Get Out of the Mirror & Into Your Life

If you read my previous post, I talked about different techniques you can use to help cultivate a healthier relationship with your body. Body checking is one behavior that feeds the negative body image thoughts and often stalemates recovery.

 I often think of body acceptance through the lens of my middle school French teachers favorite quote, “you’re up a creek without a paddle.’ Accepting ones body in its natural, ever changing form, is NOT an easy task. We live in a society that glorifies weight loss, transformation, and the ‘thin ideal’ (which by the way is always changing). Body acceptance, therefore, means ‘going against the current’ of society and making peace with your natural shape, even if it doesn’t fit into the narrowly defined ‘current’ ideal.

So, WHAT is body checking & HOW do I know if it’s an unhealthy behavior?

Body checking is any behavior that is used to monitor ones body size. Some common forms of body checking include: weighing, taking progress photos, measuring, and analyzing a certain part of your body in the mirror. 

In and of itself body checking is not a harmful behavior. For example, you might check to see how you look in the mirror before leaving for the day. Body checking can become toxic when it’s used in an obsessive manner, when affects your mood, and/or when it’s a way to measure your worth as a human being. 

WHY should I stop?

Engaging in body checking reinforces the idea that your body is NOT OKAY the way it is. This behavior thwarts your ability to have a healthy relationship with your body and accept its ever-changing form. More so, although this behavior is intended to relieve anxiety about your body, body checking tends to take on a life of its own creating more anxiety and distress.  

HOW can I stop body checking?

In order to stop body checking you need to first pay attention to when you engage in the behavior and creating a plan to reduce the frequency.

  1. First, pay attention to when you are body checking. This will take different forms for everyone. Maybe you find yourself comparing your body to other people on social media, taking photos of yourself, or weighing. 

  2. For 24 hours, focus on ONE body checking behavior. Write down when/where you engage in the behavior. Pay close attention to how you feel before/after body checking and write that down as well.

  3. Set a goal to reduce the frequency and/or duration of body checking. It helps to set a realistic and attainable goal, rather than overwhelming yourself by trying to cut out all behaviors at once. 

  4. Make a list of THREE coping mechanisms. These can be anything from listening to your favorite podcast to calling a friend. When you have an urge to engage in a body checking behavior, commit to using all three coping mechanisms. You’ll likely find that the urge to body check is gone by the time you check the third coping mechanism off your list.

Most importantly, have compassion with yourself. Changing any behavior takes time and patience.

Originally posted at Cobb Psychotherapy


Salina Grilli, LMSW is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy in Manhattan. Salina specializes in helping young adults recover from eating disorders/disordered eating, make peace with their bodies, and ultimately cultivate a more enriching and meaningful life. Outside of work, she can be found taking her favorite boxing class or exploring new neighborhoods and restaurants in NYC. You can follow her posts on instagram: @salina-grilli

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