When you're starting to move from dieting to a HAES approach, I think one really common question/concern is: how do I love my body beyond my weight? How can I embrace my size and do what's best for myself? How do I love my body, period, when society makes it really hard to be in a body that doesn't fit into a specific mold? First off, I think a better and more productive question is: can I tolerate my body and find other values to focus on? Because as much as it would be nice to have this constantly high level of warm and cheerful love towards our bodies, I don't know that that's a reasonable goal - and I think that's okay.
LIVING OUT YOUR VALUES
What values do you have that aren't related to your body? Just a quick reminder that valuing health is not the same thing as valuing a smaller body size or aesthetic (read more about HAES here).
Here's a list of values that can get your mind running:
Having time for hobbies
Writing/journaling your feelings
Time to yourself
Discovering movement that feels good in your body
Setting aside time to enjoy cooking meals you love
Can you take some time to focus on developing those values instead of manipulating your body size? Make a list of things that feel life-enhancing to you and pull it out when you need extra support with not obsessing over your body size.
Similarly, can you appreciate how your current body lets you live out your life free of restriction? How would that be different if you were constantly managing its size? I know when I was dieting/size managing, I didn't truly enjoy social situations where food was present + I constantly obsessed over it instead of enjoying the company.
RESPECT + CARE FOR THE BODY YOU'RE IN
One huge part of diet culture is perpetuating the idea that you're not enough until you manipulate your body size. Not only is this untrue, I think it sends a strong message that you're not worth respect/care until you reach that body size which is also NOT TRUE. Meeting your body's needs now is important and you are always worth it.
Here's some ways to care for your body today/tomorrow/without any conditions attached:
Eat 3 meals and 2-3 snacks according to your hunger/fullness levels. It doesn't matter what or how much you ate earlier/yesterday. Treat each eating experience individually.
Repeat some positive affirmations to yourself. Make them your phone lock screen and Post-It them to your mirror.
Shop for clothes that fit you at both ends of your natural weight range (this could mean a few different size of your favorite items and is not the same as buying clothes to one day fit into when you lose weight)
Remove triggers that impact you during your day. Maybe it's throwing away your scale/full-length mirror, unfollowing abrasive social media accounts, or unsubscribing from fitness/"wellness" emails.
OBSTACLES WILL HAPPEN. THAT'S OKAY.
Your relationship with your body will ebb and flow naturally and some days will be harder than others. I think it's important to recognize that fact vs. trying to control or deny it. One thing that's helped me is having a self care box + a plan in place to help myself not constantly think about my body all day. For example, I know that when I'm having a day where my body feels frustrating, it's not a good day to wear something fitted that will constantly touch my body/bring my mind to it all day.
What can you do to make hard days a little less hard? Maybe it's spending more time away from your phone, or doing a quick guided meditation. Every day is a good day for positive affirmations, too!