When we reject our body for not matching magazine-cover perfection, we disassociate from our body. That disconnection numbs us from the signals our body gives us that tells us what it wants and needs. What that is will be different in each moment because it is unique to the circumstances and context we are in. What our body needs for fuel can change from meal to meal and from person to person.
When we overwork ourselves to exhaustion, and then push ourselves to work out, our body starts to create a negative association with working out.
For those of us who struggle with our body image, we have a tendency to use diets and exercise as self-inflicted punishment for doing “bad” things like eating “bad” food and being “lazy.” We shame ourselves for not doing what we believe we should. It becomes a downward demotivating spiral.
It’s no wonder we push against it like a stubborn child wanting to do the exact opposite of what a parent advises. And it’s why standard dieting and exercise programs don’t work for those of us who are caught in the body-shame-spiral.
When we learn to love our body exactly as it is, we can then reconnect with the messages it gives about food, drink, movement, and rest. When we love and accept ourselves, we connect with the motivation to be our best self.
In my mid-twenties, my boyfriend frequently, verbally criticized my body. The more he critiqued, the more I shamed myself. This caused me to eat more to fill a void and I always felt too exhausted to be active, which led to more criticism, which led to more eating and exhaustion. I told myself I was unlovable because of my weight.
At one point, I forced myself to go on an extremely restrictive diet and hit the gym every day. In two months I lost fifteen pounds. I excitedly shared this achievement with my boyfriend, who responded, “Just imagine how you’d look if you lost twenty-five more.”
I gave up and gained it all back shortly after. When we broke up, I was forty-five pounds heavier than when we had first met. Shedding that unhealthy relationship, I easily lost weight without changing my daily routine because I was so much happier.
Contrast that with my husband. When we first started dating, he was genuinely complimentary and openly affectionate. When I would body shame myself, he knew exactly what to say to pull me out of it. When I learned to see myself how he saw me, with love and admiration, I had so much more energy. That energy and desire to be active and out doing things also sparked in me a natural desire to eat more fruits and vegetables. It wasn’t because I told myself I should, I actually wanted to. I was drawn to them.
Taking a culmination of these types of life lessons with my own body-image journey and combining that with the coaching tools that work for my clients, I’ve developed an online program called Learn to Love Your Body in 30 Days. If you struggle with your body image and are tired of fad diets and exercise routines that never become a habit, I’d love for you to join me. We start June 3! Learn more here!