Whilst getting the right nutrition in your life is essential. – it can only take you so far if you don’t love the body you’re in. I’d even go so far as to argue that you can’t get the right nutrition without some self love. Nourishing your body & mind with food is an act of self care in itself and giving your body the food it needs requires you to tune in.
For YEARS I ate for all the wrong reasons – usually restricting myself so I could fit into a certain dress size or is I could tell myself I was being ‘good’. Or bingeing on foods that I’d restricted for so long and telling whoever I was around I’d been ‘bad’ with my diet or I was having a naughty day. Guess what – the food you eat doesn’t make you a good or bad person. But the words you use about food and yourself can make you feel like absolute crap.
Tuning into your body requires time, patience and gentle care. This can feel like a long journey – especially in the world of quick fixes we live in. But the journey is worth embarking on – why? – because you and your body are LIFE LONG companions. Who wants to live with a housemate they hate? No one. When your body is your best friend, life is good.
Sounds simple ey? Well, sometimes no. For some (*raises hand*) this can take years of practice – at first the thought of even liking myself a little, never mind completely loving every inch of me seemed way too hard. This journey can look different for everyone – you’ve probably heard of body confidence – feeling pretty damn good in that skin suit you wear – but for some people starting with Body Neutrality can a great stop-off point in the self-love voyage.
Body neutrality takes the pressure off having to love, or in fact hate, your body. Instead, it’s about working towards a place where you respect your body – mainly for what is does, not how it appears. It starts by taking away positive or negative thoughts about it but thinking about your body as a vehicle that, when treated with care, can help you move about the world you live in.
Some people are happy in the body neutrality world – for others they want to prance naked around the house head over heels in love with themselves. Both are great – each person’s relationship with their body is completely personal to them – but like any long lasting relationship, it needs some attention & you should tend to it now and again. Here’s a few activities to start with, some of which have worked for me, others which I have picked up on the way;
Notice how you talk about/to your body
Whether you’re talking to your mates or at yourself in the mirror – so many people use judgemental, negative words to describe themselves. You might hide this in self deprecating humour or even talk to yourself in the mirror – telling yourself you’re not good enough. Stop. Right now. Your body is listening to very single word. Would you talk about/to your best friend this way? Talk to your body and about your body as it if were your best friend – because it is your life long companion. Compliment it when you can, and do me a favour – when someone compliments you, don’t put yourself down – say thank you and feel good about it. You don’t have to be completely in love with it every minute of every day but if there’s something you’re not happy with, come from a place of loving acceptance – What does it do for you? Why are you grateful for it? To help crowd out the negative thoughts try to dial up those positive vibes by giving specific focus to the parts of your body that you actually do like, no matter how big or small.
Try this; when you go to bed – start at your feet and thank them for something they do, (say something like “Thankyou feet for helping me walk today”) then move onto your legs, hips, tummy… all the way up to the last hair on your head. Breathe in. Breathe out. Notice, without judgement, how you feel. Try it again the next day.
You are more than just a body
Your body is WONDERFUL – but what you value about yourself (and what other people value in you) is so much more than an image. Using the concept by @i_weigh movement – take an image of yourself, and write things that you value about yourself on top of the image – think of positive attributes that have nothing to do with your appearance. Here’s mine;
Another way to do this is to write a love letter to your yourself – thank your body for all the wonderful things it does for you everyday & list 30 things you like about yourself (again, they don’t have to be physical). It’s important you write these down so you can look back when you’re feeling low about yourself.
Try a little tenderness
Next notice how you touch your body – often people prod, pull, poke and pinch the parts of their body they dislike. “Look at this – gross” – I used to say to myself, grabbing my tummy and pulling at it. Touch is information to your body & brain. Caring for your body in a gentle way sends positive messages to yourself and helps to build your body image. Try to think of nice ways to touch yourself – manicure, pedicures and gentle massage is a great place to start. Simply giving yourself a cuddle or a gentle boob squeeze (one of my faves) and a loving word can bring so much warmth to yourself. One of my favourite things to do is the knee kiss. If I’m in the bath or near the end of a nourishing yoga practise – I gently curl up and kiss my knee (specifically my leftie – I used to be mean about it because I got knee pain). This gentle act of loving kindness is a reminder to myself and my body that I appreciate it.