You know you’re gorgeous, don’t you? I bet you can do some incredible things with that body.
For reals, you know you can do anything with your body, right? I mean, you’re lovely as is, but all this talk of hard-work weight loss is weighing me down. If it’s important to you, there’s another way.
I noticed a recent Facebook status update from a friend requesting weight-loss motivation. In response to her update was string of recommendations for workout websites, strict eat-right plans and running challenges. Tools are obviously helpful with weight loss, yet they don’t touch the underlying issues—aka, feelings—that can prevent a typical person from having the leaner, fuller, stronger, pain-free-er, whatever-er, body he or she desires.
So, let’s now address the elephant in the room. To you who are feeling dissatisfied with the current shape of your body, I ask you the following:
When you’re alone with your eyes closed in meditation or rest, how do you feel about yourself?
Breathe into that. You’re pretty rad, aren’t you? Wonderful, in fact. Yep, you’re positively loveable. So now that we’ve established the fact that you totally kick ass (you really do), let’s get to the heart of it.
You are a rare gem and, while you are not just a body, your body is a priceless treasure. (Quick exercise 1: Say that to yourself while looking in the mirror.)
You are worth taking care of. (Quick exercise 2: Say to yourself, “I am worth taking care of.”)
Taking care of yourself takes many forms, but in the realm of body composition, it involves empowering yourself, CEO-of-your-body, to make eating and lifestyle choices that resonate with your own template for health and wellbeing. More on that later.
First, here are some reasons not to lose weight:
- For appearances
- For someone else
- To get the attention of a suitor
- Because you think you should conform to conventional images of beauty
- You think your body is all you have
Now we’ve established your desire for weight loss is rooted in self-love (because this won’t work if it’s not), let’s continue…
In our material world, we are so quick to rush to a friend’s side with skinny-fying suggestions without even asking how he or she feels about what’s on the inside. Anti-feminist propaganda tells us that, in order to be today’s woman, we must be thin. And sexy. Thin is sexy. Unfortunately, “thin” is one of a long list of Pinterest-perfect expectations by which we’re being duped.
Love yourself like God and the Universe love you and you’ll reach your highest expression of self, physically, spiritually, emotionally, psychologically and mentally. How you compare with images of societally agreed-upon sexiness won’t even matter at that point. (except, of course, when it suddenly does matter, but ideally you’ll be able to catch yourself before going down that treacherous path.)
Drilling down, here’s how I believe self-love looks in relation to weight loss
If you want to lose weight, go for it. But rather than cruelly demanding you get thinner and better right now, take the long view. Approach your new eating and exercise choices with the mindfulness of aiming for your body’s highest and fullest expression of itself.
Big picture: Self-love spawns self-care. Self-love also spawns a strengthening of the will, which changes habits. An equation: Self-love –> self-care + changed habits –> a strong, proportioned body. An affirmation: I give thanks, for I am free of all bad habits. Daily my power of dynamic will strengthens.
How self-love feels: Amazing, like you just got permission to do something you can’t believe is actually allowed. You know you’re in this world for a reason so, in every way, you treat yourself like you’re the ultra-special someone you are.
How self-love works to change your body, from a spiritual perspective: When you become mindful of your divine birthright—that you come from and are infused with God—you know your unlimited potential to be anything you want. You understand that your body can achieve any template you set for it because in God, all things are possible. I recommend picking up a meditation practice to get your awareness on.
Self love in practice, as it relates to your kickin’ body:
- You feed yourself foods that make your light brighter. (Not-so-quick exercise 3: Sit in stillness, focusing on your breath. When you feel very calm, in your own words, ask your body questions like, “How often shall I eat pizza? How many glasses of wine are too many? When do you feel best? What makes you feel icky? Do you want me to eat dairy? How do you feel about meat? Are you ok with coffee? What do sweet treats do to you? Etc.” You’ll probably have a gut reaction to each question, so pay attention to what you “hear” first. Write it down. Then try it out. Tweak your diet according to your body’s answers to your questions and see how you feel, and how your body responds.)
- You eat with intention, slowly, and enjoy every bite.
- You pay attention to how your body responds to food, thoughts and activities. You honor what you notice. As CEO of your body and your life, this is your wondrous job.
- You move your body in ways that honor and enhance its awesome mechanics. You relish what you and your body can do together.
- You do things for yourself that allow you to be at your most vibrant:
- Take baths
- Clear your calendar
- Drink lots of water
- Play outside, be outside
- Cook with intention
- Make plans with people who empower you
- Sit down to eat regular meals
- Buy groceries you know will make you feel awesome
- Keep a gentle and kind internal monologue
- Take care of your body by going to the dentist, the doctor, the chiropractor, the massage therapist, the hair dresser, the nail salon, etc.
In case you’re wondering why I’m all preachy about love and losing weight, read on…
My body and I have a complicated past. Do you and yours?
High expectations, glaring disappointment, passive aggression, ugly criticism, lack of gratitude, eating disorders and an inability to listen to anything it ever had to say to me. Me, pointed. My body, resentful.
About four months ago, I figured out the connection between self-love and my eating/exercise habits. Older versions of me would’ve rejected the term “self love” as narcissistic, arrogant and cloying, but the healthier me notes the precedence of love over almost every other energy in the universe. Finally, the new me in my head started to sound a little less mean (“What’s wrong with you carrying around all this extra weight and not being able to say no to that cookie? Why can’t you just be thin, body? What’s your deal?”) and a little more like this:
- “Way to go figuring out which food has been giving you hives. You don’t need to itch, honey. I know you love the way bread and cookies taste, but it’s ok not to eat that stuff very often, if at all. You’re taking great care of yourself.”
- “Wow, you’re a little jittery after that cup of coffee. I can see you don’t like how that feels. Guess what—I know you love coffee, so we’ll try decaf and see if that works better for you.”
- “You really don’t feel very well when you don’t get enough sleep, girl, and you’re worth a good night’s sleep. Treat yourself to an early bedtime. Every night.”
- “You never have to tell anyone about it, but you seem to want to go for a run.
Go ahead, give yourself 30 minutes to walk, jog, run, sprint, whatever. Listen to that ridiculous song you love. You’ll feel so good afterward.”
I have no official initials behind my name to endorse my theory of the link between self-love and weight loss, but there’s this: After four months of this new perspective, I’m almost daily getting the question from people I haven’t seen in a while, “Have you lost weight?”
Honestly, I’m not sure whether I’ve lost physical weight, but I feel hundreds of pounds lighter, spiritually. My body and I cashed in our lifelong membership to a brutal, clandestine fight club for a more peaceful, gradual, lasting way–loving myself enough to grant myself a sound, healthy body–and I think it’s actually working.
It should be stated that I haven’t lost however many pounds and 30 years of pent-up junk all by myself. I’m an unwavering advocate of seeking resonant resources to recognize, release and rise above that which oppresses. (evidently, i’m also an advocate of accidental alliteration.) Meditation, energy healing, affirmations, bodywork, counseling and intuitive guidance have boosted me forth in my quest for a healthier, brighter me. Consider this your permission to seek the support that’ll get you into your best-self kind of space.
Spiritual weight loss, a convoluted how-to:
- Figure out what’s holding you back from loving yourself. What are you holding onto that’s keeping you from attaining the body you desire? Feel free to employ any third parties that resonate with your value system to assist with this process.
- Clear it. I personally appreciate the assistance of prayer, meditation, affirmations, therapists, counselors, body workers, energy workers, psychics and friends. Marianne Williamson’s A Course in Weight Loss is a practical tool for uncovering your divine self.
- Go forth honoring yourself and your body in everything you do. See and feel the results.
One’s motivation for weight loss may vary but, as I see it, the best reason for wanting to hone your body is this: Love. Love yourself fully, put that love into practice and the physical results will follow.
With some luck, you’ll learn to appreciate your body for what it can do (walk, dance, bear children, chase kids and dogs, bend, swim, lift heavy things, hug, carry kids, etc.) rather than what it can’t do (be a runway model, turn heads on a red carpet, etc.) Gratitude and love for your body will free it.