“Your body is precious. It is our vehicle for awakening. Treat it with care.” ~Buddha
My life has been one big hate-fest of my body.
I don’t know when or how it developed, but I have been comparing my body to others’ for as long as I can remember. I was never happy, never good enough. There was always work to be done, goals to achieve.
Not only was I constantly on the latest diet that most likely was extremely bad for me, but I was also mentally beating myself up every step of the way.
The self-talk was brutal and relentless. “Why can’t I just lose weight?” “Why am I so fat?”
The negativity didn’t stop there. I hated others too. Women with “perfect” bodies were a major source of jealousy and envy for me.
The few times that I achieved some sort of ideal, I found myself uncomfortable with my appearance. I projected my hatred and jealousy of others onto myself, and just kept falling down the negativity rabbit hole.
Achievements felt shallow, undeserved, and were always short-lived and followed by a period of self-sabotage.
Finally, after a difficult divorce, left as a single mother raising three young children alone, some sort of light bulb went off in my head. No one else was going to take care of me. I was sick of the misery and mental anguish.
I realized more than ever that I needed to take care of myself so that I could have the energy to get through my demanding life. Something had to give, and what I was doing was not working.
I began by simply realizing that I didn’t feel good physically with the way that I was eating. I noticed a daily sugar crash that was leaving me depressed and with no energy. I decided to start there and started eating more whole foods and less sugar.
Taking a new attitude toward my diet increased my awareness of how good health affected me, and that choice built upon itself daily.
I researched what else I could do to develop better health, and began to properly care for myself. In turn, my life became more manageable, I felt happier, and I was a better mom and person. As a nice bonus I actually lost 30 pounds and became an athlete.
If you’re tired of the self-hate game and ready to begin taking care of yourself, you may want to try the steps that I followed.
1. Focus on health and feeling well.
Stop obsessing over external appearances and obtaining an ideal body, and instead focus on the way being healthy makes you feel and what it gives you. You’ll find a deeper sense of gratification and more motivation to stay on track. You’ll also begin to lose tolerance for the way unhealthy choices make you feel.
You can also reframe the way you look at diet and exercise as something wonderful you do for yourself, rather than a way to punish your unhealthy choices.
Feed your body nourishing food so that you always feel your best, and remove the worries of disease and poor health. Exercise to relieve the daily stresses of life, to release endorphins, to fight anxiety, and to feel good. Meditate to get in touch with your emotions, to connect with the bigger picture, and to feel at peace.
2. Treat yourself the way you’d treat someone you love.
I stopped speaking to myself in a way that I wouldn’t speak to my children. It’s powerful to recognize that the self-hatred is not only unproductive, but that it begins a spiral that takes you further and further away from the things that you want.
How motivated would you feel to perform well for a boss who constantly demeaned you? Now imagine a boss who supported, encouraged, and nurtured you: how motivated would you be then?
Our subconscious mind hears the self-talk and responds to it in a similar way, so make sure your self-talk is loving, supportive, nurturing, and forgiving.
Look in the mirror everyday and repeat the phrase “I am deserving and worthy of all good things, and accept myself unconditionally.”
It may take some time to believe it, but in time you will re-train your thought process to be more positive. When a negative thought about yourself enters your head, take a deep breath, release it, and repeat your positive affirmation in its place.
If you’re not sure, ask yourself “Would I say this to my daughter/son/loved one?”
Treat yourself with the utmost respect, and you will want to give your body the healthy choices that it deserves and needs to function in the best way possible.
3. Stay positive and be grateful.
Don’t waste time and emotions staring at pictures of perfect bodies and wishing to be one of them. If you need visual inspiration, find photos of you at your best, not someone else at their best.
Learn to release negative thoughts about your body and to focus on the good that it brings you every single day. Rather than fixating on not having lost that five pounds yet, or not fitting into that dress yet, make a daily list of your accomplishments and your gratitude.
Just like in the rest of life, when we focus on what we don’t have or what we haven’t accomplished, we feel frustrated and ready to give up. Listing your achievements instead puts your focus on what is going right, which in turn motivates you to do more.
Maybe when you started, you couldn’t do one single push-up—and now you can do 10. That’s huge! No accomplishment is too small to be grateful for, because it has taken you one more step in the right direction. There is now no reason to give up, because with this attitude, you cannot fail.
4. Love yourself first and the rest will follow.
Learn to love yourself by catching and releasing negative thoughts, acknowledging your efforts and achievements, making positive daily affirmations, and seeing perfection in your so-called “imperfections.”
Ironically enough, focusing on loving and caring for yourself first will most likely lead to the external transformation that you’ve always wanted. Once you begin to treat yourself with the respect and care that you deserve, the habits needed for physical transformation develop naturally.
You’ll want to nourish your body because you are grateful for it, so healthy choices will come with ease. When an unhealthy choice makes you feel awful, you won’t stand for it because you know you deserve better.
Before you know it, you’ll see your body transform, and not just in fat/muscle composition, but a healthy glow from the inside out.
I can now look in the mirror, smile, and be happy with what I see, no matter what I see. Part of my beauty is the light that shines from within. I am at peace with myself.
Photo by mikebaird