As the saying goes, you can't fool Mother Nature! We're all born with a genetic blue print of how our bodies are meant to show up in this world...our height, weight, eye color, hair color - even our shoe size.
Most people will agree that it's complete nonsense, not too mention uncomfortable, trying to squeeze your foot into a shoe that's too small. And yet, for many years in Chinese history, women did just that. They bound their toes from very young ages in the hopes of having perfectly tiny feet - feet that would win the affection of wealthy men, who would support their life and prosperity.
Today, we look back on that cultural norm with shock and sadness of what those women and young girls had to endure.
But is our modern day cultural norm of attempting to shrink our bodies into the thin beauty ideal through means of starvation, restrictive dieting, and punishing exercise regiments really all that different?
Your body is designed to maintain its genetic blue print at all costs - that's just physiology plain and simple. Even though you may not love your body every day, you can still create self care habits that can promote and respect your genetic blue print.
Based on the Intuitive Eating Workbook by Elyse Resch RDN and Evelyn Tribole RDN, here are 5 ways you can start respecting your body and its genetic blue print regardless of your shape, size, or age:
1. Gratitude ~ Independent of your looks, what attributes do you value about yourself? What beneficial qualities do you bring to your work, your relationships, your hobbies? Making a list of everything that your body is capable of being and experiencing regardless of it's appearance can shift your focus from a degrading mindset to an uplifting one.
2. A Self Care Routine ~ Do you have one? This can include simply washing your face and body, combing your hair, applying moisturizing lotion, getting enough restorative sleep, and feeding your body nourishing foods each day. You can even take this a step further and reflect on why you prefer to wear makeup or shave or none of the above.
What's most important when you're creating your self care routine, is that it's YOUR self care routine - not a routine of habits that you think are necessary based on the false beauty ideal.
3. Stop Weighing In ~ Stepping on a scale can truly make or break your day, your self worth, your confidence. So don't! Just don't even step on the damn thing. The only information a scale provides is literally how much force of gravity your body is being subject to. That's. It.
4. See Reflections for What They Really Are ~ Remember the distorted mirrors at the county fairs when you were a kid? They were silly because they reflected your body in an extremely exaggerated way. While household and dressing room mirrors aren't that extreme, they still portray the reflection of your body in various ways. Each reflection is going to be slightly different based on how the mirror was made, its size, how it's hung, etc. But your body doesn't change. Most importantly, no mirror will reflect back your true self worth and abilities as an amazing humane being. Feel free to write that on the mirrors in your house. You're welcome!
5. Wardrobe Change ~ Other than stepping on a scale, the other sure fired way to make yourself feel self conscious about your size or shape is wearing clothes that don't fit or flatter your body. Remember the Chinese women squeezing their feet into tiny shoes? Ridiculous! Same goes for squeezing your stomach, thighs, butt, and everything else into clothes that don't fit. Wearing clothes that you feel good in and that feel good on, will help reduce body checking through fidgeting with the fit of the clothes.
Additionally keeping clothes around that are left over from your dieting days in the hopes of "getting your body back" will only perpetuate the guilt and shame.
Trash bags in hand...closet cleaning time! Bagg'em up, driving them immediately to your donation site of choice, go shopping on the way home.
Your new clothes don't need to be expensive, they just need to feel good on you. And remember tip 4 about when it comes to looking in those dressing room mirrors. Skip 'em. Grab some clothes in various sizes, try them on with your back to the mirrors. Only after you've wiggled, sat, and breathed in each piece, rejecting any that didn't immediately feel amazing on, circle back to try on the items with potential again using the mirror for a style check if you like. Purchase the keepers immediately. Taken them home and cut out any size tags possible - yet another number that means nothing in terms of your body's self worth.
Remember, "if mamma ain't happy, ain't no body happy." Trying to fool Mother Nature by participating in self harming activities in the name of beauty (or health) will literally not make your body happy. So stop. Respect the body you were meant to have. Treat it with kindness and dignity. It's the only Earth suit you've got from which to live an amazing life.
If you want to dive deeper into exploring ways to nourish your body without diets, sign up for a free copy of the Get Nourished Guide, 7 Simple Strategies to Health Your Relationship with Food.