In honor of the Eating Disorders Awareness Week (Feb 1 -7), I wanted to share with you my message and story of recovery from ” disordered eating”, in hopes of inspiring you to deepen your own sense of health, wellness, balance, and self-love.
The 5 Realms of Holistic Body Love
Holistic Body Love to me, is about being in a healthy relationship with yourself in five important realms of life: mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually & socially.
Let’s define these five areas:
- Mental: This is our self-talk, what it is we say to ourselves about ourselves. Ideally, we want to be engaging in positive self-talk significantly more than negative self-talk.
- Emotional: This is the way we feel about ourselves, and the ability to regulate one’s own emotions well. The way we think about ourselves leads to how we feel about ourselves.
- Physical: This involves our physical body, not in appearance, but rather with the health condition of our body. For example, a strong immune system, organs that function well, a body that’s well nourished with nutrients, a body that has abundant energy to thrive.
- Spiritual: This area can have multiple meanings. For some, it would be one’s own ability to tune into their intuitive wisdom. For others, it may be their connection with a Higher Power. Essentially, it is the ability to see the bigger picture and connect with sacred aspects of life, so that life has fulfillment through deeper meaning and purpose.
- Social: We are social creatures at the very core of us, meaning we all need a connection with people to heal. We are influenced every day by relationships and dynamics in our home, work, school, and life environments.
I see that having a balance in these five realms can help us feel more present, grounded, and empowered in who we are as an individual, and in the various roles we take on.
What Does It Mean to Have Holistic Body Love?
Holistic Body Love means to be kind to yourself, to treat yourself with love and respect, to have healthy and flexible boundaries so that you keep out things that do not serve you (drama anyone?! No thanks!), to feel gratitude for all that you have in your life and to feel enough abundance with what you have right now (rather than feeling deprived or believing that ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’). These are just some examples, and there are many more. Ultimately, it’s about being your own best friend.
My Journey to Finding Holistic Body Love
I did not always have an amazing relationship with me. In fact, I used to be my own worse enemy and beat myself up all the time because I wasn’t fit-looking enough, because I didn’t have six-pack abs, because my hips weren’t small enough, my arms were not defined enough, and because for goodness sake, that little piece of flesh on my upper back behind my armpit was too fleshy and soft! I used to restrict myself from eating certain kinds of foods because it’s what I thought would exacerbate my “problem areas”. So I stayed away from sugar, opting instead for the chemically enhanced sweeteners (but hey, at least they are calorie free!) and for the “fat-free” food products. And this made me feel good and feel (falsely) safe because I was eating perfectly. I would bring my own food to social gatherings because I was anxious about eating anything outside of my diet. I would take hours to try on clothes because nothing fit right or gave me the look I wanted, I would get so stressed out packing for vacation (okay I admit I still do but for different reasons now!) because I couldn’t decide what to wear since I couldn’t predict how my body would look each day I was away from home. And when I was alone, I binged. I ate, and ate and ate all the foods I deprived myself of – peanut butter, cookies, bread and anything high in sugar and carbs. I would feel guilt and shame for binging, so I would “erase” these feelings by over-exercising. It became a silent vicious cycle.
This kind of relationship with myself went on for YEARS. And you know what? Even when I did achieve my then “ideal body” by competing in a bodybuilding competition, this didn’t bring me the happiness I was seeking. Nothing inside changed mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. Only on the outside did my capsule change.
Then I made a choice. I took the courage to go on a self-healing journey: through therapy; through my own professional training in a mindfulness-based therapy called Hakomi (in which I’m Certified now) and through exploring Eastern practices such as yoga, acupuncture, and naturopathy. I developed new practices to be kinder to myself, to slow down, to be more present, to learn how to shift out of limiting core beliefs and patterns, and to live in a new way. I decided to think, feel, and behave in my relationship with my new best friend- me.
It’s about serving me, so that I can serve the world from a deeper, loving, and authentic place. When I show love to me, the world benefits. I can give back ten fold because I’m happy right here in my mind, heart and body. I have stopped abandoning myself and I have returned home to a peaceful and happy body.
The struggles I was experiencing in my relationship with myself were expressed in the areas of food and body. However, these struggles may come out in other areas such as being in relationships that are unhealthy and even abusive. It can be a love relationship, a business partnership, family ties, or even friendships. These struggles with self could be related to feeling deprived, chronically stressed, tired or anxious, feeling low self-worth, or having judgmental thoughts about others. Oftentimes, these struggles are unconsciously deep-rooted.
YOU can change the story of your life by first being open to exploring your relationship with you. You can start by reading a self-help book that appeals to you, or you can talk to a therapist who can help guide you. Invite curiosity, courage, and hope to be with you.
10 Ideas to Develop a Happy & Healthy Relationship with Yourself
- Breathe into a positive intention every morning. Before you get up from bed, take deep breaths to take in a positive intention to start your day from an empowering mindset. For example, “I can show gratitude for whatever comes my way today”. Keep this intention at the forefront through your day.
- Check in with yourself. Every three hours, ask yourself “On a scale 1-5, 1=no stress, 5= extreme stress) where am I? Take 5-10 deep breathes to shift gears, relax your mind and body no matter your number, and take a break if you’re at a 3 or higher (e.g., go for a walk outside, listen to music).
- Work on having compassion for your inner critic. We all have an inner critic! Notice how much self-talk is positive vs. negative. Catch yourself when you engage in negative self-talk and interrupt it by saying “Be kind to myself”.
- Renew your relationships with others. List the people in your life that drain your energy- this is not a judgment about them, rather it is a recognition that the dynamics of these relationships may no longer be a fit for you. Then decide to either work on changing the dynamics in these relationships or find a way to end these relationships respectfully. Create a new normal by surrounding yourself with people who are positive, uplifting, and believe in you. Their energy is contagious.
- Allow yourself to be imperfect. There is no such thing as perfect and always on the other side of perfectionism is self-abuse. Learn to let go and laugh at yourself.
- Slow down. Choose one to two activities in your day to be present with, whether that’s eating a meal slowly and mindfully, take your time to walk/drive to your next destination (instead of rushing). Slow your thinking down and be in the moment with whatever you are doing. Just because we live in a fast pace society, does not mean we always have to mirror it.
- Engage in play time. Playing is not just for kids! Color in a coloring book, draw something, finger paint (these are great de-stressors, by the way), build a sand/rock castle, or play a board game. Play catalyzes our pleasure response.
- Feel into your feelings, no matter how uncomfortable they are. Acknowledge your feelings and honor them by engaging in self-care activities that will help those feelings shift. Journal your negative feelings and journal the positive shifts too!
- Have a daily relaxation ritual. Many of us feel vulnerable to engage in emotionally driven eating or mindless eating at some point in our day. Replace this with a relaxation ritual. So instead of grabbing for food to soothe yourself when you’re not really hungry, try making yourself a cup of tea, going for a walk or reading a book instead.
- Nourish your body. Feed your body with foods that give you sustaining energy. Move your body in ways that bring pleasure, and get enough sleep.
Resources – Eating Disorder Helplines
The United States of America – National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA)
The United Kingdom – National Centre for Eating Disorders
Rosalyn Fung is a Registered Psychologist & Founder of Holistic Body Love. She is a wellness speaker, consultant, mentor, writer & blogger. Roz specializes in Holistic Nutritional Psychology in which she empowers people in their relationship with food, body image, weight, as well as digestion, fatigue, immunity and mood.
Her approach is a combination of eating psychology, positive psychology, mindfulness, neuroscience, family systems and nutritional therapy. She’s the go-to person to help you understand how to feel normal around food, and break-free from body image and weight struggles.
Rosalyn offers a 6 week Holistic Body Love Food & Body Image Transformation Online Program, in which you can check out here.
Follow Rosalyn on Facebook at Rosalyn Fung Holistic Body Love-Psychologist