Small Everyday Steps To Boost Your Body Love & Acceptance
The months leading up to summer used to be the some of the worst months for me. I would spend them anxious and depressed as all hell. Working out for hours a day, double and even triple workouts were a normal thing. Cutting out any food that I, or the media, deemed as “unhealthy”. If I was hungry outside meal times, oh well too bad! Weighing myself a few times a week, if not daily, hoping to see that number go down. Sure this process would ultimately lead to me losing a few pounds, or looking more “toned”, BUT it also would facilitate months of me looking in the mirror grabbing “fat” on my thighs, stomach or hips wishing I looked differently. I would spend hours imagining how much “happier” I would be if I was “skinnier, more toned, or had thinner thighs”.
Does any of this sound familiar to you?
It took me years to break this cycle and see my body for what it truly was…A physical power house that did everything it could to take care of and show me love. A place for my brilliant soul and mind to call home. To even be able to look in the mirror and feel good about who was looking back at me without focusing on all the “things” I wanted to change.
So how did I do this? Well first off it wasn’t easy. It wasn’t quick. It wasn’t just one thing I did, but a combination of a lot of different things that brought me to this place. And if I am being completely real, I still have some “bad” body image days but I have better coping skills for when they come along.
Now when it comes to healing of any sort BUT especially when it is related to body image or self-esteem/self confidence you don’t just wake up over night being “healed”. It takes time, sometimes years, and patience. But with the season of bikini/swim suits, short shorts, and tanks coming up quickly I wanted to give you some of my practical tips to help you accept your body and self through this very triggering season.
Wear clothes that actually FIT and are COMFORTABLE to you!!! This is a big one…The size of the clothes you wear DOES NOT DEFINE YOU! It is literally just a number and a very confusing one at that. Some brands I am a size 6 and others a size 10! When your are trying on clothes take a few different sizes into the dressing room and instead of focusing on the number focus on how they feel on your body. Is the item pinching in your thighs/shoulders? Can your comfortable bend over in the item? Does it make you feel confident/comfortable enough to wear it in public? ALSO if you don’t like a certain clothing item type or style because of how it makes you feel/look at yourself DON’T buy it! Just become something is “seasonally” appropriate OR on trend does not mean you HAVE to have it in your closet. Personally I only own ONE pair of shorts becasue they are only one’s I have found that are comfortable for me to wear. Instead I wear more dresses or flowy crops in the summer because they ARE COMFORTABLE for me/my body.
Move your body. Moving your body for 30 minutes, or more, releases endorphins. Endorphins boost your mood. When you boost your mood you also boost your self confidence which positively effects how you will look at yourself in the mirror. ALSO they more we move our bodies and use them for what they are meant to do (walk, run, stretch, lift, squat down, etc) the more we start to see that our body is sooo much more than just the way it looks. We start to view it as this amazing “thing” that can do SOOO much!
Graciously accept compliments! There is nothing that makes me more angry than when I tell someone that they “Look great today”, “Are rocking those pants”, “Are glowing”, or any other compliment for them to turn around and say something like… “Thanks, but I feel fat/ugly/these pants are too tight/etc”. Not only are you putting down yourself when you side step a compliment like that BUT by putting yourself down in this way your brain is being rewired to see you as only fat/ugly/etc. So next time someone compliments you just simple say “Thank you” and leave out the rest out!
Talk to a professional. Body image issues are often sooo much more than we think they are. A lot of the times something traumatic, that we did not even know was traumatic, has happened to get us stuck in this view of ourselves. Body image issues are also HIGHLY linked to mental health challenges like depression and anxiety. Seeking professional help, from a counsellor/support group/therapist, can REALLY help you to dive into these challenges and help you to HEAL from them faster!
Feed your body. Have you ever been REALLY hungry and been snappy with someone you love? Of course we all have been there at some point or another for whatever reason because when our body doesn’t have enough fuel we get a dip in blood sugar WHICH gives us a dip in our mood. NOW this is just what is happening on the outside…If you TRULY looked into your thoughts/feelings you would find the same thing going on inside, only usually its even more negative. So FEED yourself! Make sure you are eating regular meals and snacks (about 2-3 EACH a day) to balance your blood sugar. WHICH will help to balance your mood. WHICH will then help you to be able to more positively view/think about yourself.
Speak kindly to yourself. The words we say TO ourselves and ABOUT ourselves are more powerful than we give them credit for. So instead of choosing to speak negatively about yourself when it comes to looks/ability/WHATEVER try using different words that might have a more positive spin on them. For example…My thighs have always been a little bit more of a struggle for me. I would always say “Oh gawd my thighs are huge” on “bad” body image days. Now when I am having those days I use the words strong/thick/curvy in place of huge which adds more of a positive vibe and makes it less likely that I will feel worse after speaking/thinking this.
Find other women who have REALISTIC body types that are similar to yours!! There are SOOOO many body types out there and EVERY ONE of them is natural! Our bodies are not meant to build muscle and store fat in all the same areas. We are genetically made to have different body types because back in primal/tribal days we all had different jobs within the tribe that NEED DIFFERENT BODY TYPES! Sooo instead of filling your Pintrest/Instagram/Facebook/etc full of all the people whose bodies you “want” to look like, start filling it with people you have SIMILAR bodies to yours. This helps to give us a different type of view on our own body becasue we see others having a similar one and using it functionally and looking absolutely radiant too! I recently just went into my Instagram account and UNFOLLOWED ALL the accounts of “fitness models” and other very thin/box/athletic cut girls because THAT IS NOT MY BODY. Instead I started following more women who were into fitness (and my other interests) that have body types like mine, thick/curvy/strong. The other ladies body types aren’t wrong, BUT I wanted to see more women like myself lifting heavy, doing crazy yoga poses, climbing mountains, running half marathons etc.
Practice gratitude. Practicing gratitude gives you SUCH a mood boost, and as we already went over a boost in your mood will equal a more positive out look on how you view yourself. BUT don’t just WRITE gratitude lists, ACTUALLY SAY what you are grateful for OUT LOUD! Written lists are great BUT actually saying the words out loud helps it to stick it even more in your brain. Plus expressing gratitude will help you to shift your focus from what you DON’T have to what you DO have.
TOSS THE SCALE! Seriously THROW IT OUT!!! I did this YEARS ago and I have NEVER looked back. There is NO reason to weigh yourself. The number on the scale, for the most part, DOES NOT reflect your over all health or who you are as an individual! I have seen girls that weigh 20-30 pounds less then me that have MORE health problems than me, AND I have seen girls that weigh 50 pounds more than me that are healthier than me! JUST TOSS IT ALREADY!!!
Be gentle and patient with the process. When it comes to changing something that has been a constant in your life for years, some times even for your whole life, it is going to take time. Don’t stress over changing these thought patterns or feelings about yourself if it’s not happen right away. Instead be patient and just keep trying. Nothing big happens over night, and this won’t either. So instead focus on the progress you have made no matter how SMALL it is!