Learning to Love Your Body (and listen to it)

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As a woman, you’ve probably felt uncomfortable with your body, or your appearance at some point in your life. You might even feel this way right now. You might wish you could look differently, and you may tell yourself that if you could just fit into those smaller-sized jeans again, then you would feel comfortable, confident, and then happy.

While this is a feeling nearly all women can empathize with, our reasons can—and do—vary.

Some of us might struggle because we don’t see ourselves as fitting the body type that is most often presented in our media (super thin, petite, and well let’s be honest, seemingly perfect). Maybe some of us feel uncomfortable because we want to get back to how we once were after having children. Or maybe we are entering into the middle part of our lives and feel invisible and that it’s “all downhill from here.” Some of us might even struggle because we are clinically over (or under) weight, or have physical health conditions that make it difficult to feel good or just plain…normal. Or maybe it is all of these things.

Or, maybe your reasons for feeling uncomfortable in your skin aren’t even on this list.

Regardless of the reason, that feeling of discomfort is something that we can likely all identify with.

Although no one wants to feel uncomfortable, it isn’t always bad. Sometimes it’s a signal that something is wrong or needs to change.

Whether circumstances lead to the feeling—don’t ignore it. Pay special attention to that feeling rather than avoiding it…listen to your body. Why are you feeling this way?

It all starts (and ends) with YOU.

Identify exactly WHAT is bothering you and causing you to feel off or uncomfortable. Notice when that feeling comes up for you—where are you, and what are you doing?

Do you feel bad when you’re scrolling through social media? Do you notice that feeling when you’re getting dressed in the morning? Taking a shower? At the beach? Shopping for clothes? After eating a meal? Watching reality TV?

What thoughts arise in your mind when you feel that feeling? What is the immediate thing you want to do to stop it?

Write it all down. Whether on a piece of paper, in the notes app on your phone, in a text to yourself, or in a journal. Just make a note.

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With the information that you wrote down, can you identify the root of that feeling? 

Is it a signal or a story? 

Does the feeling come because you are comparing yourself to someone else? Or does it come because you haven’t been taking care of yourself in the way that you want to? 

If it is a story, it likely comes from comparison or from external factors. The story may be the feeling that you aren’t good enough, you aren’t thin enough, you aren’t pretty enough, you aren’t smart enough, etc., and it’s often because you see someone else who you perceive to be prettier, smarter, better, etc.

Unfortunately, we ALL tend to feel this way sometimes. It’s hard not to. Social media makes it so easy for us to see into other people’s lives and compare ourselves. And no matter what age or size we are, comparing ourselves physically to others is a surefire way to leave us feeling uncomfortable with ourselves and just downright awful.

And good or bad, comparison is pretty normal. We all do it. There are multi-million dollar businesses built on that comparison and ultimately the insecurity that arises from it—think about ALL those makeup brands, clothing brands, and plastic surgeons that can help you modify your appearance—ultimately just to feel better about yourself.

On the other hand, if feeling uncomfortable is a signal, then it is likely coming from within.

Depending on the situation, it can look like, “my pants are getting too tight (again)”, “I am having a hard time getting out of bed in the mornings”, or “I am just so exhausted all the time”. Or maybe it’s a signal in the form of bloodwork from your doctor or other physiological changes that you have been doing your best to ignore. 

The signals our bodies are giving us and the stories we are internalizing are important, and we can learn to listen. Whether the feeling comes from within or without, it can prevent us from living our best life.

Not that we need a reminder, but we only live once.

Since we are all about helping women create the lives they love, we want to encourage you to identify the root of your discomfort, because that can empower you to make the changes necessary to take back control of your life.

You don’t have to be uncomfortable

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If you notice that feeling is the root of external influences, take some time to make a change in your routine that will create a buffer between you and those negative stories you are internalizing. Spend less time on social media looking into other people’s lives, or less time watching reality TV. Also, if you need to, change who you follow to align better with your values.

Take a huge mental leap and remind yourself in those moments that you cannot compare your right now to someone else’s right now. Instead, compare YOUR right now to where YOU would like to be. If those two things do not align—make a plan.

If feeling off is rooted in signals from your body, then pay special attention. Are you tired all the time, no matter how much sleep you get? Are you only tired after you eat? Are you overweight and you just can’t seem to lose weight, no matter what you do? Are you gaining weight but you eat healthily and exercise all the time? 

It is always a good idea when you notice changes like this to check in with a doctor and get a clean bill of health, just in case there is an underlying health issue. Once you find there’s nothing clinically “wrong”, your body might be signaling to you that it’s time for a change. And that change HAS to be rooted in what is best for YOU, not what someone else is doing or someone else’s goals.

It’s just you and your body, and you and your goals. 

Part of loving your body is learning to listen to it. Another part is accepting the changes as they come, while never losing the determination that living your best life is possible regardless of changes or age.

Your best life IS possible, all you have to do is make the first move.

Other useful resources:

  • All things are possible: cultivating a growth mindset
  • 40 and Fabulous: Being intentional with your life
  • Metabolism in middle age: What it is and why it matters

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