An attitude of gratitude.
This week I didn’t get a direct question from anyone and so I thought I would focus on gratitude- it being thanksgiving week and all 🙂
Hating our bodies has become not only socially acceptable, but the norm. It’s terribly sad that we spend so much time agonizing over things that really don’t matter. Does the size of your thigh make you a good or bad person? No. Does the number on a scale determine your worth? No. Should you eat less if you weigh more? No! C’mon ladies, it’s time for some major backlash!
How many of you struggle with gratitude? I know I do, especially when it comes to my body, gulp. Sure, I was raised with manners and I remember to say thank you when someone holds the door for me or or goes out of their way to do something nice, but when it comes to just offering my own body gratitude. Well, let’s just say that is an area that is not my strong point.
It turns out though, that an attitude of gratitude is more than just being polite, it actually helps make you healthier!
The benefits of gratitude include:
1.) Helping to make you feel calmer. Not only will you feel calmer, but studies show your stress hormones such as cortisol can be lowered by up to 23%. Making a list of things you are grateful for before you fall asleep can even help you sleep more deeply! I keep a gratitude journal next to my bed and try to record at least 1 thing I am grateful for each night.
2.) Being grateful can also lower your blood pressure and your heart rate. If you’re really stuck on what body part to be thankful for, how about your heart which works non stop. Beating over 100,000 times a day and circulating 6 quarts of blood 3 times every minute! Or your eyes which help you to see the world.
3.) It makes sense that people who appreciate and feel good about their body want to take care of it. In fact, grateful people spend 36% more time exercising than their non – grateful friends. Think about it, no one wants to take good care of something they loathe!
4.) Gratitude is linked to optimism and optimism is linked to improved immunity. When we feel optimistic, our body creates more white blood cells which help us fight infection. Who knew??
5.) Being grateful will help squeeze out some of the negative emotions we all struggle with from time to time. Feelings of anger, resentment or disappointment can be reduced by replacing these toxic thoughts with feelings of gratitude. Hey, just because your best friend is going on a fabulous vacation doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be grateful that you have a warm bed to sleep in every night, there are many people who don’t even have that.
6.) Want a self esteem boost? Grab your journal and start writing all the things you are grateful for. Maybe it’s your ability to make a mean pumpkin pie or decorate with flair. Maybe you are
the best listener or most empathetic person you know. I’ll bet your kids think you are the bomb. So go ahead, remind yourself how awesome you are.
To help cultivate more body gratitude, there are few things you can do, in addition to starting a gratitude journal. You could try writing a letter to a specific body part. Maybe pick one that you have kind of been mean to lately. You could start by apologizing.
Dear Belly, I know I have been talking trash about you a lot lately. I tend to beat up on you. I’ve said some really mean things and I want you to know I’m sorry. I appreciate the fact that you have provided a nice cushy place to grow a baby. You are always there for me and I wouldn’t be me without you, so thank you.
Begin to notice negative and unhelpful thoughts about your body. If you catch yourself saying, “My legs are disgusting.” Remind yourself that your legs carry you every single day.
As you begin to practice body gratitude, be patient and kind with yourself. For many of us, this is a new skill. Remember that learning a new skill takes time. Offer compassion to yourself. We, as a culture, are conditioned to want to change ourselves, but don’t fall into the trap of being grateful as a way to change your body. Your body may change, or it may not. Either way it doesn’t much matter. What is guaranteed to change is your health, and that is far more beneficial.
Please send me your questions or thoughts on intuitive eating or HAES, or anything that’s on your mind! I want to hear them all!
When you love what you have, you have everything you need. Happy Thanksgiving Ya’ll!
Oh and one more thing… here’s an interesting tip I just learned, apparently, Tuesday is the slowest day on social media. So I will be moving my weekly post to Friday. Ask the dietitian Tuesday, will become Ask the Dietitian Friday after this week. See you then!