Befriending Your Body – Why it’s the Key to Achieving a Healthy Weight – Episode #003
In this show, you’ll learn about one of the most destructive messages that is perpetuated by diet culture, “Your Body is the Enemy”, why this belief is so toxic and how it derails your health and weight goals. Discover practical strategies that you can use immediately to be on the path to having a more loving and harmonious relationship with your body so you can achieve your weight goals.
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Welcome to the soul science nutrition podcast where you’ll discover that when it comes to your health, you’re so much more powerful than you’ve been led to believe. And now your host, she’s a holistic nutrition and lifestyle coach, chef, author, and Yogi Christine Okezie.
Hello and welcome to episode three of the soul science nutrition podcast. I’m Christine Okezie Thanks so much for tuning in today. So today I want to dive in to one of the most destructive messages that I see perpetuated by diet culture. And that is the message that your body is not your partner, friend or ally. On the contrary, the diet culture will tell you that your body is a problem, it’s flawed and unacceptable, and as an enemy you certainly can’t trust it. So today I want to explore this belief. It’s toxic and serious health, derailing effects, and some practical tools that you can immediately begin to use to rewire it. It’s important to note that this is the belief that diet culture counts on to make you vulnerable to the various forms of their punishing diet approaches to food and exercise. Underneath the popular mantra of no pain, no gain is an unspoken belief that you can shame yourself into having the body that you want.
With each new diet or wellness plan, there is this message, you are not a fully acceptable person for someone else to see. No and love, unless dot, dot, dot. Fill in the blank. All the efforts you make to change or perfect yourself only serve to deepen your feelings of shame. You’re constantly in a state of, I’m not okay unless I’m skinny. I don’t eat this. I have a flat stomach, I have thinner thighs, can fit into my older jeans, et cetera, et cetera. Well, in my work, I’ve come to see that poor body image is a core wound that needs attention at the very beginning of any plan to achieve a healthy weight or make positive changes around food and self care. When our very own bodies cause us feelings of anger, disgust, or worthlessness, it has a such a significant impact on many aspects of our wellbeing and to be clear, sometimes we conceptualize poor body image too narrowly.
So many of my clients have struggled with shame of having their bodies betray them beyond being just thin. They’re blaming and hating their bodies for physical illness, disease, dysfunction, or for just failing to live up to their own expectations, which honestly are often built on social stereotypes. Make no mistake, the pain of being at war with our bodies causes harm to us on a physical, emotional, and soul level. The research is clear, shame, self criticism, social comparison contributes to so much suffering, anxiety, depression, overeating, disordered eating and more feeling inferior and self conscious because of our weight or body shape creates this desperate need for external validation of our worth and this leads to so many other behaviors that derail us. People pleasing, not speaking our truth, certainly self neglecting behaviors like overworking, overachieving. How about the inability to feel satisfied with our own accomplishments?
All these ways of being brought on by shame, move us further away from what we truly want, which ultimately is to feel whole comfortable in our skin and that we belong. You see there’s a cruel and ironic cycle that happens when we don’t do the important work of healing. Our relationship with our bodies being overrun in our minds by our perceived flaws is actually what leads to so many of the behaviors that make weight management a struggle. But that’s not all. There’s also a huge effect on the biology of weight. When we have that mean voice that tape in our heads that plays things like, I hate the way I look. My body is disgusting. I’m hopeless. No one can really love me like this. All these messages create a potent source of chronic stress. The body feels under self attack and responds accordingly. It responds with fight or flight chemistry, a series of physiological changes in our body that elevates the hormone cortisol.
This causes a cascade of changes that puts the body in fat storage mode and actually slows down calorie burning. Crazy and ironic, isn’t it? So here’s the big secret that the diet industry traditionally doesn’t want you to know. Your best chances for achieving and managing your natural weight. Come from love and acceptance, not rejection restriction, not punishment of your body. Don’t just take my opinion. There are countless studies that show that when people feel more positive about their body, their ability to regulate their eating habits improves as well as their motivation and self efficacy. That is their belief in their own ability to produce their desired result. Self-motivation, self-regulation, self-efficacy, all these things are shown to be major contributors to positive lasting habit change. Even in my own personal experience, I can tell you that the moment that I committed to the process of accepting my body, it unlocked me from a cage I didn’t even know that I was in.
It freed up so much energy that became clarity and motivation to care for myself more effectively, more sustainably. My body definitely appreciated this and I never had to diet again and that my friends was 11 years ago. C, learning to love and accept my body and myself ultimately unconditionally. Well, it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a journey, but I have to tell you, it’s one that is so empowering and so transformative and in my clients, I know that those who do the work of learning to accept and respect their bodies, well, they’re the ones that achieve the most significant changes in their health and wellbeing. After all, if you and your body are at war, if you are constantly hating on that image in the mirror, and if you constantly see your body as a mistake, how do you really think you’re going to treat it?
Because if you don’t respect your body, here’s what happens. You place lots of other priorities ahead of your own body’s needs. I mean, really isn’t this what happens? I’ve found, you know, it’s how we lose our way. Everything and everyone else’s needs always take over and become more important. We put our bodies on hold, we fall into patterns of self neglect. In short, we forget that we matter, but when you love and accept your body, you begin to treat it as a precious gift. Self care happens with so much less resistance. When you fully respect your body, you see your value beyond the number on the scale and you will never forget that you matter. You will know that putting your body, your wellbeing first is what gives you the health and the energy that you need to be the better mother or father, spouse, friend, or employee.
Okay, great. Now that you understand the rationale, which by the way is backed by an abundance of published research, how do you cultivate seeing your body as your partner, your ally, and health and your weight loss goals? Well, this is where we get a bit paradoxical. We do the exact opposite of what diet culture does. Instead of rejecting, ignoring, distrusting your body instead of withholding your own love until you lose the weight. Well, I support my client with what I’ve come to call embodiment strategies. Embodiment strategies are practices that are focused on reestablishing our connection with our bodies. We do this by expanding our awareness of feelings and sensations of being in the body. See, because when it comes to our food and weight struggles, living disconnected from our bodies is almost always the case. After all, depending on our health issues being in our bodies can be really uncomfortable perhaps for some of us, even painful or scary, and this makes caring for our bodies feel even more like a burden.
So much of diet culture perpetuates this disconnection. It has us living in our heads, counting calories, itemizing, measuring food, logging your food, and my biggest favorite, being a slave to the scale. All these tactics conditioning us to default to all these externally focused means to gauge our progress, feel a sense of control, and even tell us how to feel about ourselves. Instead, I give my clients tools that reorient their awareness back to their bodies. Exercises that slowly reestablish self-trust just like you would when you wanted to restore any other important relationship in your life that’s been neglected. So I want to go into five main embodiment strategies. The first one, positive self-talk. We have to begin with a commitment to ending the way that we talk to ourselves. And one of the best ways to counteract the negative self talk is with affirmations. Now, let me dive a little deeper.
It’s not just positivity, it’s not brushing difficult emotions under the rug. Affirmations are proven methods of self-improvement because of their incredible ability to rewire our brains. The words we speak out loud are powerful sound currents that support our entire energetic system to resonate at a more balanced frequency. Affirmations help you feel more optimistic, which in turn helps you build a more harmonious environment for your body, your mind and your soul. Think of them like exercise in the way that they raise this level of the feel good hormones and they push our brains to form these new clusters of positive thought neurons. You can have a healthy weight and body and be kind and loving to yourself. Kindness does not breed laziness. The power in changing your conversation around your body image and paying attention to your internal dialogue gets you dealing with the core of who you are.
It forces you to see yourself beyond the weight and more importantly in touch with how you really want to live. So I want to share just a few of my favorite affirmations to help our heal our relationship with our bodies. I love and accept my body where she is and I am ready to seize this opportunity to grow and evolve. I am constantly discovering new, loving ways to take care of my body. My body is my friend and I treated with the same loving kindness that I would like to receive even though I have a problem with.dot, dot I deeply and completely accept myself. Okay. Moving on. The second tool I want to share with you to help us build a more trusting and positive relationship with our bodies is touch. Anything that has to do with um, heightening your sensory awareness of your body and bringing a gentle, attentive, pleasurable interaction with your body.
Things like getting a massage or giving yourself your own self massage, using body scrubs and loofahs in the shower, taking warm baths, using lotions and essential oils, feeling into the places that feel tense and giving yourself a rub. Consider this special time and care that you’re giving to yourself. It’s truly amazing how the power of our own touch goes a long way towards helping us to repair and we build our relationship with our bodies. Okay, embodiment, strategy number three, movement. Let’s rewrite the definition of exercise from one of punishment and payback to moving your body in ways that make you feel strong and beautiful. Tune into what feels good in your body. Notice your energy level and maybe on some days you go for a walk or do some yoga or stretching, hiking. Maybe it’s just a wonderful idea to turn on your favorite music at home and dance around.
These are all ways to expand our lives, enrich our lives through movement. We start to see that exercise is not simply done as a means to change our bodies or to conform to a social, cultural ideal, but actually to bring some fun into our lives. I promise you that when you make joy and activities that bring you pleasure, a priority in your life, your body will thank you. Embodiment, strategy number four, relaxation. Now. Clearly all these tools are designed to help the body counteract the negative health effects of chronic stress. But in particular, I’d like to share with you a powerful breathing and relaxation exercise. So when you have a moment lie down, get comfortable, let your eyes close and place both hands on top of your belly. Now just begin to take some long, deep, gentle breaths. Feeling the rise of the belly on the inhale and the fall of the belly on the exhale, consciously relaxing.
This part of our bodies where we hold so much unnecessary tension is so healing. As women, we suck in our bellies, ignore our bellies, or even worse, we hate our bellies and this beautiful conscious relaxation exercise connecting ourselves with our breath, with our belly. Well, it’s just a beautiful tender way to start to develop a loving relationship with ourselves, using the power of conscious breathing relaxes the body, calms the mind and teaches us that we can soothe ourselves by coming into our bodies, that it’s safe, that it’s pleasant, that it’s calming and that it’s healing and embodiment. Strategy. Number five, connecting with our bodies in the present moment, tuning into the body, allowing ourselves to shift into that observer mode, tuning into the connection between our thoughts, our emotions, and our physical sensations. This means slowing down at meals, resting more, not pushing ourselves so much, paying closer attention to the subtle and not so subtle signals that our bodies give you.
One of the core principles in this work is the concept of what I call body wisdom. The beautiful truth is that your body has a vast intelligence an inner guidance that it wants to share with you and the more you are able to know your body, slow down and quiet enough to listen, she will let you know exactly what you need. So we can do this when we bring more awareness to our food choices, the eating process itself, tuning into what I call eating with all our senses, because so many of our unwanted habits around food are just unconscious behaviors. So the process of becoming more mindful and curious about what the body’s messages are allows us to wake up and be aware of what we’re doing, thinking and believing, and once we’re aware we have the fuel to make positive changes after you eat.
For example, notice how you feel in your body, not what your mind is thinking about what you just ate, which by the way is usually full of and criticism, but actually tuning in to what your body telling you. Are you hungry? Are you full? How does that make me feel? How does my belly feel? How does my energy feel? Bringing this meditative quality, if you will, to seeing our food and our behaviors around food in this new curious way teaches us, you know how to be without the blame or the fear. Whatever’s coming up is simply information to help us make new choices. By bringing this mindful quality to our behaviors, we start to learn that we can trust ourselves, that when it comes to our own choices and our own needs, we can navigate from an internal place. It really is amazing how we can often give ourselves exactly what we need.
We live in a society that tells us we need this or we need that to feel whole, to feel worthy. Yet we have all the wisdom that we need to live a healthy, conscious and attuned life in our very own bodies. Using embodiment to heal our body image issues is not a one shot deal. Obviously. It really is a practice, but it is the ultimate practice that will lead you to nourish yourself on a deeper level, which ultimately is the path to a happier and healthier life. When you consciously commit to having and developing a loving, accepting relationship with your body, your weight will normalize over time. And finally, the beautiful gift that comes from using embodiment to befriend our bodies is that we open up to further self discovery and personal growth, giving us the opportunity to heal the root of our behavioral challenges with food. So thank you so much again for tuning in to today’s episode. I hope that you can see the amazing power that comes from fully accepting, respecting, and loving your body. This deep knowing will put you on the path to true health for a lifetime. So thank you again for tuning in today. If you liked this, please hit the subscribe button to get more episodes of the soul science nutrition podcast. I’m Christne Okezie sending you lots of light, love, peace, and great health. Bye for now.