I want you to take a minute to consider the above question.
Perhaps what you immediately thought was: I could indulge, and not be unhappy with the effects. Or maybe you thought: I’d look after myself more, and show my body it matters by eating better food.
Maybe, like me, you didn’t think either of those things- but both. I think that without balance, either of the above responses could be potentially harmful. If I loved my body I would indulge a little bit more, but I would also continue to eat healthy food because I happen to genuinely enjoy that type of food, and how it makes me feel. If you read my post on social media and self esteem from the blogger’s point of view, then you’d know I occasionally still struggle with disordered eating thoughts, and -as with most of us who do- they tend to boil down to body image.
A little context to this post: my family was eating dessert, and though I didn’t want what they were having, I wanted ice cream. Not any ice cream, but the Booja-Booja ice cream (it’s my favourite) that was sitting in my freezer. But I wasn’t actually very hungry. But I really fancied ice cream. And in the middle of this dilemma the thought popped into my head of: how would you eat if you already loved your body? How would that influence you? The answer was simple. I had eaten really fresh and wonderful foods that day, I hadn’t had ice cream in ages, my preferred ice cream is actually pretty healthy anyway-conclusion: it wouldn’t hurt me to have ice cream. Moderation is more important than “clean eating”. If I loved my body, a serving of ice cream wouldn’t make any difference to me. So , I had my ice cream. But the question kept going around in my head- how else would my eating be different, if I was already where I wanted to be with loving my body?
I make no bones of the fact that I have health and fitness goals. I want to be stronger, faster, and have better stamina. I also want to enjoy this, and a life of balance; my body should be a tool for experiencing life, not a pretty thing to be looked at. But it has occurred to me: I would reach these goals faster if the focus wasn’t so much on my body, and if I accepted where I was right here, right now. Let me explain…
Loving your body doesn’t mean you have to stagnate, and never change- if that’s what you want. But suddenly, when you’re content with your own wonderful form, your goals all shift. It’s less about how you look in the mirror, and more about how you feel (this just got really corny), because you have to have another motive for those goals. It’s less about control of appearance, and more about enjoyment and experience.
Goals don’t have to mean restriction. They don’t have to mean hating your body and controlling your food down to the last detail to compensate for hate of a particular body part.
I know this is a hard topic to actually sit down and consider. So, I’m sharing some of the things I would do differently when it came to eating, if I loved my body as much as I want to already. As I wrote them…I realised each and every one of the things I would do if I already loved my body exactly the way it is, would actually help me achieve my goals.
Moreover, it would become a little cycle. In loving my body, I shift my focus, in shifting my focus I achieve my goals, in my goals being based in what I can do, achieving them means being proud of myself. In being proud of myself and my strength, I love my body all the more for what it can do.
So, here is part of my list:
- I’d eat without overanalysing, this being something I do in trying to change my body.
- I’d stop thinking about and planning food so much, and just…
- Eat what really I fancied. Since the foods I like tend to be pretty good for me anyway, it’s not something I should even really think about.
- I’d sometimes eat when I wasn’t hungry, simply because I fancied a treat. Then I wouldn’t feel guilty about it.
- I wouldn’t worry about “getting it right”.
- I would allow my mum to prepare me a meal, and refuse to let her ask me how I wanted things to be prepared.
- I’d stop overloading on what other IGers/YTers eat, and understand what works for me and my body.
How about you, what would you do differently?
I won’t tell you that you can click for fingers, love you body, and fix your relationship with food. But this question really helped me appreciate that when it comes down to it a lot of the food issues I have experienced, and some I still do, in part stem from not being happy with my body. If I acted as if I already loved my body, then I can see how much of that would change.
And so, for the end of this post I want you to try and do this with me if you’re in the same boat: appreciate your body, and ask yourself what you’d do if you were already happy with it. Let that question truly guide you. Instead of taking punishing rules and body-hate into 2017, take this question instead!