My whole life I’ve leaned toward all-or-nothing thinking. Black or white. Binge or restrict. Terrible day or terrific.
In my mind I was either the energizer bunny or a sloth. I was either beautiful or blah. And how could I be beautiful if I was only pretty sometimes?
If I ate too much, I’d think F that, my diet is ruined! and pile on the extra helpings. I didn’t ask myself if I really wanted more, if I genuinely wanted to enjoy extra bites. No. Instead, I was focused on the fact that tomorrow I’d need to be perfect.
Tomorrow would be the day. The day I’d follow that diet flawlessly. And then in a week, a few weeks, when I lost some weight, I could finally start taking better care of myself. I could show my face at the gym. I could finally appreciate my body. I could feel better about myself.
I think one reason we have an unhealthy relationship with food and ourselves — eating ’til we’re uncomfortably stuffed, restricting ourselves, hurling insults, not practicing compassionate self-care — is because of judgment.
Specifically, we judge ourselves for all sorts of things. We judge our appearance. We judge our mistakes. We cling to shoulds that fuel self-judgment and keep us stuck.
I should weigh less. I should wear a size 4. I should eat less. I should never eat dessert or pizza or pasta. I should be able to do this with zero help.
In the book It’s Never Too Late to Be What You Might Have Been author BJ Gallagher shares stories of individuals who’ve achieved their hopes and dreams later in life.
For instance, she talks about one couple, Arnold and Raine, who started hiking in their 60s. They’ve hiked in Alaska and all over California, among other places, and they’ve hiked up 10,000 to 12,000 feet.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about the meaning and mission of Weightless. I know that some of you have been reading my blog for a few years, others are new readers, maybe some have even stayed with me since the very beginning, November, 2009.
The name “Weightless” was suggested by my close friend Jenny. I wanted something that conveyed my belief that our weight doesn’t dictate our self-worth, that we’re whole and good and enough regardless of the number on the scale and the food we eat, that we don’t need to internalize our society’s ridiculous infatuation with thinness. And so “Weightless” was born.
I mentioned several lessons I’ve learned throughout the four years I’ve been writing Weightless in this giveaway post (you can enter to win a book of your choice). But I wanted to expand on the lessons and share a more thorough list.
So here’s what I’ve learned in four years of being a body image blogger.
April is National Stress Awareness Month, so today, I’m highlighting ways we can soothe and stave off stress in our lives. While stress is inevitable — it’s life, after all — it’s important we have tools at our disposal to cope with it effectively.
Stress can negatively affect how we feel about our bodies and ourselves. It can trigger emotional overeating and anxiety and sink our mood. In short, it can be really overwhelming. It also doesn’t help if the strategies we turn to are detrimental to our health and well-being.
Today, I’m honored to share a guest post by Darla Breckenridge, MS, a psychologist specializing in binge eating at Green Mountain at Fox Run, a women’s healthy weight retreat. In 2011, Darla co-authored Journey into Self: A Hundred Days of Guided Mindful Reflection.
Below, Darla explores what we can do when we don’t love our bodies and any positive body talk feels oh-so faraway. She offers a powerful and valuable technique that leads us away from body hatred and onto a more positive — and feasible and authentic — path.
One of the biggest reasons we turn to food for comfort is disconnection. We’re disconnected from ourselves.
As author Julie M. Simon writes in her book The Emotional Eater’s Repair Manual, “You’re cut off from your most basic signals, your emotions.” In her book Julie shares a helpful strategy for reconnecting to ourselves.
Stress can spark disordered eating. While the relationship between the two is complex and varies by person, many people turn to food — or away from food — in times of stress. Controlling food intake becomes a way to cope.
In other words, “many people react to stress by under- or over-eating,” according to Jamie Manwaring, PhD, a primary therapist at Eating Recovery Center’s Child and Adolescent Behavioral Hospital.
When stress strikes, kids may also seek comfort in bingeing or restricting how much they eat.
* I’m incredibly honored to be part of Mara and Tamarisk’s blog hop, which features bloggers revealing what our self-care really looks like. Read the amazing and thought-provoking posts here. And be sure to check out Julie’s post tomorrow since she’s up next.
I’ve had an interesting relationship with self-care. And by interesting I largely mean non-existent. Until I started writing Weightless, I’m not sure that I even knew of the words, let alone deeply understood them.
And, to be honest, I’m much better at recommending you take great care of yourself, then I am at practicing what I preach.