I overheard a conversation in the dressing rooms next to mine:
Woman 1: I want my body baaaaaack!
Woman 2: Me too Mom! After the kids, "things" never went back to the way they were. I've deprived myself, tortured myself at the gym, and even begged my doctor for a pill!
Woman 1: I know honey - but I hate to tell you, it isn't going to get any easier as you get older.
Who "has" your body?
I couldn't get that phrase out of my head...I want my body back!
Where did it go? Who has it? Why did you give it away? Whose body do you have now? How does your body feel about being unwanted?
That too-familiar phrase, I want my body back, captures a common challenge you may identify with: Feeling so disconnected from your body that you don't claim it anymore, and instead, wish for a body you "had" in the past - ironically, a body that you probably didn't want at the time either!
Why does this happen? And what would I have told these women if I'd had the nerve?
How you "lost" your body in the first place
There are many changes that occur naturally over time that affect the shape, size, and function of your body: maturation, giving birth, aging, stress, illnesses or injuries, changes in the environment, activity, diet, and your interests--to name just a few. Fortunately, your body has the amazing ability to morph and adapt to these constantly changing forces; after all, you're alive and reading this now, aren't you?
The problem with this natural process begins when, instead of allowing your body to guide you back to it's optimal state, you head down the wrong path: disparaging self-talk and restrictive dieting. (How do you know if your diet is restrictive? Check out the list in my Huffington Post article, Diets are Like Antacids.)
Since diets don't work long term, the eat-repent-repeat cycle ensues, further disconnecting you from the body that was doing exactly what it was supposed to do: adapt to change.
Reclaim your body!
I resisted the urge to call out over the dressing room wall: Stop! Don't talk about your body that way! It's right there and it can hear you! And stop subjecting it to cruel and unusual punishment for defending itself! There is another way! Even if you don't know how to do it yet, or it sounds too easy (or too hard), or you don't believe it could work for you, there IS another way! You AND your body deserve it!
Later I wondered if I should have just said it anyway. I know it would have been rude - but what if I they were willing to listen? I could have saved them both many more years of pain and unhappiness. But you're not in the dressing room next door and I will not hold back this time. Maybe you'll think I'm rude or maybe you're just not ready to hear it, but I'll take my chances in the hopes that it will save you more of the same.
STOP. Take your body back and treat it with the respect it deserves.
Let us help you learn how to...
- Listen to your internal cues of hunger and satisfaction instead of trying to follow strict or arbitrary rules about your eating.
- Stop yoyo dieting and choose from all foods freely to balance eating for nourishment and eating for enjoyment.
- Eat what you really love without guilt - instead of depriving yourself or bingeing. Eat mindfully to nourish your body, mind, and spirit instead of eating unconsciously or obsessing over every bite of food.
- Discover physical activity that you enjoy because it gives you energy, stress relief, and an active metabolism - instead of exercising to punish yourself for eating or to earn the right to eat.
- Become aware of your thoughts, feelings, and actions and how they affect you instead of judging yourself because you didn’t follow a program rigidly.
- Create a self-care buffer zone and meet your true needs instead of eating too much or neglecting yourself. What are you waiting for?
If you've been reading about Am I Hungry? for awhile but just haven't taken action, it is time. It doesn't matter what you do, but do something to overcome the doubt, fear, or inertia that's keeping you stuck:
- Start reading (or rereading) Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat (even just the first chapter which you can download from this link free!)
- Get guidance and support. We provide Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Workshops, self-paced programs, and coaching.
- If you're ready for intensive transformation, join me for an Am I Hungry? Eat Mindfully, Live Vibrantly Retreat. Our next one is in southern Utah for a five days retreat this summer.