Whole Health Collaborative

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  • Sarah Dionne, MSW, LICSW

You Can Call Me Vain : The How-To's of Body Love

Updated: Jun 2, 2019

I had mentioned in a previous article, You Can Call Me Vain, that I would share some of the changes I made to achieve Body Love. Here is a list of twenty-two things I did and continue to do in my own life; they are also suggestions I offer to my clients to support them on their own journeys toward enjoying their bodies… and ultimately, more fully enjoying their lives.

1.Be open to the possibility that maybe, one day, you may actually believe that you are beautiful... just as you are.

2. Seek out images of beautiful women whose bodies you admire but are not unattainable like Clementine Desseaux, Stefania Ferrario, Ashley Graham, Iskra Lawrence, or Jessica Leahy

(Above in the center is the powerful and lovely "plus" sized model, Ashley Graham)

3. Seek out other women online who are working on the same issues and have accepted their bodies, such as the ladies listed above or another incredibly inspiring blogger and life coach, Summer Innanen.

(above photo of the inspiring Summer Innanen)

4.Dive into books, articles, videos, whatever you can find that may help in changing harmful beliefs and uplift acceptance

(Above, Gary Van Warmerdam's book Mind Works, helped open my eyes to beliefs that were only stopping me from enjoying my life)

5.Donate any old clothes that you once “loved” but have become too tight. There’s no need to have pinching reminders throughout the day that bring attention back to body loathing rather than moving forward to body acceptance.

6. No longer identify any clothing as “fat clothes”, and if they are in your closet, take them on a ride to Salvation Army, too.

7. Buying clothing that flatters your body and fits comfortably. Personally I made the decision to share the shape of my body with my clothing rather than trying to hide it under big baggy things (ehem… fat clothes).

8. No longer buy any clothes with the intention of making yourself “look thin”, rather buy clothes that accentuate the areas of your body that you find attractive, even as simple as colors that enliven your lovely eyes or neck lines that articulate the easy curves of your shoulders

9.Taking time to do things that make you feel attractive (that is, for yourself, not necessarily for others). One thing I like is wearing makeup. I enjoy taking the time with myself to accentuate features I admire even on days I have no where to

go. Many women don’t enjoy make up, simply find what makes you feel uplifted or beautiful; softening your skin with moisturizer you love or taking time to do your hair in the ways you like rather than always reverting to that ponytail).

10.Consistently yet Moderately exercising with reasonable expectations and WITHOUT the intention of losing weight... don't worry, this doesn't mean you'll never lose any weight. Letting go of the fixation on weight loss will only help you to enjoy exercise more.

11.Resting on days you feel tired (even if you “feel fat” or overindulged the night before, and even if you want to push yourself against your body’s needs).

12.Letting go entirely of the idea of losing weight, rather love your body as it is. Again, Don't worry, this does not mean you will never loose weight!! There is a method to the madness, I promise!

13. Eat when hungry but... if you overeat or indulge in a ton of sugary cookies refrain from making assertions that you will cut back the next day or exercise more that evening. Rather, simply return to your regular routine of healthy diet and exercise.

14.Admire yourself in front of the mirror, enjoy the features that you like, describing them in loving terms while avoiding negative mental comments about the areas you dislike.

15.Touch the areas of your body that bring up self consciousness with love and affection (no pinching or poking or squeezing allowed!)

16.Let go of the scale… completely. I have one client who was having difficulty letting go of hers. Right after a session when we discussed ways to put the scale aside… it broke! We laughed together at the irony and she did not buy another one.

17. Eat healthy whole foods while refraining from processed foods... most of the time… not all of the time (there are occasions I do LOVE dark chocolate and almond milk ice cream!)

18. No longer identify any food as “good” or “bad”. Your food never murdered anyone, it’s not bad. Food is just food, some makes the body feel well and some makes it feel unwell. You eat what you eat, none of it makes you good or bad. Period.

19.Enjoy all of the food you eat; redirect thoughts of, “I shouldn’t be eating this, I will get fat” to “I’m really enjoying this, this is okay for my body sometimes”.

20.Accept what foods feel good and right for your body (I have attempted to follow Ayurvedic dietary suggestions forever, while some work for me, some simply don't and that's okay).

21.Put affirmation cards all around the house as loving reminders, we absolutely need reminders to change long entrenched patterns of thought.

22.And, lastly… practice self forgiveness on the days you fall short. We all fail at times and that’s okay, all that matters is noticing that old patterns have resumed, setting them aside, start again. No matter how many times you have to pause and recalibrate, it’s okay. Simply, repeat... notice that old patterns have resumed, setting them aside, start again.

Guess what? This works wonders for those who need to lose weight for health or quality of life. With love, tolerance, kindness, flexibility and at last acceptance, a body will settle at the weight and shape that’s right for it. The challenge that trips up many women is accepting the body that they've been blessed with.

Women who are runway models were born tall with fine bones and are, typically, naturally very thin. Not to say many (if not most) do not go to extreme measures to stay that way since most began modeling as prepubescent youth. When your career relies on the shape of your body the pressure to keep it painfully thin is astronomical. Is that really the way you want to live?

In my article Are You Happy, Can You Just Accept It? I venture deeply into the inner workings of true acceptance. To expand on that here, while self love is an internal process, it oftentimes begins as external. In other words, how you actively treat and speak about your body will determine if you will be able to truly embrace it. Truly embrace all of you with tolerance and kindness. In this process I would suggest it begins on the outside and moves inward.

A word about kindness. I watched an interview with a woman who is a plus-sized model and would frequent the gym. Some acquaintances who saw her there would comment, why are you here, I thought you loved your body the way it is, why would you be trying to change it? This dismayed woman would respond, I do love my body just as it is, that’s why I’m taking care of it with exercise.

Embracing the body with kindness and acceptance does not mean to continue all habits that may actually rob your body of health, but rather embracing its needs and providing it the care it deserves. The care YOU deserve. Exercise, time for rest, whole and healthy foods (most of the time), sleep, medical or mental health care when needed; all of this is embedded into true Body Love. As the Buddhist meditation goes,

I am filled with Loving Kindness

I am well

I am Peaceful and at Ease

I am Happy

Enjoy yourself, enjoy your body… enjoy your life.

Hi, I'm Sarah Dionne, psychotherapist and life coach. If you're interested in working through your struggle with body image, I would be glad to meet with you for a free consultation by video chat or in person. I look forward to helping you along your way to loving the skin you're in!

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