Body image is getting a lot more of a spotlight lately and I love it! It affects so many aspects of our lives; such as the foods we choose, the clothes we wear, the activities we do, and our relationships with other people. Body image needs to be talked about more and, as individuals, it's important to check in with where our body image is at and to take steps toward building body image resilience.
What is Body Image?
Body image is our perception, thoughts, and feelings about our bodies. It fluctuates on a scale of Negative body image -> Neutral body image -> Positive body image; and it's important to note with this scale that, even if you have overall positive body image, you will still experience negative and neutral moments/day. This is why it's important to be aware of and to practice building positive body image so that the negative moments become fewer and farther between.
Building a Neutral & Positive Body Image
Here are some of my favorite practices that help me connect with my body and build gratitude and respect for it.
Keep a Body Gratitude Journal: This can include but shouldn’t just be “I have a hot butt” statements. Building body image resilience means that no matter how your body looks (because let's be real, that changes!) you can still find things that you respect and admire about your body. I love focusing on the experiences my body allows me to have; playing with my family, hiking to a cool spot, helping and connecting other people, enjoying yummy food, etc.
Mindful Grounding Activities: This one is probably my favorite because they can be super simple and take very little time. These activities give you time to connect with your body, tune into your breathing, your heartbeat, or even just increasing awareness of your fingers moving. Some of my personal favorites: taking a hot epsom salt bath, washing my face (with both of those I love including a soap that smells good to include sense of smell), walking outside, placing my hands on my arms (kind of like giving myself a hug) tuning into how my skin feels, and saying a body gratitude affirmation.
Movement: I hear a lot that people include exercise in improving body image because they think that weight loss equals better body image. While this can occur, more often it’s not the weight changes that improve body image, but actually the feeling of empowerment that we get from moving our bodies. There also isn’t a single exercise or type of exercise that provides this benefit! Which is great news! However you enjoy moving, finding joy and strength in your body will enhance your respect for your body and help you connect with it.
Choose one or multiple of these to incorporate into your daily life! Like I said, they don’t have to be big or take hours of your day; little actions build big results over time!
Actively building neutral or positive body image and making conscious efforts to connect with your body allows you to live your fullest life and make health choices based in respecting your body.
Written by Macey Leatham RDN
Edited by Amy Will 17x Marathoner