My relationship with my body is complicated.
I learned to question and criticize my flesh at a young age. And it wasn’t long before I began to detest it.
I remember squeezing the “fat” on my thighs as a fifth grader, wishing this part of my anatomy simply didn’t exist—”If only our calves extended all the way to our hips!”
By 17, I had a full-fledged eating disorder that persisted, in varying degrees, for ten years.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes but I’ve also experienced tremendous healing, one decision at a time.
I’ve learned to become conscious of the ingredients in my food—to opt for natural and organic items when possible, adopt a largely plant-based diet, and to get moving when I’m feeling stuck.
I cut out the alcohol. And most of the dairy. And fake sugar. And the other fun stuff that my body no longer likes.
I’ve also made a commitment to mind-body harmony and explored practices like yoga, meditation, and chanting that facilitate whole body healing.
I’ve cried with therapists, laughed in recovery circles, counted calories, and created affirmations.
I’ve given pep talks to my no longer 20-year-old skin and small boobs.
Hell, I’ve all but written my ass a love song.
Even still, I have off days. I have days where I hate my hair and bitch about my cellulite and revert to an insecurity riddled seventeen year-old.
But the difference is, I know how to bring myself back to sanity today, back to solution.
Today, my legs are one of my favorite features. They are muscular, lean and feminine, elongating my 5’3″ frame. More than that, my legs carry me up and down my condo stairs eight times a day and to the grocery store and to meet friends. They allow me to meet life’s tasks and inch closer daily toward my dreams.
Yes, my legs are a kind of a big deal, and so is the rest of me!
The same goes for you, gorgeous.
If I’ve learned anything, it’s this: Your body is scared. It holds your guts and dreams and millions of magical cells.
Problem is, we fail to treat it this way sometimes. We forget to love on ourselves and bask in the glory of our precious being.
So whether it’s a “fat” moment, blemished skin or a flat bum, here’s what to do when you’re feeling funky in your own skin:
- Give your bod props.
Pretty simple. Acknowledge all the amazing stuff your body (and your perceived problem area in particular) continues to do for you.
Having a freak out session over perpetually tired looking locks? Thank your hair for serving as a fabulous accessory and frame to your face and then…chop it off. Give it to Pantene Beautiful Lengths or a charity that will re-purpose your hair in a major way. You gain a shorter, chicer do and someone else gains a whole lot more.
Or maybe you’re like me and it’s your booty that has you down.
Looks like it’s time to get that hiney in gear. Literally. Go run a block or two.
Allow yourself to feel every speck of air that enters your sweet, swelling lungs. Feel the wind whipping across your face. And feel the burn, deep down in your gluts.
Say a quick prayer of gratitude for all that your “less-than” ass allows.
- Love the parts that hurt the most.
This one’s probably the most important. It’s my belief (and experience) that unresolved emotional stuff always comes out, one way or another. If we don’t acknowledge our soul’s aching, it becomes an unavoidable physical block: something we can no longer ignore.
Our bodies always want to move us back toward a place of homeostasis and healing, but sometimes we interfere with this process. We disrupt the natural order of things.
One of the biggest ways we do this is by repressing painful emotions stemming from events in our past. The pain literally becomes lodged in the body, ultimately manifesting as disease or disorder.
The good news is: we don’t even have to know what the painful stuff is to begin the healing process (though you probably do).
The body is also always providing clues in the present. Pay attention to your most prevalent symptoms and the bodily systems affected. Your body is trying to tell you what’s wrong and what you can do to make it right.
I’ve come to learn, for instance, the occasional ulcer-like-pain I feel in my upper abdomen is really about a suppression of my creative, sexual, expressive life energy, something I learned to do in childhood.
I can alleviate this pain by understanding its origins in the past and implementing a few healing habits here and now.
In this case, I can open my solar plexus with Camel Pose, practice deep breathing, and stay away from anything too acidic.
- Embrace ridiculous pleasure.
This one isn’t what it seems. Yes, you should be having sex and eating delicious, indulgent food (in moderation) and getting as many massages as possible.
Not because dark chocolate and deep-tissue massages have redemptive power (they do) but because of the messages these experiences send our bodies:
You are worthy.
You are loveable.
You are special.
In other words, it’s not the actual indulging in sensual pleasures that matters here. We all know these moments of true physical ecstasy are fleeting and fickle.
Rather, it’s the belief our actions uphold that matters: the unshakable idea that our bodies are divine and worthy of wonderful things.
So what are you waiting for?
Give in to the goodness. Have your cake and eat it too. No guilt allowed.