As you read this title, I can see the skeptical look on your face. It's saying, "But if I love my body now, then I will never try to change it!" I used to think this way too. But I learned the hard way, so you don't have to. I've learned to the benefit of you and myself that this kind of thinking is what keeps our bodies stuck where we don't want them to be. Let me explain.
Being able to say and mean that I love my body has taken work and effort on my part, especially as a female who has had multiple children (four to be exact) and has exclusively breastfed each one (it did a number on my boobs). In the beginning, it wasn't a difficult stretch to say "I'm grateful for my body" or "I'm glad my body is capable of…", but it was hard to say that I loved my body exactly the way it was. I would look in the mirror and compare it to what I thought it should be. My thighs should be thinner, my tummy should be flatter, my boobs should be more perky, and the list goes on.
After some lengthy reflection and self-coaching, however, I discovered that hating my body wasn't creating change. Hating my body just caused me to ignore it, punish it, and deprive it in very unhealthy ways. It was only when I decided to respect and listen to my body and change my thinking around body image that the changes I had been desiring began to happen. My body craved movement and fun, so I found exercise that created those things for me. My body craved nutrition, so I gave my body food that would fuel and energize it without making it feel stuffed and sick. My body craved rest, so I created a schedule that worked well for the needs of myself and my family. And then I started to notice the changes I had been desiring began to slowly happen. And they only came about because I decided to love my body exactly the way it was.
Now, if you're still feeling skeptical, I'd like to ask, "What is the down-side to love?" Love feels good, is respectful, and requires an openness that invites change to happen naturally instead of forcefully. This natural change paired with measurable goals created weight loss, energy, strength, and motivation to do even better for myself. Love also brought me through four pregnancies, four births, and four very different paths of regaining muscle and purposefully losing unnecessary fat stores.
As a final thought, I want you to think of your relationship with your body as being like the relationship you have with your child or a really close friend. What does love look like in that relationship? For myself, it looks like wanting the best for them, wanting them to be healthy, wanting them to be happy, listening to them, respecting them, and teaching them to the best of my ability when needed. In contrast, love doesn’t look like yelling at them, hating them, beating them up mentally or physically, and/or depriving them. This treatment will never cause them to change (at least not for the long-term). Instead, you will lose that relationship or create a toxic relationship for both parties. This is the same for your body. Cultivating a healthy relationship takes desire, effort, and love.
And remember that love can also mean saying no. Your body will sometimes want things that don’t align with your purposeful goals. Saying no is not a punishment but a means to a desired future.
If you remember anything from this post I hope that it’s this: How you talk to yourself should be how you talk to the person you love the most in this world.