Over the last several years, there have been two strong messages coming at us around the new year. The first is the one that’s essentially been ingrained in us; that the new year is the time to take stock of your life and then DO something about it. Change, start something new, embark on a new journey towards self-improvement. Of course we all know that historically this has translated for so, so many people to starting a new diet.
The other message we’re getting–if you follow people in the anti-diet, body positive, HAES® world–is to resist the temptation to diet. We’re getting reminders about what happens to your body when you go on a diet, the failure rate of diets, the risk of developing an eating disorder, etc. These messages serve as important reminders that diet culture is toxic and they are designed to help people avoid the pitfall of falling back into it during a time where it would be very compelling and easy to do so.
I wanted to write with a bit of a different message today. Something that I’ve been thinking about lately is just how different we all are. We are all at vastly different places in our lives and in our journeys with our bodies, food, self-care, etc. And the process of learning how to best care for our bodies, minds, and spirits is long, complex, and unique to us. There are horror stories waiting for us behind each door we open. If we listen to them all, we’ll be stuck in place forever.
Over the past seven years I’ve been resisting diet culture while also managing chronic pain and depression AND pursuing a career as a health and wellness coach and yoga therapist. It’s been an interesting cocktail, for sure. The truest truth I’ve found is that we’ve got to experiment. We’ve got to try things on and feel them out in our own bodies and minds. I believe that the process of learning how to listen to our intuition is the key to this. We do have deep wisdom within us and it can guide us if we let it.
The problem is that so many of us have been taught not to trust ourselves. If you live in a bigger body, the message has likely been that if you knew how to take care of yourself, you’d be thinner, so it’s better to listen to others about what to do. If you live with chronic pain or illness, the message may have been that if you knew how to take care of yourself, you’d be well. Other people do have wisdom to share that we can benefit from greatly, but we owe it to ourselves to filter it through our own selves. We have to listen to that voice that tells us whether it’s safe for us, and whether it feels loving or shaming or based in fear. We’ve each got our own catalogue of past experiences, hopes, and dreams to thumb through. No one else can do that for us and no one else can determine what’s going to be best for us.
So my New Year's tip is to practice tuning in and listening, and experiment. It may be new for you, and you may get it wrong. Actually, you will probably get it wrong. That’s okay! It’s part of the learning and growing process. When you get it wrong, practice kindness, compassion, and self-love. Treat yourself like you would a friend or a child. The more you practice and try, the stronger and louder that voice gets, as it begins to realize you actually want to know what it has to say. And the stronger and louder it gets, the easier it is to hear it.
A few resources that have supported me in my journey of listening are the practices of Yoga and meditation, the Be Body Positive Model, and the work of Kristen Neff. I’d love to hear what’s supported you! Leave a comment or send me a message. I’d love to hear from you. Happy New Year! And if you'd like to work with me, you can check out my services HERE.