How many times have you caught yourself looking in the mirror and picking apart your body thinking, “if only I could lose some weight,” “if only my waist was smaller or my hips and chest bigger,” “if only I was prettier,” “if only I could gain some weight or muscle,” etc., etc., etc. So many of us always find a way to pick apart our bodies and dislike something about how we look or feel in our own bodies, with results never quite being enough. The stress that comes with constantly being concerned with our physical appearances can actually get to a point where we put our body in a physically stressed state which makes it so much more difficult to make and see the desired physical changes you desire. This being said, loving yourself at every size and stage doesn’t imply the need to be complacent with an unhealthy lifestyle, but rather means to take care of, properly nourish, and respect your body no matter what size you are at, whether it needs to change to improve your health or whether it is healthy exactly where it is at! By promoting love for your body emotionally as well as feeding it well and providing it with both the sleep and exercise necessary, you will have the opportunity to feel good about yourself, perform at your best, and truly be the best possible you! Now while this sounds great, it is easier said than done, so I have provided some tips to help you begin loving your body where you are at and throughout any possible changes you may be making to improve your health.
1. Positive Body Affirmations
Take some time every morning to look in the mirror and find something you can compliment yourself and your body about, even say it out loud! In addition, any time you think negatively about yourself or your body, combat that thought with a positive body affirmation. Sometimes these can be hard to think of on your own so using a list with some ideas can be helpful, if it’s hard to believe at first, be persistent, the more you say it the more you will begin to believe it!
2. Wear Clothes that Make you Feel Good
Buy at least a few outfits that you feel both comfortable in and that make you feel like you look pretty or handsome, dress yourself up, put on some make up, or even go without make up, whatever makes you feel like you look good! Taking the time to do this a couple times a week rather than trying to wear what others say you should or items that are supposed to fit your body best, but aren’t your style. If you wear something you feel good in, you will likely begin to feel revitalized about your body.
3. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
Everyone has a different genetic make up and not all humans are meant to be the same shape, size, skin color, height, etc. Acknowledge what your body’s natural structure is and OWN IT! Just because you have a smaller chest, or bigger curves, smaller muscles, whether you have more meat on your bones or happen to naturally be very thin. This doesn’t mean you are any less handsome or beautiful than someone that has those qualities. Keep in mind, what our society depicts as the ideal body image is based on pictures that are photoshopped like crazy and tend to use the best “filters,” ideals not even based on reality.
4. Include Healthy Eating Habits of Balance and Moderation into your Lifestyle
While fad diets work for some, they tend not to be maintainable and deprive your body of nutrients you need. Include a variety of foods from a range of food groups in reasonable portion sizes. Eat balanced meals and snacks timed properly throughout the day to keep your energy levels up and your emotional stability in check (we want to minimize “hangry episodes.”) Also allow yourself to enjoy your favorite foods, social gatherings including food, and your favorite holiday treats in moderation without guilt; slow down, eat mindfully, and enjoy your food! The social and enjoyment aspect of food is important too as long as moderation is taken in to consideration. Work with a Dietitian to help you find what balance, variety, and moderation looks like for you!
5. Participate in Some Form of Physical Activity you Enjoy
Finding exercise that you enjoy (eg dancing, boxing, swimming, walking your dogs, yoga, or even just working out at the gym) is an important part of loving your body. Not only does exercise increase endorphins potentially helping with improved overall mood, but by exercising without a focus on calorie burning you can promote a mindset of success by getting out and doing something for yourself while also decreasing overall stress levels. Keep in mind, exercise should also be done in moderation. Over-exercising without a proper routine of including rest and listening to your body can lead to injury. Use your favorite form of exercise to bring an additional aspect of a healthy lifestyle and positive, productive energy into your life!
6. Get enough Sleep
Adequate sleep is crucial for self care! Ensuring you get the sleep you need every night (even if it means going to bed a little earlier) is important to keep your stress and cortisol levels down, provide you with energy to function throughout the day and recover from the previous days activities. There is something to be said about getting your beauty sleep!
These tips are important ways to begin loving your body where you are at right now and through every step of the process of any changes you may be making to improve your health. It is so important to also remember that you can be healthy at a wide range of sizes as long as you are employing a healthy lifestyle with balanced nutrition, moderate exercise, not smoking, limiting alcohol consumption and decreased stress. Allow yourself to be open to accepting and loving yourself as you are or at where ever you are in your journey to the healthiest you, whatever that may look like! Lastly remember loving yourself and your body is a crucial part to being the healthiest you; so next time you look in the mirror and think something negative, take a moment to combat that thought with something positive and begin to love who you are!
What ideas do you use to help loving your body at every size and stage of the process? How do you stay positive when you begin to doubt your love for your thoughts or body? I would love to hear your ideas!
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Wishing you success and self love,
-Ricci-Lee Hotz, MS, RDN
Denver’s Dancing Dietitian
A Taste of Health, LLC
“Improving Quality of life one bite at a time”