I have been trying to get into shape and eat well. I decided to focus one month on more vigilant health habits such as eating healthy and exercising regularly. Along with this came a goal to loose a certain number of pounds. I did great the first week and lost weight while gaining muscle. I felt successful and happy with my progress. The next week I had a 24-hour stomach bug followed by a cold that lingered for 2 weeks. I was having a very hard time balancing my external goals of losing weight, limiting calories and certain types of foods, with listening to my body and tending to my aches and pains. I kept failing at limiting calories and at exercising as often as I thought I should. Finally, after weighing myself for the fourth time in two weeks and gaining back the weight I had lost I felt downtrodden. I wanted so much to get fit fast. But I also felt exhausted with all of my overwhelming responsibilities and my constant internal fight to not eat this or that, and to push myself harder.
As I got onto the elliptical strider at the gym I contemplated my feelings. I hated having my emotions guided by the scale and my eating guided by calorie counting. I felt like I was loosing myself quickly. What happened to listening to my body and my internal guidance system? Even I, who has watched very little media over my lifespan and who has always been relatively confident, have been VERY DEEPLY affected by society’s messages about women’s bodies.
I have felt fat from the time I was 12. When I look at photos of my body back then I feel sad. Whenever I feel sad that I didn’t feel joyful back then I remind myself that I’ll feel that about today in twenty years. All this ran through my mind as I was exercising on the elliptical, feeling tired and still under the weather. Right then and there I invented “Operation Love Yourself.” I turned the resistance down on the elliptical because I simply didn’t have the energy to do more on that day. I let go of the idea of doing a certain amount of weight lifting and strength exercises. I was going to focus on self-love and restoration. After completing the elliptical exercise I stretched on a mat and followed my body’s needs. I was surprised to realize that I wanted to do some weight lifting after all. So, again I followed my instincts. After this workout I felt refreshed and ready for the rest of my day.
For the past week every time I look at my body and attempt to think something negative I push out any mean self-deprecating words with these words “Operation Love Yourself”. I try to look in the mirror with loving eyes. I try to NOT suck in my belly and to love the round bump that is my natural body shape. I have stopped counting my calories and am working at keeping a deep connection to my body to listen to it about what to eat as well as when to stop eating. I am focusing on the way I feel rather than on the way I look or think I would like to look one day. While I am trying to exercise regularly I am gentle with myself and allow my emotions to guide the length and intensity of my exercising.
Today my cousin posted this link on Facebook. Take a look at it. It’s an inspiring video! I thought it was the perfect timing for what I’m calling “Operation Love Yourself”. http://tinyurl.com/krl7wwn. If you feel inspired to support the Body Image Movement started by Taryn Brumfitt check out the home page at http://bodyimagemovement.com.au/ to learn more, to join the mailing list, or to make a donation.
I really pray that we can have a world in which women love their bodies and our society embraces all body types for men and women. When we focus on how we feel inside, our bodies will shine, and our faces will glow from the inside out. As Taryn Brumfitt, the woman in the video from the link above said, “How am I going to teach my beautiful daughter, how am I goning teach her to love her body, if her mom can’t do the same?” I feel the same way about my daughters. How can we expect our daughters to love their bodies if we can’t love our own bodies?
So, I challenge you to join “Operation Love Yourself” today. Turn off the TV, close those magazines, and DO NOT compare yourself to ANYBODY else. By loving yourself you will be inspired to care for your body and do what is good for it, weather it is rest, exercise, food, or play. Your optimal health is bound to follow!