At yoga this morning, I rolled my mat out in the only space left available: the space in front of the crack in the mirror. If you’re a yogi, you know what I’m talking about—that space where two mirrors come together, leaving a crack that makes you look much wider than you actually are.
During practice, I kept shifting my body back and forth. Right of the crack: normal size. Dead center on the crack: wide. Left of the crack: back to normal size. It reminded me of the many times throughout my life when I’ve stood in front of a mirror and seen a version of me that had nothing to do with reality—that might, in fact, have been completely irrational, a mistruth that my mind believed so strongly that it projected it onto the mirror in front of me.
As someone who comes from a past of eating disorders, I know that the holiday season can be an especially difficult time for women and their relationship with food and their bodies, whether you’ve struggled with eating disorders or not.
Here are six ways to thrive, eat, and love yourself this holiday season.
1. Move your body every single day. Not as a punishment, but as a celebration of your body and what it is capable of.
2. Commit to not stepping on a scale throughout the holiday season. I would actually suggest making this a commitment for all of 2020!
3. Every morning, stand in front of a mirror naked. Starting at your toes, move your eyes up your body, saying aloud something that you love and appreciate about each body part. End by gazing into your own eyes for one minute. This is something we never do, gaze into our own eyes, and it is a beautiful, healing practice. If this makes you feel uncomfortable, that is just a sign that you have a lot of work to do here. Hold a space of loving acceptance for yourself, breathe, and move through the discomfort. It make take a few days, weeks, or even months, but I promise that this process WILL start to get easier and as it does, you will know that massive healing and transformation is taking place!
4. Instead of making promises to yourself about restricting your eating (ie “I’m only going to eat one cookie today” or “I’m not going to eat any of that at dinner”), practice eating intuitively. This means being fully present. Allow yourself to fully savor each bite. And before reaching for something, ask yourself, “Do I really want this right now? Or am I just reaching out of habit, because it’s here, because I am feeling some sadness/loneliness/stress/other negative emotion that I want a distraction from, or because everyone else is doing it?”
5. If you realize that you’ve started to guilt trip or criticize yourself for something you’ve eaten, PAUSE. Bring to mind your 3-year-old self—that beautiful, innocent, full of joy child. Imagine saying to her the things you’re saying to yourself. Because you ARE her. That little girl is still inside of you. And this body that you’ve grown into, it is the body of your mother, your grandmother, your future daughter (or maybe you already have a daughter, in which case I’m sure it would break your heart to hear her speak about herself in the way that you berate yourself in your head.) This body loathing that we struggle with as women that gets passed down through the generations, YOU have the power to change it. You have the power to change what your daughters will grow up seeing as a normal part of being an adult woman and what they will pass down to their daughters. There is nothing okay about this hating that we express toward our bodies. Our bodies are the temporary homes of our souls, which are infinitely beautiful and sacred. Our bodies are magic, literally. They create life. They birth life. They carry the nurturing, loving, creative, fierce energy of Mama Gaia herself. By transforming the way we see our bodies as women, by changing these generational patterns, we can begin to make a shift in this aspect of our culture, which will begin to heal the world.
6. Focus on the joyful aspects of the season — the connection with friends, family, and partners — and how much of that you are missing by being absorbed in your self-judgment party. When your mind goes there, lovingly redirect.