Body Love

Body Love

13 February 2017 | Written by Xenia Ayiotis

Filed Under: Body Acceptance

I must be honest, I am not a big fan of Valentine’s day, in the same way that I am not a fan of New Year’s Eve parties. I see them both as “compulsory enjoyment” days.  My inner rebel protests and does NOT want to give or receive flowers or go out for dinner on the 14th of February!  I far prefer spontaneity and random romance days!

However… I DO like the message of Valentine’s Day…

LOVE

This Valentine’s Day I want to look at other kinds of love, like love for the precious bodies that we live in.

The past week has been uncomfortable for me, I have had severe backache and on the weekend it took a turn for the worse to sciatica. I can’t do basic things like bend and walk without pain. Pain is a rather humbling and reflective experience, so I have been thinking a lot about body appreciation and body love.

I struggle with it and so do most of my clients! I understand that it’s hard to love and appreciate your body when all you’ve ever done is criticise it! I get how it’s a big jump to go from hating and blaming your body to loving and respecting your body.

We only really start to appreciate our bodies when something gives in and we realise that we take so much that our bodies do for us, for granted. But is it really necessary for things to go wrong before we start to appreciate our bodies?  Perhaps they give in because we inflict so much judgment on them?

The body battlefield is a rough place. Think of how may times you have mistreated your body by being:

How many times have you starved your body?
Stuffed it to the point of discomfort?
Dissociated from it?
Abused it with overexercise? Overwork? Lack of sleep?

Many of my clients ask me how do you love your body?  How do you go from hating your body to loving it? It’s a slow process, it takes time and patience.

The first step to learning to love your body is awareness.

Start by noticing your thoughts about your body, both the negative and the positive. Pay attention to what you tell your body when you get up in the morning, as you get dressed and throughout your day.

We then need to examine the negative thoughts and see if we can neutralise them. So, for example:

  • My body is so fat and ugly … my body carries me through life.
  • My thighs are disgusting can be changed to… my thighs help me sit and walk.
  • My arms are flabby to… my arms help me carry things.
  • My stomach is big to… my stomach digests my food

The second step is respect.

Respect what your body does for you — how your body breathes and your heart beats so you can live. Your body does that effortlessly and serves you loyally day after day. You don’t have to like someone / something to respect it. You can accept its imperfections and limitations and still respect it.

The third step is practicing appreciation and gratitude.

Think of everything your body does for you…

  • Healed a bruise or a broken bone
  • Taken you on a long walk
  • Digested a heavy meal
  • Bent down to pat your dog or hug your child
  • Released you from pain
  • Given you a pleasurable sensation

So, this Valentine’s Day what if you were to start a romance and love affair with your body? What would it look like?

  • What would you say to your body on a daily basis?
  • How would you treat your body?
  • What would you do when your body is tired? Hungry?
  • How would you feed it?
  • How would you move it?

My wish for you is that instead of feeding your body the junk of judgment, you nourish your body with acceptance, respect, love and care.

“Your body is not your masterpiece – your life is. It is suggested to us a million times a day that our BODIES are PROJECTS. They aren’t. Our lives are. Our spirituality is. Our relationships are. Our work is. Stop spending all day obsessing, cursing, perfecting your body like it’s all you’ve got to offer the world. Your body is not your art, it’s your paintbrush. Whether your paintbrush is a tall paintbrush or a thin paintbrush or a stocky paintbrush or a scratched up paintbrush is completely irrelevant. What is relevant is that YOU HAVE A PAINTBRUSH which can be used to transfer your insides onto the canvas of your life – where others can see it and be inspired and comforted by it.” — Glennon Melton

May you learn to treat your precious body with love.
May you learn to look after your body with joy.
May you learn to respect and accept your body with kindness.

Love
Xen

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“From our first meeting - two faces on Zoom across the world from each other, there was a sense of familiarity and comfort that was a healing balm for a lifetime of food struggles and dieting. Without realizing how much damage I had done to myself by adhering, for decades, to restrictive food plans and rigid diet programs, Xen had a way of redirecting the harsh and negative self-talk and sending me forth each week with compassion, mindfulness and a new way of seeing myself in the here and now. Gone are the maybe somedays, and if-only, and when-I’m-smaller thinking. Now I am committed to the imperfect and rocky path to listening to my body, accepting my perfect imperfections, and rejecting diet mentality. Those negative voices will revisit me from time to time, I know, but Xen has offered valuable tools for meeting each day as a fresh start - another choice, another chance. Her devotion to this work and her belief in her clients is a remarkable gift; I am so fortunate to have found her. It is never too late to let go of the drama and embrace joy, ease and self-acceptance.”

Karen L, Denver, USA

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Karen J, Colorado, USA

“I reached out to Xenia because 2021 started on a tumultuous note for me. Between deaths, businesses suffering, hospitalizations, and job losses in our personal circle, I felt depleted and found myself being available for everyone but myself. Then I was hit with an unexpected health diagnosis, which was the last straw as it meant giving up “healthy foods” and workouts that I leaned on for my well-being and stability. Despite working in wellness (Yes, coaches and healers are vulnerable too!), I found myself reaching out to desserts for comfort. I like to live a life of permissions (not labels or deprivation leading to bingeing), so I wanted to work with someone who approached healing from a place of mindful compassion. I didn’t want to be my own client. Xenia was great in reminding me to be kind to myself. Working with her, brought me peace and helped shift my mindset. I love how desserts and I look at each other now.”

Sweta Vikram, New York, USA

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Daniela Velásquez, Ottawa, Canada

“Working with Xen was a game changer for me. After working together for a few months my relationship with food radically changed. I no longer felt like a failure. I now have the tools to nourish my body with foods that feel good in my body. I don’t feel guilty about eating cake or chocolate, I also don’t overeat cake and chocolate. I no longer feel the need to exercise to compensate for my eating. I feel much more free around eating and I am more accepting of my body. Xen has a nonjudgmental and compassionate approach to coaching and really supports you in the process.”

Rachel, Dublin, Ireland

“Working with Xen has been very empowering. Her approach is so refreshing from the usual. I have learned that I am in charge and that I get to choose what I put in my body and how to move my body in a way that I like! I get to make my own choices. It’s so liberating. Once you get a taste of freedom with food, there is no turning back to old ways! Thanks Xen for guiding me along the way to freedom.”

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