Heather Strang, and co-author Brooke Emery, wrote the upcoming book Stop Shoulding On Yourself! A Woman’s Guide From Obligation to Inspiration. The book encourages women to live from an authentic and should-free space.
So, grab a cup of tea and read on…who knows, you just might find some great ideas for your own life…
No matter what I do, my body always tends to settle at one comfortable weight. I would like to be thinner because, well, I feel I should be. So, my question is–should I continue to try to push my body beyond its set point?
This is a fantastic question, particularly around this time of year when so much of the focus is on losing weight and being thin. As women, our weight is often a huge should, surrounded by additional should’s about what we should eat and how much, as well as what kind of exercise we should do and how long we should exercise for.
But, ultimately, J.P., you and your body already know the answer to this question: you need to stop shoulding on yourself! Being healthy is important, but so is honoring what your body is telling you. If it’s repeatedly staying at the same weight (despite your damnedest intentions), then that’s probably a good indicator that it’s the healthiest weight for you. Of course, I’m not a doctor, so be sure to get proper medical attention if you feel that may be the root cause. It’s easy to get caught up in what weight we “should” be, based on medical charts created by middle-aged white men or by looking through magazines that depict airbrushed women who are disgustingly thin.
What your body (and all of our bodies, for that matter) needs is some tender loving care. Only give it what it wants. Here are some ideas for caring for your body, without shoulding on it. And, as always, only follow what resonates the most with you.
-Write a list of activities that your body enjoys. Be on the lookout for any should’s–does your body really love running? Only write down what you enjoy and feels the best for your body. Follow-up by engaging in some of these activities everyday, for whatever length of time it feels good to do so.
-Throw out magazines that feature unrealistic images of women’s bodies. Turn off television programs that feature the same.
-Stand naked in front of a full-length mirror and tell your body what you appreciate about it. Tell your belly how much you love it and give props to your amazing thighs.
-Only eat food that your body responds well to and enjoys. Pay attention to how you feel during and after you eat. Make note of what your body responds well too and what makes you feel bad. Stay away from “should’s” around what’s “right” or “wrong” for you to eat–as these often change.
-Bless your food before you eat it. Thank it for the contribution it’s making to your health.
-Engage in positive self-talk. Every time you look in the mirror, mentally (or out loud) note something beautiful about yourself. Be aware when you are absorbed in negative self-talk. Replace any negative comments with positive ones.
-Pamper your body. Get regular massages, pedicures, body wraps–or whatever you’re most attracted too. Bonus: it’s also good for your soul too.
Above all, remember to have FUN! This is the one body you have for this life, so enjoy it. Be good to it and honor what feels best, and watch how it responds. The ironic thing is, when we let go of the “should’s”, it frees up the space for our truth to come in. When you let go of needing to push your body to be thinner, you will not only feel better, but your body will be oh so good to you.