One of the keys to healthy eating, and for making it easy and natural, is learning to work with your body, rather than against it, which is what we generally do. When you work with your body, you listen to it, understand its messages, honour it and treat it with compassion. Your body is your best friend, not your enemy or slave. You eat well because you know that’s what your body wants. I know some of you are thinking ‘no, not my body. All my body wants is chocolate’ but that’s not your body talking, that’s your mind. You need to silence your mind and really feel into your body and your emotions; your body and emotions are really close to each others, your mind is the third wheel that keeps on butting in.
The way we approach health and weight in our society these days, is working against our bodies. We hate our bodies for not doing what we say, for not being good enough. We often ask the impossible of them such as to go from couch to a marathon in 6 months or lose a stone in a week. We punish them and torture them with diets and exercise regimes that are far too strict for us. We see tiredness an hunger as a signs of weakness. In truth, these are normal signals your body sends you – tiredness generally means you need rest and hunger means you need to eat. You cannot hate yourself to lose weight, you don’t need a kick up the arse, nor do you need to suffer to get to your goal or keep your eye on the prize. This mentality is so wrong and it is why so many people are in the situation they are today – overweight, unfit, miserable, obsessed with their bodies, full of self hatred and feeling not good enough thanks to having tried a million diets and exercise programmes that work against your body and hence never work long term.
The way out of this cycle is to learn to listen to your body. You body can tell you what’s best for YOU. No one else knows what’s best for you better than you body.
The first thing you have to do is get to know your body and get some feedback on how you’re doing at the moment. Here’s a simple exercise from my Clean Eating Kickstarter course that will help you tune in with your body. Do this every day for a month and you should see amazing results!
EXERCISE: WHAT WOULD YOUR BODY SAY TO YOU?
Sit down in a comfortable position, with your spine straight. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Then, either
- Ask yourself, what would my body say if it could talk? What would it tell me? or
- Ask your body, what would you like to tell me today? Please tell me what you’re thinking?
Use whatever words sit best with you!
Would it say something like….
- Thank you for looking after me so well
- Thank you for listening to me by noticing all the signs I send you and giving me what I need, when I need it – rest, movement, food, water….
- Thank you for trusting me
- Thank you for loving me
- Thank you for appreciating me
- Thank you for being kind to me
Or perhaps it would say
- Why are you treating me so badly?
- Why do you keep on pushing me when I’m tired?
- Why are you starving me? Why are you poisoning me? Why are you making me sick?
- Why do you hate me so much? I’m just like all the other bodies. What have I done?
- Why do you never appreciate all the things I do for you? I work so hard, put up with all your abuse, lack of fuel, rest and care, I push myself to my limits and all you do is find faults in me?
- Why do you abuse me and then expect me to be perfect?
- Why do you need me to make you happy? It’s too much to ask, I cannot do it because you’re just never happy.
Take a few deep breaths and see what comes up. In the beginning it might take a while for you to relax into this exercise and you might have to guess a bit to get the answers. As you do this more and more, you learn to listen in better.
Once you’ve done that, you might then reply to your body – often times, this means apologising, ‘I’m sorry I’ve neglected you, I promise to look after you better from now on. I promise to not take my problems out on you. I know it’s not your fault I’m not happy. I promise to make you happy and perhaps that will help me be happier too’.
The more you do this exercise, the better you become at listening to your body and the easier it becomes to make the right choices when it comes to food and exercise. Most often this means eating food that fuels you, healthy food, but sometimes, the right choice is a slice of cake. Your body will be able to tell you what it needs, don’t fight it with your mind.
Note: when you do this for the first few times, you might feel a bit emotional (which is a GREAT thing, you NEED to get those old stuck emotions out to really hear yourself and your body) so it’s good to do this in a safe place where you won’t be disturbed.