Welcome to February, EDIN’s official Love Your Body Month. And isn’t this the perfect time to start trying to love your body?
We’re already one month into the year and how many of you are already beating yourself up for failing to follow through on your New Year’s diet resolutions? Have you noticed that the more times you ride the rollercoaster, the more extreme the ups and downs have become? (Weight watchers one year, Paleo the next, a 5-day juice cleanse the next…) Still holding onto the myth that the right food plan will fix your body image angst for good?
The myth (propagated by the media and the plastic surgery industry) is that if we just fix the outsides, our lives will fall into place: perfect body leads to perfect love, perfect job, perfect life, right? So why do so many of us find that, as we get older, dieting gets harder?
It’s not that you’re getting lazy. It’s that deep inside you sense (even though you may not be able to put it into words) that you are barking up the wrong tree.
Two things have happened to you.
First, you suffered.
Loss, illness and death shock us out of our fantasy about a perfect life. While we try desperately to maintain the illusion on Facebook and Instagram, if the suffering doesn’t break us it does manage to spoil our illusions. After the initial anger at the unfairness of it all, we may come to realize that the suffering helps us re-set our priorities. It teaches us what really matters. It’s harder to stick to a diet because we have discovered that the temporary high from being the skinniest girl at the party is short-lived and ultimately empty. It’s the conversations and connections with people, the moments of understanding and compassion, that make life meaningful and fulfilling.
Second, you got wiser.
Over time our sense of self broadens and deepens. As kids we compared ourselves to otherson the playground to see where we stood in the pecking order: she’s taller than me, he’s faster than me. As teens we competed in the realm of stuff: brand names and cool cars. But as we age, we shift from an outward to an inward perspective. We develop a self-image based on inner qualities. We become more giving,creative and bold. We know our minds, we speak up, we trust our instincts. As we feel wiser and more settled inside of ourselves, the superficial aspects of ourselves (e.g. fitting into our daughter’s skinny jeans) take on less meaning and emotional charge. Vanity becomes a less potent motivator.
So perhaps 2014 is not about making your body smaller but about making your body image a smaller slice of the You-Pie. It’s about shifting your perspective. That doesn’t mean throwing in the towel on eating and physical activity. It means choosing the grilled salmon because the Omega 3’s fight cancer. It means taking a morning walk because it helps you feel mentally sharp. A positive body image is about accepting that spending too much time, energy and money on trying to make yourself look perfect won’t buy you true joy or connection. It’s about appreciating that your body is simply the vessel you were given to carry your amazing spirit into the world. Honor your body by speaking to it lovingly and treating it kindly….not just this month, but every month.