I used to think that in order to accept my body, I had to lose weight. After all, I had to have a body that was worthy and deserving of acceptance. I had to have a body that was good enough to embrace and appreciate. And in its current form, it wasn’t. Which, in my mind, left me with one option: hyper-focus on changing my body.
I also used to think that accepting my body meant never having another bad body image day, as if body acceptance is some destination we finally arrive at, tired but relieved. And I berated myself for essentially berating myself. (That’s always fun…)
But none of these beliefs are true.
So what does accepting your body really look like?
Acceptance, as Anna Guest-Jelley writes in her excellent new book Curvy Yoga: Love Yourself & Your Body A Little More Each Day, is about changing how we relate to our bodies (which we can do at any size or shape or weight).
Accepting our bodies means reconnecting to them. It means getting curious. It doesn’t mean “giving up on your body or not taking care of it, as some people think and fear, but rather [having] an ongoing and evolving conversation with your body. It’s getting to know and respond to your body more, not less,” Anna writes in the book.
It’s asking questions like: How am I feeling right now? What feels good right now? What does my body need? What does my body actually like to eat? Am I hungry or am I full? What foods energize me? What foods bother my stomach and make me feel sick? What soothes and relaxes me?
Accepting our bodies means “living and enjoying your life right now—not however many pounds from now,” Anna writes in her newsletter (you can sign up here; it’s wonderful!). It means going on the trip you want to go on instead of waiting until the scale shows a different number. (How often do we “punish” ourselves because we haven’t met our “goal weight”? We don’t buy the clothes we want to wear, or eat the foods we want to eat, or treat ourselves to spa days and fun getaways, because we’ve convinced ourselves that we don’t deserve it.)
Accepting our bodies means being “present for conversations with loved ones instead of planning your next diet in the back of your mind.” It means “discovering the types of movements that feel good for your body and bring you delight”—instead of engaging in physical activities that bore, frustrate or hurt you.
In other words, accepting our bodies is about “channeling the time, energy and money you formerly spent hating your body into living the life you want, into showing up for yourself and others,” Anna writes in her newsletter. This is my favorite point, because disliking our bodies takes A LOT of emotional, mental and physical energy.
We might spend money on workout DVDs, a gym membership, diet books, diet foods and other things that we either don’t use or make us feel terrible about ourselves. We might spend an inordinate amount of time counting calories or counting points or cooking special meals (which we don’t enjoy anyway). We might get angry with our bodies. Why can’t you just lose weight already? Why is nothing working? I’m trying sooo hard! We might skip certain functions because the food isn’t on our meal plan, or we don’t want to deal with the temptation of a tasty dessert table.
Accepting our bodies is not giving up or giving in. It is surrendering the hustle and the myth that happiness awaits X pounds from now. It is surrendering the sword, no longer fighting with your own body. It is finally feeling free, because you are not shackled to a scale or a specific meal regimen. It is listening to your body and listening to yourself. It is doing all of this at any weight, shape or size. Starting whenever you want, like right now.
Anna is giving away one copy of Curvy Yoga: Love Yourself & Your Body A Little More Each Day (to a U.S. reader). Simply answer one of these questions in the comments: What helps you relate better to your body? Why is body acceptance important to you?
You have until next Wednesday, January 25th, at 11:59 p.m. EST to leave your comment. I’ll pick the winner using random.org. Good luck! 🙂
Update: The giveaway is now closed. Thank you sooo much for your thoughtful comments! The winner is Cindy, who left the last comment. I’ll be emailing you shortly, Cindy. 🙂