"I just need to lose 5 pounds and then I'll try online dating", Susan, Uber driver.
It's kind of amazing what people will share with you, the little clues they give you into their psyche. In a 25 minute drive I learned a lot about Susan. I got a glimpse into how she views herself, her body, and how that affects what she allows, who she allows in, what she allows herself to experience.
We have a lot of societal baggage around bodies, weight, beauty standards, and as a result food, in the US. The way we move through the world, how we let people treat us, the relationships we seek out, and the experiences we choose to allow ourselves to have are often influenced by this baggage. It's hard to NOT let it affect you.
image courtesy of theodyssyonline.com
TV, Instagram and other social media, magazine covers, the ridiculous amount of weight loss quick-fixes, just to name a few. Who we hang out with, the messages we got from our family or friends growing up, these also serve to create internalized messages of what is acceptable, expected, enough.
It's really easy to blame the body, especially for negative emotions. We look out into the world to determine where we belong. If we don't see people like us, we translate that into a feeling or sense of being other. I know I would stick out like a sore thumb in a biker bar, but maybe you would totally be in your element. This is normal. The thing is, we as women often blame our bodies for not fitting in OR we use negative comments about our body to fit in.
In blaming our bodies we say things like, "I feel fat today"or "I can't do (fill in the event) because I'm too (big, small-chested, skinny)". Once these comments start, it's difficult to stop them coming up again.
To fit in, we say things like "I hate my (insert least favorite body part here)" and then nod in agreement as our friends pick themselves apart too. When others make these comments it's really hard not to start thinking about our own bodies. It's a lot easier to join in.
You know what? Fat isn't a feeling. There certainly are a lot of emotions wound up in those negative phrases above, but fat ain't one of them. Figuring out exactly what they are and naming them, rather than blaming your body, is the important work. Learning how to sit with them and be uncomfortable so you can move past them, that's the good (and the hard) stuff.
The crazy thing is that whether you're unhappy in general has a lot do with how you feel about your body than what your body actually looks like. And let's be honest, our own perceptions are the most skewed anyway. Our mental health isn't the only thing that suffers. Research at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, suggests that "women who obsess over their body and diet have chronically elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol (even when their life is not otherwise stressed)—and, as a result, may suffer from elevated blood pressure, lower bone density, higher amounts of unhealthy belly fat and even menstrual problems". (source) We're hurting ourselves physically here too!
You are here to experience your life, not to wait until you lose x number of pounds, look a certain way, or fit into a pair of jeans. You could do all that and it still won't change what's in here.
Whether it's feeling vulnerable or scared, unhappy with something physically in your body or in your life circumstances, it's not your BODY that's the problem.
If there are poses you can't get into in a yoga class, it's not your body that needs to be changed, it's the pose. Your body will evolve into harder poses as you practice, work through foundational poses, and build strength. If no one in your exercise class looks like you, it's not your body that the problem. It's the mainstream perception of what a healthy body looks like, who it excludes, who it attracts to the class, and who it leaves out.
Dear Susan, if you're not ready to start dating or you've got some fears about it, I promise it's not those 5 pounds. I'm not going to pretend to know exactly what it is, but I sure as heck know it's not your body. And I do know it's your perception and blaming of your body that is holding you back.
It's OK to start speaking kindly to yourself and not feel like you LOVE your body every single moment. Heck you can not like certain things, thank them for getting your through the day anyway, and move on. At least your moving in the right direction.
It's OK to choose to spend more time with positive people so you don't get sucked in to negative patterns.
It's OK to opt out of a yoga pose or to talk to the instructor after class and let them know you'd really like suggestions to make a pose more accessible. It's OK to seek out a yoga teacher or studio that welcomes and teaches to all bodies.
It's OK to embody your body.
It's OK to take up space.
I'm curious, how does this land for you? What resonates? How do you blame your body? Share a comment below and help us all take steps toward a more positive relationship with our bodies!
I'm Tonia, a Midwesterner transplanted to Colorado. I'm a mom of two lovely littles, a yoga instructor, DIY-er, teacher, stay at home mom, and a doTERRA Wellness Advocate. I blog about a little bit of all of these and everything in between!
Are you looking for natural health options, but don't know where to start? Book a 1-on-1 appointment with me! We'll spend about 30 minutes getting to know your health goals and concerns, learn a bit about doTERRA, and go over the most commonly used oils that meet your needs. You don't have to buy anything, but if you see something you like, of course I can help you!