“I love you Binky, but I don’t have to like you right now.” -How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days
How can I love and respect my body when I want it to be different?
Some days we feel fabulous in our body. Strong, vibrant, attractive and healthy. While the other days, we feel weak, bloated, unattractive and overall dissatisfied in our skin. It’s normal to go through these phases.
On the days that we feel the latter, which may be most days, we can work on improving our relationship with our body – even when we wish it would be different – by choosing love and respect.
Here are 5 ways to love and respect your body:
- Gratitude – being grateful for our bodies may sound hard to do when you aren’t feeling good about yourself, but it’s a powerful mindset shift. When you choose to focus on the good things your body can do for you it can pull you out of the dumps. Try saying or writing this… “I choose to be grateful for my legs that allow me to walk or run.” “I choose to be thankful that my body was able to bring babies into the world.” “I choose to be grateful that my body allows me to lift my kids up, play basketball, do yoga, walk and play with my dog, etc.”
- Stop comparing – “Someone will always be prettier, someone will always be smarter, someone will always be younger, but they’ll never be you.” Instead of comparing yourself to friends or what you see on social media, compare yourself to the person you were 1 year ago or 5 years ago. Have you become wiser, stronger, healthier or happier? Celebrate that progress! Take pride in any areas that you have grown. If you can’t find something to celebrate, explore what seems to be throwing you off course and be sure to pay close attention to #5.
- Be respectful with your words and actions – When your friend is having a bad body image day – would you tear her down further or lift her up and try to show her that she is beautiful? If your son was feeling less than his peers, would you bully him about it or remind him of his strengths? We would never treat our loved ones the way we can treat ourselves sometimes. Take a step back and ask yourself, would I say or do this to someone else? Learn to be your own friend.
- Shift the momentum – Sometimes, one feeling or event can trigger us into a downward spiral of shame, blame, and defeat. When you catch yourself in that downward motion, stop the momentum and take a single small step in the opposite direction. Say something nice to yourself, choose a balanced meal, or mindfully indulge a craving, move your body, get out and socialize, journal or call a friend. It usually just takes one step to shift your momentum. That one step will make it easier to take the next step up and so on.
- Know the difference between perfectionism and healthy striving – Brene Brown taught me this life-altering lesson that is so profound for me. I think this concept sums up how we can love and respect our bodies, even when we might want to change something about them. It’s about avoiding perfectionism, and embracing our flaws while striving for improvement. You see, perfectionism is always wanting to avoid all flaws and imperfections. It’s wanting and expecting the unattainable. It’s the thought: “I won’t love myself until I lose 50lbs, have a booty like Beyonce, abs like a bodybuilder and be able to swing around on a pole like JLo at a halftime show. 🤪” Unless you have the money and time to spend uprooting your life to spend hours in the gym and on plastic surgery, for most of us that’s not likely to happen. On the contrary, healthy striving is setting stretch goals that might be challenging but can realistically be met with some effort. When you are striving for a healthier self, it looks and sounds more like this: “I love myself, flaws and all. Nobody is perfect. I want to feel good and be strong. I know that today I can challenge myself to be a bit better than I was yesterday. I know that mistakes are normal (they don’t indicate that I’m unworthy) and growth is possible.”
I hope these suggestions help you love and respect your body even on the days it’s hard. I also hope it helps you understand the concept of radical acceptance of every step along your journey AND a realistic desire for growth and improvement.