Stop comparing yourself to others. Accept your body as it is. Write an inventory of things about you that you like. Start by looking in the mirror – what do you like? Then, what attributes not related to appearance do you like? Think about your friends and family – what achievements, values and personality traits do you appreciate in them? Notice how you can easily reflect on their “inner beauty”, not their body size or shape.
Avoid conversations about size, weight, feeling ‘fat’ etc, both in your own head and in conversations with friends. Write sticky notes for yourself on your desktop and around your room/office with positive affirmations, like ‘Your smile is beautiful’, ‘you radiate energy and beauty’ etc. Avoid magazines, instagram or other media channels that advocate stick thin bodies or other appearance focused material. Promote body diversity – people come in all different shapes and sizes and we also have different tastes and styles. That’s what makes the world such a wonderful and diverse place.
Focus on what your body can do! Set positive, performance oriented goals instead of weight loss goals. For example, why not do a long charity walk, and train by walking every weekend with friends/family for one or two hours. Or enter an obstacle race and have a blast tackling mud pits and tires. Focus on your health, rather than having the perfect body. See body shame as part of your mind/ thinking rather than a problem with your body.
Take time out for yourself; suspend criticism; practice kindness & self compassion. If you were your best friend, what would you say/ do to yourself? Imagine your younger self, what would say/ do to them? Dress as you would if you were happy with your appearance. Wear clothes that make you feel good! Exercise for pleasure and because it makes you feel good!
Trust yourself to eat nutritious foods when you naturally feel hungry. Don’t engage in fad dieting, unnecessary fasting, or anything else that creates more obsession over food and calories. Avoid “diet talk”. What foods make you feel good in the long run? What are the most nutritious foods? Eat three regular meals a day and healthy snacks in between if you’re hungry. Don’t obsess over the small things – everything in moderation is fine. If confused, feed yourself as you would feed your children – with lots of healthy ‘everyday’ food, and occasionally ‘occasional’ food. Avoid wolfing down your meal in front of the computer. Eat mindfully – slowly chewing each mouthful, enjoying the flavours and textures.
Article adapted courtesy of Sarah McMahon at Body Matters, (Psychologist and Director)