The Power of a Positive Body Image

There’s no denying that we all have little areas we’d like to shape up, or trade in. But with the media constantly barraging us with an unrealistic (and often unhealthy) idea 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 gain some perspective and take action. Treat it like any other addiction: 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. Not only for your mental and emotional health, but because you can’t underestimate the “little voice” that 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. However, if you can teach that voice to sing a different tune, you’ll begin to love the skin you’re in. And best of all? You’ll feel great naked, no matter what.

Like any skill, learning to appreciate and love your body simply takes practice. We all know the first step is to shift your mindset so that you view yourself through a positive, softer “lens.” But how does that process really happen? Here are some doable tips to help change the way you view your body:

1- Zoom Out!

Don’t waste time breaking down every flaw you see in the mirror. Instead, “zoom out” to take in the big picture – almost like a work of art. And avoid those extremely magnifying mirrors that create a “funhouse” effect. They distort your image and encourage too much self-scrutinizing – and there’s nothing fun about that.

2 – Lose The Fat Fear

Even though you may want to lose 10 pounds of belly fat, approach your eating plan as if you’re on a mission to boost your endurance, lower your heart rate, and gain more energy. By shifting your focus from the fear of fat to the benefits of being fit, you’ll find the motivation to keep going.

3 – Remember The Magic Of Movement

A surefire way to get more comfortable with your body is to simply get moving. Daily exercise can really shake off those thoughts of self-doubt, whether through indoor/outdoor walking, barre, or even some Latin dancing.