With summer almost here, ushering in warmer weather, this is usually the time of the year where body acceptance issues tend to increase.
Body trust involves developing a deep connection with your body so that you can make choices around food, exercise, sleep, and other practices that resonate with who you are. Body acceptance encourages care for your body and being. How do you get there if you are feeling disconnected and not so cared for in your daily habits?
Heidi Schauster—nutrition therapist, writer, speaker, and consultant with over 20 years of experience as a disordered eating specialist—gives you five advices to learn to accept yourself.
1) Put yourself first
The most loving act you can offer those you care about is to love, respect, and care for yourself first. In doing so, you bring freedom and spaciousness for connection, compassion, and the blossoming of deeper, more caring relationships. This self-care takes practice if you weren’t trained this way from a young age, but it’s possible to learn.
Compulsive overeating, restrictive eating, or eating obsessively “clean” are ways that we might reward or take care of a self that is repeatedly put last. So, how do we begin to take better care of ourselves and learn how to get in touch with the body’s wisdom?
2) Try meditation. Then try it again.
There are many ways to meditate: courses, listening to recordings… Explore what works for you. Schauster admitted that she made meditation a daily practice (and found the profound benefits of it) only when she committed to practicing 10 minutes of insight-oriented meditation every day.
“I had to let go of needing to do it for longer,” Schauster said. “I had to let go of doing it at the same time each day. I had to let go of the part of me that wanted to do it perfectly, and find a way to accept my distracted mind.”
Meditation can create more calmness and decrease anxiety, but it could also help make your decisions easier, or decrease your self-doubt. Schauster felt more compassion for her shortcomings and was able to work on them with humility, and became even more loving and present for her family and friends.
3) Listen to the body’s signals
If we don’t take the time to listen and actually hear what our bodies are trying to tell us—hunger, fullness, pain, tiredness, restlessness, cravings, nervous flutterings, other sensations—we miss out on a form of communication from which we might learn so much. Being aware of our needs and feelings, helps meeting them and extending ourselves to others.
4) Cultivate body acceptance
What if you dislike your body so much that the idea of getting more in touch with it is terrifying or uncomfortable? As difficult as these feelings are, they are important body messages. Ideally, we respond to these feelings with compassion and acceptance. Only then, from a place of nonjudgmental, kind regard, can we decide how best to care for our bodies as they are.
5) Get help if this is challenging
Sustainable change sprouts from compassion, not loathing. If you don’t feel that you can deeply listen to and accept your body, try to find a body-positive, Health-At-Every-Size® psychotherapist, a nutrition therapist, or a coach if you need some support.
Deeply listen and trust your body, and use your internal cues and sense of well-being to help you make decisions about food, rest, sleep, exercise, and other self-care practices. Be interested in what your body is telling you.