06 Mar 2016
4 Ways to End Body Shame Now
Benefits of a Positive Body Image and Why Hating Yourself Is Not Required (or Helpful)
I work with clients on a daily basis who are carrying around a tremendous amount of shame and disgust toward their bodies. This perception is damaging and impacts all aspects of life, from the clothes we choose to the way we show up for jobs and relationships. We believe that if we hate ourselves enough, we will surely change. Somehow, we believe that self-loathing and body shame will help us to evolve our bodies into something more acceptable. A body that resembles the airbrushed images we’re bombarded with every day.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The stress response that is created in the body when we entertain and believe these thoughts—the ones that tell us we’re not good enough—will actually keep weight on our bodies. We’ll also be unconsciously prompted to keep negative behaviors in place. It’s hard to treat something you hate with love and respect. Accepting your body as it is right now, at the very weight you are right now in this moment, will help you to start treating yourself with the love and kindness that’s required to make positive changes.
The clients I work with who experience the most success in their weight loss journey are the clients who are able to find acceptance with where they are in this moment. They are able to forgive all of their past indiscretions, such as losing the weight only to gain it back again. They are able to shift that inner dialogue to the voice of a loving mother instead of the callous condemnation of a barking drill sergeant.
I know this is counter-intuitive and a concept that is easy to resist: We believe that if we accept where we are right now that we’ll totally lose control and find ourselves hitting up every drive thru in the greater Seattle area. This is absolutely not the case! When you love and respect something deeply, you want to offer it the best. You probably wouldn’t let your children sustain on cupcakes and soda, not because you hate them but because you want them to thrive. It is your love for them that prompts you to offer them the care you believe they deserve.
The truth is that it’s not your body that’s toxic; it’s all of the shame, fear, and guilt associated with the belief that somehow we are not good enough just as we are right now. I encourage everyone to aim for optimal health and feeling comfortable in their bodies. However, hating yourself will not get you there, at least not permanently. Self-love and acceptance are what motivates a healthy lifestyle, not shame and guilt. How much more time do you want to spend reading the latest diet book, beating yourself up for not going to the gym, or even contemplating going under the knife? You are the only one who gets to experience living in your body. Why not make it the best experience possible starting right now?
4 Ways to Start Letting Go of Body Shame — RIGHT NOW!
1. Talk to Yourself with Kindness
This can be difficult. I know from personal experience that a crazy, caustic bitch resides inside my mind, and she’s ready to let me have it when even the slightest thing goes wrong. You probably have a similar inner voice, and I beg you not to listen to her, because she is completely insane! Instead focus on the things that are going right and all of the people who love and value you. Work toward making yourself one of them.
2. Clean Out Your Closet
Stop looking at the clothes that you can no longer wear or, even worse, the clothes you do wear as a punishment to remind yourself of your dissatisfaction with your body right now. Buy clothes that are comfortable and make you feel attractive. This is not admitting defeat or that you will never get to your goal weight. I promise you that you’re much more likely to make healthy choices when you are dressed to kill. Frumpy sweats and moo moos will inevitably lead to a Ben and Jerry’s binge.
3. Reevaluate the Company You Keep
For some reason, it has become an acceptable form of social interaction amongst women to discuss hating our bodies, and it is toxic. Stop engaging in conversation with these types of people—immediately! There’s nothing like a skinny friend telling you how much she despises her thighs to send you into a downward spiral of self-loathing. You have better things to do with your time, things that will leave you feeling inspired instead of depressed.
4. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
You were meant to be unique. Of course, there will always be someone who appears to be more attractive, smarter, wealthier, more popular, etc. You are striving to be the best you. The rest is irrelevant.
The Fine Print
For the sake of full disclosure, I have spent many years of my life hating my body. I have always been curious as to what I would have accomplished if I would have directed that energy elsewhere. Reminders that my thighs were too fat and my butt was too big ran on a continuous loop in my mind well into my thirties. I have been on every diet, had countless meltdowns in my closet when my jeans were too tight, and blamed every insecurity on the fact that I couldn’t be a size two.
At times, those same thoughts can creep up on me today. However, they are much more infrequent and with the help of these practices, I am much less likely to believe them.