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33 Lessons On Body Image, Well-Being And Life

ice cream, MOMA

Today is my 31th birthday! Every year, for my b-day, I’ve been republishing a version of the below post. It’s become sort of a tradition around here.

In it, I share what I’ve learned about body image, well-being and life in my years on this earth thus far.

Why 33? Two lessons for good luck! 

1. Be you.

In all your amazing & unique glory. Being someone else or pretending you like something you actually don’t doesn’t work. Trust me, I’ve tried. It feels awkward and itchy. And then there’s the matter of life being too short.

Find out who you are. Explore your likes and dislikes. Explore what makes you happy. Explore what sparks your passion. Spend time by yourself. Take yourself out on dates.

2. Eat what your heart, mind and body desire.

As Anna says, use “the feel good rule.” Figure out what nourishes and energizes you.

3. Do what makes you feel comfortable — not what others say (unless, of course, it’s something self-destructive).

4. Don’t compare yourself to others.

On all counts, whether it’s looks, academics, accomplishments, how clean and pristine their house is, how happy their marriage is and what an amazing blogger they are.

I have a hard time with this. Regularly. But it’s important to push through it, or explore it. Mara wrote a great piece on comparison making.

5. Learn to become more decisive.

Tune in to yourself. Even if it concerns something seemingly small, like what you want to eat for dinner. For instance, I can take 10 minutes to read a menu and then another 5 asking the server about how they like the food and whether I can make a few substitutions.

Because you know what? Deep down, you do know what you want. You just might be used to a) letting others take the reins b) silencing yourself or c) feeling afraid to voice your opinion. Take the time to figure out what you want.

6. Being in nature is truly soothing.

It reminds you of the magic of life. Especially if you’re having a bad day, get outside and marvel at the trees, flowers, sun, moon and the rainbow colors of the sky. Seek out natural surroundings more often. Breathe in the beauty that’s there every single day.

7. It’s fine to eat chocolate every day.

Doing so doesn’t make you a bad person, a diet failure, a glutton or a person doomed to an unhealthy and horrible life.

8. Build a relationship with yourself.

A kind and compassionate one. It’s your foundation for everything. Everything. Ask yourself regularly: Would I say, suggest or do that to my best friend?

9. Journaling is a powerful way to get to know yourself.

It’s powerful, even if you only jot down some thoughts every day or once a week. I just took Susannah’s journaling class, and absolutely loved it.

10. Self-care is not selfish or time-consuming or a luxury or even optional.

It’s key to our mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health. You can help others sooo much more effectively and compassionately once you’ve helped yourself.

11. Don’t wait to do anything you want to do until you lose weight.

Do. It. Now. Why wait?

12. Celebrate yourself and your loved ones – often!

In fact, call or email someone you love right now.

13. Discover movement. 

I used to hate exercise. Hate it. I also had all these thoughts about how I wasn’t an athlete, and how much I suck at anything physical. I also used to associate movement and exercise with weight loss. No wonder I didn’t want to do it.

Change how you see moving your body. Do it on your terms. Find the joy in movement. Discover what makes you and your body happy.

Maybe that’s hiking or hula-hooping. Maybe it’s swimming, strength training or yoga. Whatever it is, just do it. 🙂

14. Write for yourself, and tell the truth.

Every day. Some days, this means getting in touch with unpleasant feelings. Other days, it means simply writing the truest sentence you know. Again, this is a beautiful and important way to build a relationship with yourself.

15. Sleep is not over-rated.

16. But perfection is.

Learn to be OK in the mess. Learn to make art with that mess.

17. A diet is not a magic elixir that leads to everything you want.

Usually, it just blurs your wants and needs and makes you hungry and miserable.

18. Success can look easy from the outside.

But it takes a lot of work, sweat, tears, late nights and early mornings. And the road is sometimes paved with nails.

19. Speaking of success, don’t let anyone define what success is for you.

Like thinness. This is just another society-created blueprint. Like thinness, a society-created definition of success can leave you feeling miserable trying to attain and maintain it. Remember you’re the only who has to live your life, day in and day out.

20. Take the time to express yourself creatively, whatever that might be.

Creativity opens up opportunities and new worlds. It helps us build our relationship with ourselves.

21. Attend to your hungers every day.

Like Rachel always says, what are you hungry for? (Another lesson is to read Rachel’s work, which is filled with powerful wisdom.)

22. It’s perfectly OK to spend hours on Pinterest. Hehe.

23. It’s also perfectly OK and good and great to feel pleasure.

24. Live life with your own voice.

25. Don’t waste time on bashing your body with your friends. 

Instead, host events that empower you. Talk about your struggles and your dreams. But avoid commiserating around your not good enough waist or thighs or the calorie count in those cupcakes.

26. Even when we’re not ready to accept ourselves entirely, we can own a small part.

What small part will you own today?

27. While it’s so hard, don’t let how you feel about your body, stop you from savoring life and doing things that bring you joy.

If you’re in this space, keep working. Keep working on accepting your body or fake it ’til you make it. Again, we’re all keenly aware that life is way too short.

28. It’s OK to invest in your well-being, whether that’s an e-course, exercise class, a new notebook, a new outfit, a new book.

I love Alex’s words from Julie’s e-book Build Your Biz and Blog with Love

“I ‘invest’ in myself and my business whenever I do, buy, learn or even think something that makes me feel stronger, more capable and more creatively potent…Whether I’m working or playing (or somewhere in between) I want to feel electric, sought-after, affluent, sensual and free. Any investment — of cash, time or energy — that helps me feel the way I want to feel is a good one.”

29. None of us, ever, needs to apologize for his or her body. Ever.

You have all the permission in the world to wear what you want to wear, to go where you want to go, and to love yourself at any and every size.

30. Figure out what your passion is and do it!

The older I get, the more I realize the importance of filling your days with things that you’re passionate about, whether that’s your day job or a hobby you work on for a few minutes a day. There are so many amazing things out there that can put a smile on your face. How fun and interesting to figure out what they are and then enjoy them.

31. Be patient with your loved ones.

It’s no doubt tough in the moment. But I don’t think you’ll ever regret being extra patient and understanding with the most special people in your life.

32. Be patient with yourself.

Practice self-compassion. Yes, it’s tough, too. But just take it one step at a time. One kind gesture at a time. Just practice. The more you practice, the more natural it’ll become.

33. Take breaks from taking life so seriously.

Make time to play, laugh hysterically, and dance. Show off those silly moves. Embrace them.

What things do you know to be true about body image or life? What lessons have you learned? What did you think was true years ago but turned out to be false? 

33 Lessons On Body Image, Well-Being And Life

Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

Margarita is an associate editor at She writes about everything from taking compassionate care of yourself at any weight, shape, and size, to coping healthfully with difficult emotions. Her goal is to give readers practical, empowering tips to better their lives, and to remind you that whatever you're struggling with, you're never, ever alone.

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2019). 33 Lessons On Body Image, Well-Being And Life. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 9, 2020, from


Last updated: 30 Mar 2019
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