I recently went on a magical family holiday to New Zealand. It was full of good food, hikes and wholesomeness.
But one night, I was scrolling through the photos of the day and I noticed myself not loving what I was seeing.
I wasn't focusing on the incredible memories.
I was focusing on the cellulite, on my body and on all my insecurities.
This isn't a new scenario for me. And it probably isn't for you.
But what I did next is what changed the game. One hour later - I was back in my holiday mood.
The New Year is the number one time of year for these feelings.
So listen to this episode - and let's start 2024 right.
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Hello everyone and welcome to this week's episode of the no Wellness Wankery podcast. I hope you're well and, in case you're not, I'm hoping this podcast episode is going to be able to help you a little bit. It all started when I went on holiday. I was in New Zealand. I had an amazing time 10 nights in New Zealand. That country is beautiful and with my family we would go on hikes, we'd have picnics, we'd go to bed early. It was very wholesome and very good for my soul. But around maybe the second last day we had had a picnic and I had gone for a little swim in some glacial water, which was very invigorating and I loved it. And my husband had taken some snaps of me. And that night I was going through the photos for the day and I saw some photos that I did not like how I looked. I had a lot of cellulite, I had a lot of rolls. I just looked like someone who'd recently had a baby as well. And that's just because I am someone who's recently had a baby. And in that moment, after seeing these photos, I really felt this huge, overwhelming desire to lose weight. I just felt it come over me. I felt, honestly, I felt disgusted with myself. I felt like I was wrong. I felt like I should be embarrassed, like completely undesirable. The self-loathing was real. In many ways, it's kind of like I went right back to that teenager who'd had an eating disorder all those years ago. Even years after I'd recovered, it was still so easy for me to go back to that place. However, what I did afterwards was incredibly different from how I would have reacted when I was a teenager. So that's why I wanted to record for you a step by step process that you can follow if you're feeling like really struggling with your body image and just going oh, I just want to change something, I need to do something. Help me, because these are the steps I took to get to the point where, an hour later, I had completely transformed that feeling. I didn't lose any weight in an hour, but an hour later I felt so much better in my body. I had reclaimed my self-acceptance, my body acceptance, and you can too, without having to go on any fandangled, ridiculous diet that's going to derail your health and well-being. So, number one, the first thing you need is a circuit breaker, because you're, in this state of the moment, feeling like really bad in your body. What we're going to do is one of two options. You might throw out a few other options if you like, but it has to be something that can be very bodily experience. So I have either have a shower or go for a walk. I couldn't go for a walk. I had children sleeping, so I chose to have a shower. Now, what's really important as you are doing one of these circuit breakers is that you are not doing body checks because, honestly, that's probably the thing that got you into this mess in the first place, just like me when I checked out my body in the photo, that derailed me and made me feel really bad. And you might be doing the same, where you're going to the mirror and just looking at yourself in different angles, or you're really looking at photos from that you do not like how you look, or if it's probably catching a glimpse of yourself as you're walking past something and is that really me? So what we need to do is we need to go okay, right, we're going to take this away from how I look, we're going to try and come back into my body and I'm going to do something for my body that's serving it well. That's showing that I respected and that I take care of it, and not the shower or the going for the walk. The other thing you could do is you could do something like skincare or put on a little bit of makeup. This is the next few things that I did, as I did my skincare routine and I put in a little bit of makeup. I know this plays into the beauty norms a little bit, but you do have to remember that we are all programmed in this world that tells us that our worth is based on our beauty. Sometimes that can make you feel better, but I actually think this act of doing skincare or doing whatever beauty steps you have isn't really about beauty so much as showing ourselves some respect. And that could look like you literally just washing your face and moisturizing. It could be putting on some sunscreen or it could be putting on some mascara, whatever it is. You're basically just showing yourself that, hey, I deserve to take care of my body right now and you're still worthy Remembering. Still, if you are looking in the mirror ideally this is not a full-length mirror and if you notice your thoughts going towards your body, I just want you to kind of bring your attention back to your face to yourself and rather just try not to let that mirror trick you into thinking you are less worthy than you are. Another handy tip get out of that to wear. Oh my goodness, I find that when I'm mumming around in my really frumpy t-shirt oversized t-shirt, and I've got like banana mastral up in my hair and all that kind of stuff, I never feel that brilliant. So putting on clothes that feel fresh and clean can make me feel a whole lot better already. So now I've kind of got those few steps and I know you're thinking this is silly, this is menial stuff, but I can't tell you how much of a transformation you will feel and this isn't about appearance, but how you will feel. From before you did all of these things until you are now, having maybe gone for a walk, you are clean, you're feeling fresh and you're in beautiful clothes and make you feel very comfy, what I did when I was in New Zealand and I've had this feeling. I went and had a shower, I did my skincare because I was going to sleep, there was no time or point for makeup and then I put on my pajamas, I brushed my hair in a way that showed that I really cared about myself, and then I stepped outside for a breath of fresh air. Within that half an hour period, I had gone from self-loathing myself to kind of going I'm not on fire anymore. We're feeling a little bit more calm. I don't feel like as strong of an urge, and this is when we get to this point. Now we can start to do some bit more of that thinking process. The first step, the first half an hour or first hour I want you to really focus on just being in your body, not looking at yourself. And then the second bit onwards. That's when we can start to practice these body image techniques. One question you can ask yourself that I think is very important is do I see myself correctly? Do you see yourself clearly? Do you remember looking in the mirror a few days ago and going hmm, she's not bad, that's okay, don't mind that. Did you see a photo of yourself from a week ago? And you go she's pretty cute, not mad about her. Now you've just seen something that's triggered you into thinking that you're not okay. Obviously, your body cannot shift in such a huge amount of time, so I just want you to check in and ask yourself are you actually seeing yourself clearly at the moment, because there's a really good chance that you don't see yourself clearly. Body dysmorphia, which is it's simply not being able to see yourself clearly, not being able to see yourself the way that others see you, having disproportionate thoughts about how big your body is or what your imperfections are. Body dysmorphia is rife. It is particularly something that affects people with disordered eating, which is roughly around 80% of women. If you're listening to this podcast, you may be raising your hand going. That's me. So I want you to think okay, there is a likelihood that I have some degree of body dysmorphia, of not being able to see myself clearly. Useful things go. What would a friend say to me about my body? You might be able to find that that's. That just adds a little bit of a slight reframe. The other thing I did. Another question you can ask yourself is do you have, if you've got, any children in your life? I mean, ask yourself the question how do they feel about your body? I think it's a much clearer representation when we're checking in and wondering how would our kids feel about us, or how would children in my life feel about us. Maybe it's grandkids as opposed to adults, because adults have been indoctrinated into this thin is ideal world, and so they can kind of sometimes feel a little bit more, perhaps even body dysmorphic themselves or have these unrealistic standards that I think can be really unhelpful. So how would my kids or my grandkids or kids that I know, see me and would they accept me in my body right now? The chances are hell. Yes, they would absolutely love and accept every part of you right now. Another thing I want you to ask question number three is to check in with your cycle. If you are menstruating, then that week before your period and for me it's from day 18 of a 28 day cycle, so 10 days before I get my period my body loathing starts and my body image progressively gets worse and worse as my progesterate levels rise and maybe you're the same and once you've had your period you're going to go. Ah, I'm feeling a bit better, and that is kind of a really cool thing. This is an interesting piece of research that I've always kind of loved. Is they measured how much strippers earned when they were ovulating or versus when they had their period, and they earned significantly more when they were ovulating. So around day 14 of their cycle they were feeling confident and sexy and their best selves. Obviously, did their body weight change dramatically from day 14 to day 18? No, but their hormones did so. Don't underestimate the power of your hormones in impacting your mood and your body image. If you haven't yet, we have an episode, number 71, the power of your period, how your cycle impacts cravings, weight, body image and so much more. If you haven't listened to that, that is a very important one to go and listen if you're someone who menstruates. Question number four I want you to ask yourself is did I get a good night's rest? And if not, how can I get a good night's sleep tonight? That is such an important one. I think we very much underestimate the influence of high quality sleep on our mood, in addition to all the other things like our energy levels, our inhibitions, our cravings and all those other things. So getting a good quality sleep under your belt is going to be something that you are probably going to wake up tomorrow and already feel better about yourself without needing to shift any weight at all. I talk about this a lot in my book. Your Weight is Not the Problem. I offer something called the hierarchy of healthy habits. It's basically explaining how it's near impossible to stick to any healthy eating plan if you're fundamentally missing out on the core things, whether it's sleep or eating enough, because how in the world can you eat mindfully if your body's just getting enough food? Or how can you stop cravings and eat more healthy foods when you're not getting enough sleep? It also can explain to us what do we do in the situation where you wake up at 5 am to go to the gym, but you're just so tired that you just can't even fathom it. Maybe what you really need right then is sleep over exercise. So it really helps us prioritize the stuff that matters the most. So if you haven't read, your Weight is Not the Problem. It's a bestseller. My mom thinks it's great. Thousands of other people also think it's great, which is brilliant. I'll leave a link to it in the notes so you can go and grab a copy. You can listen to it on Audiobook as well, if that's your vibe. Now the next thing I want you to ask yourself is am I willing to forgive myself? So you've been eating a little bit more than usual or exercising a little bit less? But being mad at yourself isn't going to help you. In fact, it's probably going to make things worse. It's not going to fix how you're feeling right now and, if anything, what it's going to do is cause you to get onto the diet slingshot, creating this huge pendulum swing in your health. Where you go, oh, I'm not doing anything right now. You wake up the next morning driven by self-loathing, and instead of finding one doable, healthy habit that you can do, you adopt 20 very intense habits and you expect yourself to be able to stick to them. One of the huge problems with using weight loss as a motivator for doing healthy things is that, firstly, we tend to use self-loathing as the motivator. So as you progressively lose weight and if your sense of self is very much attached to your weight, as you lose weight you tend to have a little bit less self-loathing. So by the time you get to the point you're like, oh, I've reached my goal weight you're not fueled to continue doing the healthy habits. You are only doing them for the purpose of losing weight. And secondly, now that you have reached this goal weight what's the point in doing those things? Because you have accomplished your goal, you've achieved it, and so most people now stop doing all of those things, except we are now in a worse off position because you have a much less healthy relationship with food, meaning you probably have a higher appetite, a slower metabolism. You have increased cravings for the very foods you're not meant to be eating. You probably feel a bit crazy around food because your body fears that food is not plentiful and, as a result, you know, dive into the pantry. We have all been there. This is a very familiar cycle, and so this is what we do not want to do. We absolutely want to avoid the temptation to just try and fix it and, you know, fix it by. What I'm saying is we think we have to fix our bodies, but what I can tell you is I have loathed my body at my lowest weight. I remember looking at back at photos of myself on my wedding day and going I could have lost more weight, really, it was just not enough. You're just thinking awful thoughts about myself and those my absolute lowest weight. And then I've been at my largest weight and I've been feeling myself and really liking myself, and I think we have this idea that we will like and accept ourselves when we lose weight and that that is the evidence for it. But that's just not the case. There's an expression that I absolutely love that. I hope I'm not going to butcher right now, but it is. I wish I was as thin as when I first thought that I was fat. So I know for myself. I started thinking that I had a weight problem when I was 11. I was nothing wrong with my weight this, you know, there never has been. But there really wasn't at that point and everyone around me seemed to think that they were kind of getting concerned about my weight and, as a result, I started dieting and what we know is that teenagers who start dieting are far more likely to end up being overweight or obese versus kids who are the exact same weight but who don't end up dieting. So I mean, this is just one more way that we know that dieting contributes to us gaining weight and not losing weight. So the number one thing we want to avoid is doing that huge health pendulum swing. What do we want to do instead? Oh, my goodness, it is much slower a process, which is why you need to be able to help yourself feel better, because this isn't going to be a quick fix and you are going to need better thought patterns to deal with these negative feelings you're having at the moment, good ideas, always to speak to a psychologist, a counsellor, a psychiatrist, whoever you need in your life. It's something I do. It's something I'd recommend Everyone does. I do it even when my mental health is chef's kiss amazing, because it helps me feel good, I'm happy in my life and centred, and sometimes speaking to someone can be really therapeutic. But what we wanted to instead is add in a healthy habit, bit by bit, one by one. And so what is it that you could start doing right now? If it's been the holiday season, you're going listen, it's been a bit silly. I've been a bit silly. I've been having lots of fun. I've been going to parties, I've been eating and I haven't been cooking much at home. I've been drinking a lot of alcohol. I've been. Sleep is just not being a priority for me. It's such a clear pathway forward. You simply have to try and get back to your comfortable lifestyle, the things that you normally do, okay, so that's number one. And then the second thing is go well, what's one thing I could probably add on top of it? So, for me, I'm a huge fan of my mental health walks, finding enjoyable movements. If that's something you're not already doing, I would highly recommend that it's something to do. Cooking at home more is something that is so doable and so good, and it's an easy way to save money. Oh my goodness. And you will open your fridge and you will be delighted because you're going to look in the fridge and there's going to be all this meal prep food or not even meal prep. You're just going to be able to go oh, I know, I'm cooking for dinner. And if you don't know what to cook for dinner every night and you feel like diet culture has got you so confused and overwhelmed, then my app, back to Basics, is exactly what could be useful right now. This is an app that I designed to help you be healthy without dieting, because I was looking at all the other apps out there and they go. They're just diet. It's just a meal plan telling you what to eat and when to eat. It's not teaching you how to eat and it's not solving the problem of the fact that we need to work out what we're going to cook every single night for dinner. And so what's really cool about Back to Basics is it integrates directly with your supermarket, so you can literally just click button, add all the ingredients to your cart. We'll get them delivered or pick them up and create a shopping list. It's super easy and if you haven't tried it free yet, you can try it free for seven days. I'll also leave a link to Try Back to Basics down below in the show notes so you can grab it if you want to give it a go. And the other thing that I would highly recommend is contemplating just how much you've been drinking alcohol and how it can have a huge impact on your mood, on your anxiety, on your body image. I would recommend just reflecting going. Can I have a few more alcohol-free days? Because, particularly if you're coming out of the silly season or even just a really busy season of going out for work or whatever it is, alcohol tends to come when we socialize and so perhaps what you need is more rest, but you also need to take a few more alcohol-free days. Now, very rarely am I ever recommending that we kind of pull back from something completely, but I do recommend, if you have not ever tried a booze break, which is just a small little hiatus from alcohol, I think it's worthwhile doing, just to see how your brain operates. Does your self-esteem increase? Does your energy increase? Do you sleep better? Do you feel like the anxiety is a little bit less intense? I certainly found that and that's why I did a little booze break and that booze break has turned into a year and a half. Occasionally I do have a drink I just want to be clear about that. I just but I probably just be a glass of wine with dinner. But the big difference is I went from a default drinker to a lot more of an opt-in drinker and that's made a huge difference in my life. So if you want to give a booze break a go, we are doing a booze break at the moment, in January, so you can join. You can come on a little booze break with me giving you the tips that I wish I knew when I was struggling and going. Oh my goodness, I don't want to be boring and not drink, or I don't want to be the odd one out when we're socializing, considering that literally everything revolves around alcohol. Check the notes section and I will leave a link to booze break. And lastly, I just want to say, if you're at the point where you're going, I have been eating more. I have been relaxed around food. I have been truly enjoying my holiday and that's why I'm at this point. I just want you to remind yourself this is what life is about. Life is not meant for you to be fretting about your body. How nice it is that you have enjoyed pasta and puddings and socializing with your friends, how divine. And if you are in recovery for an eating disorder, if you are working on your relationship with food with a history of disordered eating, then, oh, my goodness, this is. You're doing the hard work. Something I talk about in my binge-free academy, which is just a moment launching, but something I talk about in binge-free academy is that the closer you get to recovery, the more your diet voice is going to scream. It's going to scream louder. It's going to tell you you need to lose weight, you need to lose weight quickly and you need to do it now. And it'll feel the most intense the closer you get to recovery. So I kind of want you to see this call the siren, call to go on a diet. If you are in some kind of recovery, it's actually a good sign. I'm going oh, we're winning, we are doing something really right. And I know your gut instinct is to go. This doesn't feel right, but you need to learn to sit in the discomfort and see whether or not we can push past this feeling, because life is meant to be lived and you are doing it right now. Let's not let poor body image ruin your happy memories. And if you are someone who's a binge or emotional eater and you want to make 2024 the year that you do something about it, that you stop binge eating and feel comfortable in your body, then check out my binge-free academy. It's something I think that could be really helpful for you. It's everything I wish I learned when I was a compulsive and severe binge eater binge eating multiple times a day. It's everything I've learned in 22 years of both personal and professional experience, and everything I want you to know, but condensed into like written form, video form and listening form so you can learn however you need, so you can get the best recovery in the fastest time. Anyway, everyone, thank you so much for listening to today's episode. I hope, if you are on holiday, that you continue enjoying that holiday, that you do not let food guilt and judgment around your body get in the way of living a good life.