This week is World Eating Disorder Week which got my daughter Maddie and I talking. We chatted about people who we know who are happy with their bodies, with themselves and what might be the factors for people who are not.
Before I get into the ‘GO YOU’ portion of this email, a quick heads up that your email server may shorten this article. You may want to click over to my blog or click the 3 little dots when they appear. Now, let’s get back to business.
Let’s chat about something that surprised me when I did a quick Google search. I wondered how many women have suffered from some sort of disordered eating. I kid you not, it is 3 out of every 4 women. No, not all of those cases are going to be anorexia or bulimia. But disordered eating shows in many other ways. I think it’s important to note that the rates of disordered eating are steady even in women between the ages of 35 and 45.
Here are a few questions that might help you understand how disordered eating goes far beyond what we typically would attribute.
- Are you afraid of gaining 3 pounds?
• When was the last time you were on a diet?
• When was the last time you were satisfied with your weight or figure?
• Have you ever exercised excessively or felt compelled to exercise to control your weight?
• Have you ever exercised as punishment?
• Have you ever withheld food or eaten large portions in response to physical or emotional stress?
We often use food and exercise as a sort of weapon in the battle to love ourselves.
My point in telling you this is that I don’t want you to just write this off. Most of us have work to do in the self love department. A lot of our pressures to have a perfect body come from our society. As a result, many women have concerns about their eating habits or body and their happiness suffers. I’m guessing at some point, the way you felt about your body has caused you unhappiness. But having the body that society deems acceptable won’t make you happy.
A lot of us are going to experience some form of disordered eating in our lifetime even if it isn’t directly linked to a mental health issue.
I want to put it out there to my little corner of the universe that this needs to stop and I want to help you love your body and yourself!
An Unpopular Topic
So, let’s get right to it. Swimsuit season is coming. How many ads do you think you’ve seen for diet pills, or fad diets in the last week? At least a few I’d guess. The world is sending you a very clear message, in between the Dove ads, of course.
Now, picture your first poolside vacation this year: You’ll likely have one of two conversations with yourself.
’Oh no, if only I had had more time to get myself ready for this vacation. No carbs for me, it’s salad or fruit during the day and no happy hour cocktails, I will be ‘good’ and wait until dinner. AND, just wait until I get home, I’m hitting that gym so hard the Stairmaster is not going to know what hit it!’
‘I feel so good in this sunshine, I love my new suit, it makes me feel sexy/pretty/sporty. I’m slapping on this cream (SPF 30) because I can’t wait to get a sun tan. I’m here for 7 days and boy, am I going to have a great time. I wonder when the pool service starts, I think I’ll go and ask the bartender for a menu…’
Do you see how conversation A is a bit irrational, and now that we’ve actually had a look at disordered eating, could fall into that category? Our society has taught us that talking to ourselves like that is OK, even normal. I’m here to tell you, NO. Just NO. And as a result of these self imposed restrictions, this “vacation” doesn’t look like much fun at all.
Do you also see how conversation B is deeply rooted in a positive mindset? One relying on self love and enjoying the moment without fear? No thoughts about their body, other than feeling good and soaking up the inevitable joy of a vacation.
It can take guts to walk around the poolside, in what is essentially the equivalent of your underwear, in fact I don’t know anyone that doesn’t have at least an inch of self consciousness. So, how is it that some women simply strut their stuff as they walk to the opposite side of the pool while others cover up as soon as they get off their lounger?
How we think we will get this confidence vs how we actually get this confidence is the big difference between whether you’re having conversation A or B.
‘A’ has you doing weekly cleanses, detoxes, hours and hours spent in the gym, new hair styles, new clothes, total makeover – to achieve the confidence.
‘B’ has you doing something that is not rocket-science called ‘liking yourself’ to become confident. Yup, I told you it wasn’t rocket science.
I know, liking yourself isn’t always easy, but it does come easier when you are happy and being happy comes easier when you like yourself, the two are interconnected and confidence follows like a bullet train heading your way.
Before you become a confident self-loving pro, you probably have a bit of work to do. I’m guessing in the fear department. Like I said, none of us are perfect here, but we have to actively address our fears to have confidence in our bodies.
So, what are you afraid of? What will happen if you wear your swimsuit in public and don’t hide behind your sarong?
You have a lot of things in your life where you’ve conquered your fears. List them out. What have you done that makes you feel like a million bucks? Those are things you could strut around about, right? So do it! It doesn’t really matter what you’re wearing. Your body has been there helping you accomplish all of those amazing things, so champion it! It’s yours and it’s fabulous!
Someone who has the most beautiful body, but isn’t enjoying life, always chasing perfection, worried what others think about her will live a life lacking in fulfillment, enjoyment and self love.
Someone who accepts or loves her body, (or is working on it!) will have great energy, is fun to be with and walks around the pool owning that darn bikini.
What will you gain in joy, experiences, relationships, and memories? And as a result of that will you also gain happiness and confidence?
Can we be happy and like ourselves which will in turn make us more confident? Can we be more confident which will in turn make us happier and like ourselves more?
Happiness is contagious, confidence is sexy, owning your stuff and loving yourself is a choice.
On a serious note, if any of the things I mentioned at the beginning trigger you, please seek advice from a medical professional. NEDA is a great resource. This is a serious topic that gets lost in our crazy world. No matter what your thoughts on your body may be, we all can do our part to stop this societal craze with perfect bodies. Perfect bodies are easy to find, because they are EVERYWHERE. You’ve got one. Even after a pint of Ben and Jerry’s.
I’ll never stop preaching about the joys and search for eternal balance in our lives, but finding the perfect balance in everything is not easy. I think if we start with the way we treat ourselves and bodies the rest of our lives will benefit.
So let’s do another little questionnaire. Let this be a guide for treating our bodies and ourselves with love.
. Have you thanked your body for its gifts lately?
. Do you give your body the rest and fuel it deserves, as often as you can?
. What do you love about yourself? Body, and mind?
. Do you treat yourself to good food, good friends and good fun?
. Do you challenge your body to try new things or set goals?
Cheers to you and your perfect body!