One of the most-asked questions I get in my inbox is "How can I love myself right now when I'm unhappy with the way my body looks? I've gained weight and my clothes don't fit. I feel unsexy in the bedroom. I want to reclaim my body and love myself again. How can I do that with the body I'm in?"
I hear that.
In my twenties I had a whopping case of mercury toxicity that took three years to properly diagnose. And in those three years, my svelte size 4 body shot up twenty pounds to a weight I had never experienced before. I no longer recognized my body, didn't understand what was happening, and felt super depressed and unworthy. It took me a long time to bounce back, so I'd like to share with you my tried and true tricks to cope with size changes, body image issues, and and self-love while your body is getting its groove back.
1. Stop asking for permission to love your body.
One of the most challenging lessons we need to learn is that our value and worthiness as human beings has absolutely NOTHING to do with the pounds on the scale.
One of the biggest reasons I struggled with my weight gain was that I was insecure about what I could offer the world--especially as an overweight nutritionist. For years prior, my value was tied in to how good I looked--and that validation came from external sources. I was obsessed with the scale and going to the gym, and at that time chose to date men who were also obsessed with their bodies. When I gained weight, I found they were less accepting of the way I looked--which was a direct reflection that I didn't accept myself.
So I found an incredible therapist to help me learn to live graciously in my own body and accept myself from the inside out. I exercised self-love by cutting the labels out of clothes and tossing out the scale. I took time off dating altogether until I felt I was in a good enough space mentally to attract the right partner.
When we take stock in who we are and realize we are worthy of love--no matter our size--we can step into our highest power and expression of self-love. Fact is, you need no permission or external validation to tell you this.
And when the pieces fell into place, I did attract the right man (who is now my husband, btw!) because I felt entitled to be treated well. I had stepped into a place of power, connected-ness to my body, and deep confidence about my own worth and the value I brought to the relationship. I was my heaviest weight when we met and fell in love, and I firmly believe it's because of the fact that I accepted myself 100% of the time.
2. This is unconventional advice, but...IGNORE IT.
For better or worse, you and your body are inextricably linked together--for life. And if you're not loving where your body is at, every day can be excruciating because there is no escaping yourself.
Change came slowly for my body, so I made the conscious decision to ignore where it was at. It freed up a LOT of mental real estate so I could focus on taking care of and healing my body, eating good food, and exercising. Ignoring my body size also gave me the freedom to focus on doing what made me feel good, because I saw it all as a temporary situation. Once you can wrap your mind around the fact that nothing is permanent, the body will follow suit. It may sound a little crazy, but trust me--it's true ;-).
3. Stop "shoulding" all over yourself.
One of the most hilarious lines I've heard is "Should is the stick we beat ourselves with. Stop "shoulding" all over yourself!"
You can't always control the numbers or your size but you can control your thoughts. Every day your feelings are a CHOICE. No matter what is happening to you, what kind of a day you're having, or what size you are, you have the power to decide how you're going to feel about yourself and your situation. So you can either throw yourself a ginormous pity party ("I should be thin, I should be losing weight faster"), or you can hold your head up high and march onward. This is probably the greatest tool you can have in your belt when it comes to keeping vibes high and attracting incredible people and opportunities into your life.
You never need to wait for the perfect situation, body weight or size--just keep moving forward. Instead of using your size as a roadblock, hurdle, or instrument for deprivation, lean into it and let it become the ultimate test of self-worth. Measure your life by opportunities and risks taken and dare to be great no matter what.
4. Surround yourself with a loyal and supportive tribe.
Self-love doesn't happen on its own; sometimes it takes a village. You need a posse of badass people who will remind you of just how amazingly awesome you are--even when you're not feeling so hot. Think of the special people in your life--friends, family, or trusted colleagues--you can have on speed dial when the chips are down. Get out of your head and go for a walk in nature, take a yoga class, head out to a local cafe for some green tea...just get out of your head. Ruminating about your size won't change your situation and will not put yourself in the right mindset. Give your negativity the boot by shifting your focus to something far more meaningful.