Acknowledge Your Body
Take a step back and recognize what your body really is.
Your body is not there for other people’s pleasure or to match ever-changing beauty ideals. Your body is your home: a home to your mind and your soul. Without your body you have nowhere to live.
Your body is also your closest friend. It is your best friend that is always with you 24 hours a day every single day. It is there to protect you. Through signals of pain, it is there to give you information if something is going wrong and to encourage you to lead a healthier and better life.
Just think about all the beating your body has tolerated throughout your life: junk food, sickness, sleepless nights, negative self-talk, stress, and even a size too small clothing. Yet, just like a true best friend, it is still there, not giving up on you.
If you treat it right, your body is capable of some true healing and magical transformation if you take care of it.
Accept Where You Are At
Just think about it, your body is never constant. It is on an ongoing path from birth to death, filled with many mountains and molehills. Perhaps it is easier to see the difference between your baby pictures and photos from today, but trust me, your body is different from the way it was yesterday and the way it will be tomorrow. Changes may only be visible over time, but even your cells are reproducing and changing every second. You will have a different body by the end of this article than when you started reading it.
Perhaps your weight is not ideal. Maybe you want to lose or gain some weight or add more tone to your muscles. Perhaps you are dealing with some significant health issues. You want to feel pain-free, more energetic and more capable.
That’s great! Goals are awesome, but it all starts with acceptance.
Acceptance doesn’t mean giving up. In fact, you should continuously look for ways to take care of your body and better your health. True healing and transformation is possible with the right action steps and the right mindset. But you can only improve if you have a realistic understanding of where you are starting from. Starting from a place of acceptance and love will allow you to continue your progress with a much better attitude and achieve life long success.
Body love is not about “I will love my body if…” but about loving it now, unconditionally and continue loving it throughout your life. Body love is about acceptance, respect, compassion and care.
Respect Your Body’s Story
Your body has been with you since birth. This means that it is carrying your story.
You may have some scars from the time you fell on your bike as a kid, got burnt out in the sun, had the chickenpox or went through surgery. You may have some intentional marks, such as tattoos and piercings. Many of your scars or marks, on the other hand, are not visible.
You carry every experience in your body as well. Each experience of trauma can create some level of tightness, inbalance or discomfort. Sadness, anger, and fear gets stored in your body as well. So are happiness, joy, excitement and safety. Respect your body’s memory and story. Without that, you wouldn’t be the person you are.
Of course, it doesn’t mean that you should become a prisoner of your trauma. Through various techniques, such as bodywork, somatic therapies, and movement practices, you can release stored trauma from your body. As with everything, it starts with respect and acceptance first, then healing can truly begin.
Develop a Relationship with Your Body
Your body is your friend, your family, your protector, and your alley. You share every moment of the day with it. Why not start develop a relationship with it?
Notice your body. Start really seeing it and respecting it for what it is. Get to know it.
Being in the shower is perhaps a good place to start: instead of rushing through with the soap and the water, take time notice every tiny part of your body. Become familiar with every curve, every scar and every dimple. Recognize the story that came with each scar, each stretch mark, and even each fat cell.
Be grateful for your body for doing the best to protect you. Apologize for mistreating it. Don’t be afraid to speak out loud: have a conversation with your body. Make a promise to treat it well according to the best of your ability. Develop a physical and emotional connection with it like you would with a friend.
Give yourself a hug. Seriously, just do it!
Nourish and Nurture Your Body
You didn’t think you can get away with this one, right?! It is not enough to become emotionally accepting and friendly with your body, you must physically treat it right as well to allow it to thrive.
Proper nutrition is necessary to keep your body healthy and function, to heal ailments, and to gain energy, happiness and freedom. Remove or at least reduce junk food, processed food-like products, refined sugar and artificial ingredients from your diet. Focus on nourishing with mostly plant-based foods: greens, veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, beans, lean proteins, and whole grains.
But food is only a part of it. It is crucial that you nourish your body besides food. Air is the number one nutrient your body needs: breathe in deeply, slowly to calm your body and to improve vitality. Drink plenty of water to hydrate. Use natural, chemical-free products to lessen toxicity; your skin and hair will glow from treating it right. Exercise! Moving your body helps to control your weight, to tone your muscles, to detoxify, to feel energized, to heal ailment, to improve your sleep and to better your movement. Rest and sleep plenty as well to recover.
The key factor to nurturing your body is listening to it. Your body is sending important messages to you on a constant basis. So listen to it. Stop judging it. Throw away the scale if you have to. Stop counting calories, stop trying to measure up to some strict fad diet, and stop comparing yourself to unachievable standards. Learn your body. Learn what it needs to function at its best. Use your intuition. Be mindful. If your physical frame needs rest, take a nap or make a plan to go to bed earlier. If it is dehydrated, drink more water. If it’s sluggish, add more vitamin and mineral-rich foods.
Change Your Language
Language is a powerful tool: what we say and how we think affects how you feel. Negative self-talk creates negative feelings putting us into a negative cycle.
Consider how many times you speak about your body negatively, often out of habit without realizing it. It was a bad hair-day, those ugly pimples, that saggy butt, shameful stretch marks, fatty muffin tops, and dark circles. If you are like most women, your language is full of judgments and complaints filled with negative feelings.
It is time to change your language!
You don’t have to lie to yourself. Be realistic. Yes, you have cellulite, your tummy is hanging over your jeans, or your butt needs bigger jeans than in high school. That’s okay. Instead of shaming or depriving yourself, say “It is true that my legs are not flawless and I have some cellulite, but boy, I am thankful they are strong and get me through my runs,” or “Sure I have a bigger bum that I would like to have, but I am so grateful that I have some cushion to sit on.” Better yet, keep the acknowledgement quiet but say the gratitude part out loud.
To boost your habit of positive talk, add some positive affirmations to your day. “I love and accept my body the way it is. My legs are strong and carry me through life. My body is healing and is more energetic every day. I am beautiful just the way I am. I deserve love.” It may feel odd at first, but eventually it will become second-nature transforming the way you feel about yourself.
Realize the Bigger Picture
Realize that you are more than your body. Start viewing yourself from a holistic angle: your life is about a mind-body-soul connection.
You are not only your body, but your beautiful mind and soul as well. Not only that, but this beautiful mind-body-soul of you is connected to an enormous perfect universe.
Notice the people around you, notice the animals, the plants, the mountains, the lakes, the clouds and the sun. Notice what you don’t see: the tiny microscopic bacteria, countries far away, life beneath the ocean, other planets and things you are not even aware of. Realize that you are a tiny piece of the puzzle and your body is even a smaller piece of that. Stop for a moment and feel the connection to the entire big picture.
When you do that, I promise you will feel humble and connected. When you feel connected to the everything around you, you can’t feel anything but love for yourself and your body.
Remember, loving your body is important but it is complex; a physical, emotional and spiritual issue. Loving your body is a conscious and continuous daily practice. There will be ups and downs, it is a learning process but it is all part of this beautiful journey we are on. Remember, it is about progression not perfection.
How will you treat your body differently today? How will you practice body love and acceptance? What makes you truly unique? Share in the comments below. I would love to hear your thoughts. Body love is a collective journey – let’s support each other on the way.