Sometimes we feel badly about our body. Sometimes we even feel like we hate our body. We need things we can do when we feel badly about our body this way. This post discusses eleven such things.
Feeling Badly about Our Body around the Holidays
We often feel badly about our body around the holidays when we eat more or different kinds of food than we are used to. But we also often feel this way in our normal everyday routine. We feel badly when we feel like our body looks bigger or smaller or different, in some way, than it is supposed to.
When we feel horrible about our body, we might feel gross, ugly, depressed, ashamed, anxious, terrified, fat, or worthless.
When we feel badly about our body, we want to hide in a cave of shame.
These are all really painful feelings.
These feelings are often made worse by messages we receive from the media and people around us that we have to be a certain size or shape to be beautiful or to be worthy of love.
The result of these painful feelings is that sometimes we become extremely harsh with our body. We want to take drastic measures to whip ourselves into shape and to whittle, starve, or punish ourselves down to a certain size so that finally we will be worthy of love.
The Mean Things We Do to Our Body
So we go on strict diets or adopt stringent exercise plans. And that works…for a while. But eventually, the harsh way we are treating ourselves becomes so painful–even more painful than our previous pain–that we slip into unhelpful habits.
Sometimes we even swing in the opposite direction and begin binge eating or engaging in other behaviors to soothe our pain.
And this continues until we begin to feel really bad about our body again, and then the cycle begins once more.
Breaking the Cycle Through Body Kindness
We need to break this cycle, and we can do it through something called body kindness.
The idea of body kindness suggests to us that our body is our friend and wants us to be healthy and strong. So we befriend our body, instead of fighting against it.
We treat our body with kindness, compassion, and respect so it can flourish. Any time we do so, we already have the perfect body. Flourishing is the perfect state to be in.
We always have things we can do to practice body kindness when we feel badly about our body.
Here are eleven things you can do to practice body kindness:
One: Understand that your worth and your beauty come from the light inside you, not your weight or size.
There are a lot of people who suggest that your beauty is tied to a certain size or weight. This is absolutely not true. Your worth and beauty come from the light inside you. This light is your ability to be loving, creative, compassionate, and wise.
There are a lot of people that are the “perfect” size and shape but make themselves ugly through their cruelty, apathy and selfishness. On the other hand, there are people who do not fit typical beauty standards, but people are drawn to them like a magnet and love to be around them.
It is because these people nourish their light, honor themselves, and honor others. That is authentic beauty. This kind of beauty is within everyone’s grasp.
Two: Understand that you deserve and can have rich, meaningful love at any size and shape.
Sometimes we receive the message that we cannot have any love or that we do not deserve love unless we are a certain size, weight, or shape.
This is baloney, and you already know this deep down. If you look around you, you will see people of all shapes and sizes who have meaningful and deep love. You will also notice some people who the supposed “perfect appearance” who are miserable.
Authentic and healthy love does not come from having a perfect body. It comes from connecting with people’s mind, body, and spirit. And it happens when we do all we can to help them flourish. It is possible to do this at any size.
In addition, when we love ourselves authentically and unconditionally and fall in love with our lives, this helps us find other healthy and authentic people who are living the same way. This brings the most wonderful kind of love into our lives.
Three: Realize that health can come at any size and shape.
We also often believe that we can only be healthy if we fit into a narrow size or weight range. This causes body shame and anxiety.
It is important to realize that worrying and stressing about our health causes us much more harm than being any particular weight or size does.
Health comes from things like this:
Listening to our body’s messages.
Moving to feel good, rather than to punish ourselves.
Processing our emotions healthfully.
Leading a peaceful life.
When we do these things, we help our body thrives no matter what size it is.
The Health at Every Size community communicates these ideas beautifully.
Four: Recognize that your body is on your side and is your friend.
Frequently, we feel like our body is our worst enemy. We especially feel this if we believe that we must be a certain size and our body refuses to be that size.
It is important to realize, though, that being a healthy size and expressing its unique beauty is your body’s main goal. Your body is your friend and wants to love you, provide you with energy, and help you live life well.
The more we make friends with our body and show kindness and gentleness to it, the better our body can do these things.
When we feel badly about our body, show it kindness, compassion, and respect always makes things better.
I think these ideas are captured well in the Intuitive Eating community.
Five: Shower your body with compliments and love.
One of the best ways to show your body love is to shower it regularly with compliments and love. We spend a lot of time criticizing our body and thinking and speaking harshly about it.
When we praise it and love it for all that it does for us and begin to focus on its beauty, we are better able to become friends with our body and hear its wisdom.
Six: Practice Intuitive Eating.
Intuitive Eating is an eating philosophy which encourages people, among other things, to…
- Pay attention to their hunger and fullness signals.
- Make peace with their body wisdom.
- Give themselves unconditional permission to eat.
- Find non-food ways to deal with painful emotions (although emotional eating sometimes is normal and expected).
- Engage in playful and joyful movement because it feels good, not to lose weight.
Intuitive Eating is very good at helping people make peace with their body. It also helps people with disordered eating establish joyful eating and moving habits. You can read more about this here.
Seven: Eat and exercise to let more of your light shine–not to be a certain size or shape.
Eating nourishing food and moving our body is a gift to our self and the world. But it is not because these things make us thinner or bigger or more or less curvy.
It is because when we eat nourishing foods and move frequently, awesome things happen. We become stronger, happier, more emotionally balanced, more resilient, more imaginative, more playful, more creative, more energetic.
In other words, we become more fully alive and more fully ourselves, and we shine more of our light into the world.
So, by all means, eat well and exercise, but do it so that there is more of you, not less of you.
I have written more about this here
Eight: Drink lots of water
At one point in my life years ago, I spent a great deal of time pursuing the perfect diet and trying to follow very complicated eating rules.
It made me miserable.
I try to focus a lot of the basics now. One of those basics is drinking lots of water. Water is a miracle.
You can read more about the benefits of drinking water here. And remember that while drinking water often makes us feel good, you are the best judge about how much water makes you feel good.
Focusing on simple practices like drinking more water can help when we feel badly about our body.
Nine: Move in a way that gives you joy
We often make exercising a really complicated ordeal, and we turn it into a means to punish our self for calories we have consumed.
This is so unfortunate. This is not what exercise should be like.
Exercise is the way our body plays and explores new ways of being in the world. It is also a natural elixir for our joints and muscles. It helps keep us mentally sharp and physically agile our whole life.
Our body naturally loves to move, but that doesn’t mean all forms of exercise are right for us personally.
Over the years, I have discovered that I love somewhat non-traditional forms of exercise that are more like the playful activities we do as a child.
I love hoop dance, juggling, handstands, playing on monkey bars, dancing in general, and swinging on swings.
I also recently discovered a new kind of exercise class called Pound that incorporates a lot full body moves with drumming strikes. I love it.
The point is that our body benefits tremendously even from small increases in exercise. And it doesn’t matter so much what we do, as long as we do something.
So think of an activity that you loved as a child. Or, think of an activity that has recently intrigued you and try it out. It’s okay if you just do it for a little bit at first. When we enjoy an exercise, we get excited about it and want to do it more.
Our body definitely thanks us.
Ten: If you feel like it, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, or just lots of vegetables if fruit bothers you. (And if you don’t feel like eating fruits and vegetables, that’s okay, too–see note at the end).
There is a lot of controversy about what kind of diet is the ideal diet, or if there is an ideal diet, for everyone.
Do you know what there is hardly any controversy about? That eating lots of fruits and vegetables is a great idea. Or, at least, that eating lots of vegetables is a great idea. (I realize that fruit can be a problem for some people).
If you are worried about what to eat, you can’t go wrong (and you will do a whole lot of good) with adding more vegetables and fruit (if fruit works for you) to your diet.
Note: If the idea of eating fruits and vegetables sounds unattractive and frustrating to you right now, that’s okay. It may be best for you to focus on learning intuitive eating. You might want to go back to six and read about that.
Eleven: Pay attention to what your eating habits tell you about your emotions.
Sometimes our eating habits indicate that we are experiencing some painful emotions.
For instance, if we don’t feel safe, we might unconsciously eat more in an attempt to gain weight and to protect us from things in the world that frighten us.
Sometimes we don’t have enough joy and good things in our life such as love, creativity, beauty, and delight. So, we overeat in an attempt to compensate for these things we are missing.
At other times in our life, we unconsciously feel like we don’t deserve to be healthy, and so we overeat to punish ourselves.
Other Reasons We Eat
Sometimes we unconsciously are afraid that if we become more healthy, it will disrupt relationships we have with other people. At times our relationships with other are based around unhealthy behaviors. Changing such behaviors can feel scary.
In all of these cases, we sometimes unconsciously overeat because of underlying beliefs we have about our self and others. Eating and overeating for underlying emotional reasons sometimes is perfectly normal and nothing to be ashamed about.
However, we know that using food to fix underlying painful emotions is not an effective long-term strategy.
I know it doesn’t seem like it, but it is very possible to find other soothing tools that actually work better than food to heal painful emotions. You can read more about this in the post mentioned at the bottom of this post: “Healing Our Hearts Through Self-Directed Kindness.”
Body Kindness Leads to Body Peace
Whether it is the New Year or whether we have just decided our body is asking us for a change, one of the best changes we can make is to replace body harshness and body criticism with body kindness.
Body kindness is the foundation for long-lasting, peaceful change.’
How do you show your body kindness and love? How has it made a difference in your life?
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