Self Acceptance is a cornerstone of my work with women, and certainly it’s an ever expanding adventure of my own spiritual journey – being appreciative of what I already have achieved, whilst still wanting to experience the best of what life has to offer.
The theme of my recent work with one particular client was:
Can I love and accept myself WITHOUT having a strong, toned and conventionally “attractive” body?
Or am I tossing up between being either being fat but happy, or slim and miserable.
What if the premise of the question was flawed and there was a space in between that for you to still discover?
A state of genuine appreciation for your current bodily condition…
A deep sense of gratitude and acknowledgement of your efforts…(without attachment to a result)
that grew into positive behaviours that gathered momentum over time to transform a frumpy and bloated body into an energetic, lean and light one?
Here are some of the principles I help my clients go through a process of deeper inquiry, to discover where the boundaries of “loving oneself” morph into just a facade for excusing bad behaviour.
1. Body Acceptance is not leading with a story to justify a negative behaviour.
The negative emotional charge that shows up in this behaviour comes through the “screw it” statement.
This indicates you’re going against your better judgement and you know that there will be an undesirable fall out by eating this particular food, but you’re telling yourself that the instant gratification is going to be worth the feelings of guilt and sluggishness afterwards.
Even though – history shows that time and time again you realise the momentary pleasure on your lips isn’t worth it, and you regret your decision and spend an inordinate amount of time beating yourself up about it.
This can happen consciously as in the words you speak to yourself, or the actions you take trying to punish yourself healthy and do penance for your sins. It can also show up subliminally when you realise you’ve regressed into a certain belief about yourself such as “I can never stick to anything” “I’m lazy”, “I’ve got no will power” which then subconsciously can make you feel like a failure or not good enough – these are insidious mindset programs which can influence your mood and other decisions in a negative way.
Life IS too short, but it’s too short to be constantly denying the expression of your true self, and suppressing your inner voice with the short-lived benefits of sugar, crappy carbs and alcohol. Yes, enjoy everything in moderation, but without it coming from a place of rebellion that you weren’t able to be “perfect” and so you may as well be “perfectly horrible” instead.
2. Body Acceptance is NOT giving up on the idea you can be healthy because you’ve failed so many times in the past ie.
I have so much compassion for the heartache in this statement, however, it is fundamentally flawed in its very principle. I agree, trying to punish yourself healthy, and hate yourself slim will most surely make you miserable – and it also doesn’t work when trying to create long term change.
Changing your body may relieve some of the negative feelings you have about yourself in the short term, but when you use self-rejection to motivate yourself to eat less and exercise more, that same critical voice is still there underneath it all – it’s just housed in a slimmer form. And when you’re critical of yourself, you’re going to be far less likely to recognise and celebrate your achievements along the way – which is a surefire recipe for the weight to creep back on.
Feeling helpless so what’s the point of trying – isn’t Body Acceptance.
If happiness is a journey not a destination, how could making oneself miserable on a diet be a part of God’s greater plan for us. Surrendering the idea of what something “should”look like allows us to be grateful for “what is” and create a more natural expression of our body, without it being clouded over by our perceived sense of failure.
Who wants to be good at being miserable all their lives ANYWAY?
3. Body Acceptance isn’t rejecting another body type because you used to want to be like that and couldn’t.
The negative emotional charge that shows up in this statement is the term “stick-thin” – it’s attaching a negative connotation to a particular body type. This is very common when a woman has spent a lifetime trying to conform to a societal ideal, only to feel like she was never able to achieve it – so instead of idealising it, she rejects it as if she never wanted it in the first place – even though she really feels “skinny” was the one who rejected her.
4. Body Acceptance isn’t about totalling the sum of your effort for the day and deciding whether or not you deserve a “treat” in exchange.
The truth is – you deserve a treat, not because you worked hard to but because you are inherently deserving. When this pattern of food rewards is established, it also sets off another part of the pendulum that rewards putting your own needs last, inciting you to work harder and harder for longer – in order to cover up for that deep seated feeling of “not enoughness”.
The bliss of sugar, fat and starchy carbohydrates are like explosions of pleasure to counteract the disappointment and heaviness you feel from your unrelenting standards, which only makes it more tempting to try to prove your value more and overcompensate for your perceived shortcomings.
The tragic irony here is that running to the bathroom with IBS symptoms, sugar crashes, headaches and stubborn weight gain are no treats at all! The immediate gratification of giving into cravings would be far easier to resist, if you just weren’t so hard on yourself and resistant to giving yourself more rest and recovery and more whole hearted nourishment.
Ultimately there is a lot of confusion about what Body Acceptance really is, and then what is just giving into a negative mindset and creating bad habits. I break down the importance in self acceptance in your overall health journey – you can read about it further by going here. What’s important to note here is that beating yourself up and trying to follow a very strict regime of food rules has never been effective at long term change.
I hear many women report that their inner dialogue goes a little something like this
I’m just going to eat this (because nothing I do makes a difference anyway)and enjoy it (because I’m stressed and unhappy and I can atleast rely on the joy eating food gives me) and who cares if I lose weight or not I’m just going to accept myself as I am.
If you can identify this in yourself REJOICE! Because it means that we’ve identified your way out of this negative self-sabotage cycle. By realigning your intention to wholehearted nourishment of body, mind AND SOUL – (because that’s what you really want and the sugar and fat gives you that faux joy you really want), and untangling the things that are making you stressed and unhappy – that’s when you can discover a deeper truth to your purpose here in life and create an authentic level of connection with your most vital self and who you really are.
Remember, you are not your body – you are a SOUL living in an EXQUISITE machine!
Today I wanted to share with you something that’s actually been bugging me for a little while – and it took me a while to figure out what’s going on.
Essentially, what I’ve noticed is that there is a real trend of mummy bloggers out there who really have a great time having an entertaining rant about basically how shit motherhood is, how thankless that can be, how much your relationship goes to shit or bombs, and how your body is never ever the same again.
And I found myself wondering how much of this positive message is also cloaking some dysfunction and chaos, justifying chaotic behavior and chaotic environment, and kind of just making people throw up their hands and go, “That’s just the way it is.”
So, I wanted to distill the difference between what is accepting your body and then what is just making excuses.
I know why the posts are so popular. I get it. It’s because the media or the magazines have been putting up motherhood as this really glossy, photoshopped, picture-perfect type situation.
Look, I’m not a mum but I will be one day. And I’ve kind of been reading these mummy blogger posts that are kind of like the anti-motherhood… The sentiment is helping mums love their bodies, love themselves, accept the situation for what it is, which is a really important message to portray.
But sometimes I’m just thinking… How much of this is actually just justifying chaotic behavior?
It’s an entertaining way to vent about the reality of raising children and acceptance of the situation. So I get that.
Some of the examples of these posts that I’m talking about is that one of these ladies put up a photo of an 8-year-old child crapping it at the table because she doesn’t want to eat the food. And the mother says, “Oh, I can see why some species want to eat their young.” And I’m like, “Okay, it’s funny. I get it.” And then there’s a whole bunch of other rants that happened about that.
Then there’s also about love changes and how your relationship turns to crap.
There’s a post where it’s like… It’s really important for you to go out and socialize and combat the anxiety and depression. And if you need to talk to someone about how much of a dickhead the guy is that you’ve married, just let it out. And then just talking about normalizing how when you have kids, instead of sleep-ins and romantic date nights, you fight about finances and you get into arguments – and you call each other names. And that’s just what love is.
Now, I don’t know. That’s not my definition of what love is.
Obviously my specialization is in helping people with their mindset to help them lose weight.
One of these posts was all about, “Here I am sitting here. I’ve got food in my hair, I’m overweight, I don’t care, I’m tired, I’m exhausted – and I’ve got the shits with everyone.”
And that prompted all these other women to take really unflattering photos of themselves in their undies, with their bellies hanging out and saying, “Woohoo! I love me as me.”
And that is all really positive.
But my concern is that if you’re a vibrational match to all those things where people are saying,“This is just what love is,” all of this sort of chaos that’s happening around, and you’re accepting that as just normal, then I think that probably there’s some more shit to deal with underneath that. And there’s probably a whole lot of anxiety and depression and emotional dysfunction that’s going on around the home. And that’s not something that you have to accept as permanent and unchangeable.
Now, my experience looking after kids, I get it. When I looked after my nephew for a couple of weeks, I forgot to shower for three days and my hair was rank, I hardly ate properly, I started eating formula by the spoonful because I convinced myself it tasted like white chocolate. I don’t know. I get it. But my concern is that it really just showed my lack of experience, my lack of support, my lack of skill – and also a lack of routine, strategy and self-care.
That’s a really big thing for mums too because there’s some weird thing in our society where we say that women and mothers have to be martyrs, they have to put everybody else first. And a lot of women do this. They put their own self-care last because you’re a better mum if that’s what you do, right? I mean, you’ve kind of heard that sentiment.
That’s why in the media it’s always talking about how super busy a mum is, how frazzled she is – and a lot of women get their pride that they love it. They love it if they put the needs of everybody else first before themselves.
In my experience with working with women who struggle with their weight and do struggle with anxiety and depression as a result (or… what happened first: the chicken or the egg?), doing that – suffering from mother martyrdom and putting everybody else first and yourself last – doesn’t create a happy, healthy home environment or relationship with yourself, or relationship with the rest of your family.
So it makes me wonder how many of these women sort of going, “Here I am, I’m in my pajamas all day, I’m frazzled, I’m overweight, but I love myself for who I am…” How many of these women are actually just giving that self-love lip service? Do they really actually feel that way if there’s all this angst happening and chaos happening in their life? And how many of them are just giving excuses for their disordered habits because it’s just normalizing the dysfunction?
Look, I’m a weight loss coach. I’m not a motherhood coach, I’m not a parenting coach, I’m not a relationship coach – but what I find is that when there are things going wrong in these other areas of your life, absolutely, they are affecting your relationship with food.
My clients start losing weight without having to diet, without having to push themselves and punish themselves, all because they get better with their communication skills, better with dealing with emotion, better with putting their own self care first.
One example that strictly relates to food is when I saw a woman putting up a post about the trials and tribulations of having a kid sitting in the middle of the floor, chucking a tantrum in the shopping center because they want a chocolate bar. And apparently they have a tanty every afternoon and then they’re a perfect kid after that.
I was like, “Hmmm, I wonder how many times a mum can actually handle that kind of tanty and give in? Is it because the kid’s giving up or is it because you’re giving in and giving them what they want?”
And I did a little bit of Facebook stalking and I saw this kid always had chippies, twisties, milkshakes, chocolate bars, ice creams. In so many of these photos this kid was eating junk.
When a kid’s eating junk all the time, they’re going to have these massive sugar cravings, they’re going to have these major behavioral problems – and you’re actually going to be trying to discipline the poor nutrition rather than discipline the child. And now if a mum is feeding her kid this kind of food then she’s probably not making the best decisions for her own food as well. So it’s a real indicator of what’s going on.
My point is… Accept and love the child, yes. But don’t accept the behavior, don’t normalize the behavior and say, “Oh, this is just what it is.” Look outside and see if there’s a better kind of normal.
Acceptance doesn’t mean that you’re not always looking for a way to improve the situation. Accept your husband and accept that your love changes – but don’t accept name-calling and unreasonable fights. And don’t accept anything less because you’re saying that’s normal now that you have kids.
And the same thing goes with your body.
Accept and love your body. And because of that, you do more behaviors and actions that support that love. You don’t go, “Oh well, stuff it. Because I accept and love my body, this is just the way it is.” You don’t just keep on continuing the dysfunctional disordered behavior. That is going to be rife if you’ve got all this other stuff going on in your life.
After suffering a fairly serious breakdown I was unable to cope with life in general. My body felt broke, old and frail – I didn’t just feel middle aged, I felt half dead. I hadn’t realised that my body was self destructing and I was doing it to myself, working long hours, too much alcohol, lots of bad food and absolutely no exercise.
After six months of working with Bianca, I no longer need my blood pressure medication, anti depressants and my cholesterol is in a safe zone. I have lost 2 dress sizes and more than 26 kilos. I now have a life outside of our business and can see a happy, healthy future for our family. I hope the person I became never comes back as I like this girl so much better.
I had heard of Bianca through some magazines – it was an investment but I had tried and failed so many times but in six short months, 20 kilos melted off me and it had a massive and unexpected effect on our styling business. While working with Bianca we secured a national gig, increased our prices to a level we previously thought no one would pay, AND we were booked out weeks in advance.
The majority of this 20 kilo weight loss has only been 5% diet and exercise, the rest has been an emotional journey. Bianca confronted me and called me on my BS and challenged some of my most deeply help beliefs about who I am. And the results are undeniable. I haven’t completely quit drinking, I still get to eat chocolate, I’ve had the best year in my business EVER – and perhaps the most important thing is how differently I react to things emotionally.
Who knew that taking it slowly and being kind to yourself could get you the results that yelling at yourself couldn’t.
Before working with Bianca I was super stressed and I thought it was too hard and I didn’t have the time to be slim AND successful. But I was surprised at how easy it was to implement Bianca’s system – I haven’t counted calories and I still pig out on foods I love. It’s been no coincidence to me that as a result of the new clarity of mind I’ve actually doubled my business at the same time I’ve made these changes to my body.