For our first installment in our Health Relationship Series, we talked about how we can improve our relationship with food (if you missed it, you can read the full post here). As the second installment in our Healthy Relationship Series, we are now going to talk about the relationship we have with ourselves. In particular, we are going to focus on body image. Bad body image days happen to everyone. The problem isn't your body - it's perception. Have you ever looked at a picture of yourself and, at the time, absolutely hated it and then saw it years later and thought "I looked GOOD!" - that's perception. However, it definitely doesn't feel good to feel uncomfortable in your own skin. This too shall pass... if you work on your relationship with your body. But too often, people accept the inner monologue filled with negative self-talk, internalize it and come to believe it. Think about it - would you speak like that to a friend? I'm going to guess the answer is "no". So, why speak like that to yourself?
When it comes to bad body image days, they are easier to get through once you have the proper tools and have done the work to improve your relationship with your body. In my practice, this is something we focus on a lot. Here are a few of our top tips so you can stop getting all down on yourself and feel like the queen that you are!
You do not need to love your body every day, but you need to respect it.
Say it with me again - your body deserves respect. What does respect look like? Well, let's start with what it doesn't look like:
Suppressing hunger and skipping meals
Saying negative things about yourself to others or to yourself in your own head
Moving your body as a means of punishment
These examples do not elicit the image of respect - or health. However, these behaviors are all too common - and even accepted (I know, right? Mind blown!) in society. What can you do instead to show your body some respect? Quite a lot, actually! A few of the things we work on with clients include:
Consider keeping a journal, which can be used in a few ways. Some find it helpful to write down something that they love or respect about their body, or about themselves in general. Some find it helpful to write down any negative thoughts and take the time to reflect and "flip" these thoughts to be neutral or positive. In our practice, we work with clients to dig deep and do this often. Others find it helpful to use the journal as a form of cathartic release by practicing expressive writing. Your journal, your rules!
Practice a daily affirmation. Maybe you repeat the same one each day, or maybe you decide on a new affirmation for each new day, or each new week. Say this aloud each morning and each evening - and consider writing it down in a journal or on a sticky-note.
Brainstorm activities that you can do to respect your body more - maybe you decide to focus on improving sleep hygiene, or maybe you decide to listen to your body more when it tells you it needs a break from the HIIT workouts for something more restorative, like a walk. What are some things that you do for a friend to show your respect? Cook them a meal? Spend time talking to them on the phone and being a positive voice and light in their life? Join them on a walk to enjoy nature and some company? Practice doing these things for yourself - you deserve respect!
Wear clothes that fit!
This is a big one - why do we feel the need to squeeze into jeans that not only look terrible, but feel uncomfortable? No one knows the size but you - and the correct size is usually so much more flattering! I am all for keeping a range of sizes in the house, but not to one day "fit into the skinny jeans". Rather, weight fluctuates, bodies change and we all have different seasons of life. If you decide to hang on to clothes that do not fit your current season of life, consider keeping them in storage in another room so you have access to them, but they aren't staring you in the face when you open your closet. Then, purchase clothes that actually fit your body as it is today. You deserve to feel comfortable in your clothes!
Move your body in a way that feels good for YOU!
Movement is not - and should not ever be - a form of punishment. Instead, movement should be a celebration of what your body can do! I always think about how recess was the *best* part of the day in elementary school. I couldn't wait to get outside, run around and MOVE! When did that feeling go away? Instead of focusing on distance covered and calories burned, focus on how you feel doing different movements and continue to practice the ones that bring you joy. This doesn't always mean "taking it easy" - this may mean challenging yourself to improve your fitness or train for a race, if that feels good for you, both mentally and physically. This may mean listening to your body and giving yourself some active rest, like stretching. The key is to not have exercise stem from the mindset of punishment.
Take a break from social media
...Or at least take some time to cleanse your account and unfollow those accounts that do not serve you. Social media is filled with highlights and edited content, which can make you feel like you aren't "enough" in some way - whether it is that you do not look a certain way, dress a certain way, travel a certain amount, whatever it may be. If there is one way to worsen a bad body image day, it is probably to compare yourself to someone else - especially someone who probably doesn't exist in real life! So, when you are having a bad body image day, take a step back from social media. Once you're ready to join again, make sure to fill your feeds with accounts that inspire you, not those that knock you down.
What is your favorite tip? Share below in the comments and share this post with someone who may benefit from giving it a read! If you're struggling with your relationship with food or your body, contact us to schedule a discovery call so that we can work together one-to-one.