I used to really hate my body. No matter how much weight I lost, it never felt good enough. In this post I delve into the exact strategies that I learned to stop hating my body, that enabled me to get out of my own way and get on with my life.
How to stop hating your body
The above photo was taken sometime in early 2013. I thought I was fat! Yes, fat.
I was trying to eat “clean” aka paleo.
I thought about food non-stop.
I was bingeing and purging.
I had an exercise addiction.
I was weighing myself a lot.
I often turned down invites out to eat.
Every time I binged, I felt guilty and worried about weight gain, so I purged and hated my body and myself even more.
Quite frankly, I was miserable.
It felt like I was trapped in body jail. My body and mind tormented me.
No matter how much I restricted my food and worked out – my body never looked the way I thought it should.
Thankfully, I can now see that my weight was never a problem. I was never fat.
Even though that’s how it looked and felt in my head every day for almost two decades. That’s what living with an eating disorder can do to your mind.
You don’t see yourself correctly. You forget women are supposed to have hips and curves.
It wasn’t until about three years ago that I realised what my body problem was.
I couldn’t accept myself as I was.
Our perfection and thin-obsessed society certainly don’t make it easy. Well-meaning comments by loved ones didn’t help either.
I also thought if I could just get my weight down to a certain number all of my problems would go away.
The hard truth was, even at my lowest weight I was never happy. Just two more kilograms. Just two more kilograms. I’ve got to get to the magic number.
Eventually, I hit rock bottom. I was physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually exhausted and could not keep living like this. I felt like I was slowly killing myself and wasting my life away.
Something had to change. It didn’t happen overnight. But with a whole lot of digging deep, lots of false starts and lots of help, I somehow came out the other side.
But now…? Now I accept my body the way it is. I feel neutral about my tummy rolls, cellulite, love handles, and rosacea on my face. I never thought I would feel this way about my body.
I now describe myself as happy and liberated! The feeling is so good that I’ve committed my life to help other women find peace with their bodies.
Accepting your body doesn’t happen overnight. If you’ve been hating your body for years (if not decades), it’s going to take a little or a lot of time to heal that relationship.
But it’s possible and worth it because when you accept and appreciate your body, you take better care of it and balanced eating and regular movement stops feeling hard and starts feeling easy. Here’s how I did it:
Three ways I learned to stop hating my body and feel confident and carefree in my own skin.
In no particular order…
1. Be realistic – You can’t go from body hate to body love overnight.
I get asked this question often and the answer is: it didn’t happen overnight, it took a lot of time, energy and effort. It’s not the answer I know women want to hear, after all, we are human and we love a quick fix.
Quick fixes don’t deliver life-long results. We all know that. They mostly deliver weight cycling (loss and gain) and an unhealthy relationship with food.
I invested in professional support.
I tried for years to do it myself by reading books, talking to friends, doing short do-it-yourself courses but nothing worked until I found the right help and support I needed to heal and transform my relationship with my weight and body image.
The good news is, big change is possible and your journey to body acceptance can start right now.
2. Do not compare your body with another woman’s
I call it – Compare and Despair!
“if only I looked like that” used to be a regular part of my vocabulary every time I left the house.
The comparison comes from our need to self-evaluate. How do I measure up to her? The reason why we compare is that we live in a competitive world and we undervalue ourselves.
Look at my big house.
Look at me working on location in the Maldives.
Look at my gorgeous family.
Look at my beach body.
Look at my “perfect” life.
It’s all so fake and materialistic but we all have major #FOMO (Fear of Missing Out!).
We are constantly thinking “how do I measure up?” It’s no wonder our default thinking is to constantly self-evaluate.
You throw a little insecurity into the mix and you have an issue ripe for the picking. I can’t tell you how many arguments with previous partners I’ve had because of my insecurities and comparing my body to another woman’s.
It’s the thief of joy, it’s exhausting and our partners hate it. I say this with the deepest compassion, please stop it, right now.
3. Stop the fat talk
Honestly, how far has berating and hating your body got you?
Maybe it kicked your butt into gear and motivated you for a few days or a few weeks. But if telling yourself you’re fat, ugly, and disgusting was going to get you the body of your dreams, it would have worked by now, right?
Negative self-talk about your body won’t make you healthy, happy or lighter, or help you love your body. Dissing it actually makes it harder to look after yourself properly, consistently.
If you’re out with your girlfriends and the topic of diets and weight keeps coming up, gently suggest you talk about something other than your bodies. There are literally millions of other interesting things you could be discussing, connecting and laughing about with your besties.
The New York Times wrote a great article on Fat Talk and how damaging it is, here>>.
Because you’re more than a body. Remember that.
Choose one of the above actions that you can implement in your life that will move you towards less body hate.
Life’s too short to be at war with your body.
If you need help and support to unshackle yourself from the chains of body hate don’t hesitate to reach out to me here
How to make peace with weight gain? Part 1
A lot of my clients are in the midst of developmental milestones with their physiology. They are Mum’s navigating changes to their post-baby bodies or women going through perimenopause or menopause and they are struggling to make peace with weight gain.
This creates new vulnerabilities for body image distress and eating issues for women.
Young or middle aged, for many, the focus on appearance and youth intensifies as their bodies age and progress through the natural stages that include weight gain, greying hair, and wrinkled skin.
The good news is, there is another way to live. And that way is found when you stop fighting the size your body wants to be and you start working with your body.
If you’re new to the non-diet approach, intuitive eating and body image healing here’s 5 tips to help you make peace with your weight that little bit easier.
This is how you can make peace with your weight?
1. Understand that weight gain for women in their 40’s and 50’s is normal and healthy.
As much as we hate the “middle age spread”, it is thanks to hormonal changes that we go through during peri/menopause.
Essentially we have a drop in oestrogen which causes an increase in central adiposity (stomach fat), insulin sensitivity and a slower metabolism.
Dietitian Jessi Haggerty explains this here>>
“When your ovaries no longer produce oestrogen, the body’s adipose tissue (fat tissue) takes over to produce and regulate oestrogen in the body. An increase in body fat is our bodies’ way of adapting in order to regulate oestrogen production as we age. Since oestrogen depletion is the main cause of many of the negative side effects associated with menopause, increased regulation of this hormone can help mitigate many of these undesirable symptoms”.
Research shows it is natural for women to gain anywhere from three to six (plus) kilograms during menopause no matter how good our diets are.
Instead of obsessing about losing the weight, we can think about it like this – as a moderate weight gain that is associated with longer life. check out the research below:
People who live in a larger body as defined by their Body Max Index (BMI) — tend to live longer than their normal-weight counterparts, according to a new Danish study.
2. Accept that your body will never be perfect (and that perfect doesn’t exist).
The first thing I want to say about this is – Victoria’s Secret models get photoshopped…full stop.
Honestly, how many YEARS have you wasted trying to lose weight and wishing your body looked differently? Where did all that body hate get you?
At some point, you need to decide that your body is okay. You may not like it or love it right now, but it is what it is – your home. Your one and ONLY body.
No amount of hating it is going to change it. No amount of dieting is going to change it long-term or leave you potentially without eating issues and health issues connected to yo-yo’ing weight loss and gain.
However, this does not mean you stop working towards being healthy. This is not about giving up!
What it does mean is you will stop punishing and hating body and yourself for not conforming to your (and societies) unrealistic views of what your body “should” look like. And instead, you begin learning to accept and surrender to the body you inherited.
When you start being kind and respectful towards yourself, eating healthier and moving more does become easier.
I inherited big saggy boobs and a double chin. My sister and I always joke around about having “the family chins”. No matter how thin I get, I always have two or three chins! I’ll never have a nice jawline.
I have more than one stomach roll when I sit down (which is normal) and cellulite all over on my thighs. I spent two decades hating my body, when that time, energy and money could have been put to much better use.
At some point, I realised that hating my body was ruining my life and getting me nowhere. When I finally accepted my natural shape, looking after my body with intuitive eating and regular enjoyable movement became so much easier.
It also gave me back my sanity, mental health, social life, and better relationships.
My body isn’t perfect but it’s healthy and strong.
3. Understand that Set Point Weight Theory is real.
The research on this is clear.
There are genetic, biological, environmental, social and other non-diet related factors that determine a person’s unique ‘set point range’. The weight a person naturally tends to be without restricting food and over exercising.
And that weight will, of course, be different for everyone.
For example, height is mostly determined by genetic factors – some environmental factors may influence it a little, but for the most part, it is what it is.
Some people are shorter than average while others are taller than average. People generally accept that we can’t change our height, it’s just the way we were born.
Think of all of the thousands of different dog breeds that have different body shapes, lifespans and health risks.
Each one has evolved to use food differently for different specialities at surviving; some for staying warm, some for running fast, and some for being strong.
Dogs are meant to be different shapes, sizes and consequently, their weight will be different.
We don’t expect all dogs to weigh the same, but our modern society has brainwashed us into believing all bodies should be the same size – one size fits – thin. Stop and think critically, how realistic is that?
When you look at your great grandmother, grandmother, mother and siblings, what kind of body did or do they have?
For the most part, most people will have similar body shapes and sizes, or similar features such as bigger breasts and rounder tummies.
Also know that the research tells us weight is also influenced by socio-economic factors, trauma, social support or the lack thereof, and freedom from racism, violence, sexism, poverty, weight stigma, and so on.
Perhaps your set point weight range is higher than average, higher than you’d like it to be, or higher than others (your doctor, family, the media, etc.) have said it ‘should’ be…then what?
This is where we can return to the example of height, and remind ourselves of the idea that ‘it is what it is’.
You cannot change your genetic makeup or your natural set point weight range. Therefore, being at peace with your weight involves full acceptance of your body as it is—height, weight, shape, and all!
4. Stay off the scale and focus on healthy behaviours, not weight.
If there was someone in your life that made you feel terrible about yourself 90% of the time, a typical response would be to set your boundaries with that person and stop seeing them.
Therefore, one of your first steps to making peace with your weight, is to recognise if you have a toxic relationship with your scale?
Your weight will continue to matter more than it needs to until you stop getting on the scale. It will also keep you stuck in a cycle of dieting, obsessing about food (which often means you eat more, not less) and hating your body.
Instead, focus on how your clothes fit and feel, and if they are starting to feel a bit tight, the best thing you can do is buy yourself a couple of new pieces of clothing that fit your now body. Check out the op shops for second-hand pieces.
When you feel pretty. You feel confident.
It’s also remarkable how well-fitting clothes can actually make you appear thinner without losing a pound.
When I stopped intentioanlly trying to lose weight and started focusing on being healthy instead, I ended up stabilising my weight, naturally, and easily.
5. Know that everyone (who matters) loves you as you are.
Hey, I get it. This can sound just as cliched as someone saying to a single person, there’s plenty of fish in the sea…
However, when you get to a point in your relationship with your body and you’re at peace with your weight, you really do not care what other people think. You’re doing this for yourself.
In saying that, one of the many things I learnt in my eating and body image recovery, is that people don’t demand a perfect body from you. They love you for you.
Fat, thin, curvy or athletic. Your smile, your warmth, your dedication, your creativity, your humour, your love…you.
In all honesty, it’s what’s on the inside that matters the most. You don’t love your best friend because she’s a “good” weight, you love her for who she is.
Now, none of this will come easy. We live in a thin is best world (apparently). We can’t escape that, but we can become resilient to it.
At the end, when our bodies are changing, it’s time to hold on and not put yourself under additional stress.
Just as in previous changes: puberty, pregnancy, etc., things will settle down.
Any time you’re tempted to start another diet, I suggest to my clients to write a list of the pros and cons to starting another diet.
Think honestly about the way you would need to eat, move and live in order to achieve and maintain your ideal weight?
What would the likely outcome be?
How long would that outcome last for?
Would you be happy and healthy physically, mentally and emotionally?
I’m not against weight loss.
However, if you want to make peace with your weight, your body and food, any weight loss should be an added bonus through changing health behaviours you can sustain. Not by being stuck in a rinse and repeat cycle of dieting, eventual bingeing and body dissatisfaction.
If you feel chronically unhappy with your body and weight, this is very similar to spending your life driving around in your car with the hand brake on. It is physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually draining and damaging.
Have faith that there is another world out there waiting for you on the other side of diets and weight loss obsession.
The more you can be patient, and take the long view, the more you’ll be rewarded in the end. This all takes time. Time for you to learn how to be at ease in your body and to get to know what she can and can’t do (yet).
Nothing stays the same, ever, whether we want it to or not. Especially our bodies.
If you want more help to make peace with food and your weight, and do it right, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.
To the woman refusing to buy clothes until she loses weight. Trust me, I get it. However, squeezing into poorly fitting, uncomfortable, pre-baby clothing does nothing for your confidence and makes you feel horrible about your body every time you get dressed. Waiting on weight loss is delaying what you deserve right now – wearing clothes that you feel confident and comfortable in. No matter your size.
Going up a dress size
I encourage all of my clients to dress for their “right now body” and don’t be afraid to go up a dress size or two to ensure the clothes fit your body well. At the end of the day, it’s just a number and it doesn’t necessarily mean you will stay that number forever.
What’s important is how the clothing looks and makes you FEEL — not what the label says. Tip: Cut the tags out if you must, so you’re not reminded of the size. Also bear in mind that sizing varies dramatically from store to store and even within the same store. So don’t take sizing to heart.
If you are struggling with body changes right now, GO SLOW and know that going up a size doesn’t hurt as much as you think it does. When I struggled with this, I honestly had forgotten about it by the next day. So you can do this and move on.
There is also NO shame in going up a size or two. You will be amazed by the difference in the way you feel and look in jeans and tops that actually fit you properly. Well fitting clothing can hide the bits you’re not as confident with.
How to go up a dress size
Take an honest inventory of the clothes that don’t fit properly and don’t make you feel fantastic, and maybe start giving them away. You don’t need to give your entire wardrobe away.
Make a list of everything you think you need for a new, feel-good-in-my-body wardrobe. It might just be a couple of pairs of pants and a couple of new tops. Allow yourself to experience the self confidence boost that well fitting clothing provides.
This also helps you to accept & honour your body, versus forcing it to potentially, one day, fit into a pair of old jeans.
Real size inspiration
A big part of having body confidence and embracing your more curvaceous physique is to learn how to dress to flatter your body.
Fashion blogging has boomed in recent years, and now there are a plethora of fashion bloggers of all shapes and sizes floating around the Internet. Find a blogger who has a similar body type and size as you, and start following them for tips.
And remember, going up a dress size does NOT mean you have given up on looking after your body. The reverse is true.
It simply means is you are wearing clothes that fit you properly and will best flatter your ‘right now body’.
If this is something that you’re struggling with, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Body hate and negative body image is a global epidemic affecting women (and to lesser degree men). Research shows women have on average 13 negative things to say about themselves each day. With this in mind, I have quickly listed 10 ways I learnt how to love my body.
How to love my body
The quest for the “ideal” body has become normal for many women. The cost of this social issue is it continues to churn out generations of women who believe they are not good enough, unless they look like the impossibly “thin ideal:.
Overcoming body hate and negative body image is a huge part of what I do, because this is where it all often starts.
Dissatisfied with your body or weight – start dieting – diet fails – leads to binge eating – more body hate/guilt and the cycle continues.
I teach women how to reclaim their bodies and offer ways to help women love or the very least accept their bodies.
How to love my body 10 ways:
1. Affirm that your body is acceptable just the way it is.
2. Think of your body as a tool. Create an inventory of all the things you can do with it.
3. Walk with your head high with pride and confidence in yourself as a person, not a size.
4. Create a list of people you admire who have contributed to your life, your community, or the world. Was their appearance important to their success and accomplishments?
5. Don’t let your size keep you from doing things you enjoy.
6. Replace the time you spend criticizing your appearance with more positive, satisfying pursuits.
7. Let your inner beauty and individuality shine.
8. Think back to a time in your life when you liked and enjoyed your body. Get in touch with those feelings now.
9. Be your body’s ally and advocate, not its enemy.
10. Beauty is not just skin-deep. It is a reflection of your whole self. Love and enjoy the person inside.
If you’ve been saying negative things about yourself and your body, it can take quite some time and commitment to turn that habit around, but it’s a practice worth committing to. You don’t have to go through it alone. Asking for the support you need is a gift that you get to give yourself. If you need some guidance and support with overcoming body image issues with someone that has walked in your shoes, I can help you.