Your Body Knows. Tune In.by Elise Museles
My body’s voice is soft but insistent. She sounds like that quiet-but-wise friend we all need; not particularly chatty but when she does speak up, she tells you something life-changing.
“You know this isn’t right.”
“Be gentle with yourself.”
“You won’t feel good if you eat that.”
I haven’t always been great at listening to her. If I don’t make a conscious effort, I can’t hear her above the internal chatter and my packed schedule. Sometimes it feels easier to plug along with the eating routine or the scheduled workout or all the social commitments.
But everything gets better when we listen to our bodies. We sleep better. We’re more productive. We’re more creative. We’re more focused. We get sick less often. We don’t get injured as easily. And, we’re even more likely to maintain a healthy weight.
How do you learn to listen to your body? It’s an on-going process and definitely a practice. I’ve slowly learned to listen to mine, and I still fall off the wagon from time to time.
So as you lean in to listen, be gracious with yourself. You’ll probably occasionally forget and lift the weights that are too heavy or eat the extra chocolate chip cookie when your body is saying, “We are done here.” When that happens, simply dust yourself off and recommit to listening.
Sloooooow down at meals
Put away your phone away, turn off the tv, close the laptop, set up an inviting place, and give your attention to the food in front of you. We’re honoring our bodies and ourselves when we slow down. We’re giving our bodies the space and time to tell us what they need and how they feel – “More please” and “We don’t need this right now.” I like to remind myself that there’s always food available, it’s not going away. If I’m really hungry later, I can just go to the fridge and get more!
View your eating plan as a set suggestions
I’m not a huge fan of strict meal plans (or recipes, honestly), but I know a lot of people love the structure. However, when we follow a rigid eating regime or a dietary theory too closely, we might be ignoring our body’s insight on the matter. Some days the green salad and soup simply aren’t going to be enough and no matter what the plan says, your body says you’re still hungry. Some days you won’t need the side and the dessert, even if your plan says you’re ‘allowed.’
Instead of viewing this structured eating as gospel, think of it as a set of guidelines. Tune into your body and ask her how she feels about these suggestions. Adjust accordingly.
Move your body more frequently
Just like any other relationship, we strengthen our bonds when we communicate more often. When we move our bodies more consistently – whether that’s walking, hiking or dancing in the kitchen – we’re deepening that mind-body connection. We’re noticing what feels good and what doesn’t. We’re learning what’s exhausting and what’s invigorating. It’s hard to make those discoveries from the comfort of the sofa in the sunroom!
Treat yourself (and your body) the way you’d treat a toddler
If you’ve ever cared for a toddler, you’re very aware of what happens when they’re tired, hungry, or pushed beyond their limits. And because you’re the adult, you often know what’s best for them. (It’s rarely three cupcakes and five hours of television.) You’d never expect a toddler to climb 10 flights of stairs with a pulled muscle or do their best work on three hours of sleep. Why expect those things from yourself?
Check in with your body the same way you’d check in with your favorite 2-year-old. “How are you doing? Do you feel tired? Do you need to take a break?” It sounds a little silly, but your body will thank you.
Your body’s voice might be a whisper. But, when you tune in and honor her, she can do what she is built to do. When your body works better, your life works better.
Are you good at listening to your body? Tell me how you do it in the comments! Let’s inspire one another.