Written by: ViR
I have been asked recently “how do I work on my body image”? This question, especially in recovery, comes up often. Often, I have sat down and started to write on this topic and it sometimes seems so huge. This week I have come to some pretty amazing conclusions in my life and recovery. I saw myself in a glass window and instantly thought “I FEEL SEXY!!! DAMN I AM!!” This moment was simply mind blowing. I think even I, as a body image advocate, get swept up by the aesthetic nature of our bodies. I think I sometimes look at the mirror and think the image itself is part of body image. This one moment of feeling sexy, opened my eyes to how my body image has changed over the years.
Since I started Pilates, I have noticed how much my body can DO, how much it speaks to me, in a physical manner on a daily basis. It tells me when it is sore, and needs rest; when it is tight and needs a class; and when I am stressed and need to breathe. Pilates has simply changed my life, my coping, my breathing, and my body image. I have started to recognize how my muscles work, how they work together. I have had to really pay attention to which muscles I am using, and ask questions in the class about what areas I should be working. I am more in tune to my body than I have been since high school when I danced all the time.
I realized, at 30, I am WAY more comfortable in my own skin, than I was at 20. I may have thought I was the shit, that I was hot, and dressed sexy, and got attention, and was awesome. The difference between 20 and 30 is this – I looked for OUTSIDE approval of my beauty at 20. I relied on guys and girls attentions, words, actions, looks, comments and determined I was hot and beautiful and worthy because of what I looked like. To admit this is pretty interesting as a body image advocate and eating disorder recovery advocate. I struggled in my 20s with weight, control, looks, boyfriends, sex flings, drinking, numerous eating disorders, and simply had no idea who I was, what I wanted, and of course my body image struggled. I was simply relying on the WRONG thing with regards to my worth, sexiness, beauty, and ability to be liked by people. At 30, when I say I feel sexy, I mean that from the deepest part of ME! I feel this is coming from within me, I LOVE how I feel, I love the strength my body is gaining from pilates, I love how it walks focused on the core, I love how I am sore after a hard class. This, to me is what body image is about, feeling sexy in your own skin, from inside whom you are and not relying on outside approval to tell you are worth it. Having this shift from outside to inside approval has made me so grateful to have gone through what I have.
I want to recommend to you all to thank your body for what it DOES. When a negative criticism comes up with regards to the aesthetics of your body, immediately say “I am thankful for _____ because it allows me to do ______.” As many people who know me will say, I LOVE homework, and this is my homework for you. If you are medically stable and can exercise, dance, walk, swim, run, do yoga, pilates, take a moment after each activity to thank your body, break it down into parts if you must – thank your abs for their strength, your legs for their flexibility, your neck for holding your head up. It takes only a moment, but I promise after a while, with any negative thought, if you flip this around to focus on the physical nature of your body, it will become a habit to be grateful for what your body can do. Heck, if you sleep well or find your body able to relax while watching tv (this is actually very HARD for me to do), thank your body for that as well. Take a moment to write them down, say them out loud, and add them to your daily life!
Here are a few examples of some Body Image/Self Love Affirmations:
- I keep in mind at all times that my opinion of myself is the only one that counts.
- Today, I deny others the chance to make me feel badly about myself. I dismiss any negative remarks or looks that may be tossed my way.
- Talk to yourself at the mirror. Focus on what you like and remind yourself that it’s okay to like and appreciate what you see, no matter what size you are.
- When I look into the mirror I can see my inner beauty. I feel good about what I see.
- I celebrate and cherish the body I am in, the wonder that it is, and all that it does for me — the infinite number of things that I could never begin to name them all.
- I am proud of how strong my body is
- I will follow my own journey in finding my own body love
- I will be mindful of how I model and reflect my body image in front of others
- I appreciate my body for all it can do
- I will NOT allow a number on a scale to determine my inner worth
- My body is my best friend, I will treat it with the same love I treat those I love
- I will strive for fitness, not looks
- I will not compare my body to others, I will look inside of myself for all the wonderfulness I exude
- I accept my body type, size, shape
- I will NOT allow the should monster, or inner critic have free rent in my head
- I will focus on HEALTH, not weight, I will focus on caring and respecting my bodies needs
- I will find a way to move my body that works for me, I do not need to do things others do, I can find my own path to health
- I will make time for rest and restoration a priority. It is a time to recharge my inner batteries, and to release any tension I may be holding within my body.
Have you taken a moment to thank your body today???