Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

Building a Healthy Body Image

By Katherine Lazaruk on Jul 12 2010 • Filed under Image Intensive

Many people are unaware they share information about their body image every day. Whether it is a comment about how the latest pair of pants didn’t fit, or the latest incident where something about their body prevented them from choosing to do a particular activity, people are constantly talking to themselves and others about how they perceive their body and all of its “faults.”

The most rewarding part of body analysis and behavior modification around body image in consulting with clients is helping them to reframe their thinking about their body. Try these simple, effective tips to help improve or create your healthy body image.

1. Develop awareness about the messages you use to describe your body.

If you consistently describe your body as ‘fat and unhealthy,’ it’s much more likely it will remain ‘fat and unhealthy’ and more likely that you will take actions to keep it ‘fat and unhealthy.’ Each time you think or talk about your body, concentrate on exactly what language you are using and decide to use more positive terms. This type of reframing can soften the edge of the self-criticism and help you make better choices about how you want to change, if you feel change is required.

2. Buy a full length mirror (if you don’t have one) and spend some time looking, really looking, at your body.

Sometimes people focus far too much on one feature they perceive to be flawed and forget that those features belong to a whole package. Looking at your body as a whole can create a sense of harmony in the overall picture. For example, a client who perceived his legs as ‘too skinny’ could see his legs were actually just the right fit for the rest of his slender body. No action for change was required.

3. Identify at least one body part that you like and talk about why you like it.

If you have trouble with this one, start small. Try a practical statement if you aren’t ready to use a loving one. For example, one client who struggled with her thick and curly hair started with: “I like my hair because it covers my head and keeps it warm” and eventually moved to: “I love my hair because it is so long and soft. Its curls match the curves of my body.” It’s more important to start somewhere rather than obsess about the statement you use to describe your body features, so be practical if that will allow you access a positive statement.

4. Another way to reframe your view is to describe your body as if it belonged to a stranger or loved one.

Most people aren’t nearly as critical of others as they are of themselves and certainly would never speak to their loved ones the way they speak to themselves. Describe your body to yourself in a loving way. If you then want to make changes, those choices can come from a place of loving your body and yourself enough to care for it; a mental state that is far more likely to result in sustained action.

5. Take action if you wish to change.

Practice accepting the current reality of your body by using your new awareness to reframe your thinking and self-talk. Once your thinking is aligned and your self-talk is positive, you’ll be able to decide with a clear mind if action is required. From there you can make a plan for achievement, if necessary, and can enlist the help of experts. The support of a nutritionist, counselor, trainer or consultant can make your journey more effective.

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