I’m curious. Have you ever really liked your body? Have you ever given your body the credit for all the crazy cool shit it does all by itself every waking and resting second, minute and hour? Have you ever been happy in the skin that you’re in?
I suppose this blog post follows on from my last. As part of my recovery from an eating disorder I’ve had to find a way to get a bit more comfortable with myself and yet every day I seem to be confronted by messages and triggering situations that want to throw me off course.
- The mixed, ever-changing advice on what to eat and what not to eat or how to workout or not to workout.
- The media’s portrayal of the ideal form (with the added social media ‘fake’ shit sandwich).
- Negative or non-inclusive talk about bodies in conversations both in the virtual screen-based world and in real life.
I guess though as each year passes, I get that little bit more grounded about who I am and what matters, and with that, I get that little bit more fed up with wasting my time and energy hating on myself. I’m really writing this as an affirmation to myself.
I quit. I am enough.
There’s a huge body positivity movement going on as a counter response to some of the challenges I’ve mentioned above. In writing this post, I suppose I am questioning where my future role lies in all of this and how I help people in my own practice. Admittedly I worry that people will form the conclusion that I shouldn’t have anything to worry about given the body I am in, and as a result, I won’t really understand – I’m a white, middle class female who has ‘slim privilege’, and I don’t have a physical disability or condition. I’m fully aware that I am more in alignment with ‘the ideal’, than a representative for the ‘minority’ however, I know from my experiences that self-perceived poor body image doesn’t exclude any party in this challenge.
It doesn’t exclude the slim successful woman who ‘has it all together.’
It doesn’t exclude the confident young girl in the class who gets all the guys.
It doesn’t exclude the guy in the gym who has Brad Pitt’s face and Efron’s abs.
Getting comfortable with your body can be a real challenge for some people and that’s precisely why I make a point here of saying ‘getting comfortable’ over ‘loving yourself’ – because I really do feel that this is easier said than done. Finding comfort is about extending yourself kindness and acknowledging and accepting all parts of your body as it is in the present. So how do you go about getting more comfortable?
Ways to help improve your body image
- Make a written or mental note of the things you DO like.
For some people this can be really difficult to do however, in order to get comfortable, you need to challenge yourself to push through those uncomfortable feelings. No matter how small, encourage yourself to notice those positive things and give yourself the space to enjoy them. Try and acknowledge that your bones are shaped in a certain way and that your muscle and fat will arrange itself in ways outside of your control. Your shape WILL be different and unique which is actually a very beautiful thing worth celebrating.
- Unfollow any accounts on social media that do not serve you.
Give yourself permission to step away from those accounts that don’t make you feel great about yourself. Remember, you are in charge of who you follow on social media on your personal account and to some extent this means you’re the curator of what you see.
I’ve recently found it far more useful and inspiring to follow accounts un-linked to my own practice and industry so that I don’t fall into the comparison trap. I love following designers, artists and writers that create unique and aesthetically pleasing content and if I do follow people/brands within the health and wellness industry, I try my best to ensure they’re in line with my own beliefs and values. If I get a sponsored post that conflicts with my beliefs about nutrition, fitness or makes me feel shit about my body in some way, I hide or report the ad so that Instagram can filter posts more relevant to me in the future.
- Use the future to inform your present.
I always make a conscious effort to live in the ‘now’ as much as possible however, I’ve found using hindsight an effective way of informing how I act in the present. Picture yourself 10 years from now, how do you want to feel when you look back at your present self? Do you want to be remembering a person who is living in fear and shame about their body or would you rather see a person who is strong, confident and LIVING their life?
I am 10 times the person I was since choosing to get more comfortable with my body. I am proud I made this choice (because it is a choice), and I always make an effort to check in with myself to ensure I’m choosing kindness over hate.
- Find ways to ensure inanimate objects or situations don’t dictate your worth.
If you notice that particular objects, behaviours or situations make you feel rubbish, then maybe it’s time you made some adjustments. As an example, I’ve personally found the following things un-helpful:
Weighing scales – don’t own any or go near them.
Changing rooms – not a fan of the lighting or multiple mirror situation, would always prefer to try on clothes at home and return if needed.
Clothes too small – Choosing to get comfortable with my body also means choosing to be okay with the fact that my body has and will continue to change as I move through life. I don’t own a single item of clothing or underwear (possibly socks but by now I imagine they’ve all been lost in the wash) from when I had a poor relationship with food, exercise and my body. Trying to squeeze into clothes isn’t fun whilst having clothes that fit well and look good on my body can be really empowering. If something doesn’t fit, it’s taking a trip to the charity shop.
Any form of restrictive eating – As soon as I involve myself in any dietary restrictions I can go through a period of feeling great and then a period of guilt if it’s not sustainable and I haven’t managed to keep it up. This in turn can make me feel shit about myself. If there’s no ‘clean eating’ or diet wagon to get on in the first place, then there’s no wagon to fall off!
Implementing these things might be a little overwhelming so try incorporating one of these adjustments at a time to help you build a better relationship with your body. Tackle these things gradually and keep in mind that doing them just once, might not be enough for long lasting effect.
Keep practicing kindness, extending yourself love and remember you are more than just your body. Parts of you are in the people you have impacted in your life, parts of you are in the positive actions, words and gestures you leave behind each day, parts of you are in the impressions of your smile or the hug that you gave to that person who needed it. You are far more than the vehicle you move around in. To wish yourself as someone else or something else is to waste the person that you are.