Finally! The third installment of The Weight Series is here! I figured it was fitting to post this today because this week is National Eating Disorder Week. What an incredible struggle this is for so many people out there. Let’s do all we can to bring awareness to these debilitating conditions. Like me, you don’t have to have a diagnosable ED to need help. Disordered eating and disordered body-image is hugely common in our modern day, and we could all use some encouragement to embrace better thoughts about who we are and what we are here for.
To start off, let’s revisit that little word that began this whole discussion… RESOLUTIONS.
Did you resolve anything this year? How is that going? Did you do a Whole 30, 21 day cleanse, swear off coffee and bread for life? Is this the year that you’ll finally hit your goal weight, get to a size 12, 8, 4, 0 … ?
I honestly can’t tell you how liberating it is to be at the closing of February and NOT be abusing myself for (yet again) not reaching my goals, eating too much chocolate, enjoying a cocktail or two with my husband, and occasionally missing a workout due to sleeping in. I’m not currently failing at a weight goal, a food goal, or a workout goal… because I didn’t MAKE ANY. Please understand that I’m not making an argument for complacency or some sort of hipster-like rejection of the health and fitness culture. All I wish to communicate is that my life has remained just as full and enjoyable without the mental, emotional, and physical restrictions of body-related expectations and restrictions. I would argue that it’s immensely more enjoyable since I’m not walking around chastising myself for being a big, fat failure.
How did I get here?
Well, I’m not totally sure where “here” is because this journey is one without a destination. I have not “arrived” as they say and I seriously doubt that anyone arrives completely at self-love or acceptance with absolutely no need or desire for improvement on some level. Self-improvement is human nature, it is written into our DNA. Just look at the basic premise of evolution. Generations of species improve upon their genetics in order to survive and thrive in their environments. I suppose you could classify that as a very basic form of the drive for improving upon what already exists. Even beyond biology it’s easy to see that our need for improvement extends into all areas of life whether personal or societal. Things like spiritual growth, business expansion, technological advances, and medical discoveries are all indicative of our desire for more and better everything.
So when I talk about letting go of resolutions and the incessant need to control reality, I’m not advocating a release of goal-setting or personal growth. My drive to self-improve didn’t “go away”, it just shifted in its focus. I realized that I no longer wanted to be subject to the unrealistic and crippling expectations that I held over my body and decided instead to pay attention to the health of my mindset.
How do you change your mindset? Let me be frank, it’s not easy nor quick. I cried more times than could be counted. My relationships went through hardship. I had a period of months where my anxiety got so bad that I couldn’t fall sleep at night. So many times, it felt like this burden was impossible to bear. It was hard and it takes time. There is no “5-steps to success” here. Finding a way down this path is a matter of committing to any and all possible ways to pull our hearts and minds out of deeply ingrained and destructive thought patterns. Here are some (but certainly not all) of the ways to assist in that pursuit.
- Get counseling.
- Unfollow “fitspirational” instagram accounts and Facebook pages.
- Stop journalling food and logging workouts. Maybe not forever, but just until you are in a mental space to use it as a tool for health and not obsession.
- Read tons of body-positive material online and in print.
- Get rid of “health and fitness” podcasts and subscribe to world-changing, human-celebrating, body-loving channels. Addionally, listen to podcasts that highlight extraordinary people, world events, and spiritual growth.
Like I said, these are just some practical suggestions for getting started in shifting the mindset around dieting, food obsession, comparison, body-image, etc. If you look below, you can see some of the resources that I use during my journey.
In addition to filling my life with positive messages I also had to make a ton of internal changes…
- I practice telling myself nice things and challenging destructive thoughts.
- I stop judging my food choices as “good” or “bad”.
- I stop judging OTHER women for how big/skinny/pretty/whatever they are.
- I accept compliments wholeheartedly.
- I share my story with the people closest to me. (and now with you).
I hope that this series has empowered someone to seek another way of living and thinking. We only get one life and we are meant to do more with these beautiful bodies than spend our time trying to change them.
I love my body and my life!
Mind Body Musings, Maddy Moon
Good Life Project, Jonathan Fields
Rich Roll Podcast, Rich Roll
Radio Lab, NPR
Katy Says, Katy Bowman
JillFit Jill Coleman
Eat, Lift, Be Happy Neghar Fonooni
Live More, Weigh Less Sarah Jenks
Girls Gone Strong Molly Galbraith
How to Not Eat Cake Isabel Foxen Duke
The Institute for the Psychology of Eating Marc David
Yoga and Body Image Melanie Klein
I am Erin Brown Erin Brown
Body Image Movement Taryn Brumfitt
Make sure to share this on your favorite social media site! Let’s get the word out!