10 Steps to Loving Your Body

What do your say to yourself each day. When you look at yourself in the mirror? At a photo or yourself? When you get dressed in the morning? Is it acceptance, loving words? Or do you tear yourself down? Do you avoid going to the pool because you need to wear a bathing suit? Are you waiting to do certain things until you lose X number of pounds?
Negative body image is something that many of us battle each day- and it doesn’t matter what we actually look like, or how many times we hear the ‘it’s what’s inside that counts’ message. Someone with the ‘perfect body’ can be riddled with body shame. And honestly, the ‘self love’ articles illustrated with size 4 models don’t really help.
The diet and fitness industry tells us that weight loss is the answer; that you’ll be happy when you lose those 10, 20 or 50 pounds, or take care of that ‘trouble spot’. And you might be, but you also might not be. There are many people who, after weight loss, find themselves equally critical of their body, now a few sizes smaller. And instead of reaching a natural, healthy relationship with food and your body, you might be locked in a prison when your self worth and confidence becomes a condition of your size.
The following are 10 tips that can help get over over body shame and to start genuinely loving and appreciating your body.

  1. Be thankful this is your problem. I say this with compassion– and an understanding that negative body image can lead to significant problems in life. Personally, I think that I’m lucky that I can call having a negative body image, at times, my problem. If I have the mental space to think about the way my clothes feel, I’m pretty lucky. It means that I’m not stressing about getting clean drinking water, or if I feel safe walking outside in my neighborhood. I don’t say this to undermine the problem of having a negative body image, but the shift in perspective can help quash the feelings that we’re not enough, or to stop the comparison game.
  2. Get serious about creating a positive body image. It’s not just about you: your thoughts about yourself will affect those around you. If you have kids, they’re watching and listening. And they’ll learn from you by what you do, not what you tell them. As a parent, you probably already know that kids pick up everything, usually more than you want them too. Body image is no different. And talking poorly about yourself in front of friends will likely contribute to their own insecurities, as they feel compelled to commiserate with you.
  3. Understand that loving the way you look and appreciating your body is not being vain, and being critical of yourself is not being modest. It’s okay to love your body. In fact, I recommend it. And, loving your body is not giving up. If you’re on a path of change, you can appreciate your body where it’s at, and still commit to change. The journey will be a lot more enjoyable, and you’ll find that making healthier choices come more naturally.
  4. Cleanse your social media. Delete any ‘fitspiration’ type accounts. Start following body positive social media accounts including photos of women of various sizes living their life. And if body positive accounts don’t resonate with you, keep your news feed full of cute kittens and fun crafts to try.
  5. Be intentional with your thoughts. If your mind is full of thoughts that tear your body to pieces, saying things like “I love my thighs” may be a bit of a leap. Before you look at yourself in the mirror, or put on your jeans in the morning, prepare yourself for what you’re going to say to yourself. Start with neutral thoughts. For example, you may say ‘I have thighs’. Pay attention to negative thoughts and start to replace them with neutral thoughts, and slowly progress to positive thoughts. Know that the process is slow and full of ups and downs; don’t get hard on yourself for not mastering your mind right away! Another way to develop positive self-talk is to start your day with affirmations. Read statements such as “I am strong and healthy” or “I am enough”.
  6. Practice gratitude of your life and your body. As a continuation on my first point, practicing gratitude for you’re the things you have in your life, and your body will help to develop body acceptance. For your body, you can say things like “I’m grateful for my arms because they allow me to hug my husband”, or “my fingers let me type on a computer and share my message with others”.
  7. Where clothes that make you feel good now. If you wear clothes that are a size too small because you’ve gained a few pounds, you will not feel good, and you’ll draw attention to the parts of your body you don’t like. When you don’t feel good in your body, it’s very difficult to listen to your body’s needs. Instead you’ll likely punish yourself with extra exercise, overly restrict your food, or overeat so that you can feel even worse. When you love your body, you’ll want to take care of it. And feeling good in your clothes is a really good start.
  8. Bring others up. How we think about others is a direct reflection of how we feel about ourselves. When we are self-conscious or unhappy in our own body, we often talk negatively about other people as well. When you’re happy with your own body, you’ll find it easy to see the beauty in other people’s bodies. This can happen in reverse as well. If you’d like to think more positively about yourself, start noticing the beauty in the people around you. At first, you may need to force it, and fake it til you make it.  
  9. Practice daily self-care. I’ll say it again: when you love your body, you’ll take care of it. And similar to tip #8, self love grow when you start to take care of your body. Love is can be an action, not just a feeling. Act lovingly to your body. Listen to it. Self-care can be as simple as taking a few extra seconds to massage moisturizer in to your hands, to do a really good job flossing your teeth, to take a break when you’re tired or to prepare nourishing food to pack with you to work.
  10. Think about your future self. Imagine you in your later years- maybe in your 70s or 80s. How do you want to look back on your life? What would your future self tell you in this moment? Would your future self tell you that you need to worry about the way your body looks? Would your future self tell you that you’re beautiful and that you have a family, friends, a career that need you?  

Just like fitness, positive body image is not just something you have or don’t have. It’s something you can develop. And, like becoming it, creating a positive body image is not something you just do once; it’s a practice and needs to become a habit. In other words, it’s something you need to put intention into daily. And just like eating habits, and other health habits, there will be days when you feel on top of the world and confident in your body, and other days when you don’t. Expect ups and downs, and be compassionate when you’re having a down day. Don’t tear yourself down for having negative self-talk!
It’s time to hold your head up, embrace your body and put intention into creating a positive self-image. The world needs you to shine.
If you’re ready to take the next step to reaching your health and fitness goals and learn how to love and take care of your body, reach out to us for consultation. We will sit down together and put together a step by step program to help you get where you want to be. Request a consultation today!

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