Day 2 of the 30 day self-love challenge in which I am (belatedly) participating required me to acknowledge and thank gifts of my body. It was kinda weird as I spend much time despising my body. I avoid looking at the-wholeness-of-me. I look at my eyes as I put my contact lenses in each day. I look at my face and my hair as I try to gel my hair into submission each morning. And I sometimes use the apple symbol on my iPhone as a mirror to apply lipstick. But that’s about it. I don’t want to see my body. And sometimes, when I am caught unawares and am confronted with a reflection in a shop window, I am appropriately horrified. But the day 2 challenge required me to look past the skin and swollen exterior and really think about what I appreciated about my body. It was useful as we spend so little time being grateful for ‘the things that work’ or for our good health. It’s only when it’s lost we realise what we’d had.
From our first breaths, instincts reign in our bodies. To feed when hungry and stop when full. To rest when tired and explore life when awake. To smile when happy and cry when upset. From the first days, our bodies typically function quite well through so many intricate processes and details. The heart knows how to pump blood. The lungs know how to breathe. The stomach and intestines know how to pull nutrients for fuel.
Our bodies are fabulous creations and they know their stuff. Our bodies contain more intelligence than the smartest of computers. Our bodies adapt very well to whatever we expose them. Yet, we show such uncertainty in trusting them. We lose sight of cues our bodies give us – hunger, fatigue, stress, and more. We think we don’t need to listen to them and they will do our will, no matter how damaging.
Sure, mind over matter acts as a powerful tool. However, we shouldn’t always ignore our bodies’ wishes for personal fulfillment. We need to treat them with respect and the first step to doing so is to trust them. Really listen to what your body tells you. Do you feel hunger? Eat! Do you feel tired? Rest! Do you feel nervous? Figure out why and find a way to calm yourself.
Our bodies provide us with so much information every single day. If we tap into that, we can live the most fulfilling lives. When you care for your body you have the energy in you to pursue life and happiness. Reflect on the many ways your body displays its intellect. Is there an area where you face difficulty trusting your body? Take time today to focus on this area and pay close attention to your body. Trust and listen.
In what area do you know you need to trust your body more? How do you plan to do so today?
My biggest trust issues with my body are two-fold. Firstly, the obvious one for so many of us who have a problem with our weight, and controlling our eating. Going forward, I need to eat when hungry and trust my body to tell me when that is. And, amazingly, I’m not hungry that often any more. I believe that’s something to do with giving up my 1 litre plus/ day diet coke habit. Now I defer eating to do other things instead. I’ve NEVER been one of those people. I used to hear people say ‘Oh, I forgot to eat,‘ and I’d want to punch them in the face. I mean, WTF? And yet now I’m rarely hungry. But…. (big but – actually big butt and big but!) it doesn’t mean I’m not still prone to overeating. Because I rarely ate because I was hungry. I ate because that’s what I did. In front of television at night. It was the one time of day I was happy. I indulged in hermit-like behaviour so that I could sprawl on an armchair surrounded by my favourite food and wine with only good television for company. Even now, when I think about grocery shopping at Woolworths I think about the gluten free corn chips I bought every weekend (several times each day). And then when I walked with a friend the other night, I contemplated the wine I used to buy on the way home, which I enjoyed in my own very excellent company at night. I haven’t quite got my head around it all yet. I’ve spent SO long craving alone-time at night and on weekends (so I could hide away and binge eat) that now I keep finding that I am writing at night (deferring dinner until too late) and out and about on weekends. Perhaps I am to be a hermit no more?!
But what I really need to do is trust my body. It will tell me when it’s hungry or when it’s full. It doesn’t mean I can’t be sensible and eat something when I realise I’ve had too few calories during the day; what it means for me is that I need to listen to it when it is screaming out ENOUGH! I need to farewell the days I had to lie in the bath after eating because I was so full I could do nothing else.
The second issue for me is my sleep patterns. I go to bed later than I usually plan… but even when I don’t I don’t sleep well. I’ve written about it here before and anyone who follows me on Twitter will be aware of my regular 1am ‘I can’t sleep‘ tweets. It isn’t uncommon for me to lie there for a couple of hours each night before sleeping. Recently I had MANY post 1am nights and even a 3am night during one week. I was sick, or became sick at the time. Whether one led to the other I don’t know. I’ve tried all of the suggestions – warm baths, not using my bedroom for anything else (the experts say sex is okay, but sadly that doesn’t appear to be an option for me at the moment!), and even trying to meditate (ish) to calm my mind but to no avail. I go to bed and my mind buzzes and I can barely grasp onto the myriad of thoughts racing through my head. I can’t get comfortable. I’m often wide awake. But, when my alarm goes off in the morning I am beyond tired. Exhausted even.
Strangely I don’t have the same problems when it comes to daytime nanna naps. Just the going-to-bed-at-night kind.
Now I know we need to get 6 – 8 hours of sleep a night. But what I’m wondering is if I should stress less about it. Perhaps I need to trust my body in this case. Perhaps I need to focus more on the ‘getting out of bed despite my tiredness’ in the morning rather than desperately re-setting my alarm clock again and again. Surely if I had minimal sleep for night after night my body would get so exhausted I’d have to sleep. Or I’d get sick. Again. Nothing I do seems to help my insomnia, so perhaps all I can do is not worry and trust that my body will sleep when it is ready. Sometimes as I lie in bed my mind is at its most creative. When I used to do more writing I would often be struck by inspiration the moment I lay down for a nanna nap on weekends. I have a notebook next to my bed, so perhaps I need to use it more and capture those thoughts so they are not wasted.