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 28, 2011

Love Your Body Blog Part 27: Defend Your Best Friend

Imagine: you’re at dinner with your extended family and your best friend. Your uncle, looking your best friend up and down, says, “You better lay off the cheesecake and hit the gym. Looking pretty chunky there.” What do you do? Do you chime in with him? “Yeah, he’s right, you’ve really been packing on the pounds,” and then helpfully recommend she order a low fat salad and ice water?

No way. You stand beside her and say, “No one cares what you think, Uncle Bob. She looks gorgeous just the way she is. Don’t ever talk that way to her again.”

Perhaps, depending on your sassy-ness quotient that day, you even glare at him menacingly and stomp your heel close enough to his foot to make him back away with a new appreciation for the sharpness of your elbows.

He knows you mean it. And you promise your best friend you’ll never force her to sit through another meal with him. You might even leave with her, arm in arm, determined to forget about him entirely and show her a fun evening after all.

Now imagine the same scenario, but without your best friend. Just you, your body, and your family, and Uncle Bob tosses his boorish comments in your direction. What do you do now? Are you your own best friend? Do you tell him to mind his own business, and reassure yourself of your own beauty and worth?

So many of us in this situation turn on ourselves, believing everything he said, and imagine that everyone else at the table agrees with him as well.

Perhaps you sit silently at the table, eating only ice cubes, humiliated, privately fuming at him, at yourself, and vowing to start your diet right this very second. Or even if we leave, we secretly know he’s right, and use his words as arrows to shoot at ourselves for the rest of the week, perhaps for the rest of our lives.

Be your own best friend… be your body’s best friend. You wouldn’t let people badmouth your best friend. Don’t let them badmouth your body, either. What Would Your Best Friend Do… WWYBFD?

You know the situations where badmouthing happens in your life. Maybe it’s your mom, your friends at the gym who complain about their bodies and weight, or your co-worker who’s always on a fad diet. Sometimes it’s not that anyone insults us personally, but by complaining about their body, makes us feel self-conscious and inadequate about our own.

Make of list of what your best friend would tell you to say to each of these people:

1. “Mom, I love you, but my body is off limits. I’m happy with my body. We can talk about anything else, but I won’t listen to you go on about how you think I need to lose weight and somehow that’s the cause of all my problems. I don’t believe that anymore and neither should you.”

2. “Hey ladies, I’m tired of hearing everyone complain about their bodies all the time. Geez. Is there anything you like about your body? I took a great walk yesterday along the bay, and my knee injury didn’t bother me at all. It felt amazing. My body’s pretty awesome.”

3. “I know you like to tell me about your latest diet, but I’m really not interested in [the caveman diet, the cabbage soup diet, the-latest-hippest-diet-here] or how much weight you lost. Did you do anything fun this weekend? I went dancing with a group of friends and we had a blast. We set the dance floor on fire!”

Set limits with your friends and family.

They are not allowed to badmouth your body. If they can’t live with those limits, you might have to put them in a time out. Yup, adults need time-outs too.

Find friends and family members who are supportive of your newfound friendship with your body and who see the beauty in you whatever size you are. Spend time with them. You are worth it. And if you don’t believe me, just ask your best friend.

Next post: A love-hate relationship… your body and fashion magazines.