When was the last time you looked at your naked body in the mirror and felt absolute, overwhelming self-love? For me, it was this morning right after I got out of the shower. I even did a little dance, swaying my hips side to side and giving myself a ‘you rock!’ attitude. It might sound cheesy, but why? Would you love to love your body that way?
A few years ago, I would not have had the confidence to do that. I have not always been so gracious and gentle on my physical appearance. The typical person fluctuates in body weight, clothing size, and has an inconsistent relationship with body love and body shame. We’re taught to judge how we look compared to those around us, and to the ‘ideal’ body image of the time. I’ve been more toned than I am now, I’ve been heavier than I am now, I’ve been rounder in different places. I have cellulite on my ass, some love handles, and even still get the annoying rolls on my back that you get when you put on a tight bra. However, I’ve been consistent in body size and weight for the last four years. Quite an accomplishment in my own life.
I don’t have to get rid of clothes because they don’t fit anymore or buy clothes a size too small as motivation to lose weight. I don’t limit my calorie intake, have a liquid diet, or cut out anything major from what I eat. I have the occasional sweet, fresh baked bread, and might even overeat what’s on my plate at a restaurant. I didn’t set out to lose 20 lbs in 6 months (which is what happened four years ago), but I did want to feel better in my body. However, you don’t have to lose weight to love your body and appreciate how you physically show up in the world.
What brought me weight loss was committing to FEELING better in my own skin. I learned not to compare myself to others around me (as we all do) because I didn’t like what I saw when I did. As a child, I had a big, chubby belly when my sister was tall and lean. I read magazines that suggested the ‘optimal’ weight, height, skin, hair, etc when I was an impressionable age and no longer wanted to judge myself for not being those things. No one is perfect, so why do we expect ourselves to be? People come in all different shapes, sizes, colors and ethnicities, but that doesn’t mean one is better than the other. We are all equally human.
So, if you want to commit to feeling more comfortable and confident in your own skin, here are three elements to get you started.
Find what FEELS good to your body. It can be dance, running, yoga, jumping, hula hooping - whatever your body wants more of, just do it! I practiced yoga on and off for years, and ran on and off for years. However, the first time I practiced Hot Yoga I was hooked. It was the hardest, most enjoyable workout I had ever done. During class I was shaking, sweating, and breathing heavy (I was really out of shape and could barely touch my toes), but felt absolutely energized and motivated afterwards. Also, the fact that I have always been a sweaty person, even as a child, and I found a place I could sweat like crazy and no one cared was an incredible bonus. I loved it so much that eventually I became a hot yoga instructor and discovered yoga is designed to energize and revitalize the body.
Hot yoga is not for everyone. Regular yoga isn’t for everyone. What is for everyone finding a movement style that works for YOU. You want what you do to be fun, challenging and enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t need to be easy - that usually doesn’t get you results, but you want it to be something where the payoff outweighs the difficulty. There are tons of new exercises, so try something you’ve never done before. Poll dance, Bungee Dance, Pilates, Cross Fit, whatever it is - get moving!
Eat foods that nourish the body. A balanced diet does wonders for the body and often times diet can have a huge impact on how you feel. We are designed to digest and receive nutrients from food. The great thing about eating more healthy is that usually the more nourishing food you include in your diet, the more your body craves. This doesn’t mean never eating your go to junk food, comfort foods or sweets. It just means including more whole, healthy foods that are prepared in ways that are enjoyable to you AND allowing yourself to occasionally consume those not so good foods, being careful not to make it ‘wrong’.
Something else to keep in mind here is that when we are craving foods that aren’t good for us, more often than not it’s because they’re filling an emotional need we’re not getting met elsewhere. For example, when I’m stressed I eat sweets. The sugar is a quick fix for my body to ‘feel’ better, however long-term it’s not so great. So, if I can find other ways to deal with stress, my cravings for that chocolate cake essentially goes away. When you make healthier choices more often, and start to feel better more regularly, choosing food that nourishes your whole body becomes much easier.
APPRECIATE, don't fixate
Bodies fluctuate. We grow, change, shed hair, shed skin cells, and for women depending on the time of month hormones fluctuate influencing water retention. So, appreciating your body where it is, exactly in this moment is a HUGE element to feeling comfortable and confident. If you’re feeling bloated, just feel bloated. If you feel great, feel great. It’s ok for your relationship to your body to change from day to day - sometimes even within the same day - as long as it circles back to good. Our bodies are the instruments that allow us to live this life we’re in. How magical and beautiful is that?! Without this body we wouldn’t be able to connect to those around us, do the work we do in the world, or even experience thoughts or emotions. So, can you treat your body like a gift rather than a burden?
An exercise that has helped me embrace the elements of Movement, Nourishment and Appreciation is to stand in front of a mirror and love your entire body from head to toe. It’s simple, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy. Start with the easy parts to look at and love, just look at that part of yourself in the mirror and say “I love you”. Then, move on to a more uncomfortable part and say “I love you” as many times as you need to inorder to believe it. Keep going until you’re feeling overwhelmed with love and gratitude for your entire body. Notice how the rest of your day goes and if you feel any differently interacting with those around you.
If that sounds too intimidating or too cheesy, you can start by trying this in the shower. When you’re lathering up with soap wherever your hands fall say “I love you”. The first time I did this in front of a mirror I broke down in tears, sobbed and wasn’t sure when I’d stop. Still, through the tears, I committed to letting in the beauty of my body and didn’t look away from my painful expression. It was an incredibly raw, vulnerable, scary moment, but releasing the tears, judgement and self-hatred to make way for love was an incredibly powerful moment.
How do you love the skin you’re in? Does that exercise feel scary, funny, weird, uncomfortable?
When you gaze at and admire yourself in the mirror, I’d love to hear how it goes. Send me a message and let me know how it felt for you. Do you need extra support or want to learn more? Reach out here.