Our world is not set up to encourage us to be kind to our bodies. We are overworked, sleep deprived, often undernourished, and usually dehydrated. We don’t have the time we need for leisurely, enjoyable moments with friends or family and most Americans have a nearly impossible time making time for any kind of joyful or intentional movement.
Worse than that, we are really encouraged to disconnect from our body and its clear signals to us. These signals show up in the form of small aches and pains, varying degrees of hunger and thirst, gut feelings and in other ways. When we are born, we have a high level of interoceptive awareness — that is, we can hear the body and we know how to listen to it, respond and demand that we get what the body needs. As we get older and “grow up,” our culture almost forces us to get better and better at ignoring those signals, muscling through them, or even finding them annoying and “wrong.”
Body Kindness is the practice of re-learning how to tune into our body’s signals and honoring those signals by taking action. Body Kindness is feeling friendly towards our bodies in a way that helps our body’s trust that they matter. They are not just an annoying, betraying, “thing” we are forced to deal with (as our culture’s tell us they are), they are “US.” Our bodies are precious, one-of-a-kind, ultra-complex organisms that are constantly working hard to keep us alive and well. Body Kindness is approaching these miraculous organisms with love and respect and… well, kindness instead of the contempt we’ve been taught to have for them.
Given that our culture is hell bent on us hating our bodies, the transition to Body Kindness is not always easy and it is not always linear. There will be good days and bad days. There will be days when we can turn to our bodies with a friendly and open heart and listen to its needs and honor its needs as we would a beloved pet’s. There will be days when we would rather pretend we don’t even have a body and we will ignore every signal our body sends our way!
All of this is okay. A transition like this — which is pretty much a full paradigm shift or a full shift in our beliefs about the world and our place in it — requires time and lots of patience. And the older we are when we come to the concept of Body Kindness, the more time we’ve spent in the mode of Body Contempt.
Like all transitions, knowing when we need help and what we need help with is key. Then, reaching out to those we know can help us will get us through! That is EXACTLY what our BDR Coaching Calls are for! And if the calls don’t feel like enough, this is precisely the point of JodiAnn’s Weight-Neutral Health Coaching — to help clients make the transition away from Body Contempt and toward Body Kindness. There is help available to you through this difficult transition!
This week, consider times and ways you have felt Body Contempt. Write down as many examples as you can think! Then see if, one by one, you can reimagine these examples through the lens of Body Kindness. What would Body Kindness be able to do that Body Contempt was not capable of? How would Body Kindness have felt in those moments? Finish by writing THREE ways you can practice Body Kindness this week where normally you might experience Body Contempt.
I’d love for you to share this work in our coaching calls, if it feels helpful for you to do that.
is an NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer; an ACE-Certified Group Fitness Instructor; a certified Yoga Teacher; a Certified Intuitive Eating Professional; and a degree-holding Health, Fitness Specialist. She lives in Frankfort, Michigan and owns Every. Body. Fitness and Yoga Studio.