Sunday, April 19, 2009

Chapter 12 - Respect Your Body

I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume that most of you reading this blog find the body acceptance part of this process a little difficult. Okay, maybe a lot difficult. An important thing to keep in mind as you read this chapter and ponder it is that this part of Intuitive Eating takes concerted effort for a long, long time, but is absolutely essential to becoming an intuitive eater. I can talk, because I've been working on this for years now. I've come a long way, but have a long way still to go. I can say now, with full confidence, that I feel better about myself and more comfortable in my skin than I have in a very long time.

A few weeks ago a cousin-in-law of mine posted on her blog about her experience of being a fat girl. She was a chubby kid and by high school was sixty pounds over weight. She lost the sixty pounds slowly over several years and has managed to keep the weight off for a long, long time now. I have a hard time even believing that she was once over weight because she is very small and her eating and lifestyle habits show no signs that they once were a problem. Her life has changed.

One thing she said in her post struck me very deeply because it was the first time I had heard anyone else express my philosophy of weight management. She said, speaking of her years of being overweight..." Most importantly, those years taught me an appreciation for my body, no matter it's size. I really had to learn to accept and acknowledge qualities that made me beautiful on the inside, until eventually, I felt beautiful on the outside. I had to accept where I was - and the frightening prospect that I might always be that way - BEFORE I could go on and change it." Thanks Brittany, I hope you don't mind that I quoted you.

In our book the authors quote another book, Body Traps by Judith Rodin. Here is the quote and I really think this is the magic key to learning how to take care of ourselves they way we should and the way we eventually get to a healthy and natural weight and stay there..."You don't need to lost weight first in order to take care of yourself. In fact, the process actually happens quite in the reverse!"

I really, truly believe that if we can learn to like ourselves first, before we are the size we think we should be, than we will start to treat ourselves right and that will mean eating right and exercising, giving our bodies what they need, but not more than they need. You see where I'm going with this?

I ask the questions again that the authors ask at the beginning of chapter 12. Has all the self-loathing because of your body helped you to actually make permanent change? Has dwelling on you imperfect body helped you make peace with your body and food? Maybe it's time to try something totally different?

It's true that it's hard to escape the body torture game when the whole country is playing it. This is why it takes so long to overcome, but that should make us even more determined not to play with the rest of them!

Keep in mind that body acceptance and respect for yourself are not the same thing as giving up or not caring about your body or health. I think we all picked up this book partly because we wanted to be more healthy, but, and I have to say this clearly, body acceptance may mean not being the size that you have dreamed about in your head. Sometimes the size we want to be is unrealistic, and not one that our body can sustain without major work and vigilance. The hard truth of the matter is that body acceptance will include for some of you, having to settle for a normal weight which might be somewhat more than your ultimate ideal?

I would love to hear what you guys think of this chapter and some of your ideas in the area of body respect. Any feed back would be great because I know all of us are stuggling with this.

It's very late and I've got to go to bed, but one last assignment. If you can find a way, I want you to watch a few episodes of What Not to Wear. This is a style show on The Learning Channel and was very helpful to me as I was working on learning to love my body. This show is all about loving the skin your in and learning to dress the body you have NOW, something the authors of Intuitive Eating suggest is very helpful. For those of you who have seen the show you'll know what I'm talking about. So whether you like clothes and style or not, I think you'll learn something from watching an episode or two. If you have time of course.


  1. Great chapter. The most enlightening thing for me was to actually pay attention to the comments I make about myself to myself. I didn't really see this as a problem until I paid attention and now I realize that I definitely have some room for improvement.

    The other thing that is hard for me is shopping. I have such a hard time finding clothes that fit me well so I tend to put off shopping in hopes that I'll lose weight and it won't be so difficult. The What Not to Wear episodes helped alot. Now I just need to find a good tailor! Any recommendations?

  2. I hear you Amy. I didn't realize how mean I was to myself until I started paying attention to what I was saying. I'm much kinder to myself now and I'm happier in the area of body image than I have ever been before. In fact sometimes I wonder if I think I look better than I actually do! I've realize though, that as long as I'm being moderate and healthy, than as long as I feel good about myself, why should it matter what other people think?

    I'm so glad you watched some episodes of What Not to Wear. It really helps to watch until you see a few episodes where they dress people with your own body type. You get even better ideas. I found a good tailor advertised at the local dry cleaners. You could try that.

    It made such a huge difference to me to quit holding on to clothes that didn't fit with the idea that I might someday fit into them again. I was very nervous when I started throwing the too small clothing away and shopping for things that fit because I thought I would stop caring and put on tons of weight, but that didn't happen at all, in fact I went down a clothing size! Another benefit...I actually like to shop and get dressed up, something I never enjoyed before because in my mind, I was always "too big."

  3. I'm not always good at getting myself ready in the morning. I've noticed myself thinking, "what is the point, I don't look good even when I try."
    But, every time I get ready dressed makeup and earings it changes my whole day. When I feel good about myself I eat better and want to be more active.

  4. When I read this I thought of another book I've read (and I wouldn't be surprised if you've read it too, Jill) called Making Peace With the Image in the Mirror. I read it about 5 years ago, so I don't remember it extremely clearly.

    But I remember that the author was showing how many people are unhappy, and they think that all of their unhappiness is because they are overweight. They think to themselves, "If I can just fit into a size 4, (or whatever) then I'll be happy."

    But he showed people who lost the weight, and they still weren't happy.

    Loving your body and who you are need to be independent from what size you are. It is society that tells us they are inextricably linked. And take a look at the people who are telling us this. Are celebrities truly happy with their lives? I really doubt it.

  5. I'm hoping my neighbor will take the time to comment on this post since she has just had an interesting experience with dieting and the idea that your size makes you happy. She told me that she had dieted down to a size that was smaller than she had been in a long time. She was wearing a size 4 pant, but was still feeling the same bad feelings about herself when she looked in the mirror. Her smaller sized has not changed her outlook about herself, nor was everything else in her life all the sudden perfect. She could explain in better I'm sure, but the idea that small size means happiness needs to be a little more challenged than it is. I'm sure there are celebrities that are truly happy with their lives, but I would hope that they were happy for reasons other than their size.

  6. I guess I should clarify that by celebrity I meant those Hollywood celebrities who are living in a way that would make it impossible for them to experience true happiness.

  7. Great post and I really enjoyed reading the insight you have on the subject of body image. I am also practicing intuitive eating and with the help of an eating disorder counselor and nutritionist I have finally made some progress. I like to call them small steps. One thing I learned is that sometimes we look in the mirror and maybe our reflection back is not what we want to see, maybe there is far too much flesh present at the moment. At this time we might feel as if our negative thoughts our true , that they have been validated by the size of our body. However if we reflect on past memories of a time when our bodies were of a healthy weight( and for some of us that maybe a long time ago) those same thoughts were there. I have been fooled for many years. I have been in denial. I have been thinking that once the extra flesh went away ... so would the negative thoughts. Now I know, I maybe slower to learn things than others might, however once I realized that the thoughts were of more danger than the extra flesh, it has been easier to accept myself. My counselor also told me that you may not particularly like the reflection you see, but the first step is to accept what you see and own it. It is YOU! I have recently(two days ago) started my own blog . You can find it at . I would love the followers. I am journaling my experience in applying both intuitive eating and Geneen Roth's books. My favorite is her latest and if you would like a motivation you MUST read. Women, Food and God.

  8. I LOVE This post & I LOVE YOUR BLOG!!!!

    Dana xo