Summer is sweeping past you in a whirlwind of pool dates, baseball games and keeping up with the garden. Growing up, summer was your favorite time of year, but now it leaves you feeling just a little detached. You enjoy going to the pool, but you’re usually sitting off to the side and not in the water, with a t-shirt over your swimsuit. Baseball games and gardening are fun but warm because you refuse to wear a tank top. It’s kind of exhausting trying to manage your body and participate in the summer activities you love. Deep down, you really want to learn to love your body again.
If you’re sitting on the sidelines of your own life based on how your arms look in a tank top or how your thighs look in a one piece we have a problem. It’s time to learn to love your body for what it is and stop hating it for what it isn’t.
I’m about to give you a secret bit of information. If you’re really going to live a healthier happier life, you must accomplish a crucial mindset change. It’s going to take hard work, but it is a game changer.
You have to be able to love the skin you’re in today to improve on it for tomorrow. Healthy striving goals must come from a place of love, not loathing.
Learning to love your body again starts with calling a truce.
Here’s how to get started.
Begin a process of self-care and self-compassion. When was the last time you stopped and took a whole day just for you? Or even a few hours just to show yourself love and kindness? If you can’t remember when you need to make a commitment to make a date with yourself for yourself.
Small self-care rituals can help you get started, but if you’ve neglected the practice of showing compassion for yourself you’re going to need space to slowly find connection with self again. Setting aside a few hours, a day or entire weekend to start listening to your needs, caring for your hurts and nurturing your goals is necessary to begin your journey to self-love.
Replace the inner critic with the inner counselor. Do you have a fairly constant stream of negative self-talk? It’s time to silence that inner critic. The negative messages we give ourselves and the feelings of never enough that play in a loop in your brain will prevent you from moving forward every time.
You need to replace those old messages and listen to a new voice. Somewhere between cheerleader and therapist, your inner counselor is there to provide messages of growth and resilience. Your inner counselor is there to help you learn to trust yourself and speak to yourself with kindness. Don’t worry; she’s in there. She’s always been there. You’ve just forgotten how to listen or she’s been drowned out by the inner critic. You need to make the time (see step one) to listen to her, trust in her wisdom and have the confidence to say goodbye to the inner critic.
Understand your personal comparison traps. I would like to blame social media for all the comparison problems but, based on my years of experience, I know there is much more to it. Not that the highlight reels on Facebook and Instagram don’t contribute to the feelings of never enough but it goes deeper than that.
The real comparison trap is the one with yourself. It doesn’t matter if it’s yourself 20 years ago or the self-image you’ve created in your mind, the biggest obstacle on your journey is unrealistic expectations and all or nothing thinking. Accepting your body as it is today and learning to say I AM ENOUGH is the first step in creating a plan based on healthy striving goals.
Breakdown the dance of emotional eating. Food can create a lot of anxiety when you have an unhealthy relationship with your body. Food, after all, is necessary; you can’t give it up. Yet food often feels like the enemy in your fitness journey. Food has been given too much power, too much access to our emotional core, with restrictive diets and labels of GOOD or BAD.
The key is to create some space between emotion and food by recognizing and allowing yourself to feel the emotions. By practicing mind-body scans (short tuning-in meditations) and examining the feelings separate from your person, you can defuse them. By giving the emotions more depth, you can actually give them less power. By noticing and naming what’s really happening, you have a better chance of making a conscious decision from a place of personal power.
If you need help learning to how to love your body again, I would suggest a guide in your journey. A therapist, life coach or health coach are great places to find the assistance you need in declaring your truce and finding space to build a better relationship with yourself.