Health Shaming. Enough already.

Was there any woman who wasn't outraged upon seeing this picture?

(If

you

weren't, then this probably isn't the blog for you.. thanks for stopping by! Good luck with your abs!

)

As a Certified Personal Health & Wellness Coach I cringed. I deal with women all day/everyday who have plenty of guilt and frustration about their bodies (and health) so they certainly don't need anonymous pics via social media piling on. So, let's break it down: Why does this picture bother so many of us?

Shame.

The lovely little word that evokes a gut reaction

every time

we see it. If you

looked up shame in the dictionary

Googled shame, it would literally be this photograph. 

It does exactly what it was designed to do, make no mistake about that.

It is

supposed

to shame you... make you feel ashamed, and then... I don't know... Go to the gym???! 

Did anyone do that? Anyone.... Bueller?

Shame doesn't work because it creates disconnection. Shame doesn't work because it encourages self-doubt and self-loathing.

Most importantly,

shame doesn't work because it often backfires, and further ignites the

exact

behavior it was trying to prevent.  

History provides lessons on how well shame works.

Adultery has been obliterated by now, right??!

For my Game of Thrones fans: Did shaming work for Cersei???

To learn more about how and why shame creates feelings of isolation and unworthiness, all you must do is turn to the

QUEEN

of shame research,

Brene Brown

. Her 2010

Ted Talk

solidified her seat on the throne. It has over 25 million views and is an integral part of the work I do with my private clients. Understanding how "beating ourselves up" will not get us

any

closer to our health and wellness goals is THE KEY to unlocking potential and success.

Love cannot exist where hate resides.

Watch the entire 20 min TED talk here:

Ok, you're back. How was it?? Any A-HA moments in there for ya?

(If you didn't watch it, PLEASE do so... go ahead, click on it now, I will wait for you.)

What Brene so eloquently explains is that

worthiness

is at the heart of joyful living. There are literally two kinds of people in this world. People who believe they are worthy of love and belonging, and people who don't.

(The reasons for WHY someone may not believe they are "worthy" are varied and deep, but they ultimately don't change the distinction.)

When someone comes to me for help and support. the first area we tackle is: their

MOTIVATION

.

If your motivation includes:

  •   looking good in a bikini 
  • wanting to lose weight for a class reunion 
  • negative "numbers" from your doctor
  • seeing a picture of yourself from behind
  • snide remarks from your mother about your weight/food choices
  • comparing yourself to your "healthy friend" and what she has/is/looks like

 (spoiler alert!) 

THEN ANYTHING YOU DO MIGHT NOT WON'T WORK AND IF IT DOES, 

IT DEFINITELY WON'T LAST*

*There are exceptions to every rule, and we all know one of "those" people who super motivated by body image or fear. These are the

exceptions

, not the rule. Trust me.

Combating health shame is the next chapter after combating body/weight shame. Body shame is real and pervasive in our culture... health shaming is just starting to take hold,

even with our

thin

friends and loved ones.

 A great place to see it is with parents. If you are the parent of a child how often have you felt guilt, shame or pressure to create the PERFECT HEALTHY MEALS?

What things do you consider "off limits" or "not to be shared on Facebook"? 

  • Sugary breakfast cereals? 
  • McDonald's drive through for lunch? 
  • Hot dogs, chicken nuggets, or mac n cheese for dinner most nights a week?
  • Lunchables?
  • Chips, candy, or soda as snacks?

Why are these things so taboo? Understanding the stigma and shame around food is how you start the discussion. You can't address a problem that you don't acknowledge. Let's put away the shame tactics and try approaching our lives with compassion and grace. Only then can we make real, lasting changes.