"I help women stop dieting..."
I was out networking yesterday with some fab ladies. In case you don't know, when you network, you go round in the group and have 60 seconds to explain what you do in your business! This is something I usually find quite tricky because what I do is difficult to sum up in 60 seconds....and believe me, I've tried!
I usually start with "I help women stop dieting...." because that IS where it starts. I know from personal experience how hideous that rollercoaster is. I used to spend most of my life obsessing about what I ate in order to be slimmer than I was. And in later years I'd feel constantly frustrated because I just couldn't stick to a diet- whereas everyone else seemed to be able to. I felt like a failure really which gave me low self-esteem.
I was under the mistaken apprehension that if I was thinner, life would be different. Who can blame me? Because this IS what we are told, by society and the culture we live in.
I would say that I had 'disordered eating'. This doesn't mean I had an eating disorder but having a head space FULL OF FOOD, guilt and feeling bad really affected my relationship with food. I didn’t eat because I was hungry. I ate because I was sad, or bored, or stressed or anxious. I didn’t even think about hunger or not. My journey to 'recovery' -because that is what it was- recovering from all that negativity....started with Mindful Eating.
I found a Mindful Eating programme and BOY was it powerful. It helped me approach this whole food thing in a different way. Instead of thinking 'I shouldn't eat that, it's too fattening" I learnt to focus instead on WHY I wanted to eat and WHAT I wanted to eat. And so much more.
I gave myself permission to eat WHATEVER I wanted to eat and I started paying attention to whether I was hungry or not WHEN I wanted to eat. Because eating for reasons other than hunger doesn't sort out the issue, whatever it is.
For example, if I eat because I'm angry, that won't help me manage the anger. I need to let it out, express myself, or hit a punch bag!! I hope you can see what I mean.
So, my starting point WAS Mindful Eating but then it turned into something else. I found 'Embrace' the Body Image Film I've hosted a few (!) times.
I learnt about Body Image and I became a Global Ambassador for the Body Image movement.
I read a lot and started choosing more helpful groups to follow on social media. In fact, I unfollow anything that is not Body Positive.
So yes, I help women stop dieting but I also help them understand Body Image and the culture we live in.
I help them appreciate that
Body Image work is for EVERYONE.
That people in smaller bodies struggle with their bodies as well because they think 'this bit is wrong' or ‘that bit is wrong’. Which IS wrong in itself because in thinking this we are buying into the false notion that we should all look like the people we see on TV/magazines/our social media feeds. Even those people don’t look like this. Not really. They are a product of a make-up artist, fashion shoot, particularly flattering poses, photographer wizardry (including removing blemishes and shrinking bodies). And the people you see walking around that are that particularly slender, the ones that I would wistfully think, “Oh, I wish I looked like that”…. Well yes, some people are naturally like that, but many are not eating. They might have an eating disorder, or might be punishing themselves with rigorous exercise to get there which brings me back to, THAT IS NO WAY TO LIVE.
And I’m not doing it.
I refuse to live my life like that. In constant fear of myself and what I (used to) think I lack. I made the conscious decision to approach this differently and I am liberated. Honestly. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean that life is always perfect or that I don’t have my own ‘stuff’ to work on- but at least I’m facing them for what they are instead of thinking that being thin is the answer.