October 30, 2014

carolynsguide

Small Apples

For over a year I’ve been leading small groups of women through the process of becoming Intuitive Eaters. Without question, it’s the very best work I’ve ever done. Four groups went through the first six weeks, then women who were hungry for more, continued on in ten week master groups.  One of the ten week master groups wanted even more and are about to wrap up their twentieth week together.

What I have loved most about leading these women is the honest to goodness, grounded transformation that occurred when we added all this up: time+space+community+compassion+knowledge. This is simply the best formula I know for lasting change, paradigm shifts, and cellular reorganization.

Carolyn is one of the brave, brilliant women in my groups. Upon completing our journey together she shared this manifesto of sorts she wrote for herself based on all I taught. She calls it her “Lovely, Freeing Eating Guide” and after hearing her read it, I knew it had to be shared.

I honor my Holy Hunger as often as possible, letting my body Desire so that the food I eat tastes delicious and nourishes me body, mind and soul.

Before I eat, I ask my body (not my head), what she desires.

When I do eat, whether or not I am hungry, I don’t judge it. I enjoy it. Slowly, one bite at a time, not future or past but just this moment. The texture, the taste, the aroma. Sloooow Pleasure. I also notice how full my stomach is getting.

Throughout the day, I ask my body how She feels and what She needs. What would increase HER pleasure?

I satiate myself with life.

My body can be trusted. I eat, I fill up, I get hungry again.

When eating, I want to be effective. To scratch the itch. If I binge, not only am I NOT scratching the itch, but I’m blocking the resources that will.

When I overeat, I can always ask myself “How can I become more present and alive in this moment?” Or “What is the kindest thing I can do for myself?”

I hit the pause button more before, during and after eating. I notice my thoughts, my emotions, how my body feels. I slow everything down to super slow motion. I breathe, remembering I have lots of options. They are all okay. What does my sweet self want? What’s the most supportive, loving thing I can do for myself in this moment?

That’s the practice.

Simple, yet brilliant, right?

That’s the practice. 

 

 

September 21, 2014

tastebuds

Taste Buds

You can’t know what will feed you unless you taste it — and taste a lot of other things that don’t feed you.

And sometimes you need to taste something many times before you know if you like it, if you need it, and how much of it is supportive for you.

This will mean tasting things that don’t taste good.

This will mean tasting things that might make you ill.

This will mean tasting things that are almost right, but not quite (Hello, Goldilocks).

If you’re not sure what you are hungry for, start by tasting anything and allowing your wise body and heart to tell you what is satisfying.

This might mean trying out dating a wide range of people.

This might mean a career path that is anything but a straight line.

This might mean asking to sample all 31 flavors when you go for ice cream.

It’s not only okay to take the time to taste all that life has to offer, but it’s essential if you are to be a Well-Fed Woman

Wouldn’t it be a magical world if we already knew what was right for us before trying anything out, before making a mistake, before embarrassing ourselves, or ruffling any feathers, or hurting feelings, or ‘wasting’ time.

Nah. That world sounds bor-ing.

Tasting the full menu is one of the best parts of life. It allows us to feel grounded in knowing that what we’ve chosen is more right for us, in comparison to what we’ve let go.

When I look back on my life I see a woman who needed to taste some very icky, very off, and very painful things in order to learn what worked.

When you ask yourself “What was I doing back then (in my 20’s or 30’s…)? What was I doing with in that relationship? What was I doing in that dead end job?”

The answer to all of these questions is: “I was tasting.”

Seize your freedom to try new things that might feed you so you can discover what actually does.

Want to be a Well-Fed Woman?

Better get to tasting.

June 16, 2014

pendulum

Pendulum Series 1 of 3

Jailbreaking

This is how I’ve spent much of the past seven months.

While leading six crazy-courageous groups of women through reading and implementing Intuitive Eating, and many of those women through an additional 10-week alumni intensive, I have become a professional jailbreaker.

At the heart of this work is illuminating something I call The Pendulum and then shepherding the participants to often hard to find off-ramp.

The Pendulum

The Pendulum is the seemingly never-ending ride between some form of a restrictive state of mind and overconsumption state of mind. A say ‘state of mind’ here and not ‘behaviors’ because we need only psychologically restrict or overconsume to experience the tortuous ride. That is to say that feeling restricted or believing we have overconsumed is far more significant than behaving either way. The mind is a tricky thing. Certainly, we can (and often do) behave these ways, but it isn’t necessary in order to perpetuate The Pendulum and feel the inevitable mental distress that comes with the back and forth swing.

And back and forth we swing.

Restriction.

Overconsumption.

Restriction.

Overconsumption.

These two phases of the cycle manifest in a broad array of ways, but all with the same two flavors.

On the one side we feel in control, high even. Above our hungers and with a sense of calm.

On the flip side we’re in chaos, often experiencing some level of shame and self-loathing. We feel out of control.

You probably already know much of this. After all, this is human nature.

We’re hard wired to react to one swing of The Pendulum with the other. (Read: this is not your fault.)

I’m talking about food here, but this is a universal law of energy and applies to many other aspects of our lives.

Back and forth. Restrict. Overconsume. Feeling like we’re being ‘good’ only to be feel that we’re ‘bad’.

Sometimes minute by minute, hour by hour, or month by month. The time between swings isn’t important. What matters is that we can’t cheat The Pendulum. We can’t game the system. As human beings we’re wired to swing one way if we swing the other.

Unless we step off the ride.

The Off Ramp

Every pendulum has a center point. We must pass through this point on our way from one swing to the other.

We can stop the ride if we can only just slow the momentum and rest in that center point.

We do this by meeting the ride with compassion and nonjudgmental observation, this makes it much easier to slow the swing.

We do this by meeting the moment post-overconsumption with a conscious choice to return to the center (i.e. reject restriction).

We do this by returning to our body. The Pendulum swings are perpetuated by an override of our body’s preferences. The off ramp is found when we decide to cease the override.

Again, the polarity of the ride is hard wired into us. We often think that it is our own failing that leads us to over consume, but rather it is our beautiful and human need to both find soothing and avoid famine (real or psychological) that leads us to the ride.

Real Life

So what does this look like in real life?

It looks like getting clear on your own unique tendencies toward restriction and overconsumption. It looks like getting to know your triggers and the fears and stories that fuel your ride.

Do you tend to restrict certain types of food? Do you restrict eating at certain times of day? Or is it about limiting quantity?

Where do you find yourself most often past the point of comfortable fullness? When do you find yourself feeling like you need to ‘recommit’ to whatever ‘plan’ or ‘program’ or ‘rules’ you identify with?

Identifying our patterns can be tricky as they are often subtle and entirely socially condoned. You can usually sniff them out by following the thread of where you feel guilty around food.

Draw Your Pendulum

Take a piece of paper and a pen. Draw your pendulum. On the left half write out all the ways you see yourself restricting. On the right half write out all the ways you find yourself overconsuming. Again, these can be restrictive or over consumptive thoughts and fixations, not just behaviors. Track your own pendulum swings. Use arrows. Note your flow. Observe how one sets off a chain reaction that leads back to the other.

Bottom Line

If you’re tired of the back and forth, commit to returning to center as often as it takes. (It took me a solid two years of practice) Commit to taking the off ramp as often as you’re able to. Commit to paying loving attention. Commit to not blaming yourself for The Pendulum and accepting that it’s part of how our species operates. Commit to restrict nothing but restriction itself. Commit to using common sense instead of sensationalism when it comes to what to eat. Commit to choosing happiness over thinness. Commit to choosing real life instead of chasing perfection. Commit to being smarter than the false promises of restriction. Commit to breaking yourself out of jail.

Freedom is possible and it’s worth committing to it’s pursuit.

May 24, 2014

blackhole

Hole

“I am never full.”

“The pain will never stop.”

“There isn’t ever enough love.”

“I will never not want to eat the entire grocery store.”

::::::::::::

Many of us walk around with the sensation of deep emptiness.

With that sensation is often a fierce belief that there will never be enough.

Be it food or love—too often we walk the earth feeling as though we are a bottomless pit.

One strategy we use is to try to fill it. With entire bags of chips. With another pair of shoes. With 5 o’clock bottles of wine.

On the flip side, we attempt to cover the bottomless pit with a band aid tale of having minimal needs. This where we tell ourselves we’re fine to subsist on crumbs—literal or metaphoric. We keep it together. We stick to the diet. We keep our muscles toned. We don’t need a partner, or attention, or chocolate cake, we’re fine—or so we tell ourselves.

The sad part is the bottomless pit is an illusion. One that has us running in all directions for temporary salves that aren’t sustainable and never leave us feeling very satisfied.

Imagine this:

Your local child protective services agency has shown up at your doorstep with two foster children you are charged with taking care of for a year. They tell you that the children came from a home where there was barely anything to eat.

Over the first few days you notice that one of the children eats until they are sick. They eat quickly and with an anxiety that clearly belays their fear of there not being having enough.

The other child eats very little. Nibbling on this or that but not taking enough sustenance or enjoying the delicious food you have offered. This child is attempting to exert some control where they can. When they wasn’t enough in the past, they told themselves that they didn’t need it as a way to feel a level of control where none was.

And all of this makes sense.

Neither of them can be sure that there will be enough. They can’t yet trust that there will be more food anytime they want, and that they don’t have to eat until they’re sick or continue to deny themselves nourishment.

What you find over the weeks to come though, as they learn that there is enough food and they have as much as they want, when they want, in any quantity they want, is that they normalize. They are each able to eat with enjoyment, relaxation, and able to stop when they are physically sated.

Are you getting the metaphor?

Our lives are the home where there will always be enough food.

The question is whether we are willing to heal the trauma of our deprivation by ceasing to deny ourselves. It is we who too often deny ourselves the love we long for. It is we who too often deny ourselves the food or pleasure we hunger for.

The result is that we feel like a bottomless pit.

And all along we had our hand on our own spigot able to turn it on and let it flow.

The trick is to turn the spigot on and don’t turn it off until we’ve had enough – and we find the point of ‘enough’ after a period of reconditioning ourselves to know that there will always be more.

We must let it flow long enough to teach the part of us that is traumatized from deprivation that there will always be enough. What we find when we do this is that that part of us relaxes.

What we find is that the bottomless pit, the one that never existed in the first place, disappears.

March 17, 2014

peter.schroath

Peter Schroath. Trees, Tall Pine III

“…and your very flesh shall be a great poem…”

— Walt Whitman

Growing up just outside Washington, DC resulted in my childhood having it’s fair share of visits to historical sites, such as Civil War battlefields, like Gettysburg.

If you’ve ever been to a memorial site, especially one where great loss actually took place, you know that you can feel it. What you’re standing on at these places is sacred ground and each has a powerful energetic fingerprint. Perhaps you’ve felt it while visiting the 9/11 Memorial in New York City, Auschwitz in Poland, or The Killing Fields Museum in Cambodia.

Sadly the world is full of sites where atrocities took place and left an imprint, physical or energetic.

In my early twenties as I was emerging victorious from my own battle with anorexia the only way I could relate to my body was as this sacred ground. While not visible to the eye, my body felt like modern day Gettysburg battlefield.

This flesh—my flesh—was where a war had been fought and won.

And what this meant to me was that anything less than sacred awe was not good enough.

In the years since then I have encountered in my life and in the lives of those I work with serious trauma. Childhood abuse. Sexual assault. Mental illness. Loss of parents and children. Battles with cancer. Amputation.

And it doesn’t take catastrophic incidents like these to leave trauma. Life is traumatic.

Life is traumatic and our bodies bare the brunt of it. They are our sensory input tool and they are where we experience (or repress) emotion. Our bodies are the tools or fight or flight…or freeze. Our bodies are the recipient of heinous cultural norms. Our bodies, depending on where we live in the world, aren’t even always considered our own.

Life is also miraculous. The ways in which our body heals, allows for connection, creates new life, and enables our lives is marvelous.

All this is to say: feel the sacred ground you are living in.

Feel that you are sacred in every cell of your body.

Stand in awe of not just what has happened on your ‘land’ but on what you have survived and created.

Stand tall.

Consider reverence as a new template for how you inhabit this flesh of yours.

Like Whitman says, your “flesh shall be a great poem”.

February 8, 2014

pleasuary

Pure Pleasure

Last year my boyfriend declared February to be Pleasuary.

Lucky me, he has declared this to be an annual tradition.

Pleasuary, if it’s not clear from it’s name, is an entire month dedicated to pleasure.

There’s no real reason this needs to take place during February, although Pluly or Pleptember just doesn’t sound nearly as fun.

If you’re inspired to join me in celebrating Pleasuary here are a few pointers:

Giving vs Receiving

Pleasuary is perfect for those in a relationship where one person tends to be the giver and the other tends to be the receiver. For heterosexual couples, it is often the woman who tends to give and the man who tends to receive. If you relate to this dynamic, allow yourself to shift the natural order things for the month. Wear a new groove.

Try this: Make a pact. For the month of Pleasuary your job is to receive. Their job is to give. Rest into it. It might feel awkward. It will most certainly feel good.

If you’re single, decide that you’re going up the pleasure you give yourself and instead of feeling guilty about this, set the intention to truly receive what is given.

Feeling Safe vs Feeling Alive

Feeling good comes from so many different sources and there are infinite shades of good feelings. It’s important to differentiate between the good feelings that come from being comforted and the good feelings that can come from being outside our comfort zone.  Of course, we need a base line of feeling safe if we’re to dip our toe in more enlivening waters, but there is much pleasure to be experienced outside of our bubble of safety.

Try this: In your journal, brainstorm two lists: things that make you feel comforted and safe AND things that make you feel ecstatic, alive, and deeply pleasured. Then circle a few from each side that you want to make happen this month.

Quality and Quantity

This month is about both, quantity and quality. It’s about making pleasure part of the everyday. Upping the pleasure at breakfast. Upping the pleasure in our work. Upping the pleasure in the mundane and the extraordinary.

Try this: Make a list of 30 (or more) ways you want to receive pleasure and be about checking them off the list. Of course,  spontaneity is also part of this so don’t let a checklist keep you from new and sudden bursts of pleasure receiving.

In terms of quality of pleasure, this is the result of deep and open presence. Even thirty seconds of pleasure can be knee shaking if we are truly present. High quality pleasure is like fine cheese or good chocolate, the experience is so much more satisfying. A little goes a long way when we allow ourselves to drop into receiving and the sensations of feeling good.

Try this: Set aside time to turn off all electronics. Tune into your body. Pleasuary is an adventure of discovering what exactly gives you pleasure. And, it’s important to know that you don’t have to know right now. In fact, you most certainly don’t know all the ways that you can experience pleasure. Play a sort of ‘Marco Polo’ pleasure game where simply allowing yourself (and your partner) to go towards what’s ‘warm’ and away from what’s ‘cold’.

Sense-uality & Indulgence

Pleasuary is not wholly about knocking boots. Pleasuary is about attunement of the senses to good feelings and expanding our capacity for pleasure.

Try this: List all the ways you might experience pleasure through your different five senses then attempt to saturate yourself with pleasure from all of these entry points.

The definition of indulge is to “allow oneself the experience of pleasure.” On that note, if you’re game for the Pleasuary, go indulge! Soak it in. Green light your enjoyment. Hand out the permission slips. Decide to taste, smell, touch, listen, and see it fully.

Happy Pleasuary!

 ::::::::::::

If you’re wanting more pleasure and enjoyed this post you can read more of my thoughts on feeling good in P is for Pleasure

January 30, 2014

Arrows by Bethan Janine

Arrows 

Sugar, specifically white refined sugar, has gotten a bad rap.

While I typically abide by a “to each their own” approach to food, it seems that lately there has been a deluge of bloggers ‘coming out’ about their sugar-free lifestyle.

To many this seems logical and saintly. To me this is yet another extreme shift of the dietary pendulum that leaves people swinging between restriction and over consumption, more obsessed with food and less at ease in life

Out of a desire to offer a different perspective and perhaps provide a middle path, I bring you my thoughts on the matter. This post isn’t for the nutrition police who have, for the time being, made up their mind. This is for those of you lost in the middle of a world that plies you with sugary sodas and tells you it’s poison at the same time.

Here are six thoughtful ‘spoonfuls’:

Thoughtful Spoonful #1 A sweet role model on the sweet middle path…

Henry Ware. “Hal” to most. Grandpa, or more often Bapa, to me.

At 91, my grandfather lives alone, remains active, and, for his age, is very healthy. He’s also eaten dessert nearly everyday of his life. [Cue needle scratch]

When I hear of people saying sugar is poison I simply call him up and reminisce about the lemon meringue pie I used to bake with my grandmother. It was so delicious.

Thoughtful Spoonful # 2: When there is nothing to rebel against…

In my experience, when I have something to rebel against, I rebel. When I have nothing to rebel against, I’m free and travelling an easeful middle path. A no-sugar rule would, and has, in my more restrictive days, made me straight-up bonkers. Being a freedom-junkie is what has kept me from being a sugar-junkie.

Thoughtful Spoonful #3: Play food has a place…

Here’s an excerpt from a favorite book of mine, Intuitive Eating:

“Sometimes you have a desire for food that has no nutritionally redemptive powers. We call this food play food. We prefer this term to one of the most commonly used terms to describe what’s considered unhealthy foods–junk food. The term junk food implies that there is no intrinsic value in this food–in fact, that it probably should be thrown in the garbage can. But we feel that this thinking is unwarranted. There are times when a piece of red velvet cake or a stick of licorice is just the food that will satisfy your taste buds. And eating these types of foods doesn’t mean you are an unhealthy eater.”

I have often found important, health-promoting, value in foods with little nutritional value.

Thoughtful Spoonful #4: Every body is wise…

I trust my body implicitly. This is a hard won fact. Most of the time my body, and most well-fed, well-pleasured bodies, don’t crave tons of sugar. Carbohydrates? Yes. My body and brain love carbohydrates. They keep me full, happy, functioning.

With my body leading the way I haven’t been lead straight to the firey hell of Candy Land…just to a sweet middle path.

Thoughtful Spoonful #5: The secret ingredient…

Food is way more than just a sum of it’s macro and micronutrients. Michael Pollan calls this misconception nutritionism. The truth is that there are intangibles in food that we can’t quantify. For example, why does, for some of us, our mother’s version of a dish taste so much better than our own?  The answer is something we can’t see under a microscope or write into a recipe. Food, if we pay attention, has (or doesn’t have) soul to it. A factor often ignored when we eliminate whole categories of food.

Thoughtful Spoonful #6: Pleasure as a food group…

Speaking of intangibles in food. I’ve found that just like I can eat a diet deficient in fat or Vitamin C, I can be deficient in pleasure. I’ve learned to treat pleasure like a food group with a hearty dose of daily servings. This is how I feel most well-fed and this sometimes includes sugar.

Thoughtful Spoonful #7: We’re all moderators…

Some people argue that people can be divided into moderators and abstainers – people who have just a little of something and people who can’t. I balk at this argument.

In my experience, an inability to “have just a little” of something is a result of the pendulum swing that occurs for everyone where there is some sort of psychological belief that the item is scarce (“Remember, you only get to eat this when you’re on vacation”) or shouldn’t be eaten (“Good thing no one is here to see you stuffing your face with this naughty food”). When we truly feel free to eat whatever we want, whenever we want, in any quantity we want we naturally find that we don’t overdo much. In my experience, overdoing is a result of compensation for some form of restriction. Moderation is the result of being free and deeply trusting oneself.

Thoughtful Spoonful #8: Information overload…

Lest you think I’m clueless about nutrition and sugar’s effect on our bodies, rest assured that I know my omega-3’s from my omega-6s. At the height of my own eating disorder I was a walking nutritional encyclopedia. I also spent three years spent earning my master’s degree in holistic health education where I studied everything from the USDA guidelines to Ayurvedic eating approaches; raw food to the Weston A. Price approach; Chinese medicine to eco-political food systems.

In the end, I believe we suffer from a dangerous mix of information overload, food paranoia, and body disconnection.

:::::::::::

I don’t want to live a life without sugar. I’m all for taking into account what my body and our planet need in order to be healthy, but I’m not willing to sacrifice my mental health for it. I also think the answer is always somewhere in shades of gray, not in the black and white approach of forgoing sugar all together. Turns out I don’t have to. Thank goodness.

So this is the path I have chosen: turn down the noise, ignore fads of the moment, aim for a middle path (all things in moderation, including moderation), restrict nothing, listen to my body, pay attention to the seasons and where my food comes from, and deeply enjoy sweet foods when I want them.

October 21, 2013

thetouch.long

An excerpt of The Creation of Adam

Imagine there’s a knock at your door right now.

You go and answer it.

It’s your mother.

How do you react? Not how should you react, but how would you really react?

Now imagine that happening all over except instead of your mother it’s your ex-lover.

How do you react? Feel it. What is your knee-jerk reaction?

Now imagine it again, instead of your ex-lover, it’s a policewoman.

How do you react? Really. What would your first reaction be?

Now do it again.

Knock knock.

You walk over and it’s a singing telegram with balloons, flowers, and a box of chocolates.

How do you react?

The point of contact with anything is the most important moment.

Two objects collide and whether they shatter, ricochet, or merge all depends on the moment of contact and what happens there.

I’m utterly fascinated with the moments of contact with our hungers.

There is so much to learn about what happens when one of our hungers knocks on the door and we answer it. Or maybe we don’t. Maybe we peer through the keyhole and decide to remain silent and still. Hoping it thinks we’re not home and goes away.

Maybe we answer and with tears of joy pick up the hunger and spin it around in our arms as though Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes has just bestowed a windfall upon us.

Or we might open the door but as soon as our hunger speaks we plug our ears and say “Lalalalalalalala” in attempt not hear what it has to say.

It could be as simple as opening and shutting the door, with a quick ‘no thank you’ in between.

I offer you this meditative inquiry:

What is happening at the point of contact with your hunger or hungers?

If it played in slow motion, could you see and feel the moment of contact? Could you feel what happens next?

thetouch.square

I offer you this thought: the air between you and your hungers has so much wisdom. almost as much as your hunger itself.

September 24, 2013

noscale

Diving

I keep a P.O. box for my business. It’s for my basic safety and peace of mind, as I’m required to include an address in the footer of all my newsletters which go out to thousands of people. Not all of whom I’d want an unexpected visit from.

Of course, I’m not talking about you.

You should come over for tea.

Where was I. Right. I swung by the post office earlier this week and discovered a letter that I have to share with you.

Dear Sweet Rachel,

It was exactly one year ago that you and I had a one-on-one. You may or may not remember that you presented me with a challenge. The challenge was to not weigh myself for one year. I remember at the time being overwhelmed with the challenge, especially given that I had purchased a scale several weeks before our chat. But after our call I made the decision to trust the process and stay away from weighing myself. So here we are, a year later, and to date I haven’t stepped on the scale. I just wanted to thank you – this past year has been quite the journey and I’ve just barely begun. I am grateful for you, your dedication to the work that God has designed you for!

xoxo

Teary, standing by P.O. box 3433. Wow.

I was and am moved and honored and awed.

It’s events like this that reinvigorate me and rekindle my fire for calling women forth into Well-Fed living.

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: what we weigh is useless information. It tells us nothing of value. Just about everything worth knowing comes from inside of us. Knowing our weight is rarely ever about well-being. We step on the scale to measure our worth, to gauge how out of control we are (or feel) in our lives, and to help us make decisions we’re afraid to let our bodies make.

If you didn’t know what you weighed, what would happen? How would you know when to eat and when to stop eating? How would you know when to move your body and when to rest? How would you know if you were enough or too much?

You would listen. Ear to yourself and you’d hear “Feast. Rest. Trust.”

You would listen. Ear to your heart and you’d hear “You are enough, never more, never less.”

The scale takes you away from yourself. Giving it up brings you home.

If you’re ready to come home, but crave some support and someone to walk a while with you on the path, get in touch. I have a few spaces open in my coaching practice and always offer one-off sessions, like I did with this letter writer, to get you started.

I’d love to see just how free, embodied, and well-fed you could be.

August 27, 2013

lovelanguages

Five

Have you heard of The Five Love Languages?

I’m guessing yes given the best-seller status of the book, but if not, here’s the rundown.

Gary Chapman, the author, posits that there are five ways that we can show love to each other, and especially toward a romantic partner: through gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, act of service, and physical touch.

The idea is that each of us has a dominant love language, or way we are best able to receive love. If our partner shows their love in a language we don’t ‘speak’ well then we might end up feeling uncared for or unloved. The trick, Chapman argues, is to understand each others love language and do our best to communicate accordingly. Some people feel loved when they are given quality time while others interpret physical touch or gifts as an affirmative signs.

I think this theory has a lot of value AND I think we need to take it with a big grain of salt. I’m not sure that love can be simplified so easily, but it’s valuable to note that we all experience it uniquely.

Switching subjects for a minute, let’s talk about our bodies and how we feel about them. It’s a pretty body-unfriendly swamp that we’re swimming in. Everywhere you looks are shame-inducing messages, overt and subliminal, targeted at our natural and diverse forms.

As a life coach and woman who practices self-love, I know just how much our relationship with our body determines how fulfilling our life is overall. Seriously, what’s possible for a woman who is body-kind is two-fold to what’s possible to those ensnared in body-loathing.

So what does body love and The Five Languages of Love have to do with each other?

Lately I’ve been finding my way more and more to my yoga mat. I haven’t been doing 90-minute power flow, but instead focused, gentle, attuned asanas that my body asks for. The other day in one such practice my mind drifted to The Five Love Languages and how they might apply to our relationship with our bodies.

And if they could apply, was I communicating primarily with one love language and what language did my body speak?

Here are the questions I began to ask myself:

Gifts

Do you give your body gifts? Do you find yourself making kind purchases with your body’s care in mind? What’s the last gift you gave your body?

Quality Time

Do you give your body your time? Do you leave space in your life for your body to be heard and cared for? When is the last time you spent quality time for your body?

Words of Affirmation

Do you speak kindly towards your body? Are the messages you surround your body with loving? What’s the last generous and sweet thing you said to your body?

Acts of Service

Do you consider yourself your body’s advocate and caregiver? When was the last time you went out of your way to do something for you body?

Physical Touch

Do you lay your hands on your own flesh? Do you do so with love? Do you provide your body with opportunities for caring and loving touch from another? When was the last time your body felt that it had been touched “enough” or to the point of “fullness”?

This line of inquiry was powerful for me and it opened me up to all the ways I could expand my body-love practice. So interesting to see where we easily give love and where we have blind spots.

If you want to communicate your body through a broader range of love languages, here are a few ideas:

Gifts

Purchase a foam roller and use it to loosen up with myofacial release.

Treat your body to a coveted care product, be it lotion, massage oil, or scented soap.

Offer your body clothing that makes you feel good, comfortable, and stylish.

Quality Time

Dedicate 10 minutes in the morning to scanning your body with presence and curiosity.

Allow your body to write you a letter in your journal.

Take a nap, regularly.

Words of Affirmation

Commit to one day of body-positive talk towards yourself.

Put up affirming words on your walls, bathroom mirror, or refrigerator door.

Come up with a mantra to recite every time you are feeling anything less than loving towards your body.

Acts of Service

Advocate for your body to another. Make a request. Make your body’s desires known.

Cook for your body. Prepare homemade food that delights all your senses and your belly.

Take your body to see the doctor or dentist for a routine check-up.

Physical Touch

Massage yourself with sesame oil after a shower.

Try out a new type of bodywork, such as craniosacral or Thai massage.

Make love.

The trick here, if this inquiry interests you, is to explore what makes your body feel loved?