Approximately 80% of U.S women have battled with their body image at some point in their life.
Beginning as early as 6 years old, girls are influenced by social factors that can contribute to body dissatisfaction. Our society is obsessed with beauty and youth, and it drives people to chase after a form of perfection that doesn’t exist.
So why are we so overly concerned and unhappy with our bodies?
It has a LOT to do with what we see in the media 24/7, but I’ll tell you one thing, for some, it has nothing to do with weight at all. About 70% of healthy weighted women still want to be thinner or change their physical appearance in some way. As women, we are constantly playing the comparison game. When will we be enough as we are?
I believe what’s driving this is what we associate with society’s standards of beauty. “If I looked like that I’d be happier and more successful. I’d have more friends, deeper love, and more fun and excitement.” Changing our appearance seems like the answer to everything. But that is what I like to call “the grass is greener syndrome”.
It becomes dangerous when our perceptions become our reality. Our mind starts to believe that present day life isn’t enough. And so it begins – the journey to a destination that can never be reached because we perceive things to be true when they aren’t. Beauty and other external factors don’t create happiness; our mindset does. We have to look inward and love and appreciate who we are and what we have right now in this moment. Without that ability to love unconditionally, we will never find satisfaction because our mind will always believe there’s room for improvement.
People come in all different shapes and sizes. As a society, we tend to define a “healthy body” in ways that don’t translate to all women. We all have different bone structures, muscle compositions, and our fat distribution varies, but if you eat mindfully and move your body regularly, chances are, you are at a natural and healthy body weight for you.
Aim for eating whole, unprocessed foods 80-90% of the time, and leave room for spontaneity, fun, and relaxation the other 10-20%. That 10-20% of wiggle room in your lifestyle is crucial to your emotional health. “Eating clean” all the time and worrying about food in relation to your body image can limit your social interactions and deprive you of important social and emotional needs. Don’t allow body pressures to get in the way of your joy, social experiences, and relationships. Let yourself live free of anyone else’s standards, and celebrate the body that only you have.
If your weight loss is associated with better health, more energy, a longer lifespan, and a better quality of life, absolutely make the lifestyle changes necessary to feel your best. But, do it for you, and know when enough is enough. Set a realistic goal and enjoy the ride to get there. And, do me a favor. Start loving your body now, not later.
If you are in a healthy weight range for your height, age, and gender, but are still trying to lose weight or change your body in some way, try to figure out what the underlying forces are. Are you attaching ideals to body image that don’t truly exist?
- What motivates you to lose weight?
- What will you gain from your body changes?
- How will you feel when you get to your target weight/shape?
- How will the quality of your life change?
- Will your relationships change?
- How are your current relationships?
- What will remain the same?
- Are you holding on to a body stigma from the past?
- Do you love yourself today? Why/why not?
Consider these questions. Answering these honestly may lead you to realize that what you’re missing in life isn’t associated with your body at all. Perhaps all you really need is a good hug from someone you love, a night out with friends to laugh and let loose, space to unleash trapped creativity, or a spiritual practice, such as meditation to give you mental clarity. It’s incredible what a little love and connection can do for your soul.
As I mentioned before, weight loss is recommended for some individuals for medical reasons, so always listen to the guidance of your doctor. My main message that I hope you will consider is to define your ideal body on your own terms, live in alignment with what brings you joy, and show yourself some love.
With Love & Gratitude,