Yeah…Immaeatthat

Oct 17

Specific ideas for how to feel at home in your body.

On Friday I wrote a post that talked a bit about feeling at home in your body.  Today I wanted to share my specific ideas for how to feel at home in your body + reader’s comments on how they feel at home in their bodies.

Dieting and eating disorders dissociate you away from your body and you have to practice embodiment again to accept your natural body size (aka feel at home in your body).  When we dislike a part of our body, we can choose to not embody it.  For instance, if you hate your arms, you could choose to dissociate from them. You’d do your best to not think about that body part or see it in a mirror. For me, my arms and stomach were the parts of my body I choose not to embody. I mentioned in this video I started embodying and connecting to the natural size of my belly my resting my hands on my belly after yoga and feeling my belly rise and fall. 

I share that about yoga because when trying to heal body image it can be helpful to get out of your head and into your body via expressive therapies.  These could include mirror-free yoga, mirror-free (if possible) dance classes or art classes. 

While I did just say that some types of movement can be helpful for helping you embody your natural size…mindless cardio is not the movement that is going to help improve your body image.  If you are doing mindless, rigid, regimented cardio in an effort to change your body size and get better body image, just know that it’s like you are driving a car to nowhere. When you are driving a car to nowhere, you’re wasting gas and putting wear and tear on your vehicle only to end up somewhere you don’t want to be.  

Mindless cardio (hello, having to spend x time on the elliptical / or running x miles) may keep your body looking a certain way, but it will never give you better body image or bring you true fulfillment.  It will likely only breakdown your body (just like wear and tear on a vehicle) due to overuse.  

Back to expressive therapies.

Expressive therapies (like yoga, dance, and art) are also great for people who have a hard time with words or expressing their emotions. Body image can be the last thing to fully change when leaving dieting behind and a lot of time you are not going to make peace with your body size just through reading about how to heal body image.  Finding a way to move to begin embodying your body size can be helpful.

Here are 5 other thoughts on feeling at home in your body from readers:

Savannah suggested that to feel at home in her body “I like to write things that I’m proud of my body for doing, like going on an amazing hike or listening to my hunger cues and how good that makes me feel.”

Miley made the point of, “I was thinking about how I was never happier or more at home in my body when I was trapped inside ED. I was actually MORE unhappy and LESS at home. It is truly terrifying how ED can give us complete tunnel vision.”

Kara says she feels at home in her body by, “choosing to live at my happiest self, not my thinnest self.”

Megan said “things that help me [feel at home in my body] are meditation, yoga, walks outside (not on a treadmill ew), and resting. Things that detach me from my body are super intensely exercise and over-thinking food choices.”

Lex mentioned, “I like the phrase “feeling at home in your body”. When I start to have disordered thinking about my body, I think that is a phrase I can add to my toolbox to help.”

Thank you to everyone who commented on the post last week :)

So question time.  How are you going to take action to feel more at home in your body this month?

30 comments on “Specific ideas for how to feel at home in your body.”

  1. Gosh. Love this! NEEDED THIS. Thank you!

    I have been having knee issues. Having a MRI Monday. Choosing to ask for help, parking close, NOT exercising.. I have been doing meditation and putting my hands on my belly. <3 :)

    • It can be so tough to respect your body’s limits when your body isn’t letting you move how you are used to. Sorry about the knee pain, but way to go with choosing to ask for help, parking close, and not exercising :)

  2. Thank you for mentioning expressive therapies! I am currently working toward my master’s in Dance/Movement Therapy and I agree 100% with how you’ve described it. I have already noticed a change in my mentality relating to my body since starting this journey and LOVE that the expressive arts therapies are getting more well-known! Thanks again for advocating for this field!

  3. For me, buying clothes that actually fit the body I have now has been key. It’s very triggering for me to try and put my body into something that is uncomfortable or doesn’t fit quite right. I feel best when my body has room to move how it needs and I can feel totally comfortable.

  4. Taking my rescue dog for a hike in the park makes me feel so goooood. I love being outside and in nature, and so does she! I feel extra good knowing she is getting exercise appropriate for her (she has heartworms and can’t get her heart rate up for an extended period of time, so no running, but she loves walks!) and that I am taking some “me” time.

    I’ve struggled with my thigh/leg shape since puberty but knowing it’s those bad boys that got me up and down the hills makes me feel good in my body!

  5. If I find myself body checking in the mirror or starting on a spiral of negative self talk I interrupt the process by telling myself “You ROCK”. Sometimes I have to say it 25 times, but the mantra helps interrupt the pattern and keeps me from spiraling down deeper into a negative space. Its simple, its short, and its hard to argue against. Some of my other favorite mantras to repeat are “You are enough” or “You can do it” (especially if the triggers are work stress or having something not go as planned).

  6. When I was in the beginning stages of my recovery, I came up with a mantra for each part of my body related to gratefulness. For instance, “I am grateful for my arms because they allow me to pick up and hug my little cousins” or “I am grateful for my legs because they allow me to dance on elevated surfaces at frat parties” (this seriously was my mantra, lol – I was on medical leave from college and was having real tailgate withdrawal!).

    The hardest one for me to come up with was for my stomach, as I struggled the most with accepting it above all else. My therapist reminded me that my stomach protected my vital organs, thus allowing me to live. My mantra became related to all the things I was looking forward to in life after I recovered – getting a boyfriend, getting married, getting a job, having kids, etc. Having kids was such a big motivator for me that I actually ended up creating a list of baby names that I loved. It sounds kind of ridiculous as I write it but it honestly was so helpful to drive me toward recovery/accepting my body – “I’m grateful for my stomach because one day it’ll house a baby!”

    I ended up writing all my mantras on notecards and decorating them, then putting them all in a photo album. It was a great tool to have whenever I was struggling with body image.

    • I love this! These mantras sound very similar to meditations that I do on particularly tough body image days (and regular days too) – I go through each part of my body and I say “thank you feet for walking me places, thank you stomach for holding the food that nurtures me, thank you lungs for breathing air, etc.” I try to come up with the most creative things I can thank my body for, and I definitely notice a change in how I view my body and all that it does for me. 

    • Thank you for sharing this, Abby! LOL to –> “I am grateful for my legs because they allow me to dance on elevated surfaces at frat parties” hahahah

  7. Kylie, awesome post, as usual! And I see your point in suggesting expressive arts, b/c you do need to accept moving in your body, accepting your body, being kind and gentle, being expressive with our bodies.

    However, coming from a dance background – it is all about how your body looks during performing – that is innate in dance – you are literally expressing yourself by moving your body, i.e., the image of your body is the performance. That community is also very dangerous for making you more body image obsessed, which leads to ED. All of which you know. Maybe a Bollywood class for fun or some other modern dance would be ok, but in a studio with mirrors…I don’t know.

    Similarly, certain types of yoga can be strict and intense, and about “performing” a series of poses. Further, being thin and in spandex is kinda advantageous for the physical practice because it enables ease in achieving the various binds. (Yes, I know there is a yoga for all body types social media movement going on now, but for the most part, that is not the norm). And again, like dance, you are performing with your body – innate body image – the image of your body determines how well you are doing in the class and progressing to the next asana/pose. Further, and most concerning, the yoga community can also be triggering with the food – you need to be vegan, and you need to eat clean, and do all these cleanses. Perhaps restorative yoga would be good for feeling at home in your body, but even then those classes are offered in conventional yoga studios with the sometimes triggering community.

    So I am just confused. I could see how art, painting, music, etc. could be great expressive therapy. But for me, dance and yoga seem dangerous. With respect to exercise, I feel running (your cardio example) would be better for me b/c that community is all about fueling your body, eating, nourishing yourself, and it is not about performance based on the image of your body.

    I love love love your posts and blogs. Thank you so much for sharing so much. It has been so helpful to me. I hope you are feeling good!

    • Thanks for commenting here with this, Alisha <3

      I'd say any movement that one has been rigid / regimented with in the past isn't a good choice for them to do when trying to feel at home in their body. For those who are recovering from an exercise obsession or bulimia (exercise type), you have a 50% chance of relapse if you choose to engage in the movement that was part of your ED. Exercise can become a maladaptive coping strategy and it is key to change your exercise patterns. So if yoga or dance was part of one's disordered relationship with food or movement...perhaps no movement at all is a better option.

      I don't come from a dance background. But I wonder...does dance HAVE to be about how your body looks while performing? I can dance at a wedding and it has nothing to do with how I look...it just feels good to move. I'll also mention that for a bit I worked as the RD for a ballet company and because of it and the non-stop body size manipulation I saw...I don't think I could ever enjoy attending a ballet again. But like you said, "a bollywood class for fun or some other modern dance" without mirrors that isn't about performing or making your body look a certain way is what I'm talking about here.

      I totally hear you on yoga studios pushing restrictive ways of eating as healthy...it's super annoying. Hopefully you can find at least one teacher who doesn't feel the need to make such unhelpful comments about food. It's unfortunate...but to avoid being triggered around food/diet/body topics I feel like one couldn't leave their house. I can't even go to church without ending up next to someone selling Beach Body or something similar.

      Sounds like you have good self awareness! Dance and yoga sound like they could be dangerous for you. I think your comment is a good reminder that no advice is good advice for everyone. So thank you for bringing these points up!

      • Ahhhh! Thank you so much, Kylie. All of that makes perfect sense. Haha, and yes, to avoid triggers we would have to stay home…OR we could go back to my idea of living on an island with this non-diet mentality tribe!!!! I am on board for that! ;) Thank you again. Sincerely.

    • I have a 13 year old client (I am a counselor) who is very involved in ballet and extremely talented. However, she is feeling very stuck by the actual expectations set for her body to look a certain way but she also wants to feel at home in her body as well but knows what that might mean for her dance future and it’s just “not worth it” for her right now. So I definitely see how that could be a stumbling block for some depending on your background! Such a hard balance to find, especially for someone so young.

      • Also, Kylie, any advice you could provide as an RD for this client would be appreciated! I am working with a local RD and ED recovery center to give her support but would always love your opinion!

  8. Wow this post put into words a lot of what I feel about my own body. I am just getting started with the idea of body acceptance and intuitive eating and the idea of “feeling at home in my body” is something I had never considered. I am going to try and do yoga as a way to destress and connect with my body again. Do you have any other posts you recommend for me to read? Or books?

  9. Been really stuck and overpowered by my anorexia lately, your posts have been spot on. Thanks god for expressive therapies like yoga. It is my only calm time to just be. Recovery is bloody hard so making this time and space to practice, is one kind thing I can do for me.

  10. I’ve been quite stressed out by my bachleor’s thesis lately & I also have a lot of jaw pain due to (again stress related) tooth clenching. It seems that I can be irritating myself both mentally and physically, it’s connnected. I choose to do Yoga with Adriene since she is super calming and I prefer to do it alone at home. Also, I started a personal strenght training with focus on my back and core. I feel that I holf myself up way better. My personal trainer is so friendly. I always thought strenght training would be only for *fit* people, but with the one on one training I really feel connected to my body. I do not do it for a body change, but for my mental health. I feel so much better after I moved and got the blood flowing. My mood is way better afterwards.

    I have a girlfriend who was extremely overweight due to a hormonal condition (being treated now) and she loves belly dancing. It is a very body-sensual way of moving and a soft fleshy body is encouraged. I like to do something like that! There is a women-only solo salsa dance class close by. Maybe worth a try.

    • Thanks for sharing, Liz! I’ve always wanted to try belly dancing or even pole dancing! I’ve heard both are great for connecting with your body :)

  11. I LOVE THIS POST. There are so many great and mindful ways to connect with your body. I love that you included some readers comments – everyone had such great insight! Also a big fan of the analogy about the car…I may have to steal that to use with my patients!

  12. I LOVE this idea of expressive therapies! I’ve always loved dancing and I feel like I turn to it a lot whenever I ‘remember’ to do it. It always makes me feel at home with my body. Thank you so much for sharing this :)

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  14. I like running and feel most expressive when I’m moving my body by running. I get where you’re coming from with the “mindless cardio”comments, but I also feel like your bias is showing. As a professional I hope you can find a way to celebrate all kinds of movement. Just because cardio and running wasn’t healthy for you doesn’t mean it can’t be for someone else.

    • Glad you’ve found what works for you, Sarah! I agree that gentle movement can look like many different thing. I’m sure for a lot of my clients and readers running is a fine option and I want them to find what works for them. However, if it’s a person with an exercise compulsion, mindless cardio is never recommended to help them recovery. Most studies I’ve heard of say the only movement to improve body image in women is strength training and yoga.

      But you’re right…for me personally I’m not a big fan of running, since it kills my knees + back + GI system and really messed me up in my teens and early 20s, and I’m sure that comes through in my writing.

      Thanks for commenting!

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