6 Steps I'm Taking to Honour & Love my Body
Updated: Jul 26, 2020
I’ve gotta say, I've just been so in love with & honouring my body lately that I felt called to share because, as with so many women, we constantly face challenges within our own body image. Up until recently, loving my body in most every stage of my life just was never really accessible for me. I didn’t know enough to even know where to begin. More often than not, I was harsh, unforgiving, cruel and manipulative towards her.
This transformation to love my body however began when I started learning about Ayurveda a couple of years ago, and excelled exponentially after graduating from YTT and heading out of this quarantine. Learning about my body from the inside out helped get the ball rolling into loving her and lifted the veil of certain misconceptions I had created around her. Since then, I have made the conscious decision & taken the necessary steps to look at and feel into my body in such a different way. There have been a lot of deep moments with self, a shifting of old stories & thought processes, and I wanted to share in case any resonate with you as well.
Not only do I think about my body, but I think about my body image most everyday. Scratch that - EVERYDAY. Whether it be about the food I am about to ingest, taking my clothes off to shower, shaving & cleansing my body in the shower, dry brushing, oil massaging, clothes I am going to wear & how they fit that day, being intimate with a partner, preparing to exercise, moving my body, other people’s opinion of my body, etc. How many of these thoughts resonate with you? Now, think about having a negative association with your body and how much excess energy you’re exerting by thinking about the list above in a negative fashion. Fucking exhausting. I never really thought I was an overall negative person until I kept track of how harsh I am on my self image, then BAM!
When I was younger, I swam competitively. I ate just so much food (most of it pretty healthy) to be able to keep weight on because I was burning so many calories being in the pool and dry training 7 - 8 times a week (before & after school). At that time food to me equalled nourishment, even though I wasn’t consciously aware of it. I was incredibly healthy at this time in my life - I slept well, ate well (acquiring a very healthy appetite), and was overall pretty content. I thought about my body, sure, but I don’t ever remember any of these thoughts being negative. I was lean & muscular, you may even say underweight, and my lung capacity was insane. I also started and became really successful at long distance running because of the level of endurance I attained through swimming. Then high school came around and all of that goodness pretty much went to shit when I quit swimming. My mood spiralled into what was ultimately diagnosed as a depressive state by my doctor. I wasn’t taking proper care of my body, which ultimately affected my mind (my spirit wasn’t even on the radar at this point). I began drinking, started smoking, eating shit foods, my sleep patterns were a mess, and I wasn’t really exercising or moving my body. And it started to show. And unless we were in a sports type program, no one was educating us about our bodies, at least not at my school. But don’t worry, those Calculus, Religion & misinformed History classes I took are really helping me with my life today.
My drink of choice at the time all this was shaking down was beer. God knows why, I fucking hated the taste of it, often having to mix in Good Host Iced-T to be able to chug it down. And then, a funny thing started to happen - the more I drank, the more the little area under my belly button started to grow (I believe this is generally referred to as ‘beer belly’ or in my case ‘spare tire’). And was it ever. This ‘spare tire' has followed me around most of my adult life even though I gave up drinking beer probably a decade ago, and alcohol all together almost 3 years ago. Wearing a bikini was an option, but only if I had a way to cover myself up until I was laying down on a flat surface to not have my belly hangin out there.
And it wasn’t just my belly, oh no. My thighs have aged into holding a sprinkling of cellulite and are painted with stretch marks that wrap from buttocks to belly. It’s all just a part of me, and a part of my genetic makeup now. But for so long I was anxious to wear bathing suit bottoms as well because I didn’t have ‘perfect’ legs. It didn’t matter that, generally speaking, I am what society dubs as ‘thin’, I still had this horrified vision of myself when I looked in the mirror.
So in the pic attached to this post, on the left is me sitting upright, flexing my stomach, placing my arms in the air to lengthen my sides and front body so you can tell little of my belly. This is how I used to sit all the damn time, trying to suck in my stomach, sitting in such an uncomfortable position that I used to give myself the worst back aches. The pic on the right is of me more relaxed, hanging out with my belly in all her glory.
Neither pic is ‘wrong’, it’s not about right/wrong. It’s just how I perceive them to be. Both pics I am healthy. Both pics I am the same person living in the same moment. I was just so disgusted & embarrassed by my stomach for so long that I would have to manipulate other parts of my body just so that this one area I perceived as ‘looking’ better . No matter how thin I got, it never ‘went away’. And when I put on weight, it went directly to that area. And I never quite accepted the fact that I’d never have the glorified 6 pack.
So how did I start to change my perception of my body from something that I just wake up in everyday, that I didn’t appreciate, that I perceived to be unhealthy (even though that’s the furthest thing from the truth) to a living, breathing beauty that I have begun to appreciate and honour? I had to really make a clear commitment to myself that I would begin to view my body from the inside out, and educate myself on the actual incredible functions that she offers to me everyday.
Steps I’m constantly taking to Honour my Body:
Learning about my Diet - No, I don’t mean this in the ‘count calories’ way. I mean this in ‘watch what you are putting into your body and how it makes you feel’ way. I had poor digestion and was bloated, gascious & constipated constantly in my drinking days. This, of course, was because I was feeding my body garbage, and my digestion was suffering, along with many of my organs. From studying Ayurveda and learning about my constitution, I was able to start feeding my body the nutrients it desired to allow for healthy digestion, bringing some much needed balance back to my body.
Learning about my Body - Before I started my YTT, I knew very little about my body. I’m talking like my insides, the layers upon layers under my skin. I had a basic understanding of some muscles and placements of organs, but holy shit did I actually know very little. One of the most amazing things I have ever done for myself is begin to learn about my physical body, my anatomy. Once I began to understand the ins and outs that make each down dog possible, each twist of my spine, each bicep curl, each resting pose - game changer. I use my mind to think of the muscle I am using to invest myself in a pose, and it’s allowed for my body & mind to connect and work together in my practice. I am able to know which muscles I am engaging, stretching, lengthening, strengthening - What fucking POWER!
Touching my Body - Mmmmm yes, I do this OFTEN. Again, something I learned through incorporating Ayurvedic practices. I could count on one hand the number of times I truly felt my entire body with my own hands up until a few years ago. How was I meant to love something that I had never taken the time to even touch & feel? Never actually connected with? I often looked in the mirror and remembered thinking - “Who is this stranger looking back at me?” Sad actually. So I began by incorporating Dry Scrubbing & Self-Oil Massage in combination to my daily routine. Now, the practice of dry scrubbing isn’t as important since you are typically using a cloth, but self-massage is a game changer. The amount of healing - if you’re ready - that you can perform on your mind & body through your own touch is just so beautiful. Add to that the nourishment you're giving your skin, joints & muscles, the facilitation of circulation throughout the body, the QT time you are spending with yourself - just so many benefits.
Following Positive Body Image Women on Social Media - I recently started following 2 accounts - @danaemercer & @hayleymadiganfitness on Instagram. They post pics of how social media, apps, filters, lighting, etc are being used by women to hide their ‘flaws’, which aren’t flaws at all but true beauty marks. They are uber healthy women who exercise and eat well, and they have cellulite and bloating just like so many other of us do. But their whole platform & messaging is based on not hiding any of it. In fact, it’s human and it’s healthy. I started to look at them and mirror what they have going on, and it’s really helped to change my perception on body image.
Digging out that Feminine Energy - This has been and continues to be one of the most difficult elements for me to dive into. Go figure when the masculine energy is running the show. What does it mean to dive into my feminine energy? So many elements that I wrote a separate blog post about it. For the sake of time, I’ll just name a few key elements that I continue to work on - Honour your truth, speak your truth, inspire other women, set healthy boundaries, have a healthy balance with my masculine energy and be gentle with myself ALWAYS. And every single one I am working through daily.
Allowing my Body to be Strong - I’ve realized more and more, especially after connecting with my yoga practice, that my body really wants to be strong for me. She wants to feel strong too. I remember what it felt like when I was in the pool, gliding along the slick top of the cool water, with nothing but the strength of my body propelling me forward through each stroke. I feel that way with yoga now too. Understanding that force isn’t required to come into and rest within a pose. Strength is built up over time with an understanding and trust within the body. You be strong for me and I will take care of you.
I still have a baby belly hanging out, it’s not going anywhere. It’s just part of me. I have FOUGHT this for years. I have put my body through hell exercising and dieting. Yes, that’s all helped to make it smaller, but what’s the point? Why do I need it to be smaller? It’s still there and will most likely always be. Truth is, I’m living a pretty healthy life and there’s nothing unhealthy about this part of my body, or any other. I typically work out 3 times a week, I practice yoga everyday, and I eat pretty fucking good. And I have a little belly. It's just a part of me. Some days, I feel bloated, and round or am on my cycle and just don't feel like holding my stomach in every.fucking.second. And I certainly believe I'm not the only woman who carries this little pouch - there’s a reason why yoga pants go up to the belly button...
There is so much more out there in the world to discover and have fun with than worrying about parts of the body. And I understand just how difficult this can be. We can blame society all we want but we have no control over that. At the end of the day, it’s in our hearts what we can control. It's our choice to start to feel into ourselves, to take our power back - and that is one of the most rewarding gifts I’ve given to myself in a while. I understand that some women suffer more with body issues than others. It’s a process. None of this will happen overnight. I started slow and continue to build more trust & love within myself each day. And now, it’s just a matter of continuing to accept who I am in all my fucking glory.