When I stood on the scales after a year of chronic illness, never could I imagine that I would be 25 kilo’s heavier. Yes, 25 kg! Staring at the scales, I remember all of my confidence just dissipated. I had lost my spunk and instantly went into a funk.
Overcoming body shame is not an easy feat. Every time you look in the mirror or step on the scales, you can be shaken, disheartened and in some moments, start hating your body. We so easily forget that we have an incredible vessel that is guiding us through our life and often all we see is our own perceived inadequacies.
Has this happened to you? Perhaps you’ve hit a stage where you think your body is too big, too small, too fat, too thin, too young or too old. After reflecting on my own circumstances, I have realised that no amount of crash dieting or strict exercise regimes can facilitate sustainable change without a change of mindset. We first have to address how we perceive ourselves, why we feel and behave the way we do, and do the inner work to change how we feel about our outer shell.
Get to the core
So how did you get here, where did this body shame come from? Is it a product of ancestry, society, or some particular wound in your life? Try and get to the core of why you think the way you do about yourself. Once you understand the origin of your beliefs, you can move towards a place of acceptance. Once you accept your body as it is, you will start loving yourself and in turn, build a positive mental framework ready to embark on real physical change. You may even discover that you don’t need to change and that you are happy, just as you are.
Recognise your limitations
In our life, things happen and there are hurdles we have to overcome. Perhaps you are going through menopause and you feel like your body has just broken down, you may be going through a time of grief and loss, or perhaps have a medical condition that affects your ability to metabolise. You may have inherited a specific gene, one which means you will always be a little curvy or thin. Some things you just can’t change. It’s part of a process. Acknowledging your limitations can help you to be kinder to yourself and understand that under the circumstances you are actually doing okay.
When you sit on the toilet and can feel your thighs overtake the seat, try and speak love not hate. Your hater self will criticize you and fill your mind with negative stories. Instead, focus on your many other qualities and look within. When it comes to who you are, you are more than the cellulite sticking to the seat. You are a whole being with many endearing qualities. Speak to yourself like you would your best friend.
Heal from trauma
There are many factors in one’s life that cause a negative body reaction as a result. Mentally working on the experience, event or condition can help you break down the baggage your body may be storing.
Understand your habits
Some people use addiction, in whatever its form, to hide from healing themselves. As you waddle to Maccy D’s to get your Big Mac, think about why you are making that choice. Being aware and understanding your habits can help you address your deeper issues. Understanding this will help guide healthier choices and help restore your body to its natural state.
Our body is ever changing
Remember looking back at your old school photos, a time when you thought you were not good enough only to realise that time was actually when you were in your prime? Fact is our body’s age. They have been carrying us around, breathing, beating and working since we came into the world. Accepting the natural process of aging is an important step. This does not mean giving up on looking after your body but understanding that as we progress down the path our boobs will sag, our hair will grey, our abs will flab and nothing in the body is permanent.
For those suffering body shame, it’s time to try and stop (yes, this can be very hard!). Instead reflect on who you are and remember to be kind to your extraordinary body.
Finally, a shout out to all the people who love us just the way we are. It’s time to see ourselves as others see. It’s time to see the beauty and not the beast.