All too often, women put shame to their bodies. So often that research at the University of the West of England found that 30% of women would trade at least one year of their life to achieve their ideal bodyweight and shape. Instead of praising the vessel to their soul, too often women choose instead to curse the very bodies that produce life.
Your body was designed specifically, uniquely and with the utmost strength and resilience to foster the idea of one day bearing children. Whether you’re a mother or not, just knowing your body has such ability, a superhero quality, should help you recognize how amazing it truly is.
If that isn’t a reason enough to love your body, consider your heritage. If you have features that are identifiable to your culture or your family or scars that represent being a survivor then be proud. Qualities that define your history are great reasons why you should love your body. But are they enough? This is prevalent even as you get older.
Just 12% of women aged 50 and older were satisfied with their body size according to a study in the Journal of Women & Aging. Where does this self-deprecating habit come from and to whose criteria are we trying to live up to?
It’s easy to blame the media but the standard, which we as women should live by in determining the love for our body, is something we create for ourselves. People aren’t born to look the same so here’s how to love your body even when you’re trying to improve it.
1. Practice positive affirmations daily
You must affirm your body even before you believe what you’re saying. Start with practicing positive affirmations. Recite things like “I love my body.” “I am beautiful.” “My stretch marks are beautiful, because of what they signify.” Your mind and body will soon believe what you’re saying.
Women who accept and tolerate their imperfections appear to have a more positive body image despite their body mass index and are better able to handle personal disappointments and setbacks in their daily lives, according to research in Body Image. Embrace your imperfections and tell yourself you love them to make it come true.
2. Recognize your improvements
Take the time to acknowledge the things you like about your body. Hunt out the good stuff and praise those features or abilities. Are you able to use all of your limbs? Is your body fully functioning? Do you love your eyes or your smile? Whatever it is you like and are thankful for, acknowledge those things and the possibilities of your body. Your thighs might not be where you’d like them to be, but you know their capabilities.
You know where you can get them to be and you’re grateful for the possibility. Women with a lot of family support and limited pressure to achieve the stereotypical thin and beautiful ideal body have a more positive body image, according to research in Sex Roles. Celebrate the fact you have friends and family to go for a walk with rather than moaning that you have to do it.
3. Embrace your body’s transition stages
It’s OK to want to change your body as long as you remember you must love your body in its current, transitional and future state. If it would make you happier or healthier to lose weight, put on muscle, or whatever else, that’s good. It’s OK to want to change things about your body as long as you choose not to complain about it during its transitional phase.
By improving your body image, just slightly, you’ll actually enhance the effectiveness of a weight-loss program based on diet and exercise. Continue to affirm your body and be grateful for every ounce of progress to create more improvements.
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4. Avoid comparing yourself to others
It’s said that comparison is the thief of joy. Comparing ourselves to others is a useless habit. We were all created differently, which means our comparisons are subjective. What a person may find “better” in one body compared to another can be the complete opposite based on another’s opinion.
Also remember that everyone has a testimony and what you may seem envious of in someone else may be the very thing that haunts her.
The first step is to stay off social media, because more time spent on sites like Facebook could lead women to developing negative body images according to research by the International Communication Association. It’s no secret that nobody puts unflattering pictures on their wall, so focus on your own improvements as you transition into your personal goal body.
5. Be confident at all costs
Our bodies are beautiful in every state. To acknowledge that is confidence. Taking ownership of who you uniquely are and being proud of that is what you should always strive for. Being confident in yourself dictates the way you talk to people, the way you carry yourself, the way you treat yourself and how you allow others to treat you.
Research at Ohio State University found the most powerful influence on women’s appreciation of their bodies is how they believe others view them. Choosing to be confident among close friends, colleagues and family is one of the most beneficial steps in learning to love your own body.
6. The power in loving your body
Remember who is watching. We learned this detrimental habit of cursing our bodies instead of loving them from watching so many other women do it to themselves. Do you want your daughter, sister or niece looking in the mirror and cursing her body instead of loving it? Don’t teach her to because nobody else likes it.
Women who engage in “fat talk” – the self-disparaging remarks girls and women make in relation to eating, exercise or their bodies – are less liked by their peers, according to a study from the University of Notre Dame.
Lead by example. Break the cycle. Be the change the next generation of young women needs. Demonstrate loving your body and watch your internal strength develop. Loving our bodies can be of great value to your confidence, spirits, actions and future.
When you’re asked whether you love your body and a feeling of optimism, strength or confidence develops when you foster your answer, or you answer yes with ease, you have truly, ultimately learned to love your body. How we treat ourselves will determine how we allow others to treat us.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
Give this mirror exercise a try and you’ll be surprised about the positive shift of your self-confidence as you embark on your journey of finding true body love.
We’ve all been there before. Getting ready for work, a date or a big event, staring into the mirror and not liking what we see. The extra pound, a wrinkle here, a zit there or the nose you’ve always thought was too big. Yes, the mirror can show us all the things we don’t like about our bodies. It can generate lots of negative self-talk and doubts concerning your body.
Research at the University of Liverpool, UK, found that most humans don’t even understand how a mirror works. Instead of using it to break your self-confidence down, you could use it to boost your self-confidence. Here’s how to use it correctly.
What to do?
Stand in front of a mirror – the bigger, the better. Let the weight of your body be equally divided. Straighten your back and take a deep breath with your chest. Look yourself in the eyes confidently. Put a smile on your face. Start talking to your reflection.
Start by saying your full name, followed by “I love you!” Then allow all the positive words to flow that you can think of – words that describe all the things that you love about yourself. All the things that make you who you are. Everything that comes to you in that moment.
Continue this positive talk for five to 10 minutes. You can always make it longer and add things like what you want to achieve in the future. Reassure yourself that there’s nothing that can stop you from getting what you want. It’s not about bragging and vanity, but starting to love yourself and believing in your potential.
Repeat this exercise as often as possible. Challenge yourself to do this at least once a day for a week, two weeks or even a month. Chances are, it’ll feel awkward and silly at first, but don’t let that stop you. Like anything, you’ll get better with practice.
What results to expect?
Doing this mirror exercise regularly will create a positive shift in your self-confidence and help you on your journey to finding true body love. After doing it just a few times, you’ll notice small changes in your behavior and the way you carry yourself throughout the day.
Where the real magic will happen is after months of self-love. Learn to make the mirror your friend, and you’ll become a renewed woman.
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