Body Image and Self Compassion
By Laura Murphy
Let’s be honest here, to tell you to follow #bodypositivity and start loving your curves when you can’t even remember the last time you felt confident about your body, is just not realistic. It’s going to take time.
The diet messages that saturate social media portray that in order to be happy we must pursue a smaller body. These harmful messages encourage women to ignore hunger and fullness cues and engage in diets that are depriving our bodies of nourishment and happiness. Instead of hoping that by changing the way we look we will miraculously live a more fulfilling life (spoiler: it doesn’t work like that, in fact it will do the opposite) we can start by changing the way we talk about our bodies.
It truly breaks my heart seeing so many beautiful women going to drastic measures to make their body smaller – but if we stop letting diet talk fill our minds, imagine what we can accomplish having all that capacity to think about something else!
The only detox I’m going to recommend you do is a social media detox. If there are people you are following who make you feel inferior or are not uplifting for you, I encourage you to unfollow those people. If scrolling your newsfeed leaves you feeling uncomfortable about the body you’re in, rid yourself of all the accounts that make you feel this way. If you’re wondering who to follow now I suggest starting with: @bodyposipanda @beauty_redefined @eatwellnz
Appreciating what your body cando is a good place to start! After all, our bodies are pretty amazing! From years of dieting we become detached from our physical body and have a ‘me vs it’ relationship. Just being present in your body is powerful. Notice the way you talk to yourself. “I hate my thighs.” Would you talk to your girlfriends with such harsh comments? I highly doubt it. Start showing yourself the same love and compassion you would show your friends.
Each time this thought pops into your head I want you to observe it and replace it with “my thighs allow me to walk throughout the day” or “my legs enable me to play with my dog outside.” Choose something that resonates with you. By this point you’re probably thinking, there’s no way I’m talking to myself like that, but there is power in acknowledging and changing our thought patterns. Replacing thoughts creates new neural pathways and these affirmations will come more naturally to you, thanks to the wonders of neuroplasticity.
I invite you to explore movement that resonates with you – not something you see as punishment for what you may have eaten earlier or are about to eat.
If pounding pavements or HIIT training doesn’t do it for you now – it probably never will. AND THAT’S OKAY!
What about taking your dog to the park (plus side you’ll get to see lots of other cute dogs)? Going to yoga with your friends, or rock climbing? Or gardening? Find something that is therapeutic and pleasurable for you – taking a break from exercise may be something that is necessary for you and that is okay too! When you take the time to discover movement that you love rather than viewing it as punishment, it can be truly liberating.
Food does so many wonderful things for the body, not only physically but mentally too. For me, not many things are more wholesome than going out for a vino and fries with my friends. Once we relearn (yes, relearn) how to eat mindfully by listening to and trusting our body signals (and responding without attaching feelings of guilt!) we begin to view food from a different standpoint. We are all born with the ability to know when to eat and when to stop but unfortunately we lose this ability due to external influences and dieting. Some quick ways in which you can begin to eat mindfully include:
Listen to your body. Notice when you are eating out of habit or emotion or genuine hunger. Is it food you want? Or is it dog cuddles, or a phone call to a friend to vent your frustration over your day? Take the time to notice these feelings.
Make eating times just for eating – sit down and enjoy your food. This allows us to appreciate the meal and stop when we are full instead of mindlessly eating on-the-go or because of emotions.
Slow down and notice the texture, taste and other sensory qualities that your food possess. Developing a connection with the food and being conscious of what you are eating increases food satisfaction.
By Laura Murphy
Laura has a Bachelor of Applied Science in Human Nutrition and a Certificate in Fitness and is passionate about embracing a non-diet approach and helping women navigate their way to a loving relationship with food and their body. She is also an avid foodie and loves creating new recipes in the kitchen!