Women are constantly bombarded with messages that we’re not good enough in our own bodies. We’re being told, through a million different outlets controlled by the beauty, fitness, and diet industries, that we need to change our appearance in order to be successful, lovable, and worthy as humans. That might not be the exact words they’re using, but it’s 100% the message they want to send, in order to get you to buy their products.
I was stuck in that brainwashed way of thinking for a long time. I struggled intensely with disordered eating, binge eating, restricting, constant body checking, and obsessively working out to burn off everything I’d eaten that day.
On the outside, I looked lean, healthy, and full of willpower. On the inside, I was miserable in my body and wanted nothing more than to feel normal around food.
My story is not so different from that of SO many other women. It’s saddening that many women feel they’re not good enough because they don’t have washboard abs or a gap between their thighs. Sidenote: washboard abs are physically impossible and/or unhealthy to achieve for almost all women.
My journey out of the darkness was long and twisted and tricky, but I now live inside my body with fierce gratitude, love, and adoration (the chub around my hips is pretty cute, I gotta say).
I had to experiment with a million and one different tactics to change my mindset around my body image. In the past, I had spent so much time “killin’ it” in the gym, using intense willpower to fight my food cravings, and bashing my body with shame, that I had forgotten how to be playful and fun inside my body.
As a food & body image coach, play and fun are two huge elements of healing your relationship to your body. Here’s what I’ve found works:
- GET NAKED – Yep. Strip down, sister. Our nude bodies are truly such gorgeous creations. Little kids love being naked because it feels AMAZING and they don’t have a care in the world (or worries about their round bellies). Being naked not only feels good but being with your bare self helps you to get reacquainted with your body. Women with body issues tend to ignore their true shape by wearing clothing that’s too tight or too baggy, avoiding mirrors, or sucking in their stomach. Spend a little time each day without clothes (I like to hang out for a bit before I get dressed in the morning, or sleep nakey!) and just be with your body, instead of criticizing her.
- DANCE – One of the most powerful ways to intuitively feel into your body’s desires is to dance freely. Dancing feels good, which is why it’s a valuable tool if you want to cultivate positive experiences with your body. Don’t worry about looking silly or if you’re “good enough”, just move your body in whatever way feels good. The more we practice intuitive movement, the more we’re able to make intuitive choices around food, and be more attuned to our higher wisdom. I love to put on fun music that I just can’t help but move to and get up and shake it at least a few times a day. This gets me feeling good in my body and gives me a quick happy boost.
- GET OUTSIDE + PLAY – Raise your hand if you’ve ever gone to the beach with your friends and sat on the sand under your baggy T-shirt while everyone else went to splash in the water or throw a frisbee (anyone else?). We spend so much time being concerned about our bodies being imperfect and being judged by others that we forget to live our lives. Take a risk and get out there and play! It’s amazingly freeing to abandon all body hesitation and just have fun. Play catch, join the beach volleyball game, fly a kite, anything physical! You’ll not only have fun, but you’ll also learn to deeply appreciate your body for it’s physical abilities.
Reclaiming your relationship to your body takes time. Be patient with yourself during this process and always remember that your body gives you unconditional love every single day by keeping you alive – let her have some fun!
This week, try out one or two of the tactics I’ve outlined. Always keep in mind that it might feel unnatural or totally contrived to say, “I love my body” when you’re staring at it naked in the mirror, or doing something physical, etc. – but it’s all a part of the process to body acceptance. With time, you’ll find that the parts of your body you once desired slicing off with a butter knife are actually pieces of your unique beauty.