Body dysmorphia is a devastating PMS symptom no one is talking about, yet every woman should know.
Doctors don't even think to ask about it because it's become so common for women to feel dissatisfied and insecure about their bodies.
Our serotonin levels (a feel-good hormone that gives us an inner sense of satisfaction), naturally dips the week before our period.
This natural dip can cause you to look in the mirror and see yourself as bigger than you actually are. You may find you feel dissatisfied with yourself, others, and your life. Which can then lead you into excessive behaviors like eating less, working out more, quitting on projects before you even start, or finding another way to fill a void in your life like racking up your credit card bill with some online shopping.
I know I've struggled with this in my life, and every woman I've worked with has said the same. It’s hard not to get choked up about it too, because every woman knows the feeling of looking in the mirror and feeling less than stellar about herself.
In a study conducted by the National Eating Disorder Association found, "Nine out of 10 women say they will actually not eat and risk putting their health at stake when they feel bad about their body image. And 7 in 10 girls said they're more likely to be less assertive in their decisions when they're feeling insecure".
As a Balanced Bombshell, you don’t have time to feel insecure or not assert your thoughts and opinions. You’ve got a full life to lead and goals to crush.
Have you noticed this monthly dip at all? How many other women do you know who struggle with this too? If we all knew to think of this time with more awareness, do you think less women would suffer?
I like to believe our lives would be completely different if more women knew about body dysmorphia as a PMS symptom. It comes and goes as we move through our cycle, and how we choose to think, eat, and move makes a huge difference.
If body dysmorphia has happened to you before having your period, I challenge you to stop and look at the situation objectively.
Did you really, "all of a sudden" gain 10 pounds, or is your body lacking serotonin?
Do you truly look different or is this something that will pass?
Do you truly not like your life or feel anxious over certain situations that are not actually real?
I’d love to tell you I’ve overcome this, but I have not. Some women are more sensitive to this hormonal dip than others and we feel it more deeply. We may also all express it differently. As you'll learn in a moment, I turned to exercise to deal, while you might turn to something else, or find other ways to deal with your emotional upheaval. It can lead to wedges in relationships too, so I highly encourage you to tune in here.
Each month, the week before my period, I look in the mirror and see myself differently than I did the week before. My face looks different, almost like my eyes have a harder time focusing on what’s in the mirror. And I do see my body differently.
In the past, this lead me down a 12-year battle with an eating disorder called compulsive over-exercising, also known as anorexia athletica. This became another way to offset calories by exercising all of them off and is what I turned to as a way to deal with my emotions. More exercise in this case was definitely not better. It lead me to emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion. I withdrew from my friends, ditched parties to go workout, and never felt thin enough.
Now six years into my recovery, I have challenged every thought that comes through my mind. Because like clockwork, the week before my period hits and I find myself wanting to go to the gym more. Feeling like I NEED to.
When I have these thoughts come forward, I stop. And tune in. I use these thoughts as a sign of where I’m at in my cycle and know my body is right on track. I opt to go for a walk outside for the vitamin D and blood circulation. Our brain needs these!
Just moving your body and spending time outside can boost your mood, release more endorphins (another feel good hormone), and reduce stress.
You can also eat your way to higher self esteem! Foods that contain tryptophan can naturally increase the production of serotonin and if you can get strategic on filling up on these the week before your period, you may start to notice body dysmorphia thoughts begin to subside.
I fill up on dark turkey meat, avocado, salmon, hemp and pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, bananas, walnuts, or my favorite, chia pudding, when I feel a dip coming on. These are all good mood foods that contain tryptophan and can naturally boost your serotonin levels, making you feel happier, more calm, and emotionally balanced.
If you think you need additional support, please reach out to a loved one or your physician. If you want more insight on body dysmorphia, watch this YouTube video.