Last week I introduced you to the Body Positive model and Body PositivePsychology. A quick recap: The Body Positivity approach has five core components:
● Reclaim Health
● Practice Intuitive Self-Care
● Cultivate Self-Love
● Declare Your Own Authentic Beauty
● Create Community
Practicing these components lead to increased self-love, self-acceptance, better relationships, better choices and better health. Last week I talked about Reclaiming Your Health. This week I'll go over the second competency, Practicing Intuitive Self Care.
In order to Practice Intuitive Self-Care you need to learn to listen to and follow your body's wisdom. I'm finding with myself and almost all of my clients (whether they're seeing me for Body Positive work or not) that we have forgotten how to listen to ourselves. As babies we innately knew when we were hungry and when we weren't. We ate if we were, and when we weren't we refused to open our mouths or spit our food out when we were being fed.
As we grew we heard things like "this is when I'm serving dinner, if you want dinner you better eat now" or "we don't waste food in this house." Maybe you grew up in a big family and if you didn't eat everything you could as fast as you could, your siblings would beat you to it and there wouldn't be enough left for you. Everybody has their own story and these stories have formed us into the kind of eaters we've become.
It's time to become introspective. Ask yourself how you feel and what your body needs and listen closely. You'll hear the right answers! If you need help with this, find a counselor who can help you get back in touch with your inner voice.
We all have the wisdom necessary to create and sustain self-care behaviors that provide nourishment, fitness, and pleasure. When you listen to, and act on this wisdom you innately possess to meet your body's’ specific needs and desires for certain foods, types of movement, and rest, you are practicing self-care!
“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past,
worry about the future, or anticipate troubles,
but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
Slow down, get quiet for a moment and ask yourself "Am I hungry? What is my body craving? Do I feel like I need protein? I'm craving a banana. I must need potassium." or "I'm feeling restless. I must need to move this body. What would I enjoy doing, a walk or a bike ride?"
Your body is wise, and it knows what you need. Do you feel like you need something sweet? As if nothing else will satisfy you? Then allow yourself to have that leftover piece of cake but pay attention to your body when it says you've had enough. One of my favorite tenants of the Health at Every Size® (HAES) model, a practical and research-based health model that honors the genetic diversity of human size and shape, is that no food is off limits!
I have tried everything from being a vegetarian for two years to following Paleo for three years. This and every other weight loss plan is based on restriction. Here is a fact, we want what we forbid ourselves to have. It's true that we get over cravings after we detox, but unless you are one of those rare breeds that actually doesn't like sweets, living a life of never being able to have something that you enjoy leads to frustration, unhappiness, and cheating. And of course, cheating leads us to being disappointed in ourselves, self-hate, and bingeing. It's a vicious cycle.
“If [diets] really worked, we’d be running out of dieters.”
Glenn Gaesser, PhD, author of Big Fat Lies: The Truth about Your Weight and Your Health
When nothing is off limits you allow yourself to experience everything you enjoy with control. You don't need to eat half the cake thinking that you can't allow yourself this treat again. Perhaps you will eat the whole piece. Perhaps after a couple of bites you'll feel that you've had enough because you know that if you feel that you must have this again, you can!
As you get better and better at listening to your body and acting on its needs you will find that you can experience everything you enjoy and maintain and even lose weight! You will learn you can trust what you know in your gut (pun may be intended). This new way of thinking will be an enormous relief, being free of the depletion and confusion that result from trying to respond to all of the conflicting messages that come from others.
When you're able to figure out what you need in regards to food, movement and rest on your own, you'll find yourself gaining self-esteem and confidence naturally. Speaking from my own experience, you will feel more content, peaceful and happy and you will enjoy what you are doing and eating on a whole new level.
Stay tuned, next week I'll be talking about Developing a Practice of Self-Love. In the meantime if you'd like to skip ahead, check out
Embody: Learning to Love Your Unique Body (and Quiet that Critical Voice) by Connie Sobczak and Elizabeth Scott (I am not an affiliate and profit in no way by your purchase of this book).
Don't forget to be kind to yourself. It shows others how you expect to be treated.