Learning self-love will change your relationship to food and alter your food choices for the better. Here are 3 steps to help you foster greater self-love.
It is common to think that once we are the right shape and size, our life will miraculously transform into the fantastical one of our dreams, full of all the things we think we don’t have right now. When we start thinking that way, rather than focusing on the many good aspects of our life, personality, body and self, we use our weight or shape to perpetuate a downward spiral of negative thoughts and behaviour patterns. We then use food to actualize these negative feelings – either by over-eating, continually making bad food choices, or setting ourselves up to fail on a rigorous, unsustainable diet.
Just because you are on a journey to change your body size, it does not mean that you should not treat yourself well, right now. Try accepting who you are today, not 5, 10 or 15 kg lighter. After all life is for living right now, not just when you have reached your ‘perfect size’.
Self love boils down to two elements – self-esteem and body-image. Body image is about how we see and feel about ourselves physically, whilst self-esteem is how we choose to value, respect and treat ourselves mentally and physically. Negative thought patterns erode into our self-esteem. Rather than seeing the good, we decide to focus on, and obsess about the negatives.
However, both self esteem and body image are controlled by your perception. The power to ditch negative thought patterns, and swap them into something more positive is entirely in your hands.
3 Practical Steps to Boost Self-Love
You are surrounded by many people who like, love and respect you for the many different aspects of your personality. Whatever you think, your body image does not affect how those people feel about you, right now. Ask five or more different friends, relatives or colleagues to tell you the thing they admire most about you. Write these down on pieces of paper, and stick them somewhere where you will notice them daily – the bathroom, or inside of a kitchen cupboard are usually good spots. Remind yourself of these, whenever that negative voice starts its destructive chatter in your mind.
2. Learn to Love Your Body
Recognize and become aware of negative self-talk about your body, and do something to avoid or change it. If reading women’s magazines depresses you and starts those negative thoughts, stop reading them. If a family member or friend continually makes jokes about your weight, ask them to stop.
As well as avoiding outside negative influences, you have to learn to appreciate your body yourself. Before you get up in the morning, spend a couple of minutes stretching your arms overhead, and pointing and flexing your toes. Rotate your feet at the ankles, rotate the wrists, and watch what happens as you take several deep breaths. Appreciate your body and the fact it enables you to walk, talk, laugh, breathe and play with your children and grandchildren. Love your body for all the things it does do, not what it doesn’t. The power to change your thoughts is in your hands, so use it.
3. Mindful Exercise
Even the tiniest amount of exercise will make you feel better about your body and self image. Not because it will miraculously transform you into the perfect size and shape, but because you will learn to listen to your body, respect its limitations and as you build up your strength, appreciate even the tiniest changes. Try a mindful exercise class like yoga, Pilates or Tai Chi. If they don’t appeal, go for a walk, swim, play tennis or join a dance class. It doesn’t matter what you do, but just a little of something, even for 20 minutes a week, will make strides of difference, not only to your fitness levels, but how you feel about yourself – so give it a go.