Great quote, “You can’t change a body that you hate.” -Janell Yule
It is no wonder that most of us struggle with body image…
We are bombarded EVERYDAY with messages of how we “should” look.
We’re hit from all angles – social media, traditional media, healthcare providers, our friends, our family, and our significant others are directly or indirectly providing us with cues as to what our appearance should be.
But most often the person who is speaking loud and clear about how you should look is YOU.
80% of women report being unhappy with the way they look, meaning the vast majority of us have some degree of body dissatisfaction.
This is such a big problem because body dissatisfaction is linked to self-esteem, self-worth, and depression (among other things).
It’s up to you to realistically assess, understand, and change the internal and external messages and cues about ideal bodies and their effects on your self esteem and self worth.
Easier said than done…I know. Please read on…
For much of my life, I engaged in healthy behaviors like exercise and healthy eating because I wanted to change the way my body looked. Seems like a good plan, right?
Well the truth is…
Body dissatisfaction, and negative self-talk are NOT sustainable motivators. You will “fall of the wagon” if those are your drivers.
Remember, you and your body are always doing the best they can at any given moment. Only accepting yourself as long as you look a certain way is NOT an act of self-love.
What if instead you practiced finding self-acceptance and self-compassion?
I always believed that if I accepted myself as I was, that I would become complacent and lack motivation to engage in healthy behaviors…
That couldn’t be farther from the truth!
Self-acceptance is not “giving up,” but rather it spurs us into further action. Engaging in self-acceptance can free up the mental space that was taken up with negative self talk to allow us to practice better choices moving forward.
You can be self-compassionate while striving for the most challenging goals.
The difference lies not in where you end up, but how you think about the ups and downs of your journey.
-Dr. Heidi G. Halvorson
Fast forward to today…
For the first time in my life, my mindset is one of self-love and self-acceptance.
I choose to engage in healthy behaviors daily because they honor and support my body. Because of this single shift, I feel a new sense of freedom and motivation.
I am able to be much more consistent with my behaviors because they come from a place of love and positivity instead of negativity and frustration.
When you love and honor your body every goal you meet will be a reason to celebrate versus an opportunity to pick out and correct another physical flaw.
Do I still have days when I find myself engaging in negative self-talk about my body?
But it happens much less often, and when it does, I catch it quickly and remind myself that my negative behavior isn’t serving me. I then shift my attention to something about my body that I am grateful for, or something that my body is capable of…
For example, I am grateful for my strong legs. They give me the ability to squat, deadlift, and carry me everywhere I go.
Focus on Health First
One of the ways to make this mental shift is to focus on your health first.
How is your sleep?
Is your energy good throughout the day?
Are you more emotionally stable?
How often do you get sick?
Are you able to focus clearly when needed?
These things are all impacted by how you care for yourself: what you eat, your exercise routine, your relationships with yourself and others, and how much you sleep.
Your body will change because you are consistently practicing healthy lifestyle behaviors, but it will FEEL much different because your initial intention is one of self-love and self-acceptance.
Engaging in self-love and self-care practices becomes much more enjoyable when you free yourself of body dissatisfaction.
For example, training will be more about keeping your body strong, flexible, and mobile versus fixing your appearance. And when you are strong, flexible, and mobile your outer physical appearance will shift. You will be focused on ALL OF THE AMAZING things your body can do like squat, deadlift, or row.
Your life becomes much more enjoyable when you shift your focus and energy away from having the “perfect body,” because I can tell you the “perfect body” doesn’t exist!!! Even the women you view as having the “ideal” body, struggle with their own body image. Seriously, they do!
“And I said to my body. Softly: ‘I want to be your friend.’ It took a long breath. And replied ‘I have been waiting my whole life for this.’ “-Nayyirah Waheed
Food for thought,