At a yoga class a few weeks back, one that I’d not been to before, I watched a woman in front of me as we stood waiting for the class to start. She tugged incessantly at her t-shirt trying to haul it down as far over her butt and thighs as she could. She wasn’t big, she wasn’t small – she was herself.
By the end of the class I was pretty certain she had some fairly serious hang-ups about her body. We began chatting with the teacher about yoga clothes and this lovely young woman wanted to know where she could get yoga clothes that weren’t clinging. She told us her t-shirt was her husbands because it was the only thing big enough to cover her butt and thighs.
I didn’t say anything at the time. I could have wept for her and in my head I was screaming – you’re gorgeous, you’ve got a great body, oh my god how can you not see how fab you look. There was really not a lot of point in saying any of these things because she didn’t want to hear them and definitely wouldn’t take them on board. (We could argue the merits of speaking up all day long and had there been more time, the class been one I’d attended before, I may have asked her a question or two.)
We get so immersed in our stories – I’m fat, I’ve got fat thighs, my butt wobbles – that we just can’t see the wood for the trees. This touches on two things: firstly, the stories that we tell ourselves and secondly, the whole area of body image, self-identity and self-love.
Every day we have a library of stories running through our heads. We tell ourselves any number of things based on past experiences and long-held beliefs. It’s often negative. Can you recall what the last positive thing you said to yourself was?
These stories become part of our self-identity. We create a persona that’s often far removed from our true nature and much of it can be based on old untruths that we’ve been telling ourselves for years.
Our body image is just one part of our self-identity. I was always too fat. I had to lose X number of kilo’s before I’d be able to do x, y and z. I told myself on a daily basis that I was too fat, it’s the way I’m made, you’re just lazy, you can’t stop eating, it’s an addiction (and the physiological responses to food certainly mirrored addiction when the story had played enough times) etc.
Not only was I constantly telling my body negative things, I never actually just stopped and took a moment to consider that I was so much more than just my body, that I was blessed with amazing gifts an incredible life and feeling joy in the moment. Nor did I think to consider just how amazing my body actually was. I was always future-focused on the person I would be when I was thin as opposed to the person that I was at that moment.
As I said in a previous blog, I did a whole lot of things to get to a place of self-love. It’s about Satya – telling the truth! Be truthful to yourself. Aparigraha – let go of expectations and live in the moment. Ahimsa – self-love. Our bodies are unique. Every single human on this planet, including all those identical siblings out there, is unique. Your body performs a myriad of miraculous tasks every moment of every day. Do we ever thank it? Or do we take it for granted, abuse it, bombard it with negative thoughts and emotions and then blame it for walling itself up in a cosy blanket of fat?
So, here are some ideas that may help you to think differently about your body.
- Thank your body every day for all that it does for you. Whether you’re carrying excess stored body fat or you’re undernourished, or you are actually a perfectly healthy weight for your size and feel like you’re heavy, your body is protecting you and doing so many things for you, to the best of its abilities.
- Throw away your scales. Oh, this is so scary to some people. They’re very attached to their scales. But you know what? The number on a scale does not define who you are and nor should it define whether you’ll have a great day or want to climb back into bed with a box of chocolates and hide.
- Ask your body what it needs. In the mirror if you have to. Just ask the question. What do I need? Don’t be afraid to listen to the answer as the gut response will be exactly what you need.
- Take a look at all the things you tell yourself during the day – you know, the guy who sits on your shoulder and says you’re not good enough, thin enough, smart enough. Are the things you tell yourself actually TRUE? It’s not an intellectual conversation, it’s a conversation with your heart.
- If they’re not true, how about coming up with some counter comments like: negative guy “I’m fat”; positive guy “I’m alive, I’m able to move, I can do …” For every negative comment there’s a really great positive truth just itching to get out – just check that it is the truth for you right now, in the moment. (Mine, by the way, to the ‘fat thigh’ guy is ‘my thighs are strong, energetic and help me to climb mountains, not to mention get through every day’. Fat thigh guy has now shut up shop and left the building in a veritable sulk!)
- Let go of expectation. In our society we’ve been taught to value looking forward and don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a vision but don’t lose sight of the here and now. It’s amazing how this one subtle change of thinking can alter your entire approach to life. Care, be committed but don’t attach to the outcome. Be grateful for everything in the here and now.
Adopting some of these things, or all of them, in just a small way will help to shift focus. It certainly helped me. While the media continues to bombard us with totally idiotic body images and supposed ‘role models’, you can always rely on your truths, living in the moment and most importantly, self-love. It can take a while to get to the love part but what’s not to love?
PS – I had included an image of an emaciated model in this post however it keeps coming up as the main image and gives the wrong impression of this posting entirely. My apologies to whoever the model is, but honestly, there’s a point at which you’ve just got to speak up. The poor woman is so underweight and the image used alongside an advert for ‘The Dr Oz Diet’. When are we going to ban this shite from Facebook and, frankly, all media? This sort of image is what’s created generations of women who hate their bodies.