This isn’t the first time I’ve written about body image and I don’t think it will be my last. It is probably the topic that fills me with the most frustration, sadness and rage. Of course there are bigger issues out there, but the one I am most commonly bombarded with is the constant pressure women put on themselves to look a certain way or, more crucially to punish themselves for what they feel is an ugly body.
What causes me the most sadness is the fact that very few seem to appreciate the body they have. That’s not to say people can’t want to lose weight, I just wish people would start from a place of self-love, rather than trying to change themselves entirely. No matter how many juice cleanses, raw diets or detoxes you go on nothing will work unless your change is for good. If you don’t overhaul your lifestyle there will always be a point where you revert more or less back to your normal habits.
Here is where your self-love comes in. You love that damn body. You love it in the morning. You love it after a huge lunch. You love it when you’re singing in the bath. You love it when you put on your exercise clothes and step out the door, proud. You want to see change? Understand your body. Feed it with what it needs; my friend Steph gave me a great piece of advice ‘eat 3 pieces of fruit before you have any treats’. This works for me because I love a chocolate bar, but after my 3 pieces of fruit I’m often full enough to go the whole day without.
Don’t punish yourself. Please. How can you build a happy, solid foundation for your body if you’re coming from a place of negativity? Hating on your belly, your thighs or your arms will only be demoralising when you don’t see instant change, or lead to punishment when you slip up and have that extra pint of beer or a dessert at the restaurant. Find an exercise you love doing and make it a joy to fit in 20 minutes a day or do something for an hour 3 times a day. Yesterday I went running and for 10 seconds I ran like Phoebe from friends - fast, arms flapping and completely free of thought. I liked it so much I did it another two times. It wasn’t my longest run as I was completely exhausted, but it was one of my most fun. Sometimes in my head I hear Alice, who once said on Instagram ‘it doesn’t have to be fast, it doesn’t have to be long but it is for me’ about her runs and it has stuck with me ever since.
Finally, find your people. I’ve seen lots on social media and the web in general about ‘finding your tribe’ and I think in terms of body image or on your weight loss journey this is super important. Surround yourself with people who will support you, but also people who will cut you some slack and give you some perspective. You can’t be an angel 100% of the time, so have people around you who inspire you, those you can go to when you’re feeling crap and they’ll take you out for a drink or give you a clementine before you eat that chocolate bar.
All in all please just show yourself some love. This body the only one you’ve got so treat it right. Exercise it, feed it, treat it and don’t waste your time thinking about what it should be and just enjoy it at every stage. It is your constant companion, it is totally dependent on you and boy will it let you know if it is happy or sad so just spend some time getting to know it.