I wish I could say this article is about the ways mindfulness and intuitive eating has made me lose 30 pounds and keep it off. I wish I could I say I am a walking, talking picture of healthy habits in action. I wish I could say I had a superfood smoothie for breakfast this morning before doing my yoga practice. But this is not what this article is about.
The self-limiting dangers of labels.
This article is about a girl who, for 11 years, tried to make herself skinny. A girl who literally hated her body, who wept for and grieved her body. A girl who hid, who turned down opportunities, who literally quit dancing—all because she believed she was "too fat." This girl came to define herself as nothing more than a fat person, and that definition became the force behind all her decision making. She knew exactly what fat people could do and what fat people could not. She lived her life in a way that was self-regulated and self-limiting, living by her own set of self-imposed rules. This girl is me.
And one day, after about 11 years of yo-yo dieting and trying to force myself into a mold, I got sick. My body was tired. It was ailing. And for the first time, I grieved for my body—not because it was too fat or looked terrible in a swimsuit but because it needed me and I had failed it. I grieved because I hadn’t given it what it needed. I started to learn about mindfulness and intuitive eating. I became an avid learner, reading everything ever written about the art of listening to your body. I learned about self-care and patience and tenderness.
My thoughts began to change. Whenever I’d eat something with negative consequences, instead of automatically thinking, "I’m so stupid, why did I eat that? I’m so fat," I instead started thinking things like, "My poor digestive system. I’ll treat it better next time." I lost some weight and did keep it off. I became healthier in my thinking and, as a result, I started to get healthier in my body. I adopted a yoga practice. I started new and fun ways to move my body (like the art of dancing I’d given up years ago). I started to treat myself with kindness.
I do not live in balanced bliss.
I am not sure I even believe in balanced bliss. Balance insinuates there is one place I should be, which brings me back to my days of trying to force and move myself toward a place of arrival. Instead, I choose to live day by day, walking in freedom. I choose to be present in all my moments, whether they are "good" or "bad."
Here's how to train your brain to change your body.
To change the relationship with your own body, first realize: There is no such thing as arrival.
- Let go of the sense of morality we’ve attached to food and embrace the natural effects of every food.
- Invest yourself in the process rather than the outcome.
- Love your body for what it is rather than hate it because of what it could be.
- Remember: Tomorrow is a new day.
When we make peace with our bodies and where they are in the present moment, we free ourselves to take care of them without any strings attached. We’re removed from the position of taking care of our bodies so they will be thin and beautiful, and we’re placed in a position where we recognize "thin" is irrelevant and we take care of our bodies because they are beautiful. When we make peace with our bodies, we open ourselves up to taking care of them freely and intuitively. We take care of them not from a place of hoping they’ll change to be what we think they should be but from a place of recognition of the incredible creations they are.