Why do we women torture ourselves? We watch television, read magazines and subconsciously (or consciously) compare ourselves to every airbrushed woman we see. Forget about those other women and take a good look in the mirror. If you see something you don't like -- hair, clothes, weight -- change it.
When at home, trade in your slummy sweats for something that shows off your body. Pretend you're an island girl and practice feeling comfortable showing skin." -- Melissa Picoli, world-traveling esthetician and founder of BijaBody.com
Dress the part
Speaking of clothes... getting into a rut is just so easy. We often stick to old styles that used to work but are less figure-flattering now that we're older, heavier and wiser.
Go shopping for silhouettes that look good on you, says Wendy Lyn Phillips, author of Naked to Knockout: Beauty From the Inside Out. Consult with a stylist or visit a store that has knowledgeable salespeople who can dress you. Reputable retailers want you to leave the store looking good, not bad, in their clothes.
Get confident from within
Focus on inner character and integrity, says Phillips. "Allow the beautiful person you are on the inside to merge with the visual appearance of your outer shell. Loving yourself just the way you are provides confidence for today and helps create an achievable plan of what you can do to make improvements."
Life coach Terri Savelle Foy agrees. "Your words create your image -- negatively or positively," she says. "You believe in yourself more than anyone, so don't let one negative comment come out of your mouth about yourself again."
Don't focus on weight
Weight and health are not the same, says Dawn Adams, nutritional counselor and author of Weight! That's Not the Issue. Sadly, the weight loss industry is about quick fixes. It doesn't help us understand that, often, our struggles with extra pounds are about balancing life -- but they manifest as obsession over the numbers on the scale. Your healthcare professional can help you identify a healthy weight. A healthy body is a confident one.
So you're sick of reading about the benefits of exercise, but the fact is this: Exercise works. Instead of starting a workout regimen to fix your flaws (the negative approach), get active because it will help you love your body. "Focusing on your body in a positive way can help you make huge strides toward overcoming insecurities," says Foy. "By working out, you realize what your body is capable of and what it can do for you; these positives will begin to drown out any negative opinions you may have about your appearance."
When you feel bad about yourself, you may project that feeling onto others in the form of insults or gossip, says Foy. Instead, look for ways to focus on others by complimenting their attributes or achievements. "When you get into the habit of sincerely complimenting other people, you will, in effect, build yourself up."
Take it one step further and help others. Volunteer. Talk to a lonely teen or senior citizen. "By focusing on others' needs, you will get you off your mind," Foy says. "That's what being self-conscious is all about: focusing on self. You won't worry so much about your own flaws when you're looking for opportunities to give back."
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