OMG…THAT’s what I Look Like?

If you’re disgusted at your own body, you are basically hating yourself on a daily basis. Learn how living in the present could give you greater peace, less stress and ultimately, a better relationship with your body.

Do you cringe or berate yourself when you look in the mirror or catch a glance of yourself in a store window?

Sadly, you’re not alone.

Too many women, including myself, loathe and despise what they see when they stumble upon their full body image, while previously happily moving through their day.

Now that I’m over 50 and getting a bit wiser, I realize just how awful this ingrained habit is. 

Think about it: the place you live 24 hours a day and year after year is your body! You’re the only one who lives there. If you hate your body, or even parts of your body, you are basically hating you!

That’s just not right, and it certainly CANNOT be healthy!

How can you blossom into a healthier version of yourself if you hate you? It seems like oxymoronic thinking. I hate my body, but I want it to be better. 

Since my late 30’s, I’ve been working at losing weight at one time or another, just like so many other women. Hating my body and wanting it to be different hasn’t helped the process. 

So, what’s the alternative?

Accept your body today, as it is.

What? Sounds crazy. Why would you do that? You don’t want to accept your current body with rolls, cellulite, or other unwanted features, right? 

I’m not saying you have to accept your current body’s state forever; it makes sense to eat healthier foods and move your body more to become healthier. Absolutely, we should try to do that.

What I am saying is that you can learn to feel calmer, happier and less stressed by starting to learn to accept your body as it is. I’m discovering specific ways that are helping me to begin to accept and love my body, and therefore, feel better.

I would love to share all the tricks that are helping me, but for this post, I’d like to focus on just one helpful strategy.

Living in the Present

Most of us don’t fully live and enjoy the present moment. Physically, our bodies exist, but a lot of the time we’re mentally and emotionally somewhere else. 

Where? The past or the future.

Some people live in the past, dwelling on what happened, why it happened and draining their emotions (sadness, anger, resentment, bitterness, etc.) and hours of energy on things that no longer exist. While our earlier experiences affect who we are, they’re in the past.

Don’t get me wrong. Some people have been through a lot in their life and may need to address past events and situations. If you’ve had experiences that require you to work through them emotionally (neglect, abuse, etc.), doing so with a counselor is going to serve you better than dwelling on things that keep you stuck or blaming others for your life.

Most of my past stays there, but for me, it’s the future I seemed to be obsessed with. If I dedicate most of my thinking time to what’s happening later in the day, or next week, or next month, I’m smothered with unneeded emotions: worry, anxiety, doubt, fear, etc. 

Can you guess one of the things that dominates my future thinking? 

Food and Weight: When will I eat?, What will I eat?, What should I eat?, I should eat less, I should eat more greens and vegetables, I should stop eating crappy food etc. 

Past thinking slips in too: I ate too much, Why did I eat that? Why do I always overeat? Why didn’t I choose the salad? etc.

Future thinking is my normal, and it never occurred to me that it was negatively impacting me.

This whole idea of being fully present and not mentally jumping into the future is new to me, so I am, like all of us, a work in progress. Luckily, I made an amazing discovery while practicing living in the present: I feel calmer and less stressed!

Which way of living sounds better to you?

Past Living…sadness, anger, resentment, bitterness

Living in the past leads to energy-draining emotions like anger and resentment.

Future Living…worry, anxiety, doubt, fear

Living in the future creates more feelings of worry and axiety.

Present Living…calm, peace, joy, stress-free

Live in the present to feel more peace and less stress.

Clearly, the Present looks more appealing. I’ve applied living in the present to several aspects of my life to see how it would feel. Here are a few ways I’ve tried.

Falling asleep: I focus on the present by appreciating my warm bed and home. I focus on what my body needs to sleep, and I breathe deeply and slowly. If my mind wanders to the past or future, I refocus or I repeat affirmations like, “I am healthy and strong”, or “I will have a deep, restful sleep.” Plug in the words you need to feel presently calm and to avoid thinking about the past or future.

Eating: Instead of hurriedly putting food together and then, while eating, wondering what I will eat next, I now try to eat in the present. I plan and prepare a meal more thoughtfully. I sit down to eat and concentrate on being grateful for the food, chewing it at a leisurely rate (instead of the usual shoveling it into my mouth) and enjoying the tastes and textures, 

So, how can you live in the present with your body? How can you learn to accept your body where it is, for the moment, and stop beating yourself up about it? Let’s first compare some possible past, future and present thinking about our bodies.

Past: “I’m disgusting. I ate way too much pizza last night. I think I had 6 pieces. I’m such a pig. No wonder I’m so huge.”

Future: “When will I finally get serious about losing this weight? Look at yourself. I’m going to start my diet tomorrow for sure. Otherwise, I’m going to balloon up even more. Yikes!”

Present: “I’m healthy and have a good life. I see that my body could be at a healthier weight,  but that’s ok for today, for this present moment. Although I don’t look the way I want right, now, I’m learning to love myself just the way I am”.

I have done this, and guess what? I feel better. 

It doesn’t mean I accept my weight forever, and it doesn’t mean I’ll never live in the past or future again when I look at my body. It does mean I’m working at loving myself, which includes my overweight body, just as I am, because negative self-bashing is not good for the soul. 

Self-bashing, whether through past or future thinking hasn’t helped me lose and keep off the weight so far. It’s time to try something different.

Ultimately, what I’ve learned is that I can control my stress, and so can you. 

You ARE in control of whether you think about the past or future. Unless there’s something awful happening in the present, in an exact moment (and there rarely is), you can enjoy many peaceful, stress-free moments.

By changing our thinking, we can begin to accept our bodies in the present moment. By doing so, we can feel better, which can give us energy and motivation to make lifestyle changes that, with practice, can stick and ultimately lead to a healthier weight for our bodies.

If you haven’t considered the idea of accepting your body before, try living in the present and speaking kindly to yourself about where your body is right now. Give it some time and see how it feels.

Your Journey. Own it.

SignatureAli

Thank you to my daughter for drawing the images for this post. She pointed out that she made a mistake, which works beautifully because it’s a reminder that we don’t have to be perfect at our first try at something.

 

Personal Walking Retreat

Walking is an easy way to exercise. It’s YOU time that can be your own personal retreat.

I’ve been working at making walking a daily habit, but wait a second.

Walking is NOT work.

As human beings, we’re designed to move. We’re not put together in a way that means lying in an awkward posture on a couch for 4 hours watching Netflix is normal. 

Ok, couch lounging might feel natural, but it isn’t! We HAVE to move our bodies for our health. Or we’re going to end up immobile and needing lots of help when we get older. Body movement doesn’t have to be walking, but it also doesn’t have to be tortuous exercise routines you don’t enjoy.

Over the last 4 months, I’ve been able to get outside walking on a regular basis. I started doing it for my health, and now I do it because of the many benefits.

So why do I think walking is THE way to get moving if you’re not used to being active? 

For Almost Anyone: Unless you’re in a wheelchair or are bedridden, you can walk. Even if you’ve just had surgery, or you need a cane or walker, you can walk. Just take it easy if you have mobility issues. If your vision is poor, or you need some kind of support, arrange a regular walking time with someone you trust. If you don’t have any physically-limiting concerns, you can walk. I went for a 2 km walk the day after I had a lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy (they took three lymph nodes). Minor surgery compared to most, but I didn’t want my walking habit to be derailed.

Uber Easy: Put on a pair of shoes and step out the door. 

No Cost: Use what you have for now to get your butt out the door. If you want to buy better quality runners as you develop your walking habit, then go for it, but don’t use I-don’t-have-the-right-shoes as an excuse.

Personal Retreat: This is really key. Walking can be that one time in the day for YOU. Escape your day. Do with it what you want. Think over a problem and some possible solutions. Use the time to get energized with a playlist you love. Groove to your moves. Get informed or entertained with a favorite podcast. Listen to an audio book you’re enjoying. Walking is freedom, not work.

De-stress: We’re loaded up with stress these days, and we all need some down time. Away from work, away from household tasks, away from family obligations and away from people. Some like to walk with their friends, and that works too, but for me, I like time to myself to decompress. Going for a walk can be a great way to cool down after an argument too.

Feels Good: Once you get walking, your body livens up and energizes you. When you move your body, you feel good. If you feel tired, or even drained, you might be surprised at how walking will get your juices flowing. If you deal with any kind of depression, give walking a try.

Fresh Air: Whenever possible, choose walking outside over a treadmill walk or a walk on an indoor track. Indoor walking is better than no walking, but getting the fresh air is a bonus. Humans weren’t intended to live inside buildings 24 hours a day. We need to breath in fresh air for our lungs. Walking allows you to get lots of fresh air.

Vitamin D: By getting outside, you can get nature’s medicine through sunshine (even if it’s cloudy, the sun’s rays are getting to you somewhat). There’s always some article reminding us that we need more Vitamin D, especially the kind that doesn’t come in a bottle. If there’s too much sun, wear a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from excessive UV rays.

Nature Delivers: Aside from fresh air and sunshine, walking gives you a connection to nature. Try to walk in an area with trees, plants and grass, or even better, in a park or forest. Many of my walks are in a nearby forest where I can hear the trees swaying in the breeze and where I sometimes spot a deer or rabbit. Often, I walk in my neighborhood though, to save time. I’m still among beautiful trees and can look at lawns and gardens along my way. Even if you’re in a dense urban area, look for signs of nature to enjoy: plants, peoples pets, birds and glimpses of blue sky.

Decide your Distance: Start where it feels right. Don’t overdo it. If one block is all you can walk, then no problem. Build up to two and three blocks. Maybe you’re a little more limber and you want to start with 2 km. Go for it and build up to 5 km. It’s up to you. Vary your distance. Do a faster 3 km walk one day, and a slower 5 km walk another day. There are no rules. Do what feels right each time you go for your walk.

Take your Time: You can fit your walk in during the morning before you shower and head to work. You can fit it in during your work day. You can do it as soon as you get home from work, or you can try an after-dinner walk. You could do two 10 minute walks or a single 20 minute walk. It’s all up to you.

Pick your Pace: Start out slowly and build to a faster pace. If you have a Fitbit or other tracker, use it to track your pace. It is super-motivating to see how your pace improves. 

No Excuse: Walking is the perfect no-excuse way to move. Make walking a non-negotiable, time-for-you habit.

If you haven’t yet discovered the amazing benefits of walking, give it a try for one week. Aim to walk for at least 10 minutes daily for seven days. See how it feels.

Maybe you’ll decide walking is not for you, but maybe…you end up walking for much longer and discover a new love.

Your Journey. Own it.

SignatureAli