HodgeonRepeat blog - author Jill Hodge's hand with silver rings

The Power of Self-Praise: A Valentine’s Day Love Letter to my body

After five decades of calling my body home, you’d think I’d be more in love with it. You’d think I’d be in awe of its inner workings, its strength and resilience, its beautiful curves and its marvelous ability to bounce back from illness, bangs, bumps and bruises. You’d think I’d be satisfied that it lets me write, lets me eat, lets me exercise, lets me walk, dance and laugh. But, it’s astounding how little love I throw its way.

Not only do I not throw much love its way, instead of praising my body for all that it does, I usually ignore it. Until something goes wrong, and I get sick or hurt. What if I took some time to praise my body for all that it does? What if self-praise for my body was part of my self-talk? Would I walk taller? Be able to accept a compliment from someone else? Not let the scale define my success so much? Appreciate the abundance of health I am so fortunate to have? Tapping into the power of self-praise might be the best Valentine’s Day gift I could give myself, so today, I’m sending myself a love letter (and here’s hoping that you will too).

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Pre-Writing Exercise: Assess Your Body’s Loveableness

As Valentine’s Day approaches, now is a great time to revel in your body’s loveableness. If you’re out of touch with your body, then some self-reflection is in order. What is right with your body right now? Even when you think you’re not doing anything, the sheer act of breathing is showing you how incredible your body is. At least for today, please don’t tell it to lose weight, tone up, glow up, plump up, smooth up, de-sag, perk up or squeeze into clothing.

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Starting at your head and working your way down, I want you to think about each body part and assess its loveableness using this language: What I like most about my [body part] is its [self-praise]. Which body parts are working perfectly, holding you up nicely or hanging tight in a clutch? Sadly, generating a list to reflect your body’s loveableness may take you longer than you think it will. It may be difficult to tap into what you (not anyone else) like about your body. This exercise requires you to think beyond your body’s aesthetics (although that certainly will play a role) and allow yourself to expand your self-image of each body part, thinking holistically about its form and function.

The Act of Self-Praise is Uplifting

I want you to go beyond the body parts you typically focus on—the abs, the butt, the face—and see the totality of your body in all its awesomeness. After so many years of thinking about how to get a flatter stomach, build a fuller butt and achieve a dewy complexion, you may find it difficult to think of your body beyond these popularized notions. But I guarantee that your stomach does way more for you than strive to exist in a flat, horizontal plane. And that butt of yours is still loveable if it doesn’t resemble a perfect Georgia peach.

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If you’re in your 50s like me, certain body parts may be trying to deflate. The butt and boobs aren’t as perky as they used to be. Does that make them any less loveable? What if I accept them without comparing them to my younger days? It turns out that the act of self-praise is quite uplifting! Suddenly I’ve moved from the mindset of less than to an attitude of abundance, which has ripple effects on my self-esteem. I stand taller and prouder, feel empowered to exercise and happily reflect on my good fortune to have such a body.

Body Positivity: the Perfect Valentine’s Day Gift

It turns out that self-praise and cultivating body positivity are powerful exercises and a perfect Valentine’s Day Gift to yourself. All this self-assessment may lead you to realize that each body part has a miraculous story, and self-praise can spread a warm glow all over your spirit in ways that no cosmetic product ever could. I’ve written a love letter to every major part of my body in hopes that it starts a trend. Let’s call them out, speak about them lovingly, and thank them for doing so much to keep us keeping on.

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Perhaps you will draw some inspiration from my love letter. I started at my head and worked down to my toes. At the end of this list, I’ll have 14 ways that I should love myself more.

Dearest Jill:

Have I told you lately how much I love you? Have I made you feel special and recognized all the wonderful things you do for me? Do you know that I couldn’t live without you, and I couldn’t do all the things I want to in a day if you weren’t working perfectly (just as you are)? Thank you for letting me write, exercise, eat, love, talk, laugh, sleep, work, dance, see, and think!

I know some days I’ve made you feel bad—asked you to do more, be more and change. Not today. Today, I accept you as the perfect body that you are. Today, I think about all the things you do for me and vow never to forget them again.

  1. Hair: I love you, curls. You pop this way and that; you spring back into little coils, and you uniquely define my style without me having to utter a word.
  2. Face: I had freckles before they were in style! Thank you, strong, broad nose, for letting people know instantly that I’m not to be trifled with.
  3. Neck: Thank you for letting me take in the world: I look up at the sky to see the wingspan of a hawk flying high above Central Park; I look to my right to see colorful street art on my neighborhood walks; I look to my left and watch the ocean from the boardwalk; I look down to read a book, imagining new worlds and forming new ideas.
  4. Shoulders/traps: Hey, sexy! Thanks for taking me through all my rowing workouts and giving me the strength to stand tall and proud when I enter a room.
  5. Chest: One of the benefits of having breasts is having breasts! I luv you every day and in every way. Enough said!
  6. Back: Thank you, vertebrae, for letting me stretch, twist and turn during dance, yoga, rowing, and strength training. My favorite move you do? The stretch on an overhead pullover!
  7. Arms: Thanks for letting me give bear hugs to my lovies.
  8. Hands: Thanks for helping me write every day and showcasing my silver rings collection (10 in all) to define my style.
  9. Stomach: I love you, innie! Thank you for letting an incredible, beautiful, smart, loving daughter came out of there—what amazing things a stomach can do!
  10. Hips: Maker of sassy women everywhere, curve creator and swoosh-maker. Thank you, hips, for making my walk uniquely mine. The hips don’t lie.
  11. Thighs: You are my favorite body part, inherited from my strong, muscular dad. Thank you, thighs, for helping me push off during a perfect drive on the rower, power through hill walks, and put up with my notions to get on the stepmill machine at the gym (torture, but effective).
  12. Legs: Thank you for helping me jog around the Central Park reservoir so I can look at the water and pretend I’m not in the city. Thanks also for giving me enough rhythm to dance!
  13. Feet: Thank you for the “ah” feeling when I take off my shoes; thank you for sinking into the sand as I enjoy blissful moments on beaches in Hawaii, Greece, Long Island and Bermuda.

Last but not least, thank you, brain (I know you’re an organ and not a body part, but I love it too). With the mind you give me, I can transform in wondrous ways. Thank you for conjuring up ideas, telling me I can do things when I don’t think I can, sending me endorphins when I work out, so I want to do it again, and letting me feel love for the rest of my body.

Happy Valentine’s Day, dearest, beautiful body. You are perfect just as you are. Remember that today, and always.

All My Love,

Jill

**Your turn: show your body a little love on Valentine’s Day (and every day). Start a list today. 💙💚💜 Please share — drop me a comment and let me know how you are loving every body part!

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Sally
7 months ago

Sooooo good!