I've never been a huge fan of Valentine's Day, but I do appreciate the awareness around this holiday about expressing love. Whether you're single or in a relationship, it's important to love yourself first. Without self-love, your relationships won't be strong. Without self-love, looking in the mirror at yourself is a struggle. Actually, it's hell. I know this feeling. I've been there.
Self-love might seem narcissistic or egotistic, but that isn't what true self-love is. Self-love means unconditionally accepting yourself for who you are - no matter what your body looks like, how much you weigh, how much money you have, or what your relationship status is. Self-love is love without judgement. It means respecting yourself. Setting boundaries. Being gentle.
Body Image has been a hot topic lately. People are starting to become aware that the diet and body obsessed culture isn't working. Many are fed up with body shaming themselves and witnessing it happen towards other people. Thankfully we are starting to wake up to the affects that body shaming has on our health, relationships, physical wellbeing, and on young girls & boys. In fact, healing my body image was the #1 reason I became a health coach in the first place. Here's my story on how I healed my relationship with body image.
I'm going to give you some practical tips that I personally used (and still use) to practice healing my body image. Remember, this is a practice. You can't go to the gym once and expect big changes. You can't eat a salad and become healthy. Incorporate these tips into your lifestyle. There's no quick-fix. I feel like this a no-brainer...but I also feel responsible to write this because we live in a world where there's quick-fixes everywhere. They're band-aids covering the problem, not healing the root of it. These tips I offer are truth bombs to help you actually HEAL the root of body image issues. You'll find that a lot of them have nothing to do with your body. That's because the healing starts in your mind, your perspective. These tips come straight from my experience of learning how to love my body.
REMEMBER - Loving your body directly depends on your willingness to change your thoughts about your body. Recognizing that you want to change your perspective of your body is the first step. Become aware of the thoughts and feelings that come up around your body, without judgement. Look in the mirror and acknowledge these thoughts and feelings. Start where you are. Be proud of yourself for acknowledging your feelings and get ready to do some transformational work.
Do these actions of self-love every day. This is what I did every day (and still do) to maintain a positive body image. It's not easy. If you've been living in hell for years, it's going to take some bad days and lots of time to change your mental dialogue. Be gentle with yourself. You will get there. Just do these things every day.
15 Actions for a Positive Body Image
1. Accept and love yourself just as you are, right now, unconditionally.
2. Unfollow all social media accounts that bring you down or trigger comparison. Read my article here about cultivating self-love in the age of social media.
3. Limit time with or cut the people out of your life that are toxic or you don't feel comfortable being 100% yourself around.
4. Practice extreme self care. This looks different for everybody. I love: massages, sleeping, dark chocolate, baths, yoga, aromatherapy, time alone, reading books, spa days, nails, hair...treat yourself!
5. Embrace your natural figure. A curvy, feminine body isn't meant to look like a skinny little boy. Stop trying to fit into a body type to be accepted. When I stopped starving myself, my natural womanly curves emerged. Love whatever it is about your body that makes you, YOU.
6. Do things that light you up. Cooking, painting, playing, adventuring, reading, running...whatever it is, do things that feed your soul.
7. Breathe. Try yoga, breathwork classes, or meditation.
8. Assess your life and what you need right now. Maybe it's therapy, working on your relationships, leaving unhealthy relationships, spending more time with family, going back to school, or quitting your job... do what you need to do to respect your wants and needs.
9. Find a spiritual practice, whatever that may be for you. Maybe it's yoga, church, meditation, cycling classes or just being quiet for 1 minute of the day. I love The Power of Intention by Wayne Dyer and The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle when I need to re-center.
10. Sweat. Find workouts that help you feel confident in your body and stick with it.
11. Detox your closet. Get rid of all the clothes that you don't fit into, are out of style, and are taking up space. Sell them on Poshmark or donate them. This can be very emotional. Let yourself cry if you need to.
12. Understand that counting every meticulous calorie and obsessing over your weight is not helping your body image issues. These actions are feeding the problem. When you eat real, whole foods, you're much more likely to keep the caloric intake at an appropriate level. Muscle weighs more than fat. Don't let a scale dictate the way you feel about yourself. YOU are the only thing that can choose whether you are happy or not. Don't allow a scale or calories to have that much power over you.
13. Change the conversations you have. Stop gossiping. Have real conversations with people, be honest about how you feel. When you talk about your body with other people, be kind and say only positive words. Don't tolerate negative convos with others who are body shaming themselves or others. Leave the convo. Let go of self depreciation and weight talk. Monitor the words and thoughts coming out of you. When in conversation, lift others up! Don't bring down the convo by how you wish you could change xyz about yourself.
14. Forgive yourself of any negative thoughts you've had about yourself. Forgive yourself of any mistreatment you've given yourself (skipping meals, starving, extreme dieting, feeling guilty about food, body shaming, negative self talk, bingeing, purging, etc.) Thank your body for all it has done for you.
15. Stop being a people pleaser. Create boundaries. Set standards. Do what YOU want to do. Don't settle. Stop saying yes to everything. Listen to your body and respect it's needs. Everyone is different. Some of us need more rest, sleep, food, and/or time alone. This is okay.
16. Know your value and worth as a human being, which is far, far beyond your appearance.