Body Acceptance: The Secret to Weight Loss Success
Can we love our bodies? As the years go by, each decade brings new and unexpected changes. We move from adolescence to young adulthood. For some, the transition is into motherhood. Most of us eventually enter into maturity and beyond. Our bodies are affected by stress, environment, sadness, and other emotions. Some bodies are affected by illness or disease. Other bodies are shaped by the after effects of emotional eating, starvation, or compulsive exercise. Is it possible to make peace and love our bodies?
For me, the road to loving my body began many years ago, decades ago. I stood one day, naked, in front of a full length closet mirror. Having summoned my courage, my intention was to look at my total body and say three simple words: "I love you." Trembling, I opened my eyes, and took a look at the image in the mirror. What was that image that reflected itself back at me? As if a foreign language, my mouth sounded out those three words. Want to know what happened? I began to bellow with laughter. A deep hilarious laugh that took me completely by surprise. The laugh released itself so spontaneously, it took me a moment to determine what had just happened. I was laughing at the absurdity of my statement. As the revelation of this truth flooded so suddenly, and unexpectedly, into my consciousness, I fell to the carpeted floor, naked, heaving tears from the depths of my misery. In that moment, I was awakened to my own self hatred.
So began a journey of enlightenment that in some ways continues to this day. This journey is the infinite unfolding and allowing of divine spirit to create a union with the self that I am - in this body and on this earth. Slowly, but with visible steadiness, I am becoming peace on earth.
MAKE YOUR HOUSE YOUR HOME
Where will learning to love your body lead you? It will lead you to the greatest experience you could ever imagine. As Whitney Houston once sang in her hit song "Greatest Love of All." "Learning to love yourself, It is the greatest love of all."
The experience is the joy of a body and mind in unity with each other. It will lead to self-esteem, self-value, and self-worth. Many of us accept that we are not our bodies and that when we die, the body remains on earth while who we are continues on. This may be true, and herein lies the paradox. You are not your body and yet while on earth you are your body. Both sides of this statement are true simultaneously. In this earth realm, the body needs you and you need the body. The body serves you and you also serve the body.
My partner Ray and I recently built a new home. Even though we designed the home and picked out every tile and paint color, when we moved in, the house was an amazingly beautiful house but not yet a home. It felt like an empty structure, with no individual identity. Each day we would walk through the entire house, touching it, tending to it, imaging how we might bring it to life. We'd shop, arrange, rearrange, and return items. As the days went by, we cleaned our house, vacuumed the rugs, learned the details of the house, hung pictures and moved furniture. In many ways, a house will tell you how it wishes to be decorated. Sure, it's all your stuff and your preferences, but the house itself tells you where the plants will grow, how to create flow, which walls need which pictures, and how the furniture should be placed. The house tells you which furniture it will or will not accept.
As the house soaked up our energies, it started to breathe and come to life. It was like an infusion of energetic life blood that flowed through the house - not all at once, but room by room. Then the rooms began to unite as it came together into a home. The house opened up and emitted a presence of feeling peaceful, loving, inviting, fun, beautiful, comfortable, and safe. New energy filled the space, waking up what was once just a structure. The house sought harmony with us. This house wanted us here as much as we wanted to be here. The more loving creativity we shared with our house, the more our house became our home. This home now breathes with us, lives with us, reflects our values, beliefs, and energy. Our home continues to evolve, expand, flow. Even in a new home, it remains important to clear the clutter and allow the creative energy to flow. The house reflects who we are and continues to evolve with us. All of this happens with patience and time - from the inside out.
MAKE YOUR BODY YOUR TEMPLE
And so it is with your body. You are given a body and it is beautiful. Each day, each moment, it soaks up your energy and harmonizes with who you are. Your body wishes to be filled with your smoothly moving life force. Your body wishes to be the creative and ever expanding expression of your joy, your dancing, your ideas. Your body wishes to flow with your life force limb by limb until the limbs and neck and trunk and head become united into one. The flow wishes to be unobstructed, uncluttered, and continually evolving. Your body does not want to be a separate object ordered about by your vicious commands, or blamed for your perceived failings. Your body is the home you live in for your entire journey on earth. It is up to you to realize this symbiosis and create harmony. It is up to you to allow your body to come to life as your temple. Unite as partners. Work together with your body to create a temple as you might work with a house to create a home.
Imagine everything that you bring into your body: Thoughts, beliefs, food and other substances, supportive energy of others and from yourself, emotions, and feelings. Everything you bring into your body must live there in some form or fashion. Now imagine your body in this present moment. Is it filled with a continuous flow of self-loving thoughts, supportive beliefs, laughter, the energy of love and trust, food that feels good both in the moment and beyond, and a connection to Self, God/Goddess and earth? Can you imagine how this body would become a temple?
Let's entertain the idea that you're not quite at the temple stage yet. How do you unite as a partner with your body? First, accept everything about your body in this moment. Since your body is always in interdependence with you, it is always a reflection of what you believe about yourself on the inside. Your body reflects on the outside what is going on in the inside.
Perhaps your body has been filled with dark thoughts, sadness, depression, anger, and fear. Perhaps it is filled with beliefs that you are a bad person, unworthy and unlovable? Or maybe it is filled with beliefs that you should not be so powerful, unique, creative, or expressive. Because of these beliefs, maybe you've attempted to feel better through too much or too little food, drugs, sex, busyness, or other addictions. There is nothing inherently wrong with this scenario. But you can imagine that if this body was a house, eventually, it would require some major repairs, cleaning, reorganizing, and upkeep. The house (body) does not have to be hated for looking the way it does. Nor does it deserve to be blamed for its condition. It is not the enemy. It is merely a reflection and therefore would as easily reflect something new all together. The body is always in relationship with our beliefs.
To partner with our body, we begin with acceptance and love. Old unsupportive thoughts can be gently let go and new supportive thoughts and beliefs can be brought in. The thoughts brought into the body will live there. If you listen to your body, it will tell you if those thoughts fit. How will it tell you? Though your emotions. Your emotions are the guidance system that can direct you back into the flow of love. If the thoughts feel good, then energy continues to flow in new and exciting ways. If the thoughts feel bad, they tend to clump together and are stored away in the body like clutter in the closets.
The food we bring into the body also becomes part of the body itself. If you listen to your body, it will tell you if those foods fit. Just like a house will tell you what furniture belongs and doesn't belong and where the plants or pictures should be placed, the body can tell you which foods, thoughts, beliefs, energy, and foods belong. The ones that feel good (now and later) fit. The ones that don't feel good, you simply don't have to choose.
Turning your body into your temple may well be a process and an undertaking. But it is what each of us seeks. We seek joy and feeling good on earth. It is our responsibility and life journey to give ourselves what we seek. We seek to be in alignment with our purpose. Our purpose is joy. Life can be as wonderful or as horrible as we allow it to be. It all depends on the thoughts we practice. Learn to be in alignment with thinking the thoughts that feel good inside our physical bodies. Thinking thoughts that bring pleasure. Let our minds not wander though darkened corridors away from light's center. Each of us must make it our priority to look for what feels good, to seek out what resonates with joy within our bodies. We each must ask: "How much do I practice thoughts that bring me joy, and how much do I practice thoughts that bring me pain?"
Dr. Annette Colby, RD
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