Body image is how we see our bodies and how we relate who we are to that physical container of self. When we’re surrounded by images of ultra-thin models and weight-obsessed tabloids, loving our bodies can be quite a challenge.
And it is possible.
When you have a healthy body image:
1. You aren’t attached to the number on the scale.
Your weight does not define your self-worth. When you step on the scale, the number is simply a measure of health. You realize that there is a range of healthy weight for your body type; you don’t have an attachment to a single, ideal number.
2. You eat for nutritional value not for emotional attachment.
Food is fuel, pure and simple. It can certainly be delicious, and you may very well get excited and look forward to a great meal, but you make choices based on information about what is good for your body. You don’t eat out of frustration or depression or boredom; rather, you let your physical needs and your body’s preferences determine your meal plans.
3. You can indulge and not feel guilty.
Having a healthy body image and a good relationship with food doesn’t mean you can’t splurge once in a while. There is always room for cake at a coworker’s birthday or a plate of your mom’s creamy pasta dish. But when you do indulge, you do so mindfully. You make the decision, not as a knee-jerk reaction but with consideration. And once you do treat yourself, you don’t beat yourself up for “ruining your diet” or “failing.” You also don’t decide to make it an everyday event (because, in the long run, that wouldn’t be what your body wants). Instead, you see it as a chance to pamper yourself and embrace the experience.
4. Your inner monologue about your body (and yourself) is positive.
So many of us are oblivious to the constantly running commentary our brains generate for us. A healthy body image means your mind doesn’t judge your reflection as you pass a store window. In fact, it may compliment you on your shoes or your purposeful stride. Having peace with your body extends to your thoughts about yourself, as well. You are your own best cheerleader, and use positive language to encourage yourself.
5. You are able to put yourself and your needs first.
Because you love your body and yourself, you are able to do what’s best for you. Perhaps you let your partner take the kids to school one day a week so you can stop at the gym, or maybe you have the courage to decline a social invitation so that you can have a much-needed night of relaxation. You don’t feel bad saying no when you know it’s in your own best interest and will make you a happier, healthier person.
6. You embrace movement as a natural state for your body.
Our bodies are made for movement, be it walking, strength training, yoga, or a team sport. You make time in your schedule for a physical activity you love because you realize your body wants it. You don’t use exercise to punish yourself, and you don’t freak out if you miss a workout. You thank your body for its ability to run you down the field or touch your toes.
7. You love who you see in the mirror.
You adore your body as the first step to adoring your whole self, inside and out. Being able to embrace what you see in the mirror makes loving who you see so much easier.
Whether almost all or none of these statements are true for you, know that you can develop a positive, loving, healthy relationship with your body. Start with one loving affirmation a day (e.g. “I am grateful for my body’s ability to breathe and pump blood all on its own.”).
Baby steps lead to big results.
It is all possible!
Weight Release & Body Image Coach, Laura Fenamore, is on a mission to guide women around the world to love what they see in the mirror—one pinky at a time—so they can unlock the secrets to a healthy weight and start loving their lives as soon as possible. Having overcome her own battle with addiction, obesity, and eating disorders, Laura released over one hundred pounds twenty-four years ago, beginning her on a journey to guide other women to live more joyous, balanced lives. Laura believes that self-love and self-care is where the transformation begins. Learn more about Laura at OnePinky.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.