"The belly rules the mind."
Already before the Christmas season with its traditional buffet of food and drinks, I tried to eat consciously and healthily. In reality, it meant that I understood what food (and drinks) choices I just took, be it eating vegan or also ordering Deliveroo and having this cake with my cup of coffee. So it wasn`t about dieting or fasting, but more about the awareness of my eating behavior. I am not an expert or a trained nutrionist, and I believe we don`t have to be, to get in tune with our body full of wisdom.
For those of you who don`t know me, I don`t drink alcohol and if I do, then only a few sips. My friends would always tease me that I would never finish my alcoholic drink. I have just learned for myself that my (Asian) body cannot cope with so much and I also barely like the taste of alcohol, only if it is hidden in form of a cocktail. Also after two crazy experiences when I just wanted to lie in bed - one was waking up my roommate because I felt I was about to vomit (and I did, my poor roomie), the other was when I sort of got a blackout in the middle of a club night (quite frightening to witness how you can lose your senses) - I also grew more reluctant towards alcohol. Not to mention of stories about DUI, that alcohol can apparently kill some brain cells, and seems to intoxicate our body and mind. Nevertheless, I don`t judge my friends who drink alcohol, esp. now living in the UK, with a bigger drinking culture than in Germany (which I kind of find sweet because it seems to loosen up people). Eventually, it`s everyone`s personal lifestyle choice, and as I don`t want to be pressured, judged, or disabused myself, I also don`t put my (current) worldviews on others.
Back to food and my intention to eat even more healthily after the Christmas holiday season. I realized I seemed to have gained weight, which my mind immediately has judged. It could be a mix of lockdown immobility and Christmas snacks and low mood that altogether led to an annoying belly. So what I since did, was to go for morning runs every day, whenever the weather allows, and also do yoga and a full body workout every evening. However, I didn`t see that much change, and I knew I had to bring in something else, which we often don`t think about.
1. Bring in your mind
I realized that eating healthily to lose weight was a heady decision and called feelings of restraint, discipline, and a "to-do" attitude. While this may work, I knew I wanted to add a bigger picture and intention to my motivation. So while I was reading my personal development books and listening to my current podcast, "On Purpose" with Jay Shetty, I realized that if I want to achieve all my dreams and launch all the initiatives I want to launch, I need to have a healthy and fit body. A body that helps me be productive, efficent, and focused. Not only in terms of energy, but also in terms of mindfulness. I am aware that whenever I feel my body, a judgmental thought comes in, such as 'How annoying to feel my belly', 'I need to lose this extra weight', and so on. All of these thoughts move my focus and attention away, I am stuck in the moment, while I cannot change the reality with my thoughts. Also the side-effect is, obviously, I am more drained, demotivated, and don`t like myself, as opposed to feeling energized, powerful, and content. My overall intention is to appreciate life and live a life with meaning - if my mind is constantly occupied with what is wrong with my body (or generally in life), I will stand in between myself and my objectives, so I want to help make this easier by training my body, and, thus, my mind.
2. Bring in your soul
Being spiritual, I know that my ability to live in the moment and achieve my goals is not only dependent on my body. My body is a form I could fixate on or not. I like to see my body as my vehicle to experience and create life. Spiritual teachers often refer to our body as the "temple of our soul", but temple seldomly resonates with me as I, unfortunately, don`t go to or volunteer in temples regularly, to know how to worship and maintain such a holy place. But I do like the notion that our soul is home in our body, and we need to take care of our home. It is similar to a plant or a child - would you give a child toxins or food that you know might deteriorate her health? You would also probably water a plant and make sure it gets natural sunlight from time to time, instead of giving the plant polluted water and putting it in the darkest corner of your basement. Whatever metaphor helps you to establish a healthy, nourishing, and loving relationship with your body, try to see your body from the outside. For this, the next perspective could help you, too.
3. Bring in your body
We may have all heard that how we think and feel about our body, our body knows. Our body immediately picks up on it and consequently gives you the exact energy to match your beliefs. Know of those moments when your mind wanders to a really painful, sad, hurtful experience and you soon start to swallow, cry, or feel low? This is how powerful your body can be (and it obviously works the other way, too). Same as for our body sending us signals, that we often like to ignore. These headaches that feel like our mind is about to burst? The stomachache that suddenly emerged? The back pain that calls for a hug? These could be all signals to worry less, get a rest, and ask for help. (Please always consult with a doctor in case of doubt and urgency.) We all know few examples where people end up with chronic diseases, and while there may be all kinds of factors and reasons, we can always listen to our body to ask what it (i.e. we) currently needs.
I invite you to also join me in a loving relatioship with our body. Since our upbringing, our body has been judged by society, doctors, parents - positively, negatively, consciously, unconsciously. 'Oh, how tall you have become!', 'Get your dream body in 30 days', 'This is below average, but nothing to worry about'. As a result, our body has been used to be judged, often 365/24/7. Now is the opportunity to reverse and counter-balance it by a loving perspective. I know it takes time, and one part of you may struggle to receive love, but here`s a routine I would like to share with you, that you can just try to explore:
Stand in front of your mirror, if possible a full body mirror, and while you touch each part of your body, express your gratitude and love for each part of your body. This can look like this:
I love my face with all its senses that allow me to see, hear, smell, and taste life.
I love my hands that allow me to hug, create, and write what is important for me.
Thank you for my long and strong legs, that carry me around in life.
When you do this the first time (and potentially the second and third), be kind and observe patiently what potential other emotions or sensations arise. It might be that, for example, you arrive at your belly that your mind has always judged as too extra, you can connect with your heart and (honestly) say, "Thank you for my belly which protects my organs and where my future children will grow up." Whatever feels true to you, give it room to express your thoughts and emotions.
So if you bring in your mind, soul, and body to any endeavor, in this case to eat more healthily, you will create a powerful structure, motivation, and intention to get more attuned to you and your life.
How can you create a comfortable home in your body? Let me know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org – I would very look forward to hearing from you! :) PS: Subscribe to my Newsletter to stay in touch for upcoming posts and news :)
This week`s ...
Inspiration: Timothy Ferriss - The 4-Hour Week
Reflection: How is your relationship with your body?
Intention: Whenever I observe judgments against my body, I observe these thoughts without judgmnents themselves and find a good thing about my body.