It wasn't until my last weigh-in in the United States Marine Corps that I was willing to accept that I had a very unhealthy relationship with food and my body. It was the summer of 2015 and I had just arrived back at my military duty station in Bahrain after a weeklong vacation to visit friends in Montenegro. In a week I'd have my last military inspection, but there was one thing that I was really worried about - the weigh-in.
Before I left on vacation I was overweight and I knew that I really needed to maintain a super strict diet if I wanted to "make weight." The problem was that when I left Bahrain I said "you gotta stick to your diet," but when I arrived in Montenegro I said "YOLO" - you only live once!
Needless to say, when I stepped on that scale after vacation I was mortified. I was close to 20 lbs overweight and had no clue how I was going to lose that weight before my weigh-in.
I won't tell you how, but when I stepped on the scale a week later to weigh-in day I was the exact maximum weight I needed to be in order to pass my last weigh-in. Let me be really clear here, this is not a story of celebration, because I made weight. This is a story of the realization of the extremes that we are often willing to maintain an image.
Whether you're in a career where you need to maintain a certain image or you're tired of the judgment you experience living in a larger body, I hope that you never go to the extremes that I did to lose weight.
While that season of my life is one I would not like to repeat, it was the spark that ignited the flame on my journey to body acceptance. That's why I want to share with you three ways body acceptance helped me fix an unhealthy relationship with food.
3 Ways Body Acceptance Helped Me Fix My Unhealthy Relationship with Food
1. Helped Me Cultivate a Healthy Body Image
Learning how to feel comfortable in your own skin is the gateway towards achieving body acceptance. Even though I wasn't willing to admit it at the time, I focused so much on what I looked like on the outside to cover up what I felt about myself on the inside. No matter how much weight I lost the only thing that I really needed to lose was my unhealthy body image.
That's why it's so important when I'm working with clients to focus on cultivating a healthy body image because you may not always feel positive about the way that you look. When you take the time to cultivate a healthy body image you will learn to appreciate yourself while you're on the journey to achieving body acceptance.
2. Helped Me Better Control Food Cravings
By allowing myself the freedom to eat what I wanted, I found that I tended to crave food a lot less. When I followed overly restricted diets I found that I would eat very well and controlled all week. As soon as the weekend would hit, one cheat meal would turn into a cheat weekend where I would binge eat all the foods I denied myself to eat during the week.
This is why when I work with clients we don't have "cheats" but "choices." What I've found with myself and my clients is that food becomes far less tempting when you know that it's abundantly available. By reframing all foods as something you can choose to eat at any time, you're able to feel more in control when you do have food cravings.
3. Helped Me Feel Full and Satisfied
It might sound counterintuitive, but once I stopped dieting I finally started feeling full and satisfied after meals. When I was dieting all I did was follow rules that told me what to eat and how much to eat. While I ate the "right" food and made sure it fit my "macros," even though I was full I was never satisfied. Once I started eating more mindful, I found that I was easily able to connect to my innate hunger and fullness.
As a result, I and my clients have found that we don't need to calorie count or track our macros. In fact, my clients often find that eating more mindful has resulted in them eating more nourishing foods which mean they tend to eat less food overall.
While my journey to body acceptance has been far from pretty, I hope that sharing my journey helps you develop a healthier relationship with food and your body.
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