So last week we talked about the difficult reality of the ever-unpopular Bad-Body Day. But while it’s one thing to be aware of these and know how totally normal they are (they are VERY normal, btw), it’s another thing to figure out how to navigate them so that they don’t take you down! Here are 11 (my favorite number) ways to get through those days when you and your body are at odds!
1. Remind yourself it’s just a feeling.
And the nature of feelings? They don’t last. They feel like they will. We think they do. We convince ourselves this is the only way we will ever feel again. But it’s not true. Feelings don’t last. They are fluid and ever-changing. And if you hang in there, those difficult emotions that define the Bad-Body Day will leave and shift and change and you will not drown. Remind yourself– it’s just a bad day, not a bad life.
2. Ask yourself why.
Why are you feeling this way? And remember, “fat” is not actually a feeling. Fear is. Insecurity is. So are guilt, shame, anger, hurt, and disappointment. But fat isn’t.
Think of it this way. I work with a lot of my client’s around the concept that anger is a secondary emotion. Basically, that means that it comes in after you’ve felt something else, generally more vulnerable. Anger pushes people away so that they can’t see that you’ve been hurt. Anger is basically the bodyguard for vulnerability.
Feeling fat works the same way. It comes in after you’ve been feeling something more vulnerable. Maybe you’re nervous about a job interview. Maybe your friend hurt your feelings. Maybe your mom/doctor/co-worker/stranger commented on your weight. Maybe you’re feeling disappointed about some aspect of your life. Enter feeling fat.
Fat is something we are taught (erroneously) that we have complete control of. If we can just lose weight (so society says) everything in life will fall into line and we will feel like Princess of the Universe. Being thin (you’ve read in every magazine) will make you worth-while—it will allow you to be of value. So we make “feeling fat the issue” when it usually is a default to hide from what else might be going on.
3. Focus on what your body can do.
We tend to focus only on the size and shape of our bodies. We act as if how we look is the most important thing about our body. Is this really fair to your sweet body? I mean, it’s not like it breathes for you, pumps your blood, walks you around (note the sarcasm here). The truth is that your body is the only reason your lovely soul has a place here on this earth. Seriously. It is the home of your soul. And according to Cecil Baxter, “Our bodies are where we stay; our souls are what we are.”
4. Kick out the critic.
Seriously. Kick her fucking ass to the curb. Your inner critic is your greatest nemesis and you are giving her space– rent-free– in your own head! She is your greatest roadblock, downfall, soul-crusher. As far as self-work goes, managing her is priority TOP. The first step? Give her a face, an image, anything that you can use to put her voice on– to externalize the negativity. And then tell her to shut up. Shut-up. Shut-up. Shut-up. Want more help with this? Let me know!!!
5. Treat yourself like you would treat a friend.
Unless, of course, this is what you would say to a friend: “What the hell is wrong with you? You are so pathetic. You’re unlovable. Everyone thinks so. If you don’t get your shit together and lose weight, your life will suck. Forever.”
If you are unclear at all, this would make you a very bad friend and probably someone with no friends that stick around because no one wants to be spoken to like this. So what makes it ok for you to treat yourself like this when you would likely feel horrible if you said this out-loud to someone else? It may sound cliché, but you need to be a friend to yourself. You deserve your own love and respect. You really do.
6. Talk to someone.
You heard me. Actually reach out and ask for support. I know this is a hard one. I also know we all say we should do this more often, but then we don’t actually do it. But think of it this way. Learning to have a positive approach towards your body is a revolutionary choice. Especially when everything we see and hear about our bodies flies in the face of this and tells us we are never good enough. We need to support each other in knowing that we are so much more than the size and shape of our bodies. I, for one, know I need support. Maybe I’m the only one…?
7. Be proud of your decision to try and treat your body with the respect is has earned and deserves.
Be proud of your decision to try and actually treat yourself with gentleness. Be proud of that revolutionary choice I mentioned earlier. Be proud of yourself for trying. Even when it feels like you’re not doing a very good job. You are. You’re trying. That’s what matters.
8. Practice some solid self-care.
Do you need a rest? Do you need to move? Do you need a good Netflix binge? What about your favorite special coffee from your favorite special place? Mani/pedi? What do you need? What makes you feel good and cared for and nurtured? Because in the middle of a Bad-Body Day, you really do need some loving kindness and some good self-care.
9. Distract yourself.
Yup. Good ole distraction. The more you dwell on how badly you are feeling, the worse you are going to feel. Anything that takes your brain in a different direction will do. We aren’t super good at focusing on lots of different things even though we try to do it all the time.
Make your self-care a distraction you love. Get to work organizing the closet you keep saying needs to be organized. Send some emails. Go for a walk and listen to a podcast. Rock out to your favorite song and sing at the top of your lungs. It may take some effort to turn your mind around, but once you do, you’re on your way out of that Bad-Body Day.
10. Turn to a role model.
There are some amazing women out there doing fabulous work around body positivity and body image. Find a blog, a podcast, a social media account that is dedicated to letting go of dieting and committed to helping women learn to appreciate their bodies. It’s amazing what listening to or reading something that is uplifting and supportive can do for your mood.
11. Create a mantra and keep it running.
Make it something easy and something you can get behind. Don’t tell yourself something you can’t even believe a little bit. It won’t work. It will feel fake and hollow and actually make yourself feel worse. Pick something you can hold onto without trying to lie to yourself.
Some ideas? I’m proud of my effort. I know this will pass. I’m grateful for what my body can do. May I treat myself with kindness… Write it on a post-it, put it as your phone home screen, say it over and over and may it offer you peace.
So there you have it. 11 ways to help you hang on, outlast, and survive when you’re struggling with your body and how you feel about her. It’s good to have lots of options because something that works one time might not cut it the next time.
Basically, it’s always good to give yourself plenty of ways to help yourself when you need it. And please do. Please be kind enough to yourself to help yourself. That’s how things get better… :o)