Hey there! This blog is about cultivating self love and acceptance on the inside and out. The first part is about learning how to trust your intuition, and how to sense your inner truth through your body. The second part is about the practice I use to cultivate a better sense of love for my body and create a more positive body image. We an start to love our bodies by getting to know our bodies. In fact, 73% of American's don't know how they body works.
I did some research on body positivity statistics and found incredible results. There was a survey I found where 97% of women had some sort of body image issue and another study that showed the majority of girls and teenagers are concerned about losing weight or dissatisfied with their bodies and 45% of teenagers want some kind of cosmetic surgery.
That is just so sickening and sad to me, but sadly I am one of those statistics. I’ve always been a bigger person. As a kid I was always a foot taller than my friends, could never share clothes, and seemed to be one of the few who didn’t have a flat stomach. This made me feel incredibly inferior because I quite literally didn’t fit in.
Anyway, I struggled with my body image for years. I still do sometimes, but I approach how I feel with love and compassion to heal the angst of not loving my body. 10 years ago, I was close to 180lbs looking like I had marshmallows stuffed in my cheeks. I became obsessed with getting skinnier, cutting our sugar, fruit, carbs, alcohol, and exercised obsessively. I look at old pictures of myself where my legs were toned and my tummy flat, but I still wasn’t happy. Plus, once I was skinnier I still felt insecure because none of my clothes fit and I was afraid to buy a different size. Socially I felt isolated because my lifestyle wasn’t vibing with the people I was around, and I just wasn’t used to this new body. It felt different, it was bare, exposed. No fat to hide behind anymore.
Now, I’m 165 and more comfortable in my skin than I ever have been. Would I like to tone up a bit more, and lose a little fat around my stomach? Yeah, but do I care? Not for esthetic’s. If it’s a byproduct of my lifestyle choices, yes. The most important thing is that I feel good. Plus, but I’m not obsessed or insecure about having a few extra lbs chilling on my hips. I know this extra weight I've carried has helped nurture me back to a state of equilibrium after exhausting it for years. I’ve learned to create peace inside and out so when I choose to weight, it’s for the right reasons. And honestly, I don’t think I could have mentally put in the effort to lose weight because I was so preoccupied with clearing my mind and my thinking. The irony is that when our mind starts to get clear, the body follows.
The body is a direct reflection of our internal state. How you feel about it may be more than just your body, it could be your state of mind. Without diving into the psychological part, I'll teach your the practices that enhanced my knowledge of self and helped to improve my body image.
My goal was to make peace with my body and learn to tune into it’s natural rhythm of being, to ask my body what it wanted, and what it needed in order to create harmony inside. I knew how I felt about my body had absolutely nothing to do with what it looked like, but how I felt inside.
So, here’s how I created internal harmony:
1. Meditation - and a lot of it. Usually 20 minutes 2x per day, morning and evening.Sometimes I check in with my body for a quick bout during the day and calm my nervous system with conscious breathing. Even just a few minutes. Where is the tightness? Why is it there? What am I holding onto? It doesn’t have be long, 5 minutes of solid concentration will do. But, you do have to practice. During these sessions, I will concentrate on feeling the rise and fall of my breath, feel it expand into my extremities, and then back to my core center. Ahh to be connected to my body felt and feels so good. It also allows me to see my mind more clearly, too.
2. Practice question asking. Our bodies are very wise systems that we can learn to listen to. Getting quiet and still for a short period of time is the first step to hearing the answers. Once we learn to connect to the breath, we can tune into what our bodies want by asking it simple yes and no questions.
Do you want water? “Yes” I could feel the yes my body was giving me by a sensation of energy rising up through my chest
Do you need rest? “Yes”
Do you feel strong enough for a run? “No” I felt this with a sinking feeling into my pelvis.
Can we do a moderate intensity strength training session? “Yes”
Do you need more protein? “No” Do you need some healthy fat? “Yes”
3.Execute on the wisdom your body gives you. What good is asking questions if you don't listen? If it says rest, rest. If it says water, drink water. Trust the subtleties your body gives you and take action. Trust yourself. Your body and inner wisdom will guide you, but you have to put in that small effort to listen first and make sure your ego isn't the one running the show.
Tuning into this intuition has helped me tremendously trust myself and my decisions. You will be able to feel “yes” by a rising sensation in your body shooting up through your stomach and chest. I sometimes feel a yes with a rising sensation up my arms. A no will feel more like a sinking feeling down into your pelvis. You will be able to feel the energy rise up, or sink down. To do this, you will want to empty yourself, maybe sitting in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Take a few deep breaths, and then ask the questions you want answered once you feel ready.
Once I felt confident that I had this down, and trusted the answers my body gave me, it was time to create external harmony with my physical body. I have had a long bad habit of negative self talk and hating the way I looked. I hated the flab around my lower belly, the love handles that protruded out my sides. I couldn’t stand the way I could see my posture round. Funny, even though it's external, the physical body, self love is a practice of rewiring how the mind perceives things.
I realized that if I want to have a better, happier life, and make improvements, I must love myself at every step on the journey. So, I made peace with myself by stripping down naked in front of the mirror. I analyzed myself. My ego pointed out my flaws. I cried. I felt through the past experiences screaming from my muscles. They wanted to be seen, heard, acknowledged, and let go. I analyzed the scars on my body left from my past choices, good and bad. Fun and sad. I asked different body parts if they have anything they want to say, anything they want to let out.
Even though it was tough, I was very proud of myself for facing some of my fears. Have you ever heard the saying your issues are stored in your tissues? (here's a book link ---->)
Anyway, I then asked myself, what do you like? I love my eyes. I love my height, my small chest. I started to soften the harsh criticism that was haunting me for years. Then, I told all the parts of my body that I previously hated how much I loved them and how grateful I was that they have gotten me through and carried me through this beautiful thing called life.
After all, this body has take us through our entire life!! It's experienced ll of the beauty and pain, joy and heartbreaks. Childhood, adulthood. This body has kept me thriving through every part of my life. In sickness, and in health. There’s an endless amount of gratitude and appreciation that I started feeling.
I did this many times over the course of months… years. Each time it got a little easier and I gained insights that have helped me to flourish, grow, and even glow.
Cultivating this kind of self love and acceptance gives your the confidence and courage to make changes inside and outside. Self knowledge is power. And, this body really is the only darn thing we have!! So why not make the most out of this lifelong relationship?? It's the most important one.
Your body loves you more than you know. Honor it, and love it back.
"I am grateful young body for the things that you do! I just want you to know that I love you too!" - BLOOM pg 19
Megan Wren is a CHEK Holistic Lifestyle Coach, Fitness Expert, Poet & Author. You can find her on instagram at @itsmeganwren