So, there I was, listening to a podcast on the topic of shame about how we can negatively see our bodies as being wasted energy and “no fun.” The Rise and Resist podcast by Lacy Davis and Holly Noll—two inspirational, body positive and empowering fitness coaches—had hit a nerve, but in an eye-opening way.
The health and fitness community at large has waged war on cellulite, stretch marks, body hair and other traditionally undesirable, yet totally normal, characteristics. When we buy into these expectations, there is no way we can feel completely satisfied with ourselves because we are fighting against what is completely natural. When we break free of these ideas and start loving our bodies, however, we find some life-changing benefits. Here are just a few of the benefits I have noticed with a daily practice toward body acceptance:
1. More present focus and happiness
Goals are fantastic and nobody should knock having something to strive toward. Yet, if we are constantly delaying our satisfaction with ourselves to some future point in time, we are seriously missing out on the here and now. Being happy with ourselves wherever we are in a given moment is a skill that can lead to tremendous relief from pressure and an increased sense of happiness. Practice appreciating whatever you look and feel like in the moment and that nasty, nagging, “not good enough” self-talk just might quiet down.
2. More acceptance of others
Whenever I’m stuck in a mindset of criticizing my own physical appearance, being judgmental of others’ follows closely behind. Jealousy for those in “better” shape and critique of those not meeting society’s aesthetic expectations can strike at any moment. When we start appreciating where we are, what we look like and what we’re capable of doing, we can start to see others’ accomplishments as well. And we can start building each other up instead of dissecting others into meaningless putdowns.
3. More appreciation for your body’s functions
It sound cliche, but it’s true: appreciating your body for what it does rather than how it looks is a game changer. So, you have a “muffin top” visible when you do squats. What about the incredible coordination, flexibility and strength it takes to accomplish that movement? What about the mental willpower you use and the cardiovascular benefits you achieve? In the grand scheme of things, these elements demand admiration far more than a smoothly hidden love handle.
4. Better mind-body connection
Only viewing our bodies in terms of how they aesthetically please ourselves or others ignores so much of what our bodies do for us on a daily basis. If we eat or exercise purely for a goal of looking conventionally attractive in a bathing suit, for example, how attuned are we to our body’s needs? How likely are we to notice when adjustments need to be made for overall health? By seeing our bodies as much more than an exterior shell, we can remain connected to all of our systems and how to keep them running smoothly.
5. Healthier relationship with food
There is no denying it: the food we eat has a large influence on how our bodies look and perform. The industries that push fitting a certain physical mold can keep us captive in a cycle of deprivation, obsession and downright unhealthy habits—but only if we let them. As appreciation for our whole selves grows, so do our relationships with food. We get to decide what we “should and shouldn’t” eat. We are empowered to make the best food choices for ourselves without having to consider what others will think.
If struggling with body image and acceptance feels like a mountain too high to climb by yourself, I highly suggest finding someone with whom you can talk it out. Whether you need the support of a counselor or to be surrounded by a positive and accepting circle of people, do what you can to seek out the environment you need to achieve more happiness on a daily basis. And remember: shame is a game we all end up losing—so try playing something different.
Call Sandy now www.sandyleo.com and get your body and life sorted 0212838433