From a young age, I’ve always hated my body. I remember crying myself to sleep because I was so frustrated with my height. My self-critical voice was telling me I had an ugly, unattractive body. My arms are fat, feet are freakishly small, my face is too round, I need to weigh X amount to be happy, etc... It was nearly impossible to have a grounded sense of self confidence at the time. As a teenager, seven pretzels and a ½ cup of watermelon counted as a meal. Thinking lowly of myself was habitual, and I felt so much shame around it. Eating out with friends was like stepping on eggshells. It became truly part of who I was, and who I still am. My lightbulb moment was around two years ago, as I was coordinating a college event advocating for body positivity. There I was, feeling horrible at how I ate a piece of a graham cracker. Ridiculous, I know. I knew then and there I had to make an effort for my own livelihood.
Recently, I revisited old journals during that time. As a health and wellness advocate, I can’t help but want to inform others on what stood out to me. Here are some simple practices to build off:
Discover what you love to eat.
Practice noticing what you love about certain foods: the texture, color, and emotional sensations. This has made me resilient with stress and binge eating. By associating food with pleasure, I’m less likely to eat something I won’t enjoy. This meditative practice links to what health author Darrin Wiggins writes on intuitive eating. Often, our food habits revolve around control, emotional and weight control. She writes that by intuitively eating, you will start to see yourself in a healthy weight. “You may lose weight,” she says, “but there’s a chance you may stay the same weight you are now. And that’s okay. If you’ve struggled with weight your whole life, this idea is both likely a relief and quite a bit scary.”
Create a visual contract.
I would draw twenty circles on piece of paper. For every day without binge eating or criticizing how I look, I would cross a circle out. I did this for about six months to rewire my brain. Nowadays, when I feel myself breaking into old ways of thinking, I envision those crossed out circles, and become re-inspired instantly to prove to myself that I can keep up with my practice.
Lastly, create your life mantra.
I think of a mantra like a catch phrase. It becomes the way you want to live and you repeat it to yourself every day. Mine is to LIVE GORGEOUSLY. It’s dramatic and cheesy, but it really works for me. Most importantly, through my point of view, by living gorgeously I cannot imagine myself feeling self-conscious and insecure. That part is crucial.
I am a big-picture thinker, so these broad ideas have really helped me over time. I’m not hoping this inspired or changed you, but thank you for reading if you did. Addressing a negative self-image can be overwhelming and painful at times, but one of the better options out there is to share our stories and experiences. Please feel free to reach out to me to share your experiences or if you are looking for some guidance. Everyone is gorgeous, even if our society does all it can to bog us down with mindless commercialism. Everyone deserves to be who they truly are under the blue sky, I know that much is true. I’ll always be fighting for a truly self-accepting culture.
Cited: Intuitive Eating: With A Side Of Mindful Eating: How To Control Your Weight And Stop Allowing Food To Control You (Binge Eating Disorders, Emotional Eating) (How To Eat Less) by Darrin Wiggins