6 Keys to Body Acceptance

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I had a MAJOR MOMENT in my anorexia recovery journey last week. In the bathroom at work, while washing my hands, I looked at myself in the mirror and saw this woman:

Then it hit me. I LIKED who I saw!

  • GIRL, you are WEARING this dress! Your cleavage (which I’ve had exactly two times in my life – when I was VERY pregnant and now) looks amazing and your shape looks so feminine!
  • My body is GOOD, and it’s good simply because it’s MINE.
  • Thank you, God, for giving me the body that YOU designed just for me.
  • My body is from my Mama, and it’s an heirloom she has given me.

I have been on this road to body acceptance for a very long time. It’s absolutely NOT easy, and I have learned some keys to persisting and growing in acceptance, kindness, and compassion for myself and my body.

Last weekend, I went to a WATER PARK. Yup. In a SWIM SUIT. Yup. And it was MY IDEA. Yup.

JJ, LK and I went to Schlitterbahn because LK turns 3 on Tuesday. And, between an eating disorder and a cross-country move, we haven’t done ANYTHING in a while. I knew LK would love all the water fun to be had, and it would be the perfect solution to the increasing Texas heat.

If you had told me a year ago that I would weigh MORE than my set point range and would voluntarily go to a water park, I would have told you there was no possibility of that happening.

But here’s the deal with body acceptance…it sneaks up on you…you don’t wake up one day and say, “By golly, I’ve done it. I’ve accepted my body!” It’s more of a gradual realization that…well, wait. Let me just share with you…

Key # 1 – Who are your favorites?

When I first started treatment, I had an epiphany. When I thought of my favorite people, I could easily name who they are and why they are my favorites. NOT ONE of them is a favorite because of their body size, shape, or appearance. I value my favorites because of their kindness, compassion, generosity, intelligence, humor, leadership, and common interests. Why do I expect different of myself? I decided to focus on cultivating these qualities in myself, rather than losing weight. I have come back to this OVER and OVER on this journey. Who are your favorite people and why? Could these qualities be your goal instead?

Key # 2 – Learn from Littles

You know who has body acceptance on LOCK? Toddlers! LK loves her body. She appreciates what it does for her. She runs and jumps with JOY. She loves to cuddle. She puts her hand on my tummy and says, “Mama’s belly” with not an ounce of judgment. It is so heartbreaking what our diet culture has done to the beauty of loving our bodies as children do. I have observed and learned from LK that our bodies are amazing and deserve our gratitude and self-care.

Key # 3 – Affirmations

I’ve had a hard time using affirmations, to be honest. They felt like lying to myself and I just couldn’t do it for a long time. For me, I have found affirmations in the form of Bible verses, what I believe God says is true of me. I can affirm that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” because He says so. AND with other kinds of affirmations, I have come a long way. I realize it’s important to give ourselves positive messages, even if you have to “fake it ’til you make it” at first. One tip is to ask family or close friends what qualities they can affirm in you and trust them. When you want to use affirmations of any kind, I found a fun way that I like:

I use Cedar Markers that easily wipe off!

Key # 4 – Body Appreciation List

An oldie but a goodie in the world of eating disorder therapy. When in need of a body acceptance pep talk, jot down a list of what you like about your body. If you’re on the struggle bus with that, write down when you have been able to accomplish with your body. For me, it’s hard to hate a body that lets me take care of my daughter every day. You can also try a meditation body scan, if that’s your flavor. What has your body done for you lately?

Key #5 – Feed Yourself the Right Messages

First, clean out your social media of accounts that are not FOR body acceptance. Second, add accounts that ARE (see my Who to Follow recommendations). Third, read some good stuff…here’s your priority list:

Key #6 – Time & Persistence

And finally, this thing is a JOURNEY. It takes time and persistence. I’ve been at this for a good while, and you know what? Two weeks ago, I spent the weekend in bed, overwhelmed by the weight restoration I have done and unable to find anything worth getting up for. Then, I got up on Monday. I went to my therapist and dietitian appointments even though I wanted to cancel and hide. Be compassionate with yourself. You’re always moving forward, towards body acceptance. Each experience is a learning opportunity for next time. Keep going.

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In recovery from anorexia and depression as a 40 year old wife and mom of a toddler. Discovering who I am and hoping to help others along the way!

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