When did we come to view that it is so important to be really slim, fit, muscular, or have a ‘perfectly clean’ diet? Why did, somewhere along the line, we begin to not accept that we are perfect and good enough just the way we are - our bodies included?
We live in a time when there are so many unnecessary expectations placed on us. whether those expectations are to do with our work, social lives, food intake, fitness, or body, they often inevitably make us strive for some of the least important things in life.
The thing is, striving to meet these expectations only scratches at the surface of who we really are. They rarely help us to unlock the code that allows us to experience real happiness, self-love and an ability to reach our full potential.
All in all, living up to expectations, and not viewing yourself or your body as good enough right now is hugely disempowering. Yet, this is what society promotes as a one way street to health, rather than the many beautiful avenues you can venture on in order to experience self-love, happiness and overall wellness.
If you think that becoming healthy involves holding your nose drinking green smoothies, regularly weighing yourself, counting calories, feeling lethargic from a juice cleanse, or grinding your teeth and clenching your fists in order to stay on a treadmill for longer or lift more weights that you did yesterday, then think again.
Similarly, you might want to reconsider the preconceived idea that making yourself feel guilty after eating something you enjoy or not doing as much exercise than you normally do is doing your body any good…
This is another myth, as feelings of guilt can be more toxic for the body than any food or lack of exercise every could be. We were also designed to make food and movement social and enjoyable parts of our lives, not a gauge to judge our self worth by.
In reality, every body is a GOOD body. It may seem patronising to mention, but it really boils down to the basics of appreciating the miracle that we really are - the amazing way we are able to uniquely and consciously perceive the world, how our legs enable us to walk through life, and the way our hands allow us to experience touch and express our inner creativity.
Our taste buds and sense of smell are also there to help us eat nourishing foods that we can thoroughly enjoy, rather than pursue yet another diet and restrict what we eat in order to attain a ‘better’ body and (insecure) sense of self-esteem.
Although I could simply advise that we all really need to start looking after and loving our bodies as they are right now, this may be much easier said than done for individuals who have developed a harsh relationship with food and body.
If you have led a life of perfectionism, trying to meet others’ expectations, aiming for being the best, and pursuing the next best diet or fitness fad, then perhaps loving your body and who you are right now might not come so naturally.
However, my word of advice would be to stop judging yourself unnecessarily. Treat yourself the way you would treat a cherished friend, and try to become more attuned to your natural instinct to care for your body in the way it would want you to - i.e. by not punishing it with rigid exercise and fitness regimes or toxic thoughts of guilt and poor self-worth.
Believe me, I am being honest when I say that you are beautiful in your body just the way it is right in this very moment.
If we try to firstly jump the gun by striving for a better body, before we can learn to accept and love ourselves, i’m afraid that the output will be a bit of a messy one.
By doing this, what we eat or the way we exercise becomes something we have negative associations with, such as a form of punishment, as we believe these behaviours to have the main use of reducing the negative thoughts and feeling we have towards ourselves.
In contrast, if we again reverse the calculation, and allow self-love to come first, we inevitably and very naturally start to develop an eagerness to want to care for our body in the best way possible.
Instead of developing a rigid exercise and fitness regime with the aim of ‘improving' the body, we become more focussed on feeling happier and getting involved in the activities we genuinely love.
What we eat becomes more about eating the foods that nourish us in a thoroughly enjoyable and social way, rather than something we do to deprive ourselves of pleasure and essential nutrients in order to lose weight or become slimmer and trimmer - pursuits that rarely lead to authentic happiness and wellbeing since they don’t really fix the insecurities that remain skin deep.
To sum up, I would like to offer you the opportunity of engaging in a bit of genuine self-care.
Instead of taking time to think about how you are next going to make a change to your diet or exercise regime, take a moment to question where this urge is coming from. Is it to become happier and healthier?
Or, is it to reduce feelings of guilt and feel able to meet expectations to have a ‘better’ body or ‘cleaner’ diet in order to feel more accepted by ourselves and society.
If it is the second option, I would highly recommend reminding yourself of all the amazing things your body can do regardless of what it has eaten or how much exercise it has done.
This can simply involve writing down three things that are quite miraculous about your body. Look at this list, then close your eyes and feel a sense of compassion for yourself.
Accept that you have been blessed with these three positive attributes, and that they contribute to creating the your unique body that contains a beautiful soul - independently of what you look like, weigh, eat or how much exercise you are able to do.
Guaranteed, your body and you are good enough and perfect the way they are right now, and this is just one of the many miracles you can expect to experience throughout the wonder that is life.