We spend our lives anticipating what’s next, and work endlessly trying to make ourselves feel comfortable in our own skin. It has taken me a long time (50 years to be exact). But, rather than continually trying to change myself, I have decided to love myself for who I am—aesthetically and emotionally.
As women, we spend a lot of time picking ourselves apart (My thighs are too big. I wish my nose was smaller. If only that jiggle in my belly would go away). But, what if we were to change our chatter. Rather than saying, “I will be happy if I fit into a smaller pair of jeans”, or “I’ll look better if I just lose that 10 pounds”—look in the mirror and find the things that you love about yourself. I know this sounds simple (hard, but simple), but it is what I did, and completely changed the way I view my body.
Here are five ways I learned to love my body.
5 Ways I Learned to Love My Body
Forgive Myself for Not Working Out
Our bodies are similar to machines. They need to be fueled properly; they need rest and recovery; they need regular check-ups; and, they need exercise. As someone who loves physical activity, I feel blessed to be afforded the gift of movement. But, I have been guilty of beating myself up for missing a workout. I’m not saying that just because I have changed my perspective, all of a sudden I don’t feel bad when I take a rest day. However, I know I need to give my body the rest it deserves so I can perform better the next day.
When you’re feeling negative about missing a workout, stop! Instead, focus on what you did that was important (rest, a chat with a friend) and schedule some movement for the following day.
Food is Not the Enemy
I used to be afraid of food (Don’t eat this, or avoid that). But, I want my body to be strong; so, that means putting the good stuff in. I have finally stopped counting calories (which has been linked to a life-long struggle of negative feelings toward food). Now, I think of calories as energy. I concentrate on listening to my hunger cues and consume what makes me feel the best. I try to eat a certain way during the week, and relax a little more on the weekend—so that I never feel deprived.
We need to stop labeling food as good or bad. I still struggle with that; but, now when I indulge, I try to enjoy the experience and not associate it with guilt (I know, easier said than done).
Stop Comparing Myself to Others
No matter who I meet, I tend to notice their most attractive attributes (flawless skin, long lashes, or beautiful smile). I never see anything negative. But, when I look in the mirror, I notice every wrinkle, every flaw. Now, instead of criticizing myself, I try to replace those mean words and thoughts with useful empowering words like “strong” or “captivating,” or “bright.”
It doesn’t always work, but with practice I have learned to look at things differently.
Now, I wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and consciously pick out at least one of my best attributes. Try it, I promise it will change your outlook. Plus, when you notice these things in yourself, chances are others are noticing your best features, too.
Surround Myself with Positivity
I attribute some of my acceptance to my husband. Of course, we all want to learn how to find that confidence from within; but, I do recommend surrounding yourself with people who build you up, rather than put you down. Sometimes, people’s own insecurities can cause them to subconsciously criticize. As I age, I choose who I like to spend my time with. I prefer positive, open-minded, accepting friends who are genuinely happy for my successes, and there to support my failures.
When negative thoughts start to surface, I quickly find something else to focus on. One way is giving back. I am on the Board of a Homeless Coalition. After a day of volunteering, I feel foolish worrying about my muffin top. When I’m training a client and they tell me they feel better—I feel better as well.
Instead of focusing on the negative, I celebrate something every day. Before I go to bed, I think about something that made me happy during the day.
Remember What Truly Matters
Did you ever think we would be faced with a global pandemic, and that all we once knew would completely change almost overnight? Now, even in the midst of the most stressful moments, I remember to recognize what I do have, and cherish my family and friends. I still have days when I feel fat, think negatively, and have bad hair days—but they don’t stop me from reframing and instead, find the positive. I choose happiness now, and hopefully you won’t wait 50 years to embrace these easy techniques to love your body and yourself.