As Eating Disorder Awareness Week draws to a close, I've been inspired to write a post about body image.
As most people do, I sometimes have negative thoughts about my appearance. Maybe I'm frustrated with the thinness of my hair or the way I have limited footwear options because of foot abnormalities I have developed. Or maybe I just don't like the way a shirt hangs on my curvier-than-usual postpartum body. Whatever it is, when I think this way about my body, it's negative self-talk and it's not healthy.
These negative thoughts do nothing but harm to myself and those around me, so my goal is to minimize them. One of the ways I do this is by repeating mantras or phrases in my head. For example:
When I was pregnant and nearing delivery time, I would say to myself, "my body is perfectly designed to grow and DELIVER this baby.".
When I look down at my wrinkly, scarred-up belly where my youthful, attractive (to my husband at least) tummy once was, I tell myself "you are more beautiful and he loves you more now because you're a mother. You are not just a body."
And as my body continues to shed the extra padding I acquired during pregnancy, I tell myself "it's part of the journey and I will be beautiful in whatever shape or form my body takes, as long as I am good to myself."
And when my knee or foot hurts when I run or play sports, or I don't quite "measure up" in my mind, I try to remember to be thankful for what I have and what I AM capable of. After all, it wasn't long ago that it hurt to walk, never mind run!
The point is that the best defense against negative self-talk is positive self-talk. Just as we know it's more valuable to reinforce positive behaviors in our children (and dogs for that matter!), the same is true within our own minds.
You can be healthy at every size (HAES), so long as you are kind and respectful to yourself and the body you've been blessed with.