After receiving a lot of positive feedback from my post on my Fertility Story and my post about Healing My Negative Relationship with Food, I realized that a lot of people share the same struggles as I do.
The diet culture has taught us that we need to be a certain size to be healthy or successful. But the diet industry is a multi-billion dollar industry for a reason:
We are constantly being set up for failure because we are bombarded with images of unrealistic bodies.
And it’s easy to fall into this trap. I did.
I associated my self-worth with my body size.
I associated a number on the scale with my happiness.
I let other people I didn’t even know (like the media) tell me that I was good enough or not good enough based on the way I looked.
This sounds crazy as I’m typing it, but it’s the truth for many, and it’s so sad.
Thus, I wanted to share with you how I am improving my body image each day. It takes hard work and every day is not perfect, but the most important thing is that I am allowing myself to be happy regardless of my weight or my size.
Here’s 5 Ways to Improve Your Body Image
1. Throw out your scale
The best things I ever did was slide that scale under the vanity and never look back. At the beginning of my recovery journey with HA, I weighed myself daily. Then it went to weekly, then bi weekly until it stopped all together.
I knew I had to gain weight in order to get to regain my hormonal health, but seeing that number go up and up still wasn’t easy. I was so used to tying that number in with what kind of mood I would be in that day, how much I would have to exercise and how much I was allowed to eat.
So I got rid of the scale and never turned back.
We shouldn’t let a number define who we are.
We shouldn’t let a number decide if we are going to have fun that day or not.
We shouldn’t let a number decide how we are going to treat ourselves.
And we should never, ever let a number decide if we are successful, smart, beautiful or worthy.
So get rid of that scale and don’t let it run your life. Ultimately, you are the only one that cares about the number anyway.
2. Buy new clothes that actually fit
This one took a while for me to come to terms with. I had defined myself as a size small. I associated a size small with having control over my life.
Well, as you can imagine, as I started to gain weight I also started to grow out of my size small clothes. This was so hard for me.
It’s hard enough finding something to wear each day (just ask Mike ;)) never mind finding something to wear when all of your clothes are super tight.
So one day I decided to donate all of my clothes that didn’t fit anymore. I came to terms with the fact that I wasn’t healthy at my previous size and I didn’t want to go back to that size. I don’t want to go back to that old lifestyle where food and exercise dictated my happiness.
After that, I needed some new clothes! Shopping a size up felt weird but I quickly got over it. I looked for comfortable and flattering clothes, flowy is in and tight is OUT!
Having a whole new wardrobe that actually flattered my figure made me feel so much more confident and significantly decreased the amount of breakdowns I had while getting dressed.
Remember: you are the only one that actually cares about the number on your clothes. You decide how much power that number has. (Hint: it shouldn’t have any).
3. Write a letter of apology to your body
This letter was a lot more emotional than I had anticipated. I forget where I got the idea to do this, but it was an excellent exercise. It opened my eyes to the relationship I was actually having with my body. If it were a person, I don’t think it would have wanted to be my friend. 🙁
I’ve decided to share mine with you so you can see what it looks like. I wrote this almost a year ago:
I love you so much. You are perfect. I am so sorry I have been trying to control you for so long. I should have trusted you from the beginning. You’ve always known what’s best.
I’m sorry I made you overeat to the point of feeling sick.
I’m sorry I starved you for days, weeks, months and even years.
I’m sorry I made you exercise when you didn’t want to, sometimes to the point of exhaustion.
I’m sorry I filled you with alcohol until you were sick.
I’m sorry I smoked cigarettes* and filled you with poisonous substances.
I’m sorry I didn’t let you sleep when you were so tired.
I’m sorry I tried to change you every day.
I hope you can forgive me one day. I am going to try to love you more everyday. You are arguably the most important part of my life. Without you, I would be nothing. I pray that we will have a better relationship one day.
I love you and I promise to be better to you each and every day.
*Note: Yes, to be completely transparent I smoked cigarettes, but it was only for a short time in high school. Sorry Mom 😐
4. Thank your body every day for all the amazing things it does for you
I do this almost daily. When you look in the mirror and see something you don’t like about your body, instead of feeling bad about it, thank this part of your body for what it’s doing for you.
Thank your love handles for creating the hormones you need to support a new life one day.
Thank your thighs for allowing you to walk and bring you places you want to go.
Thank your jiggly arms for allowing you to open jars…
You get the idea 😉
If you journal regularly or practice gratitude this is an excellent addition to those practices.
Start thanking your body every day and your relationship with it will inevitably improve. <3
5. Find your tribe of women who want to learn to love their bodies too
This includes online tribes as well! My favourite thing to do is unfollow everybody who posts their perfectly chiselled abs. (Wow, I sound a bit sick if this is my favourite thing to do :|)
Is this mean? Maybe. But those images trigger me and make me feel bad, so why let them into my life? Even if some of those people are my friends, I ultimately I need to protect myself and my happiness first and foremost.
And then my next favourite thing to do is follow a bunch of women who have the same message as me and who advocate for body self-love. Who don’t post their gym pics with their six packs, or how big their butts are growing.
I surround myself with women who are going to lift me up and make me feel better about myself.
I love connecting with them and it just feels so natural. Don’t discount the connections you make online; they can be just as real as in person and usually they are easier to find!
But if you have girlfriends you know in person who are on the same page as you with body image, reach out to them and create a tribe!!
There is no reason you can’t schedule a weekly call or a girls’ night where you can connect and all support each other. Don’t brush this idea off just yet – talking about your body image issues and realizing you are not alone is incredibly healing. And if nothing else, it can be just an excuse to have some wine with a great group of gals 🙂
If you are still dealing with body image issues, my friend Rini Frey from @ownitbabe has a 5 Day FREE Mini Series to Recovery to help you overcome your struggles with body image, eating and exercising. It is excellent and it’s followed by an optional full course (if you’re interested in a deeper dive) which is LOADED with tons of valuable advice and tips.
I sincerely hope this message helps improve your relationship with your body, or at least makes you start thinking a little differently.