It's tough for most people to imagine tolerating their bodies in this culture, let alone respecting them! By age eight, eighty percent of kids are afraid of getting fat, and by age ten, eighty percent of girls have already dieted! It's no surprise that the American culture is swimming with people who are at war with their bodies, either because they feel they are too fat or because they are afraid of becoming fat.
It might seem that all this fat-phobia would make us a healthier society. Surely people will exercise more and eat more fruits and veggies if they are afraid of getting fat, right? Short answer: nope.
Many people use their body dissatisfaction as a way to try to motivate themselves. "Once I lose 10 pounds, I'll buy clothes that I feel good in," Or, "I'll join the gym when I am more in shape. I'm too fat to go right now." Mindsets like these communicate that our bodies are only worth taking care of they look a certain way. You would never try to force your size 8 foot into a size 6 shoe and then shame yourself because it didn't fit. It is just as unhelpful to try forcing your body to be a size it wasn't genetically meant to be. And, in case you're still wondering, this behavior is NOT improving health outcomes!
Some clients are terrified that, if they allow themselves to be grateful for their bodies as they are, they will no longer be motivated to exercise or eat nourishing foods. For these individuals, nutrition and movement are often so connected to manipulating body size that they fear they will lose all control if they respect their body as it is. This thinking is counterproductive!
Just like you're more likely to invest the time to take care of an expensive car than you would in an old, cheap car, you are also more likely to participate in healthy habits if you believe your body is valuable and worth taking care of. You don't have to love every part of your body to take care of it and meet its basic needs. But respecting that your body has needs and addressing those needs is vital to health, no matter your size. It's okay if you don't feel acceptance toward your body right now. Behavior change often comes before a change in mindset. Beginning to show respect for your body will not only help you care for it but will eventually help you find peace with it.
Where To Start
Check Your Closet
Are you punishing your body for being a bigger size than it once was? Are you choosing only tight, ill-fitting underclothes as a reminder that you "need" to lose weight? Have you refused to buy new clothes because you want to fit into your old jeans/slacks? Please stop. These clothes may make you wish you were a smaller size, but they are reinforcing the belief that your body is not worth taking care of at its current state. It is okay to buy clothes that fit you as you are.
Ditch the Scale
No, we didn't mis-type. You can focus on health without micromanaging your body weight. Clients of all shapes and sizes feel ashamed of their weight, and seeing a triggering number can prompt many people to feel like giving up on their health altogether or jumping on yet another diet, which seldom produces long-term results. Instead of using the scale, focus on other measures of health, such as your energy, stress, and sleep levels.
For more help with respecting your body and with digging into the principles of intuitive eating, click below and apply to work with Sydney!