You will never guess where I am writing this post from. A yoga mat. In my room. Sweaty after some movement to a Beyonce and Lizzo playlist. Exercise used to be a way to manipulate or control my body--it didn't count if it wasn't measured on my apple watch or timed. Now, I randomly break into dance during the middle of a plank because movement feels good. I feel energy, joy, and freedom throughout my body. This, my friend, is recovery.
Thanksgiving--the kick-off of the winter holidays. Last year I published a post to all my eating disorder recovery warriors, and I thought I would follow up this year with words of encouragement during a time that sometimes feels complex and tricky to navigate for anyone and everyone out there who has body image (aka you because you have a body.)
Here's the thing: Our society's holiday celebrations are oftentimes centered around food. Our society also has a diet culture that likes to blame food for our body's problems. Sounds a little contradictory doesn't it? That's the point. This leaves us in a constant battle between accepting our body and blaming our body. Yikes. So let's break it down.
1. Food is not a bad thing. There is no such thing as good food or bad food: food is just food.
2. Food is the fuel our body needs to support life. Not just body function, but the joy, relationships, activities, fun, and moments of living that make our lives so valuable.
3. Bodies change over time and body change is nothing to be ashamed of. Bodies change through puberty, age, stress, environment, illness, and life's challenges.
4. "Fat" is not a bad word. If we want to be all sciencey, then "fat" is actually called adipose, and it's a tissue in our body that protects our vital organs, aka, it's kinda sorta necessary for us to support our bodies.
Now that we know and can normalize these four things, we can practice self-acceptance. This means wherever we are in life, whatever we are going through, and whatever our body is, we can accept it fully. Our worth is not found in our circumstances or our physical body, but in who we are. Period. Here are some great strategies to start integrating self-acceptance into your life:
1. Practice mindfulness and meditation. More often than not, we like to disconnect ourselves from our bodies. What? What does that mean? It means instead of being aware of how we are feeling and being attuned to our needs, we ignore our bodies and become caught up in the busyness life can bring. During the holidays, different schedules can cause a feeling of routine imbalance or loss of control. Take a deep breath. Notice your surroundings. Maybe practice journaling our meditation. Go for a walk and notice how the air feels on your skin, bring yourself back in tune with your body.
2. Practice affirmations and gratitude. Give thanks amiright?! It might be silly, but affirm yourself. Write affirmations on the mirror. Look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself three things you love about your body or yourself. Compliment yourself for something that has nothing to do with your body, but who you are on the inside. Give thanks to the skin you are in. Our bodies are vessels that carry the delicate and intricate beings we are.
3. Nourish your body. The holidays come with food, but that doesn't mean you should restrict before a big meal or "save your calories for later." Ugh. I sure do hate that statement and I don't hate a lot of things in life. No matter how much you eat at a holiday meal, your body still needs nourishment the next day. Give yourself permission to eat holiday foods and have meaningful conversations over plates at the table. But also give yourself permission to know pumpkin pie can be made year-round, it's not just for the holidays.
4. Move-in ways that bring you joy. Repeat after me: I do not need to burn off what I ate. You don't. Practice moving in ways that bring you joy and bring you closer to community. If you dread going to the gym, don't. If walking around the neighborhood with family to look at Christmas lights sounds fun, do it. Ice skating with your significant other? Sounds great! Running as a form of punishment? I'll pass.
As we head into the holiday season, I want to remind you of this: your worth is not defined by your body. Give yourself love. Give yourself grace. Give yourself compassion.
Wishing you all a happy and joyous holiday season,