You’ve heard it before: “love yourself regardless of your body” or “you need to love yourself and you’ll overcome your trouble spots and learn to love them” or the mother of all advice, “you just need to ______ a little more.” If I had a penny for every time I’ve heard this…
The real trouble with this advice is that it assumes your body is an object, somehow outside of your real self, and is easily shaped, molded and manipulated.
This the ultimate impossible situation.
Your mind, body and heart are all one, and as much as you may try to treat your body as something other than a part of yourself, the further down the road of disappointment you’ll go.
In the real world we all must communicate and work with ourselves as one whole person.
Although you may have an idea, generally speaking, you can’t know what someone is really thinking or what their beliefs are, but you do see what her body looks like and you probably make judgments based on appearance. But, her thoughts and beliefs are private until she decides to share them.
Is her body private? Is your body private? I don’t think it is.
In modern society, there are no boundaries on what is okay to comment on about our own or another’s body and what is not.
We see this all around in the form of pop stars who wear costumes as bare as the censors will allow, to detailed discussions of meal and workout play-by-plays on social media, to the classic, “I’m so bad eating this sinful cake; it’s going right to my hips!”
It is through your body that you experience life in the form of shape, texture, color, vibrance, pleasure and pain.
This is extraordinary!
And yet, we are bombarded with images—visual and mental—of what is the correct, most desirable, perfect shape to strive to become.
Who’s in charge of deciding what this should be?
It is common to make assumptions about who is healthy and who isn’t without really knowing the uniquely individual truth of each person.
One of the challenges in modern society is figuring out how to follow your heart, how to know what’s right for you, when there is so much competing information coming into your head.
Too many choices, coming at you really fast.
What a relief that the process of change is directly opposite of this.
Lasting change takes time.
It requires you to disconnect from the preconceptions you have and instead to wade around in uncharted territory.
The most important place to start from is self-acceptance. Now, don’t click away, let me explain…there’s more than meets the eye here!
Acceptance does NOT mean stagnation!
Acceptance does NOT mean giving up your goals!
Acceptance does NOT mean learning to love where you are right now regardless of your desire to change!
Life is constantly moving and shifting and so are you. You can change your life, your body, your relationships, how you talk to yourself and many more things in life at any time.
For our purposes acceptance is a process. What acceptance means will change over time as you grow. It means integrating where you are right now while keeping your focus on the bigger goals you have for your life!
The purpose of acceptance is to help you get from where you are today and pointed in the direction of greater consciousness and growth.
With the increased consciousness you can thoughtfully plan with care and kindness.
The benefit is that the changes you make are more refined and speak to what you truly want…the possibilities are endless.
Making conscious change
Lasting change is a process best focused on a step-by-step approach.
Learning, integrating, experimenting with what works or what doesn’t, shifting, adjusting, getting used to the new reality.
When you get stuck in specific results, and feeling like a failure when you don’t meet the goal, it usually means that you’ve gotten off track and lost sight of the big picture where patience, kindness and acceptance reside.
Immediate results would be nice, however what you learn about yourself in the struggle to figure it out will help you get what you need faster!
Ask yourself this question from time to time: how has your life improved, even by making small changes?
Consciousness allows you to focus on small changes, step by step, and helps you to keep your enthusiasm high, so you’re continuing to be motivated for further change, even if it takes awhile.
In the past 30 years or so there has been much research and development published about change, the process of change and what motivates people to change.
The Transtheoretical Model of Change was founded by James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente (for more information look here) and is systematically and practically applied with Motivational Interviewing, founded by William Miller and Stephen Rollnick (for more information look here).
The Model of Change, while initially used to understand how to help people struggling with substance abuse stay on on the road to recovery, has been expanded. Professionals in health, business, conflict resolution, etc also find the stages helpful to understand how people make changes and what helps at each stage of change to stay on course.
For most people struggling with emotional eating—those who have dieted and dieted and dieted and want to get off that particular merry-go-round—the insights about how people make a decision to change and what is necessary to pivot in another direction is helpful (for more information on the decision to change look here).
There are three main areas to focus on when making the change to become a Conscious Eater. The umbrella for knowing, consciousness and peace, is self-acceptance.
Truly looking in the mirror and being clear with where you are right now frees you from evaluation and judgement.
Knowing – you know that you have to do something differently for things to change and it’s painful to go through the process of change.
When you want things to change, whether it’s for your body to be different, your relationship with food to be different, to feel like you can focus on your life without self-doubt, to feel like you can be present in the moment and not somewhere in the past or future; it’s hard.
Often the focus shifts back to what you can do now.
What is the most concrete thing that will lead to results you can see, feel, experience, and therefore know, that you’re doing something.
Many times the answer goes to the quick fix of the diet. “Six weeks to bikini ready” or “do this cleanse and break free from sugar cravings.” It’s enticing.
Ultimately you know that these tactics don’t lead to the long term change you really want: freedom from emotional eating.
It’s hard to have faith in yourself.
To keep moving forward when the path is unsure and the changes you experience are ones you only feel from the inside.
When you may want to protect the changes, shifts in mindset, ways of nourishing yourself each day and keep them private.
Acceptance is the path to a long term transformation of your relationship with your body, allowing yourself to begin where you are each day.
Consciousness – Recognizing where you are in the process of change and making a decision to do it.
Once you’ve gotten off the diet merry-go-round and firmly made the decision to change, then your commitment will be tested.
It takes fortitude to stay the course of the slow road to change. In the beginning, every time you log on to social media, go to the grocery store or even have lunch with a friend, you will be reminded that the process you have decided to engage in—to become a Conscious Eater—takes patience.
Most people will be in a different place. That’s okay – stay conscious.
Trust the process, notice how you’re different today and celebrate your success by honoring yourself – moment by moment.
You are learning what you need to fuel you; mind, body and heart for the rest of your life.
Peace – Finding what works for you and developing your confidence in the changes you have made so you can live in freedom.
Freedom is knowing that you never have to diet again.
In fact, you get to a point where it becomes nearly impossible to diet.
You’re secure in the knowledge that you are taking great care of yourself by nourishing your body with food that helps you function well.
You feel good about the food choices you make. You have the freedom to enjoy all foods and you enjoy them mindfully; listening to your mind, body and heart.
When you treat yourself with respect and love, you’re able to open yourself up to become a Conscious Eater and getting stuck on short-term results becomes a thing of the past.
Self-acceptance is caring for yourself with kindness, love and compassion.
Kindness is the pathway toward change.
Compassion is the fuel for your movement down that path.
Self-acceptance is treating your body with love.
Does it mean that you should just resign yourself to getting comfortable with where you are and somehow accept that emotional eating will be a part of your life? No.
For too long women, in particular, have accepted that feeling badly about their bodies is the norm. That we should learn to accept being unhappy and in pain. This is madness!
If you can take the leap of faith—that love, kindness and compassion are the fuel that will help you change so you get you where you want to be in life—then you have already layed a strong, supportive foundation.