No matter what your relationship to food and your body is, or if and where you are in the process of recovery, body image tips are always useful! Today, we have a great guest post from Margarita Tartakovsky, a good friend of healthygirl.org! Margarita writes the body image blog Weightless on PsychCentral.com and has her own blog on self-improvement called Self-ish. She also holds an MS in clinical psychology from Texas A&M University. Thanks so much for these great tips, Margarita! Enjoy!
The Best Body Image Tips
As a body image blogger, I’ve come across some fantastic tips for improving body image – and really self-image in general. I’m thrilled to be able to share them with the readers of HealthyGirl.org.
Without further ado, here are my top tips.
1. Let go of the diet mentality. I used to adhere to a variety of diet rules, and you know what? They didn’t help me lose weight. (Diets don’t help others lose weight either. Diets fail 95 to 98 percent of the time.) Or finally feel good about myself. They just made me more miserable, and confused: confused about nutrition – I feared that eating a second apple in one day would make me fat – confused about what I actually wanted to eat and confused about when I was hungry. Inevitably, I’d overeat and feel terrible about my body and myself.
Having a diet mentality derails your body image because you’re constantly bashing your body. You might think that all that time, tears and effort you’ve spent on counting calories and restricting your intake doesn’t even make you thin. So you blame your stubborn, stupid body.
How can you ditch the diet mentality? First, recognize it. In an interview on Weightless, Judith Matz and Ellen Frankel, authors of The Diet Survivor’s Handbook, said to pay “…attention to the way you talk with yourself. When you are making decisions about when, what and how much to eat, notice your thoughts. If you’re using words like “should” and “shouldn’t,” “healthy” and “unhealthy,” or “good” and “bad” around your decisions, then you are stuck in the diet mentality.”
Second, discover attuned eating or intuitive eating, which includes listening to your body’s internal hunger/satiety cues and enjoying eating. According to Matz and Frankel, “As you become an attuned eater, you will learn that it’s not about which foods you eat per se that allow you to have a healthy relationship with food, but how you go about making decisions as to when, what and how much to eat. For example, you will find that you’re just as off if you eat a cookie when you want an apple as you are if you eat an apple when you want a cookie. The ‘healthy’ choice is the food that best matches your hunger at a particular moment.”
2. Reconnect with your body. At best, I used to see my body as an annoying acquaintance that wouldn’t listen to me. At worst, I saw it as an enemy. Many of us see our bodies as adversaries that refuse to look like we want them to. Or we just don’t see them at all. We give our bodies the passive-aggressive silent treatment. Of course, all these things cause us to sever ties with our bodies, to feel disconnected from what’s clearly a vital part of us.
There are various ways you can reconnect with your body and boost your image. Try yoga, which truly helps you feel comfy in your own skin. Write a letter to your body like Sally McGraw of Already Pretty did. Tune in to your body. When we ignore our needs, we disconnect further from our bodies. So ask yourself how you’re feeling throughout the day and whether your body needs nourishment, exercise, sleep or some relaxation. I can’t tell you how many times I misinterpreted feelings: What I thought was me being fat and gross was really me feeling upset, anxious and exhausted.
3. Discover Health At Every Size (HAES). My self-worth and idea of being healthy were wrapped up in numbers. In clothing sizes. In the numbers on the scale. But it’s funny that at my slimmest, I was also at my worst health-wise.
So, instead of focusing on weight, size or shape and bashing ourselves when we don’t look a certain way, focus on adopting healthy habits and accepting yourself. That’s the philosophy behind the HAES movement. HAES also encourages intuitive eating and participating in physical activities that you genuinely enjoy. Here’s more about HAES on Weightless.
What are some of your favorite body image tips? Are you stuck in the diet mentality? Do you equate thinness with health? -Margarita
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