Body acceptance; something I work on every day. I read a lot about self-love, and I’ve written about it before here, yet when it comes to ‘loving my body’ it feels a stretch too far. Acts of ‘self-love’ I can do, but when it comes to loving my body it still feels a long way off.
A few months ago, in therapy, I was discussing my body and my weight with my therapist (it feels ok to write about it now that time is over); and I got on to the topic of feeling as if I needed to change myself. This is a fairly constant pattern in my life; feel unhappy, need to change everything, imagine a new dress/shoes/hair cut/ diet will make me wonderful and happy all over again.
Logically, I know that’s not true. I am not Cinderella waiting for the shoe to fit, the perfect shoe which will turn my life around and create a world I could only dream of. Happiness is transient and contentment comes from within. Yet there is a disconnect between what my brain knows and how I feel about myself.
My therapist suggested that I began to register any and all negative thoughts; a not-so-fun task as some days my mind is a constant downward spiral. When I registered a negative thought, she suggested I say to myself: I accept myself as I am.
I ACCEPT MYSELF AS I AM.
I wrote this statement down in the notes section of my iPhone (anyone else do this, hands up who has 1237 notes … just me?) I accept myself as I am. And to my surprise actually followed what she said. I began to notice when negative thoughts came into my mind, not all of them, but once in a while I’d hear:
“You REALLY should go to the gym, it’s summer soon”
“He’ll only like you if you’re thin”
“I hate my body, I need new clothes”
And in my head, I’d say back to myself ‘I accept myself as I am’.
Strange as it might read, before this moment I’d never considered that I could be ok as I am. That I could accept the size I am, the body I have and not need to strive to change it.
I’m not an expert in diet culture by any means, and what I do know about diet and nutrition comes from an eating disorder and excessive attention to being “well” a few years ago. But I realised that I had been hooked into a notion of not being good enough. I was trapped in a belief that I wouldn’t be worthy until I was thinner. I wouldn’t be worthy unless I looked like one of the shiny women in adverts, a size 6 with long hair and perfectly straight white teeth. This, I now realise, is bullshit.
I am enough. I am enough as I am.
I have wasted so much energy trying to change myself. My thoughts have been so consumed by diets, by how much I could eat, by what I should look like, by not being pretty enough – and it has been such a waste of my brain power.
This acceptance has given me space in my mind to think about other things; to give myself a break and to begin to enjoy spending time in my body, moving it and exercising.
I’ve begun to moisturise again. This might sound like the tiniest thing. But the act of spending time without many clothes on used to be something I avoided. Now, when I rush to get dressed or hide from myself, I remind myself that I accept myself as I am – and actually spend time moisturising my body. I’ve been using By Sarah Body Oil after a bath, spraying it on and taking time to rub it in. This tiny ritual is helping me to accept my body a little more every day.
I now move my body from a place of acceptance.
Exercise and movement has become less of a struggle. I practice (and teach) yoga because I accept my body and I want it to be strong and healthy. I have been walking a bit more and going for the occasional jog, because I accept my body and I want to be able to beat my brother at a sprint one day!
As well as an insightful therapist; I’ve also filled my feed and mind with some insightful people who discuss health at every size and body acceptance (and love).
Check them out here:
So. Body Acceptance is where I am at.
My body acceptance practice hasn’t changed much since that therapy session months ago, I catch my negative thoughts and I repeat to myself: I accept myself as I am.
Full disclosure: I ate 6 chocolate bars on Monday, I’m not healed but I’m working on it.
Thanks for reading, L xx