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How To Have A Healthy Body Image

Body image concerns are a part of today’s culture.  Many of us have struggled with not liking what we see in the mirror at times.  A recent survey showed that 90% of college age women and 80% college age men report having a poor body image. Below are some suggestions which may aid with keeping a stronger body image.

Avoid Following Social Media That Is Focused On Body Image

Following social media that is focused on body image can encourage us to compare ourselves to others and reinforce negative self-talk.  Comparing our bodies to others isn’t fair to us or our bodies.  Each body is different.  There are so many factors that go into the appearance of our bodies.  Comparisons can lead to negative self-talk which actually prevents us from engaging in a healthy lifestyle because it breaks us down emotionally which can lead to choosing behaviors that don’t support feeling good.  

Have Healthy Conversations With Friends

“My weight is out of control,” or “I really need to work on my abs.”  Friends will often share comments like these with each other.  While these may seem like innocent or even healthy statements because they are showing we might be aware of our health, they are actually potentially dangerous to our body image.  When a friend talks negatively about her body, our brain hears that have problems with our bodies too.  When we make these types of comments, we reinforce each others negative body image.  When you hear a friend or feel that you migh make a body judgement, try to turn the conversation to a positive.  For example, “I had a great walk today,” or “I was able to run two miles.”  Just like we can train our body for endurance or speed, we can also train our mind to recognize and create positive thoughts about our bodies, promoting our positive body images.

Eat Well

When we eat well, we feel great.  There are many different diets out there from ketogenic to paleo to Whole30. Maintaining a diverse diet that includes protein, fruits and vegetables, and healthy carbohydrates is important.  Talking to your doctor about what he or she would recommend for you can be very helpful.

Getting Enough Sleep Can Also Help Body Image

Getting enough sleep improves self-esteem and health, which is part of body image.  Research has shown that not getting adequate sleep reduces self-esteem. Oftentimes, helping our sleep can be trying some new behaviors, or even some different types of nutrition.

Wear Clothes That Make You Feel Good

When you look good, you feel good.  Wear what you like and what makes you feel confident.  Don’t be afraid to break fashion rules in order to express yourself. 

Treat Yourself

Take good care of yourself.  Get your hair done.  Take time for a nap.  Paint your nails a fun color. Taking good care of yourself helps you to feel more positive about yourself.  

Fight Body Shaming With Assertive Language

Body shaming is never helpful or appropriate.  Body shaming can be guised as being concerned about a person such as, “Should you have another serving?”  The best way to fight body shaming is to say something such as, “I am uncomfortable with this conversation,” and then change the topic.

Find Exercise That You Like

Some people love to run.  Others run only when chased.  Others love yoga or swimming.  Finding an exercise that you enjoy or one that feels right for you, is important because you will not dread working out.  

Replace Negative Thoughts With Positive Thoughts About Your Body Image

Changing your thoughts can change your feelings and behavior.  For example, if you are thinking throughout the day, “I am over weight and my clothes look bad,” you will not feel confident.  When we don’t feel confident or good about how we look, we don’t put ourselves out into the world.  We don’t smile at others or respond to others who are reaching out to us, because we doubt that they want to connect with us.  

However, if you changed your thought to, “I have a great smile,” you will start smiling at people.  You will receive smiles back and your confidence and positive feelings about yourself will increase.

Evan changing your thought to, “I look ok,” a neutral statement, will help your thoughts about yourself.  With a neutral thought, we might not reach out to the world as much as if we are thinking a super positive thought, but we will also not assume that people are thinking the worst about us or avoiding connecting with us.

Educate Yourself About Healthy Body Image

It is important to be aware of the ways that images in popular media, especially advertisements, are heavily edited to look perfect.  

Dove has an eye-opening video that shows a model getting ready for start to finish for a photo shoot, including computer edits:

Resources:

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/ten-ways-to-improve-your-body-image_b_6279108

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/diet-is-4-letter-word/201402/how-do-i-improve-my-body-image

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