We are constantly being told, through media, television, and magazines, how we are supposed to look, but the fact is most of us do not fit this mold. Getting caught up in this senseless need to achieve an artificial goal can lead to negative body image and destructive self-criticism. Even supermodels, who are supposed to be “perfect”, struggle with these inner battles. So, when is enough enough? What are we striving for? Perfect does not exist, but healthy does. How we look is subjective, but how we feel is absolute. Beauty comes in many forms and if we are to make peace with ourselves, we need to shift our focus from weight to health.
Focus on health, not weight.
When you focus on health, your choices and actions will come into alignment with your goals, and your body will follow suit. The path toward health is clear, whereas that of weight loss is fraught with endless contradictions and fluctuating dietary fads. Achieving a specific look at the cost of feeling miserable is not worth it. When you are healthy, you FEEL good and that’s the best part. You know that healthy foods are those which are unprocessed, fresh, single ingredient groceries and that anything which comes in a box cannot compete with fresh vegetables. Eat fresh foods that appeal to your personal taste while supporting your physical health. On the occasions you choose to indulge, do so selectively and without guilt. When you discover this balance, you win on all fronts.
Become aware of your personal narrative.
Notice both your internal and external language regarding how you relate to your body. As you start tuning into this, you may find repeating patterns of negativity. Simply becoming aware of these patterns creates space for change. Likewise, notice the narrative of those you spend time with. Are they self-deprecating and negative or inspiring and positive? For better or worse, the people we surround ourselves with rub off on us. Make an effort to reduce time spent with those who are perpetually down on themselves and the world around them and spend a lot more time with those who are inspired. Just as you are affected by others, they are affected by you, which means your positivity will benefit everyone around you.
Practice daily meditation and gratitude.
Meditation creates space to quiet the inner chatter, and simply be at peace with yourself. In creating a window of separation from your thoughts and emotions, you will discover a place of quiet confidence. As part of your practice, send gratitude to your body. Be thankful for every tiny miracle it performs every moment that you are alive. Without a conscious effort your heart continues to beat, your brain finds order in chaos, and your muscles propel you in any direction you command. Be sure to send gratitude to the parts of your body that have historically been the target of your criticism. This may be challenging at first, but I promise it will get easier. I recommend starting with a 5-10 minute daily, morning practice. There is no need to make it longer – consistency is more important than duration. Keep it bite-sized, and keep it regular.
Let go of perfectionism.
Striving for the impossible goal of perfection is a waste of time, and sure to make you feel like a failure. In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, author Brené Brown describes perfectionism as outwardly focused “What will they think?” and “healthy striving [as] self-focused – How can I improve?” Being imperfect is human, and quite honestly the joy of life. Focus on establishing a healthy balance that supports your goals while allowing for occasional indulgences. Without this balance, you risk the pitfalls and ricochet-effect of extremes. Each time you make a positive change, no matter how small, give yourself a high five and celebrate your progress. Savor the benefits of these changes: more energy, improved focus, better sleep, better digestion, clearer skin, reduced bloating, less cravings. Bask in the feeling of better health.
Use these tools to move toward a more positive relationship with your body. Liberate yourself from negative thought patterns and create the opportunity for contentment and peace by focusing on your health, rather than a magical number on the scale. I created the Body Love program to support you on this journey. This four week program includes coach and peer support, nutrition guidance, and weekly meal plans. Discover delicious, quick recipes such as Hemp Seed Crusted Trout, Grilled Portobello Mushroom Pizza, Caramelized Banana & Almond Oatmeal, and Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie. Enroll by February 20th to join the live kickoff on Thursday February 21st!