For those of us with negative body image or an overactive inner critic, the idea of loving our bodies seems impossible. I wonder if there’s a difference between loving our bodies and accepting them? To me, acceptance comes first and love comes later. Either way, there ARE ways that we can learn to accept/love our bodies. Focusing on what our bodies do for us each day and the many ways in which they function well is an important first step.
The National Eating Disorders Association has a wonderful list on their website called, “20 Ways to Love Your Body“. Here’s the list:
20 Ways to Love Your Body
Compiled By: Margo Maine, PhD
- Think of your body as the vehicle to your dreams. Honor it. Respect it. Fuel it.
- Create a list of all the things your body lets you do. Read it and add to it often.
- Become aware of what your body can do each day. Remember it is the instrument of your life, not just an ornament.
- 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.
- Walk with your head held high, supported by pride and confidence in yourself as a person.
- Don’t let your weight or shape keep you from activities that you enjoy.
- Wear comfortable clothes that you like, that express your personal style, and that feel good to your body.
- Count your blessings, not your blemishes.
- Think about all the things you could accomplish with the time and energy you currently spend worrying about your body and appearance. Try one!
- Be your body’s friend and supporter, not its enemy.
- 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.
- Every morning when you wake up, thank your body for resting and rejuvenating itself so you can enjoy the day.
- Every evening when you go to bed, tell your body how much you appreciate what it has allowed you to do throughout the day.
- 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 and because it makes you feel good. Exercise for the Three F’s: Fun, Fitness, and Friendship.
- 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.
- Keep a list of 10 positive things about yourself—without mentioning your appearance. Add to it daily!
- Put a sign on each of your mirrors saying, “I’m beautiful inside and out.”
- Search for the beauty in the world and in yourself.
- Consider that, “Life is too short to waste my time hating my body this way.”
- Eat when you are hungry. Rest when you are tired. Surround yourself with people that remind you of your inner strength and beauty.
Pick out three or four of these that seem reasonable to you and start there. Keep track of your progress by monitoring your body image on a scale of 0 to 10. Check in with yourself prior to doing some of the things on the list and then check in with yourself afterward. Does your body image improve? Compare your numbers each week, as well. Is your body image slowly improving over time? Even if, by the end of a month, you can see a slight change, it’s working! Keep in mind that your perception of your body was formed over years, decades even. It may take a while to come to body acceptance and love. (Or it may come quickly! Surprise yourself!)
Peace, joy, and health.