No Wellness Wankery

113: "I want to be skinny!" How to navigate bad body image days

May 06, 2024 Lyndi Cohen
113: "I want to be skinny!" How to navigate bad body image days
No Wellness Wankery
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No Wellness Wankery
113: "I want to be skinny!" How to navigate bad body image days
May 06, 2024
Lyndi Cohen

Does "I wish I was skinny. I HATE how my body looks" sound familiar?

Wanting to be skinny is something Lyndi & Natalia know too well. 

We live in a world that tells us the most impressive thing a woman can be is thin. It's no wonder we are constantly trying to lose weight. But this isn't actually helping us be healthier, more confident or happier. 

When you wake up and hate how you look, your knee-jerk reaction might be to go on a diet or cancel plans. But neither of these things helps in the long term.

So how do you navigate these bad body image days? Let's unpack what to do when your body image and self-esteem spiral in 8 simple steps. 

Crank up my Body Confidence ❤️ Feel Good Playlist ❤️ on Spotify and get my FREE toolkit for building a healthier body image.

Check out my YouTube video on 15 Ways I learned to love my body - and how you can too.

Reclaim getting dressed so it gives you joy, instead of sucking confidence with my Confidence Cure Style Series.

Looking for more support to feel in control around food? I'd love to support you in my Binge Free Academy


Want to feel more in control around food? Check out my Stop Struggling With Food Guide. You’ll also find 50 of my favourite recipes to get you inspired!

If you don't already - come follow me on the gram at @nude_nutritionist (no nude pics, sorry).

Want to share some feedback or have an idea for an episode, I'd LOVE to hear from you - hit me up at hello@lyndicohen.com

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Does "I wish I was skinny. I HATE how my body looks" sound familiar?

Wanting to be skinny is something Lyndi & Natalia know too well. 

We live in a world that tells us the most impressive thing a woman can be is thin. It's no wonder we are constantly trying to lose weight. But this isn't actually helping us be healthier, more confident or happier. 

When you wake up and hate how you look, your knee-jerk reaction might be to go on a diet or cancel plans. But neither of these things helps in the long term.

So how do you navigate these bad body image days? Let's unpack what to do when your body image and self-esteem spiral in 8 simple steps. 

Crank up my Body Confidence ❤️ Feel Good Playlist ❤️ on Spotify and get my FREE toolkit for building a healthier body image.

Check out my YouTube video on 15 Ways I learned to love my body - and how you can too.

Reclaim getting dressed so it gives you joy, instead of sucking confidence with my Confidence Cure Style Series.

Looking for more support to feel in control around food? I'd love to support you in my Binge Free Academy


Want to feel more in control around food? Check out my Stop Struggling With Food Guide. You’ll also find 50 of my favourite recipes to get you inspired!

If you don't already - come follow me on the gram at @nude_nutritionist (no nude pics, sorry).

Want to share some feedback or have an idea for an episode, I'd LOVE to hear from you - hit me up at hello@lyndicohen.com

Speaker 1:

My university friends all got me together and they were like so we've all agreed that we're not going to talk about food and bodies anymore. Is that okay? And I was like okay.

Speaker 2:

I would have so many times where I would wake up and I'd say myself and I'd be like yuck, I hate how I look, I'm not going anywhere.

Speaker 1:

We have a negativity bias. We seem to remember all the negative things people have said about us and we forget all the lovely things. And I'm determined not to forget the lovely things. How I felt about my body would completely determine how that day was going to go. If I woke up that day and I was feeling awful in my body and that is to say I go, look in the mirror and I go, I feel fat. And you know, people say you can't feel fat. Fat's not a feeling, it's, it just is something that exists. But what I'm talking about when I say I felt fat is I'd look in the mirror and I'd go. I'm unacceptable, I don't like this feeling in my body. I don't like the way I look. I feel like I'm going to get judged when I'd wake up on those days.

Speaker 1:

Sometimes I'd weigh myself and I'd either be met by something good or bad, it doesn't really matter. But it would throw me into a tailspin regardless and I end up really doing all sorts of very unhealthy things for my body. Either I would force myself to like walk to school so that I could burn more calories, so that I had an extra, like little hit on the day to try and get on top of it. I would fundamentally try and under eat to try and compensate. I would mentally berate myself for how I looked and everything I did, and it's almost like on those days that internal voice would be so intense. I felt like such a failure and I felt like what I needed to do to fix myself. I felt like I had to go to extreme measures.

Speaker 1:

And then, what do you know? The same old predictable tale I get home and I basically blow it all and eat everything I could find, and I'd have to start again the next day. And I'd get home and I'd basically blow it all and eat everything I could find, and I'd have to start again the next day, and I'd wake up the next day feeling even more miserable. So I know this feeling well, and so that is why today, on this episode on no Wellness Wankery, I'm going to be sharing with you eight tips for how to deal with a bad body image day. So welcome. I am your host, lindy Cohen. I'm a dietitian, nutritionist and now someone who genuinely likes my body, and I'm joined by the wonderful Natalia Jala, fellow nutritionist, my colleague and someone who also knows what it's like to feel at war with your body.

Speaker 2:

Hi Lindy. Yes, look, completely can relate to your story. It's actually. It's quite sad now that I think about it. You know, I would have so many times where I would wake up and I'd see myself and I'd be like ugh, yuck, I hate how I look, like I'm not going anywhere, I'm not going to uni, the day's cancelled, it's cancelled, I don't care, like I have plans, they're cancelled because I hated how I looked. And you know, I think having just like practical strategies that we can do in that moment, you know, when we're actually feeling like crap, can be so, so helpful. So I'm so excited for this episode.

Speaker 1:

Can I also say that the irony of canceling your plans is I actually think it leads to more out of control eating because you feel more miserable, you've got nothing to do, and so what do you do? You just head back and forth to the pantry all day, whereas I think on those days where you're feeling uncomfortable in your body, I actually think that's the day to go out, to live a life, to seek out more enjoyment and fun, to fill up your cup in some other way, and I definitely feel like it can help take your mind off your body. But for some reason, our knee jerk reaction is to do the opposite, which is not the right thing to do. So if you're listening to this and you're like, oh, I woke up feeling bad, please don't cancel. Please keep going. In fact, lean in, lean into something fun and find ways to try and forget this. But we're going to be talking about eight different ways that you can learn to navigate bad body image days.

Speaker 1:

I do just want to mention that body confidence and feeling comfortable in yourself and liking your body is fully, fully possible. Not only did I do it myself, but I've seen it countless, countless, thousands and thousands of times from clients that I've helped, and I just know that it is something that you can do. I will say, though, that it is a practice and it's not a destination. It's a bit like when you're doing yoga and you're like you don't arrive, you're not gonna one day go. Oh, I never have a thought about not liking my body.

Speaker 1:

You live in a world that thinks the most impressive thing a woman can be is thin, and thus, as a result, you're going to wake up irrespective of what you weigh. Irrespective of what you weigh, you will wake up on days and think that you are too fat and that there's something wrong with you, and I just also want to mention this idea of using the word fat here. The reason I use the term feel fat is I don't want to add to any of the stigma that people in larger bodies already feel anyone who identifies with owning the word fat, but I do want to say that that is such a term that I grew up hearing that I think so many of our listeners perhaps you can recognize, and, as a result, I do just want to mention it and be really clear about the fact that it's true we're not really talking about. It's not the feeling because, regardless of your body fat percentage, you can feel this way and what it really is is discomforting your body and feeling like you're not enough. So let's get into it.

Speaker 2:

Okay. So tip number one is notice your thinking. So when you actually have those thoughts, recognize that. Okay, I'm having these negative thoughts and I need to separate it from actual reality.

Speaker 1:

So one of the things you can do is get out your phone, open the notes section and start to write down these thoughts and go okay, let me hear the exact thoughts I'm telling to myself. How am I talking to myself? Because I bet you, if you actually wrote it out, you go oh my goodness, this is a really awful way to be talking to myself, and if you think about it, I mean you, basically you become the sum of all your thoughts. So if you are spending the rest of your day then berating yourself, like I had done, telling yourself how bad you are, then you're going to feel worse and worse and worse. And to try and climb out of that feeling, we really need to change your thinking patterns.

Speaker 1:

As I said, body acceptance is a practice. It's not a journey, and what it requires is you making conscious decisions each day to choose to show your body kindness, and that's point number two. What I really want you to do is to forgive yourself. When you look in the mirror or when you hop on the scale and you see a number or a look of something that you go. I don't like that about myself. Can you forgive yourself for being imperfect? I think the antidote to hating yourself and anger is forgiveness, and for me, what that really looks like is it's just genuinely. I say to myself it's okay, you don't need to look perfect to be happy. You don't need to have the perfect body, and when you had a smaller body, you weren't happier.

Speaker 2:

Yes, I think that's such an important one and just remind yourself on that note as well. You know, how you look is not the most interesting thing about you. It's really not. It's not why people love you, you know. It's not what makes you fun. It's not what makes you caring kind a hard worker, like it's not what makes you fun. It's not what makes you caring kind a hard worker, like it's the least interesting thing. I know you care about it, but other people really, really don't yeah, like at your funeral, no one's like.

Speaker 2:

Oh my goodness, at least her arms were skinny oh, at least she, you know, had a nice, perfect jaw, like jaw. Look at her flat jaw line was perfect.

Speaker 1:

Tell me how what a relief, what a relief she didn't actually have that many organs. I don't know what she did with them, but she tucked them all in nice and proper, like a lady should. No, no one cares, and I think we often think that everyone else is caring. It's hard for me because I did grow up in a society and, I guess, a household, where I heard judgments about other people's bodies. I heard, oh my goodness, that person looks a bit, you know, and so it's weird because that becomes your internal dialogue.

Speaker 1:

And so if you grew up with a mom who was constantly criticizing her body, criticizing other people's body, that becomes the way you talk to yourself. So, instead of allowing the inherited voice to continue this is what noticing our thoughts and practicing that forgiveness looks like you go. Okay, I noticed this voice and you know what it sounds familiar. It sounds like my mom and I don't want to replicate what she's done and therefore I need to identify this thinking pattern and I need to choose that we're not going to allow these thoughts to continue, so choosing to go every day. You know what? I'm not going to keep my life small as a result of waking up and feeling this way.

Speaker 2:

I think that's so great and on that point as well, let's set the precedent. When you hear people have those negative talks and you hear people you know body shame others or say, oh my gosh, she's gained so much weight, she looks fat. Like, oh my God, look at her. Like, look what she's wearing, just be like stop, this is not okay. Like we shouldn't be talking about someone like this, because the more you're around that, the more you turn that into your own self dialogue and you're like oh, I'm fat, I shouldn't be wearing this, I look gross, let's stop that.

Speaker 2:

Okay, if you have your friends saying that, just call it out. And I know it can feel uncomfortable, but really it's going to pass, they're going to get over it. If you just keep repeating it and you're like okay, this is not okay. If your mom comments on someone's body, on your child's body, they see someone walking past the street and like, oh my God, look at her, just be like hey, there's no need to say that, let's just not say it. Change the topic, move on. It can be as simple as that.

Speaker 1:

And you might need to change the way you phrase it depending on who you are speaking to, and I encourage you to. In my book, your Weight Is Not the Problem. I actually give you a script about how do we tackle when someone is a food police, someone who's reprimanding what you're eating, or someone's a body bully, someone who's either judging you or someone else's body. What do we actually say to that person? Sometimes, a phrase I feel quite is quite helpful is to say something like I know you think you're helping when you make comments like that, but actually it makes me feel really bad about my own body. Do you mind if we don't talk about other people's bodies or my body or whatever it is? Fill in the blanks, but you're really kind of recruiting them particularly if there's someone who's shaming you and is often commenting about your body, might be a partner.

Speaker 1:

This is quite a common situation where you have someone who is antagonizing you and making it really hard for you to actually like yourself. They're saying oh, you've let yourself go. I'm feeling really ashamed with you. I can't believe you look like that. I used to receive a whole bunch of comments not dissimilar to that and the irony is that it actually made me. It's so much harder for me to be consistent because, as I said, it would throw me into that all or nothing thinking and then I'd end up, you know, just binge eating by nighttime again. So letting them know this is not helpful. In fact, this is actually making it so much harder is important, and I will say that in university, because I had such a raging eating disorder, my university friends all got me together and they were like oh hey, listen, so we've all agreed that we're not going to talk about food and bodies anymore.

Speaker 2:

Is that okay? And I was like okay, how did that make you feel, was that helpful?

Speaker 1:

Well, they did it in a way where they made it sound like everyone you know it was everyone's decision and that it wasn't about me.

Speaker 1:

But then it didn't take me long to think oh, this is about me, this is about me and the fact that I talk about food and, to be honest, maybe I felt a little bit judged for a moment and then I felt relief.

Speaker 1:

I felt such relief into having a place where I couldn't fall back on talking about food, where I knew that we weren't going to judge anyone else's body. It was actually really nice to have this safe place, something I'd never had, and I think it really contributed to my recovery. So if you think about the friends that you hang out with, if you do have people who you find are hypercritical, you might be able to have this conversation and if not, if it feels too hard for some people, you might be able to kind of pull and number four. A fourth tip is go into compassion mode and I think it really such a strong antidote to anger is compassion and empathy and it can really take the sting out of things. So you know those people who are making negative comments about your body or someone else's body. What's a useful way for us to think about it?

Speaker 2:

I think just thinking okay, I think this person has been through a lot. I think they're making these comments because they probably grew up dieting. They probably grew up with their mum commenting on their body, with their friends saying how they look. So now that's passed on and they're saying that to other people. So I think compassion is a really good one. It's really like bringing you kind of like in their shoes and realizing you know, they are saying this because of how they were raised, how they grew up. So I guess just being more understanding of that and saying you know what I'm going to choose to be kind to you because you've probably been through a lot.

Speaker 1:

Their comments on your body or someone else's is not a reflection on your body or someone else's body. It's a reflection of their own relationship with their body. It's a them problem. And what's the them problem? I know it hurts you, but having compassion for them definitely does take the sting out of it and the anger. And if it is a partner or a man in your life who's making these comments, you think, oh, I don't think they actually have experienced that. Think about the way that men are programmed from a very early age, that they think that woman's worth is very much related to how she looks, so that it's really the most impressive thing a woman can be is thin, and all the messages that that man in your life has received about what a woman should be. And that's what we're dealing with here. It's once again not a reflection of you, but it is, dare I say, the patriarchy and all the nonsense but really is. It is up for him to work on that relationship with how he sees women.

Speaker 2:

I think that's very important as well.

Speaker 1:

Another thing I do is tip number five is to keep a compliments diary. Now, this is a bit of a strange one, but I'm into it. Every time people give me a compliment and this is related to anything, so it could be about how I look, but mostly it's not, Mostly it's about nice things about me. And I keep it stored away on my computer, a little folder where I keep these compliments, because we have a negativity bias whereby we seem to remember all the negative things people have said about us and we forget all the lovely things. And I am determined not to forget the lovely things. So when I'm having a crappy day as is inevitable when you are a human being living in this world I go to my computer, I open that folder and I feel really amazing when I read that and I'm delighted. So I encourage you if you haven't got one, maybe try the compliment diary.

Speaker 2:

I remember when you told me about this and I was like seems a bit wacky, like I don't know about it, lindy, I didn't want to say anything to you, but I just thought I don't know how I feel about that. And then I thought you know what? I'm going to give it a try, especially like when it gets that time of the month, and I'm just like I'm the worst person ever. I hate myself, no one loves me.

Speaker 2:

And then what I started doing was I started like even collecting things like screenshots of messages that my friends would send me that I thought were really nice, or, if it was, it was like something from work, or just like a comment that my partner would make on like not necessarily my appearance, just like me, or like something I did. And then I looked back on it and I was like you know what? This is actually really nice, because we forget these things we really do like in the moment, like you forget, it's like a fleeting thing, and then to have that to look back on when you're really feeling like crap, it's just such a nice little mood booster.

Speaker 1:

So you did it and you loved it. I did it and I loved it. Oh, I love that, I love that. So if you're kind of on the fence going, this is wacky give it a whirl, give it a whirl.

Speaker 2:

Honestly, don't judge, don't judge us.

Speaker 1:

Tip number six is to buy clothes that fit. And my goodness, no-transcript full of clothes. Why is this happening? I argue that finding clothes that for you, feel comfortable in has got nothing to do with fashion, maybe a little bit to do with fashion, but mostly it's got to do with body acceptance, body confidence, and we're giving you some tips to make that happen. So please, even if you've got a bra, especially a bra or undies that you feel push into your squidgy bit oh, undies.

Speaker 2:

Like why? Why don't we just like go for the bigger size? It's like oh no, I'm a size 18. Close, it must be a size 18 undies no.

Speaker 1:

No, never I have to size up two or three sizes. Oh yep, what's up with that? That is ridiculous. Honestly, it's crazy. Otherwise I've got a little fabric up my tush. I don't love that. But I do love buying clothes that fit, and if your body has recently gone through a change, it is perfectly okay to get some boxes. Pop all the clothes that don't currently fit you so you don't have to stare at them when you open your wardrobe. Pop them up top of your wardrobe or anywhere in garage, wherever you can kind of store them, and go and get yourself just a few key pieces. I mean, personally I go up shopping so it's a really affordable way to do it. But you know Target, all that kind of stuff. That's a really kind of easy entry point where you go. I deserve to have clothes that fit me. I'm worthy of wearing clothes that I feel comfortable in.

Speaker 2:

And number seven is consider a mantra. So what can you say to yourself every morning when you wake up and you feel like crap, lindy, do you have a mantra that you repeat to yourself?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean, I think the thing I say to myself is it's not my life's purpose to look perfect from every angle. I say, when I see a photo of myself with my kids you know my husband's taking like a very unflattering photo of me with my kids I go, it doesn't matter, it doesn't matter, I'm here with my kids. What my kids will remember is that I was, I was here with them. They're not going to look back at these photos and go oh, my goodness, her arms are big. They're going to go oh, she was playing with me and she loved me. And I do. I sure do, and I think that's just the thing. I come back with these reminders.

Speaker 1:

I'm constantly reminding myself of my self-worth because we need to counteract it. There are so many phrases I say to myself If I put on some clothes that don't fit me, I go oh, that's okay, I'm allowed to change size, my body's allowed to be different versions. I am so dedicated to loving different versions of myself. Once I had my kids my Charlie's one now but immediately postpartum I was multiple sizes bigger than I am now and I was like you know what? I'm bigger, I'm just going to have the clothes that fit me. I'm going to forgive myself actively. I'm going to say it doesn't matter that I'm big, I'm still going to turn up in photos and I'm still lovable in this bigger size. I think that's something I would say to myself quite often.

Speaker 2:

I really like that. And also, you know, it's not my life's purpose to look perfect from every angle, I think. Just remind yourself of those little things. It's true.

Speaker 1:

And last, one, number eight is to focus on your health and not on size. Oh, my goodness, what if, instead of using the scale as barometer for how you're going with your progress, you used how consistent you are, how enjoyable you find your exercise, how many serves of veggies you're getting in a day? There are so many ways we can track our wellbeing, our health, number of hours slept, how many times I scream at my husband. There are so many things you can use that have nothing to do with kilograms or pounds, and I would so encourage you to do this. What you might find is it's far easier to be consistent and to enjoy that consistency when you're not putting your size at the forefront of it, and I say this is a lot easier said than done, but once again, this is where those reminders come in.

Speaker 1:

I hope you found today's episode really helpful. I know it's a big one, and I feel like this 20 minute episode is just not going to cut it when it comes to helping you feel better. If you need a little bit of extra support, I do have a cool little body confidence playlist, which I will leave a link to so you can listen to. It is actually something I put on when I'm having a bad body image day or I'm putting on my makeup. I just like to listen to it. And I also have my body confidence toolkit, which has a whole bunch of tips. If you're going, oh listen, this is a nice place to start, but I want more, then check the description in this podcast, because I'll leave a link. You can sign up and you can get that toolkit. It's totally free.

Speaker 2:

Thank you so much for listening everyone and please, if you have found this helpful, you know, if you wake up and you feel like crap and you think, okay, I'm going to try these strategies, I'm going to see how it goes, leave a comment and please let us know what you think. Have a lovely day, everyone. Thank you so much for listening. Bye.

Navigating Bad Body Image Days
Changing Your Mindset and Body Acceptance
Body Confidence and Acceptance Tips
Free Toolkit Offered in Podcast Description