Can you be body-positive and have fitness goals at the same time? Are these compatible notions?
Although many women wrestle with the notion that self-acceptance means they have to fully and unconditionally accept themselves and their bodies in their present state. For some of us, it is simply impossible.
If we have been a certain weight, shape, level of fitness for most of our lives, and our bodies have changed in a fairly short period of time and look drastically different from what we are used to, we just don’t recognize ourselves.
In some cases, we almost feel like we live in a foreign body.
You may be thinking: “But wait, isn’t this supposed to be about how to love and accept myself fully?”.
Yes, it is. But I also walked in your shoes and I know what you’re up against.
Why therapy fails so many of us
For many years I absolutely rejected my body. Whether or not the way I felt about my looks was founded or even rational was not the point.
In fact, the reason every single therapist failed at helping me change my perception of my body is that they were all preaching the same Gospel: “Delphine you must love and accept yourself”.
With no further instructions, no actionable advice. Nothing more than “you must”.
I am not denying that therapists are life-savers for many, but sadly, for the most part, they are unable to tell a binge eater HOW to stop binge-eating and a dieter HOW to stop hating their body.
Indeed, therapy focuses exclusively on the “underlying reasons”: upbringing, possible trauma, childhood, the impact of role models etc…but therapists have no idea how to get those who suffer from body-image issues and disordered eating to move on and live healthy and happy lives.
I’m including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in that equation.
It is a remarkable tool that helps tremendously identify and manage triggers.
C.B.T teaches very valuable coping mechanisms for those of us who battle with anxiety. But once again: It does not lead to cessation of symptoms. The cycle of restriction and binging does not stop fully.
And, frankly what we all seek, desperately, is to end the cycle.
I’ve experienced it first hand, and I yet have to meet a woman who had complete success in making peace with her body and food through therapy. PERMANENTLY.
As a matter of fact, the rate of relapse from traditional in and outpatient for eating disorders is nearing 70%.
Sadly, Less than 50% of patients who seek treatment for anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating, orthorexia, and eating disorders not otherwise specified will go in full remission.
“Just do it!” …if only I could
The obsession with perfection that chronic dieters struggle with is the most stubborn of arguments.
No amount of negotiation, justification, or rationalization will ever win over the certainty that our lives, happiness, success, and entire validation lie in having perfect bodies.
“Love your body” sounds amazing indeed, that is precisely what we are trying to achieve: through dieting!
But you can’t fake love. You can’t fake it for another and you can’t fake it for yourself.
Hence, standing in front of the mirror daily, chanting Mantras in a loop “I love and accept myself, I am beautiful as I am” simply does not work.
Accepting yourself is not an act of resignation
Back when I was desperately trying to heal my relationship with food and my body I would NEVER have trusted a program that did not leave room for weight loss.
That’s why today I’m a big supporter of any method that revolves around making peace with food and your body, taking your power back over food, being able to be around food without feeling any anxiety, without fear of getting out of control.
It does not require to abstain from “trigger foods” because I KNOW this is counter-active and not sustainable in the long run.
You deserve to live a life free of restriction, therefore one that excludes diets yet still facilitates weight loss in a natural, wholesome, sane, and sustainable way. FOR LIFE.
Loving yourself and having health goals can be compatible
Weight loss should not take over your entire life, it should not drive you to obsession and misery, it should not isolate you from friends and relatives, it should not become your job and sole purpose in life and it should definitely not cause you to hate the body that you live in.
Thus, you do not have to accept that the way your body looks right now, at this very moment, is the way it will look forever. Because it most likely won’t.
Our bodies change, evolve, thrive …and age! That’s life.
Nothing ever remains the same. And that is a law of physics and biology. Not a personal opinion. So your body will change. You are NOT stuck. Trust the process, and most of all trust your body to know exactly how to get there if you let it.
Facts and actions over control and wishful thinking
My approach is very much rooted in evidence and in action.
It is through proof and science-based facts that you will find the reassurance and security that you absolutely need to trust the process and it is through actions that produce results that you will gain an unparalleled level of self-confidence and rebuild your self-esteem.
How you got to where you are does not matter: whether you had a child, are an over-eater, let yourself go, are recovering from long term bed-rest or any other reason: LET IT GO!
Forgive yourself. Holding on to guilt will only make it more difficult for you to heal your heart and your body.
If you suffered abuse, by all means, seek support, reach out.
consult a therapist if you suffer from depression, and be open-minded to the idea of going on anti-depressants if that is an option for you. There is no shame in doing anything in your power to help yourself and it is nobody’s business but yours.
After all, you are on a journey.
It is YOUR body, do as you please with it but always from a place of love and self-respect
Did you gain a lot of weight? Then wanting to lose weight to feel better about yourself, to improve your health, or to feel like yourself again is a perfectly reasonable goal.
It’s your body. It’s your decision. I am not anti weight loss, not at all. But I strongly encourage you to have your weight loss monitored by a nutritionist or a naturopathic doctor.
Preferably one who’s familiar with Intuitive Eating* as traditional doctors, sadly, are not very open-minded to this method and will often recommend the very thing that got you in trouble, to begin with: DIETS!
You can reach your goal. Do not let your mind tell you otherwise. Your past failures have nothing to do with you. You were simply using the wrong tool.
But you can’t work against your body, rather in full partnership and full trust with it.
Hating your body through the process is denying yourself.