As a Certified Eating Psychology Coach and Body Image Mentor I receive plenty of questions. But, the one that I get the most, the one that nearly all of my clients and tons of social media followers and blog readers have asked, is this:
“How in the world do I end food freak outs and begin to accept my body?”
The answer is simple.
It’s the application that’s hard. Though, not any harder than counting calories, pinching belly fat, pleading with the bathroom scale, hating the mirror and coming to terms with devouring a full-size peanut butter jar in 5 minutes flat.
YOU SEE, THE KEY TO CHANGING YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD AND BODY IS …
CHANGING YOUR LIFE.
Making peace with your plate and accepting your reflection in the mirror is not the product of being “on point” with portions or tallying the calories burned in ten pull ups. That’s because the desire to control your body and manipulate it with limited food or obsessive fitness (along with the physiological mayhem that ensues) is only a symptom, not the source, of what ails you. Body image struggles and disordered eating behaviors are proof of personal disconnection. They are the evidence of an overlooked, overwhelmed, and unfulfilled self. And you can’t change that in the kitchen or the gym, no matter how hard you try.
Now, I know this answer isn’t as prescriptive as a diet. There aren’t any checklists or iPhone apps to keep you on track with the whole “life overhaul” thing. You can’t just purchase a DVD over the internet that, for 30 minutes a day plus a protein shake, will transform your mindsets, beliefs and behaviors. But, there are plenty of things you CAN do to change your life and heal your strained relationship with food and body in the process.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Spend some time in prayer, meditation or free writing. Be still, minimize distractions and ask yourself this simple question: WHERE IN LIFE AM I FEELING STUCK OR UNHAPPY? Let your mind (and if you’re writing – your fingers) wander. Don’t try to lead or control the answer. Simply be an observer of yourself and your thoughts and see what comes up for you. You might find that you’re disappointed with the course of your romantic relationship, feeling bored at work, stressed out with school or frustrated with some flaky friendships. Once you’ve discovered the areas of life where you’re dissatisfied, you can use this same process of introspection to create soulful solutions. Ask yourself “HOW DO I MAKE A SHIFT HERE?” Then, trust your inner guidance to show you the small but meaningful steps you can take to “fix” what’s broken and begin to remodel your life.
ADD MORE OF THE GOOD STUFF
Stop, drop and write a list of the 5 things you want more of in your life. Vacations? Romance? Time with your family? Nature? Friendships? Art? Rest? Personal development? Puppies? Laughter? Stability? Adventure? Sex?
Now, MAKE IT HAPPEN!
Sometimes we get so used to our present routine that we forget we have the power to create new and positive changes every day! Eliminating the stuff that isn’t working or doesn’t feel aligned with who you are and where you want to go might seem daunting. But, addition is simple. Start incorporating the things on your list (the stuff you want MORE of) into your schedule. When you begin to direct energy and time towards obtaining your desires, the things in life that aren’t serving you will naturally fade, including obsessive thoughts and behaviors about food and body.
EXPAND YOUR SELF-CARE ARSENAL
Self-care isn’t only about eating fresh, organic veggies, taking long walks or regularly scheduling massages. It goes WAY, WAY deeper than that. Self-care is a compassionate way of being with YOURSELF. It’s about giving YOU space to grow, freedom to feel and confidence to trust in life. It’s about becoming your own best friend and developing a loving and curious existence with the world around you. Self-care is an intentional practice of knowing and supporting yourself by tending to your emotional, mental, physical and spiritual needs. It produces both assurance and awareness, two extremely powerful keys for finding food and body freedom.
I could give you hundreds of practical tips for becoming more sane around the Oreos and befriending your bodacious booty. I have nutrition knowledge. I’m adept at kettlebell form. But, none of that will give you sustainable peace. Because if you want to change your relationship with food and body you’ve got to shift your focus from the symptoms and go straight to the source, YOU!
I KNOW IT’S NOT THE POPULAR ANSWER.
BUT, IT’S THE HONEST ONE.
Tell me in the comments below:
What do you think is the #1 key to changing your relationship with food and body? Why?
What simple practices do you use to stay in tune with YOU and ensure that you are living a life you love?