You are fed up with bashing your body. With comparing it. With weighing it. With depriving it of food. With exercise that bores you or makes you feel like you did something wrong. Yes, the magazine recommended the workout. But wow it’s really not your thing. You’ve decided to try a different approach: Tolerating your body. Maybe even liking it. Why not? you wonder. Hating it takes too much energy. Hating it takes too much time.
Making this decision is an important start. But maybe you get stuck. Maybe you don’t know what to do. Because how do you translate that desire, that declaration into actual action? How do you translate those words into tangible steps?
You breathe deeply. Often. Because that usually helps. You start witnessing the crappy thoughts that still might arise. Have you seen your thighs lately? If only you could lose those 10 pounds… Maybe your life would be better. You witness these thoughts like an observer. You watch them as though each thought is just a cloud. As though each thought is just a balloon going up to the sky. You remind yourself that these thoughts aren’t ultimate truths.
You start wearing clothes that feel good on your skin and that make you feel good overall. Without focusing on the size inside the label. Because you start realizing that maybe you’re more than a number.
You start filling your days with activities you genuinely want to do. Not activities or actions that feel like a punishment. You take dance lessons you’ve always wanted to take. You try an online painting or baking class. You try a unique yoga class that specifically focuses on playing and being silly. You walk around your community and even enjoy a chat with some of your neighbors.
You start listening to your body. Resting when you need rest. Drinking water before you get thirsty. Stretching when you feel tension. Sleeping more when you realize you’re tired.
You start pursuing a project or a dream. You don’t wait until you’ve arrived at some arbitrary number on the scale. (Again, you remind yourself, I’m not a number.) In fact, you toss the scale.
You start listing one thing you appreciate about your body. Every day. I appreciate that my body lets me hug my loved ones. I really like my hair. I appreciate that my legs are strong and let me hike today. I really like that my facial features resemble my father’s, especially since he no longer walks this earth. I appreciate what my body does behind the scenes so I can focus my energy on my day-to-day priorities.
You treat yourself to the yummy-smelling lotion and body wash. You treat yourself to a massage. To softer fabrics. To the good pillows. To the locally grown tomatoes. You don’t stop to contemplate whether you actually deserve these things. You just get them and enjoy them. Which seems simple and powerful all at once.
You start connecting with friends who care about you. Real friends who aren’t judgmental or critical. Who aren’t one way to your face and then another way when you leave the room. And if you only have one friend like this, you consider yourself lucky. And if you look around and find that no one fits that description, you think of other ways to connect to a compassionate community (whether it’s through volunteering at a beloved organization; going to church or synagogue; checking out a running, cycling or book club; or attending a face-to-face support group for something you’re struggling with, such as anxiety or depression).
The day you decide to stop despising your body is a joyous, momentous day. It will kick-start a meaningful process. It is a decision that serves you. That supports a fulfilling life. Because opening the door to this kind of positivity is a gift. One of the best you can ever give yourself.