Category Archives: body image

Should You Weigh Yourself?

Should you weigh yourself if you have a history of eating issues?

Should you weigh yourself if you have a history of eating issues?

I’ve decided to cut back from posting a new blog every week to just 2 a month. I’ve been pumping out a new blog every week for a long time and my brain is starting to feel a little fried when it comes to keeping the content fresh. On one hand I’m kind of bummed to take a break from it (I love to not break a long streak!) but I also need to listen to my needs and get out of that kind of perfectionism. I think backing off a little will help bring back some creativity that I feel I’ve been lacking in my writing lately. It will at least free up some of my time to work on other things I want to do in my business which is something I have to do.

Today’s topic is a question that I hear many people asking and my answer is a little more unconventional than you might think considering the business that I’m in.

Is it okay to weigh yourself?

Should you throw out your scale if you’ve struggled with body image issues or disordered eating?

This is a question that comes up a lot for women who have struggled with some aspect of their relationship to food or their body.  Many health and mental health professionals and those in the body positive movement usually recommend that we toss out our scales.

I personally think it depends on the individual person and their specific relationship with the scale.

I go through periods where I weigh myself daily and then I sort of walk away from it for awhile and might only weigh myself once or twice a month, sometimes I go through longer stretches where I don’t weigh myself for a few months (mostly in the winter!). This works for me. I don’t get anxious about not weighing myself and I don’t get anxious about the number when I do.

When I weigh daily, it confirms for me that the way I am eating and the amount I am exercising is the right amount for my body.

It also has helped me understand the normal fluctuations in weight that my body has week after week or throughout the month, which results in not being alarmed by them. Lots of things contribute to our weight going up or down a pound or two – salty food (up), slow digestive transit time (up), dehydrated (down), week before period (up) etc. Weighing regularly has made me very comfortable with these changes.

As someone who has been challenged in her eating habits and used to be so dependent on tracking calories to know if I had eaten too much – the scale helps confirm for me that I’m on the right track (since I no longer count calories and instead use my hunger / fullness signals as a guide). Weighing myself occasionally tells me that the way I’m living is working, that I am in tune with my hunger signals (or when my eating issues are cropping up again) and that my intuition is working. It actually reinforces some of the good things I’ve worked on in the last 3-4 years.

When I take breaks from it for longer than a few weeks at a time, I find it’s like a silent decision I’m making that I’m going to go a little rogue with my food choices for awhile. I’m choosing to silence my hunger signals and while there’s nothing wrong with doing this once in awhile, I do have a history of really going overboard for long periods when I avoid the scale. If it don’t “see” it, it’s not happening! It’s a way I can lie to myself. For me, purposely avoiding the scale is an indication that I’m heading into unhealthy territory. It’s the opposite of what you’d expect!

When I’m using the scale as a tool, it doesn’t have a ton of power over me. I don’t give the number a ton of meaning. The number doesn’t tell me I’m good or bad, that I’m worthy or unworthy. It mostly serves to tell me if I’m staying present and being honest in my choices or if I’m trying to hide from myself.

Using the scale occasionally gives this former yo-yo dieter the confidence to keep choosing foods that both give me the nutrition I need and also tastes and textures that I enjoy. When you’ve had 90 pound weight losses and also 60 pound weight gains in your life, you realize that you are someone who can easily turn a blind eye to your ups and downs, and the scale helps me keep my eyes open to my actions. It’s something I keep in my personal tool box because even though I don’t put pressure on myself to weigh a certain amount anymore (and I do think it is possible to be healthy and overweight), I do know that if I allow my weight to creep too far back up and stay up, I am increasing my risk for diabetes (too much of this in my family history) and complicating my own history of high blood pressure (and each year that passes, I would be increasing those risks). I’m heavily motivated by living longer and healthier than the people in my family who passed away too young and for me, I know that keeping my weight stable is an important part of this, again, for me personally.

I know this is not the right thing for every woman with a similar history as mine. And I know there are many other women who feel like they get completely crazy over the scale.

It’s important to know yourself and listen to what is right for you, rather than doing what the masses are doing, or what a stranger on the internet says (that includes me – just because I’m sharing that using a scale helps me stay mindful, doesn’t mean that my answer is right for you).

Some women really become obsessed with the scale in a very unhealthy way. If the number on the scale isn’t a number they like, it can ruin their day or their whole week, it can make them restrict food and punish themselves with harsh exercise. It can make them feel helpless, worthless and value themselves less. Feeling this way can lead to really unhealthy behaviors.  For these people, not weighing themselves is a better idea. Using a scale causes them stress, anxiety and depression. In these cases, it’s not a tool, it’s punishment.

The key to knowing if you can continue weighing yourself or not is how much meaning you give it. In my opinion (and experience), if you can use the scale as a tool in a neutral way, that has about as much effect on how you feel about yourself you as tying your shoes does, then it’s probably okay to keep using the scale in some way. If you can step off the scale and not feel virtuous or ashamed, you might be able to still use it. If you don’t feel the need to do something in retaliation to what number is on the scale, you may be able to still use it. It’s important to know how it affects you.

If you are wondering if you should toss your scale out or not, ask yourself:

How do I feel after I weigh myself?

Do I feel virtuous or depressed depending on the number I see?

Do I feel the urge to do “something” to affect my weight in response to the number I see?

Does even thinking about giving up the scale make me feel very anxious? Why?

When in doubt, talk to your doctor or a professional you trust who is aware of your history to discuss what would make the most sense for you. And trust your gut!

Do you need more support with emotional eating? Come join my Ending Emotional Eating Group on Facebook to talk with other women going through the same thing. We’d love to see you there!


Have you gotten my newest free guide You Have What it Takes? If you’re an emotional eater, overeater or longtime dieter who wonders if she has what it takes to change her relationship with food, then this for you. And it’s free. Click on the image below, then enter your name and email and it’s yours!

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Your Weight will Always Be an Issue Until You Fall in Love with Yourself

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Choosing to love yourself is a worthy adventure!

Until you fall in love with yourself, you will battle the same weight issues you’ve always battled.

Until you accept your body and yourself as you are, you will never lose weight and keep it off. You might be successful for a little while in losing it, but you’ll gain it back, sometimes even more weight than you lost to begin with, if you refuse to accept and love yourself.

The same behaviors that made you gain weight will come back.

The same thoughts and judgements that led to eating more will come back.

The same “comfort” eating that actually brings discomfort.

The same hiding and denial that makes you want to shrink from living your life the way you want to.

The same feelings of disgust, shame, anger, frustration and anxiety will resurface again and again.

If you think, I’ll love myself when I’m skinny, when I’m fit, when I don’t have this tire around my middle, you will always be looking for that love somewhere else, and in your particular case you’ll look for that love in food.

You need to love yourself NOW – as you are right now.

When you do love yourself, wholly, completely, fully, and without judgement about what your body looks like, the eating stuff will fall into place. It won’t feel like such a big struggle.

I know it feels like a big struggle now. And you wonder how you can just let go of the hate for your body, the hate for your size or shape, the hate for yourself for what or how much food you put in your mouth. The hate you feel for yourself sometimes.

It’s not as complicated as we make it out to be.

You have to let go of this idea you have about yourself – that you are unloveable and broken.

It’s not any different than when we want to move on from unhappiness in our relationships.

Let’s imagine that you’ve had a huge argument with a friend or family member who you love. I’m sure you’ve experienced this before! For awhile, you are more mad or angry at the other person than you are sad that the relationship is strained. You want to feel “right” or feel your anger more than you want to admit any wrong doing or to give them forgiveness. You hold on to the anger, the pain, the stress of the fight for a while because it is serving you in some way. But there comes a point where it hurts more to still be angry. It takes more effort to maintain the distance between you and this person than it would to just forgive them or let go of the discord. We usually can’t forgive them immediately after a fight – emotions are too high and we need time and space before we have the clarity to allow us to take that step. But eventually, if we want to move on in our lives or move forward with this relationship we have to forgive, we have to LET GO. Not really for them – but for ourselves. If we don’t, it will continue to weigh us down. The anger and negativity will fill other parts of our lives. We usually come to a place where we see more value in letting go than holding on to the old grudge and when we do finally do decide to forgive, it’s actually without a lot of fan fare.

It’s actually really easy to do.  It’s not easy when we’re not ready . . .but when you get to a place where the pain of not forgiving is greater than letting go and forgiving – it’s actually quite easy. The repairing of the relationship may take additional work and time (just like repairing our relationship with food) but giving forgiveness, letting go and choosing love is more straightforward.

Letting go of the hate you have for your body is just like the above example.

If it feels too hard, you may be going through a time when you aren’t ready to give that up. The feelings of hate you have for yourself appear to be bringing you more value right now but eventually you will get to a place where holding onto that hate and allowing it to color your life will feel more painful and take more effort than it does to just let it go.

Let it go.

There are two exercises I recommend you try to begin the process of letting go of the hate you feel for your body and beginning to view it with more love.

  1. Write a letter to yourself.

Write an apology letter to your body. Start by laying out what words or actions you are sorry to have used towards her (you), what you are grateful for and how you will start acting differently in the future. Exercises like this help us to “soften” towards ourselves – even if it feels a bit silly when we are writing it out!

Use some of these prompts to get started:

“I am sorry because . . .”.

“I have dishonored you by . . . ”

“I appreciate you for . . . .”

“I am grateful for you because . . .”

“You have taught me . . .”

“In the future, I will no longer  . . . ”

“I look forward to . . . ”

“You (I) deserve . . . ”

2. Visualize putting the hate away in a box and shipping it away.

It’s easy to knock visualization exercises – they seem so abstract and “woo woo” that it’s hard to believe that they can be powerful tools of change! But if you have a good imagination (and if you’re a lover of books like I am or any creative arts then you do!) they can be an easy way to spark change and help you to be more conscious of your actions. To help stop some of the hateful thoughts you have about your body and increase feelings of love, try visualizing your hate or thoughts of hate as something physical. You might see a big grey cloud or something more concrete like animated physical words. Whatever it is that you picture when you have these thoughts, imaging that you have 2 boxes in front of you. One is sealed up and the other is empty and needs to be filled and sealed. First, take the empty box and fill it with whatever physical image you visualized your hateful thoughts as (grey blob? words? etc). Stuff them in there. All of them. Then, close the flaps and seal the box with some heavy duty packing tape. Visualize picking up the box and walking to a post office box and then drop the box in. Once it’s in the post office box you can’t reach it anymore – it’s literally out of your reach! Those thoughts are going to be shipped away and are no longer your concern. Now, go back home to the other sealed box waiting for you. Open it up. Inside there are “wearable” words, thoughts and feelings of love and acceptance. Pick each one up and put it on. “Dress” yourself in these loving words and feelings. What do they look like to you? How do you feel when you try them on?

Try these two exercises and see if they help you open up and feel more accepting, tolerant and loving towards yourself.

Eating is not a character flaw. It’s not a moral shortcoming. You do not deserve poor treatment because of your eating choices.

Practice choosing love, more often, until it becomes your only choice – that’s when food becomes less of an issue and your weight struggles will not be a struggle any more.


Have you gotten my newest free guide You Have What it Takes? If you’re an emotional eater, overeater or longtime dieter who wonders if she has what it takes to change her relationship with food, then this for you. And it’s free. Click on the image below, then enter your name and email and it’s yours!

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I like my body. How I went from hating it to being ok with it. (Part 5 of a 5 Week Series)

dance-unsplashThis is the 5th and last post in my 5 week series on Body Image. See part 4part 3part 2 and part 1.

Last week, I talked about how picturing myself as a child helped to turn around my urge to tear my body down. It’s a lot easier to feel sympathetic towards myself when I think of the innocent kid I am deep down inside.

It’s just one of many things I’ve been doing on a regular basis to transform the way I feel about my body. Loving or liking your body is a “practice”. We practice yoga, we practice sports, we practice before giving a presentation or dance recital. And yes, changing how we feel about our bodies or how we feel around food requires creating a practice of sorts. Today I’m sharing the 5th  “practice” in my body image toolbox.

The fifth thing I’ve done is that I’ve changed my workout focus from one where calories burned was all that mattered instead to how it makes me feel. Same with my food choices, I don’t choose them based on how few calories or fat grams are in them, I choose stuff that satisfies me and give me energy.

In my workouts and in my food choices, I put my focus on how it’s going to affect how I feel.

This kind of goes back to the second post in this series, about appreciating what my body can do. I used to only exercise to burn as many calories as possible so that I could eat more. This meant lots of cardio or lots of long walks. Miles covered and minutes accrued mattered. This left me feeling drained and like I was always trying to make up for something. Every bite of food meant another minute I’d have to workout. I could never rest and just enjoy a meal. Choosing what to eat and how much to eat became very complicated.

If I wanted to enjoy pizza and some wine on a Friday night, I’d have to either not eat most of the day in order to have “room” for those things or I’d have to spend two hours in the gym to “earn” it. It was exhausting.

My workouts left me feeling drained. They were compulsory. They were punishment. Sure, there were aspects of exercise I enjoyed, but it was so often done as a component of weight loss that I began to dread it and I would go through periods where I rebelled and wouldn’t work out for weeks out of retaliation. With food, I couldn’t eat a meal without automatically calculating the calories in it. Even today, I have calorie counts memorized and though I don’t “count” them intentionally today, that knowledge is in my head and I can still give a tally to a meal lightening fast, and pretty accurately. It’s not a skill I’m proud of. I hate that so much of my mental energy in my life was dedicated to how good I could be at restricting food.

Today I do things differently, and I’ll admit, it has taken me years of trial and error to get here.

I now only do exercise that makes me feel good. I now only eat food that makes me feel good or what I truly want (sometimes that’s raw vegetables and sometimes it’s potato chips).

Sometimes I want to feel powerful and strong (weight lifting), sometimes I want to feel graceful and controlled (barre), sometimes my body aches and I need a rest (yoga or walking), sometimes I’m angry or stressed and want some relief (HIIT or kickboxing).

Choosing exercise on any given day that will make me feel the way I want to feel, instead of as a punishment helps me appreciate and care for my body and it also makes choosing what to eat much easier. If I want to get through an intense workout, I need to have the right balance of nutrition in my body. A donut or cookies is not going to give me the energy I want to have (not saying you can’t ever eat these foods – just that this helps us to make more conscious choices).

Alternatively, if I have a yoga class or barre class to go to, I have to be careful not to eat too heavily beforehand, or I’ll be burping or uncomfortable all throughout class. Over time, making choices this way reduces my desire to eat foods that won’t help me tackle these physical goals. This doesn’t happen overnight and certainly I still sometimes eat things just because it tastes amazing and I really want it (but I move on and don’t beat myself up about it).

Listening to what our bodies need is really important too. Lately, I’m thinking I may have to take a break from barre. I don’t want to because I do love it (despite zero grace or dance ability it makes me feel like a ballerina and I secretly want to be a ballerina, at least when I’m alone in my kitchen!) but my hamstrings and glutes are so tight from 3 years of repetition that class is starting to feel less like a good thing for my body and more like the potential for injury. I need to listen to my body. I may take some time off from those classes (I’ve already cut way back) or I need to make massage and foam rolling a priority to keep my body feeling good. I’ve been doing more yoga in the meantime until I make a decision. It’s helping but it may not be enough.

I trust that my body knows what it needs. It knows when it needs to move (I feel that urge as my focus wanes when I’ve been in front of the computer for three hours without a break). It knows when it needs to rest (as I write this, I’ve decided I’m not going to workout tonight – I am tired and I’m respecting that). It knows when it can handle (or even crave) high intensity cardio, a long bike ride or extra weight on the barbell. My body is incredibly intelligent and if I listen to it, I don’t have to worry about if I did enough If I burned enough calories etc.

Making the switch from exercising or eating as a form of punishment or solely as calorie burner to exercising and eating to feel good won’t happen overnight and it’s not a simple thing you can do once or twice and have it stick. It’s something we need to work on on a deep level and before we can really start making strides with these concepts we need to practice more self love, learn to choose foods that nourish, and learn to tune in to our body. But even though you may not be able to jump into these ideas right away . . .I wanted to share this idea as something that has made a big difference in how I feel about my body because it makes it easier for me to exercise regularly and eat well more often and I think we all can get there one step at a time.

I hope this 5 part series on body image and how I stopped hating my body has given you some ideas to try in changing your own body image. Please let me know if you try any of these!


Have you gotten my newest free guide You Have What it Takes? If you’re an emotional eater, overeater or longtime dieter who wonders if she has what it takes to change her relationship with food, then this for you. And it’s free. Click on the book and enter your name and email and it’s yours!

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I like my body. How I went from hating it to being ok with it. (Part 4 of a 5 Week Series)

Would you talk to this little girl the way you talk to yourself now?

Would you talk to this little girl the way you talk to yourself now? (and yes, I still sleep like that now!)

This is the 4th post in a 5 week series on Body Image. See part 3part 2 and part 1.

Last week, I talked about how I started to look for what is beautiful about other people’s bodies instead of comparing myself to them and tearing them down. It’s helped my body image in a big way (and I feel like way less of jerk since I’m not criticizing other people because of my own hate for my own body).

It’s just one of many things I’ve been doing on a regular basis to transform the way I feel about my body. Loving or liking your body is a “practice”. We practice yoga, we practice sports, we practice before giving a presentation or dance recital. And yes, changing how we feel about our bodies or how we feel around food requires creating a practice of sorts. Today I’m sharing the 4th  “practice” in my body image toolbox.

The fourth thing I’ve done is that I started to picture myself as a little kid when an urge to say something bad about my body comes up. Sounds a little weird but read on!

I started to picture myself when I was a little kid.

Every time a horrible thought about my body comes up or the urge to pinch, pick apart or tear myself down arises, I remind myself that the person I am saying that about is a little girl named Andrea. Andrea loves books, barbies, coloring and helping her mom in the kitchen. She loves Saturday morning cartoons, roller skating, riding her bike and playing in the woods behind her house with her friends. She’s affectionate, curious and cares about how other people feel. She loves animals and laughing. She’s creative and has a wild imagination.

Andrea's 5th birthday party April 1983

Would you tell her she’s fat? That she looks “wrong”? That she’s ugly? Of course not. So don’t do it to yourself now.

She’s just a kid.

Would I speak the way I speak to myself to little Andrea if she was standing in front of me?

Absolutely not.

I wouldn’t dare treat a kid the way I treat my adult self.

Why? Because she doesn’t deserve it.

I don’t deserve it either. We’re the same person.

I want to have higher standards for myself. If I wouldn’t talk to a little kid the way I talk to myself, then I can’t continue saying the horrible things I’ve said about myself.

I now can’t not see myself as a kid when these cruel thoughts pop in my head and it now helps stop them quickly. Remember the kid you were. How innocent, hopeful, kind, ambitious, gentle, unique and whole you were (and ARE!!). How worthy of love and valued you were (and ARE!!).

You deserve better treatment. She deserves better treatment. You are the same now as you were then and you deserve love and acceptance – especially from yourself.

To keep your mind on this idea, try carrying around a picture of yourself when you were little or posting a pic as your desktop background and see if it changes how you think of yourself today. If a picture of yourself doesn’t make you feel compassion or sympathetic, try someone else you care about – a niece, nephew, a friend’s kid – someone else who you wouldn’t dare talk this way to.

Can you have the same compassion for yourself that you would give to a child? Why or why not?

Keep an eye out for the last post in this series (#5) next week!


Have you gotten my newest free guide You Have What it Takes? If you’re an emotional eater, overeater or longtime dieter who wonders if she has what it takes to change her relationship with food, then this for you. And it’s free. Click on the book and enter your name and email and it’s yours!

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I like my body. How I went from hating it to being ok with it. (Part 3 of a 5 Week Series)

One of the easiest changes I've made to improve my body image is to swap out my urge to compare and tear down other people's physical appearance in favor of looking for the positives in them. It helps and makes you feel better than negative things do!

One of the easiest changes I’ve made to improve my body image is to swap out my urge to compare and tear down other people’s physical appearance in favor of looking for the positives in them. It helps and makes you feel better than negative things do!

This is the 3rd post in a 5 week series on Body Image. See part 2 and part 1.

Last week, I talked about how I’ve started to focus more on what my body can do, instead of what it looks like and how it’s given me a huge sense of appreciation for my body.

It’s just one of many things I’ve been doing on a regular basis to transform the way I feel about my body. Loving or liking your body is a “practice”. We practice yoga, we practice sports, we practice before giving a presentation or dance recital. And yes, changing how we feel about our bodies or how we feel around food requires creating a practice of sorts. Today I’m sharing the 3rd “practice” in my body image toolbox.

The third thing I’ve done is that I look for what is beautiful about other people’s bodies.

I started to purposely pay attention to what I liked about other people’s bodies.

Please note, this is not the same thing as comparing myself to other people’s bodies and this is not the same thing as compiling a list of bodies I like or body features I wish I had.

I don’t do “body inspo”.

Instead I tasked myself with finding something “good” about everyone I meet, rather than comparing myself to them.

Seeing a stranger and thinking about what nice eyes they have, how strong their shoulders look or liking how they carry themselves helps me to see the good things about my own body too.

When you are highly critical of yourself, often our first response with another person is to find things to tear down about them too (it’s not really about them, it’s about our own disgust with ourselves). If I think I’m fat, I may look at another person and decide if they are fatter or skinnier than I am. If I feel like my face is ugly, I may look at someone else and try to determine if they are worse looking than I am. I know it sound really screwed up and terrible to admit that on my worst days of body hatred, I’d sometimes look at other people and pick apart their features. It’s awful. I feel like a horrible person for admitting to that but I know that I’m not alone in this. I’ve had countless other women admit to me the same terrible habit. It’s the normal MO when we’re highly critical of ourselves. We do it to make ourselves feel better, but it honestly doesn’t do that – you then feel bad about your body still and now you feel like you’re a bad person for having these kind of thoughts about how someone else looks.

I basically worked on doing the opposite. And it helps my body image in a big way. And I don’t feel like a jerk for the types of thoughts I have about other people anymore.

If I can take the time to find negative things about another person’s appearance, I can take time to find positive things about their appearance. Finding positive, charming and appealing things about every body I encounter has made me more gentle towards my own body and kinder and more gentle towards other people too.

I like this person so much better.

I’ve been doing this swap in behavior for so long now that it’s becoming automatic. I’m less likely to attack my own body and I’m less likely to try to build myself up by tearing someone else down. And this switch has been one of the easiest ones I’ve made (isn’t that rare in this body image / food relationship world!?).

If you try practicing this, be very conscious about whether or not you are finding good things about other people and then comparing for a lack of that quality in yourself. It’s a tricky line and we want to put that comparison part down. Just because someone else has a beautiful smile doesn’t mean that your smile needs improvement. One person’s appealing traits doesn’t mean there isn’t enough to go around for you. If you find looking for positives in other people’s physical appearance to be triggering (I definitely can see how it could be for some), then a better alternative would be to look for things you like about that person in general. Are they kind? Do they have a good heart? Do they seem genuine / sincere? etc. Sometimes we can sense these things in another even if we have just met them and looking for the glimmer of these good things in another can make you feel better about your fellow humans and that may translate into you being kinder to yourself too.

Keep an eye out for part 4 next week!


Have you gotten my newest free guide You Have What it Takes? If you’re an emotional eater, overeater or longtime dieter who wonders if she has what it takes to change her relationship with food, then this for you. And it’s free. Click on the book and enter your name and email and it’s yours!

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I like my body. How I went from hating it to being ok with it. (Part 2 of a 5 Week Series)

One way I've improved my body image is to focus on what my body can do instead of how it looks. I'm appreciative of basic things like walking, breathing and seeing - just being alive! It helps.

One way I’ve improved my body image is to focus on what my body can do instead of how it looks. I’m appreciative of basic things like walking, breathing and seeing – just being alive! It helps.

This is the 2nd post in a 5 week series on Body Image. Go here for part 1.

Last week, I talked about how I shush my inner critic and tell her to go home (sometimes escorting her out myself) when she whispers negative things in my ear. It’s just one of many things I’ve been doing on a regular basis to transform the way I feel about my body. Loving or liking your body is a “practice”. We practice yoga, we practice sports, we practice before giving a presentation or dance recital. And yes, changing how we feel about our bodies or how we feel around food requires creating a practice of sorts. Today I’m sharing the 2nd “practice” in my body image toolbox.

The second thing I’ve done is that I focus less on what my body looks like on any given day and pay more attention to what my body can do.

I started putting my focus on what my body can do and what it does for me everyday.

I am in awe and so appreciative of how fortunate I am to have this body to carry me through life.

Feet that work when I need to take a step.

Eyes that see when I want to read a book, drive a car or look into another person’s eyes.

A heart that keeps beating so I wake up each morning and sends fresh blood and oxygen to all the parts of my body that need it.

Lungs that bring in enough fresh air so I can get through a tough workout and that function well enough so that a walk to the mailbox is just a walk to the mailbox.

Muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons and all that stuff that works together so I can do jumping jacks, shovel the walkway, or reach for something on a high shelf on my tippy toes.

Hands and arms that can hold another person, type on a keyboard or cook a meal.

A brain that remembers dates and birthdays and still has room and the ability to learn new things. And a memory that still can picture my mom’s face even though I haven’t seen her in person in almost 16 years.

An immune system that responds when I get sick but also functions to keep me from getting sick too often.

A nose that can smell a delicious meal cooking, fresh flowers on the counter or keep me safe by alerting me that something is burning that needs attention.

Knees that bend and straighten when I need them to.

A belly and digestive system that accepts the food it receives and puts all those nutrients to work in my body so that I can keep doing all that I am currently able to do.

Ears that can hear my favorite music, John snoring or the cat purring.

Taste buds that can notice when my stew needs more thyme or garlic and when a piece of fruit is no longer in season.

When my body responds the way I need it to, when it does what I ask it to do, I no longer accept it as a given. I have known too many people whose bodies couldn’t do some of the things I have taken for granted. In an older post, I talked about my mother, my aunt and a friend’s mother who all had medical conditions that prevented them from doing basic things like walking, breathing comfortably or even showering on their own. The more empathy I feel towards their situations (and others like them), the more challenging it is to take my own physical abilities for granted. And if I’m respectful, appreciative and aware of the incredible daily things my body does for me, it is a lot harder to pick on myself for having a soft, round belly or for having a crooked jaw or for eating more chocolate than I needed.

It’s become much easier to say “I like my body” no matter how my body looks like on any given day, because that “like” is coming from a place that isn’t about how I look. If I hold out saying and feeling that “I like my body” until I like what I look like, I could be holding out forever. Looks fade, skin gets looser, gravity takes it’s toll – if we’re not happy with what we look like in our 20’s and 30’s, we’re certainly not going to like what we see as we age (this is not to say I can’t appreciate my physical features – I can and do. This girl can be as vain as they come.). Why not like what we have as it is today? As it is tomorrow? It’s all we have – so let’s love it up.

Putting my focus on appreciating the things my body does for me daily rather than what it looks like also helps in a big way with my eating. If I want my body to continue functioning well, as best as it can, at my current state of health, I need to feed it in a way that supports that. Bingeing on chocolate, cheez-its or other snacks until I’m crazy full won’t do that. Eating a variety of whole foods, to satisfaction does. The choice becomes a little bit easier to choose things that continue to make my body feel and perform it’s best.

What amazing things does your body do that you are appreciative of?

Can you list out 10 things you are grateful for about your own body?

How can you support your body to do more of the things you want to do?

Keep an eye out for Part 3 of this body image series next week, where I’ll share another practice I use in my life to transform how I feel about my body!


Could you use some support with body image? Schedule a free consult with me here.

Also, I have a brand new guide for you! It’s called You Have What it Takes:  Overcome Emotional Eating, Overeating and Chronic Dieting by Rediscovering Qualities You Already Have and it’s designed to help you build more confidence and understanding of yourself as you take on the task of improving your relationship with food. You can get your copy here.

 

 

 

I like my body. How I went from hating it to being ok with it. (Part 1 of a 5 Week Series)

Let's smash how we talk about our bodies so that we think of them differently

Let’s smash how we talk about our bodies so that we think of them differently

I sometimes catch a glimpse of my naked body in the mirror and feel really ok about what I see. In fact, sometimes I actually like what I see.

This is kind of radical thing for me personally, but also, certainly in the world we live in today.

Even writing that down, that my naked body is ok, that I don’t hate it anymore, that there are actually things I like about it, almost feels shameful. I’m not supposed to feel that way and even worse, if I do, I shouldn’t dare to admit that! There’s a part of me that knows that it’s not normal in our society to feel ok about my body. It’s vain or conceited, not being humble or modest if I decide I like my body as it is. As women, we’re supposed to hate every part of ourselves – we’re too big, too small, too loud, too quiet, too aggressive, not assertive enough, she wears too much makeup, she should wear some make up etc. And I’ve spent most of my life feeling like I majorly missed the mark. Never able to get it right. Never enough. Never ok.

But I’m done with that. It’s too exhausting to keep up.

This whole body acceptance thing is not something that came easy to me.

In fact, it’s only been the last few years when I could see my naked body and not feel total revulsion. Or even see myself fully clothed and not find 8 reasons not to leave the house.

My body is not perfect by the standards that most others would hold it up to. And I’m pretty sure if you saw me naked you could find plenty of things to find fault with if you wanted to. But I don’t really care anymore about what other people think of my body. I’m no longer trying to manipulate it for the approval or benefit of some unknown person.

But it’s more perfect to me today than it has ever been.

Honestly, this is ironic in a way, that at 38 years old, my body, which is starting to show visible signs of the effects of gravity, the beginning of wrinkles, and let’s not forget lots of loose skin and stretch marks from many years of yo yo weight gain and loss, is more pleasing and accepted by me now than it was when I was 28 and 20 lbs lighter than I am right now.

This doesn’t mean that I’m walking around thinking I have the greatest body on the planet. And it doesn’t mean that there aren’t days or times when I stumble back into a fixation on something I don’t love about my body. Usually it’s when I put on something that doesn’t fit right (though buying higher quality clothes has helped in that area!) or when I haven’t gotten enough sleep and I suddenly notice a change in my face that I hadn’t noticed before. For a short while, my old critic will come up behind me and whisper in my ear “What is that? You should fix that. That’s ugly.” But instead of listening to her whispers and letting them fill up my head with with her unsolicited opinions, I shush her and tell her to go home. She’s not welcome here anymore.

That’s just one thing I do that has helped transform acceptance of my body.

How did I get to this place? To a place where I can walk by a mirror and see my body with all it’s possibly imperfections reflected at me and not want to run screaming?

It was a conscious choice because my quality of life was going down. It had become more tiring and painful to continue doing what I was doing (focusing and indulging in the negative thoughts I was having) than it was to decide to take active steps towards changing it. Deciding to start doing things differently, and keep coming back to doing them differently when things weren’t so easy, felt better and easier than staying where I was.

Over the next 5 weeks I’m going to share the most concrete changes I’ve made towards my body acceptance that you can start doing too.

This is Part 1.

I shush the critic when she whispers in my ear and tell her to go home.

When my old critic appears, and she does, she always will, I used to hear her words and thought they were truth. I kept putting my focus on them, constantly double checking to see if she was right. I’d have a thought pop up and then indulge in it by constantly putting my focus back on it.

Please don’t feel defensive when you see that word “indulge” – this isn’t a blame thing. While we can’t control what thoughts pop into our head in the first place, we do have control over what we do with those thoughts, how much attention we pay to them – and we pay a ton of attention to these awful and cruel thoughts. It’s become really easy to go there because we have programmed ourselves to go to that place. But we can also unprogram ourselves. It takes time and practice, but it can be done.

To illustrate how we “indulge” our thoughts, think about the biggest crush you had when you were in school. You might have passed him or her in the hallway, brushed elbows with them or maybe say hi and where did your brain go for the rest of the day? You would find yourself thinking about them over and over again. You’d be on the school bus thinking about them. You’d be laying in bed, thinking about them. You’d have this person on your brain all the time, even if you barely saw them that day. Running into them caused the first thought about them, but it was your brain, and the reward it received thinking about them that made your attention go back again and again. Even though it felt like some otherworldly cause was pulling your attention to it it was actually a choice you made because there was a benefit to it. You wanted to think about them because it felt good (you got all tingly and hopeful!) and so you purposely put your brain to work by indulging in thoughts about that person. Believe it or not, there is or was a benefit at some time to you thinking these terrible thoughts about your body – you may have started doing it because you thought it would protect you in some way or it would help you reach goals that would make your body more accepted by others. It may not be helpful now (and probably has done more harm than anything else), but it’s origination was probably out of love or protection.

We have thousands of thoughts each day and most pass on through with barely a notice but the ones we deem important show up again and again. It’s not really that your brain knows your mortgage needs to be paid or that a doctor’s appointment needs to be remembered that makes it something you remember to do. It’s that you’ve put your attention on it time and time again and now your brain knows that this is something it has to focus on. We do this with our worries, with our fears, dreams, daydreams and even with love (yes those crushes develop because we see/interact with someone over and over). We choose to think loving thoughts about people over and over again. For a lot of us this is an unconscious action, but make no mistake about it, the repetition is an action. This is good news though because that means once we become conscious that this is how our thoughts work, we can take different actions.

Remember when I said we can reprogram our brains?

One of the first steps to accepting your body is to reduce the amount of air time the inner critic gets. When thoughts come up that you don’t want to indulge in, you don’t want to give more power to, gently tell your inner critic her to keep her opinion to herself, that you don’t appreciate or agree with that information and then actually visualize sending her home, visualize closing the door behind her as she leaves. Visualize yourself locking the door with a key and then put the key in your pocket.

The next time she arrives, she will have to knock first and you can decide if you want to take that key out and let her in.

You may find that she has other ways in, maybe she sneaks in through a window or someone else who lives in the house let her in. She’s a crafty one. But if you keep asking her to keep her opinion to herself and continue to escort her out. She will show up less and less and she will have less power over you when she does.

Please know that this isn’t a one time or two time thing you can do and have it work. We have to be just as vigilant in trying to change as we are with our indulging in thoughts. If you previously thought about how gross your thighs or belly were 15 times a day, be prepared to show your critic out the door 20 times a day, every day for awhile. Don’t give up. Notice how many times a day your thoughts try to go there. Write it down if you have to to help keep you conscious. How long it will take to reduce the frequency is different for everyone and this is just one step of many that you can take to feel more loving towards your body.

But I know you are getting to the place where you want that more than you want whatever it is your critic is trying to get you to change. Keep remembering that.

Keep an eye out for Part 2 of this series next week!


 

Could you use some support in this area? Schedule a free consult with me here.

You can also download a free copy of Healthy Eating Shouldnt Be a Workout:  Real Life Strategies to Take the Confusion Out of Healthy Living (includes recipes, snack and meal ideas, ways to save money and more!). It’s my starter tool pack for those who want to begin changing their relationship with food.

 

 

 

A Better Relationship with Food Means Making Deliberate Decisions

We make deliberate choices every day, often every hour about what and how we will eat. There is freedom in this.

We make deliberate choices every day, often every hour about what and how we will eat. There is freedom in this.

I just want to point out that getting better from our struggles with food doesn’t happen by chance.

I talk to a lot of women who seem to believe that there must be a secret way out of all of this – one that will allow them to be somewhat unconscious or inactive while someone or something else does the work (I’ve been there!).

We won’t wake up one day able to eat the exact right amount for our body without judgement, without overeating and without a lot of conscious choices just because we’ve been hoping that would happen.

I certainly tried that. I remember literally trying to “pray” away my weight as a kid. And as I got older, I definitely daydreamed about just waking up in a body that wasn’t confused about food.

We won’t “fix” our stuff just because someone gave us the right diet plan. Being told what to eat and how much is liberating, but only briefly. I say briefly, because on any diet, we will find ourselves choosing to not eat the things or quantities we are supposed to at some point. We will make decisions about food, regardless of what we’re “supposed” to do.

There have been many times over the years where I just thought if someone else would tell me what to eat, exactly what to eat and I didn’t have to make decisions about food, then I wouldn’t have the struggles I did. I wanted to opt out of all decision making about what I put into my body.

But the way out is by actually facing those decisions head on, taking responsibility for our choices and having the consciousness to be able see what our actions lead to.

The best thing to do is to accept that almost everything we do in our food life is because of a choice that we made. Even the choice to not make a choice and have someone else make it for you (i.e. having someone give you a specific diet plan) is itself a choice. The lack of decision is also a decision.

We will only improve our relationship with food by making deliberate and more conscious choices and decisions about:

  • what we eat (ex. Will I choose to eat this compelling donut in front of me or the nutritious lunch I planned?)
  • how we eat (ex. Will I choose to eat slowly, chewing every bite thoroughly before swallowing? Or will I choose shovel handful after handful of chips into my mouth without even taking a breath?)
  • how much or little we will eat (ex. Will I choose to eat until I’m uncomfortably full or will I stop when I’ve had comfortably enough?)
  • when we eat  (ex.  Will I choose to eat because it’s a certain time of day, because it’s been 4 hours since I last ate or because I am physically hungry? etc)
  • why we eat (ex. Are we choosing to eating from a recognition of our physical hunger? Or are we choosing to eat so that we can avoiding feeling our feelings?)
  • even the other stuff like letting go of judgement, loving our body and loving ourselves as we are right now. It all feels abstract and the thoughts we have about ourselves do pop up without conscious choice, but it’s still a conscious choice as to what we will do with those thoughts. Will we choose to let them pass through like clouds pass by in the sky? Or will we choose to choose to focus on them and allow those thoughts to grow?

This is not a blame game. I know people often feel sensitive and defensive when they hear that they have a choice about something because it sounds as if we are choosing to be unhappy, overweight, or to live a complicated relationship with food. But just because we have a choice over our actions, doesn’t mean that it makes it easy to make the best choices all of the time. And it doesn’t mean that you will make good choices even when you are aware of the consequences of the choice you are making. So before we get riled about trying to figure out where to place blame, let’s just decide that there isn’t anyone or anything to blame. This is just how it is and let’s take responsibility for what we can, and not worry about what we can’t.

Focus on the actions you can take to improve things in your food world, like bringing more awareness and more attention to your choices, your meal times, your purchases at the grocery store, how you eat, when you eat etc. Make awareness your job.

When you start to feel acutely aware of the inner thoughts you have as you make these choices (oh, we all have them!), you’ll notice that you can decide to go along with it or choose to do something different. You’ll start to notice that when you decide to make a different choice that you feel better, happier, have less digestive distress etc. And when you feel all the good things that come with making the best choices for your body, making those choices more often will get a little easier!

But first you have to make deliberate and conscious choices regularly, daily, even hourly sometimes. You must do this daily – it has to become part of your life’s practice.

Choose to not reach into the candy bowl again.

Choose to not eat in your car.

Choose to exercise even when you don’t want to.

Choose to eat vegetables even though chips might be more appealing right now.

Choose to go out and visit with friends when you’d rather be downing a pint of ice cream on your couch.

Even with acute awareness and practice, sometimes you will still choose the things that won’t feel best. You will still occasionally choose to eat more than you had planned. You will still sometimes choose foods that don’t feel so great in your body. But that doesn’t have to mean that anything has gone wrong or that you aren’t doing the best you can right now. Normal eaters sometimes do these things too. And for someone healing their relationship with food it is normal to wonder if these perceived “slip ups” are proof that you aren’t improving things or if it’s normal. It’s all in how you handle it. Will you view one single overeating episode as a reason to go back to overeating all the time? Or will you use your knowledge and awareness to let that go and make a different choice going forward?

Realizing that every bite we put in our bodies is because of a deliberate decision we have made is actually very powerful. We can choose to view that as crappy and feel like we are being blamed for our eating challenges or we can choose to see freedom in knowing that we can be active participants in the way out.

Knowing you can choose at every meal and every situation is very liberating. It is freeing. It can help you relax around food. It can help you beat yourself up less (because there will be more choices to make going forward). I know it isn’t easy and I’m not promising that making good choices is easy from the start (it’s not!) – but to get to the “easy” and I know that most of us are always looking for easy, you have to first understand and accept that we have choices to make, bring your attention and awareness to your actions and choices and then start deliberately making choices from a conscious place.

There is a lot of hard work in this. And yes, sometimes it’s really uncomfortable, painful and you’ll feel “I don’t wanna!”. That’s fine – you can feel that way. Just don’t stay there all the time (that’s a choice too cutie!). Come back when you are ready and let’s make more deliberate decisions together.


Could you use some support in this area? Schedule a free consult with me here.

You can also download a free copy of Healthy Eating Shouldnt Be a Workout:  Real Life Strategies to Take the Confusion Out of Healthy Living (includes recipes, snack and meal ideas, ways to save money and more!). It’s my starter tool pack for those who want to begin changing their relationship with food.

This is How You Respond with Love When You Overeat

How to respond with love when you overeat.

How to respond with love when you overeat.

Responding with love after an overeating episode.

How do we do that?

Last week I wrote a post on how the way that we respond to ourselves when old eating habits resurface can make a big difference in how often we overeat. I talked about how there are two ways you can respond – either with love or with shame, disgust and guilt and that responding the more familiar, negative way is the sure way to find yourself rooting around the pantry again. Responding with love can help these kind of overeating episodes become less frequent and less damaging over time.

So let’s talk about what responding with love actually looks like!

If you’re like me, you like lots of information when you are trying something new. Information, details and answers make you feel safe or like you’re on the right track. But I also have a tendency to overcomplicate things with my need for details (haha! If you’re like me you probably get that too!) so I’m not going to do that to you today! I’m going to give you the info you need but not so much that it makes you feel paralyzed or stuck in taking action.

Responding with love each time you overeat doesn’t have to be a huge, complicated process. It can just be something you do, naturally, simply and normally.

If we go into this by only focusing on giving ourselves love when we eat in a way we aren’t happy with, it’s going to feel like an uphill battle. So with that in mind, the way you respond with love in your overeating episodes is to respond with love every time you eat.

Each time you eat, whether it’s a normal meal, overeating, under eating, a binge, a diet, a snack say thank you. If you’re eating a salad, a steak, a cup cake, a whole sleeve of Ritz crackers, say thank you. Every day. Every meal. Every bite.

Thank your body for receiving the food.

Thank it for digesting it.

Thank your teeth, saliva, your tongue for chewing it so that you can digest it.

Thank your body for retrieving the energy and valuable nutrients from the food that it needs so that you can live your life.

Thank your body for giving you feelings of comfort and satisfaction and safety after a meal.

Tell your body your love her. For no reason other than you are present with her now. Thank you, I love you. Thank you, I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.

Get in the habit of sending her adoration and gratitude at every opportunity.

It might feel silly at first.

You might feel conceited.

But it’s not conceit. It’s not pride. It’s one small, gentle, non-threatening way you can show yourself love.

We already are really good at saying thank you. From an early age we are taught and trained to say please and thank you. Saying thank you in response to certain situations becomes automatic. We want to show respect and be polite. We want to acknowledge the thoughtfulness and kindnesses others show to us. Why can’t we do the same for ourselves? Isn’t our body deserving of the same pleasantries? Literally everything we are able to do in life happens because we have a functioning, breathing, thinking body. And eating and processing food is a part of all that. Thank your body so often for it’s daily gifts that your positive response will become automatic (just like it is when someone holds the door open for you).

Your digestion will be better. Your body will absorb more nutrients from the food you eat. Your general outlook will be better. You may not even recognize why but it’s because you’re connecting with and acknowledging the role your body plays in your world.

If this feels crazy silly to you, you could also try saying a form of “grace” before you eat or after you eat. Instead of (or in addition to) a prayer to God or your higher power for providing the food you are eating, you could pause for a moment and to yourself (or out loud if you wish) say:

“Dear Body, I thank for all the work you will undergo so that I can eat this food and digest this meal. Thank you for making it so the nutrients in this food allow me to have a productive and satisfying day. Thank you for giving me energy today. I love you for all that you do, all that you are and exactly as you are right now.”

Alter that as you wish. What does your body want to hear? What does she do for you every day that you are grateful for? How is she worthy and deserving of your love? And will you try giving it to her so that it becomes easier to give it to yourself?

So now you know how to respond with love to your eating episodes. Will you try it?


Like this? For more, download your free copy of Healthy Eating Shouldnt Be a Workout:  Real Life Strategies to Take the Confusion Out of Healthy Living (includes recipes, snack and meal ideas, ways to save money and more!).

Need help with your own eating struggles? Let’s talk.

What is Normal Eating? (What Normal Eating Looks Like and What it Doesn’t)

Is eating food for pleasure normal? Is it normal to overeat? Find out the answer to these questions in today's post!

Is eating food for pleasure normal? Is it normal to overeat? Find out the answer to these questions in today’s post!

If you have a complicated relationship with food, you may have noticed that you tend to fall into some sort of extreme, at least most of the time. You may overeat for weeks at a time, only to find yourself trying to “make up” for those extra calories by undereating and overexercising in the weeks following. You may eat super “healthy” for long stretches of time only to have it backfire and lead to binge eating spurts.

You might find yourself having a lot of black and white thinking around food or needing to control your food intake very strictly. Other people making food for you might stress you out or not having access to foods that you feel “safe” with might cause stress for you.

If any of this sounds like you and you are trying to go from a disordered relationship with food to a more natural or normal one, you may find that you feel a little rigid about what you think that is. Since our relationship with food has been very strict or extreme, we tend to want to attack “normal” eating the same way.

But normal eating is anything but rigid, strict or extreme. It’s actually the opposite.

Normal eating is:

  • occasionally eating more than our bodies need.
  • occasionally eating less than our bodies need.
  • eating for pleasure.
  • eating just because something tastes or looks really good.
  • eating because we are hungry.
  • eating sometimes because we are bored, tired or having a rough day.
  • eating food that you desire.
  • eating foods that give you energy.
  • eating until you’ve had enough.
  • eating nutritious foods and also less nutritious foods sometimes.
  • not judgemental or very rigid.
  • flexible and adaptive to day, the seasons, your schedule, environment and mood.
  • permissive. You can eat whatever you want or need and nothing is off limits.
  • not full of shoulds or shouldn’ts.
  • listening to and eating according to your fullness and hunger signals on a regular basis (but sometimes overriding them).

I know this can be confusing, right? On one hand, we hear that overeating and emotional eating are problems (and I even work with the population who struggles with these things). Or that undereating is a cause for concern. Or that we shouldn’t eat whatever we want whenever we want.

The difference between “normal” and abnormal eating

The difference between “normal” and abnormal or disordered eating from my perspective (remember I am not a therapist and do not give out medical advice) is in what we make this stuff mean (for example: “I am a bad person for eating this.”, “I am going to get fat from eating that ice cream.” etc) or the frequency with with we engage in these behaviors and thoughts. Overeating or undereating occasionally is not a problem. Doing those same things daily or for long periods of time (or bouncing back and forth between the two in extreme ways) is likely an issue. Inflexibility is another hint that something is off. It is not normal eating if you refuse to eat before you know the amount of calories in something. It can be normal to want to eat nutritious food most of the time but it’s not normal to never be willing to eat something that isn’t 100% for nutrition.

Another clue that eating strays from normal is if we have any physical or mental health issues developing because of our eating habits. Also, our own perception is a big clue to whether it’s normal or abnormal (though there are lots of people with eating issues who are unaware that they are doing anything abnormal). Does it “feel” like your eating is not normal? Do you find you think too much about what you “should” or “shouldn’t” eat? Do you make judgements about yourself if you eat too fullness or eat junk food? Does eating make you feel stress? Do you avoid social situations where food may be involved?

It’s entirely normal to sometimes overeat and sometimes eat for emotional reasons but when you find yourself always doing it or responding to it with harsh measures of retaliation it has entered disordered territory. Eating for pleasure is wonderful and a completely normal part of life but when eating becomes your sole pleasure in life or you don’t allow yourself to eat pleasurable food, it can be an issue. As a side note, you don’t have to be diagnosed with an eating disorder to have an unhealthy relationship with food or to not be eating normally. There is a huge spectrum of what is normal and what isn’t.

A final note if you want to work on eating normally:  Be cautious about labeling food or yourself as good or bad based on what, why and how you eat. Watch out for guilt, shame, rules, judgements or retaliative measures about eating – they never lead anywhere good! Be wary about how much of your thoughts or energy go towards thinking about food. It’s one thing to plan healthy meals to make your week easier, it’s another thing to obsess over it or freak out if you have to get take out one night. It’s one thing to look forward to a delicious upcoming meal, it’s another thing to have it be all you can think about.

You are supremely knowledgeable about your own body and her needs. Believe this! If you feel like you are really far removed from knowing what is “normal” eating anymore, let’s hop on the phone (schedule a discovery call with me here). Coaching a helpful and non-threatening way to explore what is going on in your life, find out your motivations and make lifestyle changes with judgement free support (all in a way that helps you get back to listening to yourself!).