NEGATIVE EMOTIONS LIKE GUILT AND SHAME DON’T LEAD TO CHANGE AND APPRECIATION
When you look in a full-length mirror, what do you see? Are you inspired, encouraged, and appreciative, even if your reflection doesn’t match your desired state? Maybe you smile and think, Hey, winter wasn’t always easy but all in all, I’m looking and feeling pretty good. Or do you drift to the other side of the spectrum and completely avoid mirrors, especially full-length ones? Are you secretly disappointed in yourself, angry even, that you didn’t keep your New Year’s resolutions to eat better and exercise more and that you wasted the past few months of potential improvement?
If the second scenario resonates with you, know that you’re not alone. As we come out of winter, most of us carry a few extra pounds that make us uncomfortable, especially as we shed heavy winter clothing and reveal what’s underneath. You may look at your belly or thighs with regret and shame, wishing you didn’t indulge in those warming comfort foods. Or perhaps you didn’t indulge at all and the weight is simply a result of reduced physical activity, a common occurrence in winter.
Whatever the reason, it’s not so much the weight itself that’s the heaviest but rather the thoughts and emotions about that weight. Judge and jury may be quick to arrive on the scene, reprimanding you for not doing better with lots of coulda, shoulda, woulda that just has you feeling bad. This negative self-talk and view of your body is not helpful and can actually cause you to be less motivated to take healthy action, fostering an even greater downward health cycle.
LISTEN TO YOUR HEART
To change how you relate to your body, first connect with your mind-set and attitude, but not through the door of your mind. Brain habits are very strong and take time and effort to break. The war of words can deplete willpower and lead to even more frustration and shame. Instead, come to change through your heart by reflecting on the true love and care you have for yourself and the real reasons why health and feeling good are important to you. When the heart is front and center, commitment becomes easier, and it builds a more collaborative relationship between what you truly want and how to get there.
Begin by scanning each individual part of your body (including your organs and systems), bringing to heart what each part does, how it takes care of you and makes life possible. Spend time here. Meditate on the 30 trillion cells (wow) that are always working behind the scenes to create health. Send yourself lots of loving kindness and be grateful for all the joys and the miracles of your body, even if things aren’t the way you imagined. Help your body to do its best by being its best supporter.
Recall a time when you felt great in your body, flowing and free. Really feel those feelings and sensations. Maybe it was in the summertime at the beach or laughing with a friend on a hike when you felt confident and sassy in your clothes. Invoke kindness, friendship, positivity, acceptance, love, and care—all energies from which your desired change can more easily take place.
POSITIVE CHANGE COMES FROM LOVE
Change doesn’t come from guilt, shame, deprivation, or threats. It comes from love and the heartfelt wish you have to feel and be your best. From this positive mind-set, your attitude more easily shifts to one of doing what’s best for you because care is led by your heart and not your head. With this heart focus, it’ll be easier to make healthier choices. You’ll keep coming back to “What would be best for me right now?”
Practice small, daily actions that add physical and emotional value:
- Break the sitting cycle by stretching for two minutes every half-hour.
- Try one new vegetable every week.
- Let go of the notion that your day will happen as you planned it.
- Fall asleep with gratitude.
- Turn off the electronics to turn on family time.
Integrate these things into your daily routine to make them your new, ever-lasting lifestyle. One small thing today . . . and the next day . . . and the next day. As you go along, notice the changes that are taking shape in your body, mind, emotions, relationships, and energy. It’s amazing how quickly small, consistent effort adds up to big results. Stay on your path, stay in your heart, and don’t worry about the rest. With the endless energy of the heart, everything is easier, including managing your weight.