When it comes to accepting your body, do you need some serious help? What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you see a body you like and accept? Or do you pick it apart and criticize every little thing you want to change about it? I'm guessing it's the latter.
A large majority of people, particularly women, do not like what they see in the mirror. In fact, they downright HATE what they see in the mirror. I would've included myself in that majority up until about 5 years ago.
Now, I'm not saying that I always LOVE what I see in the mirror, but the difference is that I have come to learn to appreciate what I see, instead of hate it, criticize it or pick it apart.
For years, I had this crazy morning "ritual" where as soon as I woke up and got out of bed, I would walk to the bathroom, pull my shirt up, look in the mirror and see how big (or flat) my stomach was. It was my Morning Fat Check.
If I was dieting or depriving myself, or I had started some new meal plan or fat burner, I would check to see how much weight I was losing, or if any of the pudge had miraculously disappeared overnight.
If was off the rails with my food, which happened more often than not, I would lift my shirt, stare at my bloated belly, pinch my love handles and curse myself. Then I would swear to start over and "be good" for the rest of the week.
I would start to make the running list in my head of all the foods I had to stay away from, and make a promise that I would only eat salad for the next 10 days and nothing else.
It was exhausting, and seriously detrimental to my well-being AND self-esteem.
I truly hated what I saw every time I looked in the mirror. It didn't matter if I was thinner than the day prior, or not. I would criticize, poke, pinch, prod and shake my head in disgust. This was the way I started every single day for years, so you can imagine how I entered into the day feeling about myself.
Sometimes I would end up on the floor in a ball of tears when I was trying to get dressed for work. Other days, I felt on top of the world, because my stomach looked flat that morning, and I was convinced that whatever I was doing was FINALLY working, and I was a rock-star. But that didn't last long, because I would eventually overeat and break that big lofty promise I made to myself, yet again.
Basically the Morning Fat Check set the entire mood of my day into motion. Most of the time, it resulted in a SHITTY one (excuse my French) of devastation, feeling like a failure and riddled with shame and disappointment.
The big turning point for me was the day I called a close friend of mine for support. I was in tears about how fat I felt. I hated the way I felt in my skin. I was gaining weight and felt puffy, bloated and defeated. And I was out of control with my eating. I was looking for someone to be in the trenches with me; to feel my pain.
But what I got instead was a hefty dose of tough love. The words my friend said in that moment stung me, but they were the catalyst to me deeply healing the years long battle with food and my body,
After she waited for me to finish whining and complaining, she calmly said, "I'm sorry you feel this way and you are struggling, but this obsession with your body and weight is SO self-absorbed. GO OUT and BE OF SERVICE. STOP feeling sorry for yourself, get off the couch, get outside and make a difference in someone else's day that needs you."
BAM! It was like a stinging slap in the face, but it was just what I needed to hear. Those words set a series of events into motion that dramatically transformed the way I see myself, and my body to this very day.
So, here are a few of the steps I took in order to learn to come into acceptance with my body, and stop hating myself. This change didn't happen overnight, but I was committed to the process. It required patience, consistency and a tremendous amount of courage.
Step One to Accepting YOUR BODY
Stop the Morning Fat Check + Daily Weigh Ins
The first thing I did was give up the Morning Fat Check and I stopped looking in the mirror so much. As hard as this was to break, it was a huge part of my healing process.
Beating my body up and criticizing it first thing in the morning, left me feeling depressed, angry and defeated. No matter what I did, it was never enough.
And the crazy thing is, weight can fluctuate anywhere from 2-7 pounds within a given day depending on circumstances, so I never knew what it was going to be from day to day and that created even more uncertainty and feelings of failure.
So, I vowed to stop lifting my shirt, looking in the mirror and stepping on the scale first thing in the morning. I even threw my scale away!
At first, I had a huge fear of getting out of control if I wasn't constantly checking my weight or size. Because how would I gauge if I was getting skinny or not? How would I know what to feel about myself that day and if I was reaching the goals I had set to lose weight?
But, what started to happen, as I let go of the constant slew of externally focused, self-deprecating comments and lifting my shirt each day, was that I started to focus on the amazing other qualities I had and how I felt from the inside.
Step Two to Accepting YOUR BODY
This was a powerful practice for me in body acceptance. Once I gave up my Morning Fat Check, and started to focus on how I felt internally, it prompted me to truly feel connected to the miracle of my body.
As a nutritionist, yoga teacher and former massage therapist, I have studied a lot about the body. I understand a lot about the anatomy of it, and what foods are good for it, etc. but I always treated my body as a separate entity. I was disconnected from it, and felt it to be a burden.
I hated that it wouldn't listen to me, or drop the weight I wanted it to, when I wanted it to. I felt like my body was constantly betraying me and I was in a constant battle with it.
Each day I committed to writing down and/or saying three things to my body that I appreciated about it. I focused on it's strength, health, and all the little intricacies of my body that I often don't think about because they run on auto-pilot, literally.
This practice alone helped me to create such a deep appreciation and honoring of my body that I didn't want to say mean things to it anymore. And
the funny thing is, after a while, my clothes started to fit looser. Go figure.
Step THREE to Accepting YOUR BODY
Tune in and Listen to Your Body
As I mentioned in step two above, I was in a constant battle with my body and completely disconnected from it. By practicing the daily appreciation of my body, I was also able to attune to it more.
I started to pay closer attention to the subtle and not-so-subtle signals that my body would give me. After I ate, I would notice how I felt in my body, not what my mind thought about what I ate (which was usually full of judgement, by the way.)
This would help me feel connected, and be able to give my body what it needed. I stopped listening to the craziness in my mind, and the outside world, and starting listening to the wisdom of my very own body.
This usually looked like resting more often, not working out as hard, or pushing as hard and doing a whole lot less than I was used to. I relaxed more, and ate less because I was paying attention to my satisfaction cues. I slowed down at meals and enjoyed what I was eating. I was getting fuller quicker and didn't overeat as I normally would when I was distracted.
All of this led to me feeling so much more at home in my body. I would check in and see what type of movement would feel good instead of what I think I should do (to lose weight.). Some days it was yoga, some days it was hiking, others it was weight lifting.
My body appreciated this. And it started to change. It didn't happen overnight, it was a journey, but one that has been so empowering and transformative.
Remember: accepting your body takes patience, practice and Consistency.
Not only was I implementing these steps on a daily basis, I was also doing some further personal growth work to look at my skewed relationship with food. Although it's all connected, I had to dig deeper to get to the core of some of my eating behaviors.
These 3 key elements mentioned above were the most powerful and truly helped me come to an incredible acceptance of my body, which resulted in my body normalizing to it's natural weight over time.
So, I'm curious; How do you feel when you look in the mirror? What has been your experience with your body? Do you feel accepting of your body? Or do you loathe it and fight against it? 'd love to hear your thoughts and comments below.