Criticizing your way into a thinner body (PS: it doesn't work)
I spent most of my teens and a good portion of my adult life telling myself I needed to lose ten pounds. Sometimes it was five pounds or sometimes it was 15 but I've spent literally decades of criticizing my body and telling myself that I needed to be different to be okay. What a waste of time.
Now I definitely lost some weight using calorie restriction and exercise but the minute things got stressful (or I cracked from being so strict with my food), I would put back on the weight that I so vehemently insisted was wrong and bad. I would start comparing myself to celebrities, friends, co-workers and would inevitably find myself lacking. I would beat myself up about how I had no willpower and no discipline and how I would never be thin or pretty enough to.... (You fill in the blank-find a husband, be happy in my clothes, feel sexy, you get the point).
Several years ago, I was driving and that judge in my head started up with the old familiar negative self talk. But right then I had two big epiphanies. The first one was that nothing really changes in the world if I'm ten pounds lighter. Like, literally nothing except I might wear a smaller size pant. World hunger does not end, the Middle East doesn't suddenly stabilize because "Cassie's back in her skinny jeans". I laughed and for the first time realized how much mental energy I had spent obsessing over something that doesn't matter. The second realization was that in all my years of trying to shame, bully or ridicule myself into losing weight, my tactics never actually worked. And they felt awful to be the recipient of.
I made a choice right there that I was going to do something radically different-I was going to love and accept myself and my body exactly as they were. In the past, I would tell myself that if I accept myself as I am, I'm giving up or being lazy. That is, simply put, total and utter bullshit. In order to move into a new space, body, mentality, relationship, anything, we first have to be grateful for and fully in the present moment. I had to find the small things I was thankful for with my body (I can walk, I can jump, I'm strong, I give good hugs) and little by little, that judgmental voice saying I wasn't thin enough, which meant I wasn't good enough or lovable, started to quiet down.
I have no idea what I weigh now. I'm fit, strong and healthy. I'm never going to look like Kate Moss because she and I have vastly different body types and that's ok. We're both pretty awesome in our own way. From a logistics standpoint, I have a couple of items of clothing that "keep me honest" so that if I do tear it up for a week or two (wine, popcorn, coconut date rolls) and these pants or shorts are fitting tight, I just kindly and gently refocus my attention on food that nourishes my body and cut back on the foods that don't serve and nourish me as much. But I don't beat myself up about it anymore. We all have different bodies and different struggles in life and the first step to move through them is to be loving and kind to yourself. I promise you that being loving is way more effective than being mean and it feels a ton better to say nice things to yourself than mean things.
So what kind thing can you say to yourself today?