Photos and Mirrors and Closets... OH MY!

In case you missed the epic “smash the scale” video I made earlier this year, here’s the Cliff’s notes: 

1.    Take your scale
2.    Grab a bat or hammer
3.    Smash it to smithereens
4.    Feel like a bad ass

(If you want to watch it for yourself, click here)

My intention was to inspire all of YOU to release yourself from the bondage/torture of the scale.

Unless you are pregnant, under the care of a physician for a medical issue, or in treatment for a restrictive eating disorder, you do NOT need to be weighed. Period, end of story. (Even for the circumstances listed above, weigh-ins can be done “blind” aka without telling YOU the number.) 

Does that mean you will be living ‘happily ever after’ with no issues about weight, body image, or your appearance?

Awwww, that’s so cute. 

Sadly no, smashing your scale does NOT make all of your body, weight, and appearance “issues” disappear.  

It simply means you won’t own a scale.

Granted, the scale is a huge obstacle, but it’s not the only tool that your “inner gremlin” uses to its advantage. 

Wanna improve body image?

Face your fears:

Photos and mirrors and closets…

OH MY!

Photos:


Oh the dreaded picture that was posted on Facebook where you look “AWFUL, fat, or unflattering”.

There is a special kind of pain that comes from seeing a “bad” picture of ourselves. This pain can be made even worse if the picture is from an event where we THOUGHT we looked good, and yet the photo evidence appears to prove otherwise. 

I have gotten many an email from clients about this exact situation and I STILL suffer from the sting of photo shame from time to time. 

So what are we to do???

This is not an easy one… it cuts right to the core of our fear of being unattractive, unloved, and not 'good enough'. 

I don’t have any magical words of wisdom. Truth be told, building body acceptance, self-worth, and having the strength to face PAINFUL emotions head-on TAKES TIME. 

Here is what I can offer right now.

Create a go-to response that you can use when you see an “unflattering” picture of yourself. Something simple and, more importantly, something that you TRULY believe:

“I was having a really good time and what I looked like didn’t actually matter that much.”

“People love me not because of my appearance but because of who I am.”

“Photos do not have the power to control my day. I choose to move on.”

A very potent cure to our body image blue is to limit time spent on social media while you are new to this work. It really helps. 

Choose to make your life more about LIVING IN the moment than about CAPTURING the moment. Encourage friends and loved ones to do the same (we have gone a little picture crazy, have we not?)

Ask yourself, “Will this photo matter in a week? A month? A year?” If not, don’t give it another precious moment of your time and energy.

 

Mirrors:

What can I say, they are a necessary evil.

Great for ensuring you don’t have food in your teeth or to check if you missed a button, but beyond that it gets tricky.

I actually haven’t owned a full length mirror in 2 years. It’s glorious. I highly recommend it if you are new to the body-image-recovery game. 

At first not owning a full length mirror wasn’t intentional, we simply didn’t own one after moving out of an apartment with mirrored closet doors, but when I realized I much I liked living mirror-free chose NOT to buy one for our new home. I always hated the mirrors on our closet doors so why invite that misery back into my day to day life??

After a while I began to realize how much less energy I put into what I looked like. Clothes became more about how they felt and I didn’t have as many negative thoughts while getting dressed. 

I invite you to explore your relationship with the mirror.

 

Does it bring up feelings of anxiety, insecurity, or self-criticism?
 

Just like the scale, does is dictate how you feel about yourself, your body, or your eating and exercise choices?

If so, how can you change your relationship with the mirror and "self checking" as your walk past mirror windows or doors?

 

Closets:


One of the most powerful homework assignments I give to my clients is the “clean out your closet” experiment.

Having hangers full of clothes that no longer fit is definitely NOT the kindest thing you can do for yourself. 

When we constantly see clothes from our “thinner days” it can invoke urges to restrict, diet, or “lose a couple pounds”.

When we wear the same rotation of clothes, yet have a closet full of gorgeous items we can’t or don’t want to wear, it makes us feel… hmmmm what’s the word… BLAH.


You can clean out your closet all at once, or tackle it one section at a time (pants -> shirts -> bathing suits). Whatever order will get you to actually do it. 

Here are a few* guidelines:

Only keep items that you REALLY like or need. (No matter how much money you spent or what a good sale it was)

 Only keep items that fit you COMFORTABLY right now. (Those pants that you can SQUEEZE into, and you can FORCE them to button, are probably not going to be comfortable at dinner or a movie)

Do not try everything on all at once. This is a recipe for disaster. Want a sure fire way to feel defeated instead of empowered?? Try on everything in your closet in one day. Instead, start with the things you KNOW damn well don’t fit and get rid of them first. 

Still have items that you’re on the fence about? Leave them alone until you organically want to wear them. Then, try them on, and if they don’t fit comfortably then you know for sure that you can get rid of them. If after 6 months you STILL haven’t reached for an item, then you probably don’t like it as much as you thought you did, and it’s safe toss whether it fits or not. 

 

*I know what you are thinking. There are a million exceptions to this. If it’s an item with sentimental value you can keep it, but just not in your closet. If you don’t want to donate expensive things you can sell/consign. If you are pregnant or just had a baby this probably isn’t the time to do this exercise. If you have items that are seasonal then tackle the closet in seasons. The most important thing is to GET ITEMS OUT OF YOUR CLOSET and out of your eye-line. SO if you can’t bear to get rid of things right away, put them in a container and store them at your best friends/sisters house.
 

How Mom Guilt, Diets, and Body Shame All Have the Same Roots.

Most of my clients are women, and the majority of those women are mothers.

I don’t have any children of my own and yet still I have the responsibility of guiding these mothers through situations that I cannot personally relate to.

 

BUT, when it comes to their conversations about “Mom Guilt”, I totally get it.

 

I don’t identify with that term per se, but I have felt the same FEELINGS.

Enter, empathy. As a coach I am very well versed in empathizing with people going through all sorts of things, good bad and ugly.

(An animated short about empathy can be found HERE. Hint: it’s NOT the same as sympathy)

 

Below are some of the feelings that my mom clients/friends/family have expressed and that I can personally relate to:

guilt, unmet expectations, sadness, regret, shame, embarrassment, overwhelm, frustration, loneliness, panic, loss of control, wanting things you cannot have, longing for more: more time, money and connection, feeling judged, imposter syndrome, total exhaustion, anger, hopelessness, and never feeling good enough.

 

How can me, having never been a mother, relate to the vast array of feelings at the center of “mom guilt”??

 

Because they are the same feelings that often accompany being a woman, wife, friend, daughter, someone with chronic illness, and self-employed.

 

Because, even more profoundly, they are the same nasty feelings that diet culture thrives on.

 

As a former disordered eater/dieter/health obsessed woman I know those feelings well… every single one of them is what I felt during my years of white-knuckle restriction, punishing exercise, and hating/hiding/manipulating my body.

 

When we peel back the layers of the onion, the feelings of “mom guilt” AND the tragic appeal of the “diet/weight loss industry” both stem from one DEEPLY painful place:

A lack of control and a desperate longing for approval, acceptance, and unconditional love.

 

When someone stands in the truth of their imperfections, lives with vulnerability and humility, and gives up the tireless job of trying to “have it all” only then are they are truly free from guilt, diets, and body obsession.

 

Feeling badly for every missed soccer game or store bought costume or mac n cheese dinner or tear-filled bedtime routine is an endless exercise in self-torture. You are going to miss games, make mistakes, lose your temper, and forget the snacks. There is no way to be “the best mom”. Accepting that fact is the key to being “the best mom you can be at any given moment”.

 

Feeling badly for every sugary donut, fast food dinner, missed workout, gained pound, stretch mark, wrinkle, diet soda, night time couch feast, and failed “program” is a sure fire way to continue in the vicious cycle of yo-yo dieting, restrict then binge, and “I feel fat” days.  There is no way to control your body, lifespan, or health.

Accepting that you are a living, breathing, complex human being made up of a body with instincts, a soul with emotions, and a brain with thoughts is the key to living with attunement and in peaceful contentment.

 

Your body is the only one you will ever have.

Take care of her, respect her, and accept her just as she is today.

Tell her you know she is doing her best and that you love her unconditionally.

It’s all she has ever wanted. (Just like you, Mom)