No matter where you’re at on your body image healing journey, you are bound to have a bad body image day here or there.
Hopefully, the further along you are in developing more positive body image the less bad body image days you have.
But the truth is that as long as you have a body, you will definitely still have bad body image days. This is totally normal! Your relationship with your body is like any other relationship – you’ll have good and bad days.
You still deserve to eat and care for yourself even on the days you’re feeling like sh*t about your body.
Our goal is to give you some more tools on how to get through when you have one of those days where it feels like nothing fits, you’re hating extra on your body, and just in an all around bad mood with your body.
Often times, fixation on the body is developed as a coping skill and response to stress, trauma, societal pressures, and much more. The truth is though, it doesn’t work so well to ACTUALLY calm, de-stress or make us happier or healthier.
Instead of taking your negative body image thoughts as fact and acting on them by restricting food intake or overexercising, we want to try something else.
Try to see your bad body image day as a blinking light that comes on in your car signaling that there’s something underneath the surface that needs tending to. It’s likely something related to self-care, self-worth, or self-respect.
I can almost guarantee the solution isn’t in losing weight and changing your body even if that’s what our society wants you to think.
I also can understand that in a society that glorifies weight loss even at the sake of mental health that it can be very difficult to even consider being kind to your body whatsoever.
Often times losing weight can literally make people safer from bullying, harassment, stigmatizing healthcare, and much more.
It makes a LOT of sense to want to pursue weight loss (even if it harms you) when you’re feeling crappy about your body.
However the pursuit of society’s unrealistic thin ideal can lead to even more negative body image, likely a disordered relationship with food and make you miserable in the process. So let’s try something new.
As a thin, white, cis, able bodied woman, I live in a body that benefits from a lot of privilege. I do not personally understand someone’s lived experience of being in a larger body. It’s important to acknowledge the challenges that comes from being a larger bodied person in our society and how that affects body image. I hope that my work and resources such as this post can help you to find at least a bit more peace with your body, and learn to respect it just a bit more. I hope we can untangle weight from worth, value, and health so you can live a happier, more fulfilling life regardless of your body size. I refuse to be another person telling you that you’d be better smaller because it’s not true.
My hope is that you can *try* to have an open mind and approach your body with a bit more kindness and compassion through using some of the tools described in this post.
We’ll cover 8 ways to nourish yourself through your bad body image day including:
- Wear comfortable clothing
- Move your body
- 3×3 for better body image
- Practice more positive self-talk
- Do something nice for yourself
- Eat normally
- Set boundaries with others around food and body comments
- Reconnect to the purpose of your life
Real quick though before we dive in, let’s quickly review…
What is body image?
Body image is how you view your body and the thoughts and feelings you have about your body (both positive and negative).
The thing about body image is that it isn’t dependent on actual body size – contrary to popular belief. Often times weight loss does NOT lead to more positive body image because we’re focusing on an external thing (weight loss) to give us internal reward (happiness.)
Since body image is in the brain and dependent on thoughts and perceptions, we have the power to change it. In order to develop more positive body image, our goal is to change minds about bodies, rather than the bodies themselves.
We do this through improving self-esteem, self-care, and body respect.
So without further ado, here are some tangible ways to do just that!
Wear comfortable clothing
The single worst thing you can do when you’re having a bad body image day is wear too tight clothing or anything that makes you feel restricted or shitty for any reason.
If you have a favorite comfy sweatshirt and stretchy pants, now is the time to whip those puppies out! That’s literally what they’re here for. To hug and cradle your body when it needs some extra TLC.
Wearing too tight clothing sends your brain the message that your body is wrong, should be smaller, and you should restrict your food intake or go on the latest fad diet to “fix” it.
If your body has changed as a result of healing your relationship with food, check out my post all about how to create a kickass closet that supports your intuitive eating journey.
Move your body on a bad body image day
Exercise of any kind is one of the fastest ways to instantly improve your body image. You know those days you’re feeling kind of “meh” about your body only to come out of an exercise class an hour later feeling like you’re on top of the world?
Movement – especially activities like hiking, running, kickboxing, yoga – has a way of reminding you of the purpose of your body.
So get out and get moving, even if just for a few minutes! If you can get outside for your movement, that’s even better since nature has been proven effective at helping to improve body image.
If you need extra support on how to develop a healthier relationship with exercise, check out my ^^ post for more.
The 3×3 for better body image
Try this exercise I’ve created that works wonders for developing more positive body image.
- 3 things you like about yourself that have nothing to do with your body
- 3 things you like about your body
- 3 things your body does for you or allows you to do
It’s truly horrifying how we’ve been reduced so much to aesthetics that we forget we are SO much more than a body.
Practice more positive self-talk
On a bad body image day your brain is likely EXTRA rough on you.
Something that’s really important to recognize is it’s not actually negative SELF-talk. It’s moreso the voice of an oppressive, white supremacist, heteronormative, etc etc culture that’s inhabited your brain.
It’s shitty and it’s convinced you that your body is “wrong” for whatever reason they decide that day. Also remember that there’s a $72 billion (and growing) weight loss industry and $460 billion beauty industry profiting off your insecurities.
Imagine how many businesses would fail if we decided we were good enough already?!
For now just first notice that negative voice in your head. The first step to creating more positive self-talk is noticing when those negative thoughts pop up. Next, ask them to be quiet for just a moment.
Tell them “take a seat, not today Satan.”
Next, ask yourself what you’d say to a friend who was having this negative thought. Probably something very kind, compassionate, and empowering. Can you practice saying that same thing to yourself?
Do something nice for yourself on a bad body image day
If your friend or someone you loved was having a hard day, would you lock them in a dark room, force them to wear uncomfortable clothing and shout mean things to them? I didn’t think so!
Some ideas if you’re struggle city trying to think of how the f*ck to be nice to yourself:
- Take yourself on a little date or fun outing.
- Buy something special for yourself even if it’s just a coffee at your favorite coffee shop.
- Go to the library, rent an uplifting or captivating book, go to the park and read.
- Turn on your fave show, grab some snacks and water and curl up on the couch with a comfy blanket
- Take a bath with some tea and chocolate (my personal favorite)
Again, treat yourself like you would a friend. If it feels hard it’s because developing self-compassion is a skill that we have to learn and doesn’t come easy. Just practice.
Your first thought when feeling like shit in your body might be to eat less that day to overcompensate for how shitty you feel. I can absolutely 100% certainly guarantee you that will only backfire.
This common tactic will likely set you on a fast track to the restrict/binge cycle. Essentially what this means is that restriction leads to feelings of deprivation. These feelings of deprivation make your brain freak out, and your body get hungry of course.
What happens next is that your brain and body try to make up for the deficit and overeat or binge and then feel WAY worse about yourself and your body.
My best advice as a registered dietitian who specializes in disordered eating and body image issues is to EAT NORMALLY all the time, but especially on a bad body image day.
Set boundaries with others around food and body comments
When you’re extra struggling with feeling like crap about your body on a bad body image day, the LAST thing you need is someone coming all up in your shit making negative comments about your body or food choices.
You may not be at a place to have a full on conversation with people about everything you’re feeling about your body or food relationship which is 100% understandable, and you definitely don’t need to.
But, even just a few small boundaries with loved ones can go a LONG way.
Check out this post I wrote on how to respond to food and body comments where I break down a.) why people feel so compelled to comment on other people’s food/bodies and b.) a bunch of options for how to respond ranging from sweet to salty and everything in between.
Reconnect to the purpose of your life
The thing about a bad body image day and negative body image in general is that obsessive body thoughts tend to take us right out of the present moment and our purpose for living.
When we reduce our bodies to aesthetics and physical appearance, your entire spirit and reason for being on this earth is left out of the picture.
I promise you weren’t put on this earth to pay bills, lose weight, and then die. Nope.
You’re here for a purpose. Consider what that is? Are you a really great mom, sister, friend, or partner? Is your career your purpose? Maybe making people laugh is your purpose!
Whatever it is, I know for a fact that being a certain size, weight, or shape is NOT your purpose here on earth. And you can carry out your life’s purpose no matter what body you occupy.
Bad body image days surely have a way of taking over and ruining your day, BUT I hope after reading this post you feel a bit more empowered.
I hope it gave you some tangible steps to nourish your way right through and come out the other side.
If you want to learn more about what influences body image and even more steps you can take to develop more positive body image, check out this post for more.
Need more support? Book a free intro call with me to see if you’re a good fit for my 1:1 comprehensive program to finally heal your relationship with food and your body.