Getting Real About Body Image

love-every-bit

My topic this week with May Cause Miracles is body image. Oh. My. Get ready for me to get super transparent with you all.  Guys, it has been a struggle. I had planned to work though May Cause Miracles in 40 days because, you know, it’s a 40-day guide and I’m that girl, the girl who does things on time. But Gabby, isn’t that kind of teacher and in the beginning she laid things out and said that you may need to repeat days. I didn’t plan on it. But I can tell you, I am going to be stuck on this day for a bit.

The first day of body image week (week 3) is all about witnessing your ego’s negative projections onto your body. Gabby teaches that your body isn’t you. You are you, your body is a learning tool for this life. When you compare your body to others, whether you think your body is better or worse, that is a negative act.

I know it may seem a little crazy that finding your body superior to someone else’s could be a bad thing but hear me out. When I first read this I was like “whoa whoa whoa, part of the reason I went on this journey was to learn how to love myself.” But Gabby is super clear on this, loving yourself DOES NOT include putting yourself above others.

And…. if you stop and think about it for a sec, that is pretty much what we’ve been hearing since preschool, it’s just not right to feel better about yourself by putting other people down, even if it’s only in your head and you don’t say it out loud.  Gabby has some more metaphysical and spiritual reasoning behind it but I think that it’s actually a pretty core belief in being a nice person, so I’m just going to leave it there.

After 2 days of focusing on just witnessing my behavior and using the affirmation, “My false perceptions of my body are an attack. Today I choose love instead of my ego’s perceptions,” I have learned a LOT about myself.

  1. My perceptions are so ingrained in my behavior, I didn’t even notice them. I hardly noticed my negative behavior  or perceptions the first day.
  2. The negative behavior? I have a tendency to hardly eat at all during the day and then binge at night.
  3. I do this, because despite being slim, I still want to be thinner.

Yeah, number three, that was hard to admit to myself and even harder to admit to you. I wasn’t even aware of it really. I keep trying to think of a reason why I would need that, why would 8 lbs really make a difference in my level of happiness? Why should I beat myself up over it all the time? It just kept coming down to that thing that we are all brain washed with: thinner is better, thin makes you special.  Ick, it’s that comparing thing.

And so, a la Gabs, I am witnessing the behavior and forgiving myself for it and instead, trying to replace it with love.

So, now that I know being thin, isn’t a worthy goal in and of itself I need to focus on being fit. Because fitness and thinness are so easily convoluted in my brain, I realized I desperately needed to set out new goals.

Dun, dun, dun. Enter the new book I’m reading, The Firestarter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte. Last week I mentioned that I was going to see her speak, all I can say is that she was, totes amaze. Life-changing amaze, the teacher I needed at just the right time…

She talked about how instead of deciding how you want your life to look, you should decide how you want your life to make you feel. You need to come up with a list of core-desired feelings. When you base your choices on how they make you feel instead of meeting your criteria of how life should look, you’ll make better choices. You’ll take the job offer with the more rewarding work over the job with the better office. Catchin’ my drift? Because I’m basically trying to some up an entire book in a paragraph.

First, you have to get honest and CLEAR with yourself. I’m still in the process of figuring out my core desired feelings, the only one I really have nailed down is creative. But I realized I could use this exercise with goal setting for my fitness. Instead of setting goals based on how I want to look, set them based on how I want to feel. And thin, is not a feeling.

I know I want to feel energized. I also want to be pain-free (my right shoulder is effed) and I want to be able to breathe (Hi, I’m at asthmatic living in one of worst cities for pollution.) I would like to come up with positive words for pain-free and able-to-breathe so if you have any thoughts, get at me.

When I look at how I want to feel vs how I want to look, it completely changes my fitness and nutrition goals. I really need to be focusing on my health issues and not at all on my weight.

Now friends, I know you have something to say about this, if you’ve worked through your body image issues, please tell me how. Or if you are working through some, what helps?

Remember, this is a blog hop, join in!

19 Responses to Getting Real About Body Image

  1. So much emotion in this post & I have so many thoughts. Body image is such a touchy and personal subject. Others will never understand how we feel and when we feel most comfortable. Whatever your desire as long as it’s healthy, I think should be supported but as you stated never compared to others. I cannot think that deep right now for pain-free and able-to-breathe, been at work all night..may check back in later!

  2. It’s so true that thin and fit get so mixed up in our heads! I feel like I’m on the same page as you here…and I weigh less than 110…but I still feel like I should be thinner – or more toned. Or both. But I don’t feel like I limit what I should eat. I’m more the type that thinks about it alot but doesn’t do anything to change how I look. Good luck!

  3. I was a scrawny teenager, almost like a stick figure. When I remember those days, I remember feeling fat and ugly (pause to say: being a teenager sucks), and often hiding my body as much as possible. And then I went to college, gained 15 pounds, continue to gain weight continuously through the next 5 years, then decided to move to the USA, and boy, the food here IS crappy, and continued to gain weight till I achieved my all time max… about 5 times in the past 7 years. Yo-yo dieting? Yup, that’s my life. But here’s the thing… I have never felt more beautiful in my life. I look back at my pictures, and even though I miss the skinny body I had as a teenager, I do think I have never looked so good. I love my body. I dislike the fat I see on my back, because to me that’s just a reminder of being unhealthy, not ugly. I diet and exercise constantly, with the goal of being healthy, stronger, so my heart can be that as well (I’ve always had really bad cholesterol, and a history of heart disease in my family). So I’m always at the gym, and I’m always on a new diet plan, and I never quite get to my desired 135 pounds (I was 120 in HS, but there’s no way I want to be that skinny again).

    But even though I’m a happier person and I do think I’m beautiful, I have those bout of depression moments once in a while, and I just feel sad and inadequate and not beautiful enough for other people. I know, we’re supposed to feel beautiful for ourselves, but at the same time, no man is an island. My life does require other people to be in it, and sometimes, you just want them all to think you’re beautiful too, especially when you are having a day when you don’t. It’s tough to balance it all sometimes.

    There you go, my two cents. šŸ™‚

    • In regards to other people though, I feel like everyone is so worried about themselves that they can’t be all that focused on other people’s appearances. So it’s just interesting that we worry so much about it. Or at least I worry about it a lot.

  4. Focusing on how you want to feel DOES change everything, doesn’t it? It suddenly stops becoming about body image and starts to become about personal, internal stuff that in some ways can be so much harder to deal with! I think that’s why we obsess about looks – because it’s easier than getting to the heart of the issue. At least I’d say that’s true with me.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog for my SITS Day! šŸ™‚ Have a great day and best of luck to you as you strive to reach your goals!

    • Thanks Julie! I’m not sure I’ll be able to stop worrying about how I look but I’m hoping if I focus on getting my lungs and shoulder in proper order that the weight stuff will just fall out of my brain šŸ˜‰

  5. I noticed recently that my thought process towards body image was filled with bad reasoning from decades ago. I’m doing my best to change my thinking but I agree it’s really tough. Congrats on sticking to this, it’s an inspiration for me to get things in order šŸ™‚

  6. Holy smokes! There is so much here! I don’t even know where to start. I just completely understand where you’re coming from – coming from a place where I wasn’t “thin enough”, reaching my goal weight, and then thinking I could do more. It’s so difficult to get out of this mindset of wanting to look different. I would LOVE to focus more on how I’m feeling, but right now even as I’m thinking it, I can’t do it. I keep reverting back to a picture I saw of myself and I thinking, “how can I look leaner?”
    When it comes down to it, most days, I feel pretty great, but when I see how I look, it changes how I feel.
    I guess the two are not so mutually exclusive for me, which changes the goal from focusing on how I want to feel to separating how I feel from how I look.

  7. I found that when I focused on how I wanted to feel, then my body image issues melted away. Strong, flexible, with stamina – that helps me get off the “looks” focus.

    I read Danielle’s book a few months ago and I love that focus on how you feel. So powerful…

  8. Thank you for writing this, Kristiina! In high school I felt pretty good about myself, although I thought I had ‘fat thighs’. When I look back at pictures I realize how crazy that was. I looked like a perfect, healthy, beautiful, active teenager. Fast forward 20ish years and I’m legitimately struggling with my weight. I have gained and lost 30-some lbs about 3 times over the last 15 years. Now I’m back on the ‘gain’ side of it. I have a wonderful, supportive (hot) husband, who loves me and thinks I’m beautiful no matter what. But I struggle. I struggle with feeling adequate in this world. I feel like I’m not taken as seriously as I should in the professional realm because I’m overweight. And I’m pretty sure this is just my silly perception. I ‘know’ that I’m respected in my work, but the self-doubt creeps in and it always goes back to my weight. And it is even sillier considering the field I’m in has absolutely nothing to do with human attractiveness. But I am in a male-dominated industry… Anyways, I need to explore these feelings further. I’m looking forward to starting May Cause Miracles, I need it.

    • I’m excited to hear what you think when you start. I finally let myself move on to the 2nd day of body image week. I have done the evening exercises yet but the morning part was all about just turning the issue over to your inner guide to deal with. May sound silly but it has actually helped.

      I was the same way when I was younger, it makes me think that skinny is just addictive in a way.

  9. Great post. Body image is such a talked about subject in the media–people are always talking about it so we can’t help but look at ourselves and pick ourselves apart. I agree that being healthy should be about feeling and not looking. I think being honest with ourselves and shutting out the outside voices is where the challenge comes in. Sorry about you asthma situation, I know that can’t be easy!