#1. BODY IMAGE
FACT: We would never begin to diet if we did not in fact have some smidge at least of poor body image. Why would anyone diet if they already were 100% satisfied, confident and happy with their body?
So then, why would we think that any diet would ultimately fix our poor body image??? Why do we think dieting is the answer to loving our body and ultimately, ourselves?
This is a very valid question and one I want you to actually sit with a minute. I want you to ask yourself…
Do I have at least a little bit of poor body image in me?
Has it driven me to diet?
If so, what do I think changing my body through dieting will help me with? How will it improve my life?
And finally, what if dieting doesn’t work for me? What if I don’t lose weight or keep any weight I do lose, off for good?
As much as we want to think we can control our bodies, I want you to think if you actually can… for the long term.
Although I had an eating disorder in high school, I will tell you it bad more to do with compulsive behavior, control and fear as opposed to thinking I was fat and wanting to lose weight. I never said, “Lisa eat less so you lose weight.” Instead, i ate less one weekend, saw the scale down 3 pounds, loved that feeling, and continued to eat in a way that would keep the scale going down. I do not remember a day I called myself fat. It was a compulsion.
Fast forward to college and gaining weight and deciding to compete in a figure competition to lose weight…. THAT is when I became ultra aware of my body. Of my physique. Of my weight. Of eating less and working out more. That’s when the compulsion to control how my body looked started because I was being judged on it. I didn’t think my body was good enough how it was. = POOR BODY IMAGE.
I got more attention the leaner I was. I felt sexier and more attractive the leaner I was. So I chased it. Because even if I thought my body was good, leaner was better. And competing was really my first experience with dieting as I am familiar with it. See, before that, I was not that critical of my body. Before that, when I had surgery and couldn’t workout, I just ate a little more sensibly. Before that, I didn’t yo yo because I never really dieted.
So, when I was uncomfortable with my body after my DVT and hospitalization, I started looking for the answer. My clothes were tighter. The body I felt great in was apparently left in my hospital bed. Unable to student teach due to my recovery and Unable to workout for weeks while recovering plus a broken engagement led to weight gain. After a year of not being happy with my body, I listened to suggestions to compete in a figure competition. I figured having a diet to follow and a competition goal would be a great incentive to lose weight and feel better again.
Little did I know… that would be the beginning of a very long decade. A decade where my body fluctuated 10-20 pounds with almost every changing season. A decade of control, restriction, weight loss, confidence, exhaustion, weight gain, shame, guilt, embarrassment, marriage, divorce, career change, moving… zero stability in my life and to top it off, an extreme obsession with my body’s appearance. No stability? CONTROL FOOD. CONTROL EXERCISE. CONTROL MY BODY. Duh.
I lived and died by the scale. My mood. My drive. My self care. All of it. And all because my body wasn’t good enough to me. And even when it was, I couldn’t keep it there. (A different blog)
So, why is body image so important? Why is it one of my 5 changes I had to make to end my obsession with food, fitness and my body?
Because until I changed my relationship with myself, my relationship with food was never going to change either. I would constantly try to control food to control and change my body which would dictate my body image and therefore confidence. And when confidence is down, how can you really live your life? How can you live your life when all you want to do is hide until you reach your goal weight? But, life was miserable in pursuit of your goal weight so you weren’t really happy anyway? Why do we expect happiness to be laying there waiting for us like a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow… except that rainbow isn’t a rainbow. It’s a fire. It’s Hell. But all is good at our goal weight right? Rainbows and butterflies…. I wish.
I also had this realization: I love many people in my life. And I love them despite their bodies. Despite what they weigh. I thought if I love and accept other people beyond their bodies, then maybe people love and accept me beyond my body too! Crazy right???
So, how do we accept our bodies? It’s hard work for some of us, including me. I have a lot of work that went into this and I work on with clients, but know this. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO LOVE YOUR BODY ALL THE TIME. IT IS OK TO WANT TO CHANGE YOUR BODY.
However, how you do it and why you’re doing it are the important part.
So for me to change my body and my mindset, I had to learn to be my body’s friend. I wrote her a letter. I apologized to her for the shit I have put her through. I let her write a letter to me. She told me how she was doing the best she could but I wasn’t taking care of her, I was just fighting her.
Then, instead of blasting off into foo-foo self love and affirmation land, I took a baby step. Instead of saying, “Lisa, you are beautiful and worthy of love,” I decided to just tell myself, “lisa, you’re ok. You’re just fine.”
When I’m feeling judgemental of myself in the mirror or I’m picking myself apart because I can’t get a pair of pants over my calves or my sides are squeezing out of the top or there’s extra room in the ass of the jeans or my shoulders can’t move in this coat…. I stop. I remind myself that I AM OK.
There actually are parts about me that I do love. And I remember that beating my body into submission or putting her down isn’t going to get me anywhere.
IF WE COULD GET THE BODY WE WANT BY PUTTING HER DOWN AND BEING NEGATIVE AND BASHING HER, wouldn’t we all have the body we want by now? Clearly, that doesn’t work. All that does is take you out of the present moment, the only one you truly have to enjoy.
So as frustrating as those moments are, I remind myself, “you’re ok.” This isn’t playing ignorant to reality but i realized that getting upset over those clothes never truly helped me get anywhere.
See, when I feel good about my body, I treat her better. Like I treat my friends. And when I hate my body, I say mean things, I eat worse food, I do hurtful workouts or none at all. I practice zero self care.
And why would we ever treat our enemy well? Why would we expect our enemy to do shit for us?
Fighting gets us nowhere. If a diet is a battle, it isn’t for you. And it wasn’t for me. My approach to improving my body is so different now. So much more pleasant. And although I can lean out if I want to, I don’t feel the constant need to. I’m not about to give my life away to this obsession anymore. I treat her with acceptance, as a friend, as a buddy working together.
It sounds fluffy I know. But try it. Because really, we all are ok. And if you can act from a place of self care instead of control, you may be surprised just how easily your body becomes your best friend. And you’ll wonder how you ever tried to boss her around, starve her, overtrain her or bully her before.
Want to end your obsession with your body? Start with gratitude. Control is fear. How can we fear something we are grateful for?