There’s been a lot of talk lately about “loving your body.”
For some it’s empowering.
For others it seems impossible and daunting and like a complete, “YEAH, RIGHT.”
I firmly believe that not only can you love your body (as it is, right now), I believe you already know how to love your body.
Yes, right now.
And, I believe that loving your body is vitally important. In fact, it’s at the very core of being able to live a healthy, happy life.
And if you’re sitting there, like, “Girl, you don’t know me…” it’s true. I don’t.
But I do know that I’ve had my own struggles with loving my body. I started dieting at the age of 12 praying to lose weight and trim fat. I hated my body. And of course I did, I was taught by the media and practically everyone around me that I should hate my body, pick it apart, see every single “flaw” and try to fix it in order to look like the girls on magazine covers (and thus be happy, healthy, live the “perfect life”).
I’ll save you the whole story, but it included disordered eating and exercise behaviors until a rock bottom moment that WOKE ME UP and propelled me on a journey to figure out: A. why I hated my body, B. how to love my body and C. how to empower other women to do the same.
So let’s dive in, shall we?
I think sometimes, when we think about loving our bodies, we think that it means that we love what our bodies look like.
And let me tell you what, I’ve actually grown to love what my body looks like, cellulite and all. So yes, that part is possible too.
But at the core of loving your body, it is about so much more than that.
At the core, loving your body really has nothing to do with the way your body looks.
I mean, if we loved another person solely based on their looks, that relationship A. would be pretty shallow and B. wouldn’t last very long, right? Can we all agree on that?
In order to have a lasting, healthy, human relationship, it’s what’s on the inside that matters, it’s the deep stuff. It’s about who your partner is as a human being. It’s how they see the world, relate to the world, behave in the world. It’s their purpose, their passions. It’s appreciating them. It’s accepting them: their strengths and their weaknesses. It’s about working together as a cohesive team.
Something like that, yeah?
So when I work with my clients on body love, in addition to diving deep into where their limiting body beliefs came from, we work on appreciating our bodies for all they do for us. Respecting our bodies for carrying us through life, for allowing us to experience life… for allowing us to even give life.
I ask them to tell me things they love about their bodies that have nothing to do with the way they look: the deeper stuff. I ask them to tell me things they are grateful they are able to do, because they have their body.
I also ask them to tell me things they love about themselves that have nothing to do with their bodies: who they are as a human being, how they see the world, relate to the world, behave in the world. Their purpose, their passions…
But there is something else that is very important.
Can we all also agree that saying you love somebody is much different than actually treating that person with love? And therefore saying you love your body is much different than actually treating your body with love?
Brene Brown puts it beautifully in “The Gifts of Imperfection,” when she says, “I don’t know if you can love someone and betray them or be cruel to them, but I do know that when you betray someone or behave in an unkind way toward them, you are not practicing love. And for me, I don’t just want someone who says they love me, I want someone who practices love for me every day.”
Damn, Brene, right!?
Practicing love. That’s what matters. It doesn’t matter how much I say I love my body if I’m not treating my body with love.
So…how do you treat your body with love? So glad you asked!
Recently a client had a breakthrough when I asked her to tell me how she treats her partner, who she loves dearly.
She so easily rattled off all the ways she takes care of him.
I then asked her, “what might it look like for you to treat your body in a similar way? What does it mean to practice love for your body?”
That’s when it hit her: she already knew how to love her body, because she knows how to love somebody else, she knows how to practice love on somebody else.
You already know how to love your body. Sometimes all we need to do is step back and get distance, change up our perspective.
So what might treating your body with love look like?
For me, it means moving my body in ways that feel good and respecting when it wants rest. It means wearing comfortable clothes including baggy sweats at home, stretchy jeans that don’t make my stomach hurt and shorts when it’s hot. It means meditating and journaling. It means feeding it to a wide variety of foods, from my delicious fruits and veggies to my favorite cheeseburger without guilt. It means going to the doctor for yearly check-ups. It means I don’t talk about my body (or other bodies) in negative ways. It means I practice gratitude daily, thanking my body for all it does for me.
So what can you do right now? Take this piece, and go through it, answering the same questions I ask my clients. Journal out how you take care of someone (or some animal) you love. Then simply transfer those loving actions onto yourself…how is loving your body similar to how you love that other person (or pet)?
Cheers to loving your body and living your best life. You got this.
Author: Julie Wojno
Author Bio: Julie Wojno is a body positive, intuitive eating health coach, yoga teacher and indoor cycling instructor based in Columbus, OH. Her mission is to empower women who have struggled with eating, exercise and body image to love their bodies and live their best lives, without another restrictive diet. When she’s not coaching, down-dogging or cycling, you can catch her snuggling her instafamous Bernese Mountain Dog, hanging at local breweries and spiralizing her favorite fruits and veggies (sweet potato pasta, anyone?). Follow along on her adventures at @julie.wojno
Link to social media or website: Instagram @julie.wojno | http://www.juliewojno.com