I propose that we work on loving ourselves and appreciating our amazing bodies this Valentine's Day!
Society has trained us all to hate certain parts of our bodies, especially as we age, after childbirth, or with weight gain. We all struggle, which is hard, but it negatively affects our self-esteem, mental health, and motivation. Here are ten things you can do to improve and create a more loving relationship with yourself and your body.
1. flip the script
For every negative thought in your head or word out of your mouth relating to your body, replace it with three positive ones. You can slowly train yourself to reframe your inner and outer dialog. For example, ask yourself, "Would I say these things to my child or best friend?" If the answer is no, stop and respond to yourself with three positive thoughts about your body. What you say to yourself is very powerful.
For example, if you hear yourself saying, "I hate my thighs," reframe it with something like this, "My thighs serve me well and are strong enough to get me where I want to go."
It's ok to have fitness or weight loss goals to improve your health. However, being unkind to yourself will only hinder that process by lessening your motivation and creating self-pity, which leads you down the path of serving habits that don't suit your health. I'll repeat it, what you say to yourself is very powerful!
2. Commit to it
Commit to being kinder to yourself. Say it out loud, "I am committing to saying nice things to myself and kind things about my body." Our bodies are amazing! They can create life, sustain life, walk, run, lift, grow, and so much more! Think about what your body has given you throughout your life and how it has served you well. Commit to being kind to it every day.
3. Ditch the "perfect body" equals happiness narrative
Stop saying to yourself, "When I get to this weight or this size, I will finally be happy." That statement is false. Happiness does not come from a number on the scale or a clothing tag! Human beings all have unique body types and genetic makeups. The "perfect body" does not exist and is unattainable. If you have goals for fitness and health, trying to reach an impossible goal only brings frustration and the risk of failure. That will certainly not motivate you or help build sustainable, healthier habits.
Make realistic and smaller goals. For example, a great plan could be performing a certain number of push-ups or pull-ups, reaching a daily step goal, eating one more serving of fruits and vegetables a day, attending several fitness classes per week, or 5 minutes of meditation each day. Focus on smaller, more realistic goals, and your larger ones will come in time.
4. STOP judging and comparing yourself to other peoples bodies
Just stop it! We are all different and unique and come from different backgrounds, experiences, and genetic make-ups. Comparing yourself to someone else's body is like comparing apples to oranges or the ocean to the mountains. Both are beautiful and unique and wonderfully different things on this earth, but judging them against each other is a waste of time and energy. Comparing your body to someones else's body will not serve you or your goals. Think of your body as its unique vessel that suits you, only you, and no one else.
5. Cleanse your social media
If you see things in your social media feed that make you feel bad about your body, delete, unfollow, unlike, unfriend, or whatever you must do to get it out of your sight. Don't fall into the trap of unrealistic expectations with photoshopped and video-edited bodies that aren't real! Get it out of your feed, and you will be glad you did.
6. positive affirmations
I don't care what anyone says, Stewart Smalley from SNL had it right! It might seem cheesy, but who cares?!?! If something helps you, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks!
I get notifications on my watch and phone daily with a positive affirmations. I read it and sometimes say it out loud. It is lovely and helps me tremendously. It's a powerful tool that provides verbiage to retrain thinking around certain things especially being kinder to yourself. There are lots of free apps for this. Get one!
7. Thank your body for how it serves you everyday.
Practicing gratitude towards the amazing things your body has done, can do, and will do for you, is another powerful tool to repair your relationship with it. Think about all the great things your body has accomplished and thank it daily.
Say to yourself, "Thank you, body, for giving my life so much. I am grateful."
8. Stop punishing yourself
Suppose you beat yourself up for having a bowl of ice cream or look at your workouts as punishment for eating foods that don't serve your goals, STOP it! Thinking this way harms your self-esteem and will only lead to repeating cycles of bad habits that don't work for you.
Everyone enjoys an indulgence, and research shows making a habit of giving yourself a treat now and then is healthy. Depriving yourself and being too restrictive with your diet leads to overindulgence and binge behavior. Instead, look at having a treat as an act of love, treating your body to something it enjoys rather than being "bad." There are no "bad" or "good" foods. Food is food.
Research shows that exercise is a gift to your body, builds precious muscle, keeps your heart and lungs healthy, improves your mood, improves your quality of life, and extends your life. It should not be punishment for what you ate. You cannot out exercise poor diet, period. So looking at it as punishment is pointless if you think it will ex out foods you ate. That kind of thinking will cause associating workouts with dread and increase the likelihood of giving up.
Say to yourself, "This workout will make me feel amazing and give my body what it needs to be healthy and strong."
9. feed your body healthy foods full of nutrients it needs
In addition to that treat now and then, feeding your body proper nutrition will make you feel good about yourself. Eating all the colors of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and lots of water will give your body what it needs to be the best it can be. Healthy foods are also a gift to your body and improve many aspects of your life, including mood, digestion, sleep, and fuel your workouts. Loving your body enough to create healthy eating habits most of the time will improve your relationship with your body, and you will feel great!
10. move your body everyday
Research has proven that a sedentary life is a shorter life. A life without movement and exercise contributes to obesity and increases your risk for chronic and deadly diseases. Being active helps you appreciate your body and gives you confidence when you see the health benefits and experience how good it makes you feel. Any regular activity throughout your day is fantastic!
I hope these suggestions help you love yourself more, even when it's hard. So choose to love yourself this Valentine's Day!
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Amy has spent her career helping others reach their health and fitness goals. "I hope sharing my knowledge and experience with others can help someone to live a healthier and more joyous life."