You are more than your body
Sure, your body is a vessel in which you get to experience life with, but it does not define who you are. It does not determine if you are kind, generous, vulnerable, loving or smart. Your body, in whatever shape it comes in, doesn't define your successes or your failures. You are so much more than your body, please believe this. I feel compelled to shout this from every roof top imaginable, especially in the light of the New Year. Can we put this on t-shirts? Can we have our friends text this to us each morning, a gentle reminder that no matter how you are feeling about it right now, your body doesn't define you.
It's easy to think how silly that thought is, but it's not. So many of us deal with these feelings a thousand times a day. A little voice that insists if we were _____ enough, we would be _____. and it's so easy to think that it does. I hear this constantly from clients, usually when they push back from the concept of intuitive eating. "I like what you're saying, but that won't work for me. If I was just 10 pounds lighter, I know my marriage would be better." Of course, fill in your own blanks if you've got them. What do you tell yourself would happen if your body was different?
Here's the honest truth: not much changes when our body changes. A jean size or two, maybe, but that's about it. Rocky marriages aren't born from body composition changes, neither are jobs, relationships with others or happiness. All of those things are inside jobs, and how we look on the outside doesn't hold a candle to the power that we posses when we acknowledge this fact. We alone are responsible for how we feel about ourselves and the first step is the reminder that you are more than your body. I do think that eating healthy, exercising and finding your purpose can help in body acceptance, but that's because of feelings, not numbers. When you eat nourishing, vibrant foods, you feel better. When you use your body the way it was designed to be moved, that feels good too.
I was on Facebook for all of 10 minutes this morning before I was overwhelmed by the advertisements for various meal plans, workout plans and other New Years plans. While I'm not against the desire to want to take better care of your health, I'm against the culture that surrounds it. An acquaintance posted a photo of cheesecake and a glass of champagne before commenting that she was getting in "one last bite of real food before the 1 month vegan diet starts tomorrow." Hm, that's a lot of negative context surrounding habit changes. When we enter space with those thoughts, it's hard to be sustainable. If we are constantly focused on "2 weeks", "30 days," or other numbers, we miss the big picture and usually go back to our ways when we are finished. Of course, I'm casting a wide net, but I see this over and over again to know that it's true on some level.
So, my call to you is that you are enough exactly the way you are. In this natural time of wanting to look ahead and making sweeping changes for the upcoming year, do so with graceful purpose. If you want to eat more nutrient-dense foods this year, great! But first- ask yourself why. If it's to feel better, to nourish with nutrition, then those are great reasons for changing up your diet. If it's to punish yourself or because you think if you do this than something else will change, take some time to explore those reasons.
I know that it can be difficult to love your body, especially if you've spent years hating it. I don't always wake up with unconditional love for myself either; it's a constant work in progress. In my client work, I often use this exercise: write down all of the things you are grateful about for your body. Can't be superficial! So, perhaps it's your strong legs to power you through spin class once a week, or your arms that are able to squeeze your babies each night. Nothing is off limits, just be as genuine as possible. Reframing what your body does, rather that what it isn't, can be a pretty powerful exercise. If this speaks to you, try it!