Body acceptance as the weather changes!
By: Abby Emmert M.A.
Whether you're in eating disorder recovery or just learning how to make peace with your body, the weather changing and getting warmer poses challenges for everyone! Those that are in recovery will be challenged with more social events, eating out with friends or at parties, and finding new clothing to fit their recovery body. Those that are learning to make peace with their body, whether in recovery or not, will be challenged similarly with finding clothes that fit their body the way that they want them to. But this isn't something that needs to be as uncomfortable as it is! Let's face it, everyone's body changes as the seasons change! Clothes that fit you at this time last year might not right now. Society has trained us to associate those changes with negative emotions and negative self talk. That doesn't mean that those changes that happened to your body over the year deserve that! The changes that happened to your body, especially if in recovery, was most likely necessary for you to adjust and adapt to the way life was changing through the seasons. Think about it, in the winter we usually are more stagnant than we are in the warmer months. Our body’s ability to adjust to that change is what makes it so amazing! If our body wasn't able to physically adjust to this change, think about how uncomfortable and painful your body would be for months of the year. With that being said, even though society tells us that those changes are bad and we should blame our willpower or eating habits, our body did nothing but just survive. That doesn't deserve blame, shame, or hatred!
So, even though this transition will be hard as we unlearn the way that society has taught us to feel, there are skills that we can apply to try and make this transition easier! One easy tip I suggest to a lot of clients is to try on summer clothing without a mirror. This may sound counterintuitive to what you've been taught about clothing. But at the end of the day, clothing needs to fit our body and be comfortable. Wearing clothing that's too tight or is made of material that we can't stand wearing for more than 30 minutes will be uncomfortable whether it looks cute in the mirror or not. Taking the appearance out of clothing when you're looking to make this transition from cold to warm water makes accepting the clothing that you can wear a lot easier! For example, if you try on a pair of jean shorts that fit you last year but they’re a little more snug this year, you don't need to look in the mirror in order to recognize that you might need a different size! If you were standing in front of the mirror, you might be flooded with a lot of different emotions by looking at your body that you won't have to add to the situation if you remove the mirror.
Another example is trying on a shirt that's made of a material that feels really uncomfortable on your skin. You don't have to be standing in front of a mirror to establish that you probably wouldn't wanna wear that an entire day. So taking the mirror out of the equation, not only removes some of the negative emotions and thoughts that you'll have as you try clothes on, but it gives you permission to establish the clothes fit your body without having to see it for yourself. In addition to removing the mirror, another tip I give clients is to have a box that you can put clothes in if you're not ready to get rid of them but don't necessarily fit you right now! Our bodies fluctuate, so it's completely understandable if you're wanting to hold onto clothing that doesn’t fit your body right now. It doesn't mean it won't ever, but putting clothes away into a box that you don't have to look at every single day when you're choosing what to wear removes the pressure of having to fit into that clothing, and the guilt and shame around not being able to right now. For some clients, putting this box in the bottom of the closet is easy enough, and I've even heard of others putting it in places where they don't have to even see the box every day! Whatever is right for you is perfect!
Another tip I talk about with clients is to cleanse their social media accounts. You'll probably notice that as the weather gets warmer and the season changes, you'll see more posts of people on vacation, traveling, or in their summer outfits which might trigger personal thoughts about your body and what you should or shouldn't be wearing. Rather than adding that shame and guilt to what you're seeing every day, cleanse your social media accounts of anything that makes you feel pressure to change your body! Instead of following accounts that might be adding to that shame and guilt, try following accounts that advertise bodies that look similarly and differ than yours, in a more inclusive way! What we mean by that is, don't just follow bodies that are smaller than yours, follow accounts of people with bodies that look like yours and are also bigger! Part of the recovery process, whether from an eating disorder or accepting your body, is being more open minded and inclusive to the bodies that you deem as acceptable and beautiful. A common barrier to this process is following accounts and consuming images of bodies all day that represent a small sample of the population.
To challenge this, try to add in more diverse accounts and images to expand the idea you have of what beautiful bodies look like! Some great ones to follow are:
Remember to talk to your treatment team about how you are feeling in this transition and to have support in processing your thoughts and emotions! If you don’t have a treatment team or therapist to work with, check out these links below for extra information on how to handle these challenges! :)
We have immediate openings right now for eating disorder therapy in:
Delaware, New Jersey, Florida, and Pennsylvania.
And recovery coaching worldwide.
Click here to get started with therapy today! : https://www.recoveredandrestoredtherapy.com/.
Recovered and Restored is an eating disorder therapy center founded by Gabrielle Morreale. We specialize in helping teens and young women heal from eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia, and binge eating disorder and treat disordered eating, anxiety, depression, and PTSD. We provide eating disorder therapy in the towns of Horsham, Upper Gwynedd, Lower Gwynedd, North Wales, Lansdale, Hatfield, Blue Bell, Doylestown, and nearby towns with eating disorder therapy. Also providing virtual eating disorder therapy in New Jersey, Delaware, and Florida. Some towns served virtually but are not limited to Pittsburg, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Center City, Cherry Hill, Haddonfield, Mount Laurel, Cape May, Avalon, Brick, Dover, New Castle, Bethany Beach, Marydel, and Oceanview.