Well this isn’t an easy topic to address or digest, at least for most of us. Both men and women struggle with really loving ourselves fully. Maybe we do like or admire a few things about ourselves, even if it’s just the shape of your lips or toes! For others, it may be painful to find anything at all we like. Either way, I encourage you to keep reading.
We are all made different, large, small, tall, petite, brown hair, blue eyes, etc. I couldn’t imagine how boring it would be if we all looked the same. We understand that the scale shows a number, our fitness watches track our miles, our clothes are labeled with a size. We live in a world of numbers, but these numbers have no power over us. They don’t define us, even though subconsciously we may allow them to. In the end, size doesn’t matter, you aren’t defined by how many times you work out a week, or by the miles you run and you aren’t defined by your food choices either. But when it comes to preventing these ideas from giving definition to who we are, that’s a totally different story. Emotionally we are wrecked, sometimes feeling hopeless. Many want to change the attitude we have about our bodies, but don’t know how to change or where to start. So how can we really start to love ourselves the way we were made to be?
This is not another “self-help” or “how to” blog post, this is about changing habits and mindsets for a real impact on your health. Below are some practical tips I have found useful not only for myself, but for others as well. I hope at least one or maybe all are ones you might like to incorporate.
Most of the time we find a reason not to speak things out loud. We justify by convincing ourselves it’s just easier. Therefore, we bottle our thoughts up, dismissing that they don’t matter, but these thoughts need to come out! Journaling can be a great way to get our feelings out of our heads. Keeping the thoughts in leads to a negative toxic cycle which can keep you spinning. The negative thought cycle actually reinforces those unhealthy thoughts and therefore becoming more ingrained. Our inner critic can be a horrible record in our heads if we let it. I ask people all the time, would you be friends with that voice in your head, criticizing you all day? No way! One way to combat this, journal your thoughts every day, get out what is built up inside. Did you know it takes 3 cycles of 21 days for a new habit or thought pattern to be ingrained? So, after 63 days you will have officially formed a new habit or eliminated an old one. The more positive you talk to yourself, the more you’ll start to see improvements and be on your way to new thought patterns. Stick with journaling for the 63 days and after evaluate how it may be serving you. Read back over the pages. Sometimes it’s reassuring to see how much progress you’re making!
Speak thanks over your body
This may sound like something you want to skip or avoid, but stick with me for a second. An exercise I found incredibly therapeutic and helpful is to start out by sitting alone with yourself. Start from your head and work your way to your feet. Touch each part of the body such as the head and thank your body that it has a brain to help you think and coordinate your movements. Touch your lips and thank your body for the ability to speak, eat, drink. Touch your ears and thank your body for the ability to hear. Continue on touching all major parts of the body. Do this once a day and I can assure you, you will notice a difference in how you see yourself. I have always had a hard time with my thighs, thinking they were big (many of you may be able to relate). I sat doing this exercise and when I touched my legs, I began to cry. I realized in that moment, “wow these thighs allow me to be strong, to walk, to run, to carry the rest of my body. I need these thighs!” I even found myself starting to apologize to my body for the way I treated and spoke to it in the past. So yes, you may be saying “Nope, no thanks! This is not for me”, but please give it a try. Not just once, but try for a week. Be consistent.
Listen to Podcasts
It’s a conscious effort to fuel your mind with positivity. You have the power to create the environment in which you experience the day. This goes for relationships, too! Who you hang around matters (more on this later). Listening to podcasts is an awesome way to stimulate the mind with positivity. Often times, you walk away with little nuggets of wisdom that you can act upon and implement into your life. Usually, I listen to one and that leads me to another similar show and after years of doing this, I have a new show to listen to everyday, as my podcast library is always full! Be certain to share them with friends, too!
Now as mentioned above, who we hang out with matters. Do you always feel worn down by a certain person or even with a group of friends? I am giving you permission to un-friend them in real life. It doesn’t mean you never hangout with them or maybe you don’t ever hangout again, that’s okay! It’s not worth always feeling anything than your best with your friends. Having a few close friends is what matters. Your close friends are those who you can share anything with. They will hear your struggles and willing to hold you accountable if needed. Sometimes when we are working towards new goals, we need someone to check in with us, ask how we’re doing and where we need encouragement. Let your close friends in and be there as a support. Ask them how they are doing, be open and honest, listen, too! They might be needing you just as much as you need them.
Eat for your body
By choosing to eat healthy food we are fueling our body with the nutrients it needs. If you go further into researching and understanding how certain foods can benefit you, I have found most people start to see their bodies as something they want to care for. They become gentler and kinder towards themselves, learning to appreciate the small things about their bodies. They have learned to listen to their body’s needs since they have mentally culminated an environment quiet enough to be in tune with the rest of their bodies. If you listen closely, your body whispers what it needs to be healthy. If you are in pain, don’t ignore it and run the extra miles. If you are hungry, eat. If you feel exhausted, start setting earlier bedtimes, turn off the technology, etc.
Invest in sleep
When you receive adequate sleep, you are both physically and mentally able to function optimally. If you sleep very little, you become groggy, react negatively towards situations and just aren’t yourself. You know what I’m talking about, right? Aim for at least 7 hours a sleep a night. Anything from 7-9 is great! Now you’re probably saying “sounds nice and yes please, but I don’t have time for 7 hours”. You do. It’s a matter or prioritizing. Often, I find individuals actually get more done when they have more sleep because they have increased energy levels. Further, when you sleep better, you are more alert, awake and feel motivated. This in turn leads to a healthier and more positive outlook on everything, even on yourself!
Are you alive and breathing right now? No really are you breathing right now? That is a gift. You have today and that’s something to be thankful for. This is the only body you will have and learning to find peace with it will be incredibly freeing! It does take work, but oh SO worth it! By challenging our thoughts and working through the above ideas, we increase our self- esteem and ultimately our confidence, too! Remember, YOU have the power to change your relationship with your body for the better! Hopefully, some of the above ideas encourage and inspire you. Give one, two or all a try and take note of how you start to see yourself in a more positive light. Progress, not perfection!