We women are pretty hard on ourselves. We bear the weight of the world on our shoulders and somehow still manage to find something that we could be better at. While self improvement is something we should all work on, there is certainly a thin line between self improving and self criticizing. The latter of the two can eventually be detrimental to your physical and mental well-being.
As I’ve also struggled with self acceptance and loving the skin I’m in, I for one can tell you that beating yourself up and forcing yourself to do the impossible will ultimately do more harm than good. So whether you’re a little curvy, thin, or average build, this should certainly give you something to think about.
Learn to Love Yourself for Who and What You Are
Self confidence is a HUGE aspect of your life. If you’re not confident in who you are and what you can accomplish, chances are you’ll always fall short on making it in life. I know this one can be pretty tough to develop, but it is absolutely important no matter what size or shape you might be. Learn to love your curves, or for women who think they’re too thin, learn to love being small. At one point I didn’t find myself to be physically attractive, and it took several years for me to overcome this. However, I took an approach often referred to as, “fake it till you make it”.
I would pay more attention to the clothes that I bought so that it would accent my favorite features, but more importantly I would make myself feel good. I’d look in the mirror every morning and say, “Hello Beautiful”. I went online and printed out inspirational quotes and placed them all around my office at work. In the beginning it felt forced. I was saying things I didn’t believe, but in time, I started to believe exactly what I was saying.
Health Over Size
Many people get so caught up in making it to an ideal weight that they lose focus of what’s most important – their health. While doctors do provide individuals with body mass index records and set an ideal weight, you don’t want to get caught up in trying too hard to shed those pounds. At the end of the day it is about being healthy and feeling better from the inside out. So instead of jumping on the newest diet craze from counting calories to eliminating carbs, try gradually changing your lifestyle so that you’re healthier. Some suggestions might include:
Find healthier meal alternatives – instead of binging on chips, soda, and sweets, begin looking for healthier alternatives that can help balance out your diet. Fresh fruit and vegetables are a great starting point. Craving chips and salsa? Consider homemade sweet potato chips and guacamole instead.
Get up and move – you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars each year on a gym and personal trainer. Losing weight simply requires an extensive amount of movement for a predetermined amount of time. Join a dance class, play sports with your kids after work, or even walk the dog on the regular basis to get your daily fitness in. As long as your heart rate gets up and you’re moving, you’re going to see significant results not only in how you look, but also how you feel.
Don’t Compare Yourself
You pick up a magazine and see Beyonce looking fabulous, or you turn on an awards show and see that Jessica Biel has already dropped her baby weight, and you begin to wonder why it’s not happening the same for you? The truth of the matter is celebrities are an exception to the rule. They often hire personal chefs, trainers, and stick to heavy diet and exercise routines to get back in shape. Not to mention those who purchase products that make them look a bit thinner (spanx or waist trainers).
Everyone’s body is different, and just as the way you gained the weight is different from someone else, so is the method in which you can lose the weight. As hard as it might be, try not to compare yourself to anyone – not your friends, family members, or celebrities. It’s really a waste of time and makes you feel worse about yourself.
Recognize Dangers and Get Help
Unfortunately, not every woman can take these rules and apply them to their lives. I mean after all, it is easier said than done. Some women look to food for comfort and end up overeating. An even worse practice is not eating, or developing an eating disorder. Bulimia and anorexia are very serious and very real eating disorders and without bulimia or anorexia treatment, it can lead to serious health issues including death. The best thing you can do is recognize that you have a problem and get assistance right away by participating in eating disorder counseling from a certified professional.
How do you know when you have an issue? Here are some signs to look out for:
. Obsessing over your body
· Excessively limit certain foods
· Excessively exercising and dieting
· Increased use of laxatives
· Throwing up after meals
· Extreme drop in weight
· Eating too much food
· Extreme weight gain
So as you strive to get into your summer bodies, I encourage you to love yourself every step of the way. Remember, beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and the sooner you realize that the better off you’ll be. Learn to love yourself, focus on health over size, don’t compare yourself to others, and be aware of the dangers of body image issues.
By keeping this advice in mind you can do a great deal for improving your self esteem and physical health in no time at all.
*This article was contributed.