- 9 out of 10 American women are unhappy with their body
- 81% of 10 year old girls in the US are afraid of getting fat
What in the world is going on here? We grown-ups have struggled for years and now our children and grandchildren are struggling too. It’s time for a big cultural change. Let’s start by doing a little myth-busting…
BIG MYTH: I will love my body (and myself) after I lose weight.
Please listen to Kay Arnold, respected therapist with decades of experience: “I have counseled slender, drop-dead-gorgeous teens; lovely, healthy young adults; attractive inside and out middle-aged women and men. The most common verbal thread has been ‘I hate my body . . . I hate how I look.’ I have concluded there is not a size that makes someone love him or herself. It is a choice to love your body as you are, as you continue to move through life’s phases.”
Let this sink in. This myth has it backward. Choosing to love your body now must come first.
BIG TRUTH: Loving your body now is what frees you to discover and sustain a lifestyle that will bring the health and comfortable weight you want.
When you begin to do the work of accepting, and eventually treasuring, your body you will naturally begin to take good care of it. In the process you’ll discover the best way to live in your body – which, by the way, is not a one-size-fits-all answer. Respecting your body — flaws and all — opens the door for real change.
BIG MYTH: Shame is a motivator.
Allowing harsh self-criticism, tolerating feelings of chronic dissatisfaction or even disgust, rehearsing the same old mantra of “I hate my thighs, belly, arms…fill in your blank” is dangerous. It drains your energy, crushes your spirit, diminishes your confidence, robs your joy, side-tracks you with endless dieting, and can create a road block to true intimacy.
Self-criticism weakens you as a human being.
No one can shame themselves into real change. If berating our bodies helped we would’ve been thin a long time ago.
And then there’s BODY CHEMISTRY: Chronic negative thinking releases cortisol, a stress hormone, which can literally make you sick over time…not to mention, gain weight. Tolerating body-hatred is toxic.
BIG TRUTH: Love is the most powerful change-agent on the planet.
At its core, changing a lifestyle (which is what it takes to change your body) is about loving yourself enough to care deeply. You will not have the emotional rigor, the personal power, or the resilience to change a body you don’t value.
HOW’S YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR BODY?
Think about what relationship means. What words do you use when describing your best relationships?
Connection, love, enjoyment, trust, “at-home-ness”, understanding, wanting each others highest good
Now, what would happen if you began to nurture that kind of relationship with your body? What if you sincerely befriended her or him?
What if the two of you started hanging out – just because you enjoy each other. Speaking kindly. Listening attentively. What if you went on walks together, shared lovely thoughtfully-chosen meals, made sure you got enough rest. What if you trusted each other to figure things out? What if you were careful with your inner dialogue – being sure to build up and not tear down?
This is how the revolution begins! Each of us doing the noble work of learning how to love our bodies again – appreciating the unique human form that we’re born with – our own particular one-of-a-kind gene combo.
REALITY CHECK: Of course this doesn’t mean you have to crazy-love every inch of your body. It does mean you begin to cultivate an authentic loving partnership with your one body. That body was with you before your first breath, and will be with you at your last. That body is your constant companion and deserves your tender affection.
So, how are we going to jump start this personal reformation?
Here are a few strategies that can get us started. Pick a few and start to feel the love:
- GET SOME BODY WOW: Notice and be amazed at all the incredible things your body does for you—seeing, strolling, hearing, breathing, laughing, sleeping, thinking, dreaming, hugging…
- TOP 10 LIST: Start a list of things you like about yourself—things that aren’t related to how much you weigh. Keep it where you can read it often. Add to it as you realize more things.
- TAKE BACK BEAUTY: Do not let pop culture or marketers tell you what beauty looks like. Carry yourself with confidence, self-acceptance, openness and your own personal style and grace.
- SEE THE WHOLE PICTURE: View yourself as a whole person. When you see yourself in a mirror or in your mind, choose not to focus on specific body parts. See yourself as you are and as you want others to see you – mind, soul, spirit and body.
- BUY FUN CLOTHES NOW – Don’t wait to enjoy getting dressed until “after I lose this weight”. Wear clothes that make you feel good now.
- NURTURE YOUR BODY-FRIENDSHIP: Do something refreshing for yourself regularly— take a relaxing stroll, enjoy a bubble bath, get a massage. When you do this be aware of the benefits you feel afterwards.
- BANISH THE CRITICAL JUDGE: Catch and shut down the negative voices in your head. Have some positive and true statements, quotes, music or Scripture ready. Don’t leave a vacuum – replace those negative thoughts with positive ones.
- EMBRACE YOUR GENES: We all inherit traits from our fore-mothers and fathers. Celebrate and enjoy your unique family tree and the part you play in it.
- REWRITE YOUR LEGACY – Doing the work of healing your relationship with your body is important work. Children naturally tend to pick up, and adopt, the way we see ourselves.
Your relationship to your body is ever changing because you are ever changing – so -this is a great time to begin to change in a positive direction. What you believe about your body powerfully influences your behaviors, your family, your contentment, and your health.
A cultural change is needed and is possible; it starts right here, right now with you and with me. No matter how you may feel about your body, you can lay down your weapons of condemnation, take a deep breath and decide to step into the joy of living fully and freely in the only body you will ever have.
And if you aren’t sure where to start, please give me a shout. I’m on your team even now.