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I don’t have to love my body to respect it

When clients come to me, the idea that they can love their bodies is completely alien to them.

It feels completely unattainable.

And the truth is, I doubt there is a single person on earth who can honestly say that they look in the mirror every day and like what they see.

The real goal is to get to a place where you can honour and respect your body both physically and mentally.

This usually starts with an acceptance that you are not going to feel like a million dollars every day. That is just unrealistic and unnecessary.

Yet society pushes this culturally thin ideal down our necks constantly.  It tells us that to be successful and happy, we have to be skinny.  It has even gone as far as to say that if we are not in a smaller body, we are not healthy!  Diet culture is now masquerading as a ‘health’ pursuit which disturbingly gets deep into our psyche and makes us feel shameful if we cannot conform.

I will admit that I am very privileged.  I am a white, able-bodied female in a socially acceptable body but I am going to release myself to the wolves now and dare to say that I don’t think I have ever had a day when I haven’t wished I could change something about myself, either physically or psychologically.

The difference these days, however, is that I rarely act on negative thoughts or feelings about my body.  I openly experience them but I am able to acknowledge them for what they are – thoughts not reality.

This has been referred to as body image flexibility and this is what I help my clients to cultivate.

Instead of jumping on another restrictive diet or punishing themselves in the gym, they are able to show their bodies respect by continuing to nourish and nurture them.

I show them how to move from body hatred or dissatisfaction to body neutrality without the pressure of becoming thin.

How would it feel for you to spend less time thinking about and worrying about your body, even if you don’t love it looks?

Bodies are all supposed to be different yet they are all still amazing!

No matter how down you may feel one day, your body still gets you through.  But the reality is that it is really hard to take good care of it if you don’t respect it.

Yet respect and love are two very different things.

You can show your body respect by:

  • listening to your hunger and fullness signals.
  • talking to yourself as you would a dear friend, not the enemy you think you need to cajole in to shape.
  • wearing clothes that fit and feel comfortable.
  • moving in a way that feels good, not torturous.

The stark reality is that even if you were to manipulate your body into a size that doesn’t fit your genetic blueprint if you haven’t done the work on yourself, you won’t treat or respect it any better.

You won’t suddenly stop obsessing about every calorie you eat or how you look.

Being thin will NOT solve the issues you have.

Showing your body compassion and respect right now WILL.

You can do so by:

1. Having a social media clearout.  Audit who comes up on your feed right now.  Is it full of ‘perfect’ images and lives?  Or do you have a nice mix?  If there is anyone who makes you feel like you are not good enough or need to ‘fix’ anything about yourself, DELETE them immediately.  You are do not need that kind of negativity, you are worth more.

2. Stop wearing clothes that don’t fit.  Or get rid of the clothes that are gathering the dust in the loft until you can ‘fit in to them again.’ L-E-T/T-H-E-M/G-O…..The best thing you can do for your own mental health and happiness is to dress the body you have NOW.

3. Look after yourself.  That doesn’t mean spa days and fancy massages.  It means getting 8 hrs sleep, regular meals and a bubble bath once in a while.  It means taking a walk to unwind or calling a friend to offload, it means doing little things every day to avoid things building up to an eruption Mount Etna would be proud of.

4. Don’t compare yourself.  Comparing yourself is futile and will damage your self-esteem.  Research also suggests that we never compare ourselves with those in a similar body to us, we focus on an unrealistic ideal.  But whilst someone may have the ‘perfect’ body, you don’t know their story any more than you know about their genetics!

5. Stop beating yourself up.  Your internal dialogue is super, super powerful.  If you call yourself ‘fat’ or ‘greedy’ or ‘disgusting’, you will begin to believe it even though it is not true.  You may think that being harsh will give you the incentive to change but how has that worked for you so far?  Instead, talk to yourself like you would a best friend.  It may seem strange to begin with but becoming your own best friend is a beautiful place to be.

And above anything else, remember all of the wonderful things your body can do for you.  So far, it has got you through the good, the bad, and the ugly even when you have been giving it a hard time.

Surely it is time to give it the respect it deserves.