Oh, body image. The one thing that (pretty much) every woman struggles with. I’ve been wanting to do this post for a while because body image issues are truly at the core of every food issue. Think about this:
If you have a negative view of your body, it most likely stems from a place of “I won’t be loved or accepted if this is my body”. It may not appear that way at first, but if you dig deep, chances are you’ll land somewhere around there. When you don’t think you’ll be loved and accepted unless you look a certain way, this is a POWERFUL driver for you to eat in a way that will allow you to look however you need to look. So, you’ll restrict yourself, you’ll go to the gym a ton, you’ll tell yourself you can’t eat sugar or carbs, etc. Next thing you know, you’re binge eating, you’re burnt out, and you’re obsessed with keeping track of what you eat. You realize this is no way to live.
A negative body image powerfully fuels a funky relationship with food.
Alternatively, if you have a positive body image, it stems from a place of “I’m enough the way that I am. I’m loved and accepted”. Therefore, there is no intense drive to eat in a certain way, get to the gym every day, or count your calories. Your ability to feel loved and accepted does not strongly depend on the way you look. This allows you to enjoy food, feel relaxed around food and feel more “go with the flow” in general.
A positive body image powerfully fuels a healthy relationship with food.
So here’s the big question, how do I get a better body image?
And here’s the simple answer: your body needs to believe that you love her and accept her no matter what. When she knows this, she will stop being all crazy about food (because her feeling loved doesn’t depend on it), your restricting/binge eating will stop and you’ll find yourself having a normal relationship with food. (Oh and PS. this is when you will actually lose the weight for real — except it’s from a place of love not a place of fear).
I know, I know, you hate me right now. Blah, blah, blah, self- love, blah, blah.
But I’m going to give you some tough love right now… you cannot ignore this “self love” piece if you want a better body image.
And if you want to lose weight, you cannot ignore the body image piece.
So here are three essential tips for falling more in love with yourself and showing that beautiful body of yours that she is loved:
1) Know that it’s a choice… your body image is a choice. And you get to make that choice every day. I have clients who are rail thin and clients who are very overweight. You know what I’ve learned? Body image has literally absolutely nothing to do with being thin. Half of my clients don’t need to lose any weight but they have poor body image which is causing them to be all nutso about food. The point here is that you have a CHOICE how you view your body. Today, tomorrow, and the next day. The reality is that your body is your body right now. You may be carrying around 40 extra pounds, but those pounds do not define you. It’s just extra energy sitting on your bones. And you have a choice as to how you carry yourself and how you talk to yourself today. Do you dress your body up in beautiful clothes or throw on sweats? Do you tell yourself how gorgeous your eyes are or focus on how big your thighs are? Do you touch your stomach and thank her for giving birth to three kids or hate on her for being so soft?
Ask yourself this — in your ideal world, how do you want to feel in your body? Confident? Strong? Sexy? Then, ask yourself what small steps you can take today in order to start feeling that way. Show your body that she deserves to feel this way NOW.
2) Throw away the damn scale. Or hide it somewhere for months (or years) at a time. Seriously… I can’t stress this one enough. We’re on the same page that in order to have a better body image you need to show your body that you love her right now, right? Well then, why would we subject ourselves to a little number that we think tells us if we should feel good or bad about ourselves? The number on the scale means nothing. Because what good is it if you are super skinny but still obsess over food and critique every inch of your body?
The scale doesn’t tell you anything about your relationship with food or your relationship with yourself. It doesn’t tell you how many times a day you criticized yourself or how many times a day you complemented yourself. It doesn’t tell you how many times you binged or how many times you listened to your hunger. It doesn’t tell you how many times you ordered exactly what you wanted or how many times you ordered the salad when you really craved the sandwich. It doesn’t tell you how many times you enjoyed the hell out of your food or how many times you felt extreme anxiety and guilt about your food.
Think about this… what are you truly striving for?
Most people who come to me to lose weight actually TRULY want an easy relationship with food even more. And I am willing to bet that you want that too.
So instead of using a number on the scale to tell you if you can be proud of yourself or not, focus on how often you eat when you’re hungry, how often you create a satisfying meal that you love, how often you read a magazine to relax instead of eating a gallon of ice cream, how often you put your fork done when you’re full, how often you give your body exactly what she needs, how often you allow yourself to enjoy a cookie instead of beating yourself up for it.
Make these metrics your gauge of your real health, not a silly number on the scale.
3) Buy clothes that scream “I love you!” to your body. If you want to feel good about your body, squeezing into jeans that are two sizes too small is a bad way to start. I remember when I used to wear pants that were too tight and I’d feel them digging in to me at my desk, it would immediately trigger me to go binge. If you want to start feeling good about yourself, you need to wake up knowing that you have plenty of clothes in your closet that excite you and make you feel comfortable, confident and attractive. Many of my clients resist going out and buying new clothes, but once they finally do they always tell me how BIG of a difference it makes. Aim to make the getting dressed experience fun and pleasurable, not anxiety-ridden and miserable.
Tight on cash? Think outside the box. Where can you move around your budget? Can you do a clothing swap with a friend or family member? Check out that thrift shop near you? Ask for an early birthday gift? Sell some clothes that you already have to earn some extra cash?
At the core of each of these tips is you declaring that you want to look at your body differently and that you want to start seeing yourself in a more positive light. All three steps help you create an environment that supports and nurtures a LOVE for yourself vs. feeling bad about yourself.
I can’t wait for you to give these a try. In the comments below, I’d love to hear about your body image… how do you currently feel and what is one step you’re going to take to improve your body image?