Welcome to the new monthly series 'Happy, healthy & sane', where I'll be interviewing women about health and body image. Our first sweetheart is Stephanie Watanabe (Los Angeles) from The Girl Who Knows- an irrepressible entrepreneur, lifelong filmmaker, proud hapa, birthday month advocate, hot chocolate fanatic, seasoned event planner and an insatiable seeker of beauty.
◆ How much do you weigh yourself and what does the number on the scale mean to you? Stephanie: I don’t weigh myself very often at all. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I weighed myself. I can tell where my weight falls based on how my clothes fit, so I don’t really feel the need to step on the scale on a regular basis. I find that when I do look at that number, I start looking at myself as a number (my weight) instead of my inherent value as a human being. It’s good information for health purposes I suppose, but other than that, I think weighing myself all the time can be damaging to my sense of worth.
◆ What do you do if you don't feel confident? I feel not confident a lot of the time. I think this is a pretty common thing, especially among business owners and creative types. Whenever I feel this way I look through a file I have on my computer and in my email inbox - that is filled with love notes from my boyfriend, my friends, family and my sweet blog readers. There’s nothing like hearing how you’ve touched someone’s life, helped them through a difficult time or inspired them in some way. I think everyone should have a “box” of love notes or love trinkets handy at all times!
◆ What are the things you do to keep in shape, without being too focused on it? I have to admit, I loathe exercise in the traditional sense. I don’t enjoy running or sweating or any of that stuff. And I’ve never been a very active person, even growing up. So staying in shape has been a consistent struggle throughout my life, especially my adult years. I think that finding something I really enjoy doing (like ice skating or tennis or yoga) has helped me to sustain being active. I’m still working on this now. And in fact, in 2015 one of my desires is to find and maintain a consistent practice of movement in my daily life. From my lips to the Universe’s ears!
◆ How do you make 'the switch' to a healthy lifestyle? Gradually and one small step at a time. I tend to be a go big or go home kinda girl. I go “balls to the wall” with a new exercise routine for instance and then burn myself out about a month or two into it. Just recently I discovered the power of doing something small. I am slowly learning to become okay with making micro shifts in my daily life that will stick. The one I’m doing right now is meditating every morning for just 10 minutes. I’m using the Headspace app and it’s made all the difference in the world. Just 10 minutes. That’s it. Small, measurable and over time, this will lead to greater presence and peace of mind. I guess the saying is true, slow and steady wins the race.
◆ What are your weak points and how do you cope with it? I have a history of being an emotional eater. I grew up with a pretty poor diet (eating loads of processed, junkie foods), and so I crave these “comfort” foods especially when I’m feeling stressed out or emotional. I’m still not beyond eating a bag of chips when I have PMS (gotta keep it real here), but I am getting better and am more conscious of my behavior around food. I’ve learned to stop before reaching for the cookies or ice cream and ask myself “what are you really wanting right now?”. Sometimes the answer is a good cry, a hot bath or cuddles with my kitties. And sometimes it’s to eat the ice cream. Just the small act of asking myself that simple question has really helped a lot.
◆ How do you celebrate your beautiful body? I celebrate my body by draping her in fabrics that make her feel beautiful and are a complete sensory treat. Whether it’s a cashmere sweater or a linen dress, I invest in clothing that feels good AND looks good on me. I also celebrate my body by lathering myself in a lovely fragranced body balm and soaking in a hot bath at least twice a week (ideally more). There’s nothing better than giving my body rest and relaxation - to me, that is truly celebrating!
◆ How do you find the balance between treating yourself and living healthy? This is another place where I’m still learning my limits. I’m very sensory by nature and thus enjoy life’s many pleasures, especially well prepared food. The only way that I really find balance right now is to listen to my body. I can tell when I’ve over-indulged a bit too much - I’ll feel sluggish and just blah. So instead of eating out, I’ll prepare a delicious meal at home or drink a smoothie instead of having a big breakfast. I think our bodies tell us EXACTLY what they need, but often we’re too rushed, too busy or just too out of touch, to hear what it’s saying. Slowing down and listening to your body has been the biggest way I’ve found balance between indulging and staying healthy.
◆ What are the things you learned on your journey to a healthy lifestyle and what are your future goals? I’ve learned that there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all when it comes to a healthy lifestyle. I loathe when health “experts” tout their own diet programs to the masses - as if everyone should be vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free or otherwise. It’s just not how our bodies work. There’s a principle called bio-individuality that talks all about how we are each unique organisms and require uniquely individual dietary plans, exercise plans, etc. Over the many years of experimenting due to my own health issues, I’ve found this principle to be a life-saver. Instead of following one path or one plan, I listen to my body and learn to decipher her ever changing needs. My wish is that everyone would learn about and begin to apply this principle to their lives.
As far as future goals, I’d love to sustain a movement or “exercise” practice in my daily life and be truly fit. It’s something I’ve always wanted and the brief glimpses I’ve had of being in peak physical shape have made me know that it’s a goal worth aspiring to.
Do you have any tricks on how to find balance health-wise?
Our next guest will be Mariko Vandamme from Pink Paradise food. Send me all your burning questions and comments!
* Pictures by Stephanie Watanabe - make sure you follow her on instagram!