A few weeks ago I took a super quick trip to Portland for the Body Respect (Healthy at Every Size) Workshop. It was hosted by the wonderful gals at Be Nourished and led by Linda Bacon & Lucy Aphramor, two prominent thought leaders in the Healthy at Every Size movement.
It was AMAZING. I went for reasons both personal & professional. While I’m not a health practitioner, the Healthy at Every Size approach feels so in tune with the approach I take here with Be Your Own Beloved…learning to love & treat our bodies with kindness here and now.
Then there is the personal side. I’m on a lifelong path, like so many of us are, to untangle stories of self-hate and shift them into self-compassion.
Ever since the workshop, there has been an unexpected body love shift that is asking to be acknowledged.
One that I have known was still a big struggle for me.
But wasn’t ready to deal with yet, until now.
My belly & I have a long history of body shame.
It is the place in my body that shifts and changes the most, where I first remember starting to see myself from a place of critique.
It still feels like a place where the most body shame resides in me.
These days I feel like I can see my body as a whole with so much more kindness than I ever could before, largely due to using self-portraits as a tool to rewrite stories of negative self-image and to learn to see myself with love.
While I have made peace with so much of my body and how I see it (check out this post about making peace with my thighs) by focusing on reducing body shame rather than size and learning to love myself right now. Yet my belly has been the uncharted territory.
I have a long history of food allergies, with the most visible symptoms being belly bloating.
Whether or not we have food allergies, our bodies ebb and flow. They shift and change through so many factors (getting enough sleep, water, hormones and on and on) that are just natural. So why is it so common to see slight changes in our bodies as something to be critiqued and to see ourselves as ‘failing’ at.
It’s not that I send hate glares to my belly when it is bloated, but I have had this remaining dialogue within myself that sees my bloated days as bad days and the days when it is not bloated as good body days.
This is the diet mentality still running through me.
Of jumping from a place of self-compassion to self-hate depending on the size of my belly that day.
It is an old story of enough and not enough.
Of praise and shame.
And while it might not feel like it, as it has been our dialogue for so long, my belly & I.
I have learned that it doesn’t have to be that way.
My body will continue to ebb and flow like this, right from the belly, because….well, as a human, I eat!
And I want to practice what I preach more fully.
If I want to help you love your body more right here and right now, I need to keep deepening my own journey of doing that myself. Even the parts, like my Belly, that have felt like they might hold shame forever.
So it seems as though the choice is our own. Do I want to keep riding this roller coaster or do I want to get off of it?
It makes me think of how it felt to have a scale (before I broke it). How I don’t miss it. How it felt like I was constantly seeing if I was ‘good enough’.
Living without a scale showed me that there is a place of peacefulness & ease awaiting me as I make that choice not to engage in those praise/shame behaviours anymore.
So while it might seem at first like living without that bad/good relationship with my belly is impossible.
I don’t believe that any more.
I think that just like the way we see ourselves in photos, we have a choice.
And I’m choosing to end the war with my belly
I am committed to learning to see it with love in all its ebb and flow.
Thats not to say it won’t be easy, or like anything else on the self-love path…there will be days when I forget I chose peace and will step back into it.
But it is time to choose love.