Are any of these you? You crave something sweet or salty or downright shitty, eat it and immediately regret the decision? Or you eat “clean” all week only to cave on Saturday and eat EVERYTHING IN SIGHT? Or are you the one who gets intoxicated on the weekend and finish the night eating McDonald’s? Do you feel guilty after having dessert with friends? Do you beat yourself up for your relationship with food and subsequently, your body? Do you give into cravings? Do you really take the opportunity to taste your food, enjoying its textures and flavours with mindfulness and appreciation? Does any of this sound familiar?
Many of the above statements have been me and are me. Since my metabolism started slowing down and my calorie intake became larger than my calorie output, I began a relationship so toxic, so unhealthy that my physical body could never properly heal. I have been fighting with my body every day since my mid 20’s. But I’ve finally found peace with my body and I hope this inspires you to seek yours.
I don’t know if its media portrayal of “beauty” as a 5’10”, size 4, big breasted, small waisted bombshell (or the male alternative as tall, chiseled jaw, flat, flawless chest and ab’s) or if it’s the disassociation between our food and ourselves, but this is out of control. Diet books and quick weight loss programs are running rampant throughout our culture and everyone seems quick to pick up the phone and pay obscene amounts of money for these utopian ideas of beauty and body image. But do you ever stop and ask why?
Why do we hate our bodies? Why do we compare ourselves to others? Why do we scarf down sweets and processed foods? Why do we put exercise in a category reserved for root canals? Why is the diet industry worth billions? Why do we get plastic surgery? and most importantly, why don’t we love and accept ourselves for who we are?
It’s all about how we talk to ourselves and how we perceive ourselves.
If you’re telling yourself you’re ugly and fat and oh my god, would you look at that cellulite there, of course your body will respond to that negative frequency you’re vibing from! There’s a cohesion between mind, body and soul that science has barely scratched the surface of and yet, it’s there. Pam Grout, author of ‘E2: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments That Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality’, gives the perfect example of how true this is. The experiment “is that the energy provided by your food is affected by what you say and think.” So she asks you to give up the negative self-talk and to treat every bite of food that goes into your body as your “best friend.” Whether the food is typically labelled ‘good’ or ‘bad’ doesn’t matter: you turn around any negative thought and make it positive. Do this for three days. That’s it. Just three days. Thank your food for its vibrant colours, its vitality and nourishment. Admire the texture, the taste, the temperature. Tell yourself you are a knockout beauty and the food is a beautiful tool for the energy and fuel you need to be that beauty. This is the hardest experiment. Self-loathing, specifically around food, has become ingrained habits in many of us. But for three days, you need to consciously do the opposite. I did this experiment and I didn’t change my eating habits at all and I lost two pounds in three days. It was pretty wild.
Not convinced? Want to know more?
Have you seen the documentary ‘I Am’? If you haven’t, do yourself the favour and rent it/download it/buy it. It is incredible. Tom Shadyac, the famous director and brains behind the film goes to the HeartMath Institute, an organization that studies stress and human energy. They sit Tom down and on the table is a container of yogurt which has been hooked up to electrodes. The opposite end of the electrodes are then attached to Tom’s head. You see that the yogurt actually RESPONDS to Tom’s thoughts. When he thinks something negative, the needle on the bioresponse goes wild. When he thinks of something positive, the needle stays dormant. While it’s not fully understood, FOOD RESPONDS TO EMOTIONS. Let that sink in. When we are telling ourselves (and the food we eat) that we shouldn’t eat that or this or it has too much sugar or carbs or whatever, the energy in the food (and obviously in our body too) responds to that negative energy. This is proven fact now, not woo-woo hippy shit. Watch the movie. The entire thing will blow you away.
So let’s start there. Whatever we eat, let’s give our meals respect and love and gratitude. And while we are at it, let’s fake it ‘til we make it on the body love too. We’re all beautiful in our own unique ways. It’s time to own that, focus on the best parts of ourselves and find the motivation to do the work that’s involved in that loving relationship.
Every relationship requires effort, time, communication and love. Whether it’s our marriage, friendships or relationships with co-workers and bosses, it needs to be cultivated. We have to actively listen and make time to spend with them. We compromise on work projects and have drinks every Thursday night after work. Whatever it looks like for you, relationships take work. It’s the same with the relationship with Self: it takes work too.
The work of maintaining a positive relationship requires three things: exercise, healthy eating and self-respect. And yet, for many exercise is a negative chore that must get done. Healthy eating feels hard and time consuming. Self-love seems impossible.
Exercise is a joy! If you have two working legs, two moving arms and a working mind, exercise should be seen as an absolute blessing. Instead of seeing it as a chore, see it as one of the most beautiful pieces of being human: you have the ability to move your body in magical ways. What do you love to do? What doesn’t feel like a chore? Is it yoga? A walk with your dog? Rock climbing? Off road biking? Explore your options and find a hobby or exercise that doesn’t feel like a chore. If you’re one of those people who love the “I’m too busy” excuse, wake up an hour earlier or go to bed an hour later. Most bodies only need 20 minutes of exertion to have better heart function and overall health. If you can’t find 20 minutes out of the 1440 minutes you are given each day, you need to evaluate your priorities and your commitment to your Self.
Let’s face it: at the end of the day, it’s your body, your life, your Self. At the end of your life, it’ll still be your body, your life, your Self. So how do you want to treat it for the next 40, 50, 80 years?
Why does the effort required to have a healthy lifestyle seems like such a chore and near impossible to do, especially with a busy schedule? In my humble opinion, people don’t think they are worth it. Subconsciously, we don’t believe we are worthy of the time, effort and finances it takes to cultivate a meaningful relationship with Self. We make excuses. We give in to our hormonal cravings. We say we’re too busy. We feel like we have nothing left to give ourselves at the end of the day. We give so much to our kids, we feel guilty for taking time out for ourselves. We can’t afford it. We don’t like cooking. We hate exercise, etc. ETC. ETC! There’s always a reason not to but there’s always a better reason to do it!
When we were kids we didn’t worry about our weight or the food we ate, right? We just ate when we were hungry and stopped when we were full. We didn’t berate ourselves. We didn’t feel guilty for the candy and ice cream. We need to get back to that easy relationship again.
Change your ‘cannots’ into ‘wills’. Believe you are worth the money, the time, the effort, the food. Because you are.
Here’s a few of my tips for honouring your relationship with yourself:
- Never go grocery shopping hungry.
You will ultimately buy all the carbs and all the shit food. Eat before you go. Ensure you have healthy food choices in the house that are delicious and nourishing. Buying all the sugary drinks and shit food is just tempting the devil.
- Write a list of body positive mantras and put it somewhere you will see it every day.
Write things like, “I am beautiful” or “I am blessed to nourish my body with wholesome, delicious foods” or “I am grateful to move my body and energize it with activities I love.” Bonus points if you stand in the Super(wo)man pose (hands on hips, feet hip width apart, head high, chest out). I’ve recently found swimming laps to be very cathartic. I also enjoy yoga and long walks in the back fields. They don’t feel like exercise. But I also enjoy HIITs and strength training a couple days a week. Find what you like doing and it won’t be a chore to accomplish.
- Involve your family in healthy eating.
I take my daughter with me most grocery days. She helps me pick the fruits and veggies so she becomes invested and interested with what we will do with them and how we use them. She loves cooking with me. Other than most meats and mushrooms, she will eat mostly anything! We’re also trying to teach her the importance of healthy eating and when treats are appropriate. We’re teaching her about food being fuel and why sugar isn’t good for us. She doesn’t full understand it yet but I hope we’re planting positive seeds there!
- Make a “rough” meal plan.
On Sundays, I will make a few dishes to last a few days. That way, I have healthy snacks and meals available and won’t be tempted to take the easy way out and eat processed, cheap, easy meals. I only roughly plan though. I don’t set out each day because our schedule can easily change and I may not crave sweet potatoes on Wednesday or chicken salads on Friday. I just keep my options healthy and easy.
- Do your homework before starting any diet/program.
When we begin a workout program or diet lifestyle change, ensure it’s feasible. My husband and I had heard a lot of great things about the Keto Diet but it wasn’t feasible for us. It felt too restrictive and it was just too hard. Eating shouldn’t feel so difficult as Keto made it feel for me. It wasn’t for us but it may be for you. Understand the ‘why’ behind the program/diet. I recently read ‘Body Love’ by Kelly Leveque and I loved her approach (basically no carbs and sugar) because she explained the science behind her thinking. She carefully explained how our bodies work, how it reacts to sugar, what sugar does and gave an effective argument against sugar. Since adopting her “fab4” ideals (3 meals a day and each meal has greens, fibre, fat and protein in it) I have felt amazing! Sugar really is horrible for us. But I’ll save that for another day!
- Listen to your body
Many times a craving is sugar inspired or hormonal. Ask yourself if you genuinely want that candy or chocolate or chips. Is it real hunger? But if you want the chocolate, then have the chocolate and be done with it. Don’t beat yourself up over your choice. Don’t get angry; it won’t bring the past back to remake the decision. Don’t get upset; enjoy the choice you made. Life is too short to avoid delicious treats once in awhile. Enjoy every bite, every morsel. Own your choices. Portion out the treat. You’re not a dog though, don’t reward behaviour with food. That only perpetuates the problem. Just tune in and your body will tell you what it needs. Most often, it wont be telling you salt and vinegar chips!
- Mirror Work.
This is a hard one and I’ve mentioned it in previous blog posts but its effectiveness is incredible. Stand naked in the mirror and shower loving thoughts upon yourself. Give the love you give to your spouse/kids/friends/family etc. and share some with yourself. Don’t criticize anything. Just thank yourself for being in a divine human vessel, for having the opportunity to taste delicious foods, feel the delights of sex and hugs and a sweet embrace. Thank your body for the cellulite; you could have been born in an African nation that’s in poverty and starvation. Thank your body for growing life or growing feminine hips or growing a great beard. There is always something to be grateful for. Make eye contact with your soul and even if you don’t believe it now, you will. Our brains are like muscles; exercising it will make it more powerful and strong and malleable. Your brain will begin to believe the thoughts you are consciously downloading.
- Be Mind-full
Eat without distractions. Give good attention to your meals. Be aware of flavours. Chew slowly. Talk with your family. Put down the phone. Pay attention to how you treat yourself while eating and after eating. Feel how certain foods affect your body. Lately, I’ve noticed that either (or both!) dairy and wheat are causing inflammation in my joints, specifically my fingers. My knuckles really hurt and because I love my body enough to give it the best body (and life!) I can, I am omitting those two from my diet to see if any change occurs. Because I’m worth it. I’m worth investing hard work into my body so that it can carry me without pain and give me the energy I need to raise my family/go to work/show up for my family/friends/community.
- Educate Yourself
E2 by Pam Grout and Body Love by Kelly Leveque as well as The Goddess Revoultion by Mel Wells and Mastering Your Mean Girl by Melissa Ambrosini were game changer books for me and my relationship with myself. I learned a lot from their experiences and wisdom and knowledge. Watch health documentaries (like the above mentioned I Am), investigate companies that are trying to sell you something suspicious (a Facebook friend was recently raving about a pill she’s taking to lose weight- is that actually sustainable? Is it actually safe? Is she going to take it forever? What happens when she stops taking it?) Learn how food affects our body. Meet with a nutritionist or dietician. Understand why healthy eating is preferable for our overall health.
- Accept Where You Are Right Now
You could eat all the healthiest foods and do all the best exercises but it won’t matter a whip if you’re doing it for the wrong reasons ie. For a specific body image and/or doing it out of self-loathing. Your body is your body. It will always be yours so it’s time to accept it and love it, in all its various shapes and sizes it will be and become over the years. Maybe you’ll never be a size 6 because you’re a 6 foot basketball player. Embrace that. Maybe you’re like me; five foot nothing but wanted to be a model growing up! I learned pretty quick I wouldn’t make it on any runway. I had to embrace my small stature and find a new (and more feasible) dream. Accepting where you are means you have less roadblocks to getting to where you want to be. When we accept and take responsibility for ourselves and our decisions, a weight is lifted off our shoulders to say, “okay, so this is where I am, this is where I want to be, what do I need to do to get *there*?” Humans aren’t meant to be obese. We are meant to move and eat and be active. Accept and plan.
11. Enjoy Indulgences!
Life is meant to be enjoyed! Enjoy the wine with the girls. Enjoy the beers with your buddies. Indulge but do it mindfully and with the knowledge that you probably won’t feel the best afterwards. Don’t make a habit of it and don’t beat yourself up for it. Will it really matter in one year what you did on St. Paddy’s 2018? Heck, will it even matter in one month?! Don’t worry about it. The next day is this wonderful opportunity to make better choices. Enjoy, indulge but keep it minimal so when you do have those times, you really appreciate them.
12. You Are Worth It.
You are worth every loving thought. You are worth every healthy meal. You are worth every ounce of sweat that glistens on your skin. You are worth every penny it costs for the spin class or yoga retreat. You are worth the time it will take to cook healthy meals, to find recipes and to explore new ideas and lifestyles. You are worth every effort it will take to fall in love with your body, your mind, your soul.
We have to stop letting fear of judgement from others, the media and society affect our self-worth and body image. Everything we need, from motivation to discipline is within us. For some it’s easy to access, for others it’s buried deep. But it is there. We just need to do the work to foster a loving relationship with the Self and accept where we are. It’s time to stop beating ourselves up! No more! Self-love is more than a mainstream, abstract idea now. It’s a vital component to making the best lives for ourselves so that we may be the best versions of ourselves for our family, friends, community and planet. You’re worth it.
United we rise,