Monday, November 25, 2013

a love letter to My Body during the holidays…

 

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My dear Body

This is long overdue, an apology of sorts. A moment of reaching out with an olive branch and bowing my head and yes, acknowledging my blatant insensitivity. The silent harshness that I seem to reserve for only you.

Will you hear me out? On behalf of my sisters everywhere?

Because we women are such paradoxical creatures, so capable of tremendous nurturing and care for others and yet when it comes to you, we have the ability to remain so frighteningly cold and detached;

with You we are different

we force food in

some of us force food out

we push you to the point of depletion

we malnourish you with excess sugars and processed foods

and ignore your quiet signals

we treat you as an object to be manipulated and changed, pinched and squeezed and ultimately branded with dissatisfaction. We view you as a project. A body that is never enough. Never thin enough, never firm enough, never quite ready enough to wear a bathing suit on the beach with unabashed self confidence

I am sorry for

standing you under ugly, florescent lights and demanding that you fit into clothing that hangs perfectly on bizarre looking mannequins with 12-year-old body types and enormous breasts.

and for shaming your tender, soft, parts when they struggle to fit into sizes that are mass produced and clearly do not recognize your specialness.  Your soft, fleshy hips that held my beautiful boys for years. Your strong legs that have carried me with unflinching dependability through all my life’s losses and joys only occasionally hinting, with sore knees, that it’s been a long journey. And still, I disparage these same legs with they are in skinny jeans.

Forgive me for my relentless, critical eye which views you through the lens of air-brushed celebrities and fashion magazines that celebrate body types only seen in less than ten percent of the female population.

I apologize for those weak moments when I succumb to this dishonest brand of female beauty.

A beauty without flaws. No smile lines or wiggly parts or signs of cellulite.

Because this affects my relationship with you. It makes me look into the mirror and focus immediately on your imperfect-ness instead of seeing the whole person. My complexity, my smarts, my creativity, my loud, goofy laugh.

And all the while you are still there. My friend and warrior against illness,

my one and only Body.

waiting patiently for a wisdom that comes from a deeper place.

So as the holidays approach I will strive to treat you better.

I pledge to slow down and listen to you. To wait until I hear the rumblings of emptiness that tell me you’re ready for food. I will choose to be grateful for the sensation of fullness instead of guilty.

I will work to recognize the difference between feeling stuffed with food and being stuffed with emotions.

And I will remember this simple truth; people put food into their mouths for two reasons, because they are hungry for food or because they are hungry for something else. And it is up to me to know what I am truly hungry for at any given moment.

In hurried times I pledge to feed you crunchy, raw foods that come from the earth not because I want to you to look a certain way but because I love you…

because I want you to be emboldened with energy and vitality and because

you, my dear Body are the container of all that is precious about me,

my feelings, my life story, my future, the essence of my Soul…

You are me and I am You

and it is impossible for me to be a confident woman without a deep, abiding bond with you.

We are life travelers you and I, so during the holidays let us be best friends

When life gets stressful I pledge to go into nature for a walk that has nothing to do with calories and everything to do with getting in touch with my feelings. I will remember that I cannot change my relationship with food until I change my relationship with others.

And when I’m engaging in mindless eating instead of feeling bad I will look for unrealistic expectations in my life. I will beware of the “shoulds” I may be imposing on myself. And the unspoken expectations I may have of others. I will say “No” without guilt. I will set limits that restore harmony to my daily life.

When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I will seek out ways to care for myself. I will use techniques such as this one: I will put my hand over my heart and use the power of my own touch to calm myself, because research tells us that human touch slows down our body’s stress response. And when accompanied by soothing self talk such as, “This is really difficult now, but this too shall pass,” I can choose serenity.

During the holidays I will banish “fat talk” from my surroundings and I will speak up when I hear a family member make comments about a person’s body or weight in my home.

I will exercise when it feels good and stop when it doesn’t

I will write down one thing my body did well each day and offer kindness in return,

(examples: stretching, yoga class, massage, lotions, hot bath)

I will examine my expectations of my child’s appearance and instead of body comments I will re-focus on their unique qualities and talents. Comments directed at their whole person.

 

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I will be open to using helpful “tools” that move me toward self knowledge like this hunger chart.

I will seek out material that is grounded in reality

like this refreshing post: What People Really Look Like

And if things get too hard… and I find myself struggling with feelings of sadness and hopelessness I will immediately seek help from a professional. Because in case you’ve never been to a good therapist,

This is why therapy rocks

(I couldn’t have said it better)

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Now here’s a question for you, my reader.

When was the last time you looked in the mirror

and thought, “I love my body.”

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*This post is dedicated to all the courageous eating disorder women that I once worked with.

 

 

I’m sharing this post at these special places:

http://www.ishouldbemoppingthefloor.com/2013/11/inspiration-monday-guest-hostesses-and.html 

http://www.dwellings-theheartofyourhome.com/2013/11/amaze-me-monday-34.html?

http://www.theviewfromfiveten.com/2013/11/life-created-tuesdays-link-party-12.html

http://www.stonegableblog.com/2013/11/the-scoop-94.html

 

 

16 comments:

AntiqueChase said...

Excellent post. Bookmarking it!!

Leslie said...

Leslie,

So much thought has gone into this.. very well written and thought provoking. I have worked in the medical field for 30 years and have seen women in all different phases of life and with various conditions and disabilities. My mind is filled with thoughts and images of patients I've scene that should read this.

We only get one body and we need to treat it kindly. No need for elimination .. just moderation.

Wonderful post! xxleslie

Kim Gibson said...

Such a lovely post. Thank you.

Lori said...

Wow ~ I love this Leslie. I have to stop grazing at parties and learn to love my lumps and bumps if I am not going to do anything about them. ton answer your question ~ it has been a long long time if ever... xo

Something Nice and Pretty said...

I think you wrote this just for me, I haven't been happy at all with my body since getting older and I quit smoking 9 months ago. The weight comes on you whether you like it or not, I know I should be happy about not smoking, which I am, but not the weight gain at all, it's so hard to lose.
Wonderful post...

Vickie @ Ranger 911 said...

I have a good friend who does not have a body that most women would envy, yet she carries herself with confidence, even when she's wearing a swim suit! We should all feel that way about ourselves! I can't remember the last time I looked in the mirror and liked what I saw. Wonderful post, Leslie.

Art and Sand said...

It has been a little over a year since I had that look in the mirror that made me happy. But still I continue to eat bread and snacks.

I ran on Thursday and Friday. I swam yesterday. I cycled today. And today, despite JP eating some of the most luscious looking bread right in front of me I said no to the bread. I did not grab any food just because it was there.

One day at a time!

Blondie's Journal said...

Amazingly written. There is not a day that goes by that I don't chastise myself for the shape I'm in. I feel total responsibility for the way I look but the beating up of myself is useless. And that's a great reason to eat for no reason.
Thank you for putting so much into words that we can't always find.

XO,
Jane

Sarah said...

Excellent post, Leslie! I went to see Chicago with a friend this week. So many well toned bodies dancing on stage! Made me say to myself it's time to get myself to the gym! Thanks for writing this post!

Cyndia said...

Loving my body is not conditional on whether I ate well or exercised. It's about honoring the physical being that my spirit is contained in, that allows me to hold my child, or hug my husband, or run a mile. It allows me to work and play and do whatever I need to do. I am grateful to my body, and I will honor it by giving it what it needs to live, without criticism and judgement.

Joanne Nauta-Koot said...

Have you got a secret tap into my thoughts? Your blog is exactly what I was struggling with the last while. I have decided to grow old....gracefully as possible, as healthy as possible, but in a balance of enjoying this body and respecting my body for all that it does for and with me. It carries me through my daily life for practical reasons, but also carries my heart, soul, and mind, which in the end are the most important things that make me WHO I am. And if I get the balance right, both body and soul will shine with joy and pleasure for all the blessings I have been given. Thanks for this encouraging blog.

anangloinquebec said...

Ah Leslie, sweet, kind and insightful Leslie. I think all women need to remind themselves that their bodies need to be taken care of and in turn they will care for their spirit at the same time. Thank you for writing this post at this time of year.
How many women will start a diet in the early days of January only to abandon it by mid-month? We hear so many messages about "looking good" that we seem to forget the importance of "feeling good".
I no longer diet to lose weight but rather I "diet" to take care of my body. I think many people are unaware of how their body works, how their metabolism works. I see so many colleagues in my workplace speaking of diets where they have a small helping of carrots with little to nothing else and I wonder why they don't understand that this will only lead to a yo-yo diet effect.
For fear of getting on a rant about diet plans, diet gurus and all the rest, I will stop here. I wish secondary schools taught health and biology programs that instructed students on how their body works. I think it might then teach people that you don't need to diet but rather to eat well to maintain your body's health. If you have big hips, well possibly so did your mother and your grandmother and so forth. Embrace your shape and feel good.
Great post Leslie. Sorry for the possible rant.

chillcat said...

Amazing! So many thoughts here. I was awful to my body in my twenties, and even now I could treat her a little better. I try though. I'm not obsessed with exterior. I'd rather feel HEALTHY than try to look PERFECT. I'd rather eat as well as I can than feel that awful pollution of processed foods. Mostly, I'm a pretty committed to living well and I'm happy with my skinny forty-plus body. I still get looks in the street, but that's not what it's about is it?? Xcat

White Weathered Hutch said...

Amazing post Leslie!! An eye opener for sure....

Erin Melikidse said...

Thank you! I will be reading this more than once.

Heather Lindstrom said...

Leslie dear-I am just catching up and am so glad I caught this insightful post. Our bodies, our confidence, our self-acceptance....where do we learn 'not' to be hard on ourselves (especially our mid-life selves)? These are essential reminders and I appreciate the thoughtfulness and care you took to create this post. I'll be bookmarking this for my holidays.
xx, Heather

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