“Oh chronically ill body how I love thee. Let me count the ways…” Said no one ever. At least not any spoonie that I know, ESPECIALLY not me. (Shoutout to Toni Braxton btw.)
My chronic illness has done a number on me: mentally, emotionally and physically. The toll it has taken on my body and my love for my body is very high. As part of the Self Love Challenge I wanted to focus on loving the more seemingly unlovable parts of myself: starting with my chronically ill body.
This chronic illness self love journey I’m on is pretty intense. The most difficult part of it is learning to love the unflattering parts of myself – all of myself.
Week 2 of the SLC Workbook focused on appearance. This week was so difficult for me. I realized because my body was the part of me I loved the least.
My body is part of me. (For the record, I tried to return it but they said no.) So I’m forced to learn to love my chronically ill body.
We as a society are probably obsessed with appearance. It’s hard to believe if you looked at me now but up until I was 23/24 I was a stick lol.
I began going to the gym consistently when I was 25. The gym was heaven. Losing weight wasn’t my focus. I just wanted to be fit. I’ve mentioned before I was training for a half marathon when I was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis.
Extreme muscle weakness and heat triggers basically made the gym and working out my enemies. As the pounds began to increase, my body image decreased; my self love decreased.
I’m not what society would deem as “fat” but when I see myself, I see fat. I see rolls and stretch marks. It’s difficult to love a body that constantly flaunts the reminders of it’s betrayal.
Ways to Love a Chronically Ill Body
So here are some of the ways you can show love to your chronically ill body.
1. Ditch everything
Well not everything but everything that makes you feel bad – the scale, clothes that no longer fit, social media accounts that show off fit bodies, people who criticize your appearance. Ditch it all!
We don’t need any additional help criticizing our bodies.
2. Mirror Work
Most of us look in the mirror daily while brushing our teeth, washing our faces or a quick glance before heading out the door. But how often do you stand in the mirror and take yourself in (clothing optional).
Stand in the mirror and tell yourself you’re beautiful. Look in your eyes and compliment yourself: your smile, your curves, your skin. Recite body-positive affirmations. Find 3-5 things you do love about your chronically ill body and focus on those.
3. Move your Body
Exercise may or may not be in the cards for you but if you can move your body, do it: yoga, dancing, swimming, walking etc. There are so many ways to move your body, find one that feels good to you and your body.
4. Think of Your Body as Sacred
Have you ever heard the saying “my body is a temple”. May be a little corny but it’s true.Temples are sacred places. They are to be worshipped and treated with respect.
Your body is the protective shelter for your spirit.
Thank you body every night for everything it has done for you that day. As typical with chronic illness, everyday won’t be the same. So maybe today you were able to walk one block but yesterday you couldn’t get out of bed at all. That’s worthy of gratitude.
Show love to your chronically ill body for supporting you everyday; for doing its best when you sometimes push too far; for hanging in there one more day.
What’s your relationship like with your best friend? I’m my besties personal hype (wo)man. Be that for your body.
“Looking good in them jeans thighs!” “Yasss no flare ups today sis.”
7. Adorn yourself
Refer back to the tip about your body being a temple. Make it look as nice as possible. Dress for your body type and comfort. Don’t wear anything that makes you feel self-conscious.
I keep telling my friends and family I want moo-moos for the summer. They aren’t a fan but they will come around.
8. Eat to Fuel
No one likes diets (at least I don’t).
If you’re someone who struggles with foods (portion control, emotional eating, carb addict etc) then nutrition is probably a kryptonite for you. Think of food as medicine or as the fuel you need to function.
I already said your body is a temple. Are you putting diesel in your luxury vehicle? Nope. Only premium. Fuel yourself for optimal performance.
9. Eat to Treat
In that same vein, I’ve never found super restrictive diets to be beneficial. Treat yourself sometimes to foods that aren’t the most healthy. It’s about balance.
Taking my own advice
As I said, I’m guilty of struggling to love my chronically ill body just like any other spoonie. But I plan to put these tips to work.
I refuse to let chronic illness rob me of my body self love.