Hello, Thoughts by Natalie readers! My name is Madison and I’m a wife, puppy mommy and food editor living in Iowa. And when I find a few extra minutes during the week, I spend it blogging about food and life over at Espresso and Cream. I’m so thrilled Natalie asked me to guest post, seeing as that her blog is one of the most uplifting and honest corners of the web.
Last week on my blog I talked a bit about my goals for 2012. Typically, I’ve made resolutions such as ‘lose five pounds’ or ‘drop a jean size,’ but I wanted more from 2012. I wanted to work on shifting the way I talk, and think, about my body and to start to see myself the way God sees me. So I decided to institute a ‘No Fat Talk’ policy for the entire year. And because I know that I’m not the only person who has uttered a ‘my thighs look huge’ or ‘look at how fat I look in that photo’ before, I invite you to take the journey with me.
The article that first got me thinking about improving my body talk habits was, surprisingly, from Glamour magazine. Since most women’s magazines skew our perception of what a ‘normal’ body looks like, it seems an unlikely source. But nonetheless, it got me thinking. Here are a few of the more shocking statistics:
- 97% of women will have at least one ‘I hate my body’ moment each day (source)
- On average, women have 13 negative body thoughts a day (source)
From a psychological perspective, it went on to say the following:
Our unattainable cultural beauty ideals, our celebrity worship—those all play a part, says Kearney-Cooke. But another big reason is that we’ve actually trained ourselves to be this way. “Neuroscience has shown that whatever you focus on shapes your brain. If you’re constantly thinking negative thoughts about your body, that neural pathway becomes stronger—and those thoughts become habitual,” she explains. “Imagine a concert pianist. Her brain would have stronger neural pathways that support musicality and dexterity than someone who hadn’t spent her life practicing.”
When I really got to thinking about it, the concept made perfect sense. I was spending countless minutes each day focusing on my ‘imperfections,’ or at least my perceived imperfections. And not only was I focusing on them, I was also giving those thoughts power by verbalizing them and hearing them again with my own ears.
It was a lightbulb moment. How could I ever get better at loving my body if I didn’t practice it with my words and actions? Up until this point, I hadn’t fought the negative thoughts, but instead gave into them easily.
I decided to start practicing, committing myself to not verbalize any fat talk. And while it helped a bit, I soon realized that it wasn’t enough to just not say those things. We all need to fill the void with positive affirmations from ourselves, our loved ones, and, most importantly, God. Here are a few examples:
- Ourselves: Think about something you’ve done recently with your body that brings you joy or a sense of satisfaction. Maybe that’s a race you’ve run, an accomplishment at the gym, or a hike you went on that your legs carried you through.
- Our Loved Ones: Share with those close to you what you’re trying to do and the motivations behind it. I asked my husband to help support me and encourage me, and when I feel the urge to say something negative about myself, we take a minute to pray together. It’s amazing how quickly time with the Lord pushes away thoughts that are untrue.
- God: Spend time in the Bible. Research a handful of Bible verses to keep with you, or top of mind that affirm your beauty and value. When I have the urge to say something negative, I think about Psalm 139:14, which says, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful.” Amen!
Whew! I know that’s a lot to digest right away, but thank you for sticking with me. I can’t help but imagine what beautiful things we can all achieve as women if we channel the time we used to spend ‘fat talking’ toward thinking about how we can be a blessing to others. Maybe it’s a co-worker who needs to hear how great they look, or a friend who needs you to pick up the phone just to say you’re thinking about them. I know that I’ll be looking for a way to fill the time that I used to spend talking negatively about my body. And I can’t wait to see what God has in store.
Will you take the No Fat Talk Challenge with Madison and me?