Loving your body  – a Valentine’s message to ourselves.


I’ll start by saying that loving your body isn’t about loving how it looks every time you look in the mirror – it’s about compassion, respect, acceptance and honouring it. There are many ways we can do this and I’ll just scratch the surface on this topic in our blog, giving you food for thought.

Like most things in life there is no magic wand or quick fix that helps you embrace the body that you are in.  Like the investment you have to make to get better at running or building strength, it takes conscious time and effort. It’s a journey that isn’t linear, sometimes you make progress and other times you have setbacks, as someone that is a fair way into this journey, I can tell you it is worth it!

Part of the journey to loving your body is accepting that it’s OK that it doesn’t look like you might want to. If the images you see on TV, in magazines and on social media all look the same – slim and toned with no visible wobbly bits or dimples, then you are very unlikely to feel perfectly happy with what you see in your mirror. One of the huge shifts for me was to choose to follow normal looking people on social media. I want to look at Instagram and Facebook and the people I follow look like me. Seeing real bodies helps us normalise the bits that we don’t love about ourselves and the more we see these images, the more we can identify what we see in the mirror with being a normal body.

So where do you start with your work to love your body?

Below is a non-exhaustive list of places you could start your journey.

Listening to and reading about others that have gone on the journey themselves.

There are loads of fantastic people out there that have gone on this journey and have written about how they started out. I started with changing who I followed on social media. Through engaging with the content from some of these people, it lead me down a squirely road of asking myself questions about how I got to where I was:

  • Louise Green – @Louisegreen_bigfitgirl
  • Lexie and Lindsay Kite – @beautyredefined
  • @i_weigh – a community founded by Jameela Jamil
  • Caroline Donner – @thefuckitdiet
  • Tally Rye – @tallyrye

Guided meditations that help you connect with your body.

I found these great for reducing anxiety. I felt when I was putting pressure on myself for various reasons, these meditations helped me step out of the loops my brain was doing by focusing on areas of tension and breathing. I use an app called Budify that really helped me, when I started trying to mediate I wasn’t very good at sitting still and their walking/travelling mediations really helped me get going.  Nowadays I’m much better at sitting still to mediate. Headspace is another great app but there are loads of these on YouTube for free – I really like The Mindful Movement!

Self care

The reason that mediations can help us love our body, is it brings us out of our thoughts into sensations within the body. The sensations help us connect with the body as a whole and not just spend time in our own heads.

Learning about gentle nutrition.

I have been reading about intuitive eating, which is a concept around listening to what our bodies are telling us, it tells us what it would like to be fed, to fuel us both physically and emotionally.  There are some fantastic nutritional therapists that offer some great advice, by helping us recognise what the diet culture is telling us and make a conscious choice to do what is right for us.  For me gentle nutrition is about including the vitamins and nutrients I need and not agonising over the other food I eat.  That might be because it sooths my emotions or is quick and easy in a moment of need. I am delighted that the brilliant Janet Padfield share her thoughts on the topic  in our guest blog this month “Nourishing your body – being better than yesterday”  If you are interested to discover more about this topic, you could also read more into: 

  • Intuitive eating
  • Diets don’t work
  • Nourish not punish
  • Embrace your body
  • Diet culture
  • Health at every size

Changing my exercise to mindful movement.

Thinking hard about the exercise I enjoy at this point in my life – and cutting out the rest. I love to teach and ride Spinning® classes, I don’t love HIIT training. I really enjoy lifting heavy dumbbells, I don’t love putting myself under pressure to do it 2-3 times a week. I love Pilates and I only like yoga, so if I only have time to do one – I do Pilates.

Honouring my body with what it needs

Over time I’ve started learning about what I need, to help my body feel as good as it can, I share some findings below, which I hope will help you too:

For me it’s about practicing saying kind words to myself. When I have a negative body image moment – which is completely normal – I challenge the thought by saying ‘yes I might not have a xxxx (fill in the thought that occurs) but “I am strong’, for example, and I start to list the things I can do now that I couldn’t before.

I try to honour my body with rest when it needs it. The days of slogging through a hard workout when the tank is empty are a long way behind me now. Rest might include a massage, a steam and sauna, a gentle stretching session, permission to sit and watch TV or read a book.

Sleep – I’m not great on a few hours of sleep nowadays, I try hard to get 7-8 hours, but this is work in progress. I struggle with this, as sometimes I suffer with insomnia.

I honour my body with movement as much as I can, without guilt or punishment. One of the big ways I did that was to change my job to a less sedate one, but not everyone can do that –  so we find ways to add movement into our daily routines.   The value of a walk, a stretch, a jog to help clear our minds, to feel more mobile in our joints, boost our endorphins or escape from our desks every now and then – is huge.

Do you honour your body with clothes that fit and are comfortable? It sounds like an obvious one, but you would be surprised that some still sit in clothes a size too small or that restrict their digestion and/or movements. A good clear-out can be so cathartic but it can also stir up feels of regret or inadequacy, but we need to be kind to ourselves when we approach tasks like this.  Having a few clothes that fit to choose from, is better than a huge range that hardly fit and provoke negative feelings like shame.

Adding in nutritious and satisfying foods into our diets help us feel better in ourselves (not banning certain foods), if I increase my strength work, I honour myself with a gentle increase in protein to help me recover. I don’t stress out about it but I do what I can as and when I have time. For more on this see my guest blog from Janet @ApplestoZincNutrition.

Any or all these changes can take a while to implement so start with one or two and see where it takes you. For February why not choose one thing to do differently – what would you choose?

We discuss topics like this in my personal training sessions and at my outdoor exercise class – Fitness in the Forest, come along for a workout and some gentle support on Mondays and Fridays!  For February we are also offering  2 for 1 on classes – I hope to see you there!

Sara McDonnell

1 Comment

  1. Gem on 3 February 2022 at 9:33 am

    I have two goals for Feb. I want to try and get back into my healthy eating choices routine. I’ve been pretty good with my dinners, but breakfast needs to shape up. Secondly, I’d like to try and do an extra movement session in the week, something that’s calming!

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