This week in my Mindfulness course we are focusing on how our emotions work with our physical body. This is a subject near and dear to my heart and really the prime foundation for this blog and my classes. What spoke to me was how we treat and think about our bodies?
Think about it. We hate our butt, our belly, our wrinkles, our flabby arms, etc. This list goes on and is different for each of us. But why are we hating these parts of our body. Why do we hate our body at all? The body is simply a container. The body didn’t do anything wrong.
The body simply reacts to what WE do to it and for it. If we put more calories in then we use up, the body gets larger. If we use up more calories than we take in, it gets smaller. If we move our bodies, they become more mobile and fluid. If we don’t move our bodies, they become rigid and stiff.
The body isn’t doing anything except reacting to our actions and it’s environment. Genetics, the environmental, and accidents aside, we are entirely responsible for how the bodies we have been given look, act, and feel. It is time we stop blaming our bodies and start appreciating all they do for us in spite of how we treat them. You cannot blame someone else for the choices you make in life and you cannot blame your body for reacting to how you treat it. The container isn’t bad, just because the contents may be.
For the most part, we are the only ones responsible for the health of our “body-containers”. I believe that if we want to be healthy, we should be mindful of how we feed and treat our body-containers.
Remember, our bodies are also under constant attack from illness and disease, environmental pollution, toxic chemicals, and countless other factors. It needs all the help and support it can get to function at it’s best. Let’s appreciate that instead of blaming or hating on it.
How can we treat our bodies better? Here are some ideas…
- Try to be more aware of what you are eating. Most of the foods we eat should be to support our health. This does not mean deprive yourself. It means all things in moderation. My goal: I am going to try to lovingly feed my body what it needs and thrives on, instead of living with so many post-meal regrets.
- Try to pay attention to how you are eating. Slow down and enjoy your food. Actually chew and taste your food. I come from a family of fast-eaters, this is hard for me. My goal: I will try to thoroughly chew and enjoy my food, bite by bite.
- Pay attention to why you are eating. Are you eating because you are actually hungry or because you are bored or stressed out? Mindless eating is a fast-track to poor health. For example, instead of eating when you are stressed, pay attention to the stress and focus on how you can reduce it instead of how you can make yourself temporarily feel better. My goal: I will question myself about my motives to eat and try to be more mindful of mindless and emotional eating.
- Incorporate exercise every day, move your body. Exercise, especially if you are not used to it, does not have to be long or strenuous, you just have to move. It can be stretching, walking, gardening, swimming, whatever! We sit too much and we are on the computer too much. Stand while working on the computer. Make sure to take a break every 30 minutes and stretch. Go for a walk, anywhere. Look at where you are and make one improvement every week or every month or every season. My goal: Don’t give up my yoga, get back to some sort of strength training at least once a week (its been a few years) and really try to meet my FitBit’s goal of 10,000 steps most days.
- Stop judging your body. Our bodies are not to blame. They are to be loved and respected. Our bodies are beautiful vesicles that keep us alive and grounded here on earth. If you don’t like how you have treated your body, then change that. Also, remember that each body-container is different. There is no right or wrong way to look. Each body is given a genetic code and our job is to work with the body we have been given for this lifetime, the good and the bad, without judgement. My goal: I will try not to blame my belly for being bigger than it used to be or my clothes for being tighter. I will acknowledge that my genetics, my hormones, my age, and my actions are responsible. Some of this is out of my control and some of this is not. This belly may be here to stay and I will try to look at it with more understanding and compassion. I will try to be more loving with myself.
- Don’t judge anyone else’s body. Each of us is unique and has our own journey and set of experiences. It is not for us to judge another person’s lifestyle or outward appearance. Worry only about your own. I have found that as we judge others less, we will feel less judged. Life would be so boring if we all looked the same. So let’s embrace and celebrate our differences. There is no need for fear or intolerance. My goal: Pay attention and catch myself when I am being judgemental and try to nip it in the bud by shifting my focus to something more positive.
- Appreciate your body. No matter what, love your body! Say thank you to your body for all it’s done for all it’s gotten you through, for all the stuff it’s had to deal with. Honor the stage of life you are in. Keep looking forward, not backwards. My goal: I will try to mindfully appreciate my peri-menopausal body and the changes it’s having to go through at this stage of my life and cut it some slack.
Let’s put an end to body shaming. Start with yourself. Then we can work on positively affecting others and the media.