Body Love: Learning How to Treat Yourself


Written by: Andy Vantrease

If you’re like me, a MindBodyGreen addict and seeker of information on how to live a more vibrant, passion-filled life, you have undoubtedly come across several buzz words and phrases more than once: self-love, self-talk, be kind to your body, listen to your body (wait, eating only when hungry is actually possible?)

It’s tough to discern helpful information from marketing, and oftentimes we find ourselves reading so much into our topics of choice that the number of contradictory tips to reaching our goals can be overwhelming. However, when you find a consistent idea among the hundreds or thousands of different expert opinions out there, it’s worth trying.

For me, this is the idea of developing nonjudgmental, loving relationships with our own bodies.

This is no easy feat, especially if you’re suffering from chronic debilitating health problems. Chances are, you’re not happy with how your body is performing, and if this downward spiral persists, you start to see changes in your body that bring you further and further from the images of men and women you see on TV and in magazines. And, we all know that in order to be happy, we have to push ourselves to look more like them, right?


Our bodies are designed to keep the blood pumping, the heart beating, the limbs moving, the brain buzzing. They are not our enemies, and in fact, our bodies are our closest allies. Every body needs certain things to function – food, water, sleep, movement, stimulation – and every day, your body sends you signals, attempting to communicate these basic needs. It’s when we ignore the signals and feed into consumerism that we find ourselves in trouble. “I’ll be happier when I lose 10 pounds,” or “I will look so much better if I get rid of the bags under my eyes.” That inflammation is your body’s way of protecting itself and simultaneously getting your attention. But, instead of sleeping or eating more fruits and vegetables, the advertised solution is to reach for the latest under-eye cream and fad diet concoction.

One trick to developing body love is to view the relationship you have with your body as just that – a relationship. Talk to yourself as if you were talking to your spouse, best friend, mother, son, whomever you love most in this world. And yes, I really do mean talk to yourself because not only is this not crazy, it’s actually extremely effective. Create space in your day to remind yourself, “I love you, I trust you, I forgive you,” and “I accept you, unconditionally, right now.”

Care for your bodies the way you care for others: feed them, make them feel loved, shower them with positive affirmations, be kind and support them, ask them what they need and listen to their answers. View your body as an entity capable of telling you what it needs then try to deliver. Be in tune with your body’s desires, and you will be amazed at the way it rewards you. Learning how to interpret your body’s language– hunger, thirst, aching muscles, dizziness, shortness of breath, exhaustion – is paramount to your longevity and overall health. Do not push these signals to the side and barrel through on empty.

What would happen to a relationship if your significant other constantly ignored every single thing you tried to tell them, physically and emotionally abused you, starved you, tried to silence you when you spoke up? Does that sound like an ideal relationship?

Loving ourselves the way we are taught to love others is the first step in living a more balanced, healthy life. Look in the mirror. Instead of seeing wrinkles and sun spots, look into your eyes, and find that sparkle that shows when you look at your loved ones. Watch how your nostrils flare and your shoulders rise as you breathe. You’re alive.

No matter what you do to your body, it is there for you, forgiving you for every mistake you’ve ever made, walking beside you and picking up the pieces, turning on the lights every morning and saying, “We can do this again.” This love is unconditional, people. Allow yourself to return the favor. Work together toward the common goal of a longer, healthier life. In sickness and in health, till death do you part.

Perspective at Play


Written by: Andy Vantrease

Every life has ups and downs. Dips that make you feel like you may never be able to dig yourself out and highs so euphoric you don’t want them to end. Then there’s all the in-between. The everyday tasks, interactions, routines, communications.

Many people stumble through this life of in-between moments, treating them as boring, meaningless times that are all strung together from one day to the next. Before they know it, years have gone by and when they catch up with old friends, their only news is “same old, same old.”

It’s easy to get sucked into what many perceive to be the inevitable monotony of adulthood. But, even if you have the same job, are working on the same project and living in the same house, it certainly doesn’t have to mean that nothing exciting is happening. What if we could take the seemingly mundane moments of everyday life and treat them as extraordinary? Or, at the very least, acknowledge that they aren’t dull at all.

Sometimes all it takes is a shift in perspective. When life becomes stale, tap back into your inner child for inspiration and curiosity.

During yoga class last week, the instructor asked that we study our feet as if we were children, discovering them for the very first time. We were asked to describe them without using judgment words like good, bad, better, worse, ugly, pretty – words that we learn later in life from magazines, media and society. We detailed their texture, the shapes of our toes, the veins, the colors, the temperature of our skin. We looked at them simply as a part of us, as functional tools that get us through the day, beginning right when we step out of bed in the morning. They are our roots. We didn’t see injuries, nagging pains, insults or comparisons from the past. We saw the structures that exist to help us run, stand, play, move, jump, dance, live. The same can be said about every inch of our bodies, if only we choose to see these inches in such a light. We entered practice that day with a new perspective on movement, and we left practice that day with a new perspective on life.

Discovering life through the eyes of a child is an unparalleled way to view the world. Everything is new and fascinating and challenging and fun. It’s more about the mindset than what you’re actually learning, as long as you’re always learning. It’s about appreciating all forms of life for the amazing miracles that they are. It’s being able to take a step back from the misguided messages being hurled at us every day, and trust in our bodies, in our capability for greatness, and in the limitlessness of possibilities.

If you love to cook, dive into learning about where your food comes from or the health benefits of the spices in your cabinet. If you love to read, pick up a new book or an old favorite that may deliver a whole new meaning to your current situation and connect dots that didn’t exist the last time you read it. A change in perspective doesn’t have to mean a profound physical change at all. It’s an opening of the mind and a look through a different lens.

So go on, embrace your inner child, and watch the positive changes take hold.