What to Do When Someone Else's Weight Change Is Triggering
Haley Goodrich, RD, LDN
So much of healing your relationship with your body is accepting your body as it is, and freeing yourself from the thought that you should constantly be working to change it. The healing process is a daily commitment and as a result, over time, less brain space is occupied with body thoughts. While you can begin to feel more at peace with your body’s natural size, what about accepting that the bodies around you might change?
As humans, we are constantly comparing ourselves to others, even subconsciously. Scrolling through social media, catching up with a friend, overhearing a co-worker’s weight talk, or seeing a magazine cover at the grocery store can trigger self-doubt and fuel disordered thinking. The truth is, you will continue to be challenged by diet culture because it’s the world in which we live. It is essential to create a resilience plan for acceptance of not only your own body, but for other bodies.
Curiosity Over Judgement
We notice weight changes in people. It may not be the focal point, but if body image is something you are thinking about every hour of every day, it makes sense that you would be more sensitive to these changes. If you are fearful or worried about changing bodies, healing begins when you are able to ask why.
Our brains produce thoughts whether we want them to come or not. Become curious about your thoughts instead of judging yourself for having the thoughts. For example, why does it feel triggering that someone else’s body might become smaller or larger? Create a list of a few questions that you can revisit to get a better understanding of how you are feeling.
What is it about this certain person?
How are you currently feeling in your body?
What are all the factors that play into your body image?
How are you feeling emotionally?
What else might be going on right now?
Separate Facts from Fiction
Recognize what stories you might be carrying that aren’t yours or true at all. An example of a fictional story is the common belief that if someone else’s body is changing then yours will too. The fact is, someone else’s body can become smaller and that does not mean yours will become bigger. Another truth is that bodies are constantly changing; they are impermanent, so it’s untrue to think that your body could stay the exact same forever. The way you feel about your body is also impermanent. This can be helpful and comforting if you are currently struggling to like your body in a particular moment. Lastly, if someone else’s body is changing, this does not mean your health, worth, or beauty is changing.
Using counter thoughts or mantras to stop downward spirals are an actionable step you can take to ground yourself. We are not our thoughts and we often learned negative thinking patterns about our body from an outside source. It’s important to realize that you have the power to rewrite these stories. Write a few counter thoughts, save them in your phone or as your phone background, and read them to yourself at least 3x per day.
“Thank you, body, for digesting my food or breathing air into my lungs”
“I choose healing instead of making choices in attempt to manipulate the size of my body.”
“I am more than my body image today.”
“I value connection and trust with my body.”
“I choose to show up for ME.”
“I am ok in this moment. This moment will pass.”
Size does not determine health, worth, or beauty. Believing anything different will keep you stuck and consumed with body thoughts. When we shift away from weight bias to separating who people are apart from the body they live in, we stop fearing weight changes. If you continue to choose healing and acceptance of all bodies, I promise there will be a day that your happiness isn’t affected by someone else’s body changing- not even your own.
Haley Goodrich, RD, LDN is a registered dietitian fiercely passionate passionate about helping others create flexible, joyful eating habits and cultivate a peaceful relationship with their body. Haley specializes in intuitive eating, eating disorder recovery and body image healing from a Health at Every Size perspective. She is currently pursuing her Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietitian (CEDRD) Certification. In addition to her full-time private practice she is also the co-founder of INSPIRD to SEEK, a community- based learning experience designed to mentor and guide nutrition entrepreneurs to build amazing businesses. Visit her website or connect with Haley on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.