Okay, so “un-hate” isn’t technically a word. But for the purposes of this post, “un-hate” will have to do because “love” is a little bit too strong of a word for people like us who have been taught for years that our bodies are not perfect as they are.
The problem with sentiments like “be your own kind of beautiful” and “love your body” is that they trivialize the issue of body-image. They’re too simple, they don’t acknowledge how consequential social media and society as a whole has been on how people view themselves.
We’re told that our bodies are beautiful while we are force-fed diet plans and ab workouts, swimsuit models and breast implants.
Here we are wondering why Instagram doesn’t just have Photoshop built into its program (heaven knows no filter will disguise the kangaroo pouch I’ve got hanging over my swimsuit bottoms) while society goes on acting two-faced and leaving us feeling guilty for how we feel about ourselves, good or bad.
To be honest, you may never love your body unconditionally. There will always be someone hotter, someone slimmer, someone fitter to make you question your physique. You will always have days every now and again where you look in the mirror and just think “ugh” and no amount of cheesy affirmations will prevent that.
That’s why we are starting from ground zero. It’s about working your way up to tolerance, then to acceptance and finally to love. Instead of aiming for “I am beautiful/I love my imperfections” tomorrow, we’ve got to aim for “I might not like how I look right now but I am damn-well sure I’m going to make the most of what I’ve got regardless.”
Here are five ways to start un-hating your body:
Trust Your Body
To start, you’ve got to understand that your body is not going to blow up just because you ate a few extra slices of pizza. Your body is a power-house, it can withstand broken bones, blunt force, hell even labor and you’re worried about what a few extra calories are going to do to it?
Don’t get me wrong, it’s always good to eat healthily and to avoid falling into a routine of comfort foods and unhealthy eating.
But to beat yourself up every time you stray off course and to worry that the scale is going to be 10 pounds heavier the next morning is no way to live.
How to build trust with your body
Thank you list
Make a list of positive things your body has done for you, your strengths, encouragement, and positive thoughts.
Thank you for…
- Giving me the energy to run an extra few minutes on the treadmill
- Allowed me to swim with friends
- Making me feel nourished from my dinner
No matter how small, these thank you’s will remind you that your body isn’t so bad after all.
Forget Body Numbers
You’ve got to understand that things take time. Your attitude about your body won’t change overnight. Growth of any kind takes patience and care. Don’t beat yourself up when you feel less than great about the person in the mirror. There will be days where you feel like crap and there will be days where you feel happy and alive, that’s life. You’ve just gotta trust that over time the good will outweigh the bad.
Here’s a helpful way to let go of your number-obsession:
Measure something else
Instead of continuously weighing yourself, keep track of how many times you smiled today or what compliments you receive.
Instead of thinking about how many pounds you’ve lost, think about what you’ve gained- like the fact that you went to the gym when you didn’t feel like it or how each workout is getting a little easier.
Become Your Own Friend
Think about what you would say if your friend was talking crap about her body. Chances are you, you wouldn’t join in. Instead, you’d probably shower her with praise. “Hell no, you look gorgeous. What the heck are you talking about? Anyone would kill to have a body like yours.”
What if you saw yourself that way, too?
It takes work, but it’s possible.
How to become your own body’s friend
Make a positive response list from a friend’s perspective
One way to work on this is to create a list of all the negative things you think/tell yourself and then, in a second column, write out each response a friend would say. Spend time focusing on each positive response, repeat it to yourself again and again. The kindness you show yourself
Surround Yourself With Good
Consider what outside influences are affecting how you feel about your body.
Do you have friends who speak badly about themselves?
Do you have family members who prioritize appearance over wellness?
Do you follow Instagram accounts of long, lean swimsuit models?
Keep track of when your negative thoughts are coming up and keep track of what people around you say when it comes to body image.
Also, be aware of what images you see, how “beauty” is depicted in the media you consume.
You might have been taught to hate your body by other people, and you can learn how to un-hate it yourself.
One way to surround yourself with body positivity
Follow positive people on Instagram
Five inspiring, body-positive Instagram accounts worth following:
- Sarah Nicole Landry – @thebirdspapaya
- Sarah Bryan – @kindfulbodymind
- Soshy Adelstein – @bodyposimommy
- Jocelyn Rose – @healingselflovee
- Megan Jayne Crabbe – @bodyposipanda
Make a Body-Peace Plan
Let me repeat, body-acceptance is a journey. It takes time and effort to learn how to un-hate yourself.
So let’s create a roadmap. Consider the advice/ideas listed in this article and make a list of the different things you will do to accept your body each day.
Work it into your schedule. When can you sit and reflect on your negative thoughts and when can you practice a little gratitude?
Tip: Set a reminder on your phone to make a Positive Response of Thank you list.
Next, write out an agreement. Think of it as a self-acceptance contract between you and your body.
Here are a few different types of statements you can include in your Body-Peace Plan:
- “I will..'”
- “I will not…”
- “I choose to…”
- “It is okay if…”