One of the big things I hear from the woman I work with is this:
What if people think I'm fat and gained weight?
What if I go home and my family comments on my weight?
What if everyone is thinking how frumpy and fat I look every time I'm out?
A few weeks ago, one of my clients said, "well, if I was on an island with no one else, I wouldn't care about my body and being a little bit heavier! It's worrying about other people's opinions that makes me crazy."
It's like the fear of judgement from society sets in and keeps us locked in our heads worrying about what people think of us.
And to be honest, this is something I've often struggled with. During the years I was knee-deep in disordered eating, my weight fluctuated like crazy. And every time I went anywhere for an extended period of time (going away for college, studying abroad, moving to another county, moving to another state, etc), I would worry about what people would think of me when I came back home.
This can be a big trigger, especially around the holidays (and if you live far from home and haven't seen family in a while). You go back and see your family/friends and you wonder if they are judging you, critiquing you, and criticizing your body in their own minds.
Here are the three things I want you to remember when you're afraid of people judging your weight:
1. No one is judging you as harshly as you are judging yourself.
You may have to repeat this to yourself 100 times a day if necessary :) I promise it's true. Think about how harshly you criticize yourself. We pick out every dimple of cellulite, scrutinize every inch of our body, and analyze every part of ourselves that needs improvement.
But the truth is that people just aren't looking at you that closely!
I am in the middle of reading Big Magic (Elizabeth Gilbert's new book -- author of Eat, Pray, Love) and there's a passage in there that really resonated with me. She talks about when you put something out in the world that's your creative work, you are deathly afraid of what people will think. You feel vulnerable and embarrassed. But the truth is, people are so consumed with their own lives, that they barely give it a passing glance and then move on.
The same is true with your body. Everyone is so wrapped up in their own lives, that they just don't care as much as they think you do. And they are not nearly as hard on yourself as you are.
2. If people judge you, it's on them.
So, here's the thing. Let's say someone does judge you for gaining weight. It's not actually a reflection of you, but a reflection of them. When I was at my MOST vulnerable time, super self-conscious about my body and wanting to hide under a rock, I was convinced that people were judging me constantly for my weight struggle.
But as my weight stabilized and I didn't care about it as much, I realized I wasn't consumed with the thought that others were noticing my body. Because I wasn't focusing on it as much, I didn't think others were either.
And if people DO judge you, make a comment, or say something that is hurtful about your appearance, know that it isn't a reflection of you. Yes, it may sting. But take a few deep breaths (alone if need be)and come back to your center. Come back to the place within you that knows you ARE enough just as you are. And that one person's comments can't send you into a spiral.
Trust me, I get it.
When I got back from living in Ecuador for a year, I had gained 20-25 pounds. I had THREE people at the gym ask me if I was expecting. I had gone to that same gym before (and was much thinner) and then they saw me a year later (much heavier).
I went home and cried every time. And it really hit me hard. But I knew I was on a journey, I knew I was dealing with my issues, and I knew that this was my own "stuff" I needed to work through.
So, I resolved to not give in to it. I gently nudged myself back to the place inside of me that I KNEW appearance didn't matter. And that's the place I wanted to live from, that deeply authentic part of me that is more than my body size.
3. You'll never really know.
Reality check: you really won't ever know what people are thinking. 99% of the time, no one ever says, "Oh, hey, you looked like you gained weight. What's going on?" Even if you are in YOUR head convinced that the other person is thinking you're fat and hideous, it's a story you are telling yourself.
You'll never REALLY know. And that's a good thing. Because when you realize it's YOU making up the stories in your head about what others are thinking, you realize you have the power to step out of the story. You can stop that train of thought in your mind, re-focus yourself back into the moment, and be present for the experience.