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Natural Awakenings Austin

Building Love for Your Body

by Shannon Dolan

Summer is right around the corner. In Austin, this means locals are trading their winter gear for shorts, sleeveless tops, and bathing suits. Indoor activities are quickly replaced by fun in the sun revolving around a pool, Barton Springs, or the lake.

It can be a joyous time of the year, or one that is heavily anticipated with worry and concern. The difference between the two may be determined by the way one feels about their body.

A study reported in The Adrenal and Thyroid Revolution by Dr. Aviva Romm demonstrated that 97 percent of women reported dissatisfaction with their body. That is an alarming percentage that shows the tremendously negative view concerning body image.

Imagine what it would be like if we weren’t critical of our body’s shape. Chances are there would be a greater sense of freedom when the summer pool parties make their way on the social calendar.

Your body is your only home throughout your life. You can spend the time despising this home and continuously trying to make it look like someone else with quick fixes, food deprivation, and over-exercising. Or, you can learn to embrace your body and express gratitude for its daily functions while achieving genuine self-love.

Practicing gratitude is a simple form of reflection that builds appreciation and comfort. This practice can be centered around anything in your life. When it is done specifically with your body, it can include thoughts of appreciation for what your body does for you, the strength it has—even the ability it has to create life.

Here is a simple practice of gratitude for your body: Upon awakening, think of five things you can thank your body for before your day starts. In the evening, think of five things your body did for you that helped in some way.

Practicing gratitude takes little time, but the benefits can be immense when shifting your perspective in this powerful way. Showing actions of gratitude can further enhance this practice. These actions allow your body to feel safe, in turn helping systems to function optimally.

Safety looks like nourishing the body with foods that it needs, rather than depriving it and leaving it hungry. Safety and love looks like consistent stress management, positive self-talk, and limiting the comparison game. Providing safety, gratitude, and love for your body comes from authentic happiness and ease with your innermost self.

You can still strive to be stronger, faster and healthier. The biggest difference between working from a place of positivity and working from a place of negativity is how you focus on your goals.

Signs that you are operating from a place of negativity: Negative self-talk and being your own worst critic; comparing yourself to others; wishing your body looked like someone else’s; ritually checking your weight; being obsessed with food and engaging in unhealthy food behaviors; and working out because you feel guilty over something you ate.

Signs you are operating from a place of love: Eating to nourish your body; working out because it’s good for your body and you like the feeling; setting goals to feel healthy; being happy with who you are; giving your body what it needs; and learning about what your body needs.

Implementing positive practices and actions daily can shift your mindset and not only affect how you view yourself, but also impact the way you view other people. Life is too short to sweat on the sidelines when you could embrace your body and cool off in the water.

Shannon Dolan is a functional nutritional therapy practitioner and personal trainer who helps women balance their hormones, beat digestive discomfort, and gain energy utilizing nutrition, movement and mindset. For more information, visit  


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