Myth: body love is something that comes as a direct result of body change. The only way to love your body is to change what you hate about it. When you have the body you see in your head, you’ll stop feeling insecure, stop feeling bad about yourself, and stop comparing yourself to others.
False. False. FALSE.
Truth time: Loving your body isn’t a process that requires changing the physical. It’s ALL about a change in attitude.
Body love isn’t all or nothing: getting to a place of peace with your body doesn’t happen overnight, nor should body peace/love imply that you’ll never have negative thoughts, not so hot moments or unwavering confidence. Body love is a process, a journey and a progression. It’s something that you invest in, work on and try to get better at with time.
Many, MANY women get to their goals and love themselves no better than when they started. That’s because they believed that changing the physical was all they needed to do. It’s not their fault really; weight loss obsessed marketing often focuses heavily on physical changes, showing weight loss as a gateway to success, glory or happiness. Even more get to their goal, and find even more “flaws” they don’t like. They are stunned that they aren’t “perfect” and many feel like failures for not living up to unrealistic expectations that lie outside of their control. For some women, weight loss is the magic happy pill they’ve been waiting for: they expect to feel happier, more confident and successful when they are at the weight they’ve decided is the key to all these things.
For most women, no amount of time in the gym can change everything they dislike. No amount of weight loss will cause rampant self-confidence (folks who have gained confidence have done so with a simultaneous attitude change by the way). You can’t change your genes, your physical limitations or your body’s basic needs & layout. But you CAN change your attitude about how you feel about them. THAT is something you can control, work on and get better at over time.
Bottom line: if you want to start loving your body, you need to start working on tightening and toning your attitude towards it.
Many people assume that body love comes easy for me. Nothing could be farther from the truth. For me, body peace is something that I actively invest in, work on and strive towards. It’s not something that happened overnight, or a destination I suddenly arrived at one day. It’s something I work on each and every day. It’s something that I’m getting better and better at, and something that I protect vigorously.
I remind myself of how far I’ve come. I actively stop negative thoughts in their tracks and replace them with something positive. I remove things/messages/media that might trigger me. I catch myself over criticizing myself and I flip a switch. I surround myself with bad ass postive peeps like Fit Mama Training (GoKaleo, Angie Gooding Body Image Specialist,This Is Not A Diet, It’s Your Life and more. Lots of soul sisters & body love warriors out there). I work really hard to make sure that my body confidence stays at a level where it SERVES me, rather than depletes me. And yeah, sometimes I need to talk to myself in the mirror and dish out cheesy motivational tough lovin’. And it makes me feel foolish (and slightly embarrassed when I’m caught), but I do it. Whatever works. It’s THAT important to me.
It’s not always automatic, and there are times when my body is NOT my favorite thing in the world (trust me - when you have serious medical issues, you really start appreciating your body for working the way it should rather than looking the way you think it should). But loving and being at peace with it has become easier and easier. With practice.
Body love is….
Loving or accepting the body you’re in. It’s not perfect, but nothing is.
Engaging in behaviors that are consistent with responding to your body’s needs. No starving, no beating yourself up, taking breaks when you need to etc…
A process that starts from the head down. Not the body up. It comes from a change in attitude, not a change in your body.
Possible for everyone, though it may take more work for some. Very few people start loving their bodies overnight, and the more you hated it before, the more work it takes to be at peace with it.
Constantly in flux. There will always be days when it’s higher or lower. It’s not a destination: it’s a JOURNEY!
How To Start Loving Your Body
Remove triggers that inspire jealously, comparison, self-doubt, self-hate etc. Sometimes, this means unfollowing certain blogs, removing images, canceling magazine subscriptions, reviewing relationships and more.
Start actively shutting down negative thoughts. Actively means not letting them take up more air time than they deserve: recognize them when the happen and shut them down. Trust me, they will happen, but you can control how much you let them in. When you start speaking or thinking negatively about your body, STOP. Breathe. Find something positive instead. This is hard at first, but gets easier and easier. Shut ‘em DOWN. Kick ‘em OUT.
Recognize that the needs of your ego and body are different. Your job is to take care of your body, not force it into some ideal in your head. When in doubt, prioritize your body’s needs ahead of those of your ego.
Start paying a little more attention to what your body can DO, especially if you’re working out with a weight loss goal in mind. There are lots of ways to gauge your progress that have nothing to do with how you look - and they’re bad ass. Instead of trying to ‘tone’ your arms, work on trying to lift heavier, bust out more pushups, improve your tricep dips etc. Instead of working out with the sole purpose of fitting into skinny jeans, try working out because you enjoy it or to improve your overall fitness. Bonus benefit? Focusing on the effort you’re putting in instead of focusing on the results often brings about those same results… with a whack load of confidence.
Follow body positive blogs, pages, peeps & resources. If their attitude mirrors the one you’d like to have, chances are it’s a good one. Be cautious of those who may use guilt trips of shaming in order to get you to workout or engage in unhealthy practices. Generally, most people who are into body lovin’ identify as such. Flip side: sometimes it’s comforting to find people who feel the same as you do. Finding another person who shares your insecurities or who doesn’t sugar coat things can feel more authentic & genuine than someone who doesn’t. While it might be comforting to find others in the same boat, generally all they’ll do is help you stay there. If you want to start loving your body better, you need to find peeps who’ll help you do so. Even if they seem a little cheesy.
Stop friends from talking shit about their own bodies. It’s a vicious cycle and one many women engage in (the body shame game). A good way to do so is to try to change the topic, or use phrases like “Stop talking about my friend that way”. If it doesn’t stop, consider surrounding yourself with people who don’t speak that way more often.
Remember that you only have one body, and you’ve been put in charge of taking care of it for the long haul. Regardless of what it looks like & the standards you impose on it, your job is to make sure that it’s working at it’s best.
Remind yourself that perfect doesn’t exist. It doesn’t. Anywhere. But somehow we’ve been lead to believe that it’s attainable. What kind of world are we living in if even the most “beautiful” people have to be digitally altered and photoshopped in order to be perfect? Knowing this and internalizing it are two different things: most people are aware that photoshopping exists, but still allow images of ‘perfect’ models to affect their self worth. Allow the message to sink in. Personally, I like to think about Jessica Rabbit when I find myself comparing. If I wouldn’t compare myself to a cartoon character, even a hot one, I shouldn’t compare myself to a digitally altered image.
Stop yourself from allowing your insecurity to make a mountain out of a molehill. We tend to assume that everyone notices our flaws the way we do. Not true. We also tend to notice ‘flaws’ in others that truly bother US. If you’re insecure about your own cellulite, chances are you’re more likely to notice it in others. Same goes for acne, scars, muffin tops etc.
Keep it real. 90% of women have cellulite. Models, athletes, BEAUTIFUL women. Everyone bruises. Everyone scars. Everyone doesn’t look their best all the time. Confidence is the most attractive attribute that ANYONE can have. Fake it til you make it (practice makes perfect).
Of ALL the things I’ve done to treat my body better, learning to manage my confidence bumps is the one thing that’s had the biggest payoff.
And I’m still working on it. One thought, one moment, one day at a time.