Several weeks ago I dove into my thoughts about Diet Culture and the Body Positivity and Health At Any Size Movements in this blog post.
“Loving yourself and your body at any size is an important and laudable goal. In my opinion, you can’t even begin to lose weight successfully until you accept yourself as you are. Your body is the only home you have. Taking care of it is a life long responsibility.”
This week, I want to dive deeper into my strongly held belief that learning to accept and appreciate your body at it’s current size, makes weight loss a whole lot easier.
While we can probably all agree that intuitively that concept makes sense, I know that overcoming years of negative thoughts and feelings about your size, shape and weight is much easier said than done.
Many of us are walking around with a long history of body shame, frustration and discomfort.
According to the National Eating Disorder’s Association, 94% of girls have been body shamed by high school.
Whether it’s the taunts and teasing of other children and peers, snide remarks overheard, straight in your face criticisms, the “advice” of concerned family and friends, or the steady diet of images defining thinness we’ve consumed for decades, we’ve been brain-washed to value thinness as the holy grail. As a measure of our self-worth, desirability and lovableness.
Can you remember when you first “realized” your body was flawed? That YOU, therefore, were “less than?” That you might not be worthy of love and acceptance?
From that day forward, shame replaced innocence and your inner critic was born. Your harsh inner critic not only found her voice but refined and strengthened it. Before too long she became adept at unleashing tirades admonishing you not to eat this, or only eat that. Exercise was effective only if it were more like this or less like that.
That voice grew more powerful and insistent by the year.
It would harangue you with messages like your stomach is too fat. Your hips too wide. Your thighs too thick. Your breasts too big or too small or oddly shaped. Your tush too jiggly. The cellulite, the stretch marks. Mercilessly, she would point out everything she perceived as less than perfect about your body.
It didn’t even matter if others disagreed. The mean voice was always more dominant.
How many times have you tried to shame yourself into weight loss?
How’s that working for you? Probably not too well.
If you demean yourself or call yourself names because you don’t like of any part of your body, you are setting yourself up for struggle and failure.
When that mean girl voice takes over with a barrage of criticism and judgements about your body, you are sabotaging your weight loss efforts.
You are deflating your motivation and confidence in yourself with each verbal assault.
Please believe me when I say this: there is no way you can body shame yourself into sustainable weight loss.
To build a practice of loving your body exactly as it is today, try these suggestions.
Loving your body at any size is your first-class ticket to easier weight loss.
1. Fine-tune your internal voice. Speak kindly to yourself. Think about how you would want to encourage a balky toddler to do what you want. You’d find ways to encourage her, to compliment her efforts, speak to her with kindness and warmth softening your voice. Motivate yourself with that same encouraging voice. Do not allow name-calling or shaming under the guise of motivation. Learn to over-ride all those years of default negative commentary.
2. Admire your body’s ability to keep you alive. Summon up gratitude and appreciation for the miraculous functioning of your body. Your beating heart. Your breathing lungs. Your walking legs. Your holding hands. Your digestive and elimination systems. Your five senses. Each an every one a miracle in it’s own right. Each and everyone deserves admiration and celebration.
3. Compliment parts of your body you like. Your eyes? Your legs? Your breasts? Your hair? Your nails? Your complexion? Your feet? Focus your attention with intention on those physical traits. Develop the voice that appreciates all these aspects of your physical self.
4. Compliment yourself on a talent or skill that living in your body facilitates. Identify your talents and abilities. Then associate them with the body parts that must activate to do the activity. What bodily function, physical activity, sport or hobby requires your body to perform with coordination and care? Your legs to run. Your arms to swim. Your knees to bend. Your hands to write, draw or paint. Your brain to think, plan and create.
5. Practice thinking more accepting/tolerant thoughts about the parts of your body you like least on purpose to rewire your brain. When you’ve developed the habit of thinking that you’re disgusted by your stomach, for example, it’s not possible to go from thinking “I hate my stomach.” to “My stomach is beautiful.” New thoughts must ring true for you to be able to practice thinking them. The idea here is to identify new thoughts that are just slightly better than the negative thoughts you’ve been thinking. The new thoughts should bring some measure of relief from the negative weight of the original thoughts. For instance, thinking new thoughts like,” I have a stomach.” or “Women have stomachs that look like mine.” or “This is a human stomach.” can bring a little more peace to your feelings about your stomach. More neutral thoughts like these can help you gain leverage over automatic, negative, harshly critical default thinking. Try it! Practice makes all the difference.
6. Find of a photo of yourself as a little girl from before your brain seized upon your physical flaws. Frame it. Place that photo by your bathroom sink, on your night table or your dresser, some place where you’ll see it every day. Study that dear little face with love softening your eyes. Remember her hopes and dreams . Promise that sweet ,innocent, vulnerable and impressionable girl that you will treat her with love, caring, tenderness and respect. That you are committed to honoring all her hopes, dreams and yearnings by taking care of the body you inhabit today. And by creating the body that future you wants to inhabit so you can live your healthiest, most active life.
I’m here to help you create success every step of the way on your weight loss journey.
Developing your ability to feel compassionate, accepting, and loving toward your body today takes awareness and intentionality.
Imagining and honoring the body that future you will inhabit also takes awareness and intentionality, plus focused imagination and vision.
Learning how to love your body at any size is a skill that can help you maintain your equilibrium throughout the ups and downs of your weight loss process.
Let’s plan how you can make this part and all the parts of your weight loss journey as easy as possible.
Book your free Strategy Call right here.