Will I ever love my body again?

Photo courtesy of RepresentationMatters.me

“I used to love my thinner body, even though I hated dieting. Will I ever love my body again?”

This is an occasionally-heard refrain heard from some of the brave souls who have chosen to give up the pursuit of weight control through dieting and have instead opted for the unknown of what their bodies will do in response to a more peaceful relationship with food.

To review, there are three possible outcomes of giving up dieting:

  1. You may lose weight.
  2. You may gain weight.
  3. Your weight may stay the same.

For anyone experiencing any of these outcomes (even weight loss), the work of body acceptance is necessary to help clear the path to a more peaceful relationship with eating. This is the work of body image healing.

I love the goal of body neutrality as a result of the body image healing work that we do. Body neutrality, to me, means you don’t have to feel in love with your body or how it looks, but you don’t loathe it either. You’re able to see your body as an instrument, not an ornament, and get on with your life and all the things you want to experience in it.

But sometimes we wonder if we will ever get to a place of loving how our bodies look. For some, body neutrality doesn’t feel like enough, and they remember a time when they were maintaining a lower body weight, getting societal accolades, and enjoying the way their bodies looked to the world.

Rarely do we seem to question why we need to love how our bodies look. Would we have this same desire to love our appearance if there weren’t such strong cultural messages about beauty standards? Would this need exist if we were stranded alone on a deserted island like Tom Hanks in the movie Castaway? I strongly believe the answer is no.

That’s why we need to talk about self-objectification, which is experiencing one’s body not from the inside, but from the outside, looking in. It arises from an unfair system in which women are judged more for how they look and not for what they do (one of the many unpleasant side effects of patriarchy).

We are presented with a relentless barrage of media images of women and messages around what constitutes the “right” look (and from the mere absence of other types of images, we can easily infer what constitutes the “wrong” look). It’s so easy to constantly compare ourselves to these images and develop that outside-in-gaze that becomes more dominant than the experience of being in our bodies.

I think it’s lovely to be able to look in the mirror and say, “Yep, good outfit” or “Awesome style I’ve got going today.” That’s a world away from, “I love how my body is mirroring unrealistic cultural beauty standards by being as small as it can today!” The first two statements are about objects on your body; the latter statement is about your body as an object.

For me, opting for body neutrality and appreciation of its usefulness was a far saner goal than needing to love how I looked on a physical level, because I no longer wanted to be a mere object to be admired.

I don’t actually think we need to love how our bodies look to live a richer life. We do need to understand why that desire exists, though.

Here are two great blog posts about self-objectification from one of my favorite anti-diet, pro-body sites, Beauty Redefined:
Selfies and Self-Objectification
Running from Self-Objectification

I hope you go straight down the rabbit hole of this site because they have so many wise things to say on the subject of self-objectification!

Need help managing your diabetes, pre-diabetes, or insulin resistance?

HAES Care for Diabetes is back! Two tracks are available, starting on September 11 and September 13. Rebecca Scritchfield, HAES dietitian and author of the book Body Kindness, and I will be providing sound and compassionate non-diet, non-restrictive, non-weight-focused advice and support for managing your blood sugars. Click on the image below for all the details about this 4 week virtual counseling group and how to register!


Thank you to Lindley Ashline at RepresentationMatters.me for her free stock photo images!

Want to feel freedom with food?

Tired of feeling ruled by food? I can help you get free. Learn more here.

Subscribe and get my free guide, Why you overeat …and what to do about it.

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HAES Care for Diabetes

imageSomething I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is diabetes.

I’m getting older and I have a family risk, and taking care of myself in the best possible way (where “best” sometimes means “good enough”) is something I’m always working on.

And of course, I don’t diet anymore and never will again. So the standard “lose weight to lower your risk” advice just isn’t going to fly with me (sorry, Doc!). I eat as healthfully as I can (knowing I get to determine what that means for me) and move joyfully, but those things don’t make me thinner, just like they don’t make most people thinner which is why people end up going on whackadoodle diets. But I do know that they can help to make me healthier, and hopefully decrease my risk for diabetes.

My Grandmother was diagnosed later in life and ended up living quite a long time despite some seriously flawed self-care over the years, in part due to becoming my Grandfather’s full-time caregiver after a stroke. She had been a life-long dieter who ended up at a much higher weight by the time she was in her 60s. She really did eat like a bird from what I could see, which doesn’t actually surprise me given what I know about how dieting affects metabolism. (Fun fact: this would drive my Mother crazy when she would cook a massive Christmas dinner once a year and Gram would then pick deliberately at it and leave most of it on her plate. Ah, families) All this backstory to say, she had diabetes and she still managed to have a life. I think it’s important to remember that a diagnosis of diabetes does not mean the end of one’s life.

At one of my day jobs, I have done a lot of diabetes education. Not once did I recommend weight loss. Why? Because we know that route, even if it did help with blood sugar control, is temporary at best and usually results in massive disinhibition with food later on which is definitely not good for blood sugar control.

Yet there persists this idea that while Health at Every Size (HAES) and intuitive eating are fine for the perfectly healthy person, it’s simply not doable for those with medical conditions.

I disagree, and so does much of the science. People who have a good relationship to food have been shown to be healthier physically, socially and psychologically. Once a good relationship to food and eating has been established, from there it’s easy to work to improve diet quality (if that’s what’s needed) or add in joyful movement and compassionate self-care.

Back when I ran my Facebook group, time and again, people would post about how they were struggling to manage their diabetes diagnosis or risk (or other metabolic-type condition) without it feeling like they were going on a diet.

I’ll admit, there is an art to this. Nobody knows this better than a HAES RD.

That’s why my friend and mentor Rebecca Scritchfield, author of the non-diet self-care book Body Kindness, and I came up with something we think is much needed in the HAES world. We’ve developed a new VIRTUAL support and education group called HAES Care for Diabetes Concerns.

This 4-week group (done via video conference) is open to anyone with a diabetes diagnosis or risk, or any other metabolic-type condition (hypertension, high cholesterol) and members will get direct support from the two of us.

Group size is intentionally small so that people get the attention they need. We have a few spots left in both tracks (Mondays 9 am and Thursdays 5:30 pm Pacific Time) so we hope you’ll join us.

Check out all the details here: HAES Care for Diabetes Concerns.

Don’t struggle alone! Help is just a click away.

Want to feel freedom with food?

Tired of feeling ruled by food? I can help you get free. Learn more here.

Subscribe and get my free guide, Why you overeat …and what to do about it.

Click here if you just want my newsletter!

Dietitians Unplugged Ep 21: Rebecca Scritchfield Teaches us Body Kindness


I loved this conversation between our fellow dietitian Rebecca Scritchfield and Aaron and I. Rebecca recently published the amazing non-diet self-care manual, Body Kindness (it’s great, please buy ASAP) and she talks about her personal journey of getting to body kindness herself.

Rebecca’s passion for Health at Every Size® is infectious and her no-hold-barred opinions on everything from nutrition education to bringing HAES® to the forefront of the dietetics profession will fire you up.

Listen on:

Libsyn, iTunes, Stitcher

Show notes:
Peter Attia’s TED Talk
Body Kindness
RDs for Body Confidence

Want to feel freedom with food?

Tired of feeling ruled by food? I can help you get free. Learn more here.

Subscribe and get my free guide, Why you overeat …and what to do about it.

Click here if you just want my newsletter!