It’s easy to look perfect in today’s world. On paper that is. Cellphones have filters that make you look great when you take pictures with them. Almost everyone has access to computer programs to edit pictures to make them look, well, picture perfect. When I was a kid, there was no such thing as social media. The only perfect pictures you saw were on magazine covers. Later I learned that those pictures were airbrushed. Any imperfections the people on those pictures had were magically removed. Those imperfections even included changing the size and shape of the person’s body. I even saw a magazine cover recently of a TV personality who had a baby and two weeks later her stomach was flat. The real picture was later shared and her stomach wasn’t completely flat. There is something positive coming from this thought. Many actors and actresses are calling out magazines or websites that have altered pictures of them. They are proud of the way they look, imperfections and all. You may think this is just a woman problem, but men are falling into the having to look perfect trap. If he doesn’t look like a body builder, does that mean he isn’t attractive? I have listened to podcast interviews where men talked about not feeling confident about themselves because of the extra weight they carried. I admit, I always thought this was something only women dealt with. Having a poor body image can happen to anyone.
Are you happy with your body image right now? We can all improve on something and may need to lose some weight. Are you thinking if you lose the weight you will your body image will change? What if you have loose skin after you lose weight? What if you don’t get an absolutely flat stomach, will you be happy? What if your thighs aren’t as small as you would like them to be, will your body image not improve? For many years when I looked in the mirror, I never loved what I saw. I always told myself the reason I was unhappy was because I was overweight. Then I did something about the weight when I was in college. Even though I had lost 100 pounds I still thought my stomach wasn’t flat enough and my hips and thighs were too big. When I look at the pictures of myself from that time, I think I looked awesome, but at that time in my life I still wasn’t thin enough. When I decided to lose the weight this time, I DID NOT want to feel like that about myself. To be truthful, I was worried. I was worried my body wouldn’t respond to me trying once again to get the weight gone. I had abused myself with food and negative self-talk so much, would my body cooperate with me this time? Here is what I did to work on my body image:
I decided to love myself at the current weight I was at. If I didn’t lose a pound, I was going to love the way I looked.
Dress your best for the weight you are now. Don’t wait until you lose 5, 10 or 20 pounds before you decide to buy nice clothes for yourself now. Learn what your body type is and learn how to dress it. I am a pear shape. I’m still pear shape, just a smaller one. I’ve learned what styles flatter my body type and only buy those styles. If it’s not a WOW, I don’t buy it.
Stop yelling mentally yelling at your body for not losing weight as fast as you would like it to. Sounds strange doesn’t it. Those thoughts you think about your body, guess what, your body hears them! Instead of thinking that your thighs aren’t small enough, why not work on toning them and celebrate how strong your legs are?
As you lose the weight, readjust. It will take your mind time to catch up with where your body is. This is one reason I don’t think of weight loss plateaus as a bad thing. Most people are always trying to figure out how to bust past them. Instead, use that time to get your mind used to the weight you are at. Learn to dress the new body you have.
Focus on what you are able to physically do as your body changes. When I started my journey in 2011, I was so happy I could still walk 3 miles and make it. I was really tired but I did it. I am more athletic now. I do some pretty hard core exercises compared to what I could do when I was in my 20’s. When I started this time I could barely do a burpee. It took a while but I can do several burpees. I keep a list of non-scale victories and I logged anytime I did an exercise I was not able to do before. This made me appreciate and be happy my body was responding to the changes I was making to improve it.
Something I always tell someone when they inform me of their desire to lose weight is “if you don’t love yourself at your current weight, you won’t love yourself at your goal weight.” Start learning to love your body image now. I’m not saying don’t work on improving your physical appearance, but practice loving your body image now, so you will not fall into the trap of basing that love on reaching a certain number on the scale.