In case you haven't noticed, body acceptance is a new movement encouraging both women and men across the globe to accept themselves for who they are inside and out.
It's sort of sad that this even needs to be a "movement," yet it's been going strong ever since the rise of social media. As great as social media is for many reasons, there's no denying that networks like Instagram and Twitter have increased the issue of body shaming (mocking or criticizing someone based on their body shape or size). This is something that happens on a daily basis to millions of users who are skinny, overweight, fit, and everything in between.
The sad thing is, these users might be completely content with their current physique, that is, until some unassuming person feels compelled to comment on their photo and ridicule the way their body looks. It's unfortunate that we, as humans, place so much importance on how others perceive us, but that's just how our brains are wired. We crave human connection, companionship, and approval from others. The only way to really overcome this, as cheesy as it may sound, is to ensure every single one of us keep a mindset of, "I am unique. I am beautiful. I am enough.”
Yes, it's super cliche, I won't deny that much. But if we don't repeat daily mantras as I just described, it's insanely easy to let any negative perception people have of us get to our self-esteem.
You may be wondering, what happens when our confidence and self-worth is based off of the opinions of others? Why is that so wrong?
Simple. Basing our confidence on people's opinions means we will never. be. enough. EVER. There will always be something wrong according to society, according to that troll who commented on your Facebook post, according to your mother-in-law, etc. Even if you have never experienced body shaming (directly or indirectly) from someone, I can guarantee you've still experienced it, probably more times than you can count, from yourself.
How many times have you thought:
”Wow, could my thighs get any fatter…?”
“My stomach is disgusting.”
“I'm so repulsive.”
“I could never wear what (s)he’s wearing.”
We all are. In the long run, it's almost worse if your biggest critic is YOU. If you're body shaming yourself, who's going to be your cheerleader in this journey to self-love? How are you ever going to get to a place where you genuinely love and accept yourself unconditionally if you're your own bully?
With all of this in mind, I've come up with a few daily reminders you can practice as a way to empower yourself before allowing anyone else (or yourself) to derail you of your self-worth. And yes, it's completely possible to accept your body for the way it is long before your obtain your "dream body,” or whatever physical goals it is you have in mind.
First thing when you wake up (long before you check your emails, scroll through Instagram, or pour your first cup of coffee), practice gratitude, and briefly remind yourself of your core values and what it is you want to accomplish with your day to get you one step closer to your goals. Jot them down in a gratitude journal. Meditate. Or, simply say them to yourself.
The key here is to start each day with your life's purpose and calling at the forefront of your mind. Now, for the rest of the day, whether you mean to or not, every decision and action you make will be subconsciously influenced by your values and gratitude for life. This means even less time will be spent obsessing over superficial things such as the way you look.
2. Talk Self-Love
Get in the habit of turning self-hate talk into self-love talk. Do this by reminding yourself of what your body can do for you every time you start to criticize its shape or form or compare it to anyone else's. I can guarantee that you'll mentally scrutinize yourself easily at least 5 times throughout the day, especially when you're in a setting with a ton of mirrors like the gym or dressing room at the mall. When this happens, be conscious of the words you say to yourself and to others, and then turn it into a positive conversation.
Working in a gym setting, all day long I hear things like, "Back when I used to be a 100 lbs, this type of dress looked so good on me," or "I know it's hard to believe I work out when I look like this, but...." The gym is rampant with insecure, body-conscious men and women who all have great intentions, but low self-esteem. Next time you are about to say something negative about your weight or physique- even if you pose it as a harmless joke about yourself- STOP. Instead, focus all of that energy on building other people up in a conversation.
3. Focus on Function
With every meal and workout session, remind yourself what these actions are actually doing for your body. That means before counting calories or macros. Taking some of the focus off your appearance, and instead placing it on the functional aspect of your health can help you see your less "exciting" meals and dreaded sprint workouts in a more positive light.
4. Let Yourself Live
Anytime you just couldn't squeeze that workout into your slammed day or you gave in and got a little too "happy" at happy hour, remind yourself that it's ok to live a little. If you seriously beat yourself up for having a memorable night with your friends every once in a while, you might want to reevaluate your priorities. The simple fact is, it's more than healthy to give yourself a rest day when your body is telling you to rest.
People tend to fall out of their routine towards all their health goals after just one mishap that left them feeling defeated and ashamed. It does not need to be that serious, people! Accept that you "messed up;” although I personally wouldn't call it something so negative, I prefer to call it a recovery period. Just pick up where you left off towards health and wellness!
These are 4 great things to remind yourself of each and every day, especially if you're feeling like you need to work on your self-esteem and confidence. The key is to learn to love who you are right now, long before the abs start popping, the arms tone up, and before you can fit into your goal-sized outfit. And as if I wasn't cliche enough throughout this blog post, here's a Buddha quote, because, well, Buddha. Duh.
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection."