In today's modern society, it is extremely hard to resist the daily temptations of weight loss and dietary changes. We have continuously been forced to believe that it's normal, that everyone should be seeking this change, that we need it to fit in. Like a new popular water bottle or the latest leggings at lulu lemon, dieting is a fad. It is ever-changing, going in and out of style. Finding inner peace and content with your body, in it's natural, healthy state is, in my opinion, the single best thing you can do to foster a better relationship with your internal self. From here balanced hormones, normal cravings, improved mental health, increased physical stability, and a well-rounded life can begin.
1. Foster a mind-body connection
For a long time, I felt like I existed outside my body. I saw myself but felt nothing. When I did things, it was because I thought I had to or more likely because I was listening to external factors for validation. I did not take care of my physical body because I was so intent on changing the way it looked. Even though I craved inner peace, my actions were a contrast to achieving it. When you actively work to accept the body in its natural state (meaning without rigid exercise, restrictive eating behavior, or distorted ideas of health) you begin to form mutual trust. And, when the mind finally believes it will take care of the body it inhabits it can finally leave a state of stress. In this space, there is a type of peace where connection continues to grow deeper.
2. Be More Present in your Life
Think about how much time an average person thinks about their body. "I should lose weight" or "I wish my stomach was different" or "the diet starts tomorrow." These thoughts keep us distant from our experiences. Additionally, what people don't realize is the way your mind responds to this type of thinking. By continually constructing plans to change, we become separated from the current moment, leading us to miss out on otherwise wonderful moments. The most effective way to be present in your life is accepting "now" for exactly what it is. I know it's hard, I've been there, but as I fight to stay on the other side I can say that I have never been more "here" than I am right now. In a world that tells you to always think about tomorrow, it's pretty amazing to be in today.
3. Understand the Innate Desires of your Body
Never have I ever been more in touch with what my body needs than I am now. In this society, people have the tendency to believe that skinny = healthy and not long ago I was one of them. The important thing to recognize is that partaking in food rituals and other weight loss techniques does not allow you to establish a relationship with your own body. Obsessions are created from false beliefs of control and "health" is not the case if "skinny" is the primary objective. When you actually take care of your body, feed it with proper nutrition, engage in a mindful activity, and express your emotions without numbing coping mechanisms your body can effectively communicate with you - because it finally knows you will listen. The chemical respondents in our body, our hormones, and electrolytes have so much power and an even greater ability to take care of us. We just need to give them the opportunity to do so.
4. Respond to Cravings
People often think that "cravings" are a bad thing. As the enemy of diet culture, it makes perfect sense that they have been surrounded by such negative connotations. We have a billion dollar industry working against us in this manner, but cravings are NATURAL!!!!! They are just one of the thousand inner messages we receive. You may remember a time where you had a craving - two options were possible; one was to answer it and move on and the other was to ignore it in an attempt to move on. Scientifically, the craving could have been from a lack of certain nutrients (Ie. low blood sugar or an iron deficiency) and thereby ignoring it will only lead to a stronger reaction later. With moderation, variety, and consistency our cravings are mild and they can be adhered to. It is when we pretend to be invincible to our own mind that problems start to happen - the disconnect and distrust between what our body asks for and if we choose to oblige.
5. Find the Things that Truly Matter in your Life
When the way you look is the most important thing, values and relationships take a hit. The things that once brought you joy may be effected and your ability to show up in your previous life gets harder. But, by allowing your body to "just be" cultivates a space for so much more to happen. I can personally say that recognizing my physical body as only a small part of who I am, and the life I participate in, supports a much more well-rounded outlook. Putting those materialistic values on the back burner afforded me the opportunity to remember what I ACTUALLY care about and the things I hope to accomplish.
6. Establish Self Respect
Despite the magazines and reality t.v. shows, looking a certain way does not make you happier. The things you don't see behind shredded abs and massive thigh gap are the sleepless starving nights and anxious headspace. People devote their lives to appearing a certain way on the outside, only to be deeply empty inside. Self-respect does not come from rules and speculation, but from actively taking CARE of yourself, listening to what you need in each moment, and not forcing yourself to participate in something that doesn't feel authentic to you.
7. Gain Confidence
I used to think that the perfect body was the answer to my problems. When it started working and losing weight was my pride and joy, I didn't even see it happening. I couldn't feel the change I just craved it continually. In hindsight I see that I had the exact external look I always wanted, but my life was shy of nothing. I had no confidence in myself because I was too removed to know who that person was. I talked less, went out less, thought less, and a number was the only sense of confidence I had. All in all, it never gave me what it said it would.
8. Support Holistic Personal Health
Being healthy is about far more than weight. In fact, there is increasing evidence that weight and health have little correlation at all. In order to BE healthy, how you FEEL is vital. Eating a variety of foods, celebrating big events, laughing, sleeping, having intellectual stimulation, actually FEELING your emotions and sitting when them instead of numbing out, being in love, comfort in social setting as well as being alone, finding your passions, having sex, fresh air, movement that brings you JOY - that is health.
9. Promote a Stable Mental and Emotional State of Mind
Malnutrition is no doubt a promoter of anxious mindsets and unstable emotions. When our bodies are in a state of starvation the brain waves physically alter, making it much easier to overreact, overthink, and obsess over small things. By incorporating relationships, mindful routines, and a balanced diet we set ourselves up for success. The body craves balance - it spends most of its energy on fighting to keep us there - why work against it?
10. Resist Diet Culture, Save Money, and Be CONTENT
The finale is an absolute F*** you to the industry that has skyrocketed eating disorders, increased anxiety and depression, and stolen our money. If none of the reasons above stuck with you, maybe this one will: being okay with who you are and how you look is a social, political, and economic issue in the eyes of diet culture. It is an absolute movement to resist this false need to "change."