This is the 2nd post in a 5 week series on Body Image. Go here for part 1.
Last week, I talked about how I shush my inner critic and tell her to go home (sometimes escorting her out myself) when she whispers negative things in my ear. It’s just one of many things I’ve been doing on a regular basis to transform the way I feel about my body. Loving or liking your body is a “practice”. We practice yoga, we practice sports, we practice before giving a presentation or dance recital. And yes, changing how we feel about our bodies or how we feel around food requires creating a practice of sorts. Today I’m sharing the 2nd “practice” in my body image toolbox.
The second thing I’ve done is that I focus less on what my body looks like on any given day and pay more attention to what my body can do.
I started putting my focus on what my body can do and what it does for me everyday.
I am in awe and so appreciative of how fortunate I am to have this body to carry me through life.
Feet that work when I need to take a step.
Eyes that see when I want to read a book, drive a car or look into another person’s eyes.
A heart that keeps beating so I wake up each morning and sends fresh blood and oxygen to all the parts of my body that need it.
Lungs that bring in enough fresh air so I can get through a tough workout and that function well enough so that a walk to the mailbox is just a walk to the mailbox.
Muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons and all that stuff that works together so I can do jumping jacks, shovel the walkway, or reach for something on a high shelf on my tippy toes.
Hands and arms that can hold another person, type on a keyboard or cook a meal.
A brain that remembers dates and birthdays and still has room and the ability to learn new things. And a memory that still can picture my mom’s face even though I haven’t seen her in person in almost 16 years.
An immune system that responds when I get sick but also functions to keep me from getting sick too often.
A nose that can smell a delicious meal cooking, fresh flowers on the counter or keep me safe by alerting me that something is burning that needs attention.
Knees that bend and straighten when I need them to.
A belly and digestive system that accepts the food it receives and puts all those nutrients to work in my body so that I can keep doing all that I am currently able to do.
Ears that can hear my favorite music, John snoring or the cat purring.
Taste buds that can notice when my stew needs more thyme or garlic and when a piece of fruit is no longer in season.
When my body responds the way I need it to, when it does what I ask it to do, I no longer accept it as a given. I have known too many people whose bodies couldn’t do some of the things I have taken for granted. In an older post, I talked about my mother, my aunt and a friend’s mother who all had medical conditions that prevented them from doing basic things like walking, breathing comfortably or even showering on their own. The more empathy I feel towards their situations (and others like them), the more challenging it is to take my own physical abilities for granted. And if I’m respectful, appreciative and aware of the incredible daily things my body does for me, it is a lot harder to pick on myself for having a soft, round belly or for having a crooked jaw or for eating more chocolate than I needed.
It’s become much easier to say “I like my body” no matter how my body looks like on any given day, because that “like” is coming from a place that isn’t about how I look. If I hold out saying and feeling that “I like my body” until I like what I look like, I could be holding out forever. Looks fade, skin gets looser, gravity takes it’s toll – if we’re not happy with what we look like in our 20’s and 30’s, we’re certainly not going to like what we see as we age (this is not to say I can’t appreciate my physical features – I can and do. This girl can be as vain as they come.). Why not like what we have as it is today? As it is tomorrow? It’s all we have – so let’s love it up.
Putting my focus on appreciating the things my body does for me daily rather than what it looks like also helps in a big way with my eating. If I want my body to continue functioning well, as best as it can, at my current state of health, I need to feed it in a way that supports that. Bingeing on chocolate, cheez-its or other snacks until I’m crazy full won’t do that. Eating a variety of whole foods, to satisfaction does. The choice becomes a little bit easier to choose things that continue to make my body feel and perform it’s best.
What amazing things does your body do that you are appreciative of?
Can you list out 10 things you are grateful for about your own body?
How can you support your body to do more of the things you want to do?
Keep an eye out for Part 3 of this body image series next week, where I’ll share another practice I use in my life to transform how I feel about my body!
Could you use some support with body image? Schedule a free consult with me here.
Also, I have a brand new guide for you! It’s called You Have What it Takes: Overcome Emotional Eating, Overeating and Chronic Dieting by Rediscovering Qualities You Already Have and it’s designed to help you build more confidence and understanding of yourself as you take on the task of improving your relationship with food. You can get your copy here.