I am pleased to say that this relationship has now improved, and I honestly love food! Although I do still have to be conscious of my peanut butter consumption, as it is highly calorific and easy to overeat! But now I can enjoy eating ‘more freely’, and experience less feelings of guilt and/or shame.
I also cannot take credit for this title, it is a quote from the book I am reading by Brene Brown called: ‘Courage, compassion and connection – The gifts of imperfection’. But it really hit me deep and inspired me to write this piece!
I am going to begin by clarifying that I am not an expert on these matters. I am going to recount my own personal experience and give my views on this, especially with regard to what I am currently reading and my current level of understanding.
When I was about 13 (maybe 12… not yet 14) I was eating a slice of peanut butter on toast and I clearly remember being asked ‘Are you sure you want to be eating that? Your arse is getting fat, and not in a good way’. Probably not the best thing to say to a teenage girl, who already had issues with her eating!
I used to go without food all day at school and come home and eat 6 slices of peanut butter on toast. I was ashamed of how I looked, wanted to deny how much I really ate, and tried to hide my poor eating habits. I didn’t like to eat in front of my friends and constantly felt the need to ‘eat less’. But this restriction led to binging, clearly!
And I was ashamed of this, so I hid it the best I could.
‘Shame – we’re all afraid to talk about it. The less we talk about shame, the more control it has over our lives’Brene Brown – in her book – The gift of imperfection
I no longer feel shame about my poor eating habits or ‘being fat’ as a teenager. I struggled greatly through my teenage years and this is something that I am going to have to go back and work through, starting with peanut butter.
I never felt that my issues with eating were serious, or something that I have needed to ‘overcome’. But I have suffered with poor body image and do have possible tendencies to become slightly obsessive with regards to my nutrition, from time to time. I do not do well with tracking!
Kickboxing has helped me overcome some of these issues with body image.
By setting attainable goals, it took away the negative self-talk and ‘not being good enough’/’being too fat’ that came from within my mind. Once you hit that weight target, you have succeeded! Kickboxing weight categories do not judge how you look, how fat or thin you are, or how big your boobs are/your bum is, it’s just a number on a scale.
And by following simple equations (even with an underactive thyroid!) it is quite easy to achieve!
Whereas in life, there is no perfect weight. Or size, or body image. And if we have that perfectionist trait, the voice inside our head telling us that we are not enough, we will always feel ashamed of how we look. And on a deeper level, negatively associating how we look with who we are, resulting in feelings of ‘not being worthy’.
But, if we don’t have a predetermined goal, like a weight categorized by sport, how do we learn to create a healthy body image?
By learning to overcome perfectionism; a body will never be perfect. And by aiming for perfection we are blocking the way for success; happiness, love, and belonging.
Perfectionism encourages destructive, and often addictive, traits which will result in shame, judgment, and blame, placed upon ourselves, by ourselves.
We must learn to have self-compassion and how to operate with a healthier mindset and positive self-talk.
This is something I am currently both working on for myself and educating myself on to be able to better help others!
If you would like to discuss this further, please always feel free to get in touch, even if just to talk.
I may have to recommend the help of a professional, but I know several that I could highly recommend.
Most importantly, never be afraid to seek help, through fear of being judged. We must work together to overcome fear and shame, they cannot thrive if we keep connected, and this can begin by starting to properly communicate with one another!