While you don’t have to love your body at all times, body respect is a prerequisite for good health. Challenge yourself with these practices, and reshape your perspective.
Have you ever been in a place where you loved your body? Maybe, but the majority of people still experience dissatisfaction from time to time.
People will tend to say things on both sides of the spectrum: they either say how much they love their body, or they hate everything about it. But even if you are in a smaller body, you may still have thoughts such as: “When I am a size X, I will be so much happier.” Have you had that experience?
The fact is, being positive about your body 100 % of the time is challenging.
That’s why it’s so important to practice body respect.
It’s about remembering that you don’t need to lose X amount of weight, or decrease your size in order to start taking care of yourself now. If you can make respecting your body your first priority, you may find yourself in a happier place.
Here are some ways to start practicing.
1. Buy comfortable clothes
Don’t wait to fit into a certain pair of jeans, or a dress, or anything. Go out and buy things that fit you now! You deserve to have pretty, comfortable clothing that makes you feel your best. Pulling on too tight of shirts, or being afraid of putting on those tight jeans will not make you feel good. It is perfectly acceptable to buy yourself some new clothes, for the body you have now.
2. Stop using body assessment tools
Throw out your scale. Or if you can’t quite do it yet, let it collect dust under your bed. Likewise, if you have a small pair of shorts or a top that you routinely try on to see “where you are at”, stop. Your size does not equal your worth.
3. Stop preparing for a big event
It seems everyone is restricting themselves when it comes to big events where they’ll be seen. For example, there is a lot of pressure for recently engaged women, in particular, to lose weight for their wedding. But, I am 100% confident that your significant other loved you just as you were before you got engaged. Focus on how awesome it is to be getting married to your person, and the beautiful life you’re about to build together.
4. Quit body checking
Have you ever been in a room and immediately compared yourself to everyone else? Remember, everyone’s story is different. Some people may be on a crazy diet, recovering from a death in the family, are in school and supporting a child, working out excessively and skipping meals…the list goes on and on.
The truth is, we don’t know what everyone else is experiencing, and a body size doesn’t fully capture what’s going on. Also remember that diversity is one of our world’s greatest gifts. How can you celebrate our differences instead of berating yourself for not looking a certain way?
5. Don’t tear apart your body
What do you do when you look into a mirror? Do you immediately say negative things about yourself? While you’re not expected to suddenly wake up one day and love everything about your body, ask yourself: what do you like? What do you respect about your body? Write those down.
6. Don’t talk about your body
Why do groups of women get together and talk about how much weight they need to lose or bash on their size? Girls, you are so much more intelligent, worthy, and capable of giving to the world than wasting time talking about the size of your body. Please don’t criticize your own body, or anyone else’s. How can you redirect that conversation toward something more meaningful?
7. Respect body diversity
Respect your own body, and all bodies, by realizing that everyone comes in different shapes and sizes. There is no one figure that exemplifies health. People in larger bodies experience prejudice and are often discriminated against, which is one reason why everyone is terrified of becoming bigger.
There are many things that contribute to your body size including genetics, activity level, stress, mental health, nutrition, sleep and so much more. Weight stigma is a widespread problem so please remember – health is so much more than your body size.
8. Practice self-care
What are some behaviors that you can adopt that feel good? Reading a book? Going for a walk with your dog? Can you appreciate your body for carrying you to different places, or helping you hold a yoga pose? Can you recognize its strength for being able to bike or run? Take some time each day for self-care that shows how you respect your body.
9. Accept that your body will change
We all move through life – starting as a child to an adolescent to an adult. Expect for your body to change, and recognize this is perfectly normal! Change can be difficult, but please try and embrace where you are now. If you spent less time thinking about what your life would be like when you achieve a certain look, you can be a lot happier…right now.
Body respect truly means taking care of your health, and this can be accomplished by treating your body with dignity and meeting its needs. Remember, health isn’t a size. How can you shift your focus away from how your body looks to doing things that make it feel good?
Start by embracing where your body is at now, and remember all the adventures it can take you on. Know how capable you are of loving others and being loved, and what it feels like to laugh, dance, and move in a way that feels good.
Those are the things that truly matter.
Adapted from the original article.
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Rose Mattson, MS, RD is a private practice dietitian who runs a Salt Lake City-based nutrition practice, through which she sees clients both locally and virtually. Specializing in Intuitive Eating, sports nutrition, and digestive disorders, Rose’s mission is to help people find satisfaction and joy in eating all foods, without unnecessary restriction or deprivation. When she’s not working, you can find her outside in the mountains, at the local farmer’s market, or scoping out the most delicious meals in the area.