The Million-Dollar Question about Body Image

The sad part of the New Year’s resolution frenzy is that it will be over by Valentines Day. Most of the people will fizzle out on their resolutions of losing weight and working out. That is, unless they are willing to take off their masks and ask a heart-wrenching question. That question, you have probably already guessed (if you have been following this blog) has absolutely nothing to do with food, fat, or fannies. It is a question that has to do with your heart and your story. By now you have probably learned that food and body image issues are really not about food or your body, but about deeper issues of the heart. If you don’t address these deeper issues of the heart, you will continue to lose in your fight against the body image bandit. This is the reason why most winners on “The Biggest Loser” gain all of their weight back. It is also why others continue to lose the battle of the bulge, or anorexia, or purgeing, or obsessing about their bodies.

So what is the million dollar body image question? Here it is: What was happening in your life when you first started to have a bad relationship with food and/or your body image? But remember, “nothing” is not the answer. This requires a much deeper thought process. You have to have the courage to ponder and think about what really happened. Most people are tempted to say, “Oh nothing, really. ________happened, but it really was not that big of a deal. I’m soooooo over that!” But if you started your journey into a bad relationship with food during that time, it affected you more profoundly than you realized. If it brought you through the door of eating disorders (including bingeing, purging, over-exercising, or yo-yo dieting) and/or other addictions, the wound has gashed a larger part of your soul than you have begun to imagine.

Maybe you feel that you have already worked through this part of your story. You may have done a lot of work on it, which is to be celebrated. But if you are still on the sick cycle of bingeing, dieting, or obsessing about your body image, perhaps you have more work to do. If you are an American, you have seen 250,000 ads by the time you are 17, and most of the ads scream, “To be thin is to be beautiful, and beauty is everything.” Of course this is a gnawing monster in our culture that we need to beat. I have written several other posts discussing how we can do this, as well as how we can protect our kids from developing eating disorders.

Once you answer the first question, you can continue to draw a time line of your life and put marks next to the times when you most struggled with food/body image issues. Perhaps you have worked through the first issue, but our lives are complex. You probably fell back into into unhealthy relationship with food/body image at other points in your life, when your heart was sick because of what was happening in your life. So of course there is much more to work through. I hope that you will consider working on your real, underlying issues that caused you to develop an unhealthy relationship with food. Then – and only then- will you have the greatest chance of fighting the body image bandit and winning. After all, the truth will set you free, and the truth is that food/body image issues are much more about our hearts and our stories than anything else.

© Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC and Tooshie: Defeating the Body Image Bandit, (c) 2007-20014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC and Tooshie: Defeating the Body Image Bandit with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Crazy Mermaid says:

    A very timely article, well-written, about the challenges we all face regarding sustenance.

    Like

  2. Jess says:

    Hi again!
    First I’d like to thank you very much for your insightful comments on the phrase I quoted in my blog “nothing can taste as good as being thin feels”. What you wrote opened my eyes, and led my to your site to read some very interesting posts about body image and the emotions behind over-eating.

    I respect your disgust with the quote, but I wanted to explain my thinking a little better. The phrase could be interpreted as the “all or nothing” attitude, where one believes that the only way to lose weight is to deprive themselves of ALL things yummy and fattening. You and I both know that this is a recipe for failure. This type of diet can only be followed for a short amount of time before eventually the cravings win over and there’s an inevitable binge.

    I too believe in moderation. I think that the only way to successfully lose weight is to NOT cut out all the good stuff. Instead, I pay attention to how much I’m eating, and listen to my stomach to tell me I’m full. If I didn’t allow myself a bit of chocolate each day, I’d probably go crazy! This is how I use that quote: “Nothing can taste as good as being thin feels”. Thinking of this reminds me that food is just food, and although my one piece of chocolate might taste very very good, I do not REALLY want to eat more. I’d rather accomplish my weight loss goals. It reminds me of that horrible, regretful feeling I used to have after a binge, and keeps me from going in that direction. I can happily and confidently turn down a second helping of my favorite sweet treat just by thinking about my desire to be healthy.

    Thanks again, and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    ~Jess

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    1. Jess, Thank you for your response. I am so glad that you are notinvolved in theall-or-nothing/black and white thinking about good and bad foods. Just as you said, when we feel deprived we set ourselves up for bingeing.

      Have you ever read any of Geneen Roth’s books? They are absolutelyamazing, and help in processing through any undercurrents thatpull us into compulsive overeating.

      Best wishes to you in 2010. Take care, Cherrie Become the person you were meant to be…

      http://www.notjustsymptoms.comweb site http://www.cherriemac.wordpress.comblog about body image Fannies: Reflections on Cookie Dough, Life, and Your Derriere Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC 17220 127th Pl. NE, Suite 101 Woodinville, WA 98072 (206) 353-1307

      Confidentiality Notice: This e-mail message, including any attachments, is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential, proprietary, and/or privileged information protected by law. If you are not the intended recipient, you may not use, copy, or distribute this e-mail message or its attachments. If you believe you have received this e-mail message in error, please contact the sender by reply e-mail and destroy all copies of the original message.

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  3. Bonna B says:

    Jess,
    This post was auto generated from my post yesterday. Read it and we should talk

    http://bonnab.wordpress.com/2010/06/21/body-image-issues-we-all-have-em/

    Like

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