From Seeking the ‘Perfect Body Shape’ to Finding My Body Perfectly Beautiful as it is…

By Susan Lee, Norfolk.

I have always had an ambivalent relationship with my body – I compared it and judged it against what I felt was the ideal shape and size as presented by the media, celebrities and the world around me. Even as a young girl I felt this dissatisfaction and was aware that my body was pear shaped and I was always wishing that my legs would miraculously change – and this was an underlying preoccupation that was always running just beneath the surface. I was deeply dissatisfied with myself and I am now realising that it was very painful to reject my own body in this way. At the time I had no idea how important my relationship with my body could be – or that in fact I could have an intimate and meaningful relationship with my body. I also felt that if I had ‘the perfect body shape’ then life and my relationships would likewise be ‘perfect’.

Later in my life I began to lose weight and change shape – my ‘pear’ was disappearing and I was delighted! I found it easier to buy clothes and felt more attractive and sexy. My diet had changed too as I was beginning to look at how I lived life and the effect that food had on my body and the way my body metabolised what I was eating. Looking back on this stage of my life it was more about control, so that I could look a certain way, than really feeling into what would support my body. I listened to the advice of others and did not trust myself to know what would support me to change the deep dissatisfaction I had about myself.

The consequence of not listening to my body.

The consequence of not truly listening to my own body was that I lost weight to the point that I felt that I did not like looking at my body; my clothes were just hanging off me and I would comment to myself when I saw myself in a mirror that if I didn’t know better, I would think I was anorexic. I was still eating quite regularly but I realised that the way I was living was not supporting my body. I held my body in constant tension and anxiety and so was burning off the calories at a higher rate than my intake. My metabolism was all over the place – and I felt powerless.

My past relationship with my body and food.

When I look back on the first three or so years of my life, I can feel the connection to this awesome child that embraced life and had a sense of wonder and love that was joy-full and vivacious – and yet could not quite understand what was going on, as the world around me was not confirming this. I became disillusioned and then gradually I found myself succumbing to all the ideals and beliefs that our current world and systems feed us, and gradually ‘my sense of self’ was undermined and it was at this point that I gave up and abandoned myself to food.

I was offered food by way of consolation for the lack of love that I knew was a natural way of life. Love was not openly expressed in my family and I recall as a child giving a member of my family a hug and it being shrugged off and I was told that ‘an ounce of work was worth a pound of pity’. I found this very confusing and painful.

As a family we were brought up to believe that you ‘live to eat’ and it became an element of family life that drew us together and was a common bond. It took on an importance that put everything out of perspective – and was also used as a reward at the end of a long hard day, or offered as a solace when you had emotional pains and hurts. At the time I had no conscious idea that I was using food as a comfort to dull down my senses and ignore everything that was taking place around me. It became a focus for me and took over from any true connection with what life was truly all about.

I began to realise that there was something fundamentally unhealthy about my relationship with food when I was about to undergo a procedure where I had to fast for 24 hours and realised how much of my day was taken up with all-consuming thoughts about food. This certainly felt very unhealthy.

Something else that felt true for me and was apparent as I grew up was that food is used to numb, dull, stimulate and distract us instead of having a true relationship with it – it can be a big diversion that allows us to become lost in a sentimental and rather emotional journey that is nothing but a diversion away from feeling what is truly taking place.

There is nothing wrong with food when we keep its importance in perspective – we need food to sustain us in our human life – but it does not feel healthy or rational when it becomes the whole meaning of our life.

I became very aware that my relationship with food was not healthy and not supporting me to evolve. I was also aware that when people discussed eating disorders I was relating to many of their behaviours and habits, such as secrecy and obsessive thoughts.

Seeking true support.

When I began to address my weight loss and my relationship with food, I went to see the doctor and a dietician. At the same time, I had great support from Esoteric Practitioners who supported me to change both my perception of myself and food. This is still an ongoing process as I am forever learning, expanding and developing.

Life continues to challenge and to change as I gradually open up to loving my body more – I have always had an aversion to my legs and the other day I looked at them and felt how beautiful they were, no longer wishing to change them but appreciating them for the way they support me – this feels quite awesome to have changed what seemed like a very ingrained dislike of my body.

It has been a long journey to learn to support my body to become more healthy and alive – and to find a way of living that is slowly but surely bringing more joy and fun. It also feels like a way of living that is more than just about my body – it’s about beginning to live a life that is more encompassing of all and aware of all the little details that add up and support us to live life more in harmony with and acceptance of ourselves, life and the world around us.

We each need to find our own unique and unfolding way where we begin to love ourselves and life and become more fully engaged and empowered, as it is certainly awesome when we begin to realise how truly precious and amazing we all are within beneath the surface, no matter what shape we are. Rather than seeking the ‘perfect body shape’ (which is a complete illusion) I now accept my body shape as perfectly beautiful just the way it is!

 

Read more:

  1. Universal Medicine helped me heal Bulimia. 
  2. Eating patterns and comfort eating. 

 

 

 

 

473 thoughts on “From Seeking the ‘Perfect Body Shape’ to Finding My Body Perfectly Beautiful as it is…

  1. We know our survival is not based on food, at least in the short term. We can live physically without food for many days, but suggest to someone that they need to fast for a day and it is as if our right arm is about to be cut off. So what is going on here, and why is our very ability to function connected to food so tightly? Could it be we eat more for our emotional satisfaction than our physical needs?

  2. It is interesting how food can become our constant companion that never fails to provide comfort. So when we change the relationship we have with our bodies our relationship with food can change.

    1. That’s such a key point you make jennym. So often it is attempted the other way around, as in changing the relationship with food to change the body shape, weight etc. Our relationship with our body is the starting point for everything as in turn it reflects our relationships with everything else.

  3. I spent much of my life aiming towards the “perfect” body. I never liked my body as I always had a picture of what was better. When I’d look at myself in the mirror I looked in comparison to this picture I had of an ideal body. Then one day I observed Natalie Benhayon and how she just loved being in her body. I realised it was her body. I had my body and I could choose how I was with my body. I opted for appreciation and to drop that unattainable picture – highly recommended!

    1. I love this comment Nikki, Natalie made a huge impression on me with the level of self acceptance she has for herself, and at the time I said to myself ‘I would love my girls to have her level of self love’ and now it has changed where I want that for myself also.

  4. It is indeed gorgeous to be able to truly appreciate your body for its own unique beauty, regardless of its shape or size. When there is an understanding that there is no need for perfection, but that there is the possibility of simply connecting to who we truly are and then living from this point, there is simply no room for perfection as everything is just as it should be.

    1. Yes Sandra we always have the choice to connect to who we truly are inside and start to appreciate we have the body we have for a purpose and that it is perfectly designed for us to express the truth of the love we are.

  5. In truth, food is never our issue. It is what we live/move in the predefining moments of going for that food which we know does not work for us.

    1. Yes Rebecca, how amazing our bodies are. I love how you say cherish, as I accept myself more, my qualities within, I realise the wonder my body is in how it supports and serves me.. and yes it deserves to be cherished.. deeply.

  6. ‘I was still eating quite regularly but I realised that the way I was living was not supporting my body. I held my body in constant tension and anxiety and so was burning off the calories at a higher rate than my intake. My metabolism was all over the place – and I felt powerless.’ A great point Susan , showing how harmful the ideal of ‘dieting’ is. It is not about being our true beautiful selves.

  7. There is so much more to weight and body shape than what we eat, and so much more behind what we eat than a calculation of calories or nutrition. It is a psychology that is different for every last one of us.

    1. For starters, so much more has to do with the quality of how we are before we actually stop to eat, if indeed we stop, not to mention the quality of our food.

  8. I’ve learnt that it’s not my body that I dislike at times but actually the quality and way I move in and with my body that I don’t like, the energy I have allowed in. It’s like letting someone trash my house and shouting at the wallpaper for being torn. This is fully in my power to change by listening to how the body feels. But this gets delayed if I am blaming the superficial appearance of my body.

  9. When a diet starts with a goal image of ideal body shape and target weight, and not addressing the emotional issues behind the food choices and behaviour, it often can be a an arduous task of keeping to a diet as well as maintaining the new weight when or if achieved.

    1. Yes, a topsy turvy way to approach our relationship with our body – idealism enforced from the outside rather than respect, understanding and care developed from the inside. Would we choose to apply the former approach to a relationship with a dear friend?

  10. Susan, this is really lovely to read; ‘I now accept my body shape as perfectly beautiful just the way it is!’ How amazing it would be if when we are young we do not stop loving and accepting our bodies, if we do not go into comparison and self loathing, I see how beautiful all little children are, with their different shapes and sizes and skin and hair colours, it is gorgeous to feel that when young there is no comparison with each other and instead an acceptance of ourselves and others just as we and they are.

  11. What is the ‘perfect body shape’ anyway? Interesting to ponder on this really when they are so many millions of people in the world all with a unique shape of thier own, and none of them identical!

  12. “There is nothing wrong with food when we keep its importance in perspective – we need food to sustain us in our human life – but it does not feel healthy or rational when it becomes the whole meaning of our life.” I have also been feeling this in relation to my food experiences and I can see how this ideal and belief is exacerbated with all the cooking programs on TV these days. Whereas dishes were kept simple and made fresh they are now glorified, complicated, designer presentations, that no-one really has time for that take all the fun out of simple preparation and planning.Our food experiences have become far too complicated and obsessive.

  13. It took me a long time to get out of the mainframe that I was not good-looking, or even further, that I was ugly. I let what ‘friends’ and peers tell me own my world and forgot what I knew was true – How beautiful I am 🙂

  14. Our shape is unique to us and you have shown Susan how we can accept where we are with whatever is happening in our lives. Therefore no matter whatever shape we are, that is who we are..end of story.

  15. When we find ourselves in a position where we need to fast (for a surgical procedure), it is quite the opportunity to see just how much we rely on food to fill the gaps of boredom, emotions, or distraction. This raises the question of, what are we not wanting to feel or deal with?

  16. In our family food was the answer to everything so it is not surprising that I have used it in endless ways myself and still do sometimes….used it rather than honouring it, honouring my body and bringing more awareness to the true supporting, nurturing and nourishing elements of food as it’s main purpose in relationship to my body and me.

    1. As we begin the process of observing our relationship with food we make space to develop a deeper and more loving connection to our body and in the unfolding we begin to realise the impact of how we have been living.

  17. The difference between trying to shoe horn our bodies into a certain shape based on the ever changing demands of the outside world and what society views as ‘perfect’ and beautiful and building respect, acceptance, appreciation and love for ourselves is too vast almost to comprehend. The former choice leaves us victims of the fickleness of an external framework; the latter is foundational, sustainable and enriching.

  18. Such a gorgeous blog Susan; what if this was the kind of article that magazines featured and put on the front page? Would we be seeing the same intense lack of self worth in women as we are today, or could the media inspire society to love their unique shape and personality?

  19. When I look back through my life I can see that there was very little encouragement from around me and in the media to accept my body as it is. In fact, it was exactly the opposite with adverts in magazines, on television etc exhorting me to change this, eat this, don’t eat that, in the hope of achieving the body I believed I should have. It has taken well into my 60’s to finally accept this beautiful body of mine, a body which I am now absolutely loving along with all its saggy bits and wrinkles, as they are a part of who I am.

  20. This is an important blog for all women to read as body image is both an obvious and unconscious driver of many insecurities and misbehaviours for women. How you describe the way you overcome this is very inspiring.

  21. Building true love and acceptance with ourself and our body gives us a foundation for every other relationship that we have.

  22. There is a great sense here in this piece about re-learning how to love yourself which it seems has come from first accepting who you are beyond the ideals, just simply you for you because you are glorious just as you are.

  23. What is so clear, is that many of us concentrate with our issues on food, but do not look at the root of those issues, for it is not really about the food at all, it is about how we use it and why…

  24. I can relate to this, of growing up and emotionally eating and constantly thinking about food because I didn’t want to feel what was going on around me. I became obsessed with food and was severely overweight. Through the support of Universal Medicine I got to understand my relationship with food and emotional eating and my body has changed dramatically- I am now in a healthy weight range, more active and have more energy than I did in my 20s.

  25. If we see our body’s purpose as delivering infinite youth, boundless energy and sensational good looks, safe to say, we may be disappointed. If we see our body though, as an amazing vehicle designed to communicate everything when we are out of line, to guide us back to the Love that we are, to help us evolve and build initimacy with our place in the stars then our body is the best and most beautiful design you could ever see. And definitely something worth appreciating and valuing everyday. Our body never lets us down in any way. Thank you Susan for what you share here.

  26. My body shape is pretty amazing since I stopped eating gluten and dairy alcohol and sugar, but every now and then I go back into binge eating, usually when I’m exhausted or upset and although I don’t put on much in the way of weight, it feels hard inside and my mood changes, which shows that what we eat and drink affects more than just body shape.

  27. This is such a great overview of your relationship with your body and how that has been in association with your relationship with food, ideals and beliefs that you thought were you only way. What an awesome support you must of had to be able to share how this has totally changed and that you have an absolute joy and love for your body and your self. This is super inspiring.

    1. Without the support of Unversal Medicine I feel I would still be clinging on to ideals and beliefs. The many lovely Esoteric practitioners have been a huge part of the changes. They have allowed me to explore my relationship with my body.

  28. “… Finding my Body Perfectly Beautiful as it is…” A discovery that comes with developing an intimate relationship with the quality of you and how you feel under the skin… This becomes the defining marker, and not so the physical shape we see reflected back in a mirror. True medicine would have to be developing and confirming this innermost relationship we can have with our body as it would build resilience, love and a healthy relationship with life and everything in it.

  29. Regardless of how my legs look, they carry me though life supporting me in all I am here to do, and so for that reason they are immensely precious and loved by me.

  30. What a beautiful understanding you have come to with your body and you and the love and amazingness you now feel about yourself . This is very inspiring and so important to look at for our selves and our own relationship with our body and very joyful to feel when we appreciate ourselves truly.

  31. Looking back at my childhood I can see how the post war values around food have shaped the attitudes of many to ‘eat up’ and to ‘waste not want not’ and make the most of something rather than work from what feels right for our bodies at any moment. I can see how feeling what to eat has also been hijacked by indulgence and desire to dull and numb ourselves with food rather than be truly honest about nutrition. You only have to go out to the shopping centres today to see that it is now all about eating and drinking, not just for 3 meals but at any time of day.

  32. I have found it telling and have asked others at work why we eat lunch? When work through lunch is that telling us something? Do we eat because the clock tells us it is time to eat, or are we really hungry? Or, are we just been conditioned to be Pavlov’s dog, waiting for the bell to ring?

    1. Great questions Steve…I find that I can have an automatic pang of hunger around 1pm because that is when I have conditionally stopped for lunch so often in the past but when I have a busy workload or am purposefully engaged and/or enjoying myself sometimes the lunchtime voice is not there, or if it is, it easily passes and I realise that this was not real hunger but a habitual response like that of Pavlov’s dog. I feel much more vital and clear from not eating and then I appreciate my evening meal much more. I find that when I am doing more heavy physical work that is when I am more likely to want a snack, but far less that I would have eaten in former times.

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