We have made it to the eighth principle of Intuitive Eating: Respect Your Body. We’ve talked about a lot and only have two more principles after this one! So, what does respect your body mean?
Respect your body can mean a lot of different things to different people.
The authors of the Intuitive Eating book and workbook state:
“Accept your genetic blueprint. Just as a person with a shoe size of eight would not expect to realistically squeeze into a size six, it is equally as futile (and uncomfortable) to have the same expectation with body size. But mostly, respect your body, so you can feel better about who you are. It’s hard to reject diet mentality if you are unrealistic and overly critical about your body shape.”
There is no doubt that this is not an easy feat. Our society, diet culture, advertisements, social media, our environment, family and friends all impact our body image. The way we feel about our body can change from day to day. While working on improving body image it can be helpful to focus on respecting your body.
There are two main ways you can think about respecting your body. Making your body comfortable and meeting its basic needs. These can be quite difficult to do, even though they may seem simple.
Here are 5 steps to start respecting your body!
- Accept that we are all unique and different.
Everybody will be built different genetically. We all have a natural biologically appropriate body weight. This weight is where your body will naturally settle without you controlling it, i.e. restricting, dieting, eating disorder behaviors, excessive exercise, etc. This weight is also a range and generally approximately 5-10 lbs.
- Stop body bashing.
“I hate my thighs”, “I hate my body”, “I don’t like my stomach”, “My stomach is so huge”, “My arms are too fat” and this list could go on and on!
It is important to start shifting these negative body-bashing statements into something more respectful or positive. For example changing “I hate my thighs” to “I’m lucky that I have legs and can walk”
Another important step is working on not engaging in fat-talk or body bashing with friends or other people in your life. This is a common bonding and connection thing with a lot of people unfortunately. Try changing the subject, interjecting and setting a boundary or just sharing that you are not going to participate in fat-talk any longer!
- Get comfortable.
Are any of your clothes too tight? Do you need new under garments? Sometimes when we aren’t feeling great about our bodies we tend to avoid shopping or feel like we don’t deserve new things until we lose weight. This can lead to feeling more uncomfortable than necessary and sometimes even some self-punishment. Check in and see if it would be helpful to get some new clothes. Anybody is going to feel uncomfortable in clothing that is too tight and uncomfortable!
- Do nice things for your body.
Your body deserves to be taken care of and loved on! Do you like massages? Schedule one! How about bubble baths with nice candles and your favorite book? Buying a new soothing lotion or body cream to massage on yourself. Other nice things could include some gentle stretching, yoga, running, and anything else you feel like would show your body respect and make you feel good! This would include feeding yourself nourishing meals and things you enjoy as well!
- Say goodbye to the fantasy and be realistic.
This is a tough one! One of the hardest things I think for people is to let go of their weight and body expectations and understand some of them may not be realistic. It may be that you need to mourn the lost body you never had or that you will never have again. Or if you do have it or keep going until you do what will be the price you pay? Is that worth it? Consider what is most important to you. Is your health more important than your body shape or weight? Can you be okay where you are? What would that take? A lot of times striving to change our body in a certain way or lose weight constantly is detrimental to our health. This is where Health At Every Size (HAES) comes in. If you haven’t heard of that I will do a post on it soon! It is a concept embraced by many different disciplines that focuses on health rather than how much a person weighs. HAES promotes improved health behaviors for everybody.
One last thing to keep in mind is that our culture has a lot of biases against larger body sizes and idealizes thin bodies. While this is sad and unfortunate it is true and recognizing these biases can be helpful because working on all of the above can sometimes feel like you are going against all cultural norms.
So I hope you can implement these 5 steps into your life and if all 5 seem overwhelming how about just pick 1 for this week! I encourage you to practice respecting your body today so that you can be at peace with yourself and your body!
As always you can contact me here with any questions!