Principle 8 – Respect Your Body
The reality is that nothing positive can come out of hate. No amount of self-loathing will help you to grow and change. Diet culture has us firmly believing in the thin ideal – that we are all capable of being a thin, toned size 8-10ish. And that this is something we should be aspiring to (at any cost!). Firstly, we need to start being realistic. Genetics do matter when it comes to body shape and size. Like it or hate it, it’s the truth. Secondly, it’s high time that we start seeing ourselves for so much more than our body shape and size. “Respecting” our body is often taken to mean – “eat clean”, “don’t overindulge”, “exercise” etc… But in this context (and outside of diet culture context), respecting your body means honouring and acknowledging WHO YOU ARE – inside and out. It means coming to a place of self-acceptance (if not self-love, because this is also a pretty unrealistic aspiration for most), and self-compassion. But how we do get to this place?
Accepting your genetic blueprint, family heritage and set-point weight is the first important step. We are all designed to be a certain size and shape – but of course through restrictive diets and extreme exercise, we can all become something which we aren’t naturally “meant to be”. Intuitive Eating reminds us that what we weigh, our size and shape WHEN we’re eating (and moving) intuitively, is where we are MEANT to be. No push, no force, no pull, no hate.
It can take a lot of work and time to reach this place of acceptance, but in the meantime we can still show our body respect. We can do this through:
- Gratitude – being thankful for what our body CAN do for us.
- Self-care (which we have spoken about in previous weeks).
- Ditching the scale! No more numbers… stop weighing yourself and measuring yourself!
- Avoiding body checking – we do this ALL the time and don’t even realise it. Looking at ourselves in the mirror, asking other people if we “look fat” in certain clothes, running our hands over our curves (in a loathing way!). Recognising when we body check, and replacing these judgemental thoughts with a self-compassionate touch or kind word, works wonders for our healing journey.
- Buying and wearing clothes that actually fit us NOW – don’t hang onto clothes that don’t fit you anymore, in the hope that this will motivate you to get back into them one day. The human psyche just doesn’t work this way – it will only lead to self-hate and body bashing.
- Fighting “comparitis” – don’t succumb to this virus! Stop comparing yourself to other people (and even to yourself when you were 20). You aren’t them, they aren’t you, and you aren’t that 20 year old anymore.
- Being mindful of our own self-talk and self-criticism. Pay attention to your thoughts about yourself when you’re in the shower, getting dressed, in front of the mirror – what do you think? What do you say? Ask yourself how you would feel if someone ELSE said the same to you. Then ask yourself if you would ever speak to someone else that way…???
Principle 8 really starts to explore the depths of body image and body acceptance. It aligns with body positivity and the body positive movement. This is a BIG topic which can’t be covered in one short, generic email, so if you feel that this has raised any feelings for you, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Creating a shift in the way we see (and respect) our body is truly life-changing, in EVERY aspect of our life. So if you’re struggling with body image issues, rest assured that you are not alone, and there is plenty of help out there.