Why You Are Resisting Accepting Your Body As It Is

“I’m willing to love and accept my body just as it is”.

This is the mantra I suggested for my coaching client, let’s call her Susie.

The silence on the other end of the phone is thick, from objections not yet spoken. I know Susie is not buying this and wants to ignore my suggestion. She would end our call right now if I gave her the option.

Susie shares with me what she’s thinking.   

It’s not true. I don’t like the way my body looks. I have a fat ass and my arms are flabby. I’m tired of not fitting into my skinny jeans. I need to lose weight.

I’ve had similar versions of the these thoughts myself. This old voice still whispers in my ear on occasion. When I catch a sideways glimpse of my belly. When a workout feels crazy hard. Or, when life doesn’t seem to be going my way and I wonder if life would be easier if I was thinner.

A few weeks earlier, Susie was so busy throughout her day that she didn’t have time to eat. Her stomach was growling and uncomfortable, but she put her deadlines first. When the early evening came, Susie was beyond hungry. She felt so panicked that she was driven to eat whatever she could get her hands on. Crackers. Cheese. Chips. Pasta and meatballs. And then a huge bowl of ice cream. Susie ate until she felt sick. When bedtime came around, Susie felt horrible. I’m disgusting, she thought.

This is what hating on our bodies looks like. And feels like.

These body hating thoughts have a big impact because they turn into action. When we don’t love our bodies, we ignore, punish, abuse, blame, judge and criticize.

As our coaching session continued, I hear Susie quietly share I’ll love my body when I’m thin.

Her body needs to earn her love. In Susie’s mind, an overweight body can’t be loved. The love of her body is conditional.

Susie flashes back to scenes growing up with her younger sister. Her thin younger sister that always got praise and attention for being so lean. Susie may have been smart and driven, but her body wasn’t as slim as her sisters. She saw the positive attention and heard the casual compliments her sister received from family, friends and boyfriends. Along the way, Susie created her own truth. She needed to be skinny to be loved and accepted.

Hating our bodies for it’s size and shape isn’t just about having poor body image, it’s also about having poor self image. The act of criticizing and judging our bodies is an act of self loathing. We hate our bodies because we don’t believe we are acceptable just as we are.

Our resistance in accepting our bodies isn’t about the claimed 5, 10 or 50 extra pounds of weight. It’s our own resistance in acknowledging our own worth. The weight is just an illusion, an excuse if you will, to understand why we feel unlovable and at times, disgusting.

After all, 5 years ago, Susie finally reached her lowest weight. She didn’t wake up each morning feeling more loved. She didn’t put her skinny jeans on feeling like she could take on the world. She felt the same dreaded feelings about herself. She wondered if all of the diet sacrifices were worth it. Her self esteem hadn’t gone go up when the number on the scale went down.

Stop chasing the fairy tale ending that you’ll love and accept yourself when you lose weight. Each time you buy into it, you are buying into the idea that your own heart and soul isn’t worthy of love.

You have a beautiful light to share with the world.  Go out and share it, with your body and your gorgeous self, just as it is.

My Pact

We had an active weekend in Maine. The boys are starting their football season, Anna is getting ready to begin her first season running cross country and Mark got recruited to run Reach the Beach (a 24 hour 200 mile team run) last minute. We spent a few mornings running, doing some push-ups, squats, forearm planks and taking advantage of some down time to improve our conditioning. Some of this felt a little more challenging than I would have liked and I noticed some old but familiar self-talk. I felt frustrated and unsettled. I was wishing for a different version of my body; something better conditioned, leaner, more fit. This state of mind has crept in frequently, in different places in my life, for as long as I can remember. Struggling through a 3 mile run and remembering the days when 6 miles came so easily and effortlessly. Feeling so excited to get out the next seasons clothes and noticing that the shorts from last summer don’t fit as well as I’d like them to. Or maybe seeing a picture of a woman in a magazine wearing a super cute dress thinking, I wish I could wear that dress and look like that. When I would share my frustration of my body to my husband, he would respond with the same response I would to anyone I love. “I love you just the way you are.” It didn’t matter what he thought or if I heard the same thing from Brad Pitt. What he said, although appreciated, didn’t change the way I thought about myself. The change in my thinking had to come from me.

What made a difference for me was when I created a pact with myself. A pact rooted in gratitude, respect and trust. I didn’t realize I was doing this at the time. But somewhere along the way, I got a glimpse of insight that I am not my body, and the number on a scale or the size of my jeans does not measure my worth. Instead, I could see that my body is the home of my spirit and my uniqueness. I’ve read my share of body image self help books. Some of them would say, if you don’t like your hips, focus on your shoulders, or if you don’t like your nose, focus on your eyes. I understand the advice around emphasizing the positive, however, I think they are missing the point. Our body and even our health is a reflection of how we feel and think about ourselves. Let the focus be on what’s going on inside, not on the outside.

You have an agreement with yourself already in place. Is it based in acceptance or judgment? Is your agreement nurturing or filled with rules, deprivation and punishment? If you can see that the pact you have with yourself is any less than loving, you MUST shift it. We are here in this lifetime to shine bright and share our best version of ourselves. By embracing ourselves, our bodies and our lives just as we are in this moment, we open a space to create something new. If we continue to beat ourselves up at every turn, ironically, the change we are seeking becomes further and further out of reach because we spend all of our time and energy fighting ourselves.

Life will throw us curve balls where we can easily go from feeling on cloud 9 to being filled with doubts and uncertainties. Just like I experienced over the weekend. That’s when the pact comes in. We can say to ourselves “ I love you just the way you are” and really believe it.

Here is my Pact-

I am grateful for my beating heart and my steady breath. I promise to nurture my body with rest, movement and life giving food. I listen, I trust, I connect. I am complete, just as I am, in this moment.

What’s yours?