Every Monday features a tip, exercise, inspiring quote or other tidbit to help boost your body image. For many of us, Mondays are tough. We may feel anxious and stressed out, anticipating an arduous week, especially if we didn’t get much rest and relaxation during the weekend.

These kinds of feelings don’t create the best environment for improving one’s body image. In fact, you might be harder on yourself and easily frustrated. You might even feel like you’re walking on egg shells – with yourself! With these posts, I hope you’ll have a healthier and happier body image day, that’ll last throughout the week.

Got a tip for improving body image? Email me at [email protected], and I’ll be happy to feature it. It can be anything you do that’s healthy and helps boost your body image. I’d love to hear from you!

When our body image is negative, we do a lot of thinking about what we don’t have.

We don’t have muscular legs. We don’t have flat abs. We don’t have skinny arms. We don’t have a small waist.

If we do think in “I haves,” those tend to be negative, too: I have cellulite. I have fat thighs. I have a big belly. I have huge hips.

This weekend, I was reading Stop Dieting NOW! 25 Reasons to Stop, 25 Ways to Heal by Golda Poretsky of Body Love Wellness (she generously sent me a copy). The book features 25 reasons why dieting is harmful along with 25 practical tips. In reason #18 she writes:

Diets work on a scarcity principle. Diets make dieters focus on lack, tell them they can only have “this much and no more” and that to want more is a bad thing. Because dieting is so all-encompassing, this scarcity principle often filters into other aspects of dieters’ lives. They begin to see lack and scarcity in their relationships, in their jobs and in the world.

Focusing on abundance, on possibilities, on there being enough for everyone, is a very powerful framework for feeling good about one’s life. I often find that when my clients start focusing on what is good about their lives, that sense of happiness – and indeed, those good things themselves – continue to grow. Alternatively, when they focus on what is wrong in their lives, and on what they can’t have, their worldview and happiness, continue to shrink.

When you have a negative body image, lack and scarcity are also mostly what you focus on. You lack this. You lack that. And, as a result, your worldview and happiness also shrink.

The more you nit-pick, the more you find unacceptable with your body. The more negative your body image, the more fixated you become on fixing yourself. On dieting or exercising away those countless bad body parts.

Soon life turns into, “When my thighs get thinner, I’ll be happier.” “When I lose those last 5 lbs., I’ll look much better, and I’ll feel much better about myself.” ”

“When I look a different way, life will be perfect.”

When we live in this world of wishes, we live in the future – instead of truly being in and enjoying the present.

Plus, when we’re preoccupied with what we don’t have (or the negative parts we do have), it’s hard to be positive all around. Like Golda says, the negativity starts to pervade other facets of our lives.

One practical way to start building a more positive body image is to practice gratitude. Golda writes, “Spend some time making a list of things you’re thankful for having, rather than you wish you had.” You can write positive things about your body or do a general gratitude list, or both.

The benefits? As Golda says, “it will definitely change your mood, make you feel more positive, and allow you to focus on the abundance of all you have!” I couldn’t agree more. (BTW, she says that you can substitute the word “grateful” with “appreciate,” if you like.)

I’ll start us off. Here’s my combo gratitude list:

  1. I am grateful for my strong body, which has done some challenging things throughout my life.
  2. I am grateful for my facial features, which when I’m wearing contacts resemble my dad’s, and that makes me happy and proud.
  3. I am grateful for my muscular legs.
  4. I am grateful for my hands, which let me write for hours.
  5. I am grateful for my body overall, which is unique to me, and only me.
  6. I am grateful for my feet, which take me anywhere I want to go.
  7. I am grateful for my stomach. It’s far from flat but it gives me the strength to do some pretty cool things in Pilates class.
  8. I am grateful for this blog and its awesome readers.
  9. I am grateful for my boyfriend and my family and friends, whose support, knows-no-bounds generosity and unconditional love mean a lot to me.
  10. I am grateful for being alive.

What about you?

Maybe you’re grateful for your kids and how your body gave birth to them (we often forget just what an amazing accomplishment that is!). Maybe you’re grateful for your job or the ability to do a certain hobby. Maybe you’re grateful that your feet will take you anywhere too.

Maybe you’re grateful because you have your mom’s eyes. Maybe you’re grateful for your muscular legs or strong stomach. For being in recovery from an eating disorder. For the people in your life. For having a gorgeous smile.

It can be anything, no matter how big or how seemingly small.

Try writing a list of 10 things, and keep that list handy so you can remind yourself whenever your inner critic starts creeping in. You might also want to keep a gratitude journal and write in it several days a week. Consider writing what you’re thankful for in general, and why you’re thankful for your body, too.

At Adventures in Wanting, a blog I follow (and like a lot!), Kim posts a list of five things she’s grateful for at the end of every post. I love that!

My Guest Post

Last week I wrote a guest post on body image barriers and builders for one of my favorite blogs, Honoring Health. You can check it out here!

Today’s favorite post. No Matter What Shape You’re In” at Elizabeth Patch’s More to Love Sketchbook.

What are you grateful for? What do you appreciate about your body and your life? Do you keep a gratitude journal?