1. If your closet is filled with clothes that don’t currently fit, this needs to change immediately. Take the clothes you know don’t fit you and do not try them on. Simply fold them up and place them in a bag, bin, or box. Ideally you would take them to Buffalo Exchange or Goodwill. But if you can’t part with them just yet, place them out of sight. Newsflash, looking at clothes that are too small for you on a daily basis will not make you skinnier. It will only make you feel more self-loathing and depressed. And it will make it harder for you to get dressed in the morning since you can’t clearly see your options.
2. You deserve clothes that fit your here and now body. So make a budget, prioritize items that you need, and make a shopping plan (more on that below). Did you know that practicing self-compassion leads to healthier practices like balanced eating and exercise? And you may have already guessed this, but treating yourself like crap (ie not buying yourself clothes that you feel cute in now) leads to depression and worse health habits.
3. After you’ve made your shopping list make your shopping plan. Be thoughtful about when you’re going shopping, who you’re going with, where you’re going to go, what you hope to buy, and how long you can tolerate going for. If you find shopping to be extremely stressful you might choose to look for 2 tops, keep it to 2 stores, and shop for no longer than 30 min with the most supportive buddy you can find. You know yourself best so only you can decide what makes most sense for you.
4. When trying on clothing, follow these simple rules. Bring a couple of sizes into the dressing room. Turn away from the mirror and try the first item on. With your eyes closed identify how the article of clothing fits. Does it feel comfortable, can you move easily in it,? If your answer is no, take the item of clothing off. Don’t look at it! Either select another size to try on or move on to something else all together. Once you find something that feels good, then face the mirror and look at THE WHOLE PICTURE OF YOU. Do not hone in on the body part you hate the worst. Step back and look at the big picture, scan from head to toe. If you hate it, take it off immediately. If you like it, then yay!!!
5. When you’re getting ready in the morning, place a limit on how long you’ll spend trying on clothes. If you are struggling with intense body image issues and find yourself spending more than 10 minutes choosing an outfit, this is a problem. Make a commitment to contain the issue. If you are trying on 15 outfits, then make a goal of no more than 10 this week. Perhaps talk with a friend and let him or her hold you accountable. Consider keeping a running list of outfits that you know you like. If it’s a tough body image morning use your go-to list. Even if those outfits don’t feel super cute you can remind yourself that your head isn’t in a great space and that the outfit is probably just fine. Put it on and move forward with your day.
Remember, you deserve to have clothes that fit well and allow you to feel comfortable and confident. No more shoving yourself into jeans that are too tight or refusing to buy yourself something new because you don’t believe you deserve it. Summer is here- let’s enjoy it!
Women are tired of feeling crappy about their bodies. I know you are. If you are like most women, you feel bad about your body and then guilty that you feel so bad about it. Taryn Brumfitt was in that exact place until she decided to make a change. Please please take 5 minutes to watch her video and share her story. And if you are inspired (like I was) donate to the Kickstarter program and join The Body Image Movement- or what I might call a revolution.
The following post is written by my dear friend and colleague Alex Amorosi. He is a registered yoga teacher and all around amazing human being. He maintains a phenomenal blog here. Enjoy this post he wrote about the art of listening to and responding to the core of your authentic self. And if you love this post as much as I do, definitely check out more of his writing. My most recent favorite is The Fitness Trap.
Each of us has a core of authenticity that we must honor. The authenticity guides us each day, it watches out for us, and makes sure that we never get too far off track.
In the movie "The Matrix" the character Trinity tells the character Neo, "The Matrix cannot tell you who you are", a way of saying, "The world cannot define you." I remember back into days when I really had no clue who I was on the inside and I looked to the world to define me. I wanted my job, or my things, or my relationships to give me a sense of self. It's like having chameleon skin on the inside, never being able to access what is right for myself, always looking to have that defined by the outside. When the outside defines us, we are never secure because the outside is constantly in a state of flux. Our sense of self is never secure because we are not guiding ourselves by a steady and reliable compass.
Underneath this sort of inner chameleon stuff is usually a powerful sense of guilt and fear. I was always afraid that if I were true to myself, I would hurt people. In fact, in being true to myself, I have hurt people. There is nothing that causes me a greater sense of guilt than feeling that someone is in pain because of something I have done. However, when we are truthful in the name of authenticity to who we are, we are actually acting in the most compassionate way possible. Why would we allow ourselves to continue on a road that we clearly know will not serve us? And why would we drag someone else down that road with us? Authenticity demands that we step up to the plate and do what is right. And, as we all know from the cliché, what's right is almost never easy.
We have become so used to listening to outside sources in our culture that we have lost touch with who we are. We are more accustomed to listening to advertising than listening to ourselves. We want someone else or the world to tell us what's right and what we should want. In the yoga world this translates to what I call the "guru trap". We look to our teachers to define the parameters of what is right and wrong, good and bad. We want the teacher to have all the responsibility. And, there are many teachers all too eager to step right into that role. It's a very seductive place for yoga teachers because it makes the teachers feel needed and valuable. But newsflash teachers, it's not about you so get over it, get your validation from yourself not from your classes. The most effective teacher is one who guides you to your own guidance, not one who proclaims they have an answer that you need.
Who we are is who we are. We must be who we are. We must accept who we are, and when we do, then we can let everyone else be who they are. We don't need to, as Marianne Williamson puts it, "police the universe" anymore. We can relax and know that when we are true to who we are, and others are true to who they are, we are all much happier. It doesn't mean we all have to join hands and sing Kumbaya, but it does mean that we can let ourselves and everyone else be. It means that we might finally know that we are ok exactly as we are, and that nothing is more important than to simply be who we are. Trust your own core of authenticity and you will never get far off course, it is always your true and steady compass.
New Year's is often a time of self-reflection and goal setting. So I thought I'd share a couple of tips for you to consider in anticipation of the new year that is upon us.
Consider accepting yourself as you are right now. I can hear all of your objections as you read that first sentence. I can't accept myself as I am- I'm too fat, I'm too ugly, I'm too lazy, I'm too... People often mistake acceptance with stagnation. If I accept myself I'll never change. But that's the crazy thing- acceptance is what actually creates the most effective change. Acceptance allows us to take stock of reality as it is in the here and now and make the best possible decisions based on that reality. If you're interested, you can read more about self-acceptance here.
From my perspective one of the most difficult areas people have trouble accepting is their body or physical appearance. I have pre-ordered a book "Living with Your Body and Other Things You Hate" by Emily Sandoz and Troy DuFrene. It utilizes ACT- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. As the name indicates, acceptance of what is, is at the core of living a more fulfilled life. I hope you'll check it out too.
If you need some more inspiration for body acceptance, check out this incredibly powerful interview with Ellen DeGeneres and model Robyn Lawley. As Ellen points out- as women we aren't supposed to say, I'm comfortable with my body. And THAT is hugely problematic. They take acceptance one step further and talk about body love, which I realize is a hard message to swallow for many of you. At the end of the clip, Robyn also mentions the fact that we shouldn't comment so freely on other people's bodies. I agree whole-heartedly, which takes me to...
Stop gossiping and commenting on other people's appearance, especially those near and dear to you. A client sent me this Q&A from The Boston Globe. A reader wanted to get advice on how to handle her family's gossip and criticism about her weight. Your body is your business and nobody's else's. Unnecessary body talk creates discomfort and hurt feelings that creates walls of defense and avoidance to be erected. Instead, why not discuss the things we are doing and thinking about instead.
I hope 2014 holds the promise of health and healing for each of you. What tips would you share with me and the other readers of this blog?