Every person has a different body. Our genetics play a role in our bone structure, body size, shape & weight, which is why it’s impossible to chase after an “ideal body”. We are all made differently and beautifully, and one of the greatest challenges we face is learning to accept our own body and feel beautiful in it.
An “ideal body” should never be defined by the way it looks, but rather by the way it feels. One of the most important things you can do in building a positive body image is to stop comparing yourself and your body to your friends’ or those you see in the media. Instead, focus on all of the things your body allows you to do.
Keys to an “ideal body”:
Always listen to your body. Choose a variety of different foods that contribute to a healthy diet and eat the foods that appeal to you; eat when you are truly hungry and stop when you are full. Be aware of the signals your body is sending you.
If you learn to listen to your body instead of attempting to diet, you will be more likely to maintain a healthy weight and avoid eating disorders.
10 “Will Powers” for Improving Body Image:
(By: Michael Levine, PHD and Linda Smolak, PHD)
I WILL ask myself: “Am I benefiting from focusing on what I believe are flaws in my body weight or shape?”
I WILL think of three reasons why it is ridiculous for me to believe that thinner people are happier or “better.” I will repeat these reasons to myself whenever I feel the urge to compare my body shape to someone else’s.
I WILL spend less and less time in front of mirrors—especially when they are making me feel uncomfortable and self-conscious about my body.
I WILL exercise for the joy of feeling my body move and grow stronger. I will not exercise simply to lose weight, purge fat from my body, or to “make-up” for calories I have eaten.
I WILL participate in activities that I enjoy, even if they call attention to my weight and shape.I will constantly remind myself that I deserve to do things I enjoy, like dancing, swimming, etc., no matter what my shape or size is!
I WILL refuse to wear clothes that are uncomfortable or that I do not like but wear simply because they divert attention from my weight or shape. I will wear clothes that are comfortable and that make me feel at home in my body.
I WILL list 5 to10 good qualities that I have, such as understanding, intelligence, or creativity. I will repeat these to myself whenever I start to feel bad about my body.
I WILL practice taking people seriously for what they say, feel, and do. Not for how slender, or “well put together” they appear.
I WILL surround myself with people and things that make me feel good about myself and my abilities. When I am around people and things that support me and make me feel good, I will be less likely to base my self-esteem on the way my body looks.
I WILL treat my body with respect and kindness. I will feed it, keep it active, and listen to its needs. I will remember that my body is the vehicle that will carry me to my dreams!
(by: Margo Maine, PHD)
1. Think of your body as the vehicle to your dreams. Honor it. Respect it. Fuel it.
2. Create a list of all the things your body lets you do. Read it and add to it often.
3. Become aware of what your body can do each day. Remember it is the instrument of your life, not just an ornament.
4. Create a list of people you admire: people who have contributed to your life, your community, or the world. Consider whether their appearance was important to their success and accomplishments.
5. Walk with your head held high, supported by pride and confidence in yourself as a person.
6. Don’t let your weight or shape keep you from activities that you enjoy.
7. Wear comfortable clothes that you like, that express your personal style, and that feel good to your body.
8. Count your blessings, not your blemishes.
9. Think about all the things you could accomplish with the time and energy you currently spend worrying about your body and appearance. Try one!
10. Be your body’s friend and supporter, not its enemy.
11. Consider this: your skin replaces itself once a month, your stomach lining every five days, your liver every six weeks, and your skeleton every three months. Your body is extraordinary – begin to respect and appreciate it.
12. Every morning when you wake up, thank your body for resting and rejuvenating itself so you can enjoy the day.
13. Every evening when you go to bed, tell your body how much you appreciate what it has allowed you to do throughout the day.
14. Find a method of exercise that you enjoy and do it regularly. Don’t exercise to lose weight or to fight your body. Do it to make your body healthy and strong because it makes you feel good. Exercise for the Three F’s: Fun, Fitness, and Friendship.
15. Think back to a time in your life when you felt good about your body. Loving your body means you get to feel like that again, even in this body, at this age.
16. Keep a list of 10 positive things about yourself – without mentioning your appearance. Add to it daily!
17. Put a sign on each of your mirrors saying, “I’m beautiful inside and out.”
18. Search for the beauty in the world and yourself.
19. Consider that, “Life is too short to waste my time hating my body this way.”
20. Eat when you are hungry. Rest when you are tired. Surround yourself with people that remind you of your inner strength and beauty.