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The Body Acceptance Mistake That’s Keeping You Stuck in the Suck

body acceptance food freedom menopause midlife self-compassion un-dieting

If you're ready to hop off the dieting rollercoaster, you might be starting to wonder what body acceptance really means for you. But here's the thing: a lot of folks mix up body acceptance with giving up, and it’s just not the case!


So, in this quick solo episode, I'm going to offer you a crystal clear definition of what body acceptance is, and what it isn't. The big takeaway? You don't have to stay feeling stuck in the “suck”- as I call it. You can have freedom in your relationship with food and your body AND feel like you’re moving your health in the right direction. I'll share how to kickstart that journey with you in this episode!

Sign up for the FREE webinar  >>HERE<<


Jenn Salib Huber: 0:00

Hi and welcome to the Midlife Feast, the podcast for women who are hungry for more in this season of life. I'm your host, Dr. Jenn Salib-Huber. I'm an intuitive eating dietitian and naturopathic doctor and I help women manage menopause without dieting and food rules. Come to my table, listen and learn from me trusted guest experts in women's health and interviews with women just like you.

Each episode brings to the table juicy conversations designed to help you feast on midlife. And if you're looking for more information about menopause, nutrition and intuitive eating, check out the Midlife Feast Community, my monthly membership that combines my no-nonsense approach that you all love to nutrition with community, so that you can learn from me and others who can relate to the cheers and challenges of midlife.

Jenn Salib Huber: 0:46

Hey everyone, I am popping in for a little solo podcast this week. So we've been talking about body acceptance and body appreciation and body image in the midlife feast community. We've had a couple of podcasts talking about it in the last month or so and I wanted to do a little quick one on body acceptance, specifically because there is some confusion around what body acceptance is and what it isn't, and why. Understanding what it actually is is key to being able to use it as a tool to help you feel better in and about your body.

A Story to Describe Most of Us

So I'm going to start this podcast with a little bit of a story. This isn't about one person, but it's kind of a mashup of stories that I hear all the time and I'm sure you'll recognize yourself or someone that you love in it. So here's how the story usually goes You're in midlife, which probably means that you're in it. So here's how the story usually goes.

You're in midlife, which probably means that you're in your 40s, 50s, maybe even your 60s. You've been on a diet more than you've been off a diet, and there probably isn't a diet out there that you haven't tried at least once, which is why we keep going back. Right, and we keep going back because they sometimes work for a little while and feels like they should work if we just try hard enough. But you can't figure out why you can't make it stick. So by the time that you end up talking to me, you start by saying something like I know what I should be doing. I could write a book on it, but I just can't seem to make myself do it.

Why Your Brain Can't Let Go of Dieting

But I don't want to spend the rest of my life on a diet either. So I need to learn how to accept my body as it is and what you're saying, what that person is saying, what pretty much everyone is saying in that moment is what I need to do is to learn how to live with feeling bad about my body. I need to learn to live with not feeling comfortable in my body, and I want you to know that that is not body acceptance and it's a big part of the problem, because our brains, our perfectly imperfect human brains, do not like to feel bad about anything. 

They will always want to find a way out of feeling bad right. So you've heard me say before, and other people, that our brains are hardwired to avoid pain and seek pleasure, and for so many of us, dieting is a habit. The diet cycle is the habit we fall into when we feel bad about our bodies. So when you're in this hypothetical situation that so many people relate to, where you don't feel great, you're tired of feeling like you're doing something wrong all the time. You're tired of starting a new diet every Monday.

Why Body Acceptance is Not Equal to Resignation

You're tired of feeling like everyone else gets it. What's wrong with me? You can't expect to feel good by learning to live in the suck, as I call it right. So if dieting is the habit that you fall into, we need to change how you respond to that feeling. We need to acknowledge that you need a way out of the suck. You need a way out of feeling bad in and about your body. But starting another diet isn't going to get you there.

So the biggest mistake that people make is believing that acceptance is accepting feeling bad about your body. That is not acceptance. That, my friends, is resignation. So the way that I describe this is that if you feel, if you say it is what it is and I just need to learn to live with it, that is resignation. But if you say it is what it is and I accept all of the circumstances, whether they were within my control or not, that have led me to this place and I'm not going to try and change the past or reinvent it, I'm just going to move forward, that is acceptance.

So people are sometimes surprised that a dietician who specializes in menopause is spending so much time talking about body image instead of food. But when people ask me whether they should work on their relationship with food first or whether they should work on their relationship with their body image, I try and talk about this to illustrate how important it is that we're doing this work in parallel, because they do relate to each other. One influences the other a lot and if you're only trying to do one, you're only trying to work on your nutrition, but you're not trying to work towards this kind of compassionate body acceptance. It is going to feel hard if your body doesn't behave the way that you want it to, and vice versa.

What You Do Have Control Over in Terms of Body Acceptance

So, like I said, situation I described is resignation, and when we are resigned to anything, we feel like we have no control. We feel disempowered, there's nothing we can do. We just have to learn to live with it. And there are lots of things that we actually don't have control over and we do have to learn to live with. You know, you have to learn to live with the type of hair that you're born with, unless you're committed to changing the color and the. You know whether you have curly hair or straight hair. That's just one example. But there are times when we do have to learn to live with something, but you don't have to learn to live with feeling bad in and about your body. I'm going to say that again. You do not have to learn to live with feeling bad about your body, and that's where radical body acceptance comes in.

So accepting your body for where it's at today, regardless of why or how or all the things you could have done differently, and deciding that how you want to feel in your body as you're living your life, that gets to make the decisions moving forward. That is acceptance. Acceptance is I do feel like I have autonomy over the choices that I am making and the path that I take, but I am not going to hold my body hostage. I'm not going to hold my life hostage as I wait to feel good in my body. One of the things that I love highlighting is that body acceptance allows you to shift the goalpost, because you're accepting that the changes that you make to your lifestyle, to your nutrition, to your movement, aren't going to hinge on what your body looks like as a measure of success or failure.

You Deserve To Feel Good About Your Body

Right, body acceptance allows you to stop letting your body image decide how you want to feel about yourself, and so the difference between resignation and acceptance might feel really obvious, or it might feel really subtle, but there is a line that is drawn between the two, and so, if you feel like your body acceptance journey, any body image work that you've been doing, or even just changing your relationship with food if you feel like it has left you feeling kind of hopeless and helpless. I want you to know that that is not where anybody thinks you should stay and there are ways that you can move forward with it.

Anticipating The Trap Doors of Diet Cycling

Part of it is understanding this difference between resignation and acceptance. Part of it is understanding the trap doors, as I call them, that kind of loop you back into the diet cycle before you even know what has happened, and that's one of the reasons why, on the 28th of April so if you're listening to this in April I would love for you to join me for my webinar how not to spend the rest of your life on a diet. You can find the link to sign up in the show notes and on social media, my links, all that kind of stuff. But this is a completely free webinar that is packed full of information that will help you to see that sitting in the sock is not where anybody thinks you should have to live and, as I always say, you deserve to feel good about your body.

An Invitation to Make Body Acceptance a Reality 

You deserve to feel confident that you know how to take care of it and how to live in it and you deserve to live in this body acceptance. So, as always, I love these conversations and it's always really funny when you're recording a podcast, because you're just talking to yourself for the most part when I do these solo ones. So I really appreciate all the feedback. I appreciate when somebody reaches out and says, hey, I really liked this, this or I learned something. So please let me know if you like this and, as always, if you have a minute to like and rate or leave a review on the podcast, that helps others to find us. But in the meantime, I am wishing you a day filled with body peace and I hope to see you on the 28th of April.

If you're listening to this, you know, long after the 28th of April, you can always reach out to me and I will happily send you a copy of that replay. Okay, have a great day everyone. Thanks for tuning in to this week's episode of the Midlife Feast For more non-diet, health, hormone and general midlife support. Click the link in the show notes to learn how you can work and learn from me. And if you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, please consider leaving a review or subscribing, because it helps other women just like you find us and feel supported in midlife.

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