Do you struggle with body image issues?
If so, you’re not alone.
We live in a world dominated by a weight loss industry that tells you that you aren’t good enough, pretty enough, or thin enough the way you are. It’s no wonder that so many young people deal with low self-esteem and a poor sense of self-worth as a result.
The good news is there are many ways that you can improve your body image. You don’t even need to change your appearance. You don’t need to diet and you don’t need to hit the gym.
That’s not how you overcome body image issues. It’s all about changing how you think about yourself. That’s the only way to overcome it.
Having said that, if you want to improve your body image, here are 5 things you can start doing today. And you’ll notice that none of them require hitting the gym or starving yourself.
1. Use Positive Affirmations
Affirmations are short, positive phrases that you repeat to yourself throughout the day. Affirmations help with self-love, self-worth, self-acceptance, and body image in general. Examples include:
- I am enough.
- I am beautiful.
- My body is beautiful.
- My body allows me to explore the world.
- My body is strong.
- My body is resilient.
It can be difficult to start using affirmations. You may not believe what you are saying. That’s totally fine.
You don’t need to believe them right away.
The National Science Foundation found that we have anywhere from 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. More shocking than that fact is that 80% of these thoughts are negative and 95% of them are automatic. Automatic thoughts are beliefs that you have trained your mind to believe and are on autopilot in your brain.
Using affirmations can help you correct limiting beliefs that often lead to low self-worth.
2. Examine Your Relationship With Exercise
Your relationship with exercise can have a profound effect on your body image. We all know that exercise is healthy for our bodies and for our mental health.
But sometimes our relationship with exercise is toxic.
It’s important to ask yourself why you exercise in the first place? Is it really to be “healthy,” or do you exercise to achieve a standard that might not even be realistic or safe for your body type?
Other questions for you to consider:
- Do you think the purpose of exercise is to lose weight?
- Are you getting good advice about diet and exercise?
- Do you think “fit” has only one look?
- Is your goal to be smaller, or healthier?
- Do you believe you should punish yourself for not being “thin” enough?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you might have a toxic relationship with exercise.
3. Get Rid Of Scales
“Numbers don’t lie.”
We’ve all heard that saying before, right?
Except they do. All the time. Especially when it comes to weight.
While the number on a scale might be accurate, whether or not it is the “right” number for you is an entirely different story altogether.
It’s better for your self-esteem to focus on how you feel versus reaching a specific weight. Weighing yourself often can lead to obsessive behaviors and even eating disorders.
Even if you are trying to lose weight, it’s still better to stay away from the scale. Normal, healthy weight fluctuates throughout the day. It’s not an accurate metric. Often, chasing a specific number only leads to you feeling worse about yourself.
4. Get Rid of Clothes That Don’t Fit
Tight, uncomfortable clothes lead to automatic thoughts about needing to lose weight.
It’s best to donate clothes that no longer fit to avoid making yourself feel bad. Your clothes should fit YOU, not the other way around.
Don’t keep clothes that don’t fit as “motivation” to lose weight. Doing so only makes body image issues worse.
Instead, wear clothes that make you feel better about yourself. It doesn’t matter if they are baggy or tight. All that matters is how you feel when you look in the mirror.
5. Focus on self-care
Taking care of yourself is one of the most productive things you can do with your free time. Unfortunately, we often neglect our own needs because of our busy lifestyles.
Self-care goes hand in hand with a positive body image. If you don’t know that “self-care” is, it’s any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, or physical health.
Some people feel bad about self-care, because they think it’s a selfish thing to do. But the truth is, sometimes we have to be selfish. Sometimes, selfishness is a good thing.
And that’s certainly the case with self-care.
Take a moment to think about what self-care means to you. It’s not always the same for everybody. Do you enjoy massages? How about yoga, meditation, getting extra sleep, or going to a spa? These are all great examples of healthy self-care.
If you struggle with body image issues, one of the reasons may be that you’re just not treating yourself with the respect you deserve.
Diet culture profits on us hating our bodies. But this doesn’t have to be the case.
Your body is beautiful the way it is. It may take some time for you to finally believe this truth, but you can get there with some simple lifestyle changes and a little work
If you need help, reach out to a qualified mental health professional for assistance. Body image issues, low self-esteem, and a poor sense of self-worth can often be a sign of something much more serious going on. In some cases, these things lead to clinical depression, panic attacks, and eating disorders.
You may find that overcoming body image issues requires some professional assistance. If so, consider the benefits of working with a licensed mental health professional.
I’ve had great success with both in-person therapy and online counseling with places like TalkSpace and BetterHelp. Whichever route you choose, there’s almost no downside to talking to a professional about your problems.
My advice? Give it a try. Your self-esteem will thank you.
- Signs Of An Unhealthy Relationship With Exercise That Creates Body Image Issues
- What Self-Care Is — and What It Isn’t
You Deserve To Be Happy.
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