How do you start introducing self-love and a positive body image into your life? Let’s get started…
Grappling with the idea of self-love and positive body image can be difficult especially in today’s society with the exploitation of social media and the pressures to be a certain size, shape, and weight.
“I hate my butt.”
“I wear shirts with sleeves to cover my flabby arms.”
“I’m feeling fat and horrible.”
“I don’t want to go for a swim because I’m ashamed of my body.”
Sound familiar? Our body cops a lot of flak — not only physically from what we encounter in daily life, but also through our own mental anguish.
Sometimes our expectations can be unrealistic; we expect far too much. During these times, our mind and body form a disconnection and we fall into the trap of disowning and disrespecting our body while treating it like it’s foreign.
It’s true that we treat the closest things to us the worst, and our self is a perfect example. Anguish, anxiety, stress, grief, and self-hatred are all examples of feelings we retain with a self-defeatist attitude. Robbing ourselves of sleep, overeating, smoking, abusing alcohol, and not viewing fitness as a priority are ways that we unconsciously deal with negative feelings.
How do we move forward and away from these emotions that make us feel stuck?
The biggest issue we need to address is to become aware of all negativity that may be occurring through habitual thoughts. Our bodies are strong, amazing pieces of work that are unfortunately a reflection of our attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions.
So if we can creatively change our thoughts, the awareness of our physical needs deepens. With this deeper connection comes a flame from within that ignites and helps us explore the real reason why negativity and self-sabotage (overeating/undereating/overexercising/under-exercising) exists.
Three ways to develop body appreciation
1. Gain perspective
Social media places a lot of pressure on women to look a certain way, and feelings of inadequacy often follow. When we’re young, we take our body for granted; ask anyone 30-plus and I’m sure they feel the same. I certainly could write a list of things I would change about my habits in my twenties.
Instead, focus on what your body can help you achieve — how feeling fit and strong helps you to do extraordinary things. Perhaps focus on a sporting goal, adventure holiday, or simply how damn good it is to be alive, and make the most of this crazy journey!
Feeling fit and being able to sustain a healthy weight is a by-product of a larger vision and will help to take the centre of attention off thoughts and wants to be ‘thin’. Bring external goals internal, as research has shown this to provide sustainable success. External goals equal a means to an end; internal goals equal fuelling for core needs and wants and desires.
2. Connect through movement
Exercise is the perfect vehicle to delivering body confidence and appreciation. Not only does it boost self-esteem, but it also allows you to connect mindfully to your body and provides the platform for healthier eating patterns.
Personally, exercise allows a sense of control. I view movement as a gift and know I can count on activity to de-stress, free my mind, gain clarity, and refocus. A challenging workout can help you to build ‘character’ (and this is true), as you don’t know what you’re capable of until you push the boundaries of the self.
3. Change your mindset
Delving deeper into what is causing negative self-talk can be tricky and usually stems from past experiences. I love this juicy part of the equation and the realisations that come about with my nutrition and health coaching clients.
Perhaps negativity stems from childhood, from mirroring our parents’ actions or words or what we’ve built our identity around with an unconscious desire to uphold.
There’s no doubt we are our biggest critic and allow our inner voice to have a megaphone way too often. In future, try asking yourself why you want to change XYZ and why would this improve your life?
Is there a real reason or is it simply superficial and masking other issues? Do these beliefs and expectations around the issue (it might be your weight, for example) leave you feeling motivated?
Give yourself a break. Talk nicely to yourself with some respect and you’ll be surprised how your actions will follow. Being harsh with hateful comments may seem motivating, but the opposite is true. Positivity attracts positivity, so treat yourself kindly and know that it’s okay to not have the perfect shape, but is more important to be healthy.
Nutrition and Health Coach,
Naked Habits eBook author