11 min read ⌚
Transform Your Health from the Inside Out—and Never Say Diet Again
Tired of dieting and strict exercising routines?
What if we told you that you don’t need them—and that you’d still live a happier, healthier life?
As Rebecca Scritchfield says, what you really need is quite simple:
Who Should Read “Body Kindness”? And Why?
If you want to live a happier, healthier life, but you are tired of ads and magazines that promote unattainable body images, Body Kindness is the book for you.
Primarily intended for women, it can be read by men as well, mainly because it repeatedly insists on finding ways to inspire the readers to make their own programs.
Coaches and nutritionists should find something interesting here as well.
About Rebecca Scritchfield
Rebecca Scritchfield is a certified health and fitness specialist, registered dietitian nutritionist, and a renowned well-being coach.
She has regularly appeared on TV (NBC Nightly News, CNN, the Today show) and has written/been interviewed for newspapers (Washington Post, O Magazine, Health, Shape), but Body Kindness is her first book.
You can find out more about it at https://www.bodykindnessbook.com/.
“Body Kindness PDF Summary”
Diets, exercising, supplements… They are, undeniably, all good for your looks, physical health, and your overall fitness if you want to get thinner, leaner, and stronger, but how good are they for your mental health?
Rebecca Scritchfield thinks that, in the case of too many people, when all is taken into account, they do more harm than good, simply because, just like everything else in this world, our bodies crave for kindness.
And that word is the key one in the question that opens Scritchfield’s most celebrated book and underlies her whole philosophy: “what would you do if you treated your body with kindness?”
Pause for a moment here and try to answer this question in a thought-out and honest manner.
Now, you can proceed.
The Philosophy of Body Kindness
As you might have guessed, Scritchfield frequently poses the question above to her clients, colleagues, friends, family, and anyone else willing to ponder it.
And according to her, in the span of many years, nobody has ever said that “doing punishing workout to alleviate cheesecake guilt is a good example of proper self-care.”
We guess nobody says that eating a bag of nacho cheese Doritos every night can be classified as body kindness as well.
Which brings us to one very important conclusion: “everyone has a gut instinct for how to be kind to their body.” The reason is quite simple: our bodies are practically hard-wired to notice when things are not going as planned.
You can lie to yourself as much as you want to, but the truth is you know full well when you’re unkind to your body. And the body, we don’t need to remind you, never forgets.
Unfortunately, what people often forget is that being healthy is not the same as being fit. It can be, but not necessarily. You can have cellulite and thick thighs and be healthy nevertheless.
Also, being physically healthy is only a part of the equation. If diets make you anxious and angry, then you’re only caring for half of your health. Emotional health is a very important part of the “being well” equation.
Why do we ignore it so much?
Well, this is the essence of the philosophy of body kindness: dieting and exercising are not ways to achieve the perfect body, but tools that should help you feel good about yourself:
Body kindness is not a set of rules; it’s a self-care mindset grounded in the simple belief that health begins by being good to yourself. Through body kindness, you will develop an internal compass for decision-making based on what’s actually helpful (as opposed to ‘good’ or ‘bad’), what you care about most, and the kind of life you want for yourself. The universal body kindness question asks: ‘Is this helping to create a better life for myself?’
The Three Pillars and the Three Objectives of Body Kindness
Many women are slaves to the “joyless myth” that unless they like what they see in the mirror, they can never be happy.
Consequently, the only reason why they work out or diet is precisely that: to obtain a body like those magazine models everyone talks about—even if (and this is the scary part) they have quite healthy and happy lives with the bodies they have before.
The three pillars of the body kindness movement aim to change this. All of them are verbs meant to serve as guideposts on one’s journey to better health and happiness:
#1. Love. “Health grows from love,” writes Scritchfield. The very reason why you know you’re not doing a good thing munching ice-cream in bed is because you know, under the surface, that you are built and willing to love yourself. Cherish and develop this love.
#2. Connect. When you notice a friend torturing herself through dieting and exercising, your instinct is to tell her that she needs to stop doing that to herself. Well, start connecting to yourself like you are to your friends, and allow your body to guide your choices.
#3. Care. You express love and connection through caring. Show your body that you care. Act in a way that’s quietly saying: “We’re in this together. I’m your friend, not your enemy.”
Dedicated to shattering the mirror-myth mentioned at the beginning of this section, the Body kindness program (let’s call it that way, even though it’s not that strict) sets before itself three objectives:
#1. Freedom. “You are free to make your own choices instead of following meaningless rules,” writes Scritchfield. “You can stop overthinking and use your energy for interests other than preconceived notions of health and appearance.”
#2. Peace. If the organs inside your body start warring between themselves, you wouldn’t be able to function properly, to say the least. Then why are you waging war against them, against your body, against yourself? End it. Start living more authentically.
#3. Confidence. People who are insecure follow trends. People who are confident make up their own rules. Being kind to your body will empower you to set yourself profound and meaningful goals, because, after all, you are in charge of your life.
Food Rules Suck: Eating with Body Kindness
Now that we’ve gone over the theory, let’s see how body kindness works in practice. Unsurprisingly, diets are the best place to start: it’s a billion-dollar industry, and it affects just about every woman you know (and don’t know).
But here’s the catch: since it doesn’t take mental and emotional health in the equation, dieting, by definition, is based on a paradox.
And (as you know from 80% of the people who’ve tried it) it rarely works.
It’s true that some nourishments are healthier than others and that some don’t even deserve to be called that way because they are nothing more than junk food.
The problem is that trying to avoid the ones that are unhealthy for you usually results in so much anxiety and repressed emotions that, by trying to fix your physical health, you’re ruining your mental and emotional health.
And it’s not only that the ones who are anxious are unhappy; it’s also that the unhappy cannot keep up long with a routine.
So, to sum up: by being overly controlling of what you eat and what you don’t you do get better physically in the short run; but you also get anxious and unhappy, which, in the long run, backfires even in the physical department.
Yup, we’re talking about the day when, after two months of avoiding cupcakes, you ate a whole box of them!
There’s a simple way out: balance things out.
Stop following strict rules and allow yourself moderate indulgence once a day. Don’t just give up bread altogether: start eating bread more rarely.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint. You’re in it for the long run.
Fitness for Your Life: Choose What Works for You
There are thousands of exercising regimes you can find online or in any of the thousands of magazines dedicated to fitness and health. The problem is, most of them don’t work. Or, to be more precise, most of them won’t work for you.
Now, don’t get us wrong: exercising is very good for you and your health. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to express kindness to your body.
Whether you’re fighting depression or diabetes, or you simply want to reduce the risk of severe diseases such as cancer or heart disease, exercising does wonders.
The problem is very few people actually exercise.
The stats say that the average American moves about for no more than 20 minutes a day and that a third of Americans exercises once a week the most.
The reason why this is so despite the benefits of regular exercise is that it is difficult to find the motivation to work out in a world where every second counts. Especially since the real benefits of exercising can only become evident in the long run.
So, Rebecca Scritchfield advises you to do four things.
First of all, you’ll need to throw away all those fitness magazines and stop comparing yourself to Victoria’s Secret models. Chances are you’ll never live up to these images, and unachievable goals demotivate.
Secondly, you need to find the right motivation. Maybe this one will do: exercising a little every day may not chisel you into a Kardashian or a Beyoncé, but it will undoubtedly help you feel better and live longer.
Thirdly, you need to find a friend or a coach. We sometimes need external motivation and friends and coaches are just that (remember: connect). You don’t need a coach to get great (which you can, by the way): you need it to get a routine.
Finally, just like with dieting, you need to find a program that works for you. Don’t do things you can do only for a day. Do things you’re ready to do for life. Because, after all, it is for your life.
Sleep: The Secret Superpower for Spiraling Up
Arianna Huffington practically stopped doing everything she was doing a few years ago to warn the world that it needs a little rest, and to start something she deemed a sleep revolution.
She was on track: the majority of people, unfortunately, do not get enough sleep on a daily basis. The effects are frightening—especially in the long run.
Science is still unsure as to why we sleep (let alone dream), but it has the general idea. If nothing more, it is quite sure that it has something to do with memory and learning, because studies have repeatedly shown that people deprived of enough sleep memorize (and know) less than people who get a good eight-hour sleep.
It could be that sleep works as a sort of a “save and declutter” button on our bodies. Just think how much easier it is to live in your apartment when your dishes are done, when your clothes are in the wardroom, and when everything else is in its place.
Well, in a way, sleep is your body’s Marie Kondo: it sparks joy.
Now, there are different types of people, and some (not more than 5% though) can function perfectly even after a 6-hour sleep. Most of us, however, are genetically predisposed to sleep about 8 hours or four 2-hour sleep cycles.
To achieve this, you need to do a few things.
First of all, turn your bedroom into a “sleeping sanctuary.” That means no TV, no laptops, and no smartphones. It may be difficult at first, but you’ll get used to it. Do it long enough, and sometime in the future, you’ll thank Scritchfield for suggesting this.
Secondly, make sure that your bed is clean, comfortable, and always ready to take you in. That means: make your bed, wash your sheets regularly, and invest in a good mattress.
Finally, make your own sleep routine. Go to bed at a certain hour of the night (about one hour after using an electronic device for the last time), and learn to wake up eight hours after that. Your body wants that and, as proof, after some time, you won’t need an alarm to wake up.
And you’ll wake up refreshed and ready to conquer the world—on a daily basis.
That’s how our body rewards for being kind to it.
Key Lessons from “Body Kindness”
1. The Philosophy of Body Kindness
2. The Three Pillars and the Three Objectives of Body Kindness
3. The Four Principles of Body Kindness
The Philosophy of Body Kindness
According to Rebecca Scritchfield (masochists aside, we suppose?), each of us has an instinctive urge to be kind to his/her body. That is why we can’t bear dieting or exercise following strict regimes. They may help us physically, but they ruin us mentally and emotionally, and that is even unhealthier.
That is the essence of the “body kindness” philosophy: be kind to your body if you want your body to be kind to you.
The Three Pillars and the Three Objectives of Body Kindness
The philosophy of body kindness is founded on three actionable pillars.
First of all, you need to nurture the innate love you have for your body. Secondly, you need to connect to it as if it is your best friend. Finally, you need to care for it just like you would for your best friend whom you love so much.
Do this long enough, and you’ll achieve the three objectives of the “body kindness” program.
First of all, you’ll be free from the burden of “the image in the mirror.” This will allow you to be peaceful and happier. Finally, it will contribute to you being a much more confident person, and that is the final step toward breaking the “follow this/follow that rule” cycle.
The Four Principles of Body Kindness
The full body kindness program is based on four principles:
• What you do: what you eat, how you exercise, how much you sleep;
• How you feel: befriending your emotions and shushing down the voice in your head;
• Who you are: what are your goals and your personal values and how do they align; and
• Where you belong: how you can find your tribe, the people around whom you can be your best.
Five Things You Can Do to Spread Body Kindness to the World
This is the final lesson the author shares in the book, so we decided to make it our final lesson as well:
#1. Talk about more profound things than your or someone else’s appearance. When you have the chance, try inspiring your friends and your family to make positive choices.
#2. “Care about yourself enough to not care that much.” In other words—to hell with other people’s judgments. Love, connect and care.
#3. Be brave. Share your “body kindness” story with the ones you love.
#4. Vote with your dollar, i.e., support the communities and business that make room for the majority of people in their definitions of health and beauty.
#5. Build a strong tribe.
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“Body Kindness Quotes”Ask yourself the universal body kindness question: ‘Is this helping to create a better life for myself?’ Click To Tweet Build a strong tribe and share your kindness, gratitude, and passion for life with as many people as possible. Click To Tweet Each positive choice you make is a little investment in your health and happiness. When you use the power of choice, you can change how you feel in order to influence the next decision you make. Click To Tweet Two mind-blowing happiness facts: You have much more control over your happiness than you think, and the things you think will make you happier probably won’t. Click To Tweet No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. (Via Aesop) Click To Tweet
Our Critical Review
In a world populated by millions of books and magazines whose training routines and dietary regimes are borderline torture, Body Kindness feels like a fresh breath of air.
The Huffington Post dubs the book “a must-read,” and New York Times Book Review gives two great reasons why: “simple and true.”
“In this common-sense, warm, and eminently practical guide backed by science and story,” writes Brigid Schulte, the author of Overwhelmed, “Scritchfield shows how taking time to pause and set our own internal compasses is the first step toward overcoming deeply held cultural expectations and transforming our lives.”
You can only gain things by reading this book. Your time, your well-being, your emotional and mental health, and quite possibly—even your life.