Today is International kindness day and I am a big fan of kindness. You may have seen suggestions splashed across websites with ideas of random acts of kindness, volunteering opportunities or charities to donate to. These are all wonderful ideas and are extremely worthwhile calls to action but I wanted to use this day as a chance to dig into something a little deeper and address a different question.
How can we be kind to our bodies?
Rest assured, this isn’t going to come with a motivational speech about how carbs are the devil and sugar is poison and we should all be striving for rock hard abs and 1000 squats a day because if you haven’t noticed, or are new to this blog.. I think diets are bullshit and are the very opposite of being kind to our bodies. So, when we’re faced with media campaigns from diet companies, screaming at us to change ourselves, what can we do? We can fight back. We can choose something much nicer. We can choose radical kindness.
Get rid of your scales. I’ve touched on this in many other blog posts but getting rid of my scales was one of the most revolutionary parts of my recovery. I currently have no idea what I weigh. I repeat: I currently have no idea what I weigh. I went from weighing myself (atleast) twice daily and scrutinizing every change, to taking my scales to the bin and dumping them whilst shouting very loudly “YOU DO NOT OWN ME”. Now I’m not suggesting you have to do the shouting, but I highly recommend it 😉 However, getting rid of your scales is one thing. and actively avoiding all indications of your weight is another. Here are some tips: Ask your pals to hide their scales when you come over and if you’re brave, use it as a chance for discussion around weight & health & why they feel the need to own scales in the first place. Unite your sisterhood and all have a smash up your scales party. If you need to be weighed at the doctors, ask if you can close your eyes/turn away and not be told out loud the number. Doctors are totally cool with this. I know how tempting it can be even after you’ve gotten rid of your own scales, to allow curiosity to get the better of you and when you have the chance, hop onto the scales “Just to check if I really do feel neutral around my weight” but if you’re challenging yourself this, you probably aren’t ready. And in all honesty, I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready to know my weight again and that doesn’t matter because.. IT DOESN’T MATTER Wow I’m writing in caps a lot and it feels shouty and I’m okay with that because this shit is important. To delve into this more, head to: My body is changing.
Honour your hunger and eat what you want to. Another earth shattering act of showing kindness to your body is to honour your hunger every single time that it strikes. Even if it’s midnight and you’ve already brushed your teeth. Even if it’s “not lunch time”. Even if you’ve already eaten 3 meals that day. Whenever, wherever, always. Your body needs to know that when it calls, you’ll be there to answer, every single time. Ignoring your hunger or actively denying yourself food can trigger a starvation response and your body will do all it can to fight against that. Your metabolism will slow down, the next time you allow yourself food your hunger/fullness cues will be completely screwed.. and it could lead into a binge. Now although binging is an act of kindness from your body e.g. drastically refuelling you for fear you’ll starve again or to zone you out as an avoidance technique for what’s really going on. Binges do not feel good in your body and you’ll be riding an uncomfortable sugar high whilst battling numerous trips to the toilet for several hours after. How can you stop this binge response from happening? Let food in. Whenever, wherever, always. Also be sure not to turn “tuning into your hunger” become another diet because you don’t need to only eat when you’re physically hungry and stop when you’ve reached perfect fullness. Sometimes we eat beyond fullness because something tastes so good. Sometimes we eat cake because it’s someone’s Birthday and even though we’re not hungry we want to be involved in the get-together. Sometimes we eat just because and that’s fine too. Hard and fast rules = restriction = binging and the only way to break that cycle is to allow yourself to eat, unapologetically. People often ask me what to do if they have made the decision to stop dieting, yet all they can eat are “unhealthy foods” and this is completely normal because you’ve probably been restricting this very food for a vert long time. As long as you are allowing these foods both mentally and physically, your body will realise that they are no longer off limits and there will come a time when other foods become attractive to you. Because eating cookies/ice-cream/crisps for every meal isn’t going to feel good after a while and you’ll want to move on to something else. But to get to a neutral place with all food, you have to allow yourself to eat what you want to until you truly feel in a place to accept that food into your life, whenever you fancy it. If you are struggling with the idea of putting on weight it’s time to start tackling why you are scared to live in a larger body. All of our bodies have a set-weight point and attempting to fight against that will lead to the destructive cycle I mentioned before. Instead of getting angry with your body, get angry with the society we live in that preaches women should strive for one body type (which is unattainable for the majority of people) and the companies which cash in on this lie.
Your body does so much (but know that your worth isn’t limited to your body’s ability). I was watching the brilliant Megan Crabbe aka bodyposipanda speak on the weekend about body positivity and she said something that I really want to share with you. Firstly, our bodies do so much for us and often we are told that thinking of our bodies in terms of what they can do instead of how they look can help shift our relationship with ourselves. But, where does this leave people whose bodies aren’t able? Does this mean they aren’t worthy of love, respect and kindness? NO. All bodies are worthy of this. Megan suggested considering that in spite of everything you’ve put your body through, your heart is beating. Your body wants to keep you alive. When we hurt ourselves and bleed our body desperately tries to clot our blood and heal the wound. Inspite of everything, you are here and that is thanks to your body. Your body is a miracle that needs celebrating and that starts with kindness.
Your body is your home. This is something which really changed the way I thought about my body. Your body is your home and it is longing for you to be her friend. Your body is protecting your soul and all of the things that make you, you. Your body is your vehicle to explore and express yourself. Your body is ever changing and ever loving and it’s tired of fighting. She wants to connect with you and to show you that you are one, together, part of the same team. The image at the top of this post captures this beautifully & I highly recommend making it your phone wallpaper.
Positive affirmations. I remember reading numerous self help books at the start of my recovery and being told to sit in front of the mirror and tell myself I’m beautiful. I tried. I cried. I didn’t like what I saw. But choosing an affirmation that is meaningful to you and repeating it with passion over and over as many times as you need, can do some incredible things to your mindset and your relationship with your body. Choose something simple and easy to remember and a phrase that can be used to help push you through a variety of different situations. Some of my favourites are: “You deserve to take up space. You deserve to be seen” or “You are here for a reason. Use your voice”.
Get naked, get to know your body and start changing your thinking. This sounds like a big ask but I promise that it is totally possible. You might not be totally cool with stripping off and thinking about the way you look but there are so many other ways that you can show yourself kindness and these can completely 360 the way that you feel about yourself. Show yourself affection, run your hands over your skin, get to know every curve and shape and appreciate your body for what it is. We see beauty in the diversity of nature yet why do we believe that there is only 1 ideal when it comes to our bodies? Because we’re told it every single day by companies looking to make money off of our insecurities. Did you know that cellulite was only named and considered a “flaw” from the 1970s? Before then it was purely seen as a part of women’s bodies until a journalist decided to cash in by writing about it in VOGUE and use it as an opportunity to make millions on a “miracle cream”, which doesn’t work, because cellulite is natural and beautiful and won’t be rubbed away (Another fact which wowed me during Megan’s talk).
And for when it’s not socially acceptable to be naked: Wear clothes that fit you right and make you feel good. Make-up and fashion are means of outward expression of who you are on the inside. I’ve written in length about my issues with women’s dress sizes and the fact that all fashion should be accessible to bodies of all shapes and sizes. But whilst we wait for the fashion industry to catch up, use this as a call to action to get rid of any clothes that don’t make you feel good or don’t fit you properly. Chuck out anything you’ve saved in the “one day I’ll fit into this pile” because this will only fuel diet behaviours and if you need reminding on the problem with this, refer to point 2. Wear clothes that feel delicious on your skin and make you feel excited to put on. Use them as a means of showing the world who you are, instead of a weapon to hide yourself away. “”You deserve to take up space. You deserve to be seen”.
I hope that you find some of these ideas helpful and this is by no means a definitive list. I’d love to hear the ways in which you are showing your body kindness! Comment here or send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, if there’s any subjects you’d like me to cover on this blog/my Instagram, please let me know.