Does loving your body have to be so hard?
I will ask you, as I did last week, to close your eyes and notice where in your body you feel sensation when you say, “I love my body.” When you recognize where this lands in your body, just sit with what you notice. Give yourself some time here. Are there shapes, colors, textures, images, or memories that come to you? Do you feel openness and curiosity? Or do you feel resistance? Just sit with it, give space for your body to show you what it wants you to see. There is no right or wrong, just information for you.
When we think of loving our body, we often think this needs to mean “My body looks amazing! !” And for some of you, this is your truth. Or you might know people who live this experience with their bodies. You might longingly look at them and wish that you could feel that way about your body. Your reality with your body may be that at some point you’ve been told that your body was “wrong” or not the “right” size. Or you have felt the pressures of our diet culture that your body needs to be “better” than what it is now. Loving your body might feel like a far grasp from your current relationship with your body is.
A Different Lens
What if you could view loving your body through a different lens? What if loving your body meant that you are listening to your body? It’s not looking at your body through the glasses of judgment or even dysmorphia, as many women often do. But rather seeing your body through the lens of compassion and honor. It means listening and feeding your body when it asks to be fed and stopping when it asks you to stop. It means giving it foods that make it feel good and energized versus foods that make it hurt, tired, or ache.
It is seeing your body as a part of you, not separate or something to be managed. If you can think about this in terms of a relationship with your body, the view can become clearer. Think about how you would react to a friend that said, “I’m hungry, I want to eat something.” You wouldn’t respond with, “You ate too much earlier, so you’ll have to wait,” or “You don’t need to eat anything more-just look at your body!” The very statements that you can say in your head, you would never utter to a friend.
Loving your body is in listening and taking care of your body. The beauty is when you take care of your body you feel it! Your body loves you back by your body feeling energized and you have the energy to do all the things you want to do! Loving your body doesn’t mean that you love all your lumps and bumps, and those places you judge, but rather that you find acceptance or even tolerance for those lumps, bumps, and judged parts. If acceptance feels like a difficult way to be with your body, try to drop into tolerance. Tolerance can feel like an easier emotion to hold because it’s bringing more neutrality. It’s not having to feel positive or negative, but rather, finding a neutral place.
This shift is the intention in which you show up for your body. Your body will take every punch you throw at it and continue to show up for you. It is the loyal companion. When you treat your body as something to be managed, you are separating yourself from your body. You forget or don’t even see the wisdom that it holds for you. It is a relationship that YOU are dictating what your body will do versus listening to what your body is asking.
If you have been a dieter, you may find the foods that you gave your body, are actually the foods that your body feels the best with. This can be one of the harder and even more confusing steps in healing. First, we have to acknowledge the trickiness of our diet culture. It is very health conscious. So a diet can be wrapped up real pretty to make you believe that it is a “lifestyle change” for your health, but really it is just another diet with a pretty bow on top. There can be trauma associated with this health-focused way with food because of the rules and “forbidden or off-limits” foods.
This is where there needs to be healing around these foods, in order for you to be at peace that these foods are actually honoring and supporting your body. Diet culture wants to steal fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and other nutrient-rich foods. But diet culture does not own these foods. Your trauma has them blended. The healing is unblending these foods from a “diet” and seeing that eating them does not mean that you are following another diet. You get to eat them, and the carbs and the dessert, as your body is asking for them.
The work is crucial. It is the shift that allows you to have peace and allows you to trust in listening to your body. It allows you to mend the wounds that dieting created with your body and with the foods that make your body feel good and energized. You can see that you can trust. You can listen.
When you work on healing your relationship with food and stay in a curious place with listening to your body, you find a refocus on honoring your body. Honoring becomes about the health of your body. When you have this new perspective, you see that honoring the health of your body doesn’t just mean your physical body, but your mental and spiritual bodies as well. You learn to listen to what each of these aspects of you is asking for and find that each wants to support and honor the other. You find that there is unity. You find that there is respect. You find that there is love.