Trust is everything, and it's created through repeated action. Doing the new behaviors, facing the scary thoughts, and seeing that everything is still ok. You can't decide in your mind, "ok, I trust now, problem solved." Or, "I'm not going to take action until I trust." That means never taking the steps necessary to experience the positive mental shift. Each time you try something new and learn from it, your confidence grows. Then you trust. Then it's real and not hypothetical. It's not, "If I don't trust, I can't do this." Nooooobody who has restricted for years trusts that not dieting is going to be ok. You've kept yourself in chains all this time by actively telling yourself the opposite. "If I eat this, terrible things will happen. If I don't do that, terrible things will happen." It's fear and negativity all day long. Even when we're doing restriction "right" there's always the fear that it can't last, and the horrible story about what will happen as a result. See the problem there? So, when you eat what you actually want for dinner, and don't restrict the next morning, diet brain goes INSANE, but that's what you've programed it to do. Now, we're going to teach it a new way of being. The more you do the new behaviors that you want and react with kindness and curiosity instead of guilt and fear, the more your brain is going to dial down the panic alarm and begin to turn up the trust.
After having painful, all-consuming body image issues most of my life, I don't really have them anymore. It's not what I imagined though. I imagined that I had to learn to love every jiggle and roll, feel super confident and enthusiastic about my weight no matter what, be like a pro-fat cheerleader. That's not it. I don't think about it anymore. I don't worry about it. I'm neutral. If it comes up at all, I'm grateful for my health. I'm grateful for what my body can do. But I'm not posting lovingly about my cellulite and stretch marks on Instagram. I'm not talking about body positivity and body acceptance all day. I don't think about it. I have other things going on. Developing some other interests was probably the biggest help of all. Oh, and getting off of Facebook and Instagram. I had tried heavily editing my feeds to only body positive, weight neutral, health at every size kind of messages, but that still had me thinking about food, weight and bodies ALL the time. I got rid of those accounts and then it was friends and family posting swimsuit "progress" photos, and all about their new diets, and judgment about other people's bodies. I'm out! I'm happier and healthier when I don't scroll through other people's issues all day. I follow some fun dog accounts on Twitter. 🐕🐶
Belly rolls are a hot topic around here lately. I have some thoughts on happily walking around with more body fat. I'm interested to hear yours. I am not as shredded as I have ever been, and I'm totally ok with this, which I find bizarre considering my background of obsession. In my adult life, I've been both painfully emaciated from anorexia, and very lean and muscular from a fitness obsession. I think having been very thin definitely does alter a person's perception of what is a normal and acceptable. It can make us feel uncomfortably huge at a size many others would find normal or even small. Any change from our smallest can feel like failure, but a changing body is normal. Think about the body you had as an infant, a toddler, a child. They're long gone but we're not feeling devastated because our onesie doesn't fit anymore. Clinging to our starvation-size pants is almost as absurd. It's a mind trap, not a problem with your body. It makes me think of Byron Katie and Loving What Is . She would tell you that reality is always kind. Suffering comes from the belief that things should be different, from the stories we tell ourselves about what it all means. Those thoughts hurt. Your belly is neutral, an innocent bystander whose current state is exactly what it should be based on what you're doing and learning right now. You need to be here to get there, assuming you want a new experience, one based on kindness or neutrality and not your fear running amok.
A couple of days ago, I finished a great workout and plopped down in the recliner in my shorts and sports bra, recovering and watching television. I was slouched in such a way that I had a pretty good belly pooch going. My husband put his hand on it and said in an honest, admiring way, "That is so sexy." Believe me when I tell you, I would have wanted to punch him in the mouth not that long ago. An incident like that would have caused crying, door slamming, and imminent starvation. Why? Because I was CRAZY. 😜 My disordered mind couldn't have fathomed that he meant that sincerely. I would have twisted it into good reason to overexercise and restrict my food in order to "show" him. Show him what, I don't know, probably that he married a lunatic.
Luckily, I now get where he's coming from. He makes total sense. I'm the wacko. In the past, I have been what I call "crotch veins lean." This is where my abdomen is so lean you could count my lymph nodes, where there are visible blue veins running from my lower abs down toward my groin. Nobody, and I mean nobody, ever complimented me on that or told me it was sexy. If someone caught a glimpse, it was more like, "Aaaagh! WTF?!" But fitness magazines and social media had somehow convinced me this was desirable and anything softer was a failure on my part and definitely repulsive to others. Is it true? No!!! It's crazy. People like softness and curves, men especially, but society in general. Show random people female fitness models or waifish runway models and they're like, "eeew!" There have been studies where they show men and women pictures of different body types and ask which they find most attractive, most women will pick the skinniest one and men will pick bigger, softer looking bodies. Or, I was thinking about wild mammals. If you're a boy coyote, or any animal in nature, are you seeking out the most emaciated female? No, she probably has worms and fleas. LOL I began to (sloooowly) grasp that this obsession with being thin and small was in my own mind. If other people have an opinion at all, it's probably NOT that I need to be thinner or they won't like me. That thought process is all me, which means I can change my experience by changing my own thinking.
There have been many times where I've made deliberate decisions to carry a little more fat rather than do what is "optimal" for abs nobody cares about. Things like tripling or quadrupling my cereal portion in the morning from that ridiculous ramekin-size that used to be all I'd allow myself. Or having my salad cereal (aka green smoothie) most days. It's just a bunch of carbs, diet brain would tell me. And it's true that when I stopped having them altogether I got a little leaner. I also had poor digestion, constipation, higher blood pressure, and a higher resting heart rate. I put the fruity plant matter back and my body and belly were happy again. I want them to be happy.
Yesterday, I was at work and touched my stomach. I felt a little roll there. It was protruding over the top of my jeans. I was trying not to make a scene, but I was so curious about it. It was new. I kept feeling it. There was no panic or disgust, no urge to change the way I eat. I love the way I eat. I love my belly and its new little roll. I straightened up in my chair, tucked the belly roll back into my jeans so it wouldn't distract me, and continued working. LOL It was so not a big deal. I wish I could verbalize more clearly about what has changed in my head. Things that would have been SO triggering in times past are completely fine now. Being triggered is a thought process run amok. You run with the fear and don't question it. Then you experience all the emotional consequences of having done that. I'm over it. I'd rather NOT have a total flip out at every little thing. Whatever is going on, it will go better without a meltdown. I do think being consistently well fed helps with this, makes us more grounded and calm. When chronically hungry from dieting, or in crisis mode from feeling like I shoul d be dieting, my emotions were like a stick of dynamite. Any little thing would set me off. What is your experience with being at a higher weight or carrying more fat? Have you been able to shift your thinking and find more acceptance? Or not yet? Do you think having been very thin (if you have been) distorted your perception? What are your biggest fears or struggles around this?