Self Acceptance

For many of us, the decision to make major changes to our lifestyle comes when we either have a health scare or simply feel so awful that we realize something needs to be done. The realization that our current lifestyle is detrimental to our well-being is an important step on the path to transforming our health. However, adopting the right attitude and mindset right from the start will determine whether our lifestyle makeover will be a success or failure.

Most of us are extremely critical of ourselves and often the decision to begin a diet or fitness program comes from a place of self-criticism and disappointment with our current appearance and health. This "inner critic” is useful as far as pointing out the areas of our life that need more attention, but after this is determined, we need not pay our critical self any heed. If our inner critic is allowed free reign, we will pursue our diet and fitness goals with an exhausting determination fuelled by self-loathing and a fear of failure. If you are still beating yourself up for being overweight or out of shape even when you are making the effort to eat healthy and exercise, then you know that your "inner critic” is exerting its control. If this is our attitude going into a new program, fitness and diet will become our punishment for all those months or years of bad health choices.

There isn’t much joy in this and it’s completely understandable that we would soon abandon our regular workouts and diet plan.

Since our thoughts and feelings toward fitness and diet determine our success in adopting a healthy lifestyle, it is vital for us to delve deeply into our relationship with our body. Gaining a sense of love and connectedness with it becomes very important as we embark on our journey of healthy and mindful living. As soon as we decide its time to revamp our daily routines, we need to congratulate ourselves on this decision and make changes out of love and respect for our bodies and the sincere desire to improve our quality of life – not to punish ourselves for past mistakes. Self acceptance and connection to our bodies is the most challenging aspect of launching a successful diet and fitness program. But once we begin to make smart food and fitness choices out of love for our own bodies, it will not seem like such a struggle.

One of the best tools for reconnecting with your body is meditation. Spending just ten minutes a day simply focusing on your breath can make you feel relaxed and more connected to your body. While meditating, picture yourself placing all of your physical insecurities and hang-ups into a box, then walking away. Notice how light and free you feel now that you don’t have all those negative emotions about your body weighing you down. As we continue working towards our diet and fitness goals, it is vital that we focus on how we feel as opposed to how we may look. This can be hard to do, but we will feel the changes that exercise and healthy eating are bringing before we actually see them. Notice how you don’t get winded when you go up a flight of stairs or how much energy you have now that you are eating right.

Through meditation and self-acceptance we will be able to feel more connected to our bodies and stop viewing the body as a separate, unruly entity that needs to be "whipped into shape”. In doing so, we will make choices and decisions out of love and respect for ourselves and take pleasure in moving our bodies and eating good food.

Kate is a freelance writer and is currently studying to become a personal trainer.