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Ashley Solomon, Psy.D is a psychologist who specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, body image, trauma, and serious mental illness.

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The belly battle

November 22, 2010 40 Comments by Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul

Have you ever noticed all the flak that our poor bellies get?

“Banish belly fat now!”

“Kill that belly in three easy steps!”

“Hate your belly? We’ve got answers.”

Imagine for a moment, just sixty seconds, that your belly is a trusted friend. Close your eyes and see your belly as one of your closest confidants sitting before you, drinking green tea and catching up on the craziness of your work schedule and how worried you are about getting all of your holiday shopping done. Now, reread the headlines above, all found on websites today, and imagine yourself thinking taking that stance toward your dear friend. You want to banish her, kill her… you hate her?!

Sure, your belly can’t pick you up from the airport or babysit your toddler, but our bellies have certainly been there through some of the roughest and most trying times of our lives. Like a good friend, our bellies send us both subtle and not-so-subtle cues that something is not quite right. They alert us when there’s danger nearby and when it’s time to make a change in our career. They tell us when we’re not being true to ourselves.

Our bellies likewise signal satisfaction and satiety. They bear witness to our excitement when we take a much-needed risk. They are home to the magical tingles we feel when falling in love. For women, they are often considered the seat of our intuition, the castle of the “gut-instincts” that make us so unique and powerful. They carry our most sacred treasures – our children – and protect them with loving warmth and nourishment during a crucial time in their development.

Building a healthy sense of self begins with developing a love affair with your belly. Yes, I said love affair.

Many of us think that our belly’s level of submission will be in direct relation to our disdain for it. If you hate it enough, you’ll be able to get rid of it, right? Well, that doesn’t work with acne, grey hair, or bad boyfriends, and it won’t work with your belly.

So here’s a radical idea… Instead of treating our bellies like last week’s garbage, how about we start revering them for the incredible forces of nature that they are?

Start by taking your belly out on a date. Ask it what it’s “feeling” for lunch. Feed it what it most desires. Lavish it with complements. (“Oh, Belly… you just know me so well!”) Don’t hide it in a booth or under layers of linen. Show it off proudly. Relish it.

We can only start to love ourselves when we start to change our relationships with our bodies and minds. Ditch the battle. Love affairs are so much more fun.

NTS-Medium

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39 Comments

  1. kate @ thighsandofferings
    4 years ago

    love, love, love this. it’s reminds me of how anne lamott calls her thighs her “aunties,” in order for her to love, trust, and appreciate them more. one way i do this is by putting on lotion after my shower. i say a little thank you to all of my most (ahem) loved body parts.

    thank you for the reminder!

    Reply

  2. Michele @ Healthy Cultivations
    4 years ago

    Oh my! This is really deep. The first paragraph nearly moved me to tears, and by the end, I find myself wanting to think about this more. In fact, I’m certain this post will linger in my mind for a long time to come.

    Reply

  3. Megan
    4 years ago

    Awesome post, Ashley! As soon as I began visualizing my belly as a supportive friend sitting with me while I sip my coffee and prepare myself for the day ahead, I got really warm feeling of affection for my mid-section. All of a sudden, striving for six-pack abs seems so trivial.
    Megan recently posted..Being my own teacher

    Reply

  4. Marsha @ Green Mountain at Fox Run
    4 years ago

    Love it, Ashley! Such a great post for this week, too, as we look forward to a day that definitely impacts our bellies. It’s up to us whether it’s a good impact or a not-so-good one.

    Reply

  5. Ryan @NoMoreBacon
    4 years ago

    I actually lived this a lot. It probably hit a little closer to home with me than most guys because of all the abdominal surgeries that I’ve had. It has truly been a trusted friend to me.

    Thanks for the reminder!
    Ryan @NoMoreBacon recently posted..In Search Of The Meaning Of Bacon

    Reply

    • Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul
      4 years ago

      Thanks for commenting, Ryan. Yes, while I think there’s a lot more focus on women with regard to bellies, men certainly deal with the barrage of attacks too. There’s so much pressure on six or more pack abs, etc. It’s interesting to think of how this might ring even more true for those who have gone through “battles’ WITH their bellies, as you did, rather than against them.

      Reply

  6. Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun
    4 years ago

    I think I finally started embracing my belly a lot more once I got pregnant with M and it just becomes reinforced this pregnancy. I still have my weak times where I question it and wish it looked different. I should always respect it though – for the children it has brought me, the nourishment it helps me get from food, and still working well for me even after years of abuse in disordered eating. What a wonderful post, Ashley. :)
    Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun recently posted..back to life with good surprises

    Reply

  7. Katie @ Health for the Whole Self
    4 years ago

    Really great post, Ashley! It takes the “love your body” message to the next level. And really, this is a message I’ve been needing to hear!
    Katie @ Health for the Whole Self recently posted..Lessons in Being Supportive- An Interview with My Husband

    Reply

  8. KCLAnderson (Karen)
    4 years ago

    I have held this belief for quite a while now…you expressed it so perfectly! The whole war analogy has become so rampant and it disturbs me! If I’ve said it once, I’ve said a million times, you can’t hate yourself to health! And think about this: our bellies are the repository of stress and they respond in kind. Hating it (or really any part of ourselves) sets up a stress response that increases cortisol, which in turn makes more belly fat!
    KCLAnderson (Karen) recently posted..Wanna See Me Dance

    Reply

  9. Kendra (Voice in Recovery)
    4 years ago

    I wrote a Love my belly blog a while back as well. :) absolutely goes along with how I think we need to embrace our entire body, and stop letting the media or our own voice pick our body apart to pieces.
    Kendra (Voice in Recovery) recently posted..The Stripped Project- Part III

    Reply

    • Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul
      4 years ago

      I’ll have to go search for that blog post!

      Reply

  10. Jeana
    4 years ago

    What a thought provoking post. After a 75 pound weight loss, my belly is the last part of me to be where I want it to be, shape wise. I bemoan the fact twice a week when I’m with my trainer, who reminds me that we’ve only been at this for eight months and to give it more time. I’m also 62, so maybe my body has lost too much elasticity to flatten like I want it to. I refuse to have anything done surgically because I do want this to all be on my own, so I guess I’m where I am. I like your thinking better than my thinking, so I think I’ll change my thinking. Thanks.

    Reply

    • Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul
      4 years ago

      I think that it’s really common for individuals who lose weight to continue being frustrated about their bellies. The irony of this is that stress increases cortisol which promotes fat in the belly. So it’s a vicious cycle! Thanks for sharing your struggle with this here.

      Reply

  11. Jackie (Peaces of Earth)
    4 years ago

    This is wonderful!! I wish everybody could read this. I personally strive for this everyday, but what a great reminder!

    Reply

    • Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul
      4 years ago

      Thanks!

      Reply

  12. Margarita @ Weightless
    4 years ago

    Ashley, I love this post! It’s funny because I used to always focus on my stomach. When I was at a different place with my body image, I was so focused on having a smaller stomach. I wanted to have a flat belly, and it was very upsetting to me that this just wasn’t my natural body shape. Now I can appreciate my stomach, and you’ve helped me do that too! :)

    Reply

    • Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul
      4 years ago

      That’s a great point that all our body shapes are different. Not only could striving for a certain stomach be making us miserable, but it could be downright impossible!

      Reply

  13. Kate @ Walking in the Rain
    4 years ago

    I have not been kind to my belly. In fact, sometimes, I’m still unkind to my belly. Perhaps my belly and I need to sit down and have a chat over tea.

    Reply

    • Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul
      4 years ago

      Yes!

      Reply

  14. Andrea Owen
    4 years ago

    Ashley- I love this! My belly has always been the hardest part for me to love. No matter how sick I was, no matter how thin I was, I always carried fat there. For YEARS it was the first place my eyes fell when I’d see pictures of myself. FInally, I made peace with the fact that I would never have a flat stomach. Period. And life went on. The earth still spins and I learned to love it.
    Andrea Owen recently posted..Stay tuned…

    Reply

    • Andrea
      4 years ago

      I absolutely love this post. I have used my belly as a reason to hate myself on too many occasions I care to count. I have seen it go from flat and thin, to stretched to the max during my four pregnancies, to bulging and full of stretch marks. I have filled it with so much food that it ached from the abuse, to leaving it so empty and starving, which left it feeling desperate and mistrustful. And through this all I have hated it. At some level I felt it betrayed me, because it never looked how I wanted it to look. But in reality I betrayed it and I hope that it can trust me again.

      Reply

      • Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul
        4 years ago

        What you shared here is really powerful, and I think many of us can connect to that feeling of being betrayed because our bellies (or whatever aspect of ourselves) hasn’t conformed to what we were striving for. I love how you reframed that thought and considered how you may have betrayed it. But now we all have an opportunity to build that trust again with our bodies. Thanks for sharing!
        Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul recently posted..Going Gray- Not a Black and White Matter Guest Post

        Reply

  15. Dana Udall-Weiner
    4 years ago

    Such a great reminder to love our bellies not just because they are part of our physical bodies, but because they can provide us with wisdom and guidance. What an inspiring idea! Love your writing, too.
    Dana Udall-Weiner recently posted..Who Me I’m Couldn’t Be Homophobic- I Live in a Blue State!

    Reply

    • Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul
      4 years ago

      Thanks, Dana!

      Reply

  16. Harriet
    4 years ago

    Aww this is really nice! I think every woman hates her belly in some way, this is a really nice way of thinking about it!
    Harriet recently posted..Debt Advice

    Reply

    • Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul
      4 years ago

      I have to hope that not EVERY woman hates her belly, though I can imagine the majority do struggle with this. I myself have learned to have a more positive relationship with my belly, though it has been a process. Thanks for the comment!

      Reply

  17. Missy Miller
    4 years ago

    I LOVE this … Geneen Roth talks alot about belly meditations and though it can be frightening at first, it is so worth it.
    I actually am having tummy issues right now..http://missymiller.wordpress.com/2010/11/22/bought-to-you-by-the-letter-f/
    and I needed to read this.

    ~Missy
    Missy Miller recently posted..Bought to you by the Letter “F”

    Reply

  18. Emergefit
    4 years ago

    Such good intentions and a great perspective from the other side of the glass. So true. Deep down, Some times I have more of a belly than other times. When it is there, I actually kinda like it. The issues begin when I start thinking of how others won’t like it. I know you already know tis, but that wall may never come down for most — myself included. Still, we try.

    Reply

  19. Elizabeth Jarrard
    4 years ago

    Fantastic post! I’m not going to lie, i’ve always had a huge battle with my belly. I don’t think it has ever been completely flat, no matter my age or weight. I’m learning to love it’s curves, and appreciate it’s strengths. Thank you for another thoughtful post!

    Reply

  20. Sarah
    3 years ago

    I am just starting to give my belly some good love…thanks for posting this!!
    Sarah recently posted..A Letter to my Body

    Reply

  21. Nadia
    2 years ago

    This is such a great post. I’d never thought of my belly that way. And it’s true… it cared for and protected my most precious love, and moments.

    Reply

  22. WWW.Googleearthing.Com
    2 months ago

    I’m pleased I stumbled upon this page, really thoughtful to have had the chance to read this, I’m interested in considering what others share on the topic.

    Reply

One Trackback

  1. By Thank you, ladies « Ascension Blog on December 23, 2010 at 11:01 am

    [...] such moment (they make it all worth it, don’t they?)  came about courtesy of the post, The Belly Battle by Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul; I’ve since developed a tremendous respect for my [...]

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