Learning to Listen to My Body and Love Myself
By Lisa Stockmeyer
I woke up this morning the same as always, sleepy and comfortable, needing to peel myself out of bed to avoid the regret of hitting snooze on my alarm. I walked into the living room and let the dogs outside, walked back through the kitchen to grab a glass of water, and then to the bathroom. Preparing to get in the shower I looked in the mirror and analyzed my growing belly. I look at how round and hard it feels. My skin is stretched, and I peek around to find any hints of stretch marks that may have grown over night. Although I use oils to avoid those pink stripes that peek out at this time in pregnancy, I still look for them, hoping to see one. Maybe I subconsciously see them as a trophy for carrying my daughter around on my front side for 9 to 10 months. Either way, it doesn’t bother me. It doesn’t bother me that I’m getting larger, that nothing fits, that my boobs are huge and sore and I have no idea what will happen to them after the baby, that I can’t shave my legs as well as before, and all of the other odd happenings to my body.
As a pregnant woman, people either act one of two ways; like I’m broken, or like I’m a superhero. Either way, everyone has their opinion whether they choose to admit it or not. If being judged in this way bothers us as pregnant women, curvy women, fitness woman, or nerdy women, however you may see yourself, then why, highly contrasted, as a woman, do we do this to ourselves? We treat our own bodies as if we are broken. We judge ourselves when we can’t fit into a body type, when we don’t work hard enough, or when we’re not perfect. When we don’t fit a mold, we subconsciously try to fix ourselves. But the truth is, you can’t listen to that societal mold of perfect, you have to listen to your body. What is your body telling you that you need to do for yourself? And how do we listen to our bodies?
A few years ago through a series of less than proud moments of insecurity and self destructive behavior, I had a revolutionary yet simple discovery that I alone, am the greatest friend I will ever have. I don’t mean in an “I avoid other humans way.” But reminding myself that I will be with my husband most of the time, I will see my friends here and there, I will talk to my mom on the phone, but I have been and will be with one person, 100% of everyday for the rest of my life; myself. With that, I knew I needed to love and take care of myself more than anyone else on this earth, and stop and listen to what this body I take everywhere with me is trying to tell me. I am the only one responsible for its safe keeping and care. When I started really listening to my body and what I needed, whoa baby, did my mindset change, and my self- confidence soar with gratitude! Talk about power! It took years to clear my mind of negative emotions and thoughts and make space to listen deeply and intentionally to myself. And here’s how I did it in 8 beautiful ways.
1. I began to ignore gossip of any kind.
Seems obvious, but we all know it’s not easy! I learned to disassociate myself with what was happening around me if it wasn’t productive. I TRY to not talk crudely about others. I TRY to not talk unkindly about myself. And I TRY to never talk unfavorably about my spouse. If we allow ourselves to be taken over by gossip and self destructive conversation of ourselves, we aren’t allowing room to listen to what our own body’s needs are. Consciously clearing gossip and hate from our souls is a good opportunity to ask yourself, how do I want to be treated? Make it clear to others what you need out of a relationship, whether family, friends, or a significant other. Knowing what you want will allow you to have empathy for other people's feelings and make you a better friend and companion.
2. I learned to be intentional about what is becoming one of our main forms of communication, and influence, Facebook.
Delete or “unfollow” all your “friends” on Facebook that aren’t building you up. Harsh, I know. I have “unfollowed” at least 50% of my Facebook friends for this reason. I do not read and respond to posts that will cause me distress. I’m talking about the “grinds your gears” and all it does is piss you off type of posts. We are too damn busy!
3. We tend to take on the personality of the 5 people we hang out with the most, so I told myself if I am spending most of my time with “downers,” or negative people, than I will have a hard time staying positive myself.
I learned to disassociate with those that aided in producing negative outcomes in my life. There is a difference between a friend that needs you during low times, and a friend that is doing everything they can to take you down with them. Give your whole heart generously, but not at the expense of your own wellbeing. You have to know when it’s the right time to let go of negative people because it’s what YOU need, and not feel bad about it.
4. I stopped letting others take advantage of my kindness.
When people take advantage of us, it’s our fault. We allowed them to do that by not speaking up for ourselves, or not being perfectly clear of our intentions and expectations. Tell the world what you want and need. Hints do not work. If you come off too blunt or stern at times, you can always apologize.
5. I started to not let things that scare me, stop me.
I know my body... and the awful symptoms I feel when I’m scared, shaking hands, racing heart, body aches and complete exhaustion, has never killed me, and it sure has never outweighed the amazing benefits I have felt afterwards, of putting myself out there. When I step outside of my comfort zone, I can tell myself that I am now one step closer to my goal, whether the outcome was desired or not. If the experience was horrible- like a disastrous meeting, or an embarrassing speech, I just gave myself the most valuable information to work with to improve upon!
6. My absolute #1. I learned to eat well, workout, relax, and spend time doing what I want to do.
I have lunch by myself at a quiet café if I want to, I treat myself to a snack when I want one, I don’t deprive myself just because I am “healthy.” There is a huge difference between treating yourself to what you want, like a cookie or a bowl of ice cream, and overdoing it. I got in the mindset that I am taking care of this beautiful body and my body does not want to be pumped with sugar and grease every day, and certainly not in the amounts that my brain told me I needed. I learned that by listening to my body I could discern what those cravings were, not just what my taste buds told me. And I could discern what the foods were that my body needed the most to sustain. I do not have a health degree, but I listen to what my body says I need, and I am the master of what keeps me healthy and feeling amazing! Your story may be that you’ve embraced Keto and power walking. Great! Or Weight Watchers and weight lifting works for you! Also great! Gluten free diet has helped you the most? That’s perfect! We are not required to follow anyone else’s plan. I learned to stop “dieting” all together, and just started simply listening to my bodies needs which allowed me to feel amazing. Health is now a LIFESTYLE and not a burden or a plan with an expiration date.
7. And with all of this, remembering, my outward appearance is important to me, and only me.
I still point out and cover up my flaws like everyone else, because I am a human on this judgmental, social media driven, “filter” obsessed planet. However, there was a point where I chose to look at myself in the mirror, and say to myself, “I look perfect.” Yes, people judge, people point out your flaws, that’s life. Get over it! I am the boss of what’s in front of me. I take action over everything that comes up, everything interruption, every irritation, I handle and manage it like a boss.
8. My final action was embodying the idea that confidence is what makes you sexy, not your looks.
Taking the best care of yourself and loving yourself is not one size fits all. It’s about truly listening to your body, your mind, and your soul and figuring out what is best for YOU. How do we know that we’re “too curvy” or “not pretty enough?” From all the people out there pointing out what we shouldn’t look like! Ignore this! Let your confidence and love for your body radiate! Your body does amazing things for you. Thank your body for that. Love yourself ladies! We take time to listen to our best friends issues at work, and our kids day at school, and we spend time remembering to listen and care for our spouse’s needs, and yet we won’t sit down and listen to the most important person in our lives; ourselves.
Lisa Stockmeyer is the owner of Face Kicked Apparel, a family owned business right here in the Great Lakes Bay Region. Lisa established the business with her husband Sean after learning that his professional wrestling career could turn into a lucrative sales opportunity. What started out as making their own t-shirts to sell at wrestling shows, turned into making other wrestler’s t-shirts, which grew to what is now a full-time custom screen printing and vinyl work business, serving individuals and businesses nationwide. Lisa’s passion for marketing, design, and all things creative, makes Face Kicked Apparel the perfect career for her to live her passion of being an artist, working with her husband, and being a mom.