By Koya Webb
In my work as a teacher and author, I use the phrase “Get Loved Up.” What does that mean? It’s learning to love yourself, then others, then the world. If you do it in that order, it’s my firm belief that you can be strong mentally, spiritually and physically.
One of the toughest parts of that love equation is the physical part. Especially if you are a woman. So here is my advice for those struggling with their body – no matter your age or stage.
Your mindset is key to learning true body love
I teach the “mindful mindset,” which I talk about in my book – a process that involves mindfulness, yoga and just having honest conversations with yourself.
The first two parts of that mindset are to first acknowledge fear. It’s scary to accept yourself, and it’s especially scary to focus on yourself if you have other responsibilities. Moms, I’m looking at you especially! Then, forgive yourself. It’s ok to not be perfect. Many of the strong women I know struggle to give themselves the forgiveness for what they perceive to be shortcomings in their bodies. Your body is amazing: it gives you life, it may have given others life, and it supports you as you give care and nurture others throughout the day. If that isn’t the definition of perfect, I don’t know what is.
Listen to your body
First, it’s my belief that your body will tell you what you need. If you’re yawning, it’s your body telling you to sleep. If you’re hungry, eat.
But it’s food that can give many complicated feelings, especially when it comes to their body image. Food should be fun. It’s part of life – it’s part of family. So eat and make food that loves you back. Choose whole foods that give you nutrients and joy. I like to say: love your food, but love yourself more! Do not feel shame when you eat – you have a choice.
Pay attention when you eat – how do you feel when you eat that roasted sweet potato versus that milkshake? And if you are having trouble hearing yourself – find time, even if it’s five minutes – to do some meditation or breathwork. Keeping that practice of holding space for yourself and your thoughts is essential to learning true body love.
Find your mission
One of my favorite conversations to have with people is to dig into the “why” of why they’ve approached a coach like me or started practices that invest in their health. When you have a reason and purpose as to why you’re here, you can help determine why you’ve chosen to start taking care of yourself and your body.
Create a movement practice to create body love
Your body is capable of doing so much. But creating habits around healthy movement is a lifelong journey. Try starting out small, with 5, 10 and 15 minutes each day spent stretching, breathing and doing a few yoga poses. Then, start adding on intensity, whether it’s brisk walks with the dog or making time for a weekly hike with a friend or playing catch with your nephew every Sunday. Build on your capabilities and be mindful of how powerful and amazing your body is – and celebrate the achievements! By acknowledging how much you can do versus focusing on the negative, you can unlock true body love.