Oh Jesus here we are. A subject that I thought I would never post anything about. Eating and body image. You know. Body image issues. It is often just so black and white that it drives me nuts. Too much subjectivity, prejudiced opinions instead of objective knowledge and intuitive, honest but self-compassionate body-awareness.
The whole discussion about food is often quite a bit to handle because surprisingly few are actually listening to their bodies and what they need. Right now (during quarantine) it seems to be even more prevalent so f**k my fears, let’s start defusing this body issue bomb with a couple of sentences that we often say that worry me.
#1: “I can’t have sugar/wheat/whatever right now, I have weighing day/holiday/date night/whatever coming soon” -> You are not listening to what your body needs because you want to look good for some occasion and you kinda just force it.
#2: “I am on a diet. I am like a whale/fat cow/pig/etc. I hate myself. I absolutely need to lose weight” -> You are not listening to what your body needs because you hate your body which makes you hate a major part of yourself at the same time… 🙁
#3: “I don’t/can’t do carbs/whatever at all, they make me fat” -> You are not listening to what your body needs because you assume something is just causing your “fatness” and eliminating that from your diet is the solution.
#4: “I am only gonna eat a protein bar for dinner, I have had too much food” / #5: “I can’t eat yet, it has only been one hour I ate last time/I ate this and that, I cannot be hungry yet” -> You are not listening to what your body needs but letting your (anxious?) mind control how and when should you eat. If you are hungry, that means your body needs food.
I think many of us can recognize ourselves from these thoughts, including me. But why would these be worrisome sentences? Well.. I didn’t make it through this life without having a fair share of eating- and body image-related struggles myself as well. That makes it unfortunately easier to feel and/or recognize the unhealthy patterns or thoughts when hearing them…
And if you are now thinking “what is she judging, it is easy for her to say, she is small!” – please just swallow that thought, don’t assume you know. Trust me, the point is not to judge at all but share that there are better and healthier thought patterns than those mentioned. 🙂
MAKING PEACE WITH YOUR BODY
My weight has fluctuated about 13kg (28 pounds) between my playing years which is a lot for my size (165 cm, 5’4 feet). Was it healthy and normal fluctuation? No it was not. But it taught me something valuable that I wish to share even if I am also scared to post about this. My worry is that I don’t know how I can compress my complex thoughts efficiently enough and still make the point I wish to make…
Let’s start with one simple wish to tune our minds to hopefully similar wave lengths: I just wish we would have/search more peace with ourselves and sometimes it would be helpful to question the belief system we are now holding towards own bodies, nutrition, and exercise.
Now this situation with quarantine has caused quite many people saying that they are so anxious, scared, getting so stressed or even depressed because they feel like (we often feel worse than we actually are doing in reality when we are stressing) they are getting fatter.
Being afraid that they lose control now when they are home.
Being afraid that they don’t look the same/will look worse after the quarantine. (Is it all about the appearance?)
So. I think now is pretty nice timing to take a serious pondering posture and consider what sports, eating, and our body image represents to us. I have a couple of questions!
Why are you moving? Why are you eating? Why are you worried that for example the good habits you had previously would just disappear now when you are at home? Why is this “freedom” perceived as a threat instead of an opportunity? What truly is going to happen even if you would lose some muscle toneness? Would you respect yourself less? Why? Were you listening to your body previously if it now feels so hard to be “healthy and disciplined”? Are you in control after all? Or is some illusion of how you should look like actually driving you more than your natural wellbeing?
Most importantly, why would you need to have a “better body” and where is all this stress deriving from? We already know that answers to this are connected often to the need or want of feeling worthier in the eyes of others as well as in our own. I would like to suggest another way to approach this and forget the quest of perfect, fat-free but still round buttocks for a minute.
What if we would try to find more peaceful state with and within ourselves?
My personal goal is to find peace and it works for me. It is not the solution for all but it might work for someone else too, hence sharing it.
My peace might not equal six pack abs or a perfect diet plan. It means that I am aiming to find peace with myself – with my body, my eating and exercising habits. Sure it would be nice to have great abs but it is not that valuable goal to me (anymore) – it requires a regimen that would not add value in my life and the outcome is superficial rather than truly caring about my wellbeing.
INTUITIVE EATING & PERFECT BODY
I follow my intuition a lot in eating which is the key for me (article about this is at the end of the post). But it took time to learn to hear it, to be able to let go of my mind telling me something else and really trust that my body knows what it needs.
Intuitive eating and having more peace with the current state, no matter where we are, will help. Then there is no extra stress in eating and our bodies will adjust to what we are doing, naturally.
Think it like as a game: the scoreboard (body) will follow our actions on the court/field but it is unnecessary and useless stress to stress about the scoreboard. That does not get you anywhere quite frankly.
As an example, I might be busy with work when training like a pro and extreme muscle toneness should not be the determining factors of my satisfaction towards my body, my shell. It does not have anything to do with how well I can write my blog or do Sports Capacity Assessment consultations with clients. Sure, health helps me to stay focused and give my best to clients etc. but perfect body? No.
How about in your case? Do you need that perfect body to be more in peace with yourself? If you do, why? What does that body image give you that you would not have without it?
(Little smart ass comment if you let me 😉 : if you someday lose your perfect body, ability to move, if you get sick etc., you might be in trouble. But this prevalent situation with Corona might offer you a chance to learn to find more peace with yourself now, rather than when it’s forced upon you.)
Self-hate is the most destructing hate we have. We need to find ways to let go of that hate and hatred towards our bodies. Easier said than done, I know, I have hated myself enough to tell everyone with a shrill but firm voice that it is does not bring you any good. The peace instead, that is something worth going for.
Little bits at a time.
I also claim that a perfect body does not equal peace because our demands of ourselves, what that perfect body is, are often too much and unsustainable.
The journey towards perfection is teaching us to be disciplined which is good sometimes but it also means often to ignore our bodily signals and that is not the same as following intuition and finding or searching for peace.
Additionally, if we would reach that perfection point – then we would, very likely, just stress about losing that perfect body. Plus it is a struggle to see that body go if it requires quite extreme discipline to keep it which means that it is not a natural state of your body. I would not want any of us to be chained to those illusionary physical states. We are more than the body, we live inside them.
Think about the body you were given when you were born, that is you and it has all of qualities and characteristics designed for you. With freckles, twisted toes, certain blood type, bone structure, muscle type, small ears, whatever it is. It really makes you special and different from anyone else, why to hate something that makes you you?
I don’t mean that you need to be bursting out of love towards every single thing about yourself and wake up every morning singing ballads and giving kisses to your lovely toes but rather understand and appreciate that it is you who live inside this body and you matter.
Therefore, your body and its features matter too. Understand that your body matters, also from other than an aesthetics’ perspective. You do not need to use for example a body fat percentage, the number of the scale etc. as an external, validating factor to your self-worth.
Self-worth actually should come from inside. Do not try to match with a number to feel worthy. It is a NUMBER. It won’t match with you and who you are. Self-worth is not numbers, it is something beyond that. You don’t need to match either with someone else’s body or social media figures, celebrities, their opinions nor you need to look like her or him.
You only need to match and link with yourself. Link your body and mind. So you can really be you. That is the very point of being a human being and an individual.
This is like a little homework… Let’s change this thought/sentence.
“I just want to look like her/him/them/that…”
-> Nope. Look like you instead and appreciate what you are. Say or write this instead and finish with words you associate with yourself:
-> “I just want to feel more and be more like myself, I am ……”
Define what kinds of words you wish you want to express about yourself? What words you wish to be remembered about long after your body is gone…? If you want, hit me up in the social media or drop an email about them to me, I would love to hear your adjectives and words! <3
For example, mine could be joy, carefree, caring, deep, connected, mindful, driven, optimistic and energetic. Then I can take a look at my eating and moving habits and ask myself are they reflecting those words? Am I carefree but also care about myself? Am I energetic? Can I be driven? Do I feel connected and mindful with my eating? Can I have fun and feel joy too? Do I see myself failing or succeeding?
So people. Be careful and intentional with what you tell yourself. The types of words you put in your body can be more important than the types of food.
The greatest takeaway is that you can always create new thinking patterns. If you don’t believe me, watch this clip and you can start believing. Our thoughts are vital. Happy transforming!
Thank you for reading <3
ps. Here is one blog post about intuitive eating if you are interested reading the basic principles of it. https://alissarumsey.com/intuitive-eating/what-is-intuitive-eating/