On a warm sunny day in Madison, Wisconsin, I was sitting with a dear friend who knows of the empowering body positive work that I am doing. She asked me a question that was so good, I just thought I had to write about it. This is what she said (more or less).
“I know you’re teaching about accepting our bodies where they are, and loving them today, rather than 20, 40, 60 pounds from now. But what do I do when I know that if I was 20lbs lighter, things would be better? How do I accept myself now when I really want to be 20lbs lighter?”
How do we hold acceptance for our bodies for the way they are right now, in this moment, and at the very same time hope to change them?
To me, this was one of the most important questions of my work.
In order to change ourselves, we need to accept where we are in this moment, and love ourselves anyway. We need to realize that we are animal creatures that need things like nourishment, movement, excitement, love, honor, respect. The way to love yourself is not through criticism, judgement, and dissatisfaction (and ultimately punishment through restricted eating). To really understand how to love yourself now, you have to get curious about why you want to change. You need to dig into how you want to feel.
With my girlfriend, I started to ask some questions to get at what she really wanted.
Me: What will be different if you lost 20 lbs?
Friend: I could fit into my clothes better. I could move my body better in yoga. I could feel more confident about my appearance.
Me: How do you want to feel in your body?
Friend: I want to feel lighter, more confident, more open.
Me: What could you do to feel that way in your body right now?
Friend: I could nourish myself better, as I tend to over indulge. I could move my body more consistently. I could make the commitment to cook better for myself when my partner is not home.
Me: If you did those things, how do you think your body would respond?
Friend: I’d probably drop weight.
Yes, my love, you probably would.
I believe that if we want to change how much we weigh, we certainly can. We can make that a goal. However, I’m suggesting that the way to get there is the exact opposite of how we have been taught by society and our western culture to do it.
Instead of punishment and restricting, we can choose love and acceptance. Instead of fighting ourselves, we can work with ourselves to get where we really want to go.
If weight loss is a goal for you, approaching your body with the compassion and love that you would approach a child can be very helpful. This is the more feminine approach to weight loss. Love, not hate. Compassion, not anger. Sweetness, not bitchiness.
"Sweet baby, I haven’t been taking care of you very well. I am going to change that. I am going to take time to move you and nourish you with food and water, and allow you to sleep at night. I am going to love you and nurture you with meditation and baths and great sex."
If you want to change, you have to be clear on where you are. You have to be clear on how you got there. Then you can create a CUSTOMIZED plan for your sweet animal body that works just for you. There's no perfect plan for every body.
You can change or you can not change. What matters is that you are present with you who are in this very moment. Anything else is chasing smoke.
The best resource on the planet is from my friend and mentor, Jena LaFlamme. She wrote the book Pleasurable Weight Loss, and I can’t even begin to recommend this book enough. Jena suggests treating your body as your human animal, with love, respect and compassion. You can find her work at jenalaflamme.com.