How to Make Peace with Your BodyOct 20, 2021
I know that many people who follow me receive my newsletter and even my clients have gone through disordered eating or body image issues. I always say, as women, I think most of us have at some point or another, after disordered eating, an eating disorder, or just years of hearing from society that “this” is what your body is “supposed” to look like, having true peace with food and your body requires working through lots of fears and challenges and body image fears can often feel like the most difficult.
As someone who’s gone through it, I know that a big part of you wants to give up your food rules and the constant thoughts and anxiety about food and your body. However, fears of how your body will change and of how you will feel when it does or how other people will look at you might feel like a huge barrier to making the changes part of you wants to make. I know, for me, the feeling like I might never feel at peace in my body was one of the hardest things for me in terms of giving up my eating disorder. If you feel the same and right now you’re trying to navigate doing what you know in your heart is right while battling fear and anxiety about the potential of a changing body, know you’re not alone. Here are some things that really helped me keep moving forward when I felt like recovery might not be possible. Here I am on the other side and you can be too.
1. Embrace the fears and anxiety
I can tell you that when I used to think about gaining weight because I would be feeding my body more or my body changing - my first reaction almost felt like a phobia. If I had clothes that didn’t fit or looked at a photo of myself I didn’t like, I felt this immediate sense of panic that my body was changing. (It wasn’t until I got my hormones in order and did so through nourishment that actually I lost weight, more on that a different time). For so long, I had conditioned myself that being a size 2 meant I was disciplined, successful, and doing things right. So that meant, when I wasn’t a size 2, I felt a huge sense of shame, guilt, and fear. As a perfectionist, these feelings were just intensified. But when I shifted the lens and continued to come back to
YES, it is hard and painful to do the work I’m doing, but it’s also so courageous and will be so rewarding in the long run
That one thought made me realize that the phobic reaction I was having about my body gaining weight was because so conditioned by society to think that it needed to be a certain way to be accepted for so long. There are so many other things in life that are uncomfortable at first, and seeing it that way reminded me that my brain just needed time to catch up to my body and that the discomfort would ease as it does in all things in life.
It was important to address diet culture and why I thought a “thin” body was “better” and something I needed to work for. This is a practice you can do too. Where did you learn these ideas and behaviors? Parents? Friends? Magazines? Social media?
I used to see fat, even myself as 5 pounds over “my goal” as a failure and something that needed to be immediately fixed, while that was why I was always on a diet or a program.
When I started to open up my thinking to how unnatural it was when society only viewed bodies as beautiful if they were thin or had so little body fat they probably couldn’t even get pregnant, the desire to reregulate my hormones and my mindset won over again. I came to the conclusion that the way society views our bodies must be what’s not natural. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have survived as a human species.
You can start to see health at every size if you just look around and for this phase of healing, I really recommend looking at and appreciating all bodies. Start to unfollow accounts that trigger you on Instagram and let go of the magazines that make you feel less than. Follow people in larger bodies, seek out images that are different from what you normally would have viewed as “perfect,” and start to notice that they are beautiful too! With time and more exposure to different bodies, your brain will realize that your body is beautiful in its very own way too.
You can start to open your mind up by following body-positive people on social media, reading more books like Intuitive Eating and When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies. Listen to podcasts like Food Psych and Outweigh.
These things will help you start viewing your body and yourself again from more of a beginner's mind.
3. Experience how you are so much more than a body
It can be so hard to accept perceived imperfections in our bodies when we feel like they represent so much of who we are. The way we look may be the first thing people notice about us, and people might judge us for that. So for me, the biggest healing approach was to do things that helped me connect with the part of me that was so much more than my body.
I had to reconnect to my soul.. to who I was on the INSIDE. That part of me that my family and friends love me for. The passionate, driven, loyal and caring girl. There is a piece of you that your friends and family love even when you’re in a bad mood. That same soul essence is what they also love, even if you were to gain weight. To reconnect to me, the best most important practice was meditating. But there are so many things that you can do to get back in tune with YOU. Maybe for you, it’s in nature or time away from your phone? Whatever it is, it’s that getting back to that piece of you that is beautiful and lovable regardless of your weight or your size.
If you’ve struggled for a while with disordered eating, that was the main voice you listened to and gave power to in your mind and because of that, you may have lost awareness of this deeper soul essence of you. It is never truly gone. But it’s just gotten buried and weakened over time. The hard yet rewarding work you’re doing through the recovery process will be to reawaken and strengthen it. This part of you will heal and reintegrate your eating disorder self and ultimately heal your body image.
Over time, you will feel more connected to yourself on a deeper level if you commit to doing so every day. How you connect with yourself and others and live your life will be so much more than how your body looks.
X sending love always,