Body image is defined as the perception that you have of your physical appearance and your feelings, thoughts and judgements about your body that result from this perception. Your perception can be positive, negative or both and is influenced by many individual experiences and external factors such as your family, friends and the media.
We can achieve a healthy body image by accepting, appreciating and respecting our body, even though it is not perfect. It is important to have a healthy body image as it is a protective factor against disordered eating (or eating disorders) and will make you less likely to want to go on the next quick fix fad diet, which in itself causes disordered eating and a negative body image.
What are you striving for in your quest for the ‘perfect’ body? Does it even exist? Many parts of our body that we do not like cannot be changed. It is also important to understand that there is no ‘best’ when it comes to weight, shape, size, appearance. We need to learn to accept and love our body shape, as it is unique and perfect in its own right.
Many people go on a diet, not because they want to learn to eat and be healthy, but because they have a poor body image. We need to rethink this because it is not making us feel any better about ourselves. As a starting point, it is important to focus off of your number. Rather focus on your eating habits such as being mindful when you eat, being conscious of choosing the healthier option because you know your body will feel better, starting the day off with a good, early breakfast, prepping for the day so that you have healthy choices easily available and really listen to your body rather than your mouth/head.
While changing your eating behaviours and habits it is a good idea to work on improving your body image too. Several studies have demonstrated that when you improve your body image it becomes easier to lose weight and eat healthier. It’s win win all around!
There are several ways to improve your body image. Mirror work, positive talk, changing illogic thoughts to logic thoughts are some that work well. Mirror work is when you look at yourself in the mirror and saying positive things about yourself. It’s all about changing the negative loops in your head into more positive ones. And by consciously looking at yourself and saying something positive, you start making the correct connections in your brain. This can also be done by writing down an illogic or negative self-talk that you have and next to it changing it to something positive that you should/could have said instead. Or having a positive affirmation that you say first thing in the morning or during the day. Or having a note on your mirror to remind you how special you are. Find your way to make yourself focus on your positive qualities, skills and talents so that it becomes easier to accept and appreciate your whole self.
It all boils down to having a healthy relationship with food and your body. Fad diets destroy your relationship with food. Rather focus on getting yourself into better eating habits, but remember that habit changes take time, so be kind to yourself in the process. Choose 3 habits that you are going to work on for 1 or 2 weeks – use a check list if it helps motivate you and keep the daily consciousness of the habits in play. By thinking about what you are doing you can make the changes.
When we feel good it is easy to make the healthy choices, but when we are in a negative space it is not so easy. It’s a chicken and egg scenario. We will feel better about ourselves if we eat well. But you need to start learning to love yourselves ‘as is’ to completely succeed with your healthy eating and weight loss goals.
Let go of the diet and work on the real issue. Your weight will improve automatically. Trust the process.