Thursday, October 22, 2015

Body Image is a State of Mind

I called this post "Body Image is a State of Mind."  I find that a lot of people need a reminder of this.  Body Image is a State of Mind.  Body Image is NOT reality.  Body Image is NOT how other people see you, it's how you see yourself.  In today's day and age, I can almost guarantee that the way you see yourself is not how other people see you.  Your version is anywhere from a little bit worse to much worse.  Why do we insist on beating ourselves up for the way we think we look?  Why can't we go out of our way to tell people what we like about ourselves as often as we are to tell them what we don't like, or hate even?  Why is it so hard to just smile, and say a simple "thank you," without explaining why we don't agree?

Sorry for my small vent but as a mom of 2 small daughters, the idea of negative body image scares me.  Will my girls have positive body image or negative body image?  I tell them all the time that they're beautiful and I know they believe me now but how long will that last?  I always wonder what I can do to try to make sure that they're confidence and positive body image last.  My 5 year old (almost 6) often doesn't even think to get dressed.  She just walks out of the shower and takes her sweet time getting dressed right in the living room.  She's not in the least bit ashamed (nor, should she be).  She's not thinking about how quickly she needs to cover up and hide like so many of us do.  I always wonder how long that will last and why so many grown women can't feel that way.

I've recently lost weight and through doing that realized that a positive body image is so important.  I didn't realize how negative my body image was but then I took some time and turned it around.  You can make a negative body image into a positive one.  I'm going to share a few things I've discovered in doing this for myself.

1.  If you think you dislike or hate your body so much, then change it.  This is what I did.  I kept coming up with reasons why I wouldn't be able to make a change at first but then I found a program that really worked for me.  You have to keep looking.  Chances are the first thing you try won't be your best fit but if you keep looking, you're guaranteed to find a healthy way to make it happen.  The key word here is healthy.  You want it to be sustainable... crash diets, fad diets, and unhealthy ways of dropping weight fast don't work long term.  They might work for a month or two but I promise, you won't keep the weight off.  I've tried tons of these and none of them really stuck.  The only time I found something that I absolutely know  is going to work long term was when I went for a true lifestyle change.  I know you hear about that all the time and I know it seem SO overwhelming but just start with today, and then tomorrow, and then the day after.  It's like a form of recovery, you need to just take it one day at a time.

2.  Stop obsessing over what you don't like about yourself.  I have news for you and you might not like it much, but nonetheless it's truth...  what you look like has A LOT to do with genetics and a little to do with food.  You can obsess about the things you cannot change because of genetics, or you can accept the things you can and change them. 

I have 2 kids, I have stretch marks, I have great arms, I have big thighs, I have a big butt, I have an awesome smile and I have a contagious laugh.  Do you read this list and think I listed anything negative?  I don't.  I've stated a list of facts.  I've worked hard on cleaning up my diet and exercising almost every day.  As a result all of me has gotten noticeably smaller but I still have big thighs compared to the rest of my body.  It's okay!!  Curves are okay so please stop worrying if you have them. 

There are lots of things you can't change, but what you can do is get healthy.  If you start eating healthier and do it for the sake of being healthier, the weight will follow.  I've worked hard for my body.  It didn't come easy.  That makes me proud.  Sure, I'll show before and after pictures of my journey and sure, I'll look less confident in the before pictures and probably be smiling more in the after pictures but that's because I know how hard I worked and others do too.
3.  Start obsessing over what you do like about yourself.  There has to be something and if there really isn't anything, then pick something you're okay with for now and tell yourself you love it.  Fake it till you make it.  I love my arms.  Seriously, I catch myself looking in the mirror and flexing or holding them in different ways to see which angle is the most flattering.  What the heck is wrong with liking your body?  Why does it seem like people think you're conceited or self involved if you love your body?  When you love your body, you will treat it with the respect it deserves.  That doesn't mean you don't want to change, you can want to change because there's always room for improvement.  Wanting to get an education is a good thing.  People graduate elementary school and go onto middle school and onto high school and then onto college.  Try considering your body as you would a degree.  It's all about the end result that shows that you worked hard and achieved a goal.
4.  Stop comparing yourself to models in magazines.  When you look in a catalogue, those clothes probably won't fit you the way it fits those girls even if you're a size zero.  Those girls have probably been airbrushed, stretched, modified, and a million other things.  It seems we may not be able to change society or how magazines view beauty but those pictures are not how those girls look in real life.  I can't take credit for the image to the right.  I didn't take it and I'm not sure who did but it was linked to a YouTube video on photo editing software.  You've all seen the before and after air brush pics so why are we still stuck thinking "that won't look as good as it does on me as it does on her."  You're right, it probably won't.  That's okay!  Love the skin you're in.  Just think of how those airbrushed models in the magazines and actresses in movies must feel, being as skinny as they are and someone still thinking they need to be improved.  Don't fall into the trap! 
5.  Find flattering clothes and hold your head high.  This one can feel tricky.  When I was at my heaviest, I didn't feel very pretty.  It was very discouraging to try on clothes because I hated the size I was in.  It shouldn't have mattered as much as it did, but it did anyway.  Then I learned that the size really didn't matter but clothes that really fit, made me look a lot better.  Trying to fit into a size 12 when I was actually a size 14 or 16 didn't do me any good, it made me look heavier and feel worse.  If you need to make yourself feel better, then cut the tag out and don't tell anyone your size (yup, did that) but buy clothes that fit and that flatter your shape and you'll feel better about yourself.
I'm going to share something with you that I do.  Maybe you'll think I'm crazy but I don't care, it works for me and has for a long time.  I have a mirror in my room.  I didn't mount it on the wall.  Instead, I have it leaning on the wall.  If you've been to a fun house or a physics class, you know that mirror angles distort images.  What does this angle do?  It makes me a little taller and a little skinnier.  I don't walk out of the house thinking I'm 5'9" (I'm 5'4") but this is the last full image of myself I see before I decide what I'm wearing for the day.  As far as I'm concerned, it's what I look like.  My husband has asked if he should hang it on the wall for me and I always laugh and tell him not to because he'd put at least 25 pounds on me. 
Who cares what tricks you have to make you feel a little better about yourself or how you look.  They don't hurt anyone.  This mirror trick seems so silly, even to me but it gives me a more positive body image and a little boost of confidence as I'm walking out the door.  Let me know if you try it too!
Please feel free to share any tips or tricks you might use to improve your body image below.  Also, don't forget, I always have new accountability groups starting.  I'd love to help you find your soulmate program like I did.  Click here to fill out my online application and be considered by my next group. 

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