Negative Body Image: Enough Is Enough

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

First off, what is body image? Body image can be both positive or negative, it relates to how one feels in their body as well as how one perceives their body.

One thing that I have always struggled with has been body image.  I've never really cared what other people have said about me because honestly, I am like 50 times harder on myself than any one could ever possibly be. My struggle with self-image got to a point where my self-esteem was just (for lack of a better word) shit; I couldn't take a picture without feeling disgusted with myself (if you notice there's not many pictures of me), I compared myself to everyone who passed by, I opted to stay home as opposed to going out--what kind of life is that? It's a real waste, if you ask me. There's so much to see in the world, so many amazing people to meet, so many memories to be made; once I realized I was missing out on all of that, I had enough.

A lot of people assume that negative and positive body image start and end at your physical appearance and I've come to find that that's furthest from the truth. While your physical appearance might play a part in why your struggling or not struggling, it doesn't end there. I believe that what you put into your body, how positive your mindset is, personal experiences, and the quality of the life you live, all play key roles in how we perceive ourselves. While going to the gym/exercising is as easy as just doing it; converting a negative mindset to a positive one can be more challenging. I found it helpful to find the source of why I was I was feeling the way I was. For me, it was a multitude of things; I had a baby, I was away from my normal environment, I was struggling in my relationship, I didn't have many friends around, I had developed negative mindset and I stopped maintaining myself the way I used to. Once I recognized what was really putting me down, I started taking little steps to help me feel better. When I became consistent with applying these steps to my life I noticed a big difference in the way I perceived myself and my body. Though body image is something that I still struggle with, it's no longer something that I let stop me from enjoying myself. I wanted to share with you some steps that have been beneficial to me, in hopes that they will also benefit you. 

Eating Healthy This might go as a no brainer, but eating healthy is vital for both your body and mind. I've been doing a lot of reading from Eat Pretty and have gained a lot of insight on how different types of food affect our bodies as well as our emotions. Also, diet, is a stupid word, throw it out of your frickin' vocabulary. Eat whole foods as much as possible and avoid fast foods--yes, eating  fast food/junk food can and will alter your mood, if your'e interested in reading how, you can click here. 

Drink Your Water You'd be surprised how much a little dehydration can negatively impact your performance. Water is one of the most critical nutrients for our health, including a healthy mind. I  noticed when I'm hydrated I have more energy, my skin feels better, I'm less bloated, I don't have headaches, and I'm less irritable; which means I'm more positive. If you don't like the taste of water (Yes, water does have a taste) you can try adding fruits to your water to give it some natural flavor. 

Be Active I'm not saying you have to be a multi-sport athlete or even buy a gym membership, I'm just saying be active. Play a game of frisbee, join a yoga class, go on a walk with your pet, take a swim; do anything that will keep you moving at least an hour a day. When you exercise your body releases natural chemicals called endorphins which help you feel better. It's a known fact that improved self-esteem goes hand-in-hand with regular physical activity. Rekindling my love for fitness has been a great way for me to exert my negative energy in a more positive and productive way; not only am I benefiting my overall physical health, but I've also noticed a huge shift in my attitude. 

Do What Makes YOU Happy Stop worrying about keeping up with trends, ignore stupid hashtags like #RealGirlsLift, but most importantly, stop doing things for the sole purpose of pleasing someone else. 

Take Risks Step outside of your comfort zone and take healthy risks. A lot of times when we feel down about ourselves (I know this all too well) we tend to miss out on stuff that we otherwise would have had fun doing. One way that I got out of my funk, was telling myself "I am going to do this, no excuses" even if I went out not feeling so great, I ended up having a blast. You miss out on so many opportunities, special moments, and emotional growth when you stay within your comfort zone.

Buy Clothes That Fit  Buying clothes for the future was one of my worst habits ever--seriously I had clothes hanging in my closet with the tags still on them for the longest time. I would always get frustrated because I felt like I had nothing to wear even though there were clothes I never even wore before in front of my eyes. It can get pretty depressing when you feel like you only look good in a few things and you end up always wearing those items out. Buy things that compliment you now, not later. If you're working out and you're determined to drop a few sizes, but you're suffering from shopping fever and you have a serious need to shop, try purchasing items that will fit you both now and later; tank tops, loose fitted blouses,sweaters, sweatpants, shoes, and accessories. 

Self-Affirmation It's so easy to be our own hardest critic, but we rarely ever give compliments to ourselves. What's even worse is that when people compliment us we often don't believe them. I am awful at taking compliments partially because I'm awkward, but a lot of the other times I don't feel as beautiful  as the compliment being told to me. One person told me I should try to wake up every morning and tell yourself "You are beautiful"; I tried that ,but it didn't work. In fact, it made me feel worse, because I was telling myself I was beautiful, but I didn't believe it--that made me sad. So i decided to take a different approach and started to give myself little compliments throughout the day; "You're brows are on point." "You had a great attitude today" "You were awesome at the gym today" "You didn't have any wardrobe meltdowns this week", the more and more I complimented myself the more and more I was able  to see how beautiful and amazing I am. 

Make Time For YOU This is one that was/is really hard for me. I am so dedicated to my family that whenever I want to do something for myself, I feel guilty. I am really good at taking care of other people, but for some reason I kind of suck when it comes to taking care of me--I think I developed that behavior from an early stage, but it's something I am trying to tone down a bit. I realize that I need some self-love, and it's okay. Dedicating time to myself was like hitting a refresh button. I created a new beauty regime, I take time outs when Im feeling too stressed, I've managed to get some reading done here and there,  and I made things like going to the gym and blogging a priority. It's easy to lose sight of yourself when you don't dedicate any time to yourself.  

Compliment Others One ugly thing I noticed about having a negative body image is that you can tend to take that negativity out on other people, more specifically on people who are confident (or coming off as so)--we are all guilty of it. The truth is, putting other people down does not stop you from feeling bad about yourself, in fact, it will probably make you feel worse. It's nice when people lift you up, so why not lift them up? Most people struggle with body image and you never know(actually you might) how much a positive comment can brighten someone's day.  

Disclaimer: I am not a healthcare professional, I am speaking from personal experience. If you're struggling and believe you need further assistance with overcoming your struggle, seeking professional help is okay, and I urge you to do so. Sometimes it take more than simply identifying what triggers your self-esteem.

1 comment

  1. Thanks for putting your heart out there for us!! Body image is a huuuuuuuge struggle for so many women - myself included! And, you're right, it isn't just limited to my outward appearance! It's so easy to fall into the comparison game and nothing good ever comes from it. Pregnancy has added a whole new twist I had never experienced before in this realm.. it's been hard not to long for my "skinnier self," despite the fact I'm doing something amazing in my body right now - growing a human being!!! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and encouraging me to remember what's true!


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