This blog article isn’t the easiest I have written for it forces me to be honest with myself and to question some of the ‘healthy’ lifestyles and advice given by many in my industry. I want to write about body image. How many of us are in a place of negative body image,….how we often think how nice it would be when we are that bit slimmer/ further on in a yoga posture, more flexible, stronger, more toned.
Do you love yourself? Ask yourself how you describe yourself…is it negative? Do you put yourself down? Do you imply life will be better when…..
We need to learn a healthy body image and we need the quest for health itself not to become an obsession.
No it isn’t healthy to be fat, or too skinny, or too flexible or too focused on building muscle. In fact any fixation is unhealthy. Any extreme is unhealthy. Including the fixation on being healthy. In fact there’s a term to describe such a condition.. yes it’s a condition! A subclinical eating disorder characterized by an obsession of eating healthily. The term ‘orthorexia nervosa’ or orthorexia is described by Dr Stephen Bratman in his book “Health Food Junkies; Orthorexia Nervosa- Overcoming the Obsession with Healthy Eating” as a disease in which people view their diet as a way to feel virtuous, clean and even spiritual.
When this striving to live healthily becomes a fixation it has a detrimental effect on a persons health. Orthorexia is almost a socially acceptable condition, especially in holistic/ wellness circles! It can become an obsession that restricts a persons life and like any obsession; takes over time and energy from more enjoyable activities. The attitude that maybe eating raw, or going vegan, or juicing will provide not only weight loss but a more pure, spiritual existence. Orthorexia may not be noticed or diagnosed as it is often seen as a disciplined approach to eating healthily When being restrictive in your eating habits is combined with a disciplined (and importantly calorie burning) exercise regime when does being ‘healthy’ tip into obsession and affect other parts of our lives.
I am sure we all know people for whom their eating habits have become progressively more disciplined and restrictive. Maybe it’s to do with ‘healthy living’ although you may also suspect it is to do with weight management too. Maybe it is because we have lost the ability to be embodied and instead focus too much on the physical body rather than the self within. Even in yoga practice the trend is for more physical practice, more focus on ‘selfies’ of practitioners in advanced postures rather than aiming for inner quiet or contentment. So much focus in the world seems to be more outward and less inward and I can’t feel that this is a healthy way to live. Focusing more on the external can only, in my opinion, lead to more unhappiness..’ normative discontent’! The term describing that fact it is ‘normal’ to be unhappy with your body.
Normal to dislike and/ or be dissatisfied with yourself. How sad is that?
It can become an obsession with eating ‘right’ instead of intuitively eating when hungry, eating what the body likes and finding food choices pleasureable. Often although this is hidden behind a ‘health’ cloak it is often about weight loss or weight control. This condition is just one of many disordered eating practices of which many of us suffer to some degree. Normative discontent… it is just that. Normal to be dis satisfied with how you look. This is not a good place for society as a whole but especially those of us looking to be kinder to ourselves and to live a physically, spiritually and emotionally healthy life. Let us take a few moments to be honest with ourselves. How do we talk to ourselves in our own heads. Are we ‘too short’, have we ‘funny toes’ or ‘knobbly knees’, ‘fat thighs’, or a ‘flabby butt’. Let us instead be kinder to ourselves. What could we be doing with the time we are currently spending focused on our imperfections?
What could you do if you weren’t worried about what was wrong with you? Could you make a difference to your life? Or somebody elses’ with that time?
Be honest with yourself … awareness is often the first stage of change. Learn to love yourself a little more. Luckily yoga and mediation will help with that. As will hypnotherapy. Maybe if you feel yourself struggling to cope on your own just contact me for some support in creating a more positive mind set, building willpower and self esteem with a session or two of hypnotherapy. Many of us have normative discontent…when we don’t really like our bodies. Negative body image can affect mood, quality of life and behaviours. Instead we need to focus on being embodied. Experiencing ourself as a self that just happens to reside within a body…so the self becomes our focus rather than the body. We need to focus on self worth transcending our physical body. We need to allow our self the opportunities and experiences that we deserve rather than restrict our lives because of normative discontent. We also need to realise that normative discontent should not be normal. We should balance acceptance and discipline rather than obsession and restriction.