You stand, without clothes, in front of the mirror. Your eyes go straight to the love handles you hate having. Next, you look at the belly that’s far from having a six-pack. You tell yourself that you need to start exercising again and that you just can’t have any more junk food. You step onto the scale and check your weight: 20 lbs heavier than you’d like. You are simultaneously sad, angry, and ashamed. You hate your body.
This scenario happens to 80% of American women who are dissatisfied with their bodies. Ten million women who hate their bodies will eventually spiral into a full-blown eating disorder.
It’s time to make a change. Body hatred accomplishes nothing of value for women. And our obsession with looks is harmful to the next generation, too: 80% of 10-year-old kids are “afraid of being fat,” and 50-70% of girls who have a normal weight believe they are overweight.
Let’s turn that scenario around. Learn to love the body you have. Admire it. Think of all the amazing things it does for you each day. Live in it. Indulge it in things it enjoys. Move your body, feed your body, love your body. Make a commitment to loving yourself. You can start by trying one of these 15 ways to master self-love.
15 Re-Define Beautiful
Love your body by viewing it in a new light.
As the Dove commercial of 10 years ago made clear, the fashion industry has completely thwarted our expectations of beauty. We have photoshopped, makeup-ed, and lighted our way to images of women that are completely out of touch with what reality can ever be.
What is beauty? Even the dictionary definition is ambiguous. Beauty is subjective, and it is, as they say, in the eyes of the beholder. Become the beholder. Start really noticing what you find beautiful and why – not just on bodies, but in everything in general. What brings you pleasure? What do you find beautiful? What aspects of your own body are beautiful?
Redefine beauty. Decide for yourself what is beautiful. Are someone’s actions beautiful? Then, by extension, so are they. Tear apart those magazine covers and re-discover your own views of beauty – question them, shape them, reform them. Embrace your own definition of beauty.
14 Do Exercise That You Actually Enjoy
Love your body by letting it do things it enjoys.
You hate running, but you endure hours on the treadmill each week in the name of looking good. You don’t like exercise, so you either avoid it, or you put your body through things you absolutely hate doing because that’s what you “should be doing.”
Stop it. Stop it right now. Allow yourself to try something new. Enjoy dancing? Try Zumba or other cardio dance programs. Or just dance wildly in your living room. Enjoy swimming? Get a membership at a gym with a pool.
So long as you’re moving your body by doing things that make it stronger, faster, and more flexible, you can choose any workout at all. Don’t do a particular type of exercise because someone else raves about it, do it because you’re interested in it. Do what you love, and two things will happen: you’ll actually stick with it, and you’ll become healthier.
13 Drink Lots Of Water
Love your body by hydrating your body.
Staying hydrated can do all kinds of amazing things to your body – from giving you peppier looking skin to helping prevent overeating. Drinking enough water is especially important if you are active and/or are spending time outside in hot weather.
To ensure you always drink enough water, start carrying a 1L bottle with you - and ensure to re-fill it at least once. Take sips before you’re thirsty, and make it a habit of drinking water frequently. Thirst is your body’s way of telling you that dehydration is near, so always drink before you’re thirsty.
12 Get Enough Sleep
Love your body by letting your body rest.
There’s no denying it, if you want to show your body some love, you’ve got to give it some beauty rest. In the busyness of modern life, too many people are putting sleep at the bottom of the priority list, embracing quantity of activities done over quality of output. When you’re sleep-deprived, your body just doesn’t work as well as it should, and clarity of thinking suffers.
The amount of sleep needed by each person varies, and only you can learn what that magic amount is for you. Once you find the amount of sleep that helps you feel most energized not only in the morning but all day long, stick to that sleep schedule. Your body will thank you.
11 Avoid Crash Diets
Love your body by not depriving it.
Ditch the weight-loss diets. Most diets are not only ineffective in the long term, they can actually be harmful to your health. Most people who try crash diets, fad diets, or even “lifestyle” diets give up after a period of time, go back to their old eating habits, and regain all the weight they lost, and often more.
No dietitian or nutritionist worth their salt would recommend a crash diet over a healthy eating plan that includes a variety of foods – that’s the only sustainable way to eat. And, as research shows, the best diet is the one you can actually stick with – forever.
10 Eat What You Enjoy - In Moderation
Love your body by feeding it what it enjoys.
After you’ve made a commitment to ditch weight-loss diets, embrace a new commitment: the one to eat what you enjoy, and do so in moderation. Stop depriving and denying your body, and concentrate on portion sizes and on including a variety of foods in your diet – yes, even treat foods.
Loving your body means feeding it healthy food to keep you healthy, but also the occasional treats to keep you happy. Allow yourself to eat for enjoyment as well as nourishment – if you are also moving your body frequently in ways you actually enjoy, your body will thank you for this more reasonable way of eating.
9 Listen To Your Hunger And Satiety Cues
Love your body by listening to what it’s trying to tell you.
Along with avoiding crash diets and eating in moderation comes listening to your hunger and satiety cues. The easiest way to maintain a healthy weight is one that is almost never talked about – because it won’t sell enough books and is really far too simple for people to think that it works.
Simply eat when you’re hungry and stop before you’re full. Your body is pretty good at telling you whether you need more food or not; it’s just that most of us ignore the messages (as we were taught to do from a very young age, when we were forced to clear our plates, whether we were hungry or not).
As hard as it might be, try to eat mindfully, by concentrating on only eating when you sit down with a plate of food, and by eating slowly enough that your body registers when you’re ready to stop.
8 Make Your Own Food From Scratch
Love your body by feeding it healthy food.
While eating what you enjoy in moderation is a great idea to embrace a love of your body, so is limiting (not banning) overly processed foods.
Packaged foods often include quite a few non-nutrients, such as excessive amounts of sugar and artificial colors and flavors, and not-so-great nutrients, such as too much saturated fat or hydrogenated fat. These foods aren’t great for our bodies, so choosing an alternative is a good idea.
Making things from scratch is the best way to avoid the pitfalls of an overly processed diet. While we’re all busy, and making things from scratch isn’t as easy for the modern woman as it was for her grandmother, there are things you can make from scratch that take minimal time, and can help you eat more healthily – this bread or vegetable broth are two examples.
7 Wear Comfortable Clothing
Love your body by keeping it comfortable.
Wear what you’re comfortable wearing. If that means some people might call you eccentric, so be it. If that means someone will tell you that you need fashion lessons, so be it. Wear what your body enjoys wearing – not what others might view as attractive. Remember that those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.
6 Do Away With The Heels, Or At Least Use Them Infrequently
Love your body by keeping your feet, knees, and back healthy.
Plenty of women love getting a new pair of sexy heels. Unfortunately, what heels do to your body isn’t sexy at all. From calluses, blisters, and bunions to early onset osteoarthritis in your knees, high heels mess with your body – badly. High heels have no benefits other than possibly making you more attractive to someone else. Possibly. Because there are plenty of people who don’t find calluses, blisters, bunions, or swollen and red joints attractive.
If you simply must have heels (you just can’t break up with them), opt for lower heels, which lower the risks mentioned above, and use them less frequently. Consider packing heels in your bag for when you get to work or a party, and doing any walking in more comfortable, supportive shoes.
5 Remind Yourself About Your Accomplishments
Love your body by understanding that your body is not the only thing that defines you.
The next time you are ready to obsess about some part of your body that you dislike, close your eyes and think about your accomplishments instead. Make a list. Write down 10 things you have accomplished, in which you take pride. Remind yourself of these accomplishments and your drive to achieve them is what defines you – not the way you look, but the way you act. Your value lies in your actions and in your willingness to contribute to the world – not by your pant size.
4 Never Use The Word "Imperfections" Again
Love your body by breaking up with beauty industry marketing.
The beauty industry loves to sell products by convincing women to hate their bodies. The words “cover up imperfections” is cringe-worthy to anyone focused on improving body image, but that won’t stop advertisements from overusing those words.
If you are truly committed to changing your perspective and loving your body, promise yourself to never use the word “imperfections” again when talking about your body (or anyone else’s for that matter). Promise yourself to stop buying products that use those words in advertisements.
You don’t need to cover up “imperfections,” you need to embrace your unique beauty. Next time you’re tempted to cover up an “imperfection,” think of Cindy Crawford, Marilyn Monroe, and many other personalities who redefined beauty by embracing their unique look as “beauty marks” rather than trying to cover up what others might view as imperfections. Banish that last word from your vocabulary.
3 Give Yourself A Compliment About Your Body Each Day
Love your body by saying nice things to it.
Too many women look in the mirror for “imperfections” on a daily basis. Our culture somehow has taught us that the normal thing to do is to hate our bodies – to the point that people have sometimes become hostile towards people who love their bodies but don’t fit the current beauty ideals set by the media. We should learn something from the guys – many of them enjoy showing off the parts of their bodies that they like, and are pretty good at simply ignoring the ones they don’t.
Make it a point to look in the mirror every day and find one thing to compliment yourself about. Whether you love your eyes, your fingers, or any other body part, remind yourself about why you’re beautiful a little more often. If it feels conceited, remember that you’re telling yourself what you like – not anyone else. And if you really can’t find anything you like, then think back to a time someone complimented something about your look, and make yours their words.
2 Try Meditation
Love your body by giving it time to just be.
We live in such a busy world that we rarely have time to just be. Meditation can calm the mind and do amazing things for your body. Because meditation can reduce stress, it can help alleviate a number of conditions brought on by today’s lifestyle.
If you’ve tried yoga and it isn’t your thing, that’s fine, just choose a time to be still for 5 minutes a day. Close your eyes and try to clear out your thoughts. Repeat a sentence over and over in your mind if it helps. Try to increase the minutes you “just are” each week. You will notice your body feeling different.
1 Walk Away From “Fitness Inspiration” On Social Media
Love your body by not giving it unrealistic expectations.
“Fitness inspiration” on social media is not really accomplishing what it’s supposed to be accomplishing.
Pictures of fitness models with inspirational quotes is hardly motivational to people who already have a hard time just fitting in some active time within their day. You don’t need these “inspirational” messages. Fitness inspiration should be about encouraging you to push your body and see what it can accomplish – not about pushing you to the edge of insanity while trying to achieve an unrealistic body ideal for most people.
Unsubscribe from any and all boards, messages, and e-mails that send you pictures of half-naked people disguised as inspiration. If you must read or look at inspirational fitness messages, look for people who encourage a healthy body image, rather than a certain body look.
Choose at least one of these 15 ways to love your body, and get started today. Which one will you try?