I recently led a nutrition workshop for teen girls, something I was passionate about teaching. Was it successful? Did I get across what I wished I had known as a girl? I taught them how to make a healthy plate, so their blood-sugar levels give them all kinds of sustained energy. I taught them about what protein, fat, and fiber does to their bodies, and the importance of each. I taught them about sugar and the havoc it can wreak, how to read labels, and how to make a healthy green smoothie.
But what I REALLY wanted to tell them was this:
I know what it’s like to hate your body. To spend years and years trying to perfect it, punish it, starve it, compare it to every other body out there. To go on every “miracle diet” and try every exercise fad in case it’s finally the one to take you where you want to go. Who you want to be.
I’ve been there, in all its misery. And it takes up waayyy too much of your mindspace. It clutters your life, takes away from joy and meaningful moments, away from being fully present and alive.
Here’s the “white-hot truth” (thank you Danielle Laporte for that phrase)…learn how to LOVE your bodies, NOW. Love them just as they are. Take three minutes-right now-and close your eyes. Let all those “less than” thoughts drift away. Feel your real self. Let the heavy cloak of never being enough lift away and the peace of acceptance seep through every cell in your body. From your toes to the crown of your head. Feel it. Breathe it in. And do that every single day until it becomes real. Until you let go and make space and have the room to do the things that really matter in your life.
DOO IIIIT NOOOW for goodness sake!
But I didn’t do that. I thought, who am I presume to know better? Your mamas might get mad at me. They might disagree or misunderstand. So I chickened out. I figured I’d do it “next time.”
The truth is this: Almost every women I have ever worked with feels the exact same way I did years ago (and still struggle with today).
You don’t know much about my history so here’s a little insight into my life…
My own eating disorder started when I was a teenager. I was a tall, skinny girl who thought I was “huge” because my clothing size was one up from all my friends. And then at 15 I was recruited by a modeling agency, and I became obsessed with exercise and staying thin. At first it was just run-of-the-mill thinking about what I ate, how I could burn off the calories, eat less fat, exercise more, etc. But the obsession grew as my body began to change during adolescence, and my “career” was being pushed around by adults who might have been well-meaning, but were clueless when it came to taking care of the psyche of a teenage girl.
As for modeling, I plodded along for awhile, but they wanted me to go off to Europe (which I didn’t want to do), and I began to see the dark side of the industry. I started to put on healthy weight-which isn’t looked upon highly in that world. I stopped and never looked back.
By my early twenties I had really done a number on myself.
Of course I had gained weight and was no longer “model thin,” and that was a constant mouse wheel for me as well. I tried everything I could get my hands on. It took up so much of my life. Some things worked, but only for awhile.
But I grew SO tired of hating my body. Of wanting to be different than I was. So I began to do something about it. To just “be” in my body and not worry about my next meal. I began to let myself off the hook…sometimes. And I loved the feeling. The lightness of it. It opened up a piece of me I had longed for and it grew. My life took a major turn for the better. I took up mountain climbing, went on treks, tried yoga, and found a meaningful job. I exhaled.
Yet, as you may have read in my bio on my website, my digestion was a mess. A big mess. I didn’t have a clue what fiber was and why I needed it, nor what normal bathroom habits even were! And that was a problem. A MAJOR problem. So while my view of myself became better, my health became worse. I was bloated, constipated, and got sick all the time. I caught just about everything that came my way.
So being the ever-curious and risky girl that I am, I began my quest to feel better and took my health into my own hands. I knew that I had to get ahold of things because cancer (and even colon cancer) runs in my family. And after starting my own family it became more important than ever. I found a way forward and got my health under control. I talk more fully about my quest and you can read why I passionately believe that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Fast forward to today. Many women come to see me to lose weight-and I can put them on a perfect plan for that, but I almost always have them tap into themselves just a little bit more (or a lot more if they’re up for it). I believe we have to learn to nourish our bodies with more than food. I honor my client by asking what she really needs, and together we accomplish that using many modes.
I believe we all need to open up and talk about what messages our culture puts out there to girls and women. We need to share our experiences, and be honest about them. It’s time we all got off the self-loathing wheel! We must stop the inner critic that most likely shouts at you, dozens of times a day. Because once you can cut through that crap, you can find more joy. And then the changes really start to happen.
I practice this philosophy every single day. There are times when my inner critic “turns up to eleven,” but it doesn’t last nearly as long as it used to, and I now have more tools at the ready to help me break out in case of emergency. One of my favorites is this: When I hear my critic revving up, I immediately STOP the chatter, switch to a happier perception and reach for better thoughts.
It takes a little practice, but soon enough, your mind will gravitate to the brighter side of life. Bashing yourself on a daily basis takes a toll. When you hear the negative self-talk, say, “Cancel, cancel,” followed by a positive comment to condition yourself to speak positively. This REALLY works. You’ll be surprised by how powerful it is to catch yourself in the middle of “mean girl” chatter-and replace it with something good.
I encourage you to try it. Pick something negative you say about yourself often and rewrite it to a positive, body-lovin’, powerful affirmation. Then do it some more!
Let me know if you try this approach and how it felt for you. I’d love to hear from you…
Curious about the work I do? Read all about my one-on-one and group programs here.
I’d be honored to be your partner.
In body-lovin’ health,