In my practice, I focus on helping people love and accept their bodies, have a better relationship with food and learn exercise and movement that creates joy rather that it being a self-punishing mechanism to lose weight. Many clients I work with tell me they simply can't or won't love themselves until they are a certain size, certain weight or create some bodily ideal that is subjective only to them. That is a great burden to carry every day! It can lead to low-level chronic stress response, which creates stress chemistry in your body, inflammation and many other untoward side effects that only perpetuates the cycle of punishing exercise and yo-yo dieting.
Today, I'm going to talk about six unexpected or more unfamiliar ways you can move towards self-love and self-acceptance no matter what your size or where you are in your health journey. I'd love to hear your thoughts and in the comments section and please add some strategies you use for yourself as well!
1. Accept a compliment
Do you ever feel your face reddening with awkwardness when someone pays you a compliment? You stammer, you try to protest, you quickly return the compliment to get the focus off of yourself; all without realizing that accepting a compliment is a wonderful self-love technique. Let the compliment wash over you, accept the kindness and integrate the sentiment allowing yourself to believe what that person is telling you. It will be hard at first but worth it. And don't forget, giving compliments make other people feel good too!
2. Do a gratefulness body scan
Many people with disordered eating or body image concerns stay in their heads rather than fully dropping into their bodies. We can berate ourselves constantly and touch different body parts in disgust. "If only, I had a flat tummy." "When I get rid of this bubble butt, everything will be great." Checking in with your body and finding ways to be grateful for each part can help get you on a path of love and acceptance. For instance, when I had children I had a difficult time accepting my new, flabbier, stomach. Now, when I lie in bed, I gently touch my tummy and thank it for carrying 3 beautiful children. Your body is amazing and each part was meant to do wonderful things that help you navigate the world. Chastising your arms for being flabby, for instance, undermines that those arms also hold your loved ones, carry groceries and reach up into Warrior 1 pose during yoga!
3. Create a mindfulness meditation practice.
You don't have to be a Buddhist on top of a mountain in Bhutan to practice mindfulness! There are over 400 studies showing how mindfulness and meditation can help everything from binge eating disorder to pain reduction. Allowing yourself to be fully aware in the present, right now, rather than lamenting the past or worrying about the future is the ultimate gift of love to yourself. The present, after all, is the only tangible thing we really have.
4. Allow yourself to experience pleasure in your eating
We have been inculcated in our culture to believing that food has morality. This food is "good' and this food is "bad." If I indulge in a "sinful" dessert than I should feel shameful for doing so and deny myself pleasure. Human beings are designed to seek pleasure and avoid pain. It seems absurd to me that we can't invite pleasure in our eating experience. To me, truly enjoying, slowing down and savoring a food choice is the ultimate act of self-love. It allows you to digest better, assimilate nutrients better, and have a better sense of when you are naturally full and so much more. Visit this post to learn more about being a dietary detective.
5. Try an exercise class that is totally out there: one that you know you will love.
Too many of us exercise because we feel we have to, rather than moving for the pure joy of it. I gave up the elliptical years ago because, while it helped me burn many calories the cost was simply too high. I was bored, burnt out and dreaded going to the gym. Now that I have found yoga and kettle bells, I always look forward to exercising and that is extremely empowering! Whether it's dance, hiking, bowling, Zumba or acro-yoga - find what you love and give yourself that beautiful gift of movement.
6. Challenge yourself and step out on that skinny branch
You know that amazing feeling when you have accomplished something you never thought you could - that rush, pride and warmth that emanates from within, is...you guessed it.... self-love! Doing something out of your comfort zone requires trusting yourself and courage. If its uncommon for you to push yourself in this way, start slow, with conquering just a small fear and go from there.
If you'd like to learn more about Eating Psychology Coaching and more about how I work with clients, please visit my website at www.jennyedencoaching.com.
This article was originally published on Sarah Steckler's blog: http://www.sarahsteckler.com/6-unconventional-ways-show-mad-love/
Jenny is the founder and owner of Jenny Eden Coaching - a coaching practice devoted to help men, women and teens create a more healthy and sustainable relationship with food and their body image. She is an Eating Psychology Coach, a mindful eating instructor and health and wellness blogger. She specializes in kind and gentle weight loss, unique binge eating cessation techniques and mindful eating practices.
Jenny received her Masters from the University of Pennsylvania in Psychological Services from the School of Education and was a Health Educator at Health Management Resources for thirteen years prior to launching her practice. She earned her certificate from the Institute for the Psychology of Eating in 2015 and her MB-Eat certificate in 2016.
Having struggled with food and weight for her entire life, she has found deep peace with her relationship to food and her body and is passionate about helping others achieve this as well. She considers herself a "vegetarian" foodie and in addition to coaching loves to cook, bake and entertain as well as practice hot yoga and kettlebell training.