Dr. Liz weighs in on how to Love the Body You’re In.
Hot weather is here…just about! Time to break out the short sleeves and short skirts, and bare those arms and legs. If the thought of “revealing” yourself makes you want to grab a full bodysuit instead of a swimsuit, you are in good company. Dr. Liz weighs in on how to Love the Body You’re In.
Nearly every single woman out there can relate to obsessing over some part of her body that just isn’t good enough! Or several body parts that just don’t measure up…or down! Here’s the insane bottom-line, girls: the world tells us to love ourselves as we are…but prefers us thin! And we know it…no matter how much we tell ourselves to embrace our cellulite or jiggly, wiggly arms; we know what is revered! So now, not only do we hate our body but we hate ourselves for hating our body. We have many products in society that tout, “100% satisfaction guaranteed!” Guess what else is 100% guaranteed? Body dissatisfaction. It’s time to start calling it for what it is. Let’s cease expecting perfection and seek progress; what can my body do; what foods help my body perform better; what can I do to help my body feel better; like regular exercise, sleep, and frequent eating. Tuning in helps you tune out (or at least soften the blow of) the negative messages of society.
5 Tips for Making Peace with your Body
• End Perfection ~ Embrace Progress
Could we look better, eat better, do better? Always! On a continuum, where is my progress today. So far, I’ve had a good nutritious cereal for breakfast that gave me more energy through the morning…or so far, I’ve been on a walk with my neighbor to get myself ready for the day. What is good today? What was good about last week? I had only 2 self-loathing days instead of 7! Last night, I picked off 4 of the 7 pieces of pepperoni of my slice of pizza before I devoured it. Small, little changes in habits lead to more significant outcomes …eventually. Every moment is a new beginning….we never cease to make inroads one decision at a time.
A little boy came home for his first day of kindergarten raving about his teacher, his new friends, playtime, the snack, you name it – he loved it! The next morning his mom went in to wake him up and said, “Tommy, time to get up for school!” And Tommy moaned from underneath the covers, “Again???” We never cease the effort but we call a cease-fire with our bodies. Love the skin you’re in!
It’s a journey – I do my best to love my body at its current weight. It’s a journey that I embark on every day. It’s a journey that is my best teacher.
• Forge Thru Fears
Try this exercise. Close your eyes, put your hand on your heart and breathe deeply. Now ask yourself this question: What would I do if I was not afraid? I ask myself this question on most days – I’m always amazed at the answers. Some women are afraid of their beauty or embracing their life purpose. (It’s frightening to share your heart with the world!) Some are afraid that they’re not enough or that there isn’t enough of love/money/time/food to go around.
I can almost guarantee that fear and overeating are good friends. We overeat for comfort; to feel nurtured; to escape anxiety, anger and other emotions. We overeat as a way of keeping ourselves from our life purpose. Ask yourself, “If I weren’t binging on this, what else would I be doing or feeling? What am I avoiding?” Too often we wait to lose 15 pounds before we start the dance or exercise class; sound silly, doesn’t it? What would you do if you were not afraid? Now do it!
• Look & Listen for “Body” Language
I am a lover of language. What I am most interested in are the words we say when we talk to ourselves. Suzie discovered an insightful phrase in the recovery process of the loss of her daughter. She would often say, “I have lost enough! I don’t want to lose anymore! I want to hang on to everything and everyone. ” Her body responded with, “No problem…I’m make certain that you don’t lose one more thing….not even one more pound!”
We abuse ourselves on the premise that someone else will. I’ll call myself a “big fat cow” before someone else does; beat ‘em to the punch..and the one getting punched is you!
Remember to use your body language to change to your feelings. Stand up straighter, broaden your smile, hold in your tummy because it’s good for your stomach and back muscles, and focus on the event at the moment…and then forget about yourself. A smile goes with everything….it’s always in style. A broad smile (more than a broad behind) is something others will remember.
Watch what you say when you talk to yourself. Look down at your bare arms and your bare leg: do you know how much it would cost to reproduce? You’re worth a fortune.
The forth tip is especially for those who compulsively eat.
Just feeding yourself regularly will help you be less inclined to overeat. Often, overeating stems from real physical hunger because we’ve been eating as little as possible throughout the day. EAT!
If you ever compulsively eat, ask yourself, “what’s eating me today?” Or, “What emptiness am I trying to feed? What am I really hungry for?” Diets don’t work ~ they deprive. But what does work is intuitive eating; listening to the body; recognizing hunger and fullness cues and honoring them! Food gets a bad rap! And, we call ourselves “bad” when we eat something delicious. Here’s the thing about eating something delightful and rich: the first several bites are marvelous…and then, not so much! The sweet buttery goodness becomes past recognition to our palette – it has become overly saturated and the enjoyment is substantially lower. But often we keep eating anyway…because it’s there! You’ve heard of hoof-and-mouth disease; well this is hand-and-mouth disease. We are now in the numbing stage; in a mechanical, meditative trance of zoning out.
Simply telling myself, “I could have that” takes away the feeling of deprivation that comes from dieting. Now, I may choose NOT to because I’ve already had dessert today and too much dessert in one day doesn’t make me feel good; but there is always tomorrow! None of us like to be told what to do; even by ourselves. But let your body talk! Limits are reasonable. We set limits with our children because we love them. Let your body set limits for you so it feels its optimal best; not because it CAN’T have something!
You‘ve heard of the saying, “the truth shall set you free,” right? Well, the truth WILL set you free but……first it will tick you off! Dig deeper to see what’s under compulsive eating. Not wanting to look at something painful or uncomfortable is at the root of compulsive eating. It will take patience to observe rather than mask. (To tell you the truth, I find this always a bit exciting….unveiling what’s really going on for me personally. We are in a constant state of getting to know ourselves; we are readily changing, just like our very bodies.
• Exercise Exquisite Self-Care
Where we deny in one area, we’ll make up for in another. Instead of taking care of ourselves, we may overeat, over-shop, gamble, smoke or drink excessively. Groom yourself impeccably. That can be done at any stage and at any age. When you feed your feminine soul, your body’s hungers won’t be so demanding. Paint your nails; buy a new lipstick; do whatever makes your heart sing. One healthy decision is usually based on another healthy decision. And at any time, you can have a brand new moment and beginning. There are other ways to care for the self; make a “Honey-Do” list for yourself. When the urge strikes to overindulge in food that numbs, gift yourself by something on the list, like, cleaning out the front closet; organizing files; going through the book shelf and eliminate the excess.
So much of beauty cannot be weighed or measured. One of my favorite exercises when teaching a small class is to have each participant come up to a mirror, look at herself, and tell the group what she sees. The answers are often…fat face; lines and wrinkles; stringy hair; saggy breast; huge thighs; poor posture; etc. Then I ask them to step away from the mirror and just hear how it feels to say those things to herself. When she stands back she suddenly gets the level of her own cruelty. “How would you feel is someone else said those things to you?” “Has being cruel to yourself ever helped you with weight loss?”
The second part of this mirror exercise is to face the mirror and look at herself with her heart instead of her “fat eyes.” Usually the comments are vastly different. “I see a woman whose body has born 4 children. I see clean hair. I see a sparkling eye. I see the same eyes I had as an innocent child.”
See your real self this summer. And enjoy what you DO have. The definition of misery is believing that you need what you don’t have.
Bottom line: What you say to yourself about your body shapes your feelings about yourself. Be careful what you tell yourself; the mind has a habit of believing what you tell it. Make sure you’re telling it the whole truth!
Being well is different from being perfect. Being well is different from being thin. You can be well – and you can be happy – even in short sleeves with arms and calves that don’t look anything like Madonna’s.
Dr. Liz Hale is a licensed clinical psychologist and a regular Studio 5 Contributor. Your comments and questions are welcomed! Please visit www.drlizhale.com
to add your thoughts to today’s discussion or learn more about her private practice.