Love it or hate it, it’s yours

Just like our personalities, values and habits, our bodies are very individual. Sure we are made up of all the same stuff, DNA, cells, bones, muscle, fat etc. but how all that squishy stuff is put together is uniquely your own. I have for a long time had love-hate relationship with my body. Maybe hate is too strong of a word, disappointed is probably closer to what I feel.

I love the amazing things that my body has accomplished; growing two kids, running numerous miles, learning new skills constantly, keeping going through sleep deprivation (caused by children and other pursuits), being able to be strong enough to move large items of furniture and at the same time soft enough to give my loved ones snuggly cuddles. And that should be enough to love it unconditionally but I don’t, even though I know I should.

At age 41, I still struggle with my own body image. I still compare how I look with those around me. I still concern myself with numbers on the scale, even though I know they really don’t reflect the truth of your body composition. I get upset when I can’t find clothes to wear because everything feels too tight. I also know that I am my own worst critic when I look in the mirror.

I have recently been going through a stressful time in my life, working long hours which subsequently produced guilt about not prioritizing our family life and also disconnecting me from my values, direction and goals. It affected my activity levels and what I put in my body resulting in weight gain and triggering those feelings of disappointment. I turned to calorie tracking, dieting and I bought a set of scales thinking that if I focused more on the numbers, I could get back to where I need to be.

The problem is that I have done this all before, I have followed strict diets, tracked calories in and out, and the numbers on the scales. It works for a short while but it’s not lasting. Something needs to be different. I’ve said I need to get back to running to burn more. I’ve even toyed with the idea of going to a fully plant based diet, that seems to work for some but I know the reasons need to be for more than weight loss. So what is it?

This week I listened to some stories of some truly inspiring women, the first was a podcast featuring Deanna Blegg. I know Deanna and she has always been an inspiration to me but this podcast revealed some things about her I didn’t know. Hearing her talk about her body and how she listened to it through all the challenges she has faced and do what it needed started triggering some thoughts in me. The next was from a TEDx talk by Maria Mervis-Hartmann who also talked about seeking pleasure through deep listening and connection with our bodies. I have learnt through coaching how to listen better to others, but I have not mastered the art of listening to myself and challenging my own negative self-talk.

My body is the only one I am going to get and I need it for at least another 40 odd years. It is time to start changing my attitude towards it. Be grateful for what I have, nourish it, find pleasure in it and really listen to it. So I have removed the calorie counting and restrictive meal plan apps from my phone, I’ve put away my scales and instead in the morning of turning to those things when I wake, I’m going to ask my body what it needs today, what can I do to nourish it and make it strong and really listen to the answer.

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