Does this sound familiar to you about your body image?
Laura truly believes she will be happy once she gets to a certain number on the scale. If she could only change her weight and her looks, everything in her life would be great. She would be happier in her relationship and even like her job more!
Who among us doesn’t believe that, with just a little tweaking, we could be alright — self-actualized and self-helped to “perfection?”
Of course, in our culture, that means changing our size and shape – to smaller, so we can “feel” better in our skin. But, the problem for many of us is that all the diets, books, self-improvement tips, and positive affirmations don’t seem to make us any happier or have better body image. The minute we “change” through weight loss and “fix” one part of ourselves, we usually end up regaining the weight, and another problem rears its head and starts screaming for attention.
When does self-help become self-hell?
What would happen if we simply started by realizing that we are awesome just as we are?
Focusing on the ways our body serves us and how we can serve it helps us to accept – yes, even like – our bodies and stop obsessing about our appearance.
Here is a short quiz to help you find out how well you like your body. With practice, we can improve our opinion of ourselves, which in turn, influences others’ opinions of us much more than we realize.
True or False
- I appreciate that my arms enable me to hold someone I love.
- I wear comfortable clothes that I really like and that feel good on my body, rather than trying to hide or camouflage my body or to follow uncomfortable fashion trends.
- I judge myself as a whole person, not just as a body.
- I do things that let me enjoy my body – dance, take a hot bath, walk, get a massage.
- I notice that many people I admire come in all different shapes and sizes.
- I do things I enjoy and don’t let my weight or shape keep me from it.
- I tell my body at night how much I appreciate what it has allowed me to do throughout the day.
- I exercise to feel good in my body, not to lose weight.
- I think of my body as a source of pleasure.
- I listen to my body and take its needs and wishes into consideration when making decisions.
If you find that at least 6 out of 10 of your answers were false, then it means you have some additional work to do on improving your body image. But don’t worry…you are not alone.
We may find ourselves more satisfied with our bodies and body image if we aim for “lifestyle” mastery, rather than mastery over our body, weight, or appearance.
Another way to describe this lifestyle mastery is called Health at Every Size.
Health at Every Size means:
Focusing on day-to-day nurturing behaviors that support mental and physical wellness. Letting go of the pursuit of weight loss as a goal, so our bodies can settle into their “just right” weight. Developing our unique gifts and potential, expressing ourselves, developing meaningful relationships, learning how to solve problems, establishing goals and contributing to life.
Health at Every Size is weight neutral.
Our bodies and minds can be “healthy” across a wide range of body shapes and weights. This is something that can be hard to understand, and is why I am hosting a free session to help you understand this message.
Dieting can easily obstruct our internal cues, and interfere with our ability to eat “normally.” But what does “normal” eating even mean? Is there a “perfect” way to eat? How does “normal” eating fit in with intuitive eating?
Normal eating means flexible, balanced, and varied eating. Normal eating is not perfect! Normal eating means overeating sometimes and under-eating others; eating exactly what you crave at some meals and missing the mark at others. Normal eating is intuitive, and intuitive eating is NEVER perfect. Normal eating is eating intuitively, and making room for when life gets in the way. Normal eating is eating an early lunch even when you’re not hungry because you know you won’t have another chance until later in the day. If you find yourself trying to be a “perfect” intuitive eater, you’re falling into a diet trap, and there IS another way!
Normal eating is what intuitive eating can bring you. Once you relax your food rules and give yourself unconditional permission to eat ALL foods, food becomes just that… food. That’s when a normal relationship with food can take over!
Check out intuitive eating expert Ellyn Satter’s definition of normal eating:
“Normal eating is going to the table hungry and eating until you are satisfied. It is being able to choose food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it -not just stop eating because you think you should. Normal eating is being able to give some thought to your food selection so you get nutritious food, but not being so wary and restrictive that you miss out on enjoyable food. Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad or bored, or just because it feels good. Normal eating is mostly three meals a day, or four or five, or it can be choosing to munch along the way. It is leaving some cookies on the plate because you know you can have some again tomorrow, or it is eating more now because they taste so wonderful. Normal eating is overeating at times, feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. And it can be under-eating at times and wishing you had more. Normal eating is trusting your body to make up for your mistakes in eating. Normal eating takes up some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important area of your life.
In short, normal eating is flexible. It varies in response to your hunger, your schedule, your proximity to food and your feelings.”
To learn more about “normal eating” and start the process of Intuitive Eating, you can register for my Intuitive Eating Essentials online course to get on the road to learning Make Peace with Food and Your Body Image.
Intuitive Eating Essentials Online course: This is a self-paced program that explores your relationship with food, your dieting history, readiness to integrate intuitive eating into your life, and teaches you how to use your values to make peace with food. This program also offers a bonus module of training for women in Midlife, Menopause and Beyond with special lessons dedicated to how we change as we age and what role nutrition can play. Click here for all the details!
Erica Leon is a Registered Dietitian and practices from a Health at Every Size (HAES®) lens. She is certified as an eating disorder specialist and is passionate about helping women at midlife, menopause and beyond to make peace with food and body image.
Erica is a highly sensitive nutrition therapist who takes the time to learn where you or your family are in the pursuit of health. Respectful of your individual needs and lifestyle, she will provide an honest assessment of whether or not you are a good fit to work together. Click here to schedule a 15-minute Discovery Call with Erica to let us know about your needs, and to see which of our Dietitians is the best fit for you!
Download our Free Intuitive Eating Guide and get off that Diet Roller Coaster for good!