The other day I was on the phone with one of my new private clients and we were talking about why she feels so uncomfortable in her current body.
She’s someone who has been emotionally and binge eating for years and years, can’t seem to figure it out, and as a result, is carrying around “extra weight” due to her eating habits.
She said that when she goes out into the world carrying this extra weight, people can visibly “see her struggle.”
That extra weight screams…
I don’t have it all together.
I struggle with things.
I emotionally eat and don’t know how to deal with my feelings.
I have issues.
It’s like wearing a scarlet letter. You might as well be wearing a sign on your head that says “I have issues.”
Even worse, it’s shameful.
And shame is one of the most devastating, deeply painful feelings for any human being to feel.
My client made a point that so many other issues that people have can be hidden. Anxiety, various diseases, even drug or alcohol addictions.
But, if you struggle with binge and emotional eating, it shows up on your body for the world to see.
You can’t hide your struggle.
What I said to my client was that as long as she feels SHAME around her struggle with food and her weight, she will continue to feel like she has that sign on her head that says “I suck, I struggle, I’m imperfect, I am a failure…”
And of course if she goes out in the world with that sign on her head, it’s going to be awful. She’s going to hide, keep herself small, constantly feel insecure and like she’s being judged, and she’s going to DESPERATELY want to get the hell out of her current body.
The shift here that needs to be made is how SHE views her extra weight. She needs to re-write the sign on her head.
Over four years ago, I wrote one of my most popular articles called “Dear Body, Thank You For Taking On These Extra 5 Pounds”. In it, I talked about how I had gained weight during a particular phase in my life, and WHY. I talked about how my body had taken one for the team during a time when I was incredibly emotionally challenged and relied on food more than usual, because I didn’t know what else to do.
Here’s an excerpt:
“When I look in the mirror and see that my cheeks are a little fuller, my thighs a little thicker and my stomach a little rounder, I see a girl who ventured into unknown territory and a new phase of her life and a body that supported that.
I see a body that supported me starting a business from scratch.
I see a body that had my back as I faced a lot of fears and took a lot of risks.
I see a body that was with me through making some of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make with little idea as to how to make them.
I see a body that supported many sleepless nights when my brain wouldn’t stop churning about who knows what.
I see a body that helped me get up after those sleepless nights and devote my full attention to talking to my amazing clients all day.
I see a body that let me eat cereal at 3am to get me through a project I needed to get through, and occasionally rely on ice cream to mentally check out when I just didn’t know what else to do.”
What we need to do in order to release the shame around any extra weight is to a) be okay with admitting that we sometimes “struggle” and b) understand how that extra weight is just a reflection of us doing the BEST WE CAN given our circumstances and where we’re at.
Can you admit to struggle and not having it all together?
The more you can get personally comfortable and accepting of the fact that you DO struggle sometimes, the less you’ll feel shame around your body visibly expressing that.
Here’s the reality:
None of us have it all together all the time.
We all use various coping mechanisms to deal with life, and sometimes they aren’t the healthiest.
So many of us struggle with finding balance with food.
Everyone is fighting their own battles, whether you see that or not.
If you can make peace with the fact that sometimes you struggle, you won’t be so ashamed to let others see that, too.
Can you get comfortable saying out loud to yourself, “Sometimes I struggle in my life. I don’t have it all together. Life can be hard, and I’m doing my best.”
Settling into your imperfections and releasing the need to have it all together will go a long way in releasing the need for your body to portray “I have it all together”, too.
The next step is noticing how your body has “taken one for the team” as you’ve tried to navigate the ups and downs of your life and done the best you can dealing with everything you’re going through.
Is the extra weight there because you’ve been using food to cope with a particularly stressful time and you either haven’t learned how else to cope or you just don’t have the emotional energy to deal with it?
Is the extra weight there because you turn to ice cream every night for connection since you’re lonely or feel lost or uncertain or overwhelmed, and you just don’t know how to feel better?
Is the extra weight there because you binge eat as a result of being sucked into the diet culture when you were 16, and it’s been decades of hell but you’re just not sure how to get off the rollercoaster, even though you’ve tirelessly tried?
Is the extra weight there because you haven’t worked out as much because something else really pressing in your life is taking up your focus and attention?
You have been doing the best you can given where you’re at.
Finding new ways to cope with your feelings or phases of life literally takes LEARNING.
Ending the diet / binge cycle also takes LEARNING.
And even when you know better and you HAVE learned, sometimes you still reach for ice cream when life gets hard. And that’s okay, too.
Because you’re human.
And you struggle.
And you flail around sometimes in discomfort.
And it’s all okay.
If my client could re-write the sign on her head to say: “Yep, I struggle sometimes, and I use food sometimes to cope. I’m working on new ways of dealing with things, but for now, I have been doing my best, and I still deserve to enjoy my life and myself in the process.”… what a difference that would make, right?
If SHE could accept that she sometimes struggles, she wouldn’t be so scared of others finding that out.
And if she could reframe her extra weight and her eating habits to have compassion around how she’s doing the best she can with her sometimes challenging life, she could feel more love and peace toward her current body.
So, my question to you today is…. what are you making any extra weight that you are carrying around mean about you?
Can you accept that you do sometimes struggle and that you DON’T have it all together, and can that be okay?
Can you thank your body for taking one for the team while you learn how to better cope with your emotions and learn a healthier relationship with food?
In the comments below, let me know how this sits with you. What does that extra weight represent? How has your body taken one for the team?
Have an awesome rest of your week!