Once you’ve spent time building self-awareness around your thoughts and learning and educating yourself on how to work through your negative thoughts and shift your mindset around your body– not sure what I’m talking about? Be sure to go back and read Part 1 of our Accepting Your Body Blog Series– then you’re ready to take your new mind-frame tools and start cultivating a relationship with your body, a loving HEALTHY relationship.
What does a healthy relationship with your body actually look like? What does it mean it have that kind of relationship? How do you know if you’ve reached that point?
The answer is that “point” will look different for everyone and will happen at different moments for everyone, BUT you will still know when you’re getting close or when you’re on the right track because you will FEEL happier and more at peace and feel fewer emotions such as guilt, shame, unease, and all the feelings you wish you didn’t have. You’ll know because you will have the sensations of love and acceptance flowing through you and you will have more good days than bad (although you will still have bad days).
Knowing you’re on the right track with your journey requires you to get intuitive with your body and understanding how it communicates with you, I’ve written a post about how you can get in-tune with your body and understand its cues to help you navigate life, I’d recommend giving that a read if you find yourself unsure of what you are doing is helping or working for you.
In this part of your journey, it’s all about building a connection with your body and aspiring to nurture a relationship where you want to do right by your body.
Here are some of my tools for how I’ve built a relationship with my body that helps me feel good mentally and physically, where I feel wholesome and at one with my body.
Intuitive Living (Intro to Eating & Movement):
I first discovered Intuitive Eating a few years ago and it was an important part of beginning my journey to love my body. The first thing Intuitive Eating taught me and, well, did for me was it opened my eyes to see that I was NOT to blame for a lot of the struggles I face when it comes to my relationship with my body. From society’s standards, to how you are raised and how your parents subconsciously imprinted on you, to the diet industry trying to make money off of you, the fashion industry, the pharmacies, Intuitive Eating open my eyes to see just how much the world thrived off me feeling bad about my body and was setting me up to FAIL. I kept blaming myself for my struggles, I’m the reason I can’t lose weight, I’m the reason I can’t stick out a diet, I’m the reason I can’t eat healthy, I’m the reason I can’t look good in the clothes, I’m the reason and my genes are the reason I have health problems.
Intuitive Eating showed me the truth, that I am NOT to blame. It was a relief and a huge weight taken off of me when I stopped blaming myself for EVERYTHING. Once you can understand the way your environment sets you up to fail and how you are not responsible for a lot of the struggles you go through you open yourself up to this freedom, these breakthroughs, that lead you towards new ways of living and new shifts internally and externally that break bad habits and negative mindsets and replace them with new, more loving, happier experiences and thoughts.
Intuitive Eating if not done properly can feel like just another diet, I warn you to make sure you take the lessons you can learn from Intuitive Eating, apply them to your life, then MOVE ON. Do NOT make it a rule book for you to live by. I took the parts that helped me feel good and use those as my every day tools, I’ve even learned to apply them to my fitness and lifestyle as a whole.
I use Intuitive Living as my way of life now and it helps me to find what works for me and my life and not get side tracked by what others say I should or should not do and it keeps me on track with my own path, because as we all know what works for some may not work for you and what works for you may not work for others.
Learn about Intuitive Eating and the Intuitive Lifestyle, experiment with what works for you or helps you or teaches you and don’t pressure yourself to live by what works for others or the “shoulds” or “should nots.” Learn to use your intuition as your compass and building that trust and communication with your body is the foreground for building a relationship with your body.
My Favorite Intuitive Eating Resources:
The Mint Sweater Blog- What Eating Intuitively Can Teach You
The Mint Sweater Blog- What Is Intuitive Eating and Why I Eat Intuitively
Paige Schmidt- Intuitive Eating Coach & Blogger: https://www.paigeschmidt.com/
Chels of Chels Emily- Nutrition Coach: https://chelsem.com/
Intuitive Eating Book: https://read.macmillan.com/lp/intuitive-eating-4th-edition/
Nutrition Stripped: https://nutritionstripped.com/articles/
Nutrition Stripped Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/nutritionstripped/videos
NIA (Intuitive Movement): https://nianow.com/about-nia
NIA Technique on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/NiaTechnique/videos
Making Friends with Your Future Self:
One of the lessons that took me the longest to learn, and to fully understand, but was also the most impactful, was to know what it truly means to take actions in the present moment that serve your self in the future in a caring and nurturing way.
We hear quotes like “do it for your future self” or “your future self with thank you” and “you need to be your own best friend” all the time…but if you’re anything like me- I hear them, but they don’t really hit home with me. I knew that if I adapted them I would be better off yet I could never really look at my “future self” per se and think I love you girl, I love you so much I’m going to change everything that’s wrong with me and do right by you.
I’m here to bridge the gap between you “future self’ and your present self and all the changes you need to make to reach where you want to be.
When we make changes in our lives, you don’t actually see the results immediately. In fact, it can take months even years to see the fruition of your hard efforts. That’s why it makes breaking habits or changing, in general, so hard.
The way you treat your body today is invaluable when it comes to how you will feel about yourself, 6 to 12 months from now.
If I’m being completely honest, you don’t fully understand the feeling of how you, yourself, will feel about the decision you make today until the time has passed and you have the first moment of looking back and seeing how you making the hard decisions at the time truly paid off for you in the long run.
When it comes to taking care of your body and building a relationship with her, it actually goes beyond the nourishment you feed her and the movement you do. For me, I found my bond and relationship deepen when I started taking on tasks I didn’t want to do like doing the dishes, sweeping my floors, making my bed, making that appointment to go to the doctor. Things that I don’t enjoy doing, but that serve my overall health and wellbeing, mentally and physically, are vital to understanding what it means to do the “hard things” in order to create a better life for yourself in the future.
For example, dishes. I loathe dishes, well used to anyways. I’ve learned that when I take the time to do my dishes regularly or simply clean a dish after I use it or clean up while I cook, it saves me so much anguish and frustration and irritability in the future. I used to avoid dishes, and when I would look at my sink to see I have a counter full of dishes that needed to soak for hours before I can even wash them I was full of all those emotions. Once I had gone through the experience of keeping up with my dishes and seeing how taking that time in the present moment to do something saves me from all those negative emotions in the future, it helped me to see that my overall life improves when I make the choice to do the things that serve me in the future.
Start observing yourself in the moment, when you go to make decisions in your life such as what you will eat or whether or not you will exercise or if you’re going to clean- discover all the ways you can make different choices that end up saving you negative emotions in the future.
Once you see the power in how you prevent yourself from having negative emotions and experiences by making different decisions, you will grow to connect with yourself and your body and come to this understanding of how you can create more peace for yourself and how you are taking action in the present moment that loves on your future self. You are saving her from pain, negativity, frustration, irritability, procrastination. All the emotions you hate going through, you will save her from that just by doing the things you do today that serve her well.
I use the word nurture because taking care of yourself in the present moment with the intention to care for your future self is similar to how a parent would care for their child. Meaning a parent has the child’s best interest at heart and therefore might come across as restrictive or smothering, like taking their child to the doctor’s office or saying no to too much candy and sugar or taking them out for a walk to get some fresh air- you get the jist. The point is while as a child you, yourself, may not have enjoyed the things your parents did or made you do, because well you were a child and wanted to just play, they did what they did to take care of you even if you didn’t enjoy it. This is similar to the nurture and care relationship you create with yourself and your future self. You may not always want to do the hard things, but you do it anyways because you are making the choices to serve your best interest at heart. Do what’s best by you, for you.
Finally, over time you will cultivate this stronger, deeper connection with yourself and your body because you are building trust. Trust through the actions you take, continuously take, to improve your overall wellbeing and quality of life in the future and as time passes and you start to see the rewards of your efforts you will begin to appreciate yourself and love yourself for the work you put in and furthermore, allows you to want to build upon that connection and relationship by continuing to do the work and even expand upon that work.
Know that, you are capable of cultivating a friendship with your future self. You will fully know what it feels like once you’ve begun to see the effects of your changes and how you start to view yourself differently, you start to have this appreciation, this love and admiration for yourself. Once you’ve felt that for yourself, you’ve found the clarity you need to fully grasp what it means to have a relationship with yourself.
-Make that doctor’s appointment. Dentist appointment, heck even hair appointment. Begin to start truly taking care of yourself. Simple steps to learning about your health, like getting your blood drawn and learning how you may be nutrient and vitamin deficient can be smalls ways to start showing up for yourself, take action to better your health, and understand the difference in how it feels when you do start showing up for yourself and making your health and your body a priority.
-Create two to three non-negotiable responsibilities for yourself to start small and begin doing the work on what it means to incorporate making choices and decisions for yourself in the moment that help improve your quality of life in the future. For example, making the bed, doing the dishes, going for a walk, listening to a podcast or reading a book, or an online class- some form of education or personal development, calling and setting up appointments like doctors’ appointments or therapy. As you go about your day start to notice the moments where you can make small changes to start improving how you show up for yourself.
-If you have not already started working through your intuitive eating journey, I would highly suggest you look into and dig into the work. This will help you to understand what it means to shift your relationship around food to eat a diet that aligns with your love of your body and the love you want to cultivate in your future. These choices when it comes to opening up your fridge or making decisions on what to order off the menu- they all come down to what you learn from intuitive eating and understanding how those choices are about how you feel, how you want to feel, and how your body feels with the nutrition (food) you provide it. Dive into intuitive eating and learning how you can make shifts in the moment with your food to take care of yourself and to use food as a way to nurture your body and care for her.
Your Body Biology 101 (Educating Yourself on YOUR body):
It’s amazing how little we learned about our bodies in biology in school. They teach you the science, the anatomy, but they don’t equip you to learn how to listen to your own body, understand what it’s telling you, and how to act or educate yourself to make better decisions with the information you are receiving from the signals your body is trying to send you.
Another misunderstanding people have is that when we are sick, we go to the doctor, we have them diagnose us and give us medicine and we put our health and healing in their hands to make us better. While doctors are more educated than us and likely can come to a proper conclusion on a problem and solution for our health than we can- what we should be doing is making the effort and taking the time to ask questions, learn and understand what they are doing and why they are doing it. We need to educate ourselves on how our body’s function and when something goes wrong ask why and how. It’s crucial to understanding our own unique bodies.
This is why.
Do you know what your Thymus Gland is?
“Also noteworthy is that right behind the breastbone sits a small gland called the thymus, which has an intimate connection with the heart center. As one of the main organs of the immune system, the thymus serves a vital role in the promotion of T cells, which defend the body from pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. The thymus gland functions optimally up to the onset of puberty, but it begins to the shrink as we get older because of natural decreases in the production of human growth hormone. As with many vital organs, the thymus is also prone to the negative effects of long-term stress…Eventually, [from long-term stress] this leads to dysfunction of the immune system.” -Dr. Joe Dispenza (Becoming Supernatural)
My point is there is probably a lot we don’t know about our own bodies. Why it functions the way it does. Without that knowledge, we can’t make the best decisions, the everyday decisions that look out for our body’s best interests.
Spending the time to understand our bodies can have two important effects on us. One, it allows us to see and understand just how powerful our bodies are and everything it does to function to keep us alive and healthy. That understanding creates room for this love and appreciation and gratitude for our bodies. We can find clarity and see the magnificence that is our bodies. Secondly, when we have a better understanding of our bodies we have the knowledge and power to use that information to improve our health, make better decisions, and works towards thriving with our bodies instead of fighting with them.
Think about all the stomach aches, headaches, muscle pains, or even heartburn. You feel as if your body is working against you, but in reality it’s trying to communicate with you. Your body has it’s own language and its about time you learned it so you can communicate with your body, understand what it’s trying to tell you, and start working with your body to feel your best.
I think it goes without saying that when you make the time and effort to spend listening to your body, connecting with your body, building trust and a relationship by working with your body to work in harmony at an optimal level, you will naturally start to create this bond together. You and your body will cultivate a relationship where you are communicating with one another, working together towards the same goals, and operating every day to work in harmony with each other.
-Start asking questions. When you go to a doctor’s appointment or see a Chiropractor or Massage Therapist. Ask questions. Take this time and opportunity to find out why you are having pain, what are the causes, why does your body do this or that. Find the why’s. Show that your body is important to you by understanding how and why it works the way it does. Educate yourself on how it functions so you can be better educated to make decisions that help your body function optimally.
-Spend time with your body, listening to your body, feel the way it functions, and do certain things. Show you care by trying to understand how your body works when it’s trying to tell you something, what do those body signals and cues mean.
-Speak to your body with gratitude. When you learn about your body and all the amazing things it can do to take care of you, keep you alive, keep you healthy, you will start to see just how capable your body is and everything it does for you. That alone will help you to see your body in a new light, to see how much your body carries you throughout life and helps you to live even as simple as getting you through the day without injury. Find this love and appreciation for how your body is a gift and how much it truly does for you.
Cultivate A Give and Receive Relationship with Your Body (When You Give, She Gives Back):
Everything I have covered so far in this blog post leads up to this one point. My favorite part of the body acceptance journey, the part that is beautiful and transformational and the root to why this work matters.
When you cultivate a relationship with your body, you connect and align with one another, you show up for her and you consider her wants and needs in the decisions you make and you think of her as a priority, when you give and pour into your body…she gives back.
What do I mean by that? Let’s start with nutrition as an example. Most of the time, when we eat- we eat, well, because we like the food or we are stressed and upset, or we want to treat ourselves, or we are at an event or gathering or traveling and we want to indulge. A lot of the time, we eat, we practically scarf our food because we are so hungry or it tastes so good or we are treating ourselves and therefore we just completely let go and eat and eat and eat. My point is, when we eat, more often than not, the last thing we are thinking about is what does our body think about the food we are consuming or how we are eating or how much. We neglect her in a factor of our decisions around food.
So what happens when we do the opposite? When we choose what we eat, how we eat, and how much we eat by listening to our bodies and what will make her thrive, happy, feel her best? We then eat to nurture by eliminating foods that don’t sit right with our stomachs, such as food allergies. When our stomachs don’t have to put up with everything we throw at it and instead only provide it with the specific nutrients it likes, she ends up functioning better, more efficiently, and a lot less painfully.
When we listen to our bodies and do the work that makes her happy and not have to work harder, when we stop ignoring her and listen to her needs and provide for those needs, she starts to work in harmony which, then, makes you feel more balanced. Let me ask you, will you be happier when you feel good, balanced, and at ease with yourself and your body?
See, when you listen to your body and take care of your body, cultivating a love for her through that care, you then start to feel your body improve. Your body begins to stop giving you pain, she also starts to move better, stronger, more flexible- her stamina grows and she has more energy and you can then feel better throughout your day.
You and your body become a team. Taking care of her allows her to take care of you, giving you the energy you need to get through your days, the strength to tackle your day, the pain-free movement to just enjoy the day without the misery….she shows YOU what SHE is capable of.
Most importantly, when you take care of your body, she becomes healthier. A healthier you and body, can heal mentally, physically, emotionally. She can heal you when you get sick, she can protect you from viruses and bacteria. She can reduce your chances of diseases that arise in aging.
That’s what I mean. Giving and pouring into your body gives her the space to be her best self and allow you to live a longer, healthier, and happier you. She wants to take care of you, she already does in so many ways despite how you treat her now, she fights to keep you alive every day. It’s time to start showing up for her too. Start showing your appreciate for her by doing your part, take some of the load off of her, and give her the proper love and care so she can have the energy and fuel to continue to carry you on throughout the rest of your life.
Accepting your body doesn’t just come through telling yourself to love your body more.
Through this journey you learn that it takes mindset shifts, rewiring thought patterns, but you’ve also learned how to take that work further by cultivating a relationship with your body and showing up for her with love and care.
Finding an acceptance with your body requires you to listen to her, use your body signals and cues to understand what she is speaking to you, make better choices that stand by her and nurture her. You have to make friends with your body and learn to work as a team.
She wants you to love her and she wants to love you in return. She’s been reaching her hand out to you, it’s time to do your part and meet her halfway by reaching your hand out to meet hers.
In our last part of our Body Positivity, Accepting Your Body Blog Series, we are going to share our tips and tricks to help you along your journey by covering the most common obstacles women face and share our tools to keep in your back pocket to get through each one of those hurdles that will likely cross your path.