Our culture places a great deal of emphasis on the physical, specifically our bodies. How many weight loss, nutrition, or fitness magazines have you seen? I’m guessing it’s a lot. And while some of these sources can offer valuable insight, they can also make us resent and fault-find our own physiques.
Women in particular are so critical of their bodies. I’ve never met a woman who wasn’t at least a little insecure about her body. We may create faulty “if/then” statements, such as, “If I lose 10 pounds, then I’ll finally feel confident.” I validate the desire to be healthy and fit and to put one’s best self forward, but I also think there’s an even better way be at peace with ourselves unconditionally.
One thing we can practice doing is loving our body “breed.”
It may seem a bit odd to think of yourself as part of a breed, but consider that everyone has different genes, shapes, and structures. Some people have bigger frames or bones, while others are more petite. I’ve exercised regularly my entire life, but I’ve never gotten taller. It may be tempting to dream of a body that’s unattainable for us individually, but by accepting our breed and what we’ve been given, we can love our bodies a little bit more.
Another tip is to view your body as an instrument and not as an ornament.
There seems to be such an obsession with how we look–the mere appearance of our bodies, but there is so much more to it than that! Think about all the incredible things they do for us every day. Even the simple, everyday functions of walking, breathing, and eating are amazing if you stop and think about it. Your body is a miracle capable of providing you with life. We can go our whole lives without really appreciating what they can do for us. So the next time you find yourself regarding your body with a critical eye, stop to consider how good it is to you.
Unsurprisingly, the media can be a major threat to our body image. We are bombarded with images of beautiful, slim women who seem to have it all. But it’s so critical to realize that what we’re viewing is not reality. These individuals have spent hours in hair and makeup, likely work with a personal trainer, are under perfect lighting, and are almost certainly airbrushed (sometimes beyond recognition). You do not have to look like them to be beautiful. In my clinical practice, I’ve observed that even women who have extremely thin bodies are not always happy; those who struggle with eating disorders may have the physique of someone on a magazine cover, but they unfortunately usually loathe their own bodies.
Be wary of the media messages about the ideal body, and push back against them in your own mind.
Finally, I encourage you to focus on your health (instead of obsessing over pounds, inches, and what the scales tell you). Treat your body right by eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. All of those tried-and-true tips really can go a long way to help you feel good! If you do need to make changes to your body, make sure to do so in a moderate, realistic way, not by starving yourself or obsessing over exercise.
The kinder you are to your body, the kinder it will be to you.
Our bodies can be a serious source of distress, but fortunately they can also be a great source of strength. Continually remind yourself how lucky you are to have it, and how we are constantly exposed to a distorted perception of what the ideal should be, and then find ways to treat it right.