Body shaming & the power of words

I made a commitment this week: to say something positive to my body every day.

More and more often lately, I make comments to Jon about things I don’t like:

“I wish [blank] was more [blank]” or

“Why can’t [blank] be better?”
and even worse,

“Why does my body hate me?”

I’ve struggled the last few weeks to balance those increasing comments – and thoughts – with something I consider vitally important to overall health: positive self talk. You are what you eat, right? How about you are what you think? Even more, you are what you say

The mental aspect is such a crucial component to health that I worry is too often overlooked. Krysten at Darwinian Fail challenged her readers with the #happyheartproject to change this kind of talk. We want to lose weight, increase muscle, run longer, eat better. Where is the excitement to meditate longer, to praise yourself to yourself, to truly enjoy things that make us happy. (I love to play piano, but I can’t remember the last time I did.)

Dorothy Beal at Mile–Posts wrote this week: “Happiness isn’t a destination as I once thought. Life is rarely perfect, things often don’t go as planned. You have to learn to ride the wave of life and just enjoy it. Don’t worry so much what others think, do what makes you really happy. On that day, last Sunday, running 30 miles on a treadmill made me really happy – SO I DID IT.”

These things are necessary ingredients to good health, too.

Last summer, during all the pre–wedding crippling stress, I was working out too much, eating too little, not taking enough quiet time for myself, letting the stress take over my speech… an all around miserable summer. I was not healthy, physically or mentally. Truth be told, it is impossible for me to hit my physical goals if I am not taking care of myself mentally/emotionally/spiritually (using these terms interchangeably today).

Fellow Sweat Pink ambassador, Caroline, made a telling statement on her blog this week: Health isn’t just about the absence of the negative, but the presence of positive factors. She’s completely right. I need not only to stop telling myself negative things, I need to replace them with positive words.

It is a correction of my thinking. Right now I am fixing numbness and back problems that have limited my running, but in the process, I’ve corrected my running form and increased my speed. I have a metabolism that feels as slow as molasses, but in learning how to eat for my body and metabolism, I’ve learned so many other important things of how food affects our bodies. I am curvy, making me naturally prone to carrying more weight, but I’m curvy with a perfect hourglass shape!

Somewhere on this self–talk journey we discover Casey’s magic web of emotions:

“We are all part of huge web that stretches all across the world. Each and every one of us is linked to that web. You are a vital part of that web. Now imagine if you will that there is an imaginary line drawn from you to everyone you encounter. Every person you come in contact with will take with them a piece of your emotion. (Don’t worry you have endless amounts of this.) Now lets say you are having a bad day. You’re tired, you’re grumpy, you’re uninspired, you’re feeling rather negative. The way you are feeling will come out and attach itself to everyone you meet. (Because we can FEEL emotions). This happens without people even thinking about it. At this point you are not only making yourself feel bad but others as well – yikes.”

Sarah Ogden wrote an incredible post over at Everyday Feminism about this negative talk and body shaming. (Seriously, gals and guys, please read her post). “We have trouble understanding why someone who isn’t a size 2 could love their body,” Sarah wrote. “We exist in a culture that conflates health with thinness.”  I have certainly succumbed to that kind of thinking and my self–talk reflects that. When I say things like “Why can’t I get in shape like that person?” Jon is always quick to tell me that I am in shape and I am healthy.

And he’s right! Looking back to the summer, I am stronger, faster & fitter; I eat more and healthier now; I’m not stressing about workouts anymore; I’m making meditation & prayer a priority.

Sarah is on point: We need to move the conversation around exercise away from weight loss and shift the focus onto health and wellness.

Your turn:
Do you talk to yourself negatively or positively?
How can you improve that part of your healthy lifestyle?

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12 thoughts on “Body shaming & the power of words

  1. This post is a breath of fresh air. It’s something I really need to work on- chances are, if we accept our bodies we’ll not only feel better but we’ll also LOOK better. When you’re happy, everything has a way of falling into place.

    • I agree with you. Healthy, happy radiance comes from emotional health just as much as physical. I realized how bad I’ve gotten about negative self–talk! Definitely hard to change the way we talk to ourselves, but so important.

  2. Oh my gosh I love everything about this. I’m feeling exactly this way. I’m unplugging (I just wrote about it on my blog! because I’ve fallen into the comparison trap of looking at others instagrams, blogs, etc. and thinking why isn’t my calorie burn that high, why do I eat so much, why can’t I control what I eat to lose weight, why am I so fat, etc. It’s toxic and I need to remove the negativity in my life to be happy. 2 years ago I didn’t think about the calorie contents, macros of what I was eating. I ate what I wanted and tried to sneak in more veggies. Health should just happen/be daily living not be an obsession! I’d love to chat sometime!

    • Good for you! I’m all about those periods of unplugging. I know people are really active on blogs and social media during the weekends… but I’ve tried not to do that. That’s my “step away” time from writing posts, and I’m on Twitter much less than during the week.

      I totally get where you’re coming from about getting SO particular about your diet. I understand the power of calorie counting, but I’ve never done it for long. I feel like I become a slave to that diet app just as much a slave to food! I think we can be more aware without being OCD about tracking. The book Crazy Sexy Diet has really helped me rethink my approach to food – highly recommend it as you try to read more (via your blog post)!

  3. I think curbing negative self talk is so important. My husband has always hated when I would talk negatively about myself and I only kind of understood why. Now I have a baby girl who is about to turn one and banishing that negative self talk is much more important to me now. I don’t want her to think that I don’t love the body that brought her into being. I want my self talk to influence how she feels about her own body positively. I want her to love herself. I want to be a good example for that.

  4. It’s so true, my whole life I was compared to my younger sister because she was super tiny and beautiful. But last week I found out that during high school (the peak of comparison) she was struggling with something along the lines of anorexia and extreme exercise.

    Now that I’m in a much better, healthier place I can’t help but think you don’t always know the battles someone else is fighting. I was told I needed to look like her, but she was fighting her own fight equally as difficult as mine.

    • Wow… that’s an incredible story. (It would be so interesting to read a “side by side” post where you both write how you felt and saw the other during that time). I don’t have sisters – just 4 brothers! – but many of my cousins and closest friends are the naturally thin, can eat anything, types. It’s *really* hard not to compare!

      But you’re completely right: we often have no idea what things others battle. The goal is that, as Casey wrote about her web of emotions, as we get to healthier more positive places, we are able to share some of that into another’s life. Think of the difference if you and your sister had been aware at the time!

  5. I already love your blog – you’re one of those women whose words speak to me on a very honest, very relatable level – but this post really kicked me in a place that needed kicking. If you’re okay with it, I wanted to link this post on my blog so that my readers (there aren’t too many but they are deserving of a dose of self-love too!) can read this and hopefully get a kick too.
    Have a fab day!

    • Thank you for the kind words! I know I’ve “met” so many wonderful people through blogging… it’s a whole community I’ve been blessed by time and again. You can absolutely share or repost this! It’s encouraging to know I’m not alone in working through these things.

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