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!
674 thoughts on “From Seeking the ‘Perfect Body Shape’ to Finding My Body Perfectly Beautiful as it is…”
‘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.’ Listening to others without discerning for ourselves often leaves us empty because we have to connect to what is true for us. Other people may be well-meaning but at that time our bodies may need something else.
Time spent with our bodies is always time well spent.
Oh, yes I so agree Ariana. And as we each find our own unique way that opens the door to accepting others.
“I was offered food by way of consolation for the lack of love that I knew was a natural way of life. ” This was so common in my childhood too – and still is today it would seem. There was still rationing after the war when I was young so when sugar became more available it was a real treat. Ably abetted by the Sugar Bureau in the UK there is still denial about the part sugar plays in obesity. So much of the media bias is quite obvious and sadly laughable. This shows me I need to look inside myself for answers as truth is rarely presented – on account of funding issues and bias, My body knows so I learn to trust what it tells me – more so than the so-called experts.
Food has become so tantalising – with a constant flow of more indulgence to numb the pain that we feel of being so disconnected. Sugar hence becomes another drug to dull our senses.
That is so true, the funding issue infiltrates so many industries that we have to look to our own bodies to be the marker of what is true for us, or not. That way we are more aware of what we consume and why, taking full responsibility for the outcomes.
And from this seemingly loveless way of living whereby we are manipulated at every turn we can appreciate that in the long term we are being lead back to a way of living that connects us to our body and the wisdom that it constantly shares. This is as ever the body offering us an opportunity to return to a more loving way of living with our body leading the way.
It’s very clear to see how our obsession with body size, weight and shape traps us in the world of ‘self’ and distracts us away from the bigger questions in life, like why am I here and how can I be of service to humanity?
Our obsession with self has become so intolerant that we are now being presented with the truth of the way we have been living. The time to accept responsibility is a wonderful offering to humanity to turn things around.
There is a big difference for me when I feel my body is less dense and lighter energetically as opposed to dense, sluggish and ‘heavy’. This has nothing to do with body shape or weight but how my body actually feels.
And for me it ‘s also about how I respond to life and walk through my day.
It takes a lot of clearing out and healing hurts in order to be content with our body shape – so I just love reading this blog and what it represents – the fact that the settlement comes from within and that we can truly love ourselves without comparison.
Yes, the feeling I have about my body now is so vastly different to how I used to feel – never feeling I was the right size or shape. It is beautiful to feel a contentment with one’s body – but no complacency either.
It feels as though contentment in the body is about giving up the chase and the drive to be anything other than our natural selves.
And what I am learning at present is that deep settlement comes with time and is an ongoing unfolding.
Yes, when we clear a cupboard or declutter a room there is a greater sense of ease, so why not with our body?
“I was offered food by way of consolation for the lack of love that I knew was a natural way of life.” Food is so often used as a consolation for the lack of true love, its no wonder that it becomes such a challenge for people when there is a suggestion that perhaps their way of eating does not support them.
Thank you Sandra – what you have exposed here is very revealing of the relationship we have with food and how far away from us being true to our natural nurturing way whereby we honour our body with true reverence.
I wasn’t brought up with hugs either but having lived in California for a while I came back and introduced hugging to my family. Although my mum was a little surprised she took to it very easily and it helped us to bridge the gap that had been there for many years.
How beautiful that you were able to bridge the gap, and with something as simple as a hug – we convey so much by how we express and move.
I taught my dad to hug too – when I was in my twenties. It made a beautiful difference to our relationship as he had never been able to express his emotions, although I knew he did love me.
And this knowing can go deeper once we connect and feel the touch of another – we then understand the sensitivity and full beauty of being alive and in connection.
When our self-worth and self-love have been corrupted by self-doubt, we need to heal this disconnection, and within this healing we can come to truly not just accept ourselves, but love ourselves
I love the truth you present Chris when saying ‘When our self-worth and self-love have been corrupted by self-doubt’ as it brings clarity to our devious behaviour as we deliberately undermine who we are when employing self doubt. It allows us to take responsibility and to feel how deeply disregarding we are when we treat ourselves with anything less than the love and respect that we deserve.
Eating to nourish ourselves according to what our lives need can allow our body to come to their own natural shape.
Thank you Jenny – that takes all the complication away that we load ourselves and our bodies with when we wander away from truly honouring.
I used to think that accepting myself as I was meant I was settling for less, that I was giving up saying there’s nothing I could do about it. But what I realised over the recent years is that I didn’t even know what I was in truth in the first place, so it was a very unfair and unjust statement, yet in a way very true as the grandness of what I was was yet to be connected to and lived.
It’s amazing how ‘smart’ the brain can think it is – when the body is the true fountain of truth.
Self acceptance brings to an end feeling less, self loathing,comparison and connects us to all that we are: our beautiful, precious and wise selves.
A deepening self acceptance is revealing that there is always another layer of love to reveal – and that we are simply forever unfolding and returning with a greater understanding.
When we make a cut off point of when we have an eating disorder, it ignores the little problems and allows us to say we are at least not that bad when we having troubles with eating according to what our body truly needs. Even though actually even the littlest dislikes of our body and the resulting diet we choose to eat is a disorder to our natural way of being with ourselves.
Yes, Lieke – when we go into comparison the result is never truly evolving – and denies the true needs of our body.
Whenever we are being consumed by relentless thoughts about food or something else we need support yet we are not supported to express how we are feeling let alone seek the counselling we need. We grow up thinking there is something wrong with us for thinking unhealthy thoughts and then before we have turned round this way of being becomes the norm and we learn to put up with it. I am no longer obsessed with thoughts of food controlling my life. It is a choice I have made and are making to deeply love, accept and nurture the gorgeous woman I am.
‘Whenever we are being consumed by relentless thoughts about food or something else we need support yet we are not supported to express how we are feeling let alone seek the counselling we need.’ This is a crazy state of affairs that we have allowed our lives to be dominated by thoughts that are not our own – surely this is the antithesis of the innately tender beings that we are when deep down we know we are so much grander.
Beautiful Ariana – ‘The loving dedication of ourselves and the appreciation of our body for holding us so tenderly in love, waiting for us to ‘get it’ that our body holds such wisdom and love within’ who could possibly resist – and yet we do as we each return to that point where this will be our living reality.
I loved reading this blog as it reminds me of the importance of living first before it is about the pleasures in life. Food has certainly been classed as an indulgence and reward and its important to be honest about this and why we use food in this way
I feel the development of this honesty is something that requires a period of loving dedication. Although I felt that I was being honest with myself I can now understand that it would take a while before I was willing to be truly honest and for me this began with self acceptance and self love. Being gentle with myself was a great start.
Yes, we are sold very short when we are encouraged to think that life is all about comfort – and then one day we realise that the comfort is not so comfortable at all but in fact deeply detrimental.
Food is a topic that has enthralled us I suspect for many a lifetime. Some I have noticed build their life around food and what they are going to eat stays with them throughout the day as if a reward for getting through the day. I just see it now as something we use to dull how sensitive we are and use it for that purpose more than to nurture ourselves.
Yes, Julie – and yet for me even though I am understanding more and more there is always still further to go with exploring this relationship between my body and food. The deeper I go the more sense it makes to honour the body first before listening to the taste buds in my mouth.
Appreciating our body for all it does to support us as we move through life offers space to be aware of the beauty of our inner essence..
Indeed Mary – as do your words offer us that space as we pause and realise the wisdom of your expression.
It is very common to grow up with that kind of relationship to food. We take on so many behaviours that are common but not true and it takes a lot to renounce them when we are older, as we got so used to it. Imagine we would raise our children differently instead of “how everybody does it” . What if food is to keep us alive but not to fill any emotional gaps we have because we are disconnected to ourselves.
Although it’s very common to grow up with ‘that kind of relationship to food’ it feels as though a new awareness is burgeoning and we are all beginning to question whether these time-old ways are serving us any longer? Eventually we will all realise that our bodies are for us to honour and not obliterate with anything that comes to hand be it food, alcohol or some other numbing out device.
Now that might really turn the world upside down – an overhaul we deeply need I feel.
As we let go of berating ourselves we begin to feel an expansion from within. Acceptance is the key to truly healing and becoming whole – and this wholeness allows an unfolding and an opening for us to deepen our relationship with our body and surrender.
Making the choice to connect to our body is so simple, whilst being one of the most powerful and life changing moments as we allow the body to unfold back to its natural way of being. As you say Linda ‘our body responds by restoring and rebalancing itself back to harmony’ and what could be more beautiful and a blessing for the world to also feel and find inspiration..
A great reminder of how images can control our choices and how damaging that can be, we are all unique and we are not designed to be perfect.
When we allow anything from outside to impose and control us we are dishonouring our body – our one true ally within what we know as human life.
We so willingly abandon ourselves, a sacrifice on the altar of advertising, the media, our images, ideals and the pictures of how we should be and look. Our body then suffers as a consequences and has to bear the brunt of this madness.
So true – at some point long ago we agreed to abandon ourselves as a sacrifice on the altar of creation.
This blog raises the question if we take on beliefs such as we live to eat, how can we connect to true purpose and engage fully in life?
And as we begin to question more and more we can wonder why it is that we feel the need for these beliefs when in truth and in full connection we simply know……
“I was deeply dissatisfied with myself and I am now realising that it was very painful to reject my own body in this way”. I used to think that my thoughts somehow magically floated into my head and floated off again without leaving an impact. Since re-discovering my body through gentle movements and conscious presence, I know that my body hears and feels every thought. The comparing, critical thoughts cause a great deal of harm, more than any food I can eat or lack of exercise.
Yes, as we go deeper and deeper we can begin to see the whole unfolding – or as I now feel we are returning to the ‘whole’ we innately know we are.
The more we realise how beautiful we are, the more we stay us in all communication and movements.
We can start to feel a fullness in our body from where we deeply enjoy ourselves with all the forms of our body. No pictures how we should be but free.
Yes, Sylvia – appreciating ourselves begins the process of self healing and as we feel a deeper settlement in our body we move and communicate with ease and an expansion that permeates every particle and allows space and a fullness within.
It’s an interesting story Susan, what I can feel is we know love (you sharing a hug as a child) but then we withdraw it or give up on it because of hurtful, confusing or traumatic circumstances. It may be as simple as our love being rejected. From that point what may happen is by separating from our love we are left with ideals and beliefs, and to seek recognition and acceptance for things that we do or for how we look. It’s a huge journey to unpick this all and recover ourselves out of issues like body image ideals to return to self love and love – congratulations as it’s amazing to read about the love you have reconnected to and now can live from Susan.
And this unpicking is an ongoing process ad infinitum I feel – each moment passes and makes way for a deepening and what we feel is love today is something we may leave behind tomorrow.
Our body shape and weight is telling us something about how we are living. Rather than berating it what if we stopped to pay attention and listen? What if it is already perfect for us in order to learn or confirm something right now?
So true Leigh – nothing is nothing – there is always a lesson to learn and new opportunities to deepen our understanding.
“I was offered food by way of consolation for the lack of love that I knew was a natural way of life.” This is a common way of ‘making up’ for the lack of quality of presence – from parents, grandparents and the like. This teaches young ones to look for sweet treats to fill the emptiness they may feel in later life. And now we have an obesity epidemic………
And when we are willing to see this Truth maybe we will be willing to accept responsibility for all the ills and re-imprint the culture of blame that is currently so prevalent.
We can spend our days trying to fix ourselves and live with anxiousness, or simply connect to the part of us that isn’t broke, our essence and multi-dimensional selves.
There is a much deeper part to us that reaches into eternity and embraces multidimensionality, the joy and grandness of our amazingness.
‘There is a much deeper part to us that reaches into eternity and embraces multidimensionality’ and when we feel this we no longer need anything outside – we are at one with the all that is graciousness and truly magnificent.
That constant daily rejection of our bodies, as well as thoughts of ‘I just need to x and then I’ll feel x’ or if only x were different, then I could fully embrace life, or whatever we want to be doing, take their toll and wear us down. When we let go of control and perfection, and needing things to be certain ways for us, we feel lighter, fuller, and much more connected and committed to loving ourselves and others.
When we hold a part of our body as less or not up to scratch we are rejecting a part of ourselves… no wonder we then have illness and disease like eating disorders and excessive exercise and plastic surgery. There is a disconnect and therefore when we do not realise our body is a vehicle of expression for our soul to express through, then we can do just about anything to it.
Loving acceptance and appreciation of ourselves as we are is a key to deep healing.
When we can come to the understanding that we are all unique in body shape and what may be acceptable for one person’s body may not be suitable for ours, we will be able to let go of the striving for the perfect body shape. It’s our uniqueness that makes us who we are and that is to be embraced not cast aside in the quest for perfection, an ideal that simply does not exist.
The problem is we’re all obsessed with the physical not multi-dimensional and this leads into a cul-de-sac.
kehinde2021 totally agree with you we have seemingly forgotten our multi-dimensional origins and settled for way less which as you say has led us into a cul-de-sac of the swamp of life.
I can feel how we reduce ourselves when we live to and with images, instead of allowing the whole of us to feel and know what is true, and participate and commit to what is.
There is always very subtle message being delivered from our body. It knows what it needs always, in the moment. Whether that is rest, exercise, a specific food, how much to eat, the time to eat, there is so much that our body divinely knows, if we are just willing to feel it.
I like how this article breaks things down to how we feel about ourselves being the driver behind how we use food.
Leigh you left this comment back in 2018. I would like to update your comment because I now know the driver behind how we not only eat food and why we eat certain foods and drink, drugs etc., but is the driving force behind life as we know it. Humanity is a puppet to this energy that doesn’t not have our interests at heart but would shove us under a bus to get what it wants.It’s interesting to observe that humanity is becoming more aware of this and starting to ask questions about life and how they are living.
If we are living according to a picture, or an image, life cannot help but be one endless disappointment. To reconnect and to start to feel who we truly are gives us the opportunity to reconfigure, to be, to live in harmony with ourselves.
From experience I can say that the truest way to eat comes from an acceptance of who we truly are.
I totally agree Joshua – acceptance is the key that unlocks so many of our dilemmas in life.
How beautiful to come to a level of acceptance of your body after experiencing all the issues you have described. Our environment when we are growing up has such an impact on how we live and what we perceive as ‘normal’. Finding our way out of this and finding our own true way is sometimes not easy, but is worth every moment of exploration and openness to change.
Yes Rebecca it definitely is ‘worth every moment of exploration and openness to change’. It has been a long process and one where I have not always wanted to see what was evidently clear once I began to become more self loving in my relationship with myself.
” 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’ How beautiful Susan.
Food is a tricky one – on the one hand, we want to eat healthily and to nurture our bodies, and yet, on the other hand, we feel compelled to eat things that are not good for us or the shape or health of our bodies.
Accepting oursleves from the inside out, from our true qualities within, is the way to go. It allows us to see what doesn’t belong to us, the self criticism in how our bodies are, the comparison with others, and let it go and appreciate our qualities and the body we have.
It’s so exhausting disliking and berating our bodies for not fitting into our picture of what perfect would look like. Whereas there is so much freedom in appreciating what we have and seeing that there is nothing wrong with the way we look.
Perfection is such a huge detour whereas appreciation can build a deep inner acceptance and confirms our relationship with God. Judging ourselves so harshly has been our downfall from feeling the grace and beauty that is our natural way of being at one with the world.
“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 is a great example Susan of how we get so stuck in our ways of just going through the motions of eating meals at certain times, because it’s what we’ve been conditioned to do, rather than stopping to feel whether it’s what our bodies are really asking for at that time. If we do have to fast, for whatever reason, whether it is medically related or otherwise, it is interesting to observe when we get cravings to eat something and to note what foods we are going for, as this can lead to a deeper understanding of why the cravings are there in the first place.
What I appreciate more and more is how my body is returning to its own natural shape as I care for and listen to its constant loving and at times loud communication.
As we expand our connection within we allow space for the natural order of the particles.
I find it interesting that we seek the ‘perfect body shape’ because what are we basing that on, an ideal, a belief or a picture, if we have desires to look a certain way than we have lost our connection to ourselves because we are beautiful from the inside out.
Our sight and what we see has become distorted by outside perceptions, whereas our inner sight (insight) remains true.
There is a natural shape to our body that will be perfect not by how it looks or fits any pictures but by the quality in which it is left to move and be.
Food has been far removed from its purpose, to nourish the body so we can live and do what we’ve come here to do. Food is used to please, to numb, to distract, to console and the list goes on, ad infinitum. And the global health statistics attest to this.
When we learn to nourish our body from within our hunger for distraction will lose it’s power.
Dieting or die-eating, especially when all foods taste sensational, so do we eat to live or eat to die? Could it be if we listen to our body we can eat to serve humanity? Then if we are distracted, which means we listen to those thoughts that get us to eat what ever foods taste great and we know they will dull our awareness so “when we begin to realise how truly precious and amazing” we are we eat to be lesser than this greatness. As you have shared Susan that ”having a true relationship with” our body and food changes the energy we buy, eat, drink and eliminate in. And “It also feels like a way of living that is more than just about my body.”
I find that the judgement of my body and my behaviours like my diet is very comfortable. It’s easy to do and provides a great distraction from the deeper questions of what don’t I want to be aware of?