The first step in listening to your body is knowing how.
I thought I was very in tune with my body. I’ve always been an active person, exercising constantly, teaching yoga, working long hours in restaurants and bars. I was a dancer for many years when I was young. As far as I was concerned, I totally understood what my body needed, because I used it a lot.
Not the same thing.
I now realize I was, in fact, overusing my body physically in order to compensate for not treating it well in other ways. I then exacerbated the original problem – enduring long, erratic shifts at my job, going without enough water, binge eating late at night because I was starving after working for hours without a bite of food. On top of all that, I was obsessed with staying fit, despite the fact that I then further strained a system completely off balance already. If I didn’t fit it all in, then I believed I was failing.
I owe much of my newfound sanity to the pause created by the pandemic. Among other things, for the first time in my adult life, I had the time to re-regulate my body properly. I created my own schedule and was able to eat meals at the proper times and intervals throughout the day. I had energy to cook and experiment with new, nutritious recipes. I began a new morning vitamin and supplement regime.
Most of all, I had the space and awareness to sit with what my body wants. Eventually I no longer craved my go-to comfort foods because I knew how terrible I’d feel afterwards. I began tuning in to when I needed to release some energy and also when I needed rest. The concept of resting my body was previously foreign to me – resting meant gaining weight in my world.
Guess what – none of this made me gain weight. I was so worried that a break from working forty hours a week on my feet meant losing my fitness. It didn’t. It meant learning what my body actually needs.
You might think you know your body, but the truth is that you’re most likely in a routine, on auto pilot, or following old habits that no longer fit your constantly evolving self. As the body ages and changes, you must adapt along with it.
The best thing you can do for your journey towards listening to your body is developing a loving relationship with it.
I always hated my body. I was never happy, no matter what I did, no matter how little I ate, no matter how much I exercised. It was never good enough. If you do this – as I believe most of us do to some extent – think about your body as something separate from yourself for a moment. Think about everything that it does for you, every minute of every day. Can you imagine talking to another person, a person who does this much for you constantly, the way that you demean your own body?
Likely not. There is no time like the present to begin shifting your relationship with your body and your health. You only get one physical form, so perhaps begin appreciating the wonder that it is.
You can learn to love your body. You can learn to love yourself.
It’s never too late. You got this.