Last week I went to the eyebrow threading salon and between my ouches and my tears, the woman who was plucking my eyebrows with the skillful quick swish of the looped threads, laughed and told me that you have to “suffer to be beautiful”.

And it made me think of all the similar messages we get…

The fitness industry tells us that to create a beautiful, firm, strong and attractive body we need to workout long and hard with phrases like “no pain, no gain!”

The diet industry tells us we have to “give up” our indulgences and deprive ourselves of sinful, decadent food in order to lose weight. We all heard the phrases “a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips” and “don’t give up what you want most, for what you want at the moment”.

The health industry tells us to “eat clean”. What does that mean? Are less healthy choices dirty? Are they making us dirty?

The self development industry tells us that “good things come to those who suffer” and that “what doesn’t kill you make you stronger”.

It is no wonder that so many of us struggle with a lifelong commitment to exercise, eating healthy and working on improving ourselves. It doesn’t sound like fun. It isn’t enticing us with pleasure. Frankly, to so many women, it can feel like a torture chamber. Why on earth would we want that???

We are not wired to consistently pursue the things that are hard to do, that make us suffer, that make us feel deprived, that make us feel pain. We are wired to go towards the easy, the pleasurable, the fun and the immediately rewarding. Some of us can have lifelong struggles with what we feel is “right” vs what we feel we “want”.

But what about our big beautiful goals of creating a healthy life, of nurturing our body, of growing and developing into our authentic selves?

The secret to achieving those goals is by making the steps towards them filled with fun, ease, pleasure and constant rewards!!!

We need to give up our attachment to suffering and give up the notion that hard work is a virtue! Yes, it takes time to cook a healthy meal, yes, it takes effort to move our body, but it doesn’t have to be hard or painful!

Here are some ideas to make healthy living fun and easy!!!

• Make cooking time fun by playing music and singing/dancing in your kitchen while you cook! I save my taped reality TV music shows for meal preparation. I moved the TV from my bedroom to the kitchen.
• Treat yourself to quick and easy ingredients when you feel tired and don’t feel like cooking. Canned organic beans, pre-cut veggies (shredded cabbage, grated carrots, sliced mushrooms…), frozen veggies and good quality prepared soups are all great for putting a meal together in 5 minutes or less!
• I like to do yoga every day! Some days I roll out the mat and do a full yoga class and other days I just do a yoga pose here and there. It all counts, it all adds up.
• Don’t give up your favorite foods, make them healthier! You like cookies? Use healthier ingredients! Try my Milano cookies recipe! You love ice cream? Blend frozen bananas and a little of your favorite milk in the blender! Are you a chocoholic? Blend dates, nuts and raw cacao for delicious chocolate truffles! (see my choco-coco balls).You can create any treat and any cuisine in a healthy version.

• Learn to value things that make you feel good, really good, inside and out. Rituals of self-care and self-nourishment don’t feel like punishments, they feel like rewards. Treat yourself to a massage. Have a warm bath with salts and essential oils. Take time off to rest, read, journal.
• Start a love-affair with yourself. Buy yourself roses. Leave love notes to yourself all over the house. Blow yourself a kiss when you catch your reflection in the mirror. Serve yourself meals on your most beautiful dishes with a gorgeous napkin. When you truly love and cherish yourself, taking the time to take care of you will always be a pleasure.

Next time you hear one of those phrases that glorify pain, suffering and deprivation, turn it around and remember that you are now pursuing the pleasure, fun and ease of a gloriously joyful and healthy life.

xoxo Rachel