Michelle Biton, MSc
Can you stand in front of the mirror and really look at yourself? What about with no clothes on? Do you like and accept what you see? Or do you wince and remind yourself t.
Can you stand in front of the mirror and really look at yourself? What about with no clothes on? Do you like and accept what you see? Or do you wince and remind yourself that you're fat?
Every time you look in the mirror and recite your imperfections, there is a cost. It's like standing in the middle of a frozen pond. Every time you tell yourself something negative, you're chipping away at the ice that supports you. Whether you realize it or not, you're placing yourself in great danger.
In fact, all the messages you tell yourself either reinforce or weaken your body image. So, if you call yourself fat, you're reinforcing a negative body image. And that could lead you to eat more and care less about how you dress or interact with people. But imagine what your life could be like if you shifted your talk from negative to positive! Without that poor body image to weigh you down, you'd be on your way to a more fulfilling life.
Recently, I visited a client in her home. She had a large walk-in closet with beautiful clothes in marvellous colours, shapes and styles. Everything was neatly folded and organized in sections. Upon closer examination, I noticed that everything was in her ideal size and still had the price tag attached. All these clothes were reserved for when she reached her ideal body weight. There was a small section, however, of 10 dull, boring, shapeless dresses for her current weight.
What do you think this woman's self-talk consisted of positive, uplifting messages of love and self-acceptance or negative, depressing ones that caused her to avoid reality? Unfortunately, this woman did not feel worthy of anyone's love, not even her own. Her body image was so poor, she avoided mirrors and any reflection that would give her a glimpse of the way she looked. Disgusted with herself, she lived in a dream world of ideal sizes and her ideal of beauty.
Fortunately, she desired more for herself, and we began working together. But the process was not easy: Her fear of failure often prevented her from moving forward. For 20 years she had tried every diet and weight-loss program possible, without success.
It was imperative to break the emotional chains this fear had on her by working from the inside out, not the outside in. Without a shift in thinking, she would continue the yo-yo of weight loss and gain.
To help overcome her dissatisfaction with her body image, we decided she would buy some clothes in her actual size so she'd begin to feel better about herself. Why should she reach her ideal weight and then enjoy life and beautiful clothes? We also decided that some self-talk exercises would move her toward self-acceptance.
Start From the Inside Out
Developing a healthy body image takes more than just losing weight or buying a new outfit. It takes working from the inside out. To permanently lose weight and be happy with your body, you must make a mental shift in thinking so that actions and physical shifts will follow.
Two principles can help you reach your body image and weight goals. First, be aware of your self-talk. Listen attentively to yourself as you stand in front of the mirror. And know when you are reinforcing any negative thoughts. Second, send positive messages to yourself. In a sense this is like re-wiring your mind. This process takes time, so when you catch yourself saying a negative comment, counteract it with a positive thought or statement.
As an exercise every day, stand in front of the mirror and give yourself a compliment about something you like about your physical body, even if it is your beautifully arched eyebrows or the cute dimple on your cheek. It may feel awkward to compliment yourself, but that's OK. Although change feels unfamiliar, it means you're on the right track.
Once you have decided not to listen to your negative self-talk, you are no longer a victim of your body weight and appearance. You are being proactive about your health and personal appearance. And you are unleashing your potential of establishing a healthy, positive body image that will make you feel more beautiful than ever. There's no looking back now!
Regardless of your shape or size, you will benefit from speaking kinder words to yourself. Be honest with yourself and you will reach a healthy, satisfied place with your body. You can learn to like what you see in the mirror. Just remember to work from the inside out, not the outside in.