Mom Writes First

69: {FYE} How I Love my Body Right Now and a Body Appreciation Journaling Exercise for Fittest Year Ever

January 02, 2023 Jen Larimore
Mom Writes First
69: {FYE} How I Love my Body Right Now and a Body Appreciation Journaling Exercise for Fittest Year Ever
Show Notes Transcript

Do you love your body? Do you appreciate it? 

In this Fittest Year Ever episode, let’s talk about how we feel about our bodies. Did you know that you can feel more confident in your body? Did you know you can love your body right now, just as it is, without changing it? 

A whopping 91% of women are dissatisfied with our bodies. It is possible though to improve our body image and body appreciation. 

Here’s what helps: 

•Journal and examine your thoughts in order to change their perspective on their body.

• Begin to question where the negative thoughts come from and realize that the negative thoughts are actually programming and conditioning you’ve received from others. 

• Notice and appreciate the differences and appreciate body diversity. 

• Stop using your body to judge your morality. 

• Practice loving and appreciating your body everyday using mindfulness, gratitude, and self-compassion. 

Body Dissatisfaction in Women Across the Lifespan: Results of the UNC-SELF and Gender and Body Image (GABI) Studies",

The Body Confident Mums challenge: a feasibility trial and qualitative evaluation of a body acceptance program delivered to mothers using Facebook,

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Copyright 2024, Mom First Coaching

In this episode, I’m going to share with you the three thoughts I use right now to help me love my body just as it is, and what I’m doing everyday this week to double down on that body love. 

Hi I’m Jen Larimore. I’m the host of mom first. You are listening to a special episode series about how I am making 2023 my Fittest Year Ever. This isn’t your typical fitness podcast series. I’m not a trainer. I don’t run marathons. I’m just a regular working mom, who after 5 kids, 20 years of desk work, and a pandemic, is ready to make 2023 my fittest year ever–mentally and physically. That means, loving myself–just as I am today, nourishing my body, and giving it the joyful movement that it needs today so that it will be able to serve me for decades down the road. Imagine what it would be like if you ditched the body shame, toxic diet culture, and yo yo results, so that you could make 2023 your fittest year ever too. So come with me! Get those ear buds, grab your yoga mat, and let’s go… 

When you think of your body, what’s the first feeling that comes to mind? 

Is it sadness, disgust, despair, frustration? Did you know that 91% of women are dissatisfied with their bodies! And this dissatisfaction generally remains throughout one’s lifetime. Body dissatisfaction is linked to low mood and disordered eating, reduced quality of life, and ironically, people who have poor body image and are dissatisfied with their body are LESS likely to engage in the behaviors that will take care of their body and thus possibly increase their body satisfaction, like physical activity, wearing sunscreen, and stopping health threatening behaviors, like smoking. 

Mothers can be particularly vulnerable to body dissatisfaction. And we pass that on to our children. One of the best predictors of whether a child, especially a girl, will have a negative body image is if her mother has her own negative body image. 

My friends, its time for a change. And we are the ones that have to make that change. We have to go first. That is why I’m starting this Fittest Year Ever series out by sharing what I am doing to LOVE my body right now and to have more body appreciation today, even though I’m not at a “ideal” weight, I can’t run a mile without stopping right now, and there are some days, when, I cannot bend over and touch my toes–even though I’ve had a steady yoga practice for the last year! 

I believe that even if my body can’t do these things, I can appreciate it, and even love it, right now as it is today. 

I’ve been working on appreciating my body, as it is for a long time. In 2019, I had a health crisis, where my hormones, stopped working the way that they should. My hair started falling out in clumps. My fingernails were breaking and even completely falling off. I got unrelenting hot flashes and night sweats. I couldn’t sleep. But I was so tired I couldn’t think clearly either. And my bones physically ached in my body. I swear to you. It was like I could feel the soreness in my bones. I remember laying on my bed, looking up at the ceiling fan, and thinking, that this could not possibly be normal. That this could not possibly be how my life was going to be. I went to the doctor for a check up and sure enough we ran some tests, and things were not right. After a number of months and lots of tests, I was diagnosed with a condition called Premature Ovarian Failure. It was a devastating diagnosis that rocked my world. And it felt like just one more way in a long list of ways that my body had failed me. It was a painful and uncertain time. And it was just what I needed. Don’t get me wrong. I wish it wouldn’t have happened, but it did propel me forward and force me to change. And it finally, was the catalyst that actually taught me to care about and appreciate my body, for all that it has done and continues to do for me. 

You don’t have to have a health crisis like me to love your body. 

You can start today. 

Here’s what worked for me. 

  1. I got real with my thoughts. I started journaling and examining my thoughts so that I could see just how disappointed and frustrated I was with my body. And then slowly, I worked to change them. I didn’t go from I hate my body to I love my body. I started with, I hate my body, but there are some people who love their body, even if it doesn’t fit an ideal mold. And then from there I practiced thinking, maybe there are people who would like my body if they had it. And then I practiced thinking, there are some things that I appreciate about my body, and I would list those out. It didn’t matter if my jeans didn’t fit right or if I couldn’t run a mile, because everyday I found something I could appreciate about it. 
  2. I started to look for what was making me dislike my body. I realized that the dissatisfaction I had with my body had nothing to actually do with my body, because I had that dissatisfaction, regardless of its size or its shape. I had it when was thin, at an ideal weight, and when I was overweight. I had had it for as long as I could remember. Regardless of how fast I could run or what I could do with it physically. But if it wasn’t really coming from me, then where was it coming from? When I was in college, I worked in journalism, and one of my mentors at that time used to say, follow the money. What he meant by that was to look for who benefits from a particular outcome. So I started to ask myself, who benefits if I hate my body so much. And the answer was obvious. Diet and fitness companies benefited. Anyone who was ready to sell me a quick fix benefited. If hating my body meant that I didn’t take care of it, then pharmaceutical companies would eventually probably benefit, as I’d need their interventions to take care of my body, since I wouldn’t be taking care of it. But I didn’t benefit. The people I loved didn’t benefit. My kids didn’t benefit. This realization, more than anything else, helped me to start to question all the negative thoughts I had about my body. 
  3. Once I started questioning my negative thoughts, I became more open to noticing that not everyone had a negative body image. I decided that if it was possible for them, it was possible for me, and I began to notice–without judgment–that there were a lot of different body types in the world. I had always known this before obviously. But I finally started to notice it without judging it as good or bad. I actually started to appreciate and embrace body diversity. And I realized that if I wanted to be a model of inclusiveness, I needed to continue to work on this and embrace body diversity and body differences more consciously. 
  4. From there, I made an active effort to stop using my body to judge my own morality. In fact, I stopped using my body to judge my own morality. I decided that my weight, size, whether I could run a mile, was not going to be how I measured whether I was a good or a bad person. I do a lot of things that I am proud of. I actively try everyday to live into the virtues that are important to me, including kindness, integrity, and unconditional love for the other humans around me. This is not easy. And I know that I do my best anyway. And I’ve decided that living into those virtues is how I want to measure my own morality–not by whether I ate a cookie or the size of my jeans. This was a really hard separation for me to make at first.  Our society currently places a big value on health as measured by the size of one’s body or the number on the scale. But I know now that there are lots of ways to measure health. I can measure my mental health, how well I’m coping in stressful situations, whether I am able to sit with my emotions and feel them instead of pushing them down or ignoring them. I can measure my physical health by how well I feel on a day-to-day basis. I can measure it by what my body can do–can my body go faster than it did yesterday. Am I more flexible this week than I was last week. There are so many ways to measure health that have nothing to do with your size or your weight. A lot of times, being overweight is characterized as laziness. But I know I’m not lazy. I take a look at my calendar and all that I’ve done and accomplished, and forget about it, I am most definitely not lazy. And so for me, I am not going to decide anymore if I am a good person or a bad person based on my weight, my jean size, or whether I can run a mile without stopping. 
  5. And now, I am actively working to love my body everyday. There is evidence that suggests that we can improve our body image and our satisfaction with our bodies. What that evidence is showing is that adult women can use gratitude, mindfulness, and self-compassion to start improving their overall body appreciation. 
    1. There is both an internal shift that I’m working on. And an external shift too. 
    2. With regard to my own internal mindset, I’m working to appreciate what my body has done and can do for me. I’m also reflecting on the fact that some of the things that I might not like about my body, are actually signs of all that it can do. So, as I mentioned I have 5 children. My body built and grew 5 children. I have a lot of stretch marks on my tummy. When I see them, I don’t hate them anymore. I don’t quite love them. But I feel neutral about them, they remind me of those times when I had babies inside of me, and how incredible that felt. When I think of this, it also reminds me of all that my body has done for me, and how worth it is of attention, compassion, and care. That’s the internal mindset part. 
    3. But I’m also trying to have an external shift in my perspective too. I’ve been thinking a lot about how my body fits into the broader part of my life. When I zoom out, and think about what my life will be like in 1 year, 5 years, or even 20 years, I know I want my body to play a big role in my life. I want to be able to do things physically that I haven’t been able to do lately. I want to continue to do those things. I want to do them with my kids and my grandkids some day. I also want to enjoy this life that i have and not worry about whether I should eat or not eat something becaus eof what it will do on the scale. The funny thing is is that I’ve been eating more nutirticous foods becaus eof this way of thinking and I can tell you that I really do not feel well the day after I eat a lot of junk and this is causing me to eat less and less unhealthy food. 
  6. My friends, you can do this too. Here are the thoughts that I am currently using, right now, to continue to love my body, just as it is right now: 
    1. My body is my incredible partner, which has given me so much. And I am so grateful to it for all that it has given to me. This idea of my body as a partner is one that I’ve spoken about in the past. And its one that has really worked for me. 
    2. I’m committed to loving my body, just as it is today, so that my children will see my example and know that it is possible for them to love their incredible and capable bodies too. This is a big one for me right now. I have 5 children. My oldest is a teen. My daughter, my second oldest is a tween. The research at her age for body dissatisfaction is not good. By age 13, 53% of American girls are unhappy with their bodies, and that grows to 78% by the time they are 18. I’m committed to doing htis work on myself, because I want to do everything I can to ensure my daughter’s experience is different. That means. I have to do this work first. 
    3. And finally, the third thought I’m using every day right now is: “Loving my body means that I take care of it.”

I’m doing two journaling exercises right now to embody and more fully embrace these three thoughts and to continue to work on loving my body, just as it is right now. This takes a small amount of my time, but I know that doing this work and loving my body as it is now, makes it more likely that I will actually create the habits that I need to make this year my fittest year ever. 

SO the first journal exercise that I’m doing is that I right down 1 full sentence each day about something that I appreciate about my body. I write down something new each day. 

Here are some of my examples: 

-I appreciate that my body grew and birthed 5 healthy children. 

-I appreciate that my body overcame covid earlier this year. 

-I appreciate that my body is more flexible today than it was last year at this time. 

-I appreciate that my body can carry and snuggle my babies, even as they grow. Today, I sat and snuggled with my 2 year old, 6 year old, and 9 year old at the same time! 

-I appreciate that my body can support me in creating these podcast episodes for you, even when I don’t get enough sleep because I’m up late podcasting, so that i get this creative expression and have the opportunity to support other moms. 

The second journal exercise that I am doing is I write down one thing that day that I promise that I will do to take care of my body. 

So today, for instance, I am committed to giving my body enough water. 

Yesterday, I committed to allowing my body to sleep for as long as it needed, even though I had a lot of things that I wanted to get done and I wanted to set an alarm. I know I need the sleep to stay healthy and well. 

And the day before, I committed to using a hand balm regularly to deal with the dryness in my hands. My hands do so much for me. The cold and dry air though has taken their toll and they have been dry and chapped. I’m using a hand balm to try to repair that quickly and that means I need to stop what I’m diong and regularly moisturize my hands. 

So there you have it. This is how I grew my own love and appreciation for my body, the thoughts that I’m using right now to continue to love my body so that I can make it the fittest year ever, and the two journal exercises that I am doing every day right now to really put this into action. 

If today’s podcast resonated with you, then please join me on this journey. Make 2023 your fittest year ever too. You can reach your physical goals and do it without beating yourself up and punishing your body. Let’s support and empower each other to get started and keep going, so that 2023 is our fittest year ever, together. 

If you’re in, then be sure to hit subscribe on this podcast and come back each week for another special episode in this series, Fittest Year Ever. And be sure to head over to Mom First on Facebook where you can share with me what you are doing to make 2023 your Fittest Year Ever. 

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