Very few people are happy with their bodies. It seems there’s always someone younger with more perfect features reminding us we have no control over what we have been handed by life. At some point, most of us recognize that having the perfect body won’t make us happy, but we continue to beat ourselves up trying to at least lose the weight.
Feeling bad about eating Oreos won’t help, but changing your relationship with your body can lead to a more positive outlook, better enjoyment of life and ultimately, better health. Your relationship with your body is self-acceptance in physical form. Being able to accept ourselves as we are — not comparing ourselves with others, not having to meet a cultural ideal and instead being grateful for being alive and having the physical capacities we have is a freedom few dare to reach for. But the joy and pleasure of that freedom is limitless.
There is joy in taking care of ourselves, in being able to accept the good and bad about our bodies and our lives, the physical wounds we show and the wounds no one can see but that manifest in many different ways. Looking in the mirror and being grateful for our own particular version of physical perfection can be the most important part of working toward change. Our relationship with our bodies can change over time, from being viewed as an uncontrollable enemy to becoming a source of pleasure and personal accomplishment. It begins with taking small steps that start to take hold and gradually become habits.
For example: Slowly introduce healthier foods in the diet and eliminate those that are not so healthy. Find ways to fit exercise into your lifestyle. With exercise, it is important that you be willing to experiment and perhaps to accept a less than stellar performance sometimes. Everyone is unique, and we all have different preferences in sports and activities we enjoy. As self-acceptance increases and more enjoyable physical activities are included in your daily routine, you will start feeling good about your body. You will feel good getting into clothes.
You’ll like feeling the strength of your muscles. You’ll feel more confident and enjoy sex more. You will enjoy delicious, healthy meals that are light and include enough nutrients and fiber to work with the natural rhythm of your body. You will grow to have a different type of relationship with your body, one in which you listen to signals of satiety instead of stuffing yourself to the point of discomfort. Your body will afford much more fun and excitement that it did when you ate all you could eat at the all-you-can-eat buffet. The ups and downs, bumps and lumps will make more sense and be an okay part of the bigger picture, a life where you do the best you can do with what you have been given.
By Rebeca Bright, PsyD.