On a scale of 1 to 5, how much do you love your body today? What about yesterday?
If you answered anything other than a 5, then you must be exhausted.
That’s the only way to describe how it feels to chase society’s body ideal.
Because of this, true body love is something few have ever known…have you?
Lately, there have been some great initiatives promoting healthy body image, breaking the futile pursuit of perfection (like the Embrace documentary which I think will do many souls good).
On the other hand, body dissatisfaction has never felt so rampant. Every day, I witness beautiful, strong, intelligent, competent, loving, nurturing women, men, clients, colleagues, friends and family members belittling their bodies. Often, because this is the only way they’ve ever known to treat their bodies.
How much mindspace, how many minutes and moments have we wasted stuck in body hate? And for what? Aren’t you exhausted? I know I am.
The good news: you CAN choose body love over hate. And in today’s post, I’m going to talk you through it.
But first, you need to know why it’s essential for you to love your body because until you see body love as the secret to success, you’ll continue to sacrifice it.
You may feel that to really love your body you’ve got to reach your goal first. Reach a number on the scale, hit a certain % body fat, fit into an old pair of jeans, gain muscle, lose bulkiness, tone this, firm that.
Well, this is completely backwards.
There’s no doubt that for goals like these, good nutrition, exercise and sleep are key. But self-love is the true catalyst for change. Without it, you can only go so far. With it, you can go all the way.
When you STOP striving for another person’s body and START embracing your own, then comparison and criticism make way for self-compassion. Self-compassion fosters healthy habits, because you become mindful of how you treat your body. Rather than punish your body for what it isn’t, you start to look after your body for what it is.
You take care of your body. You nourish your body. You move your body.
And what do you think happens as a side effect of self-care + nourishment + movement?
Your body transforms into one that you love and are finally confident in.
You’ve got to start with body love, not wait for it. It’s what you need to stick to the healthy habits that will take you where you need to be.
So let’s get you on this path, shall we?
Ten tips to love your body
Tip 1: Take your life off hold
Those plans you’ve been waiting on the perfect body for? Make them. That confident, happy, energetic person you think you’ll be once you nail that “perfect” body? Get out there and BE that person today. Take your life off hold and live a little more each day. Why?
- The shape of your body in this moment is out of your control. Your thoughts and actions towards your body on the other hand, are entirely in your control. Acknowledge this and take the pressure off.
- You’re worthy of what you want. Waiting for your body to change to go after it is only reinforcing the myth that you aren’t yet good enough.
- Satisfaction may never come. Ever reach a goal that left you unsatisfied? Don’t spend your days striving for a better life in a different body. Instead, live your fullest life in the one you own.
Tip 2: Focus on where you are and who you’re with…not who’s watching.
We tend to overestimate how much people really notice about us. That’s why your time is best spent focusing on the present moment, where you are and the people you’re with. If so-called “bikini season” has you feeling insecure, then you should know that the people you’re with aren’t paying as much attention to your body as you may think. They won’t notice or even care about those perceived imperfections. What they will notice is a face that reads “I wish I wasn’t here”. Have you not worked well and hard to deserve your vacation and time in the sun? Enjoy it.
Tip 3: Sweet talk yourself
If I hate my body is what you think, then a body you hate is what you’ll see. The next time you catch yourself having a bad body thought, make it body friendly: I approve of my body, I respect my body, I love my body. This may sound disingenuous at first. This may sound weird to you. You may feel like you’re lying to yourself. But that’s normal, considering that you’ve been telling yourself the opposite for so long. Continue sweet talking yourself and eventually, you’ll have these new thoughts on auto-pilot.
When I tell clients to flip their thoughts in this way, I sometimes get: “But I don’t love my body, I want it to change. I need to lose weight. How can I convince myself of not wanting to change?”
Important: Telling yourself that you love and approve of your body does NOT mean that you’re throwing in the towel and does NOT mean that you’re settling or giving up on change. Quite the opposite.
It means that you are choosing to appreciate and respect your body, because you know that hate will not lead to health. You are choosing to love your body as it is, because that is the only state of mind that will allow you to consistently care for it to health.
Tip 4: Smile and keep your chin up
Are you slouching? How about your shoulders…are they tense and up near your ears? Are you frowning at the screen without even noticing?
Drop your shoulders, sit tall, relax your forehead, smile and breathe deeply. This new posture exudes much more confidence. That smile makes you instantly more attractive and radiant. The best part? Not only does good posture make us look confident and self-assured to those around us, our brains believe it too. Smiling and standing tall and confidently sends a positive, feel good message to the brain, which in turn bumps mood and triggers happiness.
Tip 5: Accept compliments
It’s easy to remember the nasty stuff, but if you really want to love your body then you need to mindfully register the good stuff too. So the next time your partner or friend tells you that you look great? Say THANK YOU. Don’t disqualify the praise. Fight the urge to contradict them. Jus accept and say thank you. Every time you register a compliment or positive comment rather than dismiss it, you build a stronger case against the negative belief system in your mind.
Tip 6: Choose outfits that look great on you.
Nobody knows what size you’re wearing. And if the goal is to love your body, then feeling tight, uncomfortable and constricted is not the way to go, unless a bad mood is the look you’re going for. Wear clothes that fit your body as it is right now, even if this means a larger size. This doesn’t mean you’re giving up. It means you recognize that feeling good about yourself is necessary to fuel the daily self-care, nourishment and exercise that will get you to your healthiest size. Make a date with your closet and put together outfits that you feel good about. This avoids last-minute “I don’t know what to wear” catastrophes which quite honestly, only result in a messy room and messed-up attitude.
Tip 7: Ditch the thinspo
Thinspo or thinspiration is the coined term for pictures of flat abs, toned thighs and poreless skin that serve as inspiration. Let’s be real, shall we? How do you really feel after looking at these pictures? Are you motivated to love your body as it is and support it with healthy habits? Or do you feel self-conscious, envious of another’s body and convinced that the efforts you’re putting aren’t enough? If the latter resonates with you, then consider unfollowing or unsubscribing to the social media accounts that are damaging your body image. There is no shortage of pressure out there, don’t subject yourself to more.
Tip 8: Go fat free
I don’t mean food. I mean talk. Make your talk fat free. Don’t engage in fat or weight-related conversation with friends, coworkers or family members. This typically results in comparison, criticism and complaining (about ourselves or others) that takes you away from the compassion and self-love that you’re going for.
Tip 9: Make a love list
When you look in the mirror and focus all of your attention on a part that you hate, it magnifies making it hard to embrace yourself as a whole. Instead, draw your attention to parts you admire and on ways to highlight them. Make a list now for quick referral later of both appearance and non-appreance traits: Do you love your hair? Then mindfully doing your hair each morning will have you leaving the house more self-assured. Are you a great listener? Call up a friend that you can serve with some good advice.
Tip 10: Plug self care into your calendar
Negative body thoughts tend to build when we’re stressed, tired or haven’t been nourishing or moving our body. Every week, take the time to plug some form of self caring activity into your agenda to make sure it sees the light of day. Aim for one bigger activity weekly and smaller self-care habits daily.
What tip resonated with you the most? What do you plan on implementing as of today?