The relationship you have with your body is one of the most important relationships you will ever form.
It is the only vessel we are given to experience this life with, and yet, countless women struggle to love it. It’s due to the media, our surroundings, and even our own insecurities that we put so much pressure on our bodies to fit some version of “perfect.”
As an athlete, I’ve experienced plenty of ups and downs in my relationship with my body—leading to severe anxiety, an eating disorder, and a loss of myself—so I know how much self-awareness and handwork it takes to overcome these pressures. Luckily, a new revolution is beginning to erupt: one with a new message of self-love and of worshiping our bodies right where they are. There are amazing women rising up and inspiring others to heal their relationships with their bodies.
Their messages are what helped me pull myself back up from rock bottom and develop these five initiatives to reprogram my subconscious and relearn what it means to love my body.
Leave behind expectations and you will flow like a river.
The feeling of control I received from extreme dieting and exercise was what addicted me to it. I began fitness competitions during a point in my life when I didn’t really understand what was going on deep inside myself. I had seemingly lost control over all other aspects of my life, and the ability to shape what my figure looked liked persuaded me to ignore what my body was telling me, shut down every natural craving it was having, and block out every negative thought I had about the process.
Looking back, I now see that when we try to control every aspect of our natural condition, we constantly feel as if we are swimming against the current. Instead of letting go and trusting that the universe will steer us in the right direction, we end up tiring ourselves out, and sometimes even lose ground. It wasn’t until I let go of all the rules I had set for myself that I began to move forward naturally. My body began to recover from the strict deprivation I had put it under, inspiring people stepped into my life, and all negative energies fell away. Once I shed the expectations that the media, my peers, and myself were projecting, my body began to reflect my inner desires and thoughts of kindness
Surround yourself with those that inspire you and lift you up.
Our minds and bodies naturally react to our surroundings and interactions with others. This is why it’s so important to surround ourselves with those who’s energy and intentions align with our own. When my life revolved so greatly around fitness modeling, I shut out my closest friends because, deep down, I knew they would try to shake me of my compulsive behaviors. I also drove away every man that tried to provide balance in my life because the thought of relinquishing even the slightest bit of control to someone else was horrifying. Instead, I only socialized with people who supported my extreme lifestyle.
They needed to feel the same way about their bodies as I felt about mine. They had to eat the same food I did and count every calorie, and never miss a workout.
I later found a quote that read, “You are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with,” and this couldn’t be closer to the truth. All of the relationships in our lives reflect where we are and how we feel about ourselves. We form attachments to people who connect with our past, our struggles, and very often, who fuel the energy we currently live in. Once I began to reprogram my subconscious and journey toward recovery, the negative individuals started to drop out of my life, and I began to attract incredibly positive and loving people. Suddenly, I was spending time with individuals who had tender, loving relationships with their bodies.
Listen to your burning desires and follow your intuition.
Your intuition will always pull you in the direction of your true north, and you will be able to feel it. During my time as a fitness competitor, I was in what appeared to be the best shape of my life – both physically and socially. I was featured in magazines and received lots of positive attention from my peers, clients, and friends. And yet, the whole time I carried a deep sadness that sat by my side through every meal and workout. I blamed it on my low carb diet or my sore and tired body making me cranky, but deep down, I knew that I shouldn’t be feeling this way. The voice continued to grow louder and louder until, one day, I let go of the wheel and walked away.
I began giving my body the food and rest it told me it needed. I was overwhelmed with gratitude each day I released myself from living an unhealthy, extreme lifestyle. I reached for the balance that I knew so many female athletes desired, and did my best to let go of the fear of no longer being what I thought was “special.” Ultimately, it was my intuition and burning desire to understand what true health was that set me back on my right path.
Only speak kind words to yourself.
We are what our thoughts and what our words tell us we are. Negative self-talk can quickly become the downfall of our best attempts to develop a loving relationship with our bodies and ourselves. In speaking the words “I am” followed by what we think ourselves to be, we declare to the universe our truth and what we manifest within ourselves. With this in mind, affirmations have become one of my most powerful tools in building a loving relationship with my body.
Grief, shame, and anger are never far behind when we experience trauma of any kind. When I began to make healing changes to my life, I felt a tremendous amount of anger towards myself. I couldn’t help but ask, “How could I treat my body like this? How could I have attempted to inspire my clients from a broken place? Why did I allow others to degrade me?” But this type of shame, disappointment, and anger only holds us back from reaching our healthiest and happiest life.
Writing forgiveness letters is a powerful way to let go of the anger we hold towards ourselves and towards others. They help us let go of the resentment that lingers inside us, waiting to negatively shape our future experiences. Our souls are always moving towards something greater, and forgiveness helps us reach it faster by breaking our ties to the past. Simply put, forgiveness is about connecting with our love for each other, our bodies, and ourselves.
By letting go with love and compassion we are ultimately opening a door for a new beginning.
This is how you set yourself free.
Author: Holly Goodwin
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: PRO Loving Earth at Flickr