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Principle 8 ~ Respect Your Body

You cannot make peace with food when you are at war with your body. Your body image and eating habits are so intrinsically linked – one really does affect the other. When you don’t feel the need to change your body shape and size you are more relaxed around food, and don’t feel the need to eat solely for the purpose of changing your body. So principle 8 of intuitive eating, respect your body, helps you to let go of that a little and start to like an appreciate your body.

Loving your body doesn’t come easy if you’re in a place where you’re so unhappy with it. What if you don’t feel like you can love your body? Let’s start with appreciating, and being respectful of, your body. 

So how do you start to respect your body? 

We have to start within ourselves. 

I get it. The negative thoughts around your body are hard going. I understand getting up in the morning and seeing yourself in the mirror. I understand the awful experience that clothes shopping can be. I understand when there are things you can’t do because your body ‘gets in the way’ (I’m thinking doing shoes up, that sort of thing). I understand feeling like you can’t take part in something because you feel your body is too big, or that it just won’t let you. I understand having a long term loving relationship, but still feeling like you have to hide your body away because ‘how can it possibly be attractive, or even sexy’?

And when all that is swirling around inside your head it can be so difficult to be positive about your body. But I promise you, once you can change that mindset it will give you a totally different outlook on life. It changes your outlook on your day, your mood, what you choose to wear, what activities and events you take part in, your confidence in your intimate relationships, and also your relationship with food. 

In order to have those changes you do not have to instantly love yourself. It’s not some kind of switch where you can go from really disliking yourself to absolutely loving yourself overnight. This stuff takes work, and time. 

You have to unpick all your beliefs around your body and replace them with new ones. You have to find new ways of looking at yourself, and in more detail than you’ve probably done before. So wherever you are, we are going to strive for a place that is full of respect and appreciation for your body. 

This is different to loving yourself. Maybe one day you will go on to love yourself and think you’re the most incredible person on the planet. I hope you do. But I also think that you can love yourself without being respectful to your body, or appreciating it.

So let’s start there. That’s what intuitive eating principle 8, respect your body, is helping you to do. 

 

A new way of seeing yourself

Let’s get to a point where you really respect yourself, and appreciate your body. A place of neutrality maybe – where you don’t love but you also don’t hate your body any more, but you do see the good in it and want to care for it.

There is so much that affects how you feel about your body. Creating a positive body image isn’t solely an inside job! There will be plenty of aspects of life that affect how you feel about your body, both negatively and positively. Some you will have control over, and others you will not. 

You can’t change whether it is a bright and sunny day, or a rainy and miserable day for example, and that can make a difference. You can’t change the stock that a clothes shop stocks, and so whether you can shop there or not, and that can affect what you think of your body. However, if you can recognise some of those things that are going to affect you, you will have a better awareness of why some days you don’t feel as good as other days.

Regardless of how those thoughts come about, we do place so much blame our bodies when we feel low. We blame it for,

  • The number on the scales
  • How you can’t easily go clothes shopping
  • Whether or not you can exercise as well as you’d like
  • How easy or difficult travelling might be (aeroplane seatbelts, I’m looking at you!)
  • How you feel when you go to social events
  • How you feel when you are eating out
  • How you feel when others criticise or comment or look at you

 

We direct our frustrations at our body we say to ourselves that it’s OUR fault that we can’t buy clothes, it’s our fault that we can’t go to events comfortably, and maybe even that the criticisms and jokes from others are right, and that we have let ourselves go and we should do something about it. Have you felt any of those things?

And actually, the onus is on everyone BUT you. It’s the responsibility of the venues, of the transport companies, of the employer, to provide facilities that are suitable for all. It is the responsibility of the beauty industry and the media to start representing all bodies. It is the responsibility of healthcare providers to be better educated. And it is the responsibility of your friends and family to have a better understanding and be more accepting of people in all bodies. 

So you have to stop blaming your body. To respect your body is to not blame yourself for these things.

 

Your body is amazing 

We are constantly thinking about how we look, and the shape and size that we are, but not often do we go much deeper than that, and that’s what I’m going to encourage you to do now. Start looking at how amazing YOUR body is.

Find the parts of your body that you can appreciate, that are not aesthetic reasons to start with. Things like:

  • Your eyes – can you be grateful for your sight
  • Your ears – can you hear the voices of your children, your partner saying nice things, the birds in the trees
  • Your brain – it just does stuff! It keeps your body functioning. It holds wisdom and knowledge.
  • Your arms and hands – do they allow you to hug someone, carry your shopping, or allow you to do your job
  • Torso, belly, and hips – your core holds you strong, maybe you carried a baby, maybe it’s a soft and squidgy comforting cushion for your child or a partner to lie its head on. It houses your digestive system. 
  • You legs & feet – do they carry you around, your muscles supporting you, allowing different types of movement like exercise or dance. 

 

When you have found some parts of the body that you can appreciate in that way maybe then you can move on to liking the way some of them look too. The colour of your eyes, your perfectly shaped and polished nails, the shape of your shoulders, your curvaceous hips.

Giving yourself this appreciation is to respect your body, and when you can appreciate and respect your body parts you will naturally want to be kinder to them and care for them more. It’s another part of intuitive eating that helps bring all of the intuitive eating principles together and make you more relaxed and happier in your skin.

Don't do it alone

I’m here to help, support and guide you. 

Book a free 30 minute session with me and I’ll help you to find a way to start working with the 10 principles of intuitive eating. 

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Terri

I'm Terri Pugh

I’m here to help you to get rid of the stress and worry around food, eat more intuitively, and find compassion and love for your body, whatever shape or size it is.

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