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Embracing & Honoring Your Body And Your Health

{Anna Guest-Jelley leading a yoga class}

A few weeks ago I was on a call with Anna Guest-Jelley, who authors the beautiful blog Curvy Yoga and created the must-read e-book Permission to Curve: Inspiring Poses for Curvy Yogis and Their Teachers.

She talked all about embracing and honoring our bodies and our health. Today, I wanted to share her wise words.

The Importance of Softening, Not Struggling

According to Anna, permission is at the root of embracing our bodies, movement and health at every size. But many of us have a tough time giving ourselves permission. Many of us have a tough time trusting ourselves when it comes to our health and what we eat.

The diet industry is particularly good at sparking self-doubt and making us think that we can’t be in the same room with a chocolate cake without devouring the whole thing. We assume that we need rules, regulations, restrictions, and thereby diets, because we’re taught that we aren’t trustworthy. Our judgment is supposedly flawed.

Anna tried over 65 diets, which just perpetuated the cycle of distrust. And her life was made up of a lot of struggle. She realized that the longer she continued this pattern, the less trust she’d have in herself.

That lack of trust didn’t just affect her eating. It permeated all areas of her life. It’s how she framed her relationships, work and life.

As she said, “If I can’t trust myself, then what do I have?”

She also wondered what all that struggle was achieving, anyway. She initially assumed that she needed to struggle more, to work harder and keep dieting.

But she realized that all that struggling only created more struggle, self-doubt and negativity.

The answer, instead, was to let go, or as she calls it, “softening.”

For Anna, softening starts with the physical body. She checks in with her body and checks for tension. Then she moves internally, and asks herself these questions:

  • How do I feel?
  • How do I want to feel?
  • What do I need in this moment? (Can be anything from needing a drink of water to needing rest.)
  • How can I meet this need?

Ways to Embrace Your Body, Movement & Health

On the call Anna shared several action steps for embracing your body, movement and your health.

Your Body. She discussed the importance of awareness for embracing your body. One way to become more aware of your body is through practicing yoga.

Gratitude is also incredibly helpful. She shared a gratitude meditation developed by a reader. Basically, the reader starts at her feet and goes all the way up to her head, thanking each part of her body.

For instance, she thanks her feet for carrying her to sunny Disney World and up the steps to a friend’s house, for letting her feel the warmth of the sand and for walking the floors at night with sick babies.

She says, “I am grateful for you, feet. Thank you.”

Your Health. Anna suggested defining what’s healthy for you. Also, she suggested using the “feel good rule.” For instance, what foods make you feel good, energetic and nourished?

Use the same barometer for movement. For instance, what time of day feels good to you?

Your Movement. Approach movement as an experiment, Anna said. If you don’t like the first exercise or class or instructor you try, no worries. Just keep experimenting. You’ll find a movement that resonates with you.

Again, Anna also suggested using the “feel good rule.” She explained that movement that feels good doesn’t necessarily mean easy. For instance, sometimes breaking a sweat and challenging yourself with a tougher workout does feel really good. Other days it might not. And that’s OK.

Anna also suggested trying yoga. On her website she provides a slew of free yoga resources, including videos, podcasts, written practices and modifications.

When it comes to honoring your body and your health, the key is to check in with yourself, figure out your needs and then meet them.

What’s one thing you can let go to embrace and honor your body and health? 

Embracing & Honoring Your Body And Your Health

Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

Margarita is an associate editor at She writes about everything from taking compassionate care of yourself at any weight, shape, and size, to coping healthfully with difficult emotions. Her goal is to give readers practical, empowering tips to better their lives, and to remind you that whatever you're struggling with, you're never, ever alone.

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2012). Embracing & Honoring Your Body And Your Health. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 20, 2019, from


Last updated: 25 Jul 2012
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