Every Monday features a tip, activity, inspiring quote or some other tidbit that helps boost your body image, whether directly or indirectly — and hopefully kick-starts 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!

I think one of the reasons I yearned to be thinner many years ago was because I just didn’t feel that comfortable in my own skin. And in reality no amount of weight loss would’ve solved that problem. (In fact, it just would’ve masked it and made things worse.)

Part of that discomfort stemmed from the fact that I was iffy about who I am. I rarely consciously tuned into my needs, wants, likes and dislikes. My sense of self was shaky, at best. And there was always someone smaller, prettier, smarter, cooler — and better than me.

Maybe you’ve had similar experiences. Maybe your negative body image, your desire for thinness is intertwined with a shaky sense of self, with your desire to be someone else entirely.

Maybe you think that once you lose weight, you’ll finally become more adventurous, more successful or more secure. Maybe you think you’ll somehow start leading a different life.

But the answer of course isn’t found in berating yourself or your body, or manipulating your size or shape. It’s found in looking at yourself. Really looking at yourself. And figuring out who you are, and practicing embracing her (or him) every day.

In her book Love Your Naked Ass: 80 Gentle Ways to Transform Your Life, Restore Your Serenity & Rediscover HappinessKimberly Riggins features a helpful exercise to practice being you.

She writes, “Today, forget how you think you ‘should be’ and focus on who you really are and what it is you really want. Pay attention to how you feel, what you’re thinking, what you say and how you show up.”

Part of that, she writes, includes giving others definitive responses. Avoid saying that you don’t know or that you don’t care, because, as Kimberly writes, you do.

So this week practice tuning into your needs and wants. Consciously check in with your feelings, your thoughts. Pay attention to whether you like the things you’re doing. Pay attention to what nourishes you. And any time you say “I should,” really consider if that’s what you want.