, or just wax poetic about something important in your life. It can be about overcoming self-hatred, coming out, feeling jealous of your sister, struggling to get pregnant, being secretly bankrupt — whatever you want the world to know more about. The only requirement is that your post is honest and heartfelt and answers: If you really knew me, you would know… 

You do not have to share your name or any identifying information. You also don’t have to be a blogger. Simply drop me an email including your submission at nourishingthesoulblog [at] gmail [dot] com and let me know what (if anything) you want shared about your identity. I do reserve the right to not publish any post that is I feel could be harmful to readers. All that said, I will be so honored to read your truth. I hope that you will share it.

 

30 Jul

In defense of stillness

Ideas to Consider 24 Comments by Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul

{image credit :: thebookofsecrets.tumblr.com}

The term addicted gets thrown around a lot, probably far more often than it should. I am a big advocate for carefully selecting words, because they are the building blocks for our realities, and so when people say they are addicted to Giuliana and Bill or strawberry milkshakes, I get annoyed.

But when it comes to the idea of distraction, I think many of us are truly addicted. In fact, I would suggest that we have a cultural addiction going on. Hear me out.

First of all, I can write this post honestly because I am a total player in the game.

Hello. My name is Ashley. I’m addicted to activity.

I’m not talking about ADHD or just how busy we all are in our world, though I’m certain that those issues contribute to our problem. No, I’m talking about the fact that I look around the train on any given morning and every single pair of eyes is glued to an iPad or Blackberry. Crossing a busy street, people are texting. We watch movies with our laptops on our bellies, totally unaware of the plot. We eat at the refrigerator as we plan our Monday. We chat on the phone at the spa. We can’t even use the bathroom without a form of distraction!

It’s enough to make you want to scream, “Enough already. Turn it off!”

It makes me wonder, what’s so threatening about quiet? What’s wrong with stillness?

My guess is that it frightens us. To turn off the distraction means we actually have to sit with ourselves – our true selves. Stillness gives us the space to be with our own thoughts, to connect with our own emotions. And for some of us, that’s scary stuff.

For some, it’s the fear of being disconnected from others. The thought that things could be going on, that someone could be reaching out, and that I might not be available? Well, that’s terrifying for individuals who use that connection as a means of feeling whole. Without it, they suddenly feel incredibly isolated. It’s the irony of our generation – all of this incredible technology, built for us to connect, has left us often feeling even more alone.

For others, it’s the fear of feeling unaccomplished. If I’m not engaged in a task, how can I be productive? And, by extension, if I’m not productive, who am I? Do I matter? Granted, we aren’t asking ourselves these questions directly. But I believe that they are lingering beneath the surface.

And for still others, their own thoughts and feelings prove too distressing to bear. If they’re not enveloped in the hustle and bustle, then perhaps they would be able to experience the loneliness that they’ve been trying so hard to keep at bay. Or perhaps the frustration with a job that’s going nowhere. Or the fear that their partner is going to pack it in. Whatever the emotion, as a culture we are not particularly adept at feeling it. And so we busy ourselves with everything we can imagine to forestall it.

But stillness, on the other hand, it allows for the sense of deep and true connection. It allows us to listen. It allows for the full expression of our own experience. And it allows for us to feel whole, without the focus on the external.

Stillness is heavily underrated, and it’s time that we changed that. To be still doesn’t mean that one is unproductive or a hippie. It means that we are allowing ourselves the opportunity to be, the fundamental function of human beings.

Let’s hear you’re favorite ways to cultivate stillness in your life. I’ll start –

Coloring mandalas helps me to refocus my intention and energy and to just be present.

Your turn!

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