And then there is the situation where we must become more accepting of who we are. Some of us just will not get down to an ideal weight. Yes, we can still make every attempt to be healthy as we have discussed but we also must be accepting of what we have. A recent article by Ellen Goldman M.Ed. caught my attention in which she emphasizes the fact the humans have been concerned with appearance and physical attractiveness throughout history. However, in these modern times, it seems as if normal concerns have turned into obsession for far too many. In today’s media, thin and attractive individuals are portrayed as being wealthier, happier, and more successful and carefree than those who are not thin. The way that we perceive our bodies is largely influenced by our perception of how we stack up against those media ideals, as well as against our peers. Poor body image not only decreases general life satisfaction and happiness, but it can also be potentially deadly if it spurs severe eating disorders or steroid use. Making a targeted effort to improve body image for ourselves and loved ones would be a smart, even life altering, thing to do. But how?
Goldman suggests the follow tips to boost your body image:
• Find one thing to compliment yourself on every day. Often, when people are asked to come up with something they like about themselves, they focus on physical attributes. However, try to think beyond your appearance, to your uniqueness as an individual. Take pride in things such as being a dependable employee, a great mom, or a reliable and caring friend.
• Wear clothing that fits well and makes you feel great. If you’re bothered by the size on the label, cut it out! Dressing in baggy apparel in an attempt to hide your body will end up making you feel frumpy. Wear whatever makes you feel pleased with your appearance when you look in the mirror.
• Exercise. Studies show when individuals begin an exercise plan, they report increases in confidence, self-esteem and a decrease in negative body image even when overweight or obese.
• Nourish your body with foods that will keep it functioning well so that you can do the things you love to do. Think healthy, not skinny!
• Thank your body with some pampering for the great job it does carrying you through the myriad of tasks you do on a daily basis. Massages, scented body lotions, and warm baths will have your body and your mind feeling great.
• Every time you receive a compliment, write it down in a journal. If you’re having a rough day, take your journal out and relive that warm, fuzzy feeling you got when you first received that compliment.
• Don’t join in the complaint brigade. When your friends start bemoaning their bodies (and you’ll surely hear it at some point) don’t commiserate and join in with mutual complaints and put-downs. Find something about their personality to compliment, and genuinely share what you find best in them.
• Stop negative self-talk immediately. When you catch yourself slipping into negative self-talk (e.g. my thighs are so big, I hate my stomach, my nose is crooked and ugly, etc.) stop immediately. Counter balance that thought with a loving one. Would you say such critical things to your best friend? Of course not! It’s time to become your own best friend and treat yourself with kindness and respect.
Tips to continue boosting your body image over time:
• Experiment with mind-body exercises. Many people report that activities such as yoga, Tai Chi and dance make them feel more connected and loving toward their bodies. Try out some classes at your local gym or studio and find something that resonates with you.
• Explore and appreciate your personal strengths. We each have our own strengths and talents. When we share them, we impact the lives of others and make the world a better place. People don’t care what shape your body is in; they just appreciate the gifts you share.
• Take stock and marvel at what your body is capable of doing, no matter what size it is. Write down all the things your body can do that bring you joy. Your legs carry you from place to place and up and down stairs. Your arms allow you to hug your loved ones or lift your child. Your stomach digests the food you eat, and your eyes allow you to see the world around you. Cherish these things as often as you can and remind yourself how lucky you are to be alive.
• Who do you look up to, admire, or seek as role models? Make a list of what it is about them you value. I guarantee it’s what inside, not what you see on the outside.
• Consider throwing the scale away. If you find yourself stepping on and off the scale numerous times a day and letting it affect your mood, throw it out! The number on the scale is fickle and can change drastically depending on your most recent meal, hydration, menstruation, and even the weather. When making lifestyle changes to lose weight, measure your progress by the way your clothing fits, tape measurements, or most importantly, how you feel. If you do step on the scale, do so only once a week, at the same time of day each time, dressed in the same clothing. The scale is simply an educational tool that lets you know if your habits are helping you reach your goals or if they need to be adjusted.
The road to a healthy body image can be a long one, especially if you have been struggling with poor body image for years. However, by taking deliberate steps to stop the toxic negative self-talk, it is entirely possible to be content—even happy!—with the way you look, at any size. By surrounding yourself with positive thoughts, friends, and images, you’ll be one step closer on the road to body bliss.
To sum up, we must make sure we are doing everything we are supposed to do in order to lose weight. Watch the portion distortion, make sure your exercise program is balanced and includes both aerobic and muscle building exercise. Sleep, water consumption and managing your stress properly are also integral to successful weight loss. Don’t do things that are radical and harmful to your health in order to lose weight—they will only backfire on you and you will regain your weight anyway and in the process, you might be damaging you health. And in the end of the day, weight loss is not the only factor in your health. Come to terms with your image! And putting all this together will “add hours to your day, days to your year and years to your life.”