This may be the best $4.99 I've ever spent on Amazon. Body Image Remix by Summer Innanen is FUNNY, insightful, and practical. This is the juicy, life-altering body image discussion I'm always hoping to hear in all those podcasts I listen to, but then they end up talking about Nutella and Instagram and never quite get there.
This is a short book that gets right to the point with no filler or fluff. You can read it in an hour or two. Every section ends with journal questions to help you begin to shift your thinking and behaviors. There are so many amazing ideas and quotes!
Here are two ideas that I can't quit thinking about now that I've finished it:
That negative, super-critical, bullying, fat-shaming voice in your head is in fact trying to protect you! It wants to keep you safe, doing the familiar, preventing risk-taking and possible embarrassment and failure. It means well. This blew my mind! It's one thing to say, my thoughts aren't true, I'm not going to believe my thoughts. It's another thing to recognize that these negative thoughts are serving a (misguided) purpose. They are never going to completely go away, and may in fact increase when we push our comfort zones. The key isn't making them stop, but 1) understanding when and why they show up (getting ready for a date, stressful work presentation, jeans shopping, deciding not to count calories) and 2) getting some separation on them. The thoughts are not you and not true. Happiness isn't getting them to stop but giving them less attention and credibility. They're just something that pops up when our comfort zone is being challenged. So, if you feel yourself thinking negative and critical thoughts, get curious about how your safe ways are being stretched and what you might be afraid of or trying to protect yourself from. She mentions bad body thoughts as a kind of displacement. We attack our body to avoid thinking or feeling something else.
The other thought that hit me is that perfectionism is about the desire to please or be accepted by others. Whoa! Because we always think of it as an internal OCD control freak thing. It's not. It's all tangled up in how we hope to be perceived. Perfectly, of course! If we just stick to the diet, do the workouts, count the grams, lose the weight, and fit in the jeans, nobody will suspect we're a vulnerable human with feelings who makes mistakes. They'll be too awestricken! But there's a real dark side to trying to maintain that front. We start to believe any misstep with our size/weight/eating means that we're unworthy, unlovable, total failure, rejects. So no wonder we lose our shit when we weigh one pound more than we're "supposed to," or eat one unplanned cookie. For a perfectionist, that creates a visceral fear that our life is crashing down and no one will love us. Again, wow!
A few amazing quotes from the book:
"Your body will not limit you from being lovable; only your hatred of yourself will limit you from being lovable."
"You’ll start to realize that the tools you were seeking happiness with—dieting, restricting, tweaking, obsessing—were really the main source of your misery."
"I want you to challenge any bullshit assumptions that say your body dictates your happiness in life. Once you can do that, you can start to see that your ideal body was really just assassinating your freedom. The dream of finally reaching perfection has likely been the reason you’ve spent hours upon hours thinking or saying negative things to yourself, obsessing over whether you ate too much peanut butter, and dragging yourself to the gym instead of enjoying a luxurious sleep-in day."
"What you struggle with is the negative voice in your head that is telling you there is something wrong with you. Changing your body is not going to make that go away. The feelings of pride that we get from losing weight are generally artificial and fleeting. While your self-loathing may dissipate momentarily with your body’s changes, it’s generally a false sense of validation that is not intrinsic or long-lasting. When I was at my thinnest, I would feel good for about 3 hours and then go back to feeling uncomfortable in my own skin. I’ve seen this happen over and over in myself and the women around me. Unless you deal with the shit going on inside your head, thinness is not going to be the catalyst to your self-love. This change needs to come from within, and you get there by changing your mindset."
"Ultimately, when you embody self-love, you don’t really think about your body anymore."
Has anyone else read this? I'd love to talk more about it.
I forgot to share my thoughts on this book when I finished it over a week ago. The thoughts are now a bit foggy ;-/
I can say that I enjoyed it. I really liked the Journal Questions and thought provoking activities throughout the book. Even thought I didn't actually sit down and write anything in response to them, I did pause to think about what my answers might be. I'm hoping to take/find/make the time in the next couple of days/weeks to actually sit down and write out some answers and thoughts. I think it will be a really beneficial way to focus on some positive body thoughts.
Some of the MANY things I highlighted (in bold) and my thoughts on them:
"having positive body image is less about having confidence and more about having compassion." This was a light bulb for me. I've always seen a positive body image and confidence as one in the same. In fact, when I see other women who are so comfortable in their body and skin regardless of how they look, the first thing I think is "I wish I had that much confidence". I've never once thought about it as an issue of not enough compassion.
"True body love is achieved by treating yourself with respect, kindness, and compassion—regardless of how you look or any other conditions you might put on yourself. Loving your body happens when you are able to see your body as a blessing and gift, and know that you are enough—regardless of how you actually perceive yourself in that moment."
"Your body will not limit you from being loveable; only your hatred of yourself will limit you from being loveable."
These two quotes reminded me of a time about 5 years ago. I had just turned 30, I was still living at home with my parents because of an earlier relationship that left me financially destroyed and I had been single for about 3 years. During those 3 years I had been fighting my body with various diets and exercise programs thinking that it was the reason for my struggles and the fact that I was single. I fought my body so hard, trying to shape it into the body I thought would secure me a relationship that I broke it. Recovery meant I had to gain weight and stop exercising. During my recovery I did ALOT of mental work on accepting my self and my body. I really believed that the reason I was single wasn't because of my body, it was because I hated myself that I was single. I couldn't let anyone else love me until I loved me.
Sure enough, after months of really working on self love and reaching a place of total acceptance of myself, I ended up meeting my now husband. Funny how that happened.
"Ultimately, when you embody self-love, you don’t really think about your body anymore."
"I realized later that the issue wasn't that I was addicted to the scale, rather I was a slave to the negative thoughts in my head that were dominating my every action."
“the inner critic is an expression of the safety instinct in us—the part of us that wants to stay safe from potential emotional risk—from hurt, failure, criticism, disappointment, or rejection by the tribe.”
I had never realized this but after reading Summer point it out I totally agreed! How many times had I been super harsh on myself in anticipation of the assume criticism of others?? So.Many.Times!
It is impossible to be who you really are when all your concerns are tied up in what other people will think.
YES!! This is so true. There was a part in the book where Summer talks very breifly about "liquid courage". I could relate to that. I am someone who seems to become someone completely different when I'm a little tipsy. I am much more open and relaxed. My fear of what others think melts away and I am more openly me. When I'm not drinking, there is definitely more thought into controlling my emotions and actions in order to not displease others or have them form negative opinions of me.
Just because you identified the emotion doesn’t mean you need to let that emotion overtake you. You get to choose how you want to deal with it.
“Confidence is not ‘they will like me,’ it’s ‘I’ll be OK if they don’t.’” Where this quote falls short is that confidence doesn’t actually help you to be OK if they don’t—compassion does. Compassion helps us to forgive and be kind to ourselves and, as I like to say, move the hell on. Compassion is all about the ability to relate to yourself with kindness.
I loved this! I'm also a big fan of the confidence quote. Huge fan actually. But I didn't realize the role of compassion in it.