Health Coaches Have Bad Body Days Too...And What I Do About It
As a Holistic Health Coach and Body Love Specialist I think most people (in)correctly assume that I never eat unhealthy or never struggle with body acceptance issues....but I do. And this last weekend my negative body talk hit a high I haven't felt in years.
My husband and I frequently visit Eastern Washington where my in-laws have a little house. It's amazing - mostly because there is nothing to do AND no expectation to do a damn thing. And for those of you who know me, know I struggle with sitting still and not doing anything. I've come to know this little home-away-from-home as a sanctuary of peace and freedom....as well as a place where I eat foods I typically don't eat, I do a lot more sitting around with no agenda, drink champagne, laugh my butt off, we B.S., and I read in the sun for hours.
Sounds fantastic right?!
But as someone who struggles with finding a middle ground with damn near anything in her life, vacation is no different. And during this particular weekend I felt myself slipping into over-indulgence (aka living!!) and my body shame, negativity and self judgement came back with a vengeance.
I started noticing judgmental and negative thoughts becoming a little more frequent:
You’re getting fat, you’re not as young as you once were.
You better watch it, the weight doesn’t come off quite like it used to.
When you get home, you’re not going to by one ‘bad' food at the grocery store.
You can do better than this, Ashley.
It wasn’t until I caught myself pinching the fat on my belly and was trying to find a place where I could secretly do crunches that I realized WHOA. I am back in that really unhealthy place.
At first I was even MORE judgmental on myself. You should know better, Ashley! You’re a Health Coach! You’ve practiced these healthy techniques for years! GEEEZZ! What’s wrong with you?!
I was spiraling.
It was at that moment that I knew I had to take a time out, from my thoughts, from my environment, from everything. I snagged my journal (ahem, therapist) took a walk and found a place to write. I started jotting down all the thoughts I had about my body, my health, my looks, my worthiness, my food.
When I finally drew my eyes away from the paper, I felt like I could breathe again. All the bullshit thoughts that sent me spiraling now had a home, right there on my paper where I didn’t have to think about them anymore. For me it’s all about sifting through the crappy thoughts to get to the truth. Here’s what else has really helped me on days where I struggle with loving my body:
You are not alone, I’m not alone, no one is alone in their struggles. This idea of common humanity helps me every. single. time. It helps bring me out of the isolation I often feel when I struggle with certain things. And let’s be real - I know there are health coaches out there that still struggle with the same things.
I also MAKE THE TIME to do something kind for myself. And if I can’t do that, then I say something kind to myself. It helps counter the narratives I can sometimes get spun up in.
Find gratitude for what my body does, not how my body looks.
Our culture puts so much emphasis on how we look, and even as a health coach who has practiced body love for years, I still struggle with the external expectations of beauty standards. Finding gratitude for my heart that beats, my eyes that see, my legs that walk, my arms that hug, my voice that sings, almost always brings me up from the depths of body shame. I take a moment to thank my body for something that it does, not for some external expectation I or our society puts on me.
And as I eluded to above, journaling has always been therapy to me. I can almost always talk myself through the bullshit and into the truth. At the very least it is a place where I can process my emotions and meet myself exactly where I am at. There’s no need to fake or cover up how I’m feeling. It’s real AF and sometimes it’s a really ugly place, and that’s ok because it’s also healthy to express these emotions in a place where you feel safe, and for me that’s my journal.
Need support on your journey to body love? Take my course 7 Day Body Love Journey and learn the tools to start truly accepting yourself and your body once and for all.
What are your go-to body love practices? Tell me in the comments below!