I’ve learned a thing or two about body love over the years.
I’ve learned through my personal struggles and then in lines of work that fell into both ends of the spectrum—first at a weight loss clinic, then at a residential treatment centre for eating disorders.
I have had my own issues with weight and insecurity. I’ve seen friends’ self esteem plummet to the point of causing harm to themselves because of a 10 pound weight gain and witnessed both myself and others spend thousands going on and off fad diets for a lifetime. The most heart-wrenching experience was meeting young, intelligent and beautiful women whose desire to be perfect looking on the outside was causing severe to life-threatening affects on their body, mind and soul.
The time I spent getting to know these inspiring young women woke me up to the realities of body image and the damage it can cause.
Body hate can stop a person in their tracks and cripple them for years or a lifetime. We are living in a time where people idolize or lust after airbrushed photos of celebrities who don’t think twice about airbrushing in some abs or airbrushing out some cellulite, because, like all of us, they just want to feel beautiful too.
On the other side we have the body love movement. Body love can lift a person up and is a key ingredient to personal success in life, love, career. More and more ads and commercials are using people who reflect the realities of society. I’ve noticed an increase in woman being comfortable in their own skin.
I’m not sure if this is societal progress or because my peers and I are getting older and that’s just part of the package.
I went through a major shift in my mid-20s when it was time to make a decision about how I would continue to move through life: Did I want to continue to let my insecurities be the foundation on which I make my life choices? Did I honestly believe that because I am not a size two that I am unlovable, undesirable and unworthy like the media/society tells me?
I said no to these questions….and I said it with integrity. I made a decision to fight for my right to love myself and put 10,000 hours into my personal development work until I actually did.
It was no easy feat, but if I can do it so can you.
Here is what I learned the hard way:
1. Every morning we wake up and we make a decision to love ourselves or to hate ourselves.
Being miserable or happy is 100 percent our responsibility.
What happens when you start the day thinking “I’m fat” or “I”m a loser” or “I”m ugly”?
Instantly we are in a bad mood and are more likely to behave out of insecurity or self-loathing, which causes rifts in our world that keep the cycle of self-deprivation circling. We take this energy to work and our performance drops, or we throw this energy at our partner which causes a fight.
When we make the decision that we are unworthy or not enough we are slowly hammering a nail into the coffin of our success in life, love and prosperity.
What happens when we wake up thinking “I am beautiful,” “I am capable,” “Today is going to be awesome”?
Instantly we set a positive tone for the day. We behave out of love and kindness which improves our relationships, puts passion into our work and sets ourselves up for success. Positive energy is contagious and we are much more likely to do the things that are good for us when in this state of mind.
Every day we get a fresh start—what do you want your world look like ?
2. Complaining is bad for your health.
Get some girlfriends in a room together and they (we) could go on and on about all of the things we don’t like about our bodies.
The problem with this is that it’s been proven complaining actually has a negative effect on your mental health. According to Jon Gordan, author of the book The No Complaining Rule, “When we complain, our brains release stress hormones that harm neural connections in areas used for problem solving and other cognitive functions. This also happens when we listen to someone else moan and groan.”
All of a sudden, the good old b*tch fest about everything we don’t like about ourselves doesn’t sound so appealing.
3. Change happens slowly.
If you want to improve your health by achieving a healthy weight that is a good thing. But change happens slowly. It’s important to accept it and make a promise to love ourselves along the way—every single day.
4. Appreciate your body.
What have you done in your life that you have your body to thank for?
Because of your body you have you gotten to play sports you love, go on a trip somewhere amazing or rock that goal job.
No matter where we are in our lives, our bodies got us here through thick and thin. Try to replace self-loathing thoughts with self-love thoughts.
When out for a walk somewhere beautiful, take a minute to appreciate your body for giving you this opportunity. A lot of us miss this until it’s to late and something happens where we no longer have the gift of movement, of walking and of doing as we please.
Don’t be the person who gives up an opportunity to live life to the fullest because you didn’t like the way your thighs looked this morning.
5. No one is thinking about you.
One of the biggest things I read that helped me overcome my body hate was this: no one is thinking about you, they are all to busy living their own lives.
People aren’t walking around thinking OMG look at her thighs, they are too big / too small! No. No one cares so go out be happy and do what you wanna do. If they do care… well they don’t matter unless you let them.
6. Recognize when something becomes a problem.
It is one thing to think you look unattractive in a pair of jeans and hold that thought for 30 seconds, but it’s another thing to constantly live in a state of self-hate. If you think negatively about yourself every day or all day, it might be a sign it’s time to talk to someone.
There is sometimes a thin line between having insecurities to behaviours that can cause long term damage.
7. If you aren’t in a state of self-love, work on yourself until you are.
There are an unlimited number of resources and ways to begin the journey of self love. With so many choices of self help gurus to follow, inspirational authors to read and courses on self development available there are many different directions to follow in your search to live a better, easier and healthier way of life.
My favorite inspirational books are Steering By Starlight by Martha Beck, Beyond Body Beyond Mind by Dr. Sukhi Muker and the Adventures In Manifesting Series by Alska Publishing.
May your journey sparkle with bliss.
Ditch the Diet: Reconnecting with the Body Through Intuitive Eating.
Recovery Road: My Journey into Anorexia & Back.
Author: Amanda Elizabeth
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: emilyhigginson at Flickr