Tag Archives: negative body obsession

Healthy Thinking: Using Your Mind To Help Heal Body, Heart & Soul

Healthy ThinkingYou probably know what it takes to live a healthy life, right?  Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly, take vitamins – maybe add in some fish oil for cardiovascular health.  Make sure you get enough protein, carbohydrates, and lean fats.  Fortunately for many, healthy eating and exercise have become more and more a way of life.  You know the list of do’s and don’ts to keep your body strong and fit.

What is less well known is how your thoughts influence your physical, emotional, and even spiritual health.  Your mind is an extremely powerful instrument that can be either a friend or foe.  For most, left to its own devices, the mind is a foe, and can lead to pain, difficulty, and suffering.  With a little bit of effort and awareness, however, the mind can become a friend.  As a friend, your mind can be used as a powerful asset to help promote your health and well-being on all levels.

Understanding Your Mind – Friend or Foe

Is your mind your friend or your foe?  If you are like most, your mind bombards you with concerns, worry, anxiety, negative self-talk and a barrage of other nonsense.

Your mind may harass you about being good enough or healthy enough.  It might critique you for making “poor” decisions.  Are you being a good enough mother to your children?  Are you a loving enough partner?  Are you taking good enough care of your physical body?

And then let’s not forget gnawing concerns about physical appearance.  The mind may lament: “I have too many wrinkles.”  “How did my butt get so big?”  “What should I do about these sun spots?”

Does this list sound at all familiar?  You can probably write your own – your unique “flavor” of negative mental messages.  These messages range from annoying to downright tyrannical.  They are tyrannical because they control your life.

What kind of life can you live when your mind harasses you constantly with these types of concerns and worries?

It is my contention that true health is impossible when you live with a tyrannical mind.  And most people do.  You can eat all the right foods, do all the right exercises, take all the best supplements, and have a wonderful mix of alternative and conventional medical care.  Yet if you are a slave to your thoughts, believing every mental message that the mind produces, how can you be truly healthy?

The mind-body connection is by now well-known and documented throughout the scientific literature.  If your mind is producing stress, anxiety, and insecurity, whether that is through making you believe that you are not quite good enough the way you are, or that something is wrong with you, or making you worry and stress about situations over which you have no control, this mental turbulence has a very real impact on your physical health and well-being.

The tragedy is that most people live enslaved by their minds – their thoughts, beliefs, mental patterns and emotions.  The triumph is that with a little awareness and effort, you can begin to free yourself from the tyranny of your mind and move toward true health and well-being.

Freeing the Mind – Breaking Free from the Thoughts and Beliefs that Confine You

So, how do you break free from this ceaseless and controlling mind-chatter?

Fortunately, there are some steps you can take that will help you find freedom from a controlling, and even debilitating mind.

Step #1: Become aware of the thoughts that you think

Before you can break free from your negative thoughts, ideas, and beliefs about yourself, your body, and your life, you must first become aware of the thoughts that you think on a regular basis.

What thoughts and beliefs are being generated in your mind?  Everyone has thoughts, messages, “tapes” if you will, that run through the mind.  Without awareness, these thoughts control you and dictate your life.  Yet as you become aware of the thoughts you think on a regular basis, you can gradually begin to loosen the control they have over your life.

There is no practice more important or more impactful in breaking free from the thoughts that control you than the practice of meditation.  Over time, a regular meditation practice makes you more aware of the thoughts that are being generated by your mind.  With meditation, you discover that you are not the thoughts you think.  You are not the messages and voices inside your head.  Over time, meditation will gradually help lessen the grip and hold that your thoughts have over your life.  The amazing thing about meditation is that simply by practicing meditation, you will become more aware of the thoughts you think on a regular basis.

Step #2: Recognize that they are false

Before you become aware of your thoughts, they control you absolutely.  As you become aware of them, you can begin to notice that they control you.  You can begin to notice how they control you.  The next step in breaking free from them is recognizing that they are false.  You have to realize that they are simply messages, usually learned in early childhood, and they are false.  They are not about you and should not be allowed to control your life.

Step#3: Refuse to believe them

The next step is refusing to believe them.  As you begin to see more clearly that these false messages run through your mind, you can make a decision to not believe them.  You can recognize that they are false – false messages running through your mind.  As such, they should not be listened to and should be ignored.

It is like music running in the background.  You can carry about your business, go about your life, and ignore the negative thoughts and beliefs.  Disregard them, don’t listen to them – completely ignore them.  As you practice this, gradually over time they will lessen and recede more and more.    

In this way, you can use your awareness to free yourself from the negative thoughts that you think.

As the mind becomes free from these negative messages and beliefs, it can be used as an ally to promote health.  When you are listening to the negative thoughts and beliefs that run through your mind, it promotes dis-ease.  As you become free from these voices, the energy of your mind is elevated to help you move toward true wellbeing.

Sarah Maria, author of Love Your Body, Love Your Life, outlines her 5-step process for helping you feel great in and about your body.  Her work embraces the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, for true, lasting healing.  Visit BreakFreeBeauty.com to learn more.

The Surprising Truth about Weight Gain, Body Image, and Eating Disorders

So much has been written on the topic of weight gain, eating disorders, and body image, and, by all appearances, the problem is getting worse. Statistics shows that 95% of women dislike their bodies and their physical appearance, and now this rampant dissatisfaction has extended to men as well. Once thought to be the focus of teenage girls, studies are showing that eating disorders are increasingly prevalent among middle-age adults, and even beyond.

Is this gnawing discontent unreasonable? With obesity numbers reaching staggering proportions, you may very well think disgust with one’s physical appearance is a normal, and perhaps even a healthy problem to have, if it helps people change their diets and their lifestyles. Then, of course, there is the advent of ever-new disorders, such as pregorexia (compulsively restricting food intake during pregnancy, which impairs the healthy development of the fetus) and orthorexia (an obsession with eating healthy, organic foods).

Is there any solution to this ever-growing and ever-present problem? Or are we doomed to be a population condemned to ever-expanding waistlines, and an ever-increasing obsession with how we look and what we eat?

There is a way to end these ailments, whether you are overweight, or have a distorted view of your body, or find yourself obsessing when you need to order non-organic. Yet, contrary to popular opinion, the solution doesn’t come from solving the problem, per se. Rather, the solution comes from seeing the problem as an opportunity.

Now wait – before you silently yell obscenities at me (What do you mean my life-long affliction with food and with my body is an opportunity?!?!?!?!), and stop reading this article immediately – stay with me for just a second – give me a moment to explain what I mean.

As long as you consider your struggle to be a problem, you reinforce your belief that there is something wrong with you that needs to be fixed. If you are overweight, and especially if this has been a life-long or at least a long-term challenge, you probably have a story or two about what is wrong with you. It might sound something like this:

“I am lazy.” “I just like food too much.” “I can’t stay away from sweets.” “I have no self-control.”  

 

“I am a fat slob – I will never have the body I want.”

Depending on your particular disorder, your story might also sound something like this:

“I must be thin.” “I will hate myself if I gain weight.” “I wish I had her body.” “If I eat, I will get fat.” “I must exercise all the time or else I will gain weight.”

Now, in the beginning stages of body-image struggles and eating disorders, you may convince yourself that you do not have a problem, that everything is fine, and that you are perfectly normal. Yet after living in the mental hell described above for a while, you start to get a sneaking suspicion that something might be wrong. You get the notion that maybe you are not living with all the peace, tranquility, and love that is possible.

At this stage, you become convinced that you have a problem and are in need of a solution. You come to believe that something is inherently wrong with you. You know that there is more to life, that you are capable of something great, but you are stuck in a web of pain and suffering, not sure which way to turn.

In my experience, having healed myself of a negative body image, eating disorders, and obsessive-compulsive behavior that lasted for well over a decade, I have found the following to be utterly transformative:

Your greatest struggle, your deepest pain, your most desperate confusion, holds the keys to your transformation. The secret is in shifting how you look at your problem. Instead of seeing it as a problem, consider it an opportunity. Now, it is up to you to discover the opportunity. It is easy for others to point out a problem to you, but you alone can uncover and in fact create an opportunity out of your adversity. Every challenge holds the keys to unlimited blessings; you need only become aware of your ability to transform your reality, and then stay open and alert to possibilities that come your way.

According to eastern wisdom, we all have within us the ultimate guru or teacher. This teacher is always with us, always calling us to discover our true greatness, our inner-being, that part of ourselves that is magnificent, grand, and wondrous, that part of ourselves urging us to live our very best life.

Unfortunately, very few of us learn how to listen to this inner-teacher as children. As we go throughout life, we lose our connection to ourselves, becoming increasingly tossed to-and-fro by the challenges and adversities of life. Our life becomes a mess of problems and adversities.

These problems, whatever form they take, are opportunities in disguise. They are calling you home. The challenges you face grab your attention. When you don’t listen, you find yourself stuck in a seemingly disastrous web of suffering, possibly unable to stop eating despite the health risks of your weight, unwittingly starving your own child because of your insecurities, refusing to eat after your recent divorce, or whatever form your particular suffering takes.

Yet you always have a chance to return home. You always have the opportunity to dive within yourself and connect with this inner-teacher. No matter how much pain and suffering you our experiencing in any moment, you always have the choice to stop, close your eyes, look within, and seek to discover the seeds of opportunity that are latent in your current adversity.

So whether you, yourself, are struggling with excess weight, an eating disorder, a negative body-image, or any other problem, or if a friend or loved one is struggling, here are a few simple steps to help you connect with your inner-guide an unleash the opportunity that will transform your adversity into a great blessing:

  1. Consider the possibility that your problem, whatever it is, holds the seeds to opportunity. Just being open to this possibility will create a shift inside of you. 

  1. Take the time to go within. There is no substitute for diving deeply within yourself. As the teacher Krishnamurti once said, “In oneself lies the whole world, and if you know how to look and learn, the door is there and the key is in your hand.”

Traditionally, going within is accomplished through the practice of meditation. There are many different styles to choose from – the key is to make meditation a regular part of your daily routine. Regular meditation yields tremendous health benefits, both physically and psychologically, and it also helps you tap into your inner wisdom.

  1. Find a teacher, guide, or a coach who can help you explore your internal landscape. When you are at the beginning stages of getting to know yourself, when you are beginning this path of spiritual and personal inquiry, a teacher, coach or guide is extremely valuable. This person could be a psychologist, a spiritual teacher, a yoga instructor, or a life coach. Look for someone who understands where you are coming from and a person to whom you feel a connection. Often this emotional bond is the most important component in getting you the assistance you need.

 Remember always: you can transform any adversity into opportunity. Your greatest pain and greatest challenge can be your greatest gift to yourself and to the world. Dive within and discover the keys to create a body and a life of your dreams.

 

Sarah Maria, author of Love Your Body, Love Your Life, outlines her 5-step process for helping you feel great in and about your body. Her work embraces the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, for true, lasting healing. Purchase your copy, begin to love your body today.  Visit: www.sarahmaria.com, www.breakfreebeauty.com.

Part 2: Author Interview with Body Image Expert Sarah Maria

Part II:  Excerpts from an interview with Body Image Expert Sarah Maria on her new book "Love Your Body, Love Your Life: 5 Steps to End Negative Body Obsession and Start Living Happiply and Confidently".

Question:  In your book Love Your Body, Love Your Life, you present the five steps for ending NBO. Can you talk about these steps?

The first step is to set an Intention. This is the first step in creating what you want in life, in creating and experiencing a body and a life that you love.

Step Two is to Identify and Detach from Negative Thoughts. This is all about becoming aware of the thoughts you think on a regular basis, discovering that they are not your own, that they were given to you from outside. Then you can employ specific tools and techniques to help you detach from these negative thoughts so that they no longer control and influence your life and your well-being.

The third step is to discover who you really are. Who you are, or what you are, is not your thoughts, and is not limited to your body/mind. Who you are is the beauty and perfection of the universe manifesting as a human being. As you discover the truth of who and what you really are, this will help you begin to automatically heal whatever problems are plaguing you.

The fourth step is to befriend your body. Most people have an adversarial relationship with their bodies. The fact of the matter is that your body is your very best friend. From the moment of conception until the moment of death, your body is constantly and ceaselessly promoting and sustaining your well-being. Your body always has your best interests in mind. All you need to do is create the best environment possible and then leave your body alone and let it do what it is designed to do, which is take care of you.

The fifth step is to live with purpose. Many people suffer from a sense of apathy and meaninglessness. People wonder why they are here; what is the purpose in life; why live at all. The fact of the matter is that your very existence is purposeful. You are here on purpose and for a purpose. As you connect with the sense of purpose, it will also you to heal, body, mind, and soul.

Question:  Your approach to improving body image has a strong spiritual component. Can you talk about this?

In my experience, and in my approach, the spiritual component is really the critical component. It is what allows true healing and transformation to occur. Now when I say spiritual, I am not referring to any particular religion or belief system. When I speak of spiritual, it is really about learning to connect with yourself, with your soul, with your inner-teacher that is always available, provided only that you are able to hear it.

The easiest and best way to begin to glimpse this part of yourself, to connect with your soul or self, is through the process of meditation. Someone once said that you cannot fix a problem from the same level that you created it. You cannot fix your mind from the level of the mind. You need to step outside of your mind so that you can clearly see what is happening.

Meditation is the practice, the tool, which allows you to step outside of your mind so that your mind can begin to heal itself. Negative Body Obsession is truly a problem or a disease of the mind. It is based on delusional beliefs, thoughts, and behaviors. Meditation is what allows you to see accurately what is happening so that the mind can begin to heal itself of this affliction and delusion.

Question:  Some people criticize the idea of body acceptance and loving your appearance unconditionally, because it supposedly discourages people who are overweight or obese from getting healthier. What are your thoughts?

This is a very common question and nothing could be further from the truth. We live in a culture where fear is the primary motivator. People think that if they dislike themselves, then they will be motivated to change. This is based on fear and delusion and simply serves to perpetuate suffering

There is no greater motivator than love – none. The more love, the greater the power and ability to make whatever change you want to make in your life, whether it be getting healthier, changing jobs, improving your relationships, anything at all. Love is the one motivator that never decreases, that never wanes, because love in itself is infinite. It is inexhaustible.

Fear, on the other hand, has a very limited shelf-life. This is why people lose weight and gain it back and get caught in all sorts of cyclical patterns, like a hamster caught on a never-ending wheel. There is no freedom in fear.

Whenever you truly love someone, you want to do anything in the world to care for him or her, nurture him or her – anything at all. When you love someone completely, the only thing you care about is her well-being, her joy, her happiness, her love. Imagine a mother with her baby child. A mother who can embody and express motherly love will stop at nothing to ensure the survival and well-being of her child. Two intoxicated lovers will do anything in the world to remain together.

Love is the true force – the true power – that will allow you to create and sustain whatever changes you want in your life. Simply think it through fully and you will see. Fear is inherently weak. Love is inherently strong. True love will overpower fear any day of the week. If you want to create lasting change and transformation, love has the power to lead you wherever you want to go.

Question:  What is something readers can do right now to start improving their body image?

The single most important thing you can do is to tell yourself that you are already perfect, beautiful, whole, and complete. Who you are, or rather what you are, is already beautiful and already perfect.

I know this sounds impossible if you dislike your body and are struggling with your weight. Yet this is an important and in fact essential component to healing and creating a body and a life that you love. Who you truly are in reality is not the struggle that you are currently going through. Who you ultimately are is not limited to your body and your mind.

Who you are is the source of all beauty. What you are is already perfect. As you learn to shift your identity from your body-mind and the current struggles your might be experiencing, and place it instead on the reality of your perfection, the reality of your beauty, you will begin to transform the way you view yourself, and ultimately the way you view the whole world.

This might not make any sense to you at this moment, but simply become aware of the negative thoughts beliefs and feelings you have about your body and yourself. Whenever you find yourself caught in a negative dialogue with your body, remind yourself that what you are is already perfect.

Set an intention to discover this beauty and perfection. Set an intention that you will learn to see and experience the beauty that is inside of you in this very moment. Intention is the first step – set an intention for what you want to create, for what you want to experience. Set an intention to improve your body image. This will begin a process that will carry you exactly to where you want to go.

Sarah Maria is the author of Love Your Body, Love Your Life. The book outlines her 5-step process for helping you feel great in and about your body and yourself. Her work embraces the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, so that true and lasting healing can occur. Click here to purchase your copy and begin to love your body today. To learn more about Sarah Maria and her work, you can visit her website at www.sarahmaria.com and www.breakfreebeauty.com.

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