I have been looking at several different approaches to health recently, it struck me that so many of these diet books or even worse ‘diet tricks’ appear to view the body as something to be ticked or overcome in order to lose weight.
I have over many years felt the need to cut down when my body has been rather bigger than I would like, but I don’t have the tenacity to stick rigidly to a diet or a exercise routine for long.
I have visited gyms but it feels as if you are trying to punish the body, with the emphasis on ‘no pain no gain’ and other such mantras, what I could not help but stop thinking was that I am sure our bodies have a shelf life. What if we were using them all up on a mindless running machine, where we are mesmerised by the big TV screens counting down the time.
Being the perverse person I am, I asked myself that maybe the answer lay not in ‘disconnecting’ from the body, but connecting, feeling the sensations and messages sent to me every moment of the day? What if instead of just eating chocolate because I was bored, chomping it down while I surfed the net, I stopped and firstly asked my body if it was hungry? What if I discovered my body desired something else like a nice cup of herbal tea?
I began this process and discovering a preference of Green tea over black tea. I became aware that every time I drank black tea it made me hungry for something sweet. When I drank green tea I hardly felt hungry at all. Concentrating when you eat can be an amazing experience, eating chocolate becomes a whole new sensory adventure when you focus on the sensations of the tongue, feel the hardness melt and savour the taste.
This mindfulness has created a connection not just with how I am feeling, but what I need. So much eating is done because I craved love and it can be surprisingly liberating to discover spending ten minutes gently stroking my arm gives me a greater sense of love and affection that can ever be in an square of chocolate. There is science behind this to back it up, stroking the skin produces a hormone that gives us a sense of wellbeing and love. Babies produce it when their mothers stroke them or feed them, so it is deeply ingrained in our psyche.
I believe that when the body feels safe and loved, it will not need to store up reserves, that being loved and safe is key to letting go of all that. Loving yourself is difficult at first, we English are so afraid to be bigheaded that we are resistant, but I feel it is at the very core of our being and essential to living.
It is always great when I find my theory is reflected by others and I came across Louise L Hay’s book heal your body. She talks about nutrition and nurturing the body, as well as connecting with it.
Connecting with your body is not just about food, its about listening. Sometimes I am so wrapped up in the project I am doing that I ignore the cramp across my shoulders, or the numbness of sitting for too long. I realise that my body tells me its time to do something different.
When I was a girl I loved dancing round the room to classical music and I find as a woman in her late forties its still a great thing to do. Try it yourself, next time you are in the bath or shower, as you soap your body, think tender thoughts and feel the sensations.
A few months ago I felt sluggish, exhausted and was struggling with joint pain – although my thyroid levels were borderline, I felt my metabolism was slow and I was cold all the time. I started to consider foods that warm the body and started to drink ginger / lemon and honey tea. I found grated ginger was the best, but it was a pain to peel and grate every day.
One day I hit on the idea of putting all the ingredients together in an ice cube tray and hey presto, each morning I have fresh ginger and lemon tea without the hassle. I have also made mint tea this way too.
Just pop one or two in the cup and pour over the hot water, perfect!
Someone far wiser than me told me: love your body, its the only home you have.