Have you ever been told to embrace self-love, when it seems like the most impossible thing in the world? The idea of self-love can lead to the cognitive dissonance that results in many of us giving up on our goals altogether. Instead of feeling ashamed at not being able to love your body, I argue that body respect and body neutrality are much more attainable and positive goals.
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Respecting your body includes:
- Giving yourself basic care and dignity
- Finding clothes that fit your body right now comfortably
- Challenging yourself to stop body comparing
Why Self Love is a Tricky Starting Point
The concept of loving yourself is a wonderful idea. But for those of us who have come from or are currently in a state where we hate our bodies because we are stuck in the cycle and influence of diet culture, we blame ourselves and the concept of love feels incredibly foreign.
You Deserve To Be Taken Care of as You Are Right Now
No matter what society, influencers, and diet culture have taught you to believe, you deserve to be taken care of as you are right now. You deserve the same basic care, basic nourishment, and basic dignity that some people provide more of to their pets than they do to themselves. Get some clothes that fit, stop staring at the scale, and believe that you are worthy of love, respect, and care even if you don’t love yourself as you currently right now.
The Problem With Body Comparing
Comparing your body, whether it is to a past version of you or to someone else, can only do harm. While respecting the current state of your body isn’t always easy because of the messages sent to us by diet culture, it is only by rejecting the notion that smaller bodies equal better bodies that you can start to appreciate how your body is serving you. Next time you are in a conversation that results in people comparing or shaming other people’s bodies that are nobodies business, I challenge you to remove yourself or stop that conversation in its tracks. While it can be hard to muster up the courage, I promise you will feel better for it.
Are you ready to replace self-love with body respect and start treating your body with the dignity and care it deserves? You can do this, I promise. Let me know your thoughts about Intuitive Eating Principle 8 in the comments below.
In This Episode
- Why the idea of body respect is more attainable than the idea of self-love for many of us (7:40)
- The importance of support when learning about and implementing intuitive eating (10:48)
- Tips for distancing yourself from people and places that perpetuate diet culture (12:20)
- Health-promoting habits that you can engage in that are weight neutral (14:33)
- How to respect your body by wearing clothes that suit it right now (18:02)
- Why you need to stop comparing your body (23:45)
Resources Mentioned In This Show
“I wish that the idea of body neutrality and body respect was in my lexicon, was something I had learned about, even back then. Because I think it would have been a much faster stepping stone to get to the point where I was more comfortable with my body.” (8:45)
“We don’t want to make wellness another set of boxes to tick, but really making it fit for your life and doing the best you can right now. So maybe that means talking to somebody about your struggles, maybe that means getting out and moving your body in a way that feels really good for you. But coming back to basic care and dignity.” (15:41)
“You deserve to be taken care of and you deserve to care for yourself right now.” (16:56)
“The more we stop this constant body comparison, the easier it is for us to respect our bodies.” (27:27)
Respecting Your Body Is More Powerful Than Self Love (Intuitive Eating Principle 8) FULL TRANSCRIPT
This is Episode 301 of the Listen To Your Body podcast. On today’s episode, I’m continuing our series on intuitive eating, I’m going to be sharing why self-love is not always the most helpful way of approaching intuitive eating and why respecting your body is so powerful instead.
The next evolution of Harder To Kill Radio is here. Welcome to the Listen To Your Body podcast. on this show, we’ll explore the intersection of body, mind, and soul health, and help you reclaim your abilities to eat and move more intuitively. Hear Your body’s signals, and trust yourself more deeply.
I’m Steph Gaudreau, a certified intuitive eating counselor, nutritional therapy practitioner, and strength coach. On this podcast, you can expect to hear expert guest interviews and solo chats that will help you deepen your trust with food movement, and your body. Remember to hit the subscribe button and share this podcast with your friends and loved ones. Now, on to the show.
Hello, welcome back to the podcast. Thanks for being here today. I can’t believe we’re over 300 episodes of this show, obviously, over the last five-plus years have been quite a journey and many of you have been on it the entire time with me. So if you’re returning to the show as a listener, a longtime listener, thank you so much for your continued listenership. If you’re new to the podcast, hello, welcome. I’m super glad that you’re here and spending a little bit of time with me. Today, we’re going to be digging into Principle number eight of intuitive eating. Now, this is a continuation of this whole series of the different principles of intuitive eating, it’s really the framework that explains intuitive eating. And intuitive eating is part of my framework that I teach in order to be freer to eat and have grounded well-being. So it’s a really important part of my own personal journey. And it’s been incredibly well-received. This series has gotten so much feedback from you, the listener, and I’ve been getting so many DMS in my inbox, just saying how much you’re enjoying this. Here’s the thing, intuitive eating is very individual.
It’s not a diet. Yes, it’s being co-opted by the diet industry, we want to be aware of that. It’s not a new concept. It’s been around for quite some time, and humans innately are intuitive eaters. So this isn’t just some other diet, just another, I call it just another fucking diet. It’s not just another diet, and it is going to require thought and application and making mistakes. It’s really getting in there and getting your hands dirty and applying it to your life. listening to a podcast or reading a book is a great foundation. But intuitive eating is not something you can just know, with reading or listening to facts and information. It’s something that you have to practice. It’s something that you have to implement. It’s one thing to say, Yep, I got it. And then it’s quite another to put those things into practice in your daily life. And to do it with support is incredibly important.
Because like we’ll talk about in today’s principle, the things that you’re going to learn about and start tinkering around with regarding intuitive eating are, they’re not what the normal rest of the world is doing. Because the normal rest of the world I use air quotes, heavy air quotes, the rest of the world is so infused with diet culture, that you’re gonna think that you’re bananas, and you’re doing everything wrong. And it really does take that support. So whether it’s my free Facebook group, it is my membership, it is a friend that you’re talking to, it’s a counselor or therapist, whoever, right, you need support along the way. Please don’t do this on your own because it is at some point, going to get hard and that’s just part of it, but it’s so worthwhile. So before we hop in a couple of things first, hit that subscribe button on your podcast app. Whether you’re listening on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you are, just hit subscribe. That’s really important and I so appreciate it. And of course, you can also share this episode out on social media and tag me @Steph_Gaudreau there’s another Steph Gaudreau, she lives in Canada. That’s not me. You’ll see me come up, you’ll see my pictures though just tag me, I would love to see what you have to say about this particular episode.
And join the listen to your body newsletter, this is my weekly love letter to you slash manifesto about why diet culture needs to fucking go away. And you can do that at StephGaudreau.com/LTYB for Listen To Your Body. Okay, so this principle number eight is called respect to your body. And here’s why it’s not called Love your body, not self-love. The concept of loving yourself, love for your body is a wonderful ideal and yet, for those of us who have come from or are currently in a state, where we hate our bodies, particularly because of the influence of diet culture, things like weight bias, weight stigma, and so on and so forth. When we’re in this space of a really negative body image, we don’t like ourselves, we don’t like our bodies, we feel like our bodies are wrong, we’re so confused with food, we feel like a diet would just solve everything if we could just stick to it. And then we can’t stick to it. Because that’s not how our brains work. And it’s not sustainable, and that we blame ourselves. And if you’re stuck in that cycle, the concept of love, like loving the body that you’re currently in is so foreign. And psychology calls that cognitive dissonance means where you are is so far from where you’re thinking about getting that it doesn’t even, it’s just such a gap. And that can lead you to subconsciously or consciously, just go, this isn’t going to happen. So why bother? Right? Why try? I wish that when I was kind of at the bottom, I was at the lowest point.
With my relationship with food in my body, it was 2010, I was a triathlon in my face off and depleted and not eating enough and super stressed. pushing myself really hard running away from my problems. My marriage was on the rocks. I wasn’t very fulfilled in my career. And it just all kind of came to a head and I just felt so frustrated. And like I could just make my body the way I wanted it to look, I like everything would just get magically better. But the idea of loving what I saw in the mirror was so far from where I felt that I just thought like there’s no way that that’s going to happen, like love myself, really, as somebody who experienced body shame since childhood. It was not something that felt attainable. And I wish that the idea of body neutrality, body respect, was in my lexicon was something that I learned about even back then because it would have been, I think, a much faster stepping stone to get to the point where I was more comfortable with my body where I was treating my body better. And I wish I had had that and I did it. So that’s one of the reasons that I share this stuff with you all and I’m so passionate about it because I wish I had known it would have made the journey. Probably I mean, who knows I don’t have a time machine. I can’t come back. But I think it would have made the journey a little bit less stressful as I then worked to kind of undo decade’s worth of this kind of a mindset and these experiences that I had had. So respecting so it’s not about self-love. I mean, that’s wonderful like self-acceptance is a wonderful place to get to where you’re like I accept myself I have I know I have worth I know I have value inherent to me existing on this planet, not because I’ve achieved a certain thing or I look a certain way or I’ve ticked a certain box, but because I am worthy.
To get to that point is not something that most people can just jump right into when they’re setting out to reclaim themselves to get to know themselves. Better to find more peace with themselves. So the idea of respect is something that takes it down to a much more basic level. And I don’t mean basic like in terms of just being easy or basic in terms of something that’s not going to be helpful. But we’ll talk about that in a minute. But just know that that’s where that’s the context around this. And it is, it’s not easy.
It might be as simple in theory. But remember that diet culture is still all around us. And it causes real impacts, weight stigma, fatphobia if you are at the intersection of different social identities. And in a larger body, for example, your experience of weight bias, and weight stigma, and fatphobia can be even higher. And it’s not something that is easy. This is, again, why support is so important. And I truly believe when you’re learning about intuitive eating at the beginning is like having a safe and brave space to do that in. Because if you’re still following, I’m not even gonna say your name, if you’re still following, you know, celebrity trainers, and these people who are pushing weight loss, like if you’re still following them, it’s your inviting that in, like, sometimes you can’t fucking help it, you’re in the grocery store, waiting socially distancing from everybody, and you’re like, oh, there’s the magazine rack, and you’re seeing, you know, like, there’s just all these messages about smaller bodies and shrinking your weight loss and diets. But when you’re, you’re falling, as you go out into social media, or you watch certain shows, and you invite that in, it’s up to you to have that radical responsibility to say, I’m not letting that in right now. Or I’m going to do my best to limit some of that. So don’t try to prove how strong you are.
By following people who continue to put this junk out there, because you just want to respect their opinion, no. Like, we have to draw the line at some level. And if the very first thing you do, I’m getting on a tangent, if the very first thing that you do is you start editing the messaging that you’re allowing into your space. That’s you can’t always do it easily with friends and badly. So take the lowest hanging fruit. Get rid of the people on social media that are they’re putting these messages consistently in front of you, and you’re just like, I’m trying to heal from this. But I’m gonna let them say what they want to say, No, no, stop, mute, unfollow. you cultivate that space for you. So all this is to say that at the same time you’re learning these principles.
And diet culture is out there, do what you can to get rid of that low hanging fruit. Okay, so respect your body, I’m going to go through three main points. The first is giving your body basic care, basic nourishment, and basic dignity. And I really appreciated how in the latest edition of intuitive eating.
I mean, Evelyn Triboli was on this podcast, you can go back and listen to that episode, Evelyn and Elise, I, I really appreciate how sometimes they just say it like it is. They were like, some people care for their pets in a more dignified way than they care for themselves. Just in terms of the basics, right, talking sweetly or nicely to their pets, taking their pets out for basic bathroom breaks and walks if you have a dog against if you don’t, if you have a cat, you’re not taking your cat for a walk, typically, you know, making sure they’re fed they have enough, right? That’s all very basic care. And yet, we oftentimes when we’re in diet culture, deny ourselves that basic care. And it goes beyond food. Obviously, intuitive eating is focused on the food part, but healthy habits I’m often asked you know, so what are these? Like? What are health-promoting habits that we can engage in that are weight neutral, or they’re not weight loss driven? And yes, like, mindfully eating, the foods that give you energy and the foods that are satisfying to you and quantities that are satisfying, and stopping when you’re full and honoring and respecting your body when it’s hungry, for example.
Not making foods off-limits or quote bad, right, because that sets up a psychological situation in which you can go back and listen to some of the previous installments in this series. But this basic care and dignity, right, you’re making sure you’re fed and watered, you are getting, you know, as as much rest as you can, obviously, we’re going to have different situations, and not everybody can be perfect at this. And we don’t want to make wellness, like another set of boxes to tick. But really making it fit for your life and doing the best you can right now. So maybe that means talking to somebody about your struggles. Maybe that means getting out and moving your body in a way that feels really good for you. And we’ll talk about that in the next installment. But coming back to basic care, and dignity, basic hygiene, I know for folks that are feeling extra anxious or depressed. One of the things, especially now, one of the things that they noticed is that their personal hygiene tends to slide and that’s one of the first tip-offs of like, something might be off here. So you know, are you caring for your body in those very, very basic ways. And that includes self-talk, which is related to the third point, but coming like your body deserves this basic level of care and dignity, even if you don’t love it. That’s what we have to separate. You don’t have to love, like, oh, gosh, I just love everything about myself in order to take care of your most basic needs. So we need to decouple that because a lot of times the belief is, I have to get to some point in the future when I feel better about myself, or I love myself in order to take care of myself. And that’s just a false future. Because you deserve to be taken care of, and you deserve to care for yourself right now.
And then that continues that nurturance that builds helps you build more caring, compassion for yourself, and less judgment, right. So wait until sometime in the future and holding out is delaying this process. You deserve that care. And that basic dignity now. So that’s point 1.2 that comes into respecting your body. And I have a podcast about this, and it’s a little bit older at this point is probably almost two years old, but wearing clothes that fit you comfortably right now. And this is a piece of respecting your body. Look, everybody has their own personal sense of fashion and style and what they love. Mine is very at all like athleisure with a heavy dose of hand-knitted goods, and basic patterns or basic colors, like I’m not a very flashy dresser. We’re not talking about fashion sense here necessarily. But one of the ways that you can respect your body is by wearing clothing that suits your body as it is right now. And I can’t overestimate how powerful this is. I can’t overstate how powerful this is for you. I have a client, one of my members who shared with us how she was Yeah, she had a baby. And she was still in this state where she didn’t have clothes that were feeding her body now. And it’s you know, almost a year later. And one of the very first things that she did for herself was going out and buy herself some new clothing that would fit her body now, and she just said I can’t believe what a change is made. I’ve had other clients who have bought new underwear for themselves, right? Whatever they wear is undergarments. I hate the word panties. So fuck, I just sent it oh my gosh, I’m so I can’t believe I just admitted that. Yes, I don’t like the word panties. Like, I don’t know, there’s something icky about it to me. Your undergarments, whatever you wear under clothes, if you wear something under your clothes, make sure that that’s comfortable. Because when it’s not, it’s like digging at you It’s too tight is squeezing you it’s squishing you, you become more hyper-aware of your body. And when you’re working to respect your body and build more body neutrality, becoming less hyper-aware of your body is so helpful. So so so helpful.
Look, I understand you can’t always go out and replace your entire wardrobe. And I hear a lot of folks, even my clients who are like I just spent all this money last year and now my body is changed. It’s bigger and like it was so expensive, and I understand that but what is the cost to your mental and emotional health if every day you go to get dressed because you get dressed pretty much every day, unless you’re living in zoom land like me, and I’m like my PJs again today, but you’re going to get dressed. And every day you’re facing that closet or facing that drawer full of stuff that doesn’t fit you. Can you start with something that you wear all the time? So if you’re a jeans kind of person, buy a pair of jeans that make that is really comfortable for you comfortable. You know, start with your undergarments. Or if you were if you’re a doctor or nurse or you worked in a dental office, or you were you’re working in a veterinary office or whatever, and you wear scrubs to work, you have a uniform of some sort your uniform wear, get a uniform that fits you and is comfortable. And start there. If you never wear evening gowns, it sounds silly right now because of the word the state of the world. But if you never wear an evening gown, don’t buy, go out and buy an evening gown. Start with what you wear often.
And wear something that’s comfortable. Look, no one’s gonna see the label and know what the size is. And one of my very best friends in the whole world shout out to Greg, they don’t know if he’s gonna listen to this. But work he works for a clothing company. And he’s like, Steph, these sizes are just so all over the place like they are completely inconsistent. So I know a lot of us have this mentality, it’s like seeing the number on the scale.
And we let that just ruin us like my body got bigger. Because and again, this is reinforced by diet culture, right? A bigger body is like the worst thing that could happen to you. According to diet culture, right, like weight loss or weight gain is to be avoided at all costs. It’s it gets really it gets in your head. So it’s just like seeing the scale has gone up. So I have a lot of clients who are like, I don’t weigh myself anymore. But I have you know, that pair of pants is how I check my body to see if it’s changed size. That’s still body checking. So that leads us into part three, or the third thing I wanted to talk about today that that’s kind of the third bucket of respecting your body, which is comparing your body comparison. And this can take many different forms, right, comparing your body to your former body that you had months or years ago, it’s still your body, but it’s changed. You only have your body right now. And yet, it’s so common to say I just wish I could go back to what I had before.
Or get my pre-baby body back or my pre-surgery body back or whatever it is you only have right now. And so taking the scale look, we need to level with each other. Again, if you’re trying to repair your relationship with food, and your body and become a more intuitive eater and respect your body. And be free to eat what you want and have grounded, grounded sense of well being. You cannot do that at the same time that you’re consistently away. You’re weighing yourself. Don’t try to be a hero. In this case, eventually, someday down the road. Might the scale become a neutral indicator for you? Possibly. But don’t try to prove. At the same time, you’re trying to work on all of this. Don’t try to prove how strong you are by continuing to weigh yourself. Because this and it’s I know it’s tempting. Take the scale away. Lock it up, throw it out. I don’t know some of you’re like but I need to weigh my bags for when I go to the airport. Get a luggage scale. Okay, stop it. I love you but stop. So body comparison can be the scale it can be the pants that you used to wear that were loose and now they’re tight and you just keep putting them on and seeing how tight they are now that stuff is never gonna make you feel good. And it’s I mean you can ask yourself I mean I’m saying it but because I know it to be true but ask herself is that Has this ever made me feel good? Has this ever really made me take steps that last and stick and that really worked for my life to address that my health in a way that is well rounded and grounded in who I am. And what’s important to me. Has it ever helped?
I doubt it. I doubt it. I’m sure somebody will try to prove me wrong. But I’m, for the most part. Right body comparison, body checking, pinching, oh, this was my go-to, oh, take those fingers. The thumb and the forefinger were my calipers. And I would just pinch, pinch my inner thighs, pinch my belly, pinch behind my arms. That’s body checking, right, or body comparison. comparing yourself to someone else’s body. I mean, this is like, our favorite pastime, in what in the Western world, especially in our culture, comparing ourselves to someone else’s body, someone down the street, someone walking, that we don’t even know. And we’re like, oh, what’s the assumption that we have, if they’re in a smaller body than us, we’re like, they must be better than us, they must have it all figured out, they must be super happy, they must be super healthy, they must be really fit. Those are all massive assumptions.
And if the conversation with people that you’re with turns to picking apart your bodies or other people’s bodies, or comparison in that way, if it’s safe for you to do so, in that situation is like building and it’s really bothering you building up your courage to set a boundary. This happened at Christmas for, me, we were all sitting at the table. And it was like me and my siblings and their significant others and my husband, and their friends came by, there was some drinking going on, not by me. I don’t drink but I was noticing, you know, the conversation was getting kind of loose. And the topic turned to like somebody from high school that they went to high school with and how she gained weight. And I was just like, we’re not talking about like, we’re not gonna talk about this right now. This is not okay. And then the conversation shifted? Like, why are we talking about this person’s body, if they’re not even here, this is low hanging fruit in terms of like the quality of a conversation.
So I know that that’s not always easy. But the more we stop this constant body comparison, the easier it is for us to respect our bodies. Right. And that takes many different forms of which I listed out for you here. Again, this is not something you’re going to learn overnight. Don’t come at me and say, but I did this for a week, and it didn’t work. So I’m quitting intuitive eating, and I’m going back on my diet.
I understand that desire. But when you really stop to think this is unpacking and unlearning and I promise you it is so worth it. And that’s why doing this support, listening to this podcast, other podcasts, getting in there and chatting with people about this, sharing what’s on your mind in a space where you can do that openly and not be judged right and be held in a safe space and community is so so important. So to recap, respecting your body is not always easy, because diet, culture is rampant. If we can work on these three things, this is going to take us really far. The first one is giving ourselves basic care and dignity. The second one is finding clothes that fit your body right now as it is comfortable. And the third part is to challenge yourself to stop body comparing, comparing to what you’re used to be like, what your body used to be like, or comparing your body to other people’s bodies.
So that is Principle number eight. And there’s just two left, we’re almost all the way through this series. So if you’ve been enjoying this particular show or the other episodes, go back and listen to the ones that you miss it the missing. Oh, I love it. Go back and listen to the ones that you missed. And see what comes up. Right, see what feels really like the one that feels good that you want to work on. Look, you can’t do all of these principles at the same time either or do them all in one week and go well, intuitively, it didn’t work for me. It’s not how it works. It’s not a diet, right? This is a framework for understanding your relationship with food in your body. It’s imperfect. But not taking some of these principles means you don’t grow and change and growth and change can be very hard. It can be very hard. It is oftentimes confronting and uncomfortable but if you don’t change, nothing will change. So I have so much compassion and love for you in this journey in this process. Remember to join my Listen To Your Body newsletter, it’s a heart love letter to you and fuck you to diet culture because that’s just my personality and I’m learning to embrace that more so if you want that weekly communique you can go to the website or just type in StephGaudreau.com/LTYB be pretty soon are going to be opening up the membership again for learning all this stuff and doing it in an amazing and super supportive community. And that will be sent out via that newsletter. So just keep yourself you know, aware of all of that and read your emails. I promise you they’re worth it. Hit the subscribe button on your podcast app and share this episode out on social media tag me at Steph_Gaudreau I would love to see your takeaways and was really resonating for you. All right, until next week when we’re back with another episode. Be well!
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