Have you noticed that everyone always says, "love your body!" but few actually tell us how (keep reading, I'm about to)?
Studies have shown that anywhere between 75-97% of women have negative thoughts or feelings towards their bodies at least once a day and that number should horrify us.
Why? Two BIG reasons.
1) the way we treat our bodies is a reflection of how we feel about them. Single best way to get women to start treating their bodies better (moving more, eating better, etc) is to get them to stop hating them. and
2) we're passing that body hate on to our kids.
But HOW do we change it? HOW do we go from hating and criticizing them to loving them?
I'm so glad you asked!
Here are some things you can start working on right now to help you move towards a better relationship with your body and yourself:
💗 Have gratitude for all it does for you. When you hear negative thoughts about it, replace them with thoughts of gratitude. Do you really want to go through life hating yourself for the size of your thighs rather than being grateful that you have working legs? Just start saying thank you WAY more often.
💗 Practice self-compassion and kindness. Treat yourself and your body the way you'd treat your daughter.
💗 Know this: your worth is NOT dependent upon how you look and the way you feel about your body is a direct reflection of the way you feel about yourself. You can't learn to love your body until you start learning to love and value yourself. This is one that takes time but it will change every aspect of your entire life so don't overlook it.
Start by noticing the things you're saying to yourself, about yourself. Few things will kill self-worth faster or more completely than your own abusive inner dialogue so start there. Notice the things you're saying to yourself and start changing them. Start challenging yourself to step outside your comfort zone - do the scary things that you've been avoiding so you start building a sense of pride and confidence. Stand up for yourself and your own needs. Distance yourself from people, places, things that make you feel worse about yourself. Those are a few things to get you started. This one step alone will change the way you feel about your body - AND the way you treat your body.
💗 Take the emotion out of it. Well, the negative ones at least. I joke about mine being my meat suit. It's just the outer shell you carry around the world every day. That's it. It doesn't make you, you or have anything to do with your value or worth as a human. Humans come in all shapes, and sizes - the judgments we've learned to place on certain ones are messed up social constructs that you can choose to stop getting sucked into. All bodies are good bodies - and size isn't an automatic indicator of health.
Attaching emotions like guilt, blame and hatred to bodies is self-defeating and makes it ten times harder to WANT to make good choices for them. Once you no longer attach negative emotions to it, it's easier to start feeling grateful for all the wonderful things your body does for every day, which begins to stir much more positive feelings, and as a result, positive choices.
💗 Stop allowing yourself to get sucked into those negative conversations about bodies, weight, dieting, food, etc at work or with friends and family. Start shutting down all and disengaging from all that toxic garbage. Set boundaries with those around you that it's just not an appropriate topic of conversation anymore. This is easier said than done but also life-changing. It really starts to open your eyes to just how much of it we're exposed to every day from the people around us.
💗 Realize you have more control over how it looks and performs than you think. Often when we live in bodies that are tired, overweight and out of shape for so many years while struggling to (unsuccessfully) diet them into compliance we begin to feel trapped in them which leads to resentment and hopelessness... feelings that get direct squarely at our bodies. You're not a victim of your body and it's not hopeless unless you give up on it. If you're happy in it, great... but if you're not, you CAN do things to change how you feel living in it. You are NOT trapped--you just have to believe that and be willing to start doing something different. It DOESN'T come from continuing to start and stop more diet and exercise programs - it comes from changing the thoughts, habits and behaviors that have gotten you here.
💗 Following up on that, learn what it would take for you to get that flat belly or perfect butt (or whatever) and decide if the work and sacrifice required is worth it to you because often, the kind of transformation we're seeking requires significantly more work than we're willing to do - and it requires that work be kept up forever because it's not a one and done kinda thing. You don't spend countless hours busting ass to change your body and then live happily ever after in your new perfect body. It doesn't work that way, it requires continued work and becomes undone when you stop.
The internal dialogue shouldn't be "ohh I'd love to look like that but I could never" because you believe you are cursed with the body you have. The question instead is, are you willing to do what it will take to create it? Because a bodybuilding-style life, in particular, can change a body into almost (almost) anything... if we want it bad enough to suffer that much, for that long. Most of us don't and that's okay but realizing we HAVE the power and ability to if we wanted to (rather than feeling like our bodies are inferior and never could) is empowering on a level I can't even express and also helps release negative emotions.
So, rather than blaming your body for not behaving and looking as good as you want it to, ask yourself, how badly am I willing to suffer to change what the package I come in, looks like? Do I really want to live on the kind of food I'll have to live on and train for 1-2 hours a day 5 or more days a week? Personally, and I say this as someone who used to be completely obsessed with it, I think putting that much time and energy into obsessing over what our bodies look like is one of the most superficial, inconsequential things we can possibly care about during our time here. But that's just me, now.
💗 Accept your body type. Some people complain they're too tall, others, too short. Some whine their hips are too big, others, their hips are too small. For me, it was the hips thing and my waist. I naturally have a square, boyish shape with a thick waist and no hips. I hated my whole life and in my thirties, I went through blood, sweat, tears, more hours of agony than I can count ...determined to change it! Well, I did. I actually managed to change my shape. I built curves and a tiny waist - but it was hell to do it because my body was never meant to look that way. And there are many other things about our body type, we simply can't change no matter how hard we work. How do we EVER expect to be happy in life if we're going through life hating our bodies for things we cannot change about them? If you can't change it, or don't want to do the amount of work required to make the changes you want, let it go.
💗 Stop comparing! All those fitness pages full of perfect bodies that you follow for “inspiration”... how is it working for you? Are you getting inspired and loving your own body more for them? Or are you coming away from them feeling worse about yourself because you don’t look like that? If it’s the latter... stop following them! Start following body positive / anti-diet influencers. They are everywhere. Control your environment so you’re not exposed to images that make you feel worse about your body. In real life, it’s harder to control but with practice (and setting boundaries with the people around you re: toxic body talk) it will come. One really helpful thing to remember in real life is that the girl you’re comparing yourself to is likely looking at you and comparing herself to you in some way. It’s such an unproductive waste of energy!
💗 Fall in love with taking care of it. We fall into these patterns of abusing our bodies with food, then abusing them more with diets that restrict the very nourishment they need to thrive—it’s really hard to feel good about a body that you’re abusing. On the flip side of that, it’s hard to feel badly about a body that you’re taking the time to care for every day. If you start making small conscious choices that are good for your body because they are good for your body, your feelings about it slowly begin to change.
I'm not talking about "getting back on track" with another diet and exercise "fitness journey" attempt that you've likely already started and stopped a thousand times. I'm talking about taking a few minutes every day to connect with your body, to listen to it, to ask it what it needs, how it wants to move, what it wants to eat. At least once a day, just taking a minute to do something kind for your body.
💝 Learning to love or at least be grateful for your body is a gift - a monumental shift that will change your life. It takes practice but it's worth it.💝