We got a question from a JillFit reader about HOW to find that balance between being happy with your physique but also feeling like it could be tighter, leaner, more muscular, etc. We feel you. In fact, that’s exactly what many of our blog posts try to assert. It is a toughie though. So, I brainstormed and came up with my top 8 ways to find (and keep!) “body peace:”
1) Understand that if you don’t simply decide that you are fine right now, as you are, you will never be satisfied.
Ask top level figure competitors and many of them will still have complaints about their physiques, sitting at below 10% body fat. If you can’t find a way to be happy in this moment, right now, regardless of your size, shape or weight, then you probably won’t feel happy 10, 20 or 30 lbs less. You’ll still be dissatisfied then, focusing on the smallest flaws and picking apart an otherwise banging’ body.
2) “The goal is not to get to 0% body fat. The goal is to be happy with how you look. A number shouldn’t matter.”
Saw this tweet by Brad Pilon, author of “Eat Stop Eat”–really resonated with me because I think oftentimes we hold onto some random number assuming that when we finally reach and maintain it we can finally allow ourselves “peace.” But when does it stop? At 0% BF? Body esteem has NOTHING to do with actual hard numbers. You can find women who are 200+ lbs and who love every curve. It’s a state of MIND.
3) Think of all the mental energy you spend on worrying about your physique.
Never mind the hours upon hours of actual physical time you devote in the kitchen and the gym. I am talking purely about the MENTAL component. It’s exhausting. Think about how much more productive you could be in other areas of your life if you simply let yourself “be” and only gave your physique the physical attention. You could put that time toward spending time with loved ones, working on your business, doing stress-reducing activities like reading or journaling. It’s liberating just thinking about it. Do it!
4) Challenge yourself to focus on only ONE thing for 4-6 weeks and don’t worry about anything else.
I have my coaching clients do this. We can all get easily overwhelmed when we think we need a complete overhaul. “I need to clean up my diet! No cheats! AND I need to get to the gym every day this week! AND I need to be in bed by 10pm every night! AND I need to not stress AT ALL!!!” lol. Talk about stress! We do this, chastise ourselves into line and then a week later, we haven’t successfully implemented anything because it was all simply too much. When we quit splitting our focus on 1o different, new things, we allow ourselves to successfully implement ONE new thing FOREVER. Start with sleep or stress-reduction. I find that when these are in line, everything else falls into place more effortlessly (eating and training). In fact, don’t even think about your nutrition or training. Just do what feels natural and effortless with it. I guarantee you will not fall off the wagon as much as you think you will, and you will probably workout because you want to, not because you need to.
5) Give up using guilt as motivation.
It doesn’t work. In fact, in “The Willpower Instinct” by Kelly McGonigal, she outlines extensive research that shows that when we use guilt, we are actually MORE discouraged to eat well. Feelings of guilt and remorse are actually less motivating in the long run. So stop it. Right now. :)
6) Focus on your other talents.
Is your physique the only thing you have to offer the world? I have struggled with this in the past–the idea that if I am not in top shape, then where does my worth lie? How could I be a credible fat loss expert if I am not 10% BF? 16% is too high!!…Huh? Now, years later, I am much more interested in all aspects of my personal development, but at one point I held on strongly to the all-or-nothing dieting mindset. So ask yourself, have you taken time to develop and more importantly, appreciate your other “selves?” How about your sense of humor? Or your awesome parenting? Or the fact that you have an amazing job doing what you love? Or incredibly supportive friends and family who love you regardless of your body fat %? Check in with THIS stuff more often, and chances are you will experience a deep sense of fulfillment outside the physical realm.
7) Realize that you always have a choice.
Seriously. You do. If you are CHOOSING to not be at peace with your body, than you (believe it or not) are also actively choosing to be miserable. It’s one or the other. Accept or misery. And remember, practicing active acceptance doesn’t mean you give up! In fact, being more accepting of your current self allows you to strive further for the right reasons. Not for love or affirmation, but for a personal sense of accomplishment. But now, you no longer have the get-lean-or-die-trying mindset. You now have PERSPECTIVE. You can appreciate your current self while practicing getting better. The two are not mutually exclusive.
8] Utilize practical pessimism and face the worst-case scenario.
This may seem counter-intuitive but oftentimes one of the best ways to “get real” with your own insecurities is simply to face them. Ask yourself, “what is the worst that could happen if I stayed at this same weight forever?” Would life go on? Would your family and friends still love you? Or would you cease to be worthy? Of course not! Facing your insecurities head-on allows you to the get down to the bottom of it. You don’t want to be leaner for getting lean’s sake. You want to get lean because of what that will mean. Once you can name what it means for you, then you can figure out how to be that right now regardless of size, shape or body fat %.
These tactics have helped me make a complete 180 in terms of being at peace with my body. Over the last 7 years, I have spanned 25-lb ups and downs based on where I was in my “season,” and it was not fun. In fact, much of it was a miserable journey of victimhood. But honestly, without the tough times, I would never have been forced to find a solution. I realized that I needed to do things differently and I took a hard look at where I wanted to go and where I wanted to devote my energy. This is a CONSCIOUS practice. If you truly want to find peace with your body, you have to actively choose a different internal dialogue. Because…
“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” –Tony Robbins
Related: Are we our own worst enemy?