Have you ever looked in the mirror and been unhappy about what you see?
I know that I have.
Honestly? For a number of years I didn’t even have a full-length mirror, and I wasn’t in any kind of hurry to get one.
I didn’t want to look at my body. I didn’t want to see all of the bumps and lumps on my legs. I had a heck of a time thinking of anything about it I liked, so I just kind of ignored it altogether.
Out of sight = out of mind, right?
When I did catch a glimpse of all of me I was generally horrified.
I am not being dramatic here. I just was. My eyes would immediately go to all of the problems with my body that I saw.
In fact, I vividly remember once in particular, maybe 10 years ago now, I was in the changing room in Nordstrom. I saw wrinkles/sagging skin around my elbows. My mom was with me and I pointed it out. I asked if it was there because I was getting old, or because I was just fat.
In my head I was thinking that if it’s just because I am fat then at least it is something that I can fix.
This wasn’t the first or the last time that I treated myself or my body this way. That I focused on what I thought was wrong, or what I didn’t like.
I would try to pick out clothes that would conceal my arms, or my stomach, or my legs. I was trying to hide my body from myself and the world.
I want to reach out to that version of me that was so unhappy and give her a big hug. And, if you are feeling anything like this, I want to give you a big, not at all creepy, internet hug too.
You see, there was NOTHING wrong with me. My body was exactly what it was supposed to be for me at that time. It was totally fine that I wanted to make changes, but there was literally NO way that I was going to make any lasting kind of change because I hadn’t learned how to love my body FIRST.
My friend, if you want to lose weight for the last time, you need to learn how to love your body and everything it is right now.
This mindset shift is WAY more important than restricting calories or riding a bunch of miles on your bike.
I didn’t finally lose weight riding my bike for the last time until I started to love my body exactly how it was before I lost a single pound.
Are you curious about why liking your body is so important if you want to lose weight? Read on for my 3 simple straightforward reasons.
Beating Yourself Up Just Doesn’t Feel Good
When we talk to our body like a jerk, it feels…well…bad.
How many times have you criticized some part of your body and felt good about it?
At the end of the day it just feels like absolute crap.
We hyper-focus on everything about our body that we think is “wrong” and completely disregard all of the things that are awesome.
When you start to focus more on what your body can DO for you, you can begin to appreciate it a LOT more.
Instead of looking in the mirror and focusing on everything that is wrong (you know, because that feels bad) focus on what you actually appreciate and like!
Maybe you like your eyes, or your hair. Maybe you can appreciate that your legs are what get you from point A to point B, and can help you spin the wheels of your bike.
Now I know that this will likely feel hard or be a bit uncomfortable at first. In our society women especially are conditioned to be self-deprecating and put ourselves down.
We are taught that if we praise ourselves or are happy in our own skin that we are somehow being braggy. That we should be more humble.
I say that is sheer and utter nonsense, and that we need to celebrate our bodies and everything they can do!
We should feel GOOD about our body…and feel good about ALL of it.
Even if we aren’t quite ready to shout how good we feel from the rooftops, at the very least we should be able to smile at that woman in the mirror and tell her she is awesome.
If you are having an extra hard time with this, think about that image in the mirror as the 12-year-old version of you.
Would you tell her she’s fat? That her legs are lumpy? That her arms look gross?
Of course you wouldn’t.
You would treat her with love and compassion. You would tell her she is awesome. She is beautiful. And that she is going to grow into an amazing, strong woman, and everything is going to be just fine.
Being Unkind To Your Body Doesn’t Even Work Long Term
One of the things that I am always telling my students and clients is that it would be one thing if talking to yourself like a jerk and beating yourself up actually works.
In fact, it usually makes the whole situation worse.
If you are losing weight from a place of restriction, and a place of feeling like you are something that is completely broken and has to be fixed, then you are SO much more likely to abandon ship and give up.
No one wants to feel bad all of the time. No one wants to feel like they have “let themselves go” and “can’t believe how they let it get this bad.”
At the end of the day we are overweight because we overeat.
And, if you are anything like me? You overeat when you feel like absolute garbage.
We overeat when we are stressed. When we have had a bad day. When we want to feel better. Or even when we want to feel numb.
So, if you are constantly trying to lose weight from this place of beating yourself up and treating yourself like absolute crap? Chances are at some point you are going to try to cope with those bad feelings with food.
The thing is that we are strong-ass women. Which means that we can probably willpower our way through losing 5, 10, 15 pounds or more.
But if we are doing it from a place of beating ourselves up, and we “slip up” and overeat, then instead of acknowledging the overeating and moving on we will convince ourselves we can’t do it.
That it’s just going to be like every other time that we tried to lose weight and didn’t.
And then we overeat some more and gain all of the weight back and then some.
The viscous cycle starts again.
If You Lose Weight From a Place of Thinking Something is Wrong, You Will Just Find Something ELSE That’s Wrong
Now so what if it DOES work? And you are able to beat yourself up and willpower your way to your goal weight?
After days, weeks, months of telling yourself you will finally reach your goal weight and feel good, you don’t.
You might be happy that you lost the weight, but you haven’t done anything to deal with the negative thoughts you are having about yourself and your body.
So, you will find something else to focus on that is wrong.
Something else that you have to fix.
Now, making improvements to ourselves and our bodies is good and awesome as long as we are doing it from a positive place.
That is not what’s happening here. Because you haven’t focused on becoming more comfortable and confident in your own skin along the way, you are still just as uncomfortable.
You just happen to weigh less. You will decide that you need to “do something” about your wrinkles. Or loose skin from weight loss. Or some other aspect of your body or your life that you have been beating yourself up over.
You thought you were going to finally feel good, but you still feel bad because you have taken all of your negative self-talk along for the ride, and it needs a new place to focus its energy.
A Final Note
Now, after reading this article you might think this whole idea sounds great, but it’s easier said than done.
That is really true. It’s easy to tell yourself you are going to be more supportive of your body, but it can be hard to do in the moment.
You might not even notice the things that you are saying to yourself about your body because you have been saying them for so long.
My best advice to you is to take out a piece of paper, a journal, or a blank google doc. Without censoring your thoughts, ask yourself “What do I think about my body right now? What do I think when I look in the mirror? What are the feelings that I have when I think about my body?”
The very first step in changing your negative thoughts about your body is to bring awareness to them in the first place.
Notice them. Work on neutralizing them. Try on some thoughts that are more neutral and more positive. Give yourself permission to be just as you are.
Focus on what you love about yourself, and what your body can DO, not what it looks like.
Build appreciation for yourself and your body one intentional thought at a time.
I love you. I appreciate you. I know that you are strong, beautiful, and worthy of love. If I have faith in you, and we may have never even met? YOU can have this faith in yourself, too.