Body image is the mental picture a person has of their body. A distorted body image can have very tragic results. When we feel bad about our body our mood plummets. Unfortunately a lot of us punish ourselves for not having perfect bodies and even hate our bodies, or parts of them. This negative image poisons the rest of our self-image making it impossible to really be happy.
On the other hand, a healthy body image occurs when someone feels positive and confident about their body and who thy are. If a person feels good about themselves it affects every part of their life in a positive way. According to the American Psychological Association, 45% of Americans may experience anxiety or depression due to dissatisfaction with their appearance. Sadly, it appears that we are buying into the myth that physical perfection should equal a high self worth.
Find Peace In The Body That You Have
1. If you insist on weighing yourself to track your progress, limit it to once a month. Especially for women, there are too many hormonal fluctuations that can change your weight from day to day. Also, as you build lean muscle mass, you'll put on a pound or two in exchange for a few pounds of fat loss. This exchange could equal no change on the scale for a period of time. Don't let that get you down.
2. Don't deprive yourself of food. Make smart food choices but never let yourself feel hungry. This will only defeat your efforts by slowing down your metabolism and setting yourself up for binges.
3. Learn how to cope with stress, anger or hurt, which can often lead you to skip your workouts and make bad food choices.
4. Accept your body as it is and don't compare yourself to others. Be aware of the negative things you say to yourself about your body and instead focus on the positive changes that you are making.
5. Don't buy into media influences that cause you to feel bad about yourself if you don't measure up to their standard of beauty. Realize that advertisers often want you to feel bad about yourself just to sell you their products.
6. Be consistent about taking care of yourself. Exercise, eat right and treat yourself good with occasional beauty treatments, manicures and facials.
Work Toward A Positive Body Image
1. Understand true hunger signs, which sometimes can be mistaken for thirst. Listen to your body.
2. Exercise regularly, regardless of if you've hit a plateau or even if you're at you've reached your ideal body weight. Regular exercise will help you continue to feel good about your body.
3. Work toward self-acceptance and forgive yourself if you feel you've messed up. Don't punish yourself for missing a workout or for over indulging in food. Instead, react positively to yourself and get back on track.
4. Be realistic about the size you'd like to be. Your ideal proportions are based largely on genetics so factor that in when goal setting.
5. Seek support and encouragement from friends and loved ones as you work toward your goals.
6. Expect to see subtle changes from week to week and revel in these small accomplishments. Rome was not built in a day and neither is a fit body. It takes consistent effort.
7. Don't spend all your time and money pursuing the "perfect body image". Remember what is most important to you in your life and keep things in perspective. Placing too high a value on your physical self can put unnecessary pressure on yourself, taking the joy out of things that really mean the most.
Change A Negative Body Image Into A Positive One
1. Monitor your thoughts for a few days. Notice what types of messages you're repeating about yourself. Work on changing negative self-talk by decreasing the negative messages and work on increasing the positive self-image messages.
2. Understand what normal eating is and realize that food is not your enemy. Regular healthy food intake is necessary to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.
3. Learn to love exercise. Exercise for good health, well being and appearance.
What can women do to avoid the trap of negative body image and eating disorders? Start by following these simple steps.
1. Don't dissect your body. "I hate my thighs, but I love my arms". This can harm your self-image. Appreciate how your body works together and keep it going strong with regular exercise.
2. Stop playing food mind games. Food is not the enemy. Make it your goal to eat healthy and don't obsess over food. Allow yourself to enjoy occasional treats to prevent binging and keep you in control.
3. Learn the basics of exercise and nutrition and set realistic goals for yourself. Focus on health and the aesthetic changes will happen.
4. Realistically view your genetic shape. Study photos of your mother, grandmother, aunts and sisters to get a realistic sense of your family genes for body shape.
5. Identify negative thoughts about your body image and challenge them with positive affirmations.
6. Look at your self-esteem holistically. Think about what is truly important to you. Use this for a Holistic Health Chart to help planning for daily balancing.
Recognize these habits of thinking that destroy your fitness program and substitute them with forgiving alternatives.
1. All or nothing type thinking: Encourages you to define yourself by a single episode. " I missed a workout. No sense trying. I'm a failure." Replace that thought with this one. "I'll get right back on track with my program."
2. Focusing on the negative: "I've never been in shape in the past and I never will be in the future." Replace that thought with this one. "With consistent effort I can be as fit as the next person."
3. Expecting too much too soon: "I have not met my goals yet, so what is the sense of trying." Replace that thought with this one. "I've made small progress, but fitness takes time and is an ongoing process.
Seek The Support Of Positive People
Sometimes change makes others feel uncomfortable, so they?ll try to discourage you from making progress. It's important to realize that in refusing to support you, they are revealing their own fears and weaknesses. Negative comments from those around you can cause self-doubt about your desire to change and reach your goals.
1. Stand up to ridicule and teasing.
2. Realize that jokes at the expense of others are nothing more than a socially acceptable way of expressing intent to verbally hurt.
3. Seek the support of encouraging friends and family who understand the goals that you are trying to reach. Sarcasm and negative comments can be a lethal weapon, so surround yourself with encouraging people.
What can you do to guard your self-esteem from the treacherous images of flawlessness presented by the media?
1. Be honest with yourself.
2. Realize that genetics have programmed you to have a certain body type. Not every woman can or should be model thin, but we all can be fit and strong.
3. Find your own standard of beauty rather than comparing yourself to airbrushed cover models.
4. Choose to take care of your body to the best of your ability, regardless of what society is doing. Eat nutritiously and exercise regularly on a consistent basis.
5. Practice self-acceptance and don't allow your feelings about your body to be manipulated by the media.
What Does It Really Mean To Have A Positive Body Image?
A positive body image means that your feelings about your outward appearance are constructive, and that those feelings are not easily changed because of other events in your life. Many women feel that changing their bodies will solve all their problems. "If only I were ??." When you truly have a positive body image you respect and value yourself just the way your are, but never give up on being the best you can be. Don't let your body image issues become an emotional dumping ground. Remaining positive makes it more likely that you'll stay consistent with your fitness efforts. It's when we let the negativity creep in that we're more apt to give up on ourselves.
Joni Hyde is the mother of one child and a certified personal trainer specializing in women's fitness with over 13 years experience. For a complete home exercise routine under the guidance of a certified trainer, visit WorkoutsForWomen.com. Joni can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org .