Thursday, July 12, 2012

Befriending your body

Today, I got a newsletter from Judith Matz at Diet Survivors. It included a bit of an excerpt from Rick Hanson that really struck me and I had to share it! I hope you find it as powerful as I did.
Befriend Your Body

Imagine that your body is separate from you, and consider these questions:

  • How has your body taken care of you over the years? Such as keeping you alive, giving you pleasure, and taking you from place to place.
  • In return, how well do you take care of your body? Such as soothing, feeding, and exercising it, or taking it to the doctor. On the other hand, in what ways might you run it down, feed it junk food, or intoxicate it?
  • If your body could talk to you, what might it say?
  • If your body were a good friend, how would you treat it? Would that be different from how you treat it now?

  • Remember a time when you treated a good friend well. What was your attitude toward your friend, and what kinds of things did you do with him or her? How did it feel inside to be nice toward your friend?

    Next, imagine a day of treating your body like another good friend. Imagine loving this friend—your body—as you wake up and help it out of bed: being gentle with it, staying connected to it, not rushing about… what would this feel like?

    Imagine cherishing your body as you move through the morning—such as helping it kindly to some water, giving it a nice shower, and serving it healthy and delicious food. Imagine treating your body with love as you do other activities, such as driving, caring for children, exercising, working with others, doing dishes, having sex, or brushing your teeth.

    How would this approach feel?

    You'd probably experience less stress, more relaxation and calm, more pleasure, more ease, and more of a sense of being in control of your life. Plus an implicit sense of being kind to yourself, since in a deep sense you don't just have a body, you are your body; treating it well is treating you well.

    If your body could speak, what might it say to you after being treated with love for a day?

    Then, for real, treat your body well for a day (or even for just a few minutes). What's this like? In what ways does it feel good? Notice any reluctance to be nice to your body. Maybe a feeling that doing so would be self-indulgent or sinful.

    Explore that reluctance, and see what it's about. Then decide if it makes any sense. If it doesn't, return to treating your body well.

    If you could talk to your body, what might you say? Perhaps write a letter to your body, telling it how you've felt about it in the past, and how you want to be nicer to it in the future.

    Make a short list of how to care better for your body, such as quitting smoking, or leaving work sooner, or taking more time for simple bodily pleasures. Then commit to treating your body better.

    Kindness begins at home.

    Your home is your body.

    Monday, July 9, 2012

    A little perspective

    This weekend, while working to spring clean a little in anticipation of our big move (did I tell you we are buying a house?!), I found an old photo album I didn't recognize. It turned out to be pictures from my college graduation and early graduate school, about 8-9 years ago.

    At first, I was amused by my painfully blonde hair (I'm naturally a medium brown. My dear husband says I should never have blonde hair again). But then, I was deeply saddened. I thought to myself, wow, I look skinny. Graduate school was probably the darkest period of my life, diet-wise. My eating disorder was at its worst and I thought I was so fat. I got down to my lowest weight by my grad school graduation and my body was really sick.

    I am now about 25 lbs heavier than then. I sat there thinking, if I thought I was fat then, what hope is there for me now? But then, I thought, no. I am tired. Tired of "feeling fat," tired of abusing my body and not appreciating it. Tired of wasting time. Enough is enough!

    It's funny how a picture has so much power and reminds me of so much pain. I look at newer pictures, me with my baby girl, and I look happy. And thinner than my mind tells me I am. Pictures really so speak a thousand words.

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012


    Whenever I choose not to eat something sweet (as in, I really am not hungry and not terribly interested but it's still available), I have this intense feeling of deprivation. Like I am keeping myself from something wonderful and I have this strong feeling of sadness and, oddly, loneliness.

    I am not sure if this is leftover from dieting days and purposefully restricting, or related to something more emotional and feelings of emotional neediness being filled by food. Probably a little of both.

    I haven't quite mastered talking myself down from these feelings. I need to explore them more and find their root. I'm scared to pull at it but I know it needs to be examined.