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Yes you can – love yourself!

What is Body Image?  Body image is not about what you actually look like.  Body image refers to your relationship with your body—your beliefs, perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and actions related to your body.  Body image is influenced by cultural pressures, interpersonal factors (e.g., relationships), individual factors such as mood, and physical factors like body weight. 

 

According to a body image survey conducted by Psychology Today magazine, body dissatisfaction is soaring among both women and men.  Physical factors, such as gaining weight, are the most common cause of negative feelings toward the body.  67% of women over age 30 are unhappy with their weight.  15% of women and 11% of men say they would sacrifice more than five years of their lives to be the weight they want.  24% of women and 17% of men say they would give up more than three years. 

 

The most reliable way to develop positive feelings about your body is to exercise, just for the pleasure of it.  (Yes, you read that correctly!)  People who exercise for strength, fitness, health tend to feel more satisfied with their bodies than people who focus on exercise only as a means to achieve weight control.  When you stop focusing on how your body looks and start appreciating what it can help you accomplish—walking, swimming, picking up and playing with grandchildren—you tend to feel more satisfied.

 

There are ways to improve your body image and how you feel about yourself.  Here are a few tips to help you LOVE yourself:

 

1.  Evaluate yourself using criteria other than physical appearance.  Focus on your success at work, with your family, participating in recreational activities, friendships and community involvement.  You are defined by so much more than your appearance.

 

2.  Appreciate the positive qualities of your body, especially what it can do for you.  Think about everything your body allows you to do:  walk, hug your children and enjoy seeing a sunrise.  Also think about what feels good to your body—the sensual pleasures.

 

3.  Engage in behaviors that help you feel good about yourself, such as exercising or buying an outfit that you look and feel good wearing.

 

4.  Limit your exposure to images that make you feel badly about your body.  Stop buying fashion magazines or men’s magazines that feature perfectly buff bodies.

 

5.  Seek out people who respect and care about your body.  Teach them how to talk about your body in a positive way.

 

6.  To help boost your body image and self-appreciation, you will need to identify and change your negative thoughts about your body.  For help doing this, check out Thomas Cash’ book The Body Image WorkbookAn 8-Step Program for Learning to Like Your Looks. . 

 

7.  The next step will be to examine what may be going on underneath your body dissatisfaction.  Is focusing on your body distracting you from addressing something else that needs your attention?  For example, is it possible that your relationship problems may be due to shyness and/or lack of social skills, rather than to your weight? 

 

This week at H3, we are focusing a little extra time on helping you create a loving relationship with the most important person in your life – you!  Because if you don’t love yourself, who will?

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