shadow of child riding bike with superhero cape

If extreme diets and high intensity exercise are not the answers, what are? As a trainer I’ve seen all too many times the ineffectiveness of high intensity exercise programs, extreme diets, and even drastic measures such as surgery on sustainable weight loss.  If you’ve ever dieted or beaten yourself up in the gym to no avail, you may relate to this.

high jumper

How often do you think this athlete lets time factors get in the way of healthy nutrition, her training or her sleep?

Well, from all my years as an athlete, trainer, wellness coach, and more recently creator of the Nourish Clean Eating program, I’ve come to realize that sustainable weight loss is founded in proper nourishment.  And I don’t just mean food.  I mean nourishment of body, mind, and spirit in the forms of things like healthy nutrition, regular activity, appropriate rejuvenation, adequate sleep, but possibly even more importantly, emotions such as joy, gratitude, appreciation, and love for one’s body. Now, this is not to underestimate the importance of exercise, healthy eating, and so forth, but to also acknowledge the critical role of our emotions and beliefs on our choices and behavior.

I know it may sound easier said than done to love your body if you don’t like it as is, but have you ever noticed how well you treat the things you love, versus the things you don’t?  The thoughts, beliefs and emotions you feel towards your body play powerful roles in how you treat it. Furthermore, they can be some of your most powerful tools in achieving your best health and physique.  Let me explain…

We tend to take very good care of the people and things we love, while not so much the things we don’t. In fact, with things we don’t value or like, it may even be fair to say that we might neglect them or treat them poorly, despite knowing we shouldn’t.Well, the same is true for how we care for our bodies.

When we value, appreciate and love our bodies for how they serve us and allow us to show up in the world, we are more likely to take care of them – even despite busyness, fatigue, and competing priorities.

Does this guy even know he’s eating?

On the other hand, when we don’t value, love, or like our bodies we are less likely to treat them well, more likely to drop them from our priority list, engage in mindless behaviors or even destructive “punishing” behaviors, and less likely to maintain nurturing healthy lifestyle habits – despite knowing how to do so.

Now we don’t need to be elite athletes to appreciate our bodies, but I use it as an example because everyone can imagine the dedication, discipline and commitment that goes into their fitness and how they treat them.  Attempting to “improve” your body through diet, exercise and other healthy habits, when you don’t like your body or appreciate all it does for you, treating it well will be a struggle almost every time.  Establishing healthy and nurturing life-long habits from this space is usually not effective – and may even become destructive.

However, if you can find even a small part to deeply appreciate and love, you will begin to ease your struggle.  As your appreciation and gratitude for your body grows, you will become more inclined to care for it, naturally making healthier and more consistent choices that nurture and support it. In doing so, your body will naturally begin to transform and reach its optimal and most beautiful shape – whatever shape that may be.