I had a dream two nights ago that I was visiting one of my client’s houses for a party and there were tons of people there. I can’t really remember all the details, but I remember my family was at the party too (weird, yes) and then all of a sudden I was standing in the middle of the room filled with people raising my voice to get a point across. It was almost like a mini speech where I began ranting on about body image and how we have to actively work to cultivate it because we live in a diet obsessed world.
I was not backing down, my voice grew louder and louder and I was passionate about it.
As I was journaling yesterday morning, everything came full circle. I’m human just like you. And last week was a rough week with body image. I felt like I was being bombarded with lies that I needed to get fit for my wedding. Ew, I hate even typing that. So when I was journaling, it felt like my desperate prayers for freedom from all the annoying body image noise were slowing being answered.
And then I felt compelled to write, so here I am typing away at 11:40pm on the subway during my commute home from clinical.
Because we live in a world that is not going to make positive body image easy. When I walk around New York City or read magazines or go online, I see that we are constantly told ways to make ourselves look better because we are not enough. I tell clients and I’m telling myself and telling you, that making peace with your body, accepting it and then loving it is a lot of work. It’s an active pursuit, it doesn’t just passively come to you.
And I think that’s where I, and maybe you, can become frustrated. Because why is tolerating and then accepting and then loving your body so damn hard?
You can take a deep breath and step into a whole lot of grace because I know why. Our environment cultivates the exact opposite: dissatisfaction with our bodies and a desire to change it. We are told there is always work to do.
I know two things. That that message is a bunch of bs. And that worrying about my body is a total waste of life and purpose and time. I was created for more than that.
So as I’m ranting on and on to these unidentifiable people at this party in my dream, I began telling them how to develop positive body image – and it was a very active process. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but in real life, when I’m living my day to day life, I know what works for me and what I encourage with my clients too.
Positive affirmations. Write them down. Put them on your lock screen. Say them out loud a trillion times. Repeat, repeat, repeat. When I’m exercising mine is, “I am strong, I am beautiful, I am made in His image.” Others I love include, “You were made for more.” and “It’s about your heart, not about your body.”
Stop body checking. This is hard because mirrors are everywhere. But we body check all the time. Start with becoming aware of when you do body check and then make changes so you can consciously stop doing it. Cover mirrors, don’t work out around mirrors, walk with your head turned away from windows. Whatever you need to do, do it.
Burn your scale and never get on one again. Let your doctor weigh you blindly. I get on the scale backwards and ask for the nurse and doctor not to tell me my weight. I don’t care to know and it means nothing to me. I am not a number. End of story.
Buy clothes that feel good. I know low waisted jeans don’t make me feel good, nor are they flattering for my shape. There are different shapes of clothes because there are different shapes of bodies – all clothes are not supposed to fit all bodies. So buy things that feel and look good and don’t buy things that don’t look and feel good. There’s nothing wrong with your body, you weren’t supposed to wear every shape and size of clothing.
Breathe deeply and feel your stomach rise and fall. Visualize your lungs filling with air, your heart filling with and pumping blood, and your entire body being oxygenated. The body is incredible, take a moment to pause and appreciate it.
Going along with the above, taking 5 minutes to stretch. Moving your body slowly not only fosters mindfulness, but it allows you to practice gentleness. Your body needs to be taken care of, not punished or abused.
If there are moments where I notice a spot of cellulite or curve that I don’t necessarily love or whatever negative thought pops in, I circle back to the positive affirmations and also say out loud, “You are a real woman. This is what your real woman body looks like.”
Having positive body image doesn’t happen in a day, it’s a process with ups and downs. But it does get easier and more second nature and the noise gets quieter.
Because like my gf + boss lady Kylie says, “If you feel like your weight is the most interesting thing about you, you need a freaking hobby.”
I can’t even begin to express how much I appreciate this post! It sums up everything that needs to be said regarding body image. Thank you for sharing!
I am so glad you liked it 🙂 Thanks for reading Katharina!!
Thank YOU for reading!!
I love you. I love you. I love you. If we can only get the rest of society on board, the world would be a much less triggering/toxic place. Keep fighting the good fight!
Keep fighting with me! Thank you for reading!
I agree with the previous comment that the whole world so desperately needs to hear this (maybe you should start shouting it at parties LOL). Knowing your words to be true and standing by them is incredibly difficult when it seems like hardly anyone in my life truly understands their worth and their body’s role in that. Thank you for being a refreshing light again and again for me!!
Thank YOU for reading – maybe I will shout it at parties ha
Thank you for sharing!
Thank YOU for reading
Sara @ Oats & Rows says
I love this post and what YOU are about. Thank you for your message!
Thank YOU for reading!
Holly Watson says
I just wanted to say, Ive been reading your blog for a while now (never commented before) but I so glad I found you! I had a baby 4 months ago and Ive gotten to a point where Im back at my pre-pregnancy weight but I look different, and Im ok with this, which surprises me. Ive been stuck in the comparison trap and working out like crazy and dieting for years!! Finally, Im comfortable with myself and how I look and I give you quite a lot of the credit for this. Ive learned from you that There is a time and place to be in the beats shape of my life and workout every day and eat clean and there is a time in my life (now) to enjoy spending time with my baby and just be in the moment and enjoy it. so THANK YOU for this Blog, I truly find you to be a breath of fresh air and I love it! Youre just right on the money with what you have to say and it resonates with me every time. Just wanted to share 🙂
Oh Holly thank you for reading and for commenting!! Soak up that sweet babe and family of yours!!
Thank you for beautiful words that came at a moment when I most needed to hear them. I was wondering if you would ever write a follow up to this for those who are in larger bodies and have been for a lifetime. For large people like me, making peace with how you look while also trying to be healthier is an almost impossible balance to strike. Any thoughts you share on the subject would be much appreciated!
I would love to write a follow up – it is so so sticky to be in that place, I’ve thought for a while of writing a post about accepting your body but wanting to change it. I’ll write it on my list 🙂
I’m an RD and am in a larger body. It is a tough place to be, but..I keep going back to “God made us all different sizes”. My family’s heritage is German farmers…I was meant to have broad shoulders and big hips. Am I carrying a few extra pounds? Yes. But, does that make me less of a person? No. I eat vegetables, fruit, and exercise for fun and health, but yeah, I’m an obese RD according to my BMI. I just do the best I can to be healthy, happy, and loving. If that means I”m a size 16 or 18, so be it. It doesn’t change my heart or my spirit or my ability to encourage others to have healthy lives too. But, some days are easier to believe this and not get discouraged, that’s for sure!
Thank you Robyn! I love all your posts, but I really loved reading this today. I’m saving it to look back on when I need any reminders.
so glad it resonated Jill 🙂
This is great. I got married this year and I was so worried about gaining weight as I was trying to ditch the diet mentality. To make things worse, I had to take an amazing work trip to India (and I love Indian food!!) just before the wedding. The first days I tried to excercise but I was SO tired. At the end I decided to just take that amazing experience in and eat all the curry and naan bread I could. When I returned back home, I had dropped weight as my wedding dress was big on me. After that, all that month I ate chocolate when I wanted and exercised when I could. People would ask me what I was eating and were so surprised with my diet considering I had to fit into a white dress. I guess at the end of the day you are SO busy that things balance up. Everytime I see my wedding pics I think I look beautiful without dieting and all that crap.
Congrats on your marriage Ale! I LOVE indian food too, you enjoy that naan girl – MY FAV. Life is too rich to hyper focus on our bodies. Soak it up!
Thanks for toet another fantastic, inspiring post!
Amy @ Thoroughly Nourished Life says
Oh lady, do I feel you with this post! Firstly, thank you for being such an incredible voice of wisdom about body love and fostering positive relations with your body image. Secondly, I have been fighting with the same temptations. I am getting married in October next year. I have already bought my wedding dress and some days I get so worried that if I just listen to my intuition and eat and move the way I want to that I won’t fit into it come next year and that I should really be doing some sort of wedding diet/fitness routine. On the other hand, I am a dietitian who practices a weight neutral, non-diet approach, so I feel hypocritical not practicing what I am preaching. Whenever I get the urge to put myself on a strict wedding diet/fitness plan I take a deep breath, remind myself that I look gorgeous in my dress already, and more importantly, my fiance is marrying me for my heart, and mind and personality, not the label on my jeans.
Thank you for your wisdom Robyn.
As I have begun my journey of healing my relationship with myself, I’ve found myself falling into a trap of expecting to improve my body image/ get over my negative body image just by eating dessert or not working out twice a day. i’ve been feeling like a failure for not being able to love my body and feel great all the time- which is exactly how I felt at the lowest of my ED. Thank you for reminding me that this, too, is a process and every day won’t be easy. You are always such a great source of inspiration, motivation, and love. Thank you!
Megan @ A Continual Feast Blog says
Such a good reminder that this is an ACTIVE process. Makes me think of Romans 12:2!