Every Monday features a tip, activity, inspiring quote or some other tidbit to help boost your body image — and kick-start the week on a positive note!
Got a tip for improving body image? Email me at mtartakovsky at gmail dot com, and I’ll be happy to feature it. I’d love to hear from you!
“We seldom think of what we have but always of what we lack.”
— Arthur Schopenhauer
This simple yet perfectly-worded quote arrived in my mailbox a few weeks ago. (It’s from my thought-of-the-day emails.) And it couldn’t be truer for body image.
How many times have you said, “If only my stomach were smaller or my hips weren’t so wide or my thighs not so big”?
So many of us fixate on one or several of our supposed flaws.
We ruminate. We stew. We think of ways to minimize these physical faults. We buy products and tools in hopes of eradicating these flaws. And we ruminate some more.
Recently, I’ve noticed that my hips have widened, and I’ve gained weight.
And sometimes, I also notice myself staring at my new bigger hips in the mirror as though the inches will melt off the longer I gaze. I try to think back to what they looked like before I gained weight.
Did they get that much bigger? Can people tell? Will my smaller clothes ever fit again? Will my hips get smaller? Or are these the hips I’ll have for most of my life now?
So I, too, stew and continue staring.
Maybe you have a certain body part that’s plagued you for what seems like forever. A part you wish you could “fix.”
The above quote is really an important lesson, because in the midst of cursing certain body parts, we forget the whole. We focus on the negative and let these tense feelings consume us, overwhelm us.
I think the key is to shift our focus. Instead of wasting energy on condemning your body, think of what you do have. If it helps, make a list of the qualities and traits you love. Or make a list of all the amazing things your body lets you do.
This isn’t about putting a fake smile on your face and grinning and bearing it. It’s about realizing that there’s more to you than a collection of wrong or disposable parts.
You’re more than hips, thighs, belly, arms or whatever other part seems to get under your skin.
Yes, I’m not thrilled that my hips have gotten bigger But I’m not going to diet to lose the inches, and I’m not going to kick up my workouts. Sure, I considered exercising harder, but why?
Instead, I’m going to keep enjoying the same physical activities without pushing myself to some brink of pain or displeasure. I don’t have an end goal. I don’t need one.
My intention, again, is to shift my focus.
I have to say, too, that fixating on our flaws misses the point of living. This weekend, we received upsetting news about Charlie, our 16-year-old kitty. He’s not doing very well. So this weekend I took a break from fixating on my body to breathe in the moments.
And you know what? It felt wonderful. It’s definitely been hard because we don’t know what today or the next day will bring. But spending yesterday outside of my body concerns and instead focused on Charlie’s strength, resilience and cuteness felt amazing.
We spent the day outdoors focused on the little pieces of life, the little joys.
I’m not saying that we should diminish our body concerns, that they aren’t important, because to many of us, they are paramount. But when we fixate, when we obsess, we don’t smell the roses – and that leaves us missing out on a lot.
So any time you find yourself hyperfocused on your “flaws,” try to shift the focus to what you do love, to appreciate your body as a whole and to take the time to enjoy the little moments.
In the long run and even in the short term, in the here and now, I promise you’ll be glad that you did.
P.S., Don’t forget that you have ’til this Tuesday at 12 a.m. EST to comment on this post to win a copy of Kim Brittingham’s Read My Hips: How I Learned to Love My Body, Ditch Dieting and Live Large.
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Last reviewed: 22 Aug 2011