In kindergarten, our class bully would sit behind me and pull out my hair tie – daily – just like clockwork. Leaving my French braid, side ponytail, or occasional half-up, half-down look to become unraveled.
Throughout grade school, I was teased. I was somewhat chunky and just did my own thing. The teasing never bothered me, odd enough.
In middle school and early high school, my “care-free, I-like-me attitude,” attracted friends. And as always, I was happy with who I was and what I looked like.
It wasn’t until later in high school and a bit into college that I become more self-conscience, especially of my body. I wanted to be the tall-lanky girl, instead of the shorter athletic-built girl.
I tried to be the Gisele type by making exercise my job, eating less, and having all these weird food rules, but it was exhausting.
After my first year of college, I wanted to go back to that girl in kindergarten. That girl who didn’t care about what anyone thought about her body, who was A-okay with her body, and never thought twice about her food. She ate when she was hungry, she stopped when she was full and she ate mostly healthy stuff.
So, I started to make my way back to this girl.
Over 10 years later, I can say it’s been a journey, but an awesome one. I can also say that I love my body – cellulite, wrinkles, athletic thighs and all.
And I love being able to help other women get to this point as well. I call it the “make peace with food + love your body (and yourself) place.”
It’s an awesome place to be.
Here are some tips, insights, and tools that can help you get to this place too. They’re exactly what I did and do to stay in a good body- and self-loving space.
As always, take what you want, leave what you don’t.
Make this body + self-love practice your own.
1. Think about what you love about your body
Instead of letting your mind wander to what you want to change about your body. Let it wander to what you currently love about your body. This may feel totally strange at first, but give it time and practice, practice, practice! Growing “body love” is a day-by-day, moment-by-moment kind of thing.
2. Workout to feel good; not to burn calories
Move your body in ways that you love, and ways that you make you light up inside. As a teen and into my early twenties, I’d spend a minimum of 45 minutes doing cardio at the gym, purely to burn calories. When I decided enough was enough, I quit the gym, bought workout DVDs for home (that I love), started walking, and doing way more strength training.
When you shift your mindset and workout to feel strong, vibrant, and whole, you’ll keep coming back for more. What activity makes you feel good and empowered? Go do more of that.
3. Appreciate what your body does for you
What does your body let you do that you appreciate? For example, I’m grateful for my strong arms from weight training, so I can lift heavy things. And I’ve come to love my strong sturdy shapely thighs. They allow me to hike, walk the dogs, and practice yoga – all things I love.
When you reframe and list (out loud or in your mind) all the wonderful things your body allows you to do, you start to look at your body in a different light. It’s no longer something you oh so desperately wish you could change, it’s a vessel that allows you to live your life.
4. Honor your hunger and fullness
When you eat mostly whole real foods and tune in to your hunger + fullness factor (before, after and during your meals), you’ll nourish your body with exactly what it needs.
I used to be a crazy calorie counter and it was exhausting. Plus, people don’t eat calories, they eat food! If you hate calorie counting and want a different approach to lose weight and/or make peace with food, check out this post and food worksheet I created here.
5. Eat the “off-limit” stuff:
You know what happens when you can’t have something? You want it even more. When we create all these “off-limit” foods, it’s easy to get into the restrict > binge > feel crummy > restrict > binge (and repeat) cycle.
Ugh, I think I’ll pass.
Cheez-Its and peanut butter were two examples of “off-limit” foods I had. If I got a hold of them, I’d eat way too much, feel bad, and then want to go “exercise it off” or eat less the next day.
I decided this charade had to go.
To do this: I gradually shifted my mindset with mantras, experiments (more on this later), and the decision to truly care for my body. I wanted the foods I ate to make me feel whole, energized, and well – which generally meant eating healthy stuff. I also wanted to be able to enjoy not-so-healthy stuff – we only live once; food is meant to be enjoyed.
So, I started being fully present at eating occasions; 80% of the time I ate whole foods (think stuff not in a box aka fruits, veggies, salmon, steak, avocados, etc); I nourished my body frequently throughout the day; and honored my hunger and fullness cues.
All of this lends to eating the right amount of anything and best yet, creates a healthy relationship with food.
Sincerely enjoy your food – whatever it may be – with pleasure.
6. Find support
It’s so important to feel not alone. And sometimes just admitting our fears or insecurities is such a relief. Whether it be a sibling, friend, partner, coach, or group, find others you can be vulnerable and open with who support you. Nurturing people in your life are key for growth.
7. Do the things you’ve been putting off now
Stop waiting to do stuff until you feel “perfect.” We tend to put things off til we lose weight; feel more toned; get that guy; make more money; snag that job; or have more friends. But, instead of waiting – do that stuff now! You’ll start to cultivate an inner joy and peace that will have you shining from the inside out. Health and happiness begins with inner change that eventually equals outer change.
8. Think about why loving your body is really important to you
If you want to change, it has to be important to you. But, without YOU knowing why it’s important to you – on a deep level – it’ll be hard to continue doing the daily work that it requires. Think about it – why is loving you + your body important for you right now? Let that inner-soul reason guide you – not the outside world.
9. Don’t go by the scale
Let how you feel guide you. Because generally, when you’re nourishing yourself with good foods, honoring your hunger and fullness, moving your body, and showing up for yourself your weight is what it is.
10. Realize your body is your body!
We all have our own unique shape. I have an athletic fit build. I’ll never have be a tall-lanky Giselle. Own your YOUness and stop being so harsh. Hello – self-kindness, please?
11. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good
Stop hanging around those who make you feel not good enough. Choose people who make you feel happy, positive and comfortable. By choosing more positive forces in your life, you’ll feel more positive. And with this feel-good, happy, confident vibe, you’ll naturally be drawn to other positive people and situations, and things that are important for your wellbeing (think journaling, alone time, exercise).
The more you fill your life up with stuff that makes your soul come alive, the less you stress about your weight and body, and the more you realize feeling good in your skin isn’t about your weight – it’s about self-love and acceptance. And when you get here, the weight thing, ironically, works out.
12. Remove the “body garbage” from your life
Anything that makes you feel bad or weird – tabloids, instagram accounts, facebook pages, friends on facebook, magazines – remove them from your daily life. We have the power to choose how we want to feel – why choose stuff that you know makes you feel bad? Guard your spirit.
13. Talk to yourself like you would a friend
Start to tune in (I mean really tune in) to the thoughts you think about yourself, your body, and your “good enoughness.” Observe. Would you speak to your daughter, friend, or sister like that? Turn the situation around and talk to yourself, like you’d talk to your loved ones.
14. Remind yourself of all the positives you’ve done
When you get all funky, look back and ask yourself, “How have I grown in a positive way?” You can get yourself in a better space quickly. Just pull up the positive. And remember, it’s not about never feeling crummy; it’s about having the tools and the ability to shift your mindset and energy out of a negative space into a healthier happier state when you choose. We always have a choice.
15. Email 3 friends and ask them why they like you
Sounds cheesy, but it’s totally awesome. Hands down, they won’t say your weight or anything about your physical appearance as being why they love you. You’re more than your outer self and sometimes, we need to be reminded of this.
16. Nourish your body because you love your body
Remove the intention of losing weight from what you eat. Instead, focus your intention on what foods will nourish my body? What health benefits will that bring to my body? Detach yourself from your body (just for a moment) and think about your body as something you’re babysitting.
Wouldn’t you want to take the best possible care of a plant, animal or child that you’re babysitting? Why not do this for your own body? When you shift your mindset from your body being something you despise to a gift from the Universe that allows you to live your life, you’ll care for your body out of love and that my friend, is magical.
17. Make time for yourself
Even if it’s just 10-minutes of sitting in a quiet room to journal – it matters. Set boundaries and put yourself first. When you can’t care for you, it’s harder for you to care for others. Your needs being met allows you to be the best version of you and that’s what you owe the Universe. Show up for yourself – even if for 15 minutes a day. It all matters.
18.Look at things as experiments
I used to think if I didn’t workout one day for 60-minutes, I’d get fat. That if I ate fried calamari, I’d suddenly get a bigger belly pooch. That if I said NO to people, they wouldn’t like me. So, one day, I didn’t workout, I ate the calamari and I just said NO to something I didn’t want to do. And what happened? … Nothing!
I didn’t gain weight and I still had friends. I just feel a whole lot more free. We all have limiting beliefs that hold us back. That keep us stuck. Break them. See what happens. Most likely, nothing but good will come, and you’ll be set free to move forward. But, it all starts with looking at things as an experiment, so you can gain confidence and momentum to keep going with your beautiful self.
19. Connect with your body
Tune in. How’s your body feeling today? Does your body need a break from exercise? Does your body need movement? Does your body need more sleep? What does your body need? Connect with and honor whatever comes up.
20. Create a grateful mindset
Appreciate you’re healthy. Appreciate that your body allows you to move. Appreciate you can read this. True body love and acceptance starts when you honor your body as is, even if you’re working on losing weight, gaining muscle, or staying well. You can still love your body while working on it – it’s just that the motives are now different – self-love and respect versus body bashing and hate.
Be kind to yourself. Don’t pretend that you don’t have negative feelings, but come at them with self-kindness and work with them, instead of against them.
I have horribly stubby thighs; I wish they were smaller
I have strong sturdy thighs that enable me to do the things I want to do in life.
Instead of …
Omg, I have a large patch of cellulite on my right leg!
Yup, I got some cellulite, but it’s really not a big deal. All women have some. Yes, even the super skinny ones. It’s not about what my outer body looks like; it’s how I feel on the inside. Would I want to be super skinny and a miserable human? I think not. When I workout, eat well, and treat myself with kindness, I feel good. Feeling good in my skin is my priority and when I do the things that keep me in this space, I love and accept my body – which is what it’s really about.
22. Get yourself in a better space
Literally. If you’re binging, having a pity party or just in a super negative funk, repeat after me, “Stop, drop, breathe, move.” Stop what you’re doing. Drop what you’re doing. Take a few deep breaths to bring you back to the present moment and then physically move into a different space and do something to calm your energy – journal, call a friend, go for a walk. You have a choice, and you can change your energy at any moment of the day.
23. Remember, it’s not about you
If people say not-nice things to you about your physical appearance, remember – it’s not about you! They’re working through their own stuff. But, you can learn here. There’s always something we can learn to better ourselves. People, things, and situations show up in our life because we need to learn how to gracefully work through them so we can grow.
24. Wear clothes that make you feel good
This is a no-brainer. If you don’t feel good in what you’re wearing, you’re going to feel weird. Wear clothes that make you feel good and if you need to buy some, go out and do it! Stop waiting til you get to a certain size. The time to feel good is now.
25. Communicate your needs
This is critical and something I’ve grown into! It was hard for me. But, once you get it down, you can make magic. Let those key people in your life know what you need from them on your journey – whether it be for your family to stop commenting on your weight; for your partner to be more open with compliments and things he appreciates about you more; or whether you need help in finding a group or coach to help you move forward. Be honest, be brave, and most importantly, be you.