Widen your focus

With the first days of summer, for some, comes the dread of having to strip off the layers and have their body visible to the world.. so many of us suffer with negative body image or even body image dysmorphia..

We all have the tendency to focus on the things that make us feel shame, or the things that make us feel the most vulnerable. I hear similar sentiments echoed by my clients when they speak to me about having negative body image, or experiencing distress in relation to specific parts of their bodies.. They often describe this sense that they should be doing more/ not feeling stuck in the spot they're in. And they literally stop being able to move beyond whatever they’ve hyper-focused on.This perverse focus on their ‘faults’ disables them from being able to immerse in the things that are truly important.

I help them learn to focus on a broader picture and explore the futility of trying to ‘catch and hold’ happiness by trying to change their physical body. It’s freeing to get rid of this.


Is exercise always good for you?

Excessive exercise can have significant negative effects on your body, i.e. worsen inflammatory state if you have PCOS or even lead to irregular periods and fertility issues.. It’s important to recognise if you have crossed over the line into an unhealthy pursuit of compulsive exercise, which could also be a sign of an underlying problem, such as body image dysmorphia, an eating disorder or dysfunctional regulation of emotional states.

Some warning signs that your relationship with exercise may be ‘unhealthy’:

  • You decline engaging in social activities in order to exercise
  • You feel restless/ irritable if you take a day off or try to cut down your exercise
  • You increase the amount of your exercise if you think that you are ‘too much’
  • You continue to work out even when you are sick…

What is YOUR relationship with exercise?


Loving your body - self compassion

Many struggle with the concept of loving their body unconditionally, and allow it to depend on how many calories they’ve eaten/ burnt that day or how many compliments they received.. Years of dieting and being soaked in messages and images of ‘perfect bodies’ can make loving your body feel unachievable. Working on self-compassion and recognising that you are an imperfect human with strengths and weaknesses that don’t define your worthiness is the way forward


Exercise

My clients often ask me what exercise they should be doing and for how long for ‘optimal health’. The truth is that you could have the most ‘perfect’ exercise prescription, but you won’t be able to sustain it, unless you ENJOY it... A growing body of research shows that getting pleasure from physical activities may be one of the most important factors for sustaining consistent exercise. So it’s not the frequency, intensity and duration that you need to be thinking about, but what you FEEL LIKE and WHAT FEELS GOOD... This concept of engaging in activities that you enjoy or that give you increased energy or an improved mood is based on the Hedonic Theory of Motivation. This theory basically says that people will repeat activities that feel good. Conversely, activities that cause pain or discomfort will wane or be avoided. Discover physical activity that you truly enjoy and ditch all exercise that feels like punishment/ something that ‘you should be doing’. So what do you enjoy?