My Struggle with Body Dysmorphia & My 5 Personal Tips to Overcome It

Lifestyle, Real Talk

“Body dysmorphia” (also known as “body dysmorphic disorder”) is a term being thrown around a bit these days.


What is it, exactly?


Body dysmorphia is a mental illness in which one can’t stop obsessing about their appearance and body image. The sufferer believes they have a flaw – minor, major, or even imagined – and that flaw causes them significant distress. They feel ashamed of their appearance to the point where it affects their ability to function in day-to-day life. In severe cases, sufferers will undergo cosmetic surgery or take up excessive exercise to “fix” their flaw.


Treating body dysmorphia and poor body image


In the past, I struggled with my own body image. I used to obsess about my weight and the way I looked. Imperfections were not acceptable. I’d look in the mirror 100 times a day and never be satisfied with my reflection. This had a domino effect on my life, and especially my stress levels. I’d cry about hating my body, and I was insecure about putting certain parts on display. Photos were the worst; I never liked any of them, and they triggered anger and sadness.

It sounds intense, but this is a very real issue for so many young women and men.

The question is: how do you heal body dysmorphia?

Firstly, enlist professional help in the form of a psychologist or cognitive behavioural therapist. You’ll need to retrain your mind and deal with underlying emotional issues, and they will be able to assist with this.


Here are my 5 tips I have used for years to overcome poor body image:


  1. Write down the parts of your body you feel grateful for. I like to keep this list in the notes app on my phone.
  2. Create a plan of action for when the shaming strikes. If you’re not feeling great about yourself, steer clear of mirrors and go into a forward fold right away. To do this, sit on the floor and lean over your body. Breathe deeply and give thanks for your health and the body parts you like. If you can’t think of any, thank your legs for carrying you every day or your heart for beating life into your body. Keep breathing deeply until the feeling passes.
  3. Let go of the desire to have a perfect body – it does not exist. Choose to live a wholesome, happy and balanced life instead.
  4. Stop comparing yourself to others. My advice is to delete those Instagram and Facebook accounts of ‘models’ who are airbrushed and photoshopped to the max. Go on a social media detox for a while if you can. And throw out the magazines that make you feel insecure, because guess what? The girl in the magazine doesn’t even look like the girl in the magazine!
  5. I’d recommend you avoid all photos during this time, or until you feel more in control of your thoughts. If you see a photo you don’t like, just know that angles, lighting, and a whole host of things can affect this. Plus, you may have a dysmorphic view of how you actually look – what you’re seeing might not be the reality. That’s why it’s a good idea to deal with poor body image holistically, with the help of a professional.


My online program and book contain pages and pages of tips to help you overcome this. I am here holding your hand through it.

My online program will be released on the 12th of Jan – diarise it!

Xx Jess.


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Hi Jessica, I believe in synchronicity so when I was guided to you .on FB I was intrigued and inspired. I turned 46 last week and my husband bought me your book. I wanted to thank you for sharing your wisdom in such a beautifully presented way. My  copy is now filled with tabs and post it notes with actual notes throughout. I am dairy intolerant since having my gallbladder removed 15+ years ago, I don't eat meat, very minimal gluten and was told 12 months ago my gut was not digesting my food properly so I wasn't receiving sufficient nutrients and taking supplements would be a waste of time.  My weight fluctuates tending to gain rather than lose but now I believe I have a tool to help me bring my body back into balance that I need for my health and longevity of life - so again thank you. The first few steps to creating a stronger path forward for my health has found its foundation in your beautiful book, The Healthy Life.

With kindest regards Samantha

I'm writing this email because I wanted to tell you how much I love your blog and how you really helped me in my health journey. Thank you for sharing all your advices and experiences.

When I started my studies, I was drinking lots of coffee and I was eaten the wrong foods, and feel bad about it, I wasn't at my best. So I had done some research on the net but at first I didn't found advices that are for me, and then I found your blog. It was exactly what I was looking for, good advices and healthy recipes. Now I'm following your advices on rest more, and snacks between meals and prep the meals and take time for myself to reconnect with my body and let go my anxiety, etc, and I have a more balanced life and have a new relationship with food thanks to you.

I bought your book and it's honestly the best book I have ever bought. I suffer from IBS and anxiety. I have paid so much money seeing naturopaths however after reading your book and all of your tips I'm noticing so much of a difference, so simple and easy to follow. And symptoms have dramatically decreased. Also you have helped me to relax. Currently drinking the protein health smoothie! Thankyou your amazing.


Hey Jessica!
I haven’t yet brought ‘The Healthy Life’, but I do have the clean life and your slim down plan! I would like to thank you so much for the knowledge your share and the message you put across about health and wellness. I’m studying Nutritional Medicine in Melbourne and absolutely love the philosophy that you share with your JSHealth community. The work you’ve done to show people that leading a healthy lifestyle isn’t boring, tasteless, difficult or depriving is amazing and hope to share the message myself one day. You’ve inspired me to start my own blog , to share the message and have taught me so many things about my own health! You should be proud of your achievements! Thank you again

- Jacinta

I searched for help and tips through the Internet and found Jessica Sepel. This is seriously not exaggerated, but she was the reason why I have dared myself to eat again, to have snacks in between, to nourish my body. I could slowly improve my negative thoughts about my body image and my stupid anxiety of gaining weight. Besides, The Cleanest Gut was awesome too! A huge thank you! Especially from my mum. Seriously, without you I wouldn’t be where I am now!


Congratulations on your new book! It looks absolutely gorgeous. I’ve been following you on Instagram for a few years and you’ve inspired me to slowly but surely eat healthier without giving myself a hard time when I don’t. It made me so happy (and weirdly proud) to see the Daily Mail article on The Healthy Life. I remember trying out your recipes before you even had your eBook out! I can’t wait to get my hands on the book. Keep up the great work.

– Sophie

Cooking in this way truly brought out the foodie in me and has instilled a huge passion for health and wellness! Life throws you hard and frustrating things sometimes but I truly believe that this is where we learn more about ourselves and what our passions in life are! Thank you for inspiring me on my journey to health and wellness!


I am a yoga teacher in Johannesburg and am thrilled to have bought your book today. I love making healthy, nutritious food for my family, friends and fellow yogis! Thank you for this book and your inspiration (had to share a pic of my book on my recipe stand in the kitchen).

– Helene

I bought your beautiful book during the week and told my bestie to go out and buy it also! I love love love it. It is the book I would give to my younger self if I could (I am 41 years old). Everything is just so sensible and informative and is definitely a book all teenagers should have. This should be a text book for girls becoming teens. I will love going back and re-reading it many many times and can't wait to make more of the recipes. Thank you Jess - you are an incredibly inspiring woman and you should feel so proud

Michelle Curtis

My fiancé bought your book and we have cooked some of your meals. Amazing! I love your outlook on a healthy lifestyle and your hints and tips with preparing tasty meals are fantastic. Thanks for reviving us to live a healthier lifestyle and get our bodies wedding ready.