Body Love? Part III... HELP
The Continued Journey to Make Peace with Mind, Body & Food.
In my last post, Body Love? Part II, I wrote about the drastic change in my beliefs about body size one morning during Yoga practice. It has been over a year since and the change has remained, however, the journey has been challenging as I’ve sought to make peace with mind, body, and food.
When working with clients facing challenges with eating, I tend to refer them to a nutritionist, yet it was never advice I took for myself. My psychotherapist self had me convinced that I could handle it all on my own. However, as I began to explore eating without reservation or judgement, regardless of any changes in my weight, I continued to find myself drawn to overeating.
I must note here that I no longer view overeating as “bad”, I no longer had the desire to purge. The change in my belief was this: food is not good or bad, it just is.
If I over indulge on something I will accept it and move on. The horrid self-judgement had lifted and no longer bedeviled my mind. I could move forward and enjoy life regardless of what or how much I ate. What a beautiful relief.
Over a period of several months I gained a few pounds. This can be very disturbing for those of us who have had a disordered view of body size. I have sat across from female clients that commented on my body size, believing that I must be totally satisfied with my physical form.
While they feel uncomfortable in their skin, they imagine that if they were thinner they would be happier. While this may have some truth for those women who struggle with severe obesity, a smaller body simply does not equate to happiness. I usually respond with a smile and say ,“it’s not just about body size, we all have our insecurities regardless of what it might seem from the outside”.
Regardless of the weight gained, I did not alter my course, determined to make peace with whatever my waist line. Rather than allowing weight to become an insult to my ego, I wanted to accept it as simply the size my body desired to be. I openly admit that this is very challenging. I fought against an ingrained perception of beauty which had become intertwined with skinny, lithe, even prepubescent.
After several months, I finally took my own advice and made an appointment with a nutritionist.
The first time I sat across from her I stated my goal; to make peace with body and food. Yet what I needed to accomplish this was a better understanding of what my body was asking for nutritionally so that I could have a consistent diet, not just to avoid overeating, but also under-eating. After all, under-eating is just a setup to eat in excess opening the doors to an emotional downward spiral.
This lovely young woman listened to me thoughtfully as we sat talking for well over an hour. She imparted knowledge that was surprising, and even overwhelming. My inner monologue began something like this, is this lady really giving me the right information… that seems like a lot of food to have to eat. I wanted to criticize her, pick out her faullies, second guess her every word... but did I have a leg to stand on? I’m the one with the issue and I’d come to her for help. Yet how quickly the mind wants to protect what it believes and dismiss someone who challenges it… even when the belief is so obviously is wrong.
I honestly told my thoughts to shut up and made a very conscious decision to trust her. After all, what did I have to lose?
Isn’t this the very same situation clients are in when the walk through my door? Don’t we all have to make decisions to trust an objective voice when our own inner voice is misguiding? Instead of observing her insights with distrust, I listened with a decidedly open mind. Just maybe I was in the right place. I’m happy to say I Ieft there with blossoming hope; there was a possibility that this journey would be a bit easier with the right help. It was my job now to apply what she’d imparted.
The simplified stages of change are precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance.
However, the workings of the mind and spirit are not so linear, it’s often that we fluctuate between these stages making it more fitting to call it a continuum of change, which has been my own experience. The nutritionist has been an important part of this journey, and while I do actively apply her guidance, it still has not been straightforward or smooth. In the next, and last, post in this Body Love? series I’ll discuss the progress I’ve made and where I am now in this continuum in hopes that others like me may find hope… because the end of this series is an optimistic one.
Sarah is a Yoga psychotherapist and life coach specializing in prenatal and postpartum women battling anxiety, eating disorders and body shame. Sarah works virtually with women around the country and in-person in Middleboro, Massachusetts.
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"I would love to hear from you and am grateful for your interest! You deserve to enjoy your body, your baby and your life, I believe Yoga Psychotherapy can help" - Sarah