how to physically love your body even when you mentally can’t.

For those of you who don’t know, back in 2007, I was diagnosed with an ED-NOS, or eating disorder not otherwise specified. I was taken aback by the diagnosis, but before I could argue I was flung into therapy, nutritional counseling, and was prescribed some anti-depressants to treat the disorder.

I’m happy to say that this diagnosis was seven years ago and I have yet to relapse. Huzzah! However, that said, I don’t really like to say I’m “recovered”. I know full well that, out of nowhere, dark thoughts can sneak into my brain and make me adverse to eating. Just a few months ago, before I got pregnant, I was having a really hard time at work and my go-to solution for it was to not eat dinner. This sounds crazy to anyone who hasn’t struggled with disordered eating, but it hit me like a freight train in the dark.

Even though I didn’t want to, I immediately told my husband how I was feeling, so I could have someone in the room speak some reason into me. It worked, but it felt uncomfortable and wrong. Like I was faking it.

But here’s the thing — the majority of my ED recovery was exactly that: me faking it. I’d been eating in a disordered manner for so many years (12 years at the time of diagnosis) that anything other than that seemed wrong. But after faking it for a while, it became more natural, and now, I fake it less.

I might almost say I’ve made it. (Almost.)

I’m 20 weeks pregnant right now, and just like I experienced with my first pregnancy, my mind swings back and forth between feeling beautiful and proud of my round belly, and horrified at the changes and the lack of control I have over my expanding frame. And this would happen to me throughout my ED recovery, too. I would swing back and forth between happy to be healing and terrified of relinquishing control.

And now, halfway through my pregnancy, I sometimes feel the need to physically fake loving my body when my brain can’t, in hopes that it will eventually catch up.

If you ever find yourself in a position like that, here are some ways to fake it until you make it. (And you WILL make it, I promise.)

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1. Exercise

I know. Sounds gross, especially when you look down and aren’t happy with your body. But seriously, exercise not only releases endorphins and other happy hormones in your body, thus making you a more pleasant person in general, but I always feel more confident in my own skin when I’ve gone for a jog or tackled the yoga mat.

2.  Shower/Bathe in the Dark, But Not For That Reason

I’ve bathed in the dark because the sheer thought of laying eyes on my naked body has repulsed me. But lately, instead, I’ve been showering in the dark so I can’t focus on how my body looks at all, but how it feels. I turn the water just the temperature I like it (scalding, actually) and close my eyes, and allow my body to feel good. And then I say a prayer of thanks for legs to hold me up and skin to feel the hot water. (And, at this time, a body that is strong and healthy enough to build/care for another human life. Regardless of how unattractive I might feel, that is an incredible gift for which I am so very thankful.)

3. Stay Naked

I had a roommate in college (whom I lived with when I was diagnosed) who always had “naked time” after her shower when she would just lay in bed and relax. It sounded weird to me at the time, but I gave it a try, and there is something sweet about letting your clean body be just the way it was created for a few minutes without rushing to cover it back up again.

4. Apply Lotion Everyday

The sheer act of applying lotion to your body is a very practical way to love yourself. Check out this post about the lotion challenge and give it a try for yourself. Pick out something that smells divine and commit to putting it on everyday and evaluate how you feel about your body after a day, a week, a month.

5. Open Yourself Up to The Love of Others

This one is always the hardest for me, but is ultimately the most rewarding. Whenever I’m feeling particularly down on myself, I will ask someone close to me why they love me and then listen to their whole answer without responding. When they are done, I won’t argue with them. I won’t try and dilute their words. I just say a very heartfelt, “Thank you.” And let their words be true. Because they are, even if they don’t feel true to me.

Those are just a handful of things I’ve thought of over the past week. What do YOU do to love your body, even when it’s hard?

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4 thoughts on “how to physically love your body even when you mentally can’t.

  1. Wow, these are all GREAT insights, thanks for sharing! I use lotion that makes me feel incredible daily, that was something I started doing while in treatment for the first time (intentional self-care) because it was something small and simple and made me feel good even if it was just the way I smelled on a daily basis. I’ve never thought about using it as a way of working on self-love though.
    And I totally relate to faking it til you make it! Robotic eating at it’s finest, I have to remind myself to eat even when I don’t want to because the moments will pass and if I keep up with recovery now, then it’ll be easier when I’m ready to get back on track.
    I think I’m going to try the shower and #5 options.
    Good luck with the pregnancy! 😀

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