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Expecting and Accepting Body Change

Expecting and Accepting Body Change

Throughout our lives, our bodies are meant to change and adapt. Body changes are a natural and inevitable part of life, but can be distressing when they transpire. It’s common to experience a range of emotions when you notice changes in your appearance, whether they are stigmatized as positive, neutral, or negative. These emotions may be based on societal standards, fears of the unknown, feeling out of control, attachment to familiarity, and/or comparison. And although body changes are expected, the emotions attached may be abrupt. 

My body has gone through many changes in the past few months being pregnant with twins. And although I am so grateful for the experience to grow my babies, I have been surprised at the comments made by others as they notice my changing body. There have been so many individuals who have made unhelpful comments regarding the size of my growing belly. Some say, “Wow, your belly is huge!” and others comment, “Your belly doesn’t look big enough to be growing two babies”. Comments of varying opinions have made me question my body’s ability to adjust “appropriately” without understanding what an appropriate adjustment would even look like.

Throughout this experience, I have learned that all I can do is trust that my body will adjust exactly how she needs to, unrelated to any other bodies or expectations others have set for me. 

Trusting my body requires me to let go of expectations set by cultural norms, media representation, my upbringing, or personal fears. My body is worthy of change, and I have made the choice to accept her exactly as she is through all of the unknown and changes that will continue to occur. My hope is that you, too, will find trust and acceptance of your body exactly as you are now. 

Embodied: What Does it Mean?

Embodied: What Does it Mean?

The term “embodied” is used frequently in the recovery community. But what does being embodied mean? It signifies feeling connected to your body in a holistic way. Being embodied represents feeling safe in your body, while being able to experience all sensations, physical and emotional, without limitation. Experiencing being embodied is a powerful feeling, although it can be difficult to achieve without tools to support you as you work towards a place of trusting your body, and allowing your body to trust you back.

Here are a few tools you can use to increase embodiment:

  1. Mindful movement: Engage in movement without expectation. This includes moving your body in ways that feel meaningful without setting prior expectations, such as time requirements or distance obligations. Try dancing, yoga, or going on a walk. 
  2. Sensory awareness: Use your senses to embrace your ability to be present. Identify at least one thing you can taste, touch, smell, hear, and see. Reflect on what it feels like to be present in your body without judgment. 
  3. Identify stories: Notice what kind of thoughts you are thinking about your body or your mind. What kind of messages are you receiving from outside sources (movies, social media, friends, family, etc)? These messages can create the stories we tell ourselves about our bodies and/or our abilities.
  4. Engage in self-care: Show your body and your mind that you deserve to be celebrated and honored. Take a warm bath, get a massage, or engage in morning meditation. 

In my own life, I have noticed that when I am in a place of embodiment, I am able to be more present. Being connected to my body allows me to identify my needs, show up for myself, and be in a place where I can accept love and connection from others. Being embodied allows me to live in alignment with my core values wholeheartedly.

Building a Positive Relationship With Ourselves

Building a Positive Relationship With Ourselves

As you work towards a space of healing your relationship with your own body, you may begin to notice how others speak about their bodies, talk about others’ physical appearances, or maybe even make comments about your body. Part of entering a space of embodiment means exploring ways to set clear expectations or boundaries about the way that you communicate regarding your own, and others’, physical appearances. By setting clear limits on how those around us discuss, criticize, or interact with our bodies, we reclaim the power to outline our own self-worth and nurture a positive relationship with ourselves.

Setting boundaries may feel overwhelming in the beginning, so here are a few steps to make it easier.

  1. Explore what feels safe to talk about, and what does not. This will help you identify specific topics where boundaries may be needed. For example, it could be comments about your body size, appearance, clothes, or specific body parts. 
  2. Communicate boundaries to friends, family, coworkers, or anybody that has made comments that do not feel safe. Be clear and communicate what type of comments are acceptable and what is not. Express your needs and speak to why this boundary is important to you. Example: From this point going forward, please don’t make comments about my physical appearance. 
  3. Be prepared for pushback, but stick to your boundary anyway. It may be uncomfortable for others to acknowledge how past comments have impacted you, but this does not mean you need to adjust your boundaries to make others feel more comfortable. 
  4. Remember that boundaries can be moveable. If specific boundaries you have set are no longer serving you, you have the right to communicate within your relationships and adjust as needed. 

Boundaries are not walls, and setting boundaries does not necessarily mean shutting others out. We have the ability to set boundaries to protect meaningful relationships, and without boundaries, our relationships may not thrive or evolve into their full potential. Boundaries create a healthy balance between our needs, and the needs of others. You deserve safety and honesty within your relationships, and setting boundaries can be an excellent tool to help you reach that outcome. 

Every Body Is a Summer Body

Every Body Is a Summer Body

As the days become longer and the temperature rises, you may find yourself prepping for the summer months. Planning weekend getaways, identifying a list of activities to attend, possibly even planting new flowers or doing some cleaning. Whatever your summer prep includes, hoping to change your body to be worthy of these activities should not make the to-do list.

It is easy to fall victim to the expectations that others set for us regarding “summer bodies”. But as we know, focusing heavily on this change leaves little room for other values such as connection, leisure, or growth. Your body is not the outcome of your summer, nor should you allow the vulnerability of being embodied to hinder your ability to enjoy the season. 

You deserve a fun-filled, intentional, connection-based summer, showing up as exactly who you are. Here is a list of 10 things to add to your summer live list that have nothing to do with your physical appearance:

  1. Go for a swim- you don’t have to change your body to be worthy of wearing a bathing suit
  2. Try a new recipe
  3. Go 24 hours without social media 
  4. Read a new book
  5. Have a picnic with friends 
  6. Hike a different trail
  7. Enjoy a campfire
  8. Eat a snowcone 
  9. Learn something new
  10. Take a family photo

In my experience, the summers that I have approached the season being authentic and embodied have helped create the mindset where I am able to enjoy being present and creating memories. You are so much more than your body. Don’t allow negative thoughts or unrealistic expectations to dominate the outcome of your summer. 

Challenging The Narrative About Your Body

Challenging The Narrative About Your Body

As women, we are taught not to trust in our bodies. We are taught that there is more value in the way that we show up physically than anything that we could ever contribute otherwise. We are taught that taking up space in a room full of people should be vulnerable because of our lack of perfectionism and that we will never be good enough regardless of what our bodies do or don’t look like. But instead of always trying to change our bodies to fit the ever changing idealism, what if we dove into our abilities to accept our bodies without limitation?

There is a quote that reads, “It is not a dream body if it is a nightmare to maintain.” And as I think about this quote, I consider so many parts of the holistic being that are dismissed when we focus solely on our physical bodies. We substitute connection, joy, and so many other meaningful life experiences, in effort to move through life in a body that is valued by the outside world. What if instead of allowing societal expectations to influence our ability to find body acceptance, we worked to challenge our own definition of worthiness and approval?

Challenging the narrative you have about your body may not be easy, but it is possible. Being able to identify negative dialogue and then reframing it to something more neutral will help improve your mood or mindset about your body. 

Here is an example of a way to do this:

Trigger: Relapsing 

Negative thought- “I always mess up; I can’t even do recovery right. What’s the point? I am not capable of making positive changes.”

Neutral thought- “Recovery is not linear; I am allowed to make mistakes. I am going to work through this and move forward like I always do.”

Working towards body neutrality may feel painful, vulnerable, or unnatural. It may go against your initial instinct of changing your body to feel deserving of happiness. But instead of the vulnerability being a sign of weakness, what if instead, it is a token of bravery? Lean into the vulnerability that comes with challenging your current thought patterns concerning your body. 

You do not have to change your body to be worthy of love, acceptance, and unity. Give yourself permission to live a life that you love in the body that you were given.