The Body Retreat

The Body Retreat

Women Only Weight Loss & Wellbeing Retreats

Healthy Body Image All Starts in the Mind

So today sees the start of London Fashion Week…is that on your radar? Are you a dedicated follower of fashion? Or perhaps you think that fashion is for other people. Fashion is for “thin” people.

I can totally see how some of you may hold this view. Just a quick scan of the catwalks and magazine covers will give you the impression that fashion is for the fitties.

Full disclosure… neither Julie or myself are fashion forwards, lets be honest here Julies idea of fashion is getting a new “best’ hoodie LOL While for myself when not on retreat I’m mostly found in a Bretton striped top and jeans.

We both wear what we like, we both wear what is comfortable for us.

Now Julie has never followed fashion, she was far to busy being outside chasing balls, climbs hills etc   For me there was a time when I was more interested. Back in my corporate days, back when I felt my appearance was relative to my ability to do my job, back when I consumed weekly and monthly glossy magazines.

It feels strange now to even think about it…but back in the day I spent a small fortune every month on magazines …the whole purpose of which seemed to be to tell me what I should eat, wear, buy, think and feel.

My self image was very much caught up in what I felt I “should” look like. If you’ve read pervious blogs of mine you’ll remember that back in the day I hovered around a UK size 20.

Shopping in my “big girls” shops I dreamed of one day being able to walk into any department store and pick up clothes from any rail.

Stuck In A Negative Body Image Loop

But I felt stuck.

Felt that I “should” be doing/eating/not eating certain things so that I could eventually fit into the clothes from the pages of the magazines.

But because I want doing these things I felt so bad about myself. I was stuck in a negative loop. I hated by body. I hated how it looked, how it felt, how it needed to be covered up in big girls clothes.

I hated to have my picture taken ..unless it was just of my head, which I could tilt to a jaunty angle and get away with ignoring everything from the neck down.

I hated to look at myself in a full length mirror… or even worse catch a glimpse of myself in a shop window, when unguarded I would see the real me.

I could not embrace my curves, I could not accept my body and very soon these negative thoughts about how I looked started to creep in to how I felt about other areas of my life.

If you don’t look a certain way, wear a certain thing, shop in a certain store then you are “other” and being “other” isn’t good.

Time to change the Internal Script

I was lucky. As I began my journey to become a health coach I started to learn about how the mind worked, how our thoughts, feelings and behaviours were linked.

Then I began to realise that healthy body image and self-esteem start in the mind, not in the mirror.

Healthy body image is so more than simply tolerating what you look like or “not hating” yourself. A healthy body image means that you accept and dare I say it like the way you look right now, and aren’t trying to change your body to fit the way you think you should look.

It means recognising the individual qualities and strengths that make you feel good about yourself beyond weight, shape or appearance, and resisting the pressure to strive for the myth of the “perfect” body that you see in the media.

How Can You Encourage A Healthy Body Image?

  • It all starts with treating your body with respect. Eat well-balanced meals and exercise because it makes you feel good and strong, not as a way to control your body.
  • Notice when you judge yourself or others based on weight, shape, or size. Ask yourself if there are any other qualities you could look for when those thoughts come up.
  • Dress in a way that makes you feel good about yourself, in clothes that fit you now. It may be time to stop hiding your body.
  • Find a short message or mantra that helps you feel good about yourself and write it on a post it note and stick to mirrors around your home to remind you to replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts.
  • Be aware of how you talk about your body with family and friends. Do you often seek reassurance or validation from others to feel good about yourself? Do you often focus only on physical appearances?
  • Write a list of the positive benefits of the body part or feature you don’t like or struggle to accept.
  • The next time you notice yourself having negative thoughts about your body and appearance, take a minute to think about what’s going on in your life. Are you feeling stressed out, anxious, or low? Are you facing challenges in other parts of your life? When negative thoughts come up, think about what you’d tell a friend if they were in a similar situation and then take your own advice.
  • Be mindful of messages you hear and see in the media and how those messages inform the way women feel about the way they look. Recognise and challenge those stereotypes!

These few simple strategies can help to change the way you understand your value and worth. Having a healthy body image and self-esteem are a big part of your well-being, they are not reliant on your being a certain size or wearing a particular item of clothing, but about being comfortable.

So whether you are a dedicated fashion follower or not, remember that clothes are meant to fit you and your lifestyle, not the other way around… so be comfortable.

What do you think?  Have you used any strategies to help you create healthy body image?  I’d love to hear from you  so do please leave me a comment below

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