Tips for Coping with a Bad Body Image Day

never give up

So, since I’ve been struggling this week and my last post was on the heavier side, I’ve decided to follow up the struggle with some positivity. Just because it isn’t always easy to love your body, doesn’t mean you have to listen to and be defeated by the lies your mind is telling you. You can choose to move past it one self-loving step at a time. Below are some tips and strategies that help me personally when I have days and weeks where I have trouble accepting my body. Hopefully, some of them will help you too!

1. Pray.

If you don’t believe in God, you can swap this one out for meditating, but for me personally I need to hear God when I’m being self-critical. Being in God’s presence and remembering how passionately He loves me is the single most healing thing that I can do for myself. Praying and worshiping puts my mind on the spiritual so that I don’t have time to worry about the physical. God knows how to speak peace to my mind so that I remember that my physical body is actually the most insignificant part of me and has nothing to do with who I actually am.

2. Stay off of Social Media (Especially Instagram).

Do it. Just delete the app for the day or however long you need to feel ok again about YOU. Social Media is wonderful and it has even been a part of my healing process because I follow some really incredible body-positive women on there. Whenever I have a hard day, I can go to their pages or stories and read about how they are fighting that day and it is SO empowering to feel like you aren’t alone in the fight. HOWEVER, there comes a time when even my body-positive heroes start to make me feel guilty about my own self. For example, when they worked out that day and I didn’t or they chose fruit when I choose Oreo’s, it can get in my head and make me feel bad. THAT’S when you need to get out, take a break, and remember that you have your own story and that it’s just as valid as theirs.

3. Talk to a friend or someone you trust.

If I’m going through it with negative body and food thoughts, I always try to tell at least one person that it’s happening. I don’t tell them because I think they can make it stop, but because it’s good to have someone on my side when it’s happening. You don’t have to feel your feelings in a bubble. Let someone in to support you, and it will remind you that people don’t love you for your body, or because you have the perfect diet and exercise regimen. They love you because you are you.

4. Reframe your mind before you even think about exercise.

Working out makes me feel amazing. Most of the time, a good sweat sesh gives me confidence about my body and about what I can do. But, on days when I’m feeling gross, going to the gym can lead to obsessive thoughts. Thoughts like “she’s fitter than me” and “I need to burn off that junk I ate” and “I have to burn off this fat so I have abs” can quickly become overwhelming and make me feel inadequate. So, before you sweat it out, remember your reasons for actually doing it. If you are in there for a look, comparing yourself to people, letting burning off food be your motivation, or are forcing yourself to do it out of anxiety, it’s time to adjust your thinking. Replace those thoughts with something like “I’m here to focus on me and my goals” or “I’m in here to get stronger” or “This lifestyle is important to me because it allows me to take care of my body, not abuse it”. If you cannot mentally handle that, it may even be better to skip the exercise for the time being and remember that even a spontaneous rest day is not the end of the world. It’s whatever works for you.

5. Wear a positive affirmation, and/or your favorite outfit.

I wear my positive affirmation almost every day. It’s my necklace that says “Strong is Beautiful”. Some people don’t’ like this quote because it implies physical strength, but to me it means more than that. I’m strong for choosing to love myself every day. I’m strong for doing this whole life thing. I’m strong for simply having the courage to be myself and that is beautiful. Some people have bracelets, some have necklaces, but it’s nice to have a daily reminder on you at all times to embrace yourself and the good you bring to the world. So find one that empowers you! Lastly, put on your absolute favorite outfit. The one you KNOW you rock and feel great in, and go rock it!

I hope one or more of those were helpful for you guys. Feel free to comment and let me know your favorites or any that you would add to the list that I didn’t touch on!

Not-So-Free

stars

Why is it still so hard? I should be over it. I put my body on trial, found it guilty, and punished it without a chance for appeal, but that seems like such a long time ago now. So, I should be over it, right? But I’m not. I don’t deprive myself of food anymore. I don’t run for hours every day to be skinny. I don’t try to “burn off” calories like it’s some heroic thing. I don’t track, count, or weigh what’s on my plate. And I have absolutely no idea how many pounds encompass my breathing soul. But, I’m still not the care – free girl that I was before I took my body before the judge in an autonomous feud.

My personal struggle with body image is different from many other stories I’ve heard in that it came on so suddenly. I didn’t have negative thoughts or feelings about my body until I did. Growing up, I was always active and health-conscious but I never doubted that my body was a good one or that all food was acceptable to eat. So, when I realized how hard I fell into the lies of diet culture and body negativity, I was shocked that it happened to me. When I got over the shock, I clawed my way out. Or, almost out.

Nowadays I’m free, but not so free. I can’t listen to people talk about “low-carb” this and “100 calories that”. It makes me too uncomfortable. So many of my friends and others around me glorify their diets like it’s gonna be the answer to all their troubles. So, every single time some piece of diet talk intrudes into the conversation, I have to repeat over and over to myself something along the lines of “It’s okay, that’s not real. You don’t have to do that to be healthy” or “No food is bad, you are not a bad person for eating that”. While I’m busy reassuring myself, people around me continue with the “healthy” this and “unhealthy” that. And I feel like if I don’t hedge against those words, then I’ll somehow fall victim to them and end up back in the prison of restriction. Before, those words wouldn’t have fazed me. Now, It feels like I’m always one step away from obsessing again, even though I’ve taken so many steps towards freedom and flexibility in my life.

Besides guarding myself against negative food thoughts, there are reflections to impress. Some days I wake up and I don’t want to look at myself in the mirror because I know I won’t like what I see. But I look anyway. I look because I have to know. I have to know how much my stomach sticks out and how wide my hips are and how puffy my arms are getting. Most of the time I can accept what I see and move on. But on my “not-so-free” days I just get angry instead. Why can’t my stomach be flat? Why can’t my hips be narrow? How come I have sausage arms? Aren’t I doing everything “right”? And I am angry that I feel like that when I KNOW how ridiculous I’m being.

So, I’m fine. I don’t have a real problem anymore. I don’t act on those negative feelings, but they are still there reminding me of what I put myself through. The wrongful accusation and the punishment that followed… Maybe you never fully come back from that. Maybe you’ll always have to live in the in-between. Between loving and hating. Between prison and freedom.

I hope I’m wrong. Maybe it’s just part of the process and it doesn’t last forever. I know this isn’t my usual cheerful, optimistic, empowering post. But sometimes it’s good to put the heavier stuff out there so people know they aren’t the only ones who feel that way. If anyone out there can relate to this, I just encourage you to be open about it with people you trust. Talk about it, ask for prayer, sit down and listen to God tell you how much He loves you. It helps. ❤