Take a dance around the interwebs this week, and you’ll notice something: ‘tis the season for socially acceptable body shaming, it seems. "All I got for Christmas is fat" and "Don't blame Christmas, you were fat in July," memes abound. Though the cats and cartoons in them are awfully cute, we don't have to get fat over Christmas and we also don't have to beat ourselves up.
As someone who’s struggled with her body image and has to consciously make sure that I’m working to maintain a healthy relationship with my body, I know that this time of year comes with challenges. Two that I work on myself and hear about from my clients include the change to our normal routine--both workout and eating.
EATING OUTSIDE OF YOUR NORM
It is possible to eat things that you don’t on a regular basis and be okay. Any time I will myself not to have my favourite treat, I end up having it anyways, and without really having it--sneaking it, eating it with shame, etc. I define a healthy diet not as one that is entirely devoid of “fun” foods, but one that has space for delicious things like cookies. At this time of year, there’s a lot of “I shouldn’t be having this...” conversations to negotiate, so it’s helpful to go into this week reassuring yourself that a cookie here or there is nothing to worry about, but actually something to relish!
"MESSING UP" YOUR TRAINING
It’s good to be committed, but it’s also important to have flexibility. We are more than our workout routines, and there are so many ways to be active. I know for years I thought that if I didn’t do a “real” workout, there was no point. But now I’ve come to realize that I crave exercise because moving our bodies feels good. It’s not about the shoulds, even though the gremlins might try to convince you that your worth comes down to your body or exercise regime. It’s not about burning off the goodies this time of year, even if there are lots of cute memes to giggle at about working out for cookies.
An article on the Huffington Post earlier this month reported that in a survey this year, more than 75% of women cancelled plans over low self-esteem and body image concerns. This makes me sad, but makes me want to challenge you to live as if you love your body this holiday season. What would you do if you had the body you think you need? How would you act if your body was perfect as can be? Who would you be if you didn’t have a body to fix?
Because my Christmas gift to you is a reminder that no matter where you are or what your body looks like, you can learn to love it. It doesn’t take losing 20lbs or toning or forcing yourself into change. You and your body, exactly as you are, are worthy of love. Extend it to yourself this holiday season so that you can extend that love and acceptance to everyone around you.