Anatomy of a Bad Body Week

body
This day was the beginning of my bad body week. No idea why – looks harmless now!

I’m committed to a non-diet life, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have bad body days that turn into bad body weeks.

I’d been enjoying my time in Vivienne McMaster’s Be Your Own Beloved class. I was enjoying the challenge of taking a lot of selfies, even if they weren’t what I would have considered “flattering” or “attractive.” I felt I was really getting the hang of this compassion-for-myself business!

Then one day I took several photos for the prompt that day – we are encouraged to take many, many photos – and for some reason…it just set me off. The outfit I was wearing – something I thought looked super cute in the morning – was all wrong. My inner critic came leaping out of hibernation with all sorts of insults for my body, my face, my hair, my very soul, and for reasons I’ll get to, I was ripe for the picking.

I felt down for the rest of the day. I woke up the next morning with residual bad body feelings. I was also going through a period of fatigue (a theme of my life that I’ve learned to respect with rest). I felt like there was no one I could talk to about these feelings, because even if someone else knows the pain of bad body days, it’s hard to understand how other people have them. “You look great!” someone might console. I don’t know why, but that’s just not helpful at all; I know my bad body day is not rational and that others are not seeing what I see. A compliment at that moment just feels dismissive of all the dark feelings. I shared my thoughts with my partner and he was supportive and loving as always, but it’s still hard not to feel alone in these times.

But here’s what I knew, after so many years of experience: bad body days aren’t forever. And for me, they aren’t really about my body. At the same time, I also developed acid reflux and stomach distension that are classic symptoms of stress for me. So I started to think…what am I really bothered about? And I didn’t have to dig far to know that I’ve been a little stressed out with starting my business and dealing with the less fun administrative tasks. I’ve long known that I feel stress somatically, that even as my mind remains calm, my body sends me a multitude of distress signals. My body becomes, then, an easy target when the mental distress finally mounts.

What do I do when I finally realize I’m in the middle of a bad-body jag? It becomes all about self care. For me, that means getting lots of sleep and doing things like reading something fun and relaxing, eating familiar foods, and mindless TV watching or game-playing on my phone. And last week, it also included binge-listening to Julie Duffy Dillon’s fabulous podcast, Love, Food (specifically episodes 25, 26 and 28). Hearing that I wasn’t actually alone in these uncharitable thoughts about my body, that there were others dealing with these thoughts every single day, all over the place, was comforting.

In a culture that actively promotes body hate for profit – especially for women – and as someone who was a victim of this culture for 40 years before realizing it was total bullshit, it is unrealistic to think I’m going to feel great about my body every day. Frankly, I don’t even think it’s necessary to feel fantastic about the way our bodies look every day – that’s something that takes up a lot of mental space I no longer have room for. Feeling good IN my body is much more important to me, and that’s what I strive for now.

Soon enough, my bad body week ended. This week I’m back to being just fine with my body. I didn’t need to go on a diet to cure my bad feelings; I just had to sit with them for a while and be good to myself.

By the way, the photo that undid me is the one that accompanies this post. I look at it now and think there’s nothing wrong with this person in this photo. Some people in our photo group even liked it. In the end, it was all about what I really needed (self-care, compassion), and had nothing to do with how I looked.

Big News: Dare To Not Diet is in Business!

I’m excited to announce that I’m taking clients for drama-free-eating coaching! It’s been by dream to help others find peace with eating, food and their bodies, and after so many of you have reached out to say that you want this kind of support, I’m finally able to do it. To find out more, click here.

Latest Dietitians Unplugged Episode!

Aaron and I talk with Andrew Whalen of The Body Image Therapy Center about eating disorders in men. Give us a listen!

Libsyn
iTunes
Stitcher

 

Becoming My Own Beloved

Be Your Own BelovedLast week was a bad body week for me. You know the kind I’m talking about. Suddenly the outfit I was totally happy with in the AM felt all wrong by the PM; I had massive bloaty-belly syndrome for most of the week (classic stress response for me); and I felt my body was taking on proportions and shapes that were more alien than human (body dysmorphia learned from years of dieting in full effect). I just wanted to be at home, hiding in my sweats, not thinking about what I looked like, calming my tummy. Yep, even the most ardent of body-acceptance advocates can have a bad body day (or days, in my case).

Hey, it happens. I’ve accepted my body, mentally and physically uncomfortable days and all. I have so much appreciation for the process of learning to accept my body as is and what that acceptance has given me. Thinner-and-afraid former me wouldn’t be doing what I am doing now –  putting myself way the hell out there with this blog, hosting a podcast, and writing for a magazine – because I was so afraid of losing even one ounce of acceptance from others. It’s much harder to take big leaps when you’re in constant fear-mode.

So it’s nice to not care nearly as much about acceptability to others. But I am still my harshest critic. I hide a lot in photos for fear of what my own personal inner critic will say. I sometimes even hide from mirrors in public (I’m completely cool with my home mirror, don’t ask me how that works), or my reflection in windows.  I’m still not entirely familiar with this new, non-dieted body, and I could use some help.

viviennebio
Photo credit: Vivienne McMaster

That’s why I’m excited about this week’s Dietitians Unplugged Podcast. Aaron and I interviewed the very cool, very awesome Vivienne McMaster of Be Your Own Beloved. Vivienne helps others learn to love themselves through photography. I love taking photos, so this is something I can totally get behind. We were both so into this idea that we decided to join Vivienne’s July 1 class, and we’re inviting our listeners to join along with us. Let’s go on this awesome body-love journey together.

Enjoy this week’s podcast. It was one of our favorites. And hope to see you in the next Be Your Own Beloved class!

PS – This time only, Vivienne is including her 10 day class, Beloved Beginnings, in the price of her 30 day program. The 10 day class starts June 13. She has lots of other courses and e-books on offer so have some fun clicking around her gorgeous site.

Listen to Dietitians Unplugged Episode 10 – Be Your Own Beloved with Vivienne McMaster here:

Dietitians Unplugged on Libsyn
iTunes
New! Now on Stitcher