I’ve had similar conversations this past week with a number of the women starting my 40 Days to a Happy Healthy You weight loss program. Whenever I find myself having the same conversation over and over again with people in the program, I know that it’s a topic that I need to share with you too. So what’s this particular conversation about? It’s regarding the daily ‘what I like about my body’ practice that’s a part of the weight loss program. They find it really hard. They hate it.
Clients tell me that what they were worried about before starting the program was giving up their favourite foods or being forced to eat foods they hated. They’re super happy to discover that the weight loss program doesn’t require them to do this – i.e. they can still lose weight without giving up favourite foods or being forced to eat things that they hate. But they find it really difficult to come up with one thing that they like about their bodies every day.
And that sad fact is a complete eye opener. It’s amazing to see how this simple, daily practice can have such a profound effect on participants.
Their first big ah-ha moment is seeing how tough it is to do. Their second big a-ha moment is to realize how much they only experienced their bodies as objects to be looked at – not as a part of themselves whose purpose is to DO things. You see, they automatically think that each day they need to come up with something that they like the LOOK of on their body – like having a great hair day or their shapely calves. When I point out that they don’t need to choose one thing about how their body LOOKS but can include things that their body can DO, they see how they’ve missed such a huge thing. “Right, I can be grateful that my body can DO things, d’oh”.
Most of us don’t think about our bodies as part of us. As the part of us that allows us to DO things – like how our eyes allow us to see the beautiful snow dusted mountains in the distance, or go for a walk with our dog, or hug our grandchildren. Most of us solely think about our bodies in terms of how far they are from a societal beauty ideal.
Back in my PhD-level feminism class, we talked about how unfair it was that women in our society had this expectation for their bodies to solely be objects whose purpose was to create pleasure for the (male) viewer. We wished it could be more even between men and women. Now, 15 years later, it’s a classic case of beware of what you wish for. Yes, things have gotten more equal between men and women. Unfortunately, the pressure on women to look like some unrealistic beauty ideal hasn’t let up. The pressure has increased for men to look like an unrealistic ideal.
Now don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean that I think it’s bad to want to look good. Hey, I like a good blowout and a pair of heels as much as the next woman. But I want to both look good AND feel good -strong, healthy. While I love to get dolled up for a night out, I feel my absolutely most beautiful when I’m “in the zone” on a technically difficult trail run, or when I’m glowing after a yoga class, or when I’m bundled up in warm layers and my rain boots after a surf. Why? Because I am experiencing the joy of what my body can DO.
Do you know what you should eat but can’t seem to do it? Long-term healthy habits need to come from a place of valuing your self, valuing your body. If hating your body is fueling your behaviour, that behaviour isn’t going to stick. Include a daily ‘what I like about my body’ practice. It’s a radical, rebellious act that your body will love. And, when you’re ready to really create change, check out my 40 Days to a Happy Healthy You weight loss program to start 2017 with a new you.