“Look at these rolls”. “If only I could lose this darn baby fat!” “Ugh, my thighs are so thick!” “At least my FACE is pretty…”
If you have ever found yourself saying any of these things to yourself, you may struggle with loving yourself. You may have seen the cartoon with a woman seeing all her flaws in the mirror while her husband sees a stud like Fabio.
According to www.dosomething.org, approximately 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to some sort of dieting to achieve an ideal body. A photographer friend of mine shared how even models tend to obsess about features that they don’t like about themselves, even when many of them have picture-perfect shapes.
I was absolutely astounded when a woman on my favorite show, Shark Tank, pitched a mirror that actually made you look about 5 pounds lighter. The reason for my shock was not the benefits of having such a mirror, but the fact that this woman described herself as athletic and fit, but “struggled” with body image.
If you are like me and have a teenage daughter, you are probably to hearing her compare her body to that of her friends, usually in a negative light.
Why are women so HARD on themselves?
I even read a memoir recently by Andie Mitchell, a woman who lost 130 pounds, and she described her loose skin after the weight loss as “the fat that once filled the two cascading rolls was gone, and what stayed behind was a double sash of deflated skin…Loose and wrinkled, the skin sagged in the way it would on the body of someone nearing ninety…The skin that hung behind after I’d lost all the weight felt mocking, humiliating”.
This description hit hard for me. After all, I have lost 100 pounds, and my body is a battlefield of stretch marks, loose skin and belly pooch. Which is why I wrote a small piece for Prevention on what did NOT change when I lost 100 pounds.
Even so, I would NEVER talk to myself in this way. It just seems so…rude.
Here is a big difference between me and many other women. I never dieted when I was growing up. I never felt I needed to. While there were days I cried and wished I could die, I rarely turned that anger against my body.
Instead, I turned my anger against a world that dared to bring me down for my physical appearance #selflove… Click To Tweet
My body was what it was. While I was not yet mature enough to realize that I was punishing myself by eating everything my tongue craved, I also was mature enough to not turn against myself.
Perhaps it would have been different if I wasn’t as physically active as I was. I was a track star in elementary school, proud member of the junior high volleyball team, and spent most of my weekends biking and hiking with my family.
Even if I outweighed my classmates by at least 30 pounds, I could outrun the mockers.
Even if the standard uniform didn’t fit me as well as my teammates, I was running the same shuttle runs during practice.
Even if I made sure to cover the stretch marks on my legs, I could bike up any hill we came across.
That doesn’t mean that I am perfectly fine with being less than perfect.
Some days I stare at the fitspo women with 3 kids who dare us to define our excuses, and I sigh.
Some days I wonder if I will ever know what it feels like to truly have a flat stomach.
Some days I envy those who have never had more than a few vanity pounds to lose.
As a former fat girl and health coach, though, I teach my clients that NO ONE can transform their body if they HATE it. I never HATED my body. I disliked it, ignored it, hid it and cried over it.
Some of my coaching clients have a slightly more dangerous approach to their bodies. They don’t HATE their body, nor do they LOVE it. Instead, they ignore it. In some ways, indifference is even more devastating than hate. Maybe they avoid mirrors, photos and bodies of water. It’s not because they don’t like what they see- it’s because they don’t know what they’ll see (and are afraid it may not be what they see in their head).
The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference—Elie Wiesel
What happens when you are indifferent to your body? You become less concerned with feeding it healthy food and exercising. After all, it’s just a means to an end- it gets you from one place to another. It’s like the difference between buying an old used car with rusty paint and a brand-new Cadillac. Both will help you get to your job, but the feeling you get and how you show up in the world is entirely different.
You can see this difference whenever there’s a makeover on TV. A frumpy mom who never gets enough sleep and barely has time to put her dirty hair in a ponytail comes out in a beautiful dress with heels and the efforts of a professional makeup team and hairstylist feeling like a movie star.
What if I told you that you CAN feel like a movie star in your body today, regardless of what size you are?… Click To Tweet
Here are some ways I have found to love my body, as both a fat girl and the slimmer mom I am today.
1. Move your body
It doesn’t matter if you can’t run like an Olympian or haven’t straddled a bike in years. The important thing is to find a way to move your body. Moving your body allows you to appreciate all that you are able to do. No matter what size you are, you can be grateful at the level of ability you have today, while you challenge yourself to step up in to a more active future.
For example, you could get a pedometer or Fitbit and set a new activity goal. In the meanwhile, appreciate how many steps you do today. The vast majority of Americans get less than 5,000 per day. The recommended daily amount is 10,000.
2. Treat yourself
By treating yourself, I don’t mean a chocolate confection. Instead, turn to treats that allow you to pamper yourself. I have friends who make a commitment to get their hair and nails done regularly. Not only do they feel amazing, but they can express their individuality through color and style. My favorite treat is a pedicure, which I get several times a year.
Or, you can also pamper your mind. Did you know that reading a book instead of watching TV can help you reduce weight? That is because it is really hard to munch while reading. Plus, you are experiencing the joy of the story and imaging new possibilities. The same could be said of painting or adult coloring, which can put you into a sort of meditative state (or at least a more relaxed one).
3. Wear the dress
One of the most beautiful dresses I ever wore was also the largest one I wore. It was a lovely dark green velvet floor-length gown that I wore to my junior prom. Incidentally, it was also one week after emergency surgery, and needed to be tailored specifically to fit my bloated post-op belly.
I felt beautiful in this dress, which was probably a size 24.
The moral of this story is pretty does not have a size. And, most sizes now have something pretty you can wear.
If you are punishing yourself by saying you won’t shop for any clothing until you lose weight, it’s time to stop. Every woman should have a dress that makes her feel like Kate Winslet. A dress that makes her feel like she can take on the world and rock any party.
Spend an afternoon finding that special dress for you. Choose a bright, bold color instead of black, find a fit that flatters without hiding, and wear your favorite accessory with it.
Think you don’t have anywhere to wear it? No problem! Wear it to work, at home, or even just for a casual drink with friends. You don’t need a special occasion to feel beautiful.
That is only the beginning, beautiful. For even more support to love yourself today, even when you hate your body, try my FREE 5 day challenge, 5 Days to Body Bliss.
In this free challenge, you work on your mindset, so you can cherish the awesome person you are, both inside and outside.
Need more details? Here is what you learn over the course of 5 days:
Increase confidence, even if you currently have low self-esteem
Eat for energy, without counting a thing
Find fun activity outside of a gym (are gyms EVER fun?)
Stop mindless habits that are sabotaging your results
Explore your intrinsic motivation to keep going even when you don’t want to
If this sounds like a fit for you, click the image below to get started. I will see you in the challenge!