Hey, everyone! Joey and I are back from skiing with my family in Salt Lake City over the long President's Day weekend. While we settle back into a schedule and routine (and I catch up on laundry) I will leave you with today's No Fat Talk Tuesday post. This week's post comes to us from Justine who blogs over at Stop Me If You've Heard This One. Justine actually shared her story of how she learned to love her body in Glamour magazine, and I'm trilled to have her sharing her story with E&C readers today!
About two years ago, I lost 30 pounds. You can read the details of that story here if you want to. The thing is, the actual weight loss wasn’t really the important part of that story. The point of the story is that I found a way to make myself a happier person, and weight loss was more of an effect than a cause of that change.
When I read Madison’s first post about No Fat Talk, I was so excited to see that someone else saw the importance of changing the way women talk about their bodies. For the last two years, I’ve been making a conscious effort to only talk about my body in a loving way. (I called it “no bad body talk,” but Madison’s version is a bit catchier!) For me, there were two things I actively changed that started altering my perception of myself.
First, I changed the dialogue going on in my head. Every day, whenever I felt myself mentally slipping into that broken record of bad body talk (you know the one: “My thighs are huge. And my upper arms jiggle. And this thing on my belly…ugh”), I would make myself think, “STOP IT.” Then I would repeat a series of mini “mantras” I had created to make myself focus on not only positive things about myself, but things that deep down I knew were more important than being able to wear size zero jeans: “You are a good person. You are a kind person. You are better than this. You deserve to be happy.”
Sometimes I would even say them to myself out loud while looking in a mirror. (Did I feel a little stupid doing it? Yes. Did it help anyway? Absolutely.)
The second thing I did that really changed the way I looked at my body was to start taking yoga classes. I had always been extremely interested in fitness, but in the past, I had opted for classes that punished my body. Hours of kick boxing, miles of running—they did the trick (and made me feel like a warrior), but they were more about atoning for my “sins” (AKA, that extra slice of pizza, a chocolate chip cookie here and there, etc.) than treating my body well.
Yoga was different. My instructor looked at fitness differently, for one. She was fond of telling us to listen to what our body needed. “If your body wants to stretch further, let it. If your body needs to pull back, that’s fine too.” It had never occurred to me that my body could already be telling me what it needed. For the first time, I started listening.
Then, without my even realizing it, I started “listening” to my body in all aspects of my life. I slept more. I hate healthier foods. And I would stop eating when I was full. I also stopped punishing myself for eating delicious foods just because they weren’t necessarily the healthiest options. If I wanted a cookie, well, then I would eat a cookie. I just wouldn’t eat six.
For the first time since I had been a pre-teen, I stopped dieting entirely. To this day, I refuse to subscribe to any eating plan that cuts any food group out without exception. (Besides, we all know that the second you can’t have something, it’s all you think about!) And I continued to refuse to speak unkindly about my body. Which isn’t to say I always love what I see in the mirror (Lord knows I wouldn’t be sad if I woke up looking like Adriana Lima tomorrow), it just means the focus has changed. Instead of obsessing over a perceived flaw, I concentrate on my favorite parts of myself. (Because, yes, I actually have favorite parts now!)
I think the weirdest part about Fat Talk is how fulfilling some girls find it to be. I once told a female friend of mine that I don't engage in negative body talk, and she laughed loudly and said, "But I LOVE negative body talk!"
She was kind of kidding. But mostly serious.
Women seem to get some kind of thrill from picking out every thing about themselves they don’t like. If you let someone get on a roll (in some cases literally), you can watch them slowly move down their entire physique. “My nose is so crooked. And my teeth could be whiter. And I hate this thing under my chin. What is that? And my shoulders are way too broad. And my boobs sag. And this belly thing—what is that? And my butt is awful. Don’t get me started on my thunder thighs. I wish my calves were more defined. I HAVE CANKLES. And my feet…ugh.”
But the thing is, there is zero actual benefit to insulting your body. Glaring at that roll below your belly button, pinching the extra layer on your hip, hating anything that jiggles when you dash across the street—you’re not fixing anything by telling your body what you hate about it. You’re tearing yourself down, and it’s not going to make you feel better.
Because you are worth so much more than your dress size. You are a good person. You are a kind person. You are better than this. And you deserve to be happy, too.
If you would like to share your No Fat Talk story, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more details!