How to love your body and ditch the diet mentality
How many times have you started a new health kick, only to lose motivation and end up back at square one within a matter of weeks? You are not alone. The key is to shift your focus off the destination and instead learn how to enjoy the journey.
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.” Vivian Green
1. Stop treating your body like it’s the enemy.
Your body is your home, it’s the place you will live for the rest of your life. There will be times when it’s far from perfect such as in your child bearing years, stressful times, illness and old age. Think about how you might treat a friend during one of these times. Would you say harsh, critical things to them about their appearance, or would you give them the extra dose of compassion and acceptance they really need?
The first step to looking and feeling great in your own skin, is to accept where you are at. I’m not talking about giving up on yourself and never exercising again. I mean accepting yourself, despite your weight so that you can show your body love and doing what feels good to you. If the gym is not your thing, try dancing, bushwalking, swimming. It doesn’t matter what it is, it just has to feel good to you.
2. Shift your focus from weight loss results, to strength and fitness results.
Stop weighing yourself! Stop criticising your reflection.
By shifting your focus from a purely aesthetic goal to an improvement in your fitness and strength, you are setting yourself up for a positive body image. And you know what, by doing it this way your body is bound is change anyway. But this way, you won’t be disheartened or affected by the numbers. Because accepting that your body is your home, is a lifetime commitment not a six week transformation.
In my PT sessions and Body Love Boot Camp I test my clients in week one and retest again in six weeks. It is amazing to see their improvements in fitness and strength. And the awesome thing about this, is that they stay on track and keep doing what they’ve been doing instead of giving up.
3. Be accountable to someone other than yourself
You know what I’ve always found strange in some commercial gyms? That people don’t connect with one another! You’re in such close proximity to people but you put your headphones in and stare at your reflection in the mirror. Boring!
I have plenty of clients that combine exercise with socialising and they come every damn week. Why would you want to miss a session when you’d miss catching up with your friend? I train groups of Mums in their backyards when their kids play inside. I do ‘train with a friend’ sessions. The sense of community that is felt at Body Love Boot Camp is something that keeps women coming back each week. It makes it all the more easier to get up for a 6:30am session when you know you are accountable not only to your trainer, but your friends as well.
4. Ditch the diet mentality
Diets don’t work. We make over 200 hundred food decisions a day. If you are on a diet, that’s 200 times you will have to use your willpower. How exhausting.
The problem with diets is that they are deprivational, you’re relying on rules or external sources to regulate your own intuitive eating habits. Your body will always strive for autonomy. Which means once the diet is over, or you “fall off the wagon” your body will fight to regain its autonomy and rebel against the rules.
Once a person loses weight, their metabolism is altered and so are their hunger levels. The ‘hunger hormone,’ ghrelin will most likely be at higher levels in a person who has lost weight. This makes it harder to stay on a diet long term. When you combine that with the fact that your metabolism may have slowed down from the dieting, this really sets people up for a cycle of losing and regaining even more weight.
According to an article by Intuitive Eating Counselor Evelyn Tribole, there are many studies that prove that in the long term, dieting to control weight is not only ineffective, it may actually promote weight gain.
5. Love your body for what it can do, without obsessing over how it looks
If you really want to change your relationship with your body, you may need to take some risks and try some new things. Your body was born to move, it’s a pre-requisite of being human. But most of us are so sedentary that our bodies gain weight and lose muscle tone. Keep moving and your body will love you for it!
Some examples might be:
- The sense of satisfaction you get for finishing your first Fun Run. You will have trained for it, you may even do it with a friend. You get to enjoy the rush of passing people ahead of you, and push yourself harder than your thought.
- Appreciate the simple acts of walking, breathing, eating or giving cuddles to someone you love. Your body gives you these gifts every day and we often take them for granted.
- Try a Dance Freedom class. Dance Freedom is a facilitated movement class where it’s all about feeling the music and expressing yourself in an intuitive way. So you are moving, exactly how you want to move. Rather than following steps.
When I was pregnant I was still exercising regularly at the gym. I would lie down and stretch afterwards and my baby would be going off! Moving around and kicking like mad. It was such a special feeling.
I had this moment maybe 6-12 months after having him where I was lying in the same spot post workout (and struggling with negative body image) and I thought “how can I not love this body? This is the same body that gave my child life. The same one that got me though a healthy and active pregnancy without pain or complaint.” It was a real turning point for me in how I viewed my body, and allowed me to stop being so critical of how it looked and instead focus on the gifts that it gives me.
Your body is your home, it’s not the enemy. Shift your focus from how it looks, on to how good it feels to move more and eat well. The most important reason for this is your own children. You can choose to either let them see a Mum who diets and is ashamed of her body, or they can see that you love and accept yourself and have a healthy relationship with food and exercise. Doing so gives them permission to do the same.
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