March 8, 2016 by Tammy Beasley, RDN, CEDRD, LD in Body Image, Nutrition, Tuesday's With Tammy How you see your body and how you think others see your body greatly affects how you feel about yourself. And how you feel about your body cannot be separated from how you treat that very same body…the fuel you give it and the things you ask it to do. When you look in the mirror, does it reflect the real you or is the image distorted? It may be time to clean your mirror to improve your reflection.
When you drive your car, you depend on your rear view mirror to see behind you, in order to drive safely and with purpose. You also need that mirror to be clean, not dusty or broken. Only a mirror free of dirt or broken glass can give the driver a true reflection of the situation. And regardless of the condition of the mirror, you cannot look in your mirror constantly and continue to move forward. You must look away from the mirror to concentrate on the road ahead. In fact, most of your driving requires a steady look ahead with just an occasional glimpse in the mirror’s reflection.
Likewise, your body image is the reflection you see in your body’s “rear view” mirror. The mirror often reflects what is in your past, behind you, and includes images that have been developed throughout your life. These images are influenced by things you have heard, read and seen. Over time, dirt may have accumulated and affects how clearly you can see what is really happening. Or your body image might even by broken from years of abuse or neglect. Do you spend more time looking back in the mirror’s reflection, unaware that it’s broken or dirty? Does looking back hinder your ability to move forward?
To move forward, it is important to work on cleaning and repairing your own “rear view mirror”, or body image. The rewards of a clear reflection help guarantee more security and confidence as you keep your eyes on the road ahead. So where do you start to make a difference?
First, work on believing that your body is capable of change. Remind yourself about all the things you have already accomplished, no matter how small, on your road towards recovery. Believe that your body image does not have to be limited to body weight changes only. Body image changes include how we relate to other people, how much we allow our thoughts about our body to affect our moods and how we interact socially.
Next, make a list of positive statements about your body that emphasize the way you want to think about yourself. For example, “my body deserves to be nurtured by food” or “I can enjoy a warm summer day wearing shorts regardless of my size.” Try to repeat this list to yourself at least once in the morning and once in the evening. You do not have to immediately feel or believe any of these positive statements as you say them, but do repeat them. Just like hearing a song on the radio repetitively until you notice that one day you know every word without even trying…new words and positive statements that you repeat frequently can begin erasing the build-up from the past, repairing the broken cracks and replacing your reflection with a more nurturing one.
A renewed and repaired body image does not necessarily mean that you love everything about your body every moment of every day. It DOES mean that you have a healthy self-identity, can appreciate the positive things that your body can do, and can let go of the past images that distort or block your view of the beauty that lies ahead.