Here’s a brain teaser: I actually tend to feel worse about my body when I’m exercising regularly and/or keeping track of my eating habits.
I think it’s because I’m focusing on my body when I’m changing my exercise/eating habits, and so I tend to look critically at myself more often. When I’m not doing those things, I’m not thinking about my body, therefore I don’t look at it in detail much.
I hate this, because it can negatively impact my progress and attitude and I start the downward spiral: Shouldn’t I feel and look better if I’m being healthy? If I don’t, then why do I bother? Quitting soon follows.
This time, I need to fight this. I’m not sure how, other than to just try my best to ignore it.
Does anyone else have this problem? How do you combat it?
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Comments on: "Exercise & Eating Better Screws with Body Image?" (14)

  1. I don't have that problem. I did back when my definition of “healthy” wasn't right for my body. Back when I was trying to do low fat instead of whole foods. It was impossible to calorie count or to constantly be hungry without constantly thinking about it and getting down about it all.

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  2. This happens to me too. It probably doesn't help that I work out (when I actually manage to) at the university gym where there are a ton of young people who are perfectly fit.

    The only time when I like my body is when I dress nicely, aka manage to wear something nicer than old jeans and a t-shirt from high school (regardless of my health/weight). I think it's superficial of me, but it is what it is.

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  3. I have similar thoughts… especially when I look at my arms (or belly) in the mirror at the gym ^^ However, I've started actively think positive thoughts about that specific thing. For me it's more about “breaking the thoughts” and focus on something more constructive. For example focus on that “this flabby arm can lift x lbs in curls a lot – wow I feel strong” or find an angle where I sortoflike my arm…

    I re-read this and it seems extremely silly 😉 but that's what I go through in my head. I think it might be coupled with the thought that you should “see results” when you eat better and exercise, although that's not always true in the time frame I think about it – not in 1 week or 3.

    Hang in there. I think you will feel better after a few weeks of sticking to the plan.

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  4. I feel the same way. When I am not trying to pay attention and “get heathy” I seem to accept myself so much more. But when I look at myself and how I am working towards a goal it is so much easier to be self-critical (because I haven't gotten there yet!)

    Don't let it become a self-fullfilling prophecy. Tell yourself how beautiful you are NOW, and that any future changes will just be icing on the cake. (But hey! Stop thinking about CAKE! 😉 )

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  5. When I want to lose weight and focus on eating less and eating healthy stuff, the result is that I want to eat non-stop! Just thinking about what I can and cannot eat, what I should eat next etc — it's a lot of food-related thoughts and it's really counterproductive!

    I think you are right — focusing on your body a lot is bound to make you more self-conscious. But getting stronger, feeling your body can do stuff (this many pushups, this many crunches, etc) has a therapeutic effect on me — I may not like how my body looks, but I really like the awesome things that it can do!

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  6. Hmm, this is interesting because I tend to do the opposite! If I haven't been making an effort I think I look much worse; if I have been eating healthily and exercising, I feel better about myself almost instantly. I think it's because I feel better when I'm on a health kick (after exercising, especially), and that translates to how I think I look?

    It is, of course, just as likely that I'm just really good at denial 🙂

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  7. nicoleandmaggie – I could see how that would be defeating. I also find that if I'm trying to watch what I eat, I think about food more, making me more hungry!

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  8. myscientificlife – dressing better helps me too. Unfortunately, some of my favorite clothes don't fit, making me feel worse.

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  9. chall – good for you for reclaiming your thoughts. My problem is sticking to a plan for so long to actually see results.

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  10. Thanks, Kim! Great advice.

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  11. GMP – I do hate that when I'm trying to eat healthier, I focus so much on food that it practically consumes my thoughts. Great advice to focus on what your body can do, instead of how it looks.

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  12. Cath – If I'm on a real lazy/eating like crap kick, then I do feel bad about myself…motivating me to eat better & workout…but then I don't see results and I start focusing in on everything about my body that I hate.

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  13. I've only started a consistent exercise routine in the past year. I started taking ballet class and then added a stretch and strength class offered at the dance studio, which has helped me improve much faster at ballet. I've seen huge results, but it really takes time. It's only now after 10 months that I'm not crazy sore for days after stretch and strength.

    So maybe that's a way to think about it so you're easier on yourself?

    I've kept my morale up by comparing it to learning to be a scientist. It took 6+ years to gain my expertise in my science. Of course it's going to take a while to learn another new skill (ballet) and to build the strength and flexibility to do it. Especially when I'm only doing it a few hours a week.

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  14. EcoGeoFemme – what great advice, thank you so much. I will definitely try to start thinking like this!

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