I've gained so much weight in the last year that I had to buy a completely new wardrobe. After years of living with an eating disorder, it was weight I needed to gain, but the change was still jarring.
Healing my eating disorder and giving up my orthorexic tendencies has been a process, to say the least. Over the last few years, I've been gradually gaining weight, but I've also been gaining self-acceptance, true health and a loving approach to food and exercise — all things I denied myself for a very long time.
Part of the healing process is physical: eating more foods, not being crazy about what I put in my mouth, embracing intuitive eating, letting go of restriction and rigidity.
But the deeper healing has had nothing to do with food or fitness. Rather, the real transformation came from doing work on my own body image.
I used to have an adverse reaction to the phrase "body-image"; it seemed so un-glamourous, so uncool. I was so much more willing to manipulate my body physically than work on my mindset about my body.
But when I finally realized that without the dogmatic restrictions I was used to imposing, my body would change and I'd finally have to face the idea of working on my body image in order to feel OK — nay, good — about myself and function in the world without negative self-talk debilitating me.
The idea that just changing my perception of the idea of body image would help me feel more comfortable in my body at this new weight didn't even cross my mind. But to my surprise, it has changed my life for the better.
Finally, I am able to see myself with more compassion by focusing on looking for worth beyond my physicality.
Now that I'm not so focused on controlling my weight and body, I have the time and energy to pay attention to other things and approach things as more than just a body. It has made me feel powerful, and I now know that taking care of my mental health is just as important as taking care of my physical health.
Body image work is essential to my self-esteem and to maintaining a mental health level that lets me function at my best.
Here are three ways of thinking that can change how you feel about your body for the better.