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Body Image and Eating Disorders

Posted Jan 07 2009 4:39pm 1 Comment

Imagine a woman…

A woman who believes her body is enough, just as it is.

Who celebrates her body and its rhythms and cycles as an exquisite resource.

…A woman who celebrates the accumulation of her years and her wisdom.

Who refuses to use precious energy disguising the changes in her body and life.

~Patricia Lynn Reilly


Sounds like something we should all aspire to, but let’s face it, most of us do think about and work on changing the shape of our bodies…

…or worry about the changing shape of our bodies.

It’s part of the universal mindset. We’re socialized to believe that fat is an indication of weakness or a lack of self-control, and that if we really have it all together, we dictate our body size and shape. A large part of our sense of worth or esteem is entangled with our own perceptions of our bodies. Since body esteem and self esteem are closely linked, feelings of inadequacy about our bodies can, and often do, interfere with relationships and distort our sense of self. This is the culture in which we live.

Here’s the truth:

Nobody plans to be controlled by an eating disorder.

It begins as a way to cope with complicated, negative situations that feel out of control.

And then the eating disorder takes on an identity of its own.

It grows out of control.

How do we overcome it?

Identify fat-oppressive attitudes and challenge them. Internalized fat-oppressive attitudes act as a constant negative evaluation of ourselves and others. Bias and prejudice against overweight people is acceptable, even among people who work to eliminate other types of bigotry and oppression. Our culture accepts fat-0oppression because we believe fat is always unhealthy and that it’s unattractive. The truth of the matter is, the human body requires a certain amount of fat to function properly.

Stop criticizing yourself in the mirror. Your amazing body enables you to accomplish all that you do on this planet. Without it, you wouldn’t be here, at least not in this realm. Learn to treat your body with the respect and love it deserves.

Refuse to accept criticism from anyone about your body.
Tell friends and family that body criticism is unacceptable. The topic is not open for discussion since these kinds of conversations usually have negative effects on self esteem. They damage and distort perceptions of others and self.

Choose healthy foods and find your own, natural metabolic set point. Strict calorie limitations trigger a drastic slow-down in metabolic processes which actually decreases lean muscle mass and increases fat stores. This then prompts cravings for high caloric foods. All of this is going on in your brain and chemistry. You just feel the urge to eat the wrong things, so eventually strict or perpetual dieting leads to weight gain and binge eating as your body defends its own natural set point.

Read something other than the popular media. AVOID the tabloid magazines. They’re filled with photographs of celebrities who are waging their own body image wars.

Have a look at these titles:

As we work toward changing this cultural standard, some of us are already ensnared in the eating disorder trap. If you are, get help. If you’re heading down that path, here are some helpful pointers:

What Can You Do when you’re tempted to binge, purge or starve?

~Ask yourself , “What am I feeling?” “What isn’t working?” “What do I need that I’m not getting?”

~ Call a friend who knows about your problem and have him/her just listen

~ Begin an enjoyable task or project immediately after eating a meal

~ Learn some new behaviors and activities for the mid afternoon and early evening hours

~ Get enough rest and expand positive relationships

~ Leave the binge environment, especially when you feel frustrated, under pressure, stressed, or bored

~ Take deep breaths, close your eyes, picture yourself in a field or on a beach or wherever you prefer

~ Consciously relax– Turn on quiet music, exercise, do yoga, meditate

~ Allow yourself to not be perfect. Forgive yourself for errors

For more support guidelines, visit the National Eating Disorders Association website.

Comments (1)
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Thank you for posting the "Imagine a Woman" poem! This is special year for the Imagine a Woman Community. The poem is 15 years old and we launched a new website and a new set of personal and professional enhancement courses, coaching, and training based on the Imagine a Woman Poem.

We are also excited to announce our IAW Affiliate Program! The IAW Affiliate Program rewards you with passive income for doing what you do best: sharing good stuff and experiences with your girlfriends. Please click our link to learn more.

Since 1995, the poem has circled the globe, inspiring books, screenplays, artists, videos, life transitions, ministries, coaching practices, virtual communities, social networks, and organizational missions.  IMAGINE A WOMAN is celebrating its 15th year anniversary by GOING VIRAL.

Please join us in the celebration by simply continuing to share the poem and our website with your social networks and virtual communities. Your support to feature the poem and spread the word about our new website and offerings is greatly appreciated.

WomanSpirit Blessings, Patricia Lynn Reilly
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