LOVE yourself before you "lean" yourself.

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Just because we follow a “Paleo” or “Primal” or “Ancestral” set of food values doesn’t mean we instantly heal all wounds from decades of media bombardment, crippled body image and disordered eating. No, CrossFitting a lot (or running a lot, or Zumba-ing a lot) can’t necessarily solve those problems either, especially if we’re doing them with the sole focus of “fixing” our bodies instead of our minds while continuing to allow self-dissatisfaction and body loathing to rule.

Those old wounds are emotional, and healing starts in thought. We can eat well and lift heavy and High-Energy-Latin-Dance our bodies into submission, but unless we’re moving the mind-set along with the kettlebell, I guarantee those wounds’ll still be there.

Obsessing over becoming some false ideal of “perfection” – whether extremely lean and well-muscled or svelte and “stick skinny” – is a toxic, counterproductive burden to bring to this lifestyle. Eat well, use your physical capacities (ie MOVE if you’re capable of moving) and work hard at something. Relish the process of discovering what your muscles and mind are capable of, and appreciate the vehicle for those accomplishments – your body – for the great things it’s doing, not for the body fat percentage it achieves (or doesn’t) along the way.

My first major heavy (for me) snatch. I was happy - and I WASN'T thinking about how "good" I looked doin' it!

. . .

All right, so I titled this post a bit modestly. What I wanted to call it was “Self Esteem Crack” or “F*ck yeah, Self Esteem!”

There has been some VERY cool self-regard/Gosh-darn-it-love-y’damn-self stuff bubbling up from the Ancestral Health blogosphere, and I highly encourage you to read/listen…and let me know your thoughts.

  • Paleo for Women: THE blog for deconstructing the false ideals we, as a society, have generated; and for some serious Healthy Woman Food for Thought. (Added 06/21/2012)
  • Diane and I discussed some “are we good/lean/fit enough?” worries in our podcast with Jimmy Moore
  • Krista of wrote a KILLER post (it was word porn all the way) on all the things it’s fracking OK to be…as long as you’re fracking moving forward: The House that Stumptuous Built
  • …Krista’s post was inspired by Laura of Ancestralize Me. As Laura writes – and I agree – trying to force a state of extreme leanness on a body not naturally inclined towards leanness (many of us Paleo-oriented ladies are guilty of this) may mean sacrificing fertility and health for some supposed “ideal” that is really only a tired social construct. Read Paleo Women are Phat!
  • Eileen, a certified badass at Life Beyond Rx wrote about overcoming a tense history with food and body image – and in doing so, she illuminates why, as Krista said, we don’t rebel against anything. Because we know that rebelling against something still makes that other thing the boss of us.We drive away into the sunset, following our own path.” My Strong is My Victory Over the Skinny Word.
  • Diane discusses the pitfalls of attaching “negative emotions” to a body part and a technique for reversing that tendency: I Used to Hate My Thighs.
  • And my own posts on why I’m Grateful for My A$$ – er, Hindquarters and another addressing why Strong is the new Strong. (Or the strong that always was. Whatever.)

What have YOU written on this topic? Share it – I want to read what you have to say!


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  1. I love that you summarized my post better than I could ever do myself. Great job on the round-up of the Paleo self-love extravaganza that was this week! <3

  2. Well said! We completely agree. As our focus is helping folks create healthy mouths (to continue to create ever healthier beings), we have a version as well.

    Perhaps equally important to what toxins we put into our bodies are the toxins we choose to spew from our bodies, in this case, in the form of negative words about ourselves or others. While we can’t expect to create optimal health while putting toxins into our bodies (chemical laden food, toxic oral health products, etc), we also cannot reach optimal health pouring verbal/psychic toxins out of our bodies either. Think about the verbal trash pile around us from all the negative trash we have spewed over the years. These toxins literally inhibit our ability to experience optimal health as well as real intimacy, bubbling joy, the list goes on and on.

    In the words of the great contemporary poet and musician, India Arie, ‘Speak words of beauty and you will be there’. This is so true. Speak words of beauty and see how you life morphs into more of what you want to see!

    I feel a blog post brewing on this point… :)


    • I love this comment! I struggle with this sometimes, but do my best to catch myself and be aware of when I say less-than-nice things. I can be pretty negative (sometimes good-natured sarcasm can spin into overall negativity – who’da thunk?) and this tendency manifests most specifically when I’m in situations where I’m unsure or uncomfortable. It’s a challenge to replace that inclination with positive thoughts, words and actions and it’s a process of ongoing vigilance. I’ve also let things like personal or professional jealousy or worry drag me into negative, ugly thinking. You all (Will and Susan) have always shown such a wonderful commitment to patience and kindness in all your interactions (even in what seemed like *heated* blog comment discussions) and that’s not only noticed, but very much appreciated. Thanks for the fantastic reminder!

  3. Great post, I love all the links too. I saw pics of you from Paleo fx, you look awesome by the way! I love the long hair!

  4. Thank you for writing this post! It is very inspiring as I think everyone struggles with negative thoughts at times. Yet, it is the ability to be mindful of those thoughts and moments that truly helps us heal. I am thinking about persuing a career in nutrtion and/ or the psychology of nutrition. You have been a great role model.

  5. Fuck yeah self-esteem!

    Thank you for the shout, Liz. If I can make just a few people believe in themselves before I die, I will consider my life a wholesale success. You do that very well, I think. Will be an honor to learn and grow through getting to know your work better the more time I spend learning and working myself.

    Anyway. I am grateful for your ass, too.

    Love your work. Duh.,

  6. Great timing for me to stumble upon this post! I have read many of the great posts you linked to recently, and along with some stuff happening in my own life I just wrote this post;
    Which after having read your posts about your thighs and butt, I think you just might appreciate also. :)
    Whew! That was a lot of “posts”!
    Love the photo of you jumping up there! Healthy, vibrant, unabashed and going at life full hog; things I strive towards.

  7. I really love your blog. That is all. :)

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