If you could write a letter to your body what would you say? Would you be thankful, remorseful or sympathetic? Without a doubt, our body is something we surely take for granted, not only through self-sabotaging behaviours but through mental and physical anguish.
“I hate my butt”
“I wear long sleeve shirts to cover my flabby arms”
“I’m fat, and feel horrible”
Does this sound like body appreciation?
We really do expect a lot in return. When our mind/body connection is lacking we fall into the trap of treating our body like it’s foreign, that it will take care of itself. But we also know this is not true.
What is common though is that we treat the closest things to us with the least respect and our self is the perfect example. Anguish, anxiety, stress, grief, self-hatred are all examples of feelings we retain with a self-defeatist attitude. Not allowing enough sleep, overeating, smoking, alcohol abuse and not prioritising exercising are ways that we unconsciously deal with these feelings.
So how do we move away from these emotions that make us feel in the dumps?
The biggest issue is knowing how to stop negativity that’s on repeat. Our systems are strong, amazing pieces of work that are unfortunately a reflection of our attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions. So, if we creatively change our attitudes, beliefs and perceptions in key areas, the awareness towards our body’s needs deepen. With this deeper connection comes a flame from within that ignites and helps us explore the real reason why negativity and self-sabotage (eating, drinking, drugs, thoughts etc) exist.
3 Ways to Develop Body Appreciation
- Gain some perspective
Social media places a lot of pressure on women to look a certain way and feelings of inadequacy often follow. When we’re young, we take our body for granted, ask anyone 30+ and I’m sure they feel the same. I certainly could write a list of things I would change about my habits in my 20’s.
Instead, focus on what your body helps you achieve. How feeling fit and strong helps you do extraordinary things … Perhaps focus on a sporting goal, an adventure holiday, or simply how damn good it is to be alive and on this crazy journey of life! Maintaining a level of fitness plus your weight is a by-product of larger goals and helps you take the center of attention off ‘skinny”. Bring external goals internally, as this has been researched to provide more sustainable goal success. External goals = a means to an end, internal goals = fuelling for core needs and wants.
- Connect through movement
Exercise gives us body confidence and boosts self-esteem. Like I mentioned earlier, movement allows you to connect mindfully to your body and promotes healthier eating patterns.
Personally, exercise gives me a sense of perspective. I view it as a gift and know I can count on it to help refocus and change any negativity that might be hiding in the background. A challenging workout can help you build (what my coach used to love saying) ‘character’, (and this is true), you don’t know what you’re capable of until you push the boundaries of the self.
- Change your mindset
Delving into what causes negative self-talk is a tricky business and usually stems from past experiences. I love this juicy part of the equation and bringing out unknown obstacles with my clients. We’re our harshest critics and lend a megaphone to our inner voice way too often. For example, try asking yourself why do you want to change XYZ and why would this improve your life? Is there a real reason or is it simply superficial and a mask over other issues? Do these beliefs and expectations around health and fitness lead you to stay motivated?
Give yourself a break and change negative talk to positive, your patterns will follow. You may believe being harsh with hateful comments prompts you to be more determined to try harder, but the opposite is true. Positivity attracts positivity so be kind and know that it’s ok to not be perfect all the time and natural to stuff up now and then. It’s how you pick yourself up that counts.