At this time of year, I hear a lot of conversations about the new year. I hear people say that in the new year, they are going to hit the gym; get a personal trainer; follow a strict meal plan; cut out carbs, etc. As if somehow, they have to justify their enjoyment of the moment, promising to punish themselves when the calendar turns over to January 1st.
I was at a Christmas function yesterday, and the conversation ended up turning in this direction. I smiled and did not comment. I was smiling with recognition of what you could say has become a holiday tradition; this talk of changing our bodies in the new year.
What I really wanted to say, and didn't at the time, is could we please just enjoy the party without expressing any guilt? Could we not talk about the need to fix our bodies in the new year? Could we instead focus on the enjoyment of our food, and the enjoyment of each others company?
The other thing I thought about was, what if you can't change your body shape or size? What if, despite all of your efforts to diet and exercise, your body just stays the same, or instead becomes larger than it is now? For a lot of people this is a reality, due to the way our bodies have a set point (read more about that here).
This time of year we are doing our Christmas shopping. We are asked if we would like a gift exchange card to be included, in case the gift recipient wants to take it back or exchange it.
This got me to thinking. Our bodies are very much like gifts that come with a no exchange, no refund policy. They are ours to care for, for life.
If we can't exchange them or return them; meaning that we are stuck with them, does that make our bodies any less worthy of our care and compassion? Certainly not!
It is the belief that there is something wrong with our bodies because they don't look a certain way, that gets in our way of caring for them.
Nourishing foods, rest, sleep, stress relief, and exercise that is appropriate for our bodies; this is what compassionate self care is all about. When we are caught up in the belief that our bodies must look a certain way before we can truly start to care for them, we tend to override the messages our bodies are sending us. For example, we will get up at the crack of dawn to go to the gym and do a grueling workout before work, when all our body wants to do is to sleep. We will eat a kale smoothie for breakfast, when what we really want is toast and eggs.
There is nothing wrong with wanting better health for your body to experience. There are a million baby steps a person could take to go about achieving this. Take a bath to relieve stress, pack snacks to eat at work throughout the day, go to bed at the same time every night and follow a bedtime routine that helps you fall asleep, spend time outdoors, spend time with people you love to be with. These are a few examples of baby steps that all add up to improved health and well-being.
Instead of wanting a different body, why not start experiencing life in the one you have, in the best possible way?
When you don't have the preoccupation of fixing the way your body looks, and you can appreciate it lovingly for everything that it does for you, you will enter into a beautiful relationship with your body. One of trust, respect and love.
And that, my friend, is not something you want to take back to the store.