“A waist is a terrible thing to mind.” Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, authors of “Intuitive Eating”
Quick — When you see yourself in a mirror, what’s the first word that pops into your head? Do you think, “Wow! Girl, you’ve got it going ON!” Or, do you think, “Momma’s got too much back!” If it is the latter, you most likely have poor body-esteem, or a “bad body image.”
Body esteem is similar to self-esteem. It describes the way you feel about your body and the effect that it has on your overall well-being. If it is poor, you may live your life always trying to beat your body into submission through exercise, diets, constant criticism, and waiting until you lose weight to start living your life fully.
Here’s a secret you probably don’t know. Acceptance comes before any significant change. Ask any psychologist or therapist and they’ll back up this statement.
You’re probably asking, “How can I accept myself when I am not happy with my body?” This is a common question. But consider this, “How has feeling this way and continuing this war with your body worked so far?” I would guess you would answer, “Not very well.” So why not try something new?
Psychologist Judith Rodin, in her book Body Traps, said, “You don’t need to lose weight first in order to take care of yourself. In fact, the process actually happens quite in the reverse!” This is a fact the diet industry has been keeping from you for a long time!
Here are a few tips I share with my clients that can help you improve your body esteem:
Become an intuitive eater. Stop dieting! Research has shown that only 5 percent of those who diet have any success. This means 95 percent of diets fail, and too often, dieters gain even more weight! When you stop dieting, eat when you are physically hungry and stop when you are full, you release yourself from all the stress, guilt, shame, and restriction that accompany dieting.
When you learn to listen to your body’s signals about being hungry and being full, your body will eventually return to its natural weight– and stay there (note I didn’t say your “ideal weight.” Your body is in charge of your weight and it will settle into whatever your genetics determine your natural weight to be). A recent Ohio State University study found women who appreciated their bodies ate intuitively and actually had a lower body mass index than those who were dissatisfied with their bodies and kept dieting.
Surround yourself with people who appreciate you for who you are and who accept themselves, too! Stop talking about your weight, your diet plan, and what you are eating.
Wear clothes you love and that fit you right now. There are stores that cater to people of your size, shape, and fashion. If you need to, hire an image consultant to help find clothes that work for you. Get rid of anything in your closet that doesn’t fit comfortably. Feeling miserable leads to thoughts of food and shame, which lead to the refrigerator! You know that your clothes size differs depending on the maker. Don’t let a number tell you how to feel about yourself!
Stop comparing yourself to others. Do you find yourself checking your body as you walk by mirrors or store windows? Checking your appearance can prevent self-acceptance by making you overly critical. Don’t look at those magazines on the check-out stands either! Comparing your body to others usually results in more self-criticism and body hatred.
While you are throwing away old habits, get rid of the bathroom scale as well! If the doctor wants to weigh you, ask that they don’t tell you the number. If you’re addicted to the scale, scale back (couldn’t resist the pun!) Cut back to once a week, or even better, once a month. Remember, the scale does not tell the whole story. Your weight can fluctuate up to seven pounds during any given time during the month.
You know this one — Exercise. Exercise is important for your overall health, for relieving stress and lessening depression. Many forms of exercise can have an effect on the way we feel about our bodies and ourselves. To heighten your body awareness, practice walking meditation, t’ai chi, yoga, or movement therapy.
Don’t link exercise with weight loss. Do it to boost your body esteem. Start exercising now. Studies show that women in larger bodies gain self-pride and a better mental outlook through movement. Walking or biking are both great for an instantaneous change in the way you feel about yourself.
What are you waiting for? Start viewing yourself as a wonderfully made woman. You are uniquely made. Your body knows what its needs are. Listen to what’s inside and the outside will be transformed!
Want to learn more? Check out HealthierOutcomes.com, and sign up for my free newsletter. I look forward to hearing about your success!