Amelia Island, beach, mama and Bella

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 your 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!

Boundaries are vital for any healthy relationship. And they’re just as vital for building a more positive body image with ourselves. Here are several ideas for setting solid body image boundaries.

1. Surround yourself with supportive people.

Are the people in your circle supportive? Do they build you up or bring you down? Do they criticize your appearance? Do they get upset when you make yourself a priority? Do they drain your energy or enhance it?

The people in our lives certainly influence the way we feel about ourselves and our bodies. Spend time with the people who truly support you (and want you to be healthy and happy).

2. Know what you will and won’t discuss.

Think about the types of topics that are off limits in your discussions with people (and that means anyone and everyone). Maybe you don’t want to discuss diets or the calorie count of everyone’s food.

Maybe you’d rather not comment on others’ weight and have others comment on yours. Maybe you don’t want to talk about physical appearance at all, yours or anyone else’s. “Fat talk” is common, but that doesn’t mean you have to participate. Figure out what you’re comfortable with during conversations, and what you’re not.

Then if these topics are mentioned, you have several options: Be honest and simply say that you don’t want to talk about that topic; politely try to change the subject; or just leave the room, and take a break.

3. Set all kinds of boundaries.

Again, it’s important to create (and maintain) boundaries with others concerning everything in your life. It could be anything from “I will talk to you once you’ve calmed down” to “You can borrow that if you bring it back tomorrow” to “I’ll be available to talk after my workout at noon.”

I really like this simple exercise on in helping you figure out your boundaries. (The piece, overall, has good insight into setting boundaries.)

1. People may not ___________.

2. I have a right to ask for ____________.

3. To protect my time and energy, it’s OK to _________________.

4. Say no to anything that doesn’t feel right or disrespects or dishonors you. 

Think about the activities that don’t nourish you. It can help to think back to the situations that made you feel uncomfortable, frustrated, attacked or mistreated. Then consider why you felt this way. It’s probably a clue into the kind of boundaries you need to set.

5. Say yes to activities that do feel right, nourishing and/or rejuvenating.

What are the activities that you get excited about, the ones you’d seriously shout “yes” to? What activities help you cultivate a healthier body image? What activities help you take kind, compassionate care of yourself? Focus on those activities.

If you find it helpful, write down your responses, and keep the paper handy. Let it serve as an important reminder of your boundaries, and how you’d like to improve your body image and live your life.

What are your body image boundaries?