I have been extremely open that this year I am on a weight loss/health journey. It’s most likely going to be one of the hardest things I’ve done. You see I’ve lost weight before, but it’s always found its way back to me and bought extra. It’s been a lifelong battle and one I am not sure I will ever fully master.
What is body image? I’ve done some research and it’s been described as beliefs, thoughts, perceptions, feelings, and behaviours that influence the way we see ourselves. A healthy body image is the ability to separate one’s value as a person from how one looks. I do not have a healthy body image. All my life I have shied away from social situations as much as possible as I always feel like people judge me based on my body size. Deep down inside I like to think that isn’t the case but it’s a lifelong thought process that is hard to break.
The researchers say a negative body is characterised by dissatisfaction with appearance. People with a negative body image engage in dieting and/or avoidance. They also say that a negative body image often emerges during childhood. For me it during my adolescent years. When my body decided it would no longer be the slim dancers frame and my weight started to creep up.
I admire people who are not your typical size 8 model figure and are comfortable in their own skin. I wish I was more like them, but the fact is I’m not. I pick my clothes based on the way the make my body look to others. If the shirt is too tight and shows by stomach, I will not wear it. It’s exhausting and makes it extremely difficult to find things to wear! Fashions have moved towards figure hugging and barely there trends. They are not good for someone who already has a negative self-image.
My weight loss journey is slow. My body does not play the game I wish for it to play. It doesn’t seem to matter what I eat or how much I exercise I will have success one week and not the next. I am not giving up I am just trying to come to terms with the fact that it will take longer than I hoped.
So, I’ve been doing some reading on things you can do to help yourself deal with body image.
- Give gratitude for what is and what works. We were out to dinner last night with my Mum who is elderly and really struggling to just walk normally. One of her lady friends was also out to dinner with her family. They had a quick chat about their ailments and the lady said to Mum – at least we are still here. We are looking at the grass and not the roots. She’s 100 percent right. Even if the only thing you can find to give gratitude for is the fact you are still here you need to!
- Take time to listen to the needs of your body. This week my body has been telling me it’s tired. Normally I would get up every morning and do 30 minutes of exercise before work. This week I just haven’t been able to. The first couple of days I felt guilty and spent a lot of time talking negatively to myself. I enjoy the exercise and it makes me feel good but this week I’ve not been well and that is ok.
- Work on re-wiring your brain. Basically, if you tell yourself every day that your fat and ugly those pathways become strong. Research shows you can create new pathways with messages of self-love and kindness. I find this one hard and have decided I need to start working harder on it.
- Work on re-evaluating your own self-worth. Another tough one when you have spent a lifetime believing you are not good enough. Professionals recommend meditation. I used mindfulness for my anxiety so saying positive things to myself in this process is my next challenge. I’m going to try and convince myself I am worthy.
- Don’t listen to the thoughts, beliefs, and values of other people. To have a strong sense of self you need to tune out all the noise and listen to yourself. Remain true to who you are.
There is some great advice here. Now to implement them and hopefully become more comfortable in my skin. I feel like I’ve started taking steps forward this year. I am getting in more photos and engaging in more social activities. There is a long way to go but all it takes is the first step and then to just keep following that first step with more!