Love Your Body, Love Yourself

Originally posted April 17, 2020 on the Institute for the Psychology of Eating Coach’s Blog

Does this sound familiar? Trying on clothes, seeing a photo of yourself, or looking in the mirror, and thinking,“I hate my body.” You are not alone. In one survey, 97% of women reported that they have an “I hate my body” moment every day. Think about how much energy we waste agonizing over how we look. Just take a few days and pay attention to all the unkind thoughts about your body you (and other women) think or say out loud, and imagine saying those things to your child or best friend. “I love you, but I’d love you more if you had thinner legs.” “I appreciate our friendship, but I’d like you better if you had a flat belly.” Viewed in this light, it seems ridiculous, but this is how we treat ourselves. It’s no wonder, in this world of social media, and photoshopped ‘ideal’ body images everywhere we turn, that our self worth is often defined by how we look, and a negative body image for most of us is the result.

After completing my certification as an eating psychology coach, I thought I had worked through my body image issues. Until I saw some photographs from a family event, and literally experienced intense pain in the pit of my stomach, feeling disgust, shame, anxiety, horror. That’s right. Instead of feeling excited, reliving the wonderful memories of that day, all I could focus on was my disappointment with how I looked. To the point that I couldn’t sleep, just thinking about those photos. So, back to the drawing board for me, digging deeper to uncover the baggage that led to so much shame about my body. And discovering that what I need in those moments is more love and self-acceptance, because I am lovable and worthy just the way I am.

As it’s been said, “Body confidence doesn’t come from trying to achieve the ‘perfect’ body, it comes from embracing the one you’ve already got.” Definitely easier said than done. It’s been a few years, and I’ve used a variety of strategies to help me embrace my body and feel better about myself: wearing clothes I love, that fit and I feel confident in, and getting rid of those that don’t; spending more time doing things that bring me joy, with people who care about what truly matters; choosing exercise that is fun; getting more comfortable feeling my emotions. And lots and lots of self-compassion. I still have my moments – this is a work in progress. But mostly, I spend a lot less time worrying about my body and what other people think about it, and more time doing what makes me happy. Life is short, time is precious, so I try to spend my time and energy embracing life. And slowly, but surely, getting to a place of self-love.