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4 Tips for Improving Body Image + Body Positive Quotes

Now that it’s 2021 and there are tons of diets and “new year, new you” messages going around, I thought it would be a good time to check in with a difficult topic: body image.
 
This is something I usually save for my 1-1 client sessions because it’s vulnerable, it’s timely to unpack and it can be difficult to discuss.  And I am by no means an expert in body image.
 
I’ve taken online trainings from Marci Evans and Fiona Sutherland, but I still have a lot to learn!
 
graphic with 4 women in sports bras promoting body diversity with text overlay
 
I also think it’s very important to mention my thin privilege. I live in a thin body and I also have racial privilege. Because of this, I am not subject to some of the stigma that people living in larger bodies experience.
 
That being said, I still have bad body image days – most of us do. We live in a culture that promotes one ideal body type – a thin, white woman. This culture also promotes dieting and restriction, when we have ample evidence that dieting leads to further weight gain and doesn’t work long term. 
 

We’re not all meant to look like that. If you want to see a good video on this, google “Poodle Science” and watch that 4 minute you tube clip. It’s wonderful. 

We also talk with Fiona Sutherland on the Nail Your Nutrition Podcast about body image for athletes. That was a very eye opening conversation and spoke to some of the real pressures and issues within the athletic realm about body sizes and competition. 

If you’re wondering, “How do I improve my body image?,” know that it’s a long path and won’t happen overnight. 

Hopefully, these 4 tips for improving body image will be a little helpful and get you on the right track. I think of them as things to think about the next time you find yourself disliking your body or having a hard body image day. 

1. Examine Your Expectations

Asking yourself to love your body may be too much to ask right now. Maybe you adjust the goal from “loving” it to “liking” it.

Or, maybe it’s even feeling neutral about it or tolerating it now, both of which are better than hating it constantly. Try to look at it on a continuum of being kind and respecting it.

Our bodies are the vessels we live in, that allow us to do so much in this world.

What things can you appreciate about your body today? Is it realistic to tolerate it or appreciate it for something?

Girl high fiving while doing exercise workout

2. What Else Can You Attribute To your Body, Aside From Aesthetics?

Maybe your legs let you exercise and finish a workout strong and out of breath. Your lungs help you breathe. Your feet and toes help keep you balanced and let you walk. 

If you run or compete in sport, are you doing it because you have to or because you love to? Here are some tips to evaluate compulsive exercise tendencies.  I’ve also written a lot about enjoying running when not training for anything

These things may seem insignificant, but they are all part of what your body does for you!

Legs and shoes hanging down off brick wall

For some people, regular exercise often leads to an improved body image because they are in touch with what their body is capable of, but this is not a blanket statement for everyone. For some, exercise may be triggering. 

I often tell my clients to get away from mirrors, which can be difficult in a gym setting, but you have to do what’s best for you. 

3. Challenge the Context

What are you comparing your body to? Again, if it’s the thin ideal (a thin framed white woman), that’s not attainable for many people. Have you been brainwashed with the diet mentality

And where did this “so called body perfection” even come from – tv? social media? friends? What are you trying to measure up to and who set the bar like that? Are they profiting from you feeling bad about yourself?

Social media and body image are deeply connected. 

Remember, we come in all shapes and sizes, just like dogs. My shoe size is different than the person next to me – we are not meant to all fit in the same shoes!

4 women huddled together of all different body sizes

Just like our weight, a large portion of it is genetically determined and beyond our control.

Let yourself be exposed to different body shapes and sizes. Critique who you are following on social media and what images you are looking at and see if you can diversity them. 

4. Look At the Big Picture

Back up a step.

Even if you hate your body today, or tomorrow, remind yourself that one day maybe you can be neutral about it, or be willing to like it. Try to tolerate it. Be nice to it.

Keep the door open to one day feeling different about it. 

Have you ever had a day where you didn’t think about your body? What was that like? What happened that day?

pregnant mom running with toddler

And here’s a bonus tip!

5. Evaluate Bad Body Image Days

Similarly, on the bad body image days, have you noticed anything that may be going on? Something that you don’t know how to process at the moment?

Sometimes, it can be easier to pretend the problem is your body size, rather than dealing with a problem or emotion head on. 

One thing that really stuck with me that Kylie Mitchell says is, “positive body image isn’t loving your body. It’s thinking of your body less (or neutrally) because you’re too busy living a vibrant life.

Some Of My Favorite Body Image Quotes:

I’ve attributed these quotes when I can find the author. 

  • I am more than my measurements. 
  • Don’t let your mind bully your body. – June Tomaso Wood
  • Taking care of yourself is productive. 
  • I am loved. I am enough. I am strong. 
  • The way you speak to yourself matters. 
  • All bodies are good bodies. 
  • I am more than a number on the scale. 
  • If we all ate the same and exercised the same, our bodies would still look different. 
  • You don’t exist solely to lose weight and be pretty. 
  • Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are. – Marilyn Monroe
  • You can get your dream body while hating the body you have now. But it’s going to be a long, painful process. Try to love your body, nourish it, and see what happens. – Emma Xu

What’s your favorite body mantra or body positive quote or idea?

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