Learning to feel at home in your body is a lot of work. I’m a body confidence advocate now, and still on a recovery journey after struggling with body image issues and bulimia for nearly a decade. I didn’t think I was good enough to show up as I was. But I am, and so are you. Here are my tips for how to ditch shame.
1. No more diets.
Diets take away your freedom and make enjoying food feel like rebellion instead of pleasure.
2. Unfollow #bodygoals.
Genetics play a huge role in our body size and the way we gain muscle. Any form of “do xyz so you can look like me” is an absolute no.
3. Commit to a non-weight-based approach to health.
We have long been taught that skinnier is healthier. For a more balanced lifestyle, focus instead on health factors that don’t rely on weight and pack your feed with inspiring folks like @thenutritiontea, @jaimmykoroma, @laurenleavellfitness, @meg.boggs, and @iamchrissyking.
4. Get rid of clothes that no longer fit.
It seems insignificant, but keeping them can trigger that indoctrinated tendency towards wanting to be smaller. No more saving pieces for when you “finally” lose weight.
5. Confide in someone you trust.
Going through body image issues alone can be incredibly difficult. Share with a friend or seek out a therapist or anti-diet dietitian for support.
6. Focus on something you love that isn’t your body.
Recognizing that you are more than your body moves you closer to body freedom. Shift your focus from physical attributes to something you love that has nothing to do with your body. For example: “I value my creativity and the insight and fresh perspective it gives me.”
7. Get familiar with your naked body.
After you shower, stand in front of a full-length mirror and give your entire body a good look. It will help you learn to know and trust your body.
8. Uncover what you truly feel.
We’ve been taught to connect how our body feels to weight, but you don’t need to lose weight to benefit from eating a damn vegetable and moving your body. If you’re tired all the time, analyze why. Is it because you need to lose weight, or because you stay up too late watching Netflix? Do you need to lose weight or do you need to eat more nutrient-dense foods? Uncovering why you feel the way you do will help shift that focus from what your body looks like, and start providing real solutions to how your body feels.
9. Record your progress.
Write down your feelings and you’ll start to see patterns. I realized I hated my body right before my period. I would bloat and feel awful. It was a monthly trigger. Knowing that, I could counter those thoughts with reason: I am not disgusting; I feel disgusting, and it’s temporary! So now I take care of myself instead: chocolate, lots of rest, and a heating pad.
I cannot emphasize this enough. Therapy helps you process and understand why you’re struggling. For me, wanting to be skinny wasn’t the cause of my body image issues—it was the symptom. I pursued thinness to help me feel more adequate. Therapy is like a neutral voice of reason.
–Tiffany Ima, @tiffanyima
Illustrated by Camille Lagoarde
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