Why The Most Revolutionary Thing You Can Do In 2019 Is Love Your Body
No, you don't need to 'change' your body to mark the beginning of a New Year.
And no, you don't need to embark on some fancy new eating or exercise plan to eradicate past sins.
At a time when the world seems to encourage us to "fix" ourselves, perhaps the most revolutionary thing we can do is not only celebrate the New Year but celebrate our bodies just as they are.
Holistic health coach Kirsten Scott told 10 daily that instead of embracing our best qualities, most people use the New Year to "make resolutions that are a reaction to what we dislike about ourselves".
"Too often, these goals revolve around dieting and losing weight," she said.
"I’m afraid I have some bad news: Becoming thin will not make you happy or more valuable. And punishing your body into submission will not make you love it more."
Body image therapist Ashlee Bennett agrees, telling 10 daily it's become a "social norm to overhaul our bodies as the New Year resets".
She explains: "It’s similar to starting a new diet on a Monday -- it’s like a fresh slate, the fantasy of finally 'taking control. January is like the ultimate Monday -- that this year is the year things will change. It's easier to attempt to take control of one's body than actually address aspects of life that are less in our immediate control. It also doesn’t help that many of us pile guilt on top of food eaten during the holiday period and seek to remedy it."
Instead, Scott, Bennett and scores of other experts are advocating for all of us to make 2019 the year we throw off the shackles of self-doubt and resolve to engage in self-care at every opportunity.
"Our bodies are always doing their best for us. We don’t need to beat them into submission -- we need to practice gratitude and do our best to nourish and protect them so they can keep on helping us live life to the fullest," Scott said.
Nutritionist Leanne Ward agrees, echoing Scott's sentiment that most of us tend to ring in the New Year with a negative mindset.
"Stop focusing on the things you can’t change and focus on other areas in your life that are within your control," she told 10 daily. "Of course, take great care of your body but do so from a place of love first."
Body image therapist Bennett believes the New Year should mark a time when we "get to know ourselves beyond what we see in the mirror and place value in parts of us less subject to change."
"It’s like starting a relationship, we need to get to know ourselves before we can love ourselves, especially if coming from self-hatred."
While it's easy to preach about self-care, it's usually a whole lot harder to practise it when our brains are used to engaging in a (primarily) negative internal dialogue.
But Scott, Bennett and Ward told 10 daily while changing that internal dialogue is hard, it's not impossible, sharing some easy-to-follow self-care practices.
Kirsten Scott's Top Self-Care Tips
- Stop using numbers (weight, clothing size, inches) to influence your sense of self-worth.
- Stop talking about food or body shape appearances negatively and remove morality-related words from the way you talk about food (like sinful, naughty, bad, guilty etc.).
- Eat for nourishment and pleasure and without guilt.
- Find ways of moving your body that feel pleasurable and enjoyable to you.
- Rest when your body needs it.
- Respond to your body’s messages when you are in pain -- go out and get a massage, take a hot Epsom salts bath, stretch and take it easy.
- Get more sleep -- make it a priority in your busy life.
- Stop saying mean things to yourself about my body. Your body hears everything your mind says.
- Express gratitude for all of the things your body does for you every day. Maybe even start a daily gratitude journal.
- Try new ways of moving your body – to give yourself new opportunities to see what you can do and what you enjoy.
Ashlee Bennett's Top Self-Care Tips
- Focus on healing your relationship with your inside self. It requires getting introspective and becoming curious about yourself. A question I like to ask if -- when you’re 90 years old what do you envision will give you a sense of worth? Focus on cultivating more of that.
- Minimise screen time and unfollow social media accounts that promote diets and unrealistic body ideals
- Do movement that you enjoy -- move for fun rather than punishment
- Apply lots of self-compassion, especially if you’re surrounded by people diving into their New Year body and diet regime.
Leanne Ward's Top Self-Care Tips
- Every day you get in your car, don’t turn on the ignition until you say out loud three things you are grateful for in your life.
- Each time a negative thought about your body pops into your head, acknowledge it as just a thought, let it leave your mind and replace it with a positive thought. Instead of thinking "I hate my big legs" think "I am so grateful for my strong legs that can carry me around all day".
- Never restrict your favourite foods, this is a recipe for disaster as it makes you want them more and more until all your willpower runs out and you end up overeating.
Feature Image: Getty