Friday, March 16, 2012

Weighty issues

On the side bar to the left is a link to the Health at Every Size community. If you haven't heard of this movement you might peruse Wikipedia's entry on HAES.

Occasionally I struggle with negative feelings about my weight. Here are some things I've found to be helpful while I work on self-acceptance.

Don't weigh yourself. Just stop. It's just making you crazy and interfering with your self esteem. When I think of the top 10 people that I think are most attractive, I realize that confidence just radiates from them. When I hop on the scale all the time, it erodes my confidence because it's so easy to spiral downward when the number is not what I want it to be. This makes me less happy with myself and less fun for others to be around. I'd so much rather be confident than be a size 4.

Stop talking about weight. If you're really struggling with self acceptance, put a moratorium about speaking about your weight or weight related issues. I am a verbal processor and I find it so easy to get talking about issues I spend a lot of time thinking about. Making the conscious effort to stop or cut down on talking about weight/size with my friends when I'm feeling especially triggered has really helped.

Don't hang out with people who talk about weight all the time. I have sooo been this person - the one who announces every pound lost, or talking about new diet recipes or exercise. Then I realized that this kind of talk was really triggering to myself, and when I considered how it might also trigger those around me I knew it needed to stop. I absolutely encourage you to have supportive friends who are also working on self acceptance or, if you have an eating disorder, to share your experiences with other women in recovery, but don't let it become an excuse to indulge your disordered thinking. Share your feelings when you need some support, and then move on. Don't get bogged down in the negative self-talk or body judging.

Don't watch/listen to/read stuff that is triggering. I stopped watching award shows. Have you noticed how the hosts always ask what celebrities do to stay looking good? If you spend time looking at stuff geared exclusively to appearance and how to improve it, you can't help but get sucked into it. Everyone's triggers are different. If Katy Perry makes it difficult for you to accept yourself at your size and shape, then maybe take a break from her music or videos. My obscure trigger is romance novels. Strange, I know, but when things get emotionally/mentally tough, I cut myself off from my guilty little pleasure because they just cause me to obsess about weight! This requires a lot of personal honesty and self awareness, but if you tune in to what makes you feel bad it's an easy habit to stop.

Either exercise to have fun or don't do it at all. I find that when I'm in the mindset of wanting to exercise to lose weight that I have so much less fun than when I just want to play a game I like on the X-Box Kinect, or just go for a bike ride with my dog. Honestly, it's healthier sometimes to just not exercise if the only reason you do it is to change yourself. It's not too difficult to convince yourself you're just trying to have fun when your real agenda is to lose weight though, so be vigilant for that negative inner monologue!

Be nice to yourself. Hone in on what you derive pleasure from. Through this process of self acceptance I discovered I really enjoy painting my nails. I find it really relaxing and it's much healthier than other things I could be doing (like indulging my disordered thinking about weight). Just let yourself be free to enjoy the things you like, bonus points if it's a simple pleasure. If you aim too big, you'll make excuses for not being happy.

Keep your habits healthy. Again, keeping it simple is the key. Take stock of your sleep schedule. Are you getting the maximum amount of sleep you need EVERY night? If not then take swift action to remedy that. Sleep deprivation is cumulative and leads to anxiety, depression and just generally feeling crappy. So much of life, including how much time we take to enjoy the food we eat and making time to do things we enjoy boils down to getting the right amount of sleep. Consume as many vitamin-rich foods as you can. Who cares if you pile Doritos on top of it, just some good nutrients into your body and watch those positive changes start to take effect. Stay hydrated and keep your caffeine intake (as well as nicotine, alcohol and other recreational substances) to a minimum. I swear this will make you happier in the long run.

Stop dieting and counting calories. For good tips on WHY you should do this, read Linda Bacon's book Health at Every Size, which you can find more information about on the link I mentioned above. In a nutshell, it's been proven that altering your eating habits and increasing your activity level does not cause permanent/long term weight loss. Sounds crazy, I know, but give the book a shot. It really changed my views about my habits and how hard I was on myself.


  1. Can I copy this to my blog with credit? I really think the people who read my blog would benefit from this.