“Today, I will try to look kindly at my body and to treat it with love and respect.”
This is one part of the Live Well Pledge in Health at Every Size by Lindo Bacon, PhD.
This pose, Ustrasana (camel pose), brings up a lot of feelings and sensations for me. It’s uncomfortable, my breathing changes because of the shape I get into, and it’s also space of deep growth. Sometimes it makes me dizzy and nauseous but I only go as far as my body says to go, mindful to be aware of the discomfort but not to the point where I’m ignoring physical and mental limits.
I value the relationship I’ve built over the years with my body. I listen to it as best as I can, slowly building trust over time. Maybe I needed this reminder today- to listen to and to trust my body’s wisdom.
What’s one way that you can love on your body, be kind to your body, and/or treat it with respect today?
This was the subject line of an email I received this week about the developmental tasks of 7 year olds. It’s all about making choices, learning from mistakes, and self-achieving success for that age range. I work with adults but often times we all need some “growing up” again. As an adult, with more internal and external resources and a full grown prefrontal cortex, I like the idea that I can help, support, and love on a younger version of me.
This is what a conversation between adult me and child me would sound like:
7 year old me- Makes a face, a hissing sound, and says “no” while still slightly curious.
Adult me, “Yes boo- take risks, make choices, and learn from your mistakes. You can figure things out and I love growing with you. Let’s do this!”
The process of failure and success bring big benefits to both versions of you- the adult and the child. Benefits include increasing connection with oneself, trusting intuition, learning new skills, and more healthy risk-taking behavior. Yes please!
I’m trying something new and I’m hooked! The first few times I went surfing, I had a great set of guides to help me be successful. They taught me as much as they could for the time that we were together. They encouraged me to go on my own at a different time with specific instructions to read the waves and connect to the water. It was different that time around though. I felt alone, frustrated, I barely got up, and I definitely didn’t have a photo op like you see above. It’s all good though, I still believe there was something to learn even with that experience. Trying something new can be exciting and fun as well as disappointing and discouraging. I guess it’s safe to say that all sorts of feelings will come up during the process and that it’s okay and normal.
Reminders when trying new things:
BEGINNERS MIND- The beginner’s mind is fresh and awake to possibilities, free from a habitual pattern of behavior and thought. There is an opportunity for a different experience when you can settle into this space.
BE KIND TO YOURSELF- Relax the tension in the face and smile. A half smile (lifting the corners of the mouth) for 3 full breaths can ease stress and can also give space from the expectations of success.
ASK FOR HELP- Have a teacher, guide, or mentor? Doing things alone is important but so is asking for help. Learning new things is a different experience when you can ask questions, make informed decisions, and have people that will support you in the process.
I had promised myself a hike today. I haven’t been on one in a while and it felt like a good way to recharge and/or work some stuff out. It also got me thinking about the narratives people use when they first start counseling.
Overheard in the dressing room today, “you look skinny, you look beautiful, you look great”.
I winced, felt my body tense, and I hoped that you would get my telepathic messages from the other side of the dressing room- “Noooooooo!”, “How do you feel?”, “How does it fit?”, “Does it make you shine from the inside out?”
YOU ARE COMPLEX AND MAGNIFICENT IN SO MANY WAYS
Hearing this message in the dressing room wasn’t a surprise, unfortunately it happens often. It’s the way society teaches us to evaluate and be critical of beauty (among other things). It does do harm in the long run though. When you hear a message often and for a long time it can sink in to your belief system and make you think that you are supposed to look a certain way. Those words in the dressing room equate an arbitrary number to a person’s worth and beauty. Also, eating and body image issues are not just “women’s problems”. Studies are showing that more people are becoming aware of the gender-neutral nature of eating disorders and body image issues.
At the MLK March and Rally at the State Capital today, I looked around and saw so many individuals who had come together to honor and celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It was truly inspiring and I also felt sadness. The daily news is a reminder that there is still so much work to do.
Have you ever wondered how social justice fits into your life? Being curious is a great place to start. Therapy can be a space to safely explore attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors in relation to gender, race, sexual identity, and immigration (just to name a few).
During November, I did a daily self-love challenge. I lost momentum about twenty-one days into it. The focus of the challenge took a drastic turn one night when I yelled at my kids. I felt terrible for days and I couldn’t forgive myself for how I treated them. There was no way I could practice self-love at that point.
Wasn’t that what I was asking for this whole time? An opportunity to practice patience, forgiveness, and compassion? When I took my frustrations out on my kids that night, I felt self-critical and just plain shitty about myself and the situation. Did I deserve to go through a challenge of self-love or was it exactly what I needed?
This past weekend I was feeling funky. I didn’t feel 100% in my body, and my clothes didn’t feel great on me either. It’s embarrassing to say, as this is a minuscule thing to be concerned about given all the things that are going on in the world, but I wanted to share anyways.
I would describe myself as a highly sensitive person. Things like the fit of my clothes and bodily sensations are like sirens going off when things aren’t just right. I understand that I can do things to manage my emotions such as shift perspectives (check!), create a gratitude list (done!), and practice coping strategies to manage the frustration (on it!), but even with all that, it didn’t take away the discomfort.
When I started creative writing outdoors, the first line in the journal was “I feel my energy come back to me.” The next few lines were tuning into the different sensations I experienced around me – the sound of the breeze moving through the trees, the smell of my skin as the sun shined on it, the reflection of the water on a nearby fountain, the chatter of people walking by. I would occasionally pause and look around before I would write the next thing I noticed. My surroundings became more engrossing than the content of what I was writing. Tuning in to the relaxation and peacefulness that surrounded me was very cool.
“My heart found its home long ago in the beauty, mystery, order and disorder of the flowering earth.”
-Lady Bird Johnson in a letter in Native Plants magazine, Fall 2002.
I noticed recently that I’ve been wanting to be outside more. I began to reflect on the stressors in my life about relationships, home, work, the current state of the nation, etc., and how being out in nature does a lot for my mood, my mental health and managing my stress.
I used to play volleyball in college. It was my first time leaving home and I didn’t know how to feed myself while I worked out and played volleyball like it was a full-time job. I relied on my teammates and the people around me to help me figure out what to eat and how to take care of myself and there was definitely a lot of trial and error. This is one of the reasons why eating and body image issues are important to me and why I value working on a team to help individuals who experience these concerns.
In collaboration with Gina Mateer, Registered Dietitian (RD), Licensed Dietitian (LD), Certified Eating Disorders Registered Dietitian (CEDRD), with Nom-Nomaste, we wanted to highlight some reasons to visit a dietitian when a person is concerned about their eating and body image issues.