How I Began to Love My Body, Part 3: Overcoming My Hatred for My Body

This is part three of four-part series on body image—how I hated my body for a long time, learned to love my body eventually, and how you can achieve a positive body image as well.

Awakening

Having finally understood the true reasons behind my persisting higher weight (read Part 1: My Deep Hatred for My Body and Part 2: Unraveling My Weight Issues if you haven’t already), it was time to tackle the problem by addressing its root causes.

#1. Recognizing My Body as a Neutral Medium

The first thing I did was to recognize that my body as the neutral medium it has always been.

All this while, I had felt that my body had let me down by failing to match up to my ideal image. As mentioned in part one, I have never had any issues with my height, body frame, body type, nor natural body features. However, I really hated my weight for I wanted to be skinny (within my frame and height) but I couldn’t.

It was only when I was listening to Marianne Williamson’s “A Course in Weight Loss” last year, particularly the lesson on “Love Your Body” (click here if you’re interested in a free 30-day account with Audible, a one-stop resource for audio books), that I realized the folly of my thoughts.

I realized that my body has never had anything to do with my weight problems at all. It has never been the culprit of any of my problems. It has always been the innocent party all along, caught in the crossfire of my body hate and self-hate issues.

What do I mean? Well, I used to think of my body as the source of my body/weight problems. If only I had a different, a lighter, body, I would think, all my body/weight problems would go away.

However, was my body really the problem? No, it wasn’t. My body has always been a neutral medium created for me to walk this Earth. My body’s size, whatever it was or is today, has always been the result of my energy intake minus expenditure, in accordance to the laws of physics. Whenever it became “larger”, it was only because I had consumed more calories than I needed for the day, which led the excess calories to be converted into fat and stored onto my body. Whenever it became “smaller” (rare), it was because I had consumed less calories than I needed, which then led to my fat deposits being burned off.

It wasn’t as if my body was trying to make my life difficult and purposefully ballooned to torment my existence. It had simply been reacting to my real world eating and energy expenditure; it continues to do so today.

Recognizing my body as a neutral entity was important in unchaining its place in my convoluted set of beliefs surrounding myself, my body, and love. It was my first step in sorting out my negative body image issue such that I could tease out the actual factors leading to my poor body image and continuous weight (re)gain.

#2. Loving My Body; Appreciating and Respecting It as It Is

My next step was to start loving my body, wholly and unconditionally.

I remember I have been taught, since I was born, that my body is a holy temple created to house my spirit. I was taught that the female body is especially precious and I need to love and care for it dearly.

Somewhere along the way, I lost touch with this teaching. I would berate my body endlessly for not conforming to my ideal vision. I would stack it up with bodies of societal idolatry (usually that of celebrities and models) and be outraged by the disparity between my body and theirs. Instead of respect, all I harbored towards my body was hatred—deep hatred.

However, when I took a step back and reflected on my behavior, I realized that I was being entirely stupid, self-centered, and unappreciative of what my body has done for me.

Since I was born, my body has always there, selflessly serving and helping me. It has continuously pumped blood throughout my body so I can live. It has continuously supplied oxygen to my cells so they can breathe. It has continuously fought whatever diseases, viruses, or bacteria I come across so I can live my fullest existence every single second of the day.

Day or night, rain or shine, my body has been there for me all this while, quietly performing its role. Never has it failed on me; never has it complained about what it has to do; never has it b*tched about what it has to put up with, what with me being such a ridiculous owner and all (especially since I would blame my body for being “fat” and how I would regularly jump from binge eating to not eating at all, or from exercising religiously to not exercising totally).

My body has been relentlessly serving me for the full 28 years of my life (to date) and hopefully for more to come. Instead of reciprocating my body’s efforts with love, I had hated it. Instead of appreciating my body for what it has done (for me), I had berated it over and over again for the things which it was not even responsible for. Instead of respecting my body for the holy temple and beautiful life form that it is, I had continuously denounced it as a contemptuous object.

What kind of a ridiculous owner had I been? My body hasn’t let me down at all. Really, I was the one who had let my body down instead.

It was then my onus to love, appreciate, and respect my body for all that it is and all that it has done for me, and hope that it will continue to support me in my life journey the same way it had done in the past 28 years.

Today, rather than look into the mirror, see an unideal version of my body and put my body down like I would in the past, I now look into the mirror and see a body that is perfect and magnificent in its own right. I see a body with a beautiful female silhouette; with soft, feminine curves; with skin that is soft and pure; with complexion that radiates my soul.

Recognizing the beauty of my body

A holy grail; a temple; a masterpiece of Mother Nature; perfection at its finest. That is what it has been all this while. ♥ 

While I may continue to have an ideal body image (such as being more toned and fit), that’s only part of improving myself. I know that whatever my body is right now, today, is perfect. I love, appreciate, and respect as what it is, while working on making it even better.

#3. Putting an End to My Constant Self-Pressurization

My subconsciousness had got to the point where it was highly pissed at myself for my constant self-abuse. From pushing myself to always do more and be more, to openly disrespecting my needs (like not sleeping when I needed rest), to doing things at the expense of myself, it had been outraged at how poorly I had taken care of my soul and my body.

Much of this self-pressurization came from an inferiority complex. I’m not good enough, is a conversation I have been running since I was young. I need to do more and be more, was what I used to think.

Realizing that I’m good enough is something I’m still working on today. At the same time, I’ve been making big leaps in releasing my self-pressurization through the following steps:

  1. Let go. I used to get very worked up over every little thing, including things which are not in my control. Today, I let go issues which are not in my control and focus on the things which I can effect instead.
  2. Living an inspiration-led rather than pressure-enforced life. I no longer pressurize myself to do things. Instead, I live by intuition and do what I feel like doing in the moment/day. (This was what sparked my decision to retire at 28 and pen that retirement article.)
  3. Stop putting myself after others. I recognized that as long as I put others before myself, I would be doing myself and others a disservice, for I would not be able to help others as much if my needs were jeopardized. It is only true respecting my needs that I can be of true value to people out there.

Further reading:

#4. Addressing My Emotions (Fear, Stress, Etc.) and Issues Independent of Food

Growing up, food was a centerpiece in my life. Whether it was when I felt stressed out, or when I received positive news, or when I was inundated by my fears, food had been my go-to answer for all these situations.

In addressing my body image issue, I had to unchain the extraneous roles of food in my life. This means no longer turning to food when I feel stressed/fearful/happy/angry/sad/depressed/empty/etc. and/or when I’m faced with problems., but instead learning to deal with my emotions and issues as they are.

Doing this has been liberating. I realize that I had been using food as a crutch which prevented me from dealing with my emotions and issues as they are. Now that food is no longer part of my problem-resolution process, I am able to pinpoint my emotions and problems very precisely and handle them in an on-point manner. Rather than trough around my problems in a roundabout way, with food as a feel-good factor, I am now more conscious of my reality and what I have to do to create a better one (as opposed to soaking myself in an illusionary world of happiness (which is really anguish and unhappiness deep down) tied to eating and food).

Even in the times when I don’t have a solution to the issue yet, I have learned that it is okay not to have the solution (yet). I have learned to be okay with uncertainty. I have learned that sometimes I can sit and brew in my problems for a while, as long as I get to solving it eventually.

Check out:

#5. Loving Myself

Hug Yourself

As a corollary to Point #3, I learned to love myself.

The constant re-emergence of my heavier self was my subconsciousness’ way of sending a message, which was: “Hey lady—can you please stop taking yourself for granted? Can you please start loving and caring for yourself the way you endeavor to do for others?”

Yes, message received loud and clear. After my decade-long struggle with my body weight and with eating, I have realized that my body image and food issues go beyond just resolving my relationship with food and eating. It goes deep down to my relationship with myself.

All this while, I had such a poor relationship with myself. To the point that I continued to food binge after achieving a neutral relationship with food in 2012, because I felt that I did not deserve a great body nor a great life. The only difference was that instead of eating unconsciously based on erroneous food/eating beliefs, I was overeating because I subconsciously wanted to be fat, ugly, and undesirable. It was self-sabotaging at its finest.

Restoring my relationship with myself meant unbuckling personal grievances, loving myself, appreciating who I am, and valuing my needs. As my hatred towards myself decreased, my self-love surfaced. This love has never been missing all along; it had just been covered up by my self-hate. Removing my hatred has helped my self-love to shine through in an unadulterated fashion.

Read:

#6. Taking Responsibility for My Current Body Shape/Size

Last but not least, I began to take responsibility for my current body shape/size, whatever it may be.

This means no longer faulting my body for being “large”, “pudgy”, “fat”, “thick”, “ugly”, and what not. Whether my body is fat or thin is none of its business. As I mentioned in Point #1, my body is just a neutral medium for me to walk this Earth. The size and shape of my body has everything to do with me—my eating habits, my activity level, and my health.

No more self-blame. No more finger pointing. No more fault finding.

In the place of blame is the assumption of responsibility for my actions (namely my binge eating habits). I traced out my various actions which contributed to my larger-than-desired body size, which were (a) me eating excessively at night due to self-imposed stress, (b) me consuming more food than I needed to in the name of not wasting food, (c) me eating because I felt pressurized to eat in the presence of others, among others.

I then worked on removing these factors from my life, one at a time. These actions subsequently led to results in the form of normalized eating, and gradually, weight loss.

Natural Resolution of My Weight Regain Issue

Funnily, as I worked on the six steps above, my body started slimming down.

Note that I did not try to overtly lose weight, at least not in the concerted manner I would in the past. While I would typically repress my eating habits and/or exercise rigorously to eliminate the excess pounds, I didn’t this time round. I just naturally ate lesser, ate healthier, and embarked on activities which I genuinely had interest pursuing. The weight just came off as a result.

It just drives home the point that our body weight is simply a reflection of our inner psyche. We have our beliefs about ourselves, food, and the world, which naturally translate into eating habits and day-to-day actions, which naturally translate into our body weight.

Earlier in my life, I had already imbued myself with the right hard knowledge surrounding food, weight loss, and lifestyle. (Live a Healthier Life in 21 Days Challenge and 21-Day Fitness Challenge were big enablers in getting me into the groove.) The only thing blocking me from truly losing my “excess” weight for good was my inner psyche, specifically my twisted relationships with myself, my body, and at one point food/eating. Having finally addressed these issues through the six steps above, my weight then had nowhere to go but off.

Looking back, it is funny to know that the very thing keeping myself from achieving my ideal body all this while was my hatred for my body. Because I had hated my body, my subconsciousness felt that I did not deserve to achieve the body I yearned for. It was through the unconditional acceptance of myself and my body that my subconsciousness finally supported me in realizing my vision of my ideal body, because I am now a worthy owner of my body.

I’m now about a U.S. size six to eight. Most would describe me as tall and slender, and I’m definitely still in a healthy weight range as always. (Add me on my Facebook page if you want to see my personal pictures and connect with me on a personal level. :) ) I’m nearly where I want to be in terms of having my ideal body; I just want to shape and tone up a little bit more through more healthy eating and more physical activity. I love my body as it is while continuously improving to make it better.

Yet, bear in mind that I’m not just loving my body today because it’s nearly where I want it to be. I began loving my body even before it fit my ideal image (when I was hovering between U.S. sizes eight and twelve due to my fluctuating weight); it is because I love my body as is that I was able to start shedding the pounds permanently and naturally, not the other way round. This instrumentality is key and something which I’ve been trying to drive home with the sharing of my story; it’s also something that I drive in Module 3 of my How to Stop Stress Eating Program.

Check out the last part of the series, where I share my step-by-step guide to address a negative body image and start loving your body: Body Image: Your Gentle Guide to Loving Your Body.

If you feel this series may be of help to someone else, please do share it on Facebook/Twitter; you never know who you will be helping.  :) 

This is part three of four-part series on body image—how I hated my body for a long time, learned to love my body eventually, and how you can achieve a positive body image as well.

Images: Girl looking,  Girl on fieldHug yourself

  • Jodi

    Dear Celes,

    Part 3 has touched me deeply. Until recently, I believed that I could only build and maintain strong relationships with the opposite sex by looking attractive. I didn’t love my body, I only loved the thought of what I wanted it to be, and really felt disdainful when it responded to what I did rather than what I hoped what it would do on its own. Thanks for helping me unlock a part of my subconscious. I am looking forward to reading more.

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      Dearest Jodi, thank you so much for your response. I’m so glad that this part has helped you to realize that you don’t need to look a certain way to appeal to others; most importantly our body deserves all the respect we can give it. Your body, regardless of how it looks now and whether or not it conforms to your ideal image, is already beautiful as it is (something I wrote about in my previous beauty article).

      I plan to delve more into how to develop a positive body image in part four and hope that you will find it helpful as well. :)

  • Fervent Life

    Hi Celes

    Woul like to clarify Point #3 / 3

    “Stop putting myself after others. I recognized that as long as I put others before myself, I would be doing myself and others a disservice, for I would not be able to help others as much if my needs were jeopardized. It is only true respecting my needs that I can be of true value to people out there.”

    I suppose you meant to put yourself before others?

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      Hi Fervent Life, nope I meant what was written. Not to put others before yourself or to put yourself before others, but to simply stop neglecting your needs in the name of others’ needs. To start recognizing both parties’ needs in tandem and to make adept decisions in consideration of both (yourself and others’) needs, rather than one over another.

      • Fervent Life

        Thanks Celes for clarifying~ =)

        Cheers

        • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

          You’re welcome Fervent. :) Thanks for commenting!

  • Bob

    Well Celes,

    After reading this part I have looked up the definition of

    Love – an intense feeling of deep affection and
    Affection – a gentle feeling fondness or liking

    I thought aha… I see and feel that’s not so hard to do. There are areas where I like myself more than others (where I have explored myself). I have discovered, yes I like this part and then I realised that the other parts are waiting to be discovered. Ok, I have made plenty of mistakes, but wouldn’t life be boring if I got everything right first time.

    Now, I think the way to loving myself is discovering more and more about myself. As Socrates says “The unexamined life is not worth living”. How very true, how can I know whether or not I like something unless I try it? This goes for everything…

    Discover – find(something or someone) unexpectedly

    It is only by looking that I will find. Of course, if I don’t like it I can always come back to where I am and start another area of expedition. One idea leads to another, by looking and searching I soon discovers whole new network of areas I like and maybe even love!

    Thanks for this series Celes, I’m changing my perception of how I see things.

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      Hi Bob, thanks so much for sharing your insights as always. :) I like that you pointed out the two words—love and affection. If one has difficulty loving one’s body, then maybe just try to “like” it a little bit first. Like it for the things you already like about it… and work your way from there. That’s the first step to achieving full-self-love.

      • Bob

        That’s right Celes, sometimes we get sidetracked into being influenced by our thoughts, actions, people and our surroundings which lead us away from our centre – a place of love.

        • Bob

          I think it is also the same with people, we like one part then we add another part. This can be a quality, a feature, admiring how they do something and so on.

          A quote from Marianne Williamson’s Miracle Thought
          “One of the ways to gain a greater appreciation for who you are is to be willing to appreciate more deeply who other people are. You can’t see in other people what you are not willing to see within yourself, but you are also not able to see within yourself what you are not willing to see in other people. Just realise for a moment that Gods love resides in each and every person and that includes you.”

  • http://lifemosaique.wordpress.com/ Lina

    Another great part of this series which resonates with my past experiences and with my feelings. I can totally related with several points you’ve made in this part.

    “Growing up, food was a centerpiece in my life.” And it still is in mine. Just like you said in your Emotional eating series, food has always been a symbol of love for my parents, of abundance; in their eyes, the more I ate, the more I became a “well-fed child”. I still can’t refuse food when they ask me to join them at the table, even though I had eaten a short time before that, or if I *do* refuse, which happens pretty rarely, my parents start saying things like “You want to be model-skinny?” or “Why aren’t you eating? Is something wrong?”.

    “Much of this self-pressurization came from an inferiority complex. I’m not good enough, is a conversation I have been running since I was young. I need to do more and be more, was what I used to think.” I have this problem, too. Although I’m trying to practice self-love and self-appreciation as much as possible, I often catch myself thinking that I’m not beautiful enough, intelligent enough, sharp enough (in terms of finding and taking advantage of opportunities) or, since we’re talking about body-image, slim/thin enough. One of my strongly rooted beliefs related to weight is that I may never have a partner because guys/men like skinny women and I’m chubby (I know I’m still young to worry about this, but our brains work in mysterious ways which don’t always follow a rational path, lol).

    Again, really well-written, Celes, and I like the fact that you’re honest and open when it comes to something so intimate as your own thoughts and feelings. Thank you for sharing them with us, letting us know that it’s not uncommon to have certain thoughts and issues, and helping us surpass our limiting beliefs. :)

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      Thank you so much Lina! :) I’m so glad that you can relate to several points in this post. You have probably read the EE series already; I recommend you to review it again when you get the time to bust the next layer of erroneous beliefs you have surrounding food/eating. It’s okay that food is still a centerpiece in your life; I gather it probably is quite hard to unchain its role if you are still staying with your parents (I am) and you are constantly surrounded by food in your natural environment.

      One key factors that helped me unchained the final links of food in my life is when I went traveling and I was staying by myself, no longer with my parents. It helped me to develop 100% ownership of all my meals, after which I continued to enforce this even when I returned home. This is also doable even if you have to continue staying with your parents. Just know that the reason why their food purchase behavior and food comments would still affect you is because you allow them to. It’s a matter of taking full responsibility over the entire area of food and eating in your life.

      One of my strongly rooted beliefs related to weight is that I may never have a partner because guys/men like skinny women and I’m chubby

      I don’t know if how “chubby” you are Lina (from your profile picture you look just fine), but know that different girls fit different guys and not all guys like the stick-skinny type of women. Also, lose/gain weight to match *your* ideal vision of your body and not others’ ideal vision for your body or what you think others’ ideal visions are. If a guy does not love your body as is (and assuming you are at a perfectly okay, healthy weight), then he is probably looking the relationship at quite a carnal, physical level and I’m not too sure what’s going to come out of such a connection. Love yourself and your body—you are beautiful as you are—and you are going to find your subconsciousness much more cooperative in supporting you to achieve your goals. :)

      • http://lifemosaique.wordpress.com/ Lina

        Thank you for the nice, encouraging words, Celes!

        “Also, lose/gain weight to match *your* ideal vision of your body and not others’ ideal vision for your body or what you think others’ ideal visions are.” I constantly try to remind myself this, because I am aware that -as you said, too- this would make me feel more at ease in my own body and my subconscious would work with me instead of against me.

  • dew

    hey celes,
    i am so very delighted reading this series that i can’t express… i am not really fat, i weigh average.but i still idolize to have a gab between my thighs, to reduce the bulk on my cheeks. i am in college and all this 20 years i have been failing to appreciate me and my body. i would even scowl when people complimented me on my looks. i am still having troubles loving myself, but at least i know the root of my weight problems.
    would u write on how to start loving oneself? how to begin appreciating oneself?

    i am really excited to read your next part of this series :)

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      Hi dew, thanks so much for your comment. *hugs* That’s a great suggestion; an article/series on how to start loving oneself. I’ve definitely always wanted to write something like this, just haven’t had the opportunity to do so. I may pen a new article/series on this or to start a challenge on it even next month. Stay tuned. :)

  • Lolita

    This post is dear to my heart as i have fought with body issues for the longest. I hate my thin legs, i hate my big breasts, my flat bum, my big waist.

    Thank you for reminding us how to appreciate our bodies.

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      Hi Lolita, thanks so much for sharing. I’m so glad that this post has been of some value to you. *hugs*

  • http://www.womenxite.com Christy

    The series of articles is awesome. It’s really amazing when you think of.. how much our body has been doing for us over a period of years and we neglect it most of the times and hate it. Although most of the people envy me.. I still get down by a little fat around my waist. It.. most of the times its our fault since there are a lot of the things in our body that we can make right.. look better and give it the attention that it deserves. Its like a marriage between the soul and body.

  • Sayaka

    Once again, you have helped me understand better about myself.
    I can especially relate with the part when you mentioned:

    “I would berate my body endlessly for not conforming to my ideal vision. I would stack it up with bodies of societal idolatry (usually that of celebrities and models) and be outraged by the disparity between my body and theirs. Instead of respect, all I harbored towards my body was hatred—deep hatred.
    However, when I took a step back and reflected on my behavior, I realized that I was being entirely stupid, self-centered, and unappreciative of what my body has done for me.”

    I am going to try and respect my body more for what it has done for me. I can see how without loving my body, it will only jeopardize my process of trying to lose the weight. I really loved this insight. I am also going to work on NOT comparing my body size to others.

    Please do upload more on this series!!! I love love LOVE it!!! Thank you so much Celes!!!

  • http://www.savemymarriagetodayonline.com Gabby

    We are all beautiful in our own way. It’s something exciting and refreshing that we are so different, body shapes etc. It’s important to acknowledge the inner beauty that we all have. Thank for the wonderful article.

  • Ashley

    Hey Celes! I’ve been following you for three years now and am currently reading your bits about loving your body and working through the self-hate that held you back. I was wondering (as I am also on a journey to seeking the truth in the world of nutrition), if you have read the “Beauty Detox Solution” by Kimberly Snider? I have both her books and they are real eyeopeners when it comes to seeing how food can be an agent to make yourself feel and look healthy and beautiful!

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      Hey Ashley! :) I haven’t read the book before but I will keep an eye out for it. I’m going to the library this Saturday and will see if it has that book. Thanks for the recommendation! :)

      I’m glad you are taking an interest in this series. :) Part 4 is coming up soon, so stay tuned!

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How I Began to Love My Body, Part 2: Unraveling My Weight Issues

This is part two of a four-part series on body image—how I hated my body for a long time, learned to love my body eventually, and...

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