The May issue of O, The Oprah Magazine really got my OMG up. A survey of over 4,000 O readers found: 43% of women missed out on going to the pool or beach because they didn’t like their appearance! That’s right 4 out of 10 of us are skipping summer fun, denying ourselves pleasure because of Bad Body Image.
If you’re part of that 43% or if you just want to boost your body confidence (and who doesn’t?) so you can feel beautiful in that bikini don’t worry. You have plenty of time to get yourself in shape for summer, and you don’t have to go on a juice cleanse or grapefruit diet, pop dangerous “fat-busting” supplements or beat your body into submission with the latest get ripped fitness routine.
Here’s the secret to feeling great this summer: Stop focusing on changing your body and start focusing on changing your body image (how you perceive your appearance) and swap the body shame for body confidence. In my work and research with women who struggle with body image and weight, I’ve developed some very effective techniques that really work and FAST. Follow my easy body confidence tips starting right now and by summer you’ll feel better about your body, your self and the beach.
- Smash Your Scale: Stop letting some number determine how you see, feel about and value yourself. The best way to improve your body image is to accept and take care of your body.
- Move: Dance, walk, bike or hike. Choose a fun physical activity that you don’t do in front of a mirror. Besides the numerous physical and psychological benefits, research shows that even a little exercise improves body image. Why? When you’re psychically active you focus on what you’re body can do rather then what it looks like.
- Don’t Diet. Dieting doesn’t work, stresses you out and is an attack on your body. Self-improvement efforts like dieting that are motivated by disgust and self-rejection reinforce the idea that there’s something wrong with your body. Instead of dieting eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full and nourish your body by consuming healthy foods — particularly more plant foods and more unprocessed foods — that you enjoy. You’ll have more energy, fewer food cravings and a calmer, sharper mind.
- Trade your negative self-talk — “I’m fat,” “I hate my body,” “My stomach is flabby” — for positive self-talk — “My body is perfect the way it is,” “I love my body,” “I’m beautiful inside and out” and “The people I care about love me.” To accentuate the positive, make a list of five positive words or short phrases, that describe YOU, not your body. Write them down on post-it notes and place the notes where you’ll see them — on your front door, your car steering wheel, the bathroom mirror or your refrigerator.
- Find clothes, including a bathing suit that fit you NOW, not in some imaginary future when you think you’ll be skinny. Celebrate your body by dressing in clothes that are comfortable and make you feel good.
- Practice Self-compassion. Treat yourself the way you would a good friend, with compassion. Replace the scream of self-criticism with the song of self-kindness. Research shows that listening to Self-Compassion meditation podcasts, like those you’ll find on SmashYourScale.com significantly improves body image.
- Fantasize about having fun at the beach or pool. Spend 5 minutes everyday recalling in your mind’s eye how much fun you had splashing around as a kid. Stop judging yourself. Stop worrying. Be a kid again and have some fun. Enjoy life and all it has to offer. Let those good feelings saturated you, body and soul.
Start working now so when June comes you’ll be able to trigger positive, emotions, thoughts and sensations that allow you to enjoy summer, and yourself, in all its warm and wonderful glory. You deserve a day at the beach… take it!
Dr. Ellen Albertson, PhD, RD is a psychologist, registered dietitian, licensed wellness coach and founder of www.SmashYourScale.com, the website for women who want to ditch dieting and learn how to be healthy and happy with positive weight management and self-compassion. You can follow Dr. A on twitter at @eralbertson or like SmashYourScale on facebook.
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