Body Bliss: 8 Ways to Honor Your Body Today

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Even though I have a pretty healthy outlook about food and exercise these days (summed up in a single word: moderation), I spent years struggling with a negative body image, disordered eating and exercise habits, and weight fluctuations. I feel fortunate to have been able to overcome these issues and return to "normal" eating and exercising, which was a major feat. But even though my outward habits were positive and healthy, I was still struggling on the inside, and didn't like what I saw in the mirror. Even though no one else could hear them, I said hurtful things about myself. I didn't wear shorts or even a bathing suit for nearly a decade because I never felt like my body was good enough to be on display. Clearly, I had more work to do.

It's been an ongoing process for me to go from loathing my body to liking it to loving it (at least some parts). It's an ongoing process for me to care less and less what anyone else might think about it. Some people view this as a common struggle that we just have to deal with, but I don't. No one should have to feel bad about how they look, and everyone CAN develop a healthier body image with practice.

In honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (Feb. 20-26), I'm going to share the 8 simple ways you can foster a more positive body image starting today.
  1. Dress for the body you have today. This is one of the best things I ever did for myself. Don't wait until you're 2, 20, or 200 pounds lighter to wear clothes that fit you well and flatter your figure. You deserve to look and feel your best right now.
  2. Talk back. Talk back to your TV when you see commercials that use a woman's body to sell products. Talk back to companies with your wallet by NOT buying said products. I used to subscribe to a lot of women's health and fitness magazines, until I realized that they tend to glorify just one body type: super skinny. Reading these magazines made me feel bad about myself, so I canceled my subscriptions. I stopped feeling pressure to look like the pictures since I didn't have to look at them anymore—and I sent a message with my dollars (and feedback) to the publishers.
  3. Turn every negative thought into something positive. It's not easy to suddenly say "I love my legs" if you don't feel that way, but there are plenty of ways you can turn negative thoughts into more positive ones: like that your legs are strong and get you up the stairs at work without getting too tired.
  4. Compliment yourself in ways that have nothing to do with your looks. We tend to focus so much on what we see in the mirror and overlook our many other amazing attributes. Are you a good friend? A good listener? A successful professional? A smart driver? How about simply a warm, caring, friendly, or positive person? Make a list of 10 things you like about yourself that have nothing to do with your looks. Then next time you feel down about your appearance—or start to self-criticize—take out this list and remind yourself just how awesome you are. Better yet, start and end your day reading that list. Every. Single. Day.
  5. Exercise because it's good for you. It took a long time for me to view exercise as something more than a means to: burn calories, lose weight, or change my body. But you know what? Now that I view it as something that makes me feel good, strong, fit and healthy, I actually exercise more consistently than I ever did before, which ultimately means that my body has never looked better. It's funny how focusing on the wrong thing can undermine your efforts. If you're obsessed with the calorie burn or hate to exercise, stop counting your calories burned (I still NEVER track them to this day), and start exercising at an intensity level that simply feels good to you. Even more important: Find something fun that you really love and do it, even if it's not the biggest calorie burner. Your body deserves this respect.
  6. Eat healthy because your body deserves it. Honor your body by eating as much nutritious and nourishing food as possible so that it can perform at its best and be healthy. Stop making every food decision based on calories alone.
  7. Don't feel bad about cravings—or giving into them. I still struggle with this one myself. When I eat things that I know aren't good for me, I tend to "feel fat" and guilty. A little bit of guilt may be OK—that's what stops you from eating ice cream for EVERY meal, after all. But food is one of our greatest pleasures in this life, and you can and should enjoy eating. Sometimes, that means indulging in some less-than-healthy foods (notice I didn't say "bad" foods). What's most important is that you are present, making these choices consciously (not emotionally or on autopilot), honoring your craving without going overboard, and not letting the occasional dessert or rich dinner send you into a shame spiral that you can't climb out of.
  8. Never allow anyone else to disrespect your body. This is a really important one. Never EVER let someone else disrespect your body by criticizing it, hurting it (this can mean many things), or objectifying it. Get negative people like this out of your life or at least tell them that you will not stand to have your body disrespected ever again. You deserve love and respect from yourself, but from other people, too. If someone disrespects your body, stand up for it. Remind yourself that you're great and—most importantly: If someone has a problem with you, it's their problem, not yours.
What are some of the ways that you honor your body each day?

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Loved article; thank you! Report
Thank you for such a beautiful and empowering post. It came at a time I needed to hear these things for myself. Report
WOW! I had to respond to this was fabulous and just what I needed to read TODAY at this moment! I am 49 years old and STILL struggle with an eating disorder from 1979 (ugh!); negative body/self image; emotional eating; etc........ No matter how much my husband, family, friends tell me how great I look, I STILL don't see it! That is sooooo sad to me. Yet, after reading these words I feel TOTALLY UPLIFTED! I AM going to change the way I see, and think, about my body this Thank you so very much for giving me just what I needed at the time of need! Report
What a lovely, powerful list. Thanks for the reminders. Report
Just shared this article with my Weight Race team at work, this has such a positive message I couldn't pass it up! Thanks Nicole! Report
This is a wonderful blog, and just what I needed today. Report
This is what I need to read everyday to keep me in check. Thanks ! Report
awesome! thank you for sharing - these are things that really resonated with me, and i appreciate the fact that you were able to spell them out so clearly (and kindly). Report
I just dealt with number 8. Boy, it was tough. Now I am completely drained and cried a lot. I stood up for myself and still yet I don't feel good about myself. Report
Thank you, Nicole. You've covered territory that is personal, painful and joyful, while offering lessons in living in harmony with our bodies and the world. You've also brought a gift to share among those of us who share insecure and negative self-images. Report
very timely - thanks Coach! Report
Great blog! I honor my body with exercise that I've grown to love! Even right now when I am not feeling up to par I have done some light cardio each day to remain active and build my immune system. I'm not sure why I do disrespect my own body at times. It is strong and has gotten me thru some terrible times, but I still don't honor it as I should! Thanks for reminding all of us to honor our bodies! Report
Thanks for the great blog..........I will save this and refer to it often! Report
I love this! My DH has told me never to say anything bad about any part of my body. It does make a difference! Report
Beautifully stated. I think all of these are tremendous points and plan to put each and every one of them to use! Report
Thank you for this blog. #4 and #8 helped me the most. Report
You are truly an inspiration. Thank you so much for your
blogs! Report
I know you mean well but after today I just HATE HATE HATE my body. It feels like NO MATTER what I try to do or try to stick to this program - I gained weight from 2 weeks ago. (Yeah I am PISSED off). Report
Thank you, Coach Nicole. This blog made me teary-eyed. Report
Hooray! Thank you thank you for saying this. Let's post it and share it everywhere we can think of - every woman needs to hear this! Report
Terriffic blog!! Body image is something that needs to be addressed more often. I have had a negative body image for most of my adult life. My ex-husband used to call me "Fat, dumb and happy", yeah I was fat, yeah I was dumb(I married him) and happy I was NOT! I have since remarried and DH has never let me once think that I wasn't beautiful! My weight has fluctuated and I have a much more realistic self image now. No. I'm not at my ideal weight but I am on my way there in a very healthy way.
If we all just look at ourselves in a more positive light instead of the negative way we are so used to doing, each positive step will get easier. Report
Thank you for posting what a lot of women (and men) think! When we get to the root of the problem, we can heal from the inside out. Report
This is just what I needed today because I was feeling bad about pictures I saw of myself yesterday and I was not real happy with what I saw. So, thank you! Report
Great article! Report
its encouraging to read that i'm ot the only one who has people criticize the way i look. especially family members or friends who say they're only joking. but, when they say things to me, i use as fuel to get me going. thanks!! Report
Thank you!! I absolutely LOVED this blog post!! And I'm encouraged that I'm already doing a few of these things - like exercising because it makes me feel great, instead of just a means of burning calories.
Keep the good posts coming!! :-) Report
Such a good thing to do. I often find myself loving different parts of my body and disliking others like I love my legs but hate my breasts. From now on I will remind myself how they fed my 4 children and functioned so well at doing that. Report
Great blog. Love your attitude, your advice, and your great posture! Report
good article Report
Wonderful article! After struggling with an eating disorder for years, I can really related to hating and disrespecting my body. Your list is full of great advice, in addition to some new "rules" that I plan to incorporate into my everyday. Thank you so much :) and bless you. Report
Thanks for the great blog. I have been friends with a girl for a long time who consistently criticisies me for my looks and my weight. I will definately take your blog into consideration regarding our friendship. Report
Excellent article. Report
I just had a child 6 months ago, and my body is less fit now than it was before I was pregnant, but I love it more because I am AMAZED at what it did, what it can do! I think we spend way too much time thinking about what our body looks like instead of what an amazing machine we are. We take food and turn it into muscles, and bones, and blood! We (women) carry babies and make milk! We can run, jump, sing, hug, swim, dance... and the list goes on. I look at my flabby belly and think "I nourished a whole person to life in this soft belly." Do I want to keep the belly flab? Not at all! Do I punish myself for it - no! I encourage you to think of what your body can DO and not how it looks and start to be amazed. It really has changed my life. Report
Thanks! Needed some inspiration today and got it from your Blog. It is GREAT! Report
Thanks so great! Report
Beautiful blog. Thanks.

Regarding swim suits and shorts: I have a friend who says, "If people don't like the way I look in my swim suit or shorts, they can look the other way."

It's a fun way to remind myself that I am me and that I'm just fine the way I am. Report
WOW!!!! Not a typical "love your body" article. This is powerful stuff! Thanks, Nicole. You hit the nail squarely on the head. I'm sharing this with everybody I can! Thanks so much. Report
Wonderful blog. This is truely inspirational. Report
Fabulous! I love so many points of this blog! Redirecting negative feelings and turning them towards the positive is the hardest thing to accomplish but SO worth the struggle to find!! Report
This is tremendous and I am sharing it with everyone! Thank you SO much! Report
This is the best post I've read in a long time. Thank you! Report
Very good points. Finding, utilizing stepz that work for each individual becomes a journey. Thank you for your tips Report
I especially can relate to and appreciate points number 1, 5 and 6. I am in the process of focusing my attention/goals on total and overall HEALTH and what do you know? The weight starts falling off.

My growing ability to appreciate (and like) veggies, fruits (as sweets) and say no to overprocessed and/or refined foods is a bi-product of health centered thinking.

To me, this is HUGE as in my 20 something years on earth I have NEVER been able to accomplish this feat... I looked at things the wrong way... Most concerned with weight, weight, weight... To the point that I've developed very unhealthy eating habits... extreme one way or another. Now I am trying to listen to my body and it's needs and exercise as a way to become healthy and strong (and cope with stress) and it's easier to go...

Thanks for this blog post! Report
I especially liked #4: "Compliment yourself in ways that have nothing to do with your looks. " With a little thought every one of us can list 10 things that are great about us. I immediately started going over some attributes I have that I am very proud of, and will make a list to remind myself when I feel myself getting a little negative or even to keep from it! Thank you for a splendid blog. Report
Well said. I think this should be a mandatory read for every high school girl...and boy! Report
Thank you.. I know one of the keys to my success this time has to be about loving my body. I will practice your suggestions. Thank you, thank you! Report
Thank you very much for this blog. It's so powerful! I am going to read it daily. You left no stone unturned! Very encouraging information. Report
I love this blog! So powerful! Report
So true! What's awful is that the last one is the hardest for me. I just have some people in my life who love to nitpick my body and it can be really frustrating! Even if I have been feeling wonderful about myself, they can make me feel so bad with just a word or two! Report
I am seriously putting effort RIGHT NOW into this. I'm becoming Zumba certified next week, and every time I am in the front of the class, I look in the mirror and see at least 7 different reasons I should not be leading a class. It takes A LOT to quiet that inner voice, and convince myself that I AM FIT, I can do the zumba moves, and I AM worthy of being a leader, even if I don't have the "ideal" fitness instructor body.

It takes a lot of work. But one thing I have done is STOPPED avoiding my reflection in the mirror or windows. This is ME. I am strong, fit, and healthy, regardless of this extra 20lbs I'm still carrying. Report