We have been bombarded from an early age on with unrealistic beauty standards. We all know this by now, right..? It’s become obvious, everybody knows about the devious secret called Photoshop. We know in theory that this is not reality, but what we often fail to acknowledge is just how deeply this history has already shaped the way we think about our body. Do we truly know in practice that these images are not reality?
Where did it all begin?
Can you remember the first moment you started thinking that your body was ‘imperfect’, not as it should be (even though all your vital organs seemed to function perfectly fine, and at least 4 out of 5 senses worked like a charm?) When, all of a sudden, did you need to change something to your looks in order to be truly happy and successful? Was it television or beauty magazines? Or was it well-meant remarks from family, friends or lesser friendly kids at school? Did you start avoiding the camera, or started hiding body parts with different clothes? Something at some point made you believe that an extra pound of belly-fat or that unusual face could lessen your chances on happiness in life.
The truth is, it is not the pound of fat, nor any other exterior feature that truly has the power to make you have a less enjoyable life. It is you believing so, your belief, that will shape your life. You can have the looks of a supermodel, but if you believe that your body is unloveable you will eventually sabotage it and develop self-destructive behaviour, among which an unhealthy relationship with food is the most common.
If on the other hand, you decide on a daily basis to stop having this belief, I can assure you that at one point down the line it will stop being true. your happiness will not depend so much on exterior anymore and this is incredibly freeing! Can you imagine that internal conversation about weight and looks just being gone? And making place for happy, loving and constructive thoughts?
When looks become overly important ...
Chances are, especially if you’re a woman, that beauty is right up there with the highest human achievements possible. Think about it and be really honest with yourself: would you prefer being a Nobel Prize winner but “ugly and fat’ ( according to societal standards) OR would you prefer having an average career but be a true beauty with the perfect body shape? ...
Many many women in western society believe that their weight dictates their ultimate happiness: their social lives, their careers, their relationships. Women from any walk of life, any type of education or any background have adopted this belief. (check this awesome ted talk about it) The media did a really powerful job, we have to give them that! Now obviously when weight dictates your core self-esteem, this puts an enormous amount of pressure on the way you eat. It is really quite easy to become obsessed with food, and to try and control it as hard as you can. When you start obsessing about food, you might force-restrict (=diet) yourself into some weight loss but this state of eating and being is bound to backfire in the long term. Human beings are not made to live in a state of constant restriction. The most ancient primitive parts of our brain actually register this as a famine, which puts an enormous amount of stress on our bodies and minds. Your body goes into survival mode: it slows down all of your bodies repair mechanisms and ironically it blocks weight loss, because your body wants to hold on to every ingested calorie to ensure its survival.
Diets, the holy grail...
So put this way: we're under huge pressure to look a certain way, and while striving for this unattainable ideal we slowly but surely stop loving our own bodies, and start using techniques that alienate us from our body's innate wisdom. We start working against it, not with it. You can not hate something into positive change, you can surely get short term results, but this is never ever a solid base for long term change.
Worst of all: when this method backfires, we don't blame the diet, the so called solution that is being presented to us everywhere, no, we tend to blame ourselves, (even though 95% of diets fail) we feel guilty and ashamed about our own so-called lack of discipline, we don't question the concept of the diet in itself and we decide...to do it all over again but this time even harder... To make sure we succeed this time... See what happens? We now not only dislike our bodies, we start disliking our minds: we call ourselves weak and pathetic, not having any discipline, etc.
The diet-guilt-repeat cycle has the potential to shred your self-confidence to pieces, one bar of chocolate at a time. It is especially a threat to the mental health of young woman who are only just developing their identity and self-esteem.
If you are friends with yourselves, real committed kind friends, you will not persistently do something that will hurt you. If you actively accept and love the body you have now and start undo that false connection between looks and happiness, you will open yourself up to experiencing true joy and freedom. Your relationship with food will normalize naturally, effortlessly without you exerting control, and so will your weight. Discipline is not a concept that we should have around food, as humans we are put on this earth with a natural, effortless ability to feed ourselves to the point of optimal functioning and not more. We simply need to go back there and reconnect with our bodies.
Giving up diets, you say? Stop controlling and overthinking what you put in your body? To many people this sounds crazy, because people have been led to believe that if they let go of the leash and start eating what they enjoy in the quantities they feel like eating, they will be out of control. It is a scary first step to take, I totally get that, but tell me, how have diets worked out for you up until now? Do you feel joyful and fulfilled? Because this is how you deserve to feel! Redeveloping a mind-body connection is all about letting go and trusting. There will be bumps in the road, but they are worth the end result. And best of all, you'll have a certain glow over you, that no number on the scale could beat. And imagine all that brain space that's hovering over food now, that will be freed up to other more fulfilling things: learning a new hobby, being more present with family and friends, etc.
If you're ready to tackle the unwanted beliefs you've gathered and stored and start transforming towards a loving relationship with your body, if you're ready of giving up any kind of diet and start feeling free, check out the coaching option available for you!