How much time do you spend each day thinking about your weight and your body? How often do you stand in front of the mirror, analyzing every inch of your reflection, studying every perceived flaw? How often do you weigh yourself and allow the number on the scale to determine the course of your day? So many of us struggle with negative body image and allow these negative thoughts and feelings to control the way we feel about ourselves in general.
Alarmingly, 8 out of 10 women are not happy with their reflection and 80% of girls in the U.S. are afraid of being fat. We spend over 50 billion dollars per year on diet and weight-loss products, services, and surgeries aimed to change the shape and look of our bodies. We spend more time and energy feeling bad about our appearance and putting ourselves down then we do focusing on our positive features and qualities. People struggling with negative body image also tend to embrace all-or-nothing thinking, such that if they dislike one aspect of their appearance, they are all “bad.” In striving for the “perfect” body, we inevitably fall short. While we all may have “bad body” days, those struggling with significantly low body image may also struggle with feelings of unworthiness, sadness, shame, self-loathing, and risk for eating disordered behaviors.
Imagine what could happen if we would devote the same amount of energy to promoting a positive body image? Not only could we feel better about ourselves, we could lead more productive and fulfilling lives, and we would become stronger, more authentic role models for our daughters. Positive body image starts with a clear, true perception of your shape and size. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, body image includes how you see your body, what you believe about your appearance, and how you feel in your body. Research shows that some of the keys to building a more positive body image include: movement, massage, and mindfulness.
Movement: One of the best ways to feel good about your body is to engage is physical activities you enjoy and allow you to feel strong. Personally, I have never felt stronger than after swinging a sledge hammer at a tire in boot camp or experiencing the joy of running races with my kids. Recent studies on body image and exercise show that the simple act of exercise can improve body image. It’s not what you do that’s important, it’s the act of engaging in any kind of regular exercise that improves body satisfaction. Movement allows you to pay attention and appreciate your body’s strength and abilities.
Massage: Therapeutic massage can do wonders in terms of body awareness and healing. Regular massage can help nurture a positive mind-body connection, ease stress and tension, and improve sleep, digestion, mood, and self-esteem. Healing massage can also help you to reach a meditative state that allows for inner relaxation and inner peace.
Mindfulnes: Mindfulness is simply paying attention and becoming fully aware of what is happening both inside and outside of you, in the present moment. This mindfulness has a non-judgmental, accepting quality. In improving body image, mindfulness shifts the focus from our outside appearance to how our bodies feel from the inside, in the exact moment. Practicing mindfulness allows you to become more fully aware of your body’s internal signals and allows you to make more conscious choices. Increased body awareness can lead to greater body satisfaction.
For more information, please join us for the next free “Mindful Eating” workshop on October 2nd at 10am. In addition, I am excited to announce the start of massage services and the addition of other wellness programs! Check out www.beating-overeating.com or www.facebook.com/beatingovereating for more details.