Ever taken a body dysmorphia test? I have. And though I’ve never been diagnosed with a mental disorder, a quick glance at those questions tells me I’ve clearly been in the red more than once. I’d also say I’ve know many women with a lot of those symptoms as well.
When we look at life in hindsight, things become clear and it’s easy to pull formulas together for how to achieve goals. We can connect the dots on how we got from A to B, that’s what How-To Manuals are made of.
And though I want to be 100% clear that I’m not a mental health professional, I do think that sharing our realizations with others can go a long way toward helping them make positive changes in their own lives.
These are the steps I personally took to improve my body image.
Step 1: Make loving your body the goal.
I think a lot of us just feel like being unhappy in our own skin is something all women naturally face, that it’s normal, not a big deal. But I think it’s a problem.
We rarely set out to make loving our bodies the goal. Instead our goals sound something along the lines of: Lose 20 lbs. Get rid of my gut. Get back in my skinny jeans. I’m not sure actually loving our bodies is something we think is realistic.
But more confident, happy women are needed in the world. A lot of potential is wasted by women playing small in life for reasons as seemingly insignificant as feeling fat. So I say, instead of accepting poor body image and self-loathing as the norm, we come together and make the decision to say enough is enough, I’m going to LOVE my body and I’m going to start right now.
Think about the freedom and confidence you’d feel? Imagine what it would be like if you loved your body?
Step 2: Start talking to yourself like a motivational speaker.
Because careful what you say about your body. She’s listening to every word.
OK so first embarrassing admission coming up!
When I worked at the hedge fund on 57th street was when I first got into all this wellness business. I was studying with IIN at night and whenever I was bored at work – which was a lot – I was reading as many blogs and online forums about personal development, wellness and online business as I could.
And when I first learned about affirmations and positive psychology, I made the decision to test out this whole ‘talking nicer to yourself’ thing.
Every time I had to walk somewhere in the office; the ladies room, the kitchen, to go pull my boss from a meeting, I would repeat to myself ‘I am beautiful and healthy and getting in better shape every day. I love my body now. And I’ll love it even more tomorrow.’
So embarrassing but, it worked.
When you start talking to yourself like this day in and day out, the repetition makes you start to believe what you’re saying. It makes you smile as you say it and you start to feel better. You focus on the positive and it helps you forget about the fact that you hate your thighs or wish your gut was smaller.
It also makes you realize that hating your body has been your choice all along. That you can choose to start loving it instead, right now. You don’t have to wait for anything else to change except your own mind.
Step 3: Stop complaining about your body. Literally, just stop. You have to stop.
This might be the most powerful step. When you bitch about your body it gets old really quickly for the people around you. It’s uncomfortable and it’s annoying. I know, because I did it for years and my friends were like “Literally, I can’t with you anymore.”
It can be tough to hear but, don’t you think that if bitching about how fat you are was going to help, it would have helped by now? That perhaps all the energy you focus on the the negative is only serving to keep you stuck?
I feel comfortable saying this to you because I’ve done it, and I’ve recovered from it myself.
Just stop. Make the decision right now to stop bitching and complaining about your body to anyone, ever, at all. You’re not allowed to say the word fat anymore unless you’re referring to avocados or something.
It’s simple. Stop those thoughts now and stop yourself from ever calling yourself fat again. It’s not helping anyway and your friends will thank you for it.
Step 4: Get all the clothes that don’t fit you out of sight.
Holding onto your skinny jeans won’t motivate you. It will make you feel like crap.
If you’re going to start loving your body, you’ll have to address your wardrobe. If your closet is full of clothes that don’t fit right and remind you of how much you hate how you look, something has to change. You can’t start every day like that.
Have a friend come over and pick out a few go-to outfits that flatter you and that you feel good in. And then, if necessary, go buy some duplicates of those outfits.
Don’t wait to buy new clothes as a reward for losing weight. Clothes are not a reward for weight loss, they are a tool to help you feel better about yourself.
When getting dressed is no longer a roller coaster of emotions that leaves you frustrated and bummed out, it will be easier to feel good in your own skin when you leave the house. We have to have some sense of pride in how we look and a few outfits that you feel great in are powerful tools to help you get there.
When I was going through this, I found a couple of cute, structured dresses to wear on repeat for work. I could throw them on in the morning and not feel self conscious at all with the added bonus of avoiding uncomfortable pants that were, at the time, enemy No. 1. It was such a relief. When you’re uncomfortable in your clothes all day, it just reminds you of how you don’t like your body.
I also had one go-to wrap dress for first dates and one pair of jeans, a tee, and a jacket for running errands on the weekends or hanging out with friends.
You really only need a couple of outfit formulas to get you through until you get to a place of feeling better in your own skin again. Find them and invest in them as a tool to help you reach your goal.
Step 5: Stop waiting on the way to treat yourself better and do all of the things.
One great way to start feeling better is to take care better care of yourself and make your life more fulfilling and fun right now, not when you’re x number of pounds thinner.
Eat real food, drink lots of water, exercise, rest, clean up your home and make it beautiful, get a fun, new hobby, look for a new job if you hate yours, break up with your shitty boyfriend, go on that trip, start that dating profile, do whatever you’ve been meaning to do after you lose the weight.
I am a firm believer that when the rest of our lives are full and fulfilling, we feel better in our own skin. It makes it way easier to love your body when you’re taking really good care of it and enjoying your life.
Make the decision to love your body first. And then set out to live the life you really want now. Loving your body is a choice, and you can choose to start loving it right now, no weight loss required.
What do you think? Would you add anything to this? Leave a comment below. I would LOVE to hear from you!