In this episode of Fearless Rebelle Radio, it’s the first episode in the body image series and I’m running solo and talking about how to feel better in your body.
Don’t forget to grab your free worksheet with 5 actions to immediately feel better in your body below.
I’m talking about the biggest mistake we make when trying to feel better in our body and how to feel better in your body both mentally and physically.
In This Episode, I Chat About
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Links Mentioned in the Show
Episode 158: How to Feel Better In Your Body
SUMMER: This episode of Fearless Rebelle Radio is brought to you by You on Fire. You on Fire is the amazing, 12-week online group coaching program that I run, where we build up your worth from the ground up, so that it’s no longer hinging on the way that you look. It’s got personalized coaching from me and incredible community support, plus life-time access. Get details on what’s included in this program, and sign up to be notified when doors open for the next cycle, by going to summerinnanen.com/youonfire. I would love to have you in that program and in that group.
INTRO: This is Fearless Rebelle Radio, a podcast about body positivity, self-worth, anti-dieting, and Feminism. I am your host, Summer Innanen, a professionally trained coach specialising in body image, self-worth, and confidence, and the best-selling author of Body Image Remix. If you’re ready to break free of societal standards and stop living behind the number on your scale, then you have come to the right place! Welcome to the show.
This is episode 158 and in this episode of Fearless Rebelle Radio, it is the first episode in a series that I’m doing called the Body Image Series. And I’ll be running solo and talking about how you can feel better in your body. I’ll be talking about the biggest mistake we make when trying to feel better in our body, and what you can do to feel better both mentally and physically.
You can find all the links, including your free worksheet, called “Five Actions to Immediately Feel Better in your Body,” at summerinnanen.com/158.
Before we begin, let me give a shout-out to 3makescrazy, who left this amazing review: “Much needed in this diet-obsessed media age. Let’s just say, at nearly 50, I’d imagined I would’ve had this all figured out by now. The neverending pursuit of some ethereal perfection has consumed me nearly my entire life, constantly going down roads of harnessing motivation and getting therapy for my “issues” finally has me saying, stop. What Summer is doing for me is providing a place for all those rebel thoughts I’ve always had that tell me I’m not broken, and maybe there’s another way of thinking. Her varied guests give me food for thought, what I’ve really been hungering for. Thank you.”
Oh, thank you so much, and it’s interesting, you mention your age, and I just think it’s never too late to do this work. I work with people who are in their 50s and even into their 60s, and don’t beat yourself up for getting this far and realizing that there’s another way. I think it’s always time to make this change and to do this work, and so I’m really happy that you found this and that it’s giving you a fresh perspective. And thanks so much for leaving that review.
You can leave a review, and I would really appreciate it if you did, by going to iTunes and searching “ratings and reviews” and click to leave a review or give a rating. And when you’re searching, search for Fearless Rebelle Radio, I should mention that.
And make sure that you subscribe via whatever platform you use to listen to the show, so that you never miss an episode. And doing that helps to keep the show on the air, helps others to find this information that you’re learning here, and, if you haven’t already done so, make sure that you get the free Ten Day Body Confidence Makeover at summerinnanen.com/freebies, with ten steps to take right now to feel better in your body. And if you’re ever confused as to how to spell my name, just go to thebodyimagecoach.com and that will take you to all the resources that I mention, whether it’s finding the podcast or the free downloads that i have or the courses that I run.
You may notice that I have a little bit of a sultry voice, and that is because I’m just getting over a bit of a cold, and I waited as long as possible to record this episode, but it is the deadline, I need to have this recorded, so you’re just going to have a little bit of sultriness to this podcast. Hope you enjoy it.
Okay, I have big news, as you heard me allude to in the intro. And that is that over the next few weeks, I’m going to be taking over the podcast with what I’m calling the Body Image Series. Couldn’t think of anything else more clever, and sometimes just being straight up about it makes more sense. I’ll be dedicating several episodes to body image and self-worth. So some of the things that build up body image and self-worth, and giving you specific ways to be more accepting of your body and who you are.
I’ll be covering topics such as how we can build our self-worth outside of our appearance, how emotions influence our body image, how to navigate social situations when you’re feeling self-conscious, how to stop caring so much about what other people think, and more. And they’ll be shorter, although sometimes I can be a little wordy, and come with specific tools and free downloads and take-aways like the one today, which again is called, “Five Actions That You Can Take to Immediately Feel Better in your Body.” And it’ll be based on stuff that we cover in this episode, and it’ll give you some specific tools to help you do this work for yourself. So I hope you’re excited. Are you excited? I’m so excited!
You’ve probably heard me intertwine the words body image and self-worth before, which I’m doing here, so when I say The Body Image series, and we’re going to talk about self-worth, and I kind of go back and forth between the two, because the reality is that our body image is really a symptom of our self-worth, and so if you want to hear me talk about that further, you can go back to episode 79, which is called “Body Image and Body Positivity 101” and you can hear me elaborate on why those two things go hand in hand.
And, in short, from a psychological perspective, our body image issues are born out of a belief that we’re not good enough and this is the result of social oppressions and our upbringing and the culture that we live in. So that’s why I use those interchangeably, and when I’m coaching with people, I really work on the self-worth side of things, because once we’ve built up a sense of worthiness and detach it from our appearance, the way we feel about our body just naturally becomes so much more neutral.
And I’m not going to go into any more detail on that, but that’s why I wanted you to understand why I use those words together so often. And I know working on self-worth doesn’t sound super glamorous. Feeling better in your body does. But really, in order to feel better in your body, it has to be about working on your self-worth. And now I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s do a rundown of what we’re going to cover in this episode.
First is the biggest mistake we make when trying to feel better in our body. Second is the one question to ask yourself when working on accepting your body or feeling better in your body. And then we’re going to cover specific ways to feel better in your body and I’m going to break those down into both mental and physical. So let us begin.
The biggest mistake we make when trying to feel better in our body. So let me just paint this picture for you first. You’re getting ready in the morning, things are feeling pretty good, and then you see a reflection of yourself, and you feel this wave of negativity and panic flooding your system. Can you relate to that feeling? You look at yourself and you immediately start to panic or you start to criticize yourself. “How could I let myself go? I’m such a failure. I really need to watch what I eat. I can’t stand how I look, etc., etc.”
And these are all things that I know I said to myself and that I hear clients say, and it’s awful, you know, the shit-talker inside your head is overtaking you, and it completely ruins your day. And I know how that feels and pretty much all of my clients come to me feeling this way too, and it can be the worst feeling. We just wish that we could look at ourselves and like the way that we look, and then everything would be better. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting that.
The problem is often when we’re thinking about liking the way we look, we’re comparing ourselves up against this ideal, whether it’s something that we’ve interpreted or learned from the beauty industry or Hollywood or diet culture, and we’re comparing ourselves to that. And those industries have told us that our likeability, and I shouldn’t just say industries, it’s really just the system, the patriarchal culture that we live in, have told us that our likeability is dependent on being attractive.
So it’s not your fault that you want to like the way you look and that you want to be desirable. So I never shame people, or I never would want you to feel bad that you want that, or that that’s important to you. But the thing is that if we really want to be able to look in the mirror and not even like the way we look, because I don’t like having that as an objective, especially to start out, but just to not really think so much about it, to look at yourself and think, “Okay, I’m okay.” Feeling good in your body is not about liking the way that you look. That’s the bottom line here.
And I think that the biggest mistake, if I were going to kind of rephrase this, is that when we talk about doing body image work or you hear these messages about body positivity, it can make you think that the whole goal of it is to really like the way you look, find yourself attractive. And that’s not at all what I would want for you. That’s not what I think is really a long-term internal solution to feeling bad about yourself.
I would encourage you to take a different approach, which is accepting that maybe you like it right now, but you’re willing to be more comfortable with it, and building up a solid sense of your self-worth, knowing that you are good enough as you are, regardless of how your body looks, so that your appearance is not something that you’re relying on to dictate how you feel about yourself.
And so self-worth doesn’t come from liking our body, or thinking that we’re hot. It becomes easier to feel good in our body when we just feel good about ourselves. When we know that we’re good enough, when we’re not putting these ridiculous expectations on ourselves, when we are kinder to ourselves, then it is so much easier to just look in the mirror and think, “Okay, I’m fine with it.” And move on with your life.
And honestly, if you can get to that point, I’m really pleased with you. Because that’s really about accepting your body and feeling better in your body. So the biggest mistake, as I said, is just seeing people trying to like the way they look, or trying to really make it about the aesthetic, and while there can be some value in that, to truly transform the way that we see ourselves, it really has to come from the inside, and accepting and embracing all of who we are. And letting go of those external measures to define how we feel about ourselves, so whether it’s the way that we look in the mirror, the size of our jeans, the opinions of our mother, we want to detach from all of those external things. And just believe and know that we’re good enough, because we are.
And it’s possible to get there and feel that way, and that’s a really liberating feeling, to get up in the morning and look in the morning, and think, “Okay!” And maybe like what you see and maybe not be too keen on it, but be okay either way, and go on with your day. That’s really freeing and empowering. You don’t have to live with that soul-crushing voice or that panic or that feeling of shame that goes through you, when you look at yourself. But you need to start getting to know who you are and accepting who you are.
And you make think, like, “I already know who I am! I accept who I am.” But there’s always something deeper. It’s never just about the way that our body looks. And our bodies are going to change. We don’t want our self-worth to be tied to a certain body or appearance. We want it to just be like, this is my skin suit, and it’s going to change, and I’m going to be okay with myself regardless of that change.
Alright, so let’s move on. So the one question to ask yourself when you’re working on feeling better in your body. And this is a question that I ask to all my new clients and in my programs, because I want you to get away from the external measures that we’ve been using to define how we feel about our body and ourselves, and detach from this idea that it’s really about finding ourselves attractive. Which there’s nothing wrong with, and we can work on that eventually as well, but we want to start out by really getting to a bigger vision of what we want for ourselves, and so the question is: what would feeling better in your body mean to you? So you can take a second to really just think about that, but I’ll give you some examples.
Perhaps it means feeling comfortable with intimacy or being able to speak up at meetings at work, or finding pleasure in movement, or being able to wear the bathing suit to the beach. What would it mean to you? And I encourage you to noodle on that question and give yourself permission to imagine what that would mean to you. And really imagine it. Daydream on that shit. Because I’m telling you, it is possible to have that.
And I should note right away that it’s not a personal defect if you’re struggling with this. That’s our culture at work and it’s not your fault. But it is possible, when you can have this vision of, what would it really mean to accept your body? What would change for you in your life? And have that vision for yourself, then you can work towards those things and know that it’s just so much bigger than, again, liking the way that you look.
And so, right away, some of you might be thinking, “I can’t possibly feel better in this body.” And I get that. I totally understand that and I want you to think about it a different way, then. Because when you say that, it’s really living in this negative state of mind, and I don’t think that that serves most of us. If it was going to benefit you, you would’ve reaped those benefits by now. In other words, saying, “I’m just going to keep being an asshole to myself” is not helping you. Like, really.
But I also want to acknowledge that you may be experiencing weight discrimination, and I totally understand why you would want your body to be smaller to not experience that. And I want to acknowledge that it is difficult to experience weight discrimination and to live in a world that doesn’t fit your body. And so I would never want you to think that that’s your fault, or that you need to muscle your way through your feelings about that. You don’t need to be okay with discrimination. Like, that’s never, ever what I’m saying when I’m asking you to feel better in your body or accept your body.
I think it’s about making space for the fact that this world and this culture really sucks, and it’s horrible, and it’s cruel to people in larger bodies, and living with that is painful, and can result in a lot of trauma and shame. And you also deserve to feel better about yourself and who you are, and live your life in the best way possible, and have people in your life who support you with that.
So it’s not one or the other, here. and I think that we should all be able to give ourselves permission to accept who we are, including our body, even if this world doesn’t. So if you’re thinking, “I can’t possibly feel better in this body,” the way I’d want you to reframe and rephrase this is to think, “What do I have to lose by at least being kinder to myself? What do I have to lose by knowing that my worth is not dictated by my appearance?”
And when you can reframe it that way, there’s really nothing to lose. And that’s what this work is about. It’s just about being more accepting of ourselves, being kinder to ourselves, and when we’re able to do that, then we’re able to be in a better state of mind overall.
And that’s what accepting your body is all about. And so we’ll go into some specific ways to feel better in your body next, but I just wanted to give you that question because I think it’s important to think about what feeling better in your body would mean to you.
So let’s talk about how to feel better in your body. First, let’s talk about it mentally, because I think that a lot of this stuff is mental, like mentally feeling better in our body, but there’s also a physical component to it. So when we talk about feeling better in our body mentally, the first thing to really think about or start to reframe is to choose ambivalence over loving your body or liking every minute of your body.
I think most of us, even if we’ve been doing this work for awhile, rarely look at ourselves and think, like, “Oh, I just love my body so much! I am so attractive!” That is really rare, or if ever. And I think that’s okay. What we want is for our emotions not to be tied to our appearance anymore. So we can look in the mirror and kind of either like what we see, or not like what we see, but it doesn’t dictate how we feel about ourselves. And you can respect your body, you can be kind to it, you can appreciate it, but you don’t have to love it or think, like, “Damn, I’m so hot!” And if you do, amazing, good on you. I love it. I’m all about that, too. But you don’t need to do that. And I certainly don’t.
So the first thing to think about when you’re doing this work to feel better in your body mentally is to really just be aiming for ambivalence, which means you’re going to have good days, you’re going to have bad days, you’re going to have neutral days, and that’s the starting point. And then move towards just having more neutral moments, and then you can move more towards a place where you can have a greater appreciation for your body.
The second thing is about putting good stuff into our brain. And if you’re newer to this work, then this is super super important. If you’ve been doing this work for awhile, I’m assuming you’re probably doing this. If you’re not, then definitely do it. But the bodies that we see in the world change our perception of the way that we view ourselves. If all we’re looking at is like supermodel-looking people and people like Instagram models and all that crap, and I know there’s some very diverse ones now, which, thank goodness, but you know who I’m talking about. If all you’re looking at is young, thin, defined muscles, all that stuff, then you are going to be judging yourself up against that.
And so much of the things, the images that we do see, because we can’t control driving by a bus stop and seeing that kind of imagery, or walking through the checkout line and seeing that kind of imagery, so we have to hardwire our brain in a different way. So we have to actively spend time looking at images of people of different shapes and sizes and ages and races that are not traditionally shown in the media. And abilities as well.
And studies have shown that that can be helpful to redefining our perception of how we see ourselves. So if you’re not actively watching what you put in your brain, then this is your call to do that. And that’s going to help you feel better in your own body, when you see bodies that look like your own, or just a variety of bodies, because we’re not golden retrievers. And there’s nothing wrong with golden retrievers, I just say that in that we’re not all supposed to look like golden retrievers. There’s golden retrievers, and pugs, and bulldogs, and rottweilers, and pitbulls, you know. And we celebrate all of them.
So, third point here is to start to get in touch with how you feel, versus what the image tells you. And you might be like, what are you talking about? But if we go back to the example that I said at the very beginning, so you wake up in the morning and you go into the bathroom and you look at yourself in the mirror, and you’re like “Oh my goodness, what is this body?” Then what I’m saying there is that you’re basically letting the image in the mirror tell you how to feel about your body.
What I’m asking you to do instead is to really check in with just how you feel. Before you even see your image, how do you feel? Starting to really tune into that more often. Because if you were feeling good ten seconds before you saw an image of yourself, then you can remind yourself, like, “Do I want to be more loyal to that image, or to the way that I am actually feeling?” And always come back to the way that you’re feeling. And just be more in tune with that .
Okay, the fourth point is to discover what’s more important to you and chase after that. So a bunch of the work that I do in the You on Fire program is about discovering your identity outside of weight and food and fitness, because when you know who you are in your core, when you truly value who you are and know what you value in life, and have a purposeful life outside of food and your body, your body automatically becomes so much less interesting. And so to take away now is to really identify things that are just more important to you.
So if you’re spending all your time thinking about macronutrients or whether you’re actually hungry or whether you’re full, think about what else you could be spending time doing. And do those things! And obviously, there’s more layers to it than that, but that’s a very simplified way of putting it, because again, when we can make it less about our body, then we’re automatically just going to feel better in our body.
Okay, number five point is to recognize that that negative narrative that we have when we’re talking about the way that we feel about our body is not our voice. And so it’s really stuff that we’ve learned, it’s not our fault that we feel this way, it’s the narrative from diet and beauty culture, and what we think other people are probably thinking about us. Horrible, horrible people. So even just acknowledging, “This is not not my voice,” and creating a separation from that can be really helpful.
Number six: have a go-to compassionate response. So compassion is another huge segment of what I teach to people. There’s a lot of layers to it. It’s not just about slopping on a positive affirmation at all. but if you can have some kind of compassionate response to yourself when you see your reflection, whether it’s just “You’re okay” or “You are enough” or “You are a badass bitch that is bold and incredible,” you know, which sounds more like a positive affirmation, but sometimes that can be helpful. I recommend having something like that, and the goal is not to take away the shame or take away the pain, but it’s just to comfort yourself in that moment.
Okay, number seven is to focus on parts of yourself that you can appreciate. So it’s common to spend all of our energy on the aspects of ourselves that we hate, and neglect things that we can appreciate. So maybe you appreciate your hair. Maybe you appreciate your kind nature. Whatever it is, find something that you can appreciate and shift your focus to that, and other places of yourself that you are okay with.
So those are some tips to feel better in your body mentally, and then in the free download, which you can get at summerinnanen.com/158, it has five actions to help you immediately feel better in your body, and they’re questions to ask yourself. And you can do them in advance, so that you can brainstorm all different things that you can do, and then in a moment where you need to feel better in your body, you can look at that and do or say those five things. Alternatively, you can use the worksheet to just use it in the moment, but I actually encourage you to brainstorm and have lists of things ready in advance.
Okay, so I want to talk quickly about how to feel physically better in your body, because this is an important piece of the puzzle. A lot of the work that we’re talking about is about changing our mindset or the way that we think about ourselves, or mentally feeling better, but we can’t neglect how powerful the physical is. Most of us think that we can’t physically feel better in our body unless we’re thin or that in order to make ourselves physically feel better, that has to come from the food that we eat, or exercise, and that is just bullshit. And that’s thanks to diet culture, which has kept us hyper focused on exercise on food as the only means to making ourselves feel better.
So let’s think about it differently. And a question I’m going to ask you right now, just check in with yourself: how does your body physically feel? How does your body physically feel right now? Mine feels really tight. Mine feels kind of heavy. And it’s important to do those check-ins. I was going to go further about how I’m feeling, but I rather you just think about yourself.
So I want to acknowledge first, before I give you some tips for lack of a better word as to how to make yourself physically feel better, that not all physical discomfort can be eliminated. If you have chronic pain, or a condition that results in symptoms of discomfort or pain, then you are going to have physical discomfort that is something that is going to make it more difficult.
In these circumstances, we have to do our best and hopefully some of the recommendations will apply to you, and just have compassion for our situation, knowing it’s not our fault, and often these things are out of our control. Our culture just assumes that you can move your body like a fitness athlete, and not everyone can do that, it can be really painful for some people.
And it’s really hard to have chronic pain or illness or something else that just makes it harder to make yourself comfortable. And so I’m not saying that you need to make yourself feel comfortable if that’s not in your control. What I’m saying is that we want to try our best to even just tune into that, and try to do some things, and hopefully some of these recommendations will help, and then if you are able to do more, then awesome, do it!
So the reason I bring up physical comfort, before I give you some tips, is just because when we physically feel uncomfortable in our bodies, it can trigger emotional discomfort. And so here’s an example that most of us can try and change, and that is just the clothes that we wear. So have you ever put on pants that were too tight, or that were itchy, and then you just start to feel shame about your body, or you start to just feel really uncomfortable, and maybe you have a short temper or whatever. That physical discomfort can easily turn into contempt for our body, and spiral into feelings of body shame.
And so that’s why I do stress that if you can, have clothes that are looser, that are really comfortable, and that don’t have you constantly fidgeting with them. I am really sensitive to fabrics, very, very sensitive. If I have stuff that’s too tight, or too itchy, it ruins my mood. And so it really can change the way you feel about yourself. So we’ve been conditioned to think that thinner is going to make our body more comfortable, but it isn’t always true. We can try our best to try and make our body more comfortable.
So I’m again asking you to assess your comfort level, like, “How is my body feeling right now? What can I do to make my body more comfortable?” And asking those questions just helps you again check in with how you actually feel, instead of that negative chatter in your head that’s telling you what you should be thinking about yourself. And then look for ways to try to physically make yourself feel better. So, putting on comfortable clothes. Maybe just taking a few breaths of fresh air, or just the air that’s in front of you. Laying down for a minute. Taking a nap. Having a shower. Having a bath. Moisturizing your skin. Getting a more comfortable chair or pillow. Or having a body pillow. Stretching. Doing some kind of self-massage.
A friend of mine has this massage gun that I got to try, and it was the greatest thing I’ve ever experienced. It is hardcore though. It is like having one of those massage balls, sometimes we use lacrosse balls for that, on the end of a power drill. And then you just drill it into your body. And let me tell you, I felt really loose afterwards. It was pretty good. You can take breaks, just to gently move your body. You can adjust the temperature. You can wear things that make you just feel better, so even like accessories or glasses or your hairstyle. For me personally, I cannot wear my hair up, it really bothers me. But things that allow you to give you a sense of agency and express your identity, those things can all physically make us feel better. If it’s within your means, things like massage therapy or physiotherapy.
So all those things can go a long way towards helping us just feel more accepting and ease in our body, and showing ourselves that our body matters and that we’re worthy of comfort, we’re worthy of accepting ourselves. And it’s important. So there’s a lot of information here. Hopefully some of it’s new to you,and I hope that you learn some good stuff. I’d be curious to know what you learned from it. You can share that with me.
But imagine how far you could be in a few months if you really started to focus on doing some of these things every day. I think that that’s where our gap is, often. We aren’t intentional with doing some of this work for ourselves, and we think, “Oh, I’ll do it later. I’ll work on this stuff another time.” But honestly, the difference of a few months matters in the course of your life, and if you can dedicate time to working on accepting yourself and being more compassionate and learning about these things and getting help if you need it, it can make a huge difference in having that support.
So I’ve got a worksheet for you with five actions you can take to immediately feel better in your body. That’s your homework. And they’re really powerful prompts and cues to help you shift into a more accepting place when you’re having a moment where you don’t feel good in your body. And you can go to summerinnanen.com/158 to get your free worksheet that goes with this episode.
And I will be hopping on Instagram Stories to talk about this bit, and I have a plan to go on Facebook Live to do a post-wrap podcast get-together on Friday at noon Pacific. And I will confirm that with you in the emails that you get from me, or my social media, but that’s the plan as of now. So the episodes get released on Tuesdays and then I will go live on the Friday. And if you miss it, because Facebook saves stuff, you can go back and rewatch it, or ask questions there.
Let me know what you think. This is the first episode in the Body Image Series. You can pray for my recovery and hope that I am not sick the next episode that I record. Because it is not easy to talk when I sound like this, and I’m about to hack up a lung, but the show must go on! You know? The show has to go on, sometimes. And I’m going to talk more about this and self-worth and body image in upcoming episodes. If you have any specific questions you want me to cover, let me know, and I will see if I can work that into this. Or if I’ve talked about it before, I’ll give you a resource for that.
And if you want to take this further with me, then definitely check out You on Fire, which will be coming up again in the Spring, and you can always get on the waitlist for the next cycle for that by going to summerinnanen.com/youonfire.. Alright, that concludes the first episode in the Body Image Series. And I did it! Now I can go cough up a lung, drink some water, and have a lozenge. I hope that you have a wonderful day. Thank you so much for listening. Rock on.
I’m Summer Innanen, and I want to thank you for listening today. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, @Summerinnanen. If you haven’t yet, go to Apple Podcasts and subscribe, rate, and review this show. I would be so grateful. Until next time, rock on.