How many relics are biding time in your closet? The jeans from your college days, the little-too-snug black dress, and one-button-too-small shirt patiently wait for you to lose the weight that you never do.
Stretchy material gives you hope when shopping. With a little work, you can wiggle into a new gem, but that, too, ends up in the back of the closet wrapped in a garment bag to preserve its beauty — and your hope.
How often do you weigh yourself, then step off the scale in despair that the number will ever go lower? If you keep basing your self-image according to inches or numbers, you may be measuring your value and health on an unfair scale. Life changes. People change. Bodies change.
Instead of blaming your body, love your whole self by taking these four steps to cultivating a positive body image.
1. Stop Avoiding the Elephant in the Room
No, the “elephant” isn’t you. It’s not your weight. It’s not your scars. The elephant in the room you keep avoiding goes by the name of shame, blame, guilt, pain, or hurt. Take in all the bumps and lumps, and the stories they tell.
What is the real story? It’s about your whole self. Redefine these names and claim your body in all its glory with love. Speak your negative scripts out loud, then challenge them. Defeat the critic, and remember wobbly parts are completely natural! Everyone has scars, moles, stretch marks, and wrinkles they’d prefer not to show.
2. Give Yourself Some Love
Take a day to tune into the script in your head. What you think about others is likely more positive than what you have to say about yourself, to yourself. When you notice a moment of negative self-talk, acknowledge that moment and turn it around by paying yourself a compliment. You know how hard you work and what you’ve achieved, how lovely your eyes, curves, and heart are. It’s true.
Pay attention to everything — from sun-kissed freckles to furry toe tops. Treat yourself to a massage. Take a long bath. Shake it all out. You deserve it.
3. Feed Your Body Well for Whole-Self Health
Your positive body image eating plan doesn’t have to be a free-for-all, or even preclude weight loss. Gentle, nourishing changes, like replacing bread with an extra veggie, will help your body feel better–and you feel better about your body.
Listen to your body if you suspect that certain foods may be triggering health issues or discomfort–including bloating, stomach ache, heart burn, or fatigue. Discuss potential food allergies or sensitivities with your doctor.
Feed your body well with nutrient-loaded whole fruits, vegetables and grains to boost energy levels and longevity, reducing health risks over time. The American Heart Association recommends at least six servings of whole grains a day for heart and whole-body health. For example, replace white rice with brown rice, and eat corn tortillas over flour tortillas.
When eating out, look at the menu online before arriving. When you order, choose an item made up of primarily protein and vegetables. Enjoy the occasional indulgence, but always remember to prioritize your health (and remember that health and dress size are two completely different things!).
4. Get Moving
Don’t force yourself to work out. Get life moving in general. Start accomplishing your dreams, little by little. This will increase your confidence and self-acceptance.
Do activities you enjoy. Love plants? Garden or learn more about herbs on a nature walk: how to make herbal medicines to heal your body or how to cook with herbs to add natural and delicious flavor to your meals.
When you feel down, it’s understandable to want to tuck yourself away forever in bed, but the only way to connect with yourself and life in a more positive way is to get up and move. Inaction does nothing for you, and while staying put feels safer, you end up feeling guiltier in the end.
You reach a truly positive body image when you stop avoiding the elephant in the room and accept how beautifully imperfect you are because you know what? You’re a human being — and an incredible one, at that. Defeat the negative self-talk, and give yourself the love you deserve.
What are tips for working towards a positive body image?
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