Instead of making resolutions, reshape your attitude about your body.
Want to improve your mood, self-esteem and have healthier eating habits? Well, step right up, because this goal is within reach. It doesn’t require strict diets or hours at the gym, either. Here, we look at a different kind of New Year’s resolution: body acceptance.
“Feeling bad about your body does not actually motivate a person to pursue healthy behavior,” says Florida State University Professor Pamela Keel, an expert in body-image issues. Instead, experts such as Keel suggest you boost your body image first; healthier habits will then follow.
5 Strategies for Body Acceptance
1. Mirror Exposure
Stand in front of the mirror either nude or in little clothing, and praise a part of your body, Keel suggests. Maybe you like your shoulders, for example, so focus on that area. Also, focus on function, such as “I love my strong legs and how they carry me when I am running,” rather than staring at parts of your body you dislike, such as “Ugh, I hate my tummy bulge.”
2. Nurture Your Body
Start a joyful relationship with your body. Take yourself for a long walk; indulge in a hot bath with special salts; play nature sounds like a waterfall; schedule a massage. According to the "Healthy at Every Size" program, participants who exhibit such caring behavior feel better about themselves, which leads to a healthier weight overall.
3. Remember the Inside/Outside Paradox
“A snapshot is not the same thing as an X-ray,” Earnie Larsen and Carol Hegarty write in their book Believing In Myself: Daily Meditations for Healing and Self-Esteem. When we judge how we feel, based on how other people look, we forget that other people are humans. Just as flawed and imperfect and full of self-doubt as we are, most likely. Remember that someone’s surface is only that, and who knows what they might really be dealing with, such as a hidden chronic illness.
4. Try a Body Acceptance Selfie
Photographer Vivienne McMaster teaches an e-course called “Be Your Own Beloved,” that teaches self-compassion via the medium of self-portraiture.
5. Celebrate the Now
Are you going to magically have more energy tomorrow? Is your skin going to look better in 10 years? In a few decades, you’ll probably look back at photos of you today, and marvel at your gorgeous self. So enjoy, enjoy, and enjoy some more. In the words of Alexandra Williams, co-founder of Fun and Fit and an exercise specialist, “Why not just skip all the garbage and appreciate how good you look now?”