5 WAYS TO LOVE YOUR BODY
From The Inside Out
We all have our fair share of imperfections, which can make it difficult to love yourself at times. Sure, learning to appreciate your body despite its faults and fractures is a huge step forward, but actively improving your self-image is something we’ve only recently begun to grasp in the West.
In Eastern and traditional Chinese medicine, loving yourself isn’t such a new thing — it plays a huge role in establishing and maintaining a healthy body and sound mind. And, in that sense, it puts the power and responsibility in your hands.
We put a lot of pressure on our physical selves. We aim to look and be perceived in a certain way, which puts a lot of wear and tear on your body. Instead of making drastic, stressful changes to get the image you want, learn to make gradual lifestyle changes like in the tips below.
1. Practice Mindful Eating
One big shift that needs to take place in your thinking (if it hasn’t already) is paying attention to what you put in your body. But we’re not referring to diet here (though that’s important, too).
Rather, we’re talking about mindful eating. It’s the practice of bringing awareness to your body’s cravings and eating habits. Why do you crave certain foods and how do you respond to those cravings? Better understanding our eating tendencies gives us more control over them, which is key to being a mindful eater.
To give you a better understanding of mindful eating, here’s what it entails:
- Learning to eat slowly and without distraction
- Eating until you’re full rather than overeating
- Discerning true hunger from impulsive cravings
- Taking in the colors, sounds, textures, and flavors of your food
- Eating with a purpose; that is, to improve your well-being
- Noticing what food does to you physically (your figure, for one)
- Truly appreciating your food
That last point is really important. To appreciate your food, you have to eat with purpose. Every meal counts, as does every bite, and the quality of your food can’t be understated, either (more on that in the next tip).
The goal of mindful eating is to help you cease eating needlessly. By noticing your triggers and physical cues as they occur, you dismantle your cravings and put yourself back in the driver’s seat. This in turn helps you diet better, if that’s your goal, but it also helps you keep your body in check and instills a level of discipline and control you didn’t know you had.
2. Learn to Research and Appreciate Your Food
Mindful eating will naturally lead you to being more selective about what you eat, but don’t conflate this with being a “picky eater” or even an “ethical eater” (but that’s important, too). What we’re talking about is something else entirely.
Appreciating your food means you take the time to consider what you eat and why. Let’s break it down:
The “What”: Where does your food come from? Is it processed, made locally, or organic? Understanding the origin of your food helps you appreciate the process of how it’s grown and distributed, but turning a blind eye to its source (or just not doing your research) means you’re putting less thought into what you’re putting into your body.
The “Why”: By researching the source of your food, and choosing to eat foods that aren’t processed, you’ll start to appreciate the whole “buy local” concept. It helps local farmers and food producers and also ensures you know what you’re putting in your body.
For the purposes of staying healthy, do your homework and research what you eat. It requires a bit more planning, but the payoff is huge.
3. Dive Into the World of Herbs
Herbs have been used to treat physical and mental maladies for centuries, and research suggests herbs are full of healthy compounds, too. Why not incorporate them into your daily life? Well, it can be overwhelming, so there’s that.
Thankfully, the combined experience and research experts through the centuries makes herbs and all their concoctions way more accessible for you.
Here are some great herbal concoctions just to give you an idea of how herbs can treat ailments and help you love yourself more:
- Jia Wei Xiao Yao Pian: This classic herbal tonic is said to improve your mood and balance your hormones
- Bu Zhong Yi Qi Pian: This herbal formula is said to replenish your qi and promotes physical strength and energy
- Chai Hu Shu Gan Pian: This herbal formula is said to support your mental well-being by improving your mood and ease emotions like anger or frustration
4. Learn to Avoid Toxic People
This is nothing new, but it’s worth unpacking it from a TCM perspective. Toxic people, and the relationships we form with them, negatively affect your self-esteem and may even be the source of anxiety and depression — even long after you’ve cut ties with the person.
In TCM, toxic relationships are believed to drain you of your qi. Put in a more “western” light, you’ve probably felt the draining sensation of talking with a toxic person. They drag you down and suck the energy out of you.
For this reason, a natural way to move forward and love yourself continually is to make efforts to cultivate positive relationships with positive people, the kind that support you and build you up rather than tear you down.
This is said to help replenish your qi, which will make you happier in the long run.
5. Get Serious About Bedtime and Sleep
Lastly, circadian rhythm is your friend. From a TCM perspective, this equates to your body clock. The Chinese body clock helps us determine the optimal times for our bodies to eat, sleep, rest, and exercise.
Put simply, here are the times you need to be aware of:
- 7 – 9 a.m.: The best time to eat breakfast
- 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.: The best time to eat a *light* lunch
- 3 – 5 p.m.: Feeling drowsy? That’s expected. It’s time to wind down from your work day
- 7 – 9 p.m.: The perfect time to cap your day with dinner
- 9 – 11 p.m.: Definitely time to hit the sheets
Sticking to a strict schedule will help you be more productive while giving your body the time it needs to digest your food. Patterns help you lock into a healthy system so your body knows what to expect, a large part of loving yourself.
Sleep is equally important. Going to bed and rising at the same times everyday (even weekends) helps your body form healthier habits that will rejuvenate you so you’re not tired and anxious the next day.
Got some other TCM tips for loving your body? Feel free to throw in the comments!