Four simple strategies on how to transform your relationship with food, exercise, and your gorgeous self from punishment to joyful self-love and nurturing acceptance.
Have you ever been in a spiral of hate towards your physical self and tried to punish yourself towards a healthier you? Have you ever – very stoically – done your exercise, which you hated, just to slim down to size 8 or starved yourself all morning, determined to change those strong thighs of yours into Barbie Doll legs? Followed a menu plan without enjoying it, but simply because enticing ads said it will transform you into this healthy, hot being you don’t believe you already are?
Well, I have.
I remember too well hating my body for not fitting into a certain ideal of beauty. I did this regardless of how far away this ideal was from my natural physical self or overall health. It has taken me a long time and a few wake-up calls to realise that transformation and change can only happen from a place of love, care, nurture, and acceptance.
I very much regret that I wasted so many years torturing myself in the gym and absolutely loathing my boring skinny diet. Especially when I could have instead had so much fun by simply doing what was right by my body, soul, and mind. (And with far better results, too.)
So, in the hope this might help you to not waste your precious time and fill it with negativity, here are my four key strategies on how to transform your relationship from punishing yourself to be skinny and fitting a certain physical image, to accepting and loving your healthy, authentic, best self.
1. Learn to accept and really love yourself
This is easier said than done. Mostly because you may be very good at loathing yourself and have done so for a long time. Maybe as a first step you could simply observe your thoughts. Very likely they are not very kind. This is especially true when it comes to your food, exercise, or how you view yourself.
Then, start to actively rephrase all the conversations you have with yourself. Make it a practice to never down-talk yourself and to never say anything that will create feelings of shame, guilt, or unworthiness. Instead, use words that empower and that make you feel good and proud.
This could mean that your previous thoughts of, “I will never be able to do this, I am fat, I will never be fit, I will never be stunning…” now sound something like “I am so proud of myself that I am taking control of my life and am doing this. Even if it is hard. I do not feel happy in the body I am in now, so I have decided to take action and change this. I have always wanted to be more fit, so I am now following a plan to transform myself into a happy, fit me.”
As a second step towards unconditional self-love, dare to look into the mirror. Take a really good, long look in every mirror that comes your way and find 3-5 things you love about yourself. Look deep into your gorgeous mirrored eyes and then say your positive observations out loud. Or if this is too confronting, at least say them in your head.
Repeat this process as often as possible.
This might feel really awkward and weird at first. You might find it hard to come up with features you find loveable. But with practice you will be able to do this more boldly and with more ease. You will find it easier to see all those amazing things that make you so very unique and special.
2. Reinvent yourself
What if you did not allow your fears to limit you? Instead you were bold and courageous and totally believed in the wonderful you that you are. What would your life look like? Who would you be and what would you do? What is holding you back from being this person?
No one else but YOU is standing in your very own way to awesomeness. So how about re-inventing your beautiful self? Instead of staying within your safe zone of comfort, venture out, be courageous, and make your dreams happen.
If the old you was shy, unhealthy, unfit, and did not dare to take steps to change, get in touch with the new you – a brave warrior who can do whatever you set your mind to.
What are you usually shying away from? What is it you like to hand over, defer, and intuitively know that if you did it, you would break free from this self-limiting way of living? Be completely honest with yourself. And then in a step-by-step approach, do exactly that.
Maybe you could start by holding a public speech in a very safe circle. You could take a selfie and send it to your beloved friend. You could sign up for that exciting new yoga class. Or simply start writing down what it really is that you still want to achieve in life and make a plan on how to get there. Remember the only limit is YOU here.
3. Redefine your relationship with food and your body
Now that you have started to truly love and care for yourself and are breaking free from self-limiting fears, you are ready to redefine your relationship with your dietary and physical self. Let’s re-establish a strong mind-body connection and a relationship filled with nurturing love.
Stop thinking of food in terms of calories, points or something that will make you fat. Instead start thinking about food as something that is there to nurture your beautiful body – to supply it with enough energy and fuel to keep your precious heart beating, your beautiful hair thick, shiny, and long, your eyes and nails clear and sparkling, your muscles strong and your brain witty and switched on. In order for your body to be the best version of itself it needs various essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, other phytonutrients, protein, healthy fat, lots of fresh vegetables, fruit, and wholegrains.
So, from now on whenever you make choices about your diet, try to support your body on its daily mission and provide it with all those things it needs and that will make it feel amazing. You will be surprised how this will change your previous approach of self-hating dieting, restriction, and punishment into an attitude of lovingly nourishing your gorgeous self, treating it with respect and all-empowering care.
Along the same lines, start feeling into your physical moving self. Do you feel tired, exhausted, sluggish, stiff, weak – or bouncy, energised, strong, fit, and ready to take on the world? Then listen to this important piece of information your body is giving you and act accordingly. Make a plan on how you can help your body to move from exhausted to energised, from stiff to flexible, weak to strong, bouncy to calm and centred, tired to rested etc.
It is a no-brainer that if you are mostly inactive all day your body will be screaming for movement. So, make it your new mission to feed your body with movement you enjoy. You do not have to start running marathons if running has never been your thing. Maybe you simply enjoy walking, hiking, biking, or lifting weights. Also, for this to turn into a total success, take data like your age, gender, ancestry, and injuries or weaknesses into account.
A 25-year-old athlete who is tall and slim-built and very active will have very different physical needs to a 42-year-old female accountant who has given birth to 3 children, suffers from a sore back, weak pelvis muscles, sits all day, and lives quite a sedentary life.
So, stop ignoring what your body is telling you. Instead, learn to listen and then take action to support, guide and empower your physical self as it moves from imbalance to balance.
4. Remember your core values and purpose
As you are moving away from punishing yourself by doing something you believe you should, towards doing something because it fills you with joy, remind yourself of your inner calling, your mission in life, of what fills you with burning desire. What is it that sets your heart on fire, which gets you excited and makes you want to jump out of bed?
What is your higher vision of yourself?
I am sure it is not simply being thin. Perhaps it’s that you have lots of energy to do what you were meant to do with your life. What is it that only you can do to make this world a better place? More than likely, starving yourself and yo-yo dieting is not on that list. Instead, were you born to help others, to nurture, or are someone who inspires and motivates – and regular exercise allows you to do that.
Do you add to the world’s greater good by analysing, travelling, discovering? By losing weight you can comfortably fit into your various plane seats as you fly from country to country. You can forget worrying about varying air pressures affecting your legs, lungs, or brain because you know your cardiovascular system is in top form.
If you can manage to stay aligned with your reasons why you want to transform your life and physical you, you will stay focused and right on track on your amazing journey towards the best, most authentic, joyful version of yourself. There is nothing more motivating than reminding yourself of your core values and reasons why you have decided to do this in the first place.
Changing and venturing out into a new, unfamiliar world is not easy. And let me be totally upfront with you; it is not a linear, easy development and will not happen overnight. It was not for me and very likely it will not be for you either. But if you stay focussed on the process, this incredibly empowering and joyful transformation will happen for you too. And it is so worth it. You are the gorgeous creator of your own life; the ball is in your amazing, very capable hands now.
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