Welcome to this week’s episode of How to Love Your Body.
Today we are discussing the worry so many people are having about going back into the world as the pandemic restrictions begin to ease in many places.
Firstly, don’t feel guilty if you’re feeling uneasy about getting back into the world because you’ve gained weight, because we’ve all been taught to think this way our whole lives BUT isn’t that horrible, that our society is so fatphobic that we are more worried about surviving a pandemic and being seen instead of celebrating that we made it this far?
Regardless, we know that people are worried and we want to support you to get back into the world feeling a little better than you might be feeling right now.
You can download our free Post Pandemic Body Image Workbook at bit.ly/pandemicworkbook
How to Overcome Pandemic Weight Gain Negative Thoughts:
#1. Acceptance and appreciation
It’s important to appreciate any coping mechanisms you had, saying thank you and moving forward .
Don’t try to “fix” anything that you feel needs “fixing” – this never ends well.
What you can do is bring yourself back to center and ask yourself, what can I do right now to feel good? What will feel good in my body right now? And just take that next small step.
No need to do anything other than the next tiny step to do something that feels good – mentally, physically, and/or emotionally.
This is about giving yourself a break – Hello!! We have been in a pandemic for over a year now. This is something that most of us have never experienced. We thought the world was closing for 2 weeks, we would stay at home, and life would go back to normal — and here we are a year later.
We have all been in survival mode – so however you got through this past year, it’s nothing to judge. It was what got you through. Nothing is good or bad or right or wrong. It just is – and you did a wonderful job getting through some really tough times – and that’s life. It will always ebb and flow and you will do the best you can in the situation you are in.
So this is your reminder to be gentle with yourself, accept reality, and appreciate the things you had to cope with to get where you are now.
#2. Put your own opinion and experience of life above others opinions.
Even though we were all in the same pandemic, we have all experienced it in our own way and have been living our own life that others truly know nothing about.
You know you more than anyone, you know the person you are, you know what you have lived – no one gets to define you, no one gets to make you feel inferior because of the way your body looks (or for any other reason), no one gets to take your power with their judgments or comments.
Here are some journal prompts that you can start thinking about – they will be in your workbook so no need to write it down.
- What is it that makes you feel safe at home to be in the body you have but not out in the world where people can see you? What has changed? How can you embody the feelings you’ve had at home and take them with you out into the world?
- What are three things you are proud of yourself for in this past year?
- If your body was how it looked at the start of the pandemic how would your life be different? Would you have a different life? Would you have eternal happiness? Would this past year have been easier? And if your answer is yes – what does this show you about your own beliefs? That looks matter more than true wellness, than the ability to survive this harrowing year, that its the most important thing?
#3. Here are some tangible things you can do as you start to enter into the world (when it’s safe/ vaccines etc).
- Get clothes that fit – Allow yourself to get clothes that fit your body you have today that feel comfortable. One of the most triggering things is to have uncomfortable clothing on – it can really spiral you into a body body image day and your mind is full of intruding thoughts – it’s vital to respect your body and yourself to have clothes that give you the space that feels good.
This isn’t something to feel shame for – the reality is, you are giving your body enough cloth to cover yourself in a way that feels good on your body. No morality in this!
How can you think of clothing in a way that gives meaning that feels good to you/ or a neutral meaning? We know this can be a frustrating and emotional topic which is why we are going to have a bonus in The UnDiet Collective next month that covers the topic of clothing, fashion, and how to process the emotions of it all – (Add more details if Josie is a go).
- Write yourself a reminder and read it – “I survived a Pandemic. It’s safe to go out into the world and be in the body I’m in today. It’s normal for bodies to change!!!”
- Commit to not making body comments
Make a pact with yourself that you won’t comment on anyone else’s body or your own body (our egos have a tendency to want to overexplain ourselves, like preemptively commenting that you’ve gained weight so others dont but practicing just BEING without explaining is a really powerful practice in not worrying what others think as much).
– and to stop someone in their tracks from commenting on your body.
Ex. “I’m doing this thing – post pandemic, that I committed to not comment on anyones body including my own. I’m focusing on how relieved I am the pandemic is declining instead of worrying about anyone’s body changing.”
What value do you see in committing to this?
- Refrain from diet talk/ avoid engaging in any diet conversations
- Don’t apologize or feel the need to explain yourself for your body- if you find yourself trying to explain to someone why your body is a different size, remind yourself that you do not have to apologize for taking up space! You don’t need to give any explanations to why your body is ever the size it is.
4 – You are not alone with pandemic weight gain worries. Realizing it’s not just YOU — most people feel uneasy as things open up and nervous about being seen after time away during a really hard year.
ALSO – it always feels scary to do something that we have not done in a long time. Not only that, our brains makes up worst case scenarios that also make it feel even more anxiety producing.
So it’s important to remind yourself that what you are saying in your head about what’s going to happen when the world opens up and people see you more often, is not actually happening right this second. It’s a made up reality. Let’s create a version of this story that feels good.
You could quite possibly be worrying about something that will never happen or something that may just fall short –
Ex. You’re so nervous to go back to work and you think everyone is going to look at you and make comments etc and once you show up, no one actually cares or notices how you look and everyone is just happy to feel connected again.
Or you finally get to meet up with girlfriends for brunch or a wine night and you get it in your head that all they will think about is the way you look but then you end up meeting up with friends and what actually happens is how fun you all had and missed being together.
This could very much be your reality too.
Here are some action steps to take:
Let’s do some “What if” Turn Arounds:
Start with the ones that scare you the most – make a list of 3 or more
What if they say I’ve gained weight?
What if someone looks at me and I can tell they are judging me?
What if some people around me lost weight?
What if no one even notices my body and moves on with their day?
What if everyone around you was also worried about being judged?
What if others have gained weight? Will you judge them?
- You have your own best advice – It’s soooo much easier to give advice/ support someone rather than take our own advice. We know that. But with this exercise we hope that you can see your own wisdom. Even if it feels challenging – you know that this wisdom is within you and you know the truth of what you truly believe. You can practice and remind yourself of how you would speak to a friend or loved one going through the same feelings and treat yourself with the same love and respect.
- If your best friend/ or someone you love came to you and said they are really nervous about going back to work/ school/ a social outing – what advice would you give them? How would you soothe them?
We know that even when you work through this it may still feel challenging and that’s okay – it’s okay to feel nervous, you are doing amazing work to support yourself through this by listening to this podcast, going through the workbook we have provided for you, and anything else you are doing.
This will take some time to get used to — you may realize that it felt easier than you thought and you may realize the complete opposite or anywhere in between. Whatever your experience, it’s your experience – we hope we can help support you in making it just a bit easier – or a lot!
Lastly we would like to recognize that even with all the work in the world in this area. The systemic injustices of weight stigma and fatphobia are real and this is why we are here in the first place.
No one would feel nervous about being seen by their peers, family, or co-workers if it didn’t exist. This is the issue we are advocating against. Everytime you show up and say, hey this is my body, I belong here, and I’m allowed to be me and take up space ! You are breaking down the social stigma around weight and taking your power back.
We will continue to do this work and strive to make change along with the other amazing people out there making waves — for now you continue to take care of yourself and do your best to celebrate the current body you are in!!
In the next couple of weeks we will be opening The UnDiet Collective App for 48 hours. We are excited for our Clothing bonus in April… We will be having an expert come in to share about how to clear out your closet, do the emotional work of letting clothes go that maybe fit pre pandemic but no longer do and how to find clothes (on a budget) that fit you now and how to feel your best in your current body. You can get on the waitlist at bit.ly/tblsapp.