A bit about how intuitive eating helped me accept my body and feel comfortable in it.
Recently, I had the incredible opportunity to embark on a week-long adventure in Las Vegas with my partner, M. As a first-time visitor to Sin City as an adult, I was bubbling with excitement! Knowing we'd be out and about a lot, and wanting to look and feel fab in Vegas, I realized my wardrobe needed a revamp. So I went shopping, which was something I used to dread. I would always end up feeling frustrated that things didn't look as good on me as they did on the rack. This time, I enjoyed it! Compared to clothes shopping in the past, it was a completely different experience. As I reflected on it, I realized the reason I actually enjoyed it this time was because I actually liked my body! Let me take you on (a brief overview of) my journey.
Struggles with Body Acceptance
For the longest time, loving my own body wasn't even something I knew could be possible. I didn't accept or appreciate my body at all—I hated it without even realizing it or the affect that had on me. I thought my body was "wrong" and therefore it needed to be changed. Like many of you, I received messages from society and the people around me that I needed to shrink myself in order to be accepted. These damaging beliefs as a growing individual led to a downward spiral of self-esteem, unhealthy behaviors, and losing touch with my body's needs. In an attempt to conform, I restricted my food intake and pushed my body to its limits with excessive exercise. The toll it took on my well-being was immense. I lost my period for over three years, and my body suffered the consequences of neglect. I tried to cover up my insecurities by concealing my body, doing everything possible to avoid being seen.
What's crazy is that I didn't see the impact of all this on my mental health and well-being until years and years later. You may be able to relate, as we're all living in a society that holds thinness—no matter how you feel on the inside—as a prerequisite for acceptance and love from others.
Discovering Intuitive Eating
Let me share another shocking truth: I didn't discover intuitive eating until after I graduated from college with my BS in Nutrition. I was in the final months of my dietetic internship when I heard of and started reading books about the topic. It was through this revolutionary approach to true nourishment that I began to truly appreciate and love my body. I let go of the idea of "earning" the food I consumed and shed the guilt that came with not adhering to rigid exercise routines. In that process, I discovered a profound truth: my beauty radiates from within, and my worth cannot be defined by society's narrow ideals.
Intuitive eating isn’t just about what or how you eat. It’s about choosing to show love to your body by slowing down, listening to what it needs, and providing that nourishment for it. That is a true act of self-love!
Between the ages of 9 to 15 I never wore shorts, and I wore a t-shirt over a one-piece swimsuit. I was so self-conscious I didn't even put my hair into a ponytail because I didn't want the attention. Running boosted my confidence at age 15, and I started wearing shorts again, but I wore a bikini for the very first time at the age of 24, on the beach at Coney Island. Baby steps were how I got to a place to wear a bikini in front of others and not feel self-conscious, and baby steps is what I would suggest to anyone on this journey. It won't happen overnight, but if you want to wear something that you want to because know you will feel empowered and eventually comfortable in it—wear it first in the dressing room, then in your backyard, then at the pool, and finally at the beach! And keep doing it!
The Ongoing Journey
While I've come a long way on my journey towards body love, I want to acknowledge that it hasn't been—and it is still not—a straight path. There are still days when I find myself looking in the mirror or feeling my skin and wishing certain parts of my body were different. Those same messages get through some days. It only makes sense after living with them for so long. But now I love my body enough to not listen to them. I remember that nobody is perfect, and I am worthy of love and acceptance just the way my body is. And I also don't let these inevitable moments of insecurity define my self-worth. I remind myself that all that actually matters is that I love my body and myself.
One thing this journey has led me to discover is that body love is dependant on the health of your relationships with food and exercise. Like most things related to health, It all works together. You can't show your body love while you're skipping breakfast in efforts to restrict calories to lose weight, and you can't show your body love while you go out for a run even though your knees are hurting. Healing those relationships with food and exercise is essential for you to get to a place where you actually love your body and feel fully comfortable in it.
Embracing Your Journey
The journey towards loving your body may be challenging, but it is also so beautiful!
It’s a journey that requires patience and self-reflection. You’re only human, and this journey isn't always a straight line. But remember, every step counts! Every time we choose self-love and acceptance, we take a stand against everyone out there saying we have to look a certain way to be accepted. Be part of the movement!
If you are struggling to accept your body, I want to encourage you to keep going down the self-love journey. Embrace it. Embrace yourself. You are worthy of love, respect, and happiness, just as you are. Nothing needs to change before you become worthy.
And if you need any help, I'm here!