There’s one idea that is on my mind frequently… how can I get women to accept their uniquely beautiful bodies and embrace their best qualities? It’s a deeply emotional experience and many of us have a hard time facing the mirror in the morning when we get dressed. The solution isn’t easy at times, but it is powerful: love yourself for who you are and what you’ve got, no matter what.

A helpful technique is to simply accentuating the positive. It seems easy enough – but it’s a surprisingly powerful tool. Many of my newsletters focus on food and fitness, but body image is paramount. Why? Because if you don’t have a positive (and yes, loving) relationship with your body, then no diet or exercise plan is going to be enough. We all have little areas we’d like to shape up, or even trade in. But, with the media constantly barraging us with an unrealistic (and often unhealthy) image of the so-called perfect body, it’s important to “turn down the volume” on that racket and gain some perspective. Our obsession with being “thin” is actually a pet peeve of mine – I often joke that I’m a “fitness expert,” not a “skinny expert.”

If body image issues are plaguing you, it’s time to take action. The first step is to identify the problem at its root. That starts with the language you use, or the images that come to mind, when you think about your body. For example, if you often tell yourself that you have a “fat, ugly stomach,” you can stop right there. The problem isn’t your stomach – even if it is an area you’d like to change or improve. The problem lies in the way you “talk” to yourself. So try being your own best friend. In other words, you would never say to a friend, “You have a fat, ugly stomach.” That rule goes for your own self-talk, too. Instead, start with the facts (and nothing but the facts). Perhaps the true statement in this case would be, “I have a 36-inch waist and I want to tone my midsection.” Now you’re talking.

Every time I work with someone on an exercise program, I emphasize the importance of positive body image. That “little voice” drives you out the door in the morning for a walk, or a workout, or a yoga class. If that voice is a negative one, chances are good that you’ll do whatever you can to avoid it – which often leads to giving up completely. Like any skill, learning to appreciate and love your body simply takes practice.

One of the best ways I’ve found to get myself in a positive mindset is through Yoga and Pilates. These can help me calm my mind and get rid of all the negative clutter that’s been building up throughout the week. I take the time to breathe, focus on what is important, and remind myself of all my positive qualities. Doing so helps with my image and puts me in a state of joy about myself and my life. Taking only 20 minutes out of my day to do this is so powerful for my wellbeing throughout the rest of the day. If you want to try it yourself, check out the two DVDs I put together around these ideas, Yoga Sculpt, and Peel Off the Pounds Pilates

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