Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Body Image... can we get personal here?

I have terrible body image.  There.  I admitted it.  I am not sure but I might even go so far as to say I have body dis-morphia   I really don't believe it when people say I look great or in shape or thin or fit.  I just don't believe it.  I look in the mirror and I see nothing but flaws.  I have a very hard time seeing the good qualities. The other day I noticed a new muscle (connecting my back to my abs - what is it? I don't know, it looks cool though) and I thought great, that looks awesome...but my ass is getting flat.  Seriously, that is my thought process.  All I see is the negatives of not being able to squat or run as much as I like too instead of seeing the success of not only not gaining weight, but continuing to lose fat while injured.  As soon as I can acknowledge something positive, I seem to have to find a negative.  I am working on it; it's one of my big goals for 2013 - to stop talking so negatively to myself.  But it's a huge project and one I haven't completed yet.

Talking to my husband the other day, I actually said " I know I'm thin, I know I'm fit.  Logically I know I am at my lightest weight in a long time with the most muscle so I should be happy but I still see nothing by flaws."  How messed up is that?  Does anyone else struggle with these issues? How can the logical side be so clear but the emotional side be so dominant?  I can literally know the numbers, the measurements, the cloth sizes that all say "thin" or "in shape" but I can not seem to connect my body image to the reality.

Here's a great description of negative body image and while I am not quite this negative about myself or in my outlook, this at least gives a good idea about what goes on in the mind of someone struggling with negative body image:

I definitely don't feel that bad (actually just seeing that description was good for me for some perspective).  And I don't struggle with ideas like not being good enough as a person, or not deserving good things or good friends or anything like that which I think goes with really serious body dis-morphia and eating disorders.  I've always joked that I am an uncommitted anorexic - I have all the criticisms but I am not willing to give up eating! I joke but serious eating disorders are no joke at all and I consider myself lucky not have to deal with those types of demons.  But on this smaller scale, I think that body image and body criticizing is something so many of us, particularly women but not just women, deal with.  I don't measure my self-worth against how my body looks...but I know that it still has an negative impact on me, my mental health and even those around me to be so hyper critical.

I hate talking about stuff like this because it is so personal and I also feel like a complainer.  I don't have real weight issues in terms of health...well in terms of physical health but as I write this, I guess I can see that I am pretty hard on my mental health with my constant critiquing.   I don\t have hundreds of pounds to lose, or gain weight just by looking at a cookie.  My metabolism is pretty good and I am in good health (mostly) so that I can work out.  So with all this said, I hope it doesn't seem like a thin girl begging for compliments.  I truly do want to be able to be my own cheerleader and I want everyone who reads this blog to get a better and better body image by supporting each other.   I am going to continue to look into this issue and see what I can learn about being kinder to myself but in the mean time  any tips or tricks on dealing with this? Anyone else care to share their story?


  1. Ugh, I hate that society has made us all care so much about how our bodies measure up to "the ideal" which is really pretty random. I'm not going to say a damn thing about how you look, because in the end it's about treating your body well and being healthy, and you do that in spades.

    One thing that really, really did help me with body image was to make a rule that I'm not allowed to criticise myself when I'm doing something that's good for my body. I find when I'm in the middle of a workout, that's when I'm most likely to notice flaws and think nasty thoughts, because I'm in the middle of an activity that is very centred on my body. So, I'm allowed to notice that I have a tummy roll while I'm doing crunches, but I don't allow myself to think a damn thing about how ugly it looks. I'm doing something good, so if I catch myself, I reframe my thoughts as "you're strong and you're treating your body well." It's taken some of the emotion out of it for me... I'm allowed to objectively notice the shape of my body but I'm not allowed to label that shape as good, bad, ugly, pretty, or anything else. It just IS, and I'm treating it well.

    1. LOVE that approach Laura! I think that's a key thing to move towards being objective and appreciative of what our bodies accomplish. We spend so much time being critical and acting like our bodies aren't good enough or thin enough or pretty enough or whatever. It's hard to stay motivated when you're talking negatively to yourself all the time. I'm going to try your technique to move towards objective observation instead of insane critiquing!