Body acceptance might seem like an abstract, foreign or empty concept. You might be wondering, Where the heck do I start? Which is understandable. Because that’s what happens when we’ve been blaming or hating our bodies for years. We end up feeling lost. Overwhelmed. Unsure. Hesitant. Hurt. Paralyzed. Petrified. You name it…
Body acceptance is about reconnecting to our bodies, honoring them, feeling comfortable in our own skin. But how do we reconnect? How do we honor our bodies? What does that even mean? And how do we feel more comfortable in our own skin?
Below you’ll find a list of concrete practices. Because body acceptance is also about taking action. I hope you like these ideas and find them accessible.
- Find a physical activity that actually feels good to you—versus an activity that burns X number of calories or is known as a killer workout or is supposed to whittle down your waist. Focus instead on pleasure. Experiment. When you’re trying an activity, ask yourself: Am I having fun? Is this energizing or relaxing? How do my legs feel? How do my arms feel? If I were to rate this experience from 1 to 10, what would I say?
- On a yoga mat or in your chair or in bed as you fall asleep or wake up, put one hand on your belly, the other hand on your heart, and take several deep breaths. Then ask yourself: What am I feeling right now?
- Write about your body (which is a great way to listen to it). For instance, write about what your lips have tasted or what memory a mole reveals or what your hands have held. Set your timer for just 10 minutes, and write without any distractions the entire time.
- Write about what different states feel like inside your body: What does exhaustion feel like to you? What does joy feel like? What does anger feel like? What about anxiety? What about pain (emotional or physical)? What about calm? Get to know what different feelings feel like for you.
- Set a timer to go off every 30 minutes or every hour, and ask yourself: What does my body need? How can I respond to this need? Your body might be tired or hungry or thirsty or anxious. Whatever response you receive, consider how you can meet that need. Some needs might be simple: You’re thirsty, so you grab a bottle of water. Others might require more action: You’re anxious, so you decide to see a therapist because “anxious” has become your only state lately.
- Pay attention to how your body feels when you’re wearing different fabrics. Are you comfortable in that old cotton dress? Do you even like the feel of silk against your skin? Pay attention to the sheets you’re sleeping on. Do they feel soft or coarse? How would you like to feel when you lay your head on your pillow? What can you do to make yourself feel more comfortable, when it comes to the fabrics that touch your skin?
- Stop reading or following anything that makes you feel bad about your body. “Health” publications. Diet and detoxing books. Fitness apps. Healthy living blogs. It’s very hard to accept your body when you’re surrounded by so many things that tell you not to.
- Sit down, and list all the things you’d do, the dreams you’d act on, the ways you’d care for yourself, the ways you’d treasure and honor yourself if you finally looked the way you wanted to look. Then do one of those things. Today.
I know that for many of us the above is hard. We might be thinking a thousand thoughts about how these actions are stupid or pointless, that we don’t deserve to feel good, that we really, really need to lose weight (and these suggestions are, again, just a waste of time, an obstacle). I’ve thought all these thoughts. I live in my head. Which means that before I do anything, I think about it from alllll sorts of perspectives, usually negative ones. Over and over. And over and over.
So if your mind is telling you the same, tell those thoughts to wait. Focus on taking action, anyway (spending less time shackled to the negativity and letting it dictate your days). Focus on taking actions that genuinely make you feel good (whether that includes the above ideas or others). Focus your time, energy, effort and attention on living the life you want to live. Right now. Precisely at the weight you’re at. Precisely as you are. Right now.
P.S., Thank you to everyone who left such thoughtful words for the book giveaway. The winner is Cindy, who left the last comment. I’ll be emailing you shortly, Cindy. 🙂