by Hannah May Marshall
I am not sure when it started. At some point I took on the opinion that my body was not to be trusted. That it was out of control. I believed it needed to be brought back into line with diets, workouts and willpower.
I would swear to myself that I would not overeat again. That last time was the last time. My supposedly deceptive body would signal it was hungry—I took this as a betrayal. Then in an attempt to soothe my empty stomach—and little did I know, an emptiness in my soul—I would eat a little. Then a little more. And then a whole lot more. A new ‘last time’.
I saw this as proof that my body was not be trusted. More evidence that the pacts I made each morning would be broken by my faulty body. I wanted to trust by body but worried if that was even possible. I wanted my body to show me it was worthy of being heard and believed.
Considering how trust works in other relationships, I knew that trust was a two way street. My husband believing that I was trustworthy helped me to feel trust towards him. It was the reciprocation that made it work.
Then in a flash of insight I wondered—are there reasons for my body not to trust me?
The answer from the depths of being came softly—yes.
I had starved and stuffed my body. I ignored its calls to start eating and squashed down its signals to stop. I denied my body the foods it needed. I made my body run on treadmills when it craved rest. I curled up on the couch when it longed to be stretched. I listened to everyone else and what worked for their bodies—I never listened to own.
I was expecting my body to prove itself trustworthy when it was me that had been suspicious and unpredictable all along. I started asking myself—what can I do to help my body trust me?
Instead of keeping a mental checklist of all the ways my body was supposedly wrong, I worked to find ways I could show my body that I could be trusted. I looked for opportunities to listen to what my body was trying to tell me. I respond to its needs in the best way I could, as often as I could.
When something seemed off—a sugar craving, a loss of appetite, a headache—I would practice noticing these signals without judgment. I would see these messages from my body as information. Information that was neither good or bad but merely neutral and interesting.
I would then aim to take a gentle and caring course of action. Instead of accusing my body’s signs of dishonesty, I would seek out the underlying reasons for why my body would respond in such a way. I looked to my body first for guidance before utilising knowledge from the content saturated world of health and wellness. I worked to combine what I knew intellectually with what I noticed somatically. I learnt to work with my body—not against it.
Learning to trust my body not only enabled me to become the peaceful, intuitive eater I longed to be, it positively impacted all areas of my life—from having faith that my body could safely birth a child to using my gut feelings as a compass in building a heart centred business.
I no longer demand that this precious body of mine prove it’s worth and rightness. I now seek to ask what I can do for my body—to help it feel well, to feel loved, to feel trusted.
Hannah May Marshall is an intuitive eating coach who guides women to develop a peaceful, enjoyable, health-full relationship to food and their bodies. She believes that wellness and freedom is focusing on what brings you pleasure and discovering what makes your body feel radiant. Hannah lives in New Zealand with her husband and 6 wonderful girls—one baby, one dog and four hens. Connect with Hannah on her website, HannahMayMarshall.com, and on Facebook.