black girl mental health body dysmorphia

5 Ways I Improved My Relationship With My Body

Mental health is a big deal. It’s not something I talk about much up here, but mental health and body image issues are things I’ve dealt a lot with in the past. Of course bad days happen, but things are a lot better than they were before.

black girl mental health body dysmorphia

If you haven’t already seen, I’ve talked about my body image issues after I struggled a lot with body dysmorphia. But that wasn’t the start of my unhealthy relationship with my body. That was actually the middle of it. At that point I was starting to realize that the way I’ve been viewing myself for years had not come from a place of love for me and my body.

Once I started to understand that, I refused to let myself get back to that space. And like I said before, I still have my bad days, but for the most part the way I see myself and my body comes from a place of love and not insecurities. I no longer do things because I don’t like the way that I look but because I love me and because I want to take care of my body.

It  wasn’t easy getting to this point, but there were things that I did along the way that helped me so much to create a healthier relationship with my body.

5 Ways I Improved My RElationship With my body

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I Stopped Focusing On The Scale

I used to think negative self image caused by the scale only happened to the people who were trying to lose weight. In my mind, since I was skinny and I wanted to gain weight, I HAD to keep track using the scale to make sure that I was gaining weight like I wanted. So I purchased a scale and put it in my room just to track progress. 

But soon enough, that progress tracking became obsessive. I was waking up and stepping on the scale every day. And if my weight was lower than it was the day before I would get slightly upset. I told myself it wasn’t a big deal because weight fluctuates. But no matter what truths I told myself it didn’t sink in. And so I would eat even more to make up for the weight that I lost. It didn’t seem like a big deal until I noticed it was affecting my habits.

I was stepping on the scale one to two times a day just to “track my progress.”

Once I realized how much of a problem it was for my body image I moved the scale out of my room to a part of the house that I didn’t go to much. I made a goal to check my weight less and less and find other ways to track my progress. So I tracked my progress by solely making sure I was eating 6 times a day (meal and snacks). I compared my old photos to my new photos a couple of times a month and payed attention to how my clothes were fitting. 

Doing these things helped me a lot. Now when I step on the scale it’s just out of curiosity rather than tracking progress and I don’t do it nearly as much as I did before.

I Unfollowed Fitness Influencers

As a micro fitness influencer myself I find this ironic. But following fitness influencers can be a double edged sword. In certain ways it can be great. These people are inspirational. They talk about their workouts, show off their amazing bodies, and talk about the food that they eat. And sometimes they even let you see their day to day life.

But on the other side of things it can lead to obsessive disorders. Tracking everything and constantly comparing numbers, never being satisfied with how you look, and making other influencers your competition.

Well in my case, what started to happen to me was the more I followed them, the more I started to analyze my own life and how I run my social media. I was comparing my body to theirs and my posts to their posts. Regardless of whether I felt like they were doing better than me or I was doing better than them, it became a habit to compare.

And that comparison led me to doing things I had no interest in doing just because I thought it would get more likes. It led me to constantly wanting to change myself and my workout plans so my body could look more like theirs. Even though I had come a long way from where I started and I looked great I didn’t feel like it. I thought my arms were too big. My legs were too small. I had too much body fat to be considered a fitness influencer.

Really stressing myself out over nothing. Until one day I just cracked.

I started unfollowing hundreds of people. I got rid of all of the people that made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. Even though they never actually did anything bad or wrong to me, just seeing them made me view myself differently. And I didn’t like it. I didn’t work this hard to get my body to the way it was just to still think I’m not good enough. 

After that incident I felt so much better.

The only fitness influencers that I follow now have a similar body type to mine.  Controlling the type of people I see on my social media helps me have more realistic expectations for my body. It also keeps me from feeling the need to compare and puts me in a much happier space. 

I Started Doing Yoga Again

Before I focused on weightlifting, yoga was my introduction to anything fitness related. I started doing yoga because it was something easy to do at home and all I needed was my mat and my body. It taught me to move better, made me stronger, and helped me love my body at whatever stage it was at in that moment.

The year that I only did yoga was probably my best body image year. Up until now that is. Even if I was skinny I was confident and I flaunted it. 

Once I started my weight gain journey however, and put yoga to the side, that’s when my mental health and my body image started to slowly go downhill.

At that point, bringing yoga back into my life was a necessity. It reminded me to just enjoy being here in the moment. To enjoy moving and being grateful for the things that my body can do. So now, instead of working out 5 days a week I’ve made sure to include at least one day in my workout routine to focus on yoga and relaxation.

I listen to my body and don’t push it further than it wants to go. I take my time through the poses and I breathe and feel everything. And most  importantly I make it my moment of peace.

I Feed My Body What It Needs

Gaining weight takes a lot of calories. And when I was gaining weight I didn’t always care about where those calories were coming from. My healthy to unhealthy food ratio was about 50/50. I told myself it was balance but my body told me otherwise. Throughout the day I was always tired and had no energy. I still pushed myself through my workouts but it was tough. 

I would take naps at my job even though I went to sleep early. Some mornings I would wake up feeling sluggish. It didn’t help when I was comparing myself to influencers that looked like that always had energy. I knew if I wanted to feel better about myself I had to treat my body better.

So I started to change my diet. Even though I knew I had to hit a certain calorie intake, I stopped my habit of eating junk at the end of the day just so I could meet my goals. I started planning my meals so I knew what I was going to eat that day. And I made sure I carried healthy snacks with me wherever I went.

Now my healthy to unhealthy food ratio is around 80/20. I eat good because it makes me feel good. Sure every once in a while I might stop at a fast food place but it’s definitely not a go to. Now I rarely have cravings for junk food. 

I Changed My Mindset

When I started working out it was because I didn’t like myself. I didn’t like the way that I looked and I wanted to look like other women. Pushing myself to change didn’t come from a good place to begin with, and because I didn’t change my mindset I was never satisfied (hence the body dysmorpia). 

Once I began to change who I was listening to, who I was watching, and most of all the reason why I wanted to keep working out, I was able to create a better relationship with my body. I spent more time listening to positive people. Journaling with gratitude became important to me. Working out because it feels good and because I want to be strong and healthy became my new motivator. 

I set new goals that weren’t aesthetic based. Instead of caring about how big my butt was or how small my waist was I started caring more about being able to do a pull up and being able to get stronger in my squats. Honestly, changing my mindset made the biggest difference.

And all of these things helped me get to where I am now: happy, healthy and loving my body no matter what stage it’s in. 

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