This is a love letter to the most profound, complicated relationship we have – the one with our body. Today’s article is filled with tangible points to help you love your body TODAY. If you adopt these practices immediately, I promise you will be one step closer to loving your body this time next week!
Sing it with me: “The greatest love of all, is happening to me. I found the greatest love of all inside of me.” The late great Whitney Houston sang about self-love before self-help ignited the New York Times Bestsellers list. Are you picturing her singing on the stage in that video now? I wanted to be Whitney Houston when I was a little girl, complete with a bob haircut and jean jacket like she wore for the “Saving all my love for you” video.
But this article is not an ode to Whitney. Rather, it’s a tribute to your body and eight ways you can love it every day. I’m sure you’ve heard people say You must love your body! It allowed you to carry children or It allows you to provide comfort for loved ones. But what does that really mean? Can someone really expect you to love your cellulite? Love how your breasts hang like deflated balloons? Maybe your body did provide life for a child, but does that mean you have to “love” the leftover loose skin?
Yep, that’s what I’m asking of you. And here’s why. To maintain a positive relationship with anyone, whether it be a friend, intimate partner, children, or supervisor, you must nurture it. You must consistently validate the person, support the person, and show up even when you are tired or overwhelmed. Your relationship with your body is the same way. Your body has been there for you your whole life, regardless of what you feed it, how much you move it, or how little you listen to it at times. Your body is on YOUR SIDE. To hate your body is to hate your soul.
Ok, dramatic much? In all seriousness, though, you might rail against what’s perceived as the negative parts of your body, but how have you showed up for it? I bolded the word consistently because that is how you can show the greatest love to your body. If you don’t honor your body and nurture the relationship on a regular basis, it won’t trust you. It won’t listen to you. If you only engaged in a friendship half the time, the relationship would die, right? If you always took from your partner, but never gave, it would perish, too. Your relationship with your body is the same. You must show it love regularly, and here are 8 ways to love your body:
Listen to Your Body
Your body is an incredibly complex machine. It communicates with you every day in a variety of ways. If your head is pounding, heart is racing, palms are clammy, or you feel dizzy, your body is telling you something. It might be telling you to slow down, pay more attention, or listen to your instincts. You know how your body temperature increases when you are around certain people or when you have to give a presentation? Your body is communicating with you.
Instead of talking through our problems and being vulnerable, some of us stuff our feelings down into a tiny box. Um, you know how well that works. You can try to ignore your feelings, but as I tell my students, they are going to surface in some way. You know the lump you feel in your throat when you are trying to suppress crying? Your body is trying to tell you to let out the sadness. Express it. You don’t have to write a book about every single emotion you are feeling, but you have to let it out or else your body will be forced to escalate its form of communication.
Your body communicates when you are danger, tired, happy, scared, and a myriad of other situations. We often ignore our body’s signals, though. This creates a negative cycle. The more you ignore your internal queues, the less you will hear them the next time. Listening to your body is an act of love. Sleep when your body begs for it. Nourish it with nutritious foods when it needs fuel. Honor your body’s messages to show you love it.
Get enough sleep!
One way to show your body some love is by giving it some rest! Why do we fight this so much? Your body regenerates itself when you sleep and won’t function properly without it. The right amount will be different for everyone. For me, my perfect number is seven hours of sleep. Not six or six and-a-half hours. Seven. If I have less than that, it affects my day.
What is your optimum number of hours of sleep per night? If I don’t get my number, I’m groggy, sometimes short-tempered, and more emotional. Without enough sleep, you are more susceptible to making poor decisions and more vulnerable to out-of-proportion emotions. Then, if it’s my period week, and I’ve had less sleep, and I’m not exercising….Watch out: Perfect storm!
My “3-Point Plan for Wellness” includes sleep, movement, and eating well as the three tenets. Create your OWN 3-Point Plan for Wellness with my FREE guide:
This is nonnegotiable. You have to move your body for 30 minutes a day. Period. Do you have goals and dreams? How do you picture your life in five years? Are you in the middle of following your spark? I hate to break it to you, but physical stamina and strong mental health are required for all of those. And you can’t have physical stamina and strong mental health without moving your body. See how I brought that full circle?
“Movement” can be as simple or as complex as you want it, and you can mix it up so that some days are easier, while others are hardcore. For instance, I do spin classes Monday-Friday. On Saturdays and Sundays, I make sure I walk 10,000 steps. So, I’m still moving my body on the weekend, but at a slower pace. I can organically reach my movement goals on those days, which makes it likelier for me to stick with them.
What will movement look like for you? Walking outside? Walk Away the Pounds DVDs? Zumba? Maybe you enjoy Crossfit, running (I applaud you!), or group classes. Whatever it is, it’s nonnegotiable. Movement is a way to show you love your body.
What constitutes “eating well” will look different for everyone. I will share the guidelines I roughly follow, but you need to do what’s best for you. After all, you are creating your plan for wellness. I don’t follow a diet, per se, but I adhere to Kelly LeVeque’s FabFour approach most of the time. Notice I said “most” of the time – I still have a splurge meal (read: pizza) once a week. Kelly encourages people to eat protein, fat, fiber, and greens in every meal. She doesn’t base her plan on a caloric limit, but you can if you are trying to lose weight. It’s up to you; again, your plan for wellness.
Before giving up sugar and adhering to the FabFour, I never entertained the idea of having smoothies for breakfast. I just couldn’t bring myself to drink my calories. Anyone relate? I needed food. But after reading about Kelly, I gave smoothies a try, and I’m glad I did. Check out my morning smoothie recipe HERE website for details. I swear I’m full for five hours after my smoothie, and it’s my caloric treat of the day! Take it from me, a sugar addict and former binger, it’s A+.
That’s my approach, but you need to determine what works best for you. Maybe you will follow Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, or Nutri System. Maybe you won’t track and focus on eating clean. Whatever works for you, but the bottom line is: Eat nutritious, fuel-filled food to help your body work at capacity. Nutritious foods = loving your body.
Touch your body
What are some ways we show love to our family members? You listen to your family, offer validation, help them when they need it, and more. Also, though, you show them you love them by touching them. You hug them, kiss them, touch their backs and so on. Our skin is the largest organ, and it responds to being touched. Touch your body in a loving way every day.
Remember, it’s all about consistency. If you don’t regularly show physical touch in some way to your loved ones, the relationship isn’t the same, right? Same thing with your body. This could encompass rubbing lotion into your skin, masturbating, taking time to brush your hair, or massaging sore body parts. Most of us shower every day (Except when I go on 3-day sprees. I can’t be the only one!), but that’s the end of our personal touches. By frequently touching your body in a loving way, you show yourself that you are of value.
I love you
I tell my children multiple times a day that I love them. My son and I have a routine when I tuck him into bed: I tell him I love him, he tells me he loves me in return, and then I say I love you more and blow him a kiss. Imagine if you had the same relationship with your body, like you were competing to show yourself you love it the most. Make it a habit to look in the mirror and tell your body that you love it in the morning and at night. You are already in the bathroom anyway, so add this message as part of your nighttime and morning routine. You might feel silly at first, but you will adjust and begin to feel the positive effects.
Monitor your self-talk
We would never speak to our children the way we allow our inner mean girl to yell at us! I used to berate my body with putdowns like You are disgusting and Your breasts are gross. If we heard our children saying demoralizing admonishments to themselves like that, we would be heartbroken and would do everything in our power to help them stop. We have to treat the relationship with our body with the same sense of protection. If you catch yourself saying something negative, picture a stop sign in your mind and make yourself stop. I know, this is easier said than done, but like anything else, if you do it often enough, it will become second nature.
To help you work through the negative self-talk, I created a FREE guide so you can conquer it once and for all. Click here for the FREE guide on ending negative self-talk:
Brag about your body
Ok, I realize this step will be awkward at first, but you need to start bragging about your body. Women are taught to be humble in general, so going out of your way to talk about your body will feel unnatural and boastful. The purpose, though, is to convince yourself how great your body is. If you beat a record in spin class, add reps to strength training, or are able to play with your children longer because of your strong body, those are accomplishments to celebrate! It’s ok to share them with your partner, a friend, or a parent.
I keep going back to the similarities in other relationships for a reason. If you were proud of your children, you tell them. If your partner finished a huge project or fixed something in the house, you would praise him or her. It shouldn’t be different with our bodies. The more you praise your body, the more you will internalize the message and begin to believe it. This step is the opposite of the last. You are now purposely seeking to replace negative self-talk with a loving voice instead.
Your relationship with your body is the longest relationship you will have. Who are you to hate your body? Your body deserves more than the negative thoughts that you allow to take space in your head. Time to change, friend! Your body deserves more. I know this will not be easy and sometimes feel awkward, but growth is born out of discomfort. Embrace these steps, and I promise you will start feeling more positive about your body within a week! Your body is entitled to your love.
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