"My mission is to empower people of all ages, races, and body sizes to embrace the body they have been given and learn to love themselves so they can live their dreams."
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"Working with Sarah Maria has helped me to see that I am inherently loveable, beautiful, and valuable, no matter what. She has given me tools and techniques to break free from self-hatred and put love in its place. I am incredibly grateful for her and her incredible program. I recommend this book for anyone who wants to love her body and lover her life."

-Gabrielle Forleo, age twenty-six

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"Sarah Maria's teachings are an amazing gift. It's an outstanding program that has changed my life! I highly recommend Sarah Maria's program to anyone who wants to experience living their most successful, beautiful life."

-Mary Schmidt, age forty-five

 

"Sarah Maria has shared many tools with me. But much more important to me, and what has been most meaningful, has been her quality of compassion. It is a gift and is like a gentle, deep awakening. Sarah Maria is a remarkable individual who works with the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual person. I cannot thank her in a way that seems adequate"

-Leigh Ann Jones, age fifty-four

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Articles: Body Areas we Hate: How to Love Them

Body Areas we Hate about Ourselves: How to Love Them

By Sarah Maria

Do you love your body? No really, do you?

If you're a woman, chances are you don't.  Studies show that 80-90% of adult women dislike their bodies.  In fact, many of them truly hate their own bodies.  Women as young as five years old and as old as ninety-five, of varying ethnicities, shapes and sizes, and disparate socio-economic groups, share at least one thing in common: they dislike their bodies.

15% of women say they would sacrifice more than five years of their lives, and 24% of women say they would give up more than three years of their life.  Approximately 50% of women said that they smoked to control their body weight. [i]

81% of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat, 78% of 18-year-old girls are unhappy with their bodies, and the number one wish of girls 11-17 years old is to lose weight.  51% of 9 and 10 year-old girls feel better about themselves when dieting, and 9% of 9-year-olds have vomited to lose weight. [ii]

Eating disorders are the third most common chronic illness in adolescent girls, and have the highest death rate of any mental illness. [iii] Research suggests that approximately 1% of female adolescents have anorexia, while 4% of college-age women have bulimia.  50% of people who have been anorexic develop bulimia or bulimic patterns. [iv]

Disordered eating often begins as a simple diet.  More than half of teenage girls are, or think they should be, on a diet.  91% of women surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting.  Unfortunately, studies show unequivocally that most diets don't work.  95% of dieters will regain their lost weight in 1-5 years. [v]

35% of "normal dieters" progress to pathological dieting.  Of these, 20-25% progress to partial of full-syndrome eating disorders. [vi]

Intense body dissatisfaction and disordered eating have been steadily increasing over time, with anorexia increasing each decade since 1930, and the incidence of bulimia tripling between 1988 and 1993.

This body dissatisfaction is often aimed at a particular body part.  A 1997 study in Psychology Today shows that "there's more discontent with the shape of our bodies than ever before...the negative focus remains on our visible attributes, the ones that display fat..."The article states that "Looking at your stomach in the mirror is an extreme downer for 44 percent of women..."  Most body dissatisfaction focuses on the hips, thighs, and stomach, with most women feeling there is too much fat and flab.

Fortunately, you can change the way you feel about your body, without changing your weight or your clothing size.  You can begin to take steps now to learn how to love your body, including all of its parts.  It takes effort to re-program our thoughts and attitudes about ourselves, but with a little practice you can begin to love your body and unleash the energy and power that can be trapped by Negative Body Obsession.

Tips for Learning to Love Your Body

  • Cultivate gratitude: Every day, come up with a list of 5 things that you are grateful for about yourself.  Gratitude is a potent force that can transform your negative outlook into a positive one.  Make at least one of these things physical.  When you wake up in the morning, again at lunch, and before going to bed, silently remind yourself of what you are grateful for in yourself and your life. 
  • Focus on what you like about yourself.  Many great spiritual traditions teach us that what we put our attention on grows.  Pick things about yourself that you value and appreciate physically, mentally, and emotionally.  As you go throughout your day, focus on these things.  Become aware of the many great things your do throughout the day and become proud of yourself.
  • Be conscious about your thoughts: when you catch yourself thinking a negative body thought, choose not to listen to it.  Gently shift your attention to those things that you like about yourself.  Re-populate your thinking!
  • Find the beauty in everyone you see.  Most of us have learned to see our bodies and everyone else's through a lens of judgment.  Whenever we meet someone we size them up and compare ourselves to them: "She is fat; he is thin; he must not exercise; her butt looks large; Oh ? I wish I had her abs..."  Practice viewing without this judgment.  Whenever you meet someone, focus on finding the beauty in them, no matter their shape, size, age, or ethnicity.
  • Learn to meditate: meditation will help you break free from habitual thought patterns and programmed responses.  Meditation will help you connect with your essence and help you discover the beauty in the mere process of creation.
  • Engage what I call the Mirror Exercise. Every evening before going to bed, stand in front of the mirror with your clothes off.  Begin by looking yourself in the eye and saying, "I love and accept myself just as I am.  I am grateful for who I am."  Then begin to slowly work your way down your body, expressing love, gratitude, and appreciation for each part of your body.  This can be very challenging if you have spent years hating your body or being dissatisfied by your appearance.  If you practice this exercise regularly, however, you will begin to see your body through eyes of love and compassion, instead of with eyes of frustration and resentment.

[i] Psychology Today, 1997

[ii] Body Wars: Making Peace with Women's Bodies, Margo Maine, PhD, Gurze Books, 2000

[iii] Adolescent Medicine Committee, Canadian Pediatric Society. Eating Disorders in adolescents: principles of diagnosis and treatment. Pediatrics and Child Health 1998; 3(3) 189-92. Reaffirmed January 2001.

[iv] Anred: Eating Disorders Statistics: http://www.anred.com/stats.html

[v] Grodstein, F., Levine, R., Spencer, T. Colditz, G.A., Stampfer, M.J. (1996). Three-year follow-up of participants in a commercial weight-loss program: can you keep it off? Archives of Internal Medicine. 156 (12), 1302.

[vi] Shisslak, C.M., Crago, M., & Estes, L.S., (1995). The spectrum of eating disturbances.  International Journal of Eating Disorders, 18 (3), 209-219.

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