So none of the fad diets have worked for you, or maybe you are one of those people who has a gym membership, but never uses it. Many of the solutions promised to make us feel better about our bodies actually end up leaving us even more depressed and with a lot less money than when we first embark on changing our lifestyle. Sure, it would be great to snap our fingers and have the answer, but just like our bodies, the answer is a bit more complicated.
Our body image is influenced by two main factors which are mental and physical. The mental body directly affects the physical body and vice versa. These two bodies are inextricably linked and must be treated as such on the journey to loving ourselves and these great vessels we are so blessed to have. Today, we will go deeper into this idea and hopefully give you some of the tools that can aid you on your own personal journey to a body positive lifestyle.
Ever heard of a vicious cycle? This is what results when the flow of thoughts and actions become a negative cycle that feeds itself and cannot be stopped without some major interference. Although it sounds like a train headed off its tracks, the truth is any habit formed is capable of not only being broken, but also being replaced with a habit that is healthy instead. Many habits are formed unconsciously by an indoctrination fed to us at a very young age from parents or society. We are constantly bombarded by photo-shopped images on social media that represent an unreachable standard. This creates an idea outside of ourselves that really has nothing to do with our reality.
Photo by: Ivan Carillo
The thoughts we have about our bodies may be negative due to how we were raised. Did one of your family members make you feel self conscious at one point by projecting their own ideas about their bodies onto you? Or were you bullied in school about your physical appearance? Sometimes we endure trauma when we are younger and learn negative coping mechanisms like comforting ourselves with food. Food can be used for comfort in ways that it shouldn’t. We must question what void we are trying to fill in the first place to break bad habits like these. It isn’t as simple as trying a new diet or going to the gym for most people, but don’t start feeling overwhelmed dear friends, the good news is that we can learn new behaviors that eradicate unhealthy ones if we are willing to implement mental and physical tasks little by little.
Let's start with the mind! Don’t ever underestimate the power of your thoughts on this journey to loving the skin you’re in. In order to break negative thought patterns, sometimes we must find the source. This is the part where we excavate and weed out these patterns by asking hard questions like why we believe what we believe about our bodies. Sometimes we need guidance outside ourselves and going to a therapist is a great resource if that is available. If it isn’t, you can always guide yourself in a meditation. Meditation is a great way to undo habits. First set an intention, this is your motive or the end goal you wish to achieve. Meditate and focus your mind on what triggers those negative thoughts about self image. Are they old memories? Was it a traumatic experience? Whatever it may be, try to find the source and rewrite that truth. You don’t have to believe these truths because it is likely they aren’t yours at all. They were transmitted to you by outside sources, a seed planted long ago. Unfortunately weeds grow much faster than good plants, but you can still pluck them out.
When a negative truth pops into your mind just make a commitment not to feed and water that weed or thought, don’t judge yourself for having the thought, be kind to yourself. For a healthy mental garden, we must also water and prune the healthy thought plants or patterns, as well as plant new seeds of positive thoughts. One way we can boost our meditations and focus more is to use verbal affirmations. Think of a negative thought process you’d like to break, and meet it with a positive verbal affirmation to replace it.
“I WISH I HAD SMALLER THIGHS.”
“I LOVE MY THICK THIGHS.”
“I CAN’T BELIEVE I ATE ALL OF THAT.”
“I DON’T ALWAYS TREAT MYSELF, AND I DESERVE TO SPLURGE.”
“I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE, I’LL DO THAT LATER.”
“MY BODY IS MY GREATEST INVESTMENT, AND I WILL MAKE TIME TO BE A HEALTHIER ME.”
Overall, we must figure out what works for us when it comes to the relationship with our bodies. There is so much information at our fingertips these days. Many tools and resources that can aid us on our journey are easily found with a little bit of research online or at a local library. The link between psychology and how we perceive our bodies it’s fascinating and the more we know the more we can benefit. Once we dedicate a bit of time each day to reset the way we think, we will likely have less obstructions that keep us from healthy action.
A huge part of living a body positive lifestyle is actually feeling good in our bodies. Most people don’t feel good about their bodies because they don’t look the way they want to. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to sculpt one’s body as long as the goal is a healthy one. However, no matter where we are on the journey every version of ourselves is beautiful. Unless your hobby is sculpting your body, the real focus should be put on feeling good as a whole, not appearance.
A healthy body means consuming healthy foods, being active, and resting enough. Some of us need to revisit our relationship with food. As far as diet goes, we must commit to seeing what foods work for us and what foods don’t. Some of us need a lot of carbohydrates, some of us can eat a lot of sugar and some of us have bodies that do not process it well at all. If at all possible seek the consultation of a nutritionist, if it is not, do some research and experiment. Treat your diet as a mystery you have to solve. Only you know what your body feels like in reaction to certain foods. Try out new recipes that are made with organic ingredients, or even investigate cleanses or fasts. Most importantly, make the process fun and really pay attention to what works for you and your body. Make sure you drink lots of water and get enough rest. This helps the body greatly before activity. Being active is so important. It’s not about running yourself into the ground or forcing yourself into a vigorous training routine. Implementing activities that make you happy is a must, and the fact that they are burning calories is just a plus. A great way to boost confidence is to feel capable in our bodies.
What is it that you want your body to do? Do you want to feel stronger? Do you want to have more endurance? Do you want more flexibility or balance? There are so many different activities to choose from, we just have to ask ourselves the outcome we want and find something that suits us. Yoga is great for flexibility and balance. Martial arts is a great activity for building strength and confidence. Learning how to dance can build endurance while also teaching us rhythm and flow. Once we start exploring, we might be pleasantly surprised to find a new creative outlet that also helps us to feel great about our bodies.
We encourage you take time to pamper yourself and rest enough as well.
This month we invite you to try new things and dedicate a little time to be consistent, because your body is your most important investment. You only get one vessel in this life, so honor it and cultivate a healthy mental and physical relationship with it. Try out some of these suggestions, or let this inspire you to figure out different ways in which you can not only think of your body in a positive way, but care for it with a balanced diet and physical activity.
Written with love by: Mel Malfabon