We spend a ton of time in the Nutritional Freedom programs and on social media talking about food. We educate on the basics of good nutrition… And, more importantly, why you can know all of that information and still not implement it. We help you explore your history with dieting. Why you go on them, how they might be failing you, and where to go from here.
The thing is, we probably wouldn’t spend so much time talking about food and our complicated relationship with it if it weren’t for our complicated relationship with our bodies.
I spent over a decade of my life plagued by poor body image, which led me to pursue diet after diet and punish myself with exercise.
And while it may seem superficial to spend so much time focused on bodies and how they look, poor body image causes us to hold ourselves back in very real, very significant ways.
I, for example, didn’t wear tank tops, even in the middle of Texas summer. I thought my body made me undateable. Hell, unlovable. I constantly questioned if I was thin enough to pursue my career of choice. Whenever I’d tell someone what I was studying, I’d wonder if they thought I “looked the part” of a dietitian or not. From my social life to my career, my poor body image cast a dark shadow on everything.
What about you? Think about it. What are you not doing in life because of how you feel about your body?
Are you staying quiet in meetings at work despite having something to say, because you don’t want the attention?
Are you saying no to outings with your friends because you’re worried you won’t be able to control yourself at happy hour, or that the food there won’t fit into the diet you’re on this month?
Are you waiting until you lose X pounds to start dating?
When was the last time you had sex with your partner? (Let alone fully naked or with the lights on.)
If this way of living feels good to you, amazing. But I have a feeling that if that were the case, you probably wouldn’t be reading this… So let’s talk about where body image actually comes from (spoiler alert: it’s not your body) and what you can do about it starting now.
You read that right. Body image has pretty much nothing to do with your body or how it looks. It has everything to do with what and how you think about your body.
I have personal proof of this. You know the body that I hated so much before? Well, that body was actually smaller than the one I’m in today. So what changed? It’s all in the way I think about (and, as a result, care for) this vehicle that takes me through life.
You may have evidence of this too. Have you ever been in a smaller body or been at your current goal weight and still felt insecure? Yep. Your reflection, scale weight, or dress size don’t determine your confidence. Your brain does.
Brooke Castillo, one of my favorite life coaches to learn from, teaches something called The Model. The Model says that circumstances (or the facts of life) exist. Based on those circumstances, our mind creates thoughts. Our thoughts dictate our feelings. We take action based on those feelings. And our actions determine our results.
We don’t necessarily have control over our circumstances, especially not in real time. But we can play an active role in managing our thoughts and emotional reactions to them. Here’s an example of a thought transformation that’s impacted my life:
Don’t get me wrong. I know that little chart looks cute and simple, but simple does not mean easy. Managing your thoughts requires a renewed sense of awareness first and then consistent practice over time. We spend a lot of time in Foundations doing just that.
With that being said, let’s talk about some things you can do right this very minute to help improve or neutralize your body image.
- Audit your social media. Spend some time going through your Instagram feed. If there are accounts that make you feel like you or your body are less than, mute or unfollow them! Replace those accounts with people who inspire you and show you the infinite versions of beauty.
- Get rid of or hide clothes that you don’t feel good in as you are today. If you’re being tortured by a dress that no longer fits, why keep it at the front of your closet? You may choose to put it in a box at the back of your closet or just get rid of it entirely as an act of body acceptance.
- Speaking of… Before you decide (or not) to embark upon the longer-term pursuit of body love, acceptance, or neutrality, think about how you can practice body respect. When you respect something, it’s really hard to treat it poorly. For me, body respect looks like practicing basic hygiene, mostly eating foods that make me feel great physically, and using exercise as a means to connect with my body. What does your definition look like?
We’re big believers in body autonomy here in NF. That means we’re not about telling you what to do with or want for your body. We’re simply here to help you gain clarity around what you want most in life, and how your physical and mental health can play a role in getting you there.
We’d love your feedback on today’s post! How has your body image affected your life? What’s worked for you to neutralize any negative self-talk about your body? We love hearing from you!