The last couple of times I wrote to you we talked about the psychological and physical cost of body image issues. I’ve been truly overwhelmed by your touching feedback – thank you so much – it’s heartening to know body image issues are as important for you as they are for me!
Since launching our Love Your Body Healthy Online Program a lot of people have been asking if body image work can really help them, so I thought I’d help you identify whether you would benefit from a better relationship with your body.
As approximately 80% of women in general are dissatisfied with their weight and appearance (this number is still over 50% for women in the “normal” weight range)* I would suggest the answer is probably “yes”, but here are a few questions you can ask to help you out.
- Feel you are often critical about your body to yourself or others?
- Look back at old photos and think “I wish I looked like that now”, but remember not being satisfied with your body at the time?
- Let body worries stop you from doing or enjoying things (e.g., exercising, being social or lazing on the beach)?
- Constantly think about losing weight or making the “right” food choices?
- Compare yourself to others you see as thinner or more attractive?
- Find it hard to accept compliments about your appearance but easy to internalize criticisms?
If you answered yes to any of these questions you can enjoy a more positive relationship with your body** 😀
Another question I commonly get in session is:
“Can I really change how I feel about my body?”
And, thank goodness, the answer is “ABSOLUTELY YES!” Seeing a psychologist who specializes in body image can be really beneficial but even relatively short group programs have been shown to help significantly reduce a host of body image issues***, including:
- Body dissatisfaction
- Over concern with weight and shape
- Avoiding situations due to body concerns
- Comparing to others
- Internalising negative messages
- Preoccupation with appearance
In fact this study and others like it were the reason we developed the Love Your Body Healthy Online Program – so people like you could benefit from this work from the comfort of their own homes. I’ll let you know all about the program in my next email – it’s where we support you in a structured way to apply everything we’ve been talking about to develop body positivity to you as a unique individual – but for now, I want to leave you with some body-image boosting tips to start you off and another client story just to remind you that you can get there!
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Well, I’ve completed the questionnaires as honestly as I can and it seems that in just a few short weeks I have come a remarkably long way! I think it’s amazing that my “headspace” can change so dramatically in just such a relatively short while!!!!So, Glenn…THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for helping me get there…it feels great & I feel “comfortable”; less anxious & obsessed about my weight. Feeling comfortable with who I am, what I look like, and my weight is very empowering for me………I’m OK as I am!!!!!! Now, I have more “head space” for enjoying life more fully in every way and I intend to do just that!!! :)I am more than happy for you to use my email if it helps anyone trying to overcome the struggle they impose on themselves by being consumed with body image. It’s liberating when you really do come to terms with how you are & believe deep in your heart that you really are OK & worthy of all the good things you think skinnier/physically perfect people deserve. As I say those words out loud I realize how ridiculous & irrational that sounds. However, being a person who has always struggled with my weight & body image that is what I believed!!!It really is empowering to accept myself & my body as I am & feel as loveable & worthy as the next person. Your weight does not determine your worth!! Never has, never will!!! Health-wise however, is a different issue & in that regard to health you can be too skinny!
I could go on & on about how the sessions have benefitted me & it is always a work in progress because we’re human, but if we have the right tools we can “pull ourselves up” from these distorted irrational thinking patterns more quickly each time, & they will rear their ugly head now & again…that’s reality!! When I came to see you I was ready to do all I could to STOP the fight & was hoping that somehow you would be able to help me & we did it!
Want to improve your body image and learn to take care of yourself from a place of love?
Find out about our online program Love Your Body Healthy!
*McClaren, L., & Kuh, D (2004) Body Dissatisfaction in Midlife Women, Journal of Women & Aging, Vol. 16(1/2), pp 35 – 54.
**For people who want a more rigorous assessment (or just a great starting point to measure progress from) – I’d highly recommend completing our Online Questionnaire. There are a series of body image measures at the end of your report and if you have lower scores than the norm on Body Satisfaction or Positive Body Thoughts scales, or higher scores on Body Uneasiness or Negative Body thoughts scales you will benefit from body image work. You may also look to see if your score on the Depressed and Anxious Moods scale is high or your Self-esteem score is low, as depression and self-esteem can be closely related to body image.
*** McLean, S. A., Paxton, S. J., & Werthheim, E. H., (2011) A body image and disordered eating intervention for women in midlife: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 79(6), 751-758.