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FreeTreat Activity 6: Love, Your Body

By Michelle May, M.D.

(This is the 6th FreeTreat activity in our stay-at-home-retreat e-book. It is based on an Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating and Vibrant Living Retreat activity.)

Fun and pretty scaleOn the third day of a recent Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating and Vibrant Living Retreat, I surprised everyone by asking them to step on the scale. The energy in the room shifted noticeably. My request was met with a mixture of surprise, audible groans, nervous giggles, outright rebellion, and even frank hostility.

You see, by this point in the retreat, we had bonded around the common goals of breaking free from the eat-repent-repeat cycle, improving our health, and pursing a vibrant life fueled by fearless, pleasurable eating. I had made it very clear that none of those goals could be measured on a scale. Yet here I was
inviting them to step on.

As the first person, Kim, tentatively approached the scale, she set her jaw, slipped off her shoes, and stepped on. When she looked down, relief and a huge smile spread across her face. Instead of some arbitrary number, the verdict read, “Sexy.”

Soon, everyone in the room was excitedly lining up to step on the Yay! Scale (created by Marilyn Wann) to discover whether they “weighed in” as perfect, ravishing, cute, lovely, etc. We laughed as some of them still insisted on taking off their shoes! What a difference there was in the energy in the room!

Afterward, we talked about the negative impact that focusing on weight has had on us in the past. Despite the conventional wisdom that weighing yourself daily is helpful, nearly everyone had found just the opposite. Transform-your-relationship-with-food - Copy

Not surprisingly, some of the common weight-related themes were:

  • Lowered self-esteem
  • Guilt and shame
  • Determining how the entire day would go based on a number
  • Holding back from doing certain things until they reached some arbitrary weight goal
  • Feeling that they were undeserving of many of the things that they deeply desired
  • Temporary pride that was ultimately unsatisfying
  • Giving themselves permission to “cheat” on a diet
  • Consuming precious time, energy, and focus
  • Dismissing one’s intrinsic self-worth

We talked about the sources of body dissatisfaction and the effect that negative body image has on our day to day lives. Several people expressed fear that if they accepted themselves the way they are right now, they wouldn’t make positive changes to improve their eating and physical activity. As we explored that belief, it became obvious that many of us have already given up way too much of our personal energy and power to a rectangle on the floor, and that it was clearly hurting not helping us. We all agreed that a more deserving use of our energy was learning to eat fearlessly and mindfully in order to fuel the vibrant lives we crave and deserve.

Reflect on experience

What do you tell your body? What is your body telling you?

See the FreeTreat stay-at-home-retreat for a journaling activity called Love, Your Body that you may find helpful in examing old beliefs and negative thoughts about your body. Read one of the retreat participant’s letter: A Letter from Your Body.

Next post: FreeTreat Activity 7: Express Gratitude

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About the author

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yo-yo dieter and the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs and Training. She is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle , winner of seven publishing awards. She is also the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating, and Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery. Michelle shares her compelling message and constructive keynotes with audiences around the country, offers workplace wellness programs, and has trained and licensed hundreds of health professionals to facilitate Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs worldwide. She has been featured on Dr. Oz, the Discovery Health Channel, and Oprah Radio, and quoted in Diabetic Living, Fitness, Health, Huffington Post, Parents, Self, USA Weekend, US News & World Report, WebMD and many others. Her personal success story was published in Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul. Michelle cherishes her relationships with her husband, Owen and grown children, Tyler and Elyse. She regularly enjoys practicing yoga and hiking near her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She and Owen, a professional chef, share a passion for gourmet and healthful cooking, wine tasting, photography, and traveling.

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