My original Valentine’s themed blog was going to be on foods that make you feel sexy, but I went to watch the film ‘Embrace’ last night and now I just have to write about self-love. You know when something really strikes a chord and you can’t get it out of your head? That’s how I feel today. So apologies, this might not be the usual blog you’re used to getting from me but I have to get this off my chest and do my bit to keep this conversation going.
We need more films like this
‘Embrace’ is the creation of Taryn Brumfitt - an Australian body image activist (such a cool job description eh?). The film takes a long hard look at body loathing (not a single woman interviewed said she liked her body!!!???) and inspires women to start loving and accepting themselves for who they are. I left the auditorium with tears streaming down my cheeks. Be prepared to laugh and cry (quite often at the same time!)
Why weight really shouldn't matter as much as it does
As a nutritionist I get approached all the time by women who want to lose weight, and, whilst being a healthy weight is important(ish) there are lots of other things that we should be focusing on when it comes to health (energy levels, sleep, mental health, social connections, work, fitness, stress levels…the list is endless!) So it REALLY saddens me when I come across women who have become fixated with a number on the scales or with being a certain dress size. Yes, we all want to feel good about ourselves, but there are lots of ways of achieving this. This is why I always encourage my weight loss clients to create different health goals around their weight loss - how about aiming for increased energy levels? Or to sleep better? Or to eat more mindfully? (One of my personal favourites!)
The power of the subconscious
So, what on earth do we do about it all? The answer seems to lie in tackling the problem at its source: our subconscious. Did you know it has been estimated the average person is subjected to anywhere from 500 to 5000 adverts a day? (And that doesn’t even include social media posts!!??) To make matters worse, research has shown that our brains end up preferring the body type we are most subjected to - so it’s no surprise so many of us end up hankering after thigh gaps (seriously didn’t even know this was a thing until I watched ‘Embrace’!) and other unattainable body features (massive lips, flat abs two weeks after giving birth…you get my drift).
It’s now time to get down to the nitty-gritty, what can we actually do to start loving ourselves more?
1. Ask 'does this make me love my body?’
Whilst we can’t control the effects these images have on our brains we CAN control our exposure to these images (ok ,maybe not on buses or massive billboards) BUT we can control the magazines we buy and the images that come up on our social media feeds. And this is where it has to start. Carry out a massive cull of anything that doesn’t make you feeling amazing about yourself, go through your feeds and ask yourself ‘does this make me love my body?’ if the answer isn’t a resounding ‘YESSSSSS’ get rid of it immediately! NOW!
2. Fill up with the positive
So, we’ve taken out the negative, now it’s time to fill up with the positive - spend time refilling your feeds with people and things that inspire you and make you feel good about yourself. Imagine if you were to put your phone down after a few minutes of scrolling and you walked away feeling amazing about yourself. Now there's a thought.
3. Stop pouting! (erm, excuse me???)
Time to really reprogram that subconscious! Take lots of photos of yourself , not just filtered, pout-heavy selfies (of which I’m guilty of!) But honest, full length pictures of your body in different settings (no pouting allowed!) and look at them regularly. This will retrain your subconscious to prefer your body type over anyone else’s - win!!!
4. Admire yourself in the mirror (again, have you lost your mind woman???)
This is probably the hardest thing I suggest you do. It will take time to get used to doing this. But it will pay dividends. Just set aside a couple of minutes every day to stand in front of the mirror and admire yourself like someone else might - focus on all your amazing qualities, your strong legs, your shiny hair, your shapely feet (start on the bits that you’re ok with and slowly work your way to the tricker bits). This body is the only one you’ll ever have so show it some love. You might be amazed at how much love it will give you back.