Your health goes beyond a body size or any number on a scale. Stop preoccupying your mind with negativity, and begin to love yourself the way you deserve.
Living in a society that idolizes thinness makes accepting one’s natural body size a challenging task. We are told thinness equates to the only way to living a healthy life, and that getting to a certain weight is the key to happiness. Alongside these messages, we are constantly bombarded with pictures in the media portraying what “desirable” and worthy looks like, when in reality these bodies do not represent real people.
Often times, people in these highly edited photos don’t even look that way in real life.
For those who are on a journey to body acceptance, a focus on weight loss and becoming a smaller size will have a negative impact on body image. Poor body image is a deeper issue than what you look like. It’s a manifestation of an internal struggle, such as poor self esteem or trauma. It’s taking a bad day out on your physical appearance when it’s hard to sit with being uncomfortable. It’s moving through the world being objectified and hyper-aware of what your body may be viewed by the outside world.
Luckily, body image is something that can be improved with more self-compassion and a few concrete strategies. Let’s dive into 5 ways to start improving your body image today:
1. Throw away the scale
On any given day, your weight can fluctuate anywhere between 1 to 5 pounds. Weighing yourself and letting that decide if you have a good day or bad day can lead to unnecessary preoccupation of your energy and mind, and can be detrimental to your mental health.
Toss it in the garbage, or if you need to take baby steps, hide it in the back of your closet. If you are weighing yourself daily and these still feel like a big steps, try cutting back to once a week and reflect on how you feel after.
2. Stop body checking
Do you body check? This can be walking past a store window and looking at your body in the reflection, or standing in front of a mirror and lifting up your shirt, pinching parts of your body, and judging yourself. Constant body checking leads to dissatisfaction in how you feel about your appearance and physique. If body checking is something you do frequently, try keeping track of how many times you do this per day and gradually cut down on the amount of times you are checking.
3. Wear clothes you feel comfortable in
It can be difficult to grow out of clothes that we love, and oftentimes, we get into the mindset that we might be able to squeeze back in them one day. The truth is, our bodies are not meant to stay the same size, and trying on clothes that don’t fit will send you into a negative body image spiral.
Weight and body size fluctuates through different stages of life, and can look differently for everyone. You deserve to wear clothes that are comfortable and that make you feel confident. Consider doing some spring cleaning and get rid of clothes that are no longer serving you. This process of letting go can feel quite liberating.
4. Positive affirmations that have nothing to do with shrinking your body size
Coming up with positive affirmations based on your values can be an effective way to boost your self esteem. Here are a few to try:
“I am compassionate and care deeply for people. This comes from my heart and soul, not my body size.”
“20 years from now, I want to look back on my life and cherish memories which do not include spending all my time thinking about my body.”
“A goal weight is an arbitrary number, how I feel is what’s important.”
“My well-being is the most important thing to me. I am responsible for taking care of me.”
5. Learn to embrace discomfort
Cultivating the awareness to improve your thoughts on around body image can be challenging and uncomfortable. It’s not talked about nearly enough in our culture, yet it’s prevalent because it’s been normalized. Learning to sit with the discomfort of overcoming your negative mindset around your body is a critical part of healing. If this is something that’s hard to do alone, working with a therapist or a nutrition professional may be a great option.
Lastly, recognize that improving your body image doesn’t mean that you will love yourself all the time.
It means respecting and honoring your body,and giving yourself the self-compassion you deserve. Recognize the path to improving your body image is not linear, and we all have challenging days. But you deserve to live a fulfilling life free from intrusive thoughts about your body –
Because you are good enough as you are.
Adapted from the original article.
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Hannah Turnbull, RDN, LD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based in Columbia, MO helping others build healthy relationships with food through simple delicious recipes and living life in balance. In a world full of food rules and restriction, she helps individuals navigate what works in their everyday lives.