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If you are missing the body you once had, you aren’t alone. In a HuffPost article, Bri Campos of Body Image With Bri, defines body grief as “the distress caused by the perceived losses that come when you stop attempting to change your body size.” Or, put another way, the loss of the body you used to have.
Body grief refers to the sadness and regret that comes from feeling like you cannot attain or maintain your ideal body. This grief can be far-reaching, affecting many aspects of your life. It is important to understand that body grief is normal and that there is no shame in experiencing it. With time and self-compassion, you can work through body grief and come to a place of acceptance.
Samantha DeCaro, a clinical psychologist offers tips on how to deal with body grief in a compassionate and intentional way. It also stresses the importance of realizing that being thinner will not solve all of your problems. Rather, you should focus on finding success, meaningful relationships, health and happiness in other ways. The diet industry sells us the lie that our basic human wants and needs like love, happiness, respect and belonging will all be part of the package once we hit our ‘body goals,’” she said. So, we have to find success, meaningful relationships, health and happiness in other ways.
“We often tell ourselves things like, ‘If I could only have [this type of body], I would be happy, I would be successful, people would like me more, my partner would love me more,’” said Amber Claudon, Lightfully Behavioral Health’s vice president of clinical training. “With these desires and associations, we begin to correlate the voids in our lives to the lack of body changes that we might pursue or chase. Unfortunately, this pursuit is futile and never-ending; it perpetuates feelings of defeat and despair.”
In order to navigate body grief, it is important to be aware of the thoughts and beliefs that cause distress. It is also important to challenge these thoughts and beliefs, and to connect with people who can understand and honor your experience. Practicing radical self-compassion is also key in coming to terms with your body and your grief.