Body love doesn’t come naturally to too many of us. It didn’t to me. From my early teens to my late ’20s, I hated my body. I couldn’t even catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, avoided wearing mini skirts and anything that was just a little bit revealing, and whenever anyone looked at me, I believed they thought “how ugly she is”.
For too long, body hate held me back, and robbed me of the confidence I needed to live my life to the full. It took me years, and a lot of hard work, to start to appreciate my body and all it can do. There are still days when I look in the mirror and don’t like what I see, wishing I’d be a bit taller or had bigger eyes. But these days, these negative thoughts occur less and less, and they don’t get me down as much.
That’s because I practice daily body love. There are a lot of ways to do this. Some will work for you better than others, but none are quick fixes. To start loving your body, you need to change your mindset first, and that takes time. But, by practising these tips daily, or at least regularly, your relationship with your body will change for the better.
Here’s what helped me:
1. Stop consuming media that make you feel inadequate
Magazines. TV. Blogs. Social media. Radio. Billboards. The media is all around us. We can’t escape it. But we can chose what to consume and how. I used to be an avid fan of women’s magazines, but it’s been ages since I last read one. They have a few features I like but, mostly, they make me feel inadequate. They’re always telling me I’m too short, too fat, not stylish enough or pretty enough.
So, I ditched them in favour of blogs, such as Gala Darling or Beauty Redefined, that make me feel good about myself and the way I look. It’s so refreshing to be told we don’t have to waste time fitting into a certain narrow Western ideal, and can focus on being the smart, fun, imperfect, and awesome people that we are. It gives such a boost to your self-esteem!
Maybe magazines don’t make you feel bad about yourself. But watching the news makes you scared of travelling alone, making you pass up wonderful work opportunities. Or dealing with Twitter trolls ruins your day. So don’t. If something makes you feel bad and gets you down, you don’t have to consume it.
2. Don’t hang out with toxic people
Media can be toxic, but so can people. We all have Negative Nellies and Debbie Downers in our lives. Those folks who complain about everything, constantly criticize others, and can’t see the good in anything. They just create unnecessary stress for you, and their comments can seriously erode your self-esteem and confidence. So, if you can, avoid them.
Break contact gradually if you don’t want to upset them, but do it. If you can’t, because they’re family members or colleagues you see almost daily, you can limit your interactions with them to a minimum. Then, when someone starts complaining, ask them how they are thinking of fixing the problem. That usually shuts them up. It that doesn’t work, find an excuse to get away.
Whatever you do, don’t pity them or sympathize with them. That’s just what they want, and by so doing, you’ll encourage them to continue ruining their, and everyone else’s, life. Instead, hang out more with positive people who encourage, inspire, and support you. You’ll become a lot happier, resilient, and motivated to reach your goals.
3. View food as fuel
We are what we eat, and we eat what we are. If you use food for comfort, you’ll eat way too much (often of the wrong stuff too), only to regret it and loathe yourself afterwards. If you see food as an enemy, you won’t eat enough or deprive yourself of important nutrients your body badly needs to function properly.
Question your relationship with food, and what’s behind it. Are you trying to fill an emotional void? What can you do to fix the problem without using food? Then, get educated about nutrition. Find out what different foods do for your body, and the physical and psychological effects they have. Do they give your body the energy it needs, or do they have the opposite effect? Once you start viewing food as fuel, following a healthy, balanced diet becomes a lot easier.
4. Do The Work
Developed by Byron Katie, The Work is a way of identifying and questioning any negative thought that runs through your mind. You just have to ask yourself these four questions:
1. Is it true?
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
3. How do you react when you believe that thought?
4. Who would you be without that thought?
Doing The Work is uncomfortable at first, but it really helps put negative thoughts in perspective, and then they won’t affect you as much. You’ll be free to be the person you would be without that thought, the person that you truly are.
5. Look at yourself naked in the mirror
I know, I know. This feels so weird and uncomfortable, but it can really help you love your body. How? Rather than look away quickly as you catch a glimpse of your reflection in the mirror, look at your body and say aloud what you love about it. If you struggle to find something nice to say, start by focusing on one body part, and tell it that you love it.
“Dimpled cellulite thighs, I love you!” Even if you don’t believe it, say it anyway, and continue till you do. Then, think about of what that body part does for you. Our legs allow us to walk, run, and jump. Focus on the good, not the “bad” (or what we’ve been conditioned to see as bad). Our bodies are instruments, not ornaments.
6. Use your body in new ways
Try yoga. Take up a new sport. Enrol in a dance class. Go mountain trekking. Learn to climb trees. Find new ways to move and use your body. You’ll be amazing at what it can do.
7. Hang confidence enhancing posters on your walls
A quick search on Etsy turns up hundreds of motivational posters that inspire you while making your house look prettier too. If you’re the artsy type, you can make your own posters. Write something like “You are amazing”, or “Be your beautiful self” in bright bold letters on a canvas, frame it, and hang it on your wall. Or you can write yourself love notes and leave them on your desk, your car, your bedside table. It sounds silly, but this constant exposure helps rewire your brain and help it look and feel about your body differently, in a much more positive light.
Do you practice daily body love? If so, how?