Moving into body-acceptance – Is it possible for you?

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Cheri Charles For many of us (actually, probably most of us), there’s always something about our body that we don’t particularly like or would like to change. How can we not, when there are advertisements everywhere showing us how we are supposed to look, of course we are going to compare – it’s human nature. But the destructive mind-set that seeps in and sends us on the diet roller-coaster can be hard to shift…
 
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By Anne-Sophie Reinhardt

I went on my first diet when I was 9 years old, which marked the beginning of a 14-year long story of hunger, fear and oppression.

My entire youth was overshadowed by the wish to look perfect. I wanted to be skinny, toned, beautiful, just like the people I saw on TV.

I thought that if only I would lose enough weight, exercise enough hours, count the points, log the calories, get rid of the fat, I’d be happy and content. I thought that once I had the perfect figure, I’d find the right guy, turn my life around, be successful and anything but the failure I seemed to be.

I believed that once I had the body, I could finally be alive.

Well, exactly the opposite happened.

The more weight I lost, the unhappier I was. Sure, I looked ‘great’ on the outside, but I was hollow and lonely in my heart. Sure, I was admired for my strength, my willpower, my ability to be around food and never eat; but secretly I yearned to break my diet, enjoy a croissant and simply have fun.

I wanted food to not be an issue. I wanted to be like everyone else.

Yet I couldn’t, wouldn’t, give in. I couldn’t, wouldn’t, let go. Because if I did, I’d surely lose control. I’d certainly binge on everything in sight and would be the mockery of everyone.

I was so damn scared.

Yet, so damn desperate.

I didn’t want to continue living this way, and yet I couldn’t imagine having a different life. What would I do if I didn’t worry about every calorie I put into my mouth? What would I do if I didn’t exercise for four hours a day? What would I do if I didn’t look like a super skinny runway model?

These thoughts kept me trapped and when I was 23 I almost died of starvation. I had to make a choice: life or death; being skinny or healthy.

I chose life and health, but it wasn’t an easy road.

For years, I struggled to find my balance, to accept my body, to make peace with my shape. For years, I looked into the mirror with a critical eye and a running commentary of shameful thoughts. For years, I wanted to go back to the skinny version of myself.

Anne-Sophie Reinhardt

Anne-Sophie Reinhardt

But I didn’t. Instead, I fought.

I fought and I worked on my thoughts. I let go of some of my most ingrained hurtful beliefs around my body and food, and slowly, gently, I moved into true body-acceptance.

Here are the most common beliefs we carry around when it comes to food and our bodies. If we let go of them, we can heal our lives. I’ve seen it in myself and the hundreds of women I’ve worked with over the years.

1. Get rid of the thought that you will only accept your body when you wear a size 10 (Australia/NZ) or a size 2 (America)

Body-acceptance happens today, not 20 pounds from now. Body-acceptance is independent from the size you wear.

Only accepting yourself when you weigh a certain amount is punishment and has nothing to do with body-acceptance and self-love. So, trust that you can make peace with the body you have now.

2. Get rid of the thought that body-acceptance isn’t possible for you

Most of my clients believe that body-acceptance is possible, in theory. But it certainly isn’t possible for them.

I used to think the same way, but fortunately, I was wrong and so are my clients. You can accept your body too. You can make peace with food. You can find your way to freedom from dieting.

All it takes are the right skills, lots of self-love, support, some leaps of faith and patience. But if you don’t give up, you will slowly move into a place of true body-acceptance and self-love.

3. Get rid of the thought that you will be happier when you are skinnier

Chances are that you have been thinner at one point in your life. And chances are that you weren’t necessarily happier at that point, right? So, let go of that thought and instead focus on being happy today.

4. Get rid of the thought that you will be out of control when you let go of dieting

This is one of the biggest fears for all of us. But here’s the truth: the more you begin trusting your body instead of relying on your brain for your hunger and satiation signals, the more you’ll gain control. I know this is a huge leap of faith, but I’ve seen it so many times that I know this is true and possible.

5. Get rid of the thought that there’s a quick fix

Fortunately, (yes, you read right) there is no quick fix when it comes to healing your relationship with yourself. It takes some work, lots of love and gentle care to make peace with your body and that’s a good thing. Along the way, you’ll have tons of aha-moments and find so much love and respect for yourself. It’s the most rewarding work there is.

You might be saying, all that is good and well, but HOW do I get rid of these thoughts?

Here’s my formula:

1. Become aware of these thoughts

Becoming aware of the evil thoughts in your mind is the first step towards freedom. You can start by journaling about all your beliefs around your body and yourself. You can start by meditating on it or you can simply go through your days checking in with yourself every once in a while. You’ll be surprised at how many limiting beliefs you carry around.

2. Question the thoughts

Byron Katie’s The Work is a powerful way of helping you question your fearful thoughts. Here are her four questions:

1. Is it true?
2. Do I absolutely know that this is true?
3. How do I react, what happens, when I believe that thought?
4. Who would I be without that thought?

Once you’ve answered all of these questions, find a turnaround for your thought.

Let me give you an example:

My thought used to be: I’ll never be able to accept my body.

A turnaround would be: I will be able to accept my body.
Another turnaround would be: My body will never be able to accept me.
Or I won’t ever not be able to accept my body.

Deep stuff, isn’t it? These turnarounds offer a new perspective on an old situation and once you have them, you can find proof for them, ponder on them and slowly integrate them into your life.

3. Meet your thoughts with love saying: Even though I believe that I will never accept my body, I love and accept myself wholeheartedly.

Repeat this manta as often as you need in order to find true comfort and healing.

While you’re doing this work, continue to believe and trust that body-acceptance is possible for you too. If you begin doing your work now, you might arrive at a point of deep respect for your body much sooner than you think.

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Anne-Sophie ReinhardtHi, I’m Anne-Sophie Reinhardt, anti-diet coach, body confidence expert and Grey’s Anatomy fanatic (which may or may not be relevant) and after almost 14 years of yo-yo dieting, binging and purging and disordered eating, the one thing I know for sure is it IS possible.self.

Check out my website for more information about me and what I do.

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