When you look in the mirror, what do you see? How do you feel? If you were given a magic wand that enabled you to change anything about your body, would your body weight, size, or shape be high on the list? If you find yourself being extra critical of your body in your reflection, you’re not alone.
It’s hard to feel happy about ourselves in an increasingly social media-driven world. We are bombarded daily by the images of the super-thin, super-fit, and seemingly super-happy celebrity elite in magazines, TV, Instagram, and more. And on the flip side, there is an immense amount of disparaging stigma in society around being overweight or obese. Many scientific studies demonstrate this point, showing that people with excess weight are often perceived as being “less intelligent, lonelier, having less self-control, more lazy.”
While losing weight for many is crucial to improving their health, it’s also important to acknowledge the psychological and emotional toll that can come with being overweight, which can lead to negative body image and become harmful in our daily lives, even sabotaging healthy weight loss goals.
If you are embarking on a dieting, weight management, or exercise plan to lose weight and be healthier, remember that the journey can and should be an empowering one. Rather than being motivated by guilt or shame, replace those feelings with joy and pride for the amazing changes you are making for your health and your life.
Negative body image is not something that you can necessarily change overnight; however, with some helpful tools and habit changes, you may start to see yourself differently, even before you start shedding major pounds.
Here are three tips you can start today to start turning around negative body image:
1. Start daily affirmations. Tell yourself how awesome, beautiful, and worthy you are – even if you don’t quite believe it yet. Look yourself in the mirror, smile, and say OUT LOUD at least one thing about yourself that makes you feel proud to be you.
2. Be mindful of negative thinking. We drown ourselves in negative thinking more often than we realize. When you find yourself having negative thoughts about your body, stop and check in with yourself. Be present with the thought and remind yourself that it doesn’t have to be true. Replace the negative thought with a positive one, smile, breathe, and move on.
3. Avoid disparaging media. If you find that looking at magazines with wafer thin models make you feel bad about yourself, stop consuming them. Instead, consciously seek out media that reinforces positive self-image. Look for magazines, TV shows, or social media that speak to your interests outside of physical appearance, like travel or gardening. Or look to informational blogs or articles that emphasize the importance of wellness and health to support healthy weight loss goals.