Recently, we talked about 3 reasons for learning to love your body. Those reasons are important, and I think that every woman should think about and begin to work on them.
But it’s one thing to know why your should love your body, and quite another thing to convince your heart to actually do it. For most women, making that transition is very, very difficult. It’s often a long process that includes lots of stops and starts along the way.
But I’m confident that you can make the transition, if you take it one step at a time. If you’re ready to give it a try, here are 11 ideas to help you start learning to love your body:
• Avoid television shows, magazines and other media that feature perfect women. Recognize that those women are media creations, and understand that they don’t actually exist. They are images, not people, that result from professional makeup, professional hair styling, professional photography, perfect lighting, and Photoshop.
And reconsider how you use social media. Are you following accounts or “influencers” who seem to have perfect bodies and perfect lives? Do they make you feel like you don’t measure up? If so, unfollow them! Or, maybe even better, limit your use of social media in general, especially if you find that it makes you feel bad about yourself.
• Get up and move. Regular exercise/physical activity makes you feel great and helps you look great. Make time to move your body – walk, bike, dance, work out – every day.
• Stop thinking and saying negative things about yourself. Whenever you catch yourself thinking or saying something negative about your body, stop and rewind. Replace those words with positive ones that focus on your strengths.
• Focus less on your appearance and more on the things your body allows you to do. The body God gave you is awesome. It allows you to live, to breathe, to work, to walk, to dance, to sing, to create, to care for your children, to make love with your husband. Focus your energy and attention on those things.
• Don’t zero in on your “flaws.” Women are famous for focusing like a laser on things they don’t like about their bodies. We look in the mirror and see pimples or wrinkles or gray hair or an extra 20 pounds. But most people don’t look at us that way. They see the “big picture” – the way we look, the way we act, and the way we make them feel. They don’t zero in on our flaws, and we shouldn’t either.
• Disconnect from people who make you feel bad about yourself. A few people in our lives, however, might focus on our “flaws.” Some of those people gain energy by making other people feel bad, some of them are mean, and some are just thoughtless. Avoid all of those types of people as much as possible. Give them very little of your time and energy, and no space inside your head.
• Stand up straight and walk with confidence. Look people in the eye and speak with confidence. Try it as an experiment, even if you don’t feel it. People perceive confidence as attractive, and acting confident (even if you’re faking it!) can help you feel more attractive.
• Wear clothes that make you feel good. They don’t have to be expensive. They don’t have to be fancy. They don’t have to be the latest styles. They just need to make you feel good in your own skin.
• Work on something you really want to improve. Almost every woman wants to improve some aspect of her appearance, which is fine. Pick a change that’s reasonable and go for it. For many women, losing some weight falls into this category; few things make women feel as bad about their bodies as extra weight. If that’s an issue for you, focus on eating well and becoming a physically active person. Ditch the foods you know you don’t need and allow yourself time to exercise or just move your body every day.
• Don’t use food as “medicine.” Some women eat when they’re stressed, tired, bored or lonely. If you’re tempted to reach for food when those feelings strike, try substituting exercise, companionship, or productive activity for food. Exercise can actually alleviate some of those negative feelings, by boosting hormones and chemicals that help you feel good, while food just provides a temporary fix, one you’ll probably regret later.
Learning to love our bodies is a process. It won’t happen in a day or a week or a month. It will take some time. But it can happen, if you and I will work on it – one step at a time.