It's no secret that as women, we all have a chip on our shoulders about our body image. Some chips are larger than others, and mine have been gargantuan at times. I've worked really, really hard to get to a healthy place with how I feel about my shape and size, and I would say at this point, I'm happy with who I am and how I look 85% of the time. But, that other 15% can be BRUTAL. Most of the time that 15% comes into play when I'm feeling out of balance. When I'm tired, I suffer. As much as I like to go out and socialize as much as possible, if I don't give myself at least one night of me time and lots of rest, I feel out of sorts and less well equipped to fight the anxiety monster. The bottom line: when I'm cranky, I criticize myself. Sometimes it's really hard to maintain the balance, especially when I'm feeling pulled in 100 directions and don't want to let anyone, or myself, down. But taking a step back is crucial. And if I don't, I end up in a bad spiral, with that Mean Bitch in my Brain singing a chorus of "oh my goodness, my stomach looks bloated" or "oh man, I really need to put in a harder work out, I've been too easy on myself" or "my arm looks SO FAT in that picture!" And with that soundtrack playing, it's almost impossible to feel good about yourself.
I've come a LONG, LONG way. I exercise, but in moderation. I don't beat myself up when I miss a day at the gym. I speak kindly to myself, with loving eyes, as much as possible. I don't worry about dieting, but I integrate healthy foods that make me feel nourished without restricting myself entirely. I take time to be active in ways I enjoy, without a rigid "30 minute" limit: citibike, long walks, and soul cycle are three of my favorites. I fight the urge to compare my body to others. And I feel good, most of the time. But, every once in a while, I fall back into the Mean Bitch soundtrack. Last week was one of those once in a whiles.
Luckily, I was able to mostly shake it off, but I did notice something this morning that I think can be a helpful tool for women having an "I feel fat and I don't know how to stop criticizing myself" day, week, month, or even moment.
I'm in the midst of an E-cubed experiment that focuses on changing our tune when we wake up in the morning. If you haven't read E-squared or E-cubed, I highly encourage it! The books are an amazing example of the power we all possess, and our innate capacity for miracles. So today, I was extra mindful of my wake up routine -- and I noticed something KIND OF AWFUL. Each morning before getting in the shower, I do a quick "how do I look" evaluation on my body. I check to see how bloated I feel, how flat my stomach is looking that day, & anything else that I might be concerned about.
What I realized: Basically, I'm starting each day reinforcing my fears and concerns about weight gain. I'm continually emphasizing a limiting belief that skinniness is fleeting and can change at any moment, from one day to the next. And, I can tell you that the days I'm looking at myself with fear in my eyes, I'll find something to feel bad about. Why would I want to set the tone for my entire day this way?
Today, I instead started my day by saying "Thank You." I put on one of my favorite happy jams ("Classic" by The Knocks), I danced in the shower, I sang, I pumped my fists. I celebrated the joy of the day. And, I did my best to not feel the need to look in the mirror and make sure I hadn't gained 5 pounds overnight.
And I can tell you that today I feel like myself. I feel grateful, I feel fit, and I feel comfortable and happy.
And that's about as much as I can hope for.
The bitch has been silenced.