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To the man in the street who called me “big” and told me I took up too much room, after almost hitting me with your car…

I don’t think you have any idea how powerful words are. I don’t think you have any idea how long I have struggled with my body image. Unsuccessfully trying to crack the code of why I can’t seem to just be a “normal” weight. Do you see me in the morning when I stare at myself in the mirror, obsessively picking apart every inch of myself? Do you see me when I struggle through my spin class, crying into my towel when I can’t keep up? Do you see me as I log every single calorie that I put in my mouth, hoping and praying that maybe – just maybe – this time it will work?

Did you see me as the 11-year-old girl at her first Weight Watcher meeting, desperately trying to learn how to control her eating habits so she could escape the bullying she endured at school? Did you see me as the high school girl who starved herself for entire days and took Advil to cure her hunger headaches? Did you see me as the 22-year-old girl whose boyfriend told her not to wear certain outfits because she looked too fat and was embarrassing him? (She spent 5 years in therapy recovering from that emotionally abusive relationship, by the way). Did you see me as the girl who called out sick from work because her eyes were so puffy from crying after trying on clothes for 2 hours?

No. You saw the girl standing in your way, as you flew through a stop sign. You saw me with disgust, and felt the need to insult me and hurt me, because you are disgusted with yourself. You are angry, and you are pathetic. And your words brought me to tears.

I sobbed in the street (after I called you a bald motherfucking loser, because, #Brooklyn). I sobbed because as confident as I feel in my own skin, salt still stings an open wound.

And I am one of the strong ones.

I can only imagine the other women you have treated this way – especially the ones who are close to you. My heart goes out to them.

Women develop eating disorders because of people like you. They remain tortured physically and psychologically because of people like you. Girls die because of people like you.

Wake up, and realize that hurting another person will never cure the hurt in your own heart. Wake up, and take responsibility for your actions. Because not everyone is as strong as I am.

And this man isn’t alone. Our culture has a serious obsession with women’s bodies. And people feel they can hurl insults and comment freely on the topic. It’s sickening, and it needs to stop.

Here’s what I did immediately following this incident: cried my eyes out some more. Because I don’t believe in hiding your feelings, ever. Ice rolled my face (seriously takes the puffiness RIGHT out). Honestly? What I really wanted to do was cancel my SoulCycle class and pour a big fat glass of wine. But I didn’t. I took a shower. Made some coffee. Showed myself some serious compassion – thought about how hard I work at being healthy. And realized that is ENOUGH. Then went to Ashley Graham’s Instagram and watched her latest video with Glamour magazine about insecurity (seriously – go watch it, it will help you feel less alone). I thought about all the strong, beautiful, confident, curvy women that rock what they’ve got. I thought about what they’d say to me. And then I thought about what I’d say to you. And I’d tell you that you’re stronger than some angry man in the street. You’re more powerful than someone else’s dysfunction. And you’re so much more beautiful, bright, and wonderful than you give yourself credit for.

And you’ve got work to do, so let this shit go and move on.

With love,

Cara

 

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I feel like I have talked about booze more times on this blog than nearly any other topic. I guess it makes sense, considering I’m The Champagne Diet and all, right? Anyway. If this is the first you’re hearing about my relationship with alcohol and how I’ve really examined it over the past year or so, then get caught up here. If you already know the backstory or you just want to dig in, then read on…

Also: this may not apply to you at all, and that’s fine. You can just skip this one and move on. But if you have ever felt like maybe you’ve been drinking a little too much wine, if you’ve ever felt sick of waking up groggy and hungover, or just wanted to explore your relationship with alcohol, then this post may really resonate.

Two weeks ago, I embarked on what I call a “semi-sober summer,” meaning I’m going to really be mindful of how much booze I am consuming. Not because I feel like I have a problem with alcohol. Not because I think I am an alcoholic. Just because I have become very self-aware, very focused on my overall wellness, and because honestly, I’ve been feeling kinda crappy.

I’ve never been a binge drinker. I don’t drink to black out. However, I do fall into periods where I am waiting with baited (pinot noir) breath for the clock to strike a decent hour so I can crack open that bottle. I also fall into periods where I feel like I “need” that glass – or 3 – of red wine to shut off from a busy, stressful day and fall asleep at night. And for a gal who loves to go out and dine, the thought of a meal without wine? Nightmarish.

Last year, I thought I finally broke those habits. I took a long break from the booze, only indulging maybe once or twice a month, and I never felt better. I lost weight (naturally), I had so much energy, my mood soared. My skin glowed and I slept like a baby. I felt present. In touch with my intuition. And as sharp as a fucking razor.

But once again, for whatever reason, I started drinking more and more often. Self-sabotage? Who knows. I’ve thought about that actually. Either way, I fell right back into my old routine. Wine every night. More on weekends. Apparently those old habits do die hard.

I found myself in a weird place last month. I felt bloated, irritable, and lethargic. My clothes started to feel tight again. I was skipping SoulCycle classes. I blamed it on the stress of the Girl Code relaunch. I blamed it on a million things. But in reality, I knew deep down that my beloved vino was overstaying her welcome and becoming a nightly (sometimes daily) guest.

So, here we are. I’ve had wine on occasion a few times so far this month, and I really have little to no desire for it. I am determined to shake that gross, tired feeling that comes along with that evening 1/2 bottle of wine we all “treat ourselves” to. I am determined to treat wine like a treat. The way its meant to be enjoyed. Not as a crutch to turn off, numb myself, and pass out.

I am determined to explore my relationship with wine again, with no judgements. Perhaps I’ll fall into that “normal” groove again where I enjoy some rose at brunch and then have no desire to touch it again until the next weekend. Perhaps I’ll take a few solid weeks off. But what I know for sure is that I am proud of myself for putting myself first.

And being that this is my 3rd rodeo taking a little wine-cation, I am noticing something: I think I like myself better when I’m not drinking. Whoa.

I’m going to follow this post up with some new nightly rituals I’ve developed that have really helped me de-stress, so stay tuned for that. Hint: catnip fucking tea. Yes, you read that right. More soon. It’s life-changing.

I also want to make something very clear.  I am not on my high horse all of a sudden, and I would never want anyone to feel bad if they wanna go out and get tanked this weekend. Or have a few glasses of a beautiful wine. Do you girl. But if this inspires you in some way to take a good look at your relationship with alcohol, maybe examine why you drink, and fix whatever may be weird about it, then that makes me incredibly happy.

I deserve the best. You deserve the best. We all deserve more. So here’s to our health, our peace, and our happiness. I’m raising my Pellegrino (in a wine glass) to you. We’ve got this.

 

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It was 97 degrees in New York City yesterday. I decided to go food shopping after my Soulcycle class, and also decided I was just too sweaty and it was just too hot to walk home, so I got an Uber for the short ride to my apartment. As my driver approached my building, he slowed down, and rather than make the U-turn (or go around the block) to leave me in front of my door, he attempted to leave me across the street, in the middle of traffic. I sat in the back seat, assuming he was waiting for traffic to pass so he could make the U-turn. But nope. He looked at me through the rearview mirror, unlocked the doors, and waited for me to get out of his car.

Horrified and shocked, I asked him to turn around and leave me at my door. “Oh, you want me to turn around?” he asked, sounding confused – and annoyed.

“Yes. Yes I do,” I said sternly. He made a U-turn, I got out of the car, and went on with my day. I also left a review on the Uber app and encouraged them to train their drivers to be more professional and to have more common sense when it comes to dropping off clients. This is not the first time this has happened to me. And it’s not an accurate representation of all Uber drivers. Some are awesome. But this guy, not so much.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. A few years ago, I would have let that driver leave me in the middle of the road. And I wouldn’t have said a peep. And it would have bothered me for days. A few years ago, I was way too insecure and way too worried about what other people thought of me to dare ask for what I wanted – even the things that involved a base level of respect.

This got me thinking about the way so many of us live. The behavior we accept from others is a direct reflection of how we feel about ourselves. It’s not just about asking an Uber driver to leave you at your door, or slow down when he’s speeding, or put the air conditioning on if you’re hot (all things I have confidently asked for when needed – after years of self-coaching). It’s also about asking for a raise at work when you damn well deserve it. Or saying no to a man who is making inappropriate sexual advances toward you. Or cutting off a toxic friendship with someone who treats you poorly. Or speaking up when your champagne comes out and it’s flat (do you know how many flat glasses of champagne I’ve drank just not to make a server uncomfortable!?)

Asking for what you want/need does not make you a bitch. Being assertive does not make you difficult to deal with. Having high standards does not make you a “princess” or high maintenance of any of these other bullshit terms the world likes to put on women who are confident.

And guess what? We sometimes put these labels on ourselves, too. And it’s got to stop.

What are some of the things you’re allowing to happen in your life? Who are the people you’re surrounding yourself with? What kind of treatment are you accepting? Just something to sip on as you go throughout your day. Remember: we get to design our lives. We get to determine who stays and who goes. We get to speak up when something isn’t right.

Realize you have that power. It truly changes everything.

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Ten years ago, I stood in my friend’s apartment and excitedly told everyone in the room that I was writing a book. My (then) boyfriend rolled his eyes and snickered.

It felt like a punch to the gut. Here I was, so proud of myself and my big idea, and the one person who was supposed to support me was mocking me.

That moment stayed with me, long past our breakup, and as I kept blogging at The Champagne Diet. I used that frustration to fuel me. I made a promise to myself that I would write that book, no matter what. For me, and for every other girl who had ever felt diminished.

I began obsessively researching the publishing world and learned that I needed a literary agent in order to get a traditional book deal with a major publisher. I spent months perfecting my query letter and cold-emailing and stalking every single agent I could find on the internet. I got a few responses, and wound up connecting with one, in particular, who wanted to represent me.

To make a very long story short, we worked on the proposal for nearly a year, and then began shopping the idea around to publishers. (In most cases for non-fiction, you don’t actually sell the finished manuscript, you sell a detailed synopsis, outline, and plan for the book and then you write it).

That proposal was rejected. 19 times. By 19 different editors at 19 different publishers.

There was that punch to the gut again.

After my little pity party (where I quickly realized they did not serve champagne), I decided it was time to surrender my dream of working with a major publisher – at least temporarily. Much of the feedback was the same: I didn’t have a big enough platform, I was a new author, and they were nervous to take a chance on me. I got the message loud and clear. And decided it was time to take a chance on myself.

I regrouped and got to work. I self-published a new idea, a book called Sparkle. Seeing my words in print for the very first time was an incredible feeling. All of those years or rejection and anxiety finally started making sense to me. There was a different path for me. I was figuring it all out.

Next came The Champagne Diet. Then Fearless & Fabulous. And then, Girl Code.

By Girl Code, I felt like I had this self-publishing thing down. I understood the importance of building a strong community of readers. I spent hours each day responding to comments, emails, and messages from women who had read the book and loved it. I posted quotes, excerpts, and blogs all around the ideas and topics I wrote about and believed in. You ladies shared those quotes, created book clubs, and preached those ideas to everyone. I am still in awe over the support you have all given me. I began to realize that Girl Code was more than just a self-published book. It was becoming a movement.

Two days before Thanksgiving of last year, I got an email from an editor at Penguin Random House. She worked for their imprint, Portfolio, which published #GirlBoss, along with books by Seth Godin and Simon Sinek. She asked if I’d ever consider working with them.

You guys, the feeling that came over me in that very moment is indescribable. I ran into my mom’s apartment (who lives next door) and burst into tears. I had waited so long for this. I couldn’t believe it.

Over the course of the next few months, I began meeting with the team at Porfolio. They offered me a double book deal (!!!), which includes my new book (more on that soon!), titled Like She Owns The Place, due out next summer. And they are re-releasing a revamped version of Girl Code next month!

I have truly done everything in my own power, as a one-woman show, to spread the message of Girl Code to the world. You guys have been such an instrumental part of this journey! We have come so far together. And to now have a dedicated team to help me touch even more women, finally get the book onto actual bookshelves, and stand behind me is amazing.

The new version of Girl Code features two brand new never-before-seen interviews from legendary singer Shirley Manson of the band Garbage, and groundbreaking entrepreneur and PR extraordinaire, Gwen Wunderlich. I also wrote a brand new introduction that chronicles the past two years and how Girl Code has grown into what it is now.

The book will be out July 4, but you can pre-order your copy here, and also in bookstores. Do you know what its like to finally have bookstores take my book!? I used to beg the people at Barnes & Noble, and they always said no! Well you better clear some room on those shelves now, boo, LOL.

So here’s what I am doing for you: I wanted to thank everyone for their support, and I realize you may feel like, Well, I have this book already, why would I re-buy it just for a few new interviews? My amazing team at Portfolio has created a pre-order incentive campaign, where you will get a special gift package including custom Girl Code mantra cards and temporary tattoos (that match mine!) when you pre-order the book between now and July 4. And when you buy yourself the new version, I thought it would be so cool if you gifted your old version to a woman you love. You can even write her a little inspirational note in the front of the book for her! Make sure you go here to enter your information to claim your gifts as soon as you pre-order.

And if your friends have already read Girl Code, why not leave it in a women’s restroom or in a common space at your office and let someone find a copy with a special note inside? Last summer during my book tour, I’d leave extra copies on the airplane and hoped that a woman who needed it would find it. I just love the idea of a #PayItForward initiative so I thought this would be really special.

I know this post is super long, so thank you if you’re still reading! But I really wanted to tell my story because if I know one thing, it’s that the universe is working on some really amazing stuff for all of us. Ten years ago, I had no idea any of this was in my future. None of us no for sure what lies ahead, but I do know one thing: if you work your ass off, create things that matter, and do it with love, you will be WOWED. Like, really wowed…

Thank you ladies from the bottom of my wordy little heart. I could not do any of this without you.

More soon.

With so much gratitude,
Cara

 

Please take a moment to read the official rules for claiming your pre-order incentives:

To participate in this bonus offering, enter your name, email address, mailing address, and the order confirmation number from your order receipt for Girl Code: Unlocking the Secrets to Success, Sanity, and Happiness for the Female Entrepreneur by Cara Alwill Leyba here. Must be 18 years of age or older at the time of entry. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. No groups, club, or organizations may participate. Limited to one request per IP address. Incomplete forms will not be eligible. Multiple entries from the same email address will be automatically disqualified. US mailing address required. Please allow 5 weeks for delivery to arrive by mail. Offer valid between June 9, 2017 and July 4, 2017

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