Dealing with body image issues
As I write this, I’ve just finished eating a delicious low carb / keto pizza (Easy pizza base recipe here) and am thinking about my weekend menu. Yes, I can pretty safely say I’m obsessed with food – however – the disordered relationship I once had with food, has turned into a glorious love affair that I celebrate every day.
My journey has not just been one of learning to cook and mastering my menu to achieve my goals, but mastering my mind. Battling with anorexia for a number of years (at my lowest weight I was just 42 kilos), blowing up to a very heavy weight again and the constant yo-yo dieting over the last 25 years, has really taken it’s toll not just on my body, but on my emotions and my mind, hence I felt it was time to tackle this topic.
I’ve literally just been talking with my partner Pete. It’s nice to have a friend like Pete that I can throw ideas around with, as he mirrors back to me my thoughts, essentially enabling me to find my own answers. Do you have an accountability buddy you can chat with? If not, it’s worth finding someone you can trust. Friend, family, counsellor, coach, neighbour, pastor: whatever works for you. They don’t need to give you the answers, they just need to give you the space to vent. When I was living by myself I actually used to vent to Ted, my old, pretty rough looking teddy bear, who still lives with me today. He listened without judgement and gave me space to work stuff out. May sound a little crazy, but giving myself the space to do this was hugely therapeutic.
Even though I’ve lost over 40 kilos in weight, I’ve really struggled and still struggle with body image challenges, however I’ve developed some great tools to help deal with this. (I’ve shared them below, so keep reading!) As I’m on camera all the time either in photos or filming, not only do you guys have my face in your news feeds, but I have to face myself every day, and there are days where I simply don’t like what I see.
Sound familiar? It’s tough right?
I’m human. I am constantly ‘critiquing’ myself, and while I most often use this critiquing to positively modify my habits and behaviours, work on making my shows better, faster, clearer or looking at my health, it’s only human to lean towards the negative side of critiquing – especially if I’m a little tired or burnt out. Previously that ‘pity party’ would have lead to comfort eating and that – as we all know – solves nothing. FYI: there’s science behind WHY we do that. If you haven’t read my article on cravings, it’s well worth taking a look! Also, here’s an article about how to deal with stress eating.
I read in an online article that ‘approximately 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies, and resort to dieting purely to achieve their ideal body shape.’ They diet because of that: not because they want to have better health, feel stronger or fitter. They do it so they can look better and feel more ‘acceptable’. WOW. So it turns out that when it comes to body image issues, we most certainly are not alone, in fact if you get 10 women together in a room, only 1 will be truly happy with the way she looks and the body she has.
Something has got to change
I’m not going to sit here and blame the media for unrealistic portrayals of women, especially as only 1% of the population will ever naturally look like what we see in magazines, in advertising, on billboards etc.
And while the fact that 9 out of 10 women hate the way they look breaks my heart (as I truly want everyone to feel fabulous in their own skin), WE can actually do something about this, by leading the charge and being the example. And no, dieting is not actually the answer. Now this may seem a little funny, considering most of the people on my mailing list or reading articles on my website are here for tips and tricks when it comes to weight loss. Bare with me on this……
When I was having my recent minor ‘pity party’ after reviewing my own video content and basically pulling myself to pieces, Pete quite rightly said ‘Nobody is looking at you and thinking about the size you are. When they’re interacting with you, they’re doing so because they like you.’
A timely reminder that the key to tackling body image issues is to start right there. Liking yourself. A challenging activity for most people and I’m not saying you have to love ALL of you. Just start with something simple.
What are 3 things you like about YOU? Take some time to think about this. Use this as a daily practice. Do it with your kids. It’s so simple and yet so effective in flipping the switch from ‘pity party’ back to taking control of your health and your life.
If you can consciously turn your thoughts away from negativity and self hatred, which can be a trigger when it comes to self sabotage and comfort / emotional eating, and choose to love yourself, just as you are right now and celebrate your amazingness, the outcome of this mindset naturally leads you into you honouring your body, filling it with amazing whole foods and choosing to move, both of which leads to optimal wellness…….! And in my opinion, being in a state of optimal wellness is a better feeling than constantly struggling to lose weight to be acceptable. Your weight does not equal your worth. The bonus is that if you’re in a state of wellness, you give your body permission, space and the tools for it to lose the extra pounds, and it will find it’s way to your perfect weight naturally.
I love that I’m a wonderful work in progress. I consciously choose every day to eat food that gives me vitality, energy and tastes great. I love that I can run up a flight of stairs easily. I love that I can go out for a huge long walk, which always turns into some sort of adventure, discovering new things to see in my environment.
My chat with Pete this week was great as it was a reminder to like me first, and the rest comes as a result, and I really wanted to share these personal moments from my life, with you.
SO, here’s some tips from me on how to overcome those niggly body issue traps and reframe your mindset to one of positivity. Read it, try it, share it. In my experience, positive mindsets, lead to positive action and give you the energy and commitment to consciously take the lead towards the positive outcomes you really desire. It’s a choice and it all comes down to you deciding to do it.
In the same way that most people who struggle with negative thoughts or the effects of stress and depression understand the ‘triggers’ that send them into a downward spiral, you can consciously activate positive triggers to send yourself back up.
Have you ever seen a child fall over and cry? The parent will usually pick them up and redirect the focus to ‘the beautiful butterfly over there….!’ You may have seen it or experienced it as a parent yourself. How this works is that the brain can only process a certain amount of data at any one time. Re-direct the focus of that crying child and the tears stop. So does the pain. Joy Triggers work in exactly the same way. If you find a way to re-direct your own mindset to one of joy, fun, or celebrating your amazingness, the other stuff and the negative self talk starts to fall away. I’ve done it and you can too.
This has been proven scientifically and I’ve used this simple idea to help many people that I’ve worked with over the years and I’ve even spoken about this on television! It’s a simple and achievable concept and as Abraham Lincoln said, “Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” Mic drop.
Here’s some action you can take right now.
WOKE: Become more aware of recurring patterns of behaviour that contribute to you feeling flat, less than fabulous and emotionally eating. Pull yourself up for every time you look in the mirror and berate yourself. Is everyone else treating you as badly as you’re treating you? No. And if they are, they do not deserve to be in your life. It’s a total waste of your pretty.
QUESTION: Become an observer of your own life and question if those recurring patterns make you feel good?
- Question WHY you just ate that piece of cake, even if you weren’t hungry.
- Question WHY you are so hard on yourself when everyone around you thinks you’re amazing.
- Question if that little voice inside you, berating you, is yours or the voice of other influences from different parts of your life. If it is, you may need to consider working with a coach, mentor or counsellor to talk you through this. Your challenges with body image may have come from thrown away comments from kids at school, bullies, or your own comparison of yourself to others which have locked themselves away in your subconscious, become your truth, and turned into an everyday habit. Let me tell you, they are not truth. They are self sabotaging, self limiting beliefs that are stealing all the fun out of your life!!! Time to pack them in a suitcase and send them on a one way ticket to Loser Town. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
KNOW: Know that these patterns are changeable. Through your awareness of them and understanding that you always have choice, know that you have personal power to change these patterns.
WRITE: Spend some time brainstorming all the things you can think of that make you happy. These can be as big as a rainbow or as close as a hug. Write your list of ANYTHING that, as you recall it, instantly makes you smile. This can be anything from your childhood, your past, your present or something you aspire to try in your future. FYI: My ‘go to’ is usually funny cat videos. I’m not even kidding. Just one of those and I’m back in a positive headspace again. That’s a Joy Trigger being activated right there.
Where I’m going with all this is that I want you to know that Body Image issues actually have nothing to do with weight. Having been both 110 kilos and 42 kilos, I speak from experience here. Body positivity has much more to do with how you care for, respect and connect with your body’s needs while cultivating gratitude for what it can do, or what it can allow you to do once you’re in that mindset. All the rest falls into place.
Need some Joy Trigger ideas? Here’s a few from my list. Take them and be fabulous.
- SING It pumps more oxygen into your body and makes you feel good
- Smile at a stranger
- Do something that excites you
- Put on your favourite music and DANCE
- Smile. Even if you don’t feel like it. It will stimulate the happiness part of your brain.
- Watch funny cat videos
- Try a new food
- Show some form of kindness to everyone you encounter
- Create a garden and grow vegetables
- Get rid of 20 things you never use
- Keep a gratitude diary and every day write down 7 things your are grateful for
- Put on a false mustache
- Sit quietly and focus on your breath. How much more can you hear?
- Drink your tea or coffee outside and listen to the birds
- Join a networking group
- Remember that nothing is permanent. If it’s bad, it will pass.
- Draw yourself as a cartoon
- Choose an unusual word and drop it into every day conversation, such as ‘crank shaft’
- Write a love poem and read it to yourself
- Play hopscotch
- Turn off the TV and listen to your favourite music
- If you have children, dress up with them
- Read your favourite book from your childhood
- Switch off the lights and have a bubble bath by candle light
- Look at pictures of animals in people clothes
- Say this 20 times: rubber baby buggy bumper. Get your friends to do it
- Swing on a swing
- Run around your house with no clothes on
- Create a goal for each month and take daily steps to get there
- Hide $5 in your partners jacket pocket
- Walk along the beach and BREATHE
- Clean your desk or make origami flowers for it
- Watch the sunrise with a friend
- Floss (it feels so good)
- Buy yourself some flowers
- Visit a pet store or the SPCA. You’ll love it as much as the animals will
- Dress up – even if you have nowhere to go to
- Write all the words you can think of starting with the letter P
- Play a game with a child
- Watch dogs at the beach running free. It’s beautiful!
- Treat yourself to a new haircut or colour. Or try on a wig
- Give a human name to inanimate objects and introduce them
- Write a to-do list and tick things off!
- Enjoy a really good piece of cheese. Savour each mouthful
- Say this 20 times: Red Lorry Yellow Lorry
- Watch a cartoon with a child. Or by yourself
- Paint your nails or paint someone else’s
- Do 20 star jumps in the middle of the supermarket
- Visit a retirement home and either sing, read or take them flowers from your garden
- Lie on the grass and look at the stars
- Drink a BIG glass of cold water
- Learn a new language
- Dream. Spend time just daydreaming
- Have an afternoon nap somewhere warm
- Make a green smoothie
- Paint a picture or make a craft
- Have a happy hour for YOU!
- Talk in the style of Yoda you could
- Write down the 5 funniest things from your childhood
- Take a ‘thankyou’ walk and say ‘thankyou’ with every step
- Place a Gnome in your friends garden. See how long it takes for them to find it
- Change the sheets on your bed
- Choose to spend your time around positive people
- Learn to climb trees
- Help people who have never helped you and can’t
- Say this: I AM ENOUGH
- Have a cup of green tea
- Fly a kite (consider making one first)
- Say NO to projects you don’t care about. It actually feels great
- Try and pronounce the longest place name in the world
- Learn to poach eggs (I’m still trying)