Do we talk ourselves into binging?

Many of you have probably seen me hashtag this. It’s somewhat of a mantra that I remind myself of often: It’s just food.
healthy food
It’s a simple sentence but it carries a lot of meaning. Many of you might read that and think, that sounds nice and all but try telling me that when I’m sitting in front of chocolate cake/chips/Reese’s! I have NO control. I’m assuming this because I hear these words come out of people’s mouths all the time…..and I used to think this way too. 🙂 I know a lot of times we say it jokingly, but if you’re anything like me then you’re only halfway joking, am I right? There are certain foods that if I get a taste of, forget about it, I’m going to eat until it’s gone or I’m sick to my stomach (most likely both). I don’t actually want to eat that much. I don’t like the way I feel afterwards. So why would I do it if I had choice? It kinda feels like I can’t control it.
But I’ve come to realize the seriousness of such words. Say something enough times and your mind will start to believe it and pretty soon your actions will follow suit. We are basically handicapping ourselves right off the bat with this one simple thought. These foods are just so good that I can’t control myself when I’m anywhere near them. Next our minds start romanticizing these foods and putting them up on a pedestal as forbidden fruit, a “cheat meal”, something you only get to have when you’ve been really good, and the intensity of the desire increases, making the truth even more clouded!
The more I believed that I couldn’t control myself, the less I tried. Since we get really good at what we do most consistently, and I consistently binged on certain foods, it became the truth to me: I cannot control myself around homemade chocolate chip cookies!
So I started to ask myself, is that really the truth? Could I honestly physically not control it? Of course not. The real truth is that you can control yourself around any food. Food has no magical mind-controlling powers. It cannot pick itself up and force itself into your mouth. If Joel was being held at gunpoint and he was going to be killed if I took a bite, I could sit in front of my absolute favorite food and not touch it for weeks! The real truth is that even my favorite foods are a fleeting pleasure at best, but I have turned to them for things they cannot provide and have allowed them to become an idol. The real truth is that the Lord promises that He always provides a way out of temptation, which means that I do have the choice to say no.
Or the short version: it’s just food. 😀
It’s the real truth and what we need to start telling ourselves. Saying it out loud and more often until we know it and believe it.
Our words have meaning. It’s not a switch that is simply flipped on and off, but it’s an important piece of the equation. It has definitely made a huge difference in the way I think about food and in the way I eat.
What are you telling yourself most often? Is it the truth? Or are there some changes you could make to your inner dialogue to encourage your heart and your mind more?

Start fixing your dysfunctional relationship with food

If we are honest with ourselves, most, if not all, of us have a pretty dysfunctional relationship with food. We love it. We hate it. We break up with it, vowing never to see it again, and then we see it at a party and it looks so good.…all of the sudden you’re back together again. You tell yourself that this time will be different. But each time it ends, your self-esteem gets a little more fragile and you’re left wondering where you keep going wrong.

I know this sounds a little silly, but isn’t it also a little scary how true it is?!? WHY DO WE DO THIS?!

If you pay attention to the fitness world at all, you’d think nutrition came down to just what you eat, right? Diets, nutrition articles, and blogs are all about what food this celeb eats, what food that celeb swore off, which 5 foods to avoid for a flat tummy, the evils of sugar and french fries and soda, top 10 super foods….there’s even a whole series of books called Eat This, Not That. 

The biggest problems with this are 1) trying to make something universal that is actually really individual, 2) chances are if you read more than one diet book or nutrition article, you’ll start hearing contradictory things about which foods are good and bad (which just gets really confusing and frustrating), and 3) because of some people’s strong convictions, it’s created a kind of morality based on what foods you do or don’t eat.

So without really realizing it, we start mentally assigning foods to the good or bad category. But the minute you put a food into the bad category it becomes forbidden fruit. The worse it is for you, the more you want it. The longer you deprive yourself of it, the stronger the cravings become and the more out of control you feel. Until you eventually give in. You binge. You feel terribly guilty. You make the next attempt even more strict in order to make up for it, and the cycle starts over. And now here we are, in this highly dysfunctional relationship that we just can’t seem to break free from.

So here’s the tough love part: it’s not food, it’s you. 😉

Let me explain by giving you 2 examples:

Guy #1: In a documentary called Supersize Me, gains 25 pounds and his health severely deteriorates while eating only McDonalds for 30 days.
Guy #2: Science teacher decides to do an experiment of his own and loses 56 pounds and improves all his blood markers eating only McDonalds….FOR 6 MONTHS.

WHAT THE WHAT?!?

It was the same “bad” food, so what made the difference? Well, Guy #1 decreased his exercise, had to say yes if they asked if he wanted his meal super-sized, and had to eat the entire meal. Guy #2 increased his exercise and had his students plan out his meals so that they always totaled 2,000 calories/day and hit a number of nutrient requirements as well.

The moral of the story: Food doesn’t make you gain weight. Behaviors do.

We’re going to get to the behavior later, but I’m starting here because this really has to do with our mindset towards food. What you think determines what you do. 

Repairing our broken relationship with food will help with the behaviors to come. And it’s also SO friggin’ freeing!!! 🙂

I was at a nutrition seminar back in May and the speaker said something that really stuck with me. He said that he believes that the guilt we associate with food is far more detrimental than the food itself. He then asked how many of us had ever gone out to eat with a loved one and had a great time and enjoyed a decadent meal, but left feeling guilty because of what we ate. We all raised our hands.

It was eye-opening and saddening to realize how much shame and guilt I carried around because of food. How much we all do. Eating was given to us to be a pleasure with a purpose – to nourish our bodies. I see no other reason for taste buds. Somewhere along the way, though, it’s become more of a lose-lose situation for us.

Go to a party and eat something that’s not “on the plan” and you feel guilty.

Go to a family event and don’t indulge and you feel left out.

Give up, stuff your face with everything you want and then you feel miserable both physically and emotionally.

This false morality of “I’m good if I eat these foods and bad if I eat those foods” has done us no favors. In order for this relationship to work, we need to make peace with ALL food. And it starts with understanding and believing this truth:

Food is not the enemy. It is not good versus bad. You are not virtuous or sinful based on what you ate today. It has no actual power over you. It’s just food. Sure, there are foods that make your body feel better than others (and that is highly individual mind you). But it’s still… just food.91E0HB20F8apples

Isn’t that a freeing thought?!?

Or are you more like me and thinking, “I can’t think this way or I’ll for sure just let myself go and live on Lucky Charms and pizza!” ? 🙂

This is where I’m going to ask you to trust the process. Start small by dropping the guilt and allowing yourself to just enjoy food again. In other words: Have the pizza. Enjoy the pizza. Move on with life. Have the salad. Enjoy the salad. Move on with life. Ate a little too much? OK. Noted. Moving on.

I think you’ll be surprised by how these things actually level out as you take away the good and bad categories. Over time, the urge to binge will fade because you’re no longer coming from a place of deprivation, but from a place of I can have this whenever I want.

More importantly, instead of making decisions based on what you think you should be eating, you can actually start choosing based on what your body is telling you. You do have a choice! Food is not in control. You are. There’s no better expert on you than your own body. Trust it!

“Experts agree that we were born with the ability to eat based on our body’s cues. But often, we train ourselves to ignore what our body is telling us because it doesn’t fall in line with what we feel like we “should” eat—or what others are telling us we should be eating.”
~Robin Hilmantel

(Excerpt from The Hunger Solution e-course)

How do I change my mindset?

“Have the humility to admit to yourself that, of all the things you need to know and don’t, one of the things that you don’t know well enough is yourself.” ~Eric Greitens

Last week, we established why mindset is so important for transformation and that you can in fact change it. Now let’s talk about how one might go about changing their mindset.

First, you must understand that your mind is constantly taking in internal and external input and adapting to what it learns. This is why our environment, culture, and inner dialogue are extremely powerful in shaping our mindsets.

This is why we start craving something we just saw in a commercial and also why we find ourselves becoming like our parents even when we swore we never would. 😉

Let’s take a look at the body image issue in America.

Everywhere you look, you’ll see a very specific body type being presented as what health and beauty look like. These bodies are dressed, lit, and then edited to unrealistic levels of perfection and then held up as the “standard”. This is what you need to look like to be confident and “bikini ready”.

Then, we grow up hearing women routinely complain about, pick apart, and tear down their own bodies. Instead of accepting compliments, there’s a smart remark. Instead of gratitude, there’s comparison. Instead of confidence in who they are as people, a million reasons why they’re not good enough.

Day in and day out, this is what we see and hear. So there you stand in front of the mirror and what have you been taught to do? Focus on the outside. Search for all imperfections. Compare with unrealistic images. Remind yourself why you’re not good enough.

And then we wonder why contentment feels like an impossibility, why we don’t know how to feel comfortable or confident in our own skin (no matter what our size), and why we can’t seem to dig up even a smidgen of love for our bodies.

body image

It’s weird the way these things just kind of seep into the cracks and settle in our minds. Without even realizing it, your mindset is formed and shaped. No one is immune to it.

Once you understand this though, then you can actually do something about it.

Like it or not, this is the age and culture that you live in. It’s probably not going to change any time soon. This doesn’t mean you’re doomed, but it does mean that there’s really no room for passivity.  When you just accept everything that’s coming in, that’s when you get into trouble. You have to pay attention and engage. You have to get to know yourself and become more discerning about what you let into your mind and more intentional with your thoughts, your words, and the way you live.

Internal input

“Don’t wallow in the godless messages. I mean the messages in your own head.” ~ John Piper

What we think and say about ourselves is some of the most defining input our minds take in. Unfortunately, our flesh loves to point out all our shortcomings and imperfections and most of us have let our emotions take over our inner dialogue. We must do something to combat all the messages coming in. Instead of just listening, you gotta start preaching truth to yourself on a daily basis.

Here’s an example from my own life: I’ve struggled with body image for as long as I can remember. I was especially self-conscious about my butt and thighs. So I used to joke about them a lot. First, it was noticing the jokes. (Seriously, sometimes we get so used to saying certain things, we don’t even realize how often we do it.) Then I had to correct myself…..Out Loud. I’m sorry. My legs are not fat. I don’t know why I say stuff like that.

Over time, I started catching it before I said it. Then I started thinking it a little less. Now I  struggle with it a whole lot less. In fact, I feel the most confident and comfortable I’ve ever felt in my own skin. Not because the imperfections aren’t still there or the thoughts never come up, but because I stopped listening and I started choosing to tell myself something different…THE TRUTH.

My legs are fully functioning and strong and allow me to do just about everything I love to do. Picking on the imperfections is not glorifying to God and not worth any more of my time. Plus, what if they never change? Do I really want to let that cast a shadow on my entire life? On my deathbed, will I be happy that I spent so much time and emotion on the size and shape of my legs?? I’m thinking….No.

I’m not sure if it ever goes away, but it does get easier the more you practice. When your mind starts to go to that dark place, when you hear the negative and harmful messages start up, shut it down. Fix your eyes back on Jesus and remind yourself of your values, your priorities, and what you know to be true.  Changing your mindset starts here.

“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” ~1 Peter 1:13

fitness photo

External input

 

We are the most sold to society in history. Everywhere you turn there are ads telling us what we need or magazines reminding us of what we don’t have. We have constant input coming at us and that input is usually not telling us the truth.

You can’t avoid everything of course, but there is some external input that you can control. You can be discerning and intentional about who you follow online, how much time you spend online, what you read and watch, and who you hang around with. How often do you really unplug and just let your mind wander and relax?? Knowing how the mind works, can you see how important this is if you’re looking to form your own opinions and thoughts and mindset?

Another personal example: I had to quit buying health magazines and following fitness competitors. For me, all they did was distort my ideas of what health looks like, both in my body and my diet, and encourage my perfectionism. I cut out a lot and got much more particular about the images of health that I was letting into my life. This allowed me to focus on my health as a whole. When I wasn’t seeing images every day of what some advertising agency wanted me to believe health looked like, it became easier to see through the lies and not let those images get into my head.

I’m not saying you have to do this exact thing. Everybody has different triggers.

It’s just so easy these days to be distracted and never tune in and figure out what works for you. I think it’s safe to say that most of us could stand get to know ourselves a little better and take a more active role in our own lives. You do have a choice as to how input makes you think and feel, but without some help and space, your mind can only withstand so much.

The point is not just to think nicer, more positive thoughts. The point is to filter input in a way that leads to better thinking and to think in a way that leads to better living. 

Changing your mindset changes how you think, how you engage, and how you show up in your life. Change your mindset and you will change your life.

Is mindset really that important?

“But how do I get my mind to stop thinking this way?! How do I change my mindset??”

I was talking with a client who’s been struggling with her weight for years. She wants to get away from being so all-or-nothing, but it feels impossible. I mentioned that we needed to keep working on her mindset and this is what she blurted out.

The way she asked it really struck me because I totally know that feeling. That feeling of frustration and desperation, of “I really do want to, but HOW?!?!” 

For years, I could see the terrible cycle I was in and yet I could not get out of it…

I would look back at old pictures of myself and think, “Wow, why did I hate my body back then? I looked pretty good!” I knew I didn’t want to go my entire life never appreciating my body in it’s current form, but I honestly could not figure out how to stop seeing all the imperfections and things I hated about it. I understand the frustration.

beth burns fitness

But is mindset really that important?? Is mindset what really makes the difference in a transformation?

Usually people with health and fitness goals struggle in one of two ways:

  1. They struggle to make changes, even when we want to make them.
  2. They struggle to maintain the changes they’ve made. (I believe the statistics are somewhere around 5% for people who lose weight actually keep it off for more than a year.)

In the first category, we have people who are completely physically capable of making the physical changes but they just can’t seem to stick to them. In the second category,  as evidenced by 95% of the people who make the physical changes and achieve the physical goal, IT’S NOT ABOUT THE PHYSICAL. It’s almost always about the mindset.

Traditional eastern medicine and religions have known for centuries the vital role the mind plays in the physical. You see it woven into their everyday life with things like meditation and in every physical activity from martial arts to yoga. Unfortunately, over here, we’ve got it backwards. We’ve made our health purely about a certain look and size. So we put all of our focus and energy into the physical (working out, what we eat) thinking that if we can fix that then the mental side will automatically fix itself. We think once we look a certain way then we’ll be happier and it’ll make our relationships and our lives better.

If this were true, then there wouldn’t be so many fit & healthy people who still have low self-esteem and hate their bodies OR people who’ve lost sometimes hundreds of pounds but still can only see their imperfections. If the mental weren’t that important, if all we had to do was practice a habit for 3 weeks in order for it to stick, then we’d all be happy and healthy!!

mindset

Here’s the real truth….

“Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” ~Romans 12:2

“Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.”  ~Luke 6:45

What we think and believe determines what we do. True transformation happens from the inside out. This is why your mindset is so important.

Thankfully, our mindsets are not fixed. I promise. While you may feel like you lean heavily one way, that’s just because you’ve been thinking that way for a long time. But the mind is constantly taking in it’s environment and developing and adapting from what it learns. Change how it does that and you can absolutely change your mindset.

You just have to be willing to put some focused time and effort into it. You have to cultivate it in your heart and in your life.

For how to do this, check out part 2—> How do I change my mindset?

My only “resolution” this year

To be honest, I haven’t been feeling super jazzed about the new year. January 1st didn’t feel like a fresh new start, but just another day really. Maybe it’s because we don’t have a lot on the calendar yet for this year, so there’s not a whole lot to look forward to and a lot of unknowns for the Burns’.

At first, this was kinda depressing. But as I thought about it, I realized what a gift God has given us. How is not having anything to look forward to a gift, you ask.

It’s the gift of making it just a little easier to surrender all our tomorrows and live in today.

I feel like this new year God is asking me, do you trust me enough to let go? Do you trust me enough to just live in today and let me worry about tomorrow??

springs kettlebells

 

The funny thing is that there’s really no way to know anyways, right? There have been years that started out looking so promising and then things went sideways and ended up being really hard. Then there have been years that looked more mundane that ended up being really great and exciting. But I still like to think I can figure it out apparently. 😛

Of course, I do have some hopes and goals for this year. But this year, I’m just very aware that I have no idea how or if they are going to come about.

God has simply taken away my timelines and illusions of control.

And what a blessing it is!! The trouble with goals is that it tends to make us a little too focused on the future and a little less present and content in today. As someone who can easily slip into hyper-focusing on what’s to come and trying to figure it all out, I have a tendency to fall into the wrong thinking that things will be better when this or that happens. The end result is that I feel anxious and stressed out and the day at hand is completely emptied of contentment, peace, and focus.

We never know how many days we have on this earth. I don’t want to spend them always looking ahead and never enjoying where I’m at right now and I know that’s not what God wants for me either!

So it’s not so much a resolution as it is a focus for this year and that’s to not focus on this year ;), but just on today. Not just focus but to truly live IN today, content in Him and all that He is for me in this day. Daily surrendering and holding all my hopes and goals with an open hand and asking that not my will but His be done.

I came across this quote just last night and couldn’t believe how perfect it was for everything going on in my head right now: 🙂

“The life of faith is lived one day at a time, and it has to be LIVED – not always looked forward to as though the “real” living were around the next corner. It is today for which we are responsible. God still owns tomorrow.” ~Elisabeth Elliot

Christian or not, this applies to the health and fitness journey too.

I’m not saying don’t have goals. If you’re feeling refreshed and motivated right now, then by all means, use that energy! But if you focus too much on the goal, you’ll feel impatient and easily defeated at every little hiccup (and trust me, there will be hiccups). It’s in surrendering the outcome (or at least, the timeline) and focusing on today, that you’ll learn how to love it and make it a lifestyle.

contentment

 

Why we eat when we’re not hungry (and what to do about it)

Ever find yourself searching through the pantry for something to munch on when you’re not even hungry?

How about at a party, throwing back food while thinking, “Why am I still eating?!”

Anyone struggle with eating at night? Even after a nice satisfying dinner??

I’m always surprised by how often I catch myself wanting to eat when hunger is nowhere to be found. From my own experience and talking with friends and clients, I don’t think this is an uncommon problem, but it is a problem.

So I’ve come up with this SWEET method, which is a 5 step process to taking control back and learning how to combat emotional eating. I call it the SWEET method 🙂 and here it is….

Stop – set the utensil or food down, walk away from the pantry, whatever it is that you’re doing, stop.
Wait – give yourself a wait time 15 minutes before you eat anything else.
Exhale – just breathe…. and remember that it’s just food and it’s not going anywhere
Examine – why are you eating?
Treat – treat yo self….by treating the real issue

When we are in the moment, whether we are already eating or we’re just feeling the craving, it can be really hard to just stop. So the first 2 steps are really just about taking a moment to slow down and giving yourself some time away so that you can think clearly. What I want to focus on is the last 3 steps.

healthy food
EXHALE.

Let’s just be honest, it’s really not about the food, right? It’s not. How do I know this? Because 99% of the time, the struggle is with food that is often sub-par and always readily available at the drop of a hat. Yet it’s been placed up on a pedestal so high that we’ve begun to believe the lie that food is so powerful that it has some sort of control over us!

It’s just food.

This is the time to take a deep breath and remind yourself of this truth. Take it to God, lay it down and ask him for help.

EXAMINE.

This is the big question right? WHY AM I EATING? If you want to improve your relationship with food, I think this is an important question that needs to be answered. Then, even if you decide you are going to indulge because it’s a special day and you’d like to enjoy a little cake with everybody else, at least you are making a conscious decision. All too often, I think we’d prefer not to think about it at all. So instead we get stuck in this cycle of mindless eating, then beating ourselves up for it.

Take the time to dig a little deeper and start gaining awareness of why you’re doing what you’re doing. If it’s not about the food, then what’s it about??

Here are some possibilities…

  • Relaxation: maybe eating is relaxing or it allows you to take your mind off of all the stresses of the day and therefore, relax
  • Comfort: for a short time, food can definitely feel therapeutic and comforting
  • Procrastination: anyone else ever find themselves procrastinating by eating? No? Just me then, I guess. 😀
  • Boredom: eating is an easy and enjoyable distraction
  • Cravings
  • Reward: food is often a means of celebration or reward
TREAT the real issue.

When we know the real issue, then we can treat it. Each time we treat the real issue, we feel a whole lot better both mentally and physically and food loses a little bit of power over us.

“The secret to change is to focus your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” ~ Socrates

Instead of just trying to fight the urge to eat, replace it with something else. Take some time to build a list of solutions that you enjoy. For example:

  • Relaxation: bath, nap/bed, walk, journal, read
  • Comfort: talk to a friend, pray, meditate
  • Procrastination: Just get it done! You know you’ll eventually have to do it, so you may as well just do it now. You know you’ll feel better once you do!
  • Boredom: (some of you are like, I wish!! 😉 ) read, puzzle, walk, dog training, insert your hobbies
  • Cravings: two of the most common triggers for cravings are stress (too much exercise or deprivation, not getting enough sleep, or not managing stress well) or habit (craving something sweet just because your body is used to it)
    • For stress, identify what the cause is then go from there
    • For habit, both mint or cocoa are really helpful for easing cravings
      • Mint: gum, tea, or brush your teeth
      • Cocoa: a few squares of dark chocolate, these protein balls, or hot cocoa (1-2 heaping tablespoons of cocoa powder to hot water or milk, sweeten with stevia or xylitol to taste)
  • Reward – this is a big one…it’s all about the mindset
    • Prayer: as a believer, I believe this is the #1 way to combat emotional eating. At the heart of emotional eating is turning to food for things that only God can truly help you with friend. Don’t ever overlook this. He is here. He wants to help you.
    • Change your perspective: A lot of us feel like we deserve a reward for choosing to exercise or eat healthy because it’s hard, but I’d argue that it’s even harder to be unhealthy. A shift in perspective would be that health is a reward and leads to many other rewards as well.
    • Instead of pinning or putting up pictures of hot bodies, find deeper, more meaningful inspiration for being fit and healthy
    • Practicing gratitude:
      What does gratitude have to do with finding peace with cookies? A lot!When we think about what we are grateful for, and survey all the luxuries we have, it helps combat the feeling that we are being deprived, or living a life that is lacking in some way because we choose to pass on some treats.
      The more we focus on what we don’t have, the more we feel lacking, wanting, craving.

      As it pertains to this habit, there is certainly room to view it from opposing perspectives. We encourage thinking about it as choosing your favorite treats, savoring them and enjoying the experience. (Not limiting, withholding, or focusing on what you are not eating).
      Focus on the abundance you have and not what you lack.” ~Georgie Fear

So there it is: Stop, Wait, Exhale, Examine, Treat the issue….pretty sweet, right? 😀

The fact is that sweets are not going anywhere. We can not just avoid food or cut it out of our lives entirely. Therefore, we must learn how to live with it. Hopefully, we can do ourselves one better and learn how to keep it in it’s proper place & enjoy it in the way God intended.

Body Image: Men, Women, and Mutual Responsibility

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” ~Ephesians 2:3-4

I recently saw a post on Instagram where the user was upset about the phrase “Modest is Hottest” because they felt that the phrase teaches girls that they are responsible for other people’s thoughts. While I don’t really have strong feelings either way concerning the specific phrase, it did get me thinking….

First of all, this same user really likes to go after the media for their unrealistic standards of beauty and body image. I have no problem with this, but couldn’t the media just respond to the user by making the exact same point?? Like, “Hey, when it comes to our pictures we are not responsible for your thoughts or how you take them.”
Second, children will learn from us whether we want them to or not, but do any of us just throw our hands up and say, “Hey, I can’t be held responsible for what they think”?? No.
Third, why are we so against the idea of helping each other out when it comes to this topic of modesty??

The fact is that we have some pretty serious issues when it comes to how we perceive health and beauty and body image in our culture and I think we all – men & women alike – share in the blame for this. Just like all the images we’re bombarded with by the media, we’re exposed to our own and other peoples thoughts and words even more so and they do affect u.

body image

 

I think we have every right to ask for better from the media and from each other. Because, while ultimately we may not be responsible for anyone else’s thoughts, we are all kind of stuck in this together.

Call it common curtesy or compassion or kindness or whatever you want, but why wouldn’t we want to try to help each other out if we can?

We may not be able to change the media, but I do think there are a few ways we can start making a change now to help each other out:

1) Talk kindly to and about yourself

“As a child, I never heard one woman say to me: ‘I love my body.’ Not my mother, my elder sister, my best friend. Not one woman has ever said: ‘I am so proud of my body.’….. I never heard positive reinforcement about body image from any female in my life. I only heard negatives. That’s very damaging because then you’re programmed as a young woman to immediately scrutinize yourself and how you look.”
~ Kate Winslet

real beauty

I still remember the first time my littlest sister said something really negative about herself. She was only 8 years old maybe and I thought, where did she even get that?!? Well, she grew up hearing her sisters talk negatively about their bodies and her mom and probably every other woman as well.

When I read this quote by Kate Winslet, I realized I’ve never heard a woman say it either. In fact, it makes me a little uncomfortable thinking about saying it about myself. WHY?? Because like it or not, we get taught how to think about certain things.  No matter how detrimental and wrong that is, it’s hard to undo years of a certain way of thinking. It’s going to take us getting serious about how we talk to and about ourselves. It’s gotta start with us.

2) Compliment each other on things other than outer appearance

I love this practice because it forces us to look past the outer layer and go deeper. It also helps the other person by pointing out a great thing about them that has nothing to do with their appearance. I’m not suggesting that we can’t mention when a person looks nice, of course, but getting a compliment on how patient or encouraging or funny you are tends to mean more, doesn’t it? 🙂

body image

**Side note on compliments: I’m not trying to get overly critical; this is just a word of caution. I was trying on dresses with some friends a few months ago, and one of the girls made a comment about how nice it would be if we all had a body like another one of the girls in the group. I know it was meant as a compliment to that specific girl, but it’s kind of a deflating thing for everybody else. It clearly shows that one girl is already comparing herself and can easily lead to everyone doing so. Since becoming more aware of it, I’ve noticed a lot of common compliments are comparative or play into our narrow definition of beauty or put someone down in order to lift another up. It’s just something to think about.

3) Can we all just stop the ogling please?!

I know we are visual creatures. But come on ladies, if you don’t want men to treat you like a piece of meat, then don’t turn around and do it to them. What are we, in second grade?? Ha ha! But seriously….. 😛

Obviously, you can’t help it if you find the guy on the screen attractive. But you know what you can help? Drooling and ogling and commenting on his body in front of your man. Even if your guy acts like it doesn’t bother him, just remember how those comments have affected you. Plus, what benefit is there for anyone involved?

male body image

This goes both ways of course, but in the last 10 years, the media has really begun to target men and define what the “perfect” man looks like…..hairless, six-pack abs, ripped, V-shape, defined jaw. It’s no different than what they’ve been doing to women for years and yet, instead of fighting it, we’re jumping on the bandwagon, saying, “Hey they do it to us!”

I’m not trying to make mountains out of molehills. But, if we want things to change, I just don’t see how giving our men and boys their own body image issues is going to help anything. We have to rise above it and be the change instead.

Practicing these things is mutually beneficial for everyone. If we focused a little less on the outside, I think it could only lead to more satisfied, healthier, and confident people. A satisfaction in things that are not so fleeting and superficial. Health that goes beyond some unrealistic ideal look. A confidence that is not built on what is wasting away, but on our worth as men and women who have been made in the image of God. Whether we are doing it for ourselves, our children, or for others, everybody wins. Someone who radiates love and joy, that is the kind of beauty that draws in, builds up, and sustains us.

So what do you say? Let’s step up and take responsibility. Let’s demand better from ourselves and each other as we work to build each other up. Let’s be the change.

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” ~ Ephesians 4:29