Tips on How to Find a Healthy Body Image
This is one of those blog entries that I really wanted to write for my customers but will of course share with everyone else! The other day we were talking about body image in one of my challenge groups. I went to reference an article that I have used in the past and to my surprise, the link led to nothing but a list of adult sites. Oops! Definitely NOT my intended destination. So I went on a search to find something else to use in place of that prior article which was no longer available. So much of what I found had to do with eating disorders and everything attached to that world. Although a very real “body image” situation, that realm is not really the usual place where our challenge groups operate. Then I found some odd stuff. Ummmm…. like naked yoga. LOTS about naked yoga to improve your body image. What is up with that??? If you love it, great. But it is definitely NOT my thing and I will not be starting a naked yoga challenge any time soon. (Or ever!) 😉
So, back to finding a healthy body image. After spending the past 2 years working with a variety of women in my “secret” FB accountability groups, I have been involved in a lot of discussion on this topic. Of course it is very much a mufti-faceted thing! This blog entry is not going to be some doctorate-level dissertation on the topic. We all know that is not me! But I would like to share some of the things that I have observed in everyday life as well as what I have been experiencing myself when it comes to this topic.
1) A healthy body image has much to do with liking the direction in which we are headed. We could be many pounds, inches, dress sizes or whatever from our ultimate goal. But if we feel good about the everyday choices that we are making, we are going to feel good about ourselves. So much of our enjoyment in life comes from approving of our own choices. When we doubt ourselves or second guess our feelings and actions, everything becomes unsteady. Having a solid plan and kicking in the discipline to follow it goes a LONG way. You could be just 2 or 3 days into making a change and you could feel SO much differently about your body which is just barely beginning to change. So much of our body image comes from how we feel about what we see and this is filtered heavily by how we feel about what we are doing daily. Some of us can take a look in the mirror with a critical eye and determine that we are in fact “looking good today” and this will give a boost. But more often than not, if we do not already feel good from the inside out, the reflection in the mirror itself is not going to suddenly transport us to a happy place! Our perspective is oftentimes skewed by how we feel rather than being a result of what we see.
2) There is a key shift that I just LOVE to see happening in the lives of my customers. Here is what happens… we go from AVOIDING mirrors at all costs to actually being on the lookout for them in order to survey and appreciate our progress. I celebrate this shift more than I can put into words. I remember when I felt this switch myself and it was truly a life-altering realization. When I found myself on the other side of that “avoiding the mirror” chasm, I realized that my body image had come leaps and bounds!
3) When we are taking care of our selves, we are going to feel that much better about how we feel and what we see in the mirror. The fit of our clothes plays a part in this. When everything feels snug and we just feel frumpy in most of our wardrobe, that leads towards a negative body image. The bright side is that the solution is simple… eat clean, portion-controlled food and start exercising regularly! It is INCREDIBLE what a difference 5-7 days can make in how we feel about ourselves and life in general! Here is a KEY tip — the SCALE. A lot of the time, we would do well to visit the scale a little less often. Weigh yourself once a week, at the same time of the day. That # on the scale fluctuates SO much due to a variety of factors. We have to fight the urge that allows that # to dictate how we feel about our day and ourselves. Go back to #1 as listed above. Which direction are we headed in? Are we making choices that make us happy? Keep at it!
4) There may very well be deeper issues at work. This blog entry is not going to delve into everything from our past that has wounded us or really caused us heartache which has morphed into a powerfully negative body image. Eating disorders are a much bigger topic and I am not experienced in the psychology and science that go into combating the very low body image that torments many in that boat.
5) Society plays a big part in telling us how we should “look” and how we should do things! Some of us are more susceptible than others to all of these outside voices. All of us have moments of weakness where we stop and compare ourselves to what we are seeing around us. A healthy body image does not constantly do that! Compare yourself TO yourself! How are you doing now as compared to last month? Are you happy with the direction in which you are headed? If so, keep at it! If not, make some changes. God has created these AMAZING bodies that we call home. It is mind-boggling to pause and consider this. As we look to our Creator, we become less fixated on what “we don’t like” about His masterpiece!
6) There may be a specific life situation in which we “always feel self-conscious”. These overriding feelings of self-doubt can also contribute to a negative body image when we are engaged in that activity or spend time at that location. Recognize this tendency in advance. Be proactive! Find something that gives you a boost and wear it! Remember your value as an individual. It is OKAY that we are not Victoria’s Secret swimsuit models. Let’s enjoy the water with our kids! I remember a time three summers ago, before I began any of my own health transformation. We were getting ready to go to the beach. At my highest weight ever, I was not excited about putting on my suit. But I do love the water and the outdoors and spending time with my kids. So I put on my suit and cover up and started gathering towels and sunscreen. My daughter was 5 years old at the time and she saw me on the upstairs landing wearing my suit… “Oh mom! You look just beautiful in that! It is like a little dress for the beach! How pretty!”. I was cut to the heart and knew in that moment that I had to not display any disdain towards my own appearance, FOR HER SAKE. I thanked her sincerely and said how much I was looking forward to going to the beach together. She beamed and looked up at me in a way that I will never forget. It also hit me in that moment that the days were probably limited where she would look at me and not notice that I was at an unhealthy weight. I vowed to myself that I would BECOME a healthy mom. I began my own transformation not longer after. Every time that I did not “feel” like working out or eating right, I would picture my husband and kids and I would push forward.
Are you ready to start working on your own body image? Let’s chat! 🙂