http://www.wbur.org/dearsugar/2018/06/11/trust-your-body-with-hilary-kinavey-dana-sturtevant

I started worrying about my weight by about age ten. I won’t bore you with the details. If you are a woman, you have probably experienced some variation of the body image and eating issues that I had. The anxiety I experienced and coped with through food and weight dynamics lead me to seek therapy in college and afterwards. The relief I found with good help and self-exploration is part of why I chose to become a therapist.

Listening to a recent Dear Sugars podcast (an advice podcast with the writer Cheryl Strayed) on women and weight took me back to my early days of suffering but also inspired me to share with you hope and direction about food and weight struggles. Making peace with your body, trusting your body, and respecting your body is possible. Yes, you can change the relationship you have with your body.

You should listen to the podcast (see the link above), but if you don’t, here are some great ideas that all come from the commentators on the podcast. The concepts below are not mine but I agree wholeheartedly with them.

Truth: the majority of people regain the weight they lose during dieting AND people still aren’t content with their bodies even when they lose the weight. Often when people regain the weight – they never blame the diet plan, they just beat themselves up for not doing it right.

Under eating and over eating is normal. There is no restriction without a back lash eating behavior. Overeating in response to restriction is a normal reaction. It’s a sign of health that your body wants food when its been restricted. Our bodies are smart – they make sure they get what they need. Its so common to enter shame spirals around food– eating cake now while the plan for tomorrow is: “I’ll be good”.

We forget what we want and focus on being wanted. An intuitive eating approach can be helpful, this in part emphasizes self-care and healing. Intuitive eating involves finding the middle path – not “perfect” and not “screw it”. Its hard to trust but our bodies do know what they need; we don’t have to control them. We buy in to believing that we are a better person if we are controlled. We want to know “what are the rules”?

It helps to look at broader definitions of health like: emotional and spiritual well-being and our relationships to others. We can’t be healthy in this larger sense if we are obsessionally focused on our relationship to bodies and weight. The healing work around our bodies is like trauma work – fat acceptance can be part of the path.

A dietician and psychotherapist interviewed on the podcast suggest the following:

1) This is not about trying harder, this is not your fault, this is about trying different.

2) Put weight on the back burner.

3) Turn towards our bodies.

4) Externalize the blame/shame – get pissed off at the stories you were fed about food and your body. A story about your body has been told to you that isn’t true.

5) Work toward weight neutral. Pretend weight would never be a problem. So what would you want to do to take care of yourself if weight wasn’t an issue. Would you buy clothes that truly fit and that felt good? Would you dance more? Would you join a policitcal movement or learn to play the guitar instead of planning out your meals and workouts twice daily?

6) Learn about hunger and learn about appetite – what do I really want? How can I be satisfied? Notice if you like what you are eating.

7) Body respect – notice how your body shows up for you every day.

8) When feeling bad about your body – keep the lense wide. Do nothing and ask yourself what you are projecting on your body. What happened in your day that might trigger harsher feelings about your body?

9) Stop thinking of some foods as good and some as bad.

I’d like to add that you can redefine definitions of beauty. You can seek out images of normal woman in all shapes and sizes who look beautiful and expose yourself to these positive images repeatedly. You can protect yourself from images and environments that sell physical deprivation and frailty as sexy. There are resources out there, body positive movements, etc. that can lead you to peace and acceptance. 

I hope you are open to it. You really can walk in more peace in the very body you have right now. Go ahead. Try it!

Recommended Reading: Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch

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