Loving my body was a foreign thing. The thought of it actually felt ridiculous. I spent so many years not loving my body. I was continually criticising my body, comparing myself to others and trying to improve all its imperfections. I would diet and buy smaller clothes in hope of fitting in them one day. And so the thought of accepting my body for the way it was, or showing love to it, actually felt like I was only dismissing my potential for growth and real happiness. Loving my body was a scary thing and something I didn’t realise the importance of until now.
To go from slaving our bodies, or not feeling happy with our bodies or health… to loving them is a strange ask. A common question I get asked is “shouldn’t we lose weight, train more or improve our appearance first so we can feel better ourselves and love ourselves again”? There is nothing wrong with wanting to improve ourselves. But rather than focusing on improving yourself physically, or aesthetically I would encourage you to change your approach. Focus on connecting back to your mind and body as a way of achieving better health or body tone and weight. Especially if you are getting ill often, want more energy, more balance and freedom in your life. It’s basically a better way to achieve results because you learn healthier habits and new beliefs. New beliefs are created within you when you learn to love your body. Positive beliefs like that you deserve to be happy and healthy all at the same time.
When we love our bodies, instead of continually pushing them or numbing them we start to create more joy in our lives. We feel better for listening to our body’s needs rather than external demands and start to build a trusting relationship with our mind and body.
Knowing that loving my body was a must, it was still a commitment I wasn’t willing to do easily. It felt easier to keep working hard, slaving my body and striving for success, because the thought of change was unbearable.
To love our bodies & get great changes we need to first acknowledge the need for change
When we finally acknowledge that we need help, we can only then start to provide space for ourselves to grow. And sometimes it takes us being sick, having a really bad gut, having an epiphany moment or just desperately needing change. When we know what we don’t want we can then create habits that naturally lead us away from those old habits. And so the change isn’t as scary anymore. Because we have acknowledged the hard bits- what we don’t want and now can focus on what we need more of. And of course the journey to more body love and better health takes patience, time and even more compassion than ever before.
The journey to feeling whole again
I started my journey of self-compassion and love when my hair started to fall out. Chucks of my hair were found by my clients on the gym floor and on my back. It wasn’t good. I knew it was a sign of nutritional deficiency and stress. Even though I didn’t want to admit it, I had let my nutrition go and focused on productivity over internal health. I chose coffee over juice or water. I had chosen to take on everyone else’s needs first and ignore my most important need- to feel less chronic stress and anxiety and to feel whole again.
Get Real About Your Bodies Needs Not Looks
Body Love Pillar 1
What does your body need? What does it need when it is most stressed, sick, tired or run down? Does it need a filler job or to get rid of a flabby tummy? It may seem like an uplifting event and the idea that if we look good -we feel good. But realistically we need to address the core root first.
An example of addressing our body’s needs is:
When our body doesn’t get good sleep – instead of drinking more coffee or having chocolate or Red Bulls- address any potentially linked health conditions with the doctor, create better sleeping conditions, try sleep meditation and then try 10 more thing!
When our body feels tired and needs to pick me up food- instead try having water or natural hydration water such as coconut water and a complete nutrition meal.
Body Love Pillar 2
Have self-compassion towards any physical incapabilities and proud awareness of your capabilities. Focus on the movements and things you can do with your body. And don’t scold yourself for not being able to do a plank, or push up, or sit up… or all three. Only about 1% of clients that were getting back into fitness, were good at all three areas of fitness. It takes practice over time and good technique. So celebrate the movements you can do & notice the movements you have improved on over time. There is always something to celebrate. You need to get good at encouraging yourself because nobody will be as affective and encouraging as YOU. Start practising movements you are not so good at with patience and self-compassion rather than perfectionism.
Body Love Pillar 3
Look in the mirror and put your shoulders back. Notice how much more confident you feel. Can you breathe better. Putting our shoulders back allows our tummies to open up so we can digest food better and breathe more deeper and freely into the tummy. It also changes our energy instantly. Good energy is so important in cultivating confident body love.
Body Love Pillar 4
Breathe deeply and calmly. Practice breathing into your tummy and relaxing your body. You deserve it. Have an intention to feel love and warmth in your heart and body. Breathe in through the nose deep into the tummy hold for a count and out through the mouth for a slow 4 counts. Repeat 3 times. Relax your shoulders and soften your face. notice how you straight away have diluted some stress. Imagine if you did this 3 ties a day!!!
Body Love Pillar 5
Read self-development books to help you find comfort, wisdom, guidance and tools to help you process any confusing or toxic feelings inside. I can’t tell you how amazing I felt after reading books such as Whole Again by Jackson Mackenzie and Happy Days by Gabby Bernstein. After much success in my career I was at the same time working through traumatic events. My response to these events was to bottle up shame and to numb it. My protective self or my subconscious did not want to deal with past uncomfortable experiences to help process them. So I lived with feelings of toxic shame for over a decade. Until I finally put all my energy into wanting to get better. Learning to take responsibility for how I felt provided room in my heart for so much more love for my body and others.
Body Love Pillar 6
Do movement that feels good rather than workouts that create more stress. If you haven’t tried more forgiving and gentle exercises such as Pilates or Yoga I highly recommend it. Even my toughest athletes found movements from Yoga hard. More balanced movement is all about trying new things. Discovering stretching, rolling, activating, strengthening, and breathing. Not just pushing through pain thresholds, expanding your lungs or ripping apart muscle fibres in your body. This invites inflammation and injury. Instead listen to your body and challenge it in new movement practice and aspects of feeling good.
Body Love 7
Talk to yourself in the best language possible. Even if you eat badly after reading this or go back to old ways, start practicing talking to yourself in these hard moments like a cheer squad or seriously awesome best friend. Don’t put yourself down. When we are on the quest for confidence and love to our body we need to practice being it.
After having a good old binge say “it’s okay” and then have a complete nutrition meal for breakfast the next day or plan your meals for the week. Stuff ups are a PART of your journey. Learn to forgive yourself and focus more on planning balance with nutrition and exercise rather than punishing yourself at the gym or starving yourself. Your body derives love and care. It needs your compassion and watch how over time it will glow, tone and shape with amazing love and joy.