“I have spent the last few years in therapy trying to heal this and have come a very long way. But I am absolutely still healing.”
Much of my teenage life was spent fad dieting. I was totally-weight obsessed. As a result, my body image was down in the dumps, and my weight defined myself worth.
Even though that was a long time ago, every day is still a battle to keep my body image healthy and positive, because I spent so many (too many!) years hating on my body. It almost became a part of me.
I have spent the last few years in therapy trying to heal this and have come a very long way. But I am absolutely still healing, and I know so many others can relate.
Anxiety around food and body causes a huge amount of mind-body stress, which makes it very hard to heal. Sadly, weight has become a self-worth indicator. This causes us to be incredibly nasty to ourselves, and we ruin our relationship with our bodies in the process.
Ultimately, we’re all imperfect, and sometimes, we eat badly. But it’s not worth stressing about! And we need to learn how to handle this toxic strain of anxiety.
If you want to repair your relationship with food, you have to try to make peace with your weight, and the fact that your body is unique. This, in my opinion, is the starting point.
Strive to be fit, healthy and sexy, with a weight that’s sustainable for you. It’s not realistic to aim for the same weight you were at when you were 15 or 17! Your body is clever, and adapts and responds to different stages – whether that’s puberty, pregnancy, menopause. Accept this, and focus on looking and feeling your best NOW.
Some days I catch myself criticising every body part in the mirror or over-analysing my body’s every nuance on a photo of myself. It can be so tortuous, and being so hyper-critical is dangerous.
I also sometimes catch myself feeling anxious and guilty around food – mainly during travel. My old demons pop up! The minute I am out of my comfort zones – it worsens. However it is 90 per cent better than it used to be.
If you have some form of disordered eating – or body image stuff – it may always be a part of you. But I am passionate about helping people find develop a kinder relationship with their bodies – I have been there myself.
I feel very lucky to have the tools in my box these days to deal with anxious body moments, and maybe some of these strategies will help you, too.
So, the next time you can’t stop thinking about something you ate, take a deep breath and follow these tips:
• Dissolve the negative thought by giving it attention and love. Don’t judge it. Just accept it as opposed to getting angry for having that thought in the first place. You’re allowed to think! And just being aware of these negative thoughts is the first step to turning them around.
• Remind yourself that food is just food. Focus on what really matters in your life.
• Go into a forward fold as soon as you can.
• Think positively. Instead of saying, “I can’t believe I ate that” say “I know my body is strong enough to break down my food. Tomorrow is a new day.”
• Jot down a list of eating or lifestyle adjustments that will help you to feel better about yourself. Whether that’s drinking less alcohol for two weeks, going to yoga more frequently, or committing to consuming less food out of a packet. Think about it!
• Give up the all-or-nothing mentality around food. Strive for balance and moderation, not perfection – it does not exist.
• Write down five things about yourself that you love.
Say these affirmations loud and proud:
“I trust my body.”
“I am good enough.”
“I am balanced.”
“My body can handle imperfect eating”
These things can help you heal in the long term:
• Get more sleep. Sleep deprivation and exhaustion makes everything seem a whole lot worse. Prevent irrational thoughts by heading to bed at a reasonable hour (I suggest lights out by 10pm) and rest for at least eight hours.
• Eat a balanced diet, full of nourishing nutrients. When you eat well, you feel well.
• Write down the parts of your body you feel grateful for. I like to keep this list in the notes app on my phone. I wake up every morning and feel grateful for five body parts.
• Create a plan of action for when the shaming strikes. If you’re not feeling great about yourself, steer clear of mirrors and go into a forward fold right away. To do this, sit on the floor and lean over your body. Breathe deeply and give thanks for your health and the body parts you like. If you can’t think of any, thank your legs for carrying you every day or your heart for beating life into your body. Keep breathing deeply until the feeling passes.
• Let go of the desire to have a perfect body – it does not exist! Instead, choose to live a wholesome, happy and balanced life instead. I was so unhappy when I was at my skinniest.
• Stop comparing yourself to others. My advice? Delete those Instagram and Facebook accounts of ‘models’ who only post airbrushed and Photoshopped shots. Go on a social media detox for a while, if you can. And throw out magazines that make you feel insecure, because guess what? The girl in the magazine doesn’t even look like the girl in the magazine!
• Surrender to what it is. Your body wants your love, so make the decision to stop fighting it. The quicker you accept your body shape as it is, the better it will be able to heal so you can go on to live your best life.
October 25, 20168:58am