I have had body image issues my entire life. I have been on the weight roller coaster for several years and it’s been a bumpy one. I’ve worn anywhere from a size 2 to a size 12. No matter the size, I was never thin enough, muscular enough, fast enough, strong enough. No matter the size, my happiness was just out of sight, just 5 lbs away. I had my struggles with adult acne too. Add another long list of reasons why I hated my body, my skin, my hair, my whatever and you can see that it had to be about more than just my appearance. No matter my size, no matter the health of my skin, I could always be better. I mean, everyone else seemed to be doing it so much better than me, why was I the one that had to struggle? I finally started to see a therapist in 2007 to help me deal with all of the self image issues. 8 years later, I still have some negative thoughts and probably always will. I am sharing my story here today in the hopes that my experience can help you if you’re on the diet roller coaster. It isn’t about the weight, it isn’t about the food, and it isn’t about your appearance. It’s about loving yourself. So below are my 3 steps to a healthier self image.
3 Steps to a Healthier Self Image
1. Change Your Expectations
I am a perfectionist. And I hold myself to a high standard. My thoughts have always been, if someone else can do it, so can I. If Jillian Michaels can be ripped to shreds, so can I. If my neighbor down the street can be super thin, so can I. And I can. I’m not going to sit here and say that if I didn’t restrict my food intake and work out a ton that I couldn’t achieve that goal. What I’ve had to accept is this, 1) I am not happy with my life when I am restricting food that much and 2) I don’t enjoy working out at that level to get there. AND THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ME BECAUSE OF THAT. There was always this idea that because I didn’t enjoy doing those things that I am somehow lazy, undisciplined, morally inept, (insert any negative adjective used to describe people that are not uber active). I’ve always had the idea that I should be doing something else. Once I let go of that need to always be doing something else, I realized that I just don’t like that stuff that much. I do enjoy working out some, and for the most part, I like healthy food. I just don’t like that stuff enough to be super ripped. I’d rather takes pictures, I’d rather paint, or draw, or play with my kids. On the other hand, I don’t feel as good if I don’t do some kind of movement, so I have to find balance. And that’s what I try to do. I have changed my expectations of myself in that I don’t expect to be super fit and I don’t expect to look a certain way. I love my body which is healthy, strong, and has given birth to 2 kids exactly as it is.
My negative thoughts about myself can run the show. I have this little silent voice constantly telling me “I’m a bad mom”, “I eat too much sugar”, “I don’t work out enough”, “I am too negative”, “I am not a good photographer”, etc. It’s not loud, it’s quiet and I am thinking those things without even realizing they are there. I have had to actively choose to say positive things out loud. I have notes written throughout the house that say things like “I love my body”, “I am creative”, “I am a good mom”, “I have strong business acumen” and so on. When I realize that I am thinking negatively, I say positive things about myself instead. I express gratitude to my skin for keeping me healthy and detoxifying my body. I express gratitude to my body for keeping me healthy and for allowing me to have two easy pregnancies and two easy births. I have so much to be thankful for and it doesn’t take a lot of effort to realize that, one I begin actively focusing on it.
3. Mindful Eating
I have a tendency to eat things mindlessly. I read a book called Women, Food, and God by Geneen Roth which I have talked about before. In that book, she talks about how we claim to love food, but then we don’t sit down to enjoy it. That really struck me and so I try to make it a point to enjoy my food. I love chocolate. If I find myself shoving chocolate in my face while I cook, it’s not because I think it tastes good, it’s because I am trying to eat my feelings. When I eat mindfully, I make it a big ordeal. I fix myself a latte, grab my chocolate, sit down without any distractions and simply enjoy it. I feel the texture of it, I notice how it tastes, and how the flavors mix with the bitterness of the chocolate. I don’t watch tv or my phone, I simply sit and really allow myself to feel the pleasure of eating chocolate. It becomes a holy experience. One where I am expressing self love by allowing myself the pleasure of the experience. When I eat this way, no matter the food, I take the sinfulness out of the eating. I’m no longer in the mindset of eating my feelings away, but enjoying the pleasure that food brings me.
Over the past couple of days, I have eaten a lot of junk and I have noticed that I don’t feel that good. My stomach has been bloated, my skin has been acting up a bit, and I feel super sluggish. I realize that the food is making me feel bad. When this happens, I just have to reset, realize that I’m not treating myself well, and start over with a green smoothie. Food is beautiful and is powerful way to heal our bodies if we just take notice of how it makes us feel.
I hope these tips have helped. If you’re wanting to live a healthier lifestyle and aren’t sure where to start, I beg you to avoid the temptation of dieting. Read the book I mentioned above. I am also going to take this time to plug a program that I feel strongly about and it’s called “Finding Freedom and Confidence”. You have probably heard me talk about this before, but it’s a beautiful, practical way to learn how to live a healthier lifestyle. It comes with weekly meal plans that are delicious. There are prep tips to help set you up for a successful week, no matter how busy you are. There are daily workout tips if you want to learn how to do some simple exercises at home. But most of all, there are self care and self love tips that YOU WILL NOT SEE IN MOST OTHER PROGRAMS. I am here to tell you, getting healthy is not about the food. It isn’t. It feels like it is, but it isn’t. If you have been dieting your entire life, going on another diet is not going to change you. You know why? Because it isn’t about the food. It’s about the relationship with yourself and your body and that won’t change until you start some serious self love activities.
Wendie Schneider is the only nutritionist I have ever worked with that has a healthy mindset on food. She talks about moderation, she talks about getting off track, and she talks about mindful eating. I have gone to her several times because she understands my life as a busy mom and wants to help me work around that and still be healthy. Her meal plans are delicious and she also gives tips to help substitute is you don’t like something. And she is totally available for you if you have questions which I think is amazing considering the cost of this program is so cheap.
Melissa Adrian is a personal trainer who has a wonderful mindset on getting fit. She gives exercises you can do at home as well as online resources as well. I have taken a running class with her which helped me train for a 5k in a gentle way. And I have gone through 6 weeks of this program, doing the exercises she’s given us. It’s been amazing and I love her outlook on fitness.
The program starts again Feb 19th, so hurry and sign up!!
If you’d like more information, follow this link and let them know you’re interested.