4 things to stop saying about your body
When it comes to your body, there are many stories that you might be telling yourself to ease body anxiety and dissatisfaction.
On hearing the story, your brain releases oxytocin (known as the ‘cuddle hormone’), which not only calms you down, but encourages storytelling behaviour in future.
BUT, the story doesn’t have to be real for you to get the oxytocin hit that makes you feel better, which means it’s easy to get stuck in an unhelpful story.
Here are a few unhelpful stories that you may be telling yourself about your body that do not serve you:
#1 This time, the diet will work
Diets are a prime example of unhelpful story telling.
When you experience anxiety about your weight, your brain is prompted to create a story to lessen those uncomfortable feelings. You imagine yourself embarking on a diet, achieving amazing weight loss and having the life you dreamed off.
When the diet doesn’t work, you search for the next miracle diet, perpetuating the ‘diet fairy tale’ (sadly without the happily ever after). The brain keeps on supplying the feel good hormones and the vicious cycle continues.
So now it’s time to tell yourself a different story. Diets will never work. If you want to feel better about your body, you need to start by accepting your body as it is now. You can work on accepting your body by reading 4 habits that will make you more body confident and What to do when all you can think is ‘I hate how I look’.
#2 I’ll be happier, more successful, etc once I’m thinner
It’s appealing to think that changing your body is the ‘cure all’ for anything that isn’t currently working in your life. It’s a story that many women tell themselves on a loop, but which doesn’t guarantee happiness or joy. The only thing it does guarantee is that your life will be put on hold.
It’s possible to achieve any of the things you want without making a single change to your body. Making your body responsible for the quality of your life is a sure fire way to misery.
Tell yourself that you are capable of anything that you desire. It’s only your mind-set that limits you. If you think you don’t deserve to be happy, you won’t be. If you think you don’t have what it takes to be successful, success will evade you.
You are worthy of happiness, joy, and success regardless of your dress size.
#3 Exercise is only beneficial if it’s exhausting
I was once told by a fitness instructor that yoga ‘didn’t count’ as one of your weekly exercise sessions because it wasn’t strenuous enough. I can only assume the instructor’s only focus was on weight loss and body shape rather than overall health. Yoga has amazing health benefits including increased flexibility, stress reduction, and general improvement in well-being.
Sadly, there are some individuals in the fitness industry who are perpetuating poor rather than a health body image.
When the focus of exercise is on weight and body shape goals, it does more harm to body image than good. The idea of ‘no pain, no gain’ is not about health, it’s about punishing the body.
Exercise doesn’t have to be painful. To be effective for health, exercise only needs to be moderate. In terms of mental health and body image, regular moderate activity such as walking can have huge benefits.
Above all, exercise needs to be enjoyable to be sustainable. The most important thing is that you move in ways that are fun for you.
If you find that you’re locked in a gruelling fitness regime where your story is, “No pain, no gain” it’s time to have a re-think for the sake of your body and your body image.
#4 Hanging onto my smaller jeans (or other clothing) will motivate me to slim down
I recently spoke to a lady who said she had to spend the summer slimming into a dress for her 40th birthday party. I thought this sounded a rather miserable way to spend the summer – on some fad diet that won’t work (see story #1).
Many women mistakenly think that hanging onto clothes that are really too small for them will motivate them to lose weight, at which point they will be happier, more successful etc (see story #2).
Hanging onto clothes that no longer fit you, or are a struggle to get into does nothing positive for your body image. These items of clothing serve as a constant reminder that you aren’t at your ‘ideal’ size or weight.
The story of “I’ll slim down into those clothes …” does not serve you. Having clothes in your wardrobe that fit your body as it is NOW will improve your body image.
Get into the habit of regularly clearing out any clothing that no longer fits you, or that makes you feel dissatisfied or uncomfortable with your body when you wear it.
In a nutshell
Your brain is wired to keep you safe and secure, but its stories aren’t always helpful. There are many potential stories you can tell yourself that are bad for your body image. The important thing is to recognise what they are and challenge them, creating new empowering stories that will boost your body image.
I’d love to know, what stories have you been telling yourself that are unhelpful for your body image? Leave a comment below.