Rarely do I meet a woman who can answer this question with a resounding yes. Or a consistent yes. But if we are to live with vibrant mind-body health, with joy, then we must come to the place of loving our whole selves precisely as we are.
When we love ourselves we will continue to grow and mature and heal. Our bodies might change over time but what matters more is that our mindset change. That we begin to understand the depth of our worth – that our inherent worth and beauty as human beings has absolutely nothing to do with our physical appearance. Nothing.
And even if one day your body ceases to function as it used to, if you lose the use of a limb or become scarred; if you lose your hair or your breasts, you are still a whole person. Worthy of love. Deserving of kindness.
And yet, our bodies are a gift- a tool – that permit us to love and serve and experience life. So while our appearance or our able-bodiedness does not dictate our worth, neither do we abuse or neglect the gift.
You might be heavier than you want or underweight. Your body might scream to you in pain each day or perhaps you are in the thick of an illness that has flipped your life and dreams upside down.
You might wear scars or burns on your body or carry around a legacy of abuse that was not your fault but you bear the burden of it on your stooped and weary shoulders anyways.
Everyone around might remind you daily of how physically beautiful you are and yet all you see is imperfection. You feel disgusted when you see yourself in the mirror.
You might live with disability or you are aging and cannot quite keep up how you used to. How you still want to.
But I call you to love the body you’re in.
Hating yourself or constantly feeling the pressure to be better, look better, perform better is crushing. If today is a gift (and I believe it is) then self-loathing or wishing yourself away is like throwing the gift back to the giver and reminding her of all the ways the gift does not measure up.
There is another way.
You can choose to love the body you’re in. You can offer yourself kindness, compassion and respect. You can live like you matter and deserve to be here, regardless of how much or how little space you take up. You can walk away from abuse and make a decision, once and for all, to stop abusing yourself.
If much of your focus tends to be on changing your body – through exercise, nutrition, supplements or disordered eating – I invite you to take even 30 days to try something new.
What if, instead of trying to change your body, you choose to love it instead. What if, everyday, very consciously, you begin to practice loving the body you’re in? I wonder what might happen.
5 Tips to Help You Practice Loving the Body You’re In
1. Every day, get naked and stand before a mirror (full length if possible). Choose 1-3 aspects of your body to give thanks for. Speak life over yourself. Begin to notice and get brave enough to speak aloud what you like about your own body. For many women this is painful work so maybe you start with your feet or your face and then branch out from there as comfort increases. Baby step by baby step.
2. Move your body in a gentle or joyful way each day. The goal is not to lose weight, strengthen that core, or build muscle mass. The goal is simply to love your body. To notice where it is holding tension, what it feels like to move and stretch and bend and lift. It is to accept the reality of your current limitations of movement, the chronic pain, or the weakness induced by your condition, and to move accordingly. Consider this a practice of moving meditation. An act of loving self care. A sacrifice of thanksgiving.
3. Listen to your self talk. Do you want to live with peace or joy? With health? If so, then you must control both your tongue and your thought life. Every time you notice yourself berating or criticizing or comparing yourself stop right in your tracks. You might need to say the word aloud – STOP! Then very purposefully replace the negativity or lies about yourself with kinder truths: speak three things about yourself that you like, that you are proud of, or that you have done well so far today. Use a notebook or phone notes app if you have trouble calming your anxious thoughts so that you can choose differently. This gets easier with practice. xo
4. Do one kind thing for your body each day that reminds you that you matter. Take a bath, crawl into bed early, buy yourself a gorgeous new tea to snuggle up with each evening, take a few extra minutes for a sugar scrub, apply lotion to your neglected feet, paint your nails if it makes you happy. Let your husband rub your back for you, save some money for a regular massage or some calming essential oils. Let go of all those self improvement goals that make you feel like such a failure and shift your focus to simply loving your body well each day.
5. Feed yourself vibrant, real foods, that help you feel amazing. Again, the goal is not to improve your body; the goal is to simply love the body you’re in. Perhaps the body you’re in often feels tired and achy so you decide to buy a glass water bottle and drink more water each day. Your body might often feel bloated and constipated so you decide to make a gorgeous, colorful salad for lunch each day with quality fats and protein to replace the burger and fries that are not serving you well in this season. You might feel cold all the time, your skin dry or rashy, so you look for ways to include more soothing fats and warming spices to your menu. Learn to nourish yourself well in your kitchen.
Some of you might think to yourself that you are already careful about eating and moving your body – but I ask you to be honest about your motivation. Are you making decisions because you disapprove of your body and are trying to make it better, smaller, or more acceptable in some way? Or, are all your decisions and habits stemming from a place of honoring yourself and treating yourself with dignity and respect? From a foundation of loving the body you’re in?
Go ahead and give this a try. Commit a minimum of 30 days to this shift of perspective and see what happens. As a Holistic Nutrition & Joyful Living Educator, and as a person who has experienced chronic pain, mobility issues, disordered eating and body shame, I can support you in this process or point you toward a colleague who would be an ideal fit for your needs.
Or, if you are ready to learn to love the body you’re in, consider joining me in my REVITALIZED class, beginning January 9/17. Our small group provides space for plenty of support and encouragement over our 8 weeks together.
Do you love the body you’re in?