I often get asked the question – how do I love my body when I don’t? How can I make myself love my body? How will I ever change if I accept myself the way I am?  As if, in some strange way, rejecting yourself is helpful. Well, good news! You don’t have to love your body to make changes, and you can’t make yourself love it. But you can start to take steps in that direction. It begins with respect.

You don’t have to love your body to respect it. You don’t even have to like your body to respect it. But in order to make peace with food you also need to make peace with your body. Your NOW body. The one you’re inhabiting now…

One of my clients comes to mind here. She had a real breakthrough when she realised this. Through the meditations we did in our sessions, and her continued practice with them, she later recalled to me her ah-ha moment. She said that she’d always lived from the neck up. But she’d had an awakening – which was very simple: ‘I realised that my body needs me.’

It does! Your body needs you!

What does respect for your body mean?

Let’s look at the word respect, and what it means. The dictionary has 2 main definitions:

1. a sense of admiration for the abilities, qualities or achievements of someone/ something;

2. due regard for the feelings, wishes, or rights of someone/ something

Ok, so, let’s look at the second definition first.

Cultivating due regard

If you respect your body, you take into account its feelings, wishes and rights! In other words:

  • If your body is tired, you rest
  • If its hungry, you feed it
  • If its thirsty, you drink
  • If it has had enough food, you stop eating
  • Bodies are built for movement – your body has a right to move
  • Your body has a right to good health. This means getting health checks; making sure you’re getting the basics of nourishing food, gentle exercise, good sleep, exposure to sunshine and enough fluids.

What’s important, is that your body respect actions don’t become demands on yourself: shoulds and have-to’s… those will the sap the life out of any motivation. To sustain behaviours, they need to come from a place of free choice.

And truthfully, in our fast paced, technology-addicted world, it’s challenging to take proper care of ourselves. It requires deeply meaningful intention, flexible commitment and often, support.

Try this

Take a mini-inventory – and ask yourself where you do have due regard for your body, and where you don’t. What do you reliably do in service of your body’s feelings, wishes and rights, and where do you habitually over-ride them?

No wrong making here ok!? Just be kindly honest with yourself.

Choose ONE thing you will work on in the month. Which will make the biggest difference to your well-being do you think? How can you break it up into smaller chunks? Now write up the steps in your calendar! Consider getting kind yet firm support to help you make progress.

A sense of admiration for the abilities, qualities or achievements of your body.

You may be baulking at the idea of any type of admiration where your body is concerned! But admiration for the appearance of your body is not needed for you to respect it. Think about its abilities! If you can walk, lift things, hold things with your fingers (or toes!) – even if you can’t do any of those things – if you can breathe, eat, digest food, see, hear, smell, think, feel (emotions and sensations) – any of these amazing abilities that bring richness to life – that’s admiration! Admiration for the sheer miracle of life! If you’ve carried and birthed or witnessed the birth of children – hell, even held a baby – you can admire the extraordinary achievement of the body. If you’ve recovered from illnesses, noticed that your hair and nails grow – understood that every single cell in the human body replaces itself within 7 years…. what’s not to admire!?

Try this

  • Take 3 long, slow breaths, and spend a few minutes, being in awe of the miracle of your living, breathing, alive body.
  • Bring to mind all it does for you. Get as detailed as you like – the list is almost endless!
  • Allow yourself to feel the awe. Really. I mean it.

Do this for a minute or two every day. I’m not asking you to love your love-handles or extra rolls. I’m not asking you to fall in love with your thighs, stomach, hips – though you may find, as you grow your respect and appreciation for what those parts of you do for you, and acknowledge what they have achieved, the love may just creep up on you – whether or not you’re the shape you most want to be.

I’m curious – what steps will you take towards cultivating body respect and what gets in your way? Let me know in the comments.

Need help making peace with food?