A Discussion About Body Acceptance and The Desire to Lose Weight

Dieting gave me a false sense of security which led to me NOT tuning into my life and the things that I actually wanted for A LOT of years. No longer. Today, when I struggle to accept my body the way she is, the way God made her, it's a process of coming back home to myself and honoring and accepting the fact that I'm not someone who follows hard-fast rules anymore. 

I’m not okay. I need to change. 

BOLT.

I want to bolt from my body. To be in a different body. To have someone else’s body. To have a smaller body. To take up less space. To not stand out so much. 

Should I listen to my body? Should I let her be as she is? Is there something I should do to control her? Make her smaller? Can I make her smaller?

These are some of the obsessive thoughts that cross our minds when we’re feeling uncomfortable in our own skin. 

Have you ever had the feeling that you want to BOLT from your body?

Even those of us who are working toward ultimately wanting to accept our bodies have moments where we want to BOLT from them.

Moments where it’s hard to accept them.

We’re all human.

You see, the thing is… we could focus our minds on control. We could focus on controlling our food and our exercise and keeping rigid plans. Making certain foods off limits. Counting calories. But what would that really result in? Would that outcome really leave us feeling happy?

Even if we lost a few pounds… What would it take to get there? What will it take to stay there? How much effort is required? How much attention on food and exercise is required? Even with all of our efforts, would our bodies eventually rebel against our control? Then what?

From my perspective and in hearing so many other women’s stories: it absolutely would not result in happiness to work effortlessly and tirelessly to control the size of our bodies. 

Been there, friends! You too? But I know the catch… we get stuck thinking *but wouldn’t it be nice if it did make us happy?*

I think this is what we’re all hoping for when we get sucked into this idea that if we could just control ourselves enough and lose just enough weight then we’d be happy. We’d feel more secure, better. More powerful. More in-control.

What do we want more control of?

I can tell you that when I was stuck in years of dieting and over-exercise, the more weight I lost the more pressure I felt. The more attached to the scale I became. The more obsessed with myself I became (meaning I couldn’t think of much other than me). The more obsessed with food I became.

I can clearly remember a day about 10 years ago thinking “Will I ever be able to get out of this?”

I truly, honest to God, felt like I was doomed to a life trapped in diet hell. Where the number of calories I’d eaten that day filled my mind. Where I constantly thought about when I’d exercise. When I’d constantly check my tummy, to make sure it hadn’t gotten bigger. Where I’d weigh myself, obsessively.

Maybe you have (or have had) your own version of diet hell. What is/was that version? How is/was it keeping you stuck? Did/do you have the same thoughts? Will I ever be able to get out of this? 

Overall, when I was the smallest I’d ever been, I was also the least happy. My periods were all over the place. My mood was a rage. I was grouchy. Impatient. Anxious. Controlled. Restricted. Distracted. Focused on food. One moment I felt total control. The next I felt absolutely mind-bogglingly out of control. In a trance. In a binge. Frustrated.

It was up and down. A daily, all day struggle and effort. Though my body was smaller, I was absolutely not happier. I was a less happy person living in a smaller body, and that did not equal overall happiness.

So I have to ask myself, and you have to ask yourself… In moments where you’re craving a smaller body. In moments where you’re fantasizing about being in a bikini without cellulite or a soft belly…

Is it really worth it to reduce the size of your body at the expense of everything it will cost you?

What if a smaller body doesn’t make you happier? What if you still don’t feel good enough?

Truth: We won’t feel good enough, until we work on the good enough FIRST.

Moments that can make us want to BOLT from our bodies…

  • Pants/shorts that are too tight
  • Clothing in our “ideal” size that doesn’t fit
  • Thinking we look big in a photo
  • Another woman who’s smaller than us
  • Thinking how we’ll feel/look in a bathing suit
  • A new relationship and wanting to shrink down
  • Someone who is “more toned”
  • An old photo

I actually asked some of you when you most struggle to accept your body and most want to change her. I also asked how you WOULD LIKE to feel about your body, in light of those moments.

Here’s what you said…

  • When I put on clothes that don’t fit. I think “Agh, my clothes are too tight. Too loose on top. Too tight on the bottom. I need to lose weight!” I WANT to be able to say “These clothes don’t fit right. I need alterations or a different size.”
  • I feel the most insecure when I’m in a crowd of people who are smaller than me. Or when I’m gaining weight for an out-of-my-control reason… like medication, hormonal imbalance, illness, etc… I would LIKE to feel comfortable in my body. A sense of pride for her.
  • I most struggle with wanting to change my body when I see other people changing their bodies. It makes me feel like I should change mine too. I WANT to feel loving, compassionate, in tune… and trusting of my body.
  • I feel most triggered around wanting to change my body right before and during summer when I feel most vulnerable and exposed being in a bikini. I want to be able to be myself and not worry so much about my body. Embrace her. Let her be.
  • When I can’t work out and I feel my body changing, is when I struggle most to accept her. I want to be able to love myself no matter what. Through any changes.
  • I want to be able to feel AT HOME in my body. To love her where she is. To treat her with self love and care from this place. 
  • I struggle the most when I’m getting dressed in the morning and am in front of a mirror. When there are no mirrors around, I am good to go. I WANT to be able to feel confident and strong. I feel my very best after a good sweaty workout – no makeup on, hair in a bun, right after a good pump.
  • For me, it’s right after each baby. I have such a hard time accepting my postpartum body. I always want her to change immediately. I would LIKE to feel love toward my body, acceptance, and gratitude!

I totally get it. And I experience it too. We all experience our own level of body dissatisfaction and I can tell you that the degree to which I experience these thoughts and feelings (though not perfect) is LIGHTYEARS better than it used to be.

No longer do I want to skip out on vacations because of how uncomfortable I feel, for fear I may have gained weight. No longer do I ask friends to retake a photo 100x’s so I can catch a “better” angle. No longer do I leave a day of shopping in tears because things didn’t fit the way I thought they should. No longer.

I made a choice six years ago — after making every dieters choice in the world, which all ultimately led to only short term weight loss and never feeling happier for longer than a few minutes from it — to leave this up and down way of living behind.

I made a choice to leave behind controlling the size of my body through dieting and rules and calorie counting.

Because it never lasted. The feeling of excitement when I’d see that I lost a pound QUICKLY died off as “self-sabotage” would inevitably always set in that same day. It was a vicious, controlling cycle. It was a race I had to run, daily. And if I let down for even a moment, it felt as though my whole world was crashing down. Who would I be if I could not keep myself small?

Dieting gave me a false sense of security which led to me NOT tuning into my life and the things that I actually wanted for A LOT of years. No longer.

Here’s what I want to ask you today. If you could free up that space in your mind that is always focused on weight-loss, the food you’re eating, and the exercise you need to do… How much space would be there to think about other things? WHAT other things would you LIKE to be able to think about? Focus on? What ELSE do you want out of life?

Today, when I struggle to accept my body the way she is, the way God made her, it’s a process of coming back home to myself and honoring and accepting the fact that I’m not someone who follows hard-fast rules anymore. 

It’s a continual letting go and checking in with myself. Coming back to a place of SELF-CARE and NOT self-control.

Can I share something with you guys? I never experienced normalcy around my body growing up. Since a very young age, I’ve always been aware of my body. When I’d go back to school shopping with friends and some of them would just easily ask for a different size… inside I’d be thinking “Huh? She’s not worried that this doesn’t fit?” I wanted that.

That was never ever ever me. It never felt that non-emotional for me to try clothes on. But I always wanted it to. And for a while, I thought the answer was losing weight. I thought… THEN it would be easy and non-emotional. No way. I was wrong. It become WAY MORE emotional. Way more hard. Because now I had the pressure to keep that weight off. Which was near impossible.

So I gave it up. I gave up the scale. I gave up the rules. The diets. The goods and the bads that were labeled all over my food. The guilt. The judgements. The criticism. The envy over other peoples diets. All of it.

I’d like to say “and I never looked back.” But that wouldn’t be the truth. I went back to dip my toes in several diets after I first began eating intuitively. Why? Because I still had an inch of hope that maybe there would be a diet around the corner that would in fact be easy to follow, make sense, and allow me to be effortlessly slim.

THAT’S just it though. THAT’S the lie that keeps us going back. Once I realized once and for all that there is NO magic button. There is no EASY diet. I finally really did give it up. And really did, never look back.

It’s not easy being a woman in an imperfect body (hello, all of us). It’s not easy being a woman in a changing body (our bodies are ALWAYS changing and THIS is what’s normal). But “imperfect” to us is “perfect” to our Creator. WE judge our bodies. But the truth is, they were made perfectly and purposefully. Our bodies were made to be different. Not one better than the other.

I mean… let’s think of all the things our bodies can do for us for a moment. Our bodies can…

  • Heal a cut
  • Bring a broken bone back together
  • Grow hair to keep us warm
  • Digest and break down our food
  • Laugh (isn’t this cool to think about?)
  • Cry to help shed/cleanse our emotions
  • FEEL emotion – we can FEEL happy, we can FEEL sad

I believe that when we grasp for a diet we’re doing so simply to pull ourselves out of the discomfort of how we feel RIGHT NOW. It’s too much. So we grasp for what will give us a sense of control.

I too, have moments (for sure) of wanting to bolt from my body. Wishing it were smaller. I go through those moments of wondering if a smaller body would make me happier and more secure.

You know what these moments of wanting a different body always correlate with? NOT feeling secure in some other area of life. As a teen, I learned to control my life by controlling my body. I learned to not pay attention to everything that felt hard by PAYING 100% ATTENTION to my body and my diet.

It’s so interesting to me, and amazing, that God led me away from dieting before my mom got sick. You guys… While my mom was sick she had my absolute attention. I soaked up every ounce of time with her that I could. Had I still been dieting? I would have avoided the fact that she was sick. I would have soaked my attention deeper into diets. Thank God I didn’t. It would be a regret.

As an adult, anytime I’m struggling to accept my body or I begin to crave control, I have to come back to remembering that I no longer go through life this way. It’s a choice. I’m an adult now. I know proper ways to move through emotions. To move through the hard times. I do not need the false sense of safety that dieting used to provide me with.

It’s been a long time now since I experienced having the smallest body I’ve ever had. I go through it too, my friends. Moments of not accepting my body. Moments of wishing she were different, smaller, and more fit.

But what I do now in response to feeling that insecurity is different than what I used to do…

I ask for prayer.

I ask for support.

I talk it out with a very trusted friend, and I come back to this…

“You are okay. There is nothing about you that you need to change. You do not need to run from your present body. All you need to do is come back to her now. Care for her. How can you care for her now? She is okay. She does NOT need fixing. Come back home to yourself. You do not need to control her, you only need to care for her. That’s all you’re responsible for.”

And this “coming home to myself” (as Geneen Roth says) helps me to BE back in my body. To not wish her away. To not push her away. To not want to change her.

And every single time I go through this process it pushes me more and more toward finding my worth in who I am, not what I wear or what I look like. And that, my friends, is the ultimate goal.

I wrote an entire blog post here on the difference between self-care and self-control (definitely give this post a read!)…

Here’s an excerpt:

  • Self-care refuels you & gives you MORE energy 
  • Self-control drains you & takes AWAY your energy

I believe that when you listen to your body she will show you just what a fun adventure with food and your life she wants you to have.

Dieting gave me a false sense of security which led to me NOT tuning into my life and the things that I actually wanted for A LOT of years. No longer. Today, when I struggle to accept my body the way she is, the way God made her, it's a process of coming back home to myself and honoring and accepting the fact that I'm not someone who follows hard-fast rules anymore. 

She will teach you that delicious food is just one piece of an incredibly rich existence. You will no longer feel the need to cope through your emotions with food. Instead, she will show you just how capable she is at processing through your emotions.

Follow her, I promise you she’s much more fun and freeing than that load of guilt and restriction you’ve been carrying. Your body WANTS you to be healthy. She will lead down the right path, if you trust her. Grab hold of her hand, she’s reaching out to you.

Stop bolting from your body, and COME. BACK. HOME. TO. HER.

If you need support with intuitive eating I really encourage you to check out Finally Free Program. If you have a question after reading this post (I have a feeling there will be several questions and follow up posts needed), I’ll be using one of the questions I get for this weeks VIP Q+A post. So share it with me below in the comments and I’ll choose one to answer.

I end this post with arms open wide, ready to embrace whoever this hits home for. I know the struggle of being a woman in an imperfect body. I know how hard it can be to accept our bodies and to not want to bolt from them. But it is possible. And it IS worth it. I’m here for you, in your corner. Ready to support you and cheer you on.

Love, Paige
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