What is it like to look down at your body and be happy? I’ve never felt that feeling in my entire life.
Thank you for your willingness to share this question with me. Looking at your own body and feeling happy is a worthy goal. But, it takes some work.
The work I’m talking about does not involve going on a diet or signing up for a marathon. This work has to do with expanding the ways that you value your body.
Our culture puts an incredible amount of value on personal appearance. It’s easy to get the message from TV and social media that the body’s only purpose is to look good. So, if you don’t look a certain way, it can be tempting to look down on yourself.
But, here’s the good news: your body was created for so much more than photo ops.
I’m here to help you uncover the value of your body outside of its appearance. I promise you that it exists. You just have you learn to see it.
How to Value Your Body Beyond Its Appearance
Any good relationship has trust.
When trust isn’t present in a relationship, one or both people involved usually feels insecure, anxious, and unhappy in the relationship.
The same goes for us and our bodies.
An important step towards valuing your body is developing a strong sense of trust towards it.
This might look like learning to understand that stretch marks, birthmarks, bumps, and curves are just your body’s way of adapting to what’s going on in your life.
It could also mean listening to what your body needs and nourishing it accordingly. For example, if you are really tired one day and just want to sit on the couch and read for a couple of hours, that’s okay. Let yourself rest. You might have the opposite experience where you are feeling really energized and just want to go move your body. That’s great too.
Whatever the case, I encourage you to honor your body’s signals. Trust that it knows how to take care of you. Finding true value in your body will come when you establish a firm belief in its strength and ability.
Find New Ways to Move
I see a lot of people who exercise to punish. They ate a donut at work, so now they have to go run it off.
But exercise has a purpose beyond tweaking your body to become more aesthetically pleasing to those around you.
Part of valuing your body means finding ways that you can enjoy being in it. Your body was created to help you move, explore, and go through life! It’s possible to honor that with movement you enjoy.
What are some activities that you can do strictly because you enjoy doing them? You might not know the answer to this yet. If that’s the case, start exploring!
Try doing some yoga, take a Zumba class, go outside for a walk, grab some friends to go on a hike, or dance to a song you like. Learning to move your body in a way that feels good will help you develop a relationship with your body outside of what it looks like.
Avoid Comparison Triggers
I call “comparison triggers” the situations that push us into a place of comparison or self-deprecation.
Scrolling through social media and wondering why your skin can’t be so smooth and flawless. Looking in a magazine and wishing you were thinner. These are a couple (of many) ways that can make you feel unhappy with your body.
If you’re caught up comparing yourself to people on social media, try following some individuals who are focused on things other than their appearance. Pay attention to how they use their bodies to enjoy the world around them.
Appreciate the Amazing Things Your Body Can Do
Can you take a deep breath? Can you dance at a concert? Can you lay in the grass under a shady tree? These are all wonderful things your body can do and they have nothing to do with the shape of your nose or the size of your waistline. Make a list of a least five things your body can do to bring you happiness. Give your attention and appreciation to these abilities every day.
Here are some helpful tools that can help you find body-acceptance:
Mind Body Musings Podcast (She’s moved away from focusing on body positivity in her recent episodes. But, if you go way back to the first ones, she has some awesome interviews).
The BodyLove Project (I haven’t listened to this one yet, but it looks good!)
It Was Me All Along
Eating in the Middle: A Mostly Wholesome Cookbook
I haven’t read these next two, but I’ve heard they’re good!
Health At Every Size
Body Positive Power