Having a hard time dealing with the weight gain in diet recovery, orthorexia recovery, eating disorder recovery, bulimia recovery, anorexia recovery, substance abuse recovery, WHATEVER, all across the board this is the #1 fear and hardest thing to deal with in recovery. I know, I was there..
And people ask me how in the world did I manage to deal with the uncomfortable weight gain and my body changing and how did I deal with it? How did I improve my low self esteem? How did I develop a better body image?
Well... I say this to my clients and I'll say it to you, this is a journey in and of itself ASIDE from the journey of eating and and stoping the exercise compulsions...
it's hard, it takes a lot, and it's hard to say all that I had to do in a post or even in one private coaching session, because there's a lot to it! But I will give a few tips below..
Because, you’re going to continue living, you're at a point where you're not going to go back to restricting, dieting or exercise compensation, as it's no longer an option...
sooo you might as well learn to at least accept your body you're in and where it needs to be along the way. Don’t you agree?
Loving yourself doesn’t make you fat and hating yourself doesn’t make you thin.. So why spend your limited time here hating yourself?
What would happen in your life, if you were to drop the guilt, shaming and degrading thoughts, inner dialogue and behaviors?
- What all would you gain in life?
- What all would you lose?
…I’ll tell you what, you’ll be able to enjoy life guilt free and unapologetically be YOU. You’ll be able to do this without that inner critic holding you back from expressing your self without holding back. And as a result, being more pleasant to be around by your family and friends!
It’s great to have goals for the future, but to think you’ll only be happy if you can get to that goal, is wishful thinking.
…If you can accept, love and nurture yourself at a point where you don’t feel your “best,” you’ll be able to truly appreciate yourself once you get to wherever you want to be and it will be coming from a healthy mindset.
As a former fitness model and bikini competitor, I’ve gotten the supposed “body of my dreams” with everyone around me complimenting and applauding me for it..
Yet, I still of course felt insecure and never good enough.
I got down to a very low body fat % which is unfortunately what is idolized in our modern culture, with 6 pack abs, no fat, no cellulite and no rolls or flab to show.
Yet...I still felt dissatisfied and as if something was missing, as if it STILL wasn't good enough..
Can you relate?
The void that is missing, the love that is not being given, cannot be filled by “losing weight” or getting ripped and lean.
It has to come from within; giving the love to yourself, and living a fulfilling life doing the things you’re most passionate about, helping others, learning, teaching, experiencing, adventuring and surrounding yourself with supportive, inspiring and loving individuals.
In a world that promotes us to doubt ourselves and that we cannot be worthy unless we look a certain way, it’s extremely hard to learn to accept, love and embrace our bodies at a higher but healthy body fat % (which looks different for every body). But it’s doable – with consistent energy put in to working on first accepting ourselves.
Over time, the baby steps add up!
“But Kayla…How can I ever possibly learn to accept and love my body and my self?!”
Well, many things… but here’s 8:
You are not your thoughts, you have thoughts. They are not always true and you don’t have to BELIEVE every thought that pops into your mind.
I want to make it clear that we’re not looking to eliminate these thoughts completely, that’s just not reality. Rather, we want to be aware of them as to minimize these thoughts, understanding why they show up and no longer giving them power.
Be mindful of these thoughts and question yourself every time that voice pops up in your head: the one that says you are gross, not good enough, will always be alone, should hide your stomach, are doomed to find love..
How are you supposed to make space for positive thoughts when you are constantly in self-hate mode, and believing it all without question??
No wonder you feel frustrated and struggle with urges to diet and over exercise your body problems away.
I used to think there was a correlation between body shape and confidence.. such as if I finally got lean enough I would be happy. Or if I finally got skinny enough, my ex would finally want me.
Paint a picture of who your future confident self is. This is important because if we can’t visualize what we really want, it’s impossible to achieve it.
Anything that reinforces that “smaller is better,” keeps you trapped in body hate. The number on the scale does not define who you are as a person or your worth, nor does it validate how beautiful you are. All the scale tells you is your relationship with gravity! That's IT. It doesn't tell you anything about your health.
We are more than a number… especially a number that cannot take into consideration all the possible variables that contribute to defining our physiological situation..
BMI cannot measure our muscle mass, our activity level, our level of health, the diversity within the many types of bodies, and things of this nature…
The number also is not the only thing that matters… there’s so much more and fulfilling things to life than defining our value and self worth based off an inaccurate number.
BMI is not an indicator of health either.. a person with a “healthy” BMI can actually be very unhealthy. Whereas as a person with an apparent “unhealthy” BMI can be very healthy.
Look beyond the numbers! Calorie counting, body weight, BMI, macronutrient ratios, etc..
When you go on the internet or go out into society, notice how often you are consciously or subconsciously receiving messages that you’re not good enough. How many times a day are you exposing yourself to things that preach you should be eating certain foods, cutting certain foods, exercising more and that your body is the problem?
The vast amount of these trendy fad diets tend to measure and value moral superiority if you weigh a certain way, or eat a certain way. When following these dogmatic diets, you are bound to obsess over your body and/or food.
We compare our bodies to the #fitspo accounts on Instagram, the profiles on Facebook that can have 3 kids but maintain a six pack, the models on the billboard that have no apparent cellulite, wrinkle or body fat and all look smiley, joyous and loving their life 24/7.. Which a lot of it, there is more to the story which creates a misleading ideal.
We see health guru’s posting militant messages like “sugar is as addictive as cocaine…” “carbs make you fat and sick” or “stop making excuses.”
We have family and friends that talk down upon themselves and share guilt and shameful feelings about themselves and food (i.e. “I look so fat I just need to lose 10 pounds to be sexy… I need to do a detox cleanse!!”).
All of these things make you feel like you are not good enough and flawed. They make you criticize yourself and keep you trapped thinking that there is something wrong with your body, that you need to be ‘fixed’ and that you must be doing something faulty.
I highly suggest to declutter your media exposure and social media feeds. That is, get rid of, de-friend, unfollow and do not engage in anything or anyone that gives you the slightest amount of insecurity, or negative feelings such as shame, guilt, depression, anxiety, unworthiness, unattractiveness, less-than, etc.
Anything that makes you feel like diet and exercise is the only answer. Anything that makes you feel you need to improve your body’s appearance and go against your moral compass of what feels good to you.
These can be anything and anywhere: TV shows, magazines, social media accounts, podcasts, blogs, email subscriptions, books, health and diet “guru’s”, friends that perpetuate this cycle or make you feel bad about yourself or your lifestyle decisions, groups or forums on Facebook, Aps such as chronometer or myfitnesspal, and anything like this.
Anytime that we step outside of our bubble of comfort, (usually familiar misery type comfort), we will be challenged by the fearful thoughts trying to convince us to stay in our miserable rut of negativity and shame. Let’s face it, overcoming body image issues and showing up as our true self in this world means we’re going to step outside of your comfort zone.
It’s better if we are criticized about something that’s not truly us. But if we are criticized from being our true authentic selfs, it hits hard to the core. The inner critic is a biological adaptation of the safety instinct within us. This part of us that wants to stay safe from potential emotional risk; that is, from hurt, failure, criticism, disappointment, or rejection by our “tribe” or peers.
Instead of saying “I feel so unattractive and gross today,” start by acknowledging that snide remark and also saying “My inner critic is telling me that I’m so unattractive and gross today..” Eventually, replace those negative thoughts with more positive thoughts like, “I’m a good enough just as I was made, which deserves to be treated well, loved and respected."
Even if you don’t believe it at first, or it feels uncomfortable, do it. Over time it will become a new positive habit and neurobiological pathway.
Fatphobia — a number of beliefs, attitudes, or ideas that assume that “thin is good” and “fat is bad,” rather than respect and celebrate the reality of body-diversity in our world.
Our culture has caused us to correlate fat with lazy, unlovable, unsexy, unhealthy, not good enough, eats too much, doesn’t take care of oneself etc.
And we wonder why there’s an epidemic of eating disorders, body dysmorphia and a priority to sacrifice our health in order to be thin.. We are afraid of the shameful and degrading stereotypes that we associate with being fat (which now a days “plus size” is just being a healthy BMI of 25..) and the judgments that come with it.
Have you read Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon?
Research shows people at higher weights that what is typically deemed "healthy" on the BMI scale, can be happy and healthy AND thin people can be unhappy and unhealthy.
So it’s wise to stop making assumptions about people based on their appearance!
Of course this doesn’t mean you have to “let go of yourself” and become uncomfortable. Gaining weight after years of restriction IS the healthiest thing you can do for your body, and it's NOT letting yourself go..
That’s the whole point here, is getting to a point where YOU feel your best, your healthiest and to a point that allows you to live with quality, happiness, adventure and freedom.
Like I always say: Find YOUR Balance.
One of the biggest things that holds us back from expressing and stepping into our true authentic selves is our reliance on other people’s approval to feel beautiful, lovable, sexy or just all around good about ourselves.
This is an indication of perfectionism. Your actions, decisions and behaviors are dictated by your desire to perform, please, appear perfect and/or prove yourself.
We are afraid of being judged; this stems from an insecure state. We should be able to unapologetically be ourselves without any fucks given whether someone doesn’t like it or approve of it.
We are not here for other people. We can never please everyone. We cannot control what other people think… So why focus on the ones who won’t ever be on our side, when we could invest our time in the ones who already love and support us?!
Since when did there become so much guilt around putting ourself first? Don’t buy in to the common misconception that self-care is selfish… In order to be able to serve the world or provide love to others you first must give acceptance, love and nurture to yourself.
When your worth takes the backseat to your never-ending to-do list, it feels selfish, lazy and uncomfortable to stop and take time for yourself.
However, you have to realize that you ARE worthy and ARE enough at this very moment.
Are these control issues just a distraction, so you don’t have to deal with the real underlying emotions, traumas, voids, stressors, anxieties, fears, abandonment issues, etc.?
Are these behaviors just the easy way out? — It’s so much easier to hate our body than feel hard feelings or deal with reality.
Some things that can be these triggers are: an unhealthy/unstable demeaning relationship with a partner, an unfulfilling job, avoidance of confrontation to a douche of a boss, mental or physically abusive family members, sexual abuse trauma, bullying or past objections that haunt us..
It’s easier for us to hate ourself than deal with the emotions we’re suppressing.Cutting carbs seems much more reasonable than finally cutting the ties with someone that’s not right for us or confronting past traumas head on… but this will only keep you trapped in a yo-yo of dysfunction and unhappiness until it’s dealt with.
As soon as you are able to make the connection, you’re able to understand that not having a thigh gap or a six pack was not the issue and that dieting or eating cleaner was not the answer. You are able to see the real source of emotional discomfort.
We are all perfectly imperfect… ever heard that? Well, it’s true! You will drive yourself into the ground trying to chase the facade of worldly perfection.
Coming from a fellow retired-worldly-perfectionist, I know how not having what we think is our ideal body type, can come in the way of life’s pleasures in all areas. We think everything will be better if we just have this or that in place, and it’s hard to learn to be okay with the imperfections and highs and lows that are inevitable in life.
Yes, it’s important to be healthy, but when “being healthy” becomes the impeding factor of happiness, enjoyment and pleasure, it’s no longer for simple healthy intentions. It’s instead coming from a place of lack. Being a perfectionist sabotages our happiness in general.
Again, I understand many say they want to lose weight simply because they are wanting to be healthy, but if that were the case they would be able to be comfortable as is. And I get it, I still have my days where the thoughts pop up and I question my aesthetic, but I no longer allow the insecurities to dictate my level of happiness and experience.
Worrying is like stressing about something we cannot change at this very moment, so why do it?
By practicing these new mindsets and thought patterns every day, you are re-wiring your brain to be more familiar with these feelings and you’ll find your actions flow more easily.
It’s time to live for something more. Your priorities must now change if you want change. You must live life past an identity based solely on your aesthetic appearance, numbers on the scale, and fat you pinch between your fingers. It’s time to break this unhealthy neurobiological condition and rewire your unhealthy mindset and behaviors you adopted towards food and your body, back into a healthy relationship.
Let me know what’s helped you overcome body dysmorphia and the self degrading thoughts, behaviors and mindsets via email!
P.S. I’m hosting a free masterclass specifically for people who want to stop feeling obsessed around food and truly heal their metabolism and you’re invited! Click here to sign up.