Answer these questions:
- Do you feel guilty after eating foods that are high in fat?
- Do you panic if you gain a few pounds?
- Do you have trouble accepting compliments on your body?
- Do you weigh yourself more than once a week?
- Do you talk negatively about your body?
While you may not have disordered eating, answering yes to any combination of these might mean your body image could use a make over. Our body image is how we see ourselves. It's a combination of our experiences, personality, and social and cultural influences. Having a positive or healthy body image means we have a real perception of our size and shape.
A negative body image means we have a distorted perception of our size and shape. We compare ourselves to others, we might even feel shame and anxiety about our body. This affects how we think and feel about ourselves as people and can lead to emotional distress, low self esteem, unhealthy dieting habits, anxiety, depression and eating disorders.
I think about body image as a continuum where positive is on one end and negative is on the other. We're all somewhere in between. And our placement on the continuum is dynamic, it changes. Some days are good, some not so good. It ebbs and flows with different stages in our lives. Hopefully we can each identify a time or times in our lives when we've been close or stayed closer to the positive end.
Developing a healthy attitude is important to our happiness and well being. I have a few tips to help keep us on track with a healthy and positive body image.
Experiment with a size and weight that's comfortable for you. There is no perfect size. Accept that you will have fluctuations and variations throughout your life. Ditch the magic number, size or weight from your head.
Try experiencing your body as a whole rather than as separate parts needing to be fixed. We tend to pick ourselves apart in pieces. Step back and see the whole you.
Pay attention to how much time you spend worrying about your looks instead of being aware of what's going on around you. What are you missing out on?
Give up media for one week. And while you're at it, break it off with your inner super model. That image of air brushed perfection does not exist.
People with positive body images practice these things, that's why they are successful. Love the you that you are right now. Put the unrealistic expectations out with the trash and give yourself some credit. You've got a lot to be thankful, grateful, and proud of!