Don't Monitor Your Body

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Ok, I admit that I’ve been procrastinating on writing this post for a couple of weeks now. I feel compelled to address this topic. Because it’s absolutely fundamental to being healthy. To having a healthy relationship with food, a healthy relationship with your body, being a healthy eater.

It’s something that I know as truth. But I’m struggling to articulate the concept clearly. I’ve been procrastinating until I have the perfect words to express it. Did you notice that I didn’t send you a message last week? Yup, I was deep in procrastination.

Why am I procrastinating so badly? Because it’s such an important concept that I want to communicate it clearly and you’ll understand completely.

The perfect words have not revealed themselves to me. Yet. However, I feel compelled to act. I can no longer keep this concept to myself. Or, shall I more accurately say, keep this concept between myself and the clients who work with me one-to-one in my 40 Days to a Happy, Healthy You program.

So here I go with my attempt to communicate this truth with you. And what I’ve decided to do is share with you, each Friday on Facebook, others who I see are walking on this path too. For clarification. For inspiration. Because maybe I don’t have the perfect words to express this to you. Maybe one of these other folks will create the “ah-ha” moment for you.

So what’s this concept that has me so worked up that my perfectionistic tendencies have me paralyzed?

Experience your body. Don’t observe it.

As women in our culture, we’re so disconnected from our bodies. We’re taught that our bodies are something to observe, to monitor, to control. How do we know what our bodies are doing? We weigh ourselves on a scale. We look at ourselves in a mirror. We read the labels on our clothes to see what the size is. We write down what we eat (on paper or in an app). We wear trackers to count our steps, to record our heart rate.

NO! Our bodies are our selves. They aren’t something separate from us. They ARE us. Mind-BODY-soul, that’s what makes a human being. Okay, you may not believe in souls, but the mind and body are still there. How can we know what our bodies are doing? We’re aware while we’re doing it. We feel emotions. We feel sensations. The concept of mindfulness captures this, except it’s named badly. Because I want you to get out of your mind and connect with your body. Perhaps it should be called “experience-fulness”.

Want to see “experience-fulness” in action? Watch a baby dance to music. They aren’t thinking “step left, step right, I know my body will look attractive if I bend in this direction”. They aren’t thinking at all. They’re feeling the music, experiencing the music, enjoying the music, and their body responds.

Consider the flip-side that I see so often when working with women.

When I’m working with women, the hardest things for them to do is to stop weighing themselves every day and stop writing down what they eat every day. They hold on to these so tightly because how else will they know if they’re being “good”, doing the “right” thing? The answer is so obvious, yet so different from what we’ve been trained to do. Take the actions that I’ve given them in their action plan. If they did them (i.e. experienced it), then they’ll know that they were “good”, did the “right” thing. The action-taking, the experience, is the proof – not some monitor.

Or, take for example the phrase that I hear women say so often: “I forgot to eat today.” NO! Eating isn’t a cognitive thing. Remembering to pick up the dry cleaning is a cognitive thing. You can forget to pick up the dry cleaning. You body sends you the feeling of being hungry to stimulate you to eat. You can’t forget to eat. You can disconnect yourself from your body’s sensations and not eat.

Liberate yourself from the shackles of monitoring your body to experience the joy of health.

P.S. Join me in Facebook for inspiration.

NGC: 'What I Like About My Body' Daily Practice

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A Nutrition Game Changer (NGC) is a food or habit that has made a big impact on the nutritional health of clients whom I’ve worked with. And, in my life too. Some may call these nutrition hacks. But I'm not a fan of that phrase. I share one NGC each month. Back in January I shared a habit that isn’t actually nutrition-related. Perhaps you could call it a “life game changer” or “life-hack”. International Women’s Day is one week away (Tues March 8th). To recognize it I thought that I would share with you another powerful “life game changer”.

Now since this habit isn’t a food or drink so you’re likely wondering why I’m sharing it. I’m sharing it because I’ve found it to be a powerful way to improve our day-to-day happiness.

So what’s this powerful habit? It’s having a daily ‘what I like about my body’ practice. At the end of each day, write down one thing that you like about your body. Some days it may be easy to choose something you love – your eyes, your hair, your powerful legs. Other days it may be more of a challenge, you may have to dig deep through your long list of the things you hate about your body to come up with things like “I can see” or “I have two legs and the ability to walk”.

I’ve added this practice to the action plans for every woman who has participated in my 40 Days to a Happy, Healthy You weight loss program. Many have told me how much they liked the practice (even those who originally resisted it).

What’s the rationale for this practice? Back when I was doing my Masters degree I was exposed to feminist deconstruction of our cultural norms. I learned how we women usually don’t experience our bodies for ourselves. Instead, we experience our bodies through how we perceive others (usually men) to be viewing them. Our thoughts about our bodies are:

  • “Do I look fat?”
  • “How’s my hair look today?”

Instead of:

  • “I love the feeling in my lungs of drawing in a huge breath of fresh air.”
  • “I love the cozy, warm feeling of wrapping a big scarf around my neck.”

A daily ‘what I like about my body’ practice interrupts our usual external observer way of viewing our bodies. It allows a foot in the door for experiencing our own bodies for ourselves. With practice, that can open the door wide for positive body image.

Do you wish you were happier? Want to feel better about yourself? Even, like what you see in the mirror? Give a daily ‘what I like about my body’ practice a try. It’s a game changer.