True beauty is not complete without YOU.Evelyn Espinoza
First off, let’s ask ourselves why is it so hard for us to have a healthy body image? Why is it hard for us to love our bodies? Why do we judge ourselves so harshly? Why do we spend more energy to beat ourselves down than to lift ourselves up? Is it just easier that way? Or are we just used to it?
Struggling through body image is no joke. I think everyone experiences it to some degree. At some point in our lives we start to question how we look. We begin this comparison game that can damage our self-esteem and self-worth. As it continues it can bring an unhealthy obsession with the way we look. If you are struggling right now I just want you to know that you are worthy and you are definitely not alone. If your struggles are beginning to consume your life and are too heavy for you to carry alone, then talk to someone you feel comfortable with. Simply speaking your truth can liberate you.
We all have a body image story–here’s mine.
I started to struggle with my body image roughly at the age of 12. I had just started to begin the stages of puberty. How fun, right? Anyway, one day on vacation a family member mentioned my weight gain. Like any kid, up to this point I was completely unaware that something was “wrong”. That same family member began to compare me to some of my nearby cousins. Although the remark hurt I decided not to give it a second thought. About a year or more passed and I started to fill in. I gained some curves and my body was adjusting. Once again, at a family function a cousin mentioned, very rudely I might add, my weight gain. To help you paint a picture before this I was very thin and petite. For a teenage girl I felt like my world had turned upside down with such a drastic weight change.
It was this second moment where I just filled with anger, shame and frustration. I decided there was something wrong with my body and it needed to be changed. Slowly my obsession with cardio, calorie counting and hiding my body began. Looking back I can now see how unhealthy my relationship with food and my body was. I looked at my body as something that had to be perfect. No room for flaws. Which is absolutely ridiculous because our entire being is made up on flaws and imperfections.
This continued all throughout HS and college. I felt the need to fuel my self-worth through how my body looked and validated by how much I weighed. Even though I showed unhealthy behavior no one questioned my way of living because I looked healthy enough. Although mentally I was anything but.
Fast forward to my early adult years and I went through so many phases. This is something I am sure we have all experienced. I would gain weight, I would lose weight. I would eat what I wanted. I would restrict what I wanted. I felt like I was all over the place. Not once did I decide to just be. It wasn’t until my health started to suffer that I took a good look at my habits and decided they needed to be changed.
Screw the Social Standards!
I am sure you have heard the saying, “You are what you eat.” In a way, this is true; our bodies are 75% of what we eat, and that’s not even including physical activity, or taking our genetics into account. There are so many different body types that it makes it impossible to know what the “standard” body type is. Seriously think about how many women there are in the world– there are a lot of us! So, who came up with the idea that there is an ideal body type? How big our butts and boobs should be? How small our waist should look? The list goes on. I want us to think more about how our bodies make us feel, instead of how we feel when others look at us. This is something I wish I knew when I was struggling. It felt like no one was going through what I was feeling. Everyone seemed happy and perfect. Those feelings of unworthiness came from a lack of understanding of who I was. I was so consumed with how other people might perceive me that I never gave myself a chance. I succumbed to all the noise and media in the world.
Improving our self image has less to do with how we actually look and more to do with our perception.Evelyn Espinoza
12 Steps to a positive body image
Our family, peers and media play large parts in our lives. Like me, I allowed all three to determine how I viewed myself. I gave each more power than I needed too.
Loving ourselves takes work. For whatever reason we find it easier to self-sabotage and see ourselves in a negative perspective but it doesn’t have to be that way. We are capable of change.
Step 1: Make Daily Affirmations your best friend. Make it a point 3 times a day to speak positively towards yourself. Start with “I” every time. Example- I am worthy of good things in my life. I am strong and capable to bring forth those good things.
Step 2: Make a list of all the parts you love and appreciate about your body. Example– I love my strong, muscled back. It keeps me walking straight and I look amazing in tank tops.
Step 3: Appreciate all your body can do. You never realize how much your body does for you day in and day out until it stops working the way it should.
Step 4: Enjoy yourself as you are NOW. With time our bodies change. It is natural. This moment is just one point in our lives. Whether you are curvy, thick, full, thin, skinny or scrawny nothing lasts forever.
Step 5: Be more active in hobbies you enjoy. Like hiking, swimming, walking, running, tennis and so on.
Step 6: Surround yourself with positive, uplifting people. If a person in your life only has negative things to say to you then its time to get out of that relationship.
Step 7: Take breaks from social media and realize that there are 2 sides to every post you see. Remember not everything is as it seems. This makes social media more enjoyable.
Step 8: Read. Take a break from all the screens and immerse yourself in a book that will help you learn something new and take on a new perspective. A growing mindset is always a flowering one.
Step 9: View yourself as a “whole”. You are not just a body or an appearance. You have so much more to offer than just your looks. True beauty is not complete without YOU.
Step 10: Instill positive habits that will leave you feeling good. Like your favorite workouts, getting enough sleep, drinking enough water and eating your favorite healthy foods.
Step 11: Wear clothing that fits you properly. Find the pieces that make you feel good and flatter your body. Don’t settle for clothing that doesn’t fit right. Find your inner style.
Step 12: Covert your negative energy into something more useful. Instead of drowning in your negative thoughts start doing one of these steps instead. Don’t focus all your energy on the bad things give some of that same energy to the good things in your life too.
A growing mindset is always a flowering one.Evelyn Espinoza
Our mindset plays a huge part in the way we see ourselves. The way we think and do things is based on our perception. What we fill our minds with will either make a negative or positive impact in our lives. Improving our self image has less to do with how we actually look and more to do with our perception. The problem is not our bodies, the problem is what we have been programmed to think in terms of our bodies. The only way to change that is by re-programming our minds one step at a time.
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Until next time,