Your body image is the mental representation of how you feel about your body, including your emotions and thoughts.
Stressed about being in a bathing suit this summer? Not feeling a positive body image?
Don’t worry- you aren’t alone! Many people feel overwhelmed or stressed about the thought of wearing a bathing suit. But I am here to tell you that there are things you can do to overcome this feeling and live a more body positive lifestyle.
A life where you know that you are so much more than just your body and that your body is beautiful the way it is!
In today’s blog post I will be sharing five steps to move towards a positive body image this summer from an intuitive eating dietitian.
Let’s Talk Body Image
First of all – congratulations for making it through a global pandemic.
If your body has changed over the past year, it’s totally normal. If your priorities shifted towards survival instead of keeping your body in the best shape possible, it was necessary. In fact, it’s completely acceptable for your body to change whether there was a pandemic or not.
However, this might mean that you are uncomfortable with the thought of wearing less clothing as it gets hotter. A rising temperature means shorts, bathing suits, and exposure.
Society portrays an ideal body image that we think we must achieve in order to be happy, desirable, or comfortable in our own skin.
One thing that these body standards have completely wrong, though, is that achieving a “goal weight” on the scale doesn’t equate to self-confidence. A strong sense of self-esteem comes from inside.
Interested in learning about my thoughts on weight loss from an Intuitive Eating dietitian? Check out my article on Intuitive Eating and weight loss!
A positive body image originates in the brain, NOT the body.
Five action steps to a positive body image this summer.
- Think of your favorite summer memories. Whether they were this past summer, or a few years ago. Do you remember the way your body looked? Probably not. Your ability to have incredible life experiences that you cherish is not dependent on your body size. [If you DO remember exactly what your body looked like, it’s a sign of a hyper-focus on your body. That means you are missing out on living in the moment and making memories. You came to the right place to get support.]
- Identify qualities you value in yourself that have nothing to do with aesthetics. Are you intelligent, empathetic, or ambitious? Are you loyal, funny, or creative? This is proof that you are MORE than a body, and you have so much more to offer the world than a face or a physique.
- Develop a sense of gratitude. Observe what your body does for you on a daily basis and be grateful for its ability to keep you alive. Most likely your lungs breathe, your heart beats, and your limbs operate without much conscious effort on your part. That is something to celebrate.
- Diversify your social media feed. If you are only seeing thin, white women then that reinforces to your brain that THAT is what is beautiful. Expose yourself to different sizes, shapes, races, ethnicities, etc… to realize that body diversity is beautiful and a normal part of life.
- Reflect deeper on your relationship with your body. Journal about your current relationship, your desired relationship, and what you feel like you need to do to make the gap smaller. How do you view your body? How has society impacted your view of your body? How can you nourish your body today, and everyday?
The Truth About Body Positivity
What would it feel like to accept your body as it is?
I heard this once in a podcast, and it really resonated with me and the work that I do with my clients.
A common misconception about the body positive movement is that it leads to you jumping out of bed every morning screaming “I LOVE my body!” That is simply not the case.
Body positivity does not mean that you will never have another negative body image thought. It just means that you have the tools to not let it shake your self-esteem, or disrupt your entire day. It also means that you don’t let these thoughts prompt harmful behaviors, such as food restriction or overexercise.
I even prefer the term “body neutrality” sometimes. It feels more realistic and attainable, especially as you are just embarking on a body image journey. Bring the focus towards acceptance and appreciation as a first action step and build from there.
Take any of the five steps above to improve your body image that resonates with you, and leave the ones that do not.
Cultivating a positive, or at least neutral, body image takes time and intention.
Allow the journey to unfold as it is meant to. And allow space to feel whatever emotions come along with that.
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