The Every Body Is Beautiful Project

3 Things To Remember When You Start Obsessing About Your Appearance

RecoveryOphelia's Place1 Comment

I can rattle off a dozen things, right now, that I’m excited about doing, working on, and accomplishing. There’s that Ayurvedic cooking lesson I signed up for, a weekend bike ride with my father, the handful of yoga classes I teach every week, that book proposal I keep picking away at.

The details of your life may look different, but I’m sure you can relate. There’s barely enough time in the day to get everything done, and still find time to rest and recharge. So when tasked with structuring our days efficiently, it’s clear: The B.S. has got to go. Let me be even more explicit: I no longer have the time or energy to obsess about my physical appearance.

I definitely didn’t always feel this way. When I struggled with my eating disorder, I would spend hours checking my reflection in the mirror (and then every car window, storefront, and reflective glass surface I passed). I would weigh myself multiple times a day. I stood in front of my closet and agonized over the clothes I owned, trying things on and discarding them until my bedroom floor looked like a tornado had ripped through an H&M store.

None of these are enjoyable activities.

Even more frustrating is the fact that they were stealing time I could have spent doing things that actually fueled my passions ... things that lit my soul on fire and made my heart beat with joy.


It’s not our fault — we have been culturally conditioned to obsess about our appearance in a constant (and might I add, fruitless) search for perfection. So it’s not an easy task to immediately “turn it off.” Here are three truths I remember to bring myself back down to reality when I start spending too much time worrying about how I look.

1. I was never satisfied or confident at lower weights.
That constant stream of thoughts about the curves of my thighs and the roundness of my stomach never quieted when I was at my lowest (and unhealthiest) weight. In fact — and this is important — the obsessive thoughts got LOUDER the lower my weight dropped. Once I began fueling my body and brain with adequate nutrition, I was able to refocus my attention on other tasks without reverting back to food and physical appearance.  [*Note: There are scientific reasons why this happens. Read Measuring Health from the Inside to learn more. It will blow your mind].

Now, when the little evil thought gremlin creeps in, telling me I would have my life figured out if only I weighed less, I tell it that it can’t fool me. I know that losing weight won’t help me get over a bad body image day. That gremlin is only trying to weasel its way back into my mind through a load of lies.

2. The people who matter don’t care about what I look like.
I know, I know, other people’s opinions don’t mean jack if you’re not at peace with yourself. But it’s a good reminder all the same. My family and close friends like to be around me because I’m a good listener, funny and quirky, and accepting and loving. My best girlfriend doesn’t want to share a bottle of wine with me because of the way my jeans fit. My yoga students don’t come to class because my belly looks flat. The guy I’ve been crushing on didn’t spend hours talking with me last night, revealing our hopes and fears, because he thinks my upper arms look good.

As Bernard M. Baruch once said, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind.”

3. Embracing my feminine self — curves or no curves — makes me feel powerful and confident.
Gaining weight wasn’t just a physical aspect of my recovery. It helped me tap into the magic of being a woman. As I embraced my body’s natural weight and shape, I began to tap into my intuition, and feel more in tune with nature. All of this helped me to feel not just at ease in my skin, but capable and proud, too.

What helps you refocus the evil thought gremlin? Share your truths in the comments.