How one woman found yoga, eased her inner hunger, and started loving herself. Follow Kimber as she shares her journey to loving her body, the joys and sorrows of yoga teaching, and venturing into the wilderness of writing and publishing.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Love Your Body Blog Part 20: Actions speak louder.

Have you ever been in a relationship that’s all words, sweet notes, and whispered promises… but when you need someone to step up, take action, and show the money, your honey-lipped beau is suddenly AWOL?

Your body needs more than lip service. Dropping the self-criticism is great, but then your body gets to humming, “What have you done for me lately….? Ooooh, yeah.”

What have you done for your body lately? Do you know what your body likes? My body loves to eat well (lots of veggies, preferably home-grown asparagus), do yoga, dance, and hula hoop. It loves to spend time outside in the sun. It loves being taken care of… bathing, massage, pedicures, and gentle primping (take note: it does not like Brazilian waxing). My body loves to feel appreciated, and to wear fun, soft clothing (too-tight shoes are a big no-no). It loves sleeping on feather pillows, cups of warm tea, and fuzzy socks.

Like an attentive lover, notice what your body responds to. Does your body feel wonderful after a big bowl of soup, but vaguely nauseous after a package of Twinkies? Does your body feel exhausted and cranky after a tough spin class, but energized and alive after a hip-hop session? Does your body prefer a cool breeze, or a toasty warm fire? Does your body tend to break out when you eat chocolate, or just feel relaxed and contented? Do you feel depleted by a hot bubble bath, and replete from a long sitting meditation, or vice versa?

My body hates jogging. My knees hate it, my feet hate it, even my lungs seem to hate it. I wanted to love running; my mom and my sister are (or were) both avid runners. I kept making myself try it: start slow, ease into it, try different shoes, try a different time of day, try leaning forward more, try just 15 minutes… none of it mattered. All my body said was, “No, no, no!”

But mention dancing and my body is all perky and ready to go, like the adorable head tilt my retriever mix gives when you utter the magic word, “walk.” My body will dance without complaint for hours, whatever time of day, whatever music, whatever shoes or surface, whatever style of dance or lack thereof. Turn up the tunes and my body doesn’t even register pounding knees, achy feet, and panting breaths. I feel great during, before, and after. The message couldn’t be clearer: ditch the running shoes, Kimber, and head for the dance floor! Surprise… your body loves activities it finds fun and nearly effortless. Tune into what your body enjoys and your mind’s enjoyment won’t be far behind.

Start by noticing the effects of different activities and foods on your body. Keep a journal, but don’t get too heady or analytical. Just a few notes about any physical sensations before and after meals and activities. Notice your moods and energy level. Be scrupulously honest with yourself. It’s not about what you wished your body liked, or making your body want what your mind thinks it should. At last--- this is your chance to get to know your body, the life-long friend who’s always been there for you, and give back some of the love.

Much of what creates trust and bonding in relationships is need-fulfillment: knowing you can trust another person to meet your needs, and they can trust you to meet theirs. A good parent feeds their children, makes sure they are clothed and fed, gets them to school, listens to them, guides them, and showers them with affection. Ignoring someone’s needs has the opposite effect: distrust, neglect, bitterness. Sound familiar? Perhaps like the negative relationship with our body we’re hoping to leave behind? To leave it behind for good, recognize your body’s needs, wants, and enjoyment, and fulfill them as much as possible. You’ll come to trust and admire your body more and more, as your body grows in its admiration and trust for you.

Make a list of what your body loves to do, and do something to show love for your body everyday. Add to it as you make new discoveries about what your body enjoys most. You never know what you’ll find out, just by paying attention!