As a young person, I had this ideal of how my body should be. Gosh, if only I had Jennifer Aniston’s perfect straight Rachel cut. Maybe if I had the perfect curves of Cindy Crawford. Or perhaps if was super skinny like Jennie Garth. (OK, I’m definitely dating myself here!) But instead, I was left with a flawed body image.
My flawed body image told me constantly that I was unattractive. That boys wouldn’t like me. That girls would see me as less valuable. And yes, we can be particularly insecure as young people. But body image insecurities follow us into adulthood.
We shouldn’t place so much value on our looks. But, we inevitably do. And this stops us from appreciating many of the amazing things are bodies can do. And it instead places the focus entirely on how we perceive that we aesthetically fall short.
Here’s a short routine I’ve used to repair my own body image. Because we all have positives. They are just so easy to take for granted.
Can you have a positive body image and still aspire to lose weight?
Going from a flawed to a positive body image doesn’t mean you abandon your attempts to lose weight or improve yourself in other ways. It just means that you do it from a healthier, more loving place within yourself.
You’re no longer trying to lose weight to cover some type of shame. You feel good in your body. And your body image no longer translates into deeper negative self-assumptions.
Getting healthy comes out of a place of love. As you feel good about your body so you aspire to treat it well. It has nothing to do with living up to some unreachable ideal.
Presenting: A short routine to make peace with a flawed body image.
If your first immediate reaction to seeing this is to laugh or turn to a different post, I’ve got news for you. This would have been my reaction years ago too. And this is a sure sign that your body image could use some healing.
Positive Body Image Step 1:
Gently touch your arms, your legs, your face. How does your skin feel? What is one positive thing you can say about your body from touching your skin? We spend so much time looking at ourselves and judging. But we forget about the beauty of how we feel.
So if your eyes can’t yet appreciate your beauty, move to the direction of touch. Maybe you feel strong. Perhaps your skin is soft. Maybe you have really plump lips. Or your hair is really silky.
Forget about your flawed body image for a second. Just find one small thing you love about your body. That’s a great start. And we’ll move forward from there.
Positive Body Image Step 2:
Dress yourself in something that feels good. Remember how you were as a small child? You didn’t judge someone based on the way they looked. But you were probably very aware of how a person felt. Did they feel warm? Would they feel safe? Did they feel comforting?
Write down three things about why this clothing feels good to you. If your inner-critic says something mean or derogatory, skip those comments. It might take you a little while to come up with three things. But be patient with yourself.
Positive Body Image Step 3:
Look at yourself in the mirror. Honestly, this step is hard for me. I was rejected a lot growing up. I spent years going through mental neglect and abuse. And it was during this time in my life that I stopped being able to look in the mirror. I internalized the criticism and abuse and placed it firmly on my reflection.
But making peace with your body image through your reflection is vital. You have to find the parts of yourself that are lovable. And you are lovable. If that notion makes you uncomfortable, then stay with me. Because you definitely need healing.
Look at yourself and say aloud three things you like when you see yourself. Don’t say you don’t like anything. That’s too easy of an out. Focus!
I like my eyes, the shape of my shoulders, and the color of my hair. OK, that wasn’t too hard!
Positive Body Image Step 4:
This routine to make peace with a flawed body image ends with a challenge to take forward. Notice when you say something negative about your body. And as soon as you think negative thoughts about yourself, turn those thoughts around. Put a positive thought in place of a negative one.
For instance, let’s say your thought is, “my arms are so weak.” This is one I think often because I don’t have a naturally muscular build and my arms are always lagging behind the rest of my body.
What could you think instead. Hmmm. My arms feel really good when hugging someone. And I love that I’m working on building their strength. And I love that the skin on my arms is so soft.
Yes, this can feel corny sometimes. Well, at least it can for me. But it’s building better mental habits. And good mental habits are as important as physical habits like going to the gym. Only with these positive mental habits will a flawed body image start to turn into a positive.
Moving forward with love for your body
As I said before, you can make peace with your body image and still work towards your goals. You can lose weight, gain weight, build muscle and anything else. But now, you’ll be moving forward from a place of love.
And being in a place of love strengthens your efforts. It increases the chance that you’ll be successful. And it makes it less likely that you’ll spiral off course at the slightest slip up. Because your critic is in control when you let a slip-up distract you
When you’ve got the loving part of yourself in control. You’re invincible. You can persevere against anything. You can achieve your goals and your dreams.
So I challenge you to work towards a loving body image. This routine just takes a few moments. Yes, I felt silly at first. You may as well. It is worth a few minutes of feeling silly. Because once you improve your flawed body image, the sky’s the limit.