Feel like you need to lose weight before you can love your body? Read this post to learn how to love yourself TODAY.
A sweet woman once approached me after a seminar to ask, “How can we know when we have found the right balance between obsession and neglect of our bodies?”
She found herself wanting to make changes to her health and although she was doing well, she was so obsessed with making sure she got her time in at the gym that she was really struggling with everything else.
She was seeing results, but for some reason, she still wasn’t very happy. She was checking off her workouts, but she teared up as she mentioned other areas of her life she felt were being neglected. She was doing everything she thought she should be doing but still felt out of balance.
How do we know when we’re doing “enough”? How do we know when we’re not doing “enough”? Where is the balance between obsession with our health and complete neglect?
This really is an incredible question. I’m guessing you’ve found yourself on one side or the other at certain times in your life.
How do you know where your balance is? How do you find it?
Might I suggest that balance is not a destination, it’s a journey.
Finding balance is about making changes each day that align with your values, your desires. It about different priorities in different seasons of life.
I’ve put together the following 5 questions that will help you understand your goals, your priorities, and help you find your own unique balance.
Because, what works well for one person, is not the same for another person.
WHAT DO YOU WANT?
What do you want for your health right now? Instead of focusing on a weight loss number or dress size, go deeper. What do you really want? What does “healthy” mean for you? What does it look like? What does it feel like?
Paint your picture of your ideal health.
WHAT IS REALISTIC?
Now, take a look at your picture of your ideal health. Is it a realistic goal? What kinds of changes would you have to make in your life right now to take steps toward that goal? Are those changes realistic for you? Do you have the tools you need to be successful? What barriers might get in your way and how will you overcome them?
Take a minute to ask yourself what is most realistic for you to achieve.
WHAT SEASON OF LIFE ARE YOU IN RIGHT NOW?
Different seasons of life bring about different self care opportunities. If you’re not sleeping through the night because of younger children, maybe a high intensity morning gym routine is not ideal as you’re already feeling like you’re not getting the proper rest and recovery.
Is time to yourself very limited? How can you get the most bang for your buck when it comes to fitness and nutrition? You used to be able to crush an hour gym session, but right now, what could work for you at this stage instead?
Maybe you do have a little extra time to yourself! Are you spending that extra time getting more movement in? Do you have a little more time to prepare meals during the day while your kids are at school?
Think about the season of life you’re in right now and make adjustments as needed. Every season brings about different opportunities and different challenges. It’s not about blaming your circumstances, but rather finding opportunity in each one.
WHAT ARE YOUR PRIORITIES?
What is most important to you right now? What things make you feel most fulfilled during the day? Make a list of some of your top priorities. Make sure your actions and your focus is on those top things.
Remember, priorities change. That’s ok. What things do you want to make sure you’re taking care of and paying attention to right now in this season of life? How can you incorporate your own self care into those priorities?
WHAT ARE YOUR NON-NEGOTIABLES?
Lastly, what is on your must-do list? Choose 2-3 things that nothing gets in the way of you accomplishing. These are your non-negotiables.
Protect these non-negotiables with your life. Schedule them, block out time, whatever you need to do to accomplish them.
These items should leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. They are not another item to check off the list, but instead essential to feeling fulfilled and balanced.
Finding balance is tough. As mothers, it’s always a work in progress. Seasons in life change and so do our priorities, our goals, and our schedules.
Do the best you can with the stage of life you’re in right now. Make changes that are important to you. Accept the things you can’t change.
And most of all, practice gratitude for the amazing body you have no matter where you are right now. Find ways to treat yourself with respect and take care of yourself by giving it movement and nutrition that feel good to you.
You’re here because you want a better body image.
I’m so happy to have you here! Loving on that body that is uniquely yours is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
I truly believe (and have seen mighty changes in my clients) that learning to love yourself is the first step in any good health and wellness journey.
It’s the step toward achieving everything you want. It’s the first step in being truly happy and content with the journey and not just looking at the endpoint.
But, for whatever reason, your body image has declined over the years. Maybe you feel like you’re sporting the “mom bod” after having children. Maybe you’re busy with work and taking care of a family that you haven’t had a lot of time to give to yourself. Or, maybe you have always really struggled with loving yourself fully and completely.
Whatever it looks like for you, today’s post is all about loving that body right now. Not in the future at a certain weight or dress size. Not tomorrow. Right now.
In fact, I’m guessing that your image of your body doesn’t really affect your day to day life that much. You are still able to accomplish most of what you need to get done without being affected by how your body looks. You usually just avoid being in front of a mirror for too long and always want to be in the back when someone’s taking a photo.
You may not think your body image interferes with daily life, but it does.
It affects the way you talk about yourself. It affects the way you act daily.
What does your self talk look like when talking about your body?
Do you only see flaws?
Do you only see things you want to change?
Do you carry that self-talk over into how you feel about yourself as a whole? Maybe you see a body you’re frustrated with in the mirror and quickly judge yourself as lazy or unable to accomplish any goals you set out to achieve?
Having a positive body image and engaging in regular positive self-talk can bring profound changes in your life. In fact, our practice today will be a popular gratitude practice that will help you get started on the right path toward loving your body and taking care of it in the way that is best for you because a positive body image also brings a desire for more self-care.
But first, if you’ve ever tried using positive affirmations, you know how powerful they can be in your life. So, I’ve created an entire easy to follow workbook that will help you create your very own self love affirmation. It’s a great start to your journey toward a better body image and something my clients have seen great success with. And if you don’t want to create your own, I also have an entire page of pre-made affirmations to help you on this journey.
Repeat your affirmation daily in conjunction with the following gratitude practice I will guide you through today.
The first step in building a better body image is to practice gratitude. In fact, if you’ve read other blog posts of mine, it’s the foundation for every solid health and wellness journey you find yourself on. Skipping this foundational piece can make you feel like you are missing an integral part of the journey.
This practice can be used anytime you need a simple reminder of how wonderful and amazing your body truly is and how much you can love it no matter where you’re at in each stage of life or each stage of your goals.
Now, I want you to spend time actually going through this with me today. This is not a blog post to just read and close out. Today you will start a gratitude practice.
Get comfortable in your chair, eliminate distractions, and join me for the next 5 minutes.
A GRATITUDE PRACTICE FOR MORE SELF LOVE
First, take a minute to scan your entire body (you may close your eyes). What are you feeling? What emotions do you feel? Do you have pain anywhere? Tension? Do you feel uncomfortable in any place? What words and phrases come to mind as you think about your body as a whole?
Move up the body to your torso. Your stomach and chest area. Again, what thoughts initially come up? Are they negative or positive? Look down at your torso. Start thanking it (you can do this in your head or out loud) for everything it’s been for you. Do you have things you don’t like about your torso? Change those negative thoughts into positive ones. What physical traits do you love about your torso? Remember, your torso houses your heart. Use your heart to be thankful for this area of your body. Vow to always speak kindly to this area of your body.
Moving outward toward your upper limbs, what emotions come up for your arms? Have you always hated your arms? Do you wish they were stronger? Throw out those self-defeating thoughts and start to reframe your thoughts into all that those arms have done and been for you. What do they accomplish on a daily basis? Where have those hands been? What stories can they tell? Think hard about all of the things your arms have done for you and still do for you every day. Thank them tremendously and vow to always speak kindly to them moving forward.
Scan your head. Scan your face, your skin, your eyes, ears, nose, etc. What words come up? Do you find yourself wishing your features were different? Go through each feature of your face and say one thing you love about it. Think about all the things those eyes have seen. All the beautiful smells that nose has smelled. Think about your mouth and everything you are able to communicate. Think about your brain and the amazing way it gets you through every single day. Think about the memories you hold dear in that brain. Thank your head for all that it is for you. Thank it for the features that allow you to live a full life. Vow to always speak kindly to each area of your face and head.
Scan your entire body one more time. Now what emotions are coming up? Can you find a smile on your face? Can you see a more beautiful body inside and out? Are you more thankful? What emotions came up for you? What blocks or negative thoughts are still hard to overcome?
As you continue to work on your body image, go back and perform this gratitude practice as often as you need. Eventually, you will feel more confident in your physical attributes. You will start to love even the physical parts of your body.
I hope this was helpful. I hope you’ll use it often.
Thank you for joining me in this gratitude practice. Share with any dear friends that need this message.
And don’t forget your affirmation workbook. It’s another incredible tool that will help you bring more positive self talk into your life. More positive self talk = a happier lifestyle.
"There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection.” ― Steve Maraboli
I remember it so vividly. I was speaking to a large room of beautiful women and mothers about body love and self-confidence.
I had just finished telling them that they could love every inch of that beautiful body of theirs. That they could accept and even love the flaws. That they were worth so much more than they often gave themselves credit for. I felt inspired and I truly hoped they did too.
After the session, a woman ran up to the front and asked me a question that plagues so many of us when it comes to learning to love our bodies AND take care of them at the same time.
Her question was this:
“How do I know when to accept my body as it is and when I need to work for change? I don't know how to determine where that line is and that is my struggle.”
You’ve seen it all over in blog posts, in news articles, conferences, books, and anywhere you consume information.
“Love your body!” they preach.
And you want to. You truly want to.
Truthfully, you’re not really happy with the place your body is at. You’re frustrated by it. You’re frustrated you’ve “let yourself go” over the years. You’re frustrated that you’re way too exhausted to hit the gym in the mornings. You’re frustrated that taking better care of yourself feels guilty because it takes what little time you have away from your family. You feel selfish for even thinking about self-care, even though you know it’s not selfish.
It’s not like your current body really holds you back much. I mean, you’re able to still do all the things you need to get done in a day. Granted, you’re exhausted, but that’s the life of a mother! You have a good family, a roof over your head, a job that provides for you. You’re doing pretty well. You decide to ignore accept this “mom body” you’ve acquired over the years, vow to avoid mirrors or pictures, and carry on with life. Still unhappy with your body, but not enough for it to interfere that much with daily life.
If you can avoid any sort of confrontation with your body, keep that swimsuit packed as far away from sunlight as possible, and carry on with life, you’ll be just fine. It’s the life of a mother. It’s what you signed up for, right?
“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” – Lucille Ball
Why can’t you love that “mom body” you’ve so faithfully earned over the years?
The truth is, there is nothing wrong with learning to love and accept your body right now AND still seek change. It doesn’t mean you have a bad body image. It means you love yourself enough to want to take better care of it. It means you speak kindly of your body, embrace imperfection, and love the journey.
What is the balance between body acceptance and seeking body change?
First, practice gratitude.
Have you ever thanked your body for all it’s done for you? I mean really stepped in front of a mirror and turned every negative thought, every flaw into gratitude?
I go into major depth about using gratitude to change our body image in this post, but it truly is the first step in any journey toward more self-love.
If the thought of standing in front of a mirror and saying nice things about yourself is too much right now, grab a piece of paper and write a letter of gratitude to your body. Spend 5-10 minutes writing your letter. Come back to it every time you find that negative body talk creeping back into your life.
Second, be realistic.
Sometimes I think we want the body we had in high school with all the maturity and wisdom of a 30-year-old woman.
Or, maybe you want to get your body back to wherever it was when you were in your “best shape ever”. Having goals is fantastic. Working hard to reach them is fabulous. Chasing an unrealistic ideal is not. It will only leave us feeling deflated, defeated, and frustrated.
There is a fine line between setting good, challenging goals and being completely unrealistic.
Ask yourself what is realistic for you. In fact, ask yourself “why”. Why do you seek change? Will taking better care of your body give you more confidence? Do you want to be a good example for your kids? Do you want to feel like you’re doing everything you can to live the fullest life possible?
Instead of a number on a scale, how do you want to feel? How do you want to feel in your own skin? That’s the change you’re working toward.
Having a goal that means something to you is so much more than a dress size. It’s not stressing about the time frame or the end result. It’s taking care of yourself in a way that fits your lifestyle right now. It’s knowing that you’re doing everything you can with your time and resources to take care of that special gift that is your body.
Third, change one thing at a time.
When we want change, we usually want it all at once. I hope this blog post today has helped you understand how important it is to love yourself first no matter what kind of change you desire.
Once you have a self-love practice, the “taking care of you” part comes much more naturally.
Start making daily choices that nourish your body in a way that will get you one step closer to your desired change.
Love your body enough to give it lots of fruits and vegetables. Love your body enough to go to bed early so you can fit in a quick 20 minute exercise routine in the morning. Love your body enough to buy clothes that you feel comfortable in now. Love your body enough to learn how to do some strength training (because if there’s anything that will make your body feel physically strong, it’s that). Love your body enough to manage stress in ways other than turning to junk food.
Only you will be able to find the balance between self-love and seeking change, but, when you get there, you’ll know it.
You’ll start to feel confident. You’ll take care of yourself in different ways than ever before. You’ll throw out the guilt for taking care of yourself because you realize it’s what makes you better in everything you do.
If you’ve ever used affirmations or are curious about how to bring more self-love into your life, I’ve made you an entire workbook to help you create your own self-love affirmation to guide you in this journey. There are even some pre-made affirmations if the thought of writing your own feels overwhelming. It’s a great place to start replacing the negative self and body talk into positive and uplifting words and phrases.
And if you have a friend or family member whom you love and want to share this with, please share this message. We need a world filled with more confident women who love themselves in every way.
A GUEST POST BY KAREN LYNN of www.coachkarenlynn.com
Nearly all of us have rituals we engage in, though we may not even be aware of them. Some are positive, such as saying a prayer before going to bed or putting sunscreen on in the morning. Others are negative, such as lighting a cigarette (which most are not proud of) as soon as you leave work and get in your car. By creating rituals that focus on empowerment, health, and wellness, they can help you improve your life by eliminating stress and growing focus.
You may feel that you are so busy with your day to day life, balancing work, home, and family obligations, that you don’t have time to devote to empowerment and focus rituals. It’s okay for you to take time for yourself, though. By caring for your emotional and physical health, you will be able to care more about others. Also, engaging in morning and evening rituals thatallow you to see the world more calmly helps you to tackle your day more effectively and efficiently.
If you feel guilty for practicing self-care to reduce your stress levels, take a few moments to journal how you feel by creating a list of your emotions. The more you are honest with yourself, the more emotions of guilt you’ll release onto the paper. Always remember that you deserve to be cared for, it’s ok to not always be the caretaker. The caretaker is only good to help others when she herself is cared for as well.
Morning Rituals to Focus and Energize
Indulge in Quiet
Set your alarm for 15-20 minutes before you normally wake up. Use the time to sit in your favorite spot and enjoy peace and quiet. Fix a cup of coffee or herbal tea to sip while you enjoy the stillness. Sit outside on your porch, if you prefer. However, don’t use this time to play on Facebook, don’t watch the news. This time is for you to wake up slowly and appreciate quiet moments before your day begins.
Plan Your Big Three
When you write your daily plan, don’t overload your day with an insurmountable list of huge tasks. You’ll be stressed out before the day begins and disappointed when you can’t do it all. Choose just three large or meaningful tasks to complete each day. You will likely get the same amount done as writing your long list, only this way, you won’t be thinking about what you didn’t get done. You will feel less stressed and more accomplished, and you will end up getting the same or more done in the day!
Each morning, drink 16 ounces of water to get a great start for your day. Dehydration causes fatigue, headaches, and overeating, which is a terrible combination when you already have a busy day ahead of you. Drinking water helps give you natural energy and wakes up your metabolism, so it’s a great ritual to begin!
Evening Rituals to Remove Stress and Encourage Calming
Take a 15-Minute Walk
If you are struggling with depression or anxiety, exercise can be as beneficial as prescription treatment. Taking a walk each evening is an excellent way to improve your physical health and your emotional state. While a short walk may not seem like it would be effective, it’s a great way to clear your mind, encourage deep breathing, and help you decompress before bed.
Reflect on Your Day
In the evening, when all is said and done, take a few minutes and reflect on your day. What made it positive? What challenges did you face? This is a great way to see what worked for you and what you can do differently tomorrow. Instead of beating yourself up for a mistake or for forgetting something, take time to forgive yourself, and learn what you can do to make tomorrow better!
Indulge in Quiet
Just like in the morning, indulging in quiet time is a great ritual for the evening. Instead of using the time to wake up and get your day started, this time, take slow deep breaths and focus on calming down. All of the noise of the day - your cell phone, traffic, conversation, etc, can wear on your mind, and the 15 minutes of quiet right before bed allows you to be in a calm place to help you sleep.
Creator of the "From Frazzled to Fabulous" program, Karen is an expert in holistic health and life transformation, helping hundreds of busy women find health, balance and a life of their own design. She is a certified Holistic Health Coach (Institute of Integrative Nutrition), Life Coach (The Life Coach Institute), Transformational Life Coach (Holistic MBA) and an aromatherapist, and uses the knowledge gained as well as her unique insights to mentor heart-centered women through her various online programs. In a world where a woman’s success is measured by her home and career, "From Frazzled to Fabulous" is becoming a philosophy that simply makes sense and Karen is there to guide you through it.
If you’d like to learn more useful wellness tips, please visit www.coachkarenlynn.com.
Guest Post by Sarah Gyampoh
One morning I woke up, and my world was literally spinning in circles. I had no clue what has happening, and I was terrified. To make a long story short, I was transported to the ER by ambulance and diagnosed with vertigo.
The diagnosis was a true wake up call for me.
As women and moms, we are beyond busy. Always doing something, driving somewhere, making sure everything is in order and trying to take care of ourselves in the process.
We go from task to task never having any time to just be. The baby is crying and needs to be fed but the dog just pooped on the floor kind of a thing. While these are tasks that need to be completed and they may make us feel stressed out, they are not at the level of running away from a hungry bear and unfortunately our body has no way of distinguishing between the two. Great if you do actually need to escape a hungry bear, not so great if you aren’t truly in need of “crisis mode.” We are living in a constant state of heightened awareness and stress without even realizing it sometimes and it can be detrimental to our well being.
Our nervous system goes into overdrive and we stay in fight or flight, unless we are able to create the awareness and do something about it.
SIGNS THAT YOU NEED MEDITATION:
* you feel on edge all the time
* everything seems to be getting to you
* your sleep is not restful
* you have digestive issues
* headaches seem to find you
* a million things are swirling through your mind and you are unable to have clear thoughts
The good news is that there is a simple way to take yourself out of fight or flight mode and into rest and digest mode and it takes only a few minutes and can be done anywhere!
CONSCIOUS BREATH MEDITATION
Allow yourself some time alone, if possible, to do this exercise. Begin by taking notice of your natural breath. Just breathe and be. There is nothing to be done right now but to focus on your breath.
Sit, stand, or lie in a comfortable position and if you like place one hand on your abdomen and one on your chest. Begin to breathe only through your nose; inhaling through the nostrils and exhaling through the nostrils. Maybe you would like to count the length of each breath. Inhaling for a count of four and exhaling to a four count.
As you inhale, the bottom hand moves first then the top. As you exhale, your top hand moves then your bottom. Start lengthening and deepening your breaths. Be present with each breath and really feel how each inhale fills you up with ease and each exhale releases stress.
Think of something you would like to release from your life and something you would like to enhance. Maybe you want to release anger or fear; and maybe you’d like to enhance patience or peace. Enhance on the inhale, release on the exhale.
Continue to do this for as long as you’d like, at least a full three minutes.
That’s it! A simple, yet effective breathing meditation that will help you relieve stress in an instant, no matter where you are or what you're doing.
I hope you will be able to put the practice to use and that it brings you some calm.
Sarah holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore and she has completed two Yoga Teacher trainings. One in hatha yoga, the other in prenatal yoga. She is also a certified Yoga Birth Instructor. She was a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic. She is the mother of four beautiful beings.
Sarah combines her social work skills, yogic philosophy, and nature’s wisdom to help mothers connect with their inner knowing and experience the majesty of motherhood. She believes that there will always be a laundry pile waiting to be folded, and that life and motherhood are to be enjoyed, peaks and valleys and all.
You can find her at: www.maternalessence.com and www.facebook.com/sarahgyampoh.maternalessence