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.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My Body, the Beer-Swilling, TV-Watching Couch Surfer

Have you ever thought to yourself…?

“If I listen to my body, it will tell me to lie prone on the couch and eat chocolate-covered potato chips until I can’t move.”

“If I trust my body, I’ll never make myself go to the gym and I’ll devour pints of Ben and Jerry’s like they’re peanuts.”

“If I pay attention to my body’s needs, I’ll become a boneless sloth with nothing to live for.”

“If I love my body, the skies will rain blood, birds will explode for no reason, and the world will get sucked into a cosmic death spiral to the tune of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.”

Really? Is it true that your body has the personality of a lazy, ravenous, good-for-nothing wastrel who only wants to lie back and see if Wile. E. Coyote finally catches the Roadrunner?

I used to think that. I was pretty sure that if I listened to my body I would eat nothing but mint chocolate cookie ice cream and sleep all the time: I would get fat. Or fatter.

The first time you listen to your body feels like standing at the top of a ridge and trusting the air to catch you and cradle you safely to the earth below.

It’s an impossibly scary and exhilarating leap of faith in yourself: that your body’s wisdom exists and you can trust it wholly. Every fear will shape itself into a looming doubt to keep you from jumping and knowing the truth about yourself.

Here’s the truth:

1. Your body is an animal.

2. Your body knows what makes it feel good.

3. Your body loves to move.

4. Your body doesn’t want to overeat or undereat.

5. Your body doesn’t want to be injured by too much movement or too little movement.

Your body wants to feel good. Let it show you what it needs. Let your body catch you.

[Here’s another truth: your body needs fat. You can’t live without it. Don’t be at war with fat, on you, in you, or on anyone else. Fat is not the enemy.]

I used to think that I was the kind of person who couldn’t control herself around food. If I started a candy bar, I finished the whole thing. I figured that listening to my body meant I wouldn’t stop with just one candy bar; you’d find me in a heap of chocolate-smeared wrappers at the bottom of the box.

Imagine my surprise, when after listening to my body for a while, I learned that it doesn’t like candy bars. My body feels irritable and tired when I eat gobs of sugar. Nowadays my body says, “One bite of cake would be perfect. One small piece of that chocolate bar would be delicious. Half a truffle is just right.”

For years I rolled my eyes at people who said crap like that. Really? You can stop at half a truffle? Bullshit. Not me.

Yeah, me.

You, too.

Here’s a good place to start. Below is Linda Bacon’s “Live Well Pledge,” a list of aspirations that invite you to listen to and trust your body:

Today, I will try to feed myself when I am hungry.

Today, I will try to be attentive to how foods taste and make me feel.

Today, I will try to choose foods that I like and that make me feel good.

Today, I will try to honor my body’s signals of fullness.

Today, I will try to find an enjoyable way to move my body.

Today, I will try to look kindly at my body and to treat it with love and respect.

Seriously, does this look like a recipe for bedsores? No way. This is the recipe for being able to eat what you what, when you want, as much as you want, and no more than you want, for moving your body in ways that it loves, and for treating yourself like a goddess, not like a caged tiger.

For me, loving my body is the recipe for feeling the best I’ve ever felt in my life, for enjoying food more, for being in better shape than I’ve ever been… and not by forcing myself to do things I hate, but by letting my body do what it loves.

In the words of Mary Oliver:

You don’t have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

from “Wild Geese”

Your body is the fount of tremendous wisdom. Are you ready to listen?

Thanks to Tammi Baliszewski of Empower Radio, whose interview with me today inspired this blogpost, and follow up with Linda Bacon's Live Well Pledge by reading her book, Heath At Every Size.

Love Your Body Blog Part 65