Saturday, April 30, 2011

How to Experience Body Euphoria

Have you ever heard of the condition "body dysmorphia"? Wikipedia describes it like this: "Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), sometimes referred to as body dysmorphia or dysmorphic syndrome, is a (psychological) somatoform disorder in which the affected person is excessively concerned about and preoccupied by a perceived defect in his or her physical features (body image). The sufferer may complain of several specific features or a single feature, or a vague feature or general appearance, causing psychological distress that impairs occupational and/or social functioning, sometimes to the point of severe depression and anxiety, development of other anxiety disorders, social withdrawal or complete social isolation, and more."

Yesterday on the blog Medicinal Marzipan, a blog about body image and unconditional self love, there was a guest posting entitled "Creating Bonds Around Self-Love Instead of Negative Self Talk" by Emilie Littlehales, of the blog I Came to Run and the Embrace: Me Project.

In it she makes an observation that is so true, so powerful, I just had to share it here: "From an early age, we [women] learn to dislike our bodies. There are a variety of factors that play a role in this, but we have to be careful not to underestimate the degree to which our interactions with other girls and women influence us in this regard. Sooner or later, negative body image becomes a common feeling over which we learn to bond, and a sisterhood that centers on sharing our thoughts on how much we dislike parts of physical selves develops. It�s a disturbing phenomenon when you take a step back to look at it: you can�t walk into a room one day and declare how good you feel about your thighs, doing so might result in you being the victim of silent, seething resentment. But say that you feel fat or disgusting, and you will find that the entire room knows exactly how you feel."

What Emilie is describing is pervasive in our society today. Just the other day a friend came up to me and asked me for advice on how to get in shape. I asked her what her current fitness program was and she said she was working out every day . . . every day! . . . doing the Insanity videos in her basement.

I said, "That's amazing! So what is it that you would like to improve upon?"

And she said, "Well, I'd like to lose ten pounds" and I was thinking "If you lose ten pounds you might need to be hospitalized." I told her flat out that she was suffering from Body Dysmorphia but she didn't seem to care. It's just like Emilie described. We are conditioned to hate our bodies when there is nothing wrong with them. We feel that we must vocalize this dissatisfaction or we won't be accepted into the club.

So afterwards, my husband, who was also present at the conversation, came up with a new condition that we are calling "Body Euphoria."

Here's our definition: It is the state of mind that you are in after treating yourself well for an extended period of time. Conditions include (1) participation in moderate exercise that you truly enjoy, (2) eating  nutritious, unprocessed, plant strong food and (3) achieving your happy weight, where even though your body has no resemblance to a model in a magazine and never will, you are thrilled with how you look, and more importantly, how you feel.

That's the state I am in today. Body Euphoria. Strong, balanced, healthy. Sure, I don't look like any model, but I'll take it! And I want to share it with you.

What is your current state of mind?

Do you think you can let go of your own negative self talk?

What do you hope to achieve?

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