How to Overcome Body Image Issues
I have a gnarly background in the land of body image.
I’ll give you the long story, short:
- Middle School: Becoming aware I was ‘heavy’ led me to restrict amounts of food and just eat things I thought were ‘healthy’ (yogurt, crackers, jello) end I ended up losing a lot of weight. And the ‘diet’ mentality began.
- High School: Drinking slim fast for breakfast, strawberry pop tarts for lunch, and something like a lean cuisine for dinner. Counting calories, restricting fats, and binging on foods I thought were like eating ‘nothing’. (Hello entire watermelons) Eating way too little, and then inevitability eating too much from all of the restriction.
- College: When I first started getting into the health and wellness world, at least I switched from eating 100 calorie snack bags and pop tarts to whole foods, but my mentally of restriction and diet still prevailed. I definitely was not eating enough (lots of carrots, watermelon, canned beans, and green smoothies with just spinach and banana)for my body hence the infertility, missing periods, anxiety, acne.
All of this craziness around food all stemmed from one root: I wanted to look a certain way.
Through working out and restrictive eating, I was very tiny and fit, around 110 pounds. I liked it. Everyone gave me compliments. I felt good about myself. In my mind, being toned and skinny meant beautiful. It meant people looked up to me and my ‘discipline’. It meant people listened to what I had to say because I looked a certain way.
Unfortunately, this is a big part of our society. We tend to be more interested in people that look ‘beautiful’. And beautiful typically being victoria secret model. It’s like if you are lucky enough or worked hard enough to look like that, you are special.
The problem was, when I looked like that, I had no period, terrible anxiety, and cystic acne. I wanted to have a baby. I wanted to have hormones that were not so off I was a different person monthly.
So I had to decide.
I had to decide if having abs was more important than having a baby. If the number on the scale had control over me. If I wanted to live a life a freedom or be in a battle against my own body.
This is all coming to mind right now because I am pregnant with baby #2. I am bigger than I was before baby #1. I am most certainly not 110 pounds. My body continues to grow and change every day and I don’t look like what I previously defined as ‘beautiful’.
I don’t weigh myself anymore, but because of this pregnancy, I stepped on the scale for the first time in 2 years. I’m not going to lie, I was surprised and I did get triggered, but then I remembered what got me out of the body image battle in the first place and I would love to share the ideas with you.
Five Ways to Beat The Body Image Battle
“Your Purpose is simply to help others figure out what you’ve already figured out”.
These five ideas saved me from the brutal body image battle and allowed me to have freedom, babies, and joy.
The next time you find yourself against your body, think about this. . .
It’s incredibly freeing when you realize that body diversity is a real thing. The idea everyone should be fit and thin and if your not, you should actively be trying to be is a myth. All bodies are naturally different. Some people are naturally skinny, naturally athletic, some are naturally bigger, some naturally have a big but, some naturally have skinny legs. It’s beautiful. It makes it very hard to have a good relationship with yourself when you have a false idea of what you are supposed to look like. You could be fighting your body to get to a size and shape she was never supposed to be. What if you just focused on moving your body in a way that feels good for you that day and nourished her with nutrient dense food (without obsessing or worrying about it). When you do this, your body will naturally go to the weight and size it is meant to be, and that can change from season to season. Just keep moving, eating the best you can with pleasure, and see what happens. It might be different then what you want, or, what you THOUGHT you wanted, but your natural shape is beautiful and so are you. You are not supposed to look like everyone else. You are not supposed to live in a constant state of restriction and striving to have a certain shape. Focus on pleasure and your body will follow.
Perception is Reality:
You are perceiving your body based on the lens you have been conditioned to see it through. This lens could be incredibly skewed if you grew up around magazines, tv, and women with poor body image (don’t worry, most of us have). The only thing that matters is how you feel about yourself. If you perceive your body as beautiful, so with others. The main goal here is to throw out what you ‘should’ look like to be ‘beautiful’ and embrace the unique body you have. You could be working so hard to be skinny when many other cultures around the world actually see bigger as better, they see traits you hate and want them. My point, everyone has a different idea of what beautiful is, so you might as well decide your body is your definition of the word.
Nourishing yourself and your children is one of the most important things you can do:
I can’t think of anything I am more proud of than having my daughter. Carrying her for 9 months, having a natural (breach) delivery, and learning how to love and nurture a tiny human is the greatest adventure I have ever known. I decided I did want a baby more than abs. This allowed me to fully nourish my body. Not focusing on what it looked like, but simply giving it the types and the amounts of food and exercise it needed to create a healthy baby and mama. That’s what matters. When you focus on nourishing, not depriving, you’ll be surprised how not only your body, but your mind and relationships change for the better.
People resonate with your vibe over vanity – wisdom over weight:
Because I thought people would only be interested in me if I looked a certain way, this concept completely changed me. I recognized that people are not really responding to my body at all but to my inner attitudes, my energy state, and my level of awareness. One day it dawned on me that everyone and everything in the world is responding to my level of consciousness, my intention, and to the inner feeling I have about them. People can sense what you are feeling and thinking without you having to say a word. I found people are more interested in my story, the good the bad and the ugly. That’s what people care about. Who you are, what you have been through, how you have overcome it, and the wisdom you have gleaned thus far in life. What you think about yourself is what other people will think about you. Use the mantras ‘vibe over vanity’ or ‘wisdom over weight’ to remind yourself of the truth, it’s not what you look like that draws people to you, it’s what you can’t see that does.
Rewire your Brain:
What you focus on, you get more of. Pretty self-explanatory, but neuroscience and quantum physics are proving this to be insanely true. If you want to love your body more, you need to focus on what you already love. Then, your brain will begin to see the good instead of what you deemed as ‘bad’.
How it Works:
- Every thought you think is a physical structure and pathway in your brain that controls your default way of thinking.
- If you have been thinking a certain way over and over- those are the pathways you have in your brain so that is how you are automatically going to think because that is what is there.
- The goal is to break down those pathways and build new ones.
- It takes 63 days to break down pathways and to replace with a new pathway. It also takes that long to get your new way of thinking into your subconscious mind so it becomes how you automatically think and see the world.
Give it a try, every time you have a bad thought about your body, replace it with what you do like or one of the reminders I mentioned above and eventually, that will become how you automatically think about your body, without having to try.
You are here but a mist:
Truly. We are here on earth for a blink of an eye compared to heaven where we will be living for ETERNITY. FOREVER. Being here on earth is truly like a game or test. We are here to grow into who God created us to be to impact the people he created us to impact, do incredible things with the talent ONLY YOU have, and get celebrated for all of it when you get to heaven. You are not going to wish you would have focused on having a better body or being skinnier when you meet Jesus face to face. So, when you are having body image issues, just think, does this really matter in light of eternity? What really matters and what should I really be focusing on right now?
I want you to know it is possible.
I want you to be free from the scale, enjoy your body no matter what it looks like, not compare your body to others, enjoy food and exercise, quit dieting forever, and live in freedom focusing on what really matters in life. Focus on the concepts above for 3 months and your life will change.