Ever had one of those days where you wake up, look in the mirror, and get a sinking feeling because you don't like what you see? You try to ignore it at first, but before you know it, it's affecting your whole day. You get dressed, hoping a cute outfit will boost your confidence. But no matter what you put on, you just don't feel great in your skin. You spend the day feeling like people are staring at you, and at the end of the day you feeling defeated and ready to crawl under the covers with one too many unhealthy snacks.
Those days are no fun. Not only do they have a negative affect on your mental health, but they lead to unhealthy behaviors around food like emotional eating or restricting. I get it, because I’ve been there. For years I struggled with a warped body image. I would base my self-worth on whether or not I'd gone to the gym that day, or how much I'd eaten. Eventually all the stress led me to binge eating, which only made my body image much worse.
Now that I’m on the other side of it all, I’ve learned a lot about myself in my journey to body love and food freedom. These days I give myself unconditional permission to eat whatever I want, and I have more self-compassion than I ever felt possible.
But every now and then, I’ll still find myself feeling just a tad bad about myself. When this happens, I call to mind four key things—and they help tremendously. Here's what you should keep in mind the next time you're having a bad body image day.
You are not your body.
We’re exposed to a lot of messages about improving our bodies and improving our lives. Here’s the truth: Having a different body doesn’t change your life. Your body isn’t a reflection of how well your life is going or how worthy you are. It’s simply the vessel that houses you.
Think of some of the most amazing or inspirational people you know. Does the size or shape of their body change anything about those qualities? Of course not! Always remember that what you have, experience, or feel does not depend on the size of your jeans.
Eat like you love your body.
Even when you're not feeling confident in your skin, you still need to eat. One question I always ask my clients is, “How would you eat if you loved your body?” Lots of people think they can’t love their body or be free around food or they’ll eat nothing but cookie batter all day, which leads them into the binge-repent-repeat cycle. But in reality, if you’re coming from a place of love, you’ll want to nourish your body with healthy foods and indulgences that make you feel better, not worse.
"Fat" is not a feeling.
Saying, “I feel fat!” is always code for something else. "Fat" isn’t a feeling, so get real about what it is that you’re experiencing and why you’re letting your body dictate your emotions. Oftentimes we’re so used to blaming our bodies for everything that it just becomes easier than actually expressing our emotions. Saying, “I’m feeling hurt, lonely, or angry today” is much more vulnerable than, “Ugh, my body is ruining my day today” excuse.
Try getting more in touch with what you’re actually feeling, and slowly you’ll see that your perception of what you look like doesn’t have to dictate how good or bad you have to feel that day.
Your body loves you.
Your body is performing millions of functions right at this very moment in order to keep you alive and thriving. It’s so important to repay some of that love. Even simply putting your hands on your tummy or heart and saying, “I love you, body—thank you,” can be so powerful. Loving your body doesn’t mean that you think you have the best-looking body in the whole world, it simply means that you love it because it’s yours and it’s the one thing keeping you alive on this earth at all times, no matter how you feel about it. That’s some real unconditional love.
Body image is a tricky thing to deal with. It’s tempting to think that we can “solve” our body image problems with the latest crash diet or workout plan, but feeling good about your body is never dependent on outside circumstances—it’s all a matter of choice and perspective. We all have the ability to feel better about our bodies at any given moment. So if those negative body beliefs come sneaking in, always remember that your body loves you and that you have the choice to feel however you want!
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