For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with my body image.
I recall painful memories of staring in the mirror and dissecting every flaw I had. I would run my fingers over my cellulite in disgust. I would obsess over how fat my arms were, how I had stretch marks on my booty. It got so bad that I was obsessing over my hip to waist ratio. To feel better I would Google “celebrities with cellulite” or “celebrities with stretch marks” (embarrassingly enough) because if the beautiful and famous had it too, it was acceptable
That is how I validated my self-worth.
After years of negative self-talk I decided something had to change. I realized I needed to take care of myself. At first I started exercising and eating healthy for the physical aspects (I thought with enough exercise I could become a sexy Victoria Secret model). A few months into my fitness routine I decided to dive deeper into my health and wellness. I joined yoga classes, meditation sessions, and saw a holistic doctor.
Then a transformation occurred……
When I looked in the mirror I no longer focused on my flaws, but instead focused on the things I loved about myself. Instead of stressing over my cellulite, I admired how strong my legs were from doing squats at the gym. I began to realize that my body wasn’t the issue. My lack of self-worth was the real problem. I did not love myself enough to accept who I was. Instead, I let insecurity and doubt run my life. Through working on taking care of myself, I learned to be healthy and compassionate towards my body. In addition, I gained love and respect for myself.
During my journey, I have found these five behaviors that helped me achieve self-love.
- Exercising. It improves physical appearance, self-confidence, and releases endorphins in the brain which brightens our overall mood.
- I stopped comparing myself to others. I recommend taking a break from social media. That was where I would “stalk” beautiful models, actresses, etc. and then compare myself to them. So I decided not to follow the accounts that made me feel bad about my body image. These steps helped me to stop comparing and instead focus on what I loved about me.
- I focused on my talents. Instead of spending time and energy obsessing over my body, I put that energy into my passions such as writing, painting, yoga, etc. It helped me realize that there is more to life than having a perfect body and that I have talents that make me special.
- Eat clean. When we feed our bodies with healthy, non-processed foods, we feel better overall. We need to nourish our body instead of calorie counting or going on a fad diet. I changed my eating habits so it is part of an overall healthy lifestyle.
- I was kind to myself. I changed my self-talk from being negative to positive. I repeated daily affirmations and removed self-defeating thoughts from my mind. Through practicing these types of positive affirmations we are able to change the damaging views of ourselves.
Today, I will proudly flaunt my perfectly imperfect body on the beach in a bikini because I approve of me. Let’s stop nitpicking on all the things we think aren’t good enough about ourselves and start celebrating how unique and beautiful we are. As Mark Twain wisely quotes, “a man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.”