As a society, we’ve made some progress when it comes to body positivity, but there’s always room for improvement. Furthering the movement so all human beings feel positively toward their body image, regardless of size or appearance, begins within each of us as individuals. I won’t pretend to always love my body. I’ll poke at what I think are my problem areas when looking in the mirror, or scrutinize photos I’m considering posting on social media (Do I look fit enough? Pretty enough? How do my legs look? My arms?). Are you the same? Some days you feel fantastic about your bod, and others you’re critical and judgmental.
Getting into a mind frame that encourages body positivity, and cultivates confidence from within, calls for being aware of your day-to-day thoughts and interactions, then making it a habit to shift those thoughts and actions to positive ones.
Appreciate what your body has done and can do. Stop focusing on the ways you feel your body or appearance is failing you and, instead, celebrate what it has accomplished. Have kids? Your body brought your children into the world and it’s what’s allowing you to give them the best life. Your body is incredible; it allows you to dance the night away, hike with your dog, and laugh so hard with your best friends. When you find yourself being critical, find something you appreciate about that part of your
Set goals tied to fitness and health. Try not to get tied up about losing an arbitrary 10 pounds. For one, we all know that muscle weighs more than fat, so weight isn’t a good measure to set your goals by. Focus on finishing your first 5k race, swimming every other day or getting your cholesterol levels to a healthy point. Those are more worthy accomplishments than being able to fit back into a dress from college.
Treat your body regularly. Do something decadent for yourself and your body weekly, and make it something that celebrates your physical being. It can be enjoying a bubble bath, spa facial or going outside for a quiet break in nature. Incorporate small rewards that reinforces love for your body. Get that luxe body lotion and slather it on daily, or buy fresh workout gear that’ll make you feel great working out. Take a nap if you’re feeling tired; you deserve it.
Focus on helping others. Rather than wasting time fretting about fitting into a pair of jeans, or how much you weigh, use that energy to lift others up. If you’ve started running, for example, join a running crew as a coach or pacer for people just learning to run. That animal rescue organization you adopted your dog from could probably use more volunteers. Shifting your focus from yourself and pouring that time into helping others , has an incredible way of lifting your view of the world while boosting your mood and self image.
Be kind to how you speak to yourself. Shut down that harsh, critical inside voice. Instead of letting your thoughts run rampant with self-loathing, nip it in the bud, pause, and find something good to say about yourself. Rather than “I’m awful at swimming and I’ll never get faster,” tell yourself, “Today was a tough workout but I got it done, and it wasn’t long ago I couldn’t even swim one lap!” Approach yourself with gentleness and kindness.
Hang out with a supportive, positive circle of friends. Being with friends who make you feel poorly about yourself (that pal who makes snide remarks about everyone’s appearance because she thinks it’s funny) is draining. Free yourself of petty, passive aggressive, negative people and surround yourself with people who have your back no matter what. Research has shown that your circle of friends can influence your health. In fact, your social relationships could be considered as important to your overall well-being, as what you eat and your level of physical activity.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder, there are resources available to help you. Make the step to get help and reach out to one of these Canadian organizations to speak to someone.
National Eating Disorder Information Centre, www.nedic.ca
Eating Disorders Association of Canada, www.edac-atac.ca
Bulimia Anorexia Nervosa Association, www.bana.ca
Eating Disorders Foundation of Canada, www.edfofcanada.com
National Initiative for Eating Disorders, www.nied.ca
Eating Disorders of York Region, www.edoyr.com
Looking Glass Foundation, www.lookingglassbc.com