How can I love my body when it doesn’t look the way I want it to look?
How can I love my body and also be trying to change it at the same time?
How can I love my body when it isn’t the weight I want it to be?
So first, let me explain to you what ‘loving your body’ does NOT mean.
Loving your body is not stopping eating healthily or exercising, and thinking that you’ll never have the body that you want so you may as well give up.
Loving your body is not looking in the mirror every day and trying really, really hard to love those wobbly bits that you have spent years trying to get rid of.
Loving your body is not about trying to make it look like someone else’s body – or like a picture you’ve seen on Instagram.
So now you know what it doesn’t mean, let me give you 5 ways to start cultivating a beautiful relationship with your body and start REALLY loving it.
1. Treat it like you would treat your best friend
Start thinking of your body like one of your best friends. Think of someone that you have so much love for, you would never disrespect them or want anyone to hurt them. Maybe instead of a friend it’s your mum, your sister, or your daughter. Now, that love you have for them runs way deeper than just what you see on the outside. It’s a real deep love, respect and honour for them. So, if you catch yourself talking down to your body, ask yourself, would I talk to my best friend in this way? Would you talk to your daughter, your mum, your best friend in the same way you talk down to yourself? Make it non-negotiable. Just do not allow that self-hate talk anymore.
2. Don’t ignore it. Listen to it.
Too many of us go through life completely disconnected to our own bodies. We are not listening to them. We are trying to manipulate them and change them usually, too, with diets and rules. Is it any wonder that these diets don’t work? We are completely ignoring our body’s natural intuition and deciding “Sorry – I’m going to make the decisions for you because I don’t trust you to make your own.” Start listening to your body more, and honouring what it really needs. Maybe that means more sleep, more self-care. Maybe that means becoming more aware of your feelings when you catch yourself trying to eat them instead.
Loving your body is really about listening and connecting on a daily basis. There are many reasons that we eat throughout the day and more often than not, we are actually not listening to our body when we make that decision. We are usually just following emotions, pushing down feelings or eating mindlessly, out of habit, boredom, stress or just because we feel like we should. So - start listening more.
3. Focus on how you want your body to FEEL, not just look
You must focus on loving your body to make it FEEL good – and stop obsessing over how it looks. When your body feels good, you will naturally make choices to keep it feeling good. And when it keeps feeling good? It will start looking better and better too. Take the intention out of your reflection. Stop checking your body in the mirror after every workout to see if you have abs yet. Focus on how great you feel after your workout instead.
Here’s the thing – when you start respecting your body, and loving it, and listening to it, you start cultivating this gorgeous relationship with yourself. Suddenly you stop wanting to disrespect it by eating rubbish or by being around things or people that make you feel like rubbish. It’s really all about self-worth. The more we start accepting and loving our bodies right now, just as they are, the more we start to nourish them, respect them and make beautifully aligned choices that our bodies love.
So how do you want your body to feel? We’ve all heard the saying “you are what you eat”, right? So if you want to feel empowered, happy, vibrant, colourful, then the foods you eat should be supporting this. If you’re counting calories, restricting yourself, and going hungry, then you are not eating for the future you. Start eating to support the future you right now. There is no other way to get there. You have to start now. Not tomorrow or on Monday. Not next week or next month. Not after Christmas or after your holiday.
4. Stop confusing it with new diets
I spent years training in nutrition and running my online coaching practice and the biggest thing I learned is this – no amount of dieting can make you love your body. You can diet diet diet and at the end of it, even if you lose weight, you will still be talking down to your body. You will still be criticizing it, wanting to tweak it and change it. Self-love is the most neglected part of weight loss and good health that exists. We completely ignore it. But it is essential if we have any chance of ever being happy in our own skin.
I had to do a lot of work on this subject myself - a lot, as I spent years at war with my own body, starting a new diet every Monday morning, and constantly wishing my body was just a bit different, and no amount of dieting changed the way I felt. I lost 3 stone, I gained 3 stone, and at my lightest and my heaviest, guess what? I was still at war with my body. The biggest shift in my relationship with food happened when I surrendered, and started being kind to myself again. I decided I would stop caring about being skinny, stop caring about my weight, and start eating to nourish my body and make it a healthy and loving place instead. And guess what? My body found a natural, healthy weight that I feel completely comfortable and at peace with. It had nothing to do with a new diet. It had everything to do with a new mindset.
5. Stop weighing yourself. Take the intention away from the end result, and put it into the journey instead.
Weighing yourself, counting calories or endlessly studying yourself in the mirror are sure-fire ways to stay at war with your body. You hop on the scales and want to be told, “Do you deserve to feel like a good person today or a bad person?” "How are you going to feel today, Mel – will it be virtuous, or will it be worthless?" Why? Why are we validating ourselves with a number on a scale? That number doesn’t tell you how smart you are, how aligned you are in your life choices, how good your ethics and morals are, how much of a good person you are, how beautiful you are, how fit or strong you are, how generous and kind you are…so why are we so hooked on this number? What is it actually telling us? Oh that’s it…our effect on gravity. It doesn’t even tell us if we are gaining muscle and dropping fat. It just tells us how heavy we are. If you want to be happy in your body - stop this need for control over the numbers. You will find so much more freedom and happiness once you do this. Trust me.
One final tip: be yourself.
Because it’s pretty impossible to love yourself, if you’re not being yourself. Follow your passions, do what lights you up, and this whole ‘loving your body’ thing will become a lot easier. And once you have a great relationship with yourself, you will become a magnet for beautiful relationships around you.