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February 16, 2012

Body Dissatisfaction

I work with a lot of women who are, for the most part, pretty fit and healthy. But there is usually one common tune that most sing, and that is, “I just want to get a bit leaner, I know I am not at my full potential and I would feel so much better in my skin if I were 10 lbs (or 15, or 20 lbs) less.” There is this subtle, gnawing dissatisfaction inside that they cannot quell about their physique:
“If I could just get my legs a little tighter…”
“If I could just get my belly a little flatter…”
“If I could just get my butt a little smaller…”

“THEN, fill-in-the-blank-here…”

This is common. And like most women, I have dealt with feelings of dissatisfaction at times too, at certain times more acutely than others. And if you have been reading this blog for a while now, you know that I have dealt with many body demons in terms of feeling like I NEED to look a certain way or else I am worthless. Sad to say out loud (as I have many times before) but the truth of it is that many women can and do get caught up in these same feelings: unworthiness, remorse, embarrassment, guilt, sadness, helplessness and negative self-talk.

I have fought many of those demons for the past 7 years or so. But, now, for the most part, I have to say, I feel like I have won the battle against my own negative body-talk. Yes, would it be fabulous if my legs were smaller? Sure. Would clothes fit a little better if my ridiculously athletically-big butt were smaller? Of course. Would it be nice to sport a 6-pack year round? Hell, yes.

BUT, at what cost?

Getting caught up in acute dissatisfaction with our physiques can lead to a couple of issues. Learning “acceptance without resignation” is a much gentler approach and also a just as effective tool when striving for body change. We know that guilt, remorse, hating ourselves after too many indulgences and feeling helpless DO NOT work. It only makes us more miserable. So what’s the deal?

Six-pack or bust?

The main issue I see is that we often set up an expectation for where what physique we need to achieve “or else.”

This is a dangerous place to be, because it perpetuates the “dissatisfaction gap” or “expectation gap”–the discrepancy between what we need to attain in order to be satisfied and where we currently are. Start by asking yourself, WHY did I pick that number or dress size or weight or that body fat percent? Most women can trace their “goal” number back to some old, random moment from the past, like “In my 20s, my trainer told me 15% body fat or less is where I should be to be very fit” or “I weighed 118 in high school and it was the PERFECT size!” or “When I was in really good shape after college, I was wearing a size 4, I just need to get back there!!”

Hello. Why? Things change, you change, circumstances change, hormonal make-up changes, priorities change, people’s opinions change and on top of it, no one is less qualified to be able to objectively assess you than yourself Sorry! :) You naturally have biases, subjective feelings, emotions and sensitivities. And what is unfortunate is that many of us hold on so tightly to a size or number, that we have actually trained ourselves to NOT be satisfied with ourselves until we reach said random number. Lol. We perpetuate the dissatisfaction ourselves.

Sounds funny to say it like that, but honestly, take a second to ask yourself, “If I never reached that number and stayed exactly as I am right now, what is the worst case scenario?” Will you be less qualified to do your job? Will your partner magically become less attracted to you? Will you become a bad parent? Will your children love you any less? Will your friends and family shun you? Lol. You get the picture.

You are worthy, and special and amazing RIGHT NOW. And of course, at JillFit, we are all about offering the tools to achieve a lean, beautiful physique and it is certainly OK to want to strive for more, a leaner physique, a tighter body, etc. BUT we take the approach of “acceptance without resignation.” Have healthy body esteem in this moment but then also realize this is a stop-over on a longer body change journey.  Take a step back, ask yourself, can I celebrate how far I have come, and at that same party fix my sights on my next victory? Use gratitude first, and positive motivation second. Negative motivation (guilt, remorse, etc) rarely works.

Be aware of attaching your personal happiness and satisfaction to your physique. It is a dangerous business, and it takes away your own power. It gives your power over to a scale or a dress size. It imprisons you in your own personal hell of low body esteem. To value yourself as only a bangin’ body is selling yourself way too short. Don’t forget it! :) oxox, Jill

Related: Self-acceptance & why it doesn’t mean giving up

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