I have to share this personal story with you. This is not the easiest thing to write because I am, admittedly, a vulnerability work-in-progress.
The last several days of December I felt totally uncomfortable in my body.
My evil doppelgänger was being a gobshite (new fun word!) and I hadn’t felt this bad about myself in a long time. We’re talking, “you are disgusting” feelings of shame dominating my inner thoughts. (read here if you don’t know what I’m talking about when I say doppelgänger)
I wanted to share this with you for two reasons:
First, I want you to know that I am human and that even though I preach and teach self-love and confidence, I also have bad moments or days or weeks. And even though you are maybe doing body image work and seeing radical improvements, you’re still going to have rough patches. It’s impossible to feel like an unstoppable sexy beast every single day… especially if body hate is your go-to coping mechanism.
Secondly, I’m going to share with you the process I go through to dig myself out of these situations so you can apply it in your life. I want you to know my 6 step process of overcoming body shame.
It was the end of December and I was feeling like goose turd run over twice in my body.
When this happens it’s our natural response to jump into problem solving mode thus, my initial reaction was, ‘just eat really strict for 30 days’. Sneaky, sneaky…I’ve been down that road before and know that’s not the solution.
Instead of reacting and letting my problem solver personality take over, I sat with it for a day or two. I asked myself, why is this happening right now?
Sure, I had been eating more of everything and drinking anything (More of anything? More of everything!!), but t’was Christmas and that doesn’t phase me anymore. I knew I’d gained some weight, but I also trusted and knew that it would all balance out because that’s what my body naturally does now (isn’t that so neat?! Your body can do that too if you let it!).
Instead of overreacting, cracking out on gluten-free salted chocolate chip cookies in preparation for a 30 day clean-eating extravaganza to ‘fix my body’, I stepped out of my head to take a bird’s eye view of the situation.
I identified the real emotion and problem that I was diverting onto my body and after sitting with it for a couple days I figured it out.
I’m investing ALL of my resources into re-launching my online program to make it the biggest most badass program EVER. I’m working with this amazing videographer to film videos for it…OMG SO FUN…creating a website and have been writing new content for months. This is my baby and it’s make or break.
As you can imagine, I’m SUPER anxious about this: What if it flops? What if I don’t get everything done? What if I have to go back to working for mansplainers in the corporate world because this is a royal failure??
And it is that stress, fear and anxiety that is rearing its ugly head as body shame. I sure as hell know that eating strict paleo for a couple weeks ain’t gonna fix that.
So, here is the process that I went through to get back to my sassy, uninhibited, Jenna-Maroney-inspired self that you can apply in your life.
6 Step Process For Dealing With Body Shame
Step #1 – Do not – I repeat – DO NOT overreact or exaggerate the situation.
This is when we usually go into OMFG feelings of terror, panic and diet planning. Don’t do that!
Look at it realistically and sanely. “I’m feeling really crappy about myself and my pants are a little tighter…no big deal. I trust my body will go back to where its happy weight is.”
Step #2 – Figure out the real issue that you’re struggling with
– because it’s not your muffin top.
Sit with it and think about it if you need time. Usually it’s something that is beyond your control or another source of shame and stress in your life. Again, do not over exaggerate!
Accept and admit the reality of the situation.
“It’s not my body, it’s my ‘oh f*ck me, I’m taking a big risk here and putting a lot on the line’. I’m afraid of failure.”
Step #3 – Identify and feel the actual emotion that you’re feeling.
This is critical. You need to pinpoint the feeling that’s actually happening and it doesn’t have to be super specific…it can simply be a feeling of ‘bleeeeeaaahhh!!!’
For me, I was feeling fear and anxiety over this launch. It had been masquerading as frustration about my weight.
But wait! 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 and my approach is generally to observe it, be curious with it (like I’m high discovering scratch n sniff stickers for the first time) and then move on to the next step…
Step #4 – Share it. Talk about it. Don’t bottle that shit up!
Express the emotion to move through it.
Honestly, just the process of writing this (I wrote this back on Dec 29th) has been really freeing for me and journaling is a great place to get your thoughts out if you don’t want to share with other people.
But, I also melted down to my husband and his response was “So what if you fail? You learn from it and move forward. But, you’ll be amazing”. Best. Husband. Ever.
Step #5 – Be nice to yourself and relate to yourself
Talk to yourself like you would an injured puppy or best friend. This is not the time to be critical or unforgiving!
“It’s all good. Things are going to work out just fine. Every entrepreneur feels these kinds of nerves when they are going through a launch. You are doing the best you can and the rest is out of your control. You’ve got this!!” (it may be helpful to spend some time looking at motivational quotes here too)
This is not a one-time talk with yourself either…this is a continuous, talking yourself off the ledge type discussion that needs to keep happening.
Step #6 – Make yourself feel good. Engage in a coping mechanism that is not self-destructive.
Controlling food, exercise and my weight has been my go-to coping mechanism for decades. Now, I know when I feel those urges coming to the surface I need to divert my self-care to something more useful.
I booked a mani/pedi.
I went shopping and got a super cute dress for NYE (for only $17 from a consignment store!!).
I took a social media detox (because seeing everyone else promoting/talking about their dietary resolutions was going to make me gag myself with a turkey carcass …no offense to them, it was just not something I needed to see at the moment).
I took a break from work completely to regroup and recharge.
I blasted inspiring music (Flashdance soundtrack works well here) on my walks with my dog.
I went out and seriously let loose with friends.
Repeat as needed.
After that I was literally re-birthed with a totally fresh perspective and the body shame was GONE. And my body was EXACTLY the same….if not bigger due to the surf and turf platter for two and countless Tequila cocktails that we took down on New Years.
Above all else, remember you are human! I think there is a big misconception that loving your body will absolve you of all shitty emotions and make you bulletproof to self-hate. It won’t. Everyone goes through this stuff… even the experts;)
After going through this process I can say that I’M BACK BABY!! I feel so much better now and my doppelgänger has been tamed… for now. I know it’ll rear it’s head again – because this project…weeeeeeee – I also know that I’m equipped to deal with it and I hope this will help you too.
Thanks for posting this, Summer. I really needed to read this today. I also appreciate the steps to break down the feeling and how to move forward from it.
You are so welcome! We are all human and in this together!
Thank you, Summer, for being so vulnerable with us! I am in the process of deciding on a career change and what school/program to attend to become certified. This brings on feelings of self-doubt, and a ton of fear! I have wrestled that evil body shame as a result of this fear, as well as feeling hopeless in making a decision and being able to fund this endeavor. All this makes me want to give up. But I am plugging away! Thanks again!
Glad it helped Toni!! Step into your fear and let your dreams happen!
Wow, Summer, thank you so much for sharing your sincere vulnerability with us! WE ARE HUMAN! And life is just not always going to be roses and rainbows. Your honesty is always refreshing and your steps to overcoming these hurdles is fantastic and something I will most definitely write down and keep with me always! I am definitely struggling and needing to figure out where to channel my emotions/feelings instead of taking it out on myself! Thank you for being the wonderful YOU, always!!!! XO Val
Aw thank you Val!!! I’m so happy it resonated with you!! xo
i love this!! i am a body shamer myself and when i go into the mirror every morning i lie to my self and say i am beauitful and i know that is not the right thing to do…. why do i do it?
thank you for this 6 steps i love myself now and i won’t body shame never ever in a million year’s
I think it’s still important to tell yourself that Annamarie!
Please send the worksheet mentioned in this email. I’m loving all your content!
I SO related to this on many fronts… It was amazing! All the way down to my last intuitive eating backslide over Christmas when I was sure I had gone out of control and had lost my body for good. I jumped right into strict Paleo and that lasted about two weeks before I knocked myself on the head for reverting back to my old bad habits. And I’m also considering writing a book, so it’s good for me to be aware of what may come so I can be armed with the right tools. Anyway, I feel like I could have written this post myself… That’s how much I related to it. So thank you for posting it!
So glad it resonated with you Stacie!
this was a great read and exactly something i needed to read today. I’ve been dealing with body shame bad for the past couple weeks especially hard for me in a swim suit when at the pool and seeing all the other people looking summer body ready and Im just blah. it’s crazy cause i was 450+ two summers ago didn’t care how i looked at all lost 200 lbs felt good till swim suit season, but still felt ok about my body, broke my back end of the summer and stopped loosing weight because of it. just maintained it all winter gained about 20 lbs and like a month ago got back on the train and it’s harder than i thought eating healthy not hard working out not terrible but it sucks cause i can’t do all that i could before my injury and now I absolutely hate my body and I’m working hard to change that outlook on me. and anytime i see someone look at me with judging eyes i wanna be like yes I’m fat but I’m 200 lbs less fat than i as 2 years ago. but then I’d sound crazy cause they’re probably not even thinking that, ok i’ll stop rambling and end with thank you for this post it was a great read and something I need to probably read daily to remind myself to love my body.