How to Develop a Positive Healthy Body Image, Part 1
Today I want to discuss something imperative to me, developing a positive and healthy body and self-image. This post is part 1, and part 2 will be posted next week. Part of the healing process from a negative self-image, eating disorder, body dysmorphic disorder, and/or compulsive exercising is not just ridding the mind of negative, unhealthy thoughts, but also replacing those with positive, healthy thoughts.
A positive body image can beneficially affect many areas of health in our lives including mentally, emotionally, socially, and physically. It increases our self-affirmation, self-confidence, self-awareness, self-esteem, and self-fulfillment.
Over the last few years, I have been in the process of self and body acceptance and love, and I want to share some of what I have learned and some other additional resources for those of you who are on a similar journey to embrace self-value.
“Comparison is the thief of joy," said Theodore Roosevelt, and I 100% agree. I'm guilty of comparison, but I am working on and praying for this.
Comparison is the paradox of living more joyously and developing a positive self and body image. ~ CLICK TO TWEET
Think about it like this, is it even logical to compare one unique set of DNA with unique life experiences to another different set of DNA with different life experiences?! No, there is no comparison, we all were created differently with intent by our Creator.
"You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed." ~ Psalms 139:13-1
This being said, think about it like this, how amazing is it that you are a one-of-a-kind? No one thinks like you, has your personality, has your compilation of skills and abilities, looks like you, or is capable of all you are capable of. Comparison is all for not; you will never be anyone but you. Don't waste time comparing when you could be embracing your special self and becoming the best you that you can be. Don't let the world miss out on all you are capable of!
Triggers, mine were weighing, looking in mirrors, and trying on pants, every day.
It was hard, very hard because I was addicted to these disordered behaviors, I didn't like how these triggers made me feel, but I didn't want to give them up.
On your recovery from a negative self-image, eating disorder, body dysmorphic disorder, and/or compulsive exercising, it is imperative that you avoid triggers.
From experience, I can tell you that the "just once" is never just once and doesn't do anything but feed the addiction you are trying to overcome. If looking in mirrors makes you uncomfortable or self-conscious, spend less time looking in the mirror. If stepping on the scale can make you feel worthless, smash the scale. If trying on pants is attached to your self-worth, give the pants away.
"So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law." ~ Galatians 5:1
Though Paul was referring to the yoke of slavery from the law, it applies to triggers as well. You are free, those triggers and negative thoughts hold nothing over you. When you embrace your freedom in Christ, you can truly begin to see your self-value.
Leave Positive Notes and Self-Affirmation Cards for Yourself
Never underestimate the power of affirmation cards! My husband left me a kind note on our mirror one morning, it truly made my day and reminded me to "own my pretty." The note said:
"Don't put on makeup today. You are already beautiful."
Affirmation cards or notes are great because you can feel them with positive self-loving truths that can help you combat negative feelings about yourself. Keep them close to you so you can read them when you're feeling down, or place them in different locations to rediscover unexpectedly.
If you don't know where to start when making self-affirmation cards, try making an acrostic poem using your name. Write each letter of your name and a good or positive quality beside the letter. Or, you can download the self-affirmation cards I created as a post freebie! They will be available next week when I post part two, so you want to be on the lookout for that!
One thing I would like to suggest when creating affirmation cards is to remind yourself that
“true beauty” is not just skin deep. Focus more on beauty as a state of mind and actions rather than just physical appearance.
Find What Makes You Feel the Most You
For awhile I was continually trying to wear clothes that I used to fit into, clothes that I was no longer comfortable in and that made me feel self-conscious. Why was I torturing myself?
I finally realized that I could dramatically improve my body image by just choosing to wear clothes that I was comfortable in, clothes that made me feel at home in my body.
Finding your personal style can give you a sense of individuality, uniqueness, and can be a reflection of your inner-self, all of this can fill your self-positivity bucket. You don't have to wear clothes that do not fit and are uncomfortable. It doesn't matter what size they are, what does matter is that you are comfortable and confident! Also, don't try to hide in clothes, this will only keep you in the negative body image cycle.
Find a style that makes you feel you and let your light shine!
Commend Your Body for All It Can Do
I used to nitpick at my body thinking about what I wished I could change. One way I found to combat this is by commending my body for all it is capable of. I go into a greater discussion about this mind shift in the post What I Learned about My Amazing Body during Pregnancy.
Instead of being captious, I decided to treat my body with respect and compassion.
Make a choice to treat your body with love, nourish it and listen to your body's needs. Thank your body for the amazing things you can do! Your body allows you to breathe, laugh smile, dance, or run a marathon! Just take a moment to think about that, the human body is pretty incredible, isn't it? So is yours! Simply by nature, when you take adequate care of your body, you feel better physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Thank you for reading part 1 of How to Develop a Positive Healthy Body Image. I hope that these strategies can be helpful to you. Remember that recovery is a long process, and you may have setbacks, but there is hope.
Don't forget to check back next week for part 2 of How to Develop a Positive Healthy Body Image which will include more strategies and the self-affirmation card freebie!
Yours Truly, LeNae
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National Eating Disorders Association. 2014. “10 Steps to Positive Body Image.” Accessed May 1, 2014. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/general-information/ten-steps .
—. “10 “Will Powers” for Improving Body Image.” Accessed May 1, 2014. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/10-will-powers-improving-body-image .
—. “20 Ways to Love Your Body.” Accessed May 1, 2014. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/20-ways-love-your-body .
—. “No Weigh! A Declaration of Independence from a Weight-Obsessed World.” Accessed May 1, 2014. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/sites/default/files/ResourceHandouts/NoWeigh.pdf
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