fbpx
How to Stop Obsessing Over Your Physical Appearance

How to Stop Obsessing Over Your Physical Appearance

As I reflect on past years and growing up with unrealistic expectations regarding my body, I have realized how much time we as women often spend thinking about our physical appearance. Thinking about what we could change, how to be “prettier,” or how to be valued by a society that objectifies our bodies on an extreme level. Many of us allow our physical appearance to impact our worth, both positively and negatively. We are consumed with being only a body to be viewed rather than holistic individuals worthy of love and success without having to meet unrealistic beauty standards to do so.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How often do I allow my energy to be focused on how others perceive me? 
  • How much energy am I putting into my physical appearance or allowing that to take from other aspects in my life? 
  • How often do I conform to societal expectations so that I can be more physically pleasing to others?

If we could let go of this recurring, unrealistic pattern, what would we spend our time doing instead? Who would we be able to connect with, serve, or inspire? Where would we travel, learn, and grow? What if we could allow ourselves to be as we are, without expectations of physical change what-so-ever? 

One of my favorite ways to challenge unrealistic expectations regarding my physical appearance is to identify a list of things that I am drawn to about my friends and family. Do I spend time with these individuals because of their clothing size, hair color, or height? Absolutely not. I spend time with my circle of people because of their values, sense of humor, our ability to connect, etc. With this in mind, it becomes clear how redundant focusing on my own physical appearance is, when it is such an afterthought to anybody who truly loves me unconditionally.

If you are constantly aware of your own physical appearance, I challenge you to identify what characteristics you are drawn to when connecting with others. Reflect on the difference between what you assume others value, such as physical appearance, vs. what they actually value. Regardless of where you are with your relationship with your body, we have all been in the position to fall victim of this mindset. As we move towards living a life that is focused less on physical appearance and more on the qualities that we value within our relationships, the quality of our lives and our relationships will dramatically improve.

Eating Recovery: Learning About Grief

Eating Recovery: Learning About Grief

Have you ever heard of the term disenfranchised grief? Disenfranchised grief is the act of grieving something that is not socially acceptable. This applies to the loss of relationships, jobs, dreams, or even an idea. The quote, “It’s okay to grieve the life that you thought you would live,” stands out to me as I have worked with many individuals who grieve aspects of their life before eating concerns were present. Grief symptoms can be heavy, surprising, and potentially isolating at times. However, knowing the grief process can bring awareness and normalcy through the course. 

The Kubler-Ross Grief Cycle consists of five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Although many people experience all five stages as they process through their grief, there is no specific route to take in effort to grieve the “right” way. I often refer to the grief process as a rollercoaster ride, full of sharp turns, unexpected loops, and seemingly ongoing without end. With awareness of how disenfranchised grief can impact recovery, we can choose to honor the process, and disempower the symptoms that continually show up. 

As you navigate recovery, you may grieve life before feeling as if your relationships revolved around recovery needs, how it felt to connect with friends when food was present, the ability to engage in meals without feeling overwhelmed with anxiety, or what it felt like to be comfortable in your body without always identifying ways that you wish it could be altered. It is essential to allow yourself time and space to grieve and seek support from family, friends, or a therapist. Over time, as you come to terms with the changes, you can begin to adapt to your new circumstances and find meaning and purpose in your current life. 

Expecting and Accepting Body Change

Expecting and Accepting Body Change

Throughout our lives, our bodies are meant to change and adapt. Body changes are a natural and inevitable part of life, but can be distressing when they transpire. It’s common to experience a range of emotions when you notice changes in your appearance, whether they are stigmatized as positive, neutral, or negative. These emotions may be based on societal standards, fears of the unknown, feeling out of control, attachment to familiarity, and/or comparison. And although body changes are expected, the emotions attached may be abrupt. 

My body has gone through many changes in the past few months being pregnant with twins. And although I am so grateful for the experience to grow my babies, I have been surprised at the comments made by others as they notice my changing body. There have been so many individuals who have made unhelpful comments regarding the size of my growing belly. Some say, “Wow, your belly is huge!” and others comment, “Your belly doesn’t look big enough to be growing two babies”. Comments of varying opinions have made me question my body’s ability to adjust “appropriately” without understanding what an appropriate adjustment would even look like.

Throughout this experience, I have learned that all I can do is trust that my body will adjust exactly how she needs to, unrelated to any other bodies or expectations others have set for me. 

Trusting my body requires me to let go of expectations set by cultural norms, media representation, my upbringing, or personal fears. My body is worthy of change, and I have made the choice to accept her exactly as she is through all of the unknown and changes that will continue to occur. My hope is that you, too, will find trust and acceptance of your body exactly as you are now. 

Embodied: What Does it Mean?

Embodied: What Does it Mean?

The term “embodied” is used frequently in the recovery community. But what does being embodied mean? It signifies feeling connected to your body in a holistic way. Being embodied represents feeling safe in your body, while being able to experience all sensations, physical and emotional, without limitation. Experiencing being embodied is a powerful feeling, although it can be difficult to achieve without tools to support you as you work towards a place of trusting your body, and allowing your body to trust you back.

Here are a few tools you can use to increase embodiment:

  1. Mindful movement: Engage in movement without expectation. This includes moving your body in ways that feel meaningful without setting prior expectations, such as time requirements or distance obligations. Try dancing, yoga, or going on a walk. 
  2. Sensory awareness: Use your senses to embrace your ability to be present. Identify at least one thing you can taste, touch, smell, hear, and see. Reflect on what it feels like to be present in your body without judgment. 
  3. Identify stories: Notice what kind of thoughts you are thinking about your body or your mind. What kind of messages are you receiving from outside sources (movies, social media, friends, family, etc)? These messages can create the stories we tell ourselves about our bodies and/or our abilities.
  4. Engage in self-care: Show your body and your mind that you deserve to be celebrated and honored. Take a warm bath, get a massage, or engage in morning meditation. 

In my own life, I have noticed that when I am in a place of embodiment, I am able to be more present. Being connected to my body allows me to identify my needs, show up for myself, and be in a place where I can accept love and connection from others. Being embodied allows me to live in alignment with my core values wholeheartedly.

Building a Positive Relationship With Ourselves

Building a Positive Relationship With Ourselves

As you work towards a space of healing your relationship with your own body, you may begin to notice how others speak about their bodies, talk about others’ physical appearances, or maybe even make comments about your body. Part of entering a space of embodiment means exploring ways to set clear expectations or boundaries about the way that you communicate regarding your own, and others’, physical appearances. By setting clear limits on how those around us discuss, criticize, or interact with our bodies, we reclaim the power to outline our own self-worth and nurture a positive relationship with ourselves.

Setting boundaries may feel overwhelming in the beginning, so here are a few steps to make it easier.

  1. Explore what feels safe to talk about, and what does not. This will help you identify specific topics where boundaries may be needed. For example, it could be comments about your body size, appearance, clothes, or specific body parts. 
  2. Communicate boundaries to friends, family, coworkers, or anybody that has made comments that do not feel safe. Be clear and communicate what type of comments are acceptable and what is not. Express your needs and speak to why this boundary is important to you. Example: From this point going forward, please don’t make comments about my physical appearance. 
  3. Be prepared for pushback, but stick to your boundary anyway. It may be uncomfortable for others to acknowledge how past comments have impacted you, but this does not mean you need to adjust your boundaries to make others feel more comfortable. 
  4. Remember that boundaries can be moveable. If specific boundaries you have set are no longer serving you, you have the right to communicate within your relationships and adjust as needed. 

Boundaries are not walls, and setting boundaries does not necessarily mean shutting others out. We have the ability to set boundaries to protect meaningful relationships, and without boundaries, our relationships may not thrive or evolve into their full potential. Boundaries create a healthy balance between our needs, and the needs of others. You deserve safety and honesty within your relationships, and setting boundaries can be an excellent tool to help you reach that outcome.