If you’ve been reading along with the Operation Rad Bod posts (which I just realized spells ORB, and I kind of love that) and feel ready to take the plunge, I wanted to post some How Tos for you to join me on this radical body acceptance journey.
This month, an article of mine about ORB was featured in Golden Gate Mothers Group‘s magazine, the theme of which was Food.
My piece, Radical Body Acceptance, is mostly made up of ORB posts you’ve already seen on the blog, but I included some tips about how to rock it that I’ve never put up here, so I thought I’d share them with you. It also included a sweet picture collage taken by Phillip Van Nostrand of Olive and I shaking it at my friend’s wedding. (If you’d like to get a better look at his great candid shots, it’s also currently the cover photo on my Facebook page) Here’s what I’d like to share with you today – let me know which ones you’re willing to take on this summer, in the comments!
So, if you’re willing to take a short break from fat chat and dieting to try this experiment, which I call Operation Rad Bod, here’s what you can do:
1. When a thought comes into your mind about how you wish your body could be different (more youthful, thin, less mottled, etc.), stop yourself right there. Take a deep breath. Check in with your self-worth in that moment. Is the problem really your “muffin top”? Or is something else making you feel less-than-perfect right now? If it really is the “spare tire”, put your hands there, and just breathe. Resist hatred of your own flesh. Make room for love.
2. Every time you see an article about Tips to Lose Weight that you are tempted to read, seek out one about Body Acceptance. Xo Jane, Jezebel, Miss Representation, About-Face, and The Militant Baker are good resources to find those. Re-educate yourself, away from “4 Foods to Cut Belly Fat” and towards “Four Things to Love About Your Knees”.
3. Start wearing your “good” clothes more often. Put your body in things you actually like. Stop worrying about how it makes your butt look, now that you have aged a few years since buying it. It makes your butt look like a butt. Bask in the compliments you receive, and if you can’t, say “thank you”, or anything except a comment on how you really need to lose a few. If you don’t have anything you like in your size, stop waiting until you lose weight to wear something that you feel good in. Our fair city has plenty of amazing secondhand shops, so don’t make the money excuse. Buy something with less fabric – it’s usually cheaper and shows off more of your rad bod!
4. Eat what you like. I encourage you to really follow your cravings, and listen to your stomach. I have found that allowing myself what I really want means I eat less of it. Any time that I have deprived myself of a certain kind of food, I end up binging on it later. I think it is because the psychology of lack leads a person to indulge further, whereas allowing yourself abundance often means you only need a bit. Practice being really present with your eating, without any shame around it, and you’ll find your own balance. I now eat considerably more kale than I used to… but also quite a bit of chocolate. I enjoy them equally!
5. Move that body. The best way I know to achieve a sense of well-being in my body is to engage in creative movement. Using it, really getting down into what it feels to be in this body, right now, is the only thing I know that really works. Come dance with me at Rhythm and Motion, where it doesn’t matter if you are getting most of the steps wrong, as long as you are shaking your booty. Do yoga in your living room, using free videos on Hulu. Take a meandering walk, really noticing how your feet hit the ground. As Ann Imig says, the “That fwap fwap fwap of your feet along the path is also the earth slapping you high-five. Each time.” In fact, since I started down the path of body acceptance, instead of having no inertia to work out since I wasn’t trying to lose weight, I started enjoying it more, and now exercise double the amount that I used to. I do it because it feels great and is a huge sanity saver, not to be a particular size person. I feel more like myself when I’m dancing than any other time, even in sweaty spandex.
A year after starting Operation Rad Bod, friends often ask me, “Have you lost weight?” But I haven’t. Weight loss is the way our culture processes a woman looking better, so that’s why they ask that question, as I have not shed a single pound. But I do look dramatically better, I have to say. I’m carrying myself differently, showing parts of my body (thighs, upper arms) I wouldn’t have dared to a year ago, and generally exuding a confidence and an acceptance of all body types. My body has same post-baby sags it had before Operation Rad Bod. But, on most days, I feel so freaking hot in it. I’ve taken all the energy I used to spend on wanting to change my body, and put it towards inner change, the deepening of my soul. The difference people see in how I look is not my waistline. The difference is me.