In case of eating issues and clinical eating disorders, Professional support is an excellent tool that will help you to fix the problem much quicker. However, there are situations when having a coach is not available. I understand such situations and encourage you to not stop there.
There are things you can practice yourself, without the assistance of professionals. It takes discipline, time, and repetition, but they work. I'll share 3 practices, that helped me the most on my recovery journey. These practices helped me to get rid of my eating disorder and regain health and happiness. I encourage you to try them out!
FACE THE INNER CRITIC
This was the single most important technique I've ever applied to myself and I continue teaching this to my clients. It requires practice and repetition, but it works! The first step to master this practice is to become mindful of the inner dialog. We all have an internal dialogue that mostly consists of two contrasting opinions, where one of them is very judgemental.
Start noticing the critic and begin to observe how it's separate from the other, more positive inner voice. Once you have distinguished the critical voice from the positive one, recognize, that you have the power to intervene in the critic's abusive monologue. Just like you would resist, or at least ignore, a rude person in the street, that's calling you names, you can oppose this inner voice too.
It might take a strong and loud inner objection. That's how I first fought the eating disorder voice. But it can also work to calmly object the inner critic's judgment by saying something like "these comments are not helpful for me. I feel sad and discouraged when you speak to me this way. When I'm sad and discouraged, I lack the confidence I need to live happily." You can even insert an uplifting affirmation about yourself in this dialog: "Furthermore, there is proof that I'm sweet, fun, and kind of a cool person!"
By practicing kind affirmations, your positive voice will grow stronger. It's like building muscle- the more you use it, the stronger it becomes! And soon the negative voice will reside somewhere in the background. Still present, but much weaker. And you'll feel more confident, resilient, and more open to showing your true nature that's original and awesome!
Mindfulness is defined as "a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations."
All of us already possess the quality of mindfulness. We just need to learn how to access it and maintain it by regular practice. By practicing mindfulness, I have mastered my power over the negative, critical voice. Meditation allows me to hear my true self and my actual needs which often oppose the judgemental voice's desires.
With regular practice, I find peace and joy within myself and all external circumstances become secondary. I no longer feel the need to achieve specific beauty standards, buy the next fashionable thing to feel good about myself, or even travel to exotic retreats. Finding peace and fulfillment within yourself truly is the essence of joy!
However, it takes practice and guidance to master the skill. To learn correct mindfulness techniques, I suggest finding a professional to practice with for a few times. Expert guidance will ease the learning process, and soon you'll be ready to practice individually at home, whenever you prefer.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY FROM A PLACE OF LOVE
Our thoughts affect our bodies. We know this to be true for several reasons. For example, stress can worsen physical illness; fear leads to increases in certain chemicals that prepare us for the fight or flight response, and thoughts start chain reactions that allow us to contract our muscles.
As Dr.Dispenza has said: "Our brain and body don't know the difference between having actual experience in your life and just thinking about the experience—neurochemically, it' the same."
So why say to your body negative words such as "I'm fat and ugly," when you can say "I'm healthy, fit and gorgeous!" instead?
I practiced this when I recovered from anorexia. Even though my illness did not arise from thoughts of being overweight, anorexia distorts the mind, and eventually, body concerned thinking does arise.
A few years into recovery, I noticed the dysfunctional effect of negative thinking and began practicing replacing it with more positive thoughts regarding my body image. As soon as I caught myself thinking a critical thought about my body, I changed it to a positive one. For example, "Eating regularly and more is going to make me fat." Instead, I would say to myself - "Eating regularly and healthily is going to make me healthy and beautiful!" And it applies to exercise as well. For example, "I exercise to lose weight and change my body because it's not good enough." To- "I exercise to maintain a healthy and strong body!"
I remember that at first, saying these positive affirmations to myself, felt fake and like I'm lying to myself. Several of my clients have described feeling similarly at first. Isn't this sad that the judgemental thinking feels so natural to us and a positive, loving one- so fake?
However, from my experience as well as my client's experience, with continual practice and repetition, the positive and loving inner voice becomes natural and more reliable than the negative one. After a while of practicing during my recovery, to my surprise, my body began to change. I became the fittest, healthiest and happiest I have ever been. My body responded with exactly what I asked from it- health, strength, and beauty! And it has not changed since, because I have never gone back to the negative beliefs about my body.
I invite you to give these practices a try. Apply them for a few weeks at least and see what happens.
For me, they changed my life entirely in the most positive and empowering way. Everything I have achieved- a happy family life, a wonderful husband, and a successful career, is because I took the time and applied the work to change my negative thinking.
There is a saying that goes "You live most of your life inside your head. Make sure it's a nice place to be!" I could not agree more. And I believe the same applies to our bodies. You only have this one body, so make sure you treat it well- with good food, gentle movement, and loving words.
All the best to You!