All the time, I have people ask me,
“How do you have such a positive body image?”
On my Twitter account, I’m known for tweeting body positive messages on the daily, combating society’s siren call of shrinking yourself to appease everyone else.
Because as women, we’re beaten up over the heads in large neon headlines on every magazine with how to “Lose 10 lbs. in a WEEK,” and celebrity trainers tell us that we shouldn’t lift weights because it will make us “too masculine.” Also, we get the idea that accepting and loving your body is pretty much succombing to mediocrity and is only meant for unhealthy, obese women. Fitness gurus say we should be “proud, but never satisfied,” right?
No wonder why our heads are so screwed up.
I personally battled with HORRIBLE self-image and body image issues for years and years before finally getting sick of it and deciding to take control of my mentality and battle it head-on. I’ll think back on times when I had a certain weight number in my mind and would not eat so I could see it on the scale, and did dramatic juice cleanses to feel that tiny, delicate feeling I so craved. Now, I just feel so sad because all of that mental brain space could have been used for much more positive things, you know?
The turning point from this damaging mindset came after I had been weight lifting for about a year and a half. I realized how awesome it was that my goals were no longer scale or BF% focused, but about how much weight I’m able to put on the bar, and I cared more about my performance than aesthetics. And as a bonus, my aesthetics did also improve, because that’s what happens when you lift heavy and actually eat in more of a “training” mindset than a “weight loss” mindset.
Of course I still battled wanting to look like the fitspo models you see 24/7, with perfectly defined arms and chiseled legs. In fact, sometimes I actually felt guilty and like a fraud for training effectively and still not looking like a vision of “perfection.” (In my mind, anyway.)
After battling this for a little bit and probably annoying my fiance to death as I had done for the past year anyway, I realized literally, all of a sudden, that it was dumb to compare myself to professional fitness models.
I made a DECISION to stop thinking of myself negatively and picking my body apart. Right then and there I looked in the mirror and projected positivity on myself instead of negativity.
I basically said to myself, “THIS IS WHO I AM AND IF SOMEBODY DOESN’T LIKE IT THEY CAN JUST GET OVER IT.”
It felt pretty good.
So basically that’s what I say. Every day.
You don’t think my abs are defined enough? “THIS IS WHO I AM AND IF SOMEBODY DOESN’T LIKE IT THEY CAN JUST GET OVER IT.”
You think my little bit of cellulite is unnatural for a woman who is healthy, in shape, and lifts weights? (P.S. It’s absolutely normal and I highly suggest reading this article about it) “THIS IS WHO I AM AND IF SOMEBODY DOESN’T LIKE IT THEY CAN JUST GET OVER IT.”
You think my arms are too muscular? “THIS IS WHO I AM AND IF SOMEBODY DOESN’T LIKE IT THEY CAN JUST GET OVER IT.”
Doesn’t that feel good? I think so. Honestly, I believe the key to happiness in any area of your life is to basically just stopping worrying about what others want/think of you and focus on what makes YOU happy. Because if you are true to yourself others will be drawn to that, too. Confidence is the most attractive attribute anyone can have!
And it’s pretty hard to feel confident when you’re trying to shrink and morph yourself into merely what you think you SHOULD be rather than what you WANT to be.
Now maintaining a positive body image is not something you decide one day and you never have to think about it again. It’s an ongoing battle, really. But just like anything, with practice you get better at it.
So to help you guys out, here are some tips that helped me extremely once I decided I wanted to squash my negative body image once and for all:
- STOP following Twitter, Instagram, Facebook accounts that incessantly post “fitspo” images and half-naked selfies multiple times a day. Really. Stop. (Unless it actually motivates you, of course.) But personally I found for me, that they incited feelings of self loathing and comparison: “Why don’t I look like that?! I work so hard in the gym and I eat right!” If you’ve ever thought those exact words, you’ll be doing yourself an immense favor by just eliminating them from all of your social media feeds. Trust me. You’ll feel SOOO much better! I replaced all of the fitness models and accounts that posted photoshopped fitspo quotes on my IG feed with accounts that post mainly creative, healthy meals and desserts. It was great. One of the best decisions I made in regards to a healthier body image.
- Don’t say anything about your body you wouldn’t say directly to your best friend’s face. Really. This is so important.
- Replace negative thoughts about your body with positive ones. One by one. Feeling bloated and wanting to obsess on how fat you feel you look? Focus some attention on your awesome legs. Or that your triceps are really looking defined today. Or that your make-up is on point. Find something positive.
- Know that even the people that you think have “perfect” bodies face insecurities. You think VS models live every day in a cloud of happiness? No. They have insecurities, too! Even fitness competitors don’t look like they do during their shows 24/7. Everyone has their days and periods where they don’t feel good enough. It’s human. So stop wishing you were someone else and start loving yourself right now as you are!
- Realize abs do not equal happiness. Getting skinny isn’t going to solve all of your problems. Yes, if you are overweight and you start dropping dress sizes that is going to be an awesome confidence boost, I get that! But the problem is some people start becoming never satisfied. That’s how you have those with single digit body fat bemoaning their “bulking abs” and still freaking out about needing to get leaner- in the meantime making all of us feel inadequate in the process. If you are unhappy with your life, relationship status, or career, simply getting thinner isn’t going to help that. You have to make changes within yourself, first.
- Stop making your self worth directly tied to your body and appearance and start putting it into your amazing and beautiful mind. Because you have so much to offer the world. Don’t let it be drowned out by feelings of inadequacy that you created in your mind.
You’re beautiful and awesome and it’s time for you to start believing it.