What It Really Means to Love Your Body

by Anne-Sophie Reinhardt on June 6, 2014

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Via Gina Alonso | http://www.pinterest.com/ginabean2/

Body-love is such a loaded topic, isn’t it?

Every woman is talking about it and every woman has an opinion on it because every woman is struggling with it.

There are those who say loving your body is impossible if you don’t wear a size 0 and there are those who pretend to be totally OK with being morbidly obese; which is a loaded topic in itself. There are those who think loving your body means being obsessed with it and others who believe it means completely letting yourself go.

Extreme points of view that don’t even scratch the surface of true body-love.

But what does loving your body actually mean and how does it look like in everyday life?

First of all, here’s what loving your body does NOT mean: it doesn’t mean neglecting your body and your physical health; aka. never working out and having McDonald’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

It doesn’t mean using your body as an excuse to not test your limits or moving beyond your comfort zone.

It doesn’t mean over-glorifying your body and all that comes with looking “great”.

It doesn’t mean worrying about your body and your appearance 24/7 and not being able to live your life – which, I know, is so difficult in our times.

After all, there’s so much shame when it comes to our bodies. We feel ashamed because we have – gasp – such outrageously feminine body parts like hips, booties or thighs. Then there’s the cellulite, the muffin tops or the love handles (harassing terms if you ask me!) that keep us up at nigh, locked into a spiral of embarrassment, abuse and fear.

And so, instead of celebrating our femininity, we try to hide it, cover it or diet it away.

Destructive.

Sad.

Potentially lethal.

And overpoweringly distressing.

It doesn’t have to be that way though. There’s a different way, a better way of living life for you; a way that takes away the shame and replaces it with love and freedom.

And that’s where real body-love comes in.

Loving your body, having an intimate relationship with your body, means taking good care of it. It means being attune to its needs – dietary and more – and listening to it more often than not.

Loving your body means relaxing about your size because you know you are feeding it deliciously healthful food and nurturing it with calming self-care routines.

It means skipping a day of exercise without freaking out or eating out and indulging every now and then.

True body-love means not following other people’s rules and doing what feels good to your body.

It means having fun with your body, doing cartwheels on a summer meadow or dancing Zumba with your best friend, filling every movement with love and joy.

It means experiencing the sensations of taste, lust, touch or thirst with gratitude and awe.

It means catching yourself when you’re comparing your body to the body of others and reminding yourself that your body is unique and beautiful in its own way.

True body-love means seeing the fire in your eyes, the strength in your arms and the beating of your heart and saying ‘thank you’ for being alive.

But most of all, loving your body means trusting your body.

Your body is benign. It doesn’t want to trick you, hurt you or kill you. It’s on your side. The sooner you realize that the better because that’s where change – and a little magic – begins to happen.

When you trust your body, you will stop starving or binging. You will stop judging or fearing. You will stop abusing or hating.

You will begin to see, feel and breathe peace: peace with food, peace with yourself and peace with your shape.

Of course, loving your body doesn’t always mean sunshine and unicorns.

You will still have “fat days” or experience the occasional twinge when you catch your reflection in the mirror.

However, real body-love stops you from remaining a victim of your body and instead empowers you to move on with confidence and trust. It enables you to live your life, chase your dreams, have beautiful relationships and powerful, focused conversations without your mind worrying about the way you look or plotting the diet you’ll start the next day.

True body love means being conscious of your body and respecting it for all it does for you, but not giving it power over you, your life and your dreams.

True body love is a balancing act and needs to be renewed every day of your life. It’s a practice; a beautiful practice that improves your health, strengthens your self-esteem and enriches your life in more aspects that you might believe.

And that’s what true body-love really means.

On to you: What does loving your body mean to you? How do you show love to your body and what experiences have you recently had that showed you, you need to take better care of your body? 

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Tess The Bold Life March 25, 2013 at 8:06 pm

I love my muffin top;)) As always this is a wonderful post!

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Anne-Sophie March 25, 2013 at 8:33 pm

woohoo! I LOVE to hear that.

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Elle, motivational blogger March 25, 2013 at 8:40 pm

Absolutely right Anne-Sophie – loving our body is a balancing act to be practiced daily…it’s amazing the difference it can make to our health and wellbeing. If we’re not choosing love, then we’re living in fear…not a good place for any of us.

Thanks for your wise words.

Love elle
xoxo

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Anne-Sophie March 26, 2013 at 5:41 pm

Couldn’t have said it better. It’s so easy to buy into the fear of being ugly, fat and unworthy. That can not only ruin your happiness but also take your life – at worst.

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Susu Paris Chic March 26, 2013 at 2:54 am

Loving my body – giving it good, whole and healthy nutrition.

Looking in the mirror and saying “you are beautiful” and trying my best to believe it.

Trying not to compare but to be grateful for this life lived so far. In this unique body of mine.
Being grateful for what makes me “me” – pale skin, long blond hair, smiley eyes, long legs, straight hips (and not picking on the negative stuff that I will not even list here, because it would only be that negative voice rambling on again).

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Anne-Sophie March 26, 2013 at 10:47 pm

Beautifully said, Susa. I love the unique Susa you are and I see beauty in her whole being including, but also far beyond, her beautiful shape, eyes, smile, hair and so much more. You’re a star in your own right, never forget that.

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http://www.nowherelife.com March 26, 2013 at 4:48 pm

I’m still learning what it means to love my body – posts like this give me hope and inspiration that it can be done.

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Anne-Sophie March 26, 2013 at 10:34 pm

sweetie, in a way, I think we’re all always learning to love our bodies. I’ms so glad that this post gives you hope. It sometimes feels like a long, twisted, cold road, but it’s so worth every step. All my love to you.

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Cathy Taughinbaugh March 26, 2013 at 8:57 pm

Hi Anne-Sophie,

So many young girls are receiving the wrong message at an early age these days. They are told that their value lies in the way that they look. We look at men for their brain power and women for their body and their looks. As time goes on, women feel the pain of not being able to live up to society’s image of what they should look like. You are doing a great service here to remind people about body image and how important it is to love ourselves for who we are.

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Anne-Sophie March 26, 2013 at 10:52 pm

Thank you so much, Cathy, and you are absolutely right. It breaks my heart to hear that girls as young as 5 years old are already dieting and criticizing their bodies. We are crushed by the weight of needing to like a certain way – even if it goes against our genetics. The more we talk about how beautiful every single one of us is the better.

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Betsy at Zen Mama March 27, 2013 at 4:37 am

I’ve spent the last few days with a friend who has cancer. It certainly makes me appreciate my body even more. I think sometimes we don’t concentrate on what’s “right” with our bodies, only on what’s “wrong”. It’s nice when our bodies are pretty but I’d rather be healthy!! Great post!!

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Anne-Sophie March 27, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Betsy, I’m so sorry to hear about your friend. Please know I’m sending love and strength her and your way. Yes, we focus way more on all the parts we don’t like about our bodies instead of being grateful for being healthy and alive and for allowing our bodies to do all the work they do. And that’s a lot of work. :)

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Karen Melick Knapp March 29, 2013 at 11:19 am

Loving my body to me would mean a freer heart and mind. They would be in sync to just let me live for once… and I try to block both my mind and heart out right now since they are having issues with things still by swimming since that is the only thing that can totally kill all bad thoughts and make me feel totally great. It is a great use of my body and refreshes me and actually leaves my mind in a better state after 40 minutes than before I got there. my eyes finally SEE what is really there in the mirror and that is a big change, so I am sure that I can switch over the mind to accepting things and then getting the heart to love what is there. There are parts I do love, it is just the “whole” I have to work on. But it will come… I am sure of that. It has been over three decades and that is a very long time… so what progress I have made, well I am happy with! :)

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Anne-Sophie March 30, 2013 at 1:03 pm

I think that being aware of the fact that swimming helps you to see what is really there is HUGE, Karen. It’s amazing that you’ve found this way of seeing reality and acknowledging yourself. Keep on working on seeing the beauty in the different parts and you will arrive at loving the whole – without a shadow of a doubt. Love you, girl.

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sheylla April 6, 2013 at 6:51 pm

I’ve been a big girl all my life and I struggle with my body issues every single day. I was — at my heaviest and have lost about — since then but I still have this ‘fat girl’ mentality. It’s hard for me to break out of this especially since I’ve always been made fun of being fat while growing up. What’s worse is that my parents are always emphasizing about the importance of not being fat. I grew with comments like ‘Dont be too fat or else no one will want to marry you’. Once, my dad told me if I get alot fatter, he’d be embarrassed to walk with me. I love my parents to bits but this just broke my heart. Anyway, I know its a long way before I can finally accept myself as I am but I’m thankful to have come across this blog(:

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Anne-Sophie April 8, 2013 at 8:51 pm

Hey Sheylla, thank you so much for your struggle. I’m really sorry to hear about your struggles. Congrats on losing so much weight and really taking care of your body. It’s not surprising that you still struggle with your mindset though. Changing your self-perception is often the trickiest part of all. However, I’d like to encourage you to stop referring to yourself as “fat” or “big”. This may take a few attempts but it’ll make a huge difference. Also, try to challenge the beliefs you grew up with. Where your parents right? Did they only portray their own fears on you? And one more challenge for you: try to find one thing every day that you love about yourself. Sooo glad you found this blog and I’m hoping that together we’ll get you to a body-loving place and a joy-filled life. <3

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