When I was 18, I used to have this pair of jeans. It was my favorite pair of jeans. Sadly, it was my favorite pair of jeans not because of how they were cut or how they made me feel, but for the simple fact that they were the smallest pair of jeans I owned that I could literally squeeze into.
In my disordered eating and self-loathing body image days, these jeans were my badge of honor. Of course, no one knew that they were my smallest pair of jeans, and no one saw them as a ‘badge of honor,’ but I did and that’s (sadly) all I cared about it.
Fast forward a few years later – into my twenties – after A LOT of work and getting support – I realized one big whopping, earth-shattering thing: these jeans weren’t always going to fit. They were already getting too tight.
At the time, as you’d likely imagine, given my personal state, this was a scary realization, but it was also the truth. With this truth, I knew I was going to have to detach myself from this pair of jeans. But I really wasn’t sure how I was going to do it…
Today, almost 15 years later, in my thirties, I can tell you that I did it and now, I’m lucky enough to help my clients do it too. To help them feel confident in their clothes, eat what they want without guilt, and develop deep connections that make them truly happy.
Today, I want to share with you three of the most important mindset shifts that allow my clients to let go and make peace with their body and honestly, as odd as this may sound, any pair of jeans. Because you can do this too and when you do, it’s freeing and magical and lovely.
If you’re struggling with body image or you’re beating yourself up for not fitting into the clothes in your closet or you feel “gross” when you look in the mirror, here are 3 things (that not many talk about) to help heal your relationship with food and your body:
1. ) Your body is going to change and it’s okay – it’s a part of being human.
Dr. Colleen Reichmann spoke to this the best in our episode of HeartSpace.
“If I put all my eggs in the basket of ‘I’m gonna love the appearance of my body so hard,’ then that’s frightening. Because the appearance of my body, and my appearance in general, is going to be different in 5 years, very different in 10 years. What if I get pregnant? What about when my hair grows grey? What about when you gain weight? What about when you lose weight? … The appearance of your body is going to change…” ~ Dr. Colleen Reichmann
Our bodies, over time, are going to change. There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it. Our bodies change when we: go through puberty, have a baby (or babies), have an injury or surgery, go through menopause, try different forms of movement, and quite simply, as we age. So to put all of our focus on keeping our body a certain way or being a certain size when that’s defying the natural process of human development (and lots of times our very own physiological and skeletal makeup), will have us losing a never-ending battle. And it’s going to keep us small – in every sense of the word – and sad. And – YOU, my dear – are not here to live a small sad life. I promise you that.
Instead of trying to diet, exercise, or deprive ourselves to greatness, it’s really just about letting go of the jeans and instead, showing up to treat our bodies and ourselves with some compassion. Because we can’t shrink ourselves to worthiness. Trust me… I tried. This stuff is an inside job. And it’s a process that requires daily self-kindness and learning to recognize and eventually, appreciate all parts of ourselves, including the parts we don’t like.
2.) You’re not always going to feel great in your body and that’s okay too.
One of the most important things to realize is that on the road to healing your relationship with food, yourself, and your body, is that you’re not always going to feel amazing in your body. Or comfortable in your skin. Or whatever. And this is okay too! Because it means you’re a human being living on planet Earth, where body bashing is accepted and often, unfortunately, often used as a form of female bonding.
Also here, on planet Earth, we’re fed lots of images and media, covertly telling us how we should look. The ironic thing about this is that the people in those images don’t even look like the people in those images in real life. Katherine and I talk a lot about this in her HeartSpace Podcast episode on beauty, boudoir, and celebrating you.
It’s hard (not to mention impossible and unhuman like) to stay feeling good all the time. But the bridge is gapped from hating your body to accepting your body when you can fully recognize – and observe, not judge – that you feel not so great in your body.
So instead of going down the downward shame spiral of ‘there’s something wrong with my body and me,’ simply acknowledge the thought and feeling and hold space for it. But don’t let it consume you. Hopefully, point three below helps with this.
Because here’s the truth, when we’ve “arrived at body love or acceptance,” we still will have some icky days. And instead of panicking about them, the goal is to honor them and see if they’re showing up to offer us insight on how to better care for ourselves and our bodies. Getting curious and using these moments to gather information to get us back in alignment with how we want to feel is hard stuff, but it’s some of the most beautiful stuff. And it’s where the magic happens.
Overtime, with this mindset shift, what you’ll also discover is that you feel – more often than not – calm and confident in your body (rather than down n’ out and uncomfortable in your body) – and that’s the real work.
3.) You – as a soul – have a lot more to you than just how you physically show up in the world.
You – I – WE – have a lot more going on for us than our body size. Personally, I think anyone’s body size is the least interesting thing about them. We humans connect with one another based on the inside stuff, not the outside stuff. The more we begin to look at our lives as a whole and focus on all the things in our lives that bring us joy (or to find things that bring us joy), the less power we give to trying to control our bodies. And the more power we give to connection, hope, and peace.
If you’re reading this and you’re thinking you don’t have much else to focus on, you do. I know it. Because I used to say I didn’t either, but really, I was just scared. Scared of getting out of my comfort zone.
So if you’re scared too, I encourage you to begin thinking about what you liked to do as a kid. Whether it’s coloring, painting, swimming, baking, rollerblading, writing, or learning, think about it. Or sign up for something just for fun and see where it takes you.
Because the more you focus on things outside of how you look – the more you begin to detach from how you think you’re supposed to look. And the more you get to know yourself. And when we really get to know ourselves, we want to care for ourselves.
Quite simply because you – me – we – are pretty gosh-darn amazing human beings in these bodies that allow us to live our big, bold, scary lives. So let’s all go do more of that:)
p.s. if this post speaks to you, check out Ditch the Diet. Get MORE.