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Welcome to the raw and real journey of 'Scar(r)ed Minds and Bodies,' where I peel back the layers of what it truly means to wrestle with and, ultimately, embrace our body image and self-worth.

In this unfiltered exploration, I dive deep into the heart of personal battles with eating disorders/obsessive behavior around food and body, the hard pursuit of self-love and acceptance in a world obsessed with the perfect body.

Join me as we navigate the messy, beautiful process of turning societal pressures and personal struggles into a narrative of empowerment and acceptance.

This isn’t just about changing how we see ourselves in the mirror—it’s about transforming how we feel within our skin, recognizing our worth, and learning to love the reflection staring back, scars and all. Let's jump in!

bodyimage struggles in sports

Overcoming Negative Body Image and Self-Worth

Oh Jesus, here we are. A subject I thought I would never post anything about: Eating and body image. You know, body image issues. It's often just so black and white that it drives me nuts. Too much subjectivity, prejudiced opinions instead of objective knowledge, and intuitive, honest but self-compassionate body awareness.

The whole discussion about food is often quite a bit to handle because surprisingly few are actually listening to their bodies and what they need. Right now (I am writing this during quarantine), it seems to be even more prevalent, so f**k my fears, let’s start defusing this body issue bomb with a couple of sentences that we often say that worry me.

#1: “I can’t have sugar/wheat/whatever right now, I have a weighing day/holiday/date night/whatever coming soon
➡️ You are not listening to what your body needs because you want to look good for some occasion, and you kinda just force it.

#2: “I am on a diet. I feel like a whale/fat cow/pig/etc. I hate myself. I absolutely need to lose weight
➡️ You are not listening to what your body needs because you hate your body, which makes you hate a major part of yourself at the same time… 🙁

#3: “I don’t/can’t do carbs/whatever at all, they make me fat
➡️ You are not listening to what your body needs because you assume something is just causing your 'fatness,' and eliminating that from your diet is the solution.

#4: “I am only gonna eat a protein bar for dinner, I have had too much food” / #5: “I can’t eat yet, it has only been one hour since I last ate/I ate this and that, I cannot be hungry yet”
➡️ You are not listening to what your body needs but letting your (anxious?) mind control how and when you should eat. If you are hungry, that means your body needs food.

I think many of us can recognize ourselves in these thoughts, including me. But why would these be worrisome sentences? Well... I didn’t make it through this life without having my fair share of eating- and body image-related struggles myself. That makes it unfortunately easier to feel and/or recognize the unhealthy patterns or thoughts when hearing them…

​And if you are now thinking, “What is she judging, it's easy for her to say, she is small!” – please just swallow that thought. Don’t assume you know. The point is not to judge. So if you allow me, I would like to offer couple ideas if you would like to better your relationship with your body :) 

1. MAKING PEACE WITH YOUR BODY​

My weight has fluctuated about 13kg (28 pounds) between my playing years, which is a lot for my size (165 cm, 5’4 feet). Was it healthy and normal fluctuation? No, it was not.

But it taught me something valuable that I wish to share, even if I am also scared to post about this. What I worry about is that I am not sure how I can compress this complex issue and my thoughts about it into a blog post and still be able to convey the message I am hoping…

Well. Let's try.

Let’s start with one simple wish to tune our minds to hopefully similar wavelengths: I just wish we would have/search more peace with ourselves, and sometimes it would be helpful to question the belief system we are now holding towards our own bodies, nutrition, and exercise. You could probably see some value in that too?

Now, this situation with quarantine has caused quite many people to say that they are so anxious, scared, getting so stressed, or even depressed because they feel like (we often feel worse than we actually are doing in reality when we are stressing) they are getting fatter.

Being afraid that they lose control now when they are home.

Being afraid that they don’t look the same/will look worse after the quarantine. (Is it all about the appearance?)

So, I think now is pretty nice timing to take a good little pondering posture and consider what sports, eating, and our body image represents to us. I have a couple of questions!

2. QUESTIONS TO IMPROVE YOUR BODY IMAGE STRUGGLES

Why are you exercising? Why are you eating? Why are you worried that, for example, the good habits you had previously would just disappear now when you are at home?

Why is this “freedom” perceived as a threat instead of an opportunity? What truly is going to happen even if you would lose some muscle tone? Would you respect yourself less? Why?

Were you listening to your body previously if it now feels so hard to be “healthy and disciplined”? Are you in control after all? Or is some illusion of how you should look actually driving you more than your natural well-being?

Most importantly, why do you want to have a “better body,” and why is the pursuit of that stressful?

We already know that answers to this are connected often to the need or want of feeling worthier in the eyes of others as well as in our own. I would like to suggest another way to approach this and forget the quest for perfect, fat-free but still perfectly round buttocks for a minute.

What if we tried to find a more peaceful state with and within ourselves?

My personal goal is to find peace, and it works for me. It is not the solution for all, but it might work for someone else too, hence sharing it.

​My peace might not equal six-pack abs or a strict diet plan. It means that I am aiming to find peace with myself – with my body, my eating, and exercising habits. Sure, it would be nice to have great abs, but it is not that valuable a goal to me (anymore) – it requires a regimen that would not add value to my life, and the outcome is superficial rather than truly caring about my well-being.

3. INTUITIVE EATING & PERFECT BODY​

I follow my intuition a lot in eating, which is the key for me (I will attach couple articles at the end). But it took time to learn to hear it, distinguish the real hunger signals from the over-controlling mind, and really trust that my body knows what it needs.

Intuitive eating and having more peace with the current state, no matter where we are, will help. Then there is no extra stress in eating, and our bodies will adjust to what we are doing, naturally.

Think of it like as a game: the scoreboard (body) will follow our actions on the court/field, but it is unnecessary and useless stress to stress about the scoreboard. That does not get you anywhere, quite frankly.

As an example, extreme muscle tone should not be the determining factor of my satisfaction towards my body, my shell, if I am training like a pro athlete, doing the right things so that my body is working like a fine-tuned instrument. Then the extreme muscle tone is the side product and bonus of the work. But it's not the main goal or my priorities with sport would be honestly pretty twisted.

Example 2, super low body fat percentage does not have anything to do with how well we can work. Sure, being healthy helps to stay focused and give our best to clients, etc., but a perfect body? It is more irrelevant than we think.

And I don't mean that you can jump straight to the other end and not care at all about your body and how it looks. Having a healthy, normal weight body is correlating with better confidence that can also make us better at work. But the topic in this blog post is more about the obsession around always wanting to have a better body than what we have now and being in stuck in this hamster wheel for a whole lifetime, always feeling unsatisfied with our bodies because it's not "perfect".

That's what I wish would change.

How about in your case? Do you think that you would need that perfect body to be more at peace with yourself? If you do, why? What does that body image give you that you would not have without it?

(Also something to think about: if you get the perfect body someday but you start losing it, or the ability to move, or maybe you get sick, etc., you might also be in trouble. But this prevalent situation with Corona might offer you a chance to learn to find more peace with yourself now, rather than when it’s forced upon you.)

Self-hate is such a destructing hate. We need to find ways to let go of that hate and hatred towards our bodies. Easier said than done, I know, I have hated myself enough to tell everyone with a shrill but firm voice that it does not bring you any good. Peace instead, that is something worth going for.

Little bits at a time.

I would also claim that a perfect body does not equal peace because our demands of ourselves, what that perfect body is, are often too much and unsustainable.

The journey towards perfection is teaching us to be disciplined, which is good sometimes, but it also means often to ignore our bodily signals, and that is not the same as following intuition and finding or searching for peace.

Additionally, if we were to reach that perfection point – then we would, very likely, just stress about losing that perfect body. Plus, it is a struggle to see that body go if it requires quite extreme discipline to keep it, which means that it is not a natural state of your body. I would not want any of us to be chained to those illusionary physical states.

We are more than the body; we live inside it. It is our home.

4. SELF-WORTH AND BODY IMAGE

Think about the body you were given when you were born; that is you, and it has all the qualities and characteristics designed for you. With freckles, twisted toes, a certain blood type, bone structure, muscle type, small ears, whatever it is. It really makes you special and different from anyone else; why hate something that makes you you?

I don’t mean that you need to be bursting out of love towards every single thing about yourself and wake up every morning singing ballads and giving kisses to your lovely toes, but rather understand and appreciate that it is you who live inside this body and you matter.

Therefore, your body and its features matter too. Understand that your body matters, also from other than an aesthetics’ perspective. You do not need to use, for example, a body fat percentage, the number on the scale, etc., as an external, validating factor to your self-worth.

Self-worth actually should come from inside. Do not try to match with a number to feel worthy. It is a NUMBER. It won’t match with you and who you are. Self-worth is not numbers; it is something beyond that. You don’t need to match either with someone else’s body or social media figures, celebrities, their opinions, nor do you need to look like her or him.

​You only need to match and align with yourself. Align your body, heart and mind. So you can really be you. That is the very point of being a human being and an individual.

5. BETTERING YOUR BODY IMAGE TIPS

This is like a little homework.

Let's try to change this thinking pattern: “I just want to look like her/him/them/that…

And start appreciating you instead. Say or write this and finish with words you associate with yourself:

📝 “I just want to feel and be more like myself. What I mean by that is... I am ……”

Define what kinds of words you wish you want to express about yourself? What words you wish to be remembered about long after your body is gone…?

If you want, hit me up on social media or drop an email about them to me; I would love to hear your adjectives and words! <3

For example, mine could be joy, carefree, caring, deep, connected, mindful, driven, optimistic, and energetic. Then I can take a look at my eating and moving habits and ask myself if they are reflecting those words.

Am I carefree but also care about myself? Am I energetic? Can I be driven? Do I feel connected and mindful with my eating? Can I have fun and feel joy too? Do I see myself failing or succeeding?

So, people. Be careful and intentional with what you tell yourself. The types of words you put in your body can be more important than the types of food.

Here are some articles about Intuitive Eating:
 
Intuitive Eating Before and After: What Success Looks Like 
This article by a registered dietitian who specializes in intuitive eating shares real-life experiences of people who have adopted this approach. It highlights the potential for improved body image, self-esteem, and overall well-being.

 Intuitive Eating and Health: A Review of the Literature: /
This review article summarizes the research on the relationship between intuitive eating and various health outcomes. It highlights the positive links with body image, weight management, mental health, and disordered eating behaviors.

24 Benefits of Intuitive Eating
This article written by a registered dietitian outlines the potential benefits of intuitive eating, including improved physical and mental health, increased energy, and a better relationship with food.

​The greatest takeaway is that you can always create new thinking patterns. If you don’t believe me, watch this clip and you can start believing. Our thoughts are vital. Happy transforming!

Joe Dispenza thoughts and habits
Saana Koljonen


​​P.S. Join my email community for more insights and stories from the world of high-performance. Click [here] to subscribe and let's connect our journeys of personal growth and professional excellence!

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Hi, I Am Saana Koljonen

CEO Of Authentic Excellence LLC

As a mental performance coach/consultant and a certified breathwork facilitator, I specialize in helping athletes and high performers overcome mental barriers and achieve greater success with better speed, joy and confidence.

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