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Reimagining Your Perfect Body

Accepting your body may seem easier said than done -- but these strategies will help you get there.

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Reimagining Your Perfect Body

Sure, most of us pine for thinner thighs, well-toned arms or a firmer backside. But if you launch into a self-deprecating tirade every time you glimpse yourself in the mirror (my butt is too big, my hips are too wide and my arms look like flabby chicken wings), it’s time to shift your focus.

“Women are their own worst enemies,” says Leslie Goldman, MPH, author of "Locker Room Diaries: The Naked Truth About Women, Body Image and Re-Imagining the 'Perfect' Body." “We’re constantly judging ourselves, drawing comparisons and trying to measure up to some impossible media-driven ideal.” And it’s not just women: Studies show that men can be as self-critical and self-deprecating as women.

MORE: Fat Talk: Ditch This Bad Habit

Accepting your body may seem easier said than done. Start by taking stock of what you’ve got (instead of what you don’t), and you’ll begin to appreciate your body for what it can do for you.

“Sometimes loving every aspect of your body is too difficult and unrealistic,” says Susan Albers, PsyD, a clinical psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic and author of "Eating Mindfully: How to End Mindless Eating and Enjoy a Balanced Relationship with Food." “But you can come to a place of accepting aspects of your appearance.” Here’s how:

Stop the Negative Self-Talk
“The first thing people focus on when they look in the mirror is what they dislike most about themselves,” says Leslie Heinberg, PhD, director of behavioral services for the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. “Many of those thoughts are automatic — [people] don’t even realize they’re having them.”

Beating yourself up chips away at your self-worth. Once you hear yourself doing it, put a stop to it. “Ask yourself if you’d say such harsh things to someone else,” Goldman says. Chances are, you wouldn’t dare. Replace those harsh words with words of self-acceptance — imagine kind words you’d hear from a close friend. Instead of scrutinizing your flaws, zero in on something you like about yourself. If you simply can’t stop, at least balance out the criticism with some flattery.

“If you’re going to disparage your thighs, spend an equal amount of time complimenting an aspect of yourself that you do like,” Heinberg says. “So maybe your thighs aren’t that great, but you have a slim waist or nice arms.”

Change the Channel
Every day, we’re bombarded with images of physical perfection from the media. Banish TV shows, magazines and advertisements that make you feel bad about yourself or your body.

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