Why You Are Resisting Accepting Your Body As It Is

“I’m willing to love and accept my body just as it is”.

This is the mantra I suggested for my coaching client, let’s call her Susie.

The silence on the other end of the phone is thick, from objections not yet spoken. I know Susie is not buying this and wants to ignore my suggestion. She would end our call right now if I gave her the option.

Susie shares with me what she’s thinking.   

It’s not true. I don’t like the way my body looks. I have a fat ass and my arms are flabby. I’m tired of not fitting into my skinny jeans. I need to lose weight.

I’ve had similar versions of the these thoughts myself. This old voice still whispers in my ear on occasion. When I catch a sideways glimpse of my belly. When a workout feels crazy hard. Or, when life doesn’t seem to be going my way and I wonder if life would be easier if I was thinner.

A few weeks earlier, Susie was so busy throughout her day that she didn’t have time to eat. Her stomach was growling and uncomfortable, but she put her deadlines first. When the early evening came, Susie was beyond hungry. She felt so panicked that she was driven to eat whatever she could get her hands on. Crackers. Cheese. Chips. Pasta and meatballs. And then a huge bowl of ice cream. Susie ate until she felt sick. When bedtime came around, Susie felt horrible. I’m disgusting, she thought.

This is what hating on our bodies looks like. And feels like.

These body hating thoughts have a big impact because they turn into action. When we don’t love our bodies, we ignore, punish, abuse, blame, judge and criticize.

As our coaching session continued, I hear Susie quietly share I’ll love my body when I’m thin.

Her body needs to earn her love. In Susie’s mind, an overweight body can’t be loved. The love of her body is conditional.

Susie flashes back to scenes growing up with her younger sister. Her thin younger sister that always got praise and attention for being so lean. Susie may have been smart and driven, but her body wasn’t as slim as her sisters. She saw the positive attention and heard the casual compliments her sister received from family, friends and boyfriends. Along the way, Susie created her own truth. She needed to be skinny to be loved and accepted.

Hating our bodies for it’s size and shape isn’t just about having poor body image, it’s also about having poor self image. The act of criticizing and judging our bodies is an act of self loathing. We hate our bodies because we don’t believe we are acceptable just as we are.

Our resistance in accepting our bodies isn’t about the claimed 5, 10 or 50 extra pounds of weight. It’s our own resistance in acknowledging our own worth. The weight is just an illusion, an excuse if you will, to understand why we feel unlovable and at times, disgusting.

After all, 5 years ago, Susie finally reached her lowest weight. She didn’t wake up each morning feeling more loved. She didn’t put her skinny jeans on feeling like she could take on the world. She felt the same dreaded feelings about herself. She wondered if all of the diet sacrifices were worth it. Her self esteem hadn’t gone go up when the number on the scale went down.

Stop chasing the fairy tale ending that you’ll love and accept yourself when you lose weight. Each time you buy into it, you are buying into the idea that your own heart and soul isn’t worthy of love.

You have a beautiful light to share with the world.  Go out and share it, with your body and your gorgeous self, just as it is.

Are Your Attempts to Lose Weight Failing? 5 Things You Can Do to Stop Sabotaging Your Efforts

Jen had a big meeting that afternoon with her largest client. She’d been prepping for days and wanted it to go well. For the past three weeks, Jen had also worked really hard on her diet. She’d avoided sugar, eaten more salads and finally got her ass to the gym after months of avoiding it. She secretly hoped that she could now squeeze into her favorite power skirt.

Standing in her closet, she held her breath as she slipped on the skirt. She pulled it up and wrestled with the zipper, knowing immediately that it was too tight. As she let out her breath, she also let out the hope that she’d held.  Not only did Jen feel frustrated, she felt defeated.

Why am I even bothering? All those workouts. All the sacrifice. For what? I’m the same exact weight. I’ll never lose weight.

Jen hung her favorite skirt back in her closet and put on her “go to” safety dress. As she made her way to the office, she tried to push all of these defeatist thoughts of her mind. But underneath the surface, Jen was taking this battle to heart.  Not only was she second guessing her ability to lose weight, her confidence was crushed. A familiar train of thought  passed through her mind.

I can’t lose weight and keep it off. I don’t deserve to have a skinny body.

Jen, a composite blend of my own and my coaching clients’ experience, is in a negative thought cycle. Most of us experience these without even realizing it, and they can do incalculable damage.

Let me spell out the cycle:

  • Jen was looking for evidence to support her beliefs that she would never be free of the weight, or keep it off.
  • When she tried on her favorite skirt and it didn’t fit the way she wanted it to, she got the confirmation she’d been looking for.
  • Even though her client meeting went well, the days and weeks that followed looked nothing like the weeks before. She stopped going to the salad bar and skipped the gym more often than she went.

Jen’s thoughts and beliefs created her actions, right from the get go.

What if Jen believed that she could lose weight? Or at least, didn’t believe that she couldn’t lose weight?

When she tried on her favorite skirt that morning, the conversation with herself would have been entirely different. She might have thought, Well, it fits better than it did a month ago. I just need to be patient. Or, My body feels better and lighter. Eventually, my body will catch up.

As human beings, we have a hard-wired psychological need to be right. When we’re right, well, we’re justified and validated,  which is the ultimate goal. Sadly, our wiring doesn’t distinguish how we are right, it just needs to be. We look for situations, words, actions, and circumstances that we can interpret in a way that will support our belief system. When we find this evidence, our beliefs are affirmed and we are right. Our beliefs and the evidence we gather can serve us well. Or, our beliefs may tear down our confidence and our self esteem. We will interpret conversations and situations all around us to make us right about that too.   

When her skirt didn’t fit the way she wanted it to, Jen interpreted that as confirmation of her belief that she can’t really lose weight. That little voice said, “I told you so. You’ll never have the body you dreamed of.” And with that, she made herself right.

This is why what happens on the inside is so incredibly important. Because we react and make choices based on that I-must-prove-myself-right mechanism.

Having an acute awareness of your thoughts and beliefs is critical to breaking out of those past unproductive patterns and cycles. The one’s that are keeping you hating your body, exhausted and feeling hopeless.

Let me warn you: Becoming aware of negative beliefs isn’t a pretty process. It’s not fun to look at beliefs like:

  • I’m not good enough
  • I’m unlovable
  • I’ll always be alone

But when we shine that light on this dark side of us, we can see that our actions and reactions have been reinforcing these beliefs.

The good news is that you don’t have to excavate all of your beliefs to change your life. You don’t need to buy into the belief that you will have a life you love when you finally really love yourself. So, while you are practicing loving yourself and your life:

  1. Make your commitment to your highest self bigger than your commitment to lose weight. Losing weight for you isn’t just about dropping the weight. Deep down it's about how we feel about ourselves and our self worth. Commit to nourishing yourself in a kind way. Instead of focusing on losing weight, how about focusing on feeling great, light and energetic in your body?
  2. Practice identifying those moments you’re looking for evidence. We’re interpreting situations all of the time. Some big, some small. Looking in a full length mirror at the Mall? Just finishing  bowl of ice cream? Notice how these situations support the beliefs you want to hold for yourself.
  3. Focus on the long term. You want the changes in your life to stick. To do this, there is no quick fix. No short cuts. Habits take a while to reinforce and permeate through our lives. Give them the benefit of time and notice all of the successes along the way.
  4. Don’t argue with your thoughts and beliefs. When that little voice says. “You’ll never lose weight,” you don’t have to turn around and say, “No! I will lose weight.” When you argue and debate, you’re just giving the negative thought more time and energy. Instead, simply acknowledge the thought and move on. You can even say, “Thanks for sharing.”
  5. Acknowledge the power of choice. Yes, you have your beliefs and you have your thoughts. But you don’t have to believe everything you hear and everything you think. You get to choose your actions.

As you change what’s happening on the inside, what’s happening on the outside will change too.


Get Out of Your Own Way and Get What You Want

You just put yourself out on a limb and took on a big change. Maybe you will give it up, what ever that “it” is- sugar, wine, gluten, staying up late, not letting that co-worker get under your skin. Or you are going to take that new thing on- you just signed up for your first half marathon, you are finally going to look for a new job, or paint the bathroom that desperately needs it. Way to go. You’ve taken on that first step. So what happens not a few hours, days or weeks later when you find yourself diving into the chocolate cake, missing your early morning run, or seeing the paint still securely fastened in the paint can? It’s almost like our one step forward takes us two steps back! Why is it that sometimes when we put ourselves out on a limb we can’t keep ourselves there? There is actually a part of us that wants to undermine the change we are trying to make. There is a part of us that is more than happy staying comfortable in the familiarity of the how we know our lives to be. I like to refer to the two steps back simply as resistance. Here is what you do with resistance so you can really take on that change in your life as you intended:

1. See it for what it is.

When we begin to undermine ourselves, find ourselves acting in the complete opposite direction than what we said we would, the first thing we need to do is become aware of it. The key is observing the counter productive actions we just took and name them as resistance. You may find yourself saying “oh, that’s just a part of me resisting this change”.

2. Don’t analyze it.

So often our mind wants to understand why we did what we did. Like there is some good reason for it and that we need to solve another problem. Or maybe our mind wants to turn our resistance into an excuse or reason why we can’t get what we really want. Stop thinking about why you dove into the chocolate cake. Stop trying to understand why you haven’t started running yet. Resistance doesn’t need to be solved or given any more of your time or energy. Trying to understand it keeps the resistance in place.

3. It’s not personal.

It’s very typical for us to feel bad about ourselves when we take those two steps back. It can be frustrating, but it’s not personal. We can typically say things to ourselves like “I’ll never be able to do this” , “Why can’t I get this right?” or “What’s wrong with me?”. This is that fearful part of you that is resisting change. It doesn’t like the uncomfortable and the unknown and wants to hold you back. Here is where you exercise your compassion and kindness. Pick yourself up and see that what you did has nothing to do with how amazing you are and about your intention to make a change.

There is a reason why you want to make the changes you do. You may want to feel better, be happier in your life, or invest in making your home more inviting. Whatever it is, don’t lose sight of the why. When the resistance comes (and it like will), see it as a small detour and not a sign to turn back or stop all together.

Earlier this week, I put myself out on the limb. For weeks, I’ve been thinking about how to start a new project that I was really excited about but couldn’t find the time to do. I finally put this project on the top of my list and told myself that I’m going to take on the first two steps. Well, what did I find myself doing the minute I put the intention out there? I started staying up really late. Doing who knows what- Facebook, Instagram, Downton Abby. I found myself in that pattern for 3 days, feeling exhausted, cranky and full of that “what’s wrong with me that I can’t do this”. And then I realized. It was just resistance. The minute I saw it, I felt relief and was able to take on some huge strides on the project.

Our success with what we are willing to take on in our lives takes practicing awareness, compassion, and persistence. You are meant to go out on a limb and go after what you want.  The process in doing this is where the fruit is after all. Set yourself aside and don’t let a bit of resistance get in your way!