Feeling good about ourselves is an inside-out equation. In many ways, we have to start by actually believing we are attractive and healthy before our bodies start to reflect that truth. Changing how we think about ourselves, however, is often harder than the work it takes to physically change by losing weight.
Women in particular struggle with body image (10 times more likely1 than men, to be exact). In fact, “89% of American women are unhappy with their weight and 84% would like to lose weight.2” Furthermore, just under half (39%) say that being worried about their diet interferes with their happiness on a daily basis. What’s even worse is the amount of women who have at least one body-hating thought about themselves every day: 97 percent!
There’s been plenty of research done proving how a negative body image affects other areas of life, including increasing your susceptibility to illness, negatively influencing relationships, and leading to addictions such as eating disorders and substance abuse. So how can a good body image positively affect your life?
- You’ll be better equipped as an emotionally and mentally stable person to maintain healthy relationships3 – which are in turn more satisfying and create a healthy cycle of continuing to improve your self esteem.
- You will decrease your risk of struggling with anxiety and depression4.
- Quite honestly, it will make you a happier person in general.
It’s one thing to know you need to improve your body image, but another thing entirely to actually change it. That’s where the real struggle comes in. Building in simple new habits of thought and lifestyle, though, will ultimately make you a happier – and all around healthier – person. Ready to start seeing change? Take on the Body Image challenge and take charge of your self image:
1. Focus on what you can change. It’s easy to fixate on what we don’t like about ourselves, ultimately becoming overwhelmed to take action. Instead of all the negativity, focus on what you can do. Make your focus health, not weight loss.
2. Move around more. Working out is a proven recipe for giving your body image a boost and increasing your self esteem. This is especially true if you choose a type of exercise you enjoy5. Strength training in particular has been proven to make women more satisfied with themselves.
3. Keep better company. The people we hang out with greatly influence our perspective. In one study6, women who talked with their friends about weight loss, nutrition, appearance, and exercise tended to be far more dissatisfied with their bodies.
4. Stop looking at the wrong thing. Comparison is an ugly game to play, but we’re constantly bombarded day after day with images of “perfect” women. From TV to social media, there is no shortage of opportunities to see how we don’t measure up to the airbrushed model.
5. Work on your posture. An Italian study7 found a correlation between body posture and confidence. The reasoning goes that slouching makes you feel sloppy. Instead, choose good posture while you sit and stand with confidence.
6. Put on deodorant. Seriously! One study proved8 that even just simple grooming tasks like putting on deodorant or spritzing on perfume can make you feel more confident in your appearance. Taking care of yourself (especially your physical appearance) legitimately gives you a better perspective on your body.
It won’t change everything overnight, but mindfully taking on each of these six challenges will start to shift your perspective and improve your body image.