On Wednesday, we talked about whether body image is a choice (and I received some really thoughtful comments – thank you!). What I was trying to say in that post is that a negative body image is the result of many contributing factors, including genetics and the environment. But while we don’t choose to have a negative body image in the beginning, we can choose to work on seeing ourselves in a positive light right now.
We are not powerless. We do have a choice to move forward.
It’s a complicated choice for sure and one that requires lots of work. But it’s still a choice.
Small Steps to a More Positive Body Image
You can start moving forward and building a more positive body image by starting small. So, today, I wanted to share with you some simple steps you can take to start building a healthier body image. Pick one to do today.
- Don’t buy magazines that make you feel bad about yourself. I briefly mentioned this on Wednesday, but I think it’s an important step, because for many of us, the media has a big impact on how we see ourselves, and what we think is beautiful (and healthy). If you find yourself walking over to the magazine rack, look for a new favorite that has nothing to do with food, fitness or health. Maybe your hobby has a magazine (e.g., scrap-booking, knitting, writing) or you enjoy decorating magazines. Try to find publications that enrich your life in some way, instead of ones that boost bad feelings about your body and yourself.
- Acknowledge a thought and change it. It can be tough to build a better body image when you’ve got a slew of negative thoughts swirling around your head. Remember that a) you aren’t your thoughts and b) thoughts can be like bad habits. It’s like saying “I’m fat” is the first thing that pops into our heads because we’re used to it. It’s become our go-to phrase. But we can work on changing that. So take one negative thought and try to make it positive. Even if you don’t believe it at first, it’s a good start. Here’s an effective way to test your negative thoughts, too.
- Think about one factor that’s contributed to your negative body image. There’s always something behind our body image (like there is with the obsession with food). Take a few minutes to think about what has influenced yours. How could you work to improve that? What can you do to fix this factor or to let it go?
- Right now think of one reason you’re grateful for your body.
- Are you hungry? Listen to your body, and if it’s hungry, respond. By feeding your body when it’s hungry, you’re reconnecting with it. Having a healthy body image doesn’t just mean appreciating your body for its amazing abilities (though that’s great, too!), it also means listening to it and taking care of it.
- Put up an Operation Beautiful note anywhere.
- Read your favorite body positive blog post, something that really inspires you and makes you feel better. Or take a few minutes to find a favorite among the blogs you like.
- Do one thing that makes you happy. Oftentimes, our mood greatly affects our body image. If we’re upset or anxious, we rarely feel comfortable in our own skin. So lifting your spirits can help a lot.
- Think of one way you can cope healthfully without body bashing. For many of us, when stress hits, our self-criticism soars. I used to blame myself and my body for everything. Brainstorm one way you can cope without letting your inner critic run wild.
- Do something that makes you feel strong. I never thought I was an athlete. In fact, I thought I sucked at every physical activity. Along with other things, this really affected my body image. Once I started exercising, though, I started feeling powerful. I realized that all I had to do was try. While I’m still not particularly athletic, I feel strong – and powerful – when I’m doing Pilates, lifting weights, riding my bike, doing a workout DVD or using the elliptical machine. Find at least one physical activity that makes you feel great, active and fulfilled. It can be anything from walking to running outside to dancing to hiking to team sports.
Today’s favorite post. “Keepin’ It In Perspective” at Health for the Whole Self.
How will you start building a healthier body image? What has helped you see yourself in a more positive light?