What does “feeling good in your own skin” feel like? Is it looking in the mirror and liking what you see? Is it getting lots of likes on your Instagram or Facebook page? Is it perfect hair, clear skin, a smaller waist, a thigh gap? Or, is it something else? Really think about this for a minute: How do YOU define “feeling good?” FEELING GOOD: MY OLD DEFINITION For most of my life “feeling good” was more connected with approval from others—and myself, based on my own standards. You know, that whole: “When I lose 5 pounds….” or “When I put on 10 pounds of solid lean muscle…” or “When I have a flat stomach…” or “When I look like her…” thing. Many of my aspirations to “feel good” or “be good enough” took on a whole ‘nutha life of their own in my eating disorder days—from age 10 to 24, I heard that voice every day in the back of my head, like something was CONSTANTLY clipping at my heels: “Come on Lauryn, get it together!” “Ugly.” “Today’s a brand new day to try harder…” “She’s so much prettier than you.” “I can’t believe you ate that much yesterday—you better watch it today.” I was NOT immune to the hype marketing and pretty bikini body gimmicks to help me get there either. I tried every diet, fitness plan and searched high and low for the answers online to my deepest darkest insecurities. I went vegetarian. Tried vegan. Cut out carbs. Avoided fruit. Kicked back protein shakes. Curbed my hunger with Crystal Light. Stuck to egg whites, oatmeal, chicken and broccoli. Packed my own sweet potatoes and canned tuna in my travel suitcases. Freaked out if I was ever thrown out of my usual gym routine. Invested hundreds of dollars in trainers, fake nails, tanning beds, magazines and online programs marketing the “perfect body” And ultimately, I LIVED by rules and fear—a slave to “healthy eating” and the gym (with no idea what to do if I didn’t focus on those two things) Focusing on food, fitness and my body helped me feel in control of my destiny and promised me a happier, healthier me that simply “felt good (enough)” in her own skin. HEALTHY LIVING GONE WRONG We all know where that led… Countless hospitalizations—with feeding tubes stuck down my throat and heart rate monitors beeping all night long. Nurse Bertha telling me “EAT” every crumb of the Pop-tarts, Ensure Shakes and English Muffins with Jiffy Peanut Butter on my hospital tray— Diagnoses of a heart arrhythmia, osteoporosis, kidney and liver dysfunction, chronic IBS, anxiety and depression. Clenching my chest and praying I wouldn’t die as I ran on a treadmill at the top speed, and felt my heart pain in my chest. And almost losing my life at age 24 as my heart rate plummeted to the 20’s. …I should not be here today. Although I thought all the things I did to “feel good” (the “clean eating,” the bodybuilding workouts, the bikini programs) would make me “feel good”—they only left me emptier, more bloated, stressed and constantly spinning my wheels (trying to keep up). BODY SHAME My desires for all those years to “feel good” in my own skin ultimately came down to NOT wanting to feel body shame—body shame that began back in the 4th grade, when another little girl (the “queen bee” of my middle school) told me that I needed to LOSE weight. You and I both know that it doesn’t feel good to be shamed by others. And that body shame still continues today… Recently, I received a not-so-nice comment from someone, cutting me down for what I look like: “Lauryn your words would have more weight if you weighed more.” Body shame—in the reverse. (Geez, damned if I do or damned if I don’t). For the years in my 6 years of being recovered from my eating disorder, wanting to “feel good” in my own skin has continued in a different way—wondering if people will accept me (and my body) as I am. And even though I no longer live in chains to that eating disorder, I suppose people have different ideas of what they think I should be or look like. Nevertheless, I for sure have learned to accept myself as I am—and no longer fight my body. After those 15 years of treating my body like it lived in a concentration camp, I’ve healed— I’ve reversed osteoporosis. Healed liver and kidney dysfunction. I have a normal heart beat and NO pacemaker. I can squat 200 pounds on a barbell and deadlift twice my body weight. I don’t count calories or macros—and have no desire to do that ever again. I don’t force myself to workout, but do things I love to move my body. I have peace with food and no longer eat out of fear, but eat out of love for my body. My gut health is not 100% perfect, but I no longer feel bloated, constipated or gassy after I eat and can actually digest my food. I LOVE life and taking it in big bites—soaking up the little things in life, like Monday mornings and rainy days. I am able to be PRESENT—100% alive where I am at. And I am ALIVE. The one thing I’ve learned in all my 29 years to date? NO ONE can make you feel inferior without your consent…and when you love you—all of you—you FEEL amazing in your own skin in more ways than one. FEELING GOOD REDEFINED TODAY, for me, “feeling good” no longer is defined by what I look like on the OUTSIDE. “Feeling good” is ALL ABOUT how I feel on the inside. It is the ability to love and accept myself—all of me—just as I am. It is my gut health and overall well-being—feeling nourished, not bloated or constipated or like my body is at war with itself in my own skin. “Feeling good” is not food rules or workout plans. It is enjoying food and nourishing my body with food—not fearing it. It is NOT whipping myself into shape. It is coming alive when I move and feeling strong—strength from the inside out. It is having a fire in my heart and fire in my belly to change the world and live each day as if it were my last—full of intention, love for others and focused. Feeling good is connecting—people make life rich and go round, and “feeling good” is having deep meaningful friendships and investing in the people that matter. “Feeling good” is feeling comfortable in the body I’ve been given—my tent on this earth. Instead of striving to contort and shape my body, count macros, hire a trainer to chisel me, or hiding the body parts that make me feel self-conscious, “feeling good” is saying, “This is MY home” and owning that. It is living out my passions, and believing in myself. It is connecting spiritually and letting Him guide my paths—instead of holding on so tightly to control them. ”Feeling good” is locking eyes with myself in the mirror—for 30 long seconds—and saying without a doubt: “This is my body. I love and accept myself just as I am.” “This is my life, my spirit, my soul. I love and accept myself. Just as I am.” FEELING GOOD: YOUR DEFINITION What does “Feeling Good” mean to you? I challenge you that it’s not just about your jean size. It’s NOT bad to want to look good or feel good, but when you feel good inside, you WILL feel better on the outside. Guaranteed.