On a scale from 1-10, with 10 being very positive, how would you rate your body image?

Negative body image often cues New Year’s resolutions focused on changing the body with hopes of feeling more attractive, successful, or accepted… of essentially “feeling better.”

It is OK to wish your body was different. Changing your body may initially help you feel better, but these changes may not be sustainable in the long term.

Since body image is the way you think about your body rather than how your body actually looks, physical changes are NOT required to feel better about or more at peace with your body.

Building better body image is about being kind to your body and strengthening acceptance of, respect for, compassion toward, and trust in it. It’s about building enough resilience to tolerate your body as it is rather than trying to change it.

Positive relationships with people are not built by criticizing or attempting to change them. They are built with kindness, acceptance, compassion, dependability, and support. These same cornerstones are necessary for a positive relationship with your body. You may be surprised by how your body image improves as you take action to create better feelings about your body before taking action to try to change it physically. Here are some ideas to get you started…

  • You are the curator of your social media feeds, so include body-positive content. Check out the accounts Memphis Nutrition Group follows if you’re looking for more body-positive, non-diet posts.
  • Wear clothing that fits your here-and-now body. This may mean shopping for some new items and getting rid of others.
  • Engage in movement that is fun and pleasurable vs. painful and punitive. Choose activities that rejuvenate your body and help relieve mental and physical stress.
  • Nourish your body in a dependable, adequate way with foods that make you feel physically well and provide enjoyment, too. Practice reconnecting with and responding to innate body signals like hunger and fullness.
  • Instead of body checking (weighing, measuring, comparing, spending excessive time in front of the mirror), look for something you like or notice something you appreciate about your body. 
  • Derail or deflect any comments or conversations criticizing your body or another’s.
  • Give compliments on something other than a person’s appearance.
  • Shift your self-talk from scathing critic to cherished friend.
  • Brainstorm ways to be kind to your body.
  • Evaluate your self-worth through the lens of your values, strengths, positive characteristics, and unique gifts.
  • Keep in mind that bodies naturally come in all shapes and sizes.
  • When discontentment with your body seems to be taking over, contemplate how these feelings could actually represent discontentment in other parts of your life. Seek support as needed.

Remember: Acceptance doesn’t mean contentment, surrender, or resignation; however, acceptance can lead to less emotional pain, less negativity, and greater health in relationship to your body. Rather than seeking to change your body this year, choose this time to change how you feel about your body image and create a positive relationship with it.

Blair Mize, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN is co-owner of Memphis Nutrition Group, a nutrition & lifestyle counseling practice operated by registered & licensed dietitians/nutritionists. Memphis Nutrition Group believes in a non-diet approach that promotes overall health and optimal performance without compromising the enjoyment of food. For more information call Memphis Nutrition Group at 901.343.6146 or visit https://www.MemphisNutritionGroup.com.