The thoughts, feelings, and beliefs about your body and the influences that contribute to how you see it make up your body image, or the dynamic way you experience your body—not how your body actually looks. With the rise of the body positivity movement, the “love your body” message has become more widespread. Yet, for many, it still feels unrealistic or unfathomable. It’s okay not to love (or even like) how your body looks. Body image has more to do with your brain than your body.
While you may not love your body, it’s possible that showing love or caring for your body and being mindful of your thoughts about it can improve body image as a whole and lead to greater body acceptance. It’s the changing of your mindset, not your body, that yields better body image. Developing a better relationship with your body takes active, consistent work. Here are some ways to get started…
Care for yourself as a whole.
• Eat well. Plan to eat every three to four hours for optimal energy. Fuel your body with both nutritious and fun foods.
• Engage in enjoyable movement. Exercise should relieve stress, not add to it. Get outside and explore the Greenline or increase your agility at Accel Performance and Wellness powered by Campbell Clinic.
• Build and maintain meaningful relationships. Having a strong support system promotes better overall well-being.
• Find clothes that fit your here-and-now body. One of the best ways to care for your body is by making sure you’re comfortable.
• Consider this question: How would I treat my body differently if I had a more positive body image?
Rethink your thoughts.
• Think of your body kindly. You typically don’t reserve kindness for only select people at certain times, so why put those conditions on your body? Self-compassion is key. Talk to yourself as you’d talk to a friend who is struggling, shifting the tone from criticism to compassion.
• Mindfulness is at the core of body image work. Start by spending a few minutes bringing awareness to what’s happening inside your body. By paying attention to your experiences, you build skills to respond rather than react to difficult thoughts and sensations.
• Thank your body. Developing greater body appreciation can significantly improve body satisfaction. What has your body done? Where it has taken you? What has it allowed you to experience? Go ahead and make a list and feel the gratitude!
• Broaden your view of beauty by opening your mind and exposing yourself to all different body shapes, sizes, colors, types, ages, and characteristics. There is no one right body!
You don’t have to love your body to L.O.V.E. your body
Listen to it well and provide what it needs. Take a break if you feel tired. Eat when you’re hungry! This can be a challenge at first if it’s something you’re not accustomed to doing. The Registered Dietitians at Memphis Nutrition Group can help.
Open your mind to body acceptance. All bodies are good bodies. Follow body-positive social media accounts like @MintToEat or @MemphisNutritionGroup on Instagram and unfollow those
Value your worth apart from your body. You have many talents and qualities. Your body is merely your vessel for sharing those to with the world.
Explore your talents, hobbies, passions, beliefs, and surroundings. Practice building your life rather than building your dream body.
Caroline Pruente, MS, RDN is a nutrition therapist and Registered Dietitian at Memphis Nutrition Group. 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 MemphisNutritionGroup.com.