How to Stop Obsessing About Being Thin

Posted on 8 August 2016 by Xen

“….and I said to my body, softly “I want to be your friend”, it took a long breath and replied “I have been waiting my whole life for this”. Nayyirah Waheed

In today’s world it is really difficult for women to feel good about their bodies and to stop pursuing the mythical ideal of thinness. When we are focused on thinness, it creates a dysfunctional relationship with food because we are so obsessed with the number on the scale dropping. When it’s not dropping then we starting thinking “cut out carbs and sugar” or “I am eating badly”. It is so difficult to find peace with food when you so desperately want to be thinner. So many of us associate thin with happy and a better life, as if all of our problems will magically disappear once we are thinner. Really, the only thing that changes when we are thinner is the size of our clothes.

How do we stop obsessing about being thinner in a culture that promotes it? Letting go of thinness is a process and sometimes it can take longer than we expect. Let’s look at the steps you can take if you are ready to let go of thinness…

Step 1: Accept that part of you will always have the desire to be thinner, in the same way we desire material possessions – cars, homes, handbags and shoes. It takes a long time for the desire to wane but eventually it becomes less important. Don’t fight or push away the desire, notice it, see what it feels like in your body, notice what you tell yourself and most importantly what triggers the desire to be thinner. Is it being in a swimming costume? Seeing other women who are thinner? Having a skinny sister or friend?

Step 2: STOP dieting. There is so much evidence out there that proves that dieting does not and never will lead to sustainable weight loss. Diets come in many forms: detox, cleanse, lifestyle change – whatever involves restriction, elimination or willpower will not work in the long term (unless you’re part of the 5% of the population) and in most cases, will just lead to a backlash and more weight gain. Dieting is harmful to our bodies and our minds.

Step 3: Pay attention to your judgements of food and people. Do you judge your food as good or bad, healthy or unhealthy? Remember that food is neutral – food is just a combination of ingredients that feel differently in your body.

Do you judge your own body or other people’s bodies? Notice your judgements about appearance and bodies when you see people. Can you change the dialogue to be kinder and more accepting? Perhaps focus on the person and not the person’s appearance?

Step 4: Put the scale away. If that feels scary, I know it did for me, then weigh yourself less frequently.  Don’t make the number on the scale mean anything other than feedback from your body. Your worth is much more than the size of your jeans or the number on the scale. Can you use a different measurement to define who you are – your kindness, courage, generosity?

Step 5: Get curious with yourself. What does being thin mean to you? How will your life change when you are thin? What will you feel?

Most people say that when they are thin they will feel happy, confident, free, less judged, proud, accomplished. Find ways to cultivate those feelings as you are now. To feel confident, go out there and do something challenging or scary. Find ways to feel what you want to feel by doing other activities that have nothing to do with weight.  Body confidence comes from accepting the body you have and not trying to achieve an “ideal”. If it’s happiness you want, see if you can find happiness in the ordinary things. Let’s be real here, I remember being at my thinnest AND being unhappy — so thin is not a guarantee for happiness.

Step 6: Stop comparing your body to other women – especially models because they don’t even really look like the photos in the magazines! Compare leads to despair. Resist hiding your legs or covering your arms. Watch what you say to people, instead of saying “You have lost so much weight, you look great” say “You are glowing, you look so healthy”.

Step 7: Practice gratitude for your body. Try and take the focus away from how your body looks and pay attention to your body’s functionality. It is very difficult to move from hating your body to loving your body, but hate has never achieved lasting results. Can you start by simply being neutral? Can you be grateful for the parts of your body and what they do for you? Can you accept parts of your body you are not crazy about? You don’t have to like them, but can you accept them?

Step 8: Watch that critical voice in your head. The voice that tells you that you are not good enough, that you should be thinner or different or further ahead. Don’t believe the voice. Question the voice and dismiss it. When we are obsessed with thinness, that voice becomes extremely critical – read this to learn how to tame the voice.

Step 9: Let go of the need for perfection  and embrace your limitations and imperfections. The main reason we pursue perfection is so that we won’t be judged. The desire for thinness is often linked to the need for belonging and acceptance. Perhaps this step starts with acceptance of ourselves.  Let’s embrace body and weight diversity!

Step 10: Practice patience and compassion for yourself as you embark on a journey of self-acceptance. The media and our culture is so focused on being thin and the billion dollar beauty industry feeds off of it – it requires courage to break away. Our relationship with our bodies and the difficulties we face are opportunities for us to grow and transform.

This Women’s Day and beyond, I wish you peace and acceptance of your body.

May you take care of your body with joy!

With love,
Xen.

Are you are tired of yo-yo dieting, emotional eating and obsessing about the size of your body or what you are eating? Do you want to learn how to let go of diets and change your relationship with food, eating and your body? Join our 8 Week Mindful Eating Programme (starts 5 October in Jo'burg) OR book a FREE Mindful Eating Introductory Session with me.

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Certified by The Life Coach School Certified Weight Loss Coach Certified Life Coach Certified and Trained by The Original Intuitive Eating Pro