Last Updated on January 3, 2021 by Lori Geurin
Did you know that having a healthy body image can positively impact your entire life? Plus, the mind is a powerful thing. It can influence how you think of yourself and view your body.
A variety of factors contribute to shaping your body image.
These can include:
- media influence – social media, advertisements, magazines, advertisements, t.v., movies, etc.
- the family environment
- whether you were bullied or not
- religious beliefs
Related: Kids And Body Image And How To Help
Let’s take a look at some of the differences between healthy and unhealthy body image.
Signs of A Positive (Healthy) Body Image:
- Appreciating your body for its strength and what it can do
- Nourishing your body with healthy, whole foods that energize and fuel your body and mind
- Knowing you’re more than a number on the scale. When your weight fluctuates, you don’t beat yourself up over it because your weight doesn’t define who you are.
- Encouraging yourself with inspirational thoughts and messages.
- Moving your body by walking, running, dancing, yoga (fill in the blank with your favorite activity) because you love the rush of endorphins or just because it makes you feel good.
- Loving the beautiful person staring back at you in the mirror, inside and out.
- Making your health a priority and setting boundaries when necessary.
- Indulging in a treat from time to time and not feeling guilty or bad about yourself.
Signs Of A Negative (Unhealthy) Body Image:
- Obsessively looking in mirrors
- Avoiding mirrors altogether
- Persistent envy of someone else’s body, even if it’s an airbrushed photo of a person who doesn’t exist in reality.
- Comparing your body size or shape to other people
- Unhealthy eating habits or eating disorders
- An obsession with weighing yourself
- Thinking negative thoughts about your body
- An obsession with losing weight
- Avoidance of being in pictures
- Talking negatively about your body
You may be able to identify with several of these characteristics – in both categories. And that, my friend, is ok and means you are, dare I say, normal.
The great news is that no matter where you are on the spectrum of body positivity you can start building a healthier body concept today.
So, without further ado…
10 Ways To Improve Your Body Image
1. Monitor your thoughts. (Check yo’ self, don’t wreck yo’ self.)
The next time you catch those pesky voices in your head feeding you negative messages shut them down, girl (or boy)!
Here’s a good test: Would you be okay with someone giving your child, best friend or significant other the message you’re hearing? If not then turn it off and replace that negative self-talk with positive words that build up instead of tear down.
“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.”-Stephen Covey
Here are a few more positive affirmations to get you started.
2. Keep a gratitude journal.
Okay, if you’ve read many of my other posts you may think I believe this is the answer to all that ails you. But it’s so incredibly powerful, you guys! It’s amazing how focusing outwards on who and what you’re thankful for can bring everything else into focus and improve your life.
But don’t take my word for it! Try if for yourself and see what changes you notice. If you need help getting started, check out 10 Tips For Keeping A Gratitude Journal.
Related: 20 Easy Ways To Express Gratitude
3. Move your body.
Find an activity you enjoy. One that involves moving.
If you’re a fan of exercise the world is your oyster. If you’re a fitness fan then you probably don’t need me to list your options here. But just for funsies I’ll name a few:
- weight lifting
- horseback riding
- team sports
Now if you’re not into traditional exercise, that’s perfectly okay. So don’t despair. There are many ways you can move and groove too!
Here are some ideas:
- turn on your favorite tunes and dance, dance, dance!
- organizing your closets – Marie Kondo will be so happy! Feel free to watch a KonMarie tutorial on Netflix or read her original bestseller, The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art Of Decluttering And Organizing. Does it bring you joy?
- hiking in the great outdoors
- walking your dog around the block
- cleaning – okay, this may be a stretch for some (myself included) but I know people who actually enjoy cleaning and find it therapeutic. Amazing, right?! More power to them, I say!
- bouncing on a mini-trampoline while you watch your favorite t.v. show
4. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else.
You wanna hear my Papaw’s favorite joke he used to tell us over and over? Here it is:
How do you catch a unique rabbit?
Unique up on it! 🙂– My Papaw
You. Are. Unique.
It may sound cheesy but don’t roll your eyes because it’s true. You were created for a purpose and there is no one just like you.
I did not intend for that to rhyme.
Even so, comparison is the thief of joy so please don’t waste your time with it. You are a masterpiece!
And don’t forget, no one else is you and that’s your superpower. ‘Cause baby you’re a firework.
5. Use food to nourish your body.
Practice eating real food. Focus on consuming healthy whole foods. Leafy greens and other antioxidant-rich vegetables provide much-needed vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
Healthy fats such as avocados, coconut oil, nuts,
Avoid sugar and processed foods as much as possible because they can cause chronic disease and obesity.
6. Avoid focusing on appearances.
When you have conversations with other people try talking about experiences. And when people make negative comments about the way they look, (which they
For example, if your friend is obsessing about how much weight she gained over the holidays you could mention that fitness class you know she started taking and ask her how it’s going. Better yet, if you have some time in your schedule maybe you could attend class with her and workout together.
Keep the focus of the conversation on how you feel after working out:
- more relaxed
- better able to focus
- more positive
- motivated to eat healthier
This can be a positive experience for both of you!
7. Avoid fashion magazines or social media.
While this may sound a bit extreme to some please hear me out. As you’re probably aware
many most all photos in magazines are photoshopped. If you’re not convinced then simply Google ‘celebrities photoshop before and after.’
Just be prepared for anything. You’ve been warned.
What may have started as a useful tool to touch up photos is now being used to completely change one’s appearance. Many celebrities have spoken out against this in recent years. Some of the resulting images are so drastic you can barely recognize the person at all.
In fact, many of the photos are quite laughable because they’re so far-fetched.
What is not funny is the fact that these photos are everywhere and they create impossible (and unhealthy) physical standards for both men and women.
So, if you know that scrolling through your Instagram feed makes you feel bad about yourself then simply find something
different better to do with your time. And if the unrealistic, airbrushed images in magazines cause you to compare yourself then don’t buy them in the first place.
That said, if you know of a body-positive clothing company, magazine or website then buy, visit and share about them with your friends. Bra company, True&Co. is a great example of this as they create bras for all shapes and sizes.
What are some of your favorite body-positive clothing companies?
8. Do something good for someone else.
Believe it or not, this is one of the best things you can do to boost your body image. Pouring yourself into a worthy cause or helping a friend is good for everyone.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Volunteer at a local food pantry.
- Call a friend just to see how they’re doing.
- Take a meal to someone who had a baby or has a chronic illness.
- Buy groceries for someone who isn’t able to get out.
- Pay for someone’s coffee or meal behind you in line.
- Visit a nursing home and talk to people who are lonely.
- Send an encouraging text to someone who needs support.
- Smile at everyone you meet. (Just be careful how you do this. No one likes a creepy over-smiler.)
- Hold the door open for someone.
- Donate clothes, books,
andother items to a shelter.
9. Be more creative.
When is the last time you got in touch with your creative side? You are aware that you have a creative side, right? 🙂
Not trying to be
There are many channels for expressing your creativity. Below are just a few ideas to get your brain warmed up:
- Listen to and/or make music.
- Draw, paint, or color in a coloring book.
- Listen to a podcast.
- Write in a gratitude journal.
- Stay curious and keep an open mind. Let the ideas flow freely.
- Go to a concert or museum.
- Get outside in nature. Observe your surroundings and use all your senses.
10. Keep good company.
Being around people who constantly criticize others is such a downer. Amirite? So it goes without saying that the company you keep has a major influence on your life.
Research suggests that spending time with the right people can boost your health and happiness. Not to mention your social life.
So surround yourself with positive, upbeat people and you’ll be glad you did. Here are some questions to ask yourself about the people you spend your time with:
- Do you feel good about yourself when you’re around them?
- Do they accept you unconditionally, for who you are today?
- Are they supportive of your dreams and goals in life?
- Do you feel energized and happy when you spend time together?
Summary – How To Improve Your Body Image
Improving and maintaining a healthy body image can help you in many areas of life. As you can see above, when looking at body image there are a variety of areas to view because we humans are complex beings.
It’s normal to have up’s and down’s relating to your body image. But if it’s interfering with your daily life or you’re dealing with an eating disorder there are people who can help.
At NationalEatingDisorders.org they provide this Eating Disorders Screening Tool to help you decide if it’s time to seek expert advice. If you’re not sure if you have an eating disorder I encourage you to fill it out.
It only takes a few minutes and at the end of the assessment, they provide you with contact information to call or click for a live chat with the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). There’s also a search feature to search for treatment professionals in your area if you’re interested.
I truly hope this post helps you improve your body image. Most of all, remember that you are wonderfully made and there is no one just like you in all the world.
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”-Franklin D. Roosevelt
What’s your experience with body image? Do you have any tips to share?
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