“Every person is the creation of himself, the image of his own thinking and believing. As individuals think and believe, so they are,”
Claude M. Bristol.
We have all thought it at some point in our lives. I do not like ______ about my body. I am too______. I wish I was more________(beautiful, skinnier, taller, etc.). It does not help that our society does more to encourage our endless critical assessment of our bodies by bombarding us constantly with images of highly “picture-perfect” people whose body compositions are usually unattainable by the majority of the population. Statistics show that only 5% of the population can even come close to achieving the beauty standards that permeate the media. Additionally, a recent Harvard research study reported that by age 10, most girls in the U.S. have been on a diet at least once. When I read this statistics I felt an overwhelming sadness and pain. How can we live in such an advanced age with technology at our finger tips, yet we have increasingly become dissatisfied with the greatest organic creation, our own bodies?
Well, it’s time to stop the MADNESS! Besides, disliking or hating the way your body looks it actually deters you from whatever fitness and health goals you want to reach. How so you may ask? Well, consider the fact that constantly being on a yo-yo diet stream increases your stress levels and hormones like cortisol, which actually disrupt the body’s ability to function properly, including burning fat. Moreover, when we try to make our bodies fit into the cultural norm of what is considered “fit,” we are forgetting that every individual body has different body compositions, body fat needs, weight requirements, and age requirements. What my body needs at 20 will not be the same for what it needs in my 40s. Did you know that women tend to accumulate more fat than men due to their body’s needs to be fertile and maintain proper hormonal balance. It is important to note that all healthy people have fat reserves necessary for the proper functioning of their bodies. In fact, the almost complete disappearance of fat can lead to serious hormonal problems including the ending of the menstrual cycle. So, now that you have all this information and understanding, how do you begin to love your body? Below I have listed some tips to help begin your process.
1. Change your mindset – Rather than focusing on being a certain weight, a certain size, or having a certain percentage of body fat, focus on setting goals around your performance (exercising 3-4 a week, increasing the distance you run, etc.), being consistent with your eating habits, getting sleep, and enjoying life. If you are working towards these goals, your body will naturally fall into its healthiest appearance.
2. Change the Media Channel— In the social media world, un-follow anyone who posts ‘fitspiration’ pictures. Also anyone posting photos of their abs, the number of calories they ate that day, anyone who uses hashtag #lean and people who post pictures of their scale. Stop reading fashion magazines, fitness magazines, or any of the like that project images of unattainable beauty.
3. Be Flexible—If you missed one day of exercising or had that one piece of cake at the office party, enjoy! Remember that you are on a lifelong journey of being fit and healthy which does not mean that you have to deprive yourself ALL the time, acknowledge that it is okay and likely a healthy disruption in your routine. Being healthy is about making consistent choices, not about deprivation.
4. Affirm Your Beauty—When you get up in the morning or as you go throughout your day, remind yourself of all your positive and beautiful qualities. You can include things you like about your body, your character, personality, or accomplishments.
5. Challenge your thinking–Write down your negative thoughts, analyze them, and put a positive spin on them. Often when you see your thoughts on paper, you realize how inconsequential they are and are able to turn them into something positive.
Finally, remember to have compassion on yourself. Challenging the programming that we have been raised with can be a difficult journey but not an impossible one. With time, practice, perseverance, and compassion, loving yourself and the body you are in will come as natural as breathing.