I know it’s been a while since I’ve added to this series, but it’s definitely something that I want to make sure I have the words I want to say lined up before writing instead of simply trying to make it up as I go and not give it the thought it deserves. I feel like the majority of our battles with our bodies are mental – trying to settle for “this is just how I am,” but change is a product of action. I know seeing the changes we want doesn’t always come easy and that it can get discouraging, but sometimes our physical health is a trail-and-error process. Solutions when it comes to our health is not (and never will be!) one size fits all. So here are the actions I’ve personally taken to start tackling the physical aspect of my body image struggles.
Meet with your primary care provider. Late last year I met up with the doctor that prescribed me my antidepressant for my anxiety and I wanted to know if it had anything to do with my persistent weight gain/inability to lose weight despite all the lifestyle efforts I was making on a day to day basis. Long story short, I had some lab work done – all of which came back normal – so I switched to a different medication. Even though I can admit I still haven’t “lost” weight, what I have noticed is that my body doesn’t look/feel nearly as bloated, and the stubborn love handles on my back I couldn’t get rid of are now hardly noticeable. It feels like my body is finally responding to the effort I put into it day after day. I’m still working with my doctor to change and/or minimize the amount of medications I’m on that will hopefully help continue the progress I’ve already been seeing. I would definitely consult with your doctor if you’re on any kind of mental health medication or birth control because I feel like these are the common medications that can cause issues with weight. If you have to be on medications, it’s important to find the happy medium for you, and I personally think your doctor should agree and help you with that in any way they can.
Meet with a dietitian. If you feel like you’re struggling with your nutrition, then I highly recommend talking with a dietitian – someone who’s licensed and has gone through necessary training + education to understand diets and what certain people need. When I met with mine, she helped me notice where my nutrients were lacking or in excess. I think it goes without saying that nutrition can be really complicated, so having someone help you understand it and how it relates to you could be key. Plus, I was also able to have my resting metabolic rate tested and get a better idea of how many calories my body actually burns in a day instead of simply guessing/estimating. If and when you meet with your primary care provider, you can always ask for a referral to a dietitian if you don’t already have one in mind.
Seek accountability. YES this counts as physical because you have to actively look for and ask for accountability. Find a workout buddy or someone who you know will encourage you in your goals and be lovingly honest with you when you need it most. Or, join group fitness classes! You’ll get to know the instructors and other regulars in the class – this was huge for me when I started going to the gym! I didn’t want to let down the people I had come to know and love in my classes, so it encouraged me to go on the days I didn’t necessarily want to.
Write it down. Fun fact: you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down! Do it with long term goals, and do it with your daily goals; especially your daily goals. Write it in your planner, write it on your mirror – just write it where you can see it. Tell yourself you’re taking all your walking breaks at work, that you’re going to the gym and what you’re doing there. Whatever your activity/health goal for the day is, write it down!
Get active. I know that this one is pretty self-explanatory which is why I wanted to put it at the of the list. I know a lot of struggles with being active – whether it be under active or even over active – has a lot to do with our mentality about/relationship with physical activity and exercise; but I wanted to reiterate the importance of working out as a way to take care of your body and celebrate it for what it can do instead of criticizing it for what it can’t yet. Practice makes perfect, and as you start small and work your way up to more challenging goals, you’ll hopefully come to love exercise and how it makes you feel instead of loathing it as a chore. Even if you don’t see the outward results right away, it makes a huge impact on your internal and mental health. By feeling and seeing how capable your body actually is, the hope is that you’ll start to develop a healthier view and relationship with your body and start praising it for what it can do, regardless of if it’s where you want it to be just yet or not.
Babes, in 2020 I hope y’all realize how beautiful and wildly capable you are. You already have everything you need in you to do start walking your talk. You are strong, don’t let negative thoughts try to convince you otherwise!