Change Your Body Image

At this moment, how do you feel about your body? If you are like many
people, your mind jumps to that one thing you would like to change.
What if you were asked, “so – that one thing you want to change: did
you want to change it a year ago? Five years ago? When you were a
child?” For most, the answer is “yes.”

The feature they would like to change today is the same feature they have been focusing on for their entire lives. From thinning hair to extra-large feet, these things just aren’t going to change very much over a lifetime. And nearly every person in the Western world wants to lose weight – sometimes, a lot of weight.

You vs. you
Why is it so hard to accept every single part of your wondrous body and perhaps even (gasp!) love every part of it – at its current weight? The relationship between the self and the physical body may be the most intimate one we experience in our lives. It is with us upon waking, and while we sleep. It has needs that must be attended to throughout the day. It gives us the tools to make a living, procreate, and smile. And with or without making that “one change,” you are alive enough to read this sentence, and you can repair your relationship with your body – starting right now!

Affirmative action
The fastest way to be in your best body is to love the one you have. Every single inch of it. Every pound, every wrinkle, every vein, mole, weird eyebrow – you get the idea. In our over-scheduled lives, many of us are rushing out the door to get to the next activity listed on our Blackberrys, but we haven’t said good morning to the partner that wakes up right next to us – our bodies. During that morning shower, say hello to you. Thank your body for taking you all the places you need to go today. Tell your body that it’s doing a great job taking care of you. Tell it how beautiful, amazing, and unique it is. It’s all true! And you can tell your body that you will make loving choices today – choices to eat fresh food, or to take the stairs at work. Just talk to your body. Let it know that you care for it, and you want to take care of it, just as it does for you. And be gentle – your body has probably been through a lot out there in the world.

Food matters
How many times have you “sworn off” eating late at night or consuming carbs, or decided to drink plenty of water each day – only to quit a few days later? Eating nothing but cabbage soup is not the way to love your body. Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to weight loss. The vast majority of people simply eat more calories then they burn. It would be magical if you just had to cut out carbs and eat bacon all day to lose weight, but these slash-and-dash diets just won’t sustain you.

Here’s what does work: Before every meal, ask yourself, “why am I eating? Am I ready to nourish my body, or am I lonely or bored? Do I feel pressure to eat because I am sitting at the table and everyone else is eating? Am I eating to live, or living to eat?” Overeating is like a drug: It satiates you for a time, and then you have to increase your portions to achieve that “stuffed” feeling. When you are tempted to cut that second piece of bread, ask yourself, “does my body have all that it needs right now?” The answer is probably “yes.” Over time you will be amazed at how asking these questions will change your relationship with food. Keeping a journal of your emotions before you eat, and the choices you made at your meal, is a great way to connect the dots to find your pattern of eating. Learning about yourself is the first step in taking care of yourself.

Be in motion
Next to overeating, not moving is the biggest saboteur of our relationships with our bodies. You don’t have to run a marathon to treat your body well: Get up out of your chair at least four times a day, and walk out the door – and if you can, around the block. If you think the office won’t make it without you for fifteen minutes, take a few walks. You’ll return refreshed, and your productivity for the rest of the hour will soar. Just one walk a day will lower your blood pressure – and your stress level.

On the days you walk, you’ll find you have less incentive to “stress eat.” You’ll be less inclined to choose comfort foods such as macaroni and cheese or a cheeseburger – because you are simply less stressed-out. If you are already an exerciser, try something totally new: take that boxing class, or try salsa dancing. Our bodies like to be efficient, so if you’ve been plodding along on an elliptical trainer every day for 45 minutes you are not going to get the results you really want. Going to a class connects you with other people, and you’ll be surprised how those now-jiggly arms firm up after a few pilates sessions! When your body moves, so does your spirit and your heart. Love is active, so make your body active – and love will flow. Who better to practice loving action with than your own body?

Finally, remember that you just get one body in this life: Love it with all you’ve got. If you are trapped in the terrible place of wanting a “perfect” body because you think that is the only way you are going to be loved, look around. You’ll see couples of every size and shape and attractiveness level. There are imperfect people everywhere who are using their bodies to love one another, and you can be one of them as well!

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