Nourishing the self

My television, oracle of all that is in the minds of the masses at any given moment, tells me that January is the month for fat blasting. This is ‘true’ because the plethora of svelte, lean women and bulked, tanned and very shiny men keep telling me so. And of course it’s true because we’ve all pigged out over Christmas or the holidays and are now going through the motions of being guilt ridden over either added kilos, added liver toxicity or added over-indulgence of <insert personal demon here>.

So often the media dictate their own agenda (sales) by playing on our weaknesses (desire to let go and enjoy). Instead of feeling joyful and happy that we’ve spent time with friends and family, perhaps had some breathing space from work, enjoyed life and all it has to offer, we’re made to feel less-than for not being perfect, or for letting a kilo or two slip on.

There is no more sure-fire way to let our health and wellbeing spiral into longer-term unhealthful habits than being made to feel guilty about our selves or our bodies. Instead of buying into these surface fears around negative body image, wouldn’t it be lovely to embrace our indulgences, our slip ups, our foibles for that matter, as a beautiful part of being perfectly imperfect humans. Wouldn’t it be lovely to enjoy both the chocolate cake AND the daily walk/run as normal and integral to our health and wellbeing, instead of fighting between denying the self-pleasure and forcing the self to exercise as punishment?

As a firm advocate in the belief that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, we have to let go of a mental attitude that we are weak if we do the ‘wrong’ thing, and we are only valid as a person if we live up to a perfect ideal.

I believe there is more harm in pushing, fighting or forcing your body to be a certain way than there is in nourishing it with whatever it needs in that moment. If you truly enjoy that mouthful of chocolate cake as a shared celebration, it will provide joy and nourishment to your cells and most certainly do less harm than if you deny or reprimand your body for being ‘weak’ or ‘bad’ (No one likes to be talked to like that, least of all your cells!)

This is not to say we should indulge in every whim that the body craves (if your weakness is sugar, I’m not advocating Diabetes here!!) However, the body is so much more than a mechanistic set of rules and regulations that can be argued and deprived into submission. Our attitudes, emotions and moods play such an important part of our physical ability to metabolise and digest – just try to eat while you’re in an intense moment of anger or sadness. You can guarantee no matter how healthy the food is, your body at its cellular level isn’t going to easily assimilate that food.

We are more than a ‘calories in calories out’ machine. We are complex, emotional, adaptive, stubborn, fluid being with a body that not only responds to what we put in it and give out, but which also responds to our state of mind at every given moment.

As the sea of diet-pushers out there yell louder, I’d like to invite you to turn down the volume and go inward. Your body has a wealth of its own diet and movement wisdom. Sometimes it wants to eat less and move more, other times it is ravenous and demands to be fed. And at other times, it wants to retreat and be insular and quiet. Check in with yourself and question does my body require some encouragement and self-love to get over a food, exercise or self-esteem hurdle? Is it really hiding an emotional state which I could journal/bathe/scream and punch/jog/meditate/swim/walk/cry and release? Is the sensation of hunger masking a true need for hydration and a big glass of purified water? Or does it genuinely require a relaxing of the stringent rules that have been imposed upon it and desires some fun and flexibility around what is being asked of it? Remember, there is no one way to health or fitness or your ideal body weight, shape or size, but it will never rest at its natural and balanced state if it’s being cajoled, chastised or forced to be or do something it against its own inherent wisdom.

©Kate Powe

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