Many of us spend too much time scrutinizing our bodies in front of the mirror. Some of us struggle with our weight, or feel unsatisfied with specific body parts (thighs, arms, belly). How often do you say, “I would be so happy, if only I could lose ten pounds”? So much of the struggle we experience comes from the mixed messages we accept about health.
Poor body image isn’t just a problem for women. Both men and women experience these challenges. The popularization of words like “dad bod”, “bulking season”, “gains” and “fit” is doing more harm than good.
It’s hard to stay #bodypositive when diet culture tells you that you are not good enough. We have been programmed to think that being healthy means being thin. The weight loss industry in the United States is worth $72 billion dollars! How crazy is that?! This obsession with losing weight has gotten way out of hand. And yet, no one seems to care.
The diet industry tells us to log every-single-thing we put in our mouths, to track each step, to weigh our food, to monitor our sleep, and to check our weight. Not only is this time consuming, but it is also mentally taxing. Striving to be healthy is great, although these types of behaviors might cause more harm than good. For example, relying on your fitness tracker to tell you how many calories you have burned in order to determine how much you’re allowed to eat, thinking your workout “didn’t count” because you didn’t burn enough calories, or starving yourself because you’ve gone over your calorie limit for the day. We are not robots. We should not base our calorie needs or ideal body weight according to what My Fitness Pal says. Furthermore, we should not measure the status of our health based on the mixed messages that the diet industry pushes on us.
Having a healthy relationship with your body means rejecting diet culture. It means knowing that your worth is not measured by how much you weigh. It’s accepting the fact that your body will change – during puberty, in college, during pregnancy, after having a baby, and when you hit menopause. Aging is part of life and we must learn to accept the fact that our bodies will change over the course of our lifetime.
How to love your body
1. GET RID OF YOUR SCALE! Your health is not measured by how much you weigh. Weight cannot accurately diagnose your health status. For many, checking their weight on a daily basis gives them a sense of “accountability”. Getting rid of your scale might feel scary and it can feel like you are giving up control. The problem is, whether you’ve gained or lost weight, the number on the scale can dictate how you eat, and it can lead to overeating. A “good” weigh in might lead to a cheat day or a cheat meal as a way to celebrate your progress. On the other hand, a “bad” weigh in might trigger frustration and lead you to think, “Screw it! I’m not seeing any changes. I’m going to eat whatever I want today”.
2. Unfollow people on social media who post unrealistic health messages. Avoid falling into the trap of comparing yourself and your body with others. Not only is it mentally exhausting but it is also a trigger for feeling guilty, insecure or unworthy. Cultivate a mentally healthier environment by following accounts that make you feel good.
3. How you talk to yourself matters. Re-frame negative thoughts about yourself into positive ones and learn to love your unique body at every stage. Start by respecting your body. Value what your body can do for you – “My strong arms allow me to hold my baby”, “I love the way it feels when I stretch”, “I am grateful for my health”. Take care of your body, whether it’s getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, eating well or finding the joy in movement.
No matter what you are struggling with, be kind and love yourself💕