Many of us want to feel better about our body but we don’t know where to begin or what to do. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming. Here are 3 simple and obvious but often overlooked ways to get started:
#1 Be thankful
Nobody likes to be criticized all the time, and it’s no way to create a good relationship with your body either. To remedy this, focus on what your body does for you rather than how it looks. Drs. Lindsay and Lexie Kite sum this up with the admonishment to appreciate your body as an instrument rather than an ornament.
While you’re busy with other things your body is busy keeping your heart beating and your lungs breathing. It’s digesting your food and repairing your hurt places. It’s fighting off invaders that could leave you sick, and it’s ensuring that your brain has plenty of energy.
That’s a lot of important work which is why it’s high time to interrupt your negative self-talk and say thank you. After all, without your body you can’t meet any of your goals or continue enjoying this human life.
#2 Be kind
Awareness of your body’s needs is an important step to a better relationship. The body often speaks in subtle ways and it’s easy to miss the messages in the midst of a busy day.
The body check-in is the basis of embodiment practice. Are you hungry, thirsty, tired, feeling stiff or stressed, or need to pee? Are your feet beginning to protest? Do you feel anxious, angry, or sad? Or happy, excited, or joyful? Note where you feel those things in your body.
Taking a few moments to tune in and pay attention can have profound results. Noticing approaching hunger for instance can keep you from getting overly hungry and finding yourself unable to resist the foods you don’t want to eat. Noticing negative emotional states in the body can alert you before you become overwhelmed and lash out or break down. Noticing positive emotional states can be the beginning of an upward spiral that helps your whole day go better.
From there, try to spend a few minutes giving your body what it needs. This kindness to your body can be anything from changing positions in your chair to attending to whatever is causing you anxiety. While we can’t immediately meet all of our body’s needs, we can at least take the first step, get a mini break, or adjust our plans for the rest of the day and evening.
#3 Buy new pants
Bodies shift over time even when weight is stable. As you age, you will likely find fat accumulating in places you never had it before. This is because hormonal changes tend to drive fat to the middle, expanding tummies and waistlines. Additionally, you may gain weight even if your weight has been stable in the past.
This is normal. According to Drs. William Lassek and Steven Gaulin in Why Women Need Fat, women have historically gained 25 pounds between their teens and late forties, and a similar pattern is seen in men. The authors present many evolutionary reasons why this weight gain is a good thing.
Whether it’s a good thing or not, weight shifts and weight gain in middle age are a given for most of us. This is why you need to buy new pants. It doesn’t matter if these are from the second hand store or the designer store. It only matters that they fit the body you have now.
While you’re at it, try some new tops as well. Ideally aim for having at least one dress outfit and one casual outfit that you love. And because standard sizing fits almost no one’s body, it’s important to budget for tailoring.
Consider it a gift to your body and yourself. Having clothes that fit, flatter, and are comfortable can go a long way toward feeling good in your body. It’s a small price to pay for an instant confidence boost.
If you do these three things your body will get the message and you’ll no doubt be rewarded with better health. But there are many other benefits as well.
Having a good relationship with your body translates into self-assurance and presence with others. And it gives you access to emotional awareness that can help you create better relationships with others. Not a bad return for a minimal investment.
Lisa Newman, MBA, MAPP is a positive psychology practitioner and health coach specializing in eating behavior and body acceptance. She is a certified mind body eating coach and certified intuitive eating counselor. You can find out more at WomenEat.com.