The past several blogs have been on improving negative body image. A recap/summary of all of them will be the focus of this one.
As a reminder, there are four factors that plan into body image. The first is how you see your body. The second is how you feel about your body. Next is what you think about your body. And last is what behaviors you engage in due to your body image.
Those with healthy body image are fine with their imperfections. No one necessarily likes them, but the way they feel about their self, or their self-esteem is not affected. Those with negative body image, don’t feel good about their body if it doesn’t look a certain way, or if they aren’t a certain weight. Their self worth may depend on how they feel about themselves at that point in time. They ruminate about their body image, and it can be tortuous. So if this is you, here are a bunch of body positive activities.
Body Image fact sheet
This is form you can download from the National Eating Disorders Collaboration (NEDC), which is an initiative of the Australian Government Department of Health. Yes, body image concerns occur worldwide.
Causes of body image dissatisfaction are discussed, why it is so important, and who is more likely to develop negative body image.
Why we need body fat
Those with body image dissatisfaction just want to get rid of fat. However, fat is critical for life. First of all it is the energy warehouse. We need these stores of fat for the times when our body needs more energy than the foods we are eating. It is needed to fuel our bodies. Second it keeps our hunger at bay. We need fat to help us feel sated. If we don’t eat fat we will be hungry. Third it protects our organs. Most women have a little fat around their abdomen. This is to protect their reproductive organs. We also need fat to produce hormones and insulate our body.
Combat negative body image assumptions
Here’s an exercise to try. This came from the body positive website. Name a negative assumption that you have regarding body image. Ask yourself the following questions. Where did this assumption come from? Why is it still here? What impact does this assumption have on my life? In what ways is this assumption unreasonable or inflexible? What is a more flexible way to look at this? What can I do to put this flexible thinking into practice?
First come up with some affirmations that are positive about your body. Perhaps it’s something like: I am perfect just the way I am, or my self-worth does not depend on how I look. Perhaps it’s the more flexible assumption you came up with in the previous exercise.
Once you have come up with it, look at yourself in the mirror and repeat it several times. Sit with the statement and allow yourself to feel it. Someone even suggested writing the affirmation on your bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker, or putting it on a sticky note.
Activities to make you feel better
Here are some fun things you can do. Have a dance party and dance like no one is watching-even if you are alone in your kitchen. Try laughter yoga, do yoga on the beach or try goat yoga. Say nice things to yourself. Jump in puddles after it rains. Run through the sprinkler, get a massage or have your nails done. Play with your pet. Spend time with family and friends. Anticipate your next trip.
Write in a journal
Answer the following questions. Make a list of all the functional things your body allows you to do. Make a list of the things your friends and loved ones would say that they like about you. What are the things you most like about yourself? Who are positive people to hang out with? Make a list of some nice things you can do for yourself. Write down 3 positive health goals (not weight goals).
Do a body image meditation
You can get one on line. Or perhaps you can do some deep breathing and just repeat the positive body image mantra you came up with in the earlier exercise. Just work on accepting your body just the way it is.
I hope these exercises are helpful to you. If you are someone in recovery from an eating disorder, negative body image is the one thing that tends to linger. Call me at 713-304-6554 if you need help recovering from an eating disorder or body image concerns.