“Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live” – Jim Rohn
Pounding the treadmill, sweating through a spin class, following the latest fad diet, or forever counting calories. Days of ‘being good’ or ‘being bad’ as we try to find ‘thinspiration’ – does this all sound familiar? When you have literally been fighting your body, starving yourself into that little black dress, or bingeing on ice cream because you didn’t like what the scales told you, is it really possible to love your body just the way is it?
It’s fair to conclude that we have very complicated relationships with our bodies, with millions of us suffering from body confidence issues. While this is perceived as a female trait, men and women have similar struggles with body image. We all have thoughts and feelings about the way we look, and we all have ideas about how others perceive us.
These opinions, thoughts and feelings come from our environment and are often shaped from a young age. We take our cue from those around us that we trust: parents, teachers and friends. The media has told us how we should look for decades, with anything from Disney movies to magazines influencing our choices.
It’s no surprise then that we find ourselves falling for the trap of thinking that what we eat, how hard we exercise, or what we look like will affect our health and happiness.
But healthy, happy bodies come in many shapes and sizes. We should focus on nourishing our bodies with a holistic approach, using sleep, food, exercise, sunshine, social connections, positive thoughts and much more to give it the self-care it – and you – deserve.
Deep down, we all instinctively know what to eat. We don’t need fad diets to lose weight – it’s simply a case of consuming fewer calories through our food and drink choices than we use by moving around and exercising.
Instead, I want to focus on three simple ways you can change your mindset to start loving your body and appreciating it for all the amazing things it can do.
#1 – Stop judging yourself on a number
Your weight. Your dress size. Your daily steps. Your BMI. Your optimal calorie intake.
When did all these numbers start to have such a big impact on our daily thoughts and feelings? What would happen if you decided to start focusing on how you FEEL today, instead of what you weigh today?
One of the best things you can do is to get rid of the scales. Joe Wicks, the Body Coach and author, calls it the “Sad Step”. He explains his reason behind this bold statement: “when it comes to hitting your health and fitness goals, the sad step is the worst measure of success you can possibly get. Because no matter how hard you train, or how well you eat, the scales cannot measure some of the most important things when it comes to your body, health and wellbeing.”
So, go ahead, and banish those scales from the bathroom. If you can’t face throwing them away just yet, hide them in the wardrobe until you feel less dependent on them.
“Choose your clothes because of how they fit you and make you feel rather than because of what it says on the label” – Susie Hasler, Styled by Susie.
When it comes to clothes, sizes can vary from store to store. At best, clothes sizes and just a guide, and not standardised across the industry. It’s far better to wear something that fits your body correctly and makes you feel good, rather than squeeze into clothes that are too small, or which hide your body under baggy clothes.
#2 – Focus on your good bits
How many times have you stood in front of the mirror and felt deeply unhappy at what you see? I’m guessing thousands, and many of us have stopped looking in the mirror for this very reason. And yet, our bodies are incredible works of nature, and every one of them is miraculous.
So, next time you look in the mirror, instead of focusing on the bits you don’t like, the wobbly bits, or the bits you feel embarrassed about, focus on what you DO like. Even if that’s your little finger or your toes. Look at this one part of your body that you like and send it love – focus on how much you like that part. Do this every time you look in the mirror, and each week, add another part of your body to your ‘love’ list.
#3 – Remember beauty is about more than just your body
Beauty is a state of mind, not just a body state. Your mind, your sense of humour, your intelligence, your skills and the way you make people feel; there are so many unique parts of you that are beautiful other than your physical form.
One way to support yourself is to limit the media that makes you feel rubbish about yourself. Stop buying magazines if they don’t make you feel great about yourself. Notice which websites make you feel bad, and stop visiting them for at least a week, then see if this improves your mood. Don’t be scared to stop following anyone on social media who makes you think negatively about yourself, or causes you to start comparing your life against theirs.
Another way is to make a note of all the things you like about yourself, you have achieved, or your body has allowed you to do. I challenge you to buy a beautiful notebook solely for his purpose, start with a list of thirty things, and then keep adding to it. If you are brave enough, then ask your family and friends what they believe is beautiful about you. This can lead to some powerful revelations and some new perspectives.
“Body confidence doesn’t come from having the perfect body, it comes from accepting the one you’ve already got” – Oprah Winfrey